MM Musings, vol 25: unsolicited donations

Makeup Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum. These posts help me think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning. I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done!

https://www.someecards.com/I came across this article detailing an example of an unsolicited museum donation, and it got me thinking about how this would apply to the Makeup Museum. Let's explore the pros and cons of such donations for a cosmetics museum, shall we? 

In the 9 years I've been running the Museum, it has received a handful of amazing, completely unsolicited donations, two of which I haven't even posted about because they were so huge and I'm still in the process of adding them to the inventory and photographing everything.  Some very kind people bestowed hard to find or vintage items in great condition simply because they were going to throw them out, but instead they took the time to do a little research and discovered the Museum might be a good place for these items instead of the trash.  I must say I've had good luck so far with unsolicited donations - no one has sent me beauty items that are in such poor condition that they really do belong in the garbage.  (No one has even requested that I reimburse them for postage, which blows my mind!  I've offered, but they all turned me down.)  Even though I usually have no idea what I'm getting when people offer to send me things - very few take photos and just offer a brief description - I have no problem digging through the items once they arrive and throwing them out if they really are trash.  And as I'm always trying to grow the Museum's collection, right now I have a favorable opinion of such donations.  It's not often you can get quality items for free, so these unsolicited donations essentially mean collection growth without spending a dime of my own money.  Indeed, several prominent museums have had help in growing their collections via unsolicited donations as well. As the director of the institutional history division at the Smithsonian remarked in this article, "We built our collection with amateur collectors." 

Another pro of an unsolicited donation is that even if I can't use it for the collection, it at least provides research and/or blog post fodder.  I like to think of donations as opportunities for other aspects of museum expansion, as sometimes these items can lead me to look into vintage brands or trends I hadn't explored before, or even exhibition concepts.  For example, the Stila memorabilia donations I received sparked the idea of doing a whole exhibition on Stila girl illustrations.  (Still working on it, obviously!)

Finally, for established organizations unsolicited donations can also lead to good press and increased visitor engagement.  This article in Nonprofit Quarterly discusses an unsolicited donation that a museum could have used as PR opportunity and a way to interact with more visitors (although I do understand why the museum didn't follow through with it).  While right now the Makeup Museum doesn't have any real PR to speak of,  if it was an actual museum I'd absolutely pass along unsolicited donations to my PR team and education/engagement staff and see if they could do anything with them.

Now for the not-so-good aspects of unsolicited donations.  Most museums have policies in place clearly stating that they cannot accept unsolicited donations that are left at the doorstep or sent through the mail, and for several good reasons.  First, and probably most important, unsolicited donations can present a host of legal problems.  State laws regarding abandoned property vary, so museums have to determine whether they can legally own donations that were left or sent anonymously. Not only that, while the donation is monetarily free, the donor may put burdensome conditions in place, such as having the item on display at all times.  This makes the legal aspects of the deed of gift more complicated, and the conditions themselves may be more trouble than the donation is worth.  Plus, some pieces have questionable provenance, especially those where the donor refuses to say how they acquired the item or even give their name - no museum wants stolen or fake works in their collections because, again, this could lead to an epic litigation nightmare.

Second, unsolicited donations require an incredible amount of experience in handling extremely delicate situations.  If a donor is turned down, the result may be a permanently damaged relationship that could affect other donations.  Not only does museum staff want to avoid hurt feelings, as donors can be very attached to an object and may take the rejection personally, but the donor may have something else of value that they are now not willing to part with.  As this Wall Street Journal article explains, "Responding to inquiries for donations requires considerable tact, if for no other reason than a collector offering one unwanted object may have one or more others in which the museum would be far more interested...museum officials attempt to learn something about the person making the offer, because they don't want to close the door on a relationship that might yield other benefits."    

Third, unsolicited donations can be logistically difficult for a small museum that doesn't necessarily have the resources to sift through everything that gets left outside their door or in their mail.  Even if the item proves worthy of the museum's collection, the accessioning process takes a considerable amount of time.  Additionally, the museum may not have the storage space or ability to conserve the items. While mostly applauding the unsolicited donation of goldfish to a museum's pond (literally someone just smuggled a bunch of fish onto museum property and dumped them into the pond without consulting any staff), the Nonprofit Quarterly article notes that the fish ended up dead since the pond wasn't the right environment for them.  If a museum can't properly care for a donation for whatever reason, it actually does more harm than good.

Finally, the museum's focus is also a reason that unsolicited donations are tricky to handle.  In the case of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, donated animal carcasses to be taxidermied or otherwise preserved by the museum present a safety hazard if the critters succumbed to rabies or carried dangerous parasites.  On a less deadly side, I'd imagine a fashion museum would have to take special care in ensuring the donated garments are free of moths and other insects, lest they spread to the rest of the museum's collection and destroy it. 

In light of all these challenges, many museums have very clear policies in place that help protect them against the potential pitfalls that unsolicited donations present.  As for the Makeup Museum, right now I don't think I really need an official policy, since 1. it's not like I'm getting bombarded with donations so I can handle the amount; 2.  legally I can't get into trouble for accepting items or throwing them out since the Museum isn't an actual institution - it's really a situation of one person gifting items to another.  (At least, I don't think I can be sued or anything like that...any lawyers want to weigh in?)

