Ms. Min for MAC

Before I delve into the summer collections, I thought I'd look at one last release from the spring.  MAC teamed up with Chinese fashion designer Min Liu (a.k.a. Ms. Min) for a small collection featuring Min's signature modern twist on traditional Chinese style.  I picked up the standout from the collection, a blush/highlighter palette embossed with a truly gorgeous wave pattern.

Min Liu for MAC palette

Min Liu for MAC palette

I didn't have to search very hard to find the inspiration behind the colors Min chose, along with the wave design.  In an interview with online magazine Buro 24/7, she explains, "There are actually four main colors in this collection which are China red, lush peony pink, shimmering platinum, and bold ink black. Each colour is rich in meaning and contains a distinct energy in traditional colour theory. Red promises loyalty and bravery. Pink is a metaphor of beauty. Silver introduces the gods and spirits. Black brings honesty and integrity...The philosophy behind my collaboration with MAC is that everything is about how energy flows, casting a distinct aura, vitalising all forms of life — humans, water, mountains, earth, oceans, clouds. That no matter how it shifts and changes over time, the world maintains an eternal rhythm. It's also inspired by the ancient masterpiece Shang Hai Jing (The Guideways through Mountains and Seas), which is about Chinese mythology culture, spirituality, and folklore...[It's] an allegory for the energy that flows between mountains and oceans and across vast landscapes, spanning time and space. To open this compact is like feeling the universe in your hand. Somehow it reminds me that there is a universe out there." 

Min Liu for MAC palette

Min Liu for MAC palette

I personally think the design resembles the waves from this 1597 illustration of the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas.  (It also reminds me of Hokusai's The Great Wave, but that's a completely different cultural reference.)

Classic of Mountains and Seas illustration, 1597(image from commons.wikimedia.org)

So it's pretty, but what does the makeup have to do with Min's fashion?  Well, the designer created a beautiful capsule collection to coordinate with the makeup, which was unveiled at Shanghai's fashion week in a rather dramatic runway show.  (There's probably a lot more information in this WWD article, but of course it's behind a paywall and my library doesn't have the April issue available yet.  Sigh.) 

MAC Min Liu display

Mac-min-liu-show-dance

The clothing was simply stunning and the makeup was spot-on.  I can't imagine a more harmonious collection.  I can also definitely see the traditional-meets-contemporary vibe of the clothing, which is better described by Min:  "The style of Ms MIN has always been inspired a lot by tradition, culture and spirituality. There's been this conversation between modernity and tradition, Yin and Yang, contrary and balance and ultimately, discovering the harmony of all elements together. Anything relative to beauty reminds us and inspires us: beauty of life, beauty of energy, beauty of this world, and beauty inside of ourselves."  And as for her general perspective on makeup, Min emphasizes owning your look. "I'm wearing the makeup, the makeup is not wearing me," she says.  It's a good reminder not to wear anything that makes you uncomfortable; otherwise it will indeed look like the makeup is wearing you and not the other way around.

MAC Min Liu show

MAC Min Liu fashion collection
(images from mt.sohu.com)

Obviously the clothing was also used in the MAC campaign ads - here's a slightly better glimpse of it. 

MAC Min Liu ad

Overall, I can't say I'd wear any of Min's clothing, but I appreciate her aesthetic.  And I think the MAC palette totally captures it by updating a motif inspired by an ancient Chinese text, along with the color scheme - the shades chosen have certain traditional meanings in Chinese culture, but combining them into one palette, along with how they were used on the runway and campaign, gives them a modern feel. 

What do you think?


Friday with Frida: more Kahlo-inspired makeup

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  In honor of this festive day I thought I'd do a quick follow-up to Republic Nail's Frida Kahlo-themed polishes.  Turns out, another beauty brand beat them to the punch in early 2016 with a line of lipsticks featuring packaging inspired by the artist.  You might remember how enamored I was of Mexican company Pai Pai back in 2015, when I was positively drooling over their concept of collaborating with a different Mexican artist each season to create limited edition packaging.  Anyway, I spotted their summer 2017 collection on Instagram and was once again smitten, so I decided to catch up and see what else they had been up to since I posted about them.  That's when I found these lipsticks.

Paipai - Talia Cu

The fashion illustrator/journalist behind these, Talia Cu (Castellanos)1 had a less literal interpretation of Kahlo's work than Republic Nail.  Cu was interested in expressing the essence of Kahlo herself rather than reproducing her work, wanting to explore Kahlo's personality and fashion sense more than her art.  To accomplish this, Cu looked to both Kahlo's general surroundings and the pictures of her personal belongings photographed by Ishiuchi Miyako.  As I noted in the Republic Nail post, Kahlo's clothing, accessories and other items weren't discovered in her home until 50 years after her death.  In 2011 Miyako embarked on a breathtaking series that captured Kahlo's spirit through her personal effects (over 300 were photographed!).  It was these photos, along with other meaningful items from Kahlo's day-to-day life, that Cu used as a jumping off point for her designs.  I tried translating Cu's explanation as best I could (my Spanish is incredibly rusty) from this Vogue Mexico article.2  "I wanted to give a unique perspective and not necessarily focus on her art.  Mainly, I took inspiration from the photographs Ishiuchi Miyako took of Frida Kahlo's things, and I also wanted to revisit certain iconic motifs in her art (watermelon, monkeys, the phrase 'viva la vida') to create this small universe that built her personality."  If any illustrator is suited to take on this task, it's Cu - one look at her Instagram, which is chock full of vibrant street fashion sketches and animations, told me she could breathe new life into Kahlo's style as expressed through various items.

Paipai - Talia Cu
(images from paipai.mx)

Ishiuchi Miyako, "Frida by Ishiuchi #2" and "#11"

Ishiuchi Miyako, "Frida by Ishiuchi #50"
(images from michaelhoppengallery.com and itsnicethat.com)

Cu imagined what Kahlo would look like wearing those cat-eye sunglasses, borrowing (I suspect, given the shape of the flowers atop her head) a portrait by Nickolas Muray.  The green and white polka dot print on the lipstick may also have been a nod to the green floral background from one of Kahlo's most famous photos.

