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December 2016

Curator's picks and pans for 2016

Today, thankfully, is the last day of 2016.  As I like to do every year, I'm taking a look back on the prettiest, most Museum-worthy pieces of the year (along with some not-so-great ones).  Here they are in no particular order.

1.  NARS summer collection was definitely a highlight.  Konstantin Kakanias' illustrations of oh-so-chic ladies lounging at a warm and sunny luxury resort at the French Riviera immediately brought a smile to my face...and made me want to book the next flight to Saint-Tropez. 

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

2.  These beautiful hand-made gold leaf lipstick cases from Givenchy caught me totally off guard - I was so happy I was able to get my hands on them as they are true Museum pieces.

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto edition

3.  The Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer was also difficult to track down and I had a fit when Nordstrom nearly canceled my order, but fortunately they came through.  The image on the bronzer came directly from D & G's spring/summer 2016 collection, which in turn was inspired by "carrettos", traditional Sicilian donkey carts painted in bright colors.

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer

Honorable mentions include Too-Faced's Totally Cute palette (because mermaid stickers) and Chanel Ombres Lamées (so intricate, not to mention gold and shiny!)

Now for the pans. 

1.  You would think that Mara Hoffman's geometric, colorful patterns would work well on cosmetics packaging, but the Sephora collection just left me cold.  I'm not sure why because I like her designs in other contexts, but seeing them on makeup did nothing for me. 

Mara Hoffman for Sephora
(images from sephora.com)

2.  Sonia Rykiel, one of 2016's many casualties, was an extraordinarily talented designer.  It's a shame that none of her style translated to Lancome's fall collection.  These patterns were just so...blah.  A better way of saying that, I guess, is that they simply weren't representative of her aesthetic.  Like some other fashion designer collabs, this was a missed opportunity - Lancome could have done so much more with Rykiel's impressive body of work.  It's particularly surprising given that Rykiel had a successful makeup line in Japan for a number of years, so you would think there would be a little more to this collection.

Sonia Rykiel for Lancome(images from lancome-usa.com)

3.  MAC Vibe Tribe.  I don't want to re-hash this but you can read my rant here.

MAC-vibe-tribe-promo

That wraps it up for 2016, from a collectibles standpoint, anyway...I'm too lazy to write about makeup trends from this year.  :P

What do you think of these?  Are there any not on this list that you think should be?  Take a look in the archives and let me know.  :)


Fly me to the moon: NARS holiday 2016

I'm cramming in one more holiday collection before 2017 arrives!  While still not as impressive (in my opinion) as 2012's Warhol collection, this year's holiday offering from NARS is a considerable improvement over previous years.  Mr. Nars teamed up with French fashion photographer Sarah Moon to create a collection that combines Moon's signature dreamlike style with Nars' edgy color schemes.

Nars, a longtime fan of Moon's, finally got up the nerve to approach her for a collaboration, and gave her free reign to come up with the collection's concept and imagery.  He explains: "I wanted to work with Sarah because I've been one of her biggest fans over the years. I remember when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, I [had] already noticed her work in all the French magazines in the '70s. She had already worked and done the imagery for Cacharel, which, in the '70s, was quite big in France. She had created these incredible images, which were actually quite close to what we did for Nars. It was my dream to work with her one day, and when we started doing collaborations for Nars, I was lucky enough to say, 'I want to work with Sarah Moon.' And she agreed. The most exciting thing for me was the fact that I told Sarah she could do anything she wants. I was probably the best client she could ever dream of; I said, 'Do not limit yourself. Give me anything you want. Your requests will be orders, and we will get it done.' She decided everything from the styling — the plastic that was done with Patti Wilson, the stylist — everything was done in London, Patti did the research and had the accessories made. All this part was very fun and the fact that by the end, I knew I was going to get a pure 'Sarah Moon' image. I didn't want her to feel like she couldn’t do this or that, so it was very exciting on that part."

The collection is inspired by the 1927 German sci-fi film Metropolis, which you can see in the futurist, robot-like garments the models are wearing.  Moon was also fascinated by the notion of transparency, hence the clear plastic.

Sarah Moon for NARS

Sarah Moon for NARS

Sarah Moon for NARS

In looking at this still from the film, I can definitely see the influence.

Metropolis film(image from reelworldtheology.com)

As for the makeup, Moon wanted something soft but that still made an impact.   "We really collaborated to find this woman that was delicate, yet strong and always very modern,” she said.  In comparing the collection's behind-the-scenes video and more images from Metropolis, you can once again see the resemblance.  The dark eye shadow and lips from the film get a 21st-century update in the NARS campaign.

I have to say just from looking at these stills, Metropolis seems totally bizarre, not to mention terrifying.  I don't think I'll be watching it anytime soon.

Metropolis, 1927

Metropolis, 1927(images from filmconnoisseur.blogspot.com) and retro-vintage-photography.blogspot.com)

I'm a little embarrassed to admit I had never heard of Moon until now, so I'm going to give a brief rundown of her work so we can situate her style within the NARS collection.  Moon's hazy, dreamy images often lead to her being described as an "impressionist" photographer.  They're notable in their own right, but Moon also has the honor of being the first woman to shoot the famous Pirelli calendar, a feat she accomplished in 1972. 

Sarah Moon, Pirelli calendar, 1972

The dark eyeshadow and red lips are similar to those from the Nars collection, no?  Obviously it's been updated - it's less harsh - but it's interesting that Moon maintained her fondness for this particular look for over 40 years.  The nod to Metropolis in the NARS collection is also unsurprising given the artist's infatuation with 1920s style, a passion shared with Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, for whom Moon photographed campaigns:  "The two women shared a love for silent-era screen stars, like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, and they played off those references by setting models’ pale complexions against moody backgrounds."

