International brands

LM Ladurée's fall palette achieves perfect harmony

As with their spring 2017 collection, I suspect LM Ladurée was looking to the past when creating their fall collection this year.  (Same with summer 2017 which for some reason I completely forgot to write about!)  A lyre is kind of a strange motif and I thought it was the first time it had appeared on makeup, but as usual it has appeared on vintage pieces.  Before we get to those I want to take a moment to drool over the details of this truly resplendent highlighter.

Whoops, just realized the compact in this photo is upside down.  Sigh.

LM Ladurée fall 2017

The box is outfitted in a creamy powder blue color, reminiscent of Wedgwood ceramics, and features some lovely silver embossing.

LM Ladurée fall 2017

The compact packaging is a dazzling sparkly silver with the lyre motif in blue and more yummy silver embossing.

LM Ladurée fall 2017

LM Ladurée fall 2017

Another scrumptious detail awaits on the interior of the palette - an elegant blue wallpaper-like print with musical instruments in white.

LM Ladurée fall 2017

And here's the highlighting powder itself.  I'm positively enamored with the swans, as they look even more elegant in the powder than in the outer packaging.

LM Ladurée fall 2017

LM Ladurée fall 2017

LM Ladurée fall 2017

I thought a lyre was kind of a weird choice for a highlighter, especially with the addition of the swan.  The swan design may have been borrowed from clip art (which I've suspected before with LM Ladurée), but as we'll see, perhaps the company really did get inspiration from the lyres prominent in French Empire-era art and decor, which, in turn, drew on the depiction of the lyre in Greek antiquity.  

Swan lyre clip art

It's entirely possible that LM Ladurée was referring to the revival of ancient Greek style in post-revolution France.  We know Les Merveilleuses imitated the flowing togas seen in ancient Greek sculpture, and both the lyre and the swan are historically associated with the Greek god Apollo as he was the god of music.  (In fact, many depictions of lyres in ancient Greek coins and and vases show the lyre arms as swans or other birds).  The lyre was particularly popular towards the end of Louis XVI's reign and remained so throughout the Restoration, so roughly from the 1790s-1830s.  I found one example that's similar to the swan/lyre motif from the LM Ladurée highlighter as well as some other interesting lyre depictions which may point to the inspiration for the design. 

This photo is blur-tacular but you can just about make out the swans on the lyre.

French Empire style chair(image from newel.com) 

Some Merveilleuses and their ilk were represented playing lyres and sporting the classical Greek revival or Empire style attires popular in their circle.

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Madame de Stael as Corinne, 1808(image from the-athenaeum.org) 

Robert LeFevre, Woman with a Lyre, 1808(image from mystudios.com)

Woman Playing a Lyre, Workshop of Robert LeFevre, 1810
(image from syuminiki.tumblr.com)

If you look closely at the lyre in this 1800 fashion plate, you'll notice a swan - not forming the sides of the lyre but hidden in a cutout at the bottom.

Fashion plate from Costume Parisien, 1800
(image from pinterest)

In addition to the examples above, LM Ladurée shared a very interesting photo on their Instagram yesterday.  Granted, it was in relation to their holiday collection, but it seems my hunch about them actually looking at French furniture and art might have been correct.  This was the photo they posted, a view of the Grand Salon in the apartments of Napoleon III in the Louvre. 

Grand Salon, Napoleon III apartments

Do I spy...lyre-back chairs?! Indeed!  I don't think they have swans for arms, but this may have been what LM Ladurée's designers and marketing people were looking at when coming up with this highlighter.  Here's another view.

Grand Salon, Napoleon III apartments(image from flickr)

Napoleon III's reign was considerably later than the time of Les Merveilleuses, so I'm guessing the lyre's popularity stuck around until the end of the 19th century.  So while these particular chairs may not be Empire-era, I still find it fascinating that LM Ladurée posted this - it seems more plausible that they were looking at opulent French decor rather than clip art when designing their fall highlighter.

Anyway, the brand's spring 2017 powder box looked so strikingly similar to some vintage Terre de Retz boxes that I just had to poke around to see whether they may have been drawing on any vintage references for the fall collection in addition to post-Revolution French decor and art.  Given what we've seen above, I actually don't think LM Ladurée was influenced by vintage items, but it was pretty neat to see that the motif had appeared previously.  The earliest makeup packaging to include a lyre symbol came from Harmony of Boston and Leichner.  The excellent Collecting Vintage Compacts blog has a very thorough post on the former so I'll direct you there for the full history, but here are some examples of powder boxes from that company. 

Harmony of Boston face powder, ca. 1906

Harmony of Boston face powder, ca. 1914(images from collectingvintagecompacts.blogspot.com)

Harmony of Boston powder

I was unable to pull together a full history of Leichner, but the short version is that it was founded in Berlin by Ludwig Leichner in 1873 and focused on stage makeup.  But by 1902 Leichner's face powder was being imported to the U.S. for sale to the average woman, i.e., non-actresses who didn't require grease paint, just a subtle dusting of powder.  I'm assuming the lyre was a nod to Leichner's profession as an opera singer.

Leichner face powder box, early 1900s
(image from ebay)

Leichner makeup ad, ca. 1923(image from pinterest)

Vintage Leichner ad(image from sheaff-ephemera.com) 

I believe this is a slightly later version of the face powder (ca. 1930-40s), but the packaging kept the lyre motif.

Leichner face powder, ca. 1930s(image from ebay)

Now for some compacts, which obviously date a little later than the powder boxes.  This Stratton features a beautiful muse playing the lyre with a lush trail of peacock feathers floating behind her.

Stratton compact, ca. mid 1960s-early 70s
(image from pinterest)

These other compacts all have ties to music, so it's not surprising they made use of a classic music motif.  The story behind  Volupté's "Pianette" compact by is a little murky and I doubt there's even any truth to it, but it makes for an intriguing marketing campaign.

Volupté Pianette compact, ca. 1948

Volupté Pianette compact, ca. 1948(image from rubylane)

Apparently it was introduced in late 1948 as "a replica of a tiny piano that served as a marriage proposal". 

Volupté compact ad, November 1948

Volupté Pianette compact box
(image from worthpoint.com)

Volupté Pianette compact ad, December 1949

The full story is that the Pianette was inspired by a "hand-carved compact that an admirer presented to a famous European concert pianist at the end of an especially triumphant tour.  On the back a marriage proposal was inscribed - which was accepted!"  I have no idea if that's true, but it's a pretty good story nonetheless.

