Exhibitions and museums

Fall 2017 exhibition followup

Hopefully you're not forest-ed out since I have many more woodsy things I'd like to share as a follow up to the fall exhibition. This was a very rich theme and I had so much fun exploring it.  Here are a few more things that were running through my head while planning the exhibition. 

I.  Inspiration

Between Jennifer Lawrence's amazing flower-filled updo at the Mother! premiere to my long-standing infatuation with The Blair Witch Project (I watch it every fall and it still scares the hell out of me!), there was plenty of pop culture inspiration.  But since I follow so many blogs, I also came across photos, paintings and other art that helped shape my vision for the exhibition.  In addition to the fabulous illustrations by Alexandra Dvornikova and the beautiful forest paintings of Tyrus Wong, here are a few more I had rattling around in my brain.

I so wish I had any photography skills, because these images by Dave Pluimer and Kilian Schönberger blew me away.  I found both of these photographers via Abduzeedo, an excellent design and art blog.

Part of the Autumn Splendor series by Dave Pluimer

Kilian Schonberger

I loved this little leaf lady created by Nele Maas for the #FacetheFoliage project.

Nele Maas - Face the Foliage project

These posters by Andy Kehoe could not be more aptly titled: "Forest Sentinel".  I love the idea of the animals literally overseeing the forest and guarding it...and possibly protecting any humans that wander in. 

Andy Kehoe, Forest Sentinel

Finally, I can't believe these oil paintings by Janek Sedlar - I thought they were photos!  Hauntingly pretty.

Janek sedlar

II.  Other Items

There were tons of vintage and contemporary items I debated putting into the exhibition, but decided not to include due to their lack of seasonal appropriateness, or they weren't actually available for sale.  Still, I wanted to show some of the other things I was mulling over. 

Leaves 

You might remember the Museums' fall 2015 smackdown featuring some very pretty leafy makeup items.  Even though they're not that old, I had too hard of a time tracking down Catrice's Fallosophy collection and Laura Geller's Italian Garden set - some of the Catrice items were for sale on Ebay but the exact shades I wanted, plus it would have taken weeks to get here, and I searched for the Laura Geller set but had no luck finding it until well after I had finalized all the exhibition items.  There was also Essence's 2014 Hello Autumn collection, but I couldn't find any pieces from that either.  Fortunately there were plenty of vintage leaf-adorned items that I came across.  These are the ones that I was going to buy but they either were too pricey, not in the best shape or not available for sale so I ended up skipping them.

Rex leaf compacts
(images from ebay)

This one had such a unique design - too bad it sold long before I could pounce.

Pilcher leaf compact
(image from ebay)

This one from Volupté was a contender, but I decided it was looking too Canadian flag to me.  Not that there's anything wrong with their flag, but I wanted cascading leaves rather than a single one.

Volupté leaf compact(image from ebay)

Very nearly bought this since the ad is also available.  However, once I looked closer at the ad I realized it was a holiday one, so I figured it would be too Christmas-y for a fall exhibition.

Wadsworth compact with leaves

The ad shows many other pretty compacts in addition to the leaf one.  The "Whimsey" one would have been so cute for the fall exhibition - love that the little lady has a bird's nest for hair!  And obviously I'd give my eye teeth for the pineapple-adorned "Tropicana" compact.

1952 Wadsworth compact ad(image from ebay)

Deer

The other super popular woodland/forest motif for vintage items was deer.  So many fawns and bucks and does!  But I ended up skipping most of them as they were more gazelle-like, such as this compact by Evans.

Evans compact with gazelles
(image from ebay)

And these looked like reindeer, which, again, I felt was too holiday-ish.

Pilcher and Wadsworth deer compacts
(images from ebay)

Elgin offered a slew of deer compacts in addition to the ones featured in the exhibition.  But I was partial to the "Woodland Fawn" design since the others were really gazelles and simply not forest-y enough for what I had envisioned.  Still, they're pretty cute and also plentiful. 

Elgin gazelle compact ca. 1950(image from rubylane.com)

Elgin compact ad, November 1950

This design also came in white or red enamel.  It's very striking but looked more like the jungle than forest.

Elgin enamel compact with gazelles, ca. 1950
(image from ebay)

Dec. 15 1950-elgin-enamel-gazelle

This Elgin design was by far the most popular of all the deer...or at least, the company advertised it a ton starting around 1947.  The last mention I saw was in 1951.

Elgin gazelle compact

Elgin compact ad, 1947(image from periodpaper.com)

Elgin compact ad, November 1948

Elgin compact ads, December 1948

Elgin compact ad, December 1948

Elgin compact ad, February 1949

1951 Elgin compact ad(image from ebay)

What's interesting about all these is that even though they're post-war, they resemble Art Deco designs.  I wasn't alone in this observation either.  As Laura Mueller, author of The Collector's Encyclopedia of Compacts, Carryalls and Face Powder Boxes notes, "The 'Leaping Gazelles,' competing in the thirties with the Borzoi and Scotty dog animal motifs, for some reason became a very popular motif again after WWII.  The Post Deco flavor of these cases is obvious.  The sharp angles are softer and the fauna is more realistic.  However, art deco in feeling, these later cases must not be confused nor valued with true Art Deco.  A leaping gazelle does not always an Art Deco case make" (p. 149).

Anyway, these last two were so cute, but the Kigu one on the left was nowhere to be found for sale, while the Honeywell on the right was available but pretty scratched.  I've been wanting a Honeywell in the Museum's collection ever since I saw their adorable mermaid compact, but the scuff marks on this one almost make it look like the poor deer have been shot through the head with arrows.  Maybe that's just me though.  In any case, it didn't make the exhibition cut.

Kigu and Honeywell deer compacts(images from pinterest and ebay)

Other critters and general forest scenes

Now for some of the harder-t0-find forest residents and other woodland goodness.  In terms of contemporary items, the animals in the holiday 2013 Cosme Decorte set would have been a great addition to a woodland-themed exhibition if it wasn't for the red and white color scheme and unmistakable Christmas tree.  Another Cosme Decorte item, the Wandering Grace compact by Marcel Wanders, was another possibility I mulled over, but ultimately decided against including it since it just didn't look forest-like enough to me.

This fox compact by Estee Lauder was gorgeous, but also expensive

Estée Lauder fox compact

Bunnies were a bit easier to find, but so many of them screamed Easter to me, so I really had to dig for ones that were either more fall-like (such as the Folklore design) or basically season-less (the Shiseido figurine).  I think this vintage powder box would have been perfect though - definitely more forest rabbit than Easter bunny.

Vintage powder boxes(image from pinterest) 

These squirrel compacts definitely would have made it into the exhibition, if they didn't cost a whopping $876 and $1,436, respectively.

Vintage squirrel compacts
(images from ebay)

I also looked for trees and general forest scenes.  I didn't turn up much that reminded me of a forest in autumn - most of what I was seeing looked like tropical landscapes - but this vintage compact definitely would have made the cut if it hadn't already sold.  It's pretty unique.

Vintage Fisher compact(image from vanitytreasures.com) 

And that about sums it up!  I hope you're not sick of the forest now!  Any favorite pieces here?

