Artist collaboration

Friday with Frida: more Kahlo-inspired makeup

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  In honor of this festive day I thought I'd do a quick follow-up to Republic Nail's Frida Kahlo-themed polishes.  Turns out, another beauty brand beat them to the punch in early 2016 with a line of lipsticks featuring packaging inspired by the artist.  You might remember how enamored I was of Mexican company Pai Pai back in 2015, when I was positively drooling over their concept of collaborating with a different Mexican artist each season to create limited edition packaging.  Anyway, I spotted their summer 2017 collection on Instagram and was once again smitten, so I decided to catch up and see what else they had been up to since I posted about them.  That's when I found these lipsticks.

Paipai - Talia Cu

The fashion illustrator/journalist behind these, Talia Cu (Castellanos)1 had a less literal interpretation of Kahlo's work than Republic Nail.  Cu was interested in expressing the essence of Kahlo herself rather than reproducing her work, wanting to explore Kahlo's personality and fashion sense more than her art.  To accomplish this, Cu looked to both Kahlo's general surroundings and the pictures of her personal belongings photographed by Ishiuchi Miyako.  As I noted in the Republic Nail post, Kahlo's clothing, accessories and other items weren't discovered in her home until 50 years after her death.  In 2011 Miyako embarked on a breathtaking series that captured Kahlo's spirit through her personal effects (over 300 were photographed!).  It was these photos, along with other meaningful items from Kahlo's day-to-day life, that Cu used as a jumping off point for her designs.  I tried translating Cu's explanation as best I could (my Spanish is incredibly rusty) from this Vogue Mexico article.2  "I wanted to give a unique perspective and not necessarily focus on her art.  Mainly, I took inspiration from the photographs Ishiuchi Miyako took of Frida Kahlo's things, and I also wanted to revisit certain iconic motifs in her art (watermelon, monkeys, the phrase 'viva la vida') to create this small universe that built her personality."  If any illustrator is suited to take on this task, it's Cu - one look at her Instagram, which is chock full of vibrant street fashion sketches and animations, told me she could breathe new life into Kahlo's style as expressed through various items.

Paipai - Talia Cu
(images from paipai.mx)

Ishiuchi Miyako, "Frida by Ishiuchi #2" and "#11"

Ishiuchi Miyako, "Frida by Ishiuchi #50"
(images from michaelhoppengallery.com and itsnicethat.com)

Cu imagined what Kahlo would look like wearing those cat-eye sunglasses, borrowing (I suspect, given the shape of the flowers atop her head) a portrait by Nickolas Muray.  The green and white polka dot print on the lipstick may also have been a nod to the green floral background from one of Kahlo's most famous photos.

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo
(image from nickolasmuray.com)

As noted previously, Kahlo kept several monkeys, along with a host of other animals, as surrogate children. (One thing I didn't know before was that monkeys were also a symbol of lust in traditional Mexican folklore.)  Cu created a charming monkey print to represent Kahlo's attachment to these animals.

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Monkeys, 1943(image from fridakahlo.org)

Frida Kahlo, 1943(image from nydailynews.com)

I thought a cactus print was kind of strange since I don't remember these plants appearing in any Kahlo paintings, until I did a little more digging - I spotted many cacti in the garden as well as a cactus wall surrounding Kahlo's beloved home, La Casa Azul (it's now a museum and I want to go!), so I'm assuming that's where it came from.

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul(image from latinflyer.com)

Watermelons were a popular motif in Kahlo's still-life paintings.  Once again Cu gives them a fun, playful twist - they seem much less heavy than the fruits that appear in Kahlo's work.   Knowing that Kahlo added the inscription on Viva La Vida, Sandias just a few days before her death, for example, is rather bleak.  Cu's color choice of bright blue and peach, as well as the exuberant, lightweight lines of the fruit, transforms the phrase into an upbeat slogan of sorts.  (Oddly enough, you can actually buy a ceramic watermelon with the inscription from La Casa Azul's gift shop.)

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo, Viva La Vida, 1954

Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Watermelons, 1953

Frida Kahlo, The Bride Frightened at Seeing Life Opened, 1943

Frida Kahlo, Coconuts, 1951(images from fridakahlo.org)

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm using stock photos of the lipsticks instead of my own, there's a simple reason:  Pai Pai's shipping cost was completely prohibitive.  I was finally ready to pull the trigger on some items from this collection as well as the summer 2017 collection, but when I saw the shipping cost my heart dropped.  I thought the prices were mistakenly listed in Mexican pesos, but no, they were clearly U.S. dollars.  I was going to do a screenshot of the cost, but in prepping the photos for this post it seems PaiPai's check out isn't working (I keep getting an "internal server error" message) so I can't show you.  I do remember the cost though: I had 3 lipsticks in my cart for $66 and shipping was $184.  I have no idea why shipping to the U.S. from Mexico is so steep.  I order from sellers all over the world and have never seen anything like this!  But I simply can't justify more than double the price of the lipsticks themselves.  It's not the total amount that's an issue - I've spent $200-$300 in one go before - but it's a waste to pay that much for shipping alone.  It's very sad for me and a little for the company, as they could have gained quite a loyal customer.  If shipping wasn't ridiculous I'd probably snatch up every collection in full.  As a last-ditch effort, I repeatedly called the one salon in the U.S. that carries Pai Pai and never had anyone pick up, and also DM'ed them on Instagram with no reply.  Hmmph.  Unless Pai Pai comes to their senses and reduces their shipping to a reasonably affordable price, or starts carrying the line in more locations within the U.S., I'm afraid I won't be acquiring any for the Museum.  :(

I don't want to leave on a negative note, as it's both Friday and Cinco de Mayo, so I will say that I think Cu's interpretation of Kahlo is both more inspired and uplifting than Republic Nails.  The illustrations are lighter and speak to the less tortured side of the artist - the objects chosen by Cu were ones that I imagine brought Kahlo happiness, fleeting though it was.  The idea of telling her story through her personal items and other things that had meaning for her, especially when combined with the emphasis on her fashion sense, is a unique way to represent Kahlo.  By consciously choosing not to focus solely on Kahlo's art, Cu gives us a fuller impression of her personality with these illustrations.