Some more examples:

Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon, Cacharel 1975(image from agnautacouture.com)

Sarah Moon - Elle France, 1977(image from featherstonevintage.blogspot.com)

Sarah Moon, Ling, 2001(image from vogue.com)

As for Moon's overall style, I find it slightly eerie but undeniably pretty. It's not quite surreal, but certainly not of this world; the women in her photos seem to occupy another realm.  The closest thing I can think of is that rare state between wakefulness and sleep, like when you're coming out of a dream and you're not sure whether you're awake or still asleep - that's what these images evoke for me.  I also think the women are portrayed as feminine yet strong, and sensual rather than overtly sexy, which is a rarity in fashion photography.

Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon

You know I couldn't not include a mermaid, right?

Sarah Moon
(images from facebook.com, pinterest.com, mariemalterre.com)

In looking at Moon's work, I have to say I'm disappointed that Nars lumped her in with the other photographers he's collaborated with over the years.  "I'm always trying to work with people that have a very strong visual sense of beauty. I think Sarah Moon and [previous collaborator] Steven Klein are so extremely different, but they have the same love and same strong, edgy, sharp sense of fashion and beauty. And they love women, which is so important. They love making [women beautiful], elevating them and really beautifying them. Steven [Klein], Guy Bourdin and myself — because I love making women look beautiful when I take pictures for the campaigns — it's really the same approach. We all do it in different ways, but we all love making women look beautiful."  Right, because nothing demonstrates how much you love and respect women like taking photos of them stuffed into trashcans or insensitively portraying them as abused mental patients.  *eyeroll*  I mean, come on!  There is such a huge difference between Moon's approach to photographing women and Klein/Bourdin.  But at least Nars understands that these collections will bring the work of photographers he admires to a wider audience, which, grudgingly, I fully support.  "Doing these collaborations makes us really promote photography and great talent. It's a platform; we're putting them in focus and in the spotlight and maybe making the public discover someone like Sarah Moon, who, in America, might not be as famous as she is in Europe...I love photographers, so it's very nice that through that, I'm having so much fun creating colors and doing the packaging. And at the same time, it's great for photography and artists. The collaborations won't only be with photographers; we're going to have painters, we're going to have sculptors, who knows. We want to work with different people." 

Final thoughts:  I can appreciate the beauty of Moon's work and I thought both she and Nars absolutely nailed a modern, unique spin on Metropolis, but honestly, it's not my favorite.  The nearsighted among us might slowly be driven crazy while looking at Moon's photos, wondering if we actually have our glasses on/contacts in or if our prescription needs to be stronger.  And the NARS palettes proved immensely difficult to photograph because I could never tell whether my photos are blurry or if it's just Moon's trademark haziness. 

What do you think? 


Natural beauty: Suqqu holiday 2016

Christmas is over, but I'm determined to try to catch up on some holiday collections!  Estée Lauder wasn't the only company who teamed up with a jewelry designer this holiday season.  Japanese brand Suqqu collaborated with Ayaka Nishi for two makeup sets featuring two of Nishi's best-known motifs.  I wish I could have found some information about how the collaboration came about and why these two designs were chosen, but didn't turn up anything. 

I picked up the set with the honeycomb pattern.

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

According to her website, Nishi has been fascinated with shapes found in nature since she was a child.  "Having grown up on the Japanese archipelago, Ms. Nishi’s work is rooted in the rich flora and fauna with which she interacted in her youth. Born and raised in Kagoshima, a medium-size metropolis in a mostly rural prefecture on Kyushuu island, she was influenced not only by the sophistication of city life but also by the bucolic countryside and pristine wilderness beyond. Thus, as a child she might spend one day admiring the fashionable denizens that paraded downtown, and another catching insects, discovering fossils, and gazing at the stars."  Natural, organic forms normally aren't my thing - they're usually a little too earthy/hippie for my taste - but Nishi combines them with a sophisticated, urban sensibility to make them incredibly chic and high-fashion.  (I also think it doesn't hurt that she studied art history as an undergrad. Ahem.) Nishi covers many different concepts so there really is something for everyone:  coral, feathers, fossils, spider webs, insect wings, leaves and branches are beautifully rendered in addition to honeycombs and fish scales.

Here's a peek at some of the honeycomb designs.  Stylistically they span a wide range from minimal, simple shapes to bold statement pieces.

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

This is the one that appeared on the Suqqu set box.

Ayaka Nishi

Just for fun, here's the Suqqu set featuring the fish scale motif and some examples of Nishi's fish scale designs. 

Suqqu holiday 2016 makeup kit - B

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

While the honeycomb is pretty and the fish scales have a little mermaid quality to them (irresistible to me, of course), I was more drawn to these bone/spine designs.  Understandably these probably wouldn't be the best selection for a makeup collaboration, since no doubt some would find them creepy, but they're my favorite out of all of Nishi's collections.  I'm not getting a macabre/goth vibe from them; to my eye, they're more straightforward and scientific, like an illustration you'd find in a biology textbook.  Again, they're pretty chic - bone jewelry can go a little Pebbles if it's not executed properly, but done right it can look really cool.

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

Plus, spines in particular represent strength to me. The term "spineless" is a synonym for weak, while "backbone" is used to convey a strong foundation or courage.  So I think they're also a little bad-ass.  :)  I'd proudly wear this spine cuff bracelet or choker.

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

On the more delicate side, I'm also kind of obsessed with these beautiful grain rings.

Ayaka Nishi
(images from ayakanishi.com)

Overall, I would have liked to see a design on the outer case of the palette rather than just the box and a more detailed pattern or jewelry replica on the makeup itself, but the minimal look of this set was nice enough to warrant a space in the Museum's collection.  Plus I love the work of this designer so it's good to have a makeup representation of her work on hand.  Because I am a collector I'm still wondering if I should try to get my hands on the fish scale set.  Oh, and today all jewelry at the website is 20% off so I'm seriously tempted to splurge on something.  ;)

What do you think?


