International brands

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  According to one (no longer active) ebay listing, the lipstick bottles started being produced around 1944 and other listings say they're from the '50s, so I guess they were used as promotional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?


Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

I loved Maquillage's Snow Beauty compact from last year so much that getting my hands on the 2016 version was a top priority.  Even the outer box is gorgeous.

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

The theme for each year's design is inspired by images of snow in a particular city.  Last year's took its cue from Helsinki, and this year's inspiration comes from the Big Apple.  From the Maquillage website:  "The concept for 2016 version is 'Diamond Dust' dancing in New York.  It keeps flying freely being fluttered by breath of the energetic city.  Only shining snow from the skyscraper's window that confines the sky began to dance, and the moment the shining snow runs about in a big city was cut to the compact design." 

At first glance the etching didn't really remind me of buildings - it had kind of an abstract, almost Art Deco feel - but once I saw the rest of the design it was a little more recognizable.  The snowflakes are also cut off in places to look as though they're falling in between and behind the "buildings".  This touch, coupled with the smaller dots of snow, produces an excellent likeness of a snowy cityscape.  It's an elegant, if idealized, recreation of one's perspective if they looked up at skyscrapers during a snowstorm.  Nothing in particular about the design really screams New York to me, but it's just so darn pretty I'm willing to overlook that.

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016 design

I like that they changed the design on the powder itself ever so slightly from last year's.

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2016

I also love that the company put together a short film to further enhance the compact's theme.  And fortunately this year it was subtitled so I was able to follow along (well, sort of.)

Despite the subtitles I'm still not 100% sure what was going on, but it seems that the architecture student experiences a renaissance of sorts through the encouragement she receives from the train conductor.  In a dream, he quite literally turns her world upside down and presents her with the compact as a keepsake to remind her of what she can achieve.  At least, that's how I interpreted it.

Overall, Maquillage's 2016 Snow Beauty compact is a lovely little addition to the Museum's collection and will be one of the star pieces in the holiday exhibition.  It would have been nice to see a slightly more literal New York-inspired design, but I still think it's better thought out than last year's.

What do you think?


The owls are not what they seem: Laneige x Lucky Chouette

As soon as I laid eyes on this collection a while back I knew I had to procure it for the Museum.  For the 3rd iteration of their Laneige Meets Fashion project, this fall Laneige teamed up with fellow Korean brand Lucky Chouette (chouette = owl in French.)  Lucky Chouette is actually a sister line to Jardin de Chouette, a higher-end line founded in 2005 by Jae-Hyun Kim.  Since I'm feeling too lazy to describe the aesthetics of each, I'll direct you to this great profile of both over at Style Bubble.

And now for the makeup!  How freakin' cute are these owls?!

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

I learned that they have names and personalities.  Bella is the pink owl and Vely is the blue one.  Laneige describes them thusly:  "Chouette, which means 'owl' in French, is a symbol of good fortune. An encounter between Laneige and Lucky Chouette gave birth to a lovely pair of owls that promise to bring good luck to all.  We have two muses: Confident, outgoing, and outspoken, Bella Chouette is especially charming with her full lips. Shy Vely Chouette is prudish and prone to blush."

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Bella's eyes are actually part of a plastic overlay on top of the blush, but she's still pretty adorable without it.

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

I figured that obviously Lucky Chouette clothing would be chock full of owls, and my hunch was correct.  While there are plenty of pieces without the owl motif, the bird does figure prominently and comes in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Lucky Chouette

Lucky Chouette

Lucky Chouette
(images from luckychouette.com)

In poking around the Lucky Chouette site, I learned that besides Bella and Vely, the owls from past seasons also have their own names and personalities.  Too bad I don't know Korean, because I'd love to understand the creation story.

I would also be able to read about each owl's style and character traits based on these little bios that pop up when you click on one of the owls.  I always like to see a designer that really thinks about their work.  In the case of Jae-Hyun Kim, these profiles show that she genuinely thought about each creation and their style inspiration - it's not simply "I think owls are cool so I'll just slap a bunch on my clothes", there's actually a story behind each one. 