What do you think?  And are you doing anything for Cinco de Mayo?

 

1Normally with these sorts of collabs I'd show more of the artist's work but I think these lipsticks really encapsulate Cu's style...plus I had no idea how to work it in with all of the Kahlo stuff!

2The full quote is as follows: “Por mi antecedente en el campo de la moda, me interesé en Frida Kahlo no solo por su trabajo como artista, sino por la personalidad que lograba capturar en su vestuario, y su estilo icónico...Quería darle una perspectiva distinta y no necesariamente enfocarme en su arte. Principalmente, tomé inspiración de las fotografías que Ishiuchi Miyako tomó de los objetos de Frida Kahlo, y a la par retomé también ciertas figuras icónicas en su obra (la sandía, los monos, la frase "viva la vida") todo para crear este pequeño universo que la construye como personaje. Los colores por supuesto, tenían que representar esa alegría en su vestuario.”

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Poland meets Japan meets France

I spotted this Japan-exclusive Guerlain compact on Instagram and was afraid I wouldn't be able to snag it, but fortunately one of my trusty international sellers got it in stock.  The beautiful floral pattern is the work of Polish-born, Tokyo-based artist Przemek Sobocki.  I find the navy blue outline to perfectly complement the mix of spring green, pale lavender and an array of pinks, especially set against that pristine white background.  The delicate lines within the leaves lend a realistic, vivid touch. 

Przemek Sobocki for Guerlain

Przemek Sobocki for Guerlain

I really wish I had more information about how the collaboration with Guerlain came to be, but in lieu of that I thought I'd take a look at some of the artist's other work.  Sobocki specializes in whimsical, colorful fashion illustrations in a range of areas, from print (magazine features, ads, etc.) and animated shorts and to store displays and packaging.  Of his sources for inspiration and overall style, he says, "Mostly, I am inspired by cinema and books, and I really like 'reality' with a twist – basically 'magical realism' – I think our lives are not only about what we can see or hear or touch or taste, etc., they are also about the reality 'between the lines.' I am very interested in that part of life and of telling stories in this way; to evoke the feeling of suspense.” 

Przemek Sobocki illustration for Manish Arora, 2010

Przemek Sobocki illustration for Harper's Bazaar Japan

Przemek Sobocki illustration for Elle magazine, 2013

Some of my favorites include these amazing store displays for Japan's famous Isetan department store.

Przemek Sobocki store display for Isetan

Another favorite of mine is the "candyland" Sobocki created for online high-end clothing retailer Farfetch - reminds me a little of Will Cotton's pieces.

Przemek Sobocki for Farfetch

Przemek Sobocki for Farfetch

One thing I found interesting about Sobocki's work is that it's primarily a Western style with just a touch of Asian flair.  After opening two exhibitions in Japan, Sobocki knew he was ready to take the plunge into living there; however, he's not as influenced stylistically by Japanese culture as by his native European roots.  It's there, but in his words, not "obvious":  "I feel very comfortable here so the cultural differences [weren't] really much of a problem...there is definitely influence from Oriental culture.  But I guess it's not as obvious as [that of other artists] who live in Asia.  I'm still very inspired by European culture but I absolutely love Asian cinema - so the influence is there for sure!"  I feel as though these jellyfish decorating the windows of a Tokyo salon, along with the underwater scene Sobocki created for a child's bedroom, look a little more Asian - they remind me a tiny bit of the scenes you'd find on Japanese wood block prints.

Przemek Sobocki - window mural for Acqua Salon

Przemek Sobocki - window mural for Acqua Salon

Przemek Sobocki - wall mural

Just for fun, I had to include his rendering of the famous Copenhagen mermaid statue for a Farfetch campaign.  ;)

Przemek Sobocki - illustration for Farfetch(images from sobocki.com and instagram)

While his clients are primarily fashion brands, Sobocki is no stranger to beauty-related illustration.  I adore his interpretation of several looks created by the ultra-talented Pat McGrath for Dior.

Przemek Sobocki - editorial illustration
(image from sobocki.com)

Here's the actual makeup.

Pat McGrath makeup for Dior

A few more:

Przemek Sobocki - editorial illustration(images from sobocki.com and papermag.com)

Przemek Sobocki - editorial illustration
(images from sobocki.com and pinterest)

There was also this collaboration for a nail polish set.

Przemek Sobocki - UNT nail polish set(image from sobocki.com)

Despite his extensive portfolio of store displays and advertising campaigns, Sobocki maintains that illustration is his preferred medium because of the artistic freedom it provides. "[Illustrators] can show things differently. They are not bound by the physical limitations of their environment or the models in the same way that a photographer might be.  Instead, an illustration artist can bend the rules a bit and really explore the concept behind the clothes," he explains

Overall, while I would have liked to see more information about how the Guerlain collaboration happened and the inspiration behind the compact's illustration, it's definitely Museum-worthy.  I must remember to include it in next year's spring exhibition, since it arrived too late for inclusion in this year's.

