Urban Decay

Quick post: Celebrating (sort of) National Lipstick Day with Urban Decay

In honor of National Lipstick Day I thought I'd take a quick peek at how Urban Decay's lipstick tubes have essentially come full circle with their new Vice collection.  When the brand launched in 1996, the gritty, decidedly un-pretty feel of both the packaging and color names were fairly groundbreaking.  The design of the Vice lipsticks, which debuted earlier this summer, is a nod to the shotgun shell-shaped cases in which the lipsticks were originally housed. For your viewing pleasure I took some comparison photos (and skipped directly over the now-discontinued Revolution lipsticks.)

I kind of wish they kept the brown cardboard boxes and punk-inspired font.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

The Vice packaging is definitely more sleek and modern, plus the company's name is engraved on the case, which makes it a little more luxurious than the somewhat plain-looking former case.  The only drawback to having a shiny metal case vs. a brushed metal finish is that the former gets very fingerprint-y very quickly.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  I remember thinking how edgy the whole Urban Decay line was and how badass the shotgun shell packaging looked - whipping one of these out made me feel like a rebel and even a little dangerous, which I enjoyed.  In hindsight, however, I think this design should be left firmly in the '90s.  I don't want to write a whole big long whiny essay because, you know, it's a special day for us makeup junkies, plus it's Friday and I wanted to keep this post light, but I must point out that I'm not sure Urban Decay should have referenced their original packaging at all, as much as I liked it back then.  Given all the gun violence we have now (and it was a problem in the '90s too, to be sure, but I was young and dumb and not as "woke" as I am now) any beauty product that evokes mass shootings shouldn't exist.  I understand you can't avoid it completely - we commonly refer to lipstick shapes themselves as bullets - but no matter how cool Urban Decay's packaging seemed in 1996 and its importance in cosmetics history, I just don't think it's appropriate now.*  I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment either.  Says Tynan Sinks at XO Jane, "In 2016, perhaps we could model our lipstick packaging after anything but bullets," while the author of A Life With Frills remarks, "I don't agree with the fact that Urban Decay are marketing these lipsticks as looking like shotgun shells. I understand that Urban Decay are a brand that like to push boundaries (and I love them for that) but given the way guns are used in the world now and the impact they have, it's not appropriate to trivialise them like this."  I think Jane at British Beauty Blogger says it the best:  "I get it that the roots of Urban Decay are all about the badass and the edgy and going against the grain – who needs make up to look pretty? It should speak to our rebellious side or our sexy side – but not, er, our inner killer."  I fully appreciate that Urban Decay wants us to remember that they were among the first companies to run completely contrary to many outdated notions of what's attractive and why we wear makeup, but I think in this instance they should have gone in a different direction.  Having said all this, I won't stop buying the Vice lipsticks anytime soon (I own 3 and have my eye on several more) but I felt the need to at least mention my issue with the packaging.  So, um, happy National Lipstick Day, I guess.  Leave it up to me to put a bit of a damper on it.  :P  At the very least, the tubes make an interesting case study in how the brand has evolved in the past 20 years. 

What do you think?  And did you own the original Urban Decay lipsticks?


*I'm particularly aghast that these lipsticks actually exist and are for sale.  Just...no.

Friday Fun: Feed your head

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass

As a follow-up to their palette released as a tie-in to the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie, Urban Decay has launched their Through the Looking Glass collection to go with this year's sequel, which will hit theaters May 27.  Like the previous palette, this one features a pop-up design and a vast array of colors. There are also 5 lipsticks sporting the same crazy kaleidoscope design as on the palette's outer case.

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass

Love this quote on the inside.

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass palette

As for the outer packaging, Urban Decay founder and Chief Creative Officer Wende Zomnir explains, “This was made to look like an acid trip. We took a different approach and decided, ‘Let’s make it really colorful and bright because the shades are like that'...even if you aren’t attached to the film, the butterfly tells the story of what the makeup is all about, which is transformation."

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass palette

The quote on the side of the palette is also a nod to the transformation theme.

