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September 2017

Wrapped up in books: Olympia Le-Tan for Lancome, revisited

Lancôme has teamed up with a number of fashion designers in the past and this fall they're giving one of their previous partners another collaboration.  You might remember French designer Olympia Le-Tan's beautiful, but largely unaffordable, lipstick book set from 2013.  Perhaps Lancôme realized that the $1,500 price tag wasn't attainable for most and decided to grant us peons a chance to get our impoverished mitts on another Lancôme collection designed by Le-Tan.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad Lancôme revisited Le-Tan as a collaborator and offered a more affordable collection that still represents Le-Tan's signature quirky, literature-inspired style.  

If you're not familiar with Le-Tan, in a nutshell she is a London-born and Paris-bred designer - and daughter of renowned illustrator Pierre Le-Tan - who came up with the genius idea to recreate vintage book covers in clutch form.  While this may not initially sound like a novel idea, what makes these minaudieres so special is their rendering in embroidery.  Surrounded by her father's classic book collection and having learned embroidery during her teenage years from her grandmother, Le-Tan combined these inspirations to make one-of-a-kind pieces.  Rather than bland reproductions of random book covers slapped on a bag, these are pain-staking, handmade creations that reflect Le-Tan's personal relationships with books and art.  In other words, I get the sense they're not chosen at random, but are carefully selected based on the meaning they hold for the designer.   The embroidery itself is notable for the fresh, modern treatment provided by Le-Tan.  Not to sound ageist, but when I think of embroidery I typically associate it with old lady frumpiness.  Le-Tan thoroughly updates the embroidery craft to give it a more youthful and fashionable spin.  The Curator hopes someday to own one of these clutches for herself, but in lieu of that, right now I can have these beauties from Lancôme.  Before we dive into the collection, let's take a quick peek at what Le-Tan's been up to since last time.

Her latest collection for fall 2017 is an ode to Hitchcock.

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2017

Some other highlights include a take on crazy 60s psychedelia design for spring 2017, a return to classic book covers for pre-fall 2016, the elementary school-inspired spring 2015 collection, and a delightful maritime theme for spring 2014.  I know of some sailors who would love it. ;)

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2017

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2017

Olympia Le-Tan, pre-fall 2016

I'm in love with this beaded upgrade to the squiggly pattern of traditional composition books.  Something that I normally saw as fairly ugly and mundane is elevated to a beautiful objet d'art.

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2014

My favorite since we last looked at Le-Tan's work though is the "Framed" collection from fall 2016, which consists of art history classics translated into gorgeous embroidered bags.  Yes please!

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2016

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2016(images from olympialetan.com)

Now that you've seen some of Le-Tan's newer work, let's get to the Lancôme yumminess.  The collection consisted of nail polishes, the brand's relatively new Matte Shaker liquid lipsticks, a palette, cushion compact and several of the classic L'Absolu Rouge lipsticks in the shape of...wait for it...a pair of lips!  So meta.  And so cute! 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

I love that the palette came in its own dust jacket, just like a fancy first edition of a beloved book.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

The embroidery is pretty spectacular.  I know it's obviously not hand-made like the actual bags, but it's very nicely stitched.  I'm not sure whether my photo conveys that it looks much more expensive than it is.  Le-Tan notes she's proud of "how beautifully the make-up palette is made," adding, "I didn't think we’d manage to create such a pretty piece made of embroidered fabric...in all the collaborations I’ve done so far, this is the first time we’ve managed to produce an embroidery. It really does look just like one of my minaudières."

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

As she did with the previous Lancôme collection, Le-Tan dove into the company's archives (so wish I could!) to get inspiration for the various motifs on the packaging.  While the floating lips are consistent with the former collection, this time around Le-Tan was also quite smitten with the brand's cherubs, which represent the makeup branch of Lancôme.  She explains: "There are always interesting things in the archives of any Maison. And since the Lancôme brand has such a long history, I couldn’t resist delving into it. The idea behind my brand is – among other things – to reinterpret the design styles of the past and add my own personal touch. I like to build on something rather than start from nothing. That gives me more layers of storytelling to work with. In this case, there was this little cherub that I wanted to reinterpret – by making it more feminine, for a start."  From there she designed, appropriately enough, a bookish, girly angel blissfully lost in a tome about Lancôme.   The scrolls are a great touch, since they also figured prominently in Lancôme's early advertising.  I've included some examples below for your viewing pleasure...or, I guess, mostly for me since you know I can't get enough vintage makeup ads. :)  Meanwhile, the rose is a nod to Lancôme's official symbol for their perfumes.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme 

