Couture/Fashion

Oodles of doodles: Burberry spring/summer 2018

While I'm not Burberry's biggest fan at the moment, I did want to share their spring/summer 2018 blush (leftover inventory of which I'm hoping doesn't go up in flames).  As with previous releases the design is a makeup version of one of Burberry's seasonal pieces.  In this case, the blush borrows one of the patterns from the Doodle collection, an illustration-based lineup created by British artist/director Danny Sangra.  I like that they chose the artist collaboration from their spring collection rather than blindly using an in-house design.  Lovely though they can be, using the work of an outside artist is a nice change of pace. 

Burberry Doodle blush

Burberry Doodle blush

Burberry Doodle blush

Burberry Doodle blush detail

Burberry Doodle blush detail

The particular "doodle" on the palette appeared on this trench coat and sweatshirt.  It may have been on other pieces but I didn't spot any.

Burberry Doodle trench coat
(image from bergdorfgoodman)

Burberry Doodle sweatshirt
(image from farfetch.com)

As usual, I felt the need to show the exact part of the pattern used.  I believe the eye on the right was moved down from where it was in the original pattern so as to fill some blank space.  It's an incredibly strange design that looks almost surreal or psychedelic to my eye.  Between the hand that appears to have a pinky finger with teeth, the square made up of tiny x's, the arrow shapes and the words "oh" and "England", there's some weird stuff going on here.  However, that's par for the course with this artist.

Burberry Doodle palette detail

So as not to leave you in the dark about the style of the artist who created this very odd pattern, let's take a peek at Danny Sangra's illustrations and his collaboration with Burberry.  I have to give them credit for seeking out a young, fresh artist who was able to infuse this venerable brand with a little cheekiness.  Sangra, who studied graphic design at London's prestigious Central St. Martin's, has been drawing approximately since he was 8 years old, when he took a tumble off a chair at his mother's hair salon.  "I was a little shaken so to calm me down, my mum’s assistant got me to draw some cartoons. That is literally the day I started to draw with enthusiasm," he says.  Most of his images consist of vintage magazine pages covered in offbeat phrases and words - sometimes surreal, sometimes hilarious (or both), but always visually compelling.  They remind me a little of drawing in your junior high textbook or passing funny notes during class; there's something a bit juvenile about marking up these images that makes me giggle.

Danny Sangra

Danny Sangra

I cracked up at this one, since it reminded me of the time I left a magazine out on the kitchen counter only to come home and find that my husband had blacked out the cover girl's teeth and gave her a mustache.  I can't for the life of me remember who it was (maybe Katy Perry), but it was just one of those moments that made me hysterical laughing.  Nothing like coming home from work and being unexpectedly confronted with a graffitied magazine.  (I asked him why he did it and he said he was just bored and thought it would be funny.  Fair enough.)

Danny Sangra

Scribbling random words and images in fashion magazines may have gotten Sangra in trouble with his parents when he was a kid, but proved to be worthwhile long-term:  in the summer of 2017, his "doodles" caught the attention of Burberry, who gave Sangra free reign to re-imagine some of their campaign images from their archives with his signature humorous style in a project called "Now Then".  Phrases are scattered across the photos in an almost stream-of-consciousness manner, infused with British silliness that doesn't fall into stereotypical traps.  He explains, "I tend to play with colloquialisms, surreal thoughts and kitchen sink-esque observations...it feels like a very British commentary.  [T]ypically, I write things that need to be deciphered. However, for the Burberry project, from the beginning it was meant to be very British – but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just 'Big Ben’ and ’London Bus' British! I was born in Yorkshire, but have lived in London almost half my life; I wanted a lot of colloquialisms which I knew would bring a humour to the project." 

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This one was my favorite.  "I'll put the kettle on." 

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The advertising project led to more work with Burberry - an augmented reality app*, a Snapchat takeover, and of course, Sangra's work appearing on Burberry's clothing and accessories. The color schemes for both the app and fashion items were coordinated due to, ironically, Sangra's colorblindness.  "I've always been very specific about colour – because I have to be!...For the bag collection, it was actually dictated by the Augmented Reality project I did previously with Burberry. Because I was painting in Virtual Reality, and the colour had to pop against whatever real-life situation people chose to use the app, I went for primary colours. Then, when it came to designing the bags, we felt it would be good to keep the world cohesive, which is why I made the bags bright unlike the archive illustration pieces."  Sangra kept the primary colors as well as Burberry's traditional brown check pattern, but also added a healthy dose of vibrant shades.