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MM fall 2017 exhibition

Fall.2017.poster.1pp

Welcome to the fall exhibition, finally!  I know you're probably more excited about holiday releases at this point, but I still wanted to do a proper fall exhibition, late though it is.  I had originally planned a very different exhibition - a retrospective devoted to an extremely talented and successful makeup artist who has become my obsession over the past few years - but ultimately decided that, much like my failed '90s makeup exhibition, I just couldn't do it the way I envisioned.  I was also concerned that in the unlikely event of "Mother" herself catching wind of it, she might be a bit peeved that I staged an exhibition dedicated to her work in my bedroom, as I think it would be rather insulting to someone of her renown.  I'm not letting go of the concept, of course, but it will have to wait until I can use a proper gallery or museum space for it*.  So in lieu of that, I thought this fall I'd do another exhibition I've been wanting to do for a couple years now.  Every autumn I seem to be more entranced by the magic and mystery of the forest. Perhaps it's my 11 year long status as a city dweller, or my love of woodland critters, but lately I've been loving the idea of relaxing in front of a roaring fire in a beautiful rustic cabin somewhere in the forest...or since I'm not really the outdoors/camping type, maybe a short evening hike in the woods surrounded by moonlight and the sounds of the animals would be more my speed.  In any case, the vibe I was going for was about 20% enchanted, 1% scary (hey, the forest at night can be a little unnerving), but 79% peaceful and calm.

I thought this wonderful illustration by Alexandra Dvornikova perfectly represented the particular forest mood I was trying to capture.  It's even better in its original animated version.

Tumblr_or5ftagFgO1tqlr5ro1_1280

I'll be doing a follow-up post on why I chose the objects I did, the ones that didn't make it in and some other things that inspired me.  In the meantime, welcome to fall 2017 at the Museum!

(Click to enlarge.)

MM fall 2017 exhibition

MM fall 2017 exhibition

MM fall 2017 exhibition

Top row, left to right.

Revlon Petite compact ad

You would not believe (or be-leaf? haha!) how many vintage compacts I found with leaf patterns.

Revlon Petite compact

Revlon Petite compact

Revlon Petite compact ad

Fall exhibition label

Okay, okay, I KNOW the Moschino seems out of place as it's technically a teddy bear and not one you'd find in the forest.  But a certain little Museum intern begged me to include it, since there are so few bear-shaped makeup items.  The Lamis King lipstick case is the only other one I can think of and that one is definitely more of a wild forest mama bear, what with being perched on a tree stump cuddling her cub.

Sephora x Moschino

Lamis King bear lipstick

Fall 2017 exhibition label

Oils from Shu x OB and Mika Ninagawa collections:

Shu Uemura cleansing oils

Fall 2017 exhibition label

I was positively elated to find not only these two compacts but also the original ad, as it contains the name and date of the design.  I have no idea why that little dude is standing next to it though.  I mean obviously it's part of an article, but it's just...weird.  I'm guessing he was a jockey?

Elgin compacts and ad

Elgin Woodland Fawn compact, ca. 1955

Elgin Woodland Fawn carry-all, ca. 1955

1955 Elgin compact ad

1955 Elgin compact ad

Second row, left to right.

Remember these?

Paul & Joe lipstick cases

Paul & Joe lipstick cases

This little sparrow is actually from the fall 2015 collection and not 2014, which means the label is wrong.  Whoops.

Paul & Joe lipstick cases

Fall 2017 exhibition label

So pleased to come across this compact and in such good condition.  I was determined to find an ad for it and I did!  Not a magazine ad but there was a newspaper one, so I "clipped" it online and printed it out.

Volupte compact, ca. 1942

Volupté compact ad, June 1942

Volupté compact ad, June 1942

Isa x Bambi:

Isa x Bambi

Isa x Bambi

I realize the ad is for a completely different product than the compact, but they're both full of appley goodness.  :)

1952 Lentheric ad

Wadsworth compact, ca. late 1940s/early 50s

Third row, left to right.

I feel like indie companies are really leading the way in terms of creating some new and innovative brush designs.  These flower-filled ones seemed a little spring to me at first, but then I read they're filled with seasonal dried flowers so I figured they were appropriate for fall.  And the deep green of the pouch is very autumnal as well. 

Storybook cosmetics brush set

Storybook cosmetics brush set

Fall 2017 exhibition label

These items were also quite a find!  I literally typed "fox lip balm" into Google and landed on this site, which sells a line called Folklore.  And fortunately they ship to the U.S.  I was also so happy to see this vintage squirrel compact - felt like I just had to buy it since it's the husband's spirit animal.  It's not in quite as good shape as this one, but all the marcasite was still intact so I went for it.

Folklore lip balms and vintage Stratton compact

Folklore lip balm and nail files

Stratton squirrel compact, ca. 1940s

Fall 2017 exhibition label

So sad that the label for this is basically blank, but I still never uncovered any more information about these mysterious Shiseido Chinese zodiac figurines.

Shiseido Year of the Rabbit figurine

Last but not least in this row, the owl shelf.  This one's for my mom since she loves owls.  :)

Owl makeup

The eyeshadow on the left is another piece from Paul & Joe's fall 2015 collection and the highlighting powder is from the holiday 2014 collection. The eyeshadow with the two owls is from fall 2005, and I remember being dismayed that I couldn't find their fall 2005 runway collection anywhere online so I could see if it had the owls.  Then a few years ago I was flipping through an issue of Lucky magazine (I still miss it) and lo and behold, spotted the owls in action - not on clothing but on a pillow in some rich hipster chick's living room.  How serendipitous!  Of course I tore it out and saved it in case I ever exhibited the eyeshadow (and also because I'm a hoarder.)

Owl makeup

Lucky magazine page

Lucky magazine page

Fall 2017 exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

Laneige x Lucky Chouette:

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Fall 2017 exhibition label

Chantecaille Save the Forest and Protect the Wolves palettes:

Chantecaille Save the Forest and Protect the Wolves palettes

Chantecaille Save the Forest and Protect the Wolves palettes

Fall 2017 exhibition label

This one is another mystery.  I've seen this shape of Helena Rubinstein compact before and the date was listed as 1962, but have been unable to find it in any ads.  I'm wondering if these were only distributed in countries outside the U.S.  since they're relatively hard to find and don't appear in any American newspapers.  Obviously the Heaven Sent compacts with the angel date sometime after 1941 since that's when the fragrance was released, but this one with the deer on it is strange - I have no idea why it would be connected to the Heaven Sent fragrance.  My hunch is that it's actually related to their Moonlight Mist scent.  Still, the compact's shape and style look way earlier than 1962 or even 1956 when Moonlight Mist was released. 

vintage Helena Rubinstein

vintage Helena Rubinstein deer compact

Speaking of Helena Rubinstein, an exhibition devoted to her just opened at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, so if you're able I highly suggest visiting.  :)

vintage Helena Rubinstein deer compact

Fall 2017 exhibition label

And finally, Stila fall 2006 blush and eyeshadow trios:

Stila fall 2006

And that concludes the fall 2017 exhibition!  Did you feel as though you were deep in an enchanted forest, hearing squirrels romping and leaves crunching under your feet?  I hope so!  And let me know what your favorite item in the exhibition was. :) 

 

*I missed the deadline for MICA's call for proposals for their annual Curator's Incubator show, but I plan on submitting one next year.