However, should the Makeup Museum ever become a real organization, it would investigate unsolicited donations on a case-by-case basis and maintain a public policy that all staff is well-versed in.  I'd definitely require a form of some kind to be filled out online and have hard copies available in the case of in-person drop-offs.  I'd also follow the standard guideline that most museums have posted - I might even use this exact language from the Chicago History Museum and the International Spy Museum cobbled together, since it's perfect (why reinvent the wheel?):  "The Museum does not accept donations through the mail or in person unless prior arrangements have been made with the appropriate curatorial or collection staff member. All unsolicited donations sent via the mail will be returned to sender.  The Museum reserves the right to dispose of unsolicited items."  Storage space shouldn't be that much of an issue since makeup items are generally small.  Currently I'm running out of room, but that's only because I'm trying to keep the collection in my home - if I had a large dedicated space, it wouldn't pose too much of a problem (unless the donation was something like salon furniture or oversize props...still, if Paul & Joe wanted to donate those giant cat lipsticks they used for their events, I'd take them in a heartbeat, lack of space be damned).  As for health hazards, I can see that used makeup is kind of gross, but most likely it doesn't pose a threat as the items can be somewhat sanitized and no one would actually be using them - they're just being displayed.  The only things you'd have to be really careful with are hair-related items, i.e., I'd think twice about accepting a used vintage hairbrush or other accessories, as an outbreak of lice is not desirable.

There are many potential issues with unsolicited donations, but I believe that if a museum sticks to their policy and ensures their staff understands it, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.  As Jody Ochoa, Director of the Idaho State Historical Museum emphasizes, "If we don't know anything about an item, how can we take it? Having a good solid policy is really key, and it protects everyone, including the volunteers."  My current job also forces me to handle sensitive situations on occasion, so I think I'd be equipped to gently and tactfully negotiate or turn down a donation - hopefully there wouldn't be any burning of bridges with donors for me.

What do you think?


Curator's Corner, 8/6/2017

CC logoLinks, links, get your links here!

- Loved this history of nail polish over at Racked...and I can't wait for this new book it mentions (I'm currently reading her other one.)  This history of the hair dryer was also interesting.

- Think I'll skip the "lobe strobe", but upside down makeup actually seems reasonable.

- Recent beauty fails involve, of all things, a dead fly and a maxi pad.

- There are swatches, and then there is swatch art.

- A teenage makeup artist revisits the '90s on her eyelids, while The Cut reflects briefly on the decade's popular "butt cut" for men.

- Not sure how I feel about these new Sephora stores.  On the one hand, they're good for anyone who feels overwhelmed or intimidated by the selection and doesn't fully understand their skin and makeup needs.  On the other hand, I feel like it would be super annoying for someone like me, who wants to be left completely alone while shopping - more in-depth services are not what I'm after.

- Also not sure about this debacle.  My gut instinct is to tell the Kardashians to back off, but...their logos aren't really similar? I don't know.

The random:

- So much '90s nostalgia!  ABC's original TGIF lineup returns to Hulu, both Titanic and this one-hit wonder turn 20, and the stars of the I Love the '90s music tour share their thoughts on the decade.  I also came across the history of Good Burger and the rather sad story of the actor in Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" video.

- Nostalgia isn't limited to the '90s, however:  early aughts fashion trends are being revived, and there's going to be an exhibition on pop culture of the 2000s (brought to you by the same folks who launched the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding exhibition). 

- Smithsonian Magazine briefly discusses how sunbathing became a fad in the 1930s...thought it was a nice little follow up to my post on vintage tanning product ads

- Made me smile.

How are you doing?

Save

Save

Save


We're going to the circus, we're going to the fair...

...to see the senoritas dance with flowers in their hair!  Okay, not really, that's part of a song my sister and I used to sing as kids.  But it looks like Paul & Joe had their own personal circus at Isetan Shinjuku department store in Tokyo to celebrate the release of their new lipsticks.  I'm not sure why they went with a circus theme or why they had to make these exclusive to Isetan, but what I do know is that a certain curator was determined to get her hands on them by any means necessary.  Basically I paid through the nose to use a personal shopping service in Japan.  But I believe it was worth it, as these new cases are easily some of the cutest and most unusual Paul & Joe has come up with in a while.  I also suspect these are brand new prints that are unique to the cases.  I might have looked too quickly, but I did briefly peruse the fall 2017 Paul & Joe fashion collections and didn't see any of them.

Paul & Joe circus lipstick cases

I love the caps!  (And I was ever so happy to see the return of Cap'n Kitty!)

Paul & Joe circus lipstick cases

While the cases retailed for a mere 1,100 yen (about $10 U.S. each), the shopping service itself charged...well, I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much.  But look at this very dapper penguin.  I mean, he's wearing a freakin' top hat and bow tie!!  As I said, worth it.

Paul & Joe circus lipstick case #3

While Cap'n Kitty will always hold a special place in my heart, I think this was my favorite case of the bunch.  The images are just so delightfully absurd.  We have a cat lady in a hoop skirt, a tiger riding a bicycle, an antelope, a parrot riding a zebra, and for some reason a monkey holding a fan sitting by a windmill.  Bizarre, but the vintage style is utterly charming nevertheless - reminds me a little of Alice in Wonderland.