Lancôme ad, 1945

Lancôme ad, 1948

Lancôme ad, 1947

Lancôme ad, 1947
(image from hprints.com)

As for the colors in the palette, the selection came easily to Le-Tan: "Usually when I choose a theme, I straightaway start thinking about what colours would fit with that and it doesn’t take me long to put together a palette. In fact when I worked with Gilles Dufour, I was the one in charge of colours. I have zillions of coloured sheets of felt in my office. I cut bits off the all the ones that make me think of the theme. Then I put them together, I see which combinations work and which don’t... For this collection I did the same thing, I brought together bits of felt in colours I liked and wanted to see translated into make-up."  

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

So let's take a look at the lipsticks.  I picked up Rouge Profund 1988, but in hindsight should have also gotten the other shade that was available in the U.S., Olympia 1980.  The others were Rouge de Rose 1955 and Anemone 1959, which didn't seem to make it statesideApparently they were all updated and named after the original shades, but the Olympia one still has me scratching my head.  I had assumed the years following the names were the years they were released, but Le-Tan says that Olympia 1980 was named after the original Olympia shade that debuted in 1949, so I'm not sure where the 1980 part of the name fits.  In any case, all of them are shades of red, which makes sense given the designer's love of red lipstick (which was also apparent in the previous collection). 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

The lip shape is fairly surreal and once again echoes the surreal touch Le-Tan brought to the 2013 Lancôme design.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Finally, there was a cushion compact, which also wasn't available in the States.  Fortunately it's mostly the same design as the palette, so I don't feel the need to track it down. 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme(image from lancome.ca)

Here's the original sketch...Le-Tan clearly inherited her father's talent.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme - sketch
(image from instagram.com)

All in all, I think this is a great collection that perfectly combines Le-Tan's unique, whimsical style with Lancôme's vision.   Her slightly offbeat take on certain motifs used throughout the brand's history is truly original and refreshing.  Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed Lancôme's many variations on rose-embossed powders, but this is something totally new and different from those.  So this collection gets an A from me.

What do you think?  


Curator's Corner, 9/24/2017

CC logoAh, the first Curator's Corner of fall 2017. 

- Racked had an interesting piece on the GWP, although I think they leave out the most obvious reason it still endures: people just love free stuff, even if they're not going to use it.

- Adored this interview with "Mother".  (insert heart-eye emoji here)

- Trending: Bratz doll inspired makeup, flare highlighting, negative space brows and glass skin.  And for a little dose of creepiness (Halloween is coming, after all) check out this, um, hairy manicure

- If that wasn't enough you can take a gander at the world's longest finger nails and longest eyelashes. Thankfully they do not belong to the same person.

- Nothing will ever replace mermaids in terms of my favorite fictional creature-inspired makeup, but I did get a chuckle from Jezebel's competition and eventual winner. 

The random:

- Speaking of mermaids, an octopus "city" was just discovered.  I bet mermaids hang out there a lot...and also take naps with jellyfish.

- On the art front, a museum devoted to street art is opening in Berlin, and YSL is getting not one but two museums.

- Move over #PSL, there's a new fall latte in town.  (I can't wait to try it!)

What's been catching your eye lately?

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MM Mailbag, Twitter edition

I much prefer email for inquiries but am always excited to receive them in any format, so when someone Tweeted at me last year to request any information on the vintage item below I eagerly began searching.  The person who sent the Tweet thought it might be Rimmel, but the name Po-Go was not a Rimmel product as far as I could tell.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

Online searched proved fruitless - I couldn't find any reference to Po-Go rouge whatsoever...until a few months ago when I was researching lipstick tissues at newspapers.com and spotted an ad for Po-Go Rouge in the very bottom corner of an article.  I was so excited to have found something even though it was roughly a year since the poor person had originally Tweeted at me.  I found some basic information, but let me just say up front that definitively dating the various Po-Go Rouge pots I came across in ads and elsewhere proved rather difficult, if not impossible.  Still, I was able to get some clues and can narrow them down to the span of a few years.  Come with me on my research adventure!