Thoughts?


Friday fun: Julie Verhoeven for Marc Jacobs

If the psychedelic, whimsical illustrations created by British artist Julie Verhoeven for Marc Jacobs Beauty don't seem familiar to you, it's because they are quite a departure from the relatively restrained style she went with for MAC's Illustrated collection in 2012.  Five years after the MAC collaboration, Verhoeven has again made her mark on the makeup world by working with Marc Jacobs on his spring 2017 collection, lending her talents to create 2 makeup sets, both of which I purchased. 

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

The Enamored with a Twist set features a mishmash of motifs, including a clothespin, a disembodied mouth with a row of rainbow colored teeth and couple of goofily grinning faces.  According to the product description, Verhoeven was aiming to create "modern cartoon imagery".  Cartoony it is, but to my eye it has more of a '70s feel.

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Three glosses in lovely spring shades are included in the makeup bag.

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Velvet Reality is the name of the other set.  This one is my favorite of the two, as I love that frog's face!

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

The set contains mascara, a cream eyeshadow stick and eyeliner.

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

The illustrations are crazy and eye-catching enough as it is, but what I appreciated is that they were different from those from the Marc Jacobs fashion collection.  Although, I wouldn't have minded if they had simply chosen a couple and slapped them on the sets - I still would have bought them hook line and sinker.  They're just so fun!

It was quite an extensive lineup so I'm sharing only a few pieces. 

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

"With Marc Jacobs I tried not to be too polite with the graphics, sneaking in some phalluses and domestic appliances that sort of have no reason to be there," she says in an interview.  Indeed, with her Instagram hashtags for these pieces like "#phallicmushroom" and the bizarre inclusion of toasters and vacuum cleaners, her description is on the nose.  Of course, as with the makeup bags, the "Pill Popping Amphibian" is my favorite motif - he has the silliest expression.

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

I love spike details so these shoes were right up my alley.

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven
(images from marcjacobs.com and saksfifthavenue.com)

Verhoeven is truly multi-talented.  In the time since I last explored her work, she continues her illustration and fashion endeavors, but has also been dabbling in performance art with some pretty captivating shows in 2014 and 2016.  Still, I felt like these trippy, out-there illustrations were quite different from the rest of her work...until I realized she had collaborated before with Marc Jacobs all the way back in 2002 for a line of Louis Vuitton bags.  As it turns out, this groovy style isn't new territory at all for Verhoeven - right down to the frog motif, the designs for Jacobs this time around are very similar to the ones produced during their previous collaboration.

Louis Vuitton x Julie Verhoeven

Louis Vuitton x Julie Verhoeven

Louis Vuitton x Julie Verhoeven
(images from fashionphile.com, therealreal.com and chercoulter.com)

Getting back to makeup, I love the soft pastel shades included in the sets, but I'm more enamored of Verhoeven's own style.  An article in the Guardian describes her bold cosmetic choices: "Verhoeven herself is a jumble of different shades: at 9.30am she is sporting cobalt blue eyeliner, hot pink lips and cheeks and a whitened face, alongside blue tights, coral nail polish and a multicoloured dress. And somehow it all fits together. 'I can’t leave the house without the face on, I’ve got that down to under five minutes,' she says. 'It’s also a layer and a disguise, in a way – I’m aware I’ve got a masculine face, so the makeup is supposed to make me disappear. But really it’s absurd because it does the opposite.'"  She definitely gives me confidence to continue wearing crazy makeup colors as I approach middle age...although I'm not a cool artist so I don't know if I could pull it off.
 
Julie Verhoeven
(image from thekinsky.com)
 
Julie Verhoeven
(image from frieze.com)
 
What do you think of this collab?  Do you prefer Verhoeven's more traditional fashion illustrations of women, such as the ones for MAC, or her more surreal style?

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Fly me to the moon: NARS holiday 2016

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

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

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

Sarah Moon for NARS

Sarah Moon for NARS

Sarah Moon for NARS

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

Metropolis film(image from reelworldtheology.com)

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

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

Metropolis, 1927

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

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

Sarah Moon, Pirelli calendar, 1972

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

Some more examples:

Sarah Moon

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

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

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

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

Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon

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

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

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

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

What do you think? 


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

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

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 collection

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 brush set

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 brush set detail

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

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

Ashley Longshore, Her Glow Was Like the Sun, 2016

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 palette

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

A Glance of Perfection by Ashley Longshore, 2016

The lip glosses:

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 lip glosses

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 lip glosses

And the paintings.

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

Ashley Longshore - Blossoming Possibilities, 2016

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

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

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

Clé de Peau holiday 2016 collection

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

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

Ashley Longshore - Emerald, 2016

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

Ashley Longshore - Oh Happy Day, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashley Longshore, Audrey in the Moonlight with Peacock study

Ashley Longshore, Audrey and Peacock in the Moonlight

Ashley Longshore, Audrey With Art Nouveau Golden Peacock

Ashley Longshore - Audrey with Bedazzled Circle Dress and Damask

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

Ashley Longshore, Andy Warhol Marilyn Snow Globe Audrey

Ashley Longshore, Matisse Snow Globe Audrey

Ashley Longshore, Octopus Audrey

Ashley Longshore, Jellyfish Audrey

She can make anything look good!

Ashley Longshore, Audrey in Balenciaga Hat with Stormtroopers

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

Ashley Longshore, Amaze Balls

Ashley Longshore, Bat van

Ashley Longshore, Girl with a Pearl Earring

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

Ashley Longshore, No Whiskey No Weed No Wildness

Ashley Longshore, In Case You Are Wondering Where I Am

Ashley Longshore, Let Me Drink My Vodka In Peace

Literally LOL at this one.

