Monday, April 27, 2009

The Lipstick Effect

One of the aspects of the slumping economy is the search for industries and products that are supposedly recession proof. The lipstick effect is one of these well-known concepts. Basically, when the going gets tough, the tough buy lipstick and go to the movies (or, at least, that's what they did during the Great Depression).

WWD tried taking the concept one step further and examine the other retail equivalents of the proverbial lipstick tube. More simply put: What are people buying to feel better?

They asked leading luxury retailers, designers and chain stores. Not all who were asked agreed to participate, and some of those who did seem to be spouting a marketing script for pushing their latest crap, but it's still interesting (even if I wouldn't base my future investment decisions on this little survey).

Bergdorf and Neiman claim that we're buying Manolos and Choos. The statement show, which in a way makes sense. You get more mileage from the perfect sandals than from one Versace dress. Both retailers have a winning red lipstick, Rouge G lipstick from Guerlain. At $45 I feel like doing a lipstick face-off between this one and the $75 Serge Lutens (only available from Barneys).

Other retailers are talking accessories: scarves, belts, headbands. Nobody mentions the "It Bag", so hopefully we're over that particular craze. The Gap is trying to convince us that their boxy cardigan is the item of choice that would make us all feel good (at $44, I'd skip the cardi and go for a Guerlain lipstick). Intermix are supposedly selling jumpsuits, but I'd rather believe we all have much better fashion sense than that. Only Bernie Madoff deserves a jumpsuits.

The one thing no one mentioned was perfume. It's making me sad.

Do you think this is accurate? Are you buying red lipsticks these days? What do you purchase as a pick-me-up? Please share in a comment.

Info: WWD
Top image: Joan Crawford and a lipstick organizer, 1929
Ugly jumpsuit: Proenza Schouler, $975,


  1. Is Joan's organizer made from the skin of a Pekinese or is that the cuffs?

  2. No 'It' bags, no jumpsuits, but yes... lipstick.

  3. I read one article in Croatian newspapers that this recession is no longer described only by buying lipstick, but with buying foundations (research claimed to be done by l'Oreal). They called it "the foundation factor". Me, I bought 4 bottles of perfume in the last month and a half (no lipstick and no foundation). :)

  4. I buy food as a pick me up....silly , I know . I buy fragrance to feed my soul....*wink*

  5. Perfume ONLY as a pick-me -up? I smile - perfume is in my blood; not to seek. sniff, & snare scents is starvation for a perfumista!! ;-) hotlanta linda

  6. A new lipstick or eyeshadow always makes me feel fresh. Colorful, whimsical sandals poking out from beneath my jeans also makes me smile.

  7. Tom, since we're talking Joan, everything is possible.Poor Pekinese...

  8. Anon (1), between a jumpsuit and a lipstick, the latter always wins.

  9. Ines, I just can't see how buying a new foundation is a good pick me up. It's always a tedious process, especially when trying a new brand. Not fun at all.

  10. Carol, cooking something fabulous out of great ingredients is as good a treat as any. As is chocolate...
    And, perfume is definitely good for one's soul. I fully agree :) .

  11. Linda, I'm with you. That's why I was so surprised no one has mentioned it in the WWD article.

  12. Anon (2), I'm getting a shoe craving as we speak...

  13. I'm buying "sensible" MBT shoes and Fitflops, and perfume, perfume, more perfume. As for cosmetic items, only replacements as old bits get used up.


  14. Mary, those MBT shoes are great and probably would make you feel good very quickly. I'm very impressed with mine.

  15. Can you believe it? I've nearly totally tapered my chocolate consumption/hoarding...

    ...but fragrance, and to a lesser extent tea, remain the comfort go-to items when it comes to retail therapy.

  16. ScentScelf, I admire your restraint when it comes to chocolate. I still need my fix of Black & Green.
    Speaking of tea, I just bought Harney & Sons Osmanthus Oolong. It's wonderful.

  17. speaking of that Guerlain G lipstick, have you seen their website feature for it? It's as if they are launching a new luxury car. Music... flashy camera work that caresses the lipstick at all angles... the mini-documentary about the making of goes on and on!

    seriously. it almost seems like a parody that christopher guest would do.

    thanks for the great post. cheers.

    ps. my verification word is: droids

  18. Dea, I watched that thing and you're right: It's over the top. Chanel tend to do the same thing. Their last mascara launch had a ridiculoys video with annoying music and pseudo artistic closeups on the tube.

    One of the G Rouge is called Gaia and is a plum brown. I need to get myself to a Guerlain counter very soon.


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