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Curator's Corner, 7/31/2016

Quick post: Celebrating (sort of) National Lipstick Day with Urban Decay

In honor of National Lipstick Day I thought I'd take a quick peek at how Urban Decay's lipstick tubes have essentially come full circle with their new Vice collection.  When the brand launched in 1996, the gritty, decidedly un-pretty feel of both the packaging and color names were fairly groundbreaking.  The design of the Vice lipsticks, which debuted earlier this summer, is a nod to the shotgun shell-shaped cases in which the lipsticks were originally housed. For your viewing pleasure I took some comparison photos (and skipped directly over the now-discontinued Revolution lipsticks.)

I kind of wish they kept the brown cardboard boxes and punk-inspired font.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

The Vice packaging is definitely more sleek and modern, plus the company's name is engraved on the case, which makes it a little more luxurious than the somewhat plain-looking former case.  The only drawback to having a shiny metal case vs. a brushed metal finish is that the former gets very fingerprint-y very quickly.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  I remember thinking how edgy the whole Urban Decay line was and how badass the shotgun shell packaging looked - whipping one of these out made me feel like a rebel and even a little dangerous, which I enjoyed.  In hindsight, however, I think this design should be left firmly in the '90s.  I don't want to write a whole big long whiny essay because, you know, it's a special day for us makeup junkies, plus it's Friday and I wanted to keep this post light, but I must point out that I'm not sure Urban Decay should have referenced their original packaging at all, as much as I liked it back then.  Given all the gun violence we have now (and it was a problem in the '90s too, to be sure, but I was young and dumb and not as "woke" as I am now) any beauty product that evokes mass shootings shouldn't exist.  I understand you can't avoid it completely - we commonly refer to lipstick shapes themselves as bullets - but no matter how cool Urban Decay's packaging seemed in 1996 and its importance in cosmetics history, I just don't think it's appropriate now.*  I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment either.  Says Tynan Sinks at XO Jane, "In 2016, perhaps we could model our lipstick packaging after anything but bullets," while the author of A Life With Frills remarks, "I don't agree with the fact that Urban Decay are marketing these lipsticks as looking like shotgun shells. I understand that Urban Decay are a brand that like to push boundaries (and I love them for that) but given the way guns are used in the world now and the impact they have, it's not appropriate to trivialise them like this."  I think Jane at British Beauty Blogger says it the best:  "I get it that the roots of Urban Decay are all about the badass and the edgy and going against the grain – who needs make up to look pretty? It should speak to our rebellious side or our sexy side – but not, er, our inner killer."  I fully appreciate that Urban Decay wants us to remember that they were among the first companies to run completely contrary to many outdated notions of what's attractive and why we wear makeup, but I think in this instance they should have gone in a different direction.  Having said all this, I won't stop buying the Vice lipsticks anytime soon (I own 3 and have my eye on several more) but I felt the need to at least mention my issue with the packaging.  So, um, happy National Lipstick Day, I guess.  Leave it up to me to put a bit of a damper on it.  :P  At the very least, the tubes make an interesting case study in how the brand has evolved in the past 20 years. 

What do you think?  And did you own the original Urban Decay lipsticks?

 

*I'm particularly aghast that these lipsticks actually exist and are for sale.  Just...no.

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