Burberry Doodle tote bags

Burberry Doodle tote bag
(image from juice.com.sg)

Burberry Doodle wallet
(image from tradesy)

Some of the clothing even bordered on neon.  (And I swear the pink on this dress is the same shade as the blush palette.)

Burberry Doodle dress

Burberry Doodle sweatshirt
(image from nordstrom)

Sangra also did live illustration at several Burberry flagships across the globe, decorating customers' bags as well as the store windows.  “It's always an entertaining way to connect with the people passing by...Kinda like if the store was talking to you. That seems an over the top way of describing what I'm doing -- essentially it's Burberry letting a tall bloke paint random things on their windows,” he says.  This sort of hands-on artist involvement with a brand isn't new - see OB for Shu Uemura and Donald Robertson - but Sangra brought his unique brand of irreverence and wit to the concept.  Unsurprisingly, he didn't want the run-of-the-mill "pretty" window displays:  "I knew I would write “How do you say roast beef Yorkshire pudding” in the Tokyo store window, but I didn't know I was going to lay down and pretend I was asleep! I've kept every window on the tour 'internationally local' – but once I'm in the window, who knows! I've been getting away with more and more as this tour progresses. I want people on the street to stop and take it in. I don't just want some pretty windows."  

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As to be expected, Sangra also had a field day with customizing the bags at these events. 

Danny Sangra for Burberry

Danny Sangra for Burberry

It was a fruitful collaboration to be sure, but the key to its success was Burberry giving more or less carte blanche for Sangra to do as he pleased, which is quite refreshing in the land of artist collaborations.  He explains, "[W]hat surprised me was how much freedom they have given me. Usually, with companies of that size, there's tons of restrictions – but Christopher [Bailey] and the team have just let me get on with what I do. Obviously, I reacted to the fact it's an illustrious British brand that is so ingrained in the culture. Whatever I did, it had to feel honest."  Sangra clearly enjoyed this freedom, even poking gentle fun at the Burberry brand.

Danny Sangra for Burberry

Danny Sangra for Burberry

Danny Sangra for Burberry

What I like most about Sangra is obviously his sense of humor; the fact that he doesn't take himself or art in general all that seriously makes his work easily accessible.  His approach:  "I think you need humour across the board in general. Humour allows for more interaction. It seeks to unify rather than segregate (most of the time). I have a difficult time when I see people taking art too seriously. Art shouldn't be elitist, it should inspire. Humour is just another tool to create a response. I tend to use humour as a cloaking device...I think the humour [in my work] comes from me not trying to sell the work; I'm just writing whatever is on my mind, from either my own points of view or my characters’ points of view. I don't really try make stuff funny, it's just the way it comes out. There's an awkwardness to the way I present it that adds to it – you either relate to my work or you don’t, I’m not trying to hook you in!"  

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Additionally, Sangra's clever use of text, whether alone or scrawled over magazine images, is the key ingredient in making his work come alive.  While Sangra is also a film director, reading and writing serve as the foundation for his creative process.  "I'm not a heavy reader as I lack the patience, but I'm trying! I find reading gives me the most inspiration...I write more than anything else these days. I constantly write notes. Words, conversations etc. Those tend to ignite a project. I'll hear a phrase and then I'll either think of a film I can make with it or how it could become a series of images."  Jotting down a few phrases on a slip of paper seems overly simple - I can see how some wouldn't consider it "real" art - but keep in mind that the written word is essential to the work of tons of "real" artists (i.e., Basquiat, Barbara Kruger).  The process is slightly more complex than you'd think.  Having said that, I don't believe Sangra's scribbles are incredibly high-brow or overly conceptual pieces (although his in-store antics could certainly serve as performance art), but sometimes it's nice not to be confronted with anything that could be remotely construed as pretentious.  With Sangra, what you see is what you get; there's no affectation here.

Danny Sangra
(images from instagram unless otherwise noted)

Getting back to the Burberry palette, I'm so curious to know whether Sangra is aware that one of his illustrations appeared on a makeup item.  While I think it would have been incredibly fun to present him with an empty palette and have him come up with something just for the makeup line, I still appreciate that Burberry used one of his existing designs rather than relying on their usual seasonal collection.  As for the design itself, the fact that it's such an odd jumble of images makes it memorable and takes away the haute couture formality and seriousness that can sometimes plague makeup releases from high-fashion houses.  By choosing possibly the strangest illustration Sangra had created for Burberry, the blush perfectly represents not only his work but also a more playful, casual side of the brand that we don't often see.  I must add, however, that I think it would have been hilarious to have one of the Now Then images on the outer packaging.  ;)

What do you think? 

