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February 2018

Press play: Jeremy Scott for MAC

I was supposed to write a post rounding up all the delectable Chinese New Year goodies, but not all of the ones I ordered arrived.  I didn't want to write it without having everything in hand so instead, I thought I'd celebrate the packaging design mastery that is the MAC Jeremy Scott collection.  You might remember Scott's teddy bear-themed Moschino/Sephora collab from last year, but the MAC collection is under the designer's own name, and dare I say, even more amazing design-wise than the "beary" cute goodness served up by the Sephora collection.  This is especially true for those of us who grew up with mix tapes and CDs - as a child of the '80s and a teen/young adult in the '90s, the nostalgia is quite strong with this collection.

Scott wanted it to look like "something you'd buy at Best Buy" and that's exactly what it resembles.  Every last detail on each of the three pieces (CD, cassette tape and boom box) make them look like the real deal.  As a matter of fact, I left them sitting on the kitchen counter for a couple days before taking photos and every time I walked by they threw me for a loop.  I couldn't remember whether I was supposed to be making a mix tape or CD for someone, or thought maybe the husband is making one for me, as he did early on in our courtship.  It was sort of like being in a time warp.

MAC Jeremy Scott

The collection is obviously inspired by music and the fact that Scott remains one of the top designers for the world's leading pop stars.  It also reflects his perspective on the similarities between music and makeup .  He explains to British Vogue:  "Music plays a huge part in getting me into the mood, whether that be music from certain time period, or something aggressive or something that sounds ethereal – it envelops me and gets my mind in a certain frame for creating. Often when I’m designing clothes for my girls like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, either for a tour or for a red carpet event, I will play their songs and channel their spirit. Or when I miss them, I play their music and they’re with me, they’re chatting in their room. Music carries the essence of somebody. That’s why we fall in love so hard with musicians, they’re connecting with our hearts on such a visceral level...I’m fascinated by music and how you can change the mood of a whole room just by changing the song. Music fills the air and wraps itself around you. To me, that’s a similar quality to what make-up can do – both have such a transformative quality. You can wear a plain white T-shirt and scruffy jeans, but put on a bold lip and there’s a whole different feeling. Make-up can overpower the apparel. I wanted this collection imagery to show different inspiring moments in music, including a boom box, cassette players and CDs, and really play on the frivolity of a night out as well as make-up and music’s transformative power."

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC originally approached Scott two years ago for a collaboration, since they've been doing the makeup for his runway shows for years.  The reason it took so long for it to come to fruition was in fact the design aspect.  I can absolutely believe it would take years to create makeup packaging that 100% mimics the technology we used back in the day to listen to music.  Scott notes the importance of the packaging to him and his hopes that one would display it. "Any time you have special molds for compacts and cases, that takes a super long time. I wanted the compacts to be a living thing — maybe after you’ve used all of the makeup, you still want to keep it because it’s an object. I think it can be repurposed and sit on your shelf."

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

The coup de grace in the collection (and the most divisive among makeup enthusiasts, as we'll see shortly) is the boom box eye shadow palette containing 29 shades.  It's simply filled with breath-taking details, from the box to the outer case to the interior of the palette.  I'm wondering whether MAC did all of these in-house or worked with an outside design firm.  Either way, the collection is beyond creative and unique, and I hope whoever came up with the designs gets an award.

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

While many shared my favorable opinion of this collection, there was a handful of detractors who outright abhorred the eye shadow palette.   Some commenters claimed that the overall gigantic size of the palette made it clunky and inelegant, but it was the inside that seemed to make people the most hostile. Many took issue with the "waste of space" necessary to achieve the equalizer effect.  Here are a few rather harsh comments

  • "That wasted space is making me sick."
  • "All I can think about is the other eyeshadows that could of been in that palette..."
  • "What a complete over production of excess packaging. Poor Earth."
  • "It looks like they forgot to add the rest of the shadows in the palette. I mean I get the concept but it shouldn't be for makeup...don't these companies realize consumers don't care about that stuff we care about cost effectiveness and getting as much as you can for your money when you're purchasing these products."
  • "Why are we being sold half empty products? The packaging is a joke."
  • My OCD is kicking in full force."
  • "What incredibly wasteful packaging. Plastic destroys our environment people. At least HALF of the packaging on a couple of these products could have been done without. It’s a shame how complacent people are about environmental destruction... and all for what? Eyeshadow."