MM Holiday 2016/Winter 2017 Exhibition

MM-poster-holiday-2016

As with last year's holiday exhibition I had difficulty trying to determine a cohesive theme.  There was a ton of great releases this holiday season but they were all over the place - the usual blingy gold was trotted out for a number of items, so I thought maybe I could go that route, but there were a number of artist collabs that and other things that didn't quite fit with that.  Plus I had included a fair amount of gold for the holiday 2013 exhibition, so I scrapped it.  I just wanted a unified way to work in every item I had purchased for the Museum's collection this season, but it was proving far too complicated for my feeble brain.  Then I came across this exhibition and figured if doing a simple "recent acquisitions" exhibition was good enough for an Ivy league school, it was good enough for the Makeup Museum.  I also did a very cursory google search and to my great relief, found that many museums usually have a "recent acquisitions" exhibition on display at any given time.  While it feels like I'm phoning it in rather than coming up with a truly creative theme, lots of museums engage in this practice so I'm trying not to feel too bad about it.  And if you look at the older exhibitions here, recent acquisitions (mixed in with a few other existing items from the collection) were basically all I did for the seasonal exhibitions, so in a way I'm returning to my humble roots.

Anyway, that's enough blather.  I hope you enjoy the exhibition!

Makeup Museum holiday exhibition 2016

Makeup Museum holiday 2016 exhibition

Makeup Museum holiday 2016 exhibition

Makeup Museum holiday exhibition 2016

Top row, left to right.

I was searching for vintage Christmas makeup ads and fell in love with the cases pictured in this ad.  Needless to say I'm working on tracking down every single one.  I have 3 so far and several more in the ad are available for sale, so hopefully eventually I will have them all.  *rubs hands gleefully in anticipation*  Since they're fairly common they're not that costly either - I think the most I paid for one was $15, and the most expensive one I've seen was about $45.  This is definitely a doable acquisition.

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick case ad, 1959

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick case ad, 1959

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick cases

Couldn't get the darn ad to stop curling up but didn't want to put even more holes in the wall to keep it flat, so curled it stays.

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick case ad, 1959

You've seen the LM Ladurée brush holder from the Museum's Black Friday smackdown, but here are the other items.  Isn't that leg-shaped gloss totally bizarre?  I do love it though precisely because it's weird and also because it's perfect for the holidays in that it resembles the famous leg lamp from A Christmas Story.  In actuality, LM Ladurée claims the legs are "modeled after the beautiful legs of Merveilleuses."  Mmmkay.

LM Ladurée holiday 2016

I felt so bad cramming all of the items onto one shelf but I really wanted them all together and felt like I couldn't NOT display all of them.

LM Ladurée holiday 2016

The Shu Uemura x Murakami items:

Shu Uemura x Murakami holiday 2016

Shu Uemura x Murakami holiday 2016

MM label

One of Suqqu's 2 holiday sets.  I really like the work of the jewelry designer they collaborated with.  :)

Ayaka Nishi for Suqqu, holiday 2016

Ayaka Nishi for Suqqu, holiday 2016

MM label

Second row, left to right.

There were so many holiday collections I didn't get a chance to cover before I posted the exhibition, one of which was the Dior Splendor collection.  I hope to get to this collection and other ones shortly...when I do I'll add the blog links.  :)

Dior holiday 2016

Dior holiday 2016

Marcel Wanders for Cosme Decorte:

Marcel Wanders for Cosme Decorte 2016

Marcel Wanders for Cosme Decorte 2016

MM label

Guerlain Météorites Perles de Légende...didn't write about this one either.  I also just realized I completely forgot to include a print out of the gorgeous promo image that accompanied the collection.  #exhibitiondesignfail  Well, maybe I'll update it after the holidays.

Guerlain Météorites Perles de Légende

Guerlain Météorites Perles de Légende

MM label

The amazing Clé de Peau collection in collaboration with Ashley Longshore...too bad I couldn't fit everything on one shelf!  I did consider doing 2 shelves to fit the whole collection but that would mean abandoning other items I wanted to include, so ultimately I made peace with not having the whole collection on display.

Clé de Peau holiday 2016

Clé de Peau holiday 2016

MM label

Third row, left to right.

NARS Sarah Moon:

NARS x Sarah Moon

MM label

Maquillage Snow Beauty compact:

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

MM label

Estée Lauder Wish Upon a Star compact:

Estée Lauder Wish Upon a Star compact

Estée Lauder Wish Upon a Star compact

MM label

YSL Sparkle Clash edition Touche Eclat and Lancome Petit Trésor eyeshadow...I REALLY wanted the Sparkle Clash lipstick but it sold out in minutes.  I had Sephora notify me when it was restocked and missed it a second time, that's how fast it went!

YSL Sparkle Clash edition Touche Eclat and Lancome Petit Trésor eyeshadow

Bottom row, left to right.

I love this 1942 Coty Sleigh Bells compact!  I came across it last year but held off purchasing it for some unknown reason, so I made sure to snatch it up this year.  This particular one was in great condition a - a little pricey but worth it.  Unfortunately I couldn't track down the original ad so this is a printout of an image I found online.

Coty Sleigh Bells compact, 1942

Coty Sleigh Bells compact, 1942

Ah, the precious Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto lipstick cases.  I believe this is the first time I put them on display.  I added the more recent Prisme Libre loose powder since I think it was designed in collaboration with the same artist who created the lipstick cases.

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto lipstick cases

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto lipstick cases

MM label

Kanebo Milano 2017 compact...so feminine and pretty as usual.

Kanebo Milano 2017

MM label

Finally, the divine Chanel Ombres Lamées:

Chanel Ombres Lamées

Chanel Ombres Lamées

MM labels

So that concludes the holiday 2016/winter 2017 exhibition.  Shine bright and be cozy!


Marcel Wanders for Cosme Decorte 2016

I was so pleased to see the latest product of the wonderful partnership between Cosme Decorte and Marcel Wanders.  I really hope it never ends!