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Makeup as Muse: Michelle Murphy's out of this world makeup photography

Michelle MurphyA few months ago I was watching the Instagram stories of one of the many beauty bloggers I follow, and she was at an exhibition full of stunning macro photos of makeup.  I knew immediately the artist behind them would be the next Makeup as Muse installment.  Michelle Murphy received a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  She spent over a decade working as a photographer for NASA, and it's this experience that influenced a series of beauty and makeup-related photographs that she began in 2011.  Since I am both bad explaining another artist's work and rather tired today, I figured I'd let an excerpt from Murphy's artist statement provide an overview of the themes in this series:  "Working in a culture where the attainment of beauty is paramount and science strives to engineer the ultimate look, my photography explores the relationship between consumption and rebellion of these ideals. What contemporary advertising and media culture continue to broadcast as expected in female appearances provides my motivation to examine beauty products.  Inspired by Op Art, scientific imaging, and third-wave feminism, I produce slick macro close-ups of the adorned, treated body and beauty 'tools'. Through my processes of creating still life and tactile experiments in my studio, I playfully use beauty products as art materials changing their purpose away from concealing or accentuating my face. In the more formal images I repeat and magnify the subject creating optical plays within two-dimensional space. My lighting, studio props, and color palettes provide an aesthetic mimicking modern advertising and scientific imaging...Beauty in its contemporary context is my discourse. I desire to shift 'the gaze' away from the female as a subject (or myself) to the over-the-counter beauty maintenance products themselves. The resulting images blend perceptual space and our cultural space…revealing the subject as abstraction, as metaphor, and again as consumable object."

We've seen macro images of makeup before, but it's Murphy's unique perspective that sets these apart from other close-ups.  Weaving together her background in science-based photos, third-wave feminism (yay!), and art history, these aren't simply pretty pictures; they're a statement about consumerism and how we perceive and approach the notion of beauty.  However, while the photos hold a deeper meaning, there's nothing wrong with appreciating their aesthetic qualities.  As the artist notes, "When you stare at something closely for a long time, it dematerializes, losing its original significance and gaining significance in new ways. If we surrender to the images as only formalist works of art, we become lost in the lines, the texture, its metallic luster, and its play with scale. The makeup is no longer the subject; the viewer can escape into stardust or can simply scan back and forth over a flattened space eliciting nothing more than shapes, grids, or metallic gradients."  I'm in full agreement on this - I can absolutely see myself getting lost in these images if I were able to see them in person.  The macro scale also calls attention to how makeup is designed for the utmost visual appeal.  It's an age-old advertising tactic, but one that still works hook, line and sinker today:  if we own this beautiful object then we too can be beautiful.  "I am using photography to reveal how an $8 manufactured palette of eye shadow entices a consumer. Its design and beauty works as a signifier of modernity, a utopic belief that you will become better by owning and using such a small thing. Because we already have years of advertising literacy embedded in our memory, buying this particular object becomes 2nd nature. Buying/consuming a product in this Western world is too easy when we think it is formally beautiful, and if we believe it’s necessary for personal improvement," Murphy states.  Indeed, by focusing on makeup's texture, shapes and colors, Murphy captures what makes cosmetics so enjoyable and, for makeup enthusiasts, irresistible. 

Let's get to the photos!  Here are some from the first Perceptual Beauty series.

Michelle Murphy, Purple Rain Palette Maze

Michelle Murphy, Bronzer Sunscape

Michelle Murphy, 100 lipstick gradient 1 lipstick color

Michelle Murphy, Eyeshadow: out n back again

Michelle Murphy, Split Shadow Chevron

Michelle Murphy, Viscosity Test

Michelle Murphy, Amorphous

Michelle Murphy, Turbulence

These last two directly reference two Op-Art artists: Bridget Riley and Josef Albers, respectively.  I've provided examples of their work.

Michelle Murphy, OP Lipstick (after Bridget Riley)

 
Bridget Riley - Britannia, 1961
(image from missomnimedia.com)
 
Michelle Murphy, Foundation to the Square: Chosen, after Albers
 
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: With Rays, 1959
(image from metmuseum.org)
 
Here is the second installment of Perpetual Beauty, which is heavily influenced by Murphy's work for NASA and resembles otherworldly landscapes.  Once again, it's the artist's background in scientific photography that allows her to see makeup very differently than most of us do.  I can't say I've ever been to a drugstore and noticed the visual similarity between an eyeshadow and the surface of another planet!  "I am shopping at CVS for a depleted daily item that brought me into the store on my lunch break…10 minutes, 20 minutes slip away from me...I am thrilled to find an eye shadow that looks like Mars! NASA just announced the Curiosity rover landed successfully on Mars, and this product looks just like the fish-eye view from photos taken on the surface."  Having looked at these, I'd be so curious to see Murphy's take on makeup products that intentionally attempt to look like galaxies and other outer space phenomena.  I also imagine her photos of holographic/duochrome products would be exquisite. 
 
Michelle Murphy, Curiosity Rover's View
 
Michelle Murphy, Fake Eyelash Refraction
 
 
Michelle Murphy, The Origin of Pigment
 
Michelle Murphy, Lotion Landscape
 
Michelle Murphy, Foundation: with less control
 
The final installment of the Perceptual Beauty series depicts transgender individuals applying makeup.  I'm afraid I don't have much insight into the meaning of these.  Perhaps it's a commentary on how rarely the beauty industry uses close-up photos of transgender people applying makeup in their advertising.  While we're seeing more of it, along with cis-gendered men who simply enjoy wearing makeup, the transgender models in these campaigns still adhere to more feminized notions of beauty.  These photos, on the other hand, make us question conventional beauty standards and also represent an attempt to normalize non-traditional beauty ideals.  As Murphy says, “My photographic and video art explores the opposing positions in the relationship – between consumption that objectifies the expression of idealized beauty – and rebellion against what our consumer culture deems as ideal.  My work shifts the 'gaze'  from the female as a subject (and often an object) to explore the purpose and role of beauty products.  With my work, I am essentially questioning the nature of beauty ideals in today’s society and asking whether these ideals are driven from a personal perspective, or artificially created by consumer culture.”
 
I think the series could also be viewed as a reminder of the greater societal marginalization of transgender people.  Sadly, the transgender community still faces much discrimination and violence on account of some not being to handle seeing those who perform gender differently than the norm, i.e. people who wear "traditional" visual markers of masculinity (facial hair, short men's haircut, etc.) but who also apply visible makeup.  Whatever the significance of this series, Murphy is staying true to her mission of shifting the focus away from the standard female subject.
 
Michelle Murphy, Trans Shadow
 
Michelle Murphy, Lip Gloss, Applied
 
Michelle Murphy, Zir Eye
 
Michelle Murphy, Blushing
 
Following Perceptual Beauty, Murphy embarked upon another series entitled Nature's Beauty Tools:  "I am replacing synthetically produced and manufactured beauty products (fake eyelashes, lipstick and silicone implants) with nature-sourced materials that serve as compelling stand-ins.  Temporary sculptural props of twigs, mushrooms, slate, tree-bark, leaves, etc. are physically manipulated into tiny sculptures which are then temporarily attached to the model and photographed in studio environments. These materials are organic and often disintegrate quickly, so the photographs are orchestrated within a day of finding the source material. The dramatic artificial lighting, high depth-of-field focus, along with the large-scale presentation of the finished framed work sets the overall tone for the viewer, referencing both the fine art photographic history and contemporary advertising."  Again, I'm not really sure what these are about...perhaps a critique of the beauty industry's use of "natural" in advertising their products, a term that has no real meaning.
 
I wonder if the lashes below were the inspiration behind these.