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo
(image from nickolasmuray.com)

As noted previously, Kahlo kept several monkeys, along with a host of other animals, as surrogate children. (One thing I didn't know before was that monkeys were also a symbol of lust in traditional Mexican folklore.)  Cu created a charming monkey print to represent Kahlo's attachment to these animals.

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Monkeys, 1943(image from fridakahlo.org)

Frida Kahlo, 1943(image from nydailynews.com)

I thought a cactus print was kind of strange since I don't remember these plants appearing in any Kahlo paintings, until I did a little more digging - I spotted many cacti in the garden as well as a cactus wall surrounding Kahlo's beloved home, La Casa Azul (it's now a museum and I want to go!), so I'm assuming that's where it came from.

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul(image from latinflyer.com)

Watermelons were a popular motif in Kahlo's still-life paintings.  Once again Cu gives them a fun, playful twist - they seem much less heavy than the fruits that appear in Kahlo's work.   Knowing that Kahlo added the inscription on Viva La Vida, Sandias just a few days before her death, for example, is rather bleak.  Cu's color choice of bright blue and peach, as well as the exuberant, lightweight lines of the fruit, transforms the phrase into an upbeat slogan of sorts.  (Oddly enough, you can actually buy a ceramic watermelon with the inscription from La Casa Azul's gift shop.)

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo, Viva La Vida, 1954

Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Watermelons, 1953

Frida Kahlo, The Bride Frightened at Seeing Life Opened, 1943

Frida Kahlo, Coconuts, 1951(images from fridakahlo.org)

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm using stock photos of the lipsticks instead of my own, there's a simple reason:  Pai Pai's shipping cost was completely prohibitive.  I was finally ready to pull the trigger on some items from this collection as well as the summer 2017 collection, but when I saw the shipping cost my heart dropped.  I thought the prices were mistakenly listed in Mexican pesos, but no, they were clearly U.S. dollars.  I was going to do a screenshot of the cost, but in prepping the photos for this post it seems PaiPai's check out isn't working (I keep getting an "internal server error" message) so I can't show you.  I do remember the cost though: I had 3 lipsticks in my cart for $66 and shipping was $184.  I have no idea why shipping to the U.S. from Mexico is so steep.  I order from sellers all over the world and have never seen anything like this!  But I simply can't justify more than double the price of the lipsticks themselves.  It's not the total amount that's an issue - I've spent $200-$300 in one go before - but it's a waste to pay that much for shipping alone.  It's very sad for me and a little for the company, as they could have gained quite a loyal customer.  If shipping wasn't ridiculous I'd probably snatch up every collection in full.  As a last-ditch effort, I repeatedly called the one salon in the U.S. that carries Pai Pai and never had anyone pick up, and also DM'ed them on Instagram with no reply.  Hmmph.  Unless Pai Pai comes to their senses and reduces their shipping to a reasonably affordable price, or starts carrying the line in more locations within the U.S., I'm afraid I won't be acquiring any for the Museum.  :(

I don't want to leave on a negative note, as it's both Friday and Cinco de Mayo, so I will say that I think Cu's interpretation of Kahlo is both more inspired and uplifting than Republic Nails.  The illustrations are lighter and speak to the less tortured side of the artist - the objects chosen by Cu were ones that I imagine brought Kahlo happiness, fleeting though it was.  The idea of telling her story through her personal items and other things that had meaning for her, especially when combined with the emphasis on her fashion sense, is a unique way to represent Kahlo.  By consciously choosing not to focus solely on Kahlo's art, Cu gives us a fuller impression of her personality with these illustrations.

What do you think?  And are you doing anything for Cinco de Mayo?

 

1Normally with these sorts of collabs I'd show more of the artist's work but I think these lipsticks really encapsulate Cu's style...plus I had no idea how to work it in with all of the Kahlo stuff!

2The full quote is as follows: “Por mi antecedente en el campo de la moda, me interesé en Frida Kahlo no solo por su trabajo como artista, sino por la personalidad que lograba capturar en su vestuario, y su estilo icónico...Quería darle una perspectiva distinta y no necesariamente enfocarme en su arte. Principalmente, tomé inspiración de las fotografías que Ishiuchi Miyako tomó de los objetos de Frida Kahlo, y a la par retomé también ciertas figuras icónicas en su obra (la sandía, los monos, la frase "viva la vida") todo para crear este pequeño universo que la construye como personaje. Los colores por supuesto, tenían que representar esa alegría en su vestuario.”

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Curator's Corner, 5/2/2017

CC logoA Curator's Corner on a Tuesday?  Sure, why not.  I'm usually late with this feature anyway and end up backdating it, but this weekend was terrible - I'll spare you my whining but suffice it to say that Museum headquarters may have to move soon - so I'm posting this link roundup even later. I hope you enjoy regardless of its tardiness. :)

- Here's a really interesting piece on makeup hoarding and addiction that identified the difference between a hobby and compulsive buying.  I maintain that while I own much more makeup than the average person, I'm not a hoarder since I keep an inventory, regularly clean out my stash and genuinely enjoy everything I buy.  Right?  Right. #denial

- Racked also had an article on Republic Nail's Frida Kahlo polishes.  I was so pleased to see a shout-out to the Museum's post on the topic, but still kinda wished they had interviewed me since, well really, who has more expertise discussing the intersection of makeup and art?  Oh well.

- As you know I can't get enough of flash-in-the-pan fads.  In the past 2 weeks barbed wire brows have replaced feather brows, geode nails are the new geode highlights, lips take on a marbled look, and for some reason butt glitter has migrated upwards to boob glitter.

