How do you create a retail concession for a global music icon with 59 million followers? Add drama and personality to the trappings, say Sheridan&Co; the agency that created the cosmetics concession for singer Rihanna’s fiercely coveted Fenty brand at Harvey Nichols stores nationwide.
Rihanna is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, and was once ranked by Forbes as the fourth most powerful celebrity.
With an Instagram follower-base of some 59m, she has grown to become an icon – not just for her music and her spirited confident attitude, but also for her unique style and covetable beauty that has seen many women the world over try to emulate her look.
The launch of her cosmetics brand Fenty was the most energetically anticipated event to not only hit the beauty industry, but also wider popular culture too. Why? Because her product line addressed the obvious cultural and commercial chasm in the beauty industry that larger brands have been far too short sighted to exploit – and it struck a chord with female consumers of every hue, from the lilliest-fair to the duskiest brown. Fenty, in many ways, highlighted the very lack of racial inclusivity in cosmetics on an unprecedented scale.
Because of this, and not least because it’s Rihanna, the launch of Fenty was always going to be more than just a standard brand launch:
The launch signified a call-to-action, a radical shift in thinking about traditional and almost dictatorial codes of beauty.
This posed an interesting challenge for Sheridan&Co, the retail and brand design agency enlisted by Kendo to develop a cosmetics concession in Harvey Nichols stores nationwide that would do justice to both the singer’s strong persona and the sheer magnitude of the global launch.
From a practical perspective, the design solution needed to visually intrigue and entice a broad selection of consumers to ensure they become familiar with Rihanna’s connection to one of the most passionately anticipated cosmetic launches of the decade. It needed to drive product exploration and experimentation and also amplify the product design in the actual retail environment and trappings itself. Finally, it needed to be immersive yet malleable enough to work across a number of stores and varying retail environments.
The Fenty brand aesthetic is fresh, edgy and urban but with an air of femininity.
True to this ethos, the retail environment needed to reflect and amplify these design codes. Untreated concrete with graffiti offset by cocoa nude lacquer, acrylic and metal work harmonises to create a decidedly ambiguous look – raw and industrial yet sleek and refined at once.
Staggered and seemingly randomised hexagonal designs add visual texture, tone and structure to the displays, and echo the angular packaging design of some of Fenty’s product lines – from its lipgloss to bronzer. Product pillars and consultation tables follow this look through with products embedded and displayed within concrete.
Large-scale, strong photography of Rihanna’s trademark looks – from dewy, flawless skin to nude lips – dramatises a simple, effortless and natural beauty and adds a further dimension to the overall look and feel of the Fenty concession.
Ultimately, the retail strategy Sheridan&Co developed saw that elements of the Fenty brand and identity were drawn out and dramatised for the physical space to create an overall look and retail presence that is striking without being brash; edgy while staying feminine and true to the face behind the brand.
Sheridan&Co, commented: “Creating an immersive retail environment for a celebrity brand that can be rolled out across a number of stores has its challenges, but the key to navigating these obstacles and managing the concepts successfully is to focus on the emotive side of brand identity and tangibly translate these using materials and compositions that become almost a physical representation of a celebrity’s personality. In this case, the result is multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and full of intriguing juxtapositions and contradictions.”