It's just a few hours before it's officially 2016 here on the East Coast, so with that in mind, here are the Curator's picks and pans in makeup packaging/design for 2015. I'll start with the picks.
1. PaiPai! This new-to-me brand captured my heart when I read that for each season's collection a different artist is chosen to create the packaging. Additionally, the line pays tribute to Mexico's cultural heritage by featuring only Mexican artists, which I think is genius.
2. For her first limited edition/artist collab, Charlotte Tilbury did an excellent job borrowing the work of famed Vogue photographer Norman Parkinson to appear on a carefully selected lineup of face products and bags. Nars, please take note - THIS is how you team up with a fashion photographer.
3. I squealed out loud when I first laid eyes on Paul & Joe's precious Cap'n Kitty face powder. It's the most adorable cat they've done in a while, and Paul & Joe is no stranger to putting cute cats on their packaging.
Lastly, I'm going to toot my own horn and give an honorable mention to my own (entirely fictional) Broad City collection. :)
And now for the pans* - items that I think could have been a little (okay, a lot) better.
1. I am still scratching my head over Dior's Kingdom of Color spring 2015 collection. Apparently it was inspired by Dior's "love of color" (really, who doesn't love color?) and the items were embossed with the Dior crest. However, I have no idea why they went with the crest for this particular collection; it sounds like their marketing team decided to slap it on everything and dreamed up a faux majestic name that weakly attempts to tie into both the crest and Dior's "love of color". Eh. Compared with Dior's previous releases this could have been more inspired and less muddled. I would have focused solely on the crest or the use of vivid color in Dior's collections instead of trying to make some vague connection between the two.
2. It was a tie between Yaz Bukey for Shu and Philip Treacy for MAC. Both collections had the same problem: great idea, not-so-great execution. Shu and MAC had the luxury of collaborating with some very talented designers, but their visions just weren't reflected well in the finished product (at least in my opinion.)
3. And another tie (I know I'm kind of cheating here but again, these items suffered from the same affliction in my eyes, making them one and same): Craig & Karl for Sephora and Keith Haring for Clarisonic. I admit that maybe these weren't so bad packaging-wise, but I find both Haring's and Craig & Karl's work to be extremely ugly. There I said it.
Do you agree with my picks and pans? Take a look through the archives if you're so inclined and let me know yours. Oh, and you can also see picks and pans for 2014, 2013, and 2011.
*I would have included the Nars/Steven Klein garbage in my most disappointing items of the year, but 1. I don't want to revisit the collection as it still pisses me off so much; and 2. I initially thought the packaging was interesting before I found out what a tool Mr. Klein is.
In looking at this picture of my holiday beauty haul I realized it's very lip product heavy - only a scant 3 eye products and an eyeliner brush made it in. The rest of the color items are all lip stuff. There's a lot of Shu given that they had a nice 25% off friends and family sale a little while ago. So far I have tried out a few things. I'm completely in love LUSH Peeping Santa bubble bars (top right) since it's identical to my favorite LUSH product of all time, Magic Mushrooms. Needless to say I'm hoarding about 20 of them! I also tried out the Elemis dry brush (lower right) this morning and I swear my skin is smoother already.
Here are the lipsticks. From left to right: Estée Lauder Shameless Violet (still on my fall purple lip kick), Bobbi Brown Red Velvet and Retro Red Luxe Lipsticks (I loved my Parisian Red so much I had to get more of this formula, as it's seriously amazing! Long-lasting with no feathering and stays comfortable all day - no drying out my lips), Bobbi Brown Lady Ruba (I'm also on a hot fiery orange-red kick. The formula this comes in isn't as good as the Luxe one but it's a beautiful color), Shu Avenue Sunset Rouge Unlimited lipstick, Tom Ford lipsticks in Hiro and Demsey, and Shu CR 310 Rouge Unlimited.
Chanel Complice eye shadow (can't wait to see how it compares to my go-to all-over eye shadow wash, Stila Kitten) and Stila Smokey Quartz cushion liner.
Now that I've taken photos, I have to get to trying out everything!
What did you haul for the holiday season? Anything you're loving?
