- My favorite band reunited!!! Okay, it was just for one song and it was a cover, but I'm kind of glad because I would have totally lost it if they had done one of their own songs.
- On the local front, it's impressive someone took the time and effort to create Baltimore Barbies, but at the same time the stereotypes could be considered fairly insulting. And I can tell you that the one for Mt. Vernon is not accurate.
- Speaking of animated TV shows, need a gift for the Simpsons fan in your life? Take your pick of these great Threadless t-shirts (via Nitrolicious). I am partial to Ralph Wiggum's school picture and "Everything's Coming Up Milhouse!"
I spotted these Christmas-themed soaps at Beautyhabit and just had to get some for the Museum (plus they were on sale!) I loved the retro Scandinavian illustrations. According to the company's website, these are original designs from the 1930s! In case you're wondering, "God Jul" means "Merry Christmas" in Swedish.
I particularly loved the copy on the back of this elf soap:
Additionally, while I haven't tried them, they are supposedly "filled with mandarin, cinnamon, almond, vanilla, orange and cloves - all the scents that we associate with the Swedish Christmas."
Victoria Scandinavian Soaps has a long and quite interesting history. The company was founded in 1905 in the Swedish port city of Helsingborg and primarily focused on making candles. In 1914 Victoria began producing soap, and by 1924 it was the official soap company of the Royal Swedish Court (and still is today). The website even has a little museum that not only tells the company's history but also includes some really great vintage ads and packaging.
This "Iwana" soap was a special edition in the 1920s and named after one of the company's employees.
I thought this soap from the '50s was neat - the sphinx apparently has Cleopatra's face.
This 1940s ad is for Cremosin, which was first introduced in 1924 and is still sold today:
In 2010, Japanese multi-media artist Takashi Murakami unveiled 6 Heart Princess (6HP) at the Murakami Versailles exhibition, an animated work in which six good princesses, represented in pink, fight against an evil princess, represented in black. The work is set to air as a TV series in 2014. According to Shu's press release, Murakami "captured the essence of the adventures of magical 'majokko' (magical witch girls) in animated form. 'Majokko' has remained a popular animation genre in Japan for more than half a century; in this world normal girls transform into super women to fight the enemy or solve problems. The new animation work is Takashi Murakami's modern reinterpretation of this genre, subliminating aspects of Tokyo's 'otaku' subculture and the worlds of cosplay and manga into an artwork." In an interview, Murakami explains that 6HP was based on an old Japanese story entitled "Tale of Eight Dogs" that utilizes the format of post-war Japanese cartoons involving "majokko". He also talks about why he chose 6HP for the Shu collaboration, opting for a more, in his words, "raw", expressive animation style as opposed to the more abstract style he had used for previous retail collaborations.
For the Shu Uemura collaboration, one of the six pink princesses and the black princess appear as the two central characters, thus embodying the idea of duality. The collection "reflects the timeless and universal theme of the transformation of feminine desire to reflect another, inner self; the parallel universe between real and surreal, the dark and light sides that exist in every woman...this contemporary makeup collection focuses on the 'paradox' of pink and black princesses as feminine icons, because every woman has a duality within, nice and naughty, innocent and sexy. Explore further dimensions of your charm, your pink side and your black side. Play with the possibilities of multi-faceted beauty, and transform into your other self." That's a good description, but you really should watch the collection video (also produced by Murakami) to get the full picture.
I'll provide more background information in a minute, but first let's take a look at some pics. I got the cleansing oil:
I also got both palettes and lip gloss:
Here's the Enchanted Black Parallel palette. I have the say the black princess is pretty bad-ass with her fishnets and short hair. And that sword!
Here's the Heart-full Pink Parallel palette with the super girly pink princess sporting a heart-shaped scepter, an innocent floppy neck bow and a tiara atop her pigtailed head.
The lip gloss:
The palettes I got were each housed in this dual-sided plastic pouch featuring the faces of the mascot (spirit animal?) of each princess.
The nice e-bay seller I got these from also included the shopping bag - I love that the handles are black and pink!
Of course, you know I can't resist including pics of various launch parties and press events - no company does 'em like Shu. Below is the maniacally-grinning flower in plush form (iterations of this flower have appeared previously in Murakami's work):
But the grandest party was the official press event, which was attended by Murakami himself and, much to my delight, featured lots of plushies. I shudder to consider the possibility that they were thrown out! There were also models dressed up as the princesses. It's not unusual to have models in costume at these events, but in this case I'm wondering if it's a nod to the notion of cosplay.