I forget what I typed in to Google, but miraculously I came across another specimen at the Museu del Perfum.  Fortunately this item has the back label displayed.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge
(image from museudelperfum.net)

So from there I typed in all sorts of phrases, but the one that got the results I was looking for was "vintage Guy T. Gibson, inc. New York".  Via several perfume blogs I discovered that Guy T. Gibson was established in 1921 by a perfume importer, J.S. Wiedhopf.  The Vintage Perfume Vault explains:  "As a young man, Wiedhopf worked for the Alfred H. Smith Company, who were the only stateside importers of Djerkiss perfume. After he learned the business and perhaps sensing there were more lucrative opportunities, Wiedhopf struck out on his own. In 1921 he started his own business, Guy T Gibson Inc. There he began to import the exclusive Parisian brand Parfums Caron, which he sold to American customers in his New York retail shop. Soon Wiedhopf began offering perfumes under his own label, although the scents were actually being manufactured and bottled by Gamilla in France."  Wiedhopf's perfume brand was known as Ciro, and rarely came up when advertising Po-Go Rouge.  Why Wiedhopf chose a totally different name for the company and why he decided to sell imported rouge along with perfumes I don't know, but as of April 1922 he had set up shop at 565 Fifth Avenue, as shown on the Po-Go label above and this office space ad below.

Straus building ad, April 1922

The earliest mention of the product that I found was October 1923.

Oct. 1923-first-mention-pittsburgh

Here are some from 1924. 

Po-Go Rouge ads, 1924

This one is notable for being one of two ads I could find that actually mentions that Po-Go and Parfums Ciro are both imported by Guy T. Gibson, Inc.

Parfums Ciro ad, 1924

The shade name listed on the one from the perfume museum is Vif, the first mention of which I found was in 1927.  However, what leaves me scratching my head is that the packaging also seems to be different starting in 1927.  The full Paris address is listed on the perfume museum's item, which is consistent with the labels we saw in the 1924 ads, but there was no mention of the Vif shade until 1927...and you'll notice the label below has changed to simply "Paris, France".  So how did a container that is presumably dated 1924-25 hold a shade that wasn't introduced until 1927?

Po-Go Rouge, 1927

Anyway, the earliest mention of two more new shades (Saumon and Cardinal) was in February 1930.  I just had to include an ad from June 1930 as well even though the text is the same.  How cute is that girl with her little paint palette?!  I'm always looking for ads and packaging that take the "makeup as art" literally, since I think it would make a great exhibition and/or book. ;)

Po-Go Rouge ads, 1930

By March 1932 Po-Go had expanded to include lipstick. I don't know what a "Frenchy" case is but it sounds very fancy.

Po-Go Rouge ads, 1932

I suppose the reason Wiedhopf branched out into blush and lipstick in addition to perfumes was to capitalize on the already entrenched obsession with French beauty, judging from the ads.  (That would make a fantastic paper or even a whole book, no?  While I was browsing these old newspapers I stumbled across a great news article from February 1923 that talks all about how the fashionable Parisian women are wearing their blush and lipstick and how Americans are so uncouth by comparison...proof that our obsession with "French girl beauty" goes back way longer than we would assume!)

Po-Go Rouge ad, February 1933

Po-Go Rouge ad, May 1934
Now you know I was on the hunt for a Po-Go Rouge of my very own.  I've been having excellent beauty luck lately (knock wood it sticks around) and this was just another incredibly fortuitous find.  It's in pretty darn good shape too - a little wear on the outside but the product itself is totally intact and the puff is unused. 

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

Speaking of the puff...OMG.  So. Cute.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

You can see how tiny it is - our blush nowadays are supersized in comparison.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

For this lovely addition to the Museum's collection, I was actually able to date it within a few years.  First, you'll notice that the shade name on the back is Saumon, which, as we saw previously, wasn't introduced until 1930.  Additionally, the early Po-Go packages (ca. 1923-25) had the shade listed on the side. 