Ashley Longshore, They Hated the Garden Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts?

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

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Murakami for Shu Uemura, round 2

I thought I'd get the holiday ball rolling with Shu's latest collection, their second collaboration with world-renowned artist Takashi Murakami.  The video above brings the collection story to life: "One late night in Tokyo, a young woman gazes up at the sky, dreaming of adventure and discovery.  Suddenly the infinite darkness is animated, a myriad of vividly colored flower-stars dance across the sky.  The wide-eyed, beaming flower-stars sweep her away on a cosmic journey, illuminating a new universe of beauty, and a galaxy of hope beyond her imagination."  As charming as the video is, I have to admit that the story, along with the packaging, didn't wow me at first glance.  And to tell the truth I'm still on the fence as to whether I really like this collection.  Let's see why.

I picked up two items, the Cosmicool palette and the cleansing oil.

Shu Uemura x Murakami palette, holiday 2016

Shu Uemura x Murakami palette, holiday 2016

Shu Uemura x Murakami palette, holiday 2016

Shu Uemura x Murakami cleansing oil, holiday 2016

These crazily grinning flowers are probably Murakami's most famous motif (they even had the privilege of taking over an entire room at Versailles), so it makes sense that they would end up on the Shu packaging.  Still, their use left me feeling a little underwhelmed.  Off I went in search of some deeper significance for Murakami's flowers in the hopes of finding the Shu collection to be more inspired than it first appears.

According to a 2002 interview, Murakami spent much of his early days drawing flowers: “When I was preparing for the entrance exams for the University of Fine Arts, I spent two years drawing flowers. I drew some every day. And the entrance exam in the Nihon-ga section also involved flower drawing. Afterwards, to earn a living, I spent nine years working in a preparatory school, where I taught the students to draw flowers. Once every two days, I would buy flowers for my lesson and make compositions for the students to work on. At the beginning, to be frank, I didn’t like flowers, but as I continued teaching in the school, my feelings changed: their smell, their shape – it all made me feel almost physically sick, and at the same time I found them very ‘cute’. Each one seems to have its own feelings, its own personality.”  I found that last sentence to be quite intriguing, since all of his flowers seem to have the same personality, yes?  It would seem that they're all happy and smiling, as in these examples.

Takashi Murakami, Such Cute Flowers, 2010

Takashi Murakami, If I Could Reach That Field of Flowers I Would Die Happy, 2010(images from christies.com)


Takashi Murakami, Future Will Be Full of Smile! For Sure! 2013(image from martinlawrence.com)

Takashi Murakami, Flower Ball(image from 1stdibs.com)

However, Murakami's ambivalence towards flowers - simultaneously finding them both "cute" and unappealing - is actually expressed in many of his flower works.  In this article from 2011, Murakami explains how the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a key influence in the formation of his style, along with American and Japanese cartoon characters:  "There is brightness. But my real story has a kind of darkness...I expanded it to include some of the characters that you see in my work...Mickey Mouse and the characters from Japanese games. There is the contrast between the cuteness and the cruelty. And the sadness and the cruelty and the cuteness are symbolized by the characters. So this is how my early work began. As an expression of sadness and cruelty.”  If you look closely at some of the flower paintings, some of them aren't smiling; on the contrary, they're crying.

A weeping flower can be found towards the upper right in this one. 

Takashi Murakami, Flowers in Heaven, 2010

I zoomed in and cropped the image so you can see it a little better.

Flowers in Heaven - detail

And another on the right, it's a small flower with pale pink leaves and a white center.

Takashi Murakami, Field of Smiling Flowers, 2010(images from christies.com)

Murakami's work went especially dark in 2012, when he interspersed skulls with flowers for an exhibition at the Gagosian.  The collection of 28 works for the exhibition continued one of Murakami's "central dichotomies of his art—between joy and terror, his optimistic magnanimity as an artist and his pessimistic perspective on postwar Japan."  But it was also a response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  "Natural catastrophes and earthquakes are things caused by nature. Such chaos is natural, but we have to make sense of it somehow, and so we had to invent these stories. That is what I wanted to paint,” he states.

Takashi Murakami, Blue Flowers and Skulls, 2012

More recent works also have the sad flowers, even the ones with seemingly cheerful titles. 

Takashi Murakami - Flowers Blooming in This World and the Land of Nirvana, 2013

Detail (look below the blue flower on the bottom right):

Takashi Murakami, Flowers Blooming in This World and the Land of Nirvana - detail
(images from paddle8.com)

Takashi Murakami, Flowers with Smiley Faces, 2013

Takashi Murakami, Flowers with Smiley Faces, 2013 - detail
(image from jbmirai.com) 

Even though sometimes the flowers aren't as bright and positive as they seem, I was pleased to see at least some explanation of their meaning for Murakami and the deeper ideas he's trying to express through them.  And there aren't any sad flowers in the Shu collection, so I think it was intended to be magical and optimistic, which is more appropriate for the holiday season.  Having said that, I would have liked to see an original flower piece for the Shu collection.  There are so many flower paintings I simply couldn't tell whether these particular flowers were borrowed from another work or if they were something new created just for the Shu collection, but it would have been nice to know.  Even though my cursory investigation yielded some answers, I'm still a little perplexed by the selection of flowers for this collection, especially after seeing the making of the video.