Volupté Pianette compact ad, May 1949

Most fittingly, the lyre was used on musical compacts.  I love the idea of having a little song play while I touch up my powder. :)

vintage Clover musical compact
(image from antiquesatlas.com)

Vintage Melissa musical compact

Vintage Melissa musical compact
(images from thefashionstudio.com and thevintagecompactshop.com)

I couldn't find much on the ones above, but I'm guessing they're from about the same time as this Elgin musical compact.  Elgin introduced a collection of musical compacts in late 1952, and 2 years later the "Ring Bearer" compact joined the lineup.  There were a number of different designs, including a couple with musical instruments, but the Ring Bearer was the only one that had a lyre as far as I know.

Elgin "Ring Bearer" compact, ca. 1954
(images from rubylane)

Elgin "Ring Bearer" compact ad, December 1954

Boy, they really put on the marriage pressure, right?  I mean, you could use that extra compartment for any number of items besides an engagement ring...but I guess then they couldn't call it the "Ring Bearer".  The ad copy is notable for being a reminder of what it was like back then for women - apparently your happiest moment was supposed to be when your man proposed, rather than, say, getting your Ph.D.  Don't get me wrong, being engaged is a very happy time, but it's pretty insulting to say that it's THE happiest.  Women have life goals other than marriage that may make them just as happy.  Sheesh.

Getting back to the LM Ladurée highlighter, I think it was well-crafted with lots of meticulous details.  I can't be sure whether the brand was really inspired by French Empire style or if they simply grabbed some clip art, but I do think them posting a photo of chairs with a nearly identical lyre motif as the one used for the highlighter wasn't accidental - it is quite possible LM Ladurée is in fact drawing on historical resources.  In any case, it's simply a beautiful piece both inside and out.

What do you think?

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Who let the dogs out? Pai Pai!

Let me start off by saying that I am not a dog person.  It might have something to do with having a truly nice cat for 18 years (always wanted to cuddle and never hissed once!), or regularly being exposed to my aunt's slobbering, hyper, incredibly smelly canines, or the fact that I was bit by a black Labrador when I was a teenager...there's nothing like a trip to the ER for stitches and a tetanus shot after some off-leash beast sinks its teeth into your leg at the exact moment the idiot owner is saying "Don't worry, he won't bite!"  (Insert eyeroll emoji here).  Whatever it is, I've always gravitated towards felines.  Having said all that, Pai Pai's latest collection, created by Pinut Brein, proved too cute for me to pass up. 

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai

I love that they all have names and in some cases have little descriptions and/or are based on real dogs.  Miau is the chihuahua, but I don't seem to have any other info on him.  The bichon frise is named Tiara, and she's adamant about making people know she's NOT a poodle.  Djoko, the Pomeranian, is actually a dog belonging to a Mexico City fashion and lifestyle blogger

Djoko
The French bulldog is a princess named Petunia.  She enjoys walks in the park, regardless of the fact that she doesn't have a boyfriend to stroll with.  :D

Petunia

Bono (a.k.a. La Corga) is the corgi. 

Bono

Rocco, the pug, is my favorite. 

Rocco(images from instagram)

Despite not liking dogs I've taken quite a shine to pugs over the past couple of years.  I think it's not only because of their adorable smooshed faces, floppy ears and little curly tails, but also because I suspect they're essentially Babos in dog form - I hear they're not very bright, but one of the sweetest and most loving breeds.  And they're lazy too, which describes most of our plushies to a T.  I don't think I've formally introduced Barney here at the blog or assigned him any Museum work, but he joined us last year.  I managed to get him to pose with the Pai Pai lipsticks, which he then tried to eat.  He definitely fits in with the rest of Museum staff, right?

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai

Now for some information on the artist.  Pinut Brein is a brand created by Mexico City based artist Maria...well, I'm not sure of her last name.*  So I'll just refer to her first name.   Inspired by the work of her architect parents, Maria always enjoyed sketching and doodling.  She kept her passion for drawing under wraps while studying audio engineering and working briefly as a sound/video editor.  But after meeting several other illustrators in her native town of Xalapa in 2012 and participating in their artist collaborative Malacara, Maria decided to strike out on her own and establish Pinut Brein in 2015.  (It's a play on "peanut brain" [cerebro de cacahuate"], a nickname teasingly bestowed upon Maria by her older sister).  I find her style utterly charming without being saccharine.  The illustrations work equally well as prints for one's living room as they would for nursery walls, i.e., not too mature for children but not too juvenile for adults.  And though they're stylistically pretty different, the ability of Pinut Brein's drawings to work on a range of items intended for different audiences is similar to that of Poni Lab

Pinut Brein

Pinut Brein

Pinut Brein

Pinut Brein

Her favorite animals are dogs and horses, and she dreams of owning a pony some day. 

Pinut Brein(images from facebook and kichink)

As for her artistic process, Maria tries to infuse each animal she creates with their own personality and assign human characteristics, such as a cat leading a punk band or a bear who's also a sailor.  At least, that's what I gathered from this quote:  "Desde hace mucho me ha gustado dibujar y crear personajes, la temática principal es el reflejo de distintas personalidades humanas en animales; por ejemplo, un gato y su banda de punk, o un oso marinero." Some are her own unique creation, while some are based on people she knows, hence the dogs of the Pai Pai collection having names or borrowed from real people.  I absolutely love this concept, as our plushies, though generally lazy and not very smart, each have their own distinct personalities.  The idea of giving animals individual character traits demonstrates the artist's genuine fondness for animals; you can tell there's a real love for creatures great and small, they're not just cute motifs to her.  I also admire the fact that Maria sketches with an actual pencil and paper first, then transfers the concept to a digital format and adds color and other finishing touches that way.  Don't get me wrong, digital illustration requires just as much skill, but I'm old-school and will always appreciate paper more than screens.  ;)

Here's one of her illustrations for Nylon Español.  I love the name of this cat-unicorn in Spanish: un "gaticornio".  So precious!!