Po-Go Rouge ad, 1925

Next, the label on the front has done away with the "Paris, France" and replaced it with "Parfums Ciro, Distributor, New York", while the one on the back also lists Parfums Ciro instead of Guy T. Gibson, which was what the Museu del Perfum rouge label listed.  The Vintage Perfume Vault notes that Wiedhopf officially changed his company's name from Guy T. Gibson to Parfums Ciro in 1936.  This would explain an ad from the same year which notes that Po-Go Rouge is from Ciro.

Po-Go Rouge ad, March 1936

Finally, while Parfums Ciro lasted until the mid-60s, the last mention of Po-Go Rouge I could find in newspapers was from September 1942.  So basically, the Po-Go Rouge I have must date between 1936 and 1942 or thereabouts.  I will say that the puff in the one I have looks markedly different than the one in the 1936 ad, but consistent with the one that was Tweeted and in other previous ads, so I'm not really sure what that means.  In any case, after all this I was dismayed that I couldn't give an exact date for the Po-Go Rouge that was brought to my attention via Twitter, since the biggest clues are the sides and back of the container and the top is too blurry to read.  The text does seem too long to be "Paris, France", so my best guess that it's either very early (with the original Paris address), or after 1936 with the Parfums Ciro label like the one I have, since the text for both of those extend further on each side.  Another clue is the indentation on the front, which is consistent with the one from Museu del Perfum - this may mean it's on the earlier side since the later one I have doesn't have a pronounced indentation.  The color is also a little strange, as both mine and the one from Museu del Perfum are reddish, while the one that was shared with me online is pink.  I'm not sure whether the color has faded significantly or if the container was damaged, but perhaps it was yet another hallmark of a very early version of Po-Go.  This 1929 ads highlights "the gay red box", so it wasn't pink at that point, and the ad copy also implies that there was one colored box for all shades, i.e. different shades weren't packaged in different colored boxes.  (Still love this Parisian artiste!)

Po-Go Rouge ad, 1929

So that's really the best I can do without seeing the back label or making out the print on the lid.  Alas.  While I didn't get exact answers for the request, at least I had a ton of fun poking around newspaper archives and comparing packaging, two of my favorite things!  I did reply excitedly to the the submitter on Twitter and it doesn't seem she's online very much now, but hopefully she'll see this post eventually if she goes back on social media. 

Do you agree with my assessment? 


Fall 2017 color trend

I've been having much trouble with clearly identifying color trends the past few years.  Previously there was always one shade that I kept seeing over and over again each season, but now the focus seems to be more stylistic rather than color-related, i.e., different styles of a makeup item such as eyeliner.  Having said that, I did notice there was a good amount of plum floating about in the beauty world.  As with previous color trends, this year's version presents a new twist on an old favorite.  It's not the usual vibrant purple plum, but rather a slightly warm, smoky, dusky hue - sort of a mix between mauve and burgundy with a tiny hint of taupe.  It's a bit more subdued than a true plum, which in my opinion elevates it to an incredibly chic and sophisticated update on the beloved fall hue.  It's also notable in its use on eyes and/or cheeks when a vampy plum lip usually reigns supreme this time of year.

Fall 2017 color trend

  1.  Maybelline Burgundy Bar palette
  2. RMK FFFuture Cheeks in Rose Stone
  3. Dior fall 2017 ad
  4. NARS blush in Blissful
  5. Mary Kay Eye Color Palette in Rosé Nudes
  6. Pola Muselle Rare Touch Eye Mousse
  7. La Perla fall 2017 runway makeup
  8. Rituel de Fille Ash and Ember Eye Soot in Exuviae
  9. Colured Raine Berry Cute palette
  10. Clinique Sweet As Honey palette

I have to admit I was little intimidated by this shade at first.  I'm no stranger to plum, but I tend to wear it mostly on lips and nails.  If I do go the eyeshadow route I stick to cooler hues since anything too warm/red will make me look bruised, and plain mauve and taupe by themselves generally wash me out.  I was surprised to see that the slight earthy undertones make it very wearable.