For his holiday 2015 creation for Cosme Decorte, Marcel Wanders came up with another fairy-themed compact. "The Secret Nymph" powder depicts what I'm assuming is a forest nymph, encased in a white case engraved with one of Wanders' floral patterns. I like this one since the shape reminds me of a sunflower and those are my favorite flowers. :) And luckily enough, it popped up on Imomoko so I was actually able to own it! This is the first Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte piece I was able to buy so I was really happy to have at least one for the Museum.
Alas, I was unable to translate the story from the Cosme Decorte website, and neither their Facebook pages nor the Marcel Wanders site had any information. Sigh.
In any case, it's a nice compact, perhaps not my favorite of all the Wanders editions but I'm just so pleased I was able to get my hands on any of them!
Now, are you ready for a big surprise? A while ago I had mentioned to the husband that the 2013 Cosme Decorte/Marcel Wanders piece had come up on Ebay and that I was tempted to get it, since you never see them. A few weeks later I had totally forgotten about it with holiday shopping, etc...and then on Christmas morning I saw a mysterious box under the tree. YASSSS! The husband had remembered and purchased the bell for me. And it's beautiful.
It really does produce a very soft ring, not the loud, obnoxious typical jingle bell sound.
The engraving on the side of the compact reads "Eternal beauty awakens to the sound of golden bells." You can read all about the story of this piece here. Since I covered it previously, I won't rehash it now. I have to say I like this bell a lot more than the 2015 Marcel Wanders creation. It feels and looks much more luxurious, as the 2015 compact is made of clear plastic with the pattern underneath. It's certainly not bad, but I don't think it's quite as expensive-looking as previous Cosme Decorte/Wanders releases, nearly all of which are rendered in metal (the one from last year is most likely white plastic, but it still looks more substantial than this year's case.) The bell in particular is so unique - between the fact that it's, you know, an actual ringing bell, something I've never seen in makeup packaging, and the engraving on the compact, I have an urge to put it in a glass jar and display it year-round. I also like having the year printed on the outer box, which is missing on the 2015 one. Nevertheless, what I love about these Wanders pieces is that each year they're different enough to be special, but they always bear a resemblance to each other. If you look at all of them they make a rather cohesive collection, and Wanders' stamp is unmistakable. Now I just need the 2011, 2012 and 2014 editions for the Museum. ;)
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope Santa was good to you! If not, I hope you had a great week. I had a nice time visiting my parents and made out like a bandit present-wise, which I'll be posting about shortly. :) Without further ado, here's the last link gathering for the year!
- "I know spending $30 on a black eyeliner just because I like the packaging or the brand is absurd, but I can’t stop doing it anyway, and I have no plans to." Obviously I'm in full agreement with this defense of buying expensive beauty products.
As soon as I got wind of this collection over at A Touch of Blusher I started coveting it. According to PJ, this was the first time Pola's BA line ventured into color cosmetics. The collection was also created in collaboration with Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma. I figured this item was out of my grasp, then it miraculously popped up on Adambeauty so I pounced.
I'm still not sure how I feel about the design. Online it looked pretty neat, as you don't often see any sort of design in cream products. But in person I was a bit underwhelmed. The thick black borders separating the colors are reminiscent of stained-glass crafts I used to do as a kid. And I don't understand why they had to make the lip base a sickly, mucus-green color. I guess they wanted it to look like leaves, but they really should have just left it clear or even white - it's an extremely off-putting hue.
To be honest, I was more interested in the traveling flower stall that Makoto Azuma created for Pola. Azuma (b. 1976) has quite a fascinating career trajectory. In 2002 he joined forces with photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki to open Jardin des Fleurs, a haute couture flower shop offering custom bouquets in Tokyo. In 2005 he began exploring the idea of flowers as art, inventing the genre of "botanical sculpture", and in 2009 he launched his own experimental "botanical lab". His work has since been shown in exhibitions across Europe, China, Mexico and New York City. I love this story - a florist turned avant-garde artist! In addition to his private works, prior to his collaboration with Pola Azuma was hired by many big fashion names to create installations for new stores or exhibitions, like Dries Van Noten:
A "fur tree" for a Fendi pop-up store in Ginza:
Hermès store display:
Grand opening of Isetan department store in Shinjuku:
Some fun things: collaborations with Hello Kitty and macaron magnate Pierre Hermé:
Finally, I don't think this piece was for any particular company but it blew me away. I wonder how long it took to get all those flowers into jars and then arrange them into that huge square.