Pinut Brein
(image from nylon.com)

In addition to the Pai Pai lipstick cases, the recent earthquake in Mexico spurred Pinut Brein to create illustrations of some of the rescue dogs who saved dozens of people trapped in the rubble:  Frida, Eco, Akasha and Titan

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pai Pai chose Frida and Eco to appear on some cosmetic bags, with all of the bags' sale proceeds being donated to earthquake relief. 

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai - rescue dogs cosmetic bags

Unfortunately with all the holiday releases I haven't gotten around to order these and it looks like Frida is sold out, but perhaps I will treat myself to Eco.  :)  And I can always buy this wonderful kit with stickers of all four doggies, since the proceeds from this also go to earthquake recovery efforts.

Pinut Brein - rescue dog stickers

So, despite my general preference for cats, this latest collection was definitely irresistible.  Pinut Brein must be very talented to make a non-dog person like me become smitten with these canines.  Which perrito was your favorite?

 

*The site I linked to lists "Maria del Mar Flores Ibarra"...but it seems kind of long to me, so I don't know whether it's just Del Mar or the whole thing. 

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Oh deer! Isa x Bambi

I have no idea how I missed this adorable collection when it was released last fall, but I'm glad I managed to track it down.  Since there are so many Disney collaborations I tend to be fairly selective as to which ones to purchase for the Museum, but I thought this Bambi collection from Korean brand Isa Knox was special enough to be worthy.  :)

Isa Knox Bambi

The outer packaging alone is lovely.  The sides of the boxes have delightful floral prints and Bambi illustrations.

Isa Knox Bambi

Isa Knox Bambi

More pretty floral patterns abound on the compacts themselves, and Bambi's brown fur gets a vibrant, overlapping watercolor makeover.

Isa Knox Bambi

Butterfly!!

Isa Knox Bambi

Isa Knox Bambi

I'm not much of a Disney buff, but I do follow a lot of art blogs, which is how I came across the story of artist Tyrus Wong (1910-2016).   Wong went largely unrecognized for his groundbreaking work on Disney's Bambi until the early aughts, but I'm glad he finally got his due, since his style was instrumental in setting the film's tone and atmosphere and also created an entirely new direction for Disney.  I thought it would be fun to look at the Isa collection within the context of the original Bambi art.

Wong was born in China and came to the U.S. when he was nine (Tyrus is an Americanized version of "Tai Yow" that a teacher assigned him in elementary school).  His father, taking note of his son's interest in drawing, taught him calligraphy every night using a brush dipped in water and "painting" characters on newspapers, as they couldn't afford ink or drawing paper. A junior high teacher noticed Wong's artistic skill and arranged a scholarship for him to attend the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where he studied both Western art and the landscape paintings of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).  Wong graduated in the early '30s and showed his work in exhibitions throughout the country.  In 1938 he got a job at Disney as an “in-betweener" drawing the thousands of frames that occur in between the main animation sequences.  I didn't know this, but "in-between" animation is incredibly dull and repetitive - it's basically assembly-line production.  When Wong found out Disney would be adapting Felix Salten's 1923 book into a film, he jumped at the opportunity to showcase his work. 

Tyrus Wong

"I said, 'Gee, this is all outdoor scenery...I said, gee, I'm a landscape painter. This will be great!'" Wong recalled in a video used in a 2013 exhibition of his work at San Francisco's Walt Disney Family Museum.  Using pastels and watercolors as well as inspiration from the Song dynasty landscape paintings, Wong sketched out a few samples with emphasis on the play between light and shadow rather than meticulously drawing each leaf and branch.  As you can see, it's more of a pared-down, Impressionist approach that evokes the forest rather than being a literal representation. "I tried to keep it very, very simple and create the atmosphere, the feeling of the forest,” Wong said.  Adds Michael Labrie, director of collections and exhibitions at the Disney Family Museum, "He visualized the forest as being ethereal...the sketches were more of an impression of the forest."

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Wong was definitely in the right place at the right time:  Disney realized that the ornate style used for the forest scenes in their 1937 feature Snow White, despite the success of the film, could not be carried over to Bambi.  The highly detailed leaves and trees were overwhelming, basically camouflaging Bambi and the other animals.  Wong's approach not only was perfect for the film's subject matter, but also presented a strikingly different direction for animated films.  “Walt Disney went crazy over them,” notes John Canemaker, who wrote about Wong in his 1996 book. “He said, ‘I love this indefinite quality, the mysterious quality of the forest.’”  Adds chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter, "This sophistication of expression was a gigantic leap forward for the medium."

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concepts for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concepts for Bambi

Here's short video with a few more paintings and commentary both from Wong himself and other people who worked on the film.  (There's another video here but I couldn't figure out how to embed it into this post. Sigh.)

After his time at Disney, Wong produced illustrations for live-action movies at Warner Brothers.  In his later years he continued painting and also branched out into kite-making.  His story is very inspirational, as he was a poor immigrant who worked incredibly hard to overcome not only poverty, but also endured the rampant racism against Chinese people to become an acclaimed artist.

Tyrus Wong(images from cartoonbrew.com and thisiscolossal.com)

Getting back to the Isa collection, I still think it's a solid addition to the Museum (and will look excellent in the fall 2017 exhibition so keep your eyes peeled!), but now a part of me wishes they had used Wong's paintings for the packaging.  As a matter of fact, I'd love to see more companies use original sketches rather than the finished Disney designs.  The only time we've seen the preliminary artwork for a Disney collaboration, at least to my knowledge, is with MAC's Venemous Villains.  

Anyway, what do you think?

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Executing makeup on the astral plane: Addiction x Hilma af Klint

Hilma-af-klint-studio
image from anothermag.com

I thought for sure Addiction's spring 2017 compacts featuring the work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) would be unattainable, as they were only available as a gift with purchase in Japan.  Fortunately a seller I frequent was able to get both for me!  I had heard of af Klint before and was intrigued by her work since I have a soft spot for colorful abstraction, but this collection made me admire it even more.  I really have no idea how the collaboration came about as the description at Addiction's website is pretty vague:  "We learned that a woman had painted these magnificent paintings at the beginning of the 20th century and wanted to know more about her." In any case I really enjoyed learning about af Klint and I hope you do too.

