Review: ‘Subjects of Desire,’ starring Ryann Richardson, Alex Germain, Seraiah Nicole, India.Arie, Amanda Parris, Cheryl Thompson and Carolyn West

April 29, 2021

by Carla Hay

Contestants in the 2018 Miss Black America Pageant, including Alex Germain (far left) and Ryann Richardson (far right), in “Subjects of Desire” (Photo courtesy of Hungry Eyes Media)

“Subjects of Desire”

Directed by Jennifer Holness

Culture Representation: Taking place in various parts of the U.S. and Canada, the documentary film “Subjects of Desire” features a predominantly black group of women discussing the intersection between beauty standards and what it means to be a black female.

Culture Clash: Several people in the documentary say that black beauty characteristics are often co-opted when white people benefit from cultural appropriation, but the same characteristics are used against black people, who are subjected to racist ideas of what is considered “beautiful.”

Culture Audience: “Subjects of Desire” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in an impactful and honest examination of how racism plays a role in how black females are perceived in American society.

Contestants in the 2018 Miss Black America Pageant, including Ryann Richardson (second from left) and Alex Germain (front row, in pink), in “Subjects of Desire” (Photo courtesy of Hungry Eyes Media)

The empowering statement “Black is beautiful” first emerged in the 1950s. And since then, a lot has occurred in civil rights for black people in the United States. However, the insightful documentary “Subjects of Desire” shows how black women feel about the still-prevalent and damaging racism in how black females are treated and perceived by beauty standards in American society. Astutely directed by Jennifer Holness and narrated by Garvia Bailey, “Subjects of Desire” had its world premiere at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.

Grammy-winning singer India.Arie talks about the impact of her breakthrough 2001 hit “Video,” a song about how she accepts how she looks, even though she’s doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a light-skinned video vixen. “That song taught me a lot about people. The whole time I was writing it, I thought, ‘This is how I want people to understand who I am.’ And then [the song] came out, and people were telling me, ‘That’s how I felt!'”

“Subjects of Desire” has the 2018 Miss Black America beauty pageant (the event’s 50th anniversary) as a central focus of the documentary. The movie includes footage of behind-the-scenes pageant preparations, as well as interviews with several of the contestants. However, the documentary also gives a cultural overview of how systemic racism affects people’s perceptions of what what is considered “beautiful” or “desirable” in society. Only black women are interviewed in this documentary, so that their voices are heard and not drowned out by people who haven’t lived the experience of being a black woman their entire lives.

The only exception is an interviewee who has lived her life as a white woman and as a black woman: controversial activist/artist Rachel Dolezal, a woman who is biologically white/Caucasian, but she began self-identifying as black around the time that she wanted to have Afro-centric jobs. Dolezal, who was born in 1977, used to be the president of Spokane, Washington’s chapter of the NAACP, and she taught Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. The controversy over her race made headlines when she admitted in 2015 that she was born to white parents and lived as a white female until sometime in the mid-2000s, when she began living as a black woman.

In 2002, when Dolezal was still living as a white woman, she unsuccessfully sued her alma mater Howard University (a historically black-majority school) for racial discrimination, by claiming the university denied her a job, a scholarship and other opportunities as a white woman. Dolezal doesn’t talk about that lawsuit in the “Subjects of Desire” documentary, but she does complain about being misunderstood, and she compares her situation to experiences of transgender people. “I get a lot of hate from different groups,” she claims. “I cancelled my white privilege.”

Dolezal’s presence in this documentary doesn’t take up too much screen time (only about 10 to 15 minutes in a 103-minute film), and she doesn’t say anything new that she didn’t already say in her 2018 Netflix documentary “The Rachel Divide.” Dolezal seems to have been included in “Subjects of Desire” as part of a necessary but uncomfortable topic discussed in the documentary: White people co-opting aspects of black beauty culture for their own self-benefit. Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are frequently mentioned in the documentary as celebrities who are guilty of excessive appropriation of black culture to get attention for themselves.

“Subjects of Desire” does an excellent job of explaining the current dichotomy in beauty standards for women in American society, where many white women try to look more “black” and many women of color try to look more “white.” On the one hand, physical characteristics that are usually attributed to women of African biological heritage—darker skin, fuller lips, a more pronounced rear end—have become desired characteristics in how numerous women alter their physical appearance through tanning, butt implants and lip fillers.

African-styled braids or Afro-Caribbean-styled dreadlocks are other Afro-centric beauty characteristics that have been co-opted by people who are not of African descent. Even the hair perms that were popular in the 1970s were based on a desire to have hair resembling black people’s natural hair. It’s pointed out in the documentary that the rise of the Black Power movement in the late 1960 and 1970s coincided with the rise in popularity of these hairstyles until they became more accepted in mainstream society.

On the other hand, several people in the documentary point out that black women and women of color are often treated better based on how close to “white” they can look. Skin bleaching, having straight hair (through chemical treatments or hair weaves), having blonde hair and wearing blue or green contact lenses are all mentioned as examples of how black women alter their appearances to try to look more “white.” The natural hair movement (the practice of black people wearing their hair unprocessed and not straightened) has popularity that goes up and goes down. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that how a black woman wears her hair can determine what types of employment or other opportunities that she gets or is prevented from having.

“Subjects of Desire” has footage of a group of black teenage girls (of various skin tones) who discuss how beauty standards, particularly when it comes to hair and skin color, affect their self-esteem and any sense of power that they might have. The girls give some real and raw insight into how acutely aware they are that how they wear their hair will affect how a lot of people will treat them or perceive them. And the “white preference” bias doesn’t just come from white people. It also comes from many people of color who’ve internalized the racist belief that anything to do with non-white culture is inferior to white culture.

Although there are people of many different races, beauty standards in the United States are often seen in terms of black and white. Broadcaster/author Amanda Parris explains: “Because of racism, that [beauty] binary also included the binary of black and white. And that led to black women being on one end, and white women being on the other.”

Because the Internet has provided larger mass communication than ever before, today’s young people have grown up more accustomed to cultural differences than previous generations. And therefore, society’s views of beauty are more intertwined with race and political issues than ever before. The rise of Instagram, YouTube and other social media—where everyday people can become their own influencers instead of leaving everything to the usual elite gatekeepers—have also caused a massive shift in who gets to define what is “beautiful.”

“Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal” author Heather Widdows, a professor of global ethics at the University of Birmingham in Alabama, comments on this cultural change: “Appearances were becoming more and more dominant in young women’s lives. And this was an issue of justice too. Beauty has become an ethical ideal.”

However, old stereotypes remain. Dr. Cheryl Thompson, an assistant professor at Ryerson University and the author of “Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture,” has this to say about the racism that still exists in beauty ideals: “In beauty culture, black has to be minimized as much as possible, or exoticized in a certain way, so that you really see the difference.”

Thompson says that this racism has been taught for generations because of the United States’ shameful history with slavery and how that has affected people’s perceptions of white women and black women: “Getting married was kind of difficult [for black people] during slavery, so we’re already seen as ‘immoral’ and not holding the sanctity of womanhood … The history of black womanhood and white womanhood, it is so overlayed with labor and issues of purity and domesticity.”

Lighter-skinned black women in the slavery era were more likely to be chosen to work in the home, while darker-skinned black women were more likely to do the hardest labor outside. The repercussions of white slave owners enacting this favoritism based on skin color (also known as colorism) can still be seen and experienced today. Several people who comment in the documentary point out that black people who rise to the very top levels of high-profile professions tend to be lighter-skinned than the average black person.