Paul & Joe circus lipstick case #6

If you thought the cases were awesome, you need to take a gander at the Isetan event itself.  I'd have given my eye teeth to be there, as it looked amazing.  Whoever Paul & Joe's event planner was, they hit it out of the park.   (I hate the event planning I do for work but if I could do these types of events for a beauty company I probably wouldn't mind so much!)

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event


Paul & Joe Isetan circus event

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event display

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event display

I loved the gigantic kitty lipsticks, which naturally made for a perfect photo opportunity.

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event

They even had a life-size statue of the cat lady!  She was cleverly placed in front of the lipstick case print and wearing one of Paul & Joe's fall 2017 dresses.

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event cat statue

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event cat statue

There were even actual circus performers!

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event - performers

The huge gumball machine was a fun touch too.  While it looks like simply a novelty piece of decor, it actually worked.  I don't have the video of a couple girls putting a few coins in and getting their prizes because Paul & Joe only had it on their Instagram stories, but there was proof that it wasn't just for show.  

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event - gumball machine

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event - gumball machine

I'm wondering how much this event cost and how long it took to plan - those giant cat lipsticks, gumball machine, framed prints and other decor couldn't have been cheap or produced overnight because they would have to be custom-made with Paul & Joe's designs.  Even these little balloons must have been pricey.  (I guess because of my day job and also planning elaborate birthday parties for my niece, I just can't stop thinking about the work and money that went into this event!)  They must have had an unlimited budget and an entire fleet of event coordinators.

Paul & Joe Isetan circus event - balloons
(images from Paul & Joe's instagram)

But wait, there's more!  Another spectacular event was held for CanCam, a popular Japanese fashion magazine.  Entitled "CanCat Night Pool", the event name put a fun Paul & Joe kitty spin on the magazine's moniker while pointing to the night swimming activities.  This one also looked like a ton of fun!

CanCam Paul & Joe Night Pool event

Can Cam Paul & Joe Night Pool event

Again, custom pool floats = $$$.

CanCam Paul & Joe Night Pool event

CanCam Paul & Joe Night Pool event

CanCam Paul & Joe Night Pool event(images from cancam.jp)

All in all, I was overjoyed to be able to add these cases to my collection, and I was glad Paul & Joe provided plenty of pictures of their wonderful events for those of us who are thousands of miles away and couldn't attend.  Also, I think my new career goal might be doing event planning for a big makeup company.  ;)  If you weren't able to get your hands on these lipstick cases, don't despair - I wouldn't be surprised if Paul & Joe releases them worldwide eventually. 

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite?


Unicorns vs. Mermaids

Sigh.  After nearly 9 years of blogging I don't know why I still haven't learned to look before I leap when purchasing items for the Museum's collection.  After seeing the write-up at Allure of indie brand Tooth and Nail's Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette and previous mentions of this company in other reputable publications like Nylon, I nevertheless pondered whether I really needed yet another mermaid-themed palette to add to the Museum.  Initially I wasn't going to go for it, but I figured Allure would never steer me wrong, plus Tooth and Nail mentioned the name of the palette's illustrator/designer, Australia-based artist Megan Allison.  Once I read an independent artist was behind the design I had to buy it.

Tooth & Nail Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette

Tooth & Nail Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette

I actually got up the courage to email Megan with a request for an interview about her art and her work for Tooth and Nail.  She kindly obliged so here's some more in-depth information.  Megan has been drawing since high school and studied Visual Communication (graphic design) at the University of Technology Sydney.  When not working at her day job at an Australian packaging company, Megan creates stickers and enamel pins featuring a variety of whimsical (and sometimes creepy!) characters. 

Megan Allison - Blue Moon Dragon

Megan Allison - Kirby sticker

Megan Allison - Xenomorph pin

And since I had to know, she's Team Unicorn.  For shame!  Just kidding, of course.  ;) 

Megan Allison - Sweet Unicorn Carousel
(images from meganallisondesign.com)

Tooth and Nail found Megan via Instagram and contacted her to create some of the labels for their Sailor Moon-themed highlighters.  After the success of that collection, the company contacted her again for the Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette.  Hannah Foote, owner of Tooth and Nail, sent Megan a preliminary sketch of the general concept.

Tooth and Nail Unicorn vs. Mermaids sketch

From there Megan did her own sketch.

Tooth and Nail Unicorn vs. Mermaids sketch

Once approved, she did the full rendering, with the colors taking an entire day to get just right.  While Megan isn't loyal to one distinct style - she frequently goes back and forth between more traditional colored pencils to digital illustration and dark vs. cute themes - she enjoys tattoo design, an interest she shares with her sister (they have matching forearm tattoos, awww!)  I feel as though the mermaid looks a bit old school tattoo-inspired. 