What do you think?  Will you be trying this out this shade for fall?  Oh, almost forgot to mention - if you need a highlighter to go with your sultry plum eyeshadow and blush, check out Becca Smoky Quartz, as it complements it perfectly.  :)

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Da Bears: Moschino for Sephora

It was quite the quest to get this collection into my grabby paws, but with the help of my phone's alarm and my lovely mother-in-law, I was able to nab this highly coveted collaboration between Moschino and Sephora. 

Moschino x Sephora

As soon as I laid eyes on it in July I knew I had to have it for the Museum, especially considering that one of the Museum's interns is a sweet little cubby who would be very happy to see it.

Moschino x Sephora

Moschino x Sephora

I don't think I'm getting these back from him.

Moschino x Sephora

Moschino x Sephora lip gloss set

Not only did my MIL go out of her way to get to Sephora (and early - she got there at 9:10 and there were already 2 people waiting!), she picked up the shopping bag palette for me in addition to the eye shadow palette.  And also refused to accept reimbursement for either item.  I'm a very lucky girl, yes?

Moschino x Sephora shopping bag palette

Moschino x Sephora shopping bag palette

And here we are!  The star of the collection, the most coveted and hard to get.  My MIL reported that the store only got 6 in stock.  The two women ahead of her got theirs (1 each, thankfully), my MIL got one for me, and then she said the guy behind her bought the last 3, the jerk.

Moschino x Sephora eye shadow palette

Moschino x Sephora eye shadow palette

Babo Bear insisted on doing a little more modeling.

Moschino x Sephora eye mask

Let's explore a little bit of the fashion behind the teddy bear and shopping bag motifs.  Franco Moschino (1950-1994) began his irreverent line in 1983, poking fun at the world of couture despite (or perhaps because of?) being totally immersed in it.  I'm ill-equipped to fully explain his style since I am not a fashion historian, but I found some good articles here, here and here if you're so inclined.  I was flabbergasted to learn that both the bears and bags seen on the runways the past few seasons were inspired by Moschino's original designs - I had mistakenly believed that both were new concepts dreamed up by the ever-wacky Jeremy Scott, Moschino's current creative director.  Little did I know that Moschino had a sense of humor about high fashion long before it was, well, fashionable.  Scott is doing an excellent job of carrying that torch by putting his own spin on Moschino's original aesthetic and adding some new motifs (I adore this "capsule" collection, controversial though it was), but the teddy bears and shopping bags are not actually his brainchild.  This was the famous dress and hat from Moschino's 1988 fall collection that put the bear motif on the fashion map.

Moschino teddy bear dress, 1988

Moschino teddy bear dress, 1988
(images from pinterest and betrendymyfriend.com)

The shopping bag dress had debuted a year prior.

Moschino 1987(image from pinterest)

Under Rossella Jardini, Moschino's director from the designer's untimely death in 1994 until 2013, both of these iconic pieces were resurrected for the house's 30th anniversary.

Moschino spring 2014(images from vogue.com)

Scott took over in October 2013, and wasted no time building on the teddy bear empire by releasing the Toy fragrance roughly a year after his appointment.  This was not unexpected, seeing as how before his post at Moschino, Scott had designed these teddy bear sneakers for Adidas in 2011.

Jeremy Scott Adidas sneakers
(image from sneakernews.com) 

I love the Surrealist-esque "This is not a Moschino toy" on the bear's shirt, since it's one of my favorite art movements, but also because Franco Moschino was also inspired by both Surrealism and Dada so it fits perfectly with his original vision.  I'm less crazy about the fact that you have to remove the bear's head to apply the perfume, however.  (See last year's Halloween post for similar creepy items). 

Moschino Toy perfume(images from vogue.co.uk)