Beauty pageants have come a long way in being more diverse and inclusive, when it comes to race. Black women weren’t allowed to compete in the Miss America Pageant until the 1950s, but the pageant didn’t have its first black contestant until 1971. It’s why the Miss Black America Pageant (founded by the black entrepreneur J. Morris Anderson) launched in 1968.

“Subjects of Desire” mentions that 2018 was a historic year for black women in beauty pageants: For the first time in beauty pageant history, Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA were all black females in the same year. However, the Miss Black America contestants interviewed in the documentary say that these breakthroughs don’t mean that they do not experience the same racist prejudices inside and outside the beauty pageant circuit.

Miss Black America 2018 winner Ryann Richardson says that she learned early on in her beauty pageant experiences to put on makeup that would tone down her African-looking ethnicity, such as contouring her nose to look thinner. She makes no apologies for it and explains: “It was a means to an end. I never believed that I needed to look that way to be beautiful, to be Ryann, to be great to be excellent. But I did it to win.”

Richardson acknowledges that even though some judges still might prefer black contestants to look as “white” as possible, black women in beauty pageants are now given more freedom to wear their hair in different ways, compared to the hair restrictions that black beauty contestants had to adhere to in previous generations. Richardson adds, “I am a product of what Miss Black America inspired [by launching] in 1968, so it’s really interesting and really cool to think that 50 years later … I could be part of that Miss Black America legacy.”

Other contestants from the Miss Black America 2018 pageant who are interviewed in the documentary are first runner-up Alex Germain and second runner-up Seraiah Nicole. Just like the other contestants interviewed in the documentary, they both say that the best way a contestant can approach being part of a beauty pageant isn’t to see who’s judged as more “beautiful” than others but to build confidence and appreciation for an individual’s unique qualities. A beauty pageant is supposed to be a learning experience on how contestants, whether they win or lose, want to present themselves to the world.

Germain reveals another motivation for her to enter the world of beauty pageants: “I needed to feel as though I mattered and my voice mattered.” She remembers experiencing racist bullying when she was a child, when some boys from her school lined up and made monkey noises at her.

Germain comments on these painful memories and any racism she still experiences: “I had to be strong in myself and let those voices go … There are times when it still gets to me. You have to be your biggest motivator.” She adds, “You see the shifts in the North American beauty standards, but on the backs of black women.”

Like it or not, perceptions of beauty also spill over into how people judge other people’s personalities and intelligence without even knowing them. For black women, the stereotyping goes back to slavery and is often perpetuated by images in the media and in entertainment. “Subjects of Beauty” mentions three main stereotypes of black women, with video clips and photos used as examples:

  • Mammy: Nurturing, subservient (usually to white people) and sometimes sassy. In entertainment and media portrayals, she is usually a maid, housekeeper, nanny or some other type of servant.
  • Jezebel: Sexually promiscuous, usually dressed in revealing clothing and obsessed with being perceived as sexy. In entertainment and media portrayals, she is often a singer, actress, model, stripper, prostitute or other sex worker.
  • Sapphire: Quick-tempered, usually hostile and often a bully. In entertainment and media portrayals, she is the “angry black woman.”

Dr. Carolyn West, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, comments on these stereotypical images that don’t apply to all black women: “The Mammy, Jezebel and Sapphire stereotypes are deeply rooted in history. They haven’t gone away. They’ve just changed and morphed into different stereotypes.”

In “Subjects of Desire,” it’s pointed out that the Mammy physical stereotype (as illustrated by the controversial Aunt Jemima logo) is historically inaccurate because photos from the slavery days show that the house servants who helped take care of the kids were usually young and thin, not middle-aged and overweight. “Subjects of Desire” director Holness wrote the script used in the movie’s voiceover narration, which mentions that the Aunt Jemima brand “wasn’t just selling pancakes. They were selling the Mammy fantasy.”

The voiceover continues: “The de-eroticization of Mammy meant the white wife and, by extension, the white family [were safe]. But in truth, the Mammy was re-imagined to hide an extensive history of sexual violence and rape against black women.” The Jezebel stereotype was created to justify this sexual violence. The documentary mentions that it wasn’t until 1959, with the Betty Jean Owens case in Florida, that white men in the U.S. were given life sentences for raping a black woman.

And the Sapphire stereotype comes with a whole other set of issues. If a black woman is confident and asserts herself in the same way that men are frequently allowed to do, she is labeled “difficult.” Men can yell and scream on the job, but if a black woman does the same thing, she’s labeled a “problem” and is more likely to be fired because of it.

Simply put: The “angry black woman” stereotype has worse repercussions than the “angry white man” stereotype. In the documentary, black actress/singer Jully Black recalls the heated debate that she and white TV journalist Jeanne Beker had during the 2018 Canada Reads event (which is televised in Canada) as an example. In a clip shown in the documentary, Beker was quick to try to label her as an angry black woman on the attack, even though Black was being calm, articulate and reasonable.

“Subjects of Desire” asserts that white women also benefit from white supremacy when it comes to what is considered “attractive” in American society. A woman’s physical appearance can determine how she’s perceived and how much agency she has in public settings. White women can cry on the job, but if a black woman does it, she’s more likely to be labeled “out of control” and “unprofessional.” Crimes against white females are given higher priorities in media coverage than crimes against non-white females. And there’s no need to rehash obvious statistics of how black women are rarely allowed to advance to the top levels of an organization.

And that’s why representation matters. When people see only one race dominating as the gatekeepers of an industry, it creates a vicious cycle of racism where people think other races are not capable of doing just as well or better than the dominant race. And when it comes to female beauty standards, the general consensus in “Subjects of Desire” is that there’s been some progress in racial representation in front of the camera, but not enough progress behind the camera with people who make the major business decisions.

Thompson comments, “There’s a quote by [American feminist] Peggy Phelan: ‘If representation equaled power, then white women should feel like the most powerful people in the world, because that is actually the [beauty] image you see the most. White women are everywhere.'”

India.Arie says, “We all feel insecure about something. We live in this world that tells us that somebody is perfect, and you’re not.” The documentary mentions the Black Girl Magic movement, created by CaShawn Thompson in 2013, as a big leap forward in celebrating black female beauty. Black Girl Magic includes mentorships and other programs intended to help black females embrace themselves for who they are and not believe the racist lies that people are superior or inferior because of skin color.

If there’s any takeaway from this documentary, it’s that real change can only come when people push for it and stop supporting the people and practices that demean one race in order to elevate another. Cosmetics, hairstyles, clothing and plastic surgery are all personal choices. However, they shouldn’t come at the expense of people feeling devalued because of their race.

Germain says in the documentary: “The eyelashes, the lipstick—that doesn’t mean anything. I think when people see a pretty girl, you think they don’t have issues. But when you don’t love yourself, you don’t love anything.” And that’s why self-respect and healthy self-care are probably the biggest beauty assets of all.

BET Her launches ‘Urban Beauty TV’ series

March 26, 2021

The following is a press release from BET:

(Photo courtesy of BET Her)

Urban Beauty TV, the first syndicated show dedicated to health, beauty, and style told through a multicultural lens, premieres Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 10 PM EST exclusively on BET Her. Hosted by model and media personality Midori Amae, Urban Beauty TV shines a spotlight on some of our culture’s most innovative style architects as they share the stories behind building their successful brands.

