Cosmetics candy store Sephora hits Vancouver
When the economy gets ugly, women want to get pretty—or so it would seem from the long-awaited arrival of cosmetics giant Sephora in Vancouver this week. While members of other industries (hello, carmakers) are cutting back en masse, the France-based phenomenon is in the midst of a strong Canadian, and North America–wide, expansion.
Clearly, this candy store for cosmetics junkies offers a brief escape from hard times. When Sephora finally opens at Pacific Centre and Coquitlam Centre tomorrow (July 10), you’ll see why people so often describe it as a playground: amid the thousands of bright, mirrored square feet of lip-glosses, eye shadows, perfumes, goops, and gunks, there are Q-tips and cotton balls to use for testing at every turn. We’re even talking disposable mini brushes for trying mascara and nail-polish remover for taking off your samples. Then there are all the gadgets you never knew you needed—say, the Sephora Mini Heated Eyelash Curler or Sephora Illuminating Tweezers. It’s kind of like a mix of finger painting, scavenger hunting, and dress-up for grownups. You can easily lose an hour in this place—and you won’t get the bum’s rush if you do.
Sephora’s real draw in these times, though, is the promise of small indulgences. “When we need to cut somewhere, sometimes we don’t buy expensive clothes or shoes, but we want to still be beautiful, and here you find small products in a range of prices. I have the $200 face cream, but I also have products that are $15,” offers national vice president Marie-Christine Marchives, on the line from Sephora Canada’s head office in Montreal. “And then, we have free makeup application, and she doesn’t have to buy anything.”
To understand Sephora’s success, you need to know about the approach that’s helped it establish more than 800 stores in 14 countries. Before Sephora went worldwide, makeup shopping usually meant heading to the local department store and checking out each of the brand counters. But the French chain, which launched in Paris in 1969, organizes its cosmetics by category—all the makeup is together, just as all the face creams are grouped for you to compare. It’s also big on selection: the Vancouver store will carry 200 brands—more than 20 of them exclusive, according to Marchives. Some of the names you won’t find anywhere else are sexy-sparkly Girlactik Beauty, the new collection by model Josie Maran, and the Hollywood-glam LORAC. Then, of course, there’s Sephora’s expansive house brand. Its products include such collaborations as makeup by heavily inked tattoo artist and reality-TV vixen Kat Von D (think smoky eye palettes, drop-dead-red lipstick; a new fragrance launches in July). There’s also the Sephora by OPI nail line, whose Kool Aid–hued summer shades—ranging from lollipop yellows to the all-the-rage teal Mermaid to Order—have earned the window spot for the Vancouver opening.
“We need to have newness every single week in the store: we need to find something the client does not expect.”¦We have stores all over the world, so that helps a lot if you need to know that, for example, blue is trendy,” Marchives says. It also must help that Moí«t Hennessy Louis Vuitton (the conglomerate known as LVMH, which oversees such brands as Givenchy and Fendi) now owns the company and wires it straight into the high-fashion circuit.
If you’ve visited Sephora south of the border or on a trip to T.O., you know that a selection of 13,000-plus products can sometimes be overwhelming. With that in mind, we turned to Nathalie Bechard, one of Sephora’s Pro Beauty Team Experts, for her top-five products to scope out when the West Coast outlets open this week. Happy playing.
Tarte Multipleye Lash Enhancer
(4.5 millilitres, $80)
“The trend is natural beauty and high-performance natural products. The lash enhancer increases and enhances the lash length by 152 percent. It makes them thicker with soy and amino acids.”
Frederic Fekkai Marine Summer Hair Beach Waves
(150 millilitres, $30)
“One spritz of this marine-water spray gives a sexy surfer-girl texture and it’s a great way to keep your hair hydrated, with a UV block.”
Caudalie Vinoperfect Night Correcting Cream
(30 millilitres, $79)
“It’s a gel cream for eyes and lips, and it reduces lines, lightens dark circles, and protects from damage. It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.”
Mystic Tan Sunless Face And Body Tanning Spray
(150 millilitres, $49)
“It won’t give you that fake orange-tangerine colour. It’s a must for summer.”
Clarisonic Skin Care Brush
“It’s one of the new high-tech tools we can use now that we’re in a recession and everyone is afraid to go to the spa.”¦It moves back and forth more than 300 times per second to clean pores and refine the skin’s surface.”