Mermaid magnificence with Rodin and Robertson

Apologies for the back-to-back artist collaboration posts, but I'm just too excited to wait any longer to share this beautiful mermaid collection from Rodin Olio Lusso (plus it's a nice way to celebrate the arrival of Mer-Babo!)  I have to admit I never paid Rodin much attention, since I rarely see it reviewed on beauty blogs and there are no counters near me to check out the line in person, but the amazing (mer-mazing?) packaging for their latest collection, created by artist/illustrator Donald Robertson, definitely got my mermaid tail wagging.  You might remember Robertson, a.k.a. the "Warhol of Instagram", from his collaboration with Smashbox in 2015.  If not, head on over to this post to check out a brief bio of Robertson and a summary of his style and process, which I don't want to re-hash here.  Instead, I'll discuss the inspiration for the Rodin collection and provide a short update of his work since 2015.

You know that I rarely buy entire limited-edition collections, especially ones with as steep a price point as these beauties, but they were far too special for me not to purchase.  Mermaids AND an artist collab?!  It was a no-brainer for me.

Rodin mermaid collection

First up is the lip oil.

Rodin mermaid lip oil

I can't resist showing the sides of the boxes, as the details go all the way around. 

Rodin mermaid lip oil

Next we have the body oil.  It looks so luxurious, I'm tempted to slather myself in it.

Rodin mermaid body oil

Rodin mermaid body oil

The liquid illuminator is another one I want to actually use instead of admire.

Rodin mermaid liquid highlighter

Rodin mermaid liquid highlighter

The powder brush feels nice and fluffy, but it's the box that won my heart.  Look at the jellyfish!

Rodin mermaid brush

Rodin mermaid brush

Finally, we have a simply stunning highlighting powder.  I don't think I've ever seen a powder with a mermaid embossed design; to my knowledge they've only appeared on the outer cases. 

Rodin mermaid highlighter

Rodin mermaid highlighter

I love all the details, especially her little belly button!  The way her head and tail are tilted and long pretty locks remind me a bit of the ethereal nymph designed by Marcel Wanders for the Cosme Decorte holiday 2015 compact.

Rodin mermaid highlighter

Rodin mermaid highlighter

I appreciate that Robertson explained a little bit about the process for manufacturing the powder:  "It starts with a gaffer tape circle outline in sharpie ... the powder people needed layers for sculpting so I used acetate and played in marker and cut tape overlays. I wanted it to match my mermaid box paintings."  Eun Sun Lee, President/Creative Director of design firm CMYK+WHITE, Inc., oversaw the final product packaging.

Rodin-mermaid-highlighter-powder-prototype

So how did the collection come about?  Here's a succinct background from the Rodin website: "[Rodin founder] Linda, a Pisces with an affinity for the sea, believed she’d been a mermaid in a previous life. Her fantasy sparked artist-friend Donald Robertson’s interest so much that he put his paintbrushes to work and brought the RODIN Mermaid Collection to life."   From what I was able to find online, Robertson and Rodin have been friends since at least 2015, when they attended the Fragrance Foundation awards.

Linda Rodin and Donald Robertson, 2015
(image from zimbio)

Working with Rodin appears to be a joy for him, as she's one of his muses in addition to a friend.  Robertson was immediately struck by the former model and Harpers Bazaar stylist:  “The first time I saw a picture of Linda, I became obsessed...She’s so visual. When I see somebody I like, I steal their image and put them on paper.” 

Donald Robertson - Linda Rodin(image from 1530main)

Donald Robertson - Linda Rodin(image from pinterest)

He was there for Rodin's debut at L.A. based beauty store Violet Grey in 2016, so his familiarity with the brand as well as Rodin's own style makes Robertson the best candidate to create limited-edition packaging.

Linda Rodin and Donald Robertson(image from hao-creative.com)

I scrolled through Robertson's Instagram to try to get a better sense of the timeline for the mermaid collection.  While he officially announced he was working on a new mermaid-themed project in late 2017, as early as January 2017 it appears he already had mermaids on the brain.  Check out this custom caviar packaging.  The mermaid looks quite a bit like the one on the Rodin highlighting powder, yes?

Donald Robertson

In June 2017 Robertson created a mermaid pool float collection for FUNBOY, proprietors of "the world's finest luxury pool floats".  I didn't know "luxury" pool floats existed, but I guess it's not surprising.

Funboy x Donald Robertson mermaid pool float
(image from funboy.com)

Funboy x Donald Robertson mermaid pool float

Fast-forward to October 2017, when Robertson first shared he was working on a mermaid-themed project.  This image ended up being used for the body oil.

Donald Robertson - mermaid

By February 2018, nearly all of the designs had been finalized.  Here are a few that didn't make it onto the Rodin packaging but are gorgeous nevertheless.

Donald Robertson - mermaid

Donald Robertson - mermaid

Donald Robertson - mermaid

Donald Robertson - mermaid

In the months leading up to the collection's release, it seems Robertson was inspired by Rodin's assertion that she's really a mermaid.  Using the playful hashtag #peopleisuspectaremermaids, he painted a series of fashion figures as mer-people. 

Donald Robertson - Cynthia Frank

Donald Robertson - Carlos Souza

Donald Robertson - Naomi Campbell

Donald Robertson - Streicher Sisters

Donald Robertson - Ryan Morgan

Donald Robertson - Jeremy Scott

After the collection debuted, Robertson kept the mermaid magic going with some bonus illustrations and animations on Instagram.

Donald Robertson - Rodin mermaid collection

Donald Robertson - Rodin mermaid collection

Donald Robertson - Rodin mermaid collection

Donald Robertson - Rodin mermaid collection

Donald Robertson - Rodin mermaid collection

He even did specially painted bags for the collection's launch in the UK, along with a rendering of the queen as a mermaid.  So. Cute.

Donald Robertson - Liberty of London mermaid bags

Donald Robertson - queen mermaid

As for his other projects, Robertson's been keeping rather busy since we first looked at his work in 2015.  In addition to the Rodin collab, he's done collections for Alice & Olivia, Canada Goose, S'well water bottles and Flirt Cosmetics.  He also released a book of his work, which has now made its way onto my Amazon wishlist.

Donald Robertson - Alice & Olivia

Donald Robertson - Alice & Olivia
(images from aliceandolivia and tradesy)

Donald Robertson - Canada Goose(images from canadagoose)

Donald Robertson - S'Well

Donald Robertson - Flirt Cosmetics

Donald Robertson - Flirt Cosmetics(images from stylecaster)

Donald Robertson book

This is in between doing all the timely Instagram drawings he's known for, such as the recent royal wedding and Met Gala.