R&B superstar Monica appears in the premiere episode alongside Michelle Rodriguez, Founder/CEO of Mielle Organics; Tahirah Carter, Founder/Owner of The Faded Beauty & Barber; Brianna Walton and Ashley Williams, Noire Beautè; Dr. Nia Banks, plastic surgeon; and Ms. Bling, Owner/Designer of MsBlingBling.com. Each week viewers will discover the latest in beauty products, trends, and routines from leading experts and pop culture staples including Yandy Smith-Harris, Serayah, Deborah Cox, and more.

ABOUT BET
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

HBO Max documentary series ‘Not So Pretty’ exposes the beauty industry

September 22, 2020

 

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max has greenlit Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s Jane Doe Films limited docuseries “Not So Pretty” from studio Entertainment One (eOne). The four episode, half-hour investigation-driven project will bring awareness to the lurking dangers in the commodities we all use every day without question for makeup, skin-care, nails, and hair. “Not So Pretty” is currently in production. 
 
“Not So Pretty” will mark the first-ever comprehensive large-scale investigative expose of the trillion-dollar cosmetics, beauty and personal care industry. Celebrated and groundbreaking filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (“On the Record,” “The Hunting Ground,” “The Invisible War”) will take this monolithic industry to task via rigorous investigations, incisive wit and emotional storytelling to inform audiences of the hidden hazards of and safe, budget-friendly alternatives for their daily products.
 
“’Not So Pretty’ is a landmark exposé that will both captivate and educate viewers,” says Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president original non-fiction and kids programming, HBO Max. “Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are masters of investigative storytelling and prime to reveal the unknown threats that affect us all. This series gives us the opportunity to spark change and arm consumers with the knowledge needed to make smarter personal care choices. We are pleased to continue our relationship with them after the acclaimed release of ‘On the Record.’”
 
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Kirby, Amy and the HBO Max team on this distinctly important project. ‘Not So Pretty’ is not just a gripping docuseries but also a vehicle to generate a crucial awareness among consumers. We can’t wait to share it with audiences around the world,” stated Tara Long, eOne’s President of Global Unscripted TV. 
 
Produced by eOne, the documentary is helmed and executive produced by Dick & Ziering. Tara Long of eOne will also executive produce. 

About HBO Max
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering, which debuted May 27, 2020. With 10,000 hours of curated premium content, HBO Max offers powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and fan favorites from WarnerMedia’s rich library including motion picture and TV series from Warner Bros., highlights from New Line, and catalog titles from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. 
Website: HBOMax.com
 
About WarnerMedia
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).
 
About Jane Doe Films 
Jane Doe Films (fka Chain Camera Pictures) is a prestigious, award-winning production company, home to the most groundbreaking investigatory documentaries today, headed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Hailed productions from the filmmakers include “On the Record,” “The Bleeding Edge,” “The Hunting Ground,” “The Invisible War,” “Outrage,” “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” and “Twist of Faith.” Their notable accolades include two Oscar nominations, two Emmy Awards, an Independent Spirit Award, a Peabody, the Producer’s Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer Award, and the George Polk Award for Special Achievement in Investigative Journalism. 
 
About eOne
Entertainment One Ltd. (eOne) is a talent-driven independent studio that specializes in the development, acquisition, production, financing, distribution and sales of entertainment content. As part of global play and entertainment company Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS), eOne’s expertise spans across film, television and music production and sales; family programming, merchandising and licensing; digital content; and live entertainment. Through its extensive reach and scale, and a deep commitment to high-quality entertainment, eOne unlocks the power and value of creativity.
 
eOne brings to market both original and existing content, sourcing IP from Hasbro’s portfolio of 1500+ brands, and through a diversified network of creative partners and eOne companies including: international feature film distribution company Sierra/Affinity; Amblin Partners with DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, and Reliance Entertainment; Makeready with Brad Weston; unscripted television production companies Renegade 83, Daisybeck, Blackfin and Whizz Kid Entertainment; live entertainment leaders Round Room Live; world-class music companies Audio Network, Dualtone Music Group and Last Gang; and award-winning emerging content and technology studio Secret Location.

Coronavirus cancellations and postponements in the fashion and beauty industries

March 16, 2020

by Daphne Sorenson

Updated June 30, 2020

Kacey Musgraves and Gemma Chan at the 2019 Met Gala in New York City, a star-studded annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The 2020 edition of the Met Gala is one of several events that have been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photos courtesy of Forevermark)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of numerous fashion events, as well as temporary closings of several fashion/beauty retailers and businesses that provide personal grooming services, such as beauty salons, barbershops, spas and nail salons. In the United States and other countries, public gatherings of more than 50 people per gathering are being banned, so any such gathering that was scheduled to take place in 2020 will most likely be cancelled or postponed. Most companies whose brick-and-mortar retail locations have temporarily closed will still have products and services available online.

Here’s a list of what’s been affected so far. This list will be updated with breaking news. All re-opening dates are subject to change, since individual states and cities have different phases on when companies and store locations will be allowed to re-open to the public.

UPDATE: Almost all of the retail stores listed below have re-opened with limited capacities for customers inside the stores. Policies about mask wearing and social distancing might vary, depending on the company and local laws. Please check with the individual store or company for more information.

Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister

The New Albany, Ohio-based clothing retailer (which includes the Hollister brand) has closed all of its stores in North America (as of March 15, 2020) and in Europe (as of March 16, 2020). The company’s stores in the Pacific Asia region will remain open.

Alice + Olivia

The New York City-based womenswear retailer has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Allbirds

The San Francisco-based footwear retailer has closed all of its stores in the U.S. and Europe until further notice, as of March 15, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

American Eagle Outfitters

The Pittsburgh-based clothing retailer has closed all its stores (including American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie) in North America  until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

American Events NE Materials Show

The event was scheduled to take place in Boston on February 5 and February 6, 2020, but the show has been rescheduled for July 22 and July 23, 2020.

American Events NW Materials Show

The event was scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon, on February 12 and February 13, 2020, but the show has been rescheduled for July 29 and July 30, 2020.

Ancient Greek Sandals

The Athens-based footwear company has closed all stores and operations until further notice.

Aritzia

The Vancouver-based womenswear company has closed its stores in North America until further notice, as of March 16, 2020.

Armani

The Armani Cruise 2021 Show was supposed to take place on April 19, 2020, but the show has been postponed until further notice. In related news, the opening of the Armani Dubai boutique that was scheduled for April 20, 2020, has been tentatively rescheduled for November 2020, on a date to be announced.

Ascena Retail Group

The Mahwah, New Jersey-based clothing retailer has closed all of its stores, including Ann Taylor, Factory Ann Taylor, Loft, Loft Outlet, Lane Bryant, Lou & Grey, Catherines and Justice. The stores are closed from March 18 to March 28, 2020. The re-opening dates for these operations are subject to change. (Updated March 17, 2020)

Benefit Cosmetics

The San Francisco-based cosmetics retailer has closed all of its Benefit Boutique and Brow Bar locations in the U.S. and Canada  until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Buck Mason

The Los Angeles-based menswear company has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 14, 2020.

Burlington

The Burlington Township, New Jersey-based discount clothing retailer announced that it is reducing store hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

Canada Goose

The York, Canada-based clothing retailer has closed all of its stores in North America and Europe until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

CFDA Fashion Awards

The annual Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards show in New York City has been postponed until further notice. The award ceremony had been scheduled to take place on June 8, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)

Chanel

The Paris-based luxury brand has closed all of its stores in the U.S.  until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Chico’s FAS

The Fort Myers, Florida-based clothing retailer is closing all of its stores in North America, including Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma Intimates and TellTale, until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Columbia Sportswear

The Portland, Oregon-based clothing company has closed its stores in North America until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Desigual

The Barcelona-based clothing retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. The company’s stores in Spain, Italy and Portugal already closed earlier in March 2020. (Updated March 17, 2020)

Dior

The Paris-based luxury retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. In related news, the Dior Cruise 2021 show was scheduled to take place in Lecce, Italy, on May 9, 2020, but the show has been postponed until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

DSW

The Columbus, Ohio-based discount shoes/accessories retailer (also known as Designer Shoe Warehouse) has closed all of its stores, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

Everlane

The San Francisco-based ethical fashion brand has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 15, 2020.