Scott also continuously works in new iterations of teddy bear fashion.  I'm truly impressed by how he's able to reinvent one of Moschino's stand-out pieces while remaining true to the original designer's vision as well as his own - the iconography is similar but has been modernized to reflect contemporary culture, taking on a slightly different meaning now.  This article explains it better than I can:  "For Scott, the teddy bear motif has been a career theme of symbolic materialistic significance similar to how Jean Charles de Castelbajac famously used it, but in the context of the American designer's new era at Moschino, the teddy bear's connotations are something else.  When fangirl mania was at its height circa early-mid 90s and teen idols like Take That were climbing a never-ending fame ladder, their hordes of fans would bring teddy bears to concerts and outside hotels, throwing them at the bad as tokens of their support. With the teddy bear as their mascot, this generation of ultimate fangirls displayed the innocent, childlike obsession that lies at the root of fandom in pop culture, and portrayed the spirit of materialism and unapologetic commercial opportunism it generates. Franco Moschino created his house in a time when the foundation of this kind of excessive 90s fandom was being built - courtesy mainly of Michael Jackson and Madonna - and while his work dealt more with the consumerism of the time, brand idolisation was a huge part of Moschino's genetics."

Moschino fall 2015

Moschino fall 2016

Moschino spring 2017

Ditto for the shopping bag, incidentally.

Moschino resort 2016(images from vogue.com)

Getting back to the Sephora collection, obviously the packaging is a natural extension of the Toy fragrance.  I think Franco Moschino would be pleased not only by Scott's fashion but by the Sephora collection as well.  The packaging is slightly absurd and therefore lends a tiny bit of Dada flavor (especially so with the brush set), and I personally think the shiny gold finish is poking gentle fun at our cultural obsession with status symbols and "bling".   And since the collection was in collaboration with a higher-end makeup store, there's the trademark Moschino mix of humor and quality.  As for Scott, I think he had fun with the collection as well, noting that he "loves the power of makeup and the way it can transform your mood."  He also points out that a makeup line from a couture house allows accessibility for those who can't afford the fashion, which I'm always in favor of.   "I learned very early on how much young people love my work, and sometimes they don’t have the means to get it. This is another way for me to do Moschino and not sacrifice quality. It’s a lot more accessible. I love to be able to put my arms around more people and have them be a part of the Moschino family in some capacity."  However, the irony of this was how difficult the collection was to procure, and many people didn't get theirs.  It's a long story and I don't want to tell it, but I will say that the collection's release and sale was an example of how NOT to sell a highly anticipated collection with so little stock.  I think Sephora really screwed the pooch and I feel bad for those who couldn't get their hands on it, especially when you have unscrupulous ebayers selling the goods for over twice retail.  How's that for affordable?  I wish Sephora would do what MAC did when Selena sold out immediately:  make more for another run, and also release it worldwide (as far as I know the Moschino collection was only available in the U.S. and Canada).  It would be silly not to from a profit perspective - obviously lots of folks really wanted this collection so Sephora could stand to make even more money if they re-released it.

What do you think of the Sephora collection and Moschino?  After reading more about the history of Moschino and Scott's current creations I'm pretty enamored of the line and wouldn't mind owning a few pieces. It's kitschy, offbeat, clever but also well-made.


Curator's Corner, 9/10/2017

CC logoSome long overdue links. 

- Racked had an interesting history of makeup during the Cold War, while this fearless woman painstakingly recreated lip colors based on historical recipes completely by hand.  Neat!

- I'm loving this beautiful eyelash art.  Totally impractical but so pretty to look at. 

- Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Rihanna's new line dropped yesterday to rave reviews and applause for its commitment to diversity - the collection was clearly developed to meet the needs of non-white women, as evidenced by its 40 (!) shades of foundation.  And let's hear it for Cover FX, who just launched their "Nude Is Not Beige" campaign, along with Mented's new glosses.  While these are great leaps forward for an industry that has always left women of color by the wayside, L'Oreal still managed to move backwards...but Rihanna may save the day again

- Speaking of L'Oreal, the founder has quite a sordid history that I wasn't aware of until now. 

- Sorry, Feministing, but I'm with Jezebel regarding this author who claims that makeup is a waste of time.

- Now onto lighter fare!  Brow "trends", if you can even call them that, have really gotten out of control: from foil and braided brows to squiggle brows (which managed to migrate down the face to becoming squiggle lips), people are inventing ever weirder ways to adorn their brows.  Fortunately makeup artist Huda Kattan is here to poke gentle fun at them.

- Other crazes include inner eye strobing and butterfly eyes, both of which I think are quite pretty.  Less so is taco eye makeup, but it's fun nevertheless.  Also, the glitter fad is still going strong. I must say I think people really need to stop putting it into every orifice.  What's next, glitter armpits?  Oh wait...

