Other makeup brands

Quick post: Are you ready for this jelly?

Hello!  It's been a while since I last posted as work nearly killed me recently, but I wanted to get something up today to 1. show that I haven't died from stress, even though I  thought I might; and 2. put up some summer fun in honor of what is easily one of the Curator's favorite days of the year, the solstice.  With that in mind, I present Anna Sui's summer makeup collection.  It's been a long time since I purchased anything from this line, but as soon as I saw this collection I knew I had to have nearly all of it.

The two nail polishes will not belong to the Museum's collection - I will be using them. As a matter of fact, this week I'm wearing S 105 (the lighter aqua blue) and it's beautiful.  It's almost as legendary as the ultimate mermaid nail polish.

Anna Sui summer 2017 makeup

I adore all the sea critters since they are friends of mermaids.  Side note:  when I was little I was infinitely fascinated with jellyfish in addition to mermaids.  There's just something about their movement, shape and their very biology that I find incredibly interesting.  They're such simple creatures on the surface - they don't have eyes, noses, or even a central nervous system - yet some of them actually glow in the dark, while the sting of others can be deadly.  I find the way they move to be strangely beautiful, and I hope to make a trip to the National Aquarium soon so that I can be totally mesmerized. (I really have no excuse for not getting there - it's literally less than a 20-minute walk from my home).

Anna Sui summer 2017 palette

You would think the white plastic border and iridescent effect on in the middle of the case would look tacky and/or juvenile, but I honestly think it works here.  It reminds me of all the different tones you see in the ocean as the sun hits it.

Anna Sui summer 2017 palette

Anna Sui summer 2017 palette

And I just remembered I didn't take a picture of the inside of the palette, which has the same motifs (coral, starfish, seahorse, jellyfish and bubbles) but rendered in a vintage illustration style.  To my eye it almost looks like wallpaper.  You'll see it in a couple days in the summer exhibition.  ;)

The gold powder case has blue-green jewels that belong in a mermaid princess's crown.  As fun and blingy as it is, I couldn't bear to put the powder inside because then you couldn't see the lovely seashells embossed on it so I'll be displaying these separately. 

Anna Sui summer 2017 powder case

Anna Sui summer 2017 powder case

Anna Sui summer 2017 powder

Even the eyeshadow has a jellyfish!

Anna Sui summer 2017 eyeshadow

Bet you thought this was the first time a jellyfish appeared on a makeup compact.  I did too, until I remembered the number one rule that beauty historians need to keep in mind:  no matter how new and exciting something in the makeup world seems, it's probably been done before.  And I was right!  Here are two vintage compacts that feature my favorite invertebrates. 

Unfortunately I don't know the brand or even the approximate date of this one, but I'm guessing it's from the '40s or '50s. 

vintage under the sea compact

This one is a Stratton, probably from around the '50s given the rectangular shape,  purse clasp and the horizontal lines on the unmarked back (you can see a similar compact around the 3 minute mark in this very helpful video on dating Strattons.)

Vintage Stratton under the sea compact
(images from pinterest and antiques.com)

Naturally I'd give my eye teeth for both, in addition to all the vintage mermaid compacts I'm hunting down.  As for the Anna Sui collection, I thought it completely nailed the "magical aquarium" theme described on the website.

So what do you think of Magical Aquarium and the vintage compacts?  Do you have a favorite? 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


You're invited to Gucci's ladybug picnic

This song from my childhood immediately popped into my head when I spotted Gucci's new palette.

I was pleased to see Gucci doing something a little different packaging wise.  It's a relatively new line, launched in fall 2014, and I honestly haven't been interested in it either for collectible purposes or actual use.  But this new blush got me hoping this is the start of many more limited-edition items with fresh designs.  And I usually hate bugs with a passion, but ladybugs (along with fireflies) are acceptable to me.  :)

I didn't take a picture of the front of the case, as it was simply Gucci's usual interlocking gold G's.  They could have put a ladybug print on the outer case, but as this is their first try at a limited-edition item I shouldn't be too critical.  Inside, the powder is embossed with a single ladybug sporting 6 spots. 

Gucci ladybug blush

Gucci ladybug blush

Before I purchased the blush I did a quick search to see whether it had anything to do with Gucci's clothing - ladybugs seemed so random.  However, Gucci offers a healthy selection of items sporting the little critter.