Donald Robertson - royal wedding

Donald Robertson - Met Gala

I admire the more political angle in this "Team Immigrant" print.

Donald Robertson - Team Immigrant
(images from instagram unless otherwise noted)

Plus, Robertson manages to make time for a number of in-store illustrations.  This brings me to a fabulous bit of news to share with you all: I was lucky enough to get my hands on a custom-painted bag by Robertson himself!  My heart dropped when I saw that Robertson would be painting tote bags at Bergdorf Goodman and that they were available in-store only...or so I thought.  A fellow makeup collector and long-time Museum supporter (who was even more determined than I was to get the custom bag!) called the store and somehow found a very nice salesperson who agreed to send her one.  This incredibly sweet collector kindly thought of me and gave me the salesperson's info so that I could get a bag too!  Not only that, the salesperson even asked me if I had any requests to give to the artist, and I asked for a mermaid and/or jellyfish.  Both she and Robertson delivered by giving me a beautiful red-headed mermaid swimming alongside two pink jellyfish.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened the package.  I know I gave a sneak peek in the Mer-Babo post since the little guy declared it to be his, but here's the bag in all its glory.

Donald Robertson mermaid tote bag

It's one of those super special items that if, in a fire, I only had time to save only a couple Museum pieces, this would be one of them.  While I wish I could have made it up to NYC in person so I could meet Robertson and the lovely Bergdorf sales associate, I'm deliriously happy to get my hands on a bag he actually painted and so grateful that another collector was looking out for me.

Overall, obviously I'm in love with this collection.  Robertson did an excellent job coming up with mermaid designs that are both elegant and whimsical, as well as being perfectly suited to the Rodin line.  From their beautiful flowing tresses to their tails that show just a hint of colorful scales, these stylish mer-ladies coquettishly frolicking with their underwater friends whisk us away to a summery ocean fantasy.  Robertson also completely nailed the color scheme - I love the soft greens and blues with pops of pink, orange and purple contrasted with the black outlines of the shells and sea kelp.

What do you think about this collection?  Are you as smitten as I am?

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Welcoming a very special Babo!

You might remember the super-awesome birthday card the husband made me a while back in the shape of a mer-Babo.  I always knew they existed since the Sailor Babos told me so, but I had never seen a real live one...until a very kind fellow Uglydoll enthusiast on Instagram sent one to swim my way.  Please welcome Mer-Babo! 

Mer-babo

He seems very interested in life on land (despite all the time he spends splashing around in the tub), so I'm thinking his natural curiosity will make him a great research assistant at the Museum.  He's already made himself acquainted with some of the Museum's mermaid-themed objects too!

Mer-Babo

Mer-Babo

The staff page has been updated, so enjoy getting to know the Museum's employees if you haven't already.  :)

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Soy happy about this new Fresh cleanser!

I've been following fashion illustrator Blair Breitenstein on Instagram more or less since I joined about 2 years ago, and I figured it was only a matter of time before her work appeared on beauty packaging.  The only surprise was the brand - I thought for sure MAC would have scooped up Breitenstein for a collab (more on that later) but it turns out Fresh beat them to it.  As you know, I try not to make a habit of collecting skincare/bath and body products, but I haven't been able to resist Fresh's artist collaborations and knew their iconic soy cleanser illustrated by Breitenstein had to join the crew.  It seems like odd timing, as Fresh usually does special packaging to mark an expected milestone, but decided to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the introduction of the cleanser.  Why they wouldn't wait until 20 years is beyond me, but really, no special occasion is needed for an artist collab in my view.  :)

Breitenstein honored the original product packaging that featured a "soy girl" by maintaining a female presence, but thoroughly modernized it with her own style and added another girl.  I love the image, since for me it represents the timeless tradition of women bonding over beauty rituals.  And their robes look so plush!  It's an appealing scene and one that reminds us to take some time out for ourselves and take pleasure in the cleansing process.  I love applying my makeup, but I also enjoy feeling the warm water rinsing away the day's grime and knowing that it's time to wind down for the night.  (I guess if you use it in the morning it's an equally enjoyable way to prepare for the day ahead.)  While I think the concept of "self-care" has been ridiculously co-opted at this point, face-washing is a necessity so you might as well make it a nice experience for yourself.  This cozy and comforting image definitely helps with that.

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Here's the original "soy girl" for reference.

Fresh-original-soy-girl
(image from nylon.com.sg)

Let's get to know Breitenstein and take a look at her work, shall we?  Born and raised in Seattle (though she now calls NYC her home), the 28 year-old illustrator attended Washington State University and majored in communications (with a minor in art history, ahem!) Breitenstein had always loved art, especially painting, but it was a class she took her junior year of college that helped shape the path to her career as an illustrator and, arguably, her spontaneous drawing process:  "My junior year I studied abroad in Florence and took all art classes. One of my classes was called Florence Sketch Book. The class was literally drawing all over Florence in our sketchbooks. One assignment was to draw as many paintings in the a museum as you could before class ended. That's when I fell in love with sketching. I loved the quick quirky half drawn pieces more than anything I had ever taken a lot of time to paint."  Indeed, there a freshness and immediacy to Breitenstein's illustrations.  While they appear hastily sketched at first glance, they're much more detailed than meets the eye. 

Blair Breitenstein, Meow in Miu

Fashion was a natural source of inspiration, given her family's interest in fashion and Breitenstein's own lifelong affair with fashion magazines.  "I grew up surrounded by fashion. My mom and grandma love fashion, so even early on my art has been inspired by fashion. My grandpa was an artist. I have always wanted to be an artist...When I was growing up fashion was an escape. I remember flipping through a W Magazine when I was very young, and I was fascinated with the opulence of it all. I was intrigued by the fantastical and remote settings in the editorials. At the time, I assumed everyone enjoyed magazines and fashion imagery as much as I did.  Later I realized I didn’t just enjoy flipping through magazines. I realized fashion was my passion and my muse...fashion still is an escape. The things I draw are not realistic to me. I do not have the place or money to wear Dior but it is too beautiful for me to ignore so I draw these things."