- Meanwhile, the unicorn frappuccino mania has spilled over into the beauty sphere, with nails and hair inspired by the limited edition Starbucks drink.  The drink may be gone now but the unicorn beauty craze is still going strong - even guys are getting their unicorn magic on.

- Speaking of guys, just when we thought we had reached peak crazy makeup applicator, one girl put part of her boyfriend's nether regions to cosmetic use.  (Link NSFW, obviously).  It's stunts like these that make me appreciate beauty tutorial parodies all the more.

- Happy (belated) 420.

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, I greatly enjoyed the oral histories of both Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and Austin Powers, along with this write-up of one of my favorite Yo La Tengo albums.  All three turned 20.  In related news, I. Am. So. Old.

- I love me some bubbly, but bubbly with glitter is even better.

- More beverage fun: I was initially kind of annoyed about the aforementioned unicorn frappuccino since there was no mermaid frap, but there is!  I really really want one, especially since it sounds like it would be way yummier than the unicorn one (it apparently tasted like Sweet Tarts so I definitely wouldn't have liked it) but I hate the thought of annoying the crap out of the barista

What's been catching your eye?

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Armani's runway palettes: high-end makeup blind boxes?

Thank goodness for Instagram, because without it I might never have known Armani was doing another runway palette this spring!  As with the previous runway palettes it features a fabric print taken directly from the latest ready-to-wear collection packaged in a lovely tulle pouch.  While last spring's didn't really catch my fancy, I deemed this season's palette (along with fall 2016's) Museum-worthy. 

Armani spring 2017 palette

Armani spring 2017 palette

Armani spring 2017 palette

I feel this palette was better equipped than previous ones to help you recreate the runway makeup look, which was simply gorgeous - a pop of bright blue messily smudged along the top lashline paired with peachy-beige cheeks and glossy peach lips.  It sounds like it's been done before, but this look was a new iteration of the sexy disheveled eye in that it used bold color rather than the usual black, and there didn't seem to be any eyeshadow at all.  While I can't use this palette since it's a collectible, I bet I could swap Pat McGrath's magnificent Ultraviolet Dark Star kit.

Armani spring 2017 palette

Armani spring 2017 makeup

Armani spring 2017

Armani spring 2017 makeup

I also think the makeup paired really well with the clothes.

Armani spring 2017 ready to wear

As with the previous runway palettes, my hunch is that there are a handful of different fabric swatches that appear on the palettes.  The one in the stock photo, for example, shows a slightly different section of the pattern than the one I have.

Armani spring 2017 palette

Now let's play the matching game.  I found the exact portion of the fabric in this look.

Armani spring 2017 ready to wear
(images from vogue.com and giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com)

However, I had to flip it both vertically and horizontally to get it to match the one on the palette case.

Armani pattern spring 2017

I'm enjoying these runway-inspired pieces from Armani.  Arguably they're not earth-shattering from a design standpoint in that they're literal reproductions of the patterns on the clothing, and sometimes I wish Armani would return to bedazzled and/or embossed powders for their seasonal releases, but the joy in these lies in the fact that you never know what you're going to get in terms of the exact part of the pattern that appears on the palette.  It's like a blind box toy of sorts (I'd dearly love to have blind box makeup!) and it's also a fun little game to go through the runway photos and find the particular fabric swatch you have.  Or at least it is to me since I'm a dork that way.  :D

What do you think?

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Poland meets Japan meets France

I spotted this Japan-exclusive Guerlain compact on Instagram and was afraid I wouldn't be able to snag it, but fortunately one of my trusty international sellers got it in stock.  The beautiful floral pattern is the work of Polish-born, Tokyo-based artist Przemek Sobocki.  I find the navy blue outline to perfectly complement the mix of spring green, pale lavender and an array of pinks, especially set against that pristine white background.  The delicate lines within the leaves lend a realistic, vivid touch. 

Przemek Sobocki for Guerlain

Przemek Sobocki for Guerlain

I really wish I had more information about how the collaboration with Guerlain came to be, but in lieu of that I thought I'd take a look at some of the artist's other work.  Sobocki specializes in whimsical, colorful fashion illustrations in a range of areas, from print (magazine features, ads, etc.) and animated shorts and to store displays and packaging.  Of his sources for inspiration and overall style, he says, "Mostly, I am inspired by cinema and books, and I really like 'reality' with a twist – basically 'magical realism' – I think our lives are not only about what we can see or hear or touch or taste, etc., they are also about the reality 'between the lines.' I am very interested in that part of life and of telling stories in this way; to evoke the feeling of suspense.” 

Przemek Sobocki illustration for Manish Arora, 2010

Przemek Sobocki illustration for Harper's Bazaar Japan

Przemek Sobocki illustration for Elle magazine, 2013

Some of my favorites include these amazing store displays for Japan's famous Isetan department store.

Przemek Sobocki store display for Isetan

Another favorite of mine is the "candyland" Sobocki created for online high-end clothing retailer Farfetch - reminds me a little of Will Cotton's pieces.

Przemek Sobocki for Farfetch

Przemek Sobocki for Farfetch

One thing I found interesting about Sobocki's work is that it's primarily a Western style with just a touch of Asian flair.  After opening two exhibitions in Japan, Sobocki knew he was ready to take the plunge into living there; however, he's not as influenced stylistically by Japanese culture as by his native European roots.  It's there, but in his words, not "obvious":  "I feel very comfortable here so the cultural differences [weren't] really much of a problem...there is definitely influence from Oriental culture.  But I guess it's not as obvious as [that of other artists] who live in Asia.  I'm still very inspired by European culture but I absolutely love Asian cinema - so the influence is there for sure!"  I feel as though these jellyfish decorating the windows of a Tokyo salon, along with the underwater scene Sobocki created for a child's bedroom, look a little more Asian - they remind me a tiny bit of the scenes you'd find on Japanese wood block prints.