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass palette

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass palette

There are 20 colors total (4 more than the previous palette), and 4 are dedicated to each of the 5 main characters from the film:  Alice, Mad Hatter, Time, the White Queen and the Red Queen. “We loved the original construction and keeping it in the same vein, but we wanted to tell a different story with the shades and really bring a focus to the shades,” says Zomnir.

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass palette

How fun are the lipstick caps?  (You might remember that I bought the Alice bag for my trip to Disney.)

Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass lipstick

Naturally I selected the two boldest colors from the lipstick lineup. The blue lipstick was not an accidental creation - it represents both Alice's coat and also shows that Urban Decay is paying attention to the mainstreaming of what used to be considered outlandish colors.  Says Zomnir, “My customer is a very independent thinker. She’s really into self-expression. She loves makeup. While Alice is a very plain character, she’s associated with the blue dress — in this case, it’s a coat — and we were able to pull in that interesting blue with her, and the makeup is rad for all the other characters...Six years ago, Anne Hathaway’s White Queen makeup was a little extreme, but now you see it on the street.” 

The little cup I put the lipsticks in here is a souvenir from my Disney trip.  :)

Urban Decay Mad Hatter lipstick

Urban Decay Mad Hatter lipstick

Objectively speaking I thought this collection was well done.  But personally, I'm a bigger fan of the first Alice in Wonderland book/movie so anything to do with that I'm going to like more than items related to Through the Looking Glass.  This palette is great but I so enjoyed seeing all the characters in the previous palette (my favorite, if you remember, was the caterpillar).

What do you think?  How does this collection compare to Urban Decay's previous Alice-themed palette, and for that matter, other Alice in Wonderland makeup?  (See here and here.)


Makeup illustration mysteries with Urban Decay and Laura Mercier

Today I'm playing detective to decipher who's behind the packaging of a couple recent releases.  First, I spotted these two Urban Decay palettes at Chic Profile over the summer.  They are exclusive to the French Sephora website and bear the tag of "Pboy", ostensibly the graffiti artist who created the designs.

Urban Decay France-exclusive Naked palettes
(images from sephora.fr)

I searched high and low but could find zero information on this artist.  (There is a group of graffiti artists collectively called Poster Boy, but given their anti-consumerist agenda and their collage style I highly doubt they lent their work to Urban Decay.)  I've emailed the company and if they provide any info I will update.

The other designs I was curious about come from Laura Mercier.  Several recently released items - the Flawless Contour palette, the Candleglow palette and the Reflections of Hope mirror - all have the same illustration style.  The windows of Laura Mercier's boutique in Paris are also decorated with these sorts of designs.

Laura Mercier Flawless Contour palette

Laura Mercier Candleglow palette

Laura Mercier Reflections of Hope mirror
(images from lauramercier.com)

Laura Mercier illustration

Laura Mercier boutique in Paris
(images from instagram.com)

At first I thought the artist might be Izak Zenou, who, in addition to illustrating a Sephora collection, also did the illustrations for Laura Mercier's book.  But his signature was nowhere to be found on any of the designs for these more recent palettes.  Actually, there's no signature at all.  I decided to watch this video I found on the company's Facebook page to see if it could provide any clues. 


And it did!  Look at the lower right at the 1:30 mark, the word "Chesley" appears.  One quick Google search yielded the full name.  According to her website, NYC-based Chesley McLaren is obsessed with anything French, earning her the nickname of "the French illustrator in New York".  She has done illustrations for the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Henri Bendel as well as a campaign for Bloomingdales called Vive La France.  So it's quite appropriate that she's been partnering with Laura Mercier.  I do wonder though why none of her work, save for the video above, bears her signature.  Anyway, I'm still debating whether to get any of these latest Laura Mercier items for the Museum.  They're cute but I don't know if they're a necessity.

Do you like figuring out packaging mysteries?  And if anyone knows anything about the graffiti artist for Urban Decay, do let me know!

Have a $5 shake in honor of Urban Decay's newest collection (plus a gift guide)

I thought I'd open this post with my absolute favorite Pulp Fiction scene (sorry it's in two parts - I couldn't find a video of the Jack Rabbit Slims scene in its entirety.)  So. Many. Great. Lines.



