In case you hadn't already guessed, in lieu of a regular seasonal exhibition this fall I'm whisking you away (virtually) to Paris! Much has been written about the allure of French beauty, from makeup artists giving some quick advice to entire books. Indeed, the constant stream of how-to articles on achieving the highly coveted French girl look demonstrate that many women the world over - especially us Americans - are more or less obsessed with how French women beautify themselves. There's even a whole skincare line to ensure one can achieve the seemingly effortless, "je ne sais quoi" French women possess. But this exhibition isn't about French beauty per se, since, as I pointed out, there are entire books on the subject and it would be too broad of a topic to tackle currently with the Museum's rather meager resources. Additionally, some consider the "typical" French beauty ideals to be rather offensive or completely baseless and false. My premise is much simpler: I wanted to focus on how Paris, the epicenter of French fashion and style, is represented in beauty product packaging and advertising. Whatever your stance is on the notion of French beauty, the fact remains that items with scenes from Paris are still quite appealing to most beauty consumers (or at least, popular with the brand's marketing department). So grab some croissants, macarons, or [insert French treat of choice here] and gaze upon the many lovely depictions of the City of Light.
(I apologize in advance for the poor photos. They're bad even for me. I think it was a combination of it being totally overcast and the fact that I had had 3 glasses of prosecco before attempting to take pictures.)
Top shelves, left to right.
While I adore the ad I purchased, I must say I wish I could have tracked down these:
(image from pinterest.com)
(image from pinterest.com)
Coty wasn't the only one trying to put Paris in a bottle.
Too-Faced has just released their "Christmas in Paris" holiday line and I want every single thing in it! Alas, I had to narrow it to just one so I chose Le Grand Palais.
Remember how much I loved these Bourjois containers illustrated by Nathalie Leté?
I found a relatively rare compact on Ebay and thought this Cutex ad would go nicely with it.
Hard to tell from the photo, but this compact is actually red. There's also a black version, which is featured on page 108 of this book. Too bad I couldn't find any information on the company.
Third row, left to right.
T. LeClerc Paris in Winter powder:
Maison Lancôme Highlighting Powder:
The "Vibrant" line from Coty deserves its own post, but you'll get the gist of it from the exhibition label (I hope).
This set is too cute! While it's not officially named "Vibrant" (it says "Co-Ed Makeup Ensemble" on the box lid, which I didn't include in the exhibition), I suspect it contains the colors from the Vibrant range, since the shade names are the same as in all the Vibrant ads.
Bottom row, left to right.
This was quite an interesting find! Fortunately Collecting Vintage Compacts had the complete story, so I made sure to credit the author appropriately.
Another adorable collection from Bourjois.
I had been wanting to do exhibitions on both New York and Paris in beauty products for roughly 4 years. Last year I got the idea of do a joint exhibition featuring both (working title was "A Tale of Two Cities: Depictions of Paris and New York in Beauty Products"). But I realized my collection had a few gaps when it came to NY. For example, I had missed purchasing the Makeup Forever Highline palette (despite my assertion that it would be good for a NY-themed exhibition) and this Sephora palette. I was also having a difficult time finding vintage NY-related pieces that were also as visually appealing as the ones I was finding for Paris. However, I did want to keep New York in the picture since I felt most of the items I had for Paris were from the same brands (Bourjois, Coty and Lancome) and I didn't want it to be repetitive. In the end, I determined that the pieces were different enough despite being from the same brand, so I abandoned the idea of including New York-themed items and decided to just focus on Paris. This doesn't mean, however, that the idea of a joint exhibition that includes New York will never be revisited. ;)
In terms of why I decided to launch this exhibition now, I was reflecting on my five-year wedding anniversary back in August and the amazing trip the husband and I took to Paris for our honeymoon, so I just had Paris on the brain. Plus, I couldn't seem to make a cohesive fall exhibition. Sometimes there's no particular seasonal theme that calls to me and I knew I had enough Paris items, so I thought, why not fall 2015?
Things I would have included but couldn't acquire
I made two collages of items that I'd give my eye teeth for. The pieces I have in the current exhibition are nice, but there are some others that would really enhance it.
First, some vintage pieces. On the left we have Bourjois Printemps de Paris powder and an ad for the fragrance beneath it. This perfume was released in 1931 and the ad is from 1933, so I'm guessing the powder is from around then too. On the right is a rare Dorin face powder from 1925. Funnily enough, Dorin still makes Un Air de Paris fragrance, although I suspect it's significantly different from the original. At the bottom we have the exquisite Guerlain Poudre aux Ballons from 1918, which I've been drooling over for quite a while.
(images from pinterest.com, hprints.com, liveauctioneers.com, and artfrancais.nl)
More contemporary items include the Fancl fall 2012 French chic collection (still kicking myself for not buying these when I had the chance - when I posted about them 3 years ago I was already envisioning them in a French/Paris-themed exhibition), the Clinique travel box which was only available at duty-free shops (grrr!), Catrice Big City collection from 2012 (again, another one I'm kicking myself for not buying and also one I had mentioned as being useful for a Paris or New York exhibition), and the lovely Kerrie Hess-illustrated collection for Lancôme, which unfortunately was only available in Australia.
When rounding up items for this exhibition, I was shocked to see that some of the quintessential French brands - Chantecaille, L'Occitane, Givenchy, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, etc. - did not have any items depicting Paris. And Paul & Joe always seems to have a Parisian theme for their collections, but there are no actual illustrations of the city on their products. I'm not saying it's the responsibility of any of these brands to have Paris-themed products, just that I found it really odd.
And that's the exhibition! Does it make you want to take a fabulous trip to Paris?