It's so elaborate - hiring dancers to "wrap" the city, a carefully thought-out nod to Murakami's background (he makes a cameo as a taxi driver, which was his father's occupation), and music selection - it seems like more work went into making the collection video than the packaging.  And going back to my previous statement that Murakami's flowers are his best-known motif, they really do appear everywhere, from cushions to key chains to sneakers.   There was even a pop-up cafe in Tokyo devoted to Murakami's flowers last year.

Murakami Cafe

Murakami cafe - food(images from mori.art.museum)

This year Murakami introduced his own line of flower-adorned sake, which will be served in the bar he owns in Tokyo.  

Takashi Murakami - sake

Takashi Murakami - sake(images from spoon-tamago.com)

All of this is to say nothing of his long-time collaboration with Louis Vuitton, which, incidentally, featured a collection with the same name as the Shu palettes!  Cosmic Blossom debuted in 2010; both of this year's Shu palettes are also titled Cosmic Blossom.  My hunch about the packaging being somewhat uninspired seems correct in light of all this.  It seems like the company just decided to slap Murakami's most iconic symbol on there and call it a day, without protest from the artist.

I also can't help but wonder whether I agree with this 2007 take on the artist's business endeavors: "Unfortunately, since around 2001 Murakami has been so set on merging fine art with commercial product that by now all he’s doing is moving merch. The best that can be said about Murakami’s new work is that he’s making pretty money. Or pretty empty money. The main attractions of this exhibition are 50 little happy-faced flower paintings and six large portraits of a haggard-looking Zen patriarch. The flowers are insipid. So are the portraits, although at least with them Murakami is up to his old extreme stylization. But the real content of Murakami’s art is money and marketability. Hence, each of the 50 silly flowers reportedly goes for $90,000; the portraits, about $1.5 mil per unit. Four better larger flower paintings run about $450,000; two boring pictures of severed hands, about $400,000. Needless to say, the gallery reports everything is sold."  Ouch.  While I don't want to appear nearly as harsh, on the one hand, I'm sort of in agreement that Murakami just might be a bit of a sell-out at this point.  Having your key motif on commercial items is fine, but when it appears on so many things, it loses a little something - it just doesn't seem as special.  On the other hand, I admire any artist who also possesses this level of business acumen; in this day and age, it's basically expected that artists will embark on these sorts of partnerships.  I mean, I have an entire category of posts on makeup/artist collaborations!  And while I do think at times it's something of a cash grab, putting one's most recognizable work on merchandise isn't an entirely terrible or tasteless thing, as it ensures accessibility for those who can't afford the original.  I wouldn't mind having those little flower faces smiling at me from an original painting, but since I can't afford those, having them on makeup (or key chain, or whatever you prefer) is the next best thing.  It's the same concept as couture house makeup:  A tweed Chanel jacket is out of my financial reach, but I can buy a Chanel blush with a tweed pattern on it.  It's also a way to introduce one's work to an audience that might not necessarily be familiar with it otherwise. For the vast majority of artist collabs that I've covered, I can't say I've heard of the artist prior to their working with a makeup company and I really enjoy finding out about them this way.

So where does that leave me in terms of the Shu collection?  I guess the bottom line is that I think it's worthy of the Museum's collection since it does incorporate the artist's best-known work, but it's not the most inspired we've seen.  Especially not when compared to the previous Murakami collection, which, though it borrowed one of the artist's animated works, at least had a more original theme.  Perhaps if Murakami had created a unique flower design specifically for Shu I'd be more enthusiastic.

Thoughts?


A trio of city-themed treasures: Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown

This was one of those collections I didn't think twice about, just pounced as soon as it was available at Neiman Marcus.  As the insert above indicates, for the brand's 25th anniversary, Bobbi Brown collaborated with illustrator Richard Haines to create 3 palettes that represent 3 of the world's top fashion cities: Paris, London and New York.

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown

Here's Paris.  The woman's outfit is great, but I particularly love the rendering of the Eiffel Tower.

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown - Paris palette

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown - Paris palette

London - the trench coat is perfection:

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown - London palette

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown - London palette

And here's New York.  Those striped tuxedo pants look so familiar but I can't place them.  However, I'm almost positive that's a Balenciaga City bag.

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown - New York palette

Richard Haines for Bobbi Brown - New York palette

Now for a little background on Richard Haines.  The New York-based artist started drawing at the tender age of 5.  In an interview for Opening Ceremony's blog, he says, "Everyone else was drawing airplanes, and I was drawing wedding dresses...I stayed with my grandparents every summer, and my grandfather got The New York Times everyday. When I was about ten, I was looking through it and there was coverage of the Paris couture collections–this was like 1962 or 1963. They were all drawings. You know, there were no photographs because they didn't have the technology to send them back then. So it was all of these beautiful fashion illustrations of Givenchy and Dior, and they were so elegant. I remember thinking 'Oh my god, how can someone make these beautiful drawings with just a few lines and give out all that information?' That was kind of where the obsession started."  

In scrolling through his Instagram, two things immediately jumped out.  One, Haines is left-handed.  You know how I'm fascinated with lefties!

Richard Haines

Two, he's got a great sense of humor. 

Illustration by Richard Haines(images from instagram.com)

Naturally I kept scouring his account to find some favorites.  Haines is a regular at the world's biggest fashion shows now, and he greatly enjoys the immediacy and energy of the runway:  "Drawing at the shows is incredible—there is something about the intimacy of that moment. I find that, if someone asks me to do something after a show from photos, it’s never going to be the same, its never going to have that aliveness. There’s something about the energy of the model on a runway, what that designer is presenting, the kind of the vibe of the audience and that’s all in that drawing—or at least, I want it to be, that's the goal!"  In looking at his work I can definitely see the bustling liveliness of the shows.  The lines are almost haphazard, borderline sloppy, yet still form a cohesive and powerful image.  For example, in the sketches Haines created for this year's couture shows at Paris Fashion Week, I was able to easily identify all of the clothing.  At first glance the pieces look rather hastily, frenetically drawn, but ultimately the image comes together to perfectly capture the fleeting essence of fashion.

