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RETAIL–Cosmetics Store Brings Hollywood Glamour South



Makeup Expert To the Stars Now Caters To Upscale San Diegans

SOLANA BEACH , With a client base that has included such diverse celebrities as Bea Arthur, Babyface, Spike Lee and Aaron Neville, you’d think that local makeup maven Dianne O. would have her hands full. But she had other ideas.

Dianne O., who had been living and working in Hollywood until three years ago, began to develop her own cosmetics for her use in professional styling work. Many of her clients encouraged her to expand on that and start up her own cosmetics line.

Dianne O. launched in 1992, selling mostly to celebrities and models. Then, in early 1997, she received an invitation to open a small cosmetics studio in Del Mar Plaza, because her line is not sold in any department stores.

Dianne O. was nervous about coming to a market where she wasn’t known, but the landlords assured her there was a ready market for her cosmetics.

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“They assured me that the area had the same sort of women , they know cosmetics, they’ll travel, they’re pretty international. They have more of a lifestyle,” she said.

So she took a chance and left the glamour of Hollywood. The store, which opened that March, did so well she had to move to a larger location within six months.

In September 1997, Dianne O. set up shop along South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach and moved again in June 1999 to a new spot just down the street from the old one.

Rhymes With Piano

The current location, around the corner from the Belly Up Tavern, is about 1,600 square feet , more than three times the size of the previous site. Newly added to the store’s list of services is a day spa and a boutique.

Dianne O., whose last name is Slane but goes by her first name and middle initial professionally (the name sort of rhymes with piano), markets 49 shades of foundation, 23 eye shadows, 57 shades of lipstick, 24 nail polish colors and dozens of other items. These are all exclusive, and each of the cosmetics items have been personally designed and tested by Dianne O. herself.

Even the packaging is distinctive, with its hand-crafted look of granite, copper and gold.

With a price range of $15 for nail polish to $55 for certain foundations, that puts her in competition with such upscale makeup companies as Clinique and Chanel.

Dianne O. considers her line a big step up from the mass-produced fare, with her unique products and personal attention.

Makeup For Minorities

“Women are tired of faceless, corporate cosmetics companies; tired of department stores and mass-market outlets with their excess commercialism, poor service and generic product quality,” she said.

Much of her support comes from minorities. Most of the upscale cosmetics companies don’t have foundations suitable for darker skinned women, she said.

By contrast, Dianne O. holds up several multi-colored palettes of foundation, each of which looks somewhat like a mini-pizza. Customers are able to blend dozens of different colors from the palette, since human skin tone actually consists of a series of colors, she said.

Together with her husband, international business consultant Riccardo Cannaviello, Dianne O. hopes to capture a larger slice of the $1.6 billion-a-year cosmetics market. Already, she does about $200,000 worth of business annually.

Cannaviello noted that this figure, while low, is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years as the Dianne O. name becomes more well known, he said.

Dianne O. also runs a day spa on the site. Services include facials, massage, body wraps, waxing, manicures and pedicures.

Customers are treated to champagne as soothing music plays. The furniture is sparse, but everything is sparkling clean and the equipment is top of the line.

Dianne O. also offers other services, such as gift certificates, group day spa parties and even limousine service.

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