MAC Jeremy Scott

The collection also seemed to dredge up the age-old discussion of buying makeup just for the packaging.  I'm cringing from this Reddit post: "So the New eyeshadow palette is half empty because of the equalizer design/Sound waves. And I saw someone on IG saying that she bought it, was never going to use it, But just had to buy it because of the packaging. This palette costs 75$! I hear so many on youtube talking about packaging and how they are gonna buy something just because it looks cute/beautiful/whatever, and I don't understand how that can be enough of a reasoning. Makeup is (in my eyes) not decor But something to be used. So my question is, can anyone explain Why packaging is enough of a reason to buy something, What you do with the makeup that you don't use But is pretty or just give your overall thoughts on gimmicky packaging and limited edition “collectors items”? :) I'm sorry if I Sound super judgy, I just dont get Why you would buy something only for the packaging, name, brand or theme if you know you don't like the colours or wont/cant use it."

It seems my decade-long attempt to get people to understand that collecting makeup with interesting/beautiful packaging is just fine, and even worthwhile from a historical perspective, has gone unnoticed.  It's disheartening to say the least, as many respondents chimed in with how they appreciate nice packaging but would never buy makeup just for the packaging alone and not use it; apparently it's "mindlessly consumerist" and "dumb".  One of the positive things in that Reddit post is that the OP noted that she sees "so many" on YouTube purchasing makeup just because it's pretty, without any intent of using it.  So maybe more people are getting into the notion that appreciating makeup as an art object in and of itself is an acceptable pursuit.  Still, I'm tired of people being judgmental about collecting makeup.  (I'm also sick of these same people claiming not be judgmental by adding drivel such as "to each their own" or "whatever, it's not my money" to their disparaging comment, as if that makes their statement non-judgmental.  Please.  It's like someone texting "fuck you" with a smiley face emoji - doesn't make it any less obnoxious).  I mean, no one's forcing them to buy things just for the packaging, so what do they care if other people do?  There's no harm in companies making whimsical packaging or in people buying it.  I don't want to continue rehashing my stance on makeup collectibles and why they are museum-worthy, but you can read it here.  In the case of the Jeremy Scott collection and the issue of waste, it's annoying to see people complain about what they perceive to be excessive packaging.  I guess if you only look at makeup solely as a utilitarian item, you're narrow minded and have no imagination that's fine, but I don't think it's right to be holier-than-thou and pontificate about the environmental impact of certain items when they were designed to be collector's pieces.  I wonder whether these people complain as much about this for other objects or only makeup.  I'm also betting that the vast majority of people who bought the collection aren't necessarily going to throw the items in a landfill when they're done using them - as Scott suggested, they are more than likely to keep them as display pieces.  Finally, I think in the case of this particular palette, it's actually a decent value - at $75 for 29 colors, it comes out to about $2.60 per shadow.  (Alas, the quality was dismal, but that's not what I'm focusing on, obviously).

The other packaging-related thought I have rattling about in my head that is that the collection still has not sold out.  On the release date (February 8), I woke myself up around every half hour starting at midnight so that I could have a chance of nabbing the collection before it sold out, which I was sure it would do in seconds.  Instead, over 2 weeks later all three pieces are still widely available at various retailers.  I'm wondering whether it has something to do with the packaging - not because wasted space issue, but because it's not appealing to a younger crowd.  You would think the bright colors would be a natural draw for a youthful demographic, but CDs, tapes and boom boxes probably don't have the same nostalgic impact on, I'd say, anyone under 25, so the packaging might have missed the mark with a good portion of MAC's target audience.  I'm having this vision of a group of teens/early 20-somethings walking by the MAC counter and being genuinely confused as to what they're looking at ("What's THAT supposed to be?"), since they were raised in the digital age where music largely doesn't exist in these sorts of physical formats anymore.  Indeed, I'm not the only one who thinks this might be the reason behind the non-sellout status of the collection.  I also think one commenter's musing that the collection might have been more palatable to the youth if it had included a record-shaped compact is hilarious - maybe those teenage hipsters who listen to records would have bought it.

  • "Love it!! Only people who grew up with this stuff will get it."
  • "i need this!!! as an 80s 90s lover i must have this"
  • "i was born 79..i'm so happy all you guys don't want it..that means it will be around for 2 weeks. i thought it would sell out..but i forgot a lot of these people are so young the probably never had a real boom box. Maybe if the palette was a record the kids would be more interested in it."
  • "Such beautiful collectors items. Millennials born in the 80's can appreciate this I think. The new generation Z peeps... Not so much."
  • "The packaging is everything and calling me. #90sgirl"

Final thoughts:  it might be the nostalgia talking, but obviously I think the collection was worth every penny due to the incredible packaging.  The design is also a perfect reflection of Jeremy Scott since it's just as fun and over-the-top as he is.  Even without his name on every piece you could most likely tell it was his collection.  While I'm dismayed at how some people criticized the packaging of the eye shadow palette with no legitimate reason, I'm heartened by my fellow xennials who recognized and appreciated just how faithfully every detail of the music technology we grew up with was replicated.  The only thing I would have done differently is add a Walkman palette to the mix - I was positively glued to mine in the '90s and still miss it to this day.