Much has been written about the artist, although that's a recent development due partially to the fact that af Klint stipulated that a group of her most significant paintings not be revealed to the public until 20 years after her death, fearing that they wouldn't be understood.  In fact, it took even longer for her work to be recognized; it wasn't until a major exhibition in 1986 that her name was on the art history map, so to speak, and I'm guessing this was also due to the patriarchy at work.  I don't want to spend much time reviewing her entire oeuvre, since I am not an expert and also because af Klint was a prolific artist, producing over 1,000 works (!) in her lifetime.  I'll provide a brief bio and then focus on the paintings reproduced on the Addiction compacts.  (Sources are linked throughout.)

Af Klint was born in 1862 and entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 1882.  This was a rarity for the time, as the art schools in most European countries allowed only men.  While producing the usual landscapes, botanical and animal drawings - af Klint was a vegetarian and animal-lover who worked as a draughtswoman at a local veterinary school - she had started experimenting with abstract designs before she graduated in 1887.  Af Klint, along with her contemporary Edward Munch (who, incidentally, once had a show in a gallery in the same building as her studio) were inspired by recent scientific developments involving phenomena unable to be perceived with the naked eye.  Hettie Judah at The Independent explains: "This was a period in which the 'unseen' world exerted a growing fascination – not only the emotional, experiential world of the human spirit explored by Munch, but the discovery of physical forces and elementary particles that formed the known world on a microscopic level.  In the late 1880s Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of electromagnetic waves: in 1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays. A vision of the world pulsing with forces and transmissions invisible to the naked eye was emerging."  Af Klint's interest in abstraction was also influenced by her spirituality - having attended seances since the age of 17, she was greatly intrigued by the spiritual realm, and the death of her 10-year-old sister in 1880 only intensified her interest in the occult.   In 1896 she formed a group with 4 other like-minded women artists and together called themselves The Five.  Roughly 30 years before the Surrealists, these women tried their hand at automatic drawing and writing.  Talk about being ahead of the times!  During one session in either 1904 1905 af Klint was "commissioned" by Amaliel, one of several spirits she claimed communicated with her, to create an extensive collection that would become known as The Paintings for the Temple.  In af Klint's words, the spirit guided her to "execute paintings on the astral plane" to represent the "immortal aspects of man." Completed between 1906 and 1915, the collection of 193 large-scale paintings were divided into several thematic series that "convey[ed] the unity of all existence beyond the fractured duality of the modern world. Different series within The Paintings for the Temple relate to the creation, man’s progress through life, evolution, and the human soul as divided into masculine and feminine halves striving for unity."  It was this collection that af Klint stipulated could not be shown until 20 years after her death, a decision influenced by the opinion of a prominent Swiss philosopher who visited af Klint in 1908 and speculated it would be at least another 50 years until people understood her art.

Anyway, The Ten Largest is the second series in the collection and was completed between August and December of 1907, quite a feat given their enormous size (10 feet tall) and af Klint's petite stature (5 feet).  The Ten Largest traces the human life cycle in 4 stages - childhood, youth, adulthood, old age - and the two paintings chosen for the compacts are No. 1, Childhood, Group IV and No. 5, Adulthood, Group IV.  Why Addiction selected these two in particular I don't know, but they do look lovely on the compacts. 

Addiction Hilma af Klint compacts

Addiction Hilma af Klint compacts

Interestingly, af Klint noted that she wasn't all that aware of what she was painting, taking on the role of a receiver or medium.  She explained, "The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke." 

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

There's something so beautifully organic about these - they appear to be idealized representations of cells, flowers and other natural elements.  I'll let the Royal Academy Magazine give a much better description:  "Snail-shell spirals, concentric circles and zygote-like forms nestle amongst coiled fronds and splayed petals (she also produced intricate botanical drawings), all dancing against radiant tempera backgrounds from terracotta orange to faded lilac. Forms bulge, overlap, conjoin in what an eye informed by contemporary science might liken to celestial bodies or cell mitosis; they are extraordinary pictures, immense and ecstatic." The 26,000 pages (holy crap) of notebooks af Klint kept provide some clues as to the meaning of various colors and motifs.  Blue and lilies symbolized femininity, yellow and roses stood for masculinity, and green was a universal color.  The letter "U" designated the spiritual realm, while "W" denoted physical matter, and spirals symbolized evolution.  This underscores that there was nothing passive about her process; in fact, she essentially studied her own work over the years, an example of which is a 1,200 page notebook that further analyzed the meaning of the images she had painted.  

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

Here's the original so you can see how it's actually oriented - Addiction re-situated the paintings horizontally to better fit on the compacts.

The Ten Largest, No. 1, Childhood, Group IV - by Hilma af Klint (1907)(image from anothermag.com)

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

Addiction Hilma af Klint compact

The Ten Largest, No. 5, Adulthood, Group IV - by Hilma af Klint (1907)(image from arteidolia.com)

Here are some of the eyeshadows.  I have 4 of them but couldn't bear to take the plastic off, so I hope you'll forgive me for the tiny stock photos.  I can absolutely see how the colors are inspired by af Klint. I guess they couldn't use the real names of the paintings, so some of them, like Flower Evolution, are merely reminiscent of af Klint's themes.

Addiction Hilma af Klint eyeshadow
(images from addiction-beauty.com)