 

*I had no idea what an AR app was.  Fortunately this article explains it in a nutshell:  "The augmented-reality feature interacts with users’ camera feeds to digitally redecorate their surroundings with Burberry-inspired drawings by the artist Danny Sangra...The new augmented-reality feature allows users to export the images they create, enhanced with graffiti-like doodles, to social media in a Burberry frame."


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 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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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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Givenchy spring 2018

'Tis Friday, so I will keep this post on Givenchy's spring 2018 couture collection brief.  The floral print, while beautiful, doesn't exactly read spring to me - the black background and dark hues of the flowers themselves seem rather moody and more suited to fall.  Nevertheless these items were definitely Museum-worthy and a nice addition to previous Givenchy couture releases.

Givenchy spring 2018 couture collection

Givenchy spring 2018 couture collection

I've seen this lipstick swatched and it's a gorgeous rich raspberry shade.

Givenchy spring 2018 couture lipstick

It took a while for me to identify the print, and that might have because I assumed it would be from the most recent spring or even fall collection.  Turns out, it's actually from the fall 2013 collection.  So my perception of the pattern being more appropriate for cool weather wasn't inaccurate. 

It looks like the color scheme was adjusted slightly from the original red and ivory to include blue, purple and dashes of yellow on the makeup packaging.

Givenchy fall 2013 bag
(image from fusionofeffects.com)

Givenchy fall 2013 runway

Givenchy fall 2013

As you may know, I'm obsessed with finding the exact portion of the print that appears on the makeup. 

Givenchy fall 2013 print detail

While I maintain that the print is even lovelier on makeup packaging than on the clothing, I'm still scratching my head as to why Givenchy chose a five-year-old pattern that was originally from a fall collection for their spring 2018 couture makeup release.  Overall, I'd say it's pretty to look at but rather uninspired.  It seems like they slapped on any floral print they could find but one they hadn't put on packaging previously just because it's spring - everyone likes flowers for spring, right?  It appears all the more unimaginative when you consider Givenchy had some interesting prints to choose from the ready-to-wear collection that would have worked nicely on makeup, such as these clovers.  The print is a 1961 original by Hubert de Givenchy, resurrected by recently appointed Givenchy designer Claire Waight Keller.

Givenchy spring 2018
(images from vogue.com)

It's another example of a disconnect between the clothing and makeup branches of a couture house, which we've seen with others.  Perhaps Makeup Artistic Director Nicolas Degennes is not "collaborating" as much as he should be with Keller.  Unfortunately it seems this laziness and lack of coordination is continuing, along with a dash of cultural appropriation, in the upcoming "African Light" highlighter Givenchy is releasing for summer (more about that later).

What do you think about this collection?

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King of the Jungle: Chanel Signe du Lion

Still plowing through holiday 2017 collections - hopefully you're not getting tired of them!  Today I'm sharing Chanel's exquisite Signe du Lion highlighting powders, which are based on their Sous le Signe du Lion jewelry line that was launched in 2013. 

Chanel Signe du Lion highlighters

I don't know why Chanel released these highlighters now, as I didn't spot any lion-themed pieces in any of their most recent fashion collections, but I'm not sure I care.  Just look at them!

Chanel Signe du Lion highlighters

I also really like that Chanel opted for rose gold and white gold colorways rather than the more traditional silver and yellow gold.  Of course those are always nice options -  I will never turn my nose up at silver and gold, especially around the holidays - but I feel these are more understated and a little bit unexpected.

Chanel Signe du Lion highlighter

Chanel Signe du Lion highlighter

The jewelry line originally consisted of 58 pieces and was inspired by Coco Chanel's love of the lion motif.  I'll let The Jewellery Editor give the full background.  "Not only was Mademoiselle Gabrielle Chanel born under the star sign of Leo. In 1920 she travelled to Venice for the first time, at an impressionable moment her life when she was mourning the death of Boy Capel, her great love.  Lulled by the waters of the lagoon and entranced by the opulence of Byzantine art, it was in Venice that Gabrielle emerged from her sorrow. Here she found inspiration and strength in the rich gold tiles of the church cupolas, the mesmerisingly bejewelled Palo d'Oro altar piece of St Mark's and the ubiquitous lions that grace almost every building, door knocker and public monument of La Serenissima.  The lion is the symbol of St Mark, the patron saint of the city, whose relics rest in the Basilica. The lion is also a symbol of power and the dominance of Venice over the world during the Renaissance - an apt figure for Gabrielle Chanel, a powerful woman who decorated her rue Cambon apartment with statues of lions and used them in couture details such as buttons, handbag clasps and brooches."

