Sephora

Craig and Karl for Sephora

Here's another spring collection that I'm just catching up on now.  The Craig & Karl Sephora collection may ring a few bells, as this design duo was also behind one of Kiehl's holiday 2014 collections (which I failed to write about as I was suffering from the stomach flu to end all stomach flus last December).  Craig Redman, based in NYC and Karl Maier, based in London, somehow manage to make cohesive designs that showcase each of their strengths despite the geographic distance between them.  Together they "create bold work that is filled with simple messages executed in a thoughtful and humorous way."  Looking at the collection they came up with, I'd say that's an apt description.

In total it's a rather large collection, but I think some items weren't offered in the States.  I don't recall seeing the bath and body and nail products at the U.S. Sephora website, but they did appear in France and Australia.

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Craig & Karl for Sephora
(images from thedieline.com, musingsofamuse.com, and packagingoftheworld.com)

Not much background information was given as to why Sephora chose Craig & Karl, but the company was quite pleased with the outcome.  As a rep told Cosmetics Business News, "For summer, we were looking for a fresh, pop and coloured collaboration...Craig & Karl are two unique and very talented designers that truly share our brand image and brand values. The collection is full of joy, happiness and, of course, colour...It was a true pleasure to work with them, so we’d of course be open to working with them again down the road.  We like surprising our consumers, so if we were to collaborate again then it would be something completely different...we have built a very interesting partnership with them in order to deliver the best quality and translate to the suppliers what they had in mind at the beginning of the project. The colour expertise of Craig & Karl mixed with our packaging and industrial knowledge produced an awesome result that we couldn’t be happier with.” 

That's a nice bit of PR, but does collection really reflect Craig & Karl's aesthetic?  A quick visit to their website told me that yes, it's totally spot on.  Compare the dots, stripes and criss-crossed lines on the Sephora packaging to the patterns on this Washington Post ad.

Craig & Karl Washington Post

Or the eye and lip motifs on the duo's work for MCM.

Craig & Karl for MCM

I especially enjoyed the spread they did for Vogue Japan.  It takes the idea of Craig & Karl makeup quite literally - it's not the packaging that bears their signature patterns and colors but the models themselves.

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan

Craig & Karl - Vogue Japan
(images from craigandkarl.com)

Full of Craig & Karl's exuberant colors and playful motifs, the Sephora packaging is a great representation of who they are as designers.

So why didn't I buy anything?  To be blunt, I'm not a big fan of their work.  I respect what they're doing and I think they're very talented, but it doesn't appeal to me personally.   I just can't bring myself to spend money on something I find so, well, ugly.  Additionally, the items from the collaboration aren't things I see as a necessary acquisition for the Museum.  Remember that I wasn't all that taken with Antonio Lopez's work but I still bought many pieces from the MAC collaboration because I feel that it was something a makeup museum should own and display.  Craig & Karl, however...it may be shortsighted, but I don't think this is really a must-have from a collecting standpoint, nor can I see it being used in an exhibition.

What do you think?


Makeup as Muse: Lancôme/Sephora contest

Via Beautezine, a few months ago I discovered that Sephora Canada was holding a nationwide contest for its makeup artists to create illustrations for Lancôme using only their products around the theme of their holiday collection, called Parisian Lights.  The winning image would adorn the packaging of three Canada Sephora-exclusive limited edition holiday sets, and the artist behind it would receive a trip to Paris.  I thought this was a great concept.  While makeup artists are accustomed to using one's face as their canvas, it's very interesting to see how their skills would translate to a traditional 2D surface. 

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme was announced in June and the 10 finalists were chosen in July.  Here are their drawings, all created with Lancôme makeup (mouse over the image to see the artists' names, where available - there were 10 finalists and now there only seem to be 8, so I don't have the names of 2 of the artists.)