Michelle Murphy, Nature Modification

Michelle Murphy, Pinecone Brow

Michelle Murphy, Slate Manicure

Michelle Murphy

Michelle Murphy, Icicles Beard(images from michellemariemurphy.com unless otherwise noted)

You might be wondering why no companies have tapped Murphy to collaborate or use her work for advertising purposes.  Turns out a company actually did use her work, but I'm not sure which one as my internet searches proved fruitless.  The artist explains:  "In the process of creating this body of work, the PR Director of a well-known makeup brand called me through my website.  They saw the artwork I was creating with their products and wanted to co-opt my work into their social media outlets and in return to provide lots of their product as an in-kind donation to my art practice.  At first reluctant to join forces with the industry, I saw an opportunity to show my work to their consumer audience.  The success of this relationship was two-fold, I was no longer a customer of their make-up and I was offered several spin-off opportunities to beauty websites to share my work.  My favorite moment was an interview with a beauty culture news website. The writer asked me a lot about my opinions and relationship to makeup and most importantly my responses were not edited.  I had this moment to speak honestly to consumers about the difficulties with body politics related to the beauty industry."  Unfortunately, the interview she mentioned doesn't seem to be available, and I was too chicken to email her to both conduct my own interview and clarify the brand that contacted her, but I suspect it may have been Maybelline based on this post.  I would absolutely love to see more brands using her work.  And one of my burning questions is what she thinks of space-inspired beauty, given her NASA background.  ;)

Overall I'm quite smitten with these photos.  They make us consider the deeper issues involving beauty standards and consumerism, but also represent a clear appreciation for makeup design and a desire to capture the beauty of makeup as object.  I just wish that 1. more prints of her work were available and 2. I was close to Chicago so I could see the Responsive Beauty exhibition, which closes on October 21st.  If you're in the area please check it out for me!

What do you think?

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MM summer 2017 exhibition

Summer.2017.poster.5pp

With some exhibitions I get a certain word or phrase caught in the old noggin.  This summer all I kept hearing in my head was "tropical fruit and sea creature EXPLOSION!"  As you may know, the husband designs all the exhibition posters and I literally asked him for that exact phrase.  How he came up with the poster from my sad little sketch is beyond me - it shows how truly talented he is, as he was able transform my awful drawing into the "explosion" I was after.  (I put "make it pop" on there purely as a joke.  If you've ever worked with a designer you know they loathe this useless cliché.)

Poster sketch

Anyway, fruit and sea creatures aren't unexpected choices for summer, but I feel as though this year was particularly, well, fruity and sea creature-centric.  As we'll see, it seems the recent fashion trend of putting pineapples, watermelon and the like on everything from jackets and dresses to a variety of accessories has carried over to the beauty world.  Sadly, I was not able to get my hands on the ultimate fruity items - the patterns on PaiPai's two most recent collections are positively bursting with tropical fruits - but what I do have is a decent mix.  Meanwhile, as I predicted, the mermaid beauty trend is going strong in 2017 as well so naturally I had to include a bunch of items to represent it.  While I've been including mermaid-themed and sea creature-adorned pieces for the past few summer exhibitions, this year I wanted to tie the two more closely together - it's a sort of celebration of the friendship between mermaids and the animals that share the ocean with them.  Mermaids aren't real, of course, but I love pretending they are, so part of the exhibition's purpose is to express the bonds they would have with seahorses, octopuses, etc.  When I was envisioning the exhibition I was putting myself in a mermaid's shoes (er, tail), so showing the animals I'd be hanging out with was my way of imagining a mermaid's perspective.  Overall, while the exhibition is very literal in that it displays items with fruit, mermaids and their assorted underwater pals on the packaging, it's nevertheless an admirable portrayal of the top trends this season...and also what exists in my mermaid-obsessed brain.

Makeup Museum summer 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum summer 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum summer 2017 exhibition

Top shelves, left to right.

I agonized for days over whether to display this palette by Saucebox open or closed.  Ultimately closed won out so you could see the mermaid, but you can see it open on my Instagram here.

Saucebox Mermaid Life palette

Oh, MAC Fruity Juicy - one of the most fun collections they've done in a while.  I purchased two more of the coconut setting spray so that I'd have some to actually use.  I don't think it does much, but between the vibrant packaging and yummy coconut scent it definitely perks me up in the mornings, as misting my face with setting spray is the last thing I do before dashing out the door to work.  It's the little things, right? 

MAC Fruity Juicy collection

MAC Oh My Passion pearlmatte powder

Exhibition label

I've been waiting with bated breath for Unicorn Lashes' mermaid brush set, but found out it won't be released till much later this summer so I had to settle for these.  I do like the company I ordered from as it offered a terrific variety of mermaid tail brushes, including this oh-so-evil/goth black set.  The larger brush is not the one I ordered - I'm still waiting for it to arrive (it's got glitter!), so I had to substitute the one that came free with the Saucebox palette.  Hopefully the one I wanted on display will get here soon.

Mermaid brushes

Mermaid brush

I forget how I stumbled across this...I think I was searching for vintage mermaid compacts.  I wasn't able to find any of the ones that appear in this ad, but at least I found the ad itself.  Still, these are compacts I'd pay a pretty penny for, as they're simply adorable.

Revlon She Shells ad, 1965

The vaguely threatening nature of the copy cracks me up:  "There won't be any more EVER".  I guess it's the predecessor of limited-edition scare tactics.  You know that if I were alive in 1965 I would have bought all 3 compacts right away so I didn't miss out - that line definitely would make me buy them immediately.

Revlon She Shells ad, 1965

While I was disappointed at not being able to track down any of the Revlon compacts, this vintage Stratton more than made up for it!  How awesome is this?!  I'm so happy to add a vintage mermaid compact to the Museum's collection.

Vintage Stratton compact

exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

The lovely Anna Sui summer collection:

Anna Sui summer 2017 makeup

Anna Sui summer 2017 makeup

exhibition label

These Chantecaille compacts remain among my favorites of the over 1,000 items in the Museum's collection.  I really should update my sad photos of them.

Chantecaille Protected Paradise compacts

Chantecaille Protected Paradise compacts

exhibition label

Tarte released more Lip Rescues this year.  I think I like the prints even more than last year's batch!

Tarte Quench Lip Rescues

I was overjoyed to see my favorite fruit embossed onto an eye shadow palette.  I don't know much about the Tanya Burr line, but this was too cute to pass up.

Tanya Burr My Paradise palette

Tanya Burr My Paradise palette

Third row, left to right.

It wouldn't be a proper Makeup Museum exhibition without some preciousness from Paul & Joe, would it?

Paul & Joe

Paul & Joe

Exhibition label

I found this brand on Instagram.  I adore all the illustrations on the packaging, which is recyclable and printed with soy ink, but was mildly disappointed in their customer service.  While my order arrived without incident, I'm bummed that I never received a reply to my email asking if they work with a particular illustrator and what their inspiration might be.  The designs are just so cute, I figured there must be an artist behind them.  In any case, these Lip Parfaits in Summer Cone and Exotic Fruits perfectly fit the summer exhibition theme.  (I'm eyeing the rest of the Lip Parfaits - I NEED Guilty Pug!)

Trifle Cosmetics Lip Parfaits in Summer Cone and Exotic Fruits

Exhibition label

This starfish-embossed powder from Estée Lauder is so pretty, I wish they'd release more like it.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Sea Star bronzing blush, 2011

Tokyo Milk's Neptune and the Mermaid collection technically consists of fragrance and bath and body products instead of makeup, but I couldn't NOT put it in the exhibition.

Tokyo Milk Neptune and the Mermaid

I love how the mermaid is gazing at her nails, perhaps wondering if she needs a manicure (mer-icure?)

Tokyo Milk Neptune and the Mermaid

Tokyo Milk Neptune and the Mermaid

Exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

This shelf is looking a little sparse because I'm missing yet another item.  I ordered several of Etude House's Glass Tinting Lips Talk cases (I want all of them!), including one with a hilarious cartoonish pineapple face, but every time I click on the tracking number it says it's not found.  So I suspect my package is lost.  Sigh.  Anyway, I did manage to find this delightful Tony Moly gloss and you might remember my joy at scoring the Paul & Joe eye shadow on Ebay.  It's one of my most treasured finds since I wasn't collecting at the time it was released (2004) and I'm forever trying to track down Paul & Joe items that were released prior to 2006 - they pop up so rarely.