Przemek Sobocki - window mural for Acqua Salon

Przemek Sobocki - window mural for Acqua Salon

Przemek Sobocki - wall mural

Just for fun, I had to include his rendering of the famous Copenhagen mermaid statue for a Farfetch campaign.  ;)

Przemek Sobocki - illustration for Farfetch(images from sobocki.com and instagram)

While his clients are primarily fashion brands, Sobocki is no stranger to beauty-related illustration.  I adore his interpretation of several looks created by the ultra-talented Pat McGrath for Dior.

Przemek Sobocki - editorial illustration
(image from sobocki.com)

Here's the actual makeup.

Pat McGrath makeup for Dior

A few more:

Przemek Sobocki - editorial illustration(images from sobocki.com and papermag.com)

Przemek Sobocki - editorial illustration
(images from sobocki.com and pinterest)

There was also this collaboration for a nail polish set.

Przemek Sobocki - UNT nail polish set(image from sobocki.com)

Despite his extensive portfolio of store displays and advertising campaigns, Sobocki maintains that illustration is his preferred medium because of the artistic freedom it provides. "[Illustrators] can show things differently. They are not bound by the physical limitations of their environment or the models in the same way that a photographer might be.  Instead, an illustration artist can bend the rules a bit and really explore the concept behind the clothes," he explains

Overall, while I would have liked to see more information about how the Guerlain collaboration happened and the inspiration behind the compact's illustration, it's definitely Museum-worthy.  I must remember to include it in next year's spring exhibition, since it arrived too late for inclusion in this year's.

Thoughts?


Found! Some vintage inspiration for Benefit

I was eagerly scrolling through Instagram (which has, incidentally, become my favorite social media platform - please join and follow me, it's so much fun!) and came across a familiar image from one of the many vintage ephemera accounts I follow. 

Vintage Flexees lingerie mannequin
(image from instagram.com)

I knew it was makeup-related, but couldn't recall which company had used something that looked just like this lingerie mannequin.  Was it Too-FacedThe Balm?  Nope.  I racked my brain but just couldn't place it.  It wasn't until I started packing for a weekend at my parents' house that it dawned on me. 

Benefit Lana makeup bag

Aha!  I believe I found the original source for Benefit's Luscious Lana, especially given that Benefit refers to her as a lingerie model.  In an alternate version of the makeup bag she has the rose up by her head, but not in the original green bag.  I'm guessing Benefit used a reproduction mannequin of the Flexees one since her face is a little different.  Naturally this serindipitous find got me interested in trying to track down other vintage mannequins to see whether they figured into Benefit's packaging and advertising, and I found another lingerie mannequin that appeared on many of Benefit's old catalogs.  Apparently both this model and the one used for Lana were mannequins meant to be displayed on a store counter top, so they're pretty small - not life-size or anything, which makes them cute rather than creepy.  Both also appear to be from the 1940s or so.

As with Lana the face on this one is ever so slightly different.

Vintage lingerie mannequin
(image from ebay.com)

Benefit makeup catalog

While the features on this mannequin aren't as strikingly similar to the previous two, she still may have served as inspiration for Benefit's Beautiful Bermuda Betty, who appeared in various catalogs and a bag.  The downward-looking pose, hairstyle and smoky eye with thin arched brows look alike, although not identical.

Vintage Formfit mannequin
(image from ebay.com)

Benefit Bermuda Betty

I dug a little more but still couldn't find any original sources for Gabbi Glickman, who is probably Benefit's 2nd best known mannequin mascot.  I did unearth a pair of mannequin heads that are identical, but there was no information provided about them.

Benefit Gabbi bag

The one I was most interested in finding though was the mannequin used for Simone, the dark-haired beauty sporting a lavish gold dress who is probably Benefit's most recognized mascot.  Full-sized Simones reside in Benefit's headquarters in both San Francisco and Canada, and she appeared as the cover girl for most of the aforementioned catalogs.

Benefit headquarters - Simone mannequin(image from sfgate.com)

Benefit holiday makeup catalog

I did find a mannequin that looked just like Simone, but I had no idea what company it was for or approximately when it was made.  This was displayed at a Chanel event but I don't think it was an official Chanel advertising piece.

Chanel mannequin
(image from pinterest.com)

It also doesn't look like a regular vintage mannequin but rather a reproduction.  Looking at both this and Benefit's other mannequins in their offices, I'm wondering if they're using a mix of authentic vintage pieces and reproductions.

Benefit office - mannequin heads(image from refinery29.com)

For example, the third mannequin from the right definitely resembles this reproduction...

Mary mannequin by Marge Crunkleton
(image from crunkleton.com)

...while the blonde right in the middle is a dead ringer for this vintage 1940s jewelry mannequin.

Vintage jewelry mannequin
(image from ebay.com)

Why does Benefit rely so heavily on mannequins for their marketing?  One reason is that in their early days, the company couldn't afford to pay real spokespeople and models, so the mannequins served as a stand-in (this was also the reason Stila used illustrations).  Second, Benefit founders and Jean and Jane Ford always had an affinity for vintage fashion and beauty items.*  In a 2011 interview, Jean explained: "Over the years, Jane and I have collected vintage pieces for inspiration...we have vintage mannequins, compacts, posters, handbags and lots of old magazines.  There is something very romantic about the past.  For our packaging, we use both modern and old-fashioned images and styles to create fun products that women will want to carry in their bags or display on their vanity."  Indeed, using retro designs in a modern way has proved to be a dynamite strategy for the company.  I don't really see it as nostalgia for the past, per se, but rather an appreciation for the overall style and occasionally more kitschy aspects of selling femininity, such as those countertop display lingerie mannequins.  Sometimes I look at old makeup ads and burst out laughing - to modern eyes, the cheesiness and over-the-top tone are genuinely funny.  Benefit seizes the opportunity to celebrate the sillier side of vintage beauty and fashion and infused it into their entire brand.

What do you think?   

 

*In addition to the mannequins, I'm wondering whether Benefit was looking at these Max Factor doll lipstick mirrors when designing their 2016 holiday collection.


