In Shanghai, for the Chinese New Year, billboards and mall windows set the tone - a red, this year - of their flagship products (Clarins Double Serum or Guerlain’s Parure Gold, for example).

Makeup went red

Sephora’s flagship store on West Nanjing Road unveiled the special skincare, makeup and accessory collection designed by the brand for the occasion. On the packaging, the ox was depicted with light, joyful graphics surrounded by floral patterns (did we not also celebrate spring?). Of course, the Lunar New Year Red Envelopes were also featured, in the form of lottery tickets with a special draw focused on the figure 8 (you could make 888 for an outlay of 88). Indeed, the figure 8 brings luck, just like red, which was in the spotlight for the New Year. In addition to their own collection, Sephora staged a special selection on a podium: New Year Red Wishes. The selection included worldwide selective skincare stars (Ultimune by Shiseido, Parure by Guerlain, Génifique by Lancôme), but also a few fragrances and lipsticks.

The lipstick segment was obviously shaken in 2020. But it remains an iconic essential, and China is more than ever a key market. In 2020, in the selective channel, China purchased one made-in-France lipstick out of four!

Rouge G by Guerlain in the Blooming Bee Case was adorned with a bright red for good fortune and happiness, while Dior’s Rouge was showcased in a box featuring five shades in the new refillable case, including the well-known 999 inspired from Monsieur Dior’s colours 9 and 99, and 080 Red Smile, a very bright red.

Shiseido presented Legend Red 103 for Clé de Peau Beauté as the ultimate shade to enhance radiance and Asian women’s confidence, as well as the famous Ginza Red 222.

But red can also be mixed with materials, like metal (associated with the ox), by becoming pearly or sprinkled with gold, as could be seen with Shu Uemura (Iron Red Metal Finish) or Givenchy, who also used the figure 8 by renaming Deep Red Marbré d’Or 888.

Skincare and boxes to celebrate the ox

As for red, skincare did not lag behind: brands’ iconic products were also adorned with radiant red, playing with materials or the treatment of glass, like beautiful Asian lacquer… Lancôme even decorated Génifique with "their" rose reinvented by Chinese illustrator Sun Jun specially for the occasion…

And for the New Year celebrations, boxes were also decorated with red or variants, playing with the representation of the ox and floral or plant patterns…

Traditional choices

On a larger scale, all luxury brands invested in the ox’s image and, unsurprisingly, in the festive and floral world… Some of them did adopt a more artistic approach though, like Lancôme (with illustrator Sun Jun) and Hennessy (with great artist Liu Wei), successfully revisiting the Chinese New Year tradition…

All in all, the 2021 selection was rather predictable, in line with the codes of the Chinese New Year, as beauty was getting its colour back in China within a global context where many brands “had seen red” – the Western interpretation being much less positive. Obviously, this situation does not encourage them to take risks!

Be it as it may, red is not done with the Chinese New Year, and it remains a key code. Given its multiple dimensions, it can be used a thousand ways!