Recognizable as one of the iconic faces of our time, Isabella Rosellini’s first foray into fragrance and color cosmetics was called Manifesto. Billed as ‘A Celebration of What You Are’, the entire campaign touted multi-generational, muti-racial beauty and espoused a philosophy of self-empowerment without overt labels.
“I already had broken many records,” Rossellini said during interview from her apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “Even a top model would end around 32 or 33. . . . Lancome didn’t have the courage to go further than 10 or 15 years. Cosmetics represent not what women are, but what women dream of.”
“Lancome had all the tools, but they had, well, prejudice. In spite of the response of the marketing research, they did not dare to keep me longer than 42,” said Rossellini.
She added that Lancome’s marketing research confirmed that older women liked seeing older women in ads, and younger women liked it “because they looked at me and were not frightened to grow older.”
“We have had a reaction of great relief from women,” Rossellini said. “I always thought there was something offensive to take a white 20-year-old blonde and take her to represent all women.”
After being released by Lancome, she created Manifesto with Lancaster to address her concerns. Rossellini’s advertising used models ranging from a blond 14- year-old in braces and red lipstick, to a snowy-haired 67-year-old model, an asian with striking blue eye makeup, colour play on dark skin tones and remarkably for the time, also a plus-size model in the mix. Not a wide diversity by any standards, but still a marked advance at the time.
As someone who purchased the products and still has some of the lovely bakelite lipstick casings, I appreciated the philosophy shown throughout the entire line – from marketing to packaging.