Blair Breitenstein, Oscar de la Renta

Blair Breitenstein, Met Heavenly Bodies gala

Blair Breitenstein, Chanel

As for her process, Breitenstein selects images from the runway, magazines, or social media and works from those. "I am always collecting images. I screenshot, browse tumblr, mark up magazines, etc. I usually start my morning reviewing all of my images; then I just start drawing. I draw for a few hours in the mornings." For tools, Breitenstein relies mostly on watercolor, but utilizes markers and pastels as well.  The variety ensures she's able to capture the range in materials and silhouettes in the clothing she represents.  "I get fixated on textures, colors, shapes and movement of clothing. I get completely lost looking at fashion week coverage," she says.  One of my favorite uses of various artist tools comes in the form of these illustrations based on couture gowns by Dior and Giambattista Valli.  The watercolor allows the viewer to practically feel the sheer, gauzy texture of the garments between their fingers, while markers add just enough definition to the dresses' layers as well as the models' hair and makeup; in the case of Dior, the dark eye makeup provides a delightfully sharp contrast to the soft tulle on the dresses, while the red pouts on the models at Giambattista Valli stand out without overpowering the design.

Blair Breitenstein, Dior and Giambattista Valli(images from blairbreitenstein.com and instagram)

Just for fun (and because I'm almost legally blind from nearsightedness), I wanted to share another area in which Breitenstein excels: eyewear.  Her drawings of fabulously bespectacled ladies seriously make me want to ditch my contacts.

Blair Breitenstein, Chanel glasses

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein(images from instagram)

I can't tell whether I like Breitenstein's takes on Vogue covers more than her runway illustrations...probably just a little bit more since, like me, she's a huge Pat McGrath fan.  McGrath did the makeup for the following covers, and I think Breitenstein captured the vibrancy and uniqueness of her work perfectly. 

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue December 2017(images from vogue.co.uk and instagram)

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue Italia 2012(images from fashionista and instagram)

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue Italia 2004(images from vogue.it and instagram)

Breitenstein also recreates some pretty amazing vintage covers.  It's not surprising, since she cites '60s and '70s style as an  influence: "I would describe my style as exaggerated, moody, sexy, and fashionably on trend with a nod to the 60’s and 70’s."

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue 1968

  Blair Breitenstein, Vogue 1965

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue 1965(images from instagram)

In hearing her describe her work, I feel as though she left out one descriptive term, but perhaps one that was too obvious.  All I could think of was "chic".  Even non-models are impossibly chic - whether playing tennis, gardening, or just languidly lounging about on sofas or poolside in bikinis, these women are incredibly stylish, and seem somewhat intimidating in all their glamour.  But perhaps their confident stares are signaling mystery and intrigue.  As Breitenstein notes, "I think I’m a bit mysterious, and I think my illustrations are a bit mysterious too."

  Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

The bathing beauty on the left is particularly great.   Drink in hand, this woman combines a bouffant, pearls and a fierce winged liner with an expression of mild disdain and boredom.  She's a completely unapologetic rich bitch, which for some reason greatly amuses me.

Blair Breitenstein(images from instagram)

I saved my favorite subject (makeup, obviously) for last.

Blair Breitenstein, Complimentary Colors

Blair Breitenstein, Ode to Pat McGrath

Blair Breitenstein, Sies Marjan(images from theimpression.com and instagram)

Blair Breitenstein, Vivienne Westwood makeup(images from elle and instagram)

Breitenstein also dabbles a little in makeup still lifes, which I adore as well. 

Blair Breitenstein

Not only does she draw pictures of MAC products, she also paints with them on occasion.

Blair Breitenstein(images from instagram)

To bring this post full circle, the MAC sketches are why I was a little surprised Fresh tapped Breitenstein for a collab - if any beauty company was going to approach her I think it would be MAC.  Then again, it's always possible she'll get a line from them too.  In any case, the ever humble Breitenstein notes how pleased she was to work with Fresh and create a more regular girl rather than a high-end fashion model.  "I was really excited to work on the Soy Face Cleanser because I got to bring the Soy illustrated girl to 2018.  She's different than the normal girls I create.  She's also a bit more like me - less done up - and that was really exciting for me to be able to create a girl that I can really relate to." 

These girls definitely seem more approachable than Breitenstein's usual figures, while still maintaining her signature chicness.  I think it's partially due to the fact that they're in profile and not staring out at the viewer, which is the case for most of her work.  And I know I mentioned the fluffy robes previously, but depicting women in "bath-leisure" attire rather than high fashion also helps tone down the intimidation factor.

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Overall, I think the illustration perfectly captures the essence of Fresh Soy Cleanser.  In terms of brand imaging, Fresh packaging has always been spa-like and sleek, while the product itself is soothing and calming, just like the water cascading from the girls' hands.  I admire how Breitenstein modified her style just a bit to accommodate both the Fresh brand and a specific product from them.  Plus I'm really happy to see her continued success via a collaboration with a major beauty company.  Not only is Breitenstein talented, she seems pretty down to earth and grateful for the exposure her work garnered via social media. "I never thought art would lead to a career. No one ever explained that their are SO many jobs that require a BFA...If instagram was a person I would hug it and send it a billion thank you cards and flowers."  I just hope the fashion industry doesn't crush her spirit!

What do you think?

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Macaron madness! Lancôme vs. LM Ladurée, round two

Mum.macaron.smackdown.poster.2pp

I'm kicking off summer with a very sweet smackdown!  Because it involves macarons (or as MM staff calls them, "fancy French cookies"), I've selected the Museum's education specialist, Cookie Dreamer Babo, to serve as referee.  I also needed to keep an eye on him and the others to make sure they didn't eat the makeup as I was taking pictures.  ;)

LM Ladurée vs. Lancome

"What have we here?"

Given LM Ladurée's fight with Bésame, you can guarantee that she's one of the feistier combatants the Museum has had in the ring despite being a relative newcomer to the makeup world.  But more importantly, the current battle is not the first time LM Ladurée has squared off against Lancôme...and now it's time to see which of these venerable French brands wins their second bout.  Let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

LM Laduree vs. Lancome

LM Ladurée gets off to a strong start with eyeshadows and cheek colors encased in illustrated macaron packaging a variety of delightful shades.  While they are mini sized - although not with a mini price tag, mind you, which is why there are only 3 compared to Lancôme's quartet - LM Ladurée's prowess lies in the details.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

LM Ladurée summer 2018

Blammo!  That's the sound of the adorable border of macarons on the side of each box delivering a sharp upper cut to Lancôme.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

In addition to macarons, there are what appears to be profiteroles in the lineup.  LM Ladurée is really bringing the heat! 