I'm really glad Addiction is helping to bring af Klint to a wider audience because for so long she didn't get the recognition she deserved.  Five years before Kandinsky declared to have painted the first abstract work, af Klint was completing Primordial Chaos, the first collection in her monumental series.  Some art critics claim that af Klint's paintings were merely diagrams of the spiritual world or depictions of scientific concepts we can't see, not true abstraction (or at least, a different form of the genre).  That sounds plausible, but given that in 1970 the then-Director of Sweden's Moderna Museet turned down the offer of af Klint's entire estate because of her relationship to spiritualism and a more recent incident at MoMA in which af Klint's work was left out of an exhibition on early abstraction per the argument that it wasn't actually art, I'd say there's definitely sexism at work here.  When you consider that Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich, etc. all drew inspiration from spiritualism and are heralded as the pioneers of abstraction, leaving af Klint out of the conversation seems blatantly sexist.  When male artists borrowed spiritualist principles they were geniuses but when a woman did she was written off as a kook - not a real artist, just some crazy lady who happened to draw and paint a lot.  Perhaps there's also an unconscious bias over the fact that af Klint subscribed to theosophy, an area of spiritualist belief that was founded by a woman and is notable for being the first European religious organization that actively welcomed women and allowed them to have senior positions.  Additionally, the lack of renown could be the result of societal conditioning; women simply weren't encouraged to be at the forefront of art.  Af Klint was no exception - as noted earlier, she worked largely in isolation and didn't participate in the avant-garde discussions going on in the rest of Europe.  As Jennifer Higgie writes in Hilma af Klint:  Painting the Unseen (p.16): "[...It's] irrefutable that although women artists were tolerated, they were rarely, if ever, encouraged to express the kind of radical ideas that marked their male contemporaries as innovators...even though af Klint was one of the earliest Western artists to wholeheartedly engage with abstraction, the most visible discussions of it as a viable new artistic language were conducted by men, all of whom were proficient at self-promotion."  (Kandinsky was particularly known for puffing himself up.)  In any case, I think these issues make it all the more important to acknowledge her work.  Even if they're not "truly" abstract, af Klint's paintings are still vital to understanding the evolution of modern Western art.  And when you consider the fact that she was  producing these pieces in an atmosphere not exactly hospitable to women artists, it makes her accomplishments even more mind-boggling.  Adrian Searle at The Guardian agrees: "Too often for it to be an accident, Af Klint had an innate sense of how to make a painting, often with no artistic models to turn to. Her best paintings are airy, their forms and geometries delivered with an evident pleasure and openness...The scale and frontality and freshness of her work still stand up, in a way that many Kandinskys don't. Yet looking at photographic portraits of the artist, we see a stern woman who was far from cosmopolitan, and in whom there are few outward signs of emancipation. For a woman to be an artist at all in Sweden in the early 20th century was difficult enough. To be an artist who believed as she did must have made matters even more difficult."

Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out how Addiction got the rights to use af Klint's work on the compacts.  Having a collection inspired by an artist's work is one thing, but actual reproductions are trickier legally.  There is a Hilma af Klint Foundation governed by her family members, so possibly they granted the rights to Addiction, but that would be a huge feat for the company to pull off since the guardians of af Klint's estate protect the use of her work rather fiercely.  And of course there's the age-old question of whether a deceased artist would approve of their work being used this way.  I really can't say in the case of Klint.  On the one hand she seems like someone who wouldn't be interested in makeup - given that her life's work consisted of representing tremendously complex philosophical and spiritual ideas, she may have perceived cosmetics as frivolous.  On the other hand, this may also mean she'd be okay with people enjoying her art in whatever format it appeared.  Says Iris Müller-Westermann, Director of Moderna Museet Malmö, "This was really an artist who dared to think beyond her time, to step out of what was commonly accepted...she had visions about bigger contexts where it was not about making money or being very famous, but about doing something much more humble: trying to understand the world and who we are in it." Af Klint also seemed to believe that women should be equal, and part and parcel of equality is being able to express ourselves however we choose.  I'm not able to paint on a canvas but I can get creative with makeup.  I think af Klint would have appreciated that. 

Overall I'm delighted with this collaboration.  I am possibly the least spiritual person I know, but looking at af Klint's work I feel simultaneously curious about our place in the universe and incredibly at peace.  I can only imagine how I'd react if I saw these in person; an anecdote from the blockbuster 2013 af Klint exhibition notes that many visitors cried when faced with af Klint's monumental works but couldn't explain why, something that's happened to me when standing in front of certain works of art.  As for the Addiction collection, the colors and textures make me want to try to "paint the unseen" - just like af Klint but using my eyelids as a canvas!

What do you think?  Had you heard of af Klint before now?


Hey dollface: celebrating LM Ladurée's 5th anniversary

It was love at first sight with this precious doll-shaped powder box that Les Merveilleuses Ladurée released in honor of their 5th anniversary.  I mean, even the outer packaging is gorgeous.  As a collector, I was also overjoyed to receive a free tote bag from the seller, which I used as a background for these photos - isn't it pretty?  There is also a beautiful rose shaped blush with the same outer packaging that I have on its way to me, but the star of the show is clearly the powder.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

Both whimsical and sophisticated, this delicate doll figurine is outfitted in a sumptuous blue velvet dress with a purple satin ribbon.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

It looks like it might be heavy in the photos, but it's actually very lightweight and seems quite fragile - I was so afraid it would shatter if I dropped it.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

I wonder how many people bought this to actually use it and not collect.  While the velvet dress is lovely, you'd have to be really careful to make sure the powder doesn't get all over it. 

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

When I first laid eyes on this my makeup historian sense was immediately tingling; somehow I just knew this design wasn't new.  Upon searching for vintage doll powder boxes I came across many different kinds, most made of porcelain or ceramic, but the ones made of papier mache stood out to me.  That particular material jogged something in my brain and I suddenly remembered where I had seen them before. 

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

Yup, at the 2014 Makeup in New York exhibition!  How could I forget?  I guess I wasn't paying attention to the labels on these even though I took photos of them, LOL.

Terre de Retz powder box label

Terre de Retz powder box label

Terre de Retz was a line of doll-shaped powder boxes introduced by famed French department store Galeries Lafayette sometime around 1920.  This blog post had the full scoop on them and led me to buy this book.  Yes, I bought an entire book on perfumes just to get the tiny morsel of additional information it had on these powder boxes, and also because I had totally forgotten they were in this book as well.  Anyway, they were designed by Georges Duchesne (most of them are signed G. Duchesne) and came in a wide variety of styles ranging from Marie Antoinette-era fashions to 1920s flappers.  I suspect Terre de Retz was the inspiration for Ladurée's anniversary item, as both are constructed from a paper-based material and the general design for some of the Terre de Retz figurines is the same (i.e. the way in which the powder box is hidden and fits into the top part of the doll).

Terre de Retz ad, 1927
(image from cleopatrasboudoir.blogspot.com)

Masterpieces of Perfume book

The ones that appear to be the most common are these masked figurines and ones dressed in a mid-19th century style (at least, they resemble that period to my eye).

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

Some other ones I liked:

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

Terre de Retz powder box

My favorites though were the ones that most resembled the Ladurée figurine.  While these ladies flaunt a more French Revolution-era style in terms of hair and makeup, they have voluminous blue skirts, fans and necklaces.

Terre de Retz powder box

This one also has a bow.  I really wanted to buy it but it's missing the bottom part of the box, plus, as I sadly discovered, Terre de Retz figurines are not cheap.  This one is going for $695 on ebay and the lowest price I've seen for one so far is $299.  Maybe someday I will have one for my very own but not right now!