Tony Moly and Paul & Joe

Exhibition label

I wasn't going to buy Lancôme's summer 2016 bronzer initially and then caved after the summer exhibition went up so I figured I'd include it this year, especially since the design goes so nicely with Clarins summer 2017 bronzer.  The latter was another difficult call to make as to whether to display it open or closed.  Once again closed won out since the print on the outer case is just as pretty as what's inside, plus the Lancôme one is open so I thought a combination of closed and open worked best.

Clarins Sunkissed bronzer and Lancome Belle de Teint

Exhibition label

Another mermaid palette from another indie beauty retailer.  While I was really hoping Bitter Lace Beauty's mermaid palette would be released in time for the exhibition, obviously I'm pleased to display this one and the Saucebox palette.  :)

KG Beauty Mermaid palette

Exhibition label

Another perennial favorite:  MAC's To the Beach collection from 2010.  As with the Chantecaille palettes I should probably update the original photos.

MAC To the Beach

MAC Marine Life highlighter

Exhibition label

So that's it!  I hope the exhibition put you in a summery mood.  I for one am craving pineapple and a visit to the aquarium.  :)

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MM Spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Welcome to the Makeup Museum's spring 2017 exhibition!  As you may know, for the past few months I've been hopelessly under the spell of anything holographic/iridescent/prismatic, and I think this morphed into an obsession with all the colors of the rainbow.  (Or it could be Desus and Mero's nightly rainbow feature seeping into my subconscious.) Duochrome makeup is obviously different than rainbow makeup - I see the former as having color-shifting principles, while the latter is vibrant yet static - but I'd argue that they're all on the same...spectrum. (Sorry, couldn't resist).  What I mean is that merely colorful makeup is different than holographic, but they share similar qualities.  Generally speaking, I was inspired by the broader notion of color play and the endless possibilities a variety of colors can provide.  I've always loved vividly colorful makeup because as we'll see, over the years it's become synonymous with fun and self-expression, which is basically my makeup credo.  From 6-hued rainbow highlighters and a set of primary colors to create unique shades to more subtle gradient palettes and sheer lipsticks, makeup that encompasses the whole spectrum allows for a great amount of experimentation.  Even color correctors offer the opportunity to play.  I wanted this exhibition to express the joy and creativity that a wide range of colors can bring, especially when viewed as a collective whole such as a rainbow.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

While I could have probably could have done an entire rainbow-themed exhibition, there were some new, non-rainbowy releases that were simply too good not to include, plus I thought they added a nice balance to all the color.   Also, did you notice the labels?  I got the idea to make them a gradient rather than all one shade, but my husband, super smarty pants that he is, chose the exact colors and how to arrange them.  I think this is the first exhibition where I had to determine where everything was going prior to printing the labels.  Usually I just print them out and figure out placement of the objects later since I can always move the labels around, but this time I had decide on placement first since moving things would mess up the gradation effect.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Let's take a closer peek, shall we?

Top shelves, left to right.

I spotted this 1970 Yardley set on ebay and knew it would be perfect.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix

The box isn't in the best shape but aren't the graphics so cool?!

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I love that the insert encourages you to have fun and experiment.  It's a stark contrast to actual ad for the product, which, underneath its seemingly feminist veneer, is horrifically ageist.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I tried cleaning up the tubes but I scrubbed too hard on the yellow one, which resulted in a few cracks.  I forget these things are over 40 years old and that plastic doesn't necessarily remain durable for that amount of time.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

The similarity between the eye makeup for Dior's spring 2017 collection campaign and an ad from 1973 is striking.

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition labels

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Dior vintage ad and 2017 palette

1973 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad

Dior spring 2017 makeup

My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Addiction would be featuring the work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint on their compacts this spring.  Af Klint's work really spoke to me and I'm so happy Addiction helped spread the word about her.

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

These lipsticks are so delectable!

Kailijumei flower lipsticks

I know it's just a fake flower with highlighter dusted on top, but it still makes me swoon.

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Still haven't figured out a name for this little lady.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

Makeup Museum exhibition label

If you remember that popular video that was making the rounds a little while ago, it showed a Charles of the Ritz powder bar.

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

1963 Charles of the Ritz ad

If I ever display this again I'll update the label.  Turns out Charles of the Ritz tried to bring back the service in August of 1988, but I don't think it stuck around long.  Perhaps they couldn't compete with the likes of Prescriptives, who was by that point leading the way in custom blending?  (Sidenote:  I'm tickled at how the article is written by Linda Wells, who was just 2 years shy of launching what would become the world's best-known beauty magazine, and how it also cites Bobbi Brown and refers to her as simply a "makeup artist."  Little did they know that Bobbi's own line would be taking the makeup world by storm in another 3 years.)

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Third row, left to right.

I'm not sure why Guerlain used a rainbow for this spring's campaign and not for their summer 2015 Rainbow Pearls, but they look good together.

Guerlain Meteorites

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Paul & Joe:

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Shiseido 7 Color Powders Centennial set (well, part of it):

Shiseido rainbow powders

Shiseido rainbow powders

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Burberry Silk and Bloom palette:

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

Rainbow highlighters...I just received word that the original was re-stocked so I will have to purchase it.  :)

Rainbow highlighters

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Loubichrome nail polishes:

Loubichrome nail polish trio

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Interestingly, when I working on the label I came across a Vogue interview with Julie Verhoeven that was published after I had posted about these makeup sets.  She clarified that Jacobs had specifically requested to revisit the imagery on the 2002 Louis Vuitton collection, so it wasn't a random decision to go with that style.  As for the frog motif, which I am completely smitten with, it was most likely a nod to Jacobs' fondness for the animal (another recent interview with Verhoeven tipped me off.)

Marc Jacobs spring 2017 makeup set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Ah!  I was so excited when this set popped up on ebay I could hardly contain myself.  This is probably the best representation of late '60s/early '70s beauty.  It doesn't have the insert but overall it's in great condition.  I don't know whether this particular set is specifically the pastel version mentioned in the ad (which is a printout of an original from 1973 - forgot to put that on the label, oops) or the regular non-pastel crayons, but I was overjoyed to finally get one into the Museum's collection.

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

In doing a little background research for this exhibition I came across some interesting things.  I couldn't possibly pull together a comprehensive history of colorful/rainbow-inspired makeup, but here's a quick look back on some of the highlights.  While color correcting powders existed early on in the modern beauty industry, it seems as though the more colorful side of makeup wasn't popularized until the early '60s.  Ads for collections featuring a robust range of vibrant shades included words like "fun", "play" and "experiment", thereby associating color variety with happiness and creativity.

1960 Cutex ad(image from flickr.com)

This was the earliest ad I could find that mentions a "rainbow" of shades.

1961 Max Factor ad(image from hair-and-makeup-artist.com)

This 1967 ad not only depicts a spectrum of color, it encourages the wearer to create different looks by adding varying amounts of water to the pigments.  I'm assuming you could adjust the opacity this way.

1967 Max Factor ad
(image from pinterest.com)

While I love the Yardley Mixis set and the classic Mary Quant crayons, I think this brand is my favorite representation of late '60s beauty, at least in terms of advertising (you can see more here).  It's so crazy and psychedelic...looking at this makes me want to dance around in a field with flowers in my hair, LOL.  Sadly I was unable to track down any original makeup or ads from this line, which I believe was exclusive to Woolworth's in the UK.