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact

This year's theme is "the Wandering Grace," yet another variation on Wanders' previous fairy/nymph stories.  This one is a little more detailed than what we've seen before.  From the interior of the box:  "For many nights, a young muse dreamt of traveling beyond the bounds of her home. She sang a wistful song of farewell to the surrounding flowers and trees that had provided her comfort. The curious spirit crafted a strikingly beautiful purse to collect all the wondrous treasures she would find on her journey. Reaching the edge of the forest, her eyes grew wide with amazement at the open expanse. Into valleys and over hills, crossing rivers and along the shores of the sea, a song of joy from the muse swept through vast cities and unimaginable landscapes. As the grace wandered across the world, she discovered breathtaking nature, lively new cultures, and learned a great many things. Her dream had come true and her purse became filled to the brim.”

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact box

The compact is a lovely rendition of Wanders' signature fanciful patterns.  Instead of ceramic, metal or plastic, which we saw in previous years, the 2016 compact gets a fresh update with a faux-leather case adorned with embroidered scrolls and flowers.  (At least, I think it's faux leather - it might be real but I have no idea how the embroidery would get stitched onto real leather.)

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 compact powder

As usual I wanted to see whether the pattern on the outer case had anything to do with Wanders' work.  It's not a 100% match, but the flowers and botanical scrolls look very similar to his recent collection of furniture and toys for "child mobility brand" Cybex.

Cybex by Marcel Wanders Parents collection chair

Cybex by Marcel Wanders Parents collection

Cybex by Marcel Wanders Parents collection chair(images from marcelwanders.com)

I also noticed that the promo image for the Cosme Decorte compact feature Wanders' "Eden Queen" rug pattern, which debuted at the Salone de Mobile in April 2015.

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 promo

Marcel Wanders Cosme Decorte 2016 promo(images from cosmedecorte.com)

Marcel Wanders Eden Queen rug
(image from mooicarpets.com)

So that's interesting and all, but what does it have to do with the compact's design?  Well, another reason I suspect the patterns on the compact case are directly related to Wanders' Cybex collection, besides their obvious resemblance, is the fact that the Eden Queen rug was installed in the showroom for the collection.

Cybex by Marcel Wanders Parents collection

Cybex by Marcel Wanders Parents collection(images from mulpix.com and houseandleisure.co.za)

Purely speculation on my part, but this rug tie-in may be further proof that the design on the compact was modified slightly from those on the Cybex collection. 

In any case, I liked the 2016 compact more than last year's, but still not as much as 2013's bell design. ;)  What do you think?

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Curator's Corner, 12/18/2016

CC logoA very long overdue link roundup.

- In cosmetics history, these vintage lipstick and powder-making videos have been making the rounds. (I actually received an inquiry about the latter asking if I knew whether the machine was in any museums!)

- As a follow up to my post on "active beauty" it seems the trend isn't fading next year, as Tarte will be debuting an entire line of "athleisure" cosmetics.  Apparently this and other products from Supergoop and First Aid beauty will be part of "Sephora's initiative spotlighting athleisure merchandise for early 2017."  (Yes I know the WWD article is behind a paywall but I did manage to get that much information from the article intro via Feedly).  Also, Racked basically came to the same conclusion I did about athleisure makeup.

- Move over, 100 layers: the new trend is using just one thing to make up your whole face, be it glitter or food.  Speaking of which, check out this Nutella hair dye and chocolate manicure.  As for me, I was more impressed by these amazing art history nails.

- Korean beauty usually gets all the attention in terms of the most popular innovations to take over the Western world, but China has also carved out a notable place in the Western beauty stratosphere. 

- I thought we had seen the holiday lights beard trend before, but I was getting it mixed up with the beard ornaments fad of 2014.

- Don't know whether to laugh or cry at people's confusion of bath bombs with toilet cleaners.  On the one hand it's amusing, on the other hand, how dumb do you have to be?  But this is definitely funny since no one was hurt. 

The random:

- The more I read about hygge, the more I realize I've been trying to achieve it for years (especially with last year's holiday/winter exhibition.) 

- On the museum front, check out this list of the world's most bizarre museums (there were a few I didn't know about!), along with this Japanese museum of rocks that look like faces and the first burger museum in the U.S.

- Oh, shut up Jezebel.  Mermaid blankets are awesome.  Also, since we now have unicorn hot chocolate, how about mermaid hot chocolate?

- August can't come quickly enough!  Also, here's a sweet little piece on the family dynamics of Bob's Burgers.

How are you?  I'm still sick, meh.  But I'm determined to be healthy in time for Christmas!


Estée Lauder Holiday 2016 compact collection

Poor neglected Museum!  I don't really have any excuse for not posting anything in over a week other than the usual holiday craziness, a big work meeting and coming down with a cold a couple days ago, all of which made me too tired to even think about blogging.  But I'm determined to continue sharing holiday prettiness, so in keeping with that goal today I'm bringing you one of the compacts from Estée Lauder's holiday collection.  The Wish Upon a Star compact, along with 16 others, were created by jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann.

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Wish Upon a Star compact

Kosann started her career as a black and white portrait photographer.  Her love of early photography, as well as the trinkets displayed in 1900s photos, spurred her to start her own jewelry line.  In an interview with Estée Lauder, she explains, "I have always been influenced and inspired by the photographers of the early 1900s...they were the first photographers who weren’t just documenting, they were photographing to make beautiful pictures. All of a sudden people were looking at photography as art. And at the same time, the accessories of the women in these pictures were very timeless and personal. The powder compacts, cigarette cases, lockets. They were all pieces of art, and they were personal and special."  The collaboration with Estée Lauder was a natural fit, given Kosann's commitment to telling stories through jewelry, and in this case, compacts.  "I’m a storyteller, bottom line.  I always loved charm bracelets and pendants, everything that tells a woman’s story.  I had more fun doing the Estée Lauder collection than I can even begin to tell you. I had so much fun with the storytelling with these compacts that women covet. You’ve got collectors who adore this stuff, so I wanted to stay true to my brand. Everything has a meaning, everything tells a story. I wanted women to buy these pieces and be able, just like with my jewelry, to tell their stories." 