I think the print on these tote bags would have been perfect for the outer case of the blush, no?

Gucci ladybug bags

Gucci ladybug leather coin purse

Gucci ladybug shoes

Gucci ladybug brooch and keychain

Especially adorable is their children's line.  I have no interest in having kids and would most likely never drop serious cash on their clothing (I mean, they grow out of it so quickly!), but damn, children's clothing is just precious to look at.

Gucci kids clothing

Gucci kids shoes
(images from gucci, saks, bloomingdales and net-a-porter)

Still, I was puzzled about the ladybug motif.  I did find them lurking in the spring and pre-fall 2016 collections, among many other creatures and insects. 

Gucci spring 2016

Gucci pre fall 2016

Gucci pre fall 2016

Gucci pre fall 2016(images from vogue.com)

These collections gave me a bit more context for the ladybug design.  Upon seeing them mixed in floral and animal prints, a blush palette with a ladybug didn't seem too far out of left field.  The Garden collection, an online-exclusive capsule collection released in the summer of 2016, was another addition to the flora and fauna frenzy that the brand seemed to be partaking in that year.

Gucci Garden collection

Gucci Garden collection

Gucci Garden collection

Gucci Garden collection(images from gucci.com)

Yet I just couldn't figure out why there was so much emphasis on, well, nature at Gucci.  It wasn't until I read a brief description of Gucci's history and how its relatively new Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, has been modernizing the house's traditions. "Reflecting its clientele’s dynamic, well-traveled and sportif lifestyles, the brand very early on began incorporating animal motifs into its designs. Gucci’s famous horse-bit icon drew from the passion for horseback riding among its Italian aristocrat customers...since taking over as Creative Director in January 2015, Alessandro Michele has been drawing upon Gucci’s archives and this history of fauna fervor by incorporating a large variety of animals into his designs. With each collection the designer adds several more creatures to his Gucci stable, drawing on their cultural symbolism to provide layers of meaning to his heavily referential and often occult-tinged themes.  Michele’s ever-increasing insectarium collects together dragonflies, beetles, ants, bees, ladybugs, moths, and butterflies. A lepidopterist and entomologist's dream, Alessandro Michele's collections for Gucci are a fantasia of insect life. Bugs are joined by a parade of mammals on clothing and jewels: tigers, rabbits, lions, horses, cats, foxes, and many more. Gucci’s sparkling, brash menagerie is woven into velvet; formed into metal studs, large sculptural rings, and cascading earrings; beaded and sequined; patchworked out of fur; and even needlepointed. Each creature has its own symbolic meaning."  Finally, we have an answer!  I guess because I didn't investigate their makeup earlier and also because Gucci just isn't on my fashion radar, I had no idea they had a history of using animal and flower motifs.  Now that I know, I admire Michele's examination of Gucci's archives and his take on motifs that he presumably selected from them, along with his own new additions.  The flora and fauna read modern and sophisticated rather than stale and stuffy, or worse, cutesy.  And as the article points out, high-end materials also help elevate ladybugs and their pals.  It's whimsical luxury (or luxurious whimsy) that still is in keeping with Gucci's history and aesthetic.

As for the significance of the ladybugs themselves, Farfetch says they're a "symbol of luck and protection that has come to be a signature from Alessandro Michele."  I don't know about that, but when considering his designs from the past few seasons and knowing that he's updating Gucci's traditions, a ladybug on the blush palette seems to fit.  Despite the lackluster outer case and the fact that I would have liked to see a more intricate and colorful design, it was still Museum-worthy.  Instead of a single ladybug, the part of the Garden collection print with it would have been awesome, rotated like this (yes I know it's small but you get the idea.)

Gucci-Garden- snippet

But overall it was a good first effort from Gucci and I hope they do more in this vein.  I also hope I can remember to work it into next spring's exhibition.  It would look particularly nice next to Dior's Flower Blossom palette, which is the only other palette I can think of that has a ladybug.

Thoughts?


