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October 2012

Bippity boppity BOO! Cinderella collections from Sephora and Lissage

I have pumpkin fever (I went on a dessert rampage during Hurricane Sandy that included pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin ice cream) so I thought I'd take a look at two collaborations with Disney, both based on Cinderella.  Mmm, pumpkin carriage...oh wait, that's not edible.

Sephora's Cinderella collection is vast, but I want to look at just a few highlights.  First up is the Midnight Hour Eye Shadow Palette.   "Reenact the drama and flash these whimsical shadows as the clock strikes twelve.  Original artwork created by Disney brings the magic to life with an elegant screen print of the legendary countdown."  I must say I like this image.

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Then there are the Storylook Eyeshadow Palettes, which are dotted with Swarovski crystals and once again feature "original artwork created by Disney".  The colors in each are also based on the actual Pantone colors from the movie.

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Finally, we have the compact mirror which shows an aqua and gold filigreed clock.  Strangely enough, this seemed to be the hit of the collection - it's sold out online and in every Sephora store I've looked.

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(images from sephora.com)

The other Cinderella collection is from Japanese brand Lissage, which will be released for the holiday season in mid-November.  Actually it's not so much a collection as a single, albeit large, makeup kit.

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It's hard to tell from the picture whether the pumpkin carriage design is a plastic covering or imprinted onto the makeup.  My instinct tells me it's just on the plastic.

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(images from lissage.jp)

Disney is really cleaning up on these collaborations (see previous collections from Pixi, MAC, E.L.F., Urban Decay, and Paul & Joe).   And I'm still grappling with why these are being marketed to grown women and whether this is a form of infantilization.  For both collections, while the entire concept is to make women temporarily feel like princesses in a fairytale (i.e., pretty and privileged), Cinderella is rendered only in tiny, silhouette form.  Are the images an attempt to downplay the more childish feel of a Disney collection and make it seem more a harmless escape from the drudgeries of real adult life?  I'm not sure, but I do know that the designs for both collections could have been way worse - they could have used a lot of pink and more cartoony images of Cinderella.  But while the understated, shadowy images of the fabled princess signal these collections are meant for adults, I still find it just a little strange to be marketing Disney-themed makeup to grownups.

Anyone want to weigh in on the Disney makeup phenomenon?


Quick post: NARS, West Coast style

Hello!  I hope everyone survived Hurricane Sandy okay.  To brighten up this dreary, rainy, tail-end-of-the-storm day, I thought I'd share some sunny pics I took of the beautiful new NARS boutique in L.A.  Last week the husband and I went to visit some friends and I managed to squeeze in a pilgrimage to the store. 

I visited just 5 days after it had opened, so everything was pristine.  I have never seen such clean testers before!  I have a feeling that somehow they will stay that way.  I didn't take many pics because we were the only people in there so I felt a little weird, but here they are.

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The SA was super nice and gave me a sample of the tinted moisturizer (which I've been dying to try), and a tote bag - a collector's dream!  I didn't even ask for either of them.

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We continued walking down the street and just happened to stumble across Charm City Cakes' western outpost.  No sign of Duff, though.

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I have many more trip highlights but Sailor Babo will fill you in on those later this week over at his blog.  ;)


Curator's Corner, 10/20/2012

CC logoThis week's links.

- Some great new-to-me blogs I've started following:  Wild Beauty and Deep Glamour (the latter is local - hi neighbor!) 

- Did you always have a yearning to see 330 pounds of Yves Saint Laurent lipstick in a huge rectangular sculpture?  Well, your wish has been granted.

- How cool is this design student's hypothetical packaging for a new makeup line?

- Chantecaille doesn't quite have the market cornered on elephant-themed beauty items this fall, as British Beauty Blogger shows us tweezers with an elephant charm

- If you've got a spare $120 sitting around you can get Dior's 24-karat gold temporary tattoo

- The Institute for Art and Olfaction, "a new organization devoted to the art and science of perfumery" will open in Los Angeles in March 2013.

- In other West Coast news, Fruity Lashes shares some pictures of the fabulous, brand spankin' new NARS boutique in L.A.  I just happen to be going out there later this week to visit some friends, so I'm really hoping I make it there!

- Speaking of being away, I'm taking this week off from blogging.  But I will be back next week with some Halloween fun.  ;)


Highlights from the Shiseido Corporate Museum

Here's another museum to which I must make make a pilgrimage!  In lieu of actually visiting, I've selected a few highlights from their collections.  (Sorry the pictures are so small - not sure why they have such teeny pics).