  Tooth & Nail Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette

Seems all well and good, right?  Alas, a very sweet Instagram buddy of mine alerted me to the fact that Tooth and Nail has had a lot of customer complaints.  And it's true:  when I googled the company the fourth result that appeared was a complaint on Reddit.  Apparently not only was the customer service poor, the quality of the products themselves was shoddy.  While this one appeared nearly a year ago, other customers have shared their own tales of never receiving the products they ordered with a lengthy wait for a refund or zero resolution, some as recently as late May.  Sadly, the lack of service isn't limited to customers.  Via our email interview a few weeks ago, Megan stated that she never received the final versions of the products she designed (neither the Sailor Moon items nor the Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette), which was the agreed-upon payment for her services.  So not only have customers been ripped off, Tooth and Nail has allegedly also not paid their own designer.  I haven't been in touch with Megan since then so I'm hoping she has received her items in the past 2 weeks, but given everything I've seen it's doubtful.  It's especially disheartening since Megan agreed to accept products instead of money - it shouldn't be difficult for a company, even a small indie one, to fulfill their end of this simple barter. (Plus, as the wife of an extremely hard-working freelance designer who has had his share of clients screwing him over, I personally HATE people who don't think independent designers/artists deserve payment...which is more common than you'd think.  Freelance ain't free!)  

I certainly don't wish to vilify Tooth and Nail, but I felt the need to mention these incidents.  I'm also inclined to believe they're true - why would so many people complain without cause, and why is there no response from Tooth and Nail to any of them or going so far as to report/remove customers' comments on Instagram?  I understand that things happen beyond our control and that Tooth and Nail is a fairly new company with literally just two people rather than a huge, established business with lots of experienced staff to handle customer issues, but it seems other tiny indie companies are able to better handle any problems that come up.  With such a small company it's easy to get overwhelmed with orders, but whatever customer service system Tooth and Nails has in place clearly hasn't been working and needs to be addressed.  Maybe it has been, as I haven't witnessed any other complaints regarding the Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette...then again, perhaps any negative feedback has been wiped clean from social media.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I was conflicted for weeks about what to write or even to write anything at all, plus I was annoyed with myself for not doing proper background research on an unknown-to-me brand before purchasing the palette. Ultimately I decided to post because while Tooth and Nail may not be reliable or, at least, wasn't reliable in the past, I felt it was important to highlight Megan's work.  After all, focusing on the makeup design rather than the makeup itself is kind of what I do, right?  Oh, and in the snowball's chance in hell that any makeup companies are reading this post, I'd like to let you know that Megan is available for design/illustrative services, but you must pay her up front!

Thoughts?

UPDATE, 8/2:  Megan emailed me to let me know she followed up with Hannah a few more times and eventually received the agreed-upon items!  So hopefully this begins a new, more responsible phase for Tooth and Nail. 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Curator's Corner, 7/23/2017

CC logoThe bi-weekly link roundup.

- Jane at British Beauty Blogger eloquently shuts down the issue of age discrimination in the beauty industry.

- Makeup artists continue vying to be the next social media star with ever more (literally) colorful ideas, between this teen who paints tiny celebrity portraits and this artist who creates masterpieces from stretch marks and other "flaws".  (We've seen this before but with glitter.)

- If I spent $13K on neck cream and then found out I'd also need a $15,000 machine to accompany it, I'd probably sue too...but then again, for that amount of money you could have surgery or other treatments, which would be way more efficient than a cream anyway.

- Forget suing, I'd KILL anyone who deliberately destroyed my makeup.  Not funny, jerk.

- Also not funny is the fact that Sephora is basically forcing you to use your points.  Meh.

- Not sure what the difference is between 4D and holographic hair, but cereal hair looks like fun.

- Another product for your lady parts has been launched...I wouldn't wear it, but I'm glad to see that at least it's not harmful like wasp nests and glitter.

- Please, let it be true!

The random:

- Dying to see this exhibition at Loyola University in Chicago...stay tuned for a Makeup as Muse post on this artist!  In other art news, have you tried texting SF MoMA?  It's a lot of fun!

- There's been much exciting junk food news, including dark chocolate Twix and and these new Lays flavors.

- On the pop culture front, I'm excited for the return of both Stranger Things and American Horror Story.  How about you?

I hope everyone's having a relaxing and enjoyable summer!

Save

Save


Fake baking on a Friday: fun faux tanning ads

I was originally going to write a meatier post about the history of tanning that included sunless tanning, but there's actually been plenty of research already.  Rather than essentially re-writing what's already out there I decided to go the more visual route and show ads for products promising to give you that sun-kissed glow for both face and body.  I will include some history and links throughout, but mostly this is a way for me to share my never-ending obsession with vintage beauty ads.  :) 

Prior to the early 1920s, having tawny, sun-drenched skin simply wasn't desirable - at least for women.  Fair complexions were associated with the leisure class, while tan skin indicated a lower social status (i.e. people who had to work outdoors).  While the beauty industry was in its infancy, there were still plenty of products, such as this Tan No More powder, that promoted the pale skin ideal. 