1968 Baby Doll Cosmetics ad
(image from sweetjanespopboutique.com)

The demand for color didn't end with the '60s, as evidenced by these early '70s Dior ads.

1972 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad
(images from ebay.com)

Once again, a variety of colors is linked to self-expression and fun.

1975 Maybelline ad(image from flickr.com)

Dior kept the color game strong in the '80s.  (There was a 1981 Elizabeth Arden collection entitled Rainbows, but it didn't really offer much of a shade range).

1986 Dior ad(image from sighswhispers.blogspot.com) 

More recently, rainbow-inspired beauty has had its moments.  The models at Peter Som's spring 2013 runway show sported pastel rainbow eye shadow, while later that year, Sephora's holiday collection brush set featured iridescent rainbow handles.  For summer 2015 MAC released a collection with basically the same finish on the packaging, and come November, Smashbox's collaboration with artist Yago Hortal offered an eye-popping array of shades.  I'd argue that 2016 was the tipping point for the rainbow beauty craze, with fashion designers leading the way.  These runway looks helped set the stage for the likes of ColourPop's rainbow collection and Urban Decay's Full Spectrum palette, both released last year, along with MAC's Liptensity collection, which brought a whole new dimension to color perception.  While it wasn't a rainbow-themed collection per se, Liptensity's "tetrachromatic" formulation ushered in a new way of thinking about and playing with makeup pigments in much the same way rainbow makeup did.

Makeup at Alexis Mabille and Manish Arora, spring 2016
(images from makeupforlife.net and fashionising.com)

Fendi spring 2016(image from harpersbazaar.com)

Betsey Johnson spring 2016(images from wwd.com and seventeen.com)

It doesn't look like rainbow makeup is going anywhere soon, as evidenced by the stunning looks Pat McGrath created for Maison Margiela's fall 2017 show, along with products like MAC's Colour Rocker lipsticks and Kat Von D's Pastel Goth palette.  Even Sephora's typography got a rainbow makeover.  (While the gradient rainbow style was used more to convey holographic makeup/highlighters, it represents exactly what I meant earlier - rainbow makeup and holographic makeup may be distant cousins, but they definitely belong to the same family).

Maison Margiela fall 2017(images from instagram.com)

Sephora rainbow(image from sephora.com)

Finally, there are these magazine features from the March 2017 issues.  (Yes, I still tear out magazine pages.  Yes, I'm aware there's Pinterest and that we live in a digital world.)

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Marie Claire magazine, March 2017

That was long!  Phew, I'm tired.  Actually I'm not, since looking at a bunch of different colors together energizes me.  As a matter of fact, I tend to get a little overstimulated, which is why I do most of my makeup shopping online - in-store browsing at all those colors displayed on the counters is very bad for my wallet. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the exhibition and that you'll play with color this season, either by wearing shades so bright they hurt your eyes or simply giving color correctors a go (and everything in between).  Just have fun!


Museum spotlight: Tokyo's Museum of Beni

Once again I'm in over my head on a vast topic, but I wanted to share another cosmetics museum that is on my must-see list when I go to Japan.  The Museum of Beni in Tokyo was founded in 2006 to celebrate and share the history of the hallowed Japanese red lip color known as beni.  The Museum was established by Isehan Honten, a company that has been manufacturing beni since 1825 (!) and is the only surviving beni company from the Edo period (the use of beni actually dates back several centuries prior to the Edo period).  The Museum contains precious artifacts related to beni, such as the lacquered bowls that are layered with the pigment (known as "ochoko"), brushes, and equipment used to make beni, not to mention a significant amount of memorabilia (books, prints, etc).

Beni bowls, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Beni brushes, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Beni was also portable, stored in carrying cases called itabeni starting around the middle of the Edo period (ca. 1700s).  They were made from a variety of materials, including tortoiseshell, antlers, ivory, metal, wood and even paper.  The really cool thing about them was when you finished up the beni in the case, you could go and have it re-brushed with fresh pigment.  Perhaps this is where the notion of refillable powder compacts and lipstick tubes came from.

Ita-beni, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Itabeni, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Beni brushes and compacts

Beni boxes, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Print, ca. late 1800s, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

This page from a book published in 1813 called Makeup in the Culture of Kyoto shows how to apply beni.

Book page, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

This sign was displayed on the storefront and indicates that it's an official supplier of beni to the Imperial Household Department...

Sign, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

...and this was a license granted only to merchants who supplied products to the Imperial Household Department to gain entry into the Imperial Household.

License, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

This drawing from 1885 shows one of Isehan's original storefronts and the beni-ba (the space where the beni is made).

Drawing, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

Not only does the Museum of Beni display all these great pieces, it also has a salon where you can try out and purchase beni. 

Isehan Honten Museum of Beni salon(images from Google Cultural Institute)

Beni gets its name from the pigment of the benibana (safflower).  While the petals of this bloom are 99% yellow/orange, the other 1% are red and are harvested to make this traditional lip color.  One Komachi beni (Komachi refers to the traditional beni that comes layered in a bowl) requires roughly 2,000 flowers and yields about 50 uses. 

Safflower
(image from feedipedia.org)

Isehan has some amazing pictures of the beni-making process, along with a video.  I'll try my best to summarize it here.  The flowers are hand-picked (usually in early-mid July), fermented, dried into cakes and then soaked overnight in water. 

Beni production process

Beni production process

An alkaline solution is added and the mixture is pressed to extract the liquid. 

Beni production process

Then, an acid solution is very carefully added to separate and crystallize the red pigment.  If the acid solution is just a little off, the red will become blue or green, which is unusable.  The pigment is then strained through a finely woven cloth.  The end result is a mud-like consistency.

Beni production process

Beni production process

The bowls are painted and set to dry.  You'll notice it turns a beautiful iridescent green when fully dry. 

Beni production process

Beni drying(images from Google Cultural Institute)

As you can see, making traditional beni is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process - although some beni is manufactured by modern machinery - but the old-fashioned methods of producing it are only way to obtain that remarkable iridescence, and only highly skilled craftsmen can coax it out of the petals.  The iridescent quality, along with the fact that the opacity can be built up by layering, or conversely, toned down by adding more water, sets traditional beni apart from other cosmetic pigments.  The video below shows how to apply it.  Texture-wise you can see it's incredibly different from Western lipsticks, which use a lot of waxes and oils to make them emollient.  Beni appears to have a thinner, non-greasy consistency like watercolor.  And the iridescence is truly stunning - it reminds me of a beetle's wing.

As Glamourdaze notes in a post on beni, an interesting piece of history regarding the iridescence was that Japanese women in the 18th and 19th centuries were fond of pairing the very subtle iridescence of the red beni on the top lip with a bold green iridescent pigment from the stem of a bamboo plant called sasa on the bottom lip.  Hence the "sasabeni" trend was born.

Sasabeni, ca. 1880s(image from flickr.com)

print depicting sasabeni

print depicting sasabeni(images from printsofjapan.com)

The Museum of Beni, however, claims the green came from applying a ton of layers of beni so that the green iridescence overpowered the red, and the sasa name simply refers to the green color, i.e., it wasn't actually made from bamboo.  They also assert that the look was in style only for a short period of time, between 1804 and 1829 (oddly specific dates, no?  I wonder what their source is.)