Terre de Retz powder box
(images from rubylane, ebay and pinterest)

While I have no proof that Ladurée drew on Terre de Retz for their 5th anniversary powder box, it would be quite a nice nod to their French heritage.  In terms of a more modern, artsy take on figural powder boxes, I'd dearly love for a company to collaborate with this contemporary artist - while she doesn't make powder boxes to my knowledge (only figurines), I think she'd come up with some amazingly imaginative designs given her style.

Thoughts? 

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It's 5 o'clock somewhere: boozy makeup packaging

I remember thinking how cute and novel these wine bottle-shaped lipsticks were when they were making a sensation back in the fall.  (I do have one on the way but the package somehow keeps getting delayed so here's a stock photo for now.)  I'm not a wine person - gives me a horrible headache - but I do appreciate adorable makeup packaging so this gets a thumbs-up from me.  I mean on the one hand I'm not fond of wine once again being associated with a clichéd feminine stereotype (all ladies love wine, shopping, chocolate and shoes, amirite?), but on the other hand, this lipstick is just too cute.

Chateau Labiotte wine lipstick
(image from beautyboxkorea.com)

Turns out, this isn't the first time lipstick has been designed to resemble booze.  I was positively tickled when, during one of my customary Friday night vintage makeup searches on Etsy (I lead a very exciting life, I know), I came across this miniature lipstick cleverly packaged as a whiskey bottle.

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

It really is mini!

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

I'd never heard of Carstairs before, but apparently from roughly the '40s through the '60s they did a good amount of advertising for their White Seal whiskey, which is still sold today.  In addition to the lipsticks, they offered mini screwdrivers and toothpicks, along with seal clock figurines and the usual print advertising.  According to one (no longer active) ebay listing, the lipstick bottles started being produced around 1944 and other listings say they're from the '50s, so I guess they were used as promotional items for a few decades.  Here's a photo of one in Madeleine Marsh's excellent book, which also dates it to the '50s. 

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick in Compacts and Cosmetics by Madeleine Marsh

I'm guessing that for the most part, the lipsticks were provided to bars and liquor stores and given away as a small gift-with-purchase, as there are quite a few full boxes of them floating around. I would have bought this one in a heartbeat because how cute would it have been to display it alongside a whole Chateau Labiotte set?

Vintage Carstairs whiskey lipstick set

Chateau Labiotte set(images from etsy.com and labiotte.us)

But the individual lipsticks are obviously a lot cheaper and I have many things I want to purchase for the summer exhibition, so I had to pass for now. ;)  As for the lipstick itself, a company called Christy Cosmetics, Inc. was responsible for producing it.  I couldn't find much information about it online, other than it was a New York-based company and was also the manufacturer of a line called Diana Deering (who was an entirely fictional character, or, as the patent puts it, "fanciful".)

Christy Cosmetics ad, 1944(image from what-i-found.blogspot.com)

Diana Deering ad, 1944

Diana Deering/Christy Cosmetics patent(image from tsdrapi.uspto.gov)

I'm sure there's information about Christy out there somewhere, but as usual I lack the time and other resources to do proper research, i.e., looking beyond Google.  If anyone knows anything about their relationship with Carstairs and how they were chosen to produce their promo items I'd love to hear it.

Uh-oh, we have a situation here.  Once again a certain little Sailor is up to no good.  "It's just my size!" 

Bottoms up!

I better go get this wrapped up and into storage before he smears it all over his face in attempt to "drink" the non-existent whiskey.  In any case, Happy St. Patrick's Day and I hope these lipsticks have inspired you to let your hair down and enjoy some adult beverages tonight!


Cock a doodle doo!

Consider this part 1 of a 2-part celebration of the Chinese New Year.  Later this week I'll be discussing some really cool vintage Chinese New Year-related finds, but today I'm looking at some contemporary rooster-themed items since 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. 

We'll start with Armani's lovely palette.  The design is similar to last year's, with a striking red outer case and a subtle engraving of the animal on the powder inside.  The characters on the 2017 case, however, apparently mean happiness and luck, whereas last year the character was "fu", which symbolizes fortune or good luck.  Alas, since I'm not familiar with a single Chinese character I can't say for sure what these are and have to rely on other blogs and press releases.

Armani Chinese New Year palette 2017

At first I was a little disappointed that the rooster was rendered in the exact same style as last year's monkey.  But then it occurred to me that if Armani continues releasing these palettes and maintains the same style of illustration, they will look utterly fabulous displayed together.  ;)

Armani Chinese New Year palette 2017

The rooster is the 10th sign of the Chinese zodiac.  Roosters are known to be "honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, and confident."  They also tend to be incredibly punctual, since for centuries roosters served as alarm clocks.  And this is interesting:  I didn't know this previously, but all the Chinese zodiac signs also correspond to the Chinese elements of fire, wood, earth, metal and water.  While the zodiac animal sign changes each year, the elements change only every 12 years, so each animal/element combination will only be repeated every 60 years.  Currently we're in a fire cycle, so this year it's a fire rooster. 

Armani Chinese New Year palette 2017

Next up is a handful of items from Etude House.  I was browsing their site to order some of their holiday collection, which I found out about quite late in the season, and spotted their adorable Chinese New Year lineup.  Completely different feel from Armani, but super cute and worthy of the Museum.

Etude House Chinese New Year 2017

Other beauty brands were eager to jump on the Chinese New Year bandwagon this year, so in case Armani and Etude House didn't do it for you, here are some more goodies.

Chinese New Year 2017 beauty products
 

  1. Givenchy Prisme Libre Loose Powder
  2. A'Pieu Full of Color Eyes palette
  3. LUSH Little Dragon bubble bar (this actually isn't new, but I'm so glad it's still around!)
  4. Guerlain Rouge G lipstick
  5. YSL Chinese New Year Blush Palette
  6. Laneige Water Bank set
  7. MAC Eyeshadow x 9

So that's the start of the Museum's 2017 Chinese New Year celebration!  Stay tuned for another (rather mysterious, I might add) Chinese zodiac festivity later this week.  ;)

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Natural beauty: Suqqu holiday 2016

Christmas is over, but I'm determined to try to catch up on some holiday collections!  Estée Lauder wasn't the only company who teamed up with a jewelry designer this holiday season.  Japanese brand Suqqu collaborated with Ayaka Nishi for two makeup sets featuring two of Nishi's best-known motifs.  I wish I could have found some information about how the collaboration came about and why these two designs were chosen, but didn't turn up anything. 