- I still don't really understand the ASMR concept, which is why these lipstick destruction videos are the exact opposite of soothing to me.

- I'm down for PSL-scented beauty products, but I draw the line at deodorant.  *shudder*

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, we have plenty to celebrate, including the 20th anniversary of Ally McBeal as well as Netflix, along with Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping".  Going back even earlier, Def Comedy Jam will be revived for its 25th anniversary, and Right Said Fred's 1992 hit "I'm Too Sexy" somehow ended up mixed into a new Taylor Swift song.

- Not all the nostalgia is pop culture-related: check out this well-preserved house featuring some quintessential '90s interior design.

- Possibly the only thing that makes me feel older than '90s milestones is aughts milestones.  Can you believe the hashtag turned 10?  (It's taken me about that long to stop referring to it as a pound sign.) 

- This new poster museum sounds pretty cool.  And I wish I could see this exhibition of exquisite Chinese boxes, some of which were used to hold cosmetics.

How are you?  Are you ready for fall?  I miss summer, but I did enjoy my first PSL yesterday.  :)

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Meltdown: Ice cream inspired beauty

The last unofficial day of summer (a.k.a. Labor Day in the U.S.) is always hard for someone like me who dreads the dark, cold days of winter ahead.  To help alleviate some of that end-of-summer sadness I thought I'd round up some delicious ice cream-inspired beauty products. 

I'm not sure whether it was the influence of the new Museum of Ice Cream or this photography exhibition devoted to the sweet treat, but ice cream seemed to be having a moment this summer.  This in turn trickled over into the beauty world:  not only were there a plethora of ice cream themed beauty products and ads, some intrepid artists decked out their faces in sweet, melty ice cream makeup. Obviously this isn't "natural" makeup, but you have to admit these looks are pretty creative.

Ice cream inspired beauty

  1. Cake Beauty popsicle sponges
  2. Channing Carlisle (@makeupbychanningjudith)
  3. @dupeblack
  4. Pai Pai ad
  5. Etude House Dear Darling Water gel tints (I ordered these literally a month ago from yesstyle.com specifically for this post and they still haven't arrived!  Grrr!)
  6. @beetotheo

There were a few other fairly new ice cream inspired things that were just too cute not to buy for the Museum. 

Trifle Cosmetics Praline Palette

Winky Lux lip gloss and Bath and Body Works hand cream

And so the newer items wouldn't get lonely, I scooped up (sorry, couldn't resist) the Stila ice cream collection from their 20th anniversary, along with some vintage Avon lip glosses.

I didn't think much of these at the time they were released, but in hindsight I've realized they're worth having in the Museum.

Stila ice cream trios

Stila ice cream blushes

Stila sweet shoppe lip glaze trio

These Avon lip glosses date back to the early 70s, I believe.

Avon ice cream lip glosses

Avon ice cream lip glosses

I better get going and put this stuff away before Museum staff discovers it...if you've been following me on Instagram you know they got into my LUSH shower jellies thinking they were jams.  They'd definitely mistake these for the real deal!

 


Book review: Cosmetics and Perfumes in the Roman World

Cosmetics and Perfumes in the Roman World

I don't know how this tome managed to slip under my beauty book radar.  I wasn't aware that this little gem existed until the author followed me on Twitter.  Much has been written about the modern beauty age (20th-21st centuries), but there are not many in-depth resources available on beauty practices prior to that.  Fortunately, Dr. Susan Stewart, an independent scholar and librarian at Scotland's Broxburn Academy, is here to help fill in the gaps.  Drawing on literary texts, visual arts and material objects as primary source material, Cosmetics and Perfumes in the Roman World presents a thorough history of makeup and fragrance usage during the Roman Empire (roughly 1-300 A.D.) 