LM Ladurée summer 2018

LM Ladurée summer 2018

Finally, each color is embossed with LM Ladurée signature "merveilleuse" silhouette.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

But what Lancôme lacks in detail it makes up for in size and authenticity.  This blush set comes in a cheerful patterned box with two generously sized cushion blushes and two macaron-shaped application sponges. 

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

Ka-pow!  Lancôme's very realistic packaging packs a strong left hook to LM Ladurée's daintier collection.

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

Looks like LM Ladurée is getting a tad bit overcome with the size and durability of Lancôme.  While the sponges are soft, the plastic packaging of the blushes is way sturdier than LM Ladurée's cardboard. 

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

LM Ladurée is down!  Cookie Dreamer Babo is giving the count...six, seven...no, WAIT!  There's been a breaking development!  LM Ladurée is getting up and retaliating with quite the unexpected weapon: a beautiful face powder shaped like an elaborate pink cake, complete with delectable embossing.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

LM Ladurée summer 2018

Another development! Lancôme just called for a timeout and claimed LM Ladurée was fighting dirty since the cake is much bigger than the other items, but Referee Cookie Dreamer said it's fair play because it looks so tasty.  Not sure I agree with his rationale, but Babos aren't known for being bright and he is the referee, so back at it they go.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

We have a fight for the ages on our hands!  Will Lancôme's incredibly realistic and more economical set come out on top?  Or will LM Ladurée's attention to detail and last-minute cake surprise triumph over her fellow French foe?  Tell me in the comments!

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No shrinking violet: Erdem for NARS

Flowers get a bad rap for being predictably present in every spring collection, but I can't complain, especially when they're as gorgeous as the ones gracing the packaging for NARS's collaboration with London-based fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu. I must say I haven't seen a beauty collection in a long time that so completely and cohesively represents a designer's work.   I'll get to Erdem's line towards the end of this post so you can see for yourself just how perfectly the NARS collab encapsulates it, but I'm going to start off with the makeup.  I'll relying heavily on interviews with Erdem, since, as usual, I find that the designer/artist's own words explain their vision better than I can (and I'm also lazy).  Let's dive in!

Both the boxes and the palettes themselves are covered in Erdem's signature juxtaposition of bold and delicate blooms.  Specifically, he chose not his favorite flower (anemones) but dahlias and lilies, since "dahlias are fiery, and the lilies can be equated with beauty."

NARS Erdem

Erdem's vision for NARS stemmed partially from his love of exotic flowers, particularly this photo of actress Molly Ringwald taken by Sheila Metzner for Vanity Fair in 1984. "I was thinking about this idea of a strange flower and I wanted to create a range of makeup that had an ethereal and slightly surreal beauty to it."

Molly Ringwald by Sheila Metzner, 1984(image from thegloss.ie)

Erdem expands on the notion of a "strange flower" in several interviews. A key element was the idea of contradiction - how some flowers can be beautiful but deadly at the same time, and also the harmonization of flowers that bloom in different seasons.  "I find myself looking at nature and seeing [contradiction]. For example: the black dahlia. There’s something about it that makes it beautiful, but at the same time it can be dangerous or poisonous. I find those contradictions in nature quite interesting, so that was my starting point for the name...At first it was kind of a working title when I was trying to gather all my thoughts as to what the collection was going to be, and then as it developed it became [Strange Flowers]. I liked this idea of contrast and tension, and I think a flower [has that]. For example, a rose is a symbol [of] softness and femininity and beauty, but then things like a black dahlia [has] a strangeness for a flower. I was interested in exploring the idea of a flower being quite complex and odd and dangerous and beautiful at the same time—the spectrum of it. The softness of certain colors and the oddness and exoticness of others."  He adds that dividing flowers into the four seasons "helped guide me in terms of thinking about palette, and even thinking literally about certain plants that grow in certain times of the year and figuring out how certain colors could work with each other. Once those parameters were set in my mind I was very interested in exploring odder shades and new shades as well and that’s how all of these range of colors in the collection came about."

NARS Erdem

The packaging for the cases themselves was changed to a pale dusty blue, the same custom shade painted on the walls of the Erdem store in London.  I pictured the blue packaging sitting in my blue Mayfair store and liked that image," he says.

NARS Erdem

My photos don't show it well, but the color is very close to the store walls.

Erdem store(image from 10magazine.com)

The idea of juxtaposing opposites was fully realized in the color selection for the collection.  There are delicate pinks, such as the pale lavender Love Me Not blush, sitting along side dramatic dark blue and purple eyeshadows.  "The idea of contrast runs through all of my work – the aspect of the feminine juxtaposed with something slightly dark, which is an extension of my aesthetic. The colour palette (of Strange Flowers) combines delicate colours, which may be more associated with the feminine, such as lilacs and blush (seen in the lipsticks and slightly pearlescent blusher), but contrasts them with more unexpected hues like yellow or deep burgundies (find more of these in the eyeshadow palettes, which are highly pigmented with a velvety-matte finish)." Different textures also highlighted Erdem's desire to express the notion of contradiction; the highly pigmented lip powder palette is a stark contrast to the sheer, weightless Carnal Carnation lipstick. "Developing these colors that were so saturated and then playing with sheerness and the idea of transparency and how certain pigments are completely opaque, but if you look at the rose on the lip palette powders, there’s so much pigment in it. Even the highlighting pencil has so much pigment in it, but something like the Carnal Carnation lipstick has that kind of sheerness to it, which is really beautiful.”  In this way Erdem managed to create something for everyone. "I think my woman is a lot of different women, and she’s got a lot of different characters. I’ve worked with Nars for so many years (on my runway shows), and sometimes the makeup looks are very clean and fresh, and sometimes they are bold. It just depends on the mood of the collection."

NARS Erdem Night Garden palette

NARS Erdem Night Garden palette

NARS Erdem Fleur Fatale palette

NARS Erdem Fleur Fatale palette

The lip powder is one of the items inspired by one of Erdem's closest family members.  "My earliest memory of makeup came from my mother. She never wore any makeup on her face, but before she would leave the house she would always put on a very specific shade of red lipstick, and then she could face the world. I remember as a 5-year-old creeping towards her bedroom and looking at her lipsticks and lipstick palettes. I remember thinking her lipstick brush was so fascinating. The ritual of it all was so interesting; there’s something incredibly powerful about it. The idea that you can put something on and immediately feel different."