What do you think? 


My bloody Valentine: J. Goldcrown for Sephora

J. Goldcrown at workWhen I first spotted this collection at Sephora I thought it was another collaboration with Curtis Kulig.  Surprise, there's actually another street artist who has made grungy, graffiti-style hearts and love the main themes of his work.  UK-born J. (James) Goldcrown spends his time shuttling between New York and L.A. making colorful, heart-filled murals to liven up city streets and spread a message of hope and positivity.  I'm not sure how the partnership with Sephora came about, but I do know that the business-savvy Goldcrown is no stranger to these sorts of deals (more on that later.)

The collection included several makeup bags, a brush set and a quadruplet of heart-shaped makeup sponges.  I picked up the last two since I thought they were the best representation of his work.

 

J. Goldcrown for Sephora

I love how the sponges are meant to resemble chocolates, both in the heart designs on the box and the paper liners to hold each one.

J. Goldcrown for Sephora

The rainbow of overlapping hearts that Goldcrown is so famous for were a sort of happy accident. "‘Bleeding hearts’ kind of started as a mistake. I was aware I was doing it, but at the same time, I wasn’t doing it for anyone. I was actually testing the pressure of spray cans because I mixed spray paint with my multimedia and fashion photography work. To get the right pressure from the cans, I sprayed hearts on this door in my studio. Eventually, the door was full of hearts. When a client came in to pick up a piece I made for him, he ended up buying the door as well—he loved the hearts. Soon after I went to Art Basel and showed a wide spectrum of my projects. Two of them were bleeding hearts and they sold immediately. It ended up being a sell-out show, but I realized that what the people were ordering were the bleeding hearts." 

J. Goldcrown for Sephora

J. Goldcrown for Sephora

J. Goldcrown for Sephora

Born in West London and entirely self-taught, Goldcrown started out as a fashion photographer.  After taking a brief break from fashion to make an award-winning documentary on the AIDS/HIV epidemic in Africa, he founded a communal New York studio in 2014.  In November of that year a local eatery approached Goldcrown for a mural.  Ambivalent at first, he eventually took the plunge: "[Lasso] asked me if I’d like to do a mural, but they were booked until February, and that was in like November,  so I had time, and then I was -had no idea what to do, I’d never done a mural in my life, I’d never done anything in the streets apart as a kid – I’d never done anything legally or being asked to do it and paid for it! One of my friends was like 'why don’t you just do the hearts?'  but I thought it was too obvious — again – being told what to do. I was like “NO” and as it came I was like, 'Shit yeah, I should really do the hearts, it’s valentines there’s a lot of logic behind it.'  And then I did it without any kind of understanding where I was and the power of – and people just genuinely come here to photograph street art and then I think four days later I was in a paper and it was just like people just using it as a backdrop and it just went viral." 

J Goldcrown - Lasso

J Goldcrown - Lasso

Indeed, Goldcrown's success is due not only to the quality of his work but also being in the right place at the right time.  After Lucky magazine founder Eva Chen posted a photo of her posing in front of the wall, Goldcrown gained roughly 4,000 Instagram followers.  And #lovewall has over 1 billion tags on the platform.  As more fashion bloggers started to expand their social media presence to Instagram, "wall-scouting" has become a veritable art form in and of itself over the past several years; Goldcrown's work hit just as fashionistas were searching for the latest and greatest backdrops as a tactic to boost their IG numbers. “It’s really just some hearts layered up, in bright colours. I can see the appeal to a fashionable eye – the colours are bound to match something. But it’s also fun. People like that, to liven up their social media presence. Maybe people are looking for more in their Instagrams,” Goldcrown muses.  In addition to his painting style, I'd wager that his experience in the fashion industry gives him a natural eye for what will photograph well, an ability that definitely helps skyrocket one to Instagram fame.  It's also this background that allows him to carefully select the collaborations he feels are in line with his professional goals.  "I want to kind of stay the level of the people I’m working with, the brands like Rag and Bone and Toms, because it’s very important like I’ve done a lot of work as well cause I feel it’s not the right fit for me."  I can see those two companies, but Maybelline doesn't seem like a "right fit".  However, the draw for Goldcrown was that he would be creating the packaging for their number 1 best-selling item worldwide, Baby Lips lip balm.  I don't think I'd pass up that opportunity either.  And I guess after having completed one successful cosmetic collaboration, teaming up with Sephora seemed a natural next step.