I don't want to discuss how this collection fits in with Murakami's other work because there is entirely too much of it. I will, however, delve a little deeper into the collection's theme and how Murakami, after other successful retail collaborations, came to partner with Shu. In an interview with Refinery29, Murakami discusses how several characters he created a few years ago were transformed into a makeup collection. "In the past, when I’d had collaboration projects, it was more like...Takashi Murakami and this particular brand. I wanted to change that methodology — I wanted to create a collaboration between Shu Uemura and the animated girl characters that I have created. It’s a very dark story, but when the Shu team heard about it, they focused. They said that this mix of the dark part and the bright part that all women have… if we were to transform that concept into the product, it could be very interesting. I made a very challenging request with this project, but the Shu Uemura team accepted it. So, first of all, there was the concept. Then came the products. I have not been involved product by product per se, but that’s how I was able to do this project." Murakami also talks about how makeup fits perfectly into his recent fascination with cosplay, and how he now understands that putting on makeup, even just an everyday look, is a type of transformation. "People who do cosplay try to transform themselves into animation characters, which have unnatural hair, as well as unnatural faces. They utilize makeup to become that character, and through that process, their personality changes as well. But, makeup is something that women do every day — they transform themselves every day. I don’t wear makeup, so I didn’t know that kind of thing was happening. But, when I interacted with cosplayers, [I realized] that through the makeup process, they 'create' themselves and become a totally different person. They're using makeup as a tool to transform themselves."
Overall, I like the collection. The feminist in me isn't wild about the emphasis on women consisting of two extremes, as it hits a little close to the madonna/whore dichotomy; however, I don't think that's how Murakami intended the story to be interpreted. Given the fact that Murakami is most likely not steeped in Western women's history, I don't think he meant to portray women as being pigeonholed into neat little categories of good and evil. In watching the collection video it seems more obvious, since one can clearly see the focus of the collection was more about transformation and how one can use makeup to accommodate or accentuate different sides of their personality. I also think that while 6HP was an idea Murakami had previously, he completely reworked it to fit a makeup collection, which takes a fair amount of creativity. Plus, he made it holiday/winter appropriate with the addition of snowy trees in the illustrations. While I may have liked to see more details on the inside of the palette (maybe the flower or animals could have been imprinted on each shade), I think the design was well done.
What do you think of the collection? Are you team pink or team black? Me, definitely black...'tis way more fun to be naughty than nice! ;)
It was nice to see Dolce & Gabbana coming up with a more collectible lineup for the holidays. The Sicilian Jewels collection includes four lipsticks with four corresponding nail polishes. Now that doesn't sound so interesting, but I'd say that at least one of the lipstick colors breaks new ground. Plus all four shades are encased in shiny gold with a gem that matches the color inside.
I picked up the ones I thought would be most holiday-exhibition-appropriate: Topazio (gold), Rubino (red) and Smeraldo (green). Yes, a green lipstick!
Dolce & Gabbana's creative adviser and makeup artist extraordinnaire Pat McGrath had this to say about the green lipstick: "I think they’re just fun colors to wear if you go out at night, and then you can just try those crazy blues and greens and that’s a fun thing...it really encourages you to wear braver lip tones and to have fun with lipstick." Eh...I'll need more convincing that green lipstick is actually wearable outside the runway. (See swatches here and judge for yourself!) Of course, you could also mimic McGrath's technique of blending it into an otherwise red lip: "For me, I basically keep it on the center of a red mouth, [blending it a bit to] make it more brown and do the whole ombré thing. But she also mentions wearing it as eye shadow: "And, I would definitely wear it on my eyes. I do love lipstick on my eyes — I love the cream color and I think it’s a very nice, rich tone. That, on your eyes, is going to be incredible." Once again, I don't think this is practical. A cream-based lipstick, even with an eye shadow primer, isn't going to stay put for long on anyone's lids. It's a trick best left to the runway.
All that aside, I was immensely fascinated with the novelty of this green lip color.
However, while this is more or less a repeated design, I liked that it came on the heels of the designers' fall 2013 runway show. Says Stefano Gabbana, "I love jewels; they are a symbol of power and passion...I love how they reflect the light: that’s why they have always been part of our collections since the very beginning. We adorn with gems our accessories, our corsetry, everything, like in our latest winter collection, which is the ultimate expression of what jewelry means for us."
Indeed, the Byzantine-inspired collection showcased a plethora of bedazzled frocks and accessories, offset by an ubiquitous use of gold.
In this instance, I think re-using the jewel motif was acceptable since it ties in to a recent fashion collection. Plus, as McGrath points out, “Matching your lipstick to your nail lacquer is a hot makeup trend. We chose four new shades that showcase the theatrical and playful side of looking good: they are so shiny and special that they’ll be a perfect complement to any holiday or New Year outfit. They can be worn in a young, ironic interpretation or with a more grown-up, sophisticated vibe. Just like a piece of jewelry.” So it's evident that some thought was actually put into the collection to make it relevant to both the fashion and to the holiday season, when most folks like to break out glamourous, rich jewel tones for both lips and tips.
What do you think of Sicilian Jewels? And would you wear green lipstick? I might give it a shot, but only for a fun night out, obviously - I don't think anyone at work would appreciate it. ;)