Curator's Corner, 4/16/2017

CC logoHappy Sunday and Happy Easter to those celebrating.  Here's your bi-weekly batch of links.

- Smashbox is now a world record holder for the most expensive lip art, ringing in at a whopping $26,500.

- After a similar article published a few weeks ago, I really want to ask this author why she has such a hatred for all fun makeup.  This is a topic I've explored before, but I believe women are smart enough to know the difference between nostalgia and infantilization.

- The latest trends sweeping Instagram include feather brows, floral eyeliner, holographic hair and leopard print hair.  Meanwhile, ice cream flavored lip balm is the newest member of the foody beauty family.

- "I get enough FOMO from social media alone — I don’t need my beloved beauty products making me feel like I’m a loser as well."  Racked offers a good piece on time-saving beauty products

- In racist/offensive/bad taste beauty news, we have Nivea's (now pulled) "white purity" ads and a tutorial to recreate United Airlines passenger David Dao's bloodied mouth.  Ugh.

- But at least this is funny

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, here's a list of little-known facts about my favorite movie and a truly hilarious supercut of Seinfeld bloopers.  Also, Tamagotchis are officially back and Hanson's megahit "Mmmbop", a.k.a. the most annoying song ever, turned 20 this week.

- On the art/museum front, these are possibly the most unimaginative "art-inspired" bags I've ever seen.  You know what's great though?  My favorite little egg starring in famous paintings

- Eggs remind me of Easter, which brought in the usual fun stuff:  the Washington City Paper resurrected the Post's Peeps Diorama contest, while a baker used 1,500 peeps to make a life-size Disney princess.  And I'd be curious to check out this new bunny museum.  Finally, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I'd probably eat both of these pizzas

Speaking of novelty foods, I'm not sure how I feel about clear coffee but pink pineapples are a total win for me, pineapple fiend that I am.

How are you doing? 

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Quick Friday fun: Spring critters

In honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, I thought I'd round up some truly adorable springtime animal-themed makeup.  Bunnies and chicks and lambs, oh my!  Some of these were limited edition, but it's still fun seeing what was out there. 

  Easter beauty

  1. Tony Moly Petite Bunny Gloss bar
  2. Pupa Non-Conventional Zoo set (ca. 2007)
  3. Bunny lip balm
  4. Deborah Milano Icon palette (these came in so many animals - there are ducks, cats, owls, pigs, seals, elephants, turtles, bears, butterflies...even a moose!
  5. Oh K Bunny Sponge (not actually shaped like a bunny but the packaging is adorable!)
  6. Pupa Pretty Bunny palette (limited edition for holiday 2013)
  7. Peeps flavored lip gloss
  8. Beyond lipsticks - We've seen Paul & Joe's cat-shaped lipsticks but these took the cake for me...I so wish I was able to get my hands on them!  Alas, Beyond released these in 2012 and while I've scoured Ebay I don't think I'll be getting my hands on these.  Beyond apparently has a hard anti-animal-testing stance and created these lipsticks to help raise money for some endangered species:  harp seals, pink dolphins, otters, flying squirrels, and pandas.  Not exactly Easter-themed but I just had to include them!
  9. Lawna cotton swabs - I think these are a prototype and not available for sale, but so cute.
  10. The Creme blending sponge set - I love that they have names!  You get Penny the Pig, Charlie the Chick and Boogie the Bunny.  Like the Oh K sponge they're not shaped like the actual animal but they're precious nevertheless.

Besides Philosophy's Sugar Chick shower gel that I may be hoarding, another Easter-y item I love is this Etude House Bunny Nail set.  How much fun is that rabbit-shaped confetti?!

Etude House Bunny Nail

Etude House Bunny Nail

Etude House Bunny Nail

Have a nice Easter!  And if you don't celebrate I hope you at least have some candy.  :)

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Executing makeup on the astral plane: Addiction x Hilma af Klint

Hilma-af-klint-studio
image from anothermag.com

I thought for sure Addiction's spring 2017 compacts featuring the work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) would be unattainable, as they were only available as a gift with purchase in Japan.  Fortunately a seller I frequent was able to get both for me!  I had heard of af Klint before and was intrigued by her work since I have a soft spot for colorful abstraction, but this collection made me admire it even more.  I really have no idea how the collaboration came about as the description at Addiction's website is pretty vague:  "We learned that a woman had painted these magnificent paintings at the beginning of the 20th century and wanted to know more about her." In any case I really enjoyed learning about af Klint and I hope you do too.

Much has been written about the artist, although that's a recent development due partially to the fact that af Klint stipulated that a group of her most significant paintings not be revealed to the public until 20 years after her death, fearing that they wouldn't be understood.  In fact, it took even longer for her work to be recognized; it wasn't until a major exhibition in 1986 that her name was on the art history map, so to speak, and I'm guessing this was also due to the patriarchy at work.  I don't want to spend much time reviewing her entire oeuvre, since I am not an expert and also because af Klint was a prolific artist, producing over 1,000 works (!) in her lifetime.  I'll provide a brief bio and then focus on the paintings reproduced on the Addiction compacts.  (Sources are linked throughout.)

