Celebrating 50 Years With 3 Generations of Customers
One of the pleasures and privileges of reaching 50 years as a company is forming long associations with customers.
In the case of the Bostock and Gordon-Craig families, that association with Cosmetics a la Carte stretches back three generations.
We recently spent an afternoon together at the boutique to talk about their signature style, what beauty means to them and share some memories along the way.
The Bostock and Gordon-Craig families with Lynne Sanders. From L to R Sophie, Romy, Molly, Mrs Bostock, Lynne, Esme, Tania.
Mrs Bostock first discovered Cosmetics a la Carte in Belgravia in the 1970s. Years later, she brought her daughter Tania in for a makeup lesson as a teenager. A Cosmetics à la Carte artist did Tania’s wedding makeup in the 90s.
Then, when Tania’s own daughters - Sophie (a doctor), Molly (jeweller), Esme (a student) and Romy (an artist) - started showing an interest in beauty, ‘Granny’ treated each of them to their own lessons to give them a head start in looking and feeling their best.
What was your first introduction to makeup and beauty?
Mrs Bostock: “When I was young there were so few options for beauty shopping in London, other than establishments like the Lucie Clayton Charm Academy, which was really only focused on models and air stewardesses.
Cosmetics à la Carte was something really new and different for real people, and gave me my first structured tuition in beauty. It mattered to me that they didn’t test on animals [which was standard for other brands at the time] and I was drawn to their ‘less is more’ ethos.”
Tania: “My first foray into beauty was at the Cosmetics à la Carte boutique. I vividly remember my teenage lesson – I must have been around 15. I recall the feeling of getting the keys to the beauty castle, that I wasn’t stabbing in the dark any longer.
Tania on her wedding day (personal collection)
It was obvious I would trust Cosmetics à la Carte again with my wedding makeup. A Cosmetics à la Carte artist came out to my country wedding, did lovely makeups for my mother and I, and even helped my new husband look a little more polished for his photos!”
Sophie: “We [sisters] all also discovered makeup at Cosmetics à la Carte with a teen lesson. Personally, it helped me avoid mistakes and shop carefully. It also made me think about matching colours in your makeup, rather than just putting everything on at once.”
What is your relationship with makeup? How has it changed over time?
Tania: “I was very adventurous with makeup in my 20s, but it took a back seat when I moved to the country and had my children.
Now, I don’t want makeup to make me the centre of attention like I might have once, and love a natural look like the one Laura helped create for me today.
Mrs Bostock: “It's same with me. If the only people I’m dressing up for are the dogs, I don’t bother!
But if I’m seeing anyone or going anywhere, it always makes me feel better to make an effort and look polished. I always take makeup with me in my handbag when I go out.”
Sophie: “I enjoy wearing makeup every day at work, even just a little bit, because it helps me keep some of my identity when I’m wrapped up in doctors’ scrubs.”
Molly: “Makeup - especially the Cosmetics à la Carte flavour of it – really helped get me through my acne. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable taking all my makeup off and showing the true extent of my spots anywhere else. The boutique was a safe place where I knew I wouldn’t be judged.”
What is your signature look?
Esme: “I love shiny lips and eyes, so it looks like you’re not wearing anything”
Romy & Molly: “I like a stronger eye, with a pared back lip.”
Sophie: “I also like to accentuate my eyes. Strong lipstick doesn’t feel like me.”
Mrs Bostock: “I like something fresh, gamine, probably pink or peach. Nothing too smoky.”
Tania: “I would say no makeup makeup, all the way. One of the reasons I love Cosmetics à la Carte foundation is that you can’t feel it on your skin. I hate feeling my makeup.”
Is there an item of makeup you couldn’t live without?
Mrs Bostock & Tania: “Mascara, without a doubt.”
Molly: “Either that, or concealer! It goes with me everywhere.”
What beauty advice did you pick up from the previous generation(s)?
Mrs Bostock: “The 60s and 70s were a real break with the previous generation, so I really didn’t get any beauty knowledge from my own mother. It played no part in her life. My father was completely against the idea of makeup on a woman. I had to find my own way – with Cosmetics à la Carte.”
Tania: “My mother didn’t pass on any specific techniques – that was left to the à la Carte artists! - but she showed me the importance of taking care of myself and not wearing too much makeup.”
Molly: “Mum always told us to never pick our spots, and always take our makeup off before bed! I’m so glad she did, because I don’t have any acne scars.”
Sophie: “Mum always made it feel good to be feminine, and made dressing up seem fun.
But she showed us how to be confident enough to go without makeup as well.”
Has the younger generation passed any beauty advice to the older generation?
Mrs Bostock: “No. It’s another religion for them. And they don’t want to criticise. They know beauty is very personal.”
Tania: “Not as such. But I do feel that my generation hasn’t yet become the older generation. My friends and I don’t feel old at all, and we’re still interested in the same trends and fashions as those of our daughters.
I feel that beauty marketing now reflects this reality and speaks to middle-aged people far more than it did in the past.”
Esme: “I agree! A lot of beauty marketing seems targeted at mum’s generation. Or it’s trying to persuade my generation to take steps to prevent ageing.
I think people my age feel a lot of pressure to prepare for getting older. I just want makeup to be fun, and like the relaxed, inclusive vibe at Cosmetics à la Carte, which feels less intimidating.”
Do the sisters share tips and tricks with each other?
Molly: “We didn’t when we were younger. We associated everything makeup with Granny. When we were about 14 she’d take each of us on this big, exciting trip to London, which of course featured a makeup lesson at à la Carte. It was a real treat of a day and made us feel special. Now that we’re in our 20s, I think we share more tips...”
Esme: “No! You share YOUR tips with us! You’re the leader. You like to say “You should try it my way””
Molly: “Perhaps I do...I did just bring you to Cosmetics à la Carte to get a new concealer. You looked awful.”
Esme: “My point exactly! We all ask mum about what clothes to buy but go to Molly for makeup!”
Molly: “I’m always running over to the boutique in my lunch breaks to pick up things for myself and the others. It’s a thing on our family WhatsApp group.”
Esme: “A la Carte is somewhere we know we can’t go wrong!”