NARS Erdem lip powder palette

NARS Erdem lip powder

The other family-inspired item was the blotting sheet compact, which drew on fond memories of his twin sister and her friends using blotting sheets in high school.  "I loved how the paper felt and smelled - there was something so tactile about it...It was something that was particularly useful in the summer. And actually, in places like Singapore, I think blotting paper is such a practical thing. The idea of providing a matte base without any kind of makeup is really beautiful. It leaves you a lot of space to play with, such as creating a beautiful focus on the lip or eyes. I love the idea of how you can just keep it in your handbag and apply it whenever. It’s a really chic way of touching up your face without the idea of piling on any makeup...There’s something so beautiful about this idea that it wasn’t really makeup, but something you do just do to feel together. Considering this comes out in the spring, it felt like such a practical thing to include. It’s a tool to support everything else."

NARS Erdem blotting sheets

As for the rest of the packaging, it's filled with beautiful details.  I love the print on the inside of the boxes.

NARS Erdem

Even the plastic overlays are brimming with flowers.

NARS Erdem

As for how the collaboration came about, it was the usual fashion/makeup collab path: NARS has been working with Erdem on his runway shows since 2013, so it was a natural fit.  In true NARS style, Erdem was given free reign to come up with the colors and even new products - the lip powder, blotting sheets and highlighter stick are all new for NARS, and they were innovations Erdem enjoyed coming up with.  The process to develop the collection took two years and seemed to be truly a labor of love.  "The Nars aesthetic is forward-thinking; it’s chic, it’s strong. I think François is such an extraordinary visionary. Nars is known for its innovation, and people go back to it again and again, which is a testament to their quality as well. They’re so open-minded to different products. I collaborated on every aspect of it, from working closely with the product developers for the new products to the colors and formulas of the lipsticks. We were allowed to do the campaign imagery from London, and I got to work with my favorite florist and photograph it. It was wonderful...The lip powders are something I’m really proud of, because that was something that didn’t exist in the Nars range. [It was] based on a look that was created for a fashion show that was done years ago. The color is so beautiful and intense. It took a long time, and it was a lot of back-and-forth."

I don't want to spend too much time on Erdem's clothing since I want to focus on the NARS collection, but I think his personal background and aesthetic are essential to fully understand the choices he made for the makeup, so here's a brief bio and a little taste of his work.  Between growing up with a British mother and Turkish father and being raised in Montreal, Erdem was endlessly fascinated by the cultural differences in his family.  This experience was a key influence in his desire to express contrast through his clothing.  According to this article, "Holidays were spent visiting one grandmother in Birmingham and the other in Antakya in Turkey...this enthusiasm for contrast and contradiction now informs his work – the classic dresses with the futuristic prints, the overtly feminine collections with a dark underbelly."  He earned an MA from London's Royal College of Art and launched his own line within a year of graduating.  His frocks are favored by a range of A-list clients (Natalie Portman, Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama), and last fall, he created a capsule collection for H & M, for which, as with the NARS collection, memories of his mother and sister served as inspiration.

Erdem for H & M

As for his devotion to flowers, it's part of a larger interest in the myriad ways in which femininity is represented. "I’ve always been fascinated with femininity and women, even as a child. Maybe it has to do with growing up with someone who is of the opposite sex. I also grew up without any sense of 'that’s for girls, and that’s for boys.' I just had an odd fascination with flowers, and I think it’s partly because of my fascination with the language of femininity. There’s a wonderful power to that. Yes, I am interested in nature and botany, but what a flower implies is more interesting to me." And while we often think of flowers as fragile, Erdem sees feminine strength:  "They're resilient, and they regrow," he says.  This still sounds like an oddly gendered perspective - flowers don't necessary have to be feminine and I'd argue Erdem's clothing is overtly, traditionally girly for the most part - but he does seem to be shifting towards more a gender-bending outlook, at least with the H & M collection.  "I loved the idea of creating a group of clothes for men that could be absorbed by women too. It’s great to think of someone taking the fleece from the men’s collection, and wearing it over the sinuous sequinned slip dress, or a man taking the frilled collar shirt from the women’s line, and wearing it with tailored pieces. I wanted the collection to be very much an open proposal...It was also fascinating to see how flowers worked on men’s clothing.”  I'd argue that if one really wanted genderless clothing, you wouldn't design two separate women's and men's lines, but hey, it's a start.

Erdem for H&M

Erdem for H&M(images from femalemag.sg and mr-mag.com)

Anyway, here's some of Erdem's regular line, starting with the spring 2018 collection.  I can definitely see how he plays with pairing opposites, relishing that push/pull quality that makes his designs unique.  Sometimes it's incredibly bold and vibrant blooms alongside frilly lace details, or a powerful silhouette adorned in smaller, more delicate floral patterns.  I can't say any of these are my taste, but I certainly admire the dichotomy of the various elements. 

Erdem spring 2018

Erdem spring 2018

Erdem spring 2017

Erdem spring 2016

Erdem spring 2015

Erdem spring 2013

His earlier prints remind me quite a bit of Paul & Joe's, but with a completely different vibe.

Erdem spring 2012

Erdem spring 2010(images from vogue)

As with most designer collabs, looking at the clothing brings the makeup full circle to me.  I bought the NARS collection because it was pretty but had no clue who Erdem was or what he was about.  Even though I had a clearer sense upon reading the interviews with Erdem about the NARS collection, I wanted to see for myself whether the clothing tells a different story than what appeared in the makeup.  I was pleased to see that it was indeed an accurate embodiment of Erdem's aesthetic.  In fact, I'd say this is one of the best designer collaborations I've seen due to how thoroughly the spirit of Erdem was represented. His approach to fashion carried over seamlessly to the makeup, and every single shade and detail seemed meticulously planned to adhere to his vision: a study in contrasts. 

What do you think about this collection and Erdem's designs?

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A donation for the ages

Wow!  I am seriously overwhelmed by the enormous generosity displayed by a long-term Museum supporter and fellow blogger, Mag from Makeup Stash.  It all started with an innocent remark I made on Mag's Instagram page about some old MAC paint tubes.  She graciously offered to send me the ones she had since they were going to be thrown out anyway...but ended up decluttering a lot more, as you'll see.  One woman's trash is another's treasure, so I happily accepted all of the other goodies she offered up to me, completely for free!!  How awesome is that?

Donation from Makeup Stash

First up are the items that started this amazing donation: MAC paint tubes.  I was so sad that I threw mine out, as they'd be excellent for a makeup-as-literal-art exhibition (along with Chanel Les Gouaches, which I'm still kicking myself over for getting rid of).

