“To me, makeup is a way to open the door to an unknown world, a world filled with excitement. The magic that takes you from your regular life to an unknown new world and the sense of adventure that accompanies this journey are what I wanted to express through this collaboration.” - Mika Ninagawa
This is the third collaboration Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa has done with Shu Uemura, the previous two having been in 2008 and 2011. I greatly admired both of those, but I have to say the spring 2014 collection is my favorite of the three. Ninagawa has taken her work to a whole other level I didn't think was possible.
As animated in the quirky video above, the artist created four magical wonderlands for Shu's products. Naturally I had to get all four cleansing oils that depict each one.
The red Ultim8 cleansing oil’s theme is Forbidden Fruits: “Evil butterflies are in love with the passion filled garden, ripe with seductive apples and strawberries. One bite of the forbidden fruits will poison you with delight.” I have had many makeup dreams but none of them involved glittery lashes on fruit!
The blue Whitefficient cleansing oil represents curiosity and shows the Enchanted Carnival where one can “search for the key to another beauty wonderland.” This is probably my least favorite of the four - that eye mask creeps me out a bit. However, Mika's incomparable talent for taking haphazardly scattered objects and forming a harmonious composition makes up for it.
The green Anti-Oxi oil depicts the Singing Forest: “Even the evil butterflies cannot resist the soothing lullaby of luscious lips that put you into a sweet beauty slumber. Once the fresh ivy and wild mushrooms cross your lips, you will slip into an eternal dreamscape.” Those floating pillowy lips, especially the pair atop the blue-capped mushroom, are insanely cool. Could you imagine walking through a forest and seeing those?!
The pictures on the pink Pore-Finist cleansing oil form a sweet-filled fantasy that corresponds to Melting Sweet Dream, which is described as a “lucky charm that guides you to angelic butterflies” and encourages one to “enter a dream filled with charming, sweet candies that melt on your mouth.” While I adore the sexy strawberries in Forbidden Fruits, I think I love the long-lashed candies on this one even more. I'm also enamored of all the other things in the mix - yellow fluffy chicks nestled up against marshmallow Peeps and little plastic ballerinas surrounded by colorful candy. Maybe it's my sweet tooth or that I find the color combination to be even more pleasing than the others, but I think Melting Sweet Dream is my favorite. As Liz Lemon would say, I want to go to there.
Mika's work for this collection impressed me more than the other two because I felt as though she thought about new worlds she wanted to create and then executed them perfectly. The other two collections contained photos that were, of course, quite beautiful, but lacked the whimsy and imagination she displayed here. While her amazing composition and use of color are more or less unmatched, I think the addition of a unique concept - in this case, the invention of four magical worlds - elevated her work and made it even more sublime. I also liked the vibe of these four dreamscapes. They're a bit surreal, what with disembodied lips and anthropomorphized fruit and candy, but they're inviting rather than menacing ("evil" butterflies aside). I'd love to put myself smack dab in the middle of any of them and explore! Well, maybe not the Enchanted Carnival...
What do you think? And which of these is your favorite?