Af Klint was born in 1862 and entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 1882.  This was a rarity for the time, as the art schools in most European countries allowed only men.  While producing the usual landscapes, botanical and animal drawings - af Klint was a vegetarian and animal-lover who worked as a draughtswoman at a local veterinary school - she had started experimenting with abstract designs before she graduated in 1887.  Af Klint, along with her contemporary Edward Munch (who, incidentally, once had a show in a gallery in the same building as her studio) were inspired by recent scientific developments involving phenomena unable to be perceived with the naked eye.  Hettie Judah at The Independent explains: "This was a period in which the 'unseen' world exerted a growing fascination – not only the emotional, experiential world of the human spirit explored by Munch, but the discovery of physical forces and elementary particles that formed the known world on a microscopic level.  In the late 1880s Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of electromagnetic waves: in 1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays. A vision of the world pulsing with forces and transmissions invisible to the naked eye was emerging."  Af Klint's interest in abstraction was also influenced by her spirituality - having attended seances since the age of 17, she was greatly intrigued by the spiritual realm, and the death of her 10-year-old sister in 1880 only intensified her interest in the occult.   In 1896 she formed a group with 4 other like-minded women artists and together called themselves The Five.  Roughly 30 years before the Surrealists, these women tried their hand at automatic drawing and writing.  Talk about being ahead of the times!  During one session in either 1904 1905 af Klint was "commissioned" by Amaliel, one of several spirits she claimed communicated with her, to create an extensive collection that would become known as The Paintings for the Temple.  In af Klint's words, the spirit guided her to "execute paintings on the astral plane" to represent the "immortal aspects of man." Completed between 1906 and 1915, the collection of 193 large-scale paintings were divided into several thematic series that "convey[ed] the unity of all existence beyond the fractured duality of the modern world. Different series within The Paintings for the Temple relate to the creation, man’s progress through life, evolution, and the human soul as divided into masculine and feminine halves striving for unity."  It was this collection that af Klint stipulated could not be shown until 20 years after her death, a decision influenced by the opinion of a prominent Swiss philosopher who visited af Klint in 1908 and speculated it would be at least another 50 years until people understood her art.

Anyway, The Ten Largest is the second series in the collection and was completed between August and December of 1907, quite a feat given their enormous size (10 feet tall) and af Klint's petite stature (5 feet).  The Ten Largest traces the human life cycle in 4 stages - childhood, youth, adulthood, old age - and the two paintings chosen for the compacts are No. 1, Childhood, Group IV and No. 5, Adulthood, Group IV.  Why Addiction selected these two in particular I don't know, but they do look lovely on the compacts. 

Addiction Hilma af Klint compacts

Addiction Hilma af Klint compacts

Interestingly, af Klint noted that she wasn't all that aware of what she was painting, taking on the role of a receiver or medium.  She explained, "The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke." 

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

There's something so beautifully organic about these - they appear to be idealized representations of cells, flowers and other natural elements.  I'll let the Royal Academy Magazine give a much better description:  "Snail-shell spirals, concentric circles and zygote-like forms nestle amongst coiled fronds and splayed petals (she also produced intricate botanical drawings), all dancing against radiant tempera backgrounds from terracotta orange to faded lilac. Forms bulge, overlap, conjoin in what an eye informed by contemporary science might liken to celestial bodies or cell mitosis; they are extraordinary pictures, immense and ecstatic." The 26,000 pages (holy crap) of notebooks af Klint kept provide some clues as to the meaning of various colors and motifs.  Blue and lilies symbolized femininity, yellow and roses stood for masculinity, and green was a universal color.  The letter "U" designated the spiritual realm, while "W" denoted physical matter, and spirals symbolized evolution.  This underscores that there was nothing passive about her process; in fact, she essentially studied her own work over the years, an example of which is a 1,200 page notebook that further analyzed the meaning of the images she had painted.  

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

Here's the original so you can see how it's actually oriented - Addiction re-situated the paintings horizontally to better fit on the compacts.

The Ten Largest, No. 1, Childhood, Group IV - by Hilma af Klint (1907)(image from anothermag.com)

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

The Ten Largest, No. 5, Adulthood, Group IV - by Hilma af Klint (1907)(image from arteidolia.com)

Here are some of the eyeshadows.  I have 4 of them but couldn't bear to take the plastic off, so I hope you'll forgive me for the tiny stock photos.  I can absolutely see how the colors are inspired by af Klint. I guess they couldn't use the real names of the paintings, so some of them, like Flower Evolution, are merely reminiscent of af Klint's themes.

Addiction Hilma af Klint eyeshadow
(images from addiction-beauty.com)

I'm really glad Addiction is helping to bring af Klint to a wider audience because for so long she didn't get the recognition she deserved.  Five years before Kandinsky declared to have painted the first abstract work, af Klint was completing Primordial Chaos, the first collection in her monumental series.  Some art critics claim that af Klint's paintings were merely diagrams of the spiritual world or depictions of scientific concepts we can't see, not true abstraction (or at least, a different form of the genre).  That sounds plausible, but given that in 1970 the then-Director of Sweden's Moderna Museet turned down the offer of af Klint's entire estate because of her relationship to spiritualism and a more recent incident at MoMA in which af Klint's work was left out of an exhibition on early abstraction per the argument that it wasn't actually art, I'd say there's definitely sexism at work here.  When you consider that Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich, etc. all drew inspiration from spiritualism and are heralded as the pioneers of abstraction, leaving af Klint out of the conversation seems blatantly sexist.  When male artists borrowed spiritualist principles they were geniuses but when a woman did she was written off as a kook - not a real artist, just some crazy lady who happened to draw and paint a lot.  Perhaps there's also an unconscious bias over the fact that af Klint subscribed to theosophy, an area of spiritualist belief that was founded by a woman and is notable for being the first European religious organization that actively welcomed women and allowed them to have senior positions.  Additionally, the lack of renown could be the result of societal conditioning; women simply weren't encouraged to be at the forefront of art.  Af Klint was no exception - as noted earlier, she worked largely in isolation and didn't participate in the avant-garde discussions going on in the rest of Europe.  As Jennifer Higgie writes in Hilma af Klint:  Painting the Unseen (p.16): "[...It's] irrefutable that although women artists were tolerated, they were rarely, if ever, encouraged to express the kind of radical ideas that marked their male contemporaries as innovators...even though af Klint was one of the earliest Western artists to wholeheartedly engage with abstraction, the most visible discussions of it as a viable new artistic language were conducted by men, all of whom were proficient at self-promotion."  (Kandinsky was particularly known for puffing himself up.)  In any case, I think these issues make it all the more important to acknowledge her work.  Even if they're not "truly" abstract, af Klint's paintings are still vital to understanding the evolution of modern Western art.  And when you consider the fact that she was  producing these pieces in an atmosphere not exactly hospitable to women artists, it makes her accomplishments even more mind-boggling.  Adrian Searle at The Guardian agrees: "Too often for it to be an accident, Af Klint had an innate sense of how to make a painting, often with no artistic models to turn to. Her best paintings are airy, their forms and geometries delivered with an evident pleasure and openness...The scale and frontality and freshness of her work still stand up, in a way that many Kandinskys don't. Yet looking at photographic portraits of the artist, we see a stern woman who was far from cosmopolitan, and in whom there are few outward signs of emancipation. For a woman to be an artist at all in Sweden in the early 20th century was difficult enough. To be an artist who believed as she did must have made matters even more difficult."

Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out how Addiction got the rights to use af Klint's work on the compacts.  Having a collection inspired by an artist's work is one thing, but actual reproductions are trickier legally.  There is a Hilma af Klint Foundation governed by her family members, so possibly they granted the rights to Addiction, but that would be a huge feat for the company to pull off since the guardians of af Klint's estate protect the use of her work rather fiercely.  And of course there's the age-old question of whether a deceased artist would approve of their work being used this way.  I really can't say in the case of Klint.  On the one hand she seems like someone who wouldn't be interested in makeup - given that her life's work consisted of representing tremendously complex philosophical and spiritual ideas, she may have perceived cosmetics as frivolous.  On the other hand, this may also mean she'd be okay with people enjoying her art in whatever format it appeared.  Says Iris Müller-Westermann, Director of Moderna Museet Malmö, "This was really an artist who dared to think beyond her time, to step out of what was commonly accepted...she had visions about bigger contexts where it was not about making money or being very famous, but about doing something much more humble: trying to understand the world and who we are in it." Af Klint also seemed to believe that women should be equal, and part and parcel of equality is being able to express ourselves however we choose.  I'm not able to paint on a canvas but I can get creative with makeup.  I think af Klint would have appreciated that. 

Overall I'm delighted with this collaboration.  I am possibly the least spiritual person I know, but looking at af Klint's work I feel simultaneously curious about our place in the universe and incredibly at peace.  I can only imagine how I'd react if I saw these in person; an anecdote from the blockbuster 2013 af Klint exhibition notes that many visitors cried when faced with af Klint's monumental works but couldn't explain why, something that's happened to me when standing in front of certain works of art.  As for the Addiction collection, the colors and textures make me want to try to "paint the unseen" - just like af Klint but using my eyelids as a canvas!

What do you think?  Had you heard of af Klint before now?


MM Spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Welcome to the Makeup Museum's spring 2017 exhibition!  As you may know, for the past few months I've been hopelessly under the spell of anything holographic/iridescent/prismatic, and I think this morphed into an obsession with all the colors of the rainbow.  (Or it could be Desus and Mero's nightly rainbow feature seeping into my subconscious.) Duochrome makeup is obviously different than rainbow makeup - I see the former as having color-shifting principles, while the latter is vibrant yet static - but I'd argue that they're all on the same...spectrum. (Sorry, couldn't resist).  What I mean is that merely colorful makeup is different than holographic, but they share similar qualities.  Generally speaking, I was inspired by the broader notion of color play and the endless possibilities a variety of colors can provide.  I've always loved vividly colorful makeup because as we'll see, over the years it's become synonymous with fun and self-expression, which is basically my makeup credo.  From 6-hued rainbow highlighters and a set of primary colors to create unique shades to more subtle gradient palettes and sheer lipsticks, makeup that encompasses the whole spectrum allows for a great amount of experimentation.  Even color correctors offer the opportunity to play.  I wanted this exhibition to express the joy and creativity that a wide range of colors can bring, especially when viewed as a collective whole such as a rainbow.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

While I could have probably could have done an entire rainbow-themed exhibition, there were some new, non-rainbowy releases that were simply too good not to include, plus I thought they added a nice balance to all the color.   Also, did you notice the labels?  I got the idea to make them a gradient rather than all one shade, but my husband, super smarty pants that he is, chose the exact colors and how to arrange them.  I think this is the first exhibition where I had to determine where everything was going prior to printing the labels.  Usually I just print them out and figure out placement of the objects later since I can always move the labels around, but this time I had decide on placement first since moving things would mess up the gradation effect.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Let's take a closer peek, shall we?

Top shelves, left to right.

I spotted this 1970 Yardley set on ebay and knew it would be perfect.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix

The box isn't in the best shape but aren't the graphics so cool?!

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I love that the insert encourages you to have fun and experiment.  It's a stark contrast to actual ad for the product, which, underneath its seemingly feminist veneer, is horrifically ageist.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I tried cleaning up the tubes but I scrubbed too hard on the yellow one, which resulted in a few cracks.  I forget these things are over 40 years old and that plastic doesn't necessarily remain durable for that amount of time.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

The similarity between the eye makeup for Dior's spring 2017 collection campaign and an ad from 1973 is striking.

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition labels

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Dior vintage ad and 2017 palette

1973 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad

Dior spring 2017 makeup

My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Addiction would be featuring the work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint on their compacts this spring.  Af Klint's work really spoke to me and I'm so happy Addiction helped spread the word about her.

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

These lipsticks are so delectable!

Kailijumei flower lipsticks

I know it's just a fake flower with highlighter dusted on top, but it still makes me swoon.

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Still haven't figured out a name for this little lady.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

Makeup Museum exhibition label

If you remember that popular video that was making the rounds a little while ago, it showed a Charles of the Ritz powder bar.

