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December 2017

Level up: Super Mario x Shu Uemura

As video games are not my forte, this will be a short post.  I did however want to briefly share what I got from the Super Mario collection from Shu Uemura.  I couldn't find much information as to why they decided to collaborate and why this year - Super Mario debuted in 1985 so it's not a major anniversary of the game.  Of course, I was unable to access the full article in WWD because my local library STILL doesn't have that particular issue available, but I was able to cobble together a few WWD quotes from Shu's artistic director regarding the collection.  Kakuyasu Uchiide told the publication, "This collection is not so much about creating, but it is about playing. I want people to be able to play with their individual style.  I really want to show what is our spirit, our DNA, our creativity. That's the only way to realize what Mr. Uemura wanted to do, which was to strive to link art with cosmetics, to link art with beauty...This time we got inspiration from culture.  Super Mario Bros. is one cultural aspect that is representative of Japan. It’s also really, really popular overseas."  I have a feeling the full article might be able to shed more light as to how the collaboration with Nintendo came about, but as the company has teamed up with many other brands and designers (and also licensed a children's shampoo - Shu's collection is not the first one to have Super Mario themed haircare) I guess it's not that unexpected that they partnered with a Japanese makeup brand.

Some of the items weren't sold in the U.S. and the palette was completely sold out, so I had to go to my trusty personal shopper in Japan to get my grubby paws on them.

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

The packaging design is taken from the game's original 1985 look.

Super Mario original(image from forum.flymeos.com)

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

The basic premise of the game:  "Super Mario Bros. takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom. The game begins when a tribe of a turtle-like race known as the Koopa Troopas invade the kingdom and uses the magic of its king, Bowser, to turn its inhabitants into inanimate objects such as bricks. Bowser and his army also kidnap Princess Toadstool, the daughter of the Mushroom King and the only one with the ability to reverse Bowser's spell. After hearing the news, Mario sets out to save the princess and free the kingdom from Bowser.  After traveling through various parts of the kingdom and fighting Bowser's forces along the way, Mario finally reaches Bowser's final stronghold, where he is able to defeat him and send him falling into a pool of lava, allowing the princess to be freed and the Mushroom Kingdom saved."  The princess was always known as Princess Peach in Japan, but was changed to Princess Toadstool in the English version.

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

The flying turtles (Koopa Paratroopas) and little mushrooms (Goombas) are the most commonly appearing enemies of Mario.  He can, however, usually defeat them by tossing a fire flower their way, the motif that decorates the cushion blush compact.

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

I always appreciate a pattern on the interior of boxes - such a nice little detail.

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

This was the only disappointment packaging-wise for me.  Unlike other Shu cleansing oils, the pattern isn't printed directly on the bottle, only on the plastic wrapping.  The reason I know this (and was able to avoid mistakenly taking off the outer wrapping) was because I purchased the smaller Mario cleansing oil to actually use, as I thought it would look cute in my bathroom.  I went to peel off the wrap and realized the print was on there and that the bottle itself was plain.  I have no idea why Shu decided to did that, as the patterns are printed directly onto the bottle with all my other limited edition oils. 

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

The palette was the standout of the collection, which sold out in a flash in the U.S.  It's easy to see why - it has most of the main characters from the game complete with gold foil details, and the blushes on the inside are embossed with more motifs from the game.

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

Shu Uemura x Super Mario

Here's just a short history of Super Mario Bros.  In the early '80s Nintendo was struggling to keep afloat in the American market.  The CEO ended up tapping a graphic designer who had never designed a game in his life, Shigeru Miyamoto, to come up with a compelling story and accompanying game.  Loosely based on Popeye characters, Donkey Kong debuted in 1981 and introduced "Jumpman", who would become Mario two years later.  Nintendo knew their audience wouldn't really respond to Jumpman - a proper name was needed.  Mario ended up being the chosen moniker, named after a landlord who, during a meeting, stormed in and demanded the overdue rent for the warehouse Nintendo was occupying at the time.  While Mario Bros. was relatively popular, it wasn't until 1985 when Super Mario Bros. debuted that the game really took off.

Some other fun facts about Super Mario, courtesy of The Guardian:

  • Mario was originally a carpenter, not a plumber.
  • The Super Mario bros series is in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful gaming franchise of all time. As of 2010, it boasted global sales of over 240 million units.
  • The character Mario has appeared in over 200 separate video games.
  • It’s also the first game in which Mario cannot die by falling.