J. Goldcrown for Maybelline

J. Goldcrown for Maybelline

I think it's worth pointing out that for Goldcrown, it's less about selling products and more about contributing to the brand by creating actual art that can be enjoyed by people passing by the business, no purchase necessary.  With the exception of Sephora and Maybelline collections, I find the products bearing his work to be generally downplayed.  For example, while Goldcrown did create a line of shoes for Toms, the emphasis was more on the art he made for the storefronts. 

J. Goldcrown - Toms store in Soho

Or this wall for Space NK in Nolita.  As far as I know there weren't any products to be sold at Space NK with his work, just good old fashioned art.

J Goldcrown - Space NK

I also had the pleasure of seeing one of Goldcrown's pieces firsthand when I was in NYC a few weeks ago to see this exhibition.  We regularly stay at the NoMo Soho and I was positively tickled to see these panels in the dining area.  I managed to snap a few pictures before we left.

J Goldcrown - NoMo Soho

J Goldcrown - NoMo Soho

Of course, because I'm a moron, I failed to look up and witness the ceiling portion...I only discovered it at Goldcrown's website a few days ago.

J Goldcrown - NoMo Soho

One of my favorite anecdotes is how he turned down the opportunity to partner with Apple. Just a few years prior, while selling his art outside of an Apple store, he was told by an employee to move across the street.  Who knew that years later they'd be knocking at his door?  While Apple would seem like a plum job (see what I did there), Goldcrown maintains that such a seemingly big opportunity actually would have eliminated future possibilities and diluted his brand.  Like Murakami, the artist understands the importance of turning one's art into a marketable label.  "I just think when you work with brands that big, you lose your identity and I’ve learn from that as well that it’s really important do work for brands that my name has to be included, not like an artist thing like reason and everything, it’s more because that’s the brand identity and it’s like important, it’s like if you have a t-shirt and it doesn’t have a label that says where it’s from, it’s like they lose their identity and no one knows where to get it." 

However, if you still think Goldcrown is only doin' it for the 'gram, lately his work has taken on a more political stance.  In November 2016 the artist completed several window murals of the Henri Bendel department store in NYC, directly across from the Trump Tower.  (There was a line of purses as well, but I barely even read about those.  Again, the focus seems to be on Goldcrown's art rather than the product).

J Goldcrown - Henri Bendel

In an interview held shortly after the presidential election, Goldcrown explained how the "Love Wall" is moving beyond serving merely as a pretty Instagram backdrop and is helping to spread a positive message of tolerance and unity, notions that lie in stark contrast to the hatred and vitriol emblematic of the Trump era.  It's also a literal opposition to the idea of Trump's proposed wall along the Mexican border.  "Going forward, I definitely would like to use the wall to make more of a politically-charged message. I feel a huge responsibility for the message this [artwork] puts out into the world. With the current political forecast, it’s more important than ever to make a statement with my artwork. Love Wall started off as a sort of an Instagram backdrop for beautiful photos. However, now it definitely has taken on a powerful political message...I think that having my artwork across from Trump Tower is some sort of parallel universe meant to be thing. I hope seeing the contrast here on Fifth Avenue gives people hope and faith...the past few days [after the election], it’s been crazy the things that have been coming out of the woodwork. Even kids in middle school chanting 'build a wall,' and saying racial slurs to their peers. It angers me that this country has now taken several steps back with this presidential-elect. He allows people to amplify their racist voices. I hope the Love Wall helps people take a stand against that hatred."  Lately Goldcrown has expanded his oeuvre to include text mingled with the hearts to emphasize the message.