Foot Locker

The New York City-based sportswear retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Fossil

The Richardson, Texas-based accessories company has closed all of its stores in North America until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Gap, Inc.

The San Francisco-based company (whose stores include Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix, Hill City and Athleta) has closed most of its stores worldwide until further notice. The stores that remain open will have reduced hours.

Glossier

The New York City-based beauty retailer has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 13, 2020. A new Glossier store had been scheduled to open in Atlanta on March 18, 2020, but that opening has been postponed.

GOAT

The Culver City, Calfornia-based athletic-shoe/streetwear reseller has closed seller drop-off locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, until further notice.

Goop

Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand closed all of its non-pop-up stores until further notice, as of March 14, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Greats

The luxury athletic-shoe brand has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 15, 2020.

H&M

The Stockholm-based discount clothing retailer issued this vague statement on March 18, 2020: “In response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak, we have already, or will shortly, close many of our stores. In stores that remain open or are re-opened, we’re prepared to respond quickly to any emerging situation.” In North America, all H&M stores closed until further notice, as of March 15, 2020. H&M also includes the store brands Cos and Arket. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Helmut Lang

The luxury designer has closed its New York City store, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

J. Crew

The New York City-based clothing retailer has closed all of its J. Crew and J. Crew Factory stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

JCPenney

The Plano, Texas-based retailer has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 18, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Journelle

The New York City-based luxury lingerie brand will close its New York City stores, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice.

Kering

The Paris-based parent company of Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Brioni and Pomellato is closing all of its store locations in the U.S. and Canada, from March 17, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

Kiehl’s

The New York City-based skincare beauty retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

Kith

The New York City-based streetwear company has closed all of its U.S. stores as of March 16, 2020, until further notice.

Kohl’s

The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based retailer has closed from March 19 to April 1, 2020. The re-opening date is subject to change. In related news, Kohl’s announced on March 17, 2020, that it has partnered with Land’s End to offer the entire Land’s End assortment of women’s, men’s, kids, and home merchandise on Kohls.com, directly fulfilled and shipped by Lands’ End, beginning in the fall 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)

Lafayette 148

The Brooklyn, New York-based womenswear retailer is closed until further notice, as of March 22, 2020. (Updated March 22, 2020)

Lands’ End

The Dodgeville, Wisconsin-based clothing retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Lululemon Athletica Inc.

The Vancouver-based retailer that sells athletic-oriented clothes and other products closed all of its stores in North America and Europe until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Levi Strauss & Co.

The San Francisco-based denim retailer has closed all of its North American stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

L.L. Bean

The Freeport, Maine-based outdoor/athletic gear retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Lush

The Poole, United Kingdom-based beauty-product retailer has closed all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada, from until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Macy’s, Inc.

The New York City-based retailer has closed all of its stores, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bluemercury, Macy’s Backstage, Bloomingdales the Outlet and Market by Macy’s. The stores  until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Met Gala

The star-studded annual fashion event, held in New York City on the first Monday in May to benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, has been postponed until further notice. This year’s Met Gala was originally scheduled for May 4, 2020.

ModelLand

The grand opening of Tyra Banks’ fashion/beauty theme park in Santa Monica, California, has been postponed until further notice. Although there hadn’t been a specific opening date set, ModelLand was expected to open in the spring of 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)

Neiman Marcus Group

The Dallas-based luxury retailer has closed all of its stores (including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Last Call) from March 17, 2020 until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

New Balance

The athletic shoe/clothing company has closed its office, factory, and retail stores in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Nike

The Beaverton, Oregon-based athletic shoe/clothing company (which includes the Converse brand) has closed all of its stores in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Nordstrom

The Seattle-based retailer has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Opening Ceremony

The New York City-based clothing company has closed all of its store locations until further notice.

Outdoor Voices

The Austin, Texas-based athletic fashion/gear company has closed  all of its U.S. stores until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Patagonia

The Ventura, California-based outdoor/athletic company has closed all stores and operations until further notice, as of March 13, 2020.

Phillip Lim

The New York City-based designer clothing retailer has closed all of its stores outside of Asia until further notice.

Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH)

The New York City-based parent company of the brands Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, IZOD, Arrow, Warner’s, Olga, True & Co. and Geoffrey Beene is closing of all its retail stores in North America and Europe until further notice, as of March 17, 2020.  Many of the  PVH-owned stores in the Asia Pacific region have re-opened, but some have reduced hours.

Prada Cruise 2021 Show

This runway show was set to take place on May 21, 2020, but has now been postponed until further notice.

Ralph Lauren

The New York City-based luxury fashion company, which includes the brands Ralph Lauren and Club Monaco, has closed all of its stores in the U.S. and some other countries, until further notice, as of March 18, 2020. The re-opening date is subject to change. In related news, the Ralph Lauren Fall 2020 runway show has been postponed until further notice. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Rebecca Minkoff

The New York City-based fashion company has reduced hours at all of its store locations until further notice.

Reformation

The Los Angeles-based clothing retailer has closed all of its stores, as of March 14, 2020, until further notice.

REI

The Kent, Washington-based company, whose specialty is outdoor/athletic products (including clothes), has closed all of its stores worldwide until further notice.

Ross Dress for Less

The Dublin, California-based discount clothing retailer has closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 20, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Rothy

The San Francisco-based shoe company has closed all of its U.S. stores until further notice.

RuPaul’s DragCon LA

This annual Los Angeles event celebrating drag queens has been cancelled. RuPaul’s DragCon LA, whose vendors are mostly in the fashion and beauty industries, had been scheduled to take place May 1 to May 3, 2020.

Saks Fifth Avenue

The New York City-based luxury retailer has closed all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada until further notice, as of March 18, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Sephora

The Paris-based beauty-product retailer has closed some stores and reduced hours at other stores that remain open. Sephora customers need to check with an individual store to find out what the situation is at that location.

Shanghai Fashion Week

Shanghai Fashion Week in China was scheduled for March 26 to April 2, 2020, but has now been postponed until further notice.

Supreme 

The New York City-based streetwear company has closed of all its stores until further notice.

Tailored Brands

The Houston-based menswear retailer (which includes Men’s Wearhouse and the Jos. A. Bank) has closed all of its U.S. stores until further notice, as of March 17, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Tapestry, Inc.

The New York City-based luxury fashion company (which owns the brands Kate Spade, Coach and Stuart Weitzman) has closed all of its stores until further notice.

Target 

The Minneapolis-based retailer has reduced hours at all of its stores, as of March 18, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 18, 2020)

Tiffany and Co.

The New York City-based luxury jewelry retailer has closed all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 17, 2020)

TJ Maxx

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based discount clothing retailer has closed all of its stores, as of March 19, 2020, until further notice. (Updated March 19, 2020)

Ulta Beauty

The Bolingbrook, Illinois-based beauty-product retailer has temporarily closed some locations and reduced hours of other locations that remain open. In-store hair services are discontinued until further notice, as of March 16, 2020.