Ad for Tan No More, 1924(image from library.duke.edu)

Just five short years later, however, the tan tide had turned.  Coco Chanel is credited by many historians as the one responsible for making the bronzed look stylish following a cruise she took in 1923, essentially reversing the significance of pale vs. tan complexions (i.e., tans were now associated with having the time and money for a luxury vacation in a sunny paradise, as well as good health.)  By 1929 products were on the market to achieve the glowing effect on the skin without the need to travel to some far-flung destination, such as this Marie Earle "Sunburn" line of makeup.  (Cosmetics and Skin has an excellent history of this company.  While not much is known about the founders, the Marie Earle line had some fairly innovative, if ineffective products, like breast-firming cream and eye masks.)

Marie Earle ad, 1929
(image from library.duke.edu)

Interestingly, in 1928 Marie Earle was bought by Coty, so it's probably not a coincidence that Coty released their Coty Tan bronzing powder and body makeup a year later.

CotyTan ad, 1929

CotyTan ad, 1929(images from cosmeticsandskin.com and library.duke.edu) 

The 1940s saw an increase in the number of bronzers and tanning body makeup, the latter influenced partially by the shortage of nylon stockings during World War II - women resorted to painting their legs with makeup or staining them with a tea-based concoction to create the illusion of stockings.  Always looking to sell more products, companies soon began offering tinted body makeup to mimic a natural tan.

Ad for Paul Duval Safari Tan, 1941(image from pinterest.com) 

Ad for Paul Duval Safari Tan, 1946(image from ebay.com)

Um...would you like a side of racism with your liquid body bronzer?

Elizabeth Arden ad, 1941(image from library.duke.edu)

Ad for Elizabeth Arden Velva Leg Film, 1946
(image from Found in Mom's Basement)

Elizabeth Arden ad, 1948(image from ebay.com)

By the late '40s cosmetics companies made sure women could also artificially tan their faces, as a slew of bronzing powders entered the market.  I couldn't resist purchasing a few of these ads.

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Pond's Bronze Angel Face powder, 1948

Ad for Pond's Bronze Angel Face powder, 1951
(image from pinterest.com)
 

Ad for Woodbury Tropic Tan, 1949

Here's a detailed shot so you can see the ad copy...and gratuitous cleavage.  LOL.

Ad for Woodbury Tropic Tan, 1949

Ad for Woodbury Tropic Tan ad, 1951
(image from pinterest.com)

And more casual racism from Germaine Monteil. 

Ad for Germaine Monteil, 1947

Ad for Germaine Monteil, 1950(image from ebay.com)

Once again, I fell victim to the idea that a beauty product has only been around for a few decades.  But it looks like spray tans have been around since at least the mid-50s!

Guerlain Misty Tan ad
(image from fashion.telegraph.co.uk)

Spray tan ad, 1955(image from Found in Mom's Basement)

In the late 1950s Man Tan sunless tanning lotion - or what we call self-tanner more commonly these days - debuted, featuring a new way of getting tan without the sun.  Instead of traditional tinted makeup that merely covered the skin, Man Tan used an ingredient known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which works on the amino acids on the skin's surface to gradually darken its color.  It sounds like a harmful, scary process that relies on synthetic chemicals, but DHA is actually derived from sugar cane and is still used in most self-tanners today.* 

Man Tan ad, ca. late 1950s

Miss Man Tan ad, ca. late 1950s
(images from twitter and pinterest)

In 1960 Coppertone introduced QT, short for Quick Tan, and many others followed.  The poor models in these ads already look orange - I shudder to think of how carrot-like you'd be in person.

Ad for Coppertone QT, 1961(image from ebay.com)

Ad for Coppertone QT, 1966(image from pinterest.com)

You MUST watch these commercials, they're a hoot!

 

In addition to bronzers, around this time companies were also launching color campaigns specifically for tanned skin.  These shades aren't so different from the ones we see in today's summer makeup collections - warm, beige and bronze tones abound.  Both Max Factor's Breezy Peach and 3 Little Bares (get it?!) were seemingly created to complement a tawny complexion, while Clairol's powder duos and Corn Silk's Tan Fans line offered bronzer and blush together to artificially prolong and enhance a natural tan.

Ad for Max Factor Breezy Peach, 1962(image from pinterest.com) 

Ad for Max Factor 3 Little Bares, 1965
(image from pinterest.com) 

Clairol Soft-Blush Duo ad, 1967

Ad for Corn Silk Tan Fans, 1969(image from pinterest.com)

Meanwhile, Dorothy Gray had tan-flattering lip colors covered.  This was not new territory for them, as this 1936 ad referenced a new "smart lipstick to accent sun-tan".  In any case, the 1965 ad is also notable for the yellow lipstick all the way on right, which was meant to brighten another lip color when layered underneath...over 50 years before Estée Edit's Lip Flip and YSL's Undercoat.

Dorothy Gray ad, 1965(image from mid-centurylove.tumblr.com)

The tanning craze wasn't going anywhere soon, as various self-tanning and bronzer formulas for body and face continued to be produced from the '70s onward.  As skin cancer rates rose, there was also an uptick in the number of ads that emphasized protection from the sun over the convenience angle (i.e., the ability to get a tan in just a few hours and no matter the climate) - self-tanners started to be marketed more heavily as a healthy alternative to a real tan.

When it launched around 2004, I thought Stila's Sun Gel was such an innovative product.  Little did I know Almay had done it roughly 30 years prior.