Marine Bebe Chouette - Lucky Chouette

Icy Chouette - Lucky Chouette

My favorite, obviously, was the punk-inspired Rebel Chouette...at least, her spiky crown looks to be pretty punk.  She's particularly lucky too!

Rebel Chouette - Lucky Chouette(images from luckychouette.com)

Now let's take a quick peek at the original Jardin de Chouette line, which, you guessed it, also works in several owl designs each season.  The photos below are from shows spanning 2006 through 2014.

Jardin de Chouette

Jardin de Chouette

Jardin de Chouette(images from jdchouette.com)

Overall, I enjoy the styles of both Jardin de Chouette and Lucky Chouette - I'd wear one of those owl sweaters from the latter in a heartbeat.  Perhaps it's the extensive use of a beloved critter, or the fact that there's a higher-end line and a diffusion line, but this is reminding me quite a bit of Paul & Joe and Paul & Joe Sister.  Of course, the silhouettes and general aesthetic/feel are different, but both Jae-Hyun Kim and Sophie Mechaly express their allegiance to their favorite animals by working them into their collections in new and exciting ways each season.  I also think Lucky Chouette was a great choice for a collaboration with a makeup line.

What do you think?  And are you more of a Bella or Vely?  I'm more of the shy Vely type, although I like to think I have Bella's lashes.  :)

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Vroom vroom! Makeup and cars

Buckle up and start your engines, 'cause you're in for a wild ride!  Well, as wild as this boring old curator can be.  ;)  I almost feel like I need a flow chart or diagram to explain the myriad and complex ways cosmetics can be related to cars, and by extension, women. I can't go into much detail since that would be an entire book, but I can provide a basic summary.  The first thing that comes up when I searched for "women and cars" is images of "hot" (read: young, thin, usually white) women standing next to, or perched on top, a car.  Traditionally these women have been used to sell cars to men; but instead of the opposite (i.e. showing hunky male models), makeup can be used to persuade women consumers into buying a car, and sometimes vice versa (a car is used to sell makeup).  Makeup and car collaborations are fascinating, I think, because they're so obviously an attempt to coax a population that's usually not associated with cars into taking an interest in automobiles, and what better way to do that than to appeal to a woman's supposed vanity?  Obviously, I love makeup and don't believe many aspects of it are un-feminist, but I do find trying to reach a female customer almost solely through the use of makeup to be remarkably sexist.  These tie-ins are also interesting when we think of the admittedly shady strategies used by Mary Kay.  Instead of being a passive consumer of cars and cosmetics, a woman could sell makeup to earn a pink car - the reverse of some of the ads and collaborations we're going to look at today. 

Starting in the 1950s makeup became a way to get women on board with the idea of car ownership.  As this site devoted to the Dodge LaFemme, the first car marketed specifically to women, explains, "Shortly after World War II (and the Korean War) America entered a new era of prosperity and success. The days of one car families were fast becoming obsolete and families were now buying second cars to accommodate their new lifestyles. Suburbs were springing up outside urban areas and super highways were the wave of the future...Living in the suburbs meant the breadwinner had to drive to work downtown each day, leaving the housewife without a car. With the current prosperity being experienced in America, it seemed natural to go out and buy a second car for 'the wife'. But what car to buy?...Gone were the days of 'the wife' simply staying at home. If 'the wife' was getting a new car, then Dodge needed to produce a car that 'the wife' would want to be seen in."  

In addition to the cars' overall design that was meant to entice women, an exclusive makeup kit was included to emphasize that this was a vehicle made especially for the ladies.  The 1955-56 Dodge LaFemme was a pink (naturally) car that boasted not only a matching raincoat and umbrella - if, heaven forbid, you got a flat tire in the rain - but also a special compartment hidden in the armrest supplied with an Evans compact and other items. 

Dodge La Femme

1956 Dodge La Femme

1956 Dodge La Femme interior

1956 Dodge La Femme makeup

From the photo below it looks like Elizabeth Arden's Ardena was also included, which seems odd - why go with two cosmetics brands?