Let's take a moment to drool over some jewelry highlights, shall we?

Chanel lion bracelet

Chanel lion earrings

Why yes, you can buy me this necklace.  It's such a bargain at a mere $86,500.

Chanel lion necklace

Chanel lion earrings

Chanel lion ring

Chanel lion brooch

I think this ring most resembles the design on the highlighters.

Chanel lion ring
(images from chanel and jewelsdujour.com)

I wanted to see whether any lions had popped up in Chanel jewelry and accessories prior to the 2013 jewelry line and was pleasantly surprised to find they had been roaring throughout a good chunk of Chanel's history. 

Chanel lion brooch, 1960s
(image from 1stdibs)

Chanel lion coat of arms jewelry set, 1970s
(image from 1stdibs)

Chanel lion bracelet, 1980s 
(image from onekingslane)

Chanel lion bracelet, 1992
(image from tradesy)

Chanel lion brooch, 2001
(images from 1stdibs)

I was also curious to know whether Chanel was fabricating, or at the very least, embellishing Coco's fondness for lions as a marketing ploy to sell the jewelry line.  Once again I was surprised to see that Gabrielle Chanel did appear to have a genuine love for the motif as evidenced by this 1960 magazine spread and photos of her apartment, which show that she did indeed decorate it with an abundance of lions.  Additionally, in 2016 Chanel carried on the legacy of its founder's appreciation for the motif by paying for the restoration of the lion statue, as well as the surrounding mosaic, on the facade of St. Mark's basilica in Venice.  So it looks like Chanel wasn't...lion. (I'll be here all day, folks.)

Chanel-1960(image from parismatch.com)

Lion statue in Coco Chanel's apartment(image from ilovecuriosity.wordpress.com)

Chanel's apartment(image from interiormonologue.com)

This bronze statue served as the inspiration for Chanel's fall 2010 couture show, for which Karl Lagerfeld, grandstander that he is, commissioned an enormous version of the statue as the runway's focal point.  He even had a male model don a lion's head for the grand finale.

Bronze lion statue in Coco Chanel's apartment(image from styleblog.ca)

Chanel fall 2010 couture show

Chanel fall 2010 couture show

Chanel fall 2010 couture show(image from vogue and popsugar)

The most recent lion reference I was able to find in Chanel's accessories besides the jewelry line was this series of Leo bags from spring 2011.  This doesn't mean they don't exist; I just didn't notice any in my cursory browsing of runway photos from 2015-2018.

Chanel Leo bag
(image from designer-vault.com)

Chanel Leo bag
(image from tradesy)

As for the highlighters, I'm still not sure why Chanel decided to release them now, as the jewelry line debuted a few years back and I didn't see any lions in more recent runway collections.  But I will say that the simplicity of the highlighters' faceted design and subtle hues instead of an overly busy and more colorful one nicely reflect the 2013 jewelry line, which I also believe was the best choice in terms of inspiration for highlighting powders.  I don't think fine jewelry is always better designed than costume jewelry, but I think in the case of Chanel's lion-themed baubles, the 2013 collection is way more refined and modern compared to the costume jewelry from previous decades, not to mention incredibly luxurious - it translates perfectly to highlighters.  I would like to see a bronzer embossed with Lagerfeld's oversized version of the lion statue...I'm envisioning a shiny golden bronze powder for the lion and a dazzling white pearly highlighter for the sphere under its paw. ;) 

What do you think about these highlighters?  Are you a Leo?


Quick post: freeing the beast with Burberry

Apologies in advance for this short and rather sloppy post on Burberry's latest palette...the Curator is both generally exhausted and busy as a little bee working on more exciting things like the fall exhibition and some truly amazing holiday collections.  This is not to say that Burberry's fall blush is subpar; as a matter of fact, I think it may be the most intricate one they've released to date.  The detail on the leaves is beautiful, but I think my favorite part is that they're raised slightly above the background - it really allows the interplay of matte and shimmer textures to shine.