Under Armour

The Baltimore-based streetwear fashion company has closed all of its store locations in North America until further notice, as of March 16, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Uniqlo

The Yamaguchi, Japan-based clothing retailer has closed all of its U.S. stores, as of March 17, 2020, until further notice.

Urban Outfitters, Inc.

The Philadelphia-based clothing retailer has closed until further notice all of its stores worldwide, including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, BHLDN, Free People and Terrain.

Versace Cruise 2021 Show

This co-ed runway show was set to take place on May 16, 2020, but has now been postponed until further notice.

VF Corp.

Denver-based VF Corp. has several retail brands that include Jansport, North Face, Timberland, Vans, Altra, Bulwark Protection, Dickies, Eagle Creek, Eastpak, Horace Small, Icebraker, Kipling, Kodiak, Napapijri, Red Kap, Smartwool, Terra, VF Solutions and Walls Outdoor Goods. The company has closed its stores in North America and in continental Europe until further notice. Any re-opening date is subject to change. The company’s stories in the United Kingdom and Asia are operating at reduced hours. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Victoria’s Secret

The Columbus, Ohio-based lingerie/swimwear company (which includes Victoria’s Secret and Pink) has closed all of its brick-and-mortar stores until further notice. The Victoria’s Secret online store is closed until March 29, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)

Walmart

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant is reducing store hours at its U.S. locations, as of March 15, 2020.

Warby Parker

The New York City-based eyeglass retailer closed all of its stores until further notice, as of March 15, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)

Fashion and beauty moguls show more gains on 2019 Forbes list of America’s richest self-made women

June 4, 2019

by Yvette Thomas

Forbes has published its 2019 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, and what’s notable about this year’s list of 80 women is that several of the new entries on the newly expanded list are entrepreneurs from the fashion and beauty industries: Rihanna, Patricia Miller, Toni Ko and Karissa Bodnar. The women eligible to be on the list are U.S. citizens or U.S. residents who founded a company that is headquartered in the United States. All net-worth figures are estimated by Forbes, as of June 3, 2019.

Here’s a summary of the moguls from the fashion and beauty industries who made it onto the list:

The Billionaire Moguls

Doris Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc., is ranked at No. 8 (same as in 2018), and has an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, down from $2.8 billion in 2018. Gap Inc. is the parent company of such fashion retailers as Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix, Weddington Way and Athleta. Although Gap Inc. has been hit hard in recent months with closures of many of its stores, don’t expect Fisher to lose her billionaire status anytime soon.

Tied at No. 14, with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion each, are Forever 21 co-founder Jin Sook Chang and Proactiv co-founders Kathy Fields and Katie Rodan. Chang, Fields and Rodan have the same rankings and net worths as they did in 2018. Forever 21 has successfully extended its youth-oriented fashion brand with the launch of lower-priced retailer F21 Red and the beauty retailer Riley Rose. Proactiv’s winning subscription-based business model, boosted by celebrity endorsements of the company’s skin-care products, has made Proactiv the leading mail-order service for non-prescription acne treatment.

Anastasia Soare, who built a cosmetics empire with her Anastasia Beverly Hills brand, holds on to her No. 21 ranking on the list, but her net worth increased from $1 billion in 2018 to $1.2 billion in 2019. Spanx founder Sara Blakely is No. 23 (down from No. 21 in 2018) on the list, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion (same as in 2018), thanks to her patented invention that changed the way undergarments can shape a body. Kylie Cosmetics founder Kylie Jenner has now entered billionaire status: She’s tied at No. 23, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. Jenner was No. 27 on the list in 2018, with an estimated net worth of $900 million. With the help of mother/manager Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner parlayed her reality TV fame and social-media savvy into the Kylie Cosmetics company, which was founded in 2016. At 21 years old, Kylie Jenner is the youngest person on the entire list.

The Veteran Millionaire Moguls

Most of the women on the list have companies that are more than 10 years old. Some have literally made their fortunes by their names, since their names are the same as their companies. They include fashion designer Tory Burch (No. 29 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $850 million, up from $800 million in 2018, where she was also ranked at No. 29); jewelry designer Kendra Scott (No. 40, net worth of $550 million; up from $500 million in 2018, where she was also ranked at No. 40); fashion designer Vera Wang (No. 45, net worth of $460 million); and fashion designer Donna Karan (No. 49, net worth of $430 million).

Alex & Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian (who has a majority stake in the accessories company) took a steep tumble down the list. In 2018, she was ranked at No. 21, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. In 2019, Rafaelian is No. 52 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $520 million. Wang’s fortune also took a hit:  In 2018, she was at No. 34 on the list, with a net worth of $630 million. Also sliding down the list was Karan: In 2018, she was No. 43 on the list, with a net worth of $470 million.

Paisley designs have off well for Vera Bradley co-founder Patricia Miller (No. 69, net worth of $300 million), who retired from the accessories company in 2012, but still rakes in a fortune as a significant stakeholder. NYX Cosmetics founder Toni Ko (No. 75, net worth of $270 million) sold the company to L’Oréal for $500 million in 2014. In 2016, she launched  sunglasses company Thomas James LA. She is also a venture capitalist; her Butter Ventures company invests primarily in female-owned businesses.

The Upstart Millionaire Moguls

Fashion and beauty moguls on the list who have companies that are less than 10 years old owe most of their marketing success to TV and social media.

Rihanna (No. 37, net worth of $600 million) is best known as a Grammy-winning superstar singer, but she’s made much of her fortune through the beauty and fashion industries. Her inclusive cosmetics company Fenty Beauty (launched in 2017) was an immediate hit. She’s also partnered with Puma for a Fenty brand of shoes. In 2019, Rihanna made fashion history by joining forces with fashion giant LVMH (parent company of Louis Vuitton, among numerous other brands) to create her own fashion brand called Fenty. With this partnership deal, Rihanna became the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH and the first woman of color at the top of an LVMH house.

Huda Kuttan (No. 36, net worth of $610 million), who started off as a makeup artist, became a beauty blogger in 2010, and then used that Internet notoriety to launch the Huda Beauty cosmetics company, which she co-founded with her sisters in 2013. Kuttan’s fortunes have increased every year since then. On 2018, she was No. 37 on the Forbes list, with a net worth of $550 million. She is also the star of a Facebook Watch reality show titled “Huda Boss,” which debuted in June 2018, and has been renewed for a second season.

Jamie Kern Lima (No. 47, net worth of $440 million) used to be a TV reporter, but transitioned into the beauty industry by founding It Cosmetics in 2010, when she first began selling the company’s products on QVC. In 2016, she sold the company to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion, while still retaining leadership of It Cosmetics, making her the first female CEO of a L’Oréal-owned company. Kern Lima’s net worth remains the same from 2018, although she was ranked higher on the list (at No. 44) in 2018.

Kylie Jenner’s half-sister and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” co-star Kim Kardashian West (No. 57, net worth of $370 million) has made most of her fortune from reality TV and licensing her name to video games, but Kardashian West’s fashion/beauty ventures (including KKW Beauty, the cosmetics line that Kardashian West launched in 2017) have contributed significantly to her wealth. Although Kardshian West is ranked lower on the list in 2019 (she was No. 54 in 2018), her net worth has increased from $350 million in 2018.

In 2013, makeup artist Karissa Bodnar (No. 74, net worth of $275 million) left her corporate job at L’Oréal and made the leap into entrepreneurship by launching Thrive Causemetics, “a direct-to-consumer makeup brand that sells products that are vegan, cruelty-free and without parabens, latex and sulfates,” according to Forbes. Instagram has been a key factor in Thrive Causemetics’ success.