Print depicting Sasabeni, ca. late 1800s, Isehan Honten Museum of Beni

I'm all in favor of bringing back this look!  Honestly I might actually try to recreate it sometime by wearing Lipstick Queen Eden (which would be perfect as it's a dead ringer for what I've seen of beni and also has a very subtle "magical apple green holographic shimmer") on the top lip and MAC's Deep With Envy lipstick on the bottom, with a tiny dusting of the Emerald shade from Kat Von D's Alchemist palette layered on top.  Not the same, of course, but perhaps it could be viewed as a modern twist.

Anyway, as for the Museum of Beni, some may say that it's a weak cover for a source of additional revenue for the company, but I disagree.  While beni was still being used in the early 20th century, the traditional Komachi beni was largely dying out.  Bo-beni (crayons) and compacts became much more popular than Komachi, and by World War II Komachi was almost completely gone as Western style lipsticks became the norm. 

Bo-beni

Compact beni(images from Google Cultural Institute)

Isehan Honten wants to profit, as any business does, but I do believe their museum comes from a genuine desire to preserve the heritage of beni and introduce this historic cosmetic item to people the world over.  If I hadn't been searching for cosmetic museums I might not never have heard of beni otherwise, and I research makeup as a hobby!  Beni is still so unknown in the West that many people, myself included, were confused by NARS's attempt to bring the concept to us in 2010.  While this set is inspired by traditional Komachi beni application (i.e. using a brush to apply pigment layered in a bowl), obviously the ingredients and effect are totally different.

NARS Bento Box, holiday 2010(image from chicprofile.com)

Another point to consider: authentic, high-quality beni is expensive.  In 2008 the UK's Telegraph reported that Isehan's product cost "70,000 to 300,000 yen (£335 - £1,440) for a pot holding less than a third of an ounce, or 30 to 50 applications, so an evening's use can cost up to £50."  In U.S. dollars that would come to $618 to $2,650, and I'm using the 2008 figures - it must be even more by now.  Historic French beauty company Buly 1803 also sells beni for a mere 420 euros ($446).  That's a bargain compared to Isehan.  ;)  Seriously though, I can't imagine a museum that showcases a product with such a hefty price tag would be much of a money-maker.  It might get people in the door and tempt them to buy it, but I highly doubt many visitors are actually going to drop nearly $700 on a lip product, especially when they can get a cheap knockoff intended for tourists (they're usually made mostly with food coloring and contain only a tiny bit of actual safflower).

Beni-knockoff(image from ebay.ca)

So I really don't think the Museum of Beni is a money grab.  As a matter of fact, I think Isehan Honten's museum is among the very few concerted efforts in the entire world to protect beni's heritage.   I don't think even the Pola Museum is doing as much to prevent beni from going extinct, and while some museums certainly own beni-related artifacts, no collections that I know of are as extensive as Isehan's.  It's not in their best interest from a profit standpoint to store and display all these items (why not just have a shop?) so I think they're truly dedicated to keeping the history alive.  A spokesperson for the company explains, “When we say protecting the traditional culture, it does not really mean we create a museum and just show off our products there...to help this kind of culture grow roots and stay alive, we think it’s important that it be accepted by the customers and actually gets used.”  So the salon is a way to enhance the history of beni - I see it as a tool used by the museum rather than the other way around, i.e. museum as mere retail accessory.  Sure, seeing historic cosmetic objects in cases is great, but actually being able to touch them and apply the product definitely hammers home the cultural importance of these items for the average visitor.

I hope you enjoyed this little overview of both the Museum of Beni and the product itself.  I am by no means an expert but I think what I have here is somewhat accurate.  Anyone want to weigh in?  Would you want to visit this museum?  You can see real-life pics here, if you're so inclined.  I know I must definitely make a trip!  And yes, I'd blow some of my savings to acquire beni of my very own...it's a totally unique product you can't get anywhere else, and incredibly full of culture and history to boot.


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!


MM summer 2016 exhibition

Summer.2016 poster.2pp

For this summer's exhibition theme I couldn't decide between a Mediterranean vibe or bathing beauties.  There were lots of other ancient Greece/Italian-inspired ads and items, but sometimes I could only find the ad and not the corresponding object or vice versa, which was driving me crazy.  Not to mention the fact that I would have felt pressured to write something on the use of ancient Mediterranean beauty ideals in both vintage and contemporary makeup, and I simply didn't have time.   What it boils down to is that I didn't have enough items from either theme to fill up 16 shelves worth, so I ended up doing both.  It's kind of an odd combo but in the end it was too difficult to do just one.  Plus I threw in a couple of items that didn't really have anything to do with either theme.  But overall, I still think the exhibition screams summer and I hope you do too. :) 

Oh, and the husband had the brilliant idea of posting the jpegs of the labels, so while I still printed out and mounted the labels on the shelves, they're in electronic form here as they're much easier to read than my usual crappy, blurry photos of them.

Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

MM-summer-2016-exhibition

MM summer 2016 exhibition top shelves

MM summer 2016 exhibition bottom shelves

Top row, left to right.

This ad was so bizarre/funny I had to buy it.  The "Italian Touch" campaign must have been quite large, since I found the ad in 3 different languages and also this bust used to promote the collection in store.  (It's so expensive but I may cave and buy it soon - it's very unique and I don't have any store props in the Museum's collection.)

Max Factor ad, 1957 and Leaning Tower of Pisa lipstick holder

Max Factor Italian Touch ad, 1957

You might remember I fell in love with this Leaning Tower of Pisa lipstick holder when I spotted it in Lips of Luxury.  One came up on ebay so I pounced.

Leaning Tower of Pisa lipstick holder

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer:

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Charlotte Tilbury/Norman Parkinson collection:

Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson collection

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

I am so grateful to Collecting Vintage Compacts for his very thorough posts on the Pompeian company (here and here). 

Pompeian Bloom ad and box

Pompeian Bloom powder box, ca. 1920-1926

Here is the ad text.  Incidentally, "Madame Jeanette", a "specialiste en beauté", was a completely fictional character dreamed up by the company.  (For you Simpsons fans, I guess it was a Tipsy McStagger sort of situation.) 

I don't even know where to start with the racism here.  Despite the inclusion of a "dark" tinted face powder, there's zero mention of dark skin tones themselves...plus there's also the use of "oriental" as a shade name.  Yikes.  As always though, I think it's important to include these types of ads to demonstrate how unacceptable this would be today.

Pompeian Bloom ad, 1926

Pompeian Bloom ad, 1926

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

This was another long-time wishlist item of mine that I was finally able to acquire.  I explored vintage lipstick holders back in 2013 and knew I positively had to have a mermaid lipstick holder of my own.  This one is from a company other than those I had seen before, but it's authentic.

Vintage Napco mermaid lipstick holder

I was going to put some fun-colored blue and green lipsticks in there but ultimately decided I didn't want to obscure the little gal!

Vintage Napco mermaid lipstick holder

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

NARS summer 2016:

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Anthropologie The Artist's Studio featuring Lou Taylor:

Anthropologie The Artist's Studio featuring Lou Taylor

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Third row, left to right.

Paul & Joe summer 2016 face powder:

Paul & Joe summer 2016 face powder

Paul & Joe summer 2016 face powder

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Quench Lip Rescues:

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Quench Lip Rescues

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Quench Lip Rescues

Guerlain Terra Ora bronzer:

Guerlain Terra Ora bronzer

Guerlain Terra Ora bronzer

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Too Faced Bathing Beauty palette and Chantecaille dolphin palette:

Too Faced Bathing Beauty palette and Chantecaille Les Dauphins palette

Too Faced Bathing Beauty palette and Chantecaille Les Dauphins palette

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

NARS Adult Swim promo (summer 2014) and Special Edition O blush...I could have sworn I tore out the Adult Swim ad from a magazine because I remember how much I liked the image, but went through my clippings and realized I hadn't.  Oops. 