Here is one of the original bottles of their best-selling skin treatment Euderline from 1897, along with a bottle of their camellia perfume from 1917.  "The name Euderline was also novel for the time, taken from Greek words meaning 'good' (eu) and 'skin' (derma). The 'red wine' appearance of the lotion earned it the nickname 'Shiseido red water' among users."  

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Rainbow Face Color Powders (1917) were cutting-edge for their time, while the design on the box of the Modern Face Color Powders (1932) is a good representation of both fashionable young city ladies and the company's pre-war aesthetic.  The Rainbow powders were among the first face powders to come in colors other than white, including yellow, rose, green and purple, to allow women to match their powder to their clothing.  The Modern Face Color Powder box was designed by Yamana Ayao, and shows "a beautiful harmony of Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements."

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We also have some lovely ads, reproductions of which were used in Shiseido's exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo earlier this year.

The one on the left was desgined by Yabe Sue in 1925 and perfectly represents the Art Nouveau style, and the one on the right is from 1930 and depicts two women, one clad in an elaborate 18th-century French-looking frock and the other in a traditional Japanese kimono.  The meaning is unclear - is there a rivalry going on between East and West or is Shiseido showing their attempt to bridge the gap between their customers living in those two spheres?

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These next two are from 1938 and 1961.  The earlier one, designed by Yamamoto Takeo, looks vaguely surreal to me with the woman's profile seemingly floating amongst Magritte-esque clouds.  But according to the website, "the poster is from the period around the 1930s when Shiseido's chain stores began using display windows. The Shiseido designers from this period were successful in creating images of feminine beauty that anticipated the changing times, and contributed greatly to bolstering the Shiseido image.  The later one was designed by Mizuno Takashi and is from the company's first "campaign-style promotion" for a new line called Candy Tone.

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Some other highlights of the permanent collection include an entire wall showing the evolution of the brand's packaging:

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And a display showing how the typeface and camellia logos also changed over time:

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Shi-paintsSomething else that I love about this museum (and something that I try to do with the Makeup Museum) is the launching of special exhibitions.  In 2009 the museum showed "The Pleasures of Colors:  Shiseido Paint Sets" which looked at the crayons, paints and other art implements the company produced for a brief period in the late 1950s.  But these weren't makeup items aimed at women - these were art sets intended for children in order to introduce them to drawing and painting.  "These included a string of ground-breaking new products that helped to guide Japan's new art education, and many featured charming packaging that encouraged children to try their hands at pictorial art. This exhibition highlights how well these colors have retained their bright appeal over time, and explores how they contributed to a next generation of education in Japan."

Shi-lipstickThe current special exhibition is devoted to lipstick called "The Excitement of Lipstick:  Color, Form, Spirit."  Here's the description from the website:  "Lipstick can be considered the most striking and important element of women's makeup. Even just a little bit of lip coloring can lend an “adult” sophistication to the face of a child, bring an air of specialness to an otherwise ordinary day, give rise to numerous and various female expressions, and even embolden the spirit.  This exhibition, with its display spaces reminiscent of show windows, presents these appealing aspects of lipstick in various visual and entertaining ways.

The exhibition is organized around three themes—Lipstick Colors, Lipstick Shapes, and Lipstick & Spirit—and will focus on the beauty of lipstick itself while exploring some of the unseen relationships women have with this essential of the makeup kit. It will also include some hands-on displays where visitors can explore the enjoyment of lipstick experientially, including a corner for trying on various lipstick shades and computerized tablet stations where visitors can simulate applying their own makeup."  (Note to self:  steal this idea.)

I desperately want to go!  What say you?

(all images from group.shiseido.com)


Happy 140th, Shiseido!

Shiseido's been rolling out new products and doing lots of events in honor of their 140th anniversary this year.  To add to the celebration, the company released this lovely camellia highlighting/blush compact.