Sephora closes for half-day diversity training after SZA claims she was racially profiled

May 25, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

On the morning of June 5, 2019, beauty-store company Sephora is temporarily closing all of its U.S. retail stores, distribution centers and corporate offices for a diversity-training program for company employees. The decision came after R&B singer SZA (whose real name is Solána Rowe) went public with an accusation that she was racially profiled by Sephora. According to SZA, the incident happened on April 30, 2019, while she was shopping at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California. SZA says that she had security called on her because she was wrongfully suspected of shoplifting.

SZA tweeted that day, “Lmao Sandy Sephora location 614 Calabasas called security to make sure I wasn’t stealing . We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy.”

In response to SZA’s complaint, Sephora tweeted: “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores.”

In a statement on its community page, Sephora announced: “On the morning of 6/5, every Sephora store, distribution center, and corporate office in the US will close to host inclusion workshops for our employees. These values have always been at the heart of Sephora, and we’re excited to welcome everyone when we reopen. Join us in our commitment to a more inclusive beauty community.

Ironically, SZA says she was at Sephora to shop for Fenty Beauty products. SZA was part of Fenty’s lipstick campaign in 2017. Fenty founder Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, sent a gift card and a handwritten note to SZA that read, “Go buy yo’ Fenty Beauty in peace sis! One love, Rihanna.” SZA shared these messages on an Instagram Story.

SZA is best known for her collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for the song “All the Stars” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack. The song was nominated for numerous awards, including an Oscar and a Grammy.

This isn’t the first accusation of discrimination that Sephora has faced on social media. There are dozens of messages from angry customers who claim that they were racially profiled as potential criminals, even though they say they didn’t do anything wrong.  Sephora has also been getting complaints on social media about discriminating against customers over the age of 40 and customers who have physical and intellectual challenges, by treating them rudely and dismissively. It looks like it took a celebrity to go public with a discrimination complaint before Sephora tried to do anything about it.

Turner and Jenna Lyons announce partnership that includes a style-focused TV series

October 8, 2018

Jenna Lyons (Photo by Charles Sykes/Bravo)

The following is a press release from Turner:

Turner and Jenna Lyons announced today a new, multi-disciplinary partnership at the intersection of lifestyle, home, fashion and beauty—bringing Jenna’s approachable, finely curated point of view to a broader audience. This venture will integrate all elements of today’s media landscape including television, e-commerce, social media and direct to consumer platforms.

Launching in 2019, Lyons and Turner will unveil an unscripted series at the center of an integrated lifestyle space, comprised of daily online content and direct-to-consumer commerce that will evolve into a full-fledged digital platform in 2020.

Throughout her career, Lyons has been driven by a passion to meld desire and approachability into a cohesive vision of interiors, fashion and beauty. At the heart of her work is the belief that aspiration and accessibility can co-exist. This thoughtfully edited platform will provide individuals the tools to create their own style narratives.

“We want to try something new,” says Lyons. “I want to build a story-driven, comprehensive resource for anyone to satisfy their personal style and help them make aesthetic choices. And we will bring that together with real time entertainment with Kevin Reilly and the team at Turner, where I’ve found an inspiring and open-minded approach to thinking about commerce across multiple platforms.”

“In addition to her notable leadership, I, like millions of Americans, was taken with Jenna’s role in shaping J. Crew Group’s growth and strategic transformation,” says Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer, Turner Entertainment. “I couldn’t think of a better partner for this next-generation fusion of media, lifestyle, and commerce.”

In collaboration with Turner, Lyons will share her curatorial perspective in a weekly television series produced by Our House Media with Matt Hanna, Simon Lloyd and Hillary Olsen executive producing.

“Our House Media is super excited about working with Jenna and Turner to create something that’s never been done,” says Matt Hanna, President, Our House Media USA. “The timing seems just right to finally crack the content-commerce puzzle. And connecting a personality like Jenna with the vision of Turner presents us with an incredible creative opportunity.”

Observatory, the marketing agency led by CEO Jae Goodman, will consult Turner, Lyons and Our House Media on the platform’s brand relationships, marketing, and content-meets-commerce approach.

Goodman adds, “The relationship between brands and entertainment has been the same for fifty years: Commerce interrupts content in the form of ads. This new venture will move beyond this convention to create a world where the content is the commerce and vice versa, delivered with Jenna Lyons’ signature style and approachability.”

Today’s announcement is a continuation of Turner’s initiative to expand relationships with talent into multiple, diverse business platforms. In May, TBS announced an expanded partnership with Conan O’Brien though a new joint venture, the first iteration of which is a multi-city comedy tour kicking off Friday, November 2.

Throughout her career, Lyons has been driven by a passion to meld desire and approachability into a cohesive vision of design, fashion and beauty. At the heart of her work is the belief that aspiration and accessibility can co-exist. During her 27-year tenure at J. Crew culminating into Executive Creative Director and President, Lyons built a talented team that brought a singular, inclusive and joyful vision to the brand. Lyons graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1990 and landed her first job at J. Crew Group when she was 21.

About Turner
Turner, a WarnerMedia company, is a global entertainment, sports and news company that creates premium content and delivers exceptional experiences to fans whenever and wherever they consume content. These efforts are fueled by data-driven insights and industry-leading technology. Turner owns and operates some of the most valuable brands in the world, including Adult SwimBleacher Report,BoomerangCartoon NetworkCNNELEAGUEFilmStruckGreat Big StoryHLN,iStreamPlanetSuper DeluxeTBSTurner Classic Movies (TCM)TNTtruTV andTurner Sports.

Beauty influencer meltdowns: How scandals and gossip are damaging the careers of Laura Lee, Manny MUA and other makeup gurus

August 28, 2018

by Yvette Thomas

Laura Lee and Manny MUA
Laura Lee and Manny MUA

The year 2018 will be remembered as a dramatic turn in the industry of social-media beauty influencers who became famous for their postings, usually about makeup, on YouTube and Instagram. As a result of offensive posts on the Internet, beauty influencers Laura Lee and Manny MUA have lost thousands of YouTube subscribers and have taken a temporary break from social media.

Within a period of two weeks, Laura Lee had her Laura Lee Los Angeles business terminated by Ulta, Morphe, Diff Eyewear, ColourPop Cosmetics and BoxyCharm after racist comments that she tweeted in 2012 were exposed. In the racist tweet, she said, “Tip for all black people if you pull ur pants up you can run from the police faster.. #yourwelcome.” She also made several fat-shaming tweets in 2013 that were exposed in mid-August 2018.

Before the scandal, Lee had 5 million subscribers on YouTube. After the scandal, she lost approximately 533,000 subscribers from August 15 to August 28, 2018, according to Social Blade. When the racist tweet was first exposed, Lee did not address the matter for a few days and continued doing her usual videos about makeup. After the scandal became too big to ignore, she temporarily deactivated her Twitter account, and deleted thousands of tweets, and then posted an apology on Twitter. When companies started dropping her, Lee then posted an emotional apology video on August 19. However, the apology video seems to have done more damage to Lee’s reputation than done any good because people have blasted her for being insincere in the video. For example, she insisted that the offensive comments were retweets from other people, not tweets she actually wrote. Screenshots taken of the comments show that they were actually tweets from Lee’s account.

In addition, Lee received a lot of criticism for her demeanor in the apology video, with many commenters on the Internet calling her remorse “fake” and her tearful wailing “bad acting.” Her apology video currently has a 92 percent “dislike” disapproval rating from people on YouTube.