As for the Pola stall, I'm not sure exactly what the purpose of the structure is, like what those dials and pipes are for, but it's eye-catching nonetheless. The overall shape of the metal frame for the cart looks rather steampunk to my eye, and is unique from Azuma's other work. (But it may be a reincarnation of the vintage "paludarium" he dreamed up for Hermes, which you can see in the photos above).
You would think that the website devoted solely to the stall would be chock full of information on it, like the inspiration behind its design, its purpose, etc. Unfortunately all I found was this meager description. "On the night of the new moon, the flower stall appears. Its location - a surprise. In the woods? By the sea? Or in a tiny alley. If you're lucky you will witness its magic. Pull the lever and watch the buds burst into blossom. The spark is ignited. The flower stall brings new life." (Azuma's own website did not have any description either.)
Maybe I've been watching too many horror movies, but photos of the stall by itself, isolated from humans and in odd places, kind of creeped me out. These three pictures in particular reminded me of the image on the poster for Rosemary's Baby. It just looks so unnatural and menacing on a beach, like an evil object someone abandoned there, hoping the tide will take it out to sea.
Only slightly less unsettling was its being situated in a forest because it's at least surrounded by other plant life, but really, if I came across this while hiking in the woods I'd run the other way.
As I discovered, the unnatural placement was totally deliberate, according to the artist's website. "In recent years, Azuma has been focusing on his project arranging flowers in all kinds of mundane situations that don’t occur in the realm of nature, and continues to pursue the beauty of plants from a unique point of view." It's a great concept, but I think for the Pola stall it didn't quite work. However, Azuma's other experiments with putting flowers where they're not normally found turned out beautifully. Some examples include this stunning installation in the middle of the Hinoba-an Sea near the Philippines.
And he's even sent flowers into space! I thought maybe these pictures were Photoshopped, but apparently Azuma hired a space engineer help launch the flowers from the Nevada desert and used a Go Pro for the images. "Plants on the earth rooted in the soil, under the command of gravity. Roots, soil and gravity – by giving up the links to life, what kind of 'beauty' shall be born? Within the harsh 'nature,' at an attitude of 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees Celsius, the plants evolve into EXBIOTA (extraterrestrial life). A pine tree confronting the ridge line of the Earth. A bouquet of flowers marching towards the sun hit by the intense wind. Freed from everything, the plants shall head to the space." I adore the idea of "freeing" flowers from their natural habitat and transforming them into alien life forms.
Getting back to the Pola stall, I liked it so much better in Tokyo. It was much less scary in an environment bustling with activity, and it allowed for human interaction.
Again, while there was no concrete information about the flower stall, there was at least a short video of it making its way through the city, which was pretty cool. People were stopping to look at and photograph the stall, and it looks like you could even buy a flower from it.
I'm assuming Pola does not have its own storefront, which is why Azuma went the mobile route rather than creating an amazing installation. Yet, I think perhaps he could have done an installation for one of Pola's department store counters or the salon in Japan. I also wish I could definitively figure out why he went with an industrial-looking design for the stall as well as his role in the palette's design. I understand why Pola chose Azuma to collaborate, however; the company has a rich history of dedication to both the arts in general and preserving and exhibiting beauty culture, so it's no surprise they wanted to team up with an artist to create a collector's piece. Additionally, Pola's cutting-edge BA line is derived from a variety of plant extracts (hence the "Bio Active" name) so it's quite fitting that Pola selected Azuma, who also thinks outside the box when it comes to botanicals. In much the same way the flower stall "brings new life" to its environment, Pola's BA line will (allegedly) invigorate and refresh one's skin.
What do you think of the palette and Azuma's work?