In terms of design, all 17 pieces in the Estée Lauder collection are true to Kosann's aesthetic.  I'm not going to present them all since it would be way too long, but I'll share a few examples.  Compare the Wish Upon a Star compact (there was also a pendant with the same star) to Kosann's lockets.

Monica Kosann locket

Monica Kosann locket
(images from monicarichkosann.com)

While I love the star compact, I was also intrigued by Kosann's animal designs, some of which appeared on the compacts.  Given that Estée has a long history of animal-themed compacts, the fact that Kosann has an entire category devoted to animals at her website also made her an excellent choice to collaborate with the brand.  If they weren't so pricey and if there weren't so many other amazing items this holiday season, I would have snatched up these seahorse and octopus compacts, because, you know, I'm really a mermaid and those are my companions.  I like that Kosann assigns her own meaning to each animal - elephants stand for luck, while fish symbolize perseverance. According to her website, "The seahorse, a mild-mannered creature, has become symbolic of patience. They are happy to roam the seas endlessly at a gentle speed, knowing they will achieve their goals."

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Graceful Seahorses compact
(image from neimanmarcus.com)

Monica Kosann seahorse charms
(images from monicarichkosann.com)

"The octopus is a magical creature in constant motion.  A symbol of intuition, it senses everything in its surroundings as it glides about the ocean."

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - Intuitive Octopus compact
(image from neimanmarcus.com)

Monica Kosann octopus pendants

Monica Kosann octopus cuff bracelet
(images from monicarichkosann.com)

The animal designs also allowed Kosann to show a more playful side of her work.  "This is an expression that I always used to say to [my daughters]—'you have to kiss a lot of frogs till you get your prince.' I made this frog sitting on a pillow, with a little crown, and it’s a lip gloss. I wanted it to be fun for women." There were 2 frog designs for the Estée collection and the one Kosann is referring to (with the pillow) is actually a solid perfume compact - I think she got confused with the charm bracelet, which contains a lip gloss. Either way, the inclusion of a lip product in a compact is a concept Kosann lobbied for.  "I pushed [Estée Lauder] to do lipstick...Traditionally they have always done powder and perfume, and I thought that if you can wear this and it has lipstick in it — how fun is that?”

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - frog solid perfume compact
(image from neimanmarcus.com)

Monica Kosann for Estée Lauder - frog charm bracelet
(image from esteelauder.com)

Overall, I liked this collection and thought Kosann was a great choice to collaborate with Estée.  While some of pieces were a little too traditional for my taste, most of them were fairly modern-looking, and naturally I loved the sea creatures. ;)  I also think I liked the star compact even more than the one I bought in 2014.

Thoughts?


Friday fun: This egg is not sunny side up

Back in the early fall I saw some beauty items with a very strange-looking character pop up on Instagram.  He looked kind of cute though and I was immediately intrigued.  I made a mental note to show the husband later because, well, I just had a gut feeling he'd like him too.  But later that very same morning the husband sent me an interview with the designer for this Japanese character and asked if I had heard of it.  It's proof of how well we know each other - we just had a feeling we'd both be smitten with this little egg, who has taken the world by storm since his introduction in 2013 by Sanrio (the company responsible for Hello Kitty).   Without further ado, please watch the very short video below for an introduction to Gudetama, a.k.a. the lazy egg!

I don't know if Gudetama is entirely lazy; there seems to be some depression, apathy, slight existential (eggsistential?) angst and general malaise mixed in with the laziness.  In other words, this egg is me.

Gudetama

Gudetama

Gudetama

Gudetama

Gudetama
Gudetama was the runner-up in a contest at Sanrio to devise a food-themed character.1  The designer who created him2, Eimi "Amy" Nagashima, had joined Sanrio just a year prior.  In an interview with AIGA (the very same interview the husband sent me that fateful morning), she tells the story of how Gudetama came into existence. "I was eating a raw egg on rice at home one morning and thought to myself that the egg was kind of cute, but entirely unmotivated and indifferent as well.  Eggs are phenomenal! The taste, lustre, nutritional value, and countless ways they can be prepared make eggs great, but for me, eggs that are relegated to the fate of being eaten also seemed despairing.  They seem entirely absent from any effort or energy, almost as if they were sick of the competitive world around them.  The personality I was imagining seemed to me to parallel people in modern society who despair amid economic hard times and who are talented but don’t feel like throwing themselves into anything...I try to reflect images of the people of modern society that I see in the news. I also draw on the so-called “Yutori” generation of people that have graduated from a good university but in economically challenging times, so feel hopeless and just cannot be bothered to make an effort...I never dreamed that Gudetama would become so loved and pervasive. When it debuted, I wondered if it might end up a flash in the pan."

Indeed, the winner of the in-house Sanrio contest, a slice of salmon named Kirimi-chan, is not nearly as popular as Gudetama in terms of social media following or the number of products he's appeared on:  Gudetama has made his way onto 1,700 items, including two very extensive collections with Korean beauty brand Holika Holika.  Before we dive into the massive amount of items I purchased from these collections, let's continue to egg-splore (sorry, can't help it) Gudetama's appeal.