Lee’s close friend Manny MUA has also felt the sting of a massive public backlash. His association with Lee and his refusal so far to publicly comment on her offensive remarks have caused him to lose more than 313,000 subscribers (from August 15 to August 28, 2018, according to Social Blade) and announce that he is taking a break from social media. His YouTube subscriber base is barely hanging on to a range of 5 million.

Lee’s scandal came on the heels of Manny MUA making an apology video after old footage surfaced of him seeming to mock a female fan by rolling his eyes and laughing at her when she walked past him at a meet-and-greet. The fan, who happens to have a form of autism, had posted a video detailing how hurt she was by the alleged insult. In his apology video, Manny MUA explained that he was not mocking the girl but was embarrassed because she had bypassed him to hug fellow makeup guru Jeffree Star. Manny MUA’s apology video also has a majority of “dislikes” on YouTube.

Manny MUA also lost a lot of goodwill in July 2018, when his company Lunar Beauty botched sales of its first palette, Life’s a Drag, by mistakenly giving refunds to some PayPal customers after the customers received what they purchased. In an embarrassing PR move, Lunar Beauty then sent an email to those customers to inform them of the error, and asked them to send the money back. It’s unknown how many of the customers actually complied with that request, but the mistake was no doubt a costly one for Lunar Beauty.

Lee isn’t the first social-media beauty guru to have been hit by a scandal over offensive remarks made years ago. In 2017, Jeffree Star (a former friend of Lee and Manny MUA) was slammed when videos from 2009 showed him making racist comments, including using the “n” word and a video where he suggested throwing battery acid on a black woman’s face so her skin would be light enough to match shades of foundation.

Star, who owns his own eponymous makeup company, made an apology video where he said, in part: “In these videos, I say some really disgusting, vile, nasty and embarrassing things … I look at them and I see them resurface and it makes me sick to my stomach because I do not know who that person was . . . the person that said those horrible vile things, that person was depression, that person was just angry at the world, that person felt like they were not accepted, that person was seeking attention.”

Star, whose makeup is sold worldwide and at U.S. retailers such as Morphe and Beautylish, did not suffer any significant damage to his career, as his business partners continued to work with him. The difference between what happened to Star and what happened to Lee comes down to timing and the perception of sincerity.

In Star’s case, he addressed the scandal right away, and the feedback that he got from most people who commented on his apology video was that his apology seemed sincere, and people believed that he had evolved into a better person since those racist videos were made. Star has also gotten ahead of any other potential scandals by teaming up with with fellow YouTube star Shane Dawson to do a series of confessional videos where Star reveals secrets from his past, including his history of self-mutilation.

However, the #MeToo movement has ushered in sweeping changes in how people are punished for offensive comments and behavior, so if Star’s racism scandal had happened in 2018, he might not have recovered as quickly, even with the best apology.

Star has famously feuded with other beauty gurus such as Kat Von D and Too Faced co-founder Jerrod Blandino. But Star’s videos that show him self-exposing his vulnerabilities have endeared him to fans, and what appears to be his sincere ownership of his flaws has apparently made him more “forgivable” than the beauty gurus who are more reluctant to own up to their mistakes.

Kat Von D, who became famous as a tattoo artist on reality shows “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink,” started her Kat Von D Beauty company in 2008. In June 2018, she faced major backlash when she posted on Instagram that she and her husband would not be vaccinating their son because they believe that vaccinations are dangerous. Von D lost thousands of subscribers on Instagram, the social-media platform where she has the most followers (about 6.6 million), but she held firm and did not make an apology. According to Social Blade, in recent weeks she hasn’t been losing Instagram followers, but she hasn’t made any significant gains either.

Social media’s influence in the beauty and fashion industries cannot be under-estimated, as numerous beauty influencers have become multi-millionaires based on how they market themselves on social media, not from having any experience or training in the industry. The biggest example is reality TV star Kylie Jenner of Kylie Cosmetics, who has a net worth of $900 million, according to Forbes.

Beauty influencers with millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram usually command “sponsorship” fees to give positive reviews or recommendations of products. Those fees can be upwards of $60,000 to $80,000 for a YouTube video or $20,000 to $30,000 for an Instagram post. A typical beauty influencer posts hundreds of videos and photos a year, so it’s easy to see why people want a piece of the action to get rich.

With all that money to be made and with competition so fierce to gain new followers/subscribers, the gossip that has swirled around social-media beauty influencers has exploded and spawned a growing number of YouTube channels specifically created to cover the drama around these beauty influencers. The need to expose these influencers’ pasts in a tabloid-like manner is a sign of how much things have changed in how people react to YouTube stars.

In August 2018, a group photo of social-media beauty influencers Lee, Manny MUA, Gabriel Zamora and Nikita Dragun showing their middle fingers with the caption “Bitch is bitter because without him we’re doing better” caused an uproar on social media because people speculated that it was an insult aimed at Star. All of this “drama” over one photo actually caught the attention of several media outlets such as Cosmopolitan, Teen VogueVox and Clevver News. Zamora also came under fire after it was exposed that he used the “n” -word racial insult in a past tweet. In an apology video on YouTube, Zamora said he was sorry for his past racial slurs. Zamora also admitted to adding the derogatory caption to the group photo without the other photo subjects’ knowledge, and that the caption was meant as an insult to Star, who accepted Zamora’s apology in a separate video. In the video, Zamora publicly ended his friendship with Manny MUA, whom he called “toxic.”

The apology worked for Zamora. After he posted his video on August 21, he gained 341,000 YouTube subscribers in one week, with more than 204,000 gained on the day after the video was posted, according to Social Blade. In the week before posting the apology, he lost more than 6,700 subscribers. As of this writing, Zamora has 778,700 subscribers on YouTube.

Reality TV has spawned its share of “15 minutes of fame” stars, but YouTube stars are a different breed. The biggest difference between today’s YouTube stars and today’s reality TV stars is that YouTube stars don’t have to rely on being cast in TV shows to keep their fame going. Unless they do something that gets them kicked off of YouTube and kills their careers, YouTube stars will have their YouTube channels, which they control, as their way to get the fame and money that most people don’t have. But as Lee, Manny MUA, and others have learned, with that fame comes the scrutiny of people who can’t wait to expose more scandals.

Fashion and beauty moguls increase clout on Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women

July 11, 2018

by Yvette Thomas

Forbes has published its 2018 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, and what’s notable about this year’s list of 60 women is that four of the seven new entries on the list are entrepreneurs from the fashion and beauty industries: Anastasia Soare, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West and Huda Kuttan. The women eligible to be on the list are U.S. citizens who founded a company that is headquartered in the United States. All net-worth figures are estimated by Forbes, as of July 10, 2018.

Here’s a summary of the moguls from the fashion and beauty industries who made it onto the list:

The Billionaire Moguls

Doris Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc., is ranked at No. 8, and has an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion. Gap Inc. is the parent company of such fashion retailers as Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix, Weddington Way and Athleta. Although Gap Inc. has been hit hard in recent months with closures of many of its stores, don’t expect Fisher to lose her billionaire status anytime soon.

Tied at No. 13, with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion each, are Forever 21 co-founder Jin Sook Chang and Proactiv co-founders Kathy Fields and Katie Rodan. Forever 21 has successfully extended its youth-oriented fashion brand with the launch of lower-priced retailer F21 Red and the beauty retailer Riley Rose. Proactiv’s winning subscription-based business model, boosted by celebrity endorsements of the company’s skin-care products, has made Proactiv the leading mail-order service for non-prescription acne treatment.