1956 Dodge La Femme makeup kit(images from historydaily.org)

Apparently La Femme failed to be a popular seller.  Despite the alluring inclusion of cosmetics, the rest of the marketing was not on the same level as that for other automobiles.  "Some suggest that the flop of the La Femme model was due to its lack of marketing exposure. It was only displayed on single-sheet pamphlets; there were no shiny demonstration models and no evidence of magazine, radio and television advertisement. It was likely most American women never even knew it existed at the time."  Well, color me surprised - promoting a car geared towards women was not treated with the same importance as other (men's) cars?  Shocking!  Sarcasm aside, it is interesting that Dodge didn't see the need to spend the same amount of advertising dollars.  If anything, I would think a car company would have to work doubly hard and put more funds towards marketing for a segment of the population that typically did not own cars.  Guess they thought the makeup kit alone would hook women in without having to do a ton of additional advertising.

Despite this failure, Elizabeth Arden followed suit in 1959 with a tie-in to the Chrysler Imperial.  The makeup and skincare kit was stashed in the glove compartment.  The advertising also highlighted women's ability to be totally in control while still, of course, retaining a ladylike manner:  "The Imperial 1959 is powerful but well-tamed...does what you ask, instantly, serenely...you sit head-high, imperially straight, as becomes a woman whose car is so much hers that even the interior fabrics are an obedient and tasteful foil for her ensemble."  In a world where women couldn't even have a credit card in their own name, I could see how the prospect of independence and power through owning a car solely for her use would definitely be appealing.  Still, if we're to follow the aforementioned '50s narrative of suburban families with the husband as primary breadwinner, how empowered could his wife really be?  Even if she drives a car designed for women, the man still paid for it. 

Elizabeth Arden Chrysler Imperial ad, 1959

Elizabeth Arden Chrysler Imperial ad, 1959(images from imperialclub.org)

While Chrysler made a bigger marketing attempt than Dodge by placing ads in Vogue, I'm not sure if the sales of this car in "Arden Pink" fared any better than LaFemme.  Nevertheless, automobile companies had alternatives for getting cars on women's radar via other sorts of collaborations with makeup companies.  Take, for example, this 1955 Cutex ad for a red shade inspired by Ford's Scarlet Thunderbird that "separates the sirens from the sissies!"  If you're woman enough to wear this color, you're woman enough to own a Ford.

Cutex Slightly Scarlet ad, 1955(image from flickr.com)

Yet another tactic was the giveaway.  In 1967, Dorothy Gray and its sister brand Tussy (owned by the same company) advertised sweepstakes to win cars in the same shades as their lipsticks, which naturally had car-themed names like Defroster. 

Dorothy Gray Honda ad, 1967(image from ebay.com)

Tussy Mustang ad, 1967(images from przservices.typepad.com)

More recently, in May Givenchy revived the idea of a car designed just for women in the launch of the Givenchy Le MakeUp, produced by French manufacturer DS.  Le MakeUp borrows Dodge's concept of esconcing an exclusive makeup kit in the armrest.  The car is also "fitted with a special LED lighting system on the two sun visor mirrors in the front seats, for ease of make-up application before or after driving. Floor mats feature the limited edition Givenchy logo, while the dashboard is rose pink." While the exterior isn't pink, I can't help but be amused by the fact that they retained at least some inclusion of the color. 

Givenchy-Le MakeUp-car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car(images from forbes.com)

Not only that, but "Whisper Purple" is used for the roof, mirrors, a hubcap accent and finally, to fully tie the car to the makeup, as a nail polish in the cosmetics kit.  There's also a video of Ruth Crilly, founder of the popular beauty site A Model Recommends, highlighting the car's various features while wearing the makeup.

Givenchy whisper purple nail polish(image from dsautomobiles.co.uk)

While the promotional copy claims that the car was designed to "meet to meet the expectations of many modern-day women who are always on the go," Givenchy's Artistic Director for Makeup Nicolas Degennes says, "I dreamt of a car that would enhance the beauty of women. They would be beautiful because they would be at the helm of the new DS3, a vehicle that characterizes this era. Beautiful because of colour, the reflections on the face. Beautiful because of the liveliness of the pink interior.”  Indeed, even the style of the tires, one the company calls "Aphrodite," reference beauty ideals for women.  All of this further bolsters my opinion that the notion of gendered cars is astonishingly dated and sexist.  Givenchy may have come up with a modernized version of the "Arden Pink" Chrysler or Dodge LaFemme, and while many more women today are making their own car payments, the cosmetic aspects of the DS's design remain firmly in the '50s.  Especially since the inclusion of makeup in a car meant for women completely ignores the fact that this is the 21st century, and there are men who wear makeup as well as non-cis genders.  Finally, there are still folks out there who think all women do before/during/after taking a spin in their car is applying makeup. The remarks at this website regarding the Givenchy car take the cake:  "Girls don’t have such a great reputation as drivers, and a car with a makeup kit? Well. Let us only hope and pray that some 20-year-old doesn’t stop in the middle of a highway to dab a fresh layer of paint on her lips." Oof.