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Alyssa Steinhubl, Kingsway store in Edmonton

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Ashley Creed, Upper Canada Mall

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Chrizta Tetangco, Bloor store

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Kaylyn Pshyk, Bloor store

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme: Sarah Ebisuzaki, Eaton Centre store

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Sandra Huynh, Markville store:

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme finalist

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Sharon Rodrigues, Sherway Gardens store in Toronto

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme: Whitney Herman, Mapleview Mall store
(images from beautezine.com)

While I thought some of these were really amazing, only one could be chosen as the winner.  Alyssa Steinhubl's drawing of a woman in a ball gown and gloves, hair back in a chic low chignon, gazing at a starry sky over the Eiffel Tower was the winning image.  This one was definitely one of my top three of the finalists so I was pleased with the outcome, although I'd love to know exactly which products she used.  Steinhubl's illustration appeared in 3 color variations on the Lancôme sets, which were revealed in October. 

Lancome Sephora Presents to Paris sets 2014
(image from beautezine.com)

After hearing about this contest I knew I had to get my hands on one of these sets, especially since the illustration fit so well within the holiday exhibition theme.  However, there were none available from my usual source (Ebay) and Sephora Canada won't ship to the States.  Fortunately, the husband has an old college friend who now resides in Toronto, and she very kindly agreed to pick up a set and mail it to me.  How awesome is that?!  Not only did she go out of her way to get this for me, she also refused to accept payment for the item or for mailing it, so it was truly a generous donation to the Museum.  I chose the Starry Eyes set since the blue coloring and starry title were perfect for the holiday exhibition.

Lancome Starry Eyes makeup set 2014

Lancome Starry Eyes makeup set 2014

(I didn't take pictures of the products inside, since they consisted of makeup remover, mascara and eye cream.)  Overall, I loved the idea of having a makeup artist create an illustration using cosmetics and putting it on the packaging.  I think Sephora and Lancôme should do another one of these contests in the States!

Which of the finalists was your favorite?  What do you think of the winning illustration?


Keiichi Tanaami for Sephora

Tanaami-Sephora

Sephora is, I believe, my favorite store ever.  I was pleased to see them celebrating their 15th anniversary earlier this summer.  So I was mystified as to how I completely overlooked a great collaboration with Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami in honor of this milestone. 

Sephora-sweet-15
(images from theglossy.sephora.com)

Keiichi Tanaami (b. 1936) studied at Musashino Art School.  In 1968 he visited the U.S. for the first time and made the acquaintance of an artist who would greatly influence him:  Andy Warhol.  Most of his work was for advertising and record covers.  In 1975 he became the art director of Playboy in Japan, where he revolutionized the large-format magazine.  Hallucinogenic images of odd creatures and use of vibrant color served as the hallmarks of his work and were derived from a variety of sources, including his childhood in Japan and American pop culture.  He recalls in an interview, "Japan went to war with the US when I was about seven. During those years no one had the time, the luxury, or the interest in cultural activities. So I don’t remember being taken to museums and there weren’t many books being published. It was a time of crisis, war time, not the time to enjoy culture. In that sense, my core influence is the comic books I enjoyed as a kid, because there was nothing else...I went through various styles, depending on what I was interested at the moment, my past styles simply mark my changing interests. Still, I came to embrace the pop-induced style, I work with now, later in my career. Earlier, I played with more abstract, simplified forms of expression. I remember being shocked by my visit to the US in the 60s, not only by Warhol and American Pop Art, but also by Robert Crumb, the comics, the whole sub-cultural scene. I found the latter much more interesting than the so-called Fine Art and was deeply affected by it. In the end I decided to follow my original affection towards sub-culture and Pop."

Tanaami's strange images were further fueled by a bout of pleurisy in 1981.  While hospitalized, he had a high fever and experienced vivid hallucinations from the drugs used to treat him.  "I saw some surreal images, which I couldn’t understand if it was a dream or a hallucination - they were projected on a white wall in the room. At the same time, a crooked pine tree outside the window was growing up in the sky, just like the painting from Dali...I wrote all these down on 8 notebooks in the end, and from these, many ideas and images came up."  This prolific output was captured in exhibitions and several books over the years, including Spiral and Daydream.  Nowadays, at age 77, Tanaami continues to team up with various companies and still does album covers

Sephora VP Lina Kutsovskaya describes the collaboration thusly:  “Keiichi Tanaami-San is a very important figure in the pop art world and we were honored to be working with him on this animation for Sephora...he was fascinated with the beauty products and how to interpret them for this thematical birthday."  Ultimately, the idea was to instill a celebratory, carnival-like feel within the designs.   