Friday with Frida: more Kahlo-inspired makeup

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

Paipai - Talia Cu

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

Paipai - Talia Cu
(images from paipai.mx)

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

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

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

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo
(image from nickolasmuray.com)

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

Paipai - Talia Cu

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

Frida Kahlo, 1943(image from nydailynews.com)

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

Paipai - Talia Cu

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

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

Paipai - Talia Cu

Frida Kahlo, Viva La Vida, 1954

Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Watermelons, 1953

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Save


Quick Friday fun: Spring critters

In honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, I thought I'd round up some truly adorable springtime animal-themed makeup.  Bunnies and chicks and lambs, oh my!  Some of these were limited edition, but it's still fun seeing what was out there. 

  Easter beauty

  1. Tony Moly Petite Bunny Gloss bar
  2. Pupa Non-Conventional Zoo set (ca. 2007)
  3. Bunny lip balm
  4. Deborah Milano Icon palette (these came in so many animals - there are ducks, cats, owls, pigs, seals, elephants, turtles, bears, butterflies...even a moose!
  5. Oh K Bunny Sponge (not actually shaped like a bunny but the packaging is adorable!)
  6. Pupa Pretty Bunny palette (limited edition for holiday 2013)
  7. Peeps flavored lip gloss
  8. Beyond lipsticks - We've seen Paul & Joe's cat-shaped lipsticks but these took the cake for me...I so wish I was able to get my hands on them!  Alas, Beyond released these in 2012 and while I've scoured Ebay I don't think I'll be getting my hands on these.  Beyond apparently has a hard anti-animal-testing stance and created these lipsticks to help raise money for some endangered species:  harp seals, pink dolphins, otters, flying squirrels, and pandas.  Not exactly Easter-themed but I just had to include them!
  9. Lawna cotton swabs - I think these are a prototype and not available for sale, but so cute.
  10. The Creme blending sponge set - I love that they have names!  You get Penny the Pig, Charlie the Chick and Boogie the Bunny.  Like the Oh K sponge they're not shaped like the actual animal but they're precious nevertheless.

Besides Philosophy's Sugar Chick shower gel that I may be hoarding, another Easter-y item I love is this Etude House Bunny Nail set.  How much fun is that rabbit-shaped confetti?!

Etude House Bunny Nail

Etude House Bunny Nail

Etude House Bunny Nail

Have a nice Easter!  And if you don't celebrate I hope you at least have some candy.  :)

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Friday fun: Julie Verhoeven for Marc Jacobs

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

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

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

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

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

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

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

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

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

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs Beauty x Julie Verhoeven

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

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

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

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

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

Marc Jacobs x Julie Verhoeven

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

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

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

Louis Vuitton x Julie Verhoeven

Louis Vuitton x Julie Verhoeven

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

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Republic Nail's homage to Frida Kahlo: ¡Viva la vida!

"At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can." - Frida Kahlo

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo

I became obsessed with tracking down a collection of nail polishes and lipsticks featuring Frida Kahlo after Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog posted about them back in December.  After having no luck finding them in Baltimore, on December 23, 2016, while visiting my family in Pennsylvania, I was granted an early Christmas miracle and came across them at a CVS near my sister's house.  Needless to say I was over the moon, since this collection is exactly the kind of thing the Museum was meant for.  While I still haven't been able to get my hands on all of the designs, I'm happy with what I did find.  :)

I've said before with other major artists that it's beyond the scope of my humble little blog to write a very long essay about the artist's work/biography, especially given the staggering amount of resources on Kahlo - everything from films to exhibitions on her fashion and personal possessions to her diary have been made available - but I at least want to give a brief summary for those not so familiar with her.  Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican artist who is best known for her self-portraits, which expressed her tumultuous life and impassioned personality.  "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best," one of her most famous quotes explains.  To say that she had not been dealt an easy hand in life would be an understatement.  After surviving polio at the age of 6, at 18 she suffered a terrible bus accident that nearly killed her and left her in constant pain for the rest of her life despite over a dozen surgeries to help her heal.  This is to say nothing of her turbulent marriage to (and subsequent divorce from and remarriage to) fellow artist Diego Rivera, or the fact that she badly desired children and ended up with 3 near-fatal miscarriages instead.  While Kahlo's paintings are a direct reflection of the trauma she endured, I also believe she channeled her emotional and physical pain into her art rather than letting it consume her spirit. In looking at her paintings, you clearly see her pain but also fierce will and determination to keep going.  She was a fighter who approached everything in life with a ferocious intensity, which is especially apparent in some personal details.  For example, towards the end of her life she was bedridden from chronic pain but attended the opening of her first solo exhibition, arriving in an ambulance.  And I love this photo of her in bed, still painting away. 