MAC paint tubes

These eyeshadow trios from Japanese brand Kesalan Patheran were huge in the early aughts.  I'm very pleased to have these cult items join the Museum's collection.

Kesalan Patheran eye shadow trios

Ditto for these eyeshadow quads from Ed Pinaud and Lise Watier.  The Ed Pinaud is a particularly great addition to the Museum given the company's long history.

Ed Pinaude and Lise Watier

I'm in love with these palettes from Tokidoki.  In one of my very first blog posts I talked about how cute the Smashbox collab was, so when I saw Tokidoki was releasing its own line at Sephora in 2010 I was ecstatic.  The line was truly a flash in the pan, lasting only 2 years, but its short-lived nature was actually intentional.  Unfortunately during those two years I never budgeted to pick up anything from it, so I'm deliriously happy to have some items now.  These three palettes came from The Robbery set, showing Tokidoki's signature characters engaging in naughty hijinks. 

Tokidoki Robbery palettes

How adorable are these Anna Sui goodies?  The floral eyeshadow is from the fall 2010 Kaleidoscope of Color collection, while the heart-shaped eyeshadow is from summer 2014.

Anna Sui makeup

Anna Sui makeup

Some other recent treasures Mag bestowed upon the Museum include Shu Uemura's Fuchsia Fusion palette (2013), YSL Flower Crush palette (2014) and Etude House's Berry Delicious palette (2016). 

Shu Uemura Fuchsia Fusion

YSL Flower Crush

Etude House Berry Delicious

But honestly, my favorite part of this donation (or any donation, really) was this incredibly sweet handwritten note.  I've received others and they mean so much.

Note

I know I get pretty down about makeup companies and museums not paying any attention to this little blog of mine, and it's things like this that help keep me going.  In addition to all of the nice comments and emails I get, donations are a way of people showing me that they think the Museum is a worthwhile project.

I'm positively overjoyed at all of these wonderful additions to the collection!  Do you have any favorites?  Big huge thanks again to Mag, I still can't believe her generosity!

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Curator's Corner, 5/13/2018

CC logoIt's link time!

- There is no one more deserving to sell her makeup at a world-class museum than Pat McGrath.

- Here's an interesting piece on the rise of the transgender sector within the beauty industry, and another on how millennials are embracing one of the oldest approaches to beauty

- "Green" and "natural" don't mean much when it comes to beauty labels, but fortunately Sephora's new "clean" section makes it easy for consumers to identify products that lack certain potentially harmful ingredients.  In other words, it's now possible for you to go paraben-free without getting a migraine from reading an extensive ingredient list in tiny font.

- These nails are so incredibly unsettling...I much prefer this glitter trend, even though 1. we've seen it before and 2. I'd never partake in it.

- Speaking of glitter, great news!  Soon I'll be able to stop worrying about plastic-based glitter killing all the mermaids and their underwater friends.

- Lady Gaga is the latest music star to come up with her own makeup line.  Will it be as popular as Fenty?

- Meet Usage, a new beauty magazine that seems artsy but not so weird/pretentious as to be inaccessible.  I'm excited to check it out.

The random:

- Thank you, NBC, for rescuing one of my favorite TV shows from cancellation.

- Dying to see this colorful exhibition.

- This Mother's Day, remember that child-free women like me can be maternal too (but it's okay if we're not!)

What's new with you? 

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A rose renaissance with D & G

You might remember a time when many roses in makeup were simply not Museum-worthy.  I'm pleased to say that between Smashbox's amazing rose highlighters (the result of a collab with makeup artist Vlada Haggerty) and this stunner from D & G, the rose motif has redeemed itself. 

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

The blush is appropriate for the designers' spring 2018 lineup, which can arguably be described as an explosion of roses.

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018
(images from us.dolcegabbana.com)

As a matter of fact, D & G has been celebrating their favorite flower rather heavily the past few years.  A few highlights from recent seasons:

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2017

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2016

Dolce & Gabbana fall 2015

Dolce & Gabbana fall 2014(images from vogue)

While there seems to be a noticeable uptick in the use of these blooms more recently, they've been blossoming in the D & G line nearly since its inception.  According to this profile, the first instance of the rose motif appeared in the the fall/winter 1989-1990 collection, which was inspired by actress Anna Magnani in the 1955 film The Rose Tattoo.  The collection was modeled in Vogue Italia by Isabella Rossellini.  Alas, I was unable to find a good photo that actually showed one of the pieces featuring a rose, but I hope this dress from the mid-90s will help trace the evolution. 

Dolce & Gabbana '90s rose dress
(image from 1stdibs)

The runway makeup also has a rose-centric tendency of late.

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018 makeup

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2016 makeup(image from makeupforlife.net)

Dolce & Gabban fall 2015 makeup(image from vogue)

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2014 makeup
(image from yourfacebeauty.info)

Finally, D & G's makeup itself serves up a rose bouquet.  One of the inspirations behind the beauty line is Stefano's memories of his mother's rose-scented lipstick:  "The rose was everything to the [fall 2015 fashion] collection, not just because it's the flower you give your mother on Mother's Day, but because Stefano's favorite childhood memory of his own mother is the rose scent of her red lipstick. That's why Dolce & Gabbana's lipsticks are uniquely fragranced."  Additionally, the mauve and pale pink tones of the spring 2016 makeup collection took their cue from a rose garden, and later that year a line of cream blushes called Blush of Roses was introduced.

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2016 makeup collection(image from fashionisers.com)

The spring 2018 highlighter, however, is the first time the rose has been visually represented in the makeup.  While I don't think this is the most unique palette - roses in makeup are nothing new, and D & G might have chosen a more interesting motif that reflects their appreciation of Sicilian culture like the carretto or coins as they did in seasons past (and how cool are these fish?!) - I believe design-wise they did a good job.  The rose looks more like a somewhat abstract illustration rather than a literal image of the flower, lending an artful and sophisticated air.  And I can lose myself in the ever so slightly shimmering pink and fuchsia swirls of the powder.  Would I like to have seen the rose embossed rather than a flat representation?  Maybe, but it's gorgeous as is.  I just wish I could find more comprehensive information on the designers' love of roses.  My theory is that the particular character and significance of the rose changes each season to accommodate whatever theme they've created.  For example, the fall 2015 collection was inspired by maternal love and the roses presented as gifts to mothers, while during the previous season, the flower took on a different meaning to fit the Spanish flair of the collection:  "Carnations and roses are the flowers most symbolic of love that were also thrown into the arena to show admiration and love for the toreador in traditional bullfights," explained Gabbana.  I'm not exactly sure what message they were trying to get across with the rose for spring 2018 (other than general theme of love in the case of the clothing and this rather bland description of the makeup collection: "inspired by a springtime garden in Sicily"), but this is one of those instances where I can let it slide due to the beautiful design of the blush.