In addition to the above graphics, Tanaami came up with 15 creatures for Sephora, each representing a different beauty product.  (I doubt he was the one who named them, however - the monikers definitely sound like the work of someone in Sephora's marketing department.)  These were made available as avatars to members of BeautyTalk, Sephora's online community.  In an interview with Ariella Gogol, Senior Writer at Sephora, Tanaami states that his characters "are inspired by my dreams and memories, by the monster encyclopedia, and by movies and comic stories. They have secrets surrounding their births, and they play together. By combining multiple patterns, I tried to animate Sephora-like elegance, enchantment, glamour, beauty, and eros, but in a tense atmosphere...I created almost all of the characters without any outside influences, with the exception of some patterns that I reworked from a Japanese painter in the Edo period (18th Century). Also I love the cover art of this science fiction book that was popular in the 1920s; I was significantly affected by it. I don’t give names to the characters, but I have considerable feeling for every pattern. They all may be my other self."

I can't tell whether these are cute or creepy...both?

Tanaami-sephora-characters

Tanaami-Sephora-characters2

Tanaami-sephora-characters3
(images from pinterest.com/sephora)

Here are the last three that for some reason didn't get quite the same design treatment as the others.

Electric-eleanor-olga-gail
(images from community.sephora.com)

Even though I find them to be a little scary, I like these monster girls - psychedelic and colorful and incredibly bizarre.  But I think the coup de grace of this collaboration is the gigantic sculpture that was recently placed at Sephora's 9th Avenue location in New York City. 

Tanaami-sculpture-sephora
(image from refinery29.com)

Named the "Kannon of Beauty", the sculpture is influenced by Kannon Bosatsu, or the "God of Mercy" in Japanese Buddhism.  Tanaami explains, "It is said that Kannon Bosatsu has 1,000 arms, extending mercy to 1,000 people. I have chosen to use only six hands, with each functioning as a magical device to enhance beauty."  Additionally, the sculpture ties into the theme of beauty and Tanaami's underlying vision for the collaboration:   "The work is based on the story of a girl living in a monochrome world; she is sucked into a monster’s eye that leads her to fall into the underworld. After her dazzling adventures in the vividly colored alien land, she discovers a castle made of cosmetics. Numerous lipstick-butterflies are astonished at her and start dancing," he says.  Three of these "lipstick butterflies" are perched towards the bottom of the sculpture.  I'm very impressed by how well his work translates into 3D; then again, Tanaami is known for being able to move seamlessly between print, animation, sculpture, photography and film.  (Side note:  I'm wondering what will happen to the sculpture next year when it's taken out of the store...it would make such an excellent piece for the Makeup Museum!)

While normally I don't like it when an artist recycles his or her work for a cosmetics collaboration, I make an exception for Tanaami.  "Gabby Gail" is the same maniacally grinning ball you see at the top of left of this print:

Tanaami-01
(image from butdoesitfloat.com)

And "Out-There Olga" is the same creature as the dotty, spiky-haired girl seen at the bottom of in CO2 (2009):

Tanaami_C02-2009
(image from illustrative.de)

The black and white ocean at the bottom of the Sephora graphics also appear frequently in his work, as in Lost and Wandering Bridge Series 3 (2011):

Tanaami-wandering-2011
(image from azito-art.com)

The Sephora sculpture reflects his fascination with Japanese Buddhist statues and is similar to this  2009 sculpture, Kannooon

Tanaami_kannooon
(image from azito-art.com)

It doesn't bother me that he re-uses the same characters that appeared in previous work.  I feel as though they've been with him for such a long time, it would be odd for him to suddenly come up with brand-new characters just for one collaboration - they're "his" creatures.  They function as a sort of signature and capture his identity as an artist. 