Frida Kahlo painting

In the year before her death, she also lost of most of her right leg to gangrene yet created a work of art from her prosthetic.

Frida Kahlo prosthetic
(image from collectorsweekly.com

It's these incredible displays of strength, I think, that make Kahlo such a fascinating and enduring icon. 

Now let's get to the beauty collection, shall we?  I wasn't familiar with Republic Nail before now, but it looks like they released this collection sometime in the summer of 2016.  I was only able to find 5 of the 12 designs, but I figured I'd discuss each one anyway and compare the designs to Kahlo's work and photos.  First up are the ones that I was able to buy. 

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo lipstick and nail polish

I'm fairly certain the image of Kahlo comes from this 1939 photo taken by fashion/commercial photographer Nickolas Muray, Kahlo's lover and close friend, who photographed over 40 portraits of the artist. "Viva La Vida" is a title of one of Kahlo's paintings.

Frida Kahlo, 1939
(image from nickolasmuray.com)

This design also borrows a portrait of Kahlo by Muray but combines one of her best-known works.

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo lipstick and nail polish

Frida Kahlo, ca. 1938
(image from nickolasmuray.com)

Besides the above design, others in the Republic Nail collection feature images of hummingbirds, most likely inspired from this 1940 self-portrait.  Hayden Herrera, one of the most prominent Kahlo scholars, explores the possible meanings behind the painting's hummingbird in her excellent book Frida Kahlo: The Paintings: "Hanging from the thorn necklace is a dead hummingbird, whose outstretched wings echo Frida's joined eyebrows.  The bird must point to Frida's feeling of being cut down in flight or to her rejection by Diego:  in Mexican folk tradition dead hummingbirds were used as charms to bring luck in love.  In Aztec mythology the hummingbird symbolized reincarnation - the spirits of dead warriors returned in the form of hummingbirds.  In Christian symbolism birds in general stand for the winged soul.  Given the religious atmosphere of this painting, in which Frida looks as solemn as a Pantocrator, the bird might also refer to the Holy Ghost." (p. 142).  Interesingly, other artists such as Ashley Longshore (whom I featured at the Museum for Clé de Peau's holiday 2016 collection), have also depicted Kahlo with hummingbirds.

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait, 1940

This design is a copy of Kahlo's "Wounded Deer" from 1946.

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo lipstick and nail polish

There's a lot going on in this painting and I'm too lazy to rehash it all, so if you're curious you can check out a good explanation here.

Frida Kahlo, The Wounded Deer, 1946

More hummingbirds (I think).

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo lipstick and nail polish

As far as I know Kahlo never painted herself in Day of the Dead makeup; however, sugar skulls and skeletons figured prominently in her work.  During her recovery from the bus accident in 1925, "she dressed papier-mache skeletons in her own clothes and hung them from her bed's canopy so that they jostled in the wind.  One of her favorite possessions was a sugar skull of the type that children eat on the Day of the Dead.  Frida ordered the skull to be made with her own name written in bold letters on its forehead." (Herrera, p. 36) 

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo lipstick and nail polish

Physically Kahlo never fully recovered from the accident, and suffered numerous other ailments afterwards.  Death never seemed far away, hence the frequent references to it in her work.

Frida Kahlo, Girl with Death Mask, 1938

Frida Kahlo, Four Inhabitants of Mexico, 1938

Frida Kahlo, The Dream, 1940

Frida Kahlo, Thinking of Death, 1943

The sugar skull with her name on it makes an appearance in this very sad work from 1945.

Frida Kahlo, Without Hope, 1945

While the sugar skull design on the polish refers to Kahlo's more macabre works, I liked the inclusion of the hand-shaped earrings.  These were a gift to Kahlo from Picasso.  She wore them frequently, even for two of her self-portraits.  They appear in black on the Republic Nail items, but they look to be ivory or shell in Kahlo's versions.  (There are tons of imitations available for sale too, if you're so inclined.)

