A Fenty Beauty display at Sephora on September 23, 2017, shortly after launch
|Founded||September 8, 2017|
|Products||Pro Filt'R Foundation|
Stunna Lip Paint
Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter
Fenty Beauty is a cosmetics brand launched in September 2017 by singer Rihanna. Popular for its broad inclusivity across skin tones and gender, especially its Pro Filt'R foundation. The original foundation launch included 40 shades, since expanded to 50. Fenty Beauty was named one of Time magazine's best inventions of 2017.
In June 2014, Rihanna trademarked her surname, Fenty, for use on an array of products, leading to speculation that she would begin working on endeavors other than her music. Fenty Beauty was among these new trademarks.
Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in 2017 when she was 29 years old. Previously she had collaborated with MAC Cosmetics, as well as released 10 fragrances via Parlux Ltd., but Fenty Beauty was her first solo cosmetics brand. She developed the line with luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey (LVMH), signing a deal in 2016 to produce Fenty Beauty through LVMH's Kendo division. Kendo Holdings, Inc, is an "incubator" company that manufactures cosmetics as white-label products for sale through cosmetics retailer Sephora, another LVMH subsidiary, as well as other outlets. Women's Wear Daily reported that LVMH may have paid $10 million (USD) for the agreement, which followed on Kendo deals to produce Marc Jacobs Beauty and Kat Von D Beauty lines.
Fenty Beauty's first products went on sale on September 8, 2017. The launch coincided with New York Fashion Week, where Rihanna also had a runway show for her collaboration with Puma. Promotion was so extensive, The New York Times wrote, "one might be forgiven for thinking it’s actually Rihanna New York Fashion Week." In the US, the line launched in Sephora stores, on the Sephora website, and on Fenty Beauty's website. In the UK, Fenty Beauty is exclusive to Harvey Nichols department stores. Fenty Beauty is available online or in store in over 15 countries. Fenty Beauty arrived in Saudi Arabia, seen as a potentially lucrative market for the brand, with cosmetic sales in the country at an all-time high.
Fenty Beauty products have drawn international praise for the range of shades offered, in particular for including darker shades among the first 40, then 50 different colors for its Pro Filt'R foundation, addressing a long-criticized gap in cosmetic industry offerings for black women and other women of color. Subsequent launches of new products and new lines have been criticized for the failure to live up to the new standard set by Fenty Beauty, for instance Kim Kardashian West's line KKW Beauty, Tarte's Tape Shape Foundation, and Benefit's Hello Happy foundation.
The line's Stunna Lip Paint, a red lipstick launched November 23, 2017 (Thanksgiving, just ahead of Black Friday sales), also drew broad enthusiasm. Reviewing the product at BuzzFeed News, Leticia Miranda noted the history of controversy around red lipstick, particularly for women of color, saying the context made the choice of color for Stunna "assertive, confrontational, unapologetic". Since the release of the original red Stunna Lip Paint, Fenty Beauty has also released four more lip paints in baby pink, peach nude, chocolate brown, and black.
On March 23, 2018, the line launched a limited-edition highlighter called Dirty Thirty for Rihanna's 30th birthday; it is the line's popular Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife shade (metallic gold), packaged with XXX (the Roman numerals for 30) instead of the brand's FB logo.
On April 6, 2018, Fenty Beauty released three products in its Beach, Please collection. Body Lava, Fenty Beauty's first body product, is a liquid that can be buffed into any part of the body for illumination and is available in either a peach tone called Who Needs Clothes or a golden one, Brown Sugar. To apply the Body Lava, the Kabuki Brush is available for purchase separately. Meanwhile, the Fairy Bomb Glittering Pom Pom is both applicator and product: the pom pom is packed with rose gold glitter designed to fit all skin tones. The pom pom also has a vanilla-coconut scent.
On October 4, 2018, Fenty Beauty launched their winter collection titled ChillOwt, which included a variety of winter-themed and cool-toned products. These included the Killawatt Foil Palette, a highlighter palette with seven metallic shades, two lipstick sets (Snow Daze and Snow Nights), and a number of multi-use products, including sets of crayons for lip and eye (titled FrostHunny, FrostBunny, and FrostMoney) and loose pigmented powder (Avalanche Powders), for eyes, lip and cheek, in seven metallic shades.