Paul & Joe wasn't the only one who did a mask theme this holiday. Clé de Peau's Le Bal Masqué also sought to capture the mystery and intrigue of the masquerade ball. And in my opinion they did a much better job than Paul & Joe. For their collection, Clé de Peau collaborated with jewelry designer Joji Kojima, who created four custom masks to appear on the collection packaging. Each one has a corresponding personality, according to the designer: "While I was designing the masks, the characters I had in mind were fictional and I do not wish to relate them to any specific existing individual. However, I can share about the characteristics of them. For Gemma, I see the owner as the Queen or main character at the ball who has a really strong personality. For Violetta, she is a free spirit who loves to fool around with men. As for Elena, she is someone who is very difficult to approach but refined and fun at the same time. Rosalie, is very special - she is very hard to grasp, beautiful and unpredictable." Below are Gemma (coffret), Violetta (body powder), Elena (nail polishes) and Rosalie (face serum). You know I love when a designer imagines a backstory for their creations.
The interior of the coffret box has a lovely peacock feather pattern to go with the feathers on the mask.
In terms of the process, each mask took two months of painstaking labor.
I can't say I was familiar with Jojima's work, but once I started digging I discovered that it's pretty awesome. Jojima was born in California and started making jewelry at the age of 15. He attended school in Tokyo, studying graphic design. While still an undergrad he managed to get the attention of Lady Gaga, for whom he created the custom mask on the cover of her 2009 Fame Monster album.
In looking at his other work, I found it leaned fairly dark and macabre. While strangely beautiful, I was a little confused as to why Clé de Peau wanted to team up with Jojima.
In looking at these talons and considering Jojima's connection to Lady Gaga, I was sure he was the one behind the lethal glove for American Horror Story: Hotel. It wasn't him though, which I was pretty surprised about in looking at these.
Anyway, I never would have thought of this designer for a beauty collaboration. However, I think he did an amazing job modifying his work to suit the theme of Venetian masquerade, which was selected in advance by Shiseido. Jojima explains how the collaboration came about and how he adapted his usual aesthetic to fit beauty packaging. "The theme for this season's collection, Venetian Masquerade was decided by Shiseido. I met up with [Clé de Peau Creative Makeup Director] Lucia Pieroni who had already decided the colors for this collection. I then redesign the packaging with the idea of having odd and bold masks to bring out the whole theme. With my experience in jewellery design, I wanted to create something different, something quirky but beautiful at the same time...this project is very new and interesting from me as it is very different from what I have done previously. I have given everything which I wanted to show in this collection through the inspirations I get when I see the colors for this season. The theme was already decided by Lucia, therefore, I worked very closely with her to come up with something which fits the theme but at the same time represents my aggressive designs. It is a great process which working with Lucia, I have also learned more about the brand itself and the kind of concept which suits the brand." In another interview, he adds, "The designs are not a diluted version of my work; it was a good opportunity to do something different. There was an active discussion and it is 100% what I wanted to convey...I knew that Shiseido was a top global company focused on beauty. When I talked to Clé de Peau’s design team, I was impressed how precise they were. For example, for the color red, they even went into the different percentage of red in the hue! The collection is not meant to be a distinctive difference between my past and present work, but it’s my personal interpretation of something beautiful.” Obviously, as a collector I was thrilled to get the inside scoop on how the collaboration process operated (and that there was actually an in-depth discussion between the designer and the cosmetics company, which is sometimes lacking in other collaborations) and also happy to see Jojima's acknowledgement that this was a new creative experience for him. As for Pieroni, Venice is a frequent destination that inspired her to do something special to commemorate her 10 year-anniversary of joining Clé de Peau. From Vanity Fair: "In celebration of her 10th year with Clé de Peau as creative makeup director, Lucia Pieroni looked to Venice to create her coveted collection for this holiday. Having traveled to Venice on various work assignments throughout her artistic career, she remembers being mesmerized by the fabled scenery. 'I was always struck by the beautiful colors of this ancient city, how the light and water would reflect on the ornate buildings, like the Doge’s Palace and Piazza San Marco,' she says." How she decided on a masquerade theme I'm not sure, but I think it was genius to select Jojima for it. As I said, his work seems rather dark and I never would have thought to work with him on a beauty collection. However, Pieroni was able to see his potential for a masquerade-themed collection, and Jojima, for his part, understood that it was an opportunity to do something different. I liked that she took a chance on him and he delivered. "I’ve always had one goal in life: to create something beautiful and strong that’s never been seen before," he says. Mission accomplished.