Burberry fall 2017 blush palette

Burberry fall 2017 blush palette

Burberry fall 2017 blush palette

As with previous seasonal palettes, the print is a reproduction of one that appeared on some of the pieces from the fall 2017 fashion collection.  In particular, the fall palette borrows one of Burberry's "beasts" prints, which were inspired by the fanciful mythical creatures lining the pages of medieval English manuscripts.  This particular print surfaced on much of Burberry's line: womenswear, menswear, accessories and kids' clothes.  (There was another beast print that was used on this lovely beauty box but I skipped it as I didn't think it was that special, plus I need to budget for many holiday items!)

Burberry fall 2017

Burberry fall 2017

Burberry fall 2017

Burberry fall 2017
(images from us.burberry.com)

For the life of me though, I couldn't find an exact match for the pattern on the palette, so I think it may have been modified slightly to fit better.  More specifically, I'm noticing two key differences on the right side of the palette.  It looks like the beast's profile has been erased and replaced with some leaves, and another four-petaled flower has been added in place of his paws/hooves.

Burberry fall 2017 beast print and palette comparison

I also went slightly insane trying to distort the print in Photoshop so that it matched the exact angle of the palette's print.  In the end I couldn't figure it out and gave up before I threw my computer out the window.  I can rotate images just fine but couldn't seem to do any fancy stuff (distort, warp, skew, perspective, etc.)

Burberry fall 2017 beast print and palette comparison

It would have been great if Burberry had kept the print exactly as it was - wouldn't you have liked to see a little medieval beast peeking out from your blush?  I also would have appreciated it if they would have been a little more specific in their references so I could have found the original images.  For example, even though the spring 2017 blush's design wasn't my favorite, I was overjoyed when I found the exact wallpaper print they used, and all they needed to divulge was that the wallpaper was at the V & A.  This time it would have been useful to know the specific medieval manuscripts they were looking at so I could have done some digging.  (I did do a cursory search for medieval manuscript illustrations but didn't see anything strikingly similar).

Anyway, despite these slight missteps this was one of Burberry's prettiest offerings and certainly Museum-worthy.  What do you think?  Oh, and if you crave a daily dose of medieval manuscript illustrations chock full of mythical creatures and other assorted weirdness found in the margins of these tomes, this is the Tumblr for you. ;)


Wrapped up in books: Olympia Le-Tan for Lancome, revisited

Lancôme has teamed up with a number of fashion designers in the past and this fall they're giving one of their previous partners another collaboration.  You might remember French designer Olympia Le-Tan's beautiful, but largely unaffordable, lipstick book set from 2013.  Perhaps Lancôme realized that the $1,500 price tag wasn't attainable for most and decided to grant us peons a chance to get our impoverished mitts on another Lancôme collection designed by Le-Tan.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad Lancôme revisited Le-Tan as a collaborator and offered a more affordable collection that still represents Le-Tan's signature quirky, literature-inspired style.  

If you're not familiar with Le-Tan, in a nutshell she is a London-born and Paris-bred designer - and daughter of renowned illustrator Pierre Le-Tan - who came up with the genius idea to recreate vintage book covers in clutch form.  While this may not initially sound like a novel idea, what makes these minaudieres so special is their rendering in embroidery.  Surrounded by her father's classic book collection and having learned embroidery during her teenage years from her grandmother, Le-Tan combined these inspirations to make one-of-a-kind pieces.  Rather than bland reproductions of random book covers slapped on a bag, these are pain-staking, handmade creations that reflect Le-Tan's personal relationships with books and art.  In other words, I get the sense they're not chosen at random, but are carefully selected based on the meaning they hold for the designer.   The embroidery itself is notable for the fresh, modern treatment provided by Le-Tan.  Not to sound ageist, but when I think of embroidery I typically associate it with old lady frumpiness.  Le-Tan thoroughly updates the embroidery craft to give it a more youthful and fashionable spin.  The Curator hopes someday to own one of these clutches for herself, but in lieu of that, right now I can have these beauties from Lancôme.  Before we dive into the collection, let's take a quick peek at what Le-Tan's been up to since last time.

Her latest collection for fall 2017 is an ode to Hitchcock.

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2017

Some other highlights include a take on crazy 60s psychedelia design for spring 2017, a return to classic book covers for pre-fall 2016, the elementary school-inspired spring 2015 collection, and a delightful maritime theme for spring 2014.  I know of some sailors who would love it. ;)

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2017

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2017

Olympia Le-Tan, pre-fall 2016

I'm in love with this beaded upgrade to the squiggly pattern of traditional composition books.  Something that I normally saw as fairly ugly and mundane is elevated to a beautiful objet d'art.

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2014

My favorite since we last looked at Le-Tan's work though is the "Framed" collection from fall 2016, which consists of art history classics translated into gorgeous embroidered bags.  Yes please!