Anyway, I really loved this collaboration and I wish there were products available for purchase!  However, I think the lack of sellable products is partially why this collaboration is remarkable.  Companies team up with artists for a limited-edition piece or collection, but I don't think they've ever collaborated just for promotional purposes, i.e. create artwork to celebrate a milestone rather than put it on merchandise to sell.  Plus, Tanaami's work is just so...weird, I can't help but like it. 

What do you think? 


E-bay finds featuring Shu and Sephora

As a collector, I'm forever trying to fill the gaps in the Makeup Museum's holdings.  Most of the time I look to E-bay to find long-lost products and vintage items.  So I thought I'd share two good recent finds today.

The first is the Seoul cleansing oil by Tsuyoshi Hirano for Shu.  I was initially sad that all three cleansing oils weren't going to be available in the U.S., then two of them were, but I was still bummed about the third one lacking in my collection.  Well, lo and behold it popped up on E-bay so I pounced.

Hirano-shu-seoul-oil

Hirano-seoul-oil-shu

Something I'm always on the hunt for are old Sephora catalogs.  I found this set of five from 2004 in excellent condition.  I'm still looking for any from 2005 and any from 2003 and earlier.

Sephora-catalogs-2004

It was fun to go through and see what brands they had back then.  Remember Dessert by Jessica Simpson?

Sephora-catalog-dessert

While I wasn't sad to see that brand disintegrate, I was a little disappointed when Sephora stopped selling Paula Dorf (it still exists, but Sephora dropped them ages ago.)  While it never knocked my socks off, for the most part this is a quality line.

Sephora-catalog-paula-dorf

And then we have this lovely Paul & Joe lipstick - too bad I wasn't collecting back then!

Sephora-fall-2004-pj

What's also fun is to see old trends and how much they get recycled.  For example, this is the cover of the fall 2004 catalog, and I feel like houndstooth is EVERYWHERE for fall 2013.

Sephora-catalog-fall2004

"Rich, warm cabernet" nails are always in for fall as far as I'm concerned.  It didn't photograph well but this shade, which was new back in 2004, isn't so different from all the oxblood we saw last fall.

Sephora-fall2004-nails

Do you hunt for makeup on E-bay?  You do have to watch out for fakes, but I think it's pretty fun seeing what pops up.  


Bippity boppity BOO! Cinderella collections from Sephora and Lissage

I have pumpkin fever (I went on a dessert rampage during Hurricane Sandy that included pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin ice cream) so I thought I'd take a look at two collaborations with Disney, both based on Cinderella.  Mmm, pumpkin carriage...oh wait, that's not edible.

Sephora's Cinderella collection is vast, but I want to look at just a few highlights.  First up is the Midnight Hour Eye Shadow Palette.   "Reenact the drama and flash these whimsical shadows as the clock strikes twelve.  Original artwork created by Disney brings the magic to life with an elegant screen print of the legendary countdown."  I must say I like this image.

Sephora-disney-palette

Then there are the Storylook Eyeshadow Palettes, which are dotted with Swarovski crystals and once again feature "original artwork created by Disney".  The colors in each are also based on the actual Pantone colors from the movie.

Sephora-disney-crystal-palette

Finally, we have the compact mirror which shows an aqua and gold filigreed clock.  Strangely enough, this seemed to be the hit of the collection - it's sold out online and in every Sephora store I've looked.

Sephora-disney-mirror
(images from sephora.com)

The other Cinderella collection is from Japanese brand Lissage, which will be released for the holiday season in mid-November.  Actually it's not so much a collection as a single, albeit large, makeup kit.

Lissage

It's hard to tell from the picture whether the pumpkin carriage design is a plastic covering or imprinted onto the makeup.  My instinct tells me it's just on the plastic.