J Goldcrown

J. Goldcrown(images from jgoldcrown.com and instagram)

I greatly admire the style and positivity of Goldcrown's work.  Hearts are not a new motif, and using them to spread any sort of "inspirational" message would normally make me gag.  But rendered in an edgier graffiti style in vibrant colors removes the saccharine factor and makes them much more palatable.  Plus, the urban setting and grand scale make all the difference.  I don't think the bleeding heart pattern has the same impact when reduced in size to accommodate shoes or makeup or bags, but when it appears on a gritty wall in the middle of a bustling city it feels overwhelmingly comforting and peaceful.  It's a reminder that while the world can be a terrible place at times, there's still beauty and love.  And it's just nice to be going about your daily business and be confronted with something positive - I'd rather see a bunch of hearts than graffiti telling me to fuck off (even though initially it would probably make me laugh).1  Finally, hearts are a universally understood symbol that has the capacity to unify people.  As Goldcrown says, "Love Wall has become a universal language. Just like soccer is played across the world and everyone knows the same rules, you don’t need to talk to each other about what hearts represent. They speak for themselves. I truly believe that seeing these walls all over the world brings peace to people’s minds." Along those lines, I wish Goldcrown would lend his talents to Baltimore.  I'm not going to pretend a mural would magically solve the out-of-control murder rate and homeless epidemic, but the city could really use some good vibes in the form of public art.

As for the Sephora collection, I definitely would have preferred to see actual makeup instead of just accessories with Goldcrown's art.  Could you imagine a highlighter or eye shadow palette with all those different colored hearts?!  Additionally, I do think his work is more powerful on a larger scale given the heart motif and underlying message.  Reproducing street art on makeup products can be tricky; sometimes it translates nicely, sometimes, not so much.  Having said all that, even though I think more could have been done with this collection, I always appreciate an artist being brought to my attention via beauty products and having a little piece of their work in makeup form.  

What do you think?  Do you heart Goldcrown's work?  ;)

1.  It reminds me a little bit of John Lennon's reaction to Yoko Ono's Yes Painting:  "It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says 'yes'. So it was positive. I felt relieved. It's a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn't say 'no' or 'fuck you' or something, it said 'yes'."

2.  The poor guy would probably get mugged while painting, but hey, it's worth a shot, right?

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Spring 2018 sneak peek: Paul & Joe

As you know, I'm not a fan of cold, dark days so I'm definitely over the 2018 winter season.  With that in mind I thought I'd look forward to some springtime cheerfulness courtesy of Paul & Joe.  While the theme of "April in Paris" is a bit generic and repetitive (see their 2005 spring collection), I do like that they returned to including some text about the collection.

"When the cherry blossoms burst into bloom
along with horse chestnut flowers on the Champs-Elysees
and the leaves are bedewed with springtime rain,
All the colors of the city become more intense and alive with the sparkle of spring.
It’s Paris in April, bursting with color and light.
Listen to your favorite song and enjoy a walk out into town
Paris in springtime is the most beautiful place in the world!"

Paul & Joe spring 2018

I can't say these eye shadows would be very practical - you might get 1 or 2 uses out of them - but the record-shaped packaging is simply adorable.  (And right on trend, as music-inspired makeup seems to be having a moment.)

Paul & Joe spring 2018

Paul & Joe spring 2018

The cat print on the left is borrowed from the Paul & Joe Sister spring 2018 collection, while the other two prints in this set are from the '70s-inspired resort 2018 collection.  I must say I like these two prints better on makeup packaging than clothing.

Paul & Joe spring 2018

Paul & Joe Sister spring 2018

Paul & Joe resort 2018

Paul & Joe resort 2018

The only print I couldn't identify out of the six was this one on the left.  But the style looks quite similar to one of the pop-up palettes from the spring 2016 collection. The other two in this set are from the Sister spring 2018 collection.  You would think disembodied cat heads would be a little creepy, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Paul & Joe founder/designer and cat lady extraordinaire Sophie Mechaly. That woman really knows her way around a cat pattern!

Paul & Joe spring 2018

Paul & Joe Sister spring 2018

Paul & Joe Sister spring 2018
(images from vogue, paulandjoe.us, and nordstrom)

What's interesting about April in Paris is that it doesn't borrow any prints from the regular Paul & Joe spring 2018 collection, just the resort and Sister lines.  Perhaps they were trying to go with a more playful vibe.  In any case, I didn't think this was anything earth-shattering, but solid and Museum-worthy nevertheless. 

Thoughts?  Did you get anything from this collection?

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Quick blog note

Somee-cardHello, if you're still out there!  Not that anyone is waiting with bated breath to see where I've been, but I figured I'd give a brief update.  My absence was, unfortunately, not the planned blogging break I intended to have, but what I'm suspecting was the flu.  And if it wasn't, it was easily the worst cold I've ever had.  I'm starting to feel better after a week of praying for death, so hopefully I'll be back to blogging in a few days.  Thanks for staying with me. :)  (And get your damn flu shot!)