Gudetama-sleepy

To Westerners, the idea of an anthropomorphic egg seems entirely bizarre, but in Japan, it's rather normal. Explains Manami Okazaki, a journalist who published a book on kawaii culture, “Japan has a long history of making food aesthetic, and merging food presentation and art...given that kawaii is one of the most prominent contemporary movements and resonates with most youth in Japan, it isn’t much of a surprise that food merged with kawaii design."  As for the sad personality, it's also not unexpected. Matt Alt, co-founder of pop culture translation company Alt-Japan says, "Many Japanese mascots will express emotions that Western mascots would not. In the West, mascots are used almost exclusively to cheer people up. In Japan, they’re often used to get a point across or act as mediators in situations where you wouldn’t want to express yourself directly...Mascots serve as blameless mediators and tension breakers of conflict in Japan. So a mascot that isn’t happy? That’s very familiar to the Japanese."  And while some argue that Gudetama represents the somewhat repressed nature of Japanese society, Alt disagrees:  "It’s true that Japanese society values considering the needs and thoughts of others. Especially in public. But that doesn’t mean Japanese people are incapable of articulating themselves.  I would say using mascots such as Gudetama is a more nuanced way of expressing oneself than simply verbalizing an emotion or typing it out. This is exactly the reason Japan is the country that invented emoji — those little blips and icons used to spice up a conversation by injecting an emotional quotient.  I don’t think you can look at Gudetama — or any mascot or emoji — and say they’re the product of an emotionally stunted civilization. They’re the product of a society that has found alternate and interesting methods to express itself."  Finally, while Gudetama's popularity in the West may seem odd at first, it's also not that big of a surprise, according to this article:  "Gudetama is also considered part of a new kawaii subculture called kimo-kawaii, or gross-cute, which is resonating more with underground youth culture than the sweetie-pie characters of yore...In the West, where weird for the sake of weird is a well-established marketing technique, kimo-kawaii characters are a natural fit. The U.S., especially, has a longstanding love of characters with bad attitudes..."  I also think Gudetama particularly resonates with depressed people, of which there are over 15 million in the U.S. (including yours truly).  For example, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to go home before I've even left the house.  My eyes almost popped out of my head with recognition when I saw this clip.  (Side note: I love the fact that he uses bacon as a blanket!!  Or mushrooms/tofu as pillows, unsuccessfully.)

Anyway, after watching nearly every Gudetama video I could find I picked out some (okay, too many) things from the Holika Holika collections.  The first collection, called Lazy & Easy, debuted in May, and the second was a holiday one called Lazy & Joy.  There was just so much variety - Gudetama appeared in so many different permutations that I simply couldn't narrow it down much.

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika Lazy Joy collection

I love the outer packaging...look at the bacon tape!!

Gudetama x Holika Holika

The inserts were also ridiculously adorable.

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika BB cushion cases

Gudetama x Holika Holika BB cushion cases

Gudetama x Holika Holika lip tints

Gudetama x Holika Holika skincare

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika Tiramisu eyeshadow

Gudetama x Holika Holika blush

Gudetama x Holika Holika nail stickers

Gudetama x Holika Holika nail stickers

I must admit that I have a bit of an obsession with Gudetama's butt (and I'm not the only one).  Seriously, how cute is that little tuchus? 

Gudetama x Holika Holika

This is not accidental, either.  Gudetama's creator says of the animations, "Mostly we want [them] to be something easily relatable, and also place importance on Gudetama’s jiggly bottom...I get really obsessed with making the lines for its bottom."

Gudetama

Ouch! You added too much spice!

Gudetama

My favorite Gudetama butt moment, LOL.

Gudetama-little-red-riding-hood

While I did get so much that Museum storage is overflowing, I'm still hunting for the dry shampoo...the hair just cracks me up!

So, a very simple summary: I love Gudetama and am very happy he appeared on beauty products.  The husband adores him too and so we added a Gudetama plushie to join our menagerie - he's settling in rather well, since our plushies are definitely on the lazy side. 

What do you think?  Had you heard of Gudetama prior to the Holika Holika collection?

 

1While I love Gudetama with all my heart, I am dismayed that Soygeisha, a block of tofu that wears makeup, wasn't closer to winning.
2Nagashima says that the character is "devoid of gender", but for an easier time with pronouns I'm referring to Gudetama as a "he", which is the usual way he's described.


A modern update to 1920s style: Clé de Peau holiday 2016

Clé de Peau's holiday collection was one of those "order without thinking" kind of purchases for the Museum - as soon as I saw the elegant, Art Deco-inspired ladies on the packaging I knew it would be an excellent asset to the Museum's holdings.  New Orleans artist Ashley Longshore was responsible for these lovely designs.  In general, Longshore took her cue from Clé de Peau Creative Director Lucia Pieroni, who wanted to capture the feel of the women painted by Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980). "When Clé de Peau Beauté approached me to create the packaging for the collection, I felt I had the opportunity to collaborate with both Lucia and Tamara. I think I brought a sense of modernity to the work that was truly my own yet noticeably inspired by the powerful, bold women who Tamara de Lempicka was known for painting," Longshore says.

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 collection

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 brush set

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 brush set detail

The brush set is gorgeous, but I wasn't able to find the original artwork it came from.  This was the most similar piece I could find at the Clé de Peau website.  All of Longshore's original pieces are for sale, and each one has a little blurb explaining the artist's inspiration behind them. 

"I really wanted this piece to symbolize pure confidence and elegance, that’s why I used a peacock. The peacock is the most beautiful of all birds: confident and radiant."

Ashley Longshore, Her Glow Was Like the Sun, 2016

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 palette

"I wanted this painting to be simplistic and elegant and capture that spirit of art deco. Her profile is so elegant and demure. Her jewelry is the perfect statement to her beauty. The soft periwinkle blues and the gold is so sophisticated and radiant."

A Glance of Perfection by Ashley Longshore, 2016

The lip glosses:

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 lip glosses

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 lip glosses

And the paintings.

"This woman symbolizes minimalist refined beauty - like that of a flower it doesn't have to try too hard. It blossoms and it is what is it is and we appreciate its beauty for what it is."

Ashley Longshore - Blossoming Possibilities, 2016

"Hummingbirds are very symbolic in my artwork because they move so quickly you have to enjoy every moment of their beauty and I created this panting to embody how we should appreciate every precious moment in our lives."

Ashley Longshore, She Had to Enjoy Each Precious Moment, 2016

There was also this stunning face cream, which I did not purchase as it went for a cool $535, not to mention the artwork was only featured on the outer box and not on the jar itself.