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With flash:

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The Shiseido Corporate Museum (more on that tomorrow) hosted an exhibition on the company's use of the camellia.  "In 1915, Shiseido's first president Shinzo Fukuhara replaced the hawk emblem trademark used by the company's original pharmacy business with a camellia blossom. Ever since, this camellia trademark has been closely and fondly associated with Shiseido as a company.  What does the camellia mean for the Japanese people? What does it mean for Shiseido? As the camellias came into bloom to welcome Shiseido's 140th anniversary this year, the year's first planned exhibition considered the history of the Japanese people's relationship with the camellia, and looked back on the history of the company's camellia-related products and designs using the camellia motif."  I would have given my right arm to see this exhibition, but Japan is a long way off for a quick museum visit!  Fortunately, at their website Shiseido fills us in a little bit as to the meaning of the flower for their brand. "When the company was known as a pharmacy, its trademark was a brave hawk, but when it shifted its focus to cosmetics, it was thought that the stern image of a hawk was unsuitable. It is said that the camellia was chosen because the best-selling product was Koyu Hanatsubaki (hair oil; Hanatsubaki is Japanese for camellia).  At that time, trademarks in Japan were typically traditional patterns from ancient family crests, but the Western design of the camellia mark was a great novelty.  The camellia trademark was designed by the company's first president, Shinzo Fukuhara. The original nine camellia leaves were reduced to seven by the Design Department staff. In 1918 its design was near today's, and in 1919 the trademark was registered. Many small changes have been made since, and in 1974 the present design was decided on."

Additionally, there was once something called the Camellia Club - a membership service for loyal Shiseido customers that was launched in 1937.   Club members received exclusive pamphlets and invitations to beauty classes.  The biggest spenders received commemorative gifts - I'm thinking this is sort of like Sephora's VIB program in which customers can become "VIBs" after spending $350 in a given year.  "The first year's gift was an art deco metal vanity case, the following year's was a Nishijin handbag, and in following years continued with ceramic sash clips and other luxurious items."  While I enjoy the more modern perks of today's membership programs (free samples, discount codes, etc.), receiving keepsakes from the company sounds great to a collector like me.

Stay tuned for more on the history of Shiseido tomorrow, when I will highlight some pieces from their museum.


MM Fall 2012 exhibition

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I have to admit, I wasn't quite as inspired as I was for the summer 2012 exhibition.  There weren't any particular collections or images that I felt captured the feel of this season.  So I fell back on some classic fall standbys:  animal prints.  I was pretty shocked my husband was able to make such a good exhibition poster based on my sad little sketch.

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I also worked in some of the oxblood color that's this autumn's "it" shade in the labels, and selected an oddly textured, crinkly paper that reminded me of snakeskin.  Overall, the words I was thinking of as I was putting this together were fierce, primal and heavy.

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Upper shelves:

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Lower shelves:

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Here are the individual objects, starting with the top shelf and moving left to right.

Dior Golden Browns palette:

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MAC Illustrated items:

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Dolce & Gabbana Animalier bronzer:

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Stila Nordstrom Rack travel palettes:

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Second shelf, left to right.

Chanel Lumières d'Artifices palette:

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Some pieces from Stephane Marais - I thought both the dinosaur and the colors were in keeping with my fall key words:

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Chantecaille Bengali Tiger palettes:

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Shu Uemura Luring Powder (from their Instinct collection):

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Third shelf, left to right.

Paul & Joe Fall 2012 color powders:

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Lancôme Poudre Elephant Teint Sun of India bronzing powder (that's a mouthful):

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Armani Python palette:

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Clinique Fresh-Picked eye shadows - I know it's a little strange to include spring items in a fall exhibition, but between the berry color and the fact that pears are a fall fruit, I decided to include them.

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Bottom shelf, left to right.

Chantecaille Elephant palette and blush:

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MAC Ornamentalism and Cult of Cherry collection postcards:

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YSL Palette Couture Highlighting Powder:

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Dior Impression Cuir palette:

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What's your favorite piece in this exhibition?


Curator's Corner: Half Marathon edition

CC logoSaturday was the Baltimore Running Festival!  For the 2011 festival, I wrote, "Come hell or high water, I'll be running the 2012 Baltimore marathon!  Fingers crossed my body cooperates and the injury doesn't flare up too badly again (it's still not even completely healed), and that something else doesn't start hurting."  Well, unfortunately, back in May my knees started acting up.  Back to physical therapy and doing exercises to help my knees.  While I can still run through the pain, something I couldn't do with my previous injury, I figured it wasn't the best time to start marathon training.  Additionally, I wasn't able to devote the time to developing a training plan due to a major career issue, which also occurred in May and is just now being resolved*.   So I had to scrap my hopes of running the 2012 Baltimore Marathon and settle for the half.  I was disappointed, but maybe 2013 will finally be my year!

