- Sociological Images brings us a graph depicting how many Ph.D.s are professors. The numbers are grim but I seriously don't care - I still want a doctoral degree more than anything in the whole wide world. :( The fact that I may never do anything with it is totally inconsequential.
I'm counteracting yesterday's snow (!) with some oh-so-springy palettes from Elizabeth Arden. These are the first Makeup Museum purchases from this company, and as far as I know, the first time sunflowers have been used as a motif in makeup packaging (save for some vintage compacts). I was so excited to see these as sunflowers have been my favorite flower for as long as I can remember.
The New York in Bloom collection consists of a teal eye liner and nail polish, plus three palettes: a bronzing powder and two eye shadow trios. While I'm not crazy about the cartoonish flowers on the outer cases, I love the gorgeous embossed sunflower patterns on the inside.
Here's the bronzer.
Violet Bloom eye shadow trio:
Viridian Bloom eye shadow trio:
While I do think these are beautiful pieces, I couldn't find any information on the relevance of sunflowers to the Elizabeth Arden brand. I do know of their Sunflowers fragrance, but other than that there haven't been any references to sunflowers - it's not integral to the brand's identity in, say, the way the rose is to Lancôme or the camellia to Shiseido. But that's okay because it gives me a chance to talk about sunflowers in art instead!
We're all familiar with Van Gogh's sunflower paintings, but many other famous artists used this bloom as their muse too. We'll start all the way back in the 1600s with Van Dyck's Self-Portrait with a Sunflower, in which the sunflower was generally seen as "an emblem connected with royal patronage" but could also signify "Van Dyck himself...the picture is to be understood primarily as an expression of the painter's devotion to the king rather than as an acknowledgement of royal patronage."
Fast-forwarding a few hundred years (hey, I can't include EVERY single sunflower-related work of art!) we have Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones's fascination with sunflowers. He wrote to his friend Frances Homer, "Do you know sunflowers? How they peep at you and look brazen sometimes and proud - and others look shy and some so modest that up go their hands to hide their brown blushes...I could draw them forever, and should love to sit for days drawing them...it is so right to make them talk mottoes, they all look as if they were thinking." These include a stained glass panel at Christ Church in Oxford depicting scenes from The Legend of St. Frideswide and a drawing, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (1861):
Some more examples from around Van Gogh's time include Mary Cassatt's Mother Wearing a Sunflower on Her Dress (1905), while Paul Gauguin actually painted a picture of Van Gogh painting sunflowers in 1888. How very meta.
In the latter half of the 20th century we have abstract artist Joan Mitchell's take on sunflowers, which she painted early on in her career and revisited throughout - below is Sunflowers III (1969) and Sunflowers (1990-1991).
If I were an artist, sunflowers would be my number one subject. :)
Anyway, I hope that this little survey of sunflowers throughout art history was an acceptable substitute for more in-depth information on Elizabeth Arden's use of sunflowers in the company's spring 2013 collection. I found the palettes to be a refreshing change from the usual florals we see each spring (especially roses).
What do you think of these palettes? And what's your favorite flower? Has it been featured on a makeup item before?
Here's the description from the Uglydolls website. "Babo thinks Teddy Bears are SO awesome!
But carrying them around is such a chore.
First he has to deal with those sad individuals who tease him for
carrying around a stuffed animal...how many times does
Babo have to give THAT speech...right?
You know...the one about how people who mock others or tease…
they only do so because they are player haters and secretly wish
they could do the same? Calling me a baby?
Notice how adults with brief cases never tease people...
it’s always LITTLE KIDDIES. Now who’s the baby.
Then there’s the getting lost thing. Teddy Bears get lost!
Hotels, restaurants, skydiving...forget it! So the easy fix is BE a Teddy Bear!
Mega-smarty combo! Now he can be himself AND get on with the day."
I introduced him to his Babo brethren...so many Babos, the rest of the Makeup Museum staff couldn't fit in this pic!
Like all Babos, he was able to immediately make his way to the cookie jar. I also got him some honey. He is a bear, after all.
He's an unusual size - not as big as a regular Uglydoll but bigger than the Little Uglys.