Illustration by Richard Haines

Here's a comparison to the actual dress.

Illustration by Richard Haines - Alexis Mabille couture, fall 2016(images from instagram.com and vogue.com)

Illustration by Richard Haines - Giambattista Valli couture, fall 2016

Illustration by Richard Haines - Giambattista Valli couture, fall 2016(images from instagram.com and fashiontimes.com)

Illustration by Richard Haines - Schiaparelli couture, fall 2016(image from instagram.com)

Schiaparelli couture, fall 2016(images from vogue.com)

While Haines is a fixture at the front rows, it's street style that seems to intrigue him the most.  In his mind, runway displays aren't that much different from the street - both involve people-watching, one of Haines's favorite activities.  "I've realized I have a short attention span and fashion is perfect for that, because it's a continual feed of ideas, color, performance, beauty, and people. It's really exciting! I mean I really just love watching people, even just walking down the street here [in Bushwick]. I see these amazing kids and in its own way, it's a fashion show," he says

Haines focuses primarily on menswear, something that in my mind seems to be somewhat lacking from the oeuvre of most fashion illustrators.  I love women's fashion, of course, but it's good to see the guys getting their due.  Even though the Bobbi palettes only feature women, which makes sense since they're makeup, I still appreciate a collab with an artist who generally doesn't have such an emphasis on women's wear.

Illustration by Richard Haines

Illustration by Richard Haines

Illustration by Richard Haines

Illustration by Richard Haines(images from instagram.com)

My favorite series is one he did for high-end men's fashion site Mr. Porter (the men's equivalent of net-a-porter.)  Haines visited 6 different cities, interviewing and sketching the owners of his favorite looks.  I like to think of these as a sort of precursor to the Bobbi Brown palettes.  While these are actual people and the women on the palettes are more of a general representation of that city's style, the concept is similar.

Richard Haines for Mr. Porter

Richard Haines for Mr. Porter

Richard Haines for Mr. Porter

Richard Haines for Mr. Porter(images from blog.jedroot.com)

Haines also has several fashion collaborations under his belt.  Not a surprise, since he was a designer himself for over 25 years before returning to his original passion for illustration.  He tells Out, "I moved to New York thinking I wanted to be a fashion illustrator, but my style wasn’t really developed, and it wasn’t assertive, confident. There’s something apologetic about it, so I stopped doing it. That’s when I became a fashion designer for 25-30 years.  By the time I started it again, I had the confidence to get behind it, and to really own my work -- which was not that long ago. I think that’s when my style happened." 

Richard Haines for Dries van Noten

Richard Haines for Dries van Noten
(images from vogue.com)

In addition to teaming up with Bobbi Brown, this fall Haines also collaborated with Moore & Giles for a collection of leather goods.  I like the overall look of the illustrations.  They're sporty - most of the men are engaged in some kind of athletic activity - but still refined and gentlemanly (especially the dude in the top hat and tails).

Richard Haines for Moore & Giles

Richard Haines for Moore & Giles
(images from mooreandgiles.com)

Overall, I like the slightly disheveled, immediate feel of Haines' work.  While I do think it's a bit odd to have a collaboration between a makeup brand and a fashion illustrator whose main interest is menswear, Haines demonstrates he's equally adept at drawing well-dressed women as well as depicting a particular moment or atmosphere - perfect for capturing the individual, of-the-moment style of the world's most fashion-forward cities.

What do you think?  I wonder how much Haines would charge to draw the husband...he is immensely fashionable and I'd love to see him wearing one of his best outfits in illustrated form.  :)

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Shu Uemura Art of Hair cleansing oils

It's kind of a moot point that these beautiful Shu cleansing oils slipped through my radar last year, as 1. they were Australia-exclusive and I had no way of purchasing them; and 2. they're technically hair products, so it's a bit outside the Museum's purview.  Still, they're pretty awesome looking so I wanted to share them anyway.  

As the first installment of their Art Series, in May of 2015 Shu teamed up with 3 Australian artists to design 3 bottles for the brand's Cleansing Oil Shampoo.  The collection was released at a VIP event at Sydney's China Heights Gallery.  

Shu Uemura Art of Hair cleansing oils(image from buro247.com)

First up we have fashion designer Emma Mulholland, whose quirky, surf culture-inspired pieces are making her a favorite among the likes of Kanye West, Azealia Banks and Grimes.  Photos of her spring/summer 2015 collection, entitled "Risqué Business", adorned the walls of the gallery where the oils were being displayed.

Emma Mulholland - Risque Business collection

Emma Mulholland - installation view

Mulholland, a graduate of Sydney's TAFE, made her solo debut at Australian Fashion Week in 2013 and cites '80s and '90s pop culture as her main sources of inspiration.  "I love pop culture and watching movies is one of my favourite ways to relax. I like movies from the 80s and 90s mainly so I’m always inspired by them, also a lot of bands and musicians from those times too," she says.  I can definitely see these  influences in her work, from the '80s pops of neon and geometric shapes to the '90s-esque platform sneakers and overall silhouettes.

Emma Mulholland - Spring Break collection

I'm particularly fond of her "Spaced Out" collection - it's an incredibly fun riff on the conspiracy theory that aliens built the Egyptian pyramids.