Almay sun gel 1970(image from flickr.com) 

Bain de Soleil ad, 1983

Tried though I did, I was unable to find a vintage ad for Guerlain's legendary Terracotta bronzer, which debuted in 1984.  So I had to settle for these Revlon ads from the same year.

Revlon-pure-radiance-80s

Ad for Revlon Pure Radiance, 1984(images from pinterest and adsausage.com)

Bain de Soleil ad, 1990
(image from Found in Mom's Basement)

Chanel Soleil ad, 1990
(image from pinterest.com)

Estée Lauder self-tanner ad, 1991

Estée Lauder self-tanner ad, 1991(image from fuckyeahnostalgicbeauty)

I searched all the '90s magazines in the Museum's archives, but realized almost all of them were March, September or October issues, so I couldn't unearth any fake tan ads for most of the decade.  I did have better luck with finding ads online and in the Museum's archives for the 2000's, however.  It makes sense as I had started collecting by then, not to mention that the early-mid aughts were the Gisele Bundchen/Paris Hilton era so fake tanning was at its peak.  I just remembered that I neglected to check my old Sephora catalogs...I'll have to see if I can locate any photos of Scott Barnes' Body Bling, another hugely popular product in the 2000's.

Lancome Star Bronzer ad, 2003

Neutrogena ad, 2003(images from reed.edu)

Here are the ones from the Museum's collection.  Thanks to the husband for scanning them!

Armani Bronze Mania ad, 2005

MAC Sundressing postcard, 2006

Love this Armani ad, which coincidentally came out the same year Mystic Tan spray booths were launched.

Armani Bronze Mania ad, 2007

YSL summer beauty postcard, 2008

Benefit summer 2010 catalog

As the decade came to a close, there was some discussion as to whether tanned skin, real or fake, was passé.  But the continuing growth of the self-tanning market (as well as the influence of the bronzed Jersey Shore cast) showed that the infatuation with tanning wasn't slowing down.  The Paris Hilton era segued seamlessly into the Kardashian age, which also contributed to the popularity of the bronzed look.  Companies are still trying to keep up with the demand for bronzers and self-tanners.  For the past 5 years or so, Estée Lauder, Lancome, Clarins, Guerlain and Givenchy have released new bronzing compacts at the start of the summer, and just this past year Hourglass and Becca released a range of new bronzing powders.  Meanwhile, established products like Benefit's Hoola bronzer and St. Tropez's self-tanning line are being tweaked and expanded.

In terms of advertising bronzers and self-tanners, I think cosmetics companies do a damn good job.  The products themselves certainly look tempting, but one also can't deny the sex appeal of the glowy, bronzey look of the models (not to mention that a tan makes everyone look like they lost 10 lbs).  Who doesn't want to resemble a sunkissed goddess lounging about in a tropical paradise?  It's largely this reason, I think, that the tan aesthetic persists.  As usual, Autumn Whitefield-Madrano offers an insightful exploration of why tawny skin continues to be in vogue so rather than me rambling further I highly encourage you to read it in full.  As for me, well, I've largely given up on self-tanning.  It was messy, came out uneven no matter how much I exfoliated and how carefully I applied it, and still didn't look quite like the real deal.  I do, however, still use bronzer once in a while (mostly as blush, but occasionally in the summer I'll dust it all over my face) and have been tinkering with temporary wash-off body bronzers.  I don't consider bronzer a staple by any means - most days I fully embrace my pasty self - but the fact that I own 6 of them is proof of the long-standing allure of the tan and how effectively the products required to achieve it are marketed.

What do you think?  Which of these ads are your favorite?  And are you down with the tanned look or no? 

 

*Recent research has shown DHA to be safe for topical use; however, inhaling it, say, from a spray tan booth, is less safe.

Save


Makeup as Muse: the mother of makeup art

Baltimore's City Paper is shutting down, but before they go I was delighted to see this article on a local artist who paints with makeup.  Gloria Garrett calls herself the "mother of makeup art", which I think makes her the ultimate Makeup as Muse.  By complete coincidence, she also happens to live roughly a mile away from me on the same street!  Smalltimore indeed.

Garrett, a 57-year-old artist and mother of three daughters, is entirely self-taught and creates, as she says, "folk art for the folks."  Garrett worked for the National Security Agency for most of her life, but was always drawing on the side - primarily black and white drawings made with pen.  It wasn't until 2005, following the tragic murder of her 18-year-old nephew, that she started painting in color.  From the City Paper profile:  "'I said, 'God, please let me have color in my life,' she says. And then she dreamed that God said she was going to be a painter, but she's allergic to paint. Then her mother gave her some makeup, and a light went off in her head."  Garrett began showcasing her work at farmer's markets for donations.  She would allow people to take her pictures and pay whatever they thought was fair.  Later she turned to YouTube to not only help promote her work but also highlight the work of other area artists and provide tips on marketing.  She also shares videos of her travels and her experiences within the Baltimore art scene.  I love this one, which shows her painting on the steps of the American Visionary Art Museum (a must-see if you're ever in town).  I also love that her photographer husband shoots all of her videos.  Hooray for supportive spouses!