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 collection

But just for fun, here are the original paintings that appeared on the box.

"Ahhh! It took millions of years in the earth to create something that sparkles so much that we love so much I painted this because sometimes it takes time to find your inner beauty so for me this is how we appreciate our brilliance as women."

Ashley Longshore - Emerald, 2016

"As a woman the happiest of days is a day you feel confident, beautiful, elegant and are surrounded by jewels."

Ashley Longshore - Oh Happy Day, 2016

There were also these two paintings, but I don't think they appeared on any of the Clé de Peau packaging.

"This piece I really wanted to showcase elements of being a woman that are fun. Her jewelry, the illuminating gold leaf, the hummingbird representing the fleeting moments of our life, the jewels, the camellia. This piece was made to represent the height of femininity."

Ashley Longshore, She Was Surrounded by Beauty and Everything Was Perfect, 2016

"The camellia is not just a symbol of Clé de Peau but for me it symbolized the height of what our beauty can be and as women we all want to be the bloomed moment and stay in that moment so for me this is the forever moment."

Ashley Longshore - Camellia, 2016(images from cledepeaubeaute.com)

Naturally I was very curious to check out more of Longshore's work to see if the Clé de Peau pieces were in keeping with her aesthetic.  To my great surprise I found her other paintings far more brash and humorous than what we're seeing on the Clé de Peau collection.  Longshore classifies herself as a pop artist, and that comes across much clearer in her other work.  I think the Clé de Peau pieces (which were brand new commissions for the artist, so no recycling of previous work here) are most reminiscent of Longshore's Audrey series.  "Audrey represents the woman we all aspire to be...she is so elegant. So beautiful, so philanthropic, such a lady, that neck, that profile…I want that," she says“Eyes closed, Audrey, for me, radiates goodness. What a perfect template for the perfect woman. Her image is very comforting. She’s like my 'woobie.' The imagery is also about the many hats a woman wears. It’s amazing to be a woman in the United States today.”

Ashley Longshore, Audrey in the Moonlight with Peacock study

Ashley Longshore, Audrey and Peacock in the Moonlight

Ashley Longshore, Audrey With Art Nouveau Golden Peacock

Ashley Longshore - Audrey with Bedazzled Circle Dress and Damask

While the above examples bear a good resemblance to the women on the Clé de Peau packaging, the other Audreys are more along Longshore's trademark pop art lines.  The series takes a turn for the wacky with a range of bizarre additions perched atop the icon's head: art-themed snowglobes, sea creatures, even Star Wars storm troopers.

Ashley Longshore, Andy Warhol Marilyn Snow Globe Audrey

Ashley Longshore, Matisse Snow Globe Audrey

Ashley Longshore, Octopus Audrey

Ashley Longshore, Jellyfish Audrey

She can make anything look good!

Ashley Longshore, Audrey in Balenciaga Hat with Stormtroopers

Indeed, I found most of Longshore's paintings to be funny, modern takes on the Pop Art tradition.  I think Warhol would have greatly admired this version of David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps, "Bat Van", or Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring as Wonder Woman.

Ashley Longshore, Amaze Balls

Ashley Longshore, Bat van

Ashley Longshore, Girl with a Pearl Earring

I also love the rather irreverent, brazen attitude of these word-based paintings.  Speaking of words, another reason I became an instant fan of Longshore is her foul mouth, for which she is completely unapologetic.  If you check her Instagram (and you really should - not only do you get to see more of her work, she finds the weirdest, most hilarious online clips) I think nearly all of her photos have #fuckyeah as a hashtag, and she notes that "fuck is my fave word" right in her profile.

Ashley Longshore, No Whiskey No Weed No Wildness

Ashley Longshore, In Case You Are Wondering Where I Am

Ashley Longshore, Let Me Drink My Vodka In Peace

Literally LOL at this one.

Ashley Longshore, They Hated the Garden Club

While most of Longshore's work is fairly straightforward, I must say I was puzzled by a few of the other topics she takes on, namely trophy wives and status symbols.  While Longshore maintains that her paintings on these are good-natured fun and that she's not mocking those women or the general lifestyle of the 1% ("I love trophy wives, I mean, they’re the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen, they’re incredible. I often fantasize about what it would be like to be that, just a beautiful little flower that has to put your hand out for everything”) I feel her paintings tell a very different story. I had an entire section of this post trying to reconcile her words with her work, but ended up rambling for well over 1,000 words with no conclusion so I scrapped it.  Instead, I'll highlight the artist's business acumen, which ties into the Clé de Peau collection.

Ashley Longshore, Hustle: While You Worried If the Glass Was Half-Full or Empty I SOLD IT
(images from ashleylongshore.com)

Not only is Longshore is gifted artistically, she's quite a shrewd businesswoman.  In addition to lucrative collabs with other companies like Anthropologie, Longshore harnesses the power of social media and regularly connects with clients online, eschewing traditional gallery sales.  "As an artist twenty years ago, sending paper work to galleries, thinking that the gallery was the only way to make it, knowing that right off the cuff I would have to give up 50% and praying to god that some snob could really tell clients about me and tell them about me in a way that was really accurate, felt wrong at the beginning of my career...Just running numbers through my head, it only made sense to self-represent, and here we go with the internet. Next thing you know we have Facebook, there is Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and all of these tools are free. They are free and so for me being able to connect with my clients in a world that is so visual and putting myself out there in that way where if someone likes it they can follow, if they don’t they can unfollow and on another level being able to freely explore on the internet was a game changer.”  In an interview with Elle, she explains further, "With social media, artists are letting people into the process of creation, and people love that...Artists just want to be loved and understood. Galleries are the ones that have made it elitist. Who wants to walk into a gallery in Chelsea and have some emaciated girl scowling at you through her black, horn-rimmed glasses? I certainly don't. When people come in my studio, I give them a smile and a glass of Veuve." While I see her point about larger cosmopolitan galleries I know that smaller, local places are in fact welcoming, and I personally would never drop thousands on a piece of art that I hadn't seen in person.*  But overall I admire her effort to democratize art and make it more accessible.  Longshore also started a project called Artgasm, which allows collectors to get a handmade, signed piece by the artist in exchange for a $500 yearly membership fee - considerably more affordable than the thousands her paintings go for.  "Let's say you could pay $2,500 and be a part of Jeff Koons' private art membership, and four times a year, you get something from Jeff Koons delivered to you, and it's signed by him. Do you think that would be cool? That is basically what I am doing. It's basically a way for me to work with other brands and a way for my collectors to get my custom pieces that are only going to go up in value," she states.  Finally, as I mentioned earlier, Longshore's original pieces are for sale at the Clé de Peau website.  I think this is one of the first times, if not the very first, I've seen an artist's work for sale directly alongside the makeup.  That's a pretty savvy move on her part.  And oh, how I'd love to have those paintings to display with the collection! A makeup museum curator can dream. :)

