L’Oreal Paris x Sabyasachi: Fair Questions

L’Oreal Paris x Sabyasachi: Fair Questions

One of the world’s most beautiful women, one of India’s top design minds, one of the globe’s biggest beauty companies. By itself this is such a potent marketing formula that a sellout first collection would be anybody’s guess long before lip tints were mixed and lipstick tubes filled with the colours of sensuality and festivity. The first-stocks-sold-out-success of L’Oreal Paris x Sabyasachi collaboration, which on 9th October, saw the launch of a cosmetics collection modelled in Paris by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan—10 lip colours, an eyeliner and a voluminous mascara—had little to do with the texture of the lipsticks or the dark intensity of the mascara, their names (Pure Rouge and such are long known classics by L’Oreal as well as other brands) or their touch and feel. They may be of excellent quality and a memorable cosmetics experience (this is a pre-trial article and not a product review) but the collection sold out because of the heft and hype of the association itself. The lipsticks (called mouth makeup accents) look desirably luscious but the brightness of the partnership make it a bestseller. Or, as one Instagram follower wrote back to Sabyasachi’s official handle: “Finally there is something by Sabyasachi that I can afford to buy.”


Photo: Sabyasachi\Instagram

The L’Oreal Paris x Sabyasachi lipsticks look desirably luscious.

After collaborations with Balmain in 2017 and French fashion designer Isabel Marant just last month, for a cosmetics collection that promised “French girl cool”, L’Oreal’s outing with the House of Sabyasachi was a coup for everyone at the business table. The designer has more followers than most in India, drives aspiration among couture consumers, is known to be a purveyor of taste in jewellery, décor and pottery. Plus, it is festival time and we women would anyway need one more reason to buy one more red lipstick.

Which is why it may be okay to ask why this campaign with Rai-Bachchan tastefully styled by Sabyasachi in a pastel printed sari—he mentions it on his Instagram handle that he consciously chose a sari for her—not photographed in India? Why not in Kolkata (or any other Indian city) with a festival context for a backdrop? Rai-Bachchan is L’Oreal’s most known global ambassador from India but she has been seen and photographed in Paris so many times thanks to her Cannes appearances, that the visual imagery of this beauty campaign holds no newness.


One of Sabyasachi’s unique talents is how to style a set—orchestrate the mood, the manner of the model, tell the camera to sing paeans to a pallu, lehnga or a choli like a poet in love. So yes, even he has done dozens of those stained glass, old clocks, worn out books, antique, rose tinted shoots and we would have had one more of those? Maybe.

Maybe not. Something photographically more rooted than Rai-Bachchan against the Eiffel Tower would have given this collaboration a redder visual story. Like a lipstick mark indeed on the collar of cosmetic campaigns.

Posts by Instagram followers however were really amusing and revealing: from lamenting that the collection was already sold out before they could get to it to hundreds of compliments for Rai-Bachchan’s beauty to crazy fandom notes for Sabyasachi. And then there were some stark curiosities. “What was Sabyasachi’s role in creating these cosmetics?” asked one—a great idea if L’Oreal and Sabyasachi want to extend it into a behind-the-scenes, making-of documentary that explains a beauty mentor’s real role.

The other was about putting on rich lip colours (since red was the tint that got most photographed), deep and dark eyeliner and lots of mascara on one of the fairest women of them all. “But will it work for me—I don’t have blue eyes and white skin,” asked this follower.