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Color Stories

Color Stories

Behind the Scenes of America's Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry

For everyone who's ever slicked on lipstick, flirted with eye shadow, or browsed the bewildering array in any store's beauty de-partment, Color Stories offers an insider's view of all the brainstorming, bickering, and bitchery that go into those little sticks of color and pans of powder.

Former beauty editor Mary Lisa Gavenas takes us behind the scenes during the nine months that culminate in the launch of a season's all-important "color stories." We discover how one shade becomes the "must have," why makeup artists never use the same products as the rest of us, and exactly how easy -- and impossible -- it is to start a million-dollar makeup line.

Backstage at the runway shows, we're swept into the catty, chaotic work world of makeup mogul Bobbi Brown and supermodel Gisele Bündchen. At Estée Lauder headquarters, we see the achingly chic Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer spin societal trends into a lipstick lineup. We watch magazines cheat to make makeup work for layouts, find out how Cindy Crawford got to be worth every penny of her $10 million contract, and make the pilgrimage to Dallas as 35,000 of the Mary Kay faithful assemble for the fabled annual Seminar. Along the way, we also learn about marketing, media, and the manipulation of aesthetics, about the codification of physical beauty, and how this industry revolutionized the role of women in business.

Through its often funny, sometimes poignant scenes of seduction, courtship, and consummation, Color Stories reveals why women become besotted by beauty products -- and why that love affair will never end.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416577133 | 
  • September 2007
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Read an Excerpt

Preseason

What's in Store

Here in Bellevue, eight miles into Seattle's suburbs, the weather is chilly, drizzly, and gray. At the town's immense indoor mall, the big post-holiday clearances are over. Spring sales haven't started yet. Listless salespeople stand around, staring down almost empty aisles.

Except in beauty. Blue skies shine out of every picture in the cosmetics department. Hot, happy colors cover the counters. Every counter has a story and every story speaks of sunny days ahead. Customers are all over the place. And salespeople, "beauty advisors," are run off their feet: squirting perfume, doing makeovers, ringing... see more

About the Author

Mary Lisa Gavenas
Photograph by Jas Gardner

Mary Lisa Gavenas

Mary Lisa Gavenas, author of Color Stories: Behind the Scenes in America’s Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry, has worked as both a beauty editor and scholar of the beauty industry—especially as it relates to cultural history—and was recently named a Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. A former editor at Glamour, In Style, Mirabella, and a columnist at Elle, she was a member of the advisory board for The Dove Report: Challenging Beauty and has been cited as an expert source in media ranging from The New York Times to BBC-4. Visit her at the Gotham Center for New York City History: www.GothamCenter.org.

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