Along these lines, even in the art world women can't escape the traditional link between cars and makeup.  For International Women's Day in 2012, Indian car artist Sudhakar Yadav created several cars in the shape of a shoe, purse, lipstick and eye shadow as a tribute to women.  Stereotype much? 

Lipstick car

Eyeshadow car(images from huffingtonpost.com)

I mean, don't get me wrong, these look like a lot of fun and I give the guy credit for acknowledging there even IS an International Women's Day.  I'm sure his intentions were good and these were made as art, not to sell cars.  But it still rubs me the wrong way.  Obviously all women care about is makeup and shoes and bags, and they would appreciate the artist's offering of wacky cars only if they were in the shape of girly things.* 

As a seemingly harmless response to all of this, I'll leave you with Italian brand Collistar's summer 2016 lineup.  The company teamed up with, fittingly enough, Fiat to create a collection celebrating the 500 model. 

Collistar spring/summer 2016 collection

Collistar Ti Amo spring/summer 2016 collection

How adorable are these blushes?! 

Collistar Ti Amo spring/summer 2016 collection(images from chicprofile.com)

Personally, I generally hate cars (their design and history bores me, not to mention that they're dangerous...I have a terrible fear of driving), and no amount of cool makeup is going to make me more accepting of them.  And I sure as hell wouldn't buy a car designed just for women - I dislike the fact that in 2016 some companies are 1. still thinking in terms of binary genders for products that should so obviously be gender-less, such as cars, and 2. still thinking that a car's key selling points to reach women need to involve makeup.  The Collistar collection, however, is something I'd gladly snap up if I had access to it.  ;)

What do you think? 

*The art cars remind me of the time my sister attended a conference on women business leaders, and the swag was all Clinique products.  Not like, a tech gadget or a nice business card holder or something.  (Ironically, my sister doesn't wear a stitch of makeup.  I believe her exact words were, "I don't even use this shit!") 


MM Smackdown: Balloon Brawl!

Balloon.smackdown.poster.3pp

Two French brands wanted to go up, up and away this spring with some balloon-themed offerings...but only one will make it to the stratosphere.  Let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

On one side of the ring we have Lancôme My Parisian Pastels Shimmer Cube.  A très cute girl wearing a pink top, polka dotted skirt and pink shoes sets out for a stroll with her dog on the rooftops of Paris.  The bunch of colorful balloons she holds seem ready to take flight, all set to join the others floating in the distance. I'm not sure who was responsible for the illustration (I don't think it's Kerrie Hess, whom Lancôme worked with previously) but it's so perfectly Parisian. 

Lancôme spring 2016 shimmer cube

The metal tin is tough enough to withstand any blows from its opponent.

Lancôme spring 2016 shimmer cube

Even the dog has a pink collar!  Lancôme deals a strong right hook (bite?) with this detail.

Lancôme spring 2016 shimmer cube

Les Merveilleuses Ladurée's spring palette, however, isn't getting knocked down so easily.  Ladurée retaliates with a lovely palette adorned with vintage-inspired illustrations of hot air balloons peacefully drifting against a pale blue sky.  The purple ribbon, while delicate and silky, is actually a practical addition as it functions to keep the palette closed.

LM Ladurée spring 2016 palette

While Lancôme's illustration may have been completed by an actual artist and Ladurée's balloons resemble the results you'd get if you searched "vintage hot air balloon wallpaper" (seriously, try it), we don't know the name of the Lancôme artist; therefore, the illustration's power is somewhat diminished.  Plus, Ladurée at least attempted customization of their slightly generic, clip-art-esque dirigibles.  The details on the larger balloons, like the large script "M" and the signature cameos that are featured on nearly all products in the makeup line, pummel Lancôme's rather plain versions. 