I could sit here and type out every single Pulp Fiction line from memory, but I'll spare you and focus on the glorious Urban Decay collection instead.  As you may know, Pulp Fiction is the Curator's all-time favorite movie so I was beyond excited to see this collection devoted to Mia Wallace, just in time for the film's 20-year (!) anniversary.  I picked up the palette, lipstick and nail polish.  There was also a glitter eye liner and dark red lip liner, but I passed on those, choosing to focus on the most Mia-esque products.


I squealed with delight when I noticed the band-aid on the bottom back of the packaging, an ode to the famous bandage Marcellus Wallace sported on the back of his head (which, incidentally, appeared simply because actor Ving Rhames had a scar there he wanted to cover up - there was no hidden meaning behind it). 


I also liked that quotes were included.




Since the collection is based specifically on Mia, I personally would have gone with the following on the back of the palette instead of Jules's speech:  "I do believe Marcellus, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted.  Now I wanna dance, I wanna win, I want that trophy.  So dance good!"  And then put different ones on the insides of the lipstick and nail polish boxes, like "I can keep a secret if you can" or "Cooties I can handle."  Maybe Urban Decay couldn't get the rights to include any other quotes besides Ezekiel 25:17. 

Sadly one of the eye shadows crumbled in transit.


There was a cute little "get the look card" - now anyone can be Mrs. Mia Wallace!


The colors for the lipstick and nail polish are great, but I think it would been cool to have been a little more creative with the names.  Both are called Mrs. Mia Wallace...how about working in some quotes of hers?  The lipstick could be Two Shakes, as in "Go make yourself a drink and I'll be down in two shakes of a lamb's tail" (especially because there's a close-up of her lips as she's saying it.)  And maybe we could call the nail polish Fox Force Five.



Overall, I think the collection was nicely done, although I don't think the colors are exact dupes for the original shades.  It's common knowledge that Uma Thurman wore Chanel Vamp nail polish - but then again, why would you a create a collection that consists of essentially the same colors as existing ones?  I suppose Urban Decay had to forge their own path.

And now a little bonus that I couldn't resist including in this post:  my very spiffy, oh-so-official Pulp Fiction gift guide.  If they're not into makeup, you can get the Pulp Fiction addict in your life another little trinket so that they will have happy memories of the 20th anniversary of the movie. 

Pulp Fiction gift guide 2

  1. Funko dolls
  2. Vintage boxing kangaroo
  3. Bad Mother F*cker wallet
  4. Oh Man I Shot Marvin in the Face action figure ("Why the f*ck did you do that?"  "I didn't mean to do it, it was an accident!")
  5. Z keychain ("Zed's dead baby.  Zed's dead.")
  6. Garçon! Coffee! mug ("Garçon means boy.")
  7. Illustrated print

Finally, I must give a shout-out to my dear old dad, the movie buff who took me to see Pulp Fiction in the theater when I was a wee lass of 15.  Now, my dad didn't make a habit of taking his young daughter to see films filled with graphic violence, but he had seen it a few weeks prior and loved it, and somehow he just knew I would too.  His hunch was spot-on - I was instantly intrigued and to this day, no movie has quite spoken to me the way Pulp Fiction has.  And since we both love it so much, one of our many treasured bonds is quoting lines together, as silly as that sounds (and if the husband and I had gone through with the idea of dancing at our wedding, my dad and I were planning to break out the Jack Rabbit Slims moves as our father-daughter dance!)  I don't ever think about Pulp Fiction without thinking fondly of my dad, probably one of the other reasons it remains my favorite movie. 

So...what do you think of the Urban Decay collection?  And are you as rabid a Pulp Fiction fan as I am?

Quick post: movie night

The Oscars are over, but that's not going to stop me from taking another look at movie tie-in beauty products.  I first covered these in 2010 so it's high time for a refresher.