It is a nightmare getting there and back, but luckily we live close enough to walk both to and from the race.  We got a gorgeous day for it - sunny and chilly.

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I am, once again, in head to toe Lululemon.  They really need to start giving me free stuff.

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It was getting very close to start time, so I peeled off my jacket.  When we still weren't moving after 10 minutes after the start time, I began whining and pouting.  I get extremely anxious before races (once I get going I'm fine.)  I REALLY needed the race to start so I didn't get too panicky and end up chickening out. 

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My husband commanded me to stop pouting and start smiling because we would be starting any minute.  I obliged.

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And we did start, hooray!  As we walked towards the start I saw some great signs. 

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Unfortunately I don't have any pics of the actual course (I run way too slow to take pictures along the way) or the finish - my husband had gone home while I was running and didn't make it back to the finish line in time to see me cross it and take a picture.  Take my word for it, it was a nice, fairly easy course with literally thousands of people coming out to cheer you on along the way.  What I really liked was being able to run with the marathoners.  The half-marathon and full marathon course meet at mile 3 (or mile 16 of the full) so you get to run with them.  In addition to their race bib with the number, some were wearing another sign that said "full" on the back of their shirts.  The whole time I was running I kept looking at them and really hoping I would be one of the people wearing the "full" sign on my back next year.

Here's the medal, as modeled by Museum Advisory Committee member (and resident tough guy) Jeero:

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I love that silly cartoon crab!!  All in all, a great race and I would definitely run it again. 

*You may have noticed that I was having trouble keeping up with my posts and remarking how crazy things were.  Now is the time to come clean - in late April my boss informed me that I, along with several other co-workers, was getting laid off.  My last day was supposed to be in mid-June, but fortunately we received enough funding to keep me on until mid-July.  Between trying to tie up loose ends at work and scrambling to find a new job, I simply had no time to devote to marathon training.  In late August I started working again - it was a temp position, but after a few weeks I was liked enough to be offered a permanent job.  :) 


Soup's on: Andy Warhol and NARS, part 1

Whispers of a collaboration between cutting-edge brand NARS and pop art pioneer Andy Warhol started circulating in March, and now it's finally here.  I can honestly say this is my all-time favorite collection for the Makeup Museum thus far.   It perfectly embodies why I started the Museum in the first place - to showcase the connections between makeup design and art - and to date, this is the ultimate marriage of the two.

Warhol, like Marilyn Monroe, is getting a great deal of attention in 2012 - the 25th anniversary of his death.  Campbell's issued limited-edition Warhol print-adorned tomato soup cans, there was a tribute at a New York gallery and of course, let's not forget the huge exhibition focusing on Warhol's influence on contemporary art at the Met.

M. Nars has always been a fan of Warhol's, given that the names of some of the items in his line (Edie eye shadow, Chelsea Girls lip gloss) were an homage to the artist.  In an interview for New York Magazine, he says, "Over the years, I had so many connections with Andy. When I was creating colors, I was inspired by his movies and paintings, the Factory superstars, and his whole world, so it felt like he was the right person to start with. ..he loved makeup. He was always experimenting with it.  If you look at his silkscreens and old issues of Interview magazine, everything was painted in a way that almost looked like slashes of makeup. So we probably would have connected pretty well, I think."

The Warhol Foundation was equally happy to collaborate with NARS.  According to an AP article, "Michael Hermann, licensing director for the Warhol foundation, said it decided to venture into cosmetics with Nars because of the latter’s 'fearless, cutting-edge approach.' 'For Warhol, makeup was an arrow in the quiver one could use to embody his democratic approach to beauty best embodied in his own words when he said, ‘If everybody’s not a beauty, then nobody is,' Hermann explained."

This post will examine the Pop collection, which is the first part of the collaboration to be released.  A second collection called the Silver Factory collection will be released on November 1.

Warhol's prolific output is way beyond the scope of my little blog.  I will, however, highlight several of the works that are used in the NARS Pop collection.  First up:  the flower eye shadow palettes.

From the press release:   "Andy said: 'Pop art is about liking things.' Like flowers. Soap. Money. Celebrities. Warhol loved silk screens because if you get the picture right, you can make more just the same. But in a range of colors – something different every time. Andy said, 'I use mostly artificial color.' If you’re not trying to be real you don’t have to get it right. That’s art."   The press release notes that the palettes are variations on Warhol's Flowers from 1965, and Warhol had started the Flowers series a year before that.  Here are the some of the prints from 1964.

