Imagining YSL Beauté’s social commitment

More and more social inequalities and fights have taken their place in all areas of society in recent years: tolerance, and women’s rights are some of them.

For the past two years or so, the world has been marked by the #Metoo movement. This hashtags can sound futile in light of the abortion rights issue in the US in recent days*. However, they are the proof of a change in mentality.

We believe brands have a responsibility, through their power and influence in consumer society, to support one or multiple social causes. A brand should have a cause consistent with its foundations and in line with its own values. Yves Saint Laurent loved and was passionate about women, his muses, whom he wanted to make shine. He wanted to dress the modern woman, a woman who was daring, elegant, and above all free. This mentality is embodied in the Yves Saint Laurent jacket for women of 1966, the Liberation (“scandal” collection of 1971), or the muse Rebecca Ayoko (one of the first black models). The promotion of women is an integral part of the brand’s identity. Choosing this cause, that of women’s rights and gender equality, is an understandable and justifiable choice that has been inherent to the brand since its creation.

« I wanted to put myself at the service of women. That is, to serve them. To serve their bodies, their gestures, their attitudes, their lives. » Yves Saint Laurent

In the light of this, we allowed ourselves a little creativity and imagined what could YSL Beauty put in place to support women’s rights :

Exhibitions and immersive experiences are multiplying today. We see this in the fashion world, with the success of the Dior exhibition and the Hermès exhibition. We can also see it in other cultural industries, with the success of the Atelier des Lumières or exhibitions around movies. The trend is towards the exhibition, and the immersive. Events that can be backed up by a name that is known to the public, that offer a quality customer experience, and the possibility of sharing this experience on social media are almost guaranteed to be a great success. One can imagine then that the name and famous logo Yves Saint Laurent will attract crowds at a potential exhibition: The Women of Yves Saint Laurent Beauty. An exhibition that takes you into the different worlds of the brand. It would highlight the muses : Zoe Kravitz, Kaia Gerber, Cara Delevingne… They all embody the modern, offbeat beauty. The films of their campaigns, the choice of these personalities, is an opportunity to talk about and highlight these women of the brand. The exhibition could also show the women of the YSL beauty world: take up the flagship products and show their history and the women who were part of them. Are women involved in the extraction of red gold saffron? Who are the women who thought up the ‘Youth’ collection in skincare, or ‘Tattoo’ in make-up, for example.

The Chanel Foundation “acts to improve the economic and social situation of women” through numerous campaigns. Always runs numerous campaigns to help young girls in poor countries to stay in school during their periods. Dove is committed to the self-confidence of young girls. Many brands are engaging outside their traditional communication channels. Yves Saint Laurent Beauté could use its resources to try to change things. Support associations, organise campaigns with political figures. More and more in Western countries, notoriety allows one to have real influence (Kim Kardashian obtained the release of Alice Marie Johnson; Angelina Jolie has multiplied her missions for the UN; many actors have audiences at the White House to talk about the environment; Rihanna visited the French President). Celebrities have a stronger voice than ever, and one that they can use with politicians. Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, in fighting for the liberation of women through their rights, must use its brand awareness and its muses to have an impact.

In Asia, where young people are fond of luxury and new technology brands, the status of women and their rights is also mixed. While the average number of women in high political office is better than the global average, these charismatic figures are not representative of the rest of the population. Girls’ schooling and university enrolment rates are increasing, and there are many more women in computer-related occupations than in Western regions, for example. Given this observation, there is a potential for the promotion of modern women, and being aware of the power of social networks and the digital world in Asia, great attention must be paid to the choice of influencers. Why not Aimyon, Japanese singer and songwriter; Anne Nakamura, Japanese actress, named Woman of the Year 2018 by Vogue Japan; or Fernanda Ly, Australian model of Chinese origin; etc.

This recommendation is already in the minds of the cosmetics world, including Yves Saint Laurent. Developing the men’s make-up segment is a step towards greater equality, and towards the abolition of social codes that weigh on men and women. Filling the Yves Saint Laurent Beauté shelves with women’s and men’s make-up is not only a way to liberate men, but also to reduce a gap in beauty standards. Yves Saint Laurent Beauté can therefore participate in the democratisation of men’s make-up by being consistent with, and even reinforcing, its fight for women’s rights.

*This study was conducted in 2019.

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