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2016

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2016(images from olympialetan.com)

Now that you've seen some of Le-Tan's newer work, let's get to the Lancôme yumminess.  The collection consisted of nail polishes, the brand's relatively new Matte Shaker liquid lipsticks, a palette, cushion compact and several of the classic L'Absolu Rouge lipsticks in the shape of...wait for it...a pair of lips!  So meta.  And so cute! 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

I love that the palette came in its own dust jacket, just like a fancy first edition of a beloved book.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

The embroidery is pretty spectacular.  I know it's obviously not hand-made like the actual bags, but it's very nicely stitched.  I'm not sure whether my photo conveys that it looks much more expensive than it is.  Le-Tan notes she's proud of "how beautifully the make-up palette is made," adding, "I didn't think we’d manage to create such a pretty piece made of embroidered fabric...in all the collaborations I’ve done so far, this is the first time we’ve managed to produce an embroidery. It really does look just like one of my minaudières."

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

As she did with the previous Lancôme collection, Le-Tan dove into the company's archives (so wish I could!) to get inspiration for the various motifs on the packaging.  While the floating lips are consistent with the former collection, this time around Le-Tan was also quite smitten with the brand's cherubs, which represent the makeup branch of Lancôme.  She explains: "There are always interesting things in the archives of any Maison. And since the Lancôme brand has such a long history, I couldn’t resist delving into it. The idea behind my brand is – among other things – to reinterpret the design styles of the past and add my own personal touch. I like to build on something rather than start from nothing. That gives me more layers of storytelling to work with. In this case, there was this little cherub that I wanted to reinterpret – by making it more feminine, for a start."  From there she designed, appropriately enough, a bookish, girly angel blissfully lost in a tome about Lancôme.   The scrolls are a great touch, since they also figured prominently in Lancôme's early advertising.  I've included some examples below for your viewing pleasure...or, I guess, mostly for me since you know I can't get enough vintage makeup ads. :)  Meanwhile, the rose is a nod to Lancôme's official symbol for their perfumes.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme 

Lancôme ad, 1945

Lancôme ad, 1948

Lancôme ad, 1947

Lancôme ad, 1947
(image from hprints.com)

As for the colors in the palette, the selection came easily to Le-Tan: "Usually when I choose a theme, I straightaway start thinking about what colours would fit with that and it doesn’t take me long to put together a palette. In fact when I worked with Gilles Dufour, I was the one in charge of colours. I have zillions of coloured sheets of felt in my office. I cut bits off the all the ones that make me think of the theme. Then I put them together, I see which combinations work and which don’t... For this collection I did the same thing, I brought together bits of felt in colours I liked and wanted to see translated into make-up."  

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

So let's take a look at the lipsticks.  I picked up Rouge Profund 1988, but in hindsight should have also gotten the other shade that was available in the U.S., Olympia 1980.  The others were Rouge de Rose 1955 and Anemone 1959, which didn't seem to make it statesideApparently they were all updated and named after the original shades, but the Olympia one still has me scratching my head.  I had assumed the years following the names were the years they were released, but Le-Tan says that Olympia 1980 was named after the original Olympia shade that debuted in 1949, so I'm not sure where the 1980 part of the name fits.  In any case, all of them are shades of red, which makes sense given the designer's love of red lipstick (which was also apparent in the previous collection). 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

The lip shape is fairly surreal and once again echoes the surreal touch Le-Tan brought to the 2013 Lancôme design.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Finally, there was a cushion compact, which also wasn't available in the States.  Fortunately it's mostly the same design as the palette, so I don't feel the need to track it down. 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme(image from lancome.ca)

Here's the original sketch...Le-Tan clearly inherited her father's talent.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme - sketch
(image from instagram.com)

All in all, I think this is a great collection that perfectly combines Le-Tan's unique, whimsical style with Lancôme's vision.   Her slightly offbeat take on certain motifs used throughout the brand's history is truly original and refreshing.  Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed Lancôme's many variations on rose-embossed powders, but this is something totally new and different from those.  So this collection gets an A from me.

What do you think?  


Da Bears: Moschino for Sephora

It was quite the quest to get this collection into my grabby paws, but with the help of my phone's alarm and my lovely mother-in-law, I was able to nab this highly coveted collaboration between Moschino and Sephora. 

Moschino x Sephora

As soon as I laid eyes on it in July I knew I had to have it for the Museum, especially considering that one of the Museum's interns is a sweet little cubby who would be very happy to see it.