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(images from voltcafe.com

And here's another from 1965.

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(image from art.com)

Henry Geldzahler, then assistant curator at the Met, suggested Warhol take a break from his Death & Disaster series. "Geldzahler gestured to a photo of flowers in Modern Photography magazine, which Warhold in his deadpan style seized as his subject."  (The photographer of the flowers, Patricia Caulfield, brought a lawsuit against Warhol for using her photograph without her permission.  He offered two sets of Flowers portfolios as payment.  She declined and the two arranged a cash settlement.  If Caulfield is still alive, I bet she's kicking herself now seeing as how the original Flowers silkscreens are worth millions.)  The series was created for an exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.  To reach maximum graphic impact, Warhol cropped the original image to fit a square format and rotated one of the flowers (you can see the slight distortion in the grass pattern).  There was no "correct" position for the images and they could be hung in any order. 

There are two main themes within Flowers.  One is how the manipulation of the original image both turns the traditional art historical floral/still life genre on its head and simultaneously provides a commentary on commercialized mass production.  "Just as he did with Marilyn, here Warhol reduces the subject to its image — flattening, artificially coloring, and dismembering it. In so doing, he rids the flowers of their assumed vitality and prettiness...This work updates the age-old genre of still life; Warhol’s choice of a vibrant palette is consciously synthetic and an outright rejection of the complex color harmonies normally associated with the genre. In place of painterly illusion, Warhol’s choice of unnatural color emphasizes the flowers’ manufactured plasticity and relevance. His version is consciously banal, yet unexpected and enchantingly beautiful. Quintessentially sixties in their colors and floppy petal shapes, Flowers is a wonderful example of the counterintuitive elegance of Warhol’s work. Technologically mediated, repetitive and depersonalized, characterized by the modes of mass production, the formal aspects of this work force viewers to question the disconnect between image and reality, culture and nature." (source)  The Yale Art Gallery describes Flowers:  "The mass reproduction of the image through the silkscreen process reinforced the banality of the subject matter, perhaps even more bland than his commercial imagery such as Coca-Cola bottles and soup cans of the same period. Such repetition created the effect of wallpaper or decoration, a form of 'low' art that stood in contrast to the elevated poetic vision and emotive gestural abstraction of Abstract Expressionist painting during the 1950s. Through distortion and flattening, and their placement on black background with magnified, abstracted blades of grass, Warhol's flowers are completely removed from nature." 

The second idea Flowers hints at is death, even though Warhol was actively trying to shift away from the darker themes of his earlier series.  Several accounts indicate that the 1964 works express a more threatening tone than the seemingly cheerful hibiscus blooms would initially suggest.  Ronnie Cutrone, Warhol's assistant for ten years, had this to say about the series:  "The Marilyn paintings are about life and death, the Flowers are with their black, menacing background...I'm talking about the first Flowers from 1964 - they are a bit menacing. We kids - Andy used to call everyone a 'kid' until they were eighty-five years old - all knew about that. Lou Reed, Silver George Milloway, Ondine, and me - we all knew the dark side of those Flowers. Don't forget, at that time, there was flower power and flower children. We were the roots, the dark roots of that whole movement. None of us were hippies or flower children. Instead, we used to goof on it. We were into black leather and vinyl and whips and S&M and shooting up and speed. There was nothing flower power about that. So when Warhol and that whole scene made Flowers, it reflected the urban, dark, death side of that whole movement. And as decorative art, it's pretty dense. There is a lot of depth in there... You have this shadowy dark grass, which is not pretty, and then you have these big, wonderful, brightly colored flowers. It was always that juxtaposition that appears in his art again and again that I particularly love."  Indeed, one critic remarked,  “It is the flash of beauty that suddenly metaphors that becomes tragic under the viewers gaze. The garish and brilliantly coloured flowers always gravitate towards the surrounding blackness and finally end up in a sea of morbidity. No matter how much one wishes these flowers to remain they perish under one’s gaze as if haunted by death.”  This sense of dread is heightened by the fact that the last room in the original Castelli exhibit included one of Warhol's portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy, which was based on a photo taken shortly after her husband's assassination.  Allegedly "this led some observers to associate the flower-covered gallery with a funeral parlor." (source)

Now let's take a look at the palettes, finally!  The outer boxes are shiny silver, and the plain black rubber compact gets a silvery update too.

