Article | Relations internationales | April–June 2014

Firmes mondialisées et imaginaire de la beauté

by G. Jones


This article highlights the role of business enterprises as influences on ideals of human beauty. The homogenization of such ideals has been one of the most noteworthy features of globalization over the last two centuries. This study suggests that firms were both responders to, and shapers of, beauty ideals. It uses case studies of three prominent firms to support the argument. During the nineteenth century, Coty and other French firms imagined Paris as the global capital of beauty. During the middle of the twentieth century, the strategies of Estée Lauder and other firms drove the rise in importance and prestige of American beauty brands. In the more recent past, L'Oréal has fostered a new pluralism in beauty by acquiring American and other international brands and offering global consumers a portfolio of beauty ideals, which were both global and locally customized. The article concludes by suggesting that the strategies of business enterprises need to be more fully integrated into wider narratives of the history of globalization.

Keywords: American History; Economic History; business history; globalization; Globalization; Entrepreneurship; History; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; Europe; North and Central America;


Jones, G. "Firmes mondialisées et imaginaire de la beauté." Relations internationales 157 (April–June 2014): 131–146.