On January 11, 2019, Fenty Beauty launched Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer in 50 shades. In addition, Pro Filt’r Foundation add 10 new shades, bringing the total to 50, with the concealer shades number to correspond to the same number foundation. Each shade of Pro Filt’r concealer range is made to correspond with the same or any suitable Pro Filt’r Foundation number. The company also announced a setting powder product, the Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder in eight translucent shades, as well as a number of beauty tools, including Powder Puff Setting Brush 170, Precision Concealer Brush 180, and Lil Precision Makeup Sponge Duo 105.
The initial products released by Fenty Beauty were widely seen as reasonably priced (especially compared to other prestige brands) and accessible to a broad range of consumers, following Rihanna's approach to her fragrance releases.
In the brand's first month, Fenty Beauty recorded $72.0 million in earned media value (a measure of marketing success), ahead of other high-profile brands like including Kylie Cosmetics, Benefit, Urban Decay, KKW Beauty and NYX. Also in the brand's first month, Fenty Beauty-related content received 132 million views on YouTube.
In February 2018, Fenty Beauty released an ad featuring rapper Saweetie that showed a group of women getting ready to attend the Super Bowl. The spot drew enthusiasm for its send-up of the award-winning 1990s Budweiser ad campaign "Whassup" (in which a group of men acknowledged one another only by repeating an intoxicatedly slurred "What's up?" over and over), but the Fenty version also attracted some criticism as the women greeted each other in "Whassup"-style drawl with the word "bitch".
Fenty Beauty is referenced in the 2019 song, "Make Up" by Ariana Grande.
As with the product line, Fenty Beauty also drew international acclaim for diversity in its advertising campaign, which prominently featured numerous black models and other models of color. Faces of the initial Fenty Beauty campaign included Slick Woods, Halima Aden, Leomie Anderson, Indyamarie Jean, Paloma Elsesser, Selena Forrest, Camila Costa, and Duckie Thot. It was Aden's first modeling job, having won attention, including from Rihanna, when she participated in the 2016 Miss Minnesota USA pageant wearing a hjiab. Soon after Rihanna released her line, other brands such as Make Up For Ever and L'Oréal started ad campaigns aimed at women of color.
Fenty Beauty has notably embraced makeup use across gender lines, producing an ad in March 2018 called "My Fenty, My Mood", in which Instagram star and comedian Kway plays his comic character Titi promoting the brand. Also in March 2018, Daniel Kaluuya, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his starring role in Get Out, appeared on the Oscar red carpet wearing Fenty Beauty's Pro Filt'R Foundation (specifically, shades 480 and 490). Time magazine described him as looking "luminous"; in the UK edition of The Huffington Post, Patricia Ekall said his "dewy glow brought the ‘no-makeup-makeup’ look to another level." Several outlets noted men's use of makeup was "not unusual", but said the news nevertheless "pleasantly surprised" fans.
"work[ed] with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don't go around doing trans castings! Just like I don't do straight non trans women castings! I respect all women, and whether they're trans or not is none of my business! It's personal and some trans women are more comfortable being open about it than others so I have to respect that as a woman myself! I don't think it's fair that a trans woman, or man, be used as a convenient marketing tool!"
Within one month of release, Fenty Beauty's sales were valued at $72 million, and sold-out products widely reported, with darker shades of foundation particularly in demand (shoppers noted even testers were often gone from stores.) In the UK, the line became Harvey Nichols's biggest beauty launch ever (passing previous leader MAC Cosmetics): in September the department stores sold one Fenty Beauty foundation every minute and one lipstick every three minutes. The launch also helped raise LVMH's cosmetic and perfume sales for the third quarter of 2017 by 17%.
Fenty Beauty was named to Time magazine's list of the 25 best inventions of 2017, alongside NASA's Martian spacecraft InSight, Apple's iPhone X, Nike's Pro Hijab, and the Tesla Model 3. Time cited Fenty Beauty's 40-shade range of foundations that quickly sold out.
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