I picked up the set with the honeycomb pattern.

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

Suqqu holiday 2016

According to her website, Nishi has been fascinated with shapes found in nature since she was a child.  "Having grown up on the Japanese archipelago, Ms. Nishi’s work is rooted in the rich flora and fauna with which she interacted in her youth. Born and raised in Kagoshima, a medium-size metropolis in a mostly rural prefecture on Kyushuu island, she was influenced not only by the sophistication of city life but also by the bucolic countryside and pristine wilderness beyond. Thus, as a child she might spend one day admiring the fashionable denizens that paraded downtown, and another catching insects, discovering fossils, and gazing at the stars."  Natural, organic forms normally aren't my thing - they're usually a little too earthy/hippie for my taste - but Nishi combines them with a sophisticated, urban sensibility to make them incredibly chic and high-fashion.  (I also think it doesn't hurt that she studied art history as an undergrad. Ahem.) Nishi covers many different concepts so there really is something for everyone:  coral, feathers, fossils, spider webs, insect wings, leaves and branches are beautifully rendered in addition to honeycombs and fish scales.

Here's a peek at some of the honeycomb designs.  Stylistically they span a wide range from minimal, simple shapes to bold statement pieces.

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

This is the one that appeared on the Suqqu set box.

Ayaka Nishi

Just for fun, here's the Suqqu set featuring the fish scale motif and some examples of Nishi's fish scale designs. 

Suqqu holiday 2016 makeup kit - B

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

While the honeycomb is pretty and the fish scales have a little mermaid quality to them (irresistible to me, of course), I was more drawn to these bone/spine designs.  Understandably these probably wouldn't be the best selection for a makeup collaboration, since no doubt some would find them creepy, but they're my favorite out of all of Nishi's collections.  I'm not getting a macabre/goth vibe from them; to my eye, they're more straightforward and scientific, like an illustration you'd find in a biology textbook.  Again, they're pretty chic - bone jewelry can go a little Pebbles if it's not executed properly, but done right it can look really cool.

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

Plus, spines in particular represent strength to me. The term "spineless" is a synonym for weak, while "backbone" is used to convey a strong foundation or courage.  So I think they're also a little bad-ass.  :)  I'd proudly wear this spine cuff bracelet or choker.

Ayaka Nishi

Ayaka Nishi

On the more delicate side, I'm also kind of obsessed with these beautiful grain rings.

Ayaka Nishi
(images from ayakanishi.com)

Overall, I would have liked to see a design on the outer case of the palette rather than just the box and a more detailed pattern or jewelry replica on the makeup itself, but the minimal look of this set was nice enough to warrant a space in the Museum's collection.  Plus I love the work of this designer so it's good to have a makeup representation of her work on hand.  Because I am a collector I'm still wondering if I should try to get my hands on the fish scale set.  Oh, and today all jewelry at the website is 20% off so I'm seriously tempted to splurge on something.  ;)

What do you think?


Friday fun: This egg is not sunny side up

Back in the early fall I saw some beauty items with a very strange-looking character pop up on Instagram.  He looked kind of cute though and I was immediately intrigued.  I made a mental note to show the husband later because, well, I just had a gut feeling he'd like him too.  But later that very same morning the husband sent me an interview with the designer for this Japanese character and asked if I had heard of it.  It's proof of how well we know each other - we just had a feeling we'd both be smitten with this little egg, who has taken the world by storm since his introduction in 2013 by Sanrio (the company responsible for Hello Kitty).   Without further ado, please watch the very short video below for an introduction to Gudetama, a.k.a. the lazy egg!

I don't know if Gudetama is entirely lazy; there seems to be some depression, apathy, slight existential (eggsistential?) angst and general malaise mixed in with the laziness.  In other words, this egg is me.

Gudetama

Gudetama

Gudetama

Gudetama

Gudetama
Gudetama was the runner-up in a contest at Sanrio to devise a food-themed character.1  The designer who created him2, Eimi "Amy" Nagashima, had joined Sanrio just a year prior.  In an interview with AIGA (the very same interview the husband sent me that fateful morning), she tells the story of how Gudetama came into existence. "I was eating a raw egg on rice at home one morning and thought to myself that the egg was kind of cute, but entirely unmotivated and indifferent as well.  Eggs are phenomenal! The taste, lustre, nutritional value, and countless ways they can be prepared make eggs great, but for me, eggs that are relegated to the fate of being eaten also seemed despairing.  They seem entirely absent from any effort or energy, almost as if they were sick of the competitive world around them.  The personality I was imagining seemed to me to parallel people in modern society who despair amid economic hard times and who are talented but don’t feel like throwing themselves into anything...I try to reflect images of the people of modern society that I see in the news. I also draw on the so-called “Yutori” generation of people that have graduated from a good university but in economically challenging times, so feel hopeless and just cannot be bothered to make an effort...I never dreamed that Gudetama would become so loved and pervasive. When it debuted, I wondered if it might end up a flash in the pan."

Indeed, the winner of the in-house Sanrio contest, a slice of salmon named Kirimi-chan, is not nearly as popular as Gudetama in terms of social media following or the number of products he's appeared on:  Gudetama has made his way onto 1,700 items, including two very extensive collections with Korean beauty brand Holika Holika.  Before we dive into the massive amount of items I purchased from these collections, let's continue to egg-splore (sorry, can't help it) Gudetama's appeal.