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo lipstick

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo nail polish

Frida Kahlo, ca. 1939
(image from nickolasmuray.com)

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait Dedicated to Dr. Eloesser, 1940

Here's the other portrait with the earrings.  I found this in another book I purchased for research for this post, Martha Zamora's highly acclaimed Frida Kahlo: The Brush of Anguish.

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Dr. Marte R. Gomez, 1946

Now for the Republic Nail items I couldn't find.  I'm only showing the nail polishes here but the same designs appeared on lipstick cases.

These four aren't quite so inspired, just more of the same motifs we've seen.  I do appreciate the little monkey on the cap of the polish second from the left below.  Kahlo liked monkeys, keeping them as surrogate children (along with a host of other animals) and incorporating them into her portraits.

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo polishes

Another animal she was fond of was the parrot.  The one on the nail polish looks similar to one that appears in a 1951 still life. 

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo polish

Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Parrot, 1951

The design on this one refers to a painting from 1944, one of the more devastating representations of Kahlo's physical trauma.

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo polish

The Broken Column was painted during a 5-month period when Kahlo was encased in a steel corset to heal her back.  She wrote to her doctor, "I got a little better with the corset but now I feel just as sick again, and I am now very desperate because I do not see anything that improves the condition of my spine." (Herrera, p. 182)  Unable to move and in pain, she stares out at the viewer tearfully yet stoically.  The painting also includes clear sexual overtones given that the artist depicts herself topless and penetrated by a rather phallic column.

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

The banner wrapped around the column on the nail polish bottle's design appeared in several works, such as this wedding portrait.  The inscription on the banner reads, "Here you see us, me Frida Kahlo, with my beloved husband Diego Rivera.  I painted these portraits in the beautiful city of San Francisco California for our friend Mr. Albert Bender, and it was in the month of April of the year 1931."

Frida Kahlo, Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931

The banner also appeared in the 1940 self-portrait with the hand earrings shown above, along with this rather disturbing work.

Finally, we have a heart pierced with a sword.  As with the previous depiction of Kahlo in Day of the Dead makeup, I don't think this specific motif ever appeared in her paintings, but there were a few featuring hearts.

Republic Nail Frida Kahlo polish

Or perhaps it's a reference to Memory, the Heart:

Frida Kahlo, Memory, the Heart
(images from republicnailusa.com and fridakahlo.org)

Naturally I was curious to know how Republic Nail was able to use these images.  I did a little digging and saw that the designs are licensed by a company called Ask Art Agency through the Frida Kahlo Corporation.  I don't understand the exact legal ins and outs, but I guess once the corporation grants a company the rights to use Kahlo's works, they can design whatever they want. The same designs from the Republic Nail line were also used for a line of phone cases produced by Ask Art Agency, and Korean cosmetics company Missha has just debuted 4 cushion compacts with similar designs.  Given that the tag line "Pasión Por La Vida" is featured on the cases and at Ask Art Agency's website section on their Kahlo license, I'm assuming they're also behind the Missha collection.

Missha x Frida Kahlo

Missha x Frida Kahlo
(images from vutydesign.com)

The Frida Kahlo Corporation, meanwhile, seems very eager to grant licenses to use Kahlo's likeness and paintings.  Founded by Kahlo's niece, the corporation has issued licenses for the artist's work to appear on everything from sneakers to planners to an upcoming line of hotels.  The company's Twitter feed, with the constant references to Frida Kahlo branded tequila and other items, makes me think it's a rather unscrupulous money grab forged by greedy relatives.  Indeed, while many Frida fans were overjoyed to see her images used for a beauty collection, there were a handful of killjoys detractors on Twitter lamenting the "crass" nature of putting Kahlo's work on cosmetics, especially seeing as how Kahlo was a communist.  Having said all this, my personal opinion, and this is obviously pure speculation, is that Kahlo would have been delighted to see her paintings and likeness on this particular beauty collection.  For starters, Republic Nail is a Mexico-based company, which I think Kahlo would be pleased to support.  As for the anti-capitalist sentiment, Republic Nail is an affordable drugstore line, which at least aligns better with Kahlo's communist politics than a high-end department store line.  Finally, Kahlo herself enjoyed beauty products, as evidenced by these nail polishes that were revealed when her wardrobe was finally able to be opened to the public, along with a lipstick-kissed love note to Muray. 