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Flower palette No. 1:

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The Warhol quote on the mirror:  "If you can convince yourself that you look fabulous, you can save yourself the trouble of primping."

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There were these little "Get the Look" cards to show you where to place each color.

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Flower Palette No. 2:

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Quote:  "You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you."

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Get the Look card:

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Flower Palette No. 3:

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With flash:

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Get the Look card:

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All three palettes also came with this adorable booklet, which was also quite informative.

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Another item I picked up from the Pop collection was the Kiss Gift Set, a set of five lip glosses housed in a collectible soup can printed with Warhol's Lips.  Each has a Warhol-related name:  Silver Factory, Drella, Chelsea Girls, Blue Movie and Myths.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find much written about these particular Lips.  Everything was either about Marilyn Monroe's Lips (1962) or Stamped Lips (1959).   

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Within the can there was this nifty foam holder for the glosses so that they didn't slide all over the place.

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This collection is truly huge - there's also this Walk on the Wild Side gift set featuring the aforementioned Flowers:

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And this Debbie Harry Eye and Cheek Palette.  "Inspired by Warhol’s use of 'Diamond Dust,' the palette’s colors sparkle with glitter and Diamond Powder, made of real micronized diamonds."

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(images from sephora.com)

Debbie Harry became friends with Warhol in the late 70s as her band Blondie was taking off.  In 1980, Warhol invited Harry to sit for a portrait. He took hundreds of Polaroids and chose the one he liked most to silkscreen. 

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(image from christies.com)

Here is the pink version of the finished silkscreen, which realized $5,981,095 at a recent Sotheby's auction.

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(image from artinfo.com)

The description from the Sotheby's catalogue is better than anything I could come up with, so here goes: 

"Built up of no fewer than five silk-screened layers of ink over the coloured acrylic ground, this portrait stands head and shoulders above its peers as a masterclass in the genre. Painted at a late high point in Warhol's career, on the eve of the decade which saw a renewed creative enterprise in his art, Debbie Harry sits squarely in the lineage of great portraiture that links his images of the stellar trinity of Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy in the 1960s with his final fright-wig self portraits in the 1980s. Like the early portraits of female stage stars, Debbie Harry reveals Warhol's lifelong fascination with celebrity and beauty; like his final self portraits, it exhibits the sheer perfection of Warhol's flawless silkscreen technique, honed and refined over two decades...With the excellent registration of the silkscreen impression, Warhol juxtaposes Harry's purple eye shadow, dark mascara, red lips, and distinctly strong bone structure against shocking pink hair and like colour background. The full frame composition, the arresting gaze of the subject and the seductive purse of the lips all lend wonderful plasticity to the work and exacerbate the carnality and sensuality of the subject matter...By 1980 Warhol's silkscreen technique had been absolutely perfected in the present work there is a wonderful balance between the crisp record of the overall form, together with softer, more subtle areas of screen that shape the shadows around her eyes, cheek and neck. Warhol's mastery of the technique allows him to explore the various nuances available to him within the silkscreen medium in this particular work. By using high contrast Polaroids, Warhol was able to play with the strong areas of black in the features and the bold swaths of colour in the blown out areas. The heightened photographic detail of Debbie Harry links her to Warhol's Marilyn paintings where this method was first explored. A duality exists in the artist's focus on stars and their celebrity as setting them apart, yet by screening and immortalizing their image Warhol seemingly brings them closer to us. Despite how beautiful his women are in life, they all become the more glamorous version of themselves in a Warhol portrait. He repeatedly expressed the utopian idea that everyone is a star, and even with existing stars he was able to catapult them to an elevated level of fame. Deliberately depicted in a flat, planar manner, Debbie Harry becomes akin to a Byzantine Madonna. There is no inquiry into the psychological or emotional depth of the sitter; rather, Warhol has again produced a 'thing in itself', an icon of popular culture, unspoiled by the subjective. In the present work, Debbie, like Warhol's other celebrity women before her, is presented to the viewer as an object to be worshipped. Perhaps intentionally, Warhol chose to only complete four of these 42 by 42 inches silkscreened canvases – perpetuating the enduring allure of the singer and actress. The rarity of the work and the choice of subject matter lend the painting an increasingly mysterious aura that Warhol initially subscribed to his 1960s celebrity images – this work appears to be a metaphorical space for the invisibility of a celebrity's inner person as opposed to the over-exposed visibility of their public image. Debbie Harry is the ultimate culmination of Warhol's exploration of our public fascination with female public cultural icons...In this particular canvas, Debbie Harry, a familiar face to the public, has been flattened out by the flashbulb and Warhol has retouched reality by pushing his pictorial facts to an extreme. He does, however, maintain a range of human emotion, and the dialogue between public versus private personality of celebrity is still present. The seductive surface is broken down into bold abstract passages; the unarticulated features are nevertheless seared into our mind's eye with the force of the contrasting positive/negative of his palette...Debbie Harry truly achieved the iconic symbolic status of popular culture and the present portrait reaffirms both her place and Warhol's place at the apex of celebrity for eternity."