Thematically, Garrett's works range from family life and religious scenes to still lifes and depictions of Africa. 

Gloria Garrett, Parasol, 2007

Gloria Garrett, Three Sisters, 2014

Gloria Garrett, Calling All Angels, 2014

Gloria Garrett, African Market, 2013

I had my eye on one of these two paintings, as they are relatively affordable.  Alas, when I wrote to her to find out what kind of cosmetics she used (looks like mostly eye shadow, foundation and lipstick to me), my email bounced back.  I am so sad since I also offered to donate some very lightly used makeup and brushes I'm no longer using and asked for a mailing address where I could send a box of items.  I also wanted to see whether she'd be interested in doing a commissioned piece...I was thinking if I sent her a photo of my vanity, perhaps she could make a painting of it with makeup.

Gloria Garrett, Mother and Child in Park, 2013

Gloria Garrett, Friendship Flowers, 2014
(images from gloriasart.com)

Garrett has adopted a fairly loose application technique in that she often applies makeup straight from the package/tube and uses a variety of simple tools.  Everything from her hands to plastic forks is fair game.  In 2014 she discovered lip gloss, which she likes to add to her paintings on occasion to "give them a shine".  According to City Paper, "She uses rouge, base, eyeliner, crayons—even nail polish. When she paints, she starts putting materials together around 10 p.m. and gets going by midnight. 'And I'm usually not done 'til 10 the next morning!' she shouts, smiling. 'I put my makeup in front of me, my Wite-Out, my crayons, and God works through me.'  She spends hours on the backgrounds, she says, and moves to the faces last: 'I do the face. I put the Wite-Out over it, I say I don't like it, and I do it again. And again. And again!'"  This process of crossing things out and repetition sounds a bit like Basquiat, no?  However, the finished product, stylistically, reminds me a little of various early 20th century artists but with a folk art vibe.  The flowers look a little like some of Emil Nolde's floral paintings, while the figural ones resemble Chagall or Matisse.

To sum up, I'm thrilled that one of the first artists to ever create paintings with makeup is a Baltimore native.  I find Garrett's work to be absolutely charming and unique - her folk art style is very different from that of other artists we've seen who use beauty products as their medium.  And I'm so happy to see that she was able to turn to cosmetics to create the colorful art she wanted to make when faced with the challenge of being allergic to paint.  Makeup saves the day!  I'm just sad I can't get in touch to ask her more specific questions about her artistic process, as my emails keep bouncing back and I also can't find a mailing address to donate some items.  (Garrett is on Facebook but I am not, so that route is out, and there is a phone number listed on her website but my anxiety prohibits me from attempting a call - the phone is way more intimidating for me than email).

What do you think? 

Save


Off to Umbria with Fresh

As with Fresh's collaborations with Jo Ratcliffe and R. Nichols, this was quite a nice little surprise.  The company teamed up with renowned Italian ceramic house Rometti to create limited-edition packaging for their Umbrian Clay Mask.  I can't think of a more appropriate company to produce the design, as Rometti is not only based in Umbria near where the clay for Fresh is sourced, but obviously pottery-inspired limited edition packaging for a clay-based mask is perfect.

Fresh Clay Mask Rometti

Why the clay mask to get the artistic treatment?  Fresh co-founder Alina Roytberg explains, “The Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask is one of our most iconic products. The mask is truly amazing, because it can be used on all skin types without drying out the complexion. When the product first came out, we didn’t launch it in a big way, and we’re very excited to do that now and be able to share the rich history behind the ingredient.”  The Umbrian Clay line was first launched in 2000 after Roytberg witnessed the amazingly clear complexion of a Rome-based friend who previously struggled with acne - the clay she found in a local store had done the trick.  Roytberg tracked down the source of the clay, which is a small town in Perugia called Nocera Umbra, and from there the Umbrian Clay line was born.  The clay has been used literally for centuries to treat various skin concerns and is a renewable resource that's mined ethically by Fresh. (You can read more about the production process here.)

Fresh Clay Mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

As for the design, Rometti Artistic Director Jean Christophe Clair says that he was inspired by all of Umbria, from its natural elements ("rivers", "hills" and "sunsets" were his key words) and architecture to its status, as he puts it, "the center of the history of Italy." The soft colors Clair used reflect the region's blue skies and earthy terracotta hues of the clay.



Rometti is a 90-year old company that's known for being the first Italian ceramic house to put a more avant-garde style on their wares as opposed to traditional Italian Renaissance and Art Nouveau designs.  Most of the early pieces were produced in conjunction with artists Corrado Cagli and Dante Baldelli.  I wasn't familiar with either of those two names, but apparently Baldelli was a nephew of Settimio Rometti, one of the company's founders.  He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome where he met Cagli.  Along with a host of other artists, including Futurist Giacomo Balla (love the Futurists!), they "were given complete freedom to experiment their artistry."  The Fresh collab maintains this tradition of artistic freedom today, as the company gave Rometti "free reign".  The design process came about easily, which is not surprising given that the mask is a product that comes directly from Rometti's everyday environment.  Says Roytberg, “It was one of those incredible things where you communicate without over-communicating because the response, for [the Rometti owners], it’s natural—they live in this world, they work with clay under the sky—so it’s one of those transcendental things that just happens."

