Curator's Corner, 8/23/2015
Vintage acquisition featuring Volupté and Elizabeth Arden

Craig and Karl for Sephora

Here's another spring collection that I'm just catching up on now.  The Craig & Karl Sephora collection may ring a few bells, as this design duo was also behind one of Kiehl's holiday 2014 collections (which I failed to write about as I was suffering from the stomach flu to end all stomach flus last December).  Craig Redman, based in NYC and Karl Maier, based in London, somehow manage to make cohesive designs that showcase each of their strengths despite the geographic distance between them.  Together they "create bold work that is filled with simple messages executed in a thoughtful and humorous way."  Looking at the collection they came up with, I'd say that's an apt description.

In total it's a rather large collection, but I think some items weren't offered in the States.  I don't recall seeing the bath and body and nail products at the U.S. Sephora website, but they did appear in France and Australia.

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora
(images from thedieline.com, musingsofamuse.com, and packagingoftheworld.com)

Not much background information was given as to why Sephora chose Craig & Karl, but the company was quite pleased with the outcome.  As a rep told Cosmetics Business News, "For summer, we were looking for a fresh, pop and coloured collaboration...Craig & Karl are two unique and very talented designers that truly share our brand image and brand values. The collection is full of joy, happiness and, of course, colour...It was a true pleasure to work with them, so we’d of course be open to working with them again down the road.  We like surprising our consumers, so if we were to collaborate again then it would be something completely different...we have built a very interesting partnership with them in order to deliver the best quality and translate to the suppliers what they had in mind at the beginning of the project. The colour expertise of Craig & Karl mixed with our packaging and industrial knowledge produced an awesome result that we couldn’t be happier with.” 

That's a nice bit of PR, but does collection really reflect Craig & Karl's aesthetic?  A quick visit to their website told me that yes, it's totally spot on.  Compare the dots, stripes and criss-crossed lines on the Sephora packaging to the patterns on this Washington Post ad.

Craig & Karl Washington Post

Or the eye and lip motifs on the duo's work for MCM.

Craig & Karl for MCM

I especially enjoyed the spread they did for Vogue Japan.  It takes the idea of Craig & Karl makeup quite literally - it's not the packaging that bears their signature patterns and colors but the models themselves.

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan
(images from craigandkarl.com)

Full of Craig & Karl's exuberant colors and playful motifs, the Sephora packaging is a great representation of who they are as designers.

So why didn't I buy anything?  To be blunt, I'm not a big fan of their work.  I respect what they're doing and I think they're very talented, but it doesn't appeal to me personally.   I just can't bring myself to spend money on something I find so, well, ugly.  Additionally, the items from the collaboration aren't things I see as a necessary acquisition for the Museum.  Remember that I wasn't all that taken with Antonio Lopez's work but I still bought many pieces from the MAC collaboration because I feel that it was something a makeup museum should own and display.  Craig & Karl, however...it may be shortsighted, but I don't think this is really a must-have from a collecting standpoint, nor can I see it being used in an exhibition.

What do you think?

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