Since he is just a wee cub, I'm not sure what he'll do around the Museum. Whatever it is, it'll have to be only for spring and summer, as he'll want to hibernate in the cooler months. ;)
AERIN Cosmetics is the new kid on the high-end makeup block. Launched last fall by the granddaughter of Estée Lauder, the line features "a unique floral infusion in each product
that adds a special touch of luxury to the entire AERIN experience." For spring, Aerin took her love of flowers to new heights with the Floral Illuminating Powder. Encased in a square compact that resembles finely woven gold thread, the palette contains a trio of wavy-edged petals with touches of green and yellow billowing out from the flower's center.
Maybe I'm just under the influence of the vaguely Indian patterned dress Aerin is wearing in the promo image for her spring collection, but something about the petals in the palette reminds me a little of Indian textiles - specifically, the ones made for the Western market starting around the 17th century.
I'm nowhere near knowledgeable enough to go into even a brief history of Indian textiles*, but I did manage to pull together some images that I thought somewhat resembled the floral design on the palette.
The colors and shapes of the flowers on this Kashmir shawl are pretty close. This one comes from the world-renowned TAPI collection (Textiles & Art of the People of India).
I may be reaching in these comparisons, especially since the "World of Aerin" mentions no Indian inspiration at all, but to my eye the palette's design approximates exported Indian textiles. In any case, it's at least pretty and will make an excellent addition to the spring exhibition - a very strong start from AERIN.
Hello and happy spring!! In honor of this glorious day which means that warmth and light will be here soon, I'm pleased to bring you what I think is THE color for spring 2013. Pale, blueish mint was all over this season's runways, and there's a bevy of new beauty products for you to recreate the trend.
Despite the explosion of hot pink, I ended up declaring mint to be the winner as it's my second favorite color (the first being lemon yellow). You might remember that I made a mint background for last year's spring exhibition poster, and how much I was inspired by this shade for the Sweet Tooth exhibition.
Will you be making some mint magic this spring? I know I will, but my fave minty colors lean more green rather than the slightly blue tint taken on by some of these products.
Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum
topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my
vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum. These posts help me
think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual
organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning.
I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a
museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done!
Today's installment of MM Musings will take a quick look at museum branding and how the Makeup Museum may build its brand.
1. The basics
What is a brand, and how is it different than a name or logo? A brand is how an audience perceives your organizaton. This Masters thesis on museum branding defines it thusly: "In a nutshell, brand is the perception of a product, service, or company that people have in their minds. It also is what people say about a product, service, or company. Though a name or logo reflects the brand and is a visual form of each brand, a brand is more than just as a name or logo." Museum marketing expert Jim Richardson agrees: "Your brand is the perception that people have of your organization. It is
formed through everything you do, from how you present your collections
through to the service in your café."
2. Why do museums need a brand?
In order to
compete with other forms of entertainment and even continue their very
existence, in the past 20 years or so museums (and the nonprofit sector
as a whole, for that matter) have shifted to managing themselves like
businesses. "The worth of cultural institutions [is] now mostly based
efficient/effective and transparent use of public funds, resulting in
the need for museums to find the perfect balance between high-quality
visit experience and market success in the form of high attendance
levels. Not only that, but museums also face further challenges as they
compete with other leisure providers for audience, donations,
partnerships and sponsorships." (source) A crucial part of being a successful
for-profit is branding.
Additionally, people are looking for ways to interact with a museum's contents. Not content to be mere spectators, museum-goers increasingly use technology to gain a more comprehensive museum experience. Branding is necessary to bridge the gap between a museum's traditional, static role and the visitors who expect a more participatory interaction. "The gradual migration of both museums and visitors into the
buzzing hyper-connected universe of Web 2.0 means that the relationship between
museum and visitor is ever more dynamic. Branding is key in facilitating
museums’ mutation from teaching institutions into cultural platforms for
discussion and sharing." (source)
3. What makes a brand successful?
In order for a brand to be effective, it needs to get to the heart of your organization's mission. As the president of an arts marketing firm says, "You have to tell people what you do, who you are, what your reason
for being is...otherwise, you leave it up to them." Case in point: the Guggenheim Museum. James McNamara, president of the firm Arts Branding, notes, "What the
Guggenheim understands is that each of its museums must embody the
Foundation’s original goals and must embody the attributes that are true
and unique to the Guggenheim brand...effective branding is honed over time and
reflects the original premise, the original idea, the reason for being.
Showcasing contemporary art in 1939 was certainly risky,
envelope-pushing, and trail-blazing at the time – attributes that are
still endemic to the Guggenheim brand today."