Emma Mulholland - Spaced Out collection, fall/winter 2013

As for the Shu collab, Mulholland explains, "Shu Uemura got in contact with me about the Art Series and it sounded like a really exciting project so I jumped at the opportunity to work with them. It was great because I got to look back through my archive prints and work with them on choosing one that would work for the bottle. [It's] a print from one of my very first collections ‘Bad as I Guana Be’. The theme was the Mexican desert but mixed with basketball—so that’s how it came about."  It's totally bizarre, so naturally I love it.

Emma Mulholland - iguana print

Emma Mulholland - Bad as I Guana Be collection, spring 2012/13(images from emmamulholland.com, , buro247.com and theurbanlist.com)

Next up we have tattoo artist Dean Carlyle.  I was unable to find any information on how the collaboration with Shu came about, or any other biographical information about him, but I think we get a good sense of his aesthetic just by looking at his tattoos.  Big, bold, traditional-style tattoos are his jam - none of the delicate, single-needle stuff we see so much of these days (although I must say I prefer the latter!)  These are definitely not for the faint of heart.

Dean Carlyle tattoos

Dean Carlyle tattoo

As for the Shu oil, you can see the rest of the illustration as it was installed in the gallery.  The stock photo of the bottle at the beginning of this post only gives a partial view of the fierce woman that wraps around the side and back of the bottle.

Shu Uemura Art Series installation view

I think the design on the Shu oil is most reminiscent of these drawings by Carlyle.

Dean Carlyle tattoo artwork

Dean Carlyle tattoo artwork

Dean Carlyle tattoo artwork

You can catch a peek of more of his work at the gallery.

Dean Carlyle tattoo artwork(images from deancarlyletattoo.com), styleicons.com, and buro247.com)

Finally, we have New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based illustrator Andrew Archer.  Originally trained as a graphic designer, Archer is influenced by woodblock prints and his stints living in Asia, which is readily apparent in his work.  Archer created a Japanese warrior-inspired design for the Shu collab.  I think this one best represents the product given its emphasis on the hairstyle.

Andrew Archer - Shu Uemura

The Shu collab caught Archer a little off guard, but he was pleased with the end result.  He says, "I was initially curious as to why [Shu was] wanting my work specifically for the collaboration, most beauty brands play it pretty safe with their imagery and in contrast Shu Uemura wasn't at all shy about wanting to get something different, stylistic and contrasting incorporated into their brand. This was almost entirely what made me want to work with Shu Uemura - the chance to create something unique, and present something to a new audience who could join in the visual journey Shu Uemura and I created together."

Andrew Archer - Shu Uemura print

Archer describes his style as "free flowing, confident but quirky coloring and surreal," which we can see in these prints for the FIA Formula E racing championship series.  I also like how sharply Archer captured not only the cities in which the championships took place but also the speed and motion of the cars -  you can practically hear the "whoosh!" as they zoom by.

Andrew Archer - FE series

Andrew Archer - FE series

Andrew Archer - FE series

Of course, I'm partial to sea creatures.  I think you can especially see the influence of woodblock prints in these two.

Andrew Archer

Andrew Archer - California magazine cover

Some more of his work at the China Heights Gallery:

Andrew Archer - gallery installation(images from andrewarcher.com and buro247.com)

Overall, I'm dismayed that this collection was exclusive to Australia, and I find it odd that it didn't even make it to the Asian markets - if they had, I may have had a chance of acquiring these.  I know technically they're hair products but I still would love to have gotten my hands on them.  What's even sadder is that there is another artist series that Shu did earlier this summer and it's the same Australia-exclusive shtick, so I can't get those either.  (I'm still going to cover the series anyway though so stay tuned!)  Finally, I really admire whoever curated/installed the gallery show.  If I had a physical museum, artist collabs would look a lot like this.

Which is your favorite?  I liked all of them but I think Emma Mulholland's is my pick.  While she didn't create an original design specifically for the collaboration, the sheer absurdity of the lizards and basketball print, plus the fact that it had absolutely nothing to do with hair care, made an excellent choice for the bottle in my opinion.

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The French Riviera by way of Greece: Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

Teaming up with an illustrator rather than a photographer was quite a refreshing change of pace for NARS.  For their summer collection the brand collaborated with Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias to create a collection inspired by a weekend getaway to the French Riviera.

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

Clockwise from top left: NARS Topless, Deep End, Tan Lines and Pool Shark

Clockwise from top left: NARS Topless, Deep End, Tan Lines and Pool Shark eye shadows

NARS blushes in Sexual Content and Liberation

NARS blushes in Sexual Content and Liberation

Aaaaand I just realized I'm missing 2 of the lip covers - there should be 4 total.  How did I space on ordering those?!

NARS Lip Cover in Overheated and Get Dirty

Anyway, Kakanias shared his inspiration in a very short interview which shows him at work creating the illustrations. "I'm very happy Francois Nars gave me this opportunity to have an imaginary weekend, and to create this weekend with these women...I imagine them by the sea, I imagine them by the sunset in the south of France, their reflections on the water, hidden by leaves, having a glamorous yet chic and fun life and really capture the magical beauty."

 

Let's take a peek at some of Kakanias's other work.  While most of it seems to be for the New York Times Magazine, he's done many other collaborations, including one for Templeton fabrics and illustrating a book by famed perfumer Frédéric Malle

Here are a couple of pieces from Paris fashion week back in the fall of 2013.  While stylistically very different, the subject matter reminds me a little bit of Alber Elbaz's work for Lancôme in that it captures not just the clothes seen at fashion week but the atmosphere - in addition to what's coming down the runway, they depict scenes of the industry's most notable figures mingling and the never-ending attempts by paparazzi to catch them in action.  The two also seem to share a sense of humor about the fashion world, which I always appreciate.