Frida Kahlo's nail polish

Frida-kahlo-love-letter
(images from theguardian.com)

I'm not sure how she would have felt about her face appearing on things like mouse pads, or even the Missha collection, but I think she would have been supportive of the Republic Nail lineup.  The only thing I could see Kahlo questioning would be the particular images used - I could see her being very opinionated on which photos of her and which paintings should be included, as well as the color selection itself.  I also think she might be adamant that her actual work appears rather than the amalgams created by the licensing company.  They seemed to be prettied-up versions with none of the visceral edge that we associate with Kahlo, and for that they lose some of their impact.  But I guess the original works may have been too gruesome/depressing for commercial use?  Powerful though Kahlo's paintings are, they are admittedly difficult to look at, and I'm not sure if I'd want to be confronted with her suffering as I'm painting my nails.  Using some original pieces by an artist, like, say, Andy Warhol is entirely different.  So perhaps watered-down designs for Kahlo's works are a good thing since they celebrate her art and spirit but aren't too heavy...as you can see, I'm a bit conflicted.  On the one hand I think Kahlo would have liked to see her work being used on items that help women express themselves, and I'm happy to see a beauty collection pay homage to her.  (This opens up the bigger issue of artists putting their work on everyday items, which I discussed in my Shu/Murakami post a while back - I'm firmly of the opinion that these collaborations are worthwhile overall since it allows one to have a little taste of the artist's work if you can't afford the real thing.)  On the other hand, I probably would have liked the collection more if they used more sophisticated designs rather than the somewhat bland ones used by the licensing agency, which remind me of old school tattoos.  I also would have liked it more if they were restricted to one cosmetics company rather than being used by another brand - it would be more special if it was just a one-off collection. 

What do you think about all this?   


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?


Quick post: summer fun from Anthro

 

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

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

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

How cute are these mini printed nail files?!

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie summer 2016

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

Swimmers scarf by Lou Taylor

Bather brooch by Lou Taylor

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

Carmen Miranda brooch by Lou Taylor

Lou Taylor for Anthropologie Tahitian Monoi

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

Yas Kween brooch by Lou Taylor

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

Andie brooch by Lou Taylor

Duckie brooch by Lou Taylor

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

Lipstick necklace by Lou Taylor

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

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

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

Save

Save

Save

Save


Kevyn Aucoin Chelsea set

I spotted this set at Barney's when I was plotting my order for their gift-with-purchase a while back.  In honor of their new store in Chelsea, Barney's teamed up with the Kevyn Aucoin line to pay tribute to the legendary makeup artist and his old stomping grounds in the Chelsea neighborhood.  While no artist's name was listed in the description of the collection, I knew the design had to be the work of an outside illustrator.

Barneys-kevyn-aucoin-chelsea-set

Barneys Kevyn Aucoin Chelsea set

Barneys Kevyn Aucoin Chelsea collection

Barneys Kevyn Aucoin Chelsea collection
(images from barneys.com) 

A quick search yielded the name Justin Teodoro, a New York City-based fashion illustrator.  Born and raised in Canada, Teodoro graduated from the Parsons School of Design and worked for several fashion labels before becoming an independent artist.  Naturally I took a peek at some of his other work. 

Justin Teodoro - Dries van Noten

Justin Teodoro - Chanel fall 2016

Justin Teodoro - Miu Miu fall 2016

Justin Teodoro - Giambattista Valli(images from instagram.com)

What I find most interesting about Teodoro's work is the range of media he (literally) draws from.  Artist self-portraits, TV, movies, street photos of off-duty models - all are fair game for him, and there's no one era he's partial to either.  In his Instagram feed you can see images of Audrey Hepurn and Catherine Deneuve (1960s) to Cyndi Lauper and clips from Pretty in Pink ('80s) to Cindy Crawford and Seinfeld character Elaine Benes ('90s) to photos from Sex in the City ('00s).  He explains, "My tastes are pretty eclectic and range from such high to low things that it’s all a pretty vast collage of ideas.  I try not to shy away from that because that is essentially who I am.  I’m always interested in what I see around me and I want to capture it all through my work."  Fashion photography is particularly influential.  See, for example, Teodoro's take on this 1978 photo by Peter Schlesinger:

Justin Teodoro - Peter Schlesinger(images from vogue.com and instagram.com)