4. Branding for the Makeup Museum
How can the Makeup Museum build its brand? Unfortunately, like acquiring a public space, developing a brand identity is a formidable task that will require significant resources - not so much to come up with branding ideas, but to implement them. That said, a case study of the New Museum's re-branding has a concise outline of the process that can be loosely applied to the Makeup Museum. The first step is to determine how a museum's mission can be applied to a brand identity. "If the institution has a well-defined and compelling mission statement, it is in a better position in terms of branding. This is because the first step of branding is to clarify identity including who you are, what you do, and why it matters. Differentiation starts by defining unique identity." Indeed, it's necessary to highlight how your organization is different. "[M]useums are different from one another and its appeal lies
exactly in its distinctiveness...positioning
position (e.g. as the most diverse museum in the area, the most
innovative museum, and so on) is the way in which a museum communicates
its unique values, being crucial to achieve differential advantage so
that the audience understands, appreciates, and is drawn to what it
stands for." (source) This aspect of branding would be pretty easy, as I believe the Makeup Museum is the only contemporary cosmetics museum in the entire U.S.
But what is the overall message that I want to the Makeup Museum brand to communicate? Here's the mission statement (which you can also find under Museum Information).
- Preserve and document contemporary and vintage cosmetic items, both for beauty consumers and the general public.
- Promote these items as legitimate cultural artifacts by examining the design and artistic inspiration behind them.
- Explore the sociological and cultural impact these objects and their advertising have on consumers, particularly women.
- Research and record the history of the beauty industry and the culture therein.
After the message been established, the work of translating this message into a brand and getting it out to the public can begin. This is where things get tricky. How would I get these four critical points into an appealing and effective brand identity? I've come to the conclusion that while I have a good foundation for a brand (clearly defined mission and differentiation), the actual implementation is going to take a lot more research and time than this post allows. So for now I will check out this book by museum marketing expert Margot Wallace, and follow her blog on the same topic.
Any bloggers or museum pros out there - have you given serious thought to the notion of branding?
- SXSW took place in Austin, where The Punk Singer, a documentary on my hero Kathleen Hanna premiered. Way back in 2011 I donated to the Kickstarter campaign to help fund the film's making, and I'm so pleased it's finally here and getting great reviews. Of course, anything involving Ms. Hanna is going to knock my socks off, including this interview at The Daily Beast.
- I've scouted several new-to-me blogs that are pretty amazing and align
closely with the themes I try to cover at the Makeup Museum. Part Nouveau looks at the art historical influences in fashion, while Where Art Meets Fashion
examines fashion companies' use of artist collaborations. (I want to
ask the author for a copy of her Masters thesis, which "looked at the
proliferation of collaborations between
contemporary artists and luxury brands over the past 10-15 years,
arguing that such partnerships have evolved into strategic brand
alliances used as a marketing tool in order to achieve both cultural and
commercial objectives for both the brand and artist (as a brand)
alike." It sounds like this could provide the foundation for an
exploration of cosmetics companies' collaborations with artists, which I
write about a lot.) And The Glamourologist provides a truly unique
perspective on cosmetics history and vintage makeup, as it's written by a
- I'm endlessly fascinated with the illustrations on Tokyo Milk's bath and body products. Now they've introduced these gorgeous designs onto makeup bags.
- You know how much I love mermaids and how I was crazy for Deborah Lippmann Mermaid's Dream nail polish last year. Well, the brand decided to expand on that shade and is making 4 new
polishes similar to it in different colors. They'll have the
same type of glitter and shimmery finish, but will come in peach, purple, pink and blue. And they
all have mermaid names!! MERMAAAAAAAAIDS!!!!
- While that news is great, there is even greater news. What's better than mermaids for the Curator? That's right, Babos!! And there's a new one coming out which we have just ordered. BAAAAABOOOOOS!!
The collection consists of a lipstick in Pinkadelic, nail polish in Pink Paisley, and blush in Light Show, which comes in an enameled compact that is a "replica of actual designs from Estee Lauder's '60s era collections."
I think the pattern evokes late '60s psychedelia and I love the retro shape of the nail polish bottle. However, it's maddening (haha) that nowhere in the advertising campaign does Estée Lauder show the original design. I can't be the only person who would like to see it, and I'm sure Estée has it in their archives somewhere if this really is a replica. Since they're not revealing it, I question their claim that the pattern is an authentic vintage Estée print. Seeing the original would definitely make me want to purchase the compact. Without it though, this seems to be a weak attempt to make what's possibly a brand new design appear to have a connection to the company's history - it's just smoke and mirrors.