What do you think of this palette?  Do you like rose-hued makeup?

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Magical mermaid makeup brushes!

I've been waiting for literally over a year to blog about these amazing mermaid brushes by, funnily enough, a UK-based brand named Unicorn Cosmetics.  I finally got them in hand back in December, but wanted to wait until the warm weather was imminent to blog about them.  The brushes themselves are incredible, but the packaging was also breathtaking. 

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

Each brush came individually wrapped with a little charm in the shape of that particular mermaid tail.  What a great little detail!

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush

All of artwork was done by American artist Kurtis Rykovich, who created four mermaids to correspond to the brushes.  Save for this interview, information about the inspiration behind his work and his partnership with Unicorn Cosmetics was non-existent, so I gathered all my courage and reached out to this artist for an exclusive Makeup Museum interview.  Initially he seemed very enthusiastic and agreed to provide answers within a week, but after not hearing anything, followed by several gentle reminders via both email and IG over the course of a month, I gave up.  This is why my blogging schedule got completely off track recently, as I was patiently trying to give plenty of time to accommodate him.  In the end I just couldn't wait any longer.  I'm incredibly disappointed, to say the least, because I'm so interested in hearing his perspective and there wasn't any other in-depth info about this collection.  Guess it's just another item to add to the long list of Museum failures. And it will most likely be the last time I contact an artist.  :(

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set postcard - artwork by Kurtis Rykovich

In an effort to not be too salty about the lack of communication on his part - us Scorpios are known to hold a grudge - I'm sharing some of Rykovich's other work, which consists of (mostly female) otherworldly beings.  Everything from Disney princesses and fairy tale heroines to creatures of ancient myths are represented.  I also find it interesting that they all have such long lashes - you might be aware that Unicorn Cosmetics was formerly known as Unicorn Lashes and specialized in uniquely shaped, fairly elaborate false eyelash sets that resemble the ones in Rykovich's paintings.  I can only wonder if the company saw Rykovich's long-lashed beauties and reached out to him.

Kurtis Rykovich, Sleeping Beauty

Kurtis Rykovich, Medusa

Kurtis Rykovich, Goldilocks

Kurtis Rykovich, Mushroom Fae

Kurtis Rykovich, Our Madness

Kurtis Rykovich, Hammerhead Abyss

Kurtis Rykovich, Moondust

Kurtis Rykovich, Flurry

This magical unicorn princess was used for another Unicorn Cosmetics brush set.


Unicorn brushes box

This one was especially created for a new Unicorn Cosmetics palette.

Kurtis Rykovich, Glimmer

Unicorn Brushes palette
(images from rykovich.com and instagram)

As for the mermaid brushes, the purpose of each one is described on the back of the postcard with Rykovich's image. 

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

We'll start with the highlighting brush that corresponds to Bubbles.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Bubbles

Next up is Korali (all-over powder brush).

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Korali

Delphie is for blush.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Delphie

Finally, there's LiLu, used for foundation and contouring.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Lilu

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

The brush set also came with a clamshell stand for display - how cool is that?!

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

I also really loved seeing the evolution of the design.  These images are from January 2017 through their release at the end of the year.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set prototype

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set prototype

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set prototype

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brushes

Overall, I'm positively in love with these brushes.  We've seen mermaid tail brushes before and they're very cute, but they lack the level of detail of the Unicorn Cosmetics set.  I also think Rykovich is a perfect match for Unicorn Cosmetics, given the mutual love of magical, feminine creatures that only exist in our imagination. 

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite?

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It's panda-monium! MAC Nicopanda

This was another one of those "buy first, ask questions later" type of purchases.  As soon as I saw the images I knew this collection belonged in the Museum, even though I had no idea who or what Nicopanda was.  Turns out, Nicopanda is a streetwear line founded by designer Nicola Formichetti in 2011.  I'll talk more about the brand in a bit, but first, let's feast our eyes on the positively adorable packaging.

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

In keeping with the brand's spirit, I picked up what I thought were the most fun lip colors.

MAC x Nicopanda

Even the boxes are precious.   You know how much I appreciate patterns on both the inside and outside!

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

I normally would have gone for a palette rather than face stickers, but these were apparently Formichetti's favorite item in the collection, and when I thought about it a little bit, it occurred to me that they were the most representative of Nicopanda's vibe.

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

The panda design on the MAC collection, obviously, is a replica of the panda mascot in the Nicopanda clothing line.  Formichetti notes that it was imperative to incorporate the panda motif in a big way - as with the Jeremy Scott collection, custom molds for the packaging were required, and Formichetti sees the final designs "almost like a collectible".  As we'll see shortly, the the Nicopanda symbol holds a lot of meaning for the designer.  "Ultimately, the panda was a big part of this inspiration. I originally created this character to represent something that is a symbol of creativity and diversity. It was very important to bring the panda into the design and creative process. The packaging is clearly inspired by the panda, which is custom made and the first time MAC has launched something like this. It’s visually so exciting, elegant, fun, unisex, and everything we wanted to accomplish."

Nicopanda shirts(images from nicopanda.com)

Now that we've seen a bit of the MAC collection, let's get down to the what, how and why.  The Nicopanda brand began as a pop-up store in 2011. as a side project of Nicola Formichetti and his brother Andrea.  Nicola was working as a stylist to the ever-eccentric Lady Gaga at the time (and became creative director for Diesel a few years later), and due to its overwhelming popularity the line expanded to become a full-time endeavor by 2015.  As for the panda moniker, Formichetti explains:  "My friends used to call me Nico Panda because I’m half Asian, I had this long beard back then; and was a little chubby, so I looked like a bear—an Asian bear. So people started calling me Nico Panda on Twitter, and then once Gaga did that panda makeup, I created this character for the store."