1. Stila "And the winner is" palette (there is another one called Name in lights)

2.  Urban Decay Glinda palette, for the film Oz:  The Great and Powerful (see also the Theodora palette)

3.  OPI Oz collection

4.  Pur Minerals "Beautiful Creatures" set

5.  Lancôme BAFTA palette

Which is your fave?  I'm always partial to Stila, but I do love the envelope design on the Lancôme palette - very simple and elegant.

Urban Decay goes to the Big Apple

Urban Decay released its third Book of Shadows, this time devoted to New York City.  Like the Alice in Wonderland palette, it's a pop-up, but it also lights up.






Here are the shadows:


 With flash:


Overall I think the artwork and lights captured the hustle and bustle, not to mention the hipness and sophistication of the Big Apple, but I wish the company released more details as to who made the illustrations, and why they decided to do a palette dedicated to NYC now. 

Friday fun: go ask Alice

"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimbel in the wabe;
all mimsy were the borogroves
and the momeraths outgrabe."

Oh boy am I excited for the new Alice in Wonderland movie.  But you know what I'm even more excited about?  The awesome cosmetic tie-ins.  Urban Decay released this beauty last week.


To my knowledge, this is the first pop-up palette ever.  I thought it was extremely clever to use this technique for an Alice in Wonderland-themed palette - what better way to celebrate a children's book (well, I think Alice in Wonderland is meant for all ages) than with whimsical pop-up illustrations?  

Excuse my hand, the palette didn't seem to want to stay open!

Whole palette

Here's little Alice, looking up at the caterpillar:


Cute "drink me" bottle:

Drink me

And my favorite detail on this palette:  the caterpillar.  His face seems to convey a hint of grouchiness and superiority, which is exactly how he is in the book and animated Disney movie. 

Whoooo are yoooou?


While the idea of actually using the palette horrifies the Curator, I understand that most of you are normal and are going to be using it for its intended purpose.  So here are the colors in natural light.  I love the little white rabbits sprinkled throughout.

Natural light

And with flash:

Inside flash

I think we're off to an excellent start with the Alice madness.  More Wonderland-based goodies to come.  ;)

Urban Decay Show Pony palette

L.A.-based painter/illustrator/clothing designer Kime Buzzelli collaborated with Urban Decay to create this limited-edition palette.   Named for an art and fashion installation space/boutique/gallery in Echo Park (now closed, unfortunately) the palette features Buzzelli's unique watercolor depictions of women.  

Ud show pony
 (images from sephora and urbandecay.com)

So who are these women?  Buzzelli says her work represents "Female desire.  Girls trying to solve the puzzle of love.  Floating ghosts in search of happiness.  Obsession and disaster, Magic moments fueled by fantasy, stains and the evidence of mischief."  Here are some of her pieces:




(images from dreamzzzzzzzzz.blogspot.com)

Much like Natalie Lété for Bourjois, in looking at Buzzelli's work I can't fathom a better artist to do a collection for Urban Decay.  Her women are edgy, brash and seem fearless, while Urban Decay brands itself as "beauty with an edge".   And they wear plenty of makeup!  One final thought - is it a coincidence that Buzzelli says her art is partially about the representation of "female desire" and that there's an exclusive shade in the palette named Snatch?!  Perhaps, perhaps not.

Double deluxe: Urban Decay's new eye shadows

New ud shadows I've posted before about Urban Decay's Deluxe eye shadows.  Makeup aficionados love them for their silky texture and excellent pigmentation, but I love them for the unique design on each.  The company has just released three new ones: Freakshow, Frigid and Ruthless.  Sadly I couldn't find any pictures larger than these, but the artwork on each looks pretty good.  I really must make adding these to the Museum's collection a priority!

(photos from urbandecay.com)

Friday Fun: A rocket in your pocket!

312_62640-3 In the midst of my all-too frequent Sephora browsing I came across these little gems from Urban Decay.  Each shade features a different man/outfit, complete with individual names. (This picture is of "James".)   The ad copy mentions that they're perfect for a bachelorette party and I'm inclined to agree - since they're not doing the "full monty" they're not overly racy, just good fun.  While I'd buy these just for the packaging, I'm curious to know whether the lip gloss itself is actually of good quality.  I should probably buy a few to find out.  ;)

(photo from urbandecay.com)