NARS Adult Swim ad and Special Edition O blush

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

The Balm Beach blush and Stila Capri Colors trio

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Dolce & Gabbana Collector's Edition powders:

Dolce & Gabbana Collector's Edition powders

Dolce & Gabbana Collector's Edition powders

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Try as I might, I was unable to find a Woodbury ad that featured this particular box.  All of the ones I could find depicted a slightly different version of the box (the goddess figure is shown perched on a shell surrounded by flowers).  There are also other ads that have the same goddess as the powder I have, but she appears on a round box that's actually a set containing powder, blush and lipstick. 

Benefit catalog (2008) and vintage Woodbury powder box

Makeup Museum summer 2016 exhibition label

Any favorite pieces from this year's summer exhibition?

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Spotlight on the Smithsonian's cosmetics and personal care collection

Well, this is embarrassing.  The Curator is quite ashamed to be learning just now of the Smithsonian's collection of vintage cosmetic and personal care items.  Thanks to an email newsletter from Cosmetics Design a few days ago, I learned that the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has a collection of over 2,200 beauty and health items that will soon be digitized with support from Kiehl's.  (Um, hello, Kiehl's?  I know my museum isn't the Smithsonian but I'd sure appreciate some money to fund it.  Please and thank you.)  So there's an excellent selection of cosmetic objects right here in the U.S., a mere 45 minutes away from the Makeup Museum!  Since I can't get down there within the next couple of weeks I thought I'd take a peek at their collection online.  I was not disappointed - tons of good makeup, skincare and hair care items abound.  I picked out a few items I had never seen before and thought I'd share them here.

Collecting Vintage Compacts has an informative post on the Norida company.

Norida Fleur Savage powder, ca. 1924

Encharma powder, ca. 1930s

Once again, Collecting Vintage Compacts has a thorough history of the Edna Wallace Hopper company, among the first to use the name and image of an actress to sell beauty products.

Edna Wallace Hopper powder, early 1920s

I wish more companies did 3D embellishments like on this powder.  That red ornament survived remarkably well.

Piquante powder

I was so pleasantly surprised to see a little lady peering into a mirror rather than a spider in the middle of those webs!

Glebias powder, 1925

Don Juan lipstick - love the name and the cameo detail is great.

Don Juan lipstick, ca. 1946

Don Juan lipstick box, 1946

I'm really surprised most companies today haven't seized on the lipstick tissue gap in the market.  We have facial blotting sheets but not a lot for lips.  I think they're highly unnecessary but just the thing a company would invent to make money off of (and I'd buy it in a heartbeat if it had a graphic of a cool, cave-painting-esque huntress on it like this package.)

Kleenex lipstick tissues

I always think of multi-use products as a modern invention, but this eyelash and brow pomade from 1920 proves me wrong.

Lash and brow pomade, 1920

So. Pretty.

Magda Toilet Cream

Despite the box's claim of being "absolutely safe and harmless to anybody", the phrase "safe arsenic" seems like an oxymoron to me.

Safe Arsenic Complexion Wafers, ca. 1890

Totally misread the name as cocaine, but it's not.  This hair treatment is made from coconut oil.

Cocoaine hair treatment, 1906-1908

Here are the more health-related items.  I wouldn't necessarily include them in my own collection (well, maybe the bath items/soaps since I collect those too currently) but they're pretty interesting nonetheless.

Queen Beauty Toilet Soap, ca. 1908-1918

For a kid in the '60s I bet bathtime was a blast, what with all this fun packaging.

Crazy Foam monkey bottle, 1965

Crazy Bubbles bubble bath, 1966

More harmful ingredients...we think aluminum in deodorant is bad, what about formaldehyde?!

Thymoform deodorant, ca. 1940

Toothbrushes in the 1890s were usually carved from bone or wood and had pig bristles.  Thankfully most were made from nylon by the 1930s.

Toothbrush, ca. 1894

Who wants to see an old douche?  No, I'm not referring to Donald Trump.  The collection has a whole section of "feminine hygiene" products.  Apparently you were supposed to shove one of these "cones" in, um, yourself and leave it in overnight!  I can't imagine the irritation from the salicylic acid.  *shudder*

Sanite cones

The name "Dr. Shoop" cracks me up.  Also, I learned that a "chilblain" is an inflammation of the skin caused by an abnormal reaction to cold.  #themoreyouknow

Dr. Shoop's Green Salve, ca. 1920

Doesn't matter if you're a horse or a cow or a man - Taylor's Oil of Life can soothe what ails ya.

Taylor's Oil of Life Liniment, ca. 1900

They also had very early versions both Smith's Rosebud Salve and Tiger Balm, brands that are still around today and whose packaging has hardly changed.

What I really appreciated about the Smithsonian collection is that they seemed to have made an effort to ensure that beauty items for people of color were represented, especially in the hair items.  And in the brief histories of skincare, hair care and makeup, the museum included descriptions of beauty practices for women of color and resources on the topic in their bibliography - so many short beauty histories and timelines that I've seen mostly exclude non-white folks.

Walker's Glossine

Afro Sheen treatment

Mr. Puff hair oil

Pro Line Kiddie Kit Hair Relaxer, ca. 1979
(all images from americanhistory.si.edu)

I found it odd that Kiehl's did not have much in the way of vintage items.  It looked like the earliest objects were from the 1980s or so but as the Kiehl's name says, the company goes back to 1851.  I think it's rather telling that they included the 2010 Jeff Koons lotion - see, I told you current artist collaborations with beauty brands belong in a museum!  I'm happy that the Smithsonian agrees with me on that.  The only sad part is that so many of these aren't on display, which I guess is why digitization of the collection is all the more important.  But I think it also begs the question of why not put at least some of this stuff out?  Beauty items don't take up much room, after all.  Maybe Kiehl's should fund a special exhibition of collection highlights.

What do you think?  What's your favorite item I've shown here?

 


Quick post: An Estée Lauder compact museum: It DOES exist!

Or at least, it did.  In June 2014 the Northpark Neiman Marcus in Dallas opened an in-store Estée Lauder shop, and to celebrate the occasion, showcased nearly 60 of the company's limited-edition compacts.  I'm not too keen on the idea of having a compact exhibition in a retail setting, as it's simply an attempt to get people to buy things rather than appreciating the pieces on display and the history of the company.  I also didn't think too much of the cases and clear cylindrical mounts, which came across like those you'd find in a run-of-the-mill jewelry store. *cough tacky cough cough*

Estée Lauder compact museum, Dallas(image from theperennialstyle.com)

Estée Lauder Texas compacts
(image from dallas.culturemap.com) 

Having said that, at least these items got out of storage for a bit - most of them had probably never been seen by the public since they were originally released.  (In 2001 Estée had an exhibition of their solid perfume compacts at another Neiman Marcus in Florida, but not their powder ones.)  Also, this lucky lifestyle blogger who attended the event got exclusive access to ads and photos from the Estée Lauder archive, so go check them out. 

I had high hopes for these items to keep traveling, so after not finding any additional information I emailed Estée Lauder regarding the current whereabouts of this alleged museum.  I received no response, which is pretty obnoxious.  If customer service reps don't know about it they could try to find out from the higher-ups, or if the company is no longer maintaining this little project they could have at least replied with that.  I mean, someone there must know what happened to it!  I guess I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled to see if it ever pops up in other stores at some point.

Have you spotted this museum near you?  What do you think of the displays' aesthetics?