What do you think? I was toying with the idea of doing a smackdown between this collection and Paul & Joe's, but honestly, it wouldn't have been a fair fight!
While there wasn't much of a description of Le Bal Masque, obviously Paul & Joe went for a masquerade ball theme this holiday season. I liked the image of a woman in a black cat mask adorning the bag full of treats as well as the grey and yellow color scheme.
The set includes a lip balm, cream blush, eye liner and eye shadows, all with a fetching cat/mask print.
You know how I love freebies, so I was overjoyed to receive this notebook as a gift with purchase from Beautyhabit.
Oddly enough, the image of the masked woman was borrowed from a Paul & Joe Sister collection from about 2 years ago. I don't have an exact date as all the items are now out of stock at various shopping outlets, but the images I gathered on Pinterest suggest it's not new.
There were also a few tees where the masked woman is wearing a different blouse.
Why they'd choose to recycle a fairly old design on this year's holiday collection is puzzling. It's almost as if they were out of ideas for the holiday collection, ordered an intern to go through their archives and choose a design to slap onto the packaging, then declare it to be a holiday masquerade theme. While it somewhat lacks inspiration, it's a masquerade ball as only Paul & Joe can depict it - playful thanks to the abundance of the cat print, yet lending an air of mystery due to the masks.
I spotted this palette way back in the fall at British Beauty Blogger and knew I had to get my hands on it. Shiseido teamed up with Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto to create their Festive Camellia palette for the holiday 2015 season. As you might know, Shiseido's symbol is the camellia flower, and they asked Yamamoto to come up with a palette design that portrayed both the significance of the camellia for the company's history and the designer's unique aesthetic. Yamamoto explains, "The camellia flower is always beautiful… at the moment when it blossoms with its greatest energy, and even at the moment when it dies. It does not die away by losing its petals like other flowers, but instead ends its life in its full blossom and form. By depicting this beautiful camellia, filled with dignity and vitality until the end of its life, I have related the camellia's most beautiful moments to those of a woman."
As with the MAC Guo Pei collection, the palette is encased in fabric. I'm not sure how well that would hold up in one's makeup bag, but it's lovely nonetheless. According to the Shiseido website, it's silk: "By getting the full cooperation of Y's creative support, silk has been used on the palette just like it is used in Y's clothes; and it has been specially printed in Kyoto."
If you look at the leaf on the upper left, you'll see a green beetle - I have to admit I didn't even notice the little guy hiding there until I read the palette's description!
Here's a detail of the fabric.
The camellia-inspired colors were chosen by long-time Shiseido adviser and makeup artist extraordinaire Dick Page, who named each color individually.
Top row: Snow and Velvet
Middle row: Japonica, Winter Rose, and Petal
Bottom color: Heart
The palette came with a little brush set.
I was slightly disappointed that the pattern didn't line up on the brush set tube.
Despite Yohji Yamamoto having runway shows since 1981 (he established his line in 1972) I wasn't familiar with the name at all. So I played one of my favorite games and set about exploring his work and seeing whether the palette is a good representation of it. There is definitely a resemblance to Yamamoto's overall design - not one season in particular, but his general emphasis on asymmetry and deconstruction. Obviously designers have to know how to manipulate fabric, but this is one area where Yamamoto truly excels. Gathering, folding, wrapping and pleating fabric to create one-of-a-kind silhouettes is another hallmark of his work. He says, "Fabric is everything. Often I tell my pattern makers, "Just listen to the material. What is it going to say? Just wait. Probably the material will tell you something." He's like the fabric whisperer. :)
As for the palette, I was definitely seeing how Yamamoto's shapes influenced the design. The hems on these dresses from the spring 2013 collection, for example, remind me of the asymmetrical corner of the palette as well as the mirror:
And the floral print is reminiscent of those that appeared in his fall 2014 show, with the same voluminous, detailed petals.