LM Ladurée spring 2016 palette

The inside of the palette features more delightful balloon illustrations and an elegant layout overall, in stark contrast to the interior of the Lancôme tin, which looks painfully similar to children's crayons or chalk.

LM Ladurée spring 2016 palette

But wait!  Lancôme reveals a secret weapon to hold off their adversary: a truly magical ad for their spring collection.  This is a huge turn of events!  Ladurée has no such campaign for their spring lineup.

Lancome spring 2016 promo

Lancôme's sturdy metal case, chic Parisienne, and surprise attack with a whimsical promo all prove they've got the capacity to flatten their rival.  But despite this, LM Ladurée's larger size, dainty yet resilient ribbon, and variety of balloon designs full of vintage charm may still send Lancôme down for the count.   Which one will be deflated...er, defeated?  Tell me in the comments!  (Also tell me whether you think either of these designs surpass Guerlain's Poudre aux Ballons, or this excellent 2013 ad.)

 


Pola BA holiday 2015 collection

As soon as I got wind of this collection over at A Touch of Blusher I started coveting it.  According to PJ, this was the first time Pola's BA line ventured into color cosmetics.  The collection was also created in collaboration with Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma.  I figured this item was out of my grasp, then it miraculously popped up on Adambeauty so I pounced.  

The outer box is so pretty!  I'm assuming the photo was taken by Azuma's photographer partner-in-crime (more about that later).  It reminds me a little of Mika Ninagawa's images for her third collaboration with Shu.

Pola BA Active Flower set

The palette comes in a zippered pouch.

Pola BA Active Flower set

I'm still not sure how I feel about the design.  Online it looked pretty neat, as you don't often see any sort of design in cream products.  But in person I was a bit underwhelmed.  The thick black borders separating the colors are reminiscent of stained-glass crafts I used to do as a kid.  And I don't understand why they had to make the lip base a sickly, mucus-green color.  I guess they wanted it to look like leaves, but they really should have just left it clear or even white - it's an extremely off-putting hue.

Pola BA Active Flower set

Pola BA Active Flower palette

To be honest, I was more interested in the traveling flower stall that Makoto Azuma created for Pola.  Azuma (b. 1976) has quite a fascinating career trajectory. In 2002 he joined forces with photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki to open Jardin des Fleurs, a haute couture flower shop offering custom bouquets in Tokyo.  In 2005 he began exploring the idea of flowers as art, inventing the genre of "botanical sculpture", and in 2009 he launched his own experimental "botanical lab".  His work has since been shown in exhibitions across Europe, China, Mexico and New York City.  I love this story - a florist turned avant-garde artist!  In addition to his private works, prior to his collaboration with Pola Azuma was hired by many big fashion names to create installations for new stores or exhibitions, like Dries Van Noten:

Azuma Makoto - Dries Van Noten

Azuma Makoto - Dries Van Noten

A "fur tree" for a Fendi pop-up store in Ginza:

Azuma Makoto - Fendi, 2015

Azuma Makoto - Fendi, 2015

Azuma Makoto - Fendi, 2015

Hermès store display:

Azuma Makoto - Hermes display

Azuma Makoto - Hermes display

Azuma Makoto - Hermes display

Grand opening of Isetan department store in Shinjuku:

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

An amazing take on the Lady Dior bag for Dior's "Lady Dior As Seen By" series, which features artists interpreting the bag in their individual style (you might remember Vincent Beaurin's version and subsequent palette for Dior):

Azuma Makoto - Dior Lady Dior bag, 2012

Azuma Makoto - Dior Lady Dior bag, 2012

Some fun things: collaborations with Hello Kitty and macaron magnate Pierre Hermé:

Azuma Makoto - Moss Hello Kitty, 2011

Azuma Makoto - Pierre Hermé, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Pierre Hermé, 2014

Finally, I don't think this piece was for any particular company but it blew me away. I wonder how long it took to get all those flowers into jars and then arrange them into that huge square.