Spanx founder Sara Blakely is No. 21 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion, thanks to her patented invention that changed the way undergarments can shape a body.  Also tied at No. 21, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion each, are Alex & Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian (who has a majority stake in the accessories company) and Anastasia Soare, who built a cosmetics empire with her Anastasia Beverly Hills brand.

The Veteran Millionaire Moguls 

Most of the women on the list have companies that are more than 10 years old. Some have literally made their fortunes by their names, since their names are the same as their companies. They include fashion designer Tory Burch (No. 29 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $800 million); fashion designer Vera Wang (No. 34,  net worth of $630 million); jewelry designer Kendra Scott (No. 40, net worth of $500 million); and fashion designer Donna Karan (No. 43, net worth of $470 million).

The Upstart Millionaire Moguls

Fashion and beauty moguls on the list who have companies that are less than 10 years old owe most of their marketing success to TV and social media. With the help of mother/manager Kris Jenner,  Kylie Jenner (No. 27 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $900 million) parlayed her reality TV fame and social-media savvy into the Kylie Cosmetics company, which was founded in 2016. Kylie’s half-sister and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” co-star Kim Kardashian West (No. 54, net worth of $350 million) has made most of her fortune from reality TV and licensing her name to video games, but Kardashian West’s fashion/beauty ventures have contributed significantly to her wealth. KKW Beauty, the cosmetics line that Kardashian West launched in 2017, had $100 million in sales in its first year, according to Forbes.

Huda Kuttan (No. 37,  net worth of $550 million), who started off as a makeup artist, became a beauty blogger in 2010, and then used that Internet notoriety to launch the Huda Beauty cosmetics company, which she co-founded with her sisters in 2013. Jamie Kern Lima (No. 44, net worth of $440 million) used to be a TV reporter, but transitioned into the beauty industry by founding It Cosmetics in 2010, when she first began selling the company’s products on QVC. In 2016, she sold the company to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion, while still retaining leadership of It Cosmetics, making her the first female CEO of a L’Oréal-owned company

Ariana Grande announces details of her Cloud fragrance

June 28, 2018

Global superstar Ariana Grande unveils a breakthrough new fragrance concept adding to her award-winning, successful franchise. In partnership with LUXE Brands, Grande is releasing her newest fragrance, Ariana Grande CLOUD, this fall 2018 exclusively at Ulta Beauty in the US and Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada.

Ariana Grande is one of the most influential and successful performers of our time. Her latest single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” debuted at #1 on iTunes in 88 countries worldwide making her the first artist in music history to see the lead single from her first four albums debut in the Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100. To date, this single marks Ariana’s most successful debut leading up to her highly anticipated fourth album, “Sweetener,” and now her newest fragrance, Ariana Grande CLOUD.

Grande’s success in the beauty industry has soared to new heights. The songstress’s fragrance franchise has been touted as one of the most successful celebrity fragrances in recent years. In 2017, the Ariana Grande fragrance brand boasted upwards of $150 Million in sales since launch. Joel Ronkin, CEO of LUXE Brands states, “Each of Ariana’s fragrances continues to surpass expectations, simply defying the trajectory of celebrity fragrances. This is a true testament to her ability to connect with her fans and her incredible passion to deliver a superior fragrance for them. We are incredibly honored to partner once again with such an influential and aspirational artist and look forward to continued success with the launch of CLOUD.”

Ariana Grande CLOUD is a joyful, new creation inspired by optimism and hope. This dreamy new bottle design stands apart from her existing fragrance franchise. The uplifting and addictive new scent imbues a thoughtful, artistic expression of positivity and happiness from Ariana to her fans.

I love clouds, and I love this new fragrance. It is my favorite one yet!” exclaims Grande.

THE FRAGRANCE
Ariana Grande CLOUD opens with a dreamy top blend of alluring lavender blossom, forbidden juicy pear and mouthwatering bergamot. The heart features a whipped touch of crème de coconut, indulgent praline and exotic, vanilla orchid. Sensual musks and creamy woods fade out for a cashmere-like feeling that seduces the senses.

TOP
Lavender Blossom
Juicy Pear
Bergamot

HEART
Crème de Coconut
Praline
Vanilla Orchid

DRY DOWN
Sensual Musks
Creamy Woods

THE DESIGN
The Ariana Grande CLOUD bottle was inspired by a natural cloud and all the optimism and youthful spirit brought from looking up at the sky juxtaposed with what the cloud means in the current digital age. The sleek modern bottle with subtle blue glow rests in a soft, animated white, puffy cloud base. An uplifting moment, resting on a cloud looking to a bright future on the horizon. The iconic bottle is ultimately wrapped in a holographic pixel carton, a nod to the digital world that connects all of us.

THE PRODUCTS

Eau de Parfum Spray, 3.4 FL OZ/100 mL                     

$59.00

Eau de Parfum Spray, 1.7 FL OZ/50 mL                       

$49.00

Eau de Parfum Spray, 1.0 FL OZ/30 mL                        

$39.00

Eau de Parfum Purse Spray, .33 FL OZ/10 mL                  

$20.00

All prices are manufacturer’s suggested retail prices in US dollars.

Available fall 2018 at Ulta Beauty in the US, Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada and on ArianaGrande.com. The brand will roll out to additional prestige retailers late fall.

ABOUT ARIANA GRANDE
With her powerful vocals and astonishing range, Ariana Grande has emerged as one of the most magnetic and massively successful performers in pop music today. At age 24, she’s delivered three platinum-selling albums and surpassed 18 billion streams, in addition to nabbing four Grammy Award nominations and landing eight hits in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With her most recent album — 2016’s critically acclaimed Dangerous Woman — Grande both boldly defies expectation and reveals the full force of her voice (recently hailed as an “extraordinary, versatile, limitless instrument” upon Grande’s appearance on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list).

Since making her full-length debut with 2013’s “Yours Truly” (featuring the game-changing, triple-platinum smash “The Way”), Grande has brought her striking vocal presence to a genre-blurring breed of pop, taking on R&B, soul, and electronic music with equal nuance and assurance. Arriving in 2014, her sophomore effort, “My Everything,” garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album and spawned the 6x-platinum hits “Problem” and “Bang Bang” (a Grammy nominee for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance). Through the years, the longtime actress and former Broadway star has proven the scope of her talent by appearing on “Scream Queens” and “Hairspray Live!” and showcased her comedic chops by hosting “Saturday Night Live.” With her social media following now surging past 200 million, Grande has also earned numerous accolades from the MTV Video Music Awards, iHeartRadio Music Awards, and American Music Awards (including the highly coveted Artist of the Year prize).

The first artist in music history to see the lead single from her first three albums debut on the Billboard Hot 100, Grande embraced a more uncompromising vision than ever before in the making of “Dangerous Woman.” With People noting that the album “celebrates feminine might,” Entertainment Weekly praised Grande for “having something meaningful to say with that jaw-dropping voice — one of the most exquisite in pop today.” Grande recently wrapped up her widely lauded Dangerous Woman Tour in support of the album, performing 85 arena shows worldwide.

ABOUT LUXE BRANDS
LUXE Brands, Inc. is a prestige beauty company with a portfolio of brands distributed in over 70 countries. The company’s portfolio includes Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj fragrances and DDF skincare, as well as the distribution rights in North America for the Jennifer Lopez, Hawaiian Tropic, Jean Patou and Porsche Design fragrances.