Lissage-Cinderella-palette
(images from lissage.jp)

Disney is really cleaning up on these collaborations (see previous collections from Pixi, MAC, E.L.F., Urban Decay, and Paul & Joe).   And I'm still grappling with why these are being marketed to grown women and whether this is a form of infantilization.  For both collections, while the entire concept is to make women temporarily feel like princesses in a fairytale (i.e., pretty and privileged), Cinderella is rendered only in tiny, silhouette form.  Are the images an attempt to downplay the more childish feel of a Disney collection and make it seem more a harmless escape from the drudgeries of real adult life?  I'm not sure, but I do know that the designs for both collections could have been way worse - they could have used a lot of pink and more cartoony images of Cinderella.  But while the understated, shadowy images of the fabled princess signal these collections are meant for adults, I still find it just a little strange to be marketing Disney-themed makeup to grownups.

Anyone want to weigh in on the Disney makeup phenomenon?


MM Smackdown! Breaking the 4th wall: Sephora vs. MAC

Sephora introduced their Prisma Chrome eye shadows a couple months ago, and today MAC's In Extra Dimension collection dropped.  In honor of the fact that the deisgns on both are comparable I decided to have them square off in the ole Makeup Museum ring.

Mac.vs.sephora.3dsmackdown

Woohoo!!!  Let's get ready to rrrrrummblllllle!!  *ding ding*

In the first corner we have Sephora's Prisma Chrome eye shadows.  Available in eight shades, these limited-edition shadows feature a wavy pattern that actually dips down in the middle.  Trippy!

Sephora_collection

Sephora.prisma.chrome
(images from sephora.com)


According to the website, "Prisma Chrome brings together the best features of baked, powder, and cream shadows. Its revolutionary effect captures light perfectly, delivering a prismatic effect with an unbelievably smooth and true color finish...Pure pigments deliver the truest color imaginable and a highly polished finish. Its unique mica technology provides intense luminosity and a velvety texture that glides over the skin."  That scrumptious description is a strong start for this underdog brand.

In the other corner we have heavyweight MAC's In Extra Dimension collection, which boasts not just eye shadows (10 of them) but three highlighting powders known as Skinfinishes.  The design also features a wavy pattern like Sephora's but one that ends somewhat awkwardly in a point halfway up the compact. Can the addition of the brand's logo repeating above the wave make up for that flaw?

MAC-Extra-Dimension-
(image from bellasugar.com.au)

Also like Sephora's Prisma Chrome shadows, MAC In Extra Dimension brings a "new liquid-powder formula with prismatic reflections that sculpts, highlights and models the face" to the fore.  So not only the design but the formulas themselves are similar between these two foes.  They are truly neck-and-neck!

But someone has to win.  Ungainly wave aside, does the brute strength of MAC's larger collection and brand recognition have the upper hand?  Or does Sephora's oh-so-tantalizing product description and multi-dimensional center dip clinch the battle?   Tell me in the comments!


Hello, narcissism: Karl Lagerfeld for Sephora

Holy ego, Batman!  Karl Lagerfeld (head designer and creative director for Chanel, in case you've been living under a rock) lent his famous persona to Sephora for a capsule collection.

It includes a palette - love that the shadows are in the shape of his silhouette:

Lagerfeld palette


A makeup bag:

Lagerfeld bag

Nail polish set:

Lagerfeld polish
(images from bellasugar.com)

And even (gasp!) a snow globe and doll!  The quote on the snow globe translates to "My great luxury is not having to justify myself to anyone".

Karl-lagerfeld
(image from refinery29.com)

I'm not exactly sure why, but this collection makes me giggle.  Perhaps it's because Karl seems to be such an intimidating figure in real life, but here he's rather harmless.  I'd probably pick up the palette and the doll, but unfortunately the collection is only available in Europe and Singapore, and I don't think I'm going to go through the trouble of trying to buy through E-bay. 


Sephora color-dipped brushes

Sephora brushes Hooray, another brush set that's branching out from the usual black or neutral-colored bristles!  Earlier this year Sonia Kashuk brought us lovely coral-inspired brushes and Lancôme introduced a sleek set of blue-bristled brushes as part of their Declaring Indigo collection.  Now Sephora is following suit with these.  It's the dawning of a new brush era!

(photos from sephora.com)