Gudetama-sleepy

To Westerners, the idea of an anthropomorphic egg seems entirely bizarre, but in Japan, it's rather normal. Explains Manami Okazaki, a journalist who published a book on kawaii culture, “Japan has a long history of making food aesthetic, and merging food presentation and art...given that kawaii is one of the most prominent contemporary movements and resonates with most youth in Japan, it isn’t much of a surprise that food merged with kawaii design."  As for the sad personality, it's also not unexpected. Matt Alt, co-founder of pop culture translation company Alt-Japan says, "Many Japanese mascots will express emotions that Western mascots would not. In the West, mascots are used almost exclusively to cheer people up. In Japan, they’re often used to get a point across or act as mediators in situations where you wouldn’t want to express yourself directly...Mascots serve as blameless mediators and tension breakers of conflict in Japan. So a mascot that isn’t happy? That’s very familiar to the Japanese."  And while some argue that Gudetama represents the somewhat repressed nature of Japanese society, Alt disagrees:  "It’s true that Japanese society values considering the needs and thoughts of others. Especially in public. But that doesn’t mean Japanese people are incapable of articulating themselves.  I would say using mascots such as Gudetama is a more nuanced way of expressing oneself than simply verbalizing an emotion or typing it out. This is exactly the reason Japan is the country that invented emoji — those little blips and icons used to spice up a conversation by injecting an emotional quotient.  I don’t think you can look at Gudetama — or any mascot or emoji — and say they’re the product of an emotionally stunted civilization. They’re the product of a society that has found alternate and interesting methods to express itself."  Finally, while Gudetama's popularity in the West may seem odd at first, it's also not that big of a surprise, according to this article:  "Gudetama is also considered part of a new kawaii subculture called kimo-kawaii, or gross-cute, which is resonating more with underground youth culture than the sweetie-pie characters of yore...In the West, where weird for the sake of weird is a well-established marketing technique, kimo-kawaii characters are a natural fit. The U.S., especially, has a longstanding love of characters with bad attitudes..."  I also think Gudetama particularly resonates with depressed people, of which there are over 15 million in the U.S. (including yours truly).  For example, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to go home before I've even left the house.  My eyes almost popped out of my head with recognition when I saw this clip.  (Side note: I love the fact that he uses bacon as a blanket!!  Or mushrooms/tofu as pillows, unsuccessfully.)

Anyway, after watching nearly every Gudetama video I could find I picked out some (okay, too many) things from the Holika Holika collections.  The first collection, called Lazy & Easy, debuted in May, and the second was a holiday one called Lazy & Joy.  There was just so much variety - Gudetama appeared in so many different permutations that I simply couldn't narrow it down much.

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika Lazy Joy collection

I love the outer packaging...look at the bacon tape!!

Gudetama x Holika Holika

The inserts were also ridiculously adorable.

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika BB cushion cases

Gudetama x Holika Holika BB cushion cases

Gudetama x Holika Holika lip tints

Gudetama x Holika Holika skincare

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika

Gudetama x Holika Holika Tiramisu eyeshadow

Gudetama x Holika Holika blush

Gudetama x Holika Holika nail stickers

Gudetama x Holika Holika nail stickers

I must admit that I have a bit of an obsession with Gudetama's butt (and I'm not the only one).  Seriously, how cute is that little tuchus? 

Gudetama x Holika Holika

This is not accidental, either.  Gudetama's creator says of the animations, "Mostly we want [them] to be something easily relatable, and also place importance on Gudetama’s jiggly bottom...I get really obsessed with making the lines for its bottom."

Gudetama

Ouch! You added too much spice!

Gudetama

My favorite Gudetama butt moment, LOL.

Gudetama-little-red-riding-hood

While I did get so much that Museum storage is overflowing, I'm still hunting for the dry shampoo...the hair just cracks me up!

So, a very simple summary: I love Gudetama and am very happy he appeared on beauty products.  The husband adores him too and so we added a Gudetama plushie to join our menagerie - he's settling in rather well, since our plushies are definitely on the lazy side. 

What do you think?  Had you heard of Gudetama prior to the Holika Holika collection?

 

1While I love Gudetama with all my heart, I am dismayed that Soygeisha, a block of tofu that wears makeup, wasn't closer to winning.
2Nagashima says that the character is "devoid of gender", but for an easier time with pronouns I'm referring to Gudetama as a "he", which is the usual way he's described.


MM Smackdown: Brush holder bloodshed!

Mum.11-2016.smackdown.poster

In the spirit of Black Friday, which we celebrate in the U.S. by trampling each other to score cheap TVs and the latest must-have children's toy, I thought I'd put these ladies in the ole MM boxing ring to duke it out.  I found it pretty interesting that two companies decided to release vintage-inspired brush holders for the holiday season.  At first glance, they don't seem so different - both are from similarly sized brands, blonde with perfect cherry-red pouts and dainty pearl necklaces, but as we'll see each have their own unique secret weapons.

Bésame and LM Ladurée brush holders

It's gonna be intense, so...let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

"Step off, bitch!"  "Make me, whore!"

In one corner of the ring we have the Bésame brush holder.  With her bouncy ponytail that also acts as a handle and makeup straight from the 1940s, this girl packs a strong punch. Bésame is also available at Sephora, which could be seen as an advantage over her opponent.

Bésame brush holder

Bésame brush holder

But LM Ladurée won't be pushed around so easily.  She boasts an equally jaunty hair style with a striped bow, but her thick black eyeliner proves she's not playing around.  Her eyes seem to be closed, making her face (in my opinion) less creepy than Bésame's somewhat lifeless stare.  LM Ladurée is only available in the U.S. through international sellers, making it more difficult to track down.  However, this could be also be an asset in that hard-to-find items can be seen as more special than readily available ones.

LM Ladurée brush holder

While both appear to be made from ceramic, there are significant differences:  Bésame's shine and heftier weight pits her directly against LM Ladurée's featherweight feel and matte finish.  Bésame may be bigger and stronger, but what LM Ladurée lacks in brawn she makes up for in agility.  

Bésame and LM Ladurée brush holders

And while the size disparity doesn't seem that big at first, adding brushes is the true size test.  As you can see, Bésame edges out LM Ladurée in terms of storage space.

Bésame and LM Ladurée brush holders

I predicted this was going to be a particularly intense smackdown, and I was right.  Things are getting ugly!  LM Ladurée has seized Bésame's ponytail and is ferociously yanking her head around.  Bésame swiftly retaliated by tearing off LM Ladurée's hair tie.  Well, as long as they're not going for their jewelry I guess it's fair game.  Oh, I take that back!  They have now ripped off each other's necklaces...I just hope LM Ladurée doesn't reach for Bésame's earrings.  Hoooooo boy!  Someone's gonna get KO'ed soon, so in these final moments, tell me who you think wins.  Will Bésame's larger size and ergonomic shape take down LM Ladurée?  Or will LM Ladurée's international status, more subtle matte finish and lightweight feel allow her to cleverly maneuver past Bésame's blows?

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