Azuma Makoto, Petal Box 2015

Azuma Makoto, Petal Box 2015

As for the Pola stall, I'm not sure exactly what the purpose of the structure is, like what those dials and pipes are for, but it's eye-catching nonetheless.  The overall shape of the metal frame for the cart looks rather steampunk to my eye, and is unique from Azuma's other work.  (But it may be a reincarnation of the vintage "paludarium" he dreamed up for Hermes, which you can see in the photos above).

Pola BA flower stall

Pola BA flower stall

Pola-ba-flower-stall-detail

You would think that the website devoted solely to the stall would be chock full of information on it, like the inspiration behind its design, its purpose, etc.  Unfortunately all I found was this meager description.  "On the night of the new moon, the flower stall appears.  Its location - a surprise.  In the woods?  By the sea?  Or in a tiny alley.  If you're lucky you will witness its magic.  Pull the lever and watch the buds burst into blossom.  The spark is ignited.  The flower stall brings new life."  (Azuma's own website did not have any description either.)

Maybe I've been watching too many horror movies, but photos of the stall by itself, isolated from humans and in odd places, kind of creeped me out.  These three pictures in particular reminded me of the image on the poster for Rosemary's Baby.  It just looks so unnatural and menacing on a beach, like an evil object someone abandoned there, hoping the tide will take it out to sea.

Pola BA flower stall

Pola BA flower stall

Pola BA flower stall

Only slightly less unsettling was its being situated in a forest because it's at least surrounded by other plant life, but really, if I came across this while hiking in the woods I'd run the other way.

Pola BA flower stall

As I discovered, the unnatural placement was totally deliberate, according to the artist's website.  "In recent years, Azuma has been focusing on his project arranging flowers in all kinds of mundane situations that don’t occur in the realm of nature, and continues to pursue the beauty of plants from a unique point of view."  It's a great concept, but I think for the Pola stall it didn't quite work.  However, Azuma's other experiments with putting flowers where they're not normally found turned out beautifully.  Some examples include this stunning installation in the middle of the Hinoba-an Sea near the Philippines. 

Azuma Makoto, In Bloom #2, 2015

And he's even sent flowers into space!  I thought maybe these pictures were Photoshopped, but apparently Azuma hired a space engineer help launch the flowers from the Nevada desert and used a Go Pro for the images.  "Plants on the earth rooted in the soil, under the command of gravity.  Roots, soil and gravity – by giving up the links to life, what kind of 'beauty' shall be born?  Within the harsh 'nature,' at an attitude of 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees Celsius, the plants evolve into EXBIOTA (extraterrestrial life). A pine tree confronting the ridge line of the Earth. A bouquet of flowers marching towards the sun hit by the intense wind. Freed from everything, the plants shall head to the space."  I adore the idea of "freeing" flowers from their natural habitat and transforming them into alien life forms.

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Getting back to the Pola stall, I liked it so much better in Tokyo.  It was much less scary in an environment bustling with activity, and it allowed for human interaction.

Pola BA flower stall - Tokyo

Pola BA flower stall - Tokyo

Pola BA flower stall - Tokyo(images from azumamakoto.com)

Again, while there was no concrete information about the flower stall, there was at least a short video of it making its way through the city, which was pretty cool.  People were stopping to look at and photograph the stall, and it looks like you could even buy a flower from it.

 

I'm assuming Pola does not have its own storefront, which is why Azuma went the mobile route rather than creating an amazing installation.  Yet, I think perhaps he could have done an installation for one of Pola's department store counters or the salon in Japan.  I also wish I could definitively figure out why he went with an industrial-looking design for the stall as well as his role in the palette's design.  I understand why Pola chose Azuma to collaborate, however; the company has a rich history of dedication to both the arts in general and preserving and exhibiting beauty culture, so it's no surprise they wanted to team up with an artist to create a collector's piece.  Additionally, Pola's cutting-edge BA line is derived from a variety of plant extracts (hence the "Bio Active" name) so it's quite fitting that Pola selected Azuma, who also thinks outside the box when it comes to botanicals.  In much the same way the flower stall "brings new life" to its environment, Pola's BA line will (allegedly) invigorate and refresh one's skin.

What do you think of the palette and Azuma's work?