What do you think of this collection?  Do you like video games?  While I played Super Mario a few times as a kid, I probably would have been more into video games if I wasn't so uncoordinated. :P

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Taking flight: Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction

Japanese illustrator Hiroshi Tanabe is back in the makeup packaging game!  You might remember the lovely flower fairies he created for RMK's 15th anniversary palettes back in 2012.  Five years later Tanabe has returned to team up with Addiction, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands for their stunning artist collaborations

For Addiction's winter 2017 collection, entitled Vanilla Break, Tanabe came up with two designs:  a close-up of a woman in profile swathed in her feathery wings, and another winged woman clad in a nightgown atop a winged tiger.  I love how the minimal black and white color scheme are the reverse of one another.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

I'm obsessed with the rendering of the feathers...so crisp yet delicate.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Because I'm both lazy and in a rush (what else is new?), here is a brief artist bio courtesy of British Vogue (a full one is available at the artist's website):  "Born in Kanagawa, Japan, Hiroshi Tanabe graduated from Tama Art College with a degree in Graphic Design. In 1990 he went to study at the Accademia Di Brella in Milan and focused on fine art and sculpture. He began focusing on illustration while studying in Italy. His first project was a T-shirt design for a night-club in Milan. Hiroshi's unique and vibrant illustrations mirror the graphic line work of traditional Japanese woodcuts. His illustrations have evolved into more refined and layered drawings throughout his career. Though constantly changing, his works marry old-world beauty and modernity in a way that is thoroughly fresh."   Tanabe has done a countless number of ad campaigns for the biggest names in fashion as well as a slew of top publications, including Anna Sui, Pucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Harper's Bazaar, and The New Yorker.

I was curious to see whether Tanabe had previously done anything similar to the Addiction designs, and it turns out his illustrations of feathers and women shown riding a variety of fanciful creatures don't represent a new direction for the artist.  Take, for example, the designs he created for a collaboration with Stussy in 2012 and Gap Red in 2009.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Stussy, 2012

Hiroshi Tanabe for Stussy, 2012

Hiroshi Tanabe for the Gap, 2013

Hiroshi Tanabe for Gap Red, 2009
(image from thefashionisto.com)

I thought I'd take a quick peek to see what Tanabe has been up to since the RMK collab.  Feast your eyes on these beautiful editorial illustrations for Saint Laurent and W Magazine.

Hiroshi Tanabe - YSL illustration, spring 2016

Hiroshi Tanabe - YSL illustration, 2016

This star-studded illustration combines a dress by Anthony Vaccarello, Roger Vivier shoes and bag, and starry makeup by Giamba, all taken from the fall 2015 runways. 

Hiroshi Tanabe, fall 2015

Just for fun I thought I'd include the actual items for this one, since you could say I was starstruck. (I know you love my bad word play).

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2015
(image from vogue.com)

Roger Vivier fall 2015
(images from lyst.com)

Makeup at Giamba, fall 2015
(image from thegloss.com)

But my favorite work by Tanabe in the past 5 years are his illustrations for Shiseido.  These are a fairly different style for him, in my opinion.  I'm seeing more Art Deco lines reminiscent of Shiseido's early advertising rather than the woodcut-esque, fine-line work we normally see from him.  In fact, the more I look at them the more I'm convinced they're a modern spin on Shiseido's ads from the 1920s and '30s

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2014

Aren't the colors to die for?  So vibrant but not garish or harsh - just the right amount of saturation to be pleasing to the eye rather than overwhelming it.  And you would think of a combination of hot pink, lime green and dashes of bold red, as shown in the ad below, would clash, but Tanabe's careful design keeps them in harmonious balance.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, spring 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, spring 2017

Here are a few to get you into the holiday spirit.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2016

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido

Okay, these are actually from 2011...but who cares?!  They're gorgeous.  And a little '80s.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2011

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2011
(images from instagram)

As for the Addiction collab, once again I have no idea how it came about or how the particular images were chosen.  I'm assuming the company approached Tanabe and they went from there, but I'd still like to know why they selected these designs for the palettes.  Given Tanabe's background in fashion and makeup advertising, I was a little surprised they didn't choose something more along the lines of the illustrations he did for, say, Clinique.  I mean, I can't say I see the connection between makeup and a winged woman riding a tiger.  Then again, it's a pretty cool image nevertheless, and the art that appears on makeup packaging doesn't have to be beauty-related in the slightest.  And that's part of the fun of artist collabs!  Initially I was also kind of hoping for something a lot more colorful along the lines of the Shiseido ads, but Addiction isn't really known for bold color.  All the collections I've seen, even the spring 2017 collection which contained many colorful pastels, feature more muted shades.  Vanilla Break in particular is about a "subtle beige-hued monotone", according to the website.  So I think it's appropriate that Tanabe kept it simple color-wise.  Plus, you wouldn't want to do the same illustration style for two different makeup brands - for the Shiseido ads, Tanabe is paying homage to the company's own early advertising.  It's so distinctly Shiseido that it simply wouldn't work for a different brand.

All in all, I was pleased with this collab.  And maybe I'll get up the courage to ask Tanabe himself what his inspiration was for the images on this collection as well as the upcoming spring 2018 Addiction collection.  ;)

What do you think?  If you're really smitten, there are two books of Tanabe's work for you to drool over.  :)