Nicopanda-store(image from elleiconlee.com)

Nicopanda was born out of Formichetti's desire to both explore his Japanese roots and create a unique, light-hearted streetwear line that's also genderless.  "It's our job to provide as many options as possible for people to choose from so they can be whatever and whoever they want to be," he stated.  "We should have unisex garments.1  But, we also have to have more feminine and more masculine clothing because there are times when you'll want dress more masculine, more girly or in between."  As you can see from recent collections, Nicopanda definitely appears to be a pioneer in genderless dressing.  Not only is the clothing intended for all genders, the casting of androgynous models furthers the notion of a future without gender labels.  I have to say I like the concept of readily accessible clothing that's not intended for men or women.  Wouldn't it be fun to go into a store, see an item you like and buy it without worrying it's the "wrong" gender for you?  I mean, if I like a piece of menswear I'll buy it, but there's a great sense of freedom in buying non-gender specific clothing.

Nicopanda fall 2016

Nicopanda 2018

Another way Formichetti is turning the notion of gendered clothing on its head is the use of traditional markers of femininity - pink, ruffles, skirt silhouettes - on ostensibly male models.  The point Formichetti seems to make isn't men embracing their feminine side, but rather wanting to create styles that anyone would feel comfortable wearing if they chose.

Nicopanda spring 2018(images from vogue.com)

Nicopanda 2015(images from voltcafe.com)

Obviously, the topic of genderless clothing is far beyond the scope of this post, but I want to look at how Nicopanda applied the concept to makeup.  In the video below, he stresses that the MAC collection is for everyone:  "I made this collection for everybody - girls, boys, and then everyone in between...I think it's very genderless and freestyle...diversity and inclusivity are part of everything I do and Nicopanda does." 

Indeed, most of the models in the ads defy gender and even race.  Diversity and playing with opposites were central to Formichetti's vision for the MAC collection, since they are also tenets of the Nicopanda brand.  "The inspiration for me was to create something that was new and different and focuses on creativity and diversity all while being playful and fun. That’s kind of the inspiration for everything I do. I wanted to create something that was personal to my brand and something that was special to celebrate my longstanding relationship with MAC.  Together, we desired to develop something fresh, new, and contemporary for this new generation of makeup users. I’m half Asian and half European so it was important to me that this collection delivered a little bit of east and a little west. There’s a touch of street culture and high fashion.  The theme was diversity. To create something that was very feminine but also masculine. For the packaging, we wanted this to show polar opposite colors that worked together just like a panda. I love bringing together opposites - you can even see that in the packaging - contrasting the white and black. Nicopanda brings together high-fashion and streetwear just like this make-up collaboration." 

Nicopanda-models

As for the makeup in the ads, it seems Formichetti's insistence on creativity may not have resonated with everyone.  Many expressed the opinion that the application resembled a toddler's finger paint (you MUST check out Karen's hilarious take on this over at Makeup and Beauty Blog), while some were genuinely confused.

MAC Nicopanda ad

While I personally admire the very avant-garde application, I'm inclined to say that these sorts of looks aren't as wearable as Formichetti intended.  He says that there is something for everyone, and that non-traditional shades are in fact versatile:  "With the actual products, I desired to create something that could go from day to night. Something that was fun and funky for the person who wants to take their makeup to the next level, but something that also works for someone who wears minimal makeup. The mix of colors is so couture.  I wanted to use non-traditional colors that are really popular with my Nicopanda crew - all the colour palettes for lips, eyes, and cheeks are very wearable and absolutely fabulous."  I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not seeing this in the ads or even in the makeup itself.  For the most part the colors skew bright - there's nary a neutral to be found, save, perhaps, for the face powder.  Again, I have no issue with this, as my love for so-called weird colors and non-traditional application knows no bounds, but it seems rather disingenuous to claim the collection is easily wearable when at the same time promoting solely unusual looks.  Traditional application is entirely left out of the official ads; MAC encourages customers to "let out your inner weirdo" and "never stop breaking the rules". 

MAC Nicopanda ad(images from instagram)

I feel as though Formichetti can't disguise his penchant for "crazy" makeup colors and application, and he shouldn't have brought up the issue of wearability with the MAC collection.  I would have expected nothing less than totally out-there makeup, given previous looks from his runway shows.  The MAC collection is absolutely an extension of the Nicopanda aesthetic, and I don't think Formichetti should have tried to promote versatility as a selling point because that's clearly not what he's about.  As my mother would say, a leopard can't change its spots.

Nicopanda spring 2018

Nicopanda 2015(images from vogue and voltcafe.com)

There is also the issue of claiming diversity when there's not a single model over the age of 25.  Perhaps in terms of gender and race Formichetti nailed diversity, but let's be honest, he clearly wasn't making face stickers with people my age in mind.  In explaining how the MAC collaboration came to be, Formichetti notes that a more youthful demographic is the key focus for Nicopanda.  "Nicopanda is about youth — the new generation. The brand is always about trying new things, sharing and creating new ideas, so I wanted to tackle the beauty world with Nicopanda. A cosmetics collaboration with MAC is a natural partnership...I’ve been collaborating with MAC for a long time, working on their campaigns and projects for years...it was a natural progression to create product together with Nicopanda. They are like family, and we really trust each other."  In the earlier video interview, he states that his vision and MAC's are similar due to their interest in spurring creativity, but also because of their "work with young talent."  While MAC and Nicopanda are a great match for the most part, Formichetti seems to have left out the "all ages" part of MAC's 3-phrase tagline.  Once again, I wouldn't mind so much if he didn't claim otherwise - if you want to make a collection for the teens and 20-something crowd, that's fine, but don't insinuate that it's the epitome of diversity because it's not. Formichetti maintains he's talking about the "young at heart" when discussing his customers.  "The Nicopanda customer for me is someone who wants to play and isn’t scared of trying new things. I desired to give them the materials to inspire their creativity and encourage that playfulness. My consumers don’t take things too seriously and are super young-spirited. Not necessarily in age, but they exude a young energy. This collection is so in sync with that; sophisticated yet light-hearted."  I still say the ads tell a slightly different story.

Overall, I applaud Formichetti for breaking gender barriers in fashion, and making it affordable to boot.  I love the concept of Nicopanda and MAC was an excellent match for a cosmetics line.  I only wish Formichetti would have insisted on including a few older faces and some more traditional looks for the campaign, or left diversity out of the conversation all together.  The models in the ads were certainly varied in race and gender and the makeup looks felt fresh and modern, but the lack of models in their 30s and up, along with the presentation of solely non-traditional makeup application, directly contradicts Formichetti's stance that this was a collection meant for everyone and could be worn in more traditional ways.  Nevertheless I'm willing to overlook it in this case because that panda packaging is simply too cute and unique.

What do you think?

 

1I must point out that genderless is not equal to unisex.  This article explains why.

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