Moschino x Sephora

Moschino x Sephora

I don't think I'm getting these back from him.

Moschino x Sephora

Moschino x Sephora lip gloss set

Not only did my MIL go out of her way to get to Sephora (and early - she got there at 9:10 and there were already 2 people waiting!), she picked up the shopping bag palette for me in addition to the eye shadow palette.  And also refused to accept reimbursement for either item.  I'm a very lucky girl, yes?

Moschino x Sephora shopping bag palette

Moschino x Sephora shopping bag palette

And here we are!  The star of the collection, the most coveted and hard to get.  My MIL reported that the store only got 6 in stock.  The two women ahead of her got theirs (1 each, thankfully), my MIL got one for me, and then she said the guy behind her bought the last 3, the jerk.

Moschino x Sephora eye shadow palette

Moschino x Sephora eye shadow palette

Babo Bear insisted on doing a little more modeling.

Moschino x Sephora eye mask

Let's explore a little bit of the fashion behind the teddy bear and shopping bag motifs.  Franco Moschino (1950-1994) began his irreverent line in 1983, poking fun at the world of couture despite (or perhaps because of?) being totally immersed in it.  I'm ill-equipped to fully explain his style since I am not a fashion historian, but I found some good articles here, here and here if you're so inclined.  I was flabbergasted to learn that both the bears and bags seen on the runways the past few seasons were inspired by Moschino's original designs - I had mistakenly believed that both were new concepts dreamed up by the ever-wacky Jeremy Scott, Moschino's current creative director.  Little did I know that Moschino had a sense of humor about high fashion long before it was, well, fashionable.  Scott is doing an excellent job of carrying that torch by putting his own spin on Moschino's original aesthetic and adding some new motifs (I adore this "capsule" collection, controversial though it was), but the teddy bears and shopping bags are not actually his brainchild.  This was the famous dress and hat from Moschino's 1988 fall collection that put the bear motif on the fashion map.

Moschino teddy bear dress, 1988

Moschino teddy bear dress, 1988
(images from pinterest and betrendymyfriend.com)

The shopping bag dress had debuted a year prior.

Moschino 1987(image from pinterest)

Under Rossella Jardini, Moschino's director from the designer's untimely death in 1994 until 2013, both of these iconic pieces were resurrected for the house's 30th anniversary.

Moschino spring 2014(images from vogue.com)

Scott took over in October 2013, and wasted no time building on the teddy bear empire by releasing the Toy fragrance roughly a year after his appointment.  This was not unexpected, seeing as how before his post at Moschino, Scott had designed these teddy bear sneakers for Adidas in 2011.

Jeremy Scott Adidas sneakers
(image from sneakernews.com) 

I love the Surrealist-esque "This is not a Moschino toy" on the bear's shirt, since it's one of my favorite art movements, but also because Franco Moschino was also inspired by both Surrealism and Dada so it fits perfectly with his original vision.  I'm less crazy about the fact that you have to remove the bear's head to apply the perfume, however.  (See last year's Halloween post for similar creepy items). 

Moschino Toy perfume(images from vogue.co.uk)

Scott also continuously works in new iterations of teddy bear fashion.  I'm truly impressed by how he's able to reinvent one of Moschino's stand-out pieces while remaining true to the original designer's vision as well as his own - the iconography is similar but has been modernized to reflect contemporary culture, taking on a slightly different meaning now.  This article explains it better than I can:  "For Scott, the teddy bear motif has been a career theme of symbolic materialistic significance similar to how Jean Charles de Castelbajac famously used it, but in the context of the American designer's new era at Moschino, the teddy bear's connotations are something else.  When fangirl mania was at its height circa early-mid 90s and teen idols like Take That were climbing a never-ending fame ladder, their hordes of fans would bring teddy bears to concerts and outside hotels, throwing them at the bad as tokens of their support. With the teddy bear as their mascot, this generation of ultimate fangirls displayed the innocent, childlike obsession that lies at the root of fandom in pop culture, and portrayed the spirit of materialism and unapologetic commercial opportunism it generates. Franco Moschino created his house in a time when the foundation of this kind of excessive 90s fandom was being built - courtesy mainly of Michael Jackson and Madonna - and while his work dealt more with the consumerism of the time, brand idolisation was a huge part of Moschino's genetics."

Moschino fall 2015

Moschino fall 2016

Moschino spring 2017

Ditto for the shopping bag, incidentally.

