Beauty more than skin deep as giant buys into Ali's firm
Published 24/02/2011 | 05:00
LVMH, the world's largest luxury good conglomerate has bought a 70pc controlling stake in Ali Hewson's Nude Skincare, the chemical-free beauty business the Dublin mother of four started five years ago.
First Edun, now Nude, Ali's organic fashion and skincare lifestyle vision is too attractive a proposition for the luxury brand group to ignore.
The French company, home to 60 of the world's most luxurious brands like Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessy and Givenchy has paid an undisclosed sum for a 70pc stake in the pioneering biocompatible skincare. The remaining 30pc stake will be retained by Ali, Bryan Meehan, with whom she developed the range, and Irish businessman Paddy McKillen, who recently went to the Supreme Court over NAMA.
Fans of the skincare range, which uses bioavailable ingredients like hyaluronic acids and an advanced cellular renewal serum, include the French president's wife, Carla Bruni and models Christy Turlington and Helena Christensen.
Nude Skincare controversially hit the headlines in 2009 after Ali sued designer Stella McCartney over copyright. Two of the green fashion world's biggest names went to court as the Irish woman tried to stop the designer from releasing a perfume called "Stella Nude", claiming that the title of the fragrance was too close to that of the Nude Skincare line.
This is the second time that Ali's eco/ethical/organic vision has brought her to the attention of heavy-hitter LVMH. It bought a minority stake in Edun in 2009. Ali started the organic clothing line with her husband in 2005 and they worked together with New York designer Rogan Gregory.
It was during a discussion the following year about ethical clothing that Ali expressed interest to Meehan in developing a natural skincare range.
He was already in the business, a co-founder of British organic store Fresh&Wild, which Wholefoods bought for $38m (€27.6m) in 2004. Their successful brand of skincare has been sold in Harvey Nichols in the UK and Barneys in the US. The Nude Skincare range is already sold through LMVH's retail arm Sephora in the US, which is expected to be developed as one of the brand's primary distribution outlets.
Edun clothing has been an ethical success story for Ali and Bono. The company was founded on the premise of trade versus aid as a means of building sustainable communities. Two years ago, LVMH's investment was regarded by some as a bit of a shift for the luxury group but commentators said it showed that luxury's growing move toward the sustainable was more than just a flash in the pan.
Announcing the 70pc stake, Antonio Belloni, group managing director of LVMH, said it believed Nude would be a global luxury skin care brand.