The introduction also serves as Chapter 1, which is an overview of the author's sources, geographic areas and time period that are covered - basic but necessary.  Chapter 2 is probably my favorite, since it summarizes the ingredients used in cosmetics as well as the beauty ideals of the time.  Empresses and mythical goddesses set the beauty standards that most women aspired to.  Unsurprisingly, the key beauty goals for women were identical to today's - clear skin, large eyes and silky hair.  And lest you think our obsession with a youthful appearance is a fairly new scourge, this chapter highlights several recipes for wrinkle creams and hair dyes. Even some ingredients haven't changed much; mascara and brow filler were made from soot, which is almost identical to what we think of as the first modern mascara concoction.  Stewart also notes that most of the recipes and techniques date back even further, as the Romans borrowed them from the ancient Egyptians.

Chapter 3 tackles the health and hygiene aspects of Roman beauty products.  While I prefer reading about actual face paint, this chapter is important since it provides the foundation (see what I did there?) for understanding modern cosmetics.  Since its infancy the beauty industry has linked good health with attractiveness:  glowing skin, bright eyes, a pleasant scent and white, even teeth are all still considered markers of beauty.  If one was beautiful and smelled nice they must be healthy and vice versa.  "One's appearance in general is improved by good health and reflects good health; making health a constituent of beauty and beauty in turn a constituent of health" (p.51).  One of the most interesting pieces of proof of this belief among the Romans were the images of Venus commonly displayed at bath houses.

Whereas the previous chapters laid out the what and the how, the next two chapters examines the who and the why, i.e. the differences in use of beauty and hygiene products based on gender, race and class power structures, along with society's perception of women who used cosmetics.  Needless to say, by and large women were heavily critiqued for wearing makeup for the same reasons we see today.  "A woman displayed her inferiority by feeling compelled to improve upon her appearance, her weakness by being tempted by luxury (in the form of expensive beauty products), her obsession with sex by trying to make herself attractive to men other than her husband, her deviousness by disguising her true appearance with makeup and finally, her idleness by having too much time to spend on personal grooming" (p.65).  Once again women who wear makeup are vain and shallow, and women generally were expected to look perfect but not use any beauty aids.  Same old story, right?  Sadly, it wasn't really any better for men; Stewart notes that men who were overly prettified by society's standards were seen as effeminate and unfit to perform traditional men's work. Despite all of these negative perceptions, literally hundreds of makeup/perfume containers and application utensils have been recovered from Roman ruins over the years, which serves as hard evidence that most people engaged in beautification and grooming practices.  However, while these items were widely used, class played a significant role in the types of products and their application.  As was the case in the early 20th century, a more "natural" look achieved with higher quality ingredients was a mark of the middle and upper classes, while heavy makeup and scent made from cheap, readily available sources were associated with prostitutes (obviously, since the latter couldn't afford more expensive beauty products.)

The last chapter explores the notion of luxury as it relates to cosmetics and perfumes during the Roman empire.  As noted previously, given their widespread use among different economic classes, most beauty products weren't luxury items. Male philosophers (especially those damn Stoics) believed makeup and fragrance to be highly unnecessary and therefore luxury goods, but physical evidence suggests this wasn't a widely held view.  While empresses and other high-class women used only the "good stuff" made from extremely pricey ingredients, there were many options available at all price points.  And this range isn't reflected only in the ingredients but in the containers as well; everything from silver, bronze and clear, colorless glass (high-end) to blue-green glass (the most inexpensive type of container) was used to store beauty products. 

All in all, this is a well-researched and fascinating read, and most importantly, it's accessible for the masses.  Despite all of the classic literature and art history references, Stewart makes it easy for non-academics to understand.  The information is presented in a straightforward yet compelling manner, i.e. there was no boring, bland spouting of one fact after another but rather a narrative that flowed from describing the basics (makeup ingredients, utensils, etc.) to more complex ideas (the cultural and political climate that influenced why and how they were used.)  Also, even though I shouldn't be, I'm amazed (and a bit sad) by how little things have changed; beauty standards are still more or less the same as they were 2,000 years ago, despite current efforts to diversify them.  My only critique is that I would have liked to have seen more photos rather than illustrations.  The drawings were able to communicate the ideas and objects well enough, but they lacked the visual impact photos would bring.  I'm assuming museums wanted exorbitant fees to use their photos so the author had no choice but to use illustrations.  

Will you be picking this one up?  Oh, I almost forgot - Stewart has a new publication on cosmetics history coming out in December, which obviously is already at the top of my Christmas list.  ;)  Keep your eyes peeled!