Moschino resort 2016(images from vogue.com)

Getting back to the Sephora collection, obviously the packaging is a natural extension of the Toy fragrance.  I think Franco Moschino would be pleased not only by Scott's fashion but by the Sephora collection as well.  The packaging is slightly absurd and therefore lends a tiny bit of Dada flavor (especially so with the brush set), and I personally think the shiny gold finish is poking gentle fun at our cultural obsession with status symbols and "bling".   And since the collection was in collaboration with a higher-end makeup store, there's the trademark Moschino mix of humor and quality.  As for Scott, I think he had fun with the collection as well, noting that he "loves the power of makeup and the way it can transform your mood."  He also points out that a makeup line from a couture house allows accessibility for those who can't afford the fashion, which I'm always in favor of.   "I learned very early on how much young people love my work, and sometimes they don’t have the means to get it. This is another way for me to do Moschino and not sacrifice quality. It’s a lot more accessible. I love to be able to put my arms around more people and have them be a part of the Moschino family in some capacity."  However, the irony of this was how difficult the collection was to procure, and many people didn't get theirs.  It's a long story and I don't want to tell it, but I will say that the collection's release and sale was an example of how NOT to sell a highly anticipated collection with so little stock.  I think Sephora really screwed the pooch and I feel bad for those who couldn't get their hands on it, especially when you have unscrupulous ebayers selling the goods for over twice retail.  How's that for affordable?  I wish Sephora would do what MAC did when Selena sold out immediately:  make more for another run, and also release it worldwide (as far as I know the Moschino collection was only available in the U.S. and Canada).  It would be silly not to from a profit perspective - obviously lots of folks really wanted this collection so Sephora could stand to make even more money if they re-released it.

What do you think of the Sephora collection and Moschino?  After reading more about the history of Moschino and Scott's current creations I'm pretty enamored of the line and wouldn't mind owning a few pieces. It's kitschy, offbeat, clever but also well-made.

UPDATE: In December 2017 Sephora re-released the collection with zero fanfare.  I guess they didn't want to draw attention to the debacle with the previous release but also wanted to cash in.

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A baby's breath bouquet from Givenchy

I can't believe I'm just now getting around to writing about this lovely little piece from Givenchy, as I've had it in my possession since, maybe, March?  But I figured it's better late than never when discussing pretty makeup items.  Alas, this will be another quick post since I couldn't find much information about the inspiration behind this bronzer.

The outer case, while furnished in Givenchy's signature sleek shiny black with gold lettering, doesn't really compare to what's inside.

Givenchy summer 2017 bronzer

Behold!  An explosion of beautifully embossed blooms spreads over the entire surface of the bronzer.

Givenchy summer 2017 Gypsophila bronzer

Givenchy summer 2017 Gypsophila bronzer

I also picked up the lipstick - minty green becomes quite sophisticated when rendered in leather.  I don't have anything else to say except that mint green is one of my favorite colors so naturally I had to buy it.

Givenchy summer 2017 Gypsophila lipstick

Givenchy summer 2017 Gypsophila lipstick

Givenchy summer 2017 Gypsophila lipstick

Back to the star item:  the Gypsophila bronzer borrows its pattern from ones that went down the spring/summer 2015 runway.  Gypsophila, I discovered, is just a fancy name for baby's breath.

Givenchy spring/summer 2015

Givenchy spring/summer 2015

While the print is pleasing on its own, the addition of pearls sewn onto the flowers really takes it up a notch.  The pattern stands out more given the raised, smooth texture of the pearls and their subtle sheen.  It's these pieces that most closely resemble the pattern on the bronzer - the single pearls on some of the leaves as well as the curved rows are nearly identical to the bronzer's flowers.

Givenchy spring/summer 2015

Givenchy spring/summer 2015(images from vogue.com)

I'm not sure what meaning baby's breath has for Riccardo Tisci, formerly chief designer for Givenchy, other than that it's allegedly his favorite flower.  The blooms were described in the show's press release as "poisonous romantic flowers", whatever that means - are they intended to be dangerous or sweet?  I guess both?  Who knows...especially since baby's breath, to my knowledge, isn't poisonous at all.  I also can't figure out why a print from 2 years ago by a designer that's no longer with the company is showing up now.  It just shows there's really no alignment between the fashion and cosmetics sides within Givenchy. 

Having said all that, this bronzer is a showstopper for sure.  While I'm not including it this summer's exhibition as it didn't fit the theme so well, I will hopefully remember to add it to the checklist for next spring. 

Thoughts?