Rihanna has a new baby. No, not literally. She’s launching her own make-up brand. OK, that may not come as a shock. In fact, the biggest surprise is that she hasn’t done it before given her existing perfumes portfolio and the beauty agency, Fr8me, she opened with Benoit Demouy last year.
What’s perhaps just a little surprising is that this is set to be no here today, maybe gone tomorrow ‘celebrity’ brand that could never legitimately compete with the biggest make-up names.
The fact is that global make-up is dominated by the prestige brands at one end of the market and the volume brands at the other with own-brands and some great-and-growing challenger brands somewhere in between that aren’t (usually) celebrity linked. Celebrity brands themselves have often been fairly transitory and frankly, not that great.
But that’s really not Rihanna’s style. Like pop peer Beyoncé, the 28-year-old pop star has a much better business brain that that.
So she’s teaming up with one of the biggest hitters in global beauty for this launch. Fenty by Rihanna won’t be launched by Rihanna’s perfumes licensee Parlux but will hit the shelves under a deal with the Kendo division of LVMH. As we know, LVMH is behind some of the most lucrative and influential beauty brands, while Kendo itself also makes Marc Jacobs beauty.
How strong could it potentially be? Well, the sky’s the limit. The lustre may have gone off the celebrity beauty market in recent years but the approach to fashion and beauty of certain key celebrities is becoming ever more serious. Beyoncé’s Ivy Park athleisure range is a perfect example of just how serious the modern breed of pop-star-turned-entrepreneur is.
Back with Rihanna, she already has strong beauty credentials with those Parlux-backed fragrances (Rihanna’s fragrances are prospering in a declining celeb scent market) and her MAC Viva Glam and RiRi Hearts collaborations. Her Fenty line won’t debut until autumn 2017 but trademarks were first filed last September, which means a two-year gestation period for what both LVMH and Rihanna must be expecting to be a big-league contender.
In an official release this week, Kendo’s CEO David Suliteanu gave us the usual “honoured to work with Rihanna,” line but added more tellingly: “Fenty Beauty by Rihanna is a beauty rocket ship that will appeal to a huge and diverse global audience. We’re aiming for the stars.”
Rihanna herself in an interview last year said she’d love to be able to find “lashes that could just put themselves on… lipstick that doesn’t move, but doesn’t dry your lips out, that you don’t need a liner for”.
But we’ll have to wait until next year to find out the details, of course. What we do know is that by linking with LVMH, Rihanna has joined up with one of the most powerful names in global beauty. Its experience in the branded prestige make-up arena (think Dior, Guerlain, Benefit and more), and its power in selling beauty across various price points (through the Sephora chain and duty free giant DFS), plus its relationships with department stores and specialist retailers give Fenty by Rihanna one of the best starts any baby could have.