So if you follow Slapp, every now and then I’ll rant about Dior and their lack of inclusivity in our Stories (@slappldn
). I wrote this after placing my online order for the new Dior Backstage Foundation. I was beyond happy at the announcement, and remain eager and excited to try it. But as I waited for my order confirmation to come through, I got thinking... and then I got
The problem with the new Dior beauty line.(Only kidding. Kind of)
First of all, I would like to start this by saying, I am truly grateful to Dior for finally introducing a fully inclusive foundation range.
As a Francophile and a Brit aware that there are thousands of french citizens and nationals of Caribbean and African descent, I have always been stunned by the brazenness of the lack of inclusion amongst big fashion houses.
I started Slapp in late 2016, from my own personal frustrations with a lack of diversity in the market, but most importantly, as a young British woman of Caribbean descent, I never wanted other young women and men, to feel as left out as I did.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of going to a local Boots or Superdrug with your friends (especially if you don’t live in a big city), and going to shop for your first makeup together, and seeing nothing there for you. For feeling like an invisible freak through no fault of your own, simply for just being born with a darker complexion. It’s truly a horrible moment and one that instilled feelings of inadequacy, otherness and unworthiness; a feeling you willingly or unwillingly, carry with you through your young adulthood.
I started Slapp
so that other young women and men could visit a retail platform and know that they could have everything in their shop. Everything they wanted they could have.
As a young woman and as a slightly more grown one now, I was always baffled by why the big brands wouldn’t, or as they would often plea, ‘couldn’t’ cater to me.
Thankfully woc, makeup artists and makeup artistry brands (Iman, MAC and Bobbi Brown), were on the market so at least there was an option. But I’ve always loved fashion, the escapism it affords. I would buy at least 10 magazines a season and immerse myself in the glamour of the moment. And as a teenager, student, graduate, I would make mental notes of the items I’d buy with my first big pay cheque. The one thing I knew - and one of the many reasons I loved it - was that Beauty was a way of buying into these brands, I someday hoped to be a regular customer of.
Like any ambitious woman my age, I had visions of sipping champagne in Chanel, as I finally bought my 2.55 bag.
And as a fairly smart kid, I knew that was why cosmetic branches of these big brands existed. They were an opportunity for me to have a little piece of Chanel, a drop of Dior.
So off I dutifully went to Selfridges, just for the chance to get a tiny white cardboard bag with a ribbon tie.
It started small: with a nail polish. A few shades in I upgraded to a lipstick, and then a mascara. The colour cosmetics would often catch my eye, but I wasn’t sure I was there yet.
After years of eyeing up the gorgeous glass bottles, I finally plucked up the courage to ask which one I should get. Only to be told with a sorrowful face and soft tone, that they didn’t have my shade. It was ok I thought, I guess I’m more of a niche market.
So as the years went on my first question quickly became “do you have my shade?” And I’d squeal in delight and duly shop with any brand that did.
What always struck me was the fact that these brands had the biggest budgets of any in the world. They have budgets to fly influencers all over the world; to create a palace of Versailles on the streets of Paris; or fabricate a life-sized ship for a 25 minute catwalk show; but as I was told by directors and execs, it cost too much to add a few more drops of pigment or adjust an SPF. I just couldn’t and still can’t, get my head around why there would be any other reason than, cba.
Over the years, with the slow understanding that the world (and most relatively Britain), is a pretty diverse place and has been for quite some time, the question has now become “which foundation do you have in my shade?”
Not too shabby in terms of progress I’ll admit. I always thought, it’s better to have one than none; one little drop of acknowledgement is always better than nothing. A nod to my existence, will always be met with glee.
When I pre launched Slapp
in September 16 to a few friends, it was so wonderful to hear their feedback and that it was an idea they couldn’t believe hadn’t come sooner. When we launched in February the press response was great and I truly felt like our message of “inclusivity should be the norm”, was finally being heard.
6 months later, the unthinkable happened. The greatness that only one woman could have predicted: the launch of Fenty Beauty.
Whilst it wasn’t the first time a brand had created 40 shades, or catered to women of all ethnicities. It was about the conversation that it started (and in all fairness to Rihanna, it was the first time I had seen a range of foundations, with as balanced an offering. Yes other brands may have had ranges of 40 or 36, but if 32 of those are fair to medium shades, that’s really not a diverse or inclusive line).
The launch of Fenty Beauty came at a time when young women all over the world were sharing their honest thoughts about beauty products, and in rode Rihanna with exactly what they (and I) needed, wanted and had been asking for for decades.
Mostly it’s important, because it’s huge success, made all of the brands that had for so long dismissed a huge sector of the country/consumer/world, finally look at us as the cash cow we’ve been longing to be seen as.
It finally made the brands that thought black couldn’t be bouji, realise we’re as bouji as the best and worst of them.
In the 9 months since Rihanna launched Fenty we have seen a huge spike in inclusive imagery online; and in magazines and ecommerce, the little things: like not always photographing the light shade of foundation, but sometimes using the dark one as the first photo, and showing swatches of products on models of all skin tones.
But most miraculously of all, (and no doubt without the help of the phenomenal Fanny Bourdette-Donon) the Slapps and Fentys of the world, have begrudgingly dragged Dior into the 21st century and made them dig deep into their pockets, to create the Dior Backstage Makeup Line- featuring you’ve guessed it... 40 inclusive shades.
Ps I had to guess my shade online, because it’s not in the Slapp app yet. If it’s good, I’ll have to make some calls!