In the same year as the Debbie Harry portrait, Warhol completed a series of prints using "diamond dust", the most notable of images being shoes.  He said, "I'm doing shoes because I'm going back to my roots. In fact, I think maybe I should do nothing but shoes from now on."  As he was starting out in the 50s, Warhol had worked as a commerical illustrator, making shoe advertisements for the I. Miller Shoe Company and Glamour magazine.  Thus, he "recognised high-heels as agents of metamorphosis by which a quotidian necessity of dress could become a totem of glamour...A deceptively straightforward motif, Warhol's preoccupation with shoes is, in actuality, ripe with implications. On the most basic level, Warhol recognized the enormous subtext a pair of shoes communicates: their quality, make and style are fundamental financial status markers, just as they are also a basic means of personal expression. Warhol was thus not only fascinated by the power footwear is capable of conveying, but he also identified his own financial stability with his shoe renderings. He once remembered, 'When I used to do shoe drawings for the magazines, I would get a certain amount for each shoe, so then I would count up my shoes to figure out how much I was going to get. I lived by the number of shoe drawings - when I counted them I knew how much money I had.'" (source)

In 1979, Rupert Smith introduced Warhol to a new material made from diamonds that he thought Warhol could use in his silkscreens.  Warhol, with his extensive jewelry collection and his association of gems with movie star glamour and fame, was immediately taken with the idea of using this diamond dust.  However, it proved to be too dry and not sparkly enough for Warhol, so Smith ordered pulverized glass from a supply company which yielded larger crystals.   I think Warhol would have gotten a kick out of the fact that the micronized diamond particles used in the palette were based on his diamond dust, which was actually made of glass (but obviously, glass would not be suitable for wearing on your eyes or anywhere near your face, for that matter).

Warhol carefully arranged the shoes on white paper, and, as with the portrait of Debbie Harry, took Polaroids and picked one that appealed to him the most.  "One of the most strikingly original intentions of this choreography is that the final edited image dissects the fields of abstraction and figuration, so that the outlines of the flattened shapes invite contemplation on the semiotic associations of visual cognition. The subject of shoes and the objects themselves always held particular power over Andy Warhol, and this late work, executed when he was in his early fifties, attempts to capture on grand scale his belief in the alchemical power of high-heels...clearly these high-heels stand as talismanic trophies of an alluring existence, and even as stand-in celebrities themselves. Diamond Dust Shoes is testament to some of the most important of the themes that lie at the heart of Warhol's output, and its stark silhouettes, floating across the limitless depths of reflective powder, strike an unforgettable and mesmerising work of art." (source)  Additionally, Gagosian Gallery held an exhibition in 1999 devoted to Diamond Dust Shoes. Warhol's friend Vincent Freemont later remarked, "The merger of women's shoes and diamond dust was a perfect fit... Andy created the Diamond Dust Shoe paintings just as the disco, lamé, and stilettos of Studio 54 had captured the imagination of the Manhattan glitterati. Andy, who had been in the vanguard of the New York club scene since the early 60's, once again reflected the times he was living in through his paintings."

Warhol-diamond-dust-shoes
(image from artnet.com)

Andy-warhol-diamond-dust-shoes
(image from art.com)

So that about does it for this portion of the Andy Warhol collection for NARS (hopefully you made it this far!)  What is your favorite piece from the collection and favorite artwork it was based on?  While I didn't buy the Debbie Harry palette, I am in love with the idea of diamond dust and how Warhol applied it to images of shoes.  But my favorite pieces from this part of the NARS collection, overall, are the flower palettes.