Once again, a cosmetics company plucks a designer from the high fashion world that I wouldn't have otherwise known about and allows me to have a little piece of couture in makeup form. I can honestly say that Yamamoto is like nothing I've ever seen, and he did an excellent job translating his work into the palette (although I think a black background instead of purple might have been a better choice, given how ubiquitous it is in all of his collections.)
- I curse on occasion in my posts but I try to keep it to a minimum, and I really rein in my foul mouth at work and around children, but generally speaking I swear like a sailor. Interestingly, a new study shows that swearing is a sign of high intelligence. Damn fucking right it is!
I was having a good amount of difficulty devising a cohesive holiday exhibition this year. So many non-traditional holiday designs abounded - from Smashbox's brightly colored sets courtesy of Yago Hortal to Shu's Maison Kitsuné collab, it was tricky to come up with an overarching theme that made sense. But one word kept coming to mind: cozy. I decided that this year I'd do an exhibition that reminds one of being cuddled up in a big sweater (hence the cable knit pattern on the exhibition poster and labels) and a warm blanket (possibly faux fur - I am so in love with mine!*) on a quiet winter night, enjoying holiday sweet treats while watching the snow fall outside and seeing twinkling holiday lights from the houses nearby. There was also a good dose of childhood nostalgia as inspiration, like fond memories of Christmas tree decorating, making cookies and coming in after a long day of sledding to have hot cocoa. So every item I chose this year captures these ideas in one way or another. In the interest of saving my sanity I did a smaller exhibition in the office.
Yes, as with last year's exhibition one of the items still hasn't arrived so there is an empty shelf. When the item does get here I'll retake the pictures and update...hopefully. Looks like I never updated the photos from last year's exhibition, whoops. Update 12 /26/15: Sigh. The item arrived...completely shattered. :( So I'm not able to take new pictures still. I have reordered it and hopefully it will arrive intact and sometime before winter is over. Update 1/24/2016: Yay, it got here! New pics below.
Starting with the top rows, left to right, here's a Stila paint can and the Apres Ski trio. Doesn't the Stila girl on the trio look so content with her toasty knit hat, ski jacket and mug of steaming hot chocolate?
While these Victoria Swedish soaps have vintage illustrations (hello Christmas nostalgia!) I also included these since the old time-y Santas remind me of my dad's Santa collection - he has Santa figurines from all over the world and a range of time periods, and growing up I always liked to watch him arrange them on the mantel over the fireplace where we'd hang our stockings.
Mmm, red flannel...
Remember how I was a little bummed I couldn't get my hands on these Nivea tins? Well, the illustrator who was responsible for the images on them, Joelle Tourlonias, actually contacted me and thanked me for writing about her work, and she sent me 4 of them completely free! How awesome is that?! I seriously can't thank her enough, especially since they are so perfect for this year's theme. There is something so comforting and sweet about these illustrations.
Etude House Snowy Dessert set:
I was too lazy to get up on a ladder to take a photo of the items sitting on the shelf, so here they are on the desk. The gingerbread man looks like the little fella from Shrek to my eye. As you can imagine, since this both looks and smells like a gingerbread cookie, I've had considerable trouble preventing MM staff from eating it!
Way back in April I used MAC's Apres Chic campaign in my roundup of strange headwear in makeup ads. While the model does look bizarre, I imagine she's pretty warm and cozy! Incidentally, the makeup items shown with this ad are from a totally different collection, but I think they went well together. Oh, and the ad is just a reproduction I printed, not an actual MAC postcard, something I forgot to put in the label.
So that's the exhibition. I wish you all a very cozy and peaceful holiday season and hope you stay toasty this winter!
*Do yourself a favor and buy this blanket. Seriously. I swear I'm not affiliated in any way with Pottery Barn, nor did I get it for free, I'm just super happy with it! It doesn't shed, is ridiculously soft and not itchy, and is incredibly warm. Be warned, you may not be able to get up once you're under it. :)