As the world’s largest beauty company, it seems only fitting that L’Oréal should tackle a subject as encompassing as the history of beauty.
In a project funded by the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation, the Paris-based beauty conglomerate has published “100,000 Years of Beauty,” a unique book that aims to share knowledge and encourage the emergence of new perspectives about beauty.
The research for the 1500-page book developed over a four-year period and included 300 authorities engaged in disciplines ranging from sociology to psychology to history to anthropology. Inside the five-volume, pyramid-stacked set are lavish photographs and engaging text that’s billed to be as entertaining as it is educational.
This comprehensive body of work—which will be used by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in its graduate degree program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management—was the basis for special panel discussion held in the school’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre on Feb. 3.
Speakers at the event included “100,000 Years of Beauty,” contributors Maxine Craig, associate professor of women and gender studies at the University of California-Davis, and Michael Bisson, professor and chair of the department of anthropology at McGill University in Montreal, as well as Elizabeth Azoulay, the book’s editorial director. Rounding out the panel was Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure. The discussion was lead by Stephan Kanlian, chairperson of FIT’s master’s degree program.
According to Dautresme, the project was in keeping with L’Oréal’s commitment to research and exploration.
One of the topics discussed at FIT included whether or not there is a universal definition of beauty and how the concept of beauty has evolved in a global context.
Making a comparison between beauty and language, Azoulay commented, “Everyone has the need to speak, but everyone speaks a different language—and the language evolves.”
The session also addressed the origins of beauty and its future. Using a definition of beauty as the need to transform the body, Bisson noted some of the earliest examples, such as use of pigments on the body, which date back thousands of years. On the flip side, Wells spoke of plastic surgery and the increasing role of science in modern beauty, suggesting that in many ways, it is replacing the “romantic” side of beauty.
|The panel at FIT included (l-r): Maxine Craig (University of California-Davis) and Michael Bisson (McGill University), Elizabeth Azoulay, (editorial director), Linda Wells (editor-in-chief of Allure) and FIT’s Stephan Kanlian.|
“100,000 Years of Beauty” is available at Amazon.com for $295 in English and French language versions.