Or this 1992 Vogue cover, shot by Steven Meisel:

Justin Teodoro - 1992 Vogue cover(images from famousfix.com and instagram.com)

Model Trish Goff:

Justin Teodoro - Trish Goff(image from instagram.com)

And more recently, Sandy Liang's fall 2016 collection:

Justin Teodoro - Sandy Liang

I think fashion photography is a key source of inspiration for Teodoro because of how he views his style of illustration: "It really is just wanting to see what I like in front of me on paper.  When I was little I drew cartoon characters so they were on the page in front of me. When I see a cool stylish girl on the street today I want to draw her because I want to create that same image in my own style.  I guess it’s my own form of documentation...To me  the mood and the attitude was always important. Illustration became the stronger part of my design process I guess. It was fun for me to create that world where, yes it was about the clothes, but it was more about the vision and the personality of that character."  He perceives his illustrations to serve the same purpose as fashion photos, i.e. to capture all aspects of a certain moment in time in addition to the clothes.  But it's not simply a blind reproduction of these photos; rather, Teodoro is putting his own illustrative spin on found images.

Getting back to the Barney's collection, I was able to pick out a few photos I believe Teodoro based his illustrations on to depict Kevyn Aucoin.  You can see all of them pretty well on the back of tote bag.  This one appears on the top middle and lower right.

Kevyn Aucoin with Kate Moss
(image from blogher.com) 

This one was the basis for the illustration in the lower left corner of the bag.

Kevyn Aucoin with Linda Evangelista, 1995(image from beautylish.com) 

And this photo was borrowed for the illustration on the top right. 

Kevyn Aucoin at work(image from pinterest.com)

I don't feel compelled to purchase this set for the Museum (and I can't anyway, as it's sold out), but I thought it was a fitting collaboration.  And I enjoy seeing Teodoro's unique take on an enormous variety of fashion influencers and icons and thought he did a good job paying homage to Aucoin.  As a side note, how did I not realize there was an entire exhibition on him in 2014?!  So embarrassing.  I'm also kinda mad no one asked me to contribute my expertise on beauty-themed exhibitions. 

What do you think both of this set and of Teodoro's work?

 

 


Sugarpill has the cure for the winter blahs

I don't know much about Sugarpill Cosmetics, but I spotted this lip gloss with positively adorable packaging and knew I had to feature it.  Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to get my hands on it and it's my understanding there will be no more sold with this particular design (the lip product itself will still be available in regular packaging.)

It's pretty obvious what lured me in.  MERMAID!!!

Bei Badgirl for Sugarpill

Bei Badgirl for Sugarpill

And not just any mermaid; one created by kawaii (cute) artist Bei Badgirl.  Her website provides the following description: "BEI BADGIRL is an artist, designer and body positive advocate from Heaven. An expert in Cute (Kawaii かわいい), she draws inspiration from the Superflat movement, pop culture, and her own life experiences and obsessions. Her work reflects her playful attitude through 2.5D drawings and paintings of cute, sexy women, their pets, makeup, junk food and everything else they thrive on...Her hobbies include texting her besties, travelling, no chill memes, hoarding swimwear, and spending approximately zero time swimming. She currently resides between Tokyo and Sydney, and believes girls can do anything."  Given that profile I was very eager to see her work.  Her motto of "Just be cute and don't worry!" also piqued my curiosity.

I believe this is the original painting for the image that appeared on the Sugarpill packaging. Do you not love the little bunny face peeking out on her tail?

Bei Badgirl mermaid painting, Ambush gallery

Naturally I had to take a look at some of Bei's other work in search of more mermaids.  And she did not disappoint!  So many sexy cute mermaids, many of which are painted on wood that Bei carves herself:  "I notice a lot of people aren’t aware most of my art is painted, huge, and cut out of wood by me. Even some of my friends don’t realise I do all the woodwork myself, but I happily invite those bitches over to witness it for themselves hahaha. Girls can do anything, duh."

Bei Badgirl, Merbitch, 2013

Bei Badgirl, Zero Cool Gallery

Looks like this one was an early adopter of the unicorn horn trend.

Bei Badgirl

Not only does this "merbitch" have a delicious cup of coffee, she's also applying lipstick with a seashell compact. Love it.