Ashley Longshore
Just had to share of a picture of the artist - she is too fun not to!

What's next for the artist?  Besides a line of clutch purses and a book due out in February, on a grander scale, Longshore says she wants to help fellow artists.  "I would like to be one of the artists that empowers these artists, that eliminates the starving artists.  That I could help teach these artists how to utilise the magic and the gift that they’ve been given, to take images from their minds, put them on a canvas, or sculpture, and than to sell them, and have that money, and to use that money to travel, and learn, and to continue to put their their views and opinions out there.  My greatest achievement would be to help artists all over he world do that. I want there to be more rich artists.  I love that lawyers, doctors, and hedge funds and businessmen and all these people have all this wealth, but I can only imagine how beautiful the world would be if we had all these creative people that were just being showered with money because the universe loved what they were doing so much.  I want to help these artists figure out how to keep that money and repurpose it into being more creative. That would be my greatest legacy."  Ever the comedian, she adds, "I think I’ll be there when I have Thunder Pussy...[which is] gonna be my jet—my cherry-red jet—and it’s gonna have a cat with a lightning bolt on the back wing. And people will see Thunder Pussy, and they’ll go, ‘It’s her! She’s here!’ And then I’ll land, and I’ll be like the Oprah of the art world, and I’ll say, ‘Oh my little artist darlings!’ And I’ll teach them.”  Sounds great to me. 

Overall I thought this was a really well done collection.  Longshore is full of surprises - in looking at the Clé de Peau collection, I never would have guessed that the person responsible for such elegant designs is the same woman who put an octopus on Audrey Hepburn's head. ;)  While none of her usual humor and silliness showed through I think it's fitting that she opted for a more sophisticated vibe, which is what we expect from a brand like Clé de Peau.  You could still tell the art was unmistakeably Longshore's, and that's the cornerstone of a successful artist collab: modifying one's work to suit the brand while maintaining one's overall aesthetic.  As for Longshore herself, well, I'd love to hang out with her, given her larger-than-life personality and sense of humor.

Thoughts?

*Case in point: last year around this time the husband emailed me a picture of a painting he saw in a gallery and said he really wanted to buy it. I looked at it and was completely underwhelmed.  I didn't hate it but couldn't figure out why he thought it was so special.  So off to the gallery we went...and my mind was blown.  I couldn't believe how much better this piece was in person!  It almost didn't look like the same painting, it was THAT much better.  Sometimes art just doesn't translate to the digital realm - this is why physical galleries still have value in the Internet age.  I guess I'm biased too since we know someone who runs a gallery in town and I can tell you she's not deliberately trying to screw artists out of their money nor is she the least bit snooty!  Yes, the gallery gets a cut but they're certainly not out to bleed artists dry.

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Ghosts of Christmas makeup past: Armani Black Gem palette

Happy December!  It's that time of year where not only do I share current holiday goodies but also highlight some that came before.  I was digging through the Museum's archives and couldn't believe I hadn't posted about this beautiful palette Armani released for their 2007 holiday collection.

Armani Black Gem palette

A smooth, sleek black case is adorned with a delicate flower pattern offset by black crystals.  I found the design to be rather elegant and understated, similar to the lovely 2008 crystal palette.  (Why they went the the more blingy, "look at me" route in 2009 I'll never know, but I still think that collection's gorgeous too because, well, I love sparkly anything for the holidays.)

Armani Black Gem palette

The first tier contains 4 shadows for building a smoky eye.

Armani Black Gem palette

The second tier consists of face powder imprinted with the same floral pattern as the case.  *swoon*

Armani Black Gem palette

Armani Black Gem palette

Armani Black Gem palette

I touched briefly on the fall 2007 couture collection in my coverage of Armani's fall 2007 palette, but I wanted to expand on it here since I suspect the Black Gem palette was based on the fall 2007 couture collection.  Black crystals showed up everywhere.

Armani couture fall 2007

Armani couture fall 2007

Armani fall 2007 couture

The models were covered literally from head...

Armani fall 2007 couture

...to toe.

Armani couture fall 2007(images from vogue.com)

However, I must include this photo from the fall 2007 ready-to-wear collection.  I wasn't able to zoom in, but I swear the floral pattern is the same as the one on the Black Gem palette, and it looks especially similar because of the black-on-black detailing.  So maybe they combined elements from the ready-to-wear and couture collections in one palette?  I don't know.

Armani fall 2007 ready-to-wear
(image from vogue.com)

I do know that the Black Gem palette is gorgeous and I wish Armani would return to these sorts of designs.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that the more recent runway palettes are literal representations of the pieces from the fashion shows, but I appreciate crystals and embossed powders even more.  ;)  I mean, when I compare, say, the fall 2016 palette to Black Gem, both are Museum-worthy but the latter definitely has a more eye-catching design.

What do you think?  And do you remember the Black Gem palette at all?

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