 

 

 

While Clair created a unique new design for Fresh, it's clear he was continuing in the footsteps of Cagli and Baldelli, which you can see below in some examples of their work.  What's notable about these is the modern style given to traditional decorative themes, e.g. mythological scenes, farming, fishing, etc. - they're a far cry from, say, ancient Greek vases or majolica.  I'm including just a few pieces here but if you're finding yourself head over heels in love with Rometti's work, here's a whole book to drool over.

Corrado Cagli for Rometti, Marcia su Roma (March on Rome), 1930

Corrado Cagli for Rometti, Il lavoro dei campi, 1930


Dante Baldelli for Rometti, Pescatore, 1932-34

I spy mermaids!

Dante Baldelli for Rometti, Le Sirene, 1934

 I love this jellyfish-topped vase.

Dante Baldelli for Rometti ceramics, Medusa, 1936

I think Clair may have been looking at this 1936 piece when coming up with one of the designs that appeared on the Fresh packaging.

Dante Baldelli and Corrado Cagli for Rometti, Allegoria, 1930-32

And perhaps borrowed from one of his own more recent works for the face that appears on the lid.

Jean Christophe Clair for Rometti, Bacchanti, 2017

Some more recent Rometti collaborations that caught my eye were with surrealist artist Jean Cocteau (been eyeing this vintage compact with his work on it for over a year now but can't pull the trigger - so expensive!) and lingerie designer Chantal Thomass, both of which were overseen by Clair.

Cocteau for Rometti

Chantal Thomass for Rometti

 

Chantal Thomass for Rometti
(images from rometti.it , veniceclayartists.com and chantalthomass.com)

Final thoughts: I can appreciate Rometti's craftsmanship but the artwork in the Baldelli/Cagli vein just isn't my speed, so the Fresh packaging isn't my favorite.   However, the design was definitely the most representative of Rometti's aesthetic and it is a historic company.  And as I said earlier, if Fresh was going to choose any company to partner with to create a limited edition Umbrian Clay Mask, Rometti is absolutely perfect.  It shows that some thought went into the collaboration rather than blindly choosing a random artist who probably couldn't capture the essence of Umbria, not to mention clay, as well as Rometti can.

What do you think? 

Save

Save


Curator's Corner, 7/9/2017

CC logoLinks...late as usual. 

I'm questioning this study that says the average woman will supposedly spend nearly a quarter million dollars on beauty maintenance during her lifetime.  I don't think my spending will ever come close to that and I invest way more in beauty products and services than the average woman.

- Still, as pretty privilege is a very real thing, maybe it's true women funnel as much cash as the study claims into trying to look good in order to reap the rewards that being attractive brings.  I'm glad this article was written because it always seemed to me that the "beautiful people" have a much easier time in life - turns out it's not my imagination.

- Unless you've been living under a rock you know that NARS (or rather its parent company Shiseido) has decided it will be sold in China, which means it loses its cruelty-free status as China mandates animal testing.  It would be hypocritical of me to boycott NARS and get rid of all their products I have in the collection/my personal stash, but I will say just from a business perspective I don't think this is a wise decision.  The industry is moving away from animal testing, not towards it - any cosmetics company that wants to remain competitive should be cruelty-free and/or vegan.  What's almost as bad is NARS' response (or lack thereof) to the backlash.

- Here's a much happier confluence of animals and makeup to cleanse the palate.

- Macabre though it is, I enjoyed the Smithsonian's history of poisonous makeup.  More fun, recent makeup history includes this round-up of the original home pages for online beauty stores.

- Oh, social media, what trends will you come up with next?  The past couple weeks have given us sushi salmon hair (not sure how this is different than pink champagne or rose gold hair) and ocean hair.  Meanwhile, the 100-layer craze is still making the rounds.  We also have a manicure that goes nicely with the Museum's summer exhibition theme.

- Yet another item to add to the growing list of things not to insert into your lady parts. Seriously, WTF??

- I think this new perfume might be even weirder than the cat belly fragrance we saw in the last installment of Curator's Corner.

- Christmas in July: we got the scoop on Shu's holiday collection!  I didn't play video games much as a kid, but Super Mario was one I definitely remember.

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Lilith Fair celebrated its 20th anniversary and Radiohead's OK Computer also turned 20.  Plus, the triumphant return of '90s beverages continues with Zima.

- Loved this Vice piece highlighting a new documentary on professional mermaids.  In related news, I was watching this recent episode of Viceland's States of Undress where I learned that Thailand is home to the world's highest rate of gender confirmation surgeries.  This fact jogged my memory of reading about a mermaid cafe that had opened there a few weeks ago.  Given the significance of mermaids for trans women, I'm not sure it's a coincidence. Pretty interesting, yes?

- I'm embarrassed to admit I still don't fully understand the concept of a podcast, but this new one sounds awesome.

- Play with your food:  This pizza bikini is not a good idea for me, since I'd eat it and end up naked (although seriously, who the hell is going to pay $10k for that?!)  More my speed are these adorable plushie cakes

What's going on with you?

Save

Save