Bei Badgirl, Merbitch with Coffee, 2012

More on Bei's style, in her own words:  "I’m really fascinated by the concepts of indulgence and excess, sex and desire. I guess that’s why there’s a lot of oral fixation, sparkly things and food going on in my pieces. I also like that so much of what I’m essentially obsessed with isn’t real or tangible- the idea of falling in love with imaginary things."  This is especially evident in paintings like the one below.

Bei Badgirl, Merhoe with Kittenfish, 2011

I think this one is my favorite - an utterly charming and girly but also foul-mouthed mermaid, which is sort of how I like to see myself. ;)

Bei Badgirl, Text Me Back, 2011

And of course there are the assorted mer-critters.  I wish there were plushies of these, I think they would get along well with Museum staff.

Bei Badgirl, Merkitty

Bei Badgirl, Merbunny

He might just be a mer-kitten, but he's already got a little tattoo on his paw!

Bei Badgirl, Merbaby(images from beibadgirl.com)

The curvy voluptuousness of Bei's women shows that she is indeed a body-positive advocate, although it's somewhat a happy accident.  She explains in an interview, "My work totally is body positive, but kind of effortlessly.  I still get caught off guard sometimes when people point out how my work is body positive because the girls are all pretty thick and have tummies.  I never really thought twice about it - I was just drawing what made sense to me and what looked pretty...this is obvious, but I strongly believe in the fact that people are meant to be different.  If we were all meant to look the same, we would be.  It's nothing new, but it needs to be repeated as much as possible. 'Perfect' doesn't have a face, it doesn't look one way."  She also tells one young woman who wrote to her asking for advice, "I got tired of hating myself and wasting so much energy on feeling bad. It’s boring. I decided to trust myself. What I’ve found the most interesting about this is that when I decided to love myself and feel confident that’s really when other people began responding differently (positively) to me as well.  Do you find feeling insecure about the way you look to be counter-productive? When I began to put my energy into other things like my art etc that’s when my career really took off and so many amazing opportunities and people entered my life! It’s so much more rewarding than hating yourself and I feel so much happier just with all the things I have going on in my life, I don’t really have any energy left for negativity.  I feel very grateful for my body - I see it as something separate to my soul and myself - and it’s the only body I’ll ever have so I should be kind to it and love it. It’s seen me through my teens and all the bullshit I went through, all my highs and lows, every experience, and will be there for me until I die.  I always like to mention that we all have bad days, but just recognise them for what they are and be kind to yourself."  It sounds trite, but Bei really does put her money where her mouth is: not only does she embrace fuller-figured women in her work, she also regularly posts pictures of herself in swimsuits and short skirts, proudly displaying, in her words, a "juicy" physique.  Yasss!!

The body positivity and feminist aspects of her aesthetic is also desperately needed in kawaii culture.  A student majoring in Japanese Studies at Oxford, specializing in contemporary art by Japanese women, offered this thoughtful analysis in a message to Bei:  "I just wanted to say that is so inspiring that your work represents the best of kawaii culture, i.e subversive and empowering femininity, and absolutely none of the worst...your work is so significant in transforming the otherwise infantilising nature of ‘kawaii,’ on an international scale...[it] seems to represent to me a reclaiming of cuteness by and for women, with strong messages of sex & body positivity that seem to have had a significant influence on other 'kawaii’ artists, which is such a refreshing change from dominant images of cuteness in Japan." Since I am nowhere near an expert in contemporary Japanese art or kawaii, I'll take her word for it. But just looking at Bei's women, despite their skimpy attire and exaggerated femininity, I imagine they have more of a feminist edge than other kawaii images.  I feel as though there's a distinct "don't mess with me" attitude about them, especially around the eyes.  While some other kawaii girls sport heavy black eye makeup, the lids on Bei's figures are strangely pointed (not round) with an odd spike shape shooting out on either side and rimmed with equally spiky lashes.  It's as though their makeup is weaponized, giving them a slightly dangerous look as opposed to the wide-eyed, child-like, nearly helpless vibe of some other kawaii girls.  The fact that Bei also sometimes refers to her mermaids as "merbitch" and "merhoe" can arguably be cast as a feminist appropriation of these traditionally degrading terms for women.

What do you think?  Have you tried anything from Sugarpill?  I so wish I could have gotten my hands on this lip gloss!