As I said last year, the company could have done more with the Mad Men tie-in. It's a shame Estée squandered the opportunity.
When I did the group portrait of the Makeup Museum's Chanel palettes, I realized I never posted about the lovely Coromandels de Chanel, which was released all the way back in the fall of 2005. Meant to evoke the lacquered Chinese screens lovingly collected and displayed in Coco Chanel's Rue Cambon apartment, the palette consists of three horizontal bands of bold color imprinted with gold patterns. Here is the full description from Vogue Australia. "Imagine a journey, a very long journey, from the Ming
Era to today…Starting in Asia, at the heart of Imperial China, it
continues along the Indian coast of Coromandel until reaching Paris, rue
Cambon, and ending at the apartment of Mademoiselle Chanel. The link between the two worlds and eras resides in the singular art
form of Chinese screens: Coromandels. Objects of passion for Coco
Chanel, these famous lacquered screens-extremely fashionable in the 18th
century – have now inspired Heidi Morawetz and Dominique Moncourtois in
the creation of the star product for Autumn 2005: Coromandels de
Chanel...With its antique frieze, olive branches and decorative scrolls 'engraved' in the pressed powder, Coromandels de Chanel resembles a
screen fragment in the black frame of its laquered case. The precise and
delicate motifs that decorate the surface take up the relief and colour
of an illustration on one of Gabrielle Chanel’s screens. With this creation, past and present have been brilliantly combined with
art and innovation. Coromandels de Chanel not only draws from the
immense heritage of Mademoiselle, it is also a modern breakthrough.
Using laser technology, an electronic arm controls a laser beam to
polish, colour and create 'incision' motifs on the compact
powder. In line with the original screens, the palette offers a matte
satin texture for a velvety skin result that is more powdery than shiny
and as luminous as ever."
In a quote from one her biographies, Coco Chanel states: “I’ve loved Chinese screens since I
was eighteen years old…I nearly fainted with joy when, entering a
Chinese shop, I saw a Coromandel for the first time…Screens were the
first thing I bought.” Over the years she amassed 32 screens, and her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon contained 8 of them. She used them as wallpaper and also to conceal doorways. "Mademoiselle Chanel hated doors," Chanel archivist Odile Babin stated in an interview with NPR. "She hoped that by
placing the [the screens] in front of the door, her guests might not remember to
leave." (Coco Chanel used the apartment only for entertaining and work - she actually slept and took meals at a private suite at the Ritz across the street.)
As for the artistry of the screens themselves, the Chanel website has this to say. "The Coromandel lacquer technique
emerged at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), in the Hunan
province, in the heart of China. The major themes include mythology,
scenes of imperial life and love of nature, which bestow a spiritual
dimension upon the art form."
The descriptionof the palette says that the patterns were taken after one of the screens owned by Mademoiselle Chanel. While I couldn't find a picture of an exact match pattern-wise, the overall feel and colors are similar. Below are some of the screens installed in her magnificent Rue Cambon abode.
So we have an explanation for the inspiration behind the palette, and the design does in fact align very closely with the beautiful screens owned by Coco Chanel. However, I'm puzzled as to why the company decided to release this collection in the fall of 2005, when the pieces shown in the runway and couture shows displayed no Asian/Chinese influence whatsoever. Unlike the more recent Byzantine and Versailles palettes, which were released in conjunction with particular fashion collections, Coromandels had nothing to do with what walked down the runways for both the fall 2005 ready-to-wear and couture collections. Even the makeup wasn't remotely related to the theme of Coromandels.
Perhaps it's because this palette was released before Peter Philips took over as Creative Director of Makeup in 2008 (and sadly, will be stepping down shortly). Prior to his leadership, seasonal makeup collections were devised by Heidi Morawetz, director of the makeup creation studio, and Dominique Moncourtois, international director of makeup creation. While the palette is certainly inspired, it may have been more timely had it been released in 1996, when Lagerfeld designed his Coromandels evening dresses.
Still, I can't begrudge Chanel too much in their lack of cohesion between the fall 2005 makeup and fashion collections. Les Coromandels is a gorgeous and creative palette, and remains one of the Curator's favorites from Chanel.