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

1963 Charles of the Ritz ad

If I ever display this again I'll update the label.  Turns out Charles of the Ritz tried to bring back the service in August of 1988, but I don't think it stuck around long.  Perhaps they couldn't compete with the likes of Prescriptives, who was by that point leading the way in custom blending?  (Sidenote:  I'm tickled at how the article is written by Linda Wells, who was just 2 years shy of launching what would become the world's best-known beauty magazine, and how it also cites Bobbi Brown and refers to her as simply a "makeup artist."  Little did they know that Bobbi's own line would be taking the makeup world by storm in another 3 years.)

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Third row, left to right.

I'm not sure why Guerlain used a rainbow for this spring's campaign and not for their summer 2015 Rainbow Pearls, but they look good together.

Guerlain Meteorites

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Paul & Joe:

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Shiseido 7 Color Powders Centennial set (well, part of it):

Shiseido rainbow powders

Shiseido rainbow powders

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Burberry Silk and Bloom palette:

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

Rainbow highlighters...I just received word that the original was re-stocked so I will have to purchase it.  :)

Rainbow highlighters

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Loubichrome nail polishes:

Loubichrome nail polish trio

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Interestingly, when I working on the label I came across a Vogue interview with Julie Verhoeven that was published after I had posted about these makeup sets.  She clarified that Jacobs had specifically requested to revisit the imagery on the 2002 Louis Vuitton collection, so it wasn't a random decision to go with that style.  As for the frog motif, which I am completely smitten with, it was most likely a nod to Jacobs' fondness for the animal (another recent interview with Verhoeven tipped me off.)

Marc Jacobs spring 2017 makeup set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Ah!  I was so excited when this set popped up on ebay I could hardly contain myself.  This is probably the best representation of late '60s/early '70s beauty.  It doesn't have the insert but overall it's in great condition.  I don't know whether this particular set is specifically the pastel version mentioned in the ad (which is a printout of an original from 1973 - forgot to put that on the label, oops) or the regular non-pastel crayons, but I was overjoyed to finally get one into the Museum's collection.

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

In doing a little background research for this exhibition I came across some interesting things.  I couldn't possibly pull together a comprehensive history of colorful/rainbow-inspired makeup, but here's a quick look back on some of the highlights.  While color correcting powders existed early on in the modern beauty industry, it seems as though the more colorful side of makeup wasn't popularized until the early '60s.  Ads for collections featuring a robust range of vibrant shades included words like "fun", "play" and "experiment", thereby associating color variety with happiness and creativity.

1960 Cutex ad(image from flickr.com)

This was the earliest ad I could find that mentions a "rainbow" of shades.

1961 Max Factor ad(image from hair-and-makeup-artist.com)

This 1967 ad not only depicts a spectrum of color, it encourages the wearer to create different looks by adding varying amounts of water to the pigments.  I'm assuming you could adjust the opacity this way.

1967 Max Factor ad
(image from pinterest.com)

While I love the Yardley Mixis set and the classic Mary Quant crayons, I think this brand is my favorite representation of late '60s beauty, at least in terms of advertising (you can see more here).  It's so crazy and psychedelic...looking at this makes me want to dance around in a field with flowers in my hair, LOL.  Sadly I was unable to track down any original makeup or ads from this line, which I believe was exclusive to Woolworth's in the UK.

1968 Baby Doll Cosmetics ad
(image from sweetjanespopboutique.com)

The demand for color didn't end with the '60s, as evidenced by these early '70s Dior ads.

1972 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad
(images from ebay.com)

Once again, a variety of colors is linked to self-expression and fun.

1975 Maybelline ad(image from flickr.com)

Dior kept the color game strong in the '80s.  (There was a 1981 Elizabeth Arden collection entitled Rainbows, but it didn't really offer much of a shade range).

1986 Dior ad(image from sighswhispers.blogspot.com) 

More recently, rainbow-inspired beauty has had its moments.  The models at Peter Som's spring 2013 runway show sported pastel rainbow eye shadow, while later that year, Sephora's holiday collection brush set featured iridescent rainbow handles.  For summer 2015 MAC released a collection with basically the same finish on the packaging, and come November, Smashbox's collaboration with artist Yago Hortal offered an eye-popping array of shades.  I'd argue that 2016 was the tipping point for the rainbow beauty craze, with fashion designers leading the way.  These runway looks helped set the stage for the likes of ColourPop's rainbow collection and Urban Decay's Full Spectrum palette, both released last year, along with MAC's Liptensity collection, which brought a whole new dimension to color perception.  While it wasn't a rainbow-themed collection per se, Liptensity's "tetrachromatic" formulation ushered in a new way of thinking about and playing with makeup pigments in much the same way rainbow makeup did.

Makeup at Alexis Mabille and Manish Arora, spring 2016
(images from makeupforlife.net and fashionising.com)

Fendi spring 2016(image from harpersbazaar.com)

Betsey Johnson spring 2016(images from wwd.com and seventeen.com)

It doesn't look like rainbow makeup is going anywhere soon, as evidenced by the stunning looks Pat McGrath created for Maison Margiela's fall 2017 show, along with products like MAC's Colour Rocker lipsticks and Kat Von D's Pastel Goth palette.  Even Sephora's typography got a rainbow makeover.  (While the gradient rainbow style was used more to convey holographic makeup/highlighters, it represents exactly what I meant earlier - rainbow makeup and holographic makeup may be distant cousins, but they definitely belong to the same family).

Maison Margiela fall 2017(images from instagram.com)

Sephora rainbow(image from sephora.com)

Finally, there are these magazine features from the March 2017 issues.  (Yes, I still tear out magazine pages.  Yes, I'm aware there's Pinterest and that we live in a digital world.)

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Marie Claire magazine, March 2017

That was long!  Phew, I'm tired.  Actually I'm not, since looking at a bunch of different colors together energizes me.  As a matter of fact, I tend to get a little overstimulated, which is why I do most of my makeup shopping online - in-store browsing at all those colors displayed on the counters is very bad for my wallet. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the exhibition and that you'll play with color this season, either by wearing shades so bright they hurt your eyes or simply giving color correctors a go (and everything in between).  Just have fun!