Konstantin Kakanias - Paris fashion week

Konstantin Kakanias - Paris fashion week

Konstantin Kakanias (images from nytimes.com)

Kakanias also has experience with interpreting makeup looks, so the NARS collab wasn't unfamiliar territory.  Check out these illustrations of the gold eye shadows seen at the spring 2014 runways.

Konstantin Kakanias - Dior spring 2014 makeup

Konstantin Kakanias - Dries Van Noten spring 2014 makeup

Konstantin Kakanias - Gucci spring 2014 makeup

Konstantin Kakanias - Jason Wu spring 2014 makeup(images from tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com, cocoafab.com, myfunnyvalentineblog.com and livingly.com)

What I'm most fascinated by though is his depiction of his alter ego, Mrs. Tependris, whom he introduced in 1996 for a New York Times Magazine article. Mrs. Tependris is "a caricature of an art collector and a high society doyenne who Kakanias uses as 'a metaphor for the state of contemporary art and its superficial reception by the public'".  This character even has several books chronicling her adventures. 

Konstantin Kakanias - Mrs. Tependris

Here are parts of her diary from the fall 2013 couture shows in Paris.

Konstantin Kakanias - Mrs. Tependris

Konstantin Kakanias - Mrs. Tependris


Konstantin Kakanias - Mrs. Tependris(images from nytimes.com)

Prior to her turn at the 2013 shows, Mrs. Tependris hit the big screen in an animated short film called "Tependris Rising" in 2012, after a 4-year hiatus.  “I love her, but sometimes I get angry with her and swear I’ll never draw her again, then out she comes again,” said Kakanias of the project, which really served as a marketing piece for L.A. label Co's fall 2012 collection.  Mrs. Tependris's absence from the fashion world was explained by her being cryogenically frozen.  She is so impressed with her rejuvenated appearance that she must get back to the runways, post-haste.  I don't know what I love most in this film -  the spider who recognized her during her departure from the cryogenics lab, Kanye's reaction when she announces she's back, the big underwater dance number at the end set to Bowie's "Let's Dance", or her response to the assistant when he asked if she was in the show:  "I'M the show!" she says. 

 

Mrs. Tependris was, of course, voiced by Kakanias.  The idea of a female alter ego by a male artist also reminds me a little of Marcel Duchamp's Rrose Sélavy...I think it would be great if both she and Mrs. Tependris each had their own dedicated makeup collections. ;)

Getting back to the NARS collab, I admire the way Kakanias adjusted his style ever so slightly to express Nars' vision for his collection.  While his other illustrations are, of course, fashionable, I think he upped the glam factor for Nars.  These women seem just a tad more chic and sophisticated than what he's done previously.  I also like the way he matched the collection's colors on their faces in the boxes for both the eye shadow and lip glosses, i.e. the models are wearing the enclosed shade.  While I still think a collection featuring only Mrs. Tependris would be pretty baller, I'm happy with this.

What do you think of Kakanias's work and the NARS collab?  And do you have an alter ego?

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Quick post: summer fun from Anthro

 

I was browsing Anthropologie a few weeks ago and came across the latest collaboration for the store's Artist Studio line.  This time Anthro teamed up with UK-based illustrator Lou Taylor for some truly fun summer goodies.  More from Anthro's website:  "Brighton-based illustrator Lou Taylor draws inspiration from midcentury fashion illustrations, Busby Berkeley dance routines and pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Patrick Caulfield. Her motifs repeat instantly iconic images against citrus-bright backgrounds for an eye-catching, joyful effect."  In both the short video above and in the prints used for this collaboration I can definitely see these influences, particularly Busby Berkeley's "By A Waterfall" number from 1933.

I didn't buy everything but I sure wanted to!

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

How cute are these mini printed nail files?!

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Taylor's illustrations are produced on a variety of items, with brooches being the most popular.  Many of the prints for the Anthro collection were borrowed from her bather-themed Lido line.

Swimmers scarf by Lou Taylor

Bather brooch by Lou Taylor

One of Taylor's favorite muses is Carmen Miranda, who appeared on the Tahitian Monoi fragrance packaging for the Anthro line.  Here she is in brooch form.

Carmen Miranda brooch by Lou Taylor

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie Tahitian Monoi

Some of her other work...we just need some Abbi and Ilana earrings and we'll be all set!

Yas Kween brooch by Lou Taylor

Here is the artist's ode to her favorite film, Pretty in Pink:

Andie brooch by Lou Taylor

Duckie brooch by Lou Taylor

But I think the one that rings my bells the most is Taylor's Lipstick City items from her Pop collection, for obvious reasons.

Lipstick necklace by Lou Taylor

Lipstick print by Lou Taylor(images from lou-taylor.co.uk)

Taylor tells Anthropologie, "A lot of [my artistic process] happens in my mind—I’m always planning and daydreaming. When I sit down to sketch, it’s pretty much a finished design. I create papercuts of my work first so I can play with patterns in real life as well as digitally...My mum is a painter and has been a source of constant inspiration in my life. I think I’ve always had a paintbrush or pair of scissors in my hand. I took the plunge and went full-time four years ago, and I’ve never looked back!"  Here's to many more of her whimsical creations.

Will you be picking up anything from this collection?  In addition to the Anthropologie items I have my eye on that lipstick necklace, or maybe the earrings (yes, she ships to the U.S.!)

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