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August 2008

Fishnets and jewels and dresses, oh my! Lancôme Juicy Tubes, revamped

I am pleased to see that Lancôme has been spicing up their Juicy Tube packaging in the past year or so. Recently these lip glosses have featured stars (for the holiday 2007 collection) and fishnet stockings:


Lancome fishnets stars

And for the fall 2008 Maharani Jewels collection, henna-like scrollwork:  
Lancome jewels
(photos from
But the most intriguing of these new designs is the World Tour collection, released in March 2008.  Lancôme collaborated with up-and-coming British fashion designer Christopher Kane to create nine limited-edition Juicy Tubes whose names represent four "hot fashion" cities:  Tokyo, New York, Rio and Paris.  Previously Lancôme partnered with Thakoon, Proenza Schouler, and Behnaz Sarafpour to create limited-edition lipsticks whose colors reflect in some way the designer's aesthetic, so working with fresh fashion designers isn't new for the company.  However, none of these products featured unique packaging, so the collaboration with Kane is a new direction.  

From left to right:  Rio Mango, Moulin Rose, Tokyo Plum Blossom, Red Hot New York

Kane jts


Kane details


Kane skirt details

The dresses on the tubes are very similar to the ones presented at Kane's spring 2007 show - the frilly sleeves, the lace detailing and the overall silhouettes are virtually the same.  Even the bright colors relate to those seen on the runway. 


Kane copy
(photos from


The Juicy Tube packaging is a very literal translation of Kane's work, and his style is well suited to decorate these glosses.  As one critic remarked on the spring 2007 collection, "Driven by lust for eye-socking color and allover decoration, it zings with an amazing new energy and optimism."1  I believe the same be said for new shades of ultra-shiny, brightly-colored lip gloss.  


  1 Sarah Mower,  September 20, 2006.


Friday Fun: When makeup and toys collide

In late 2007 Shu Uemura teamed up with Toy2R to sell Qee figures as a gift-with-purchase - buy a cleansing oil and get a free Qee!  Each one is color-coordinated  to a particular cleansing oil (the green is for the premium oil, pink for the fresh oil, orange for the enriched and yellow for the regular oil.)

Qees small pic

But what exactly ARE Qees, you ask?   They're usually small (2.5 inch) vinyl figures that can be displayed or put on key chains, taking the form of bears, dogs, cats, monkeys or bunnies.   According to the Toy2R website, the company is "breaking down the boundaries between product design, art and graphics" and "instilling contemporary designer art into the vinyl toy market."  Qees first debuted in 2001 and are sold in series based on a particular artist's design scheme.  The company also deals with other businesses - Qees have been produced for Adidas, Benetton, Starbucks and Target.  

The Shu Uemura Quees perfectly represent the oils in that they match the color to each one, and also the swirly pattern seen on all parts of the figure is reminiscent of how these somewhat viscous oils move and flow in their bottles.   As with Shu's collaboration with Genius Party (which I posted about earlier),  it's a puzzle as to why the company decided to use toys to promote their most iconic beauty product.  Most cosmetic companies include a small makeup pouch and/or other beauty items, but Shu chose...designer toys.  It's a strange but ingenious way to break the beauty industry mold.

Fall 2008 Trend: Goth-influenced lips

I'm taking a little break from talking about packaging and design to discuss the dominant fall cosmetics trend:  super-dark lip color.  It seems to be everywhere!  

Sephora featured the look on the front cover of its fall catalogue and equates dark lips with power: 

Sephora dark lips(photo from

Meanwhile, MAC's new collection, Cult of Cherry, presents them as a little dangerous:  "With its sense of way-to-go dark, this is how we separate the bitter from the sweet..."

Cult of cherry
(photo from

Lucky magazine had a slightly different take on the look in its September issue, saying that it gives a sort of "naughty-librarian" vibe.  The page featured Shu Uemura's pure black lipstick:


Taking the trend to the extreme (or rather spearheading the trend) is Yves Saint Laurent's  Gloss Pur Black.  

(photo from

Incidentally, YSL models all sported this look down the runway for the fall collection:

(photo from

Finally, the author of the blog at Makeup Moxie says that Lancome will be releasing a pure black lip gloss as well:

"To help achieve this hot lip look, Lancome’s new artistic director for makeup, Aaron de May, has created a sexy new lip color set that’s scheduled to launch in November.

The set includes a Color Fever Lipstick in Piha Red, a shade which was inspired by the signature red soles of Christian Louboutin shoes. In addition, and perhaps even more interestingly, the set will also include a black Color Fever lipgloss."

It seems another Goth trend has been appropriated and corporatized for the mainstream beauty world.  Instead of black nail polish being all the rage, as it was in the fall of 2006 (when Chanel's Black Satin nail polish became the must-have polish for the season and went for upwards of $80 on E-bay), nearly-black lips is the look du jour.  I'm guessing it could be partly because dark purple is this season's "it" color.


Sadly, as with the black nail polish, this trend is too severe for most working professionals who do the 9-5 office grind (unless you're in a creative field that encourages following fashion trends).  And unlike black nail polish, which can look good on every type of nail and hand shape, intensely dark lip colors can only be worn by those blessed with full lips - if your lips are on the thin side they will virtually disappear with colors so dark.  Still, that doesn't mean the trend can't be modified for those of us (like me!) who lack Angelina-like puckers.  You can still wear a deep crimson or plum, and a bit of gloss on top helps make lips look fuller.  My favorite dark-but-not-too-dark fall shades:  Clinique Crushed Grape lipstickNars Captiva and Flamenco lipsticks, and  Stila Cranberry and Black Cherry lip glazes.

Fall lips 

For more on the dark-lip trend, check out this post from Makeup Minute.

Gone but not forgotten: Stéphane Marais

Makeup artist Stéphane Marais launched his line of cosmetics in 2002.  The collection featured bizarre designs on the packaging unlike anything I've ever seen in makeup.  Naturally I had to get my hands on as much of it as possible! 

Some of the eyeshadows:
Sm eyes

Powder foundation and gel eye liners:
Foundation liners

Stick concealer:
Concealer sm

Brow gel:
Brow gel

Loose powder:
Sm loose powder

And a lipstick:

I'm not really sure what a dinosaur or phrases like "Groove flowers up to the sky. Ohh my god" and "Only for primates" have to do with makeup, but the designs truly were different than anything on the market. According to one source the images were an "ode to Marais's work in fashion shows for Jean Paul Gautier, and advertising campaigns for Dior, Calvin Klein and Givenchy."   His original idea was to change the packaging every season, because "You have to keep your customer amused. The approach is very childish, rich -- like a candy store.''  It's also a commentary on the fast-paced, ever-changing fashion world.1  

Sadly the line was discontinued in 2005, but I'm forever hoping for something with comparable packaging.    

1 "Cosmetics That Change with the Seasons," Ruth La Ferla, New York Times, June 1, 2004

Couture Monday: Yves Saint Laurent Fauve palette

Today I'm taking a look back at Yves Saint Laurent's Fauve palette from the fall 2005 collection.  It's a square compact filled with a shimmery leopard-print powder.   


Fauve translates to "large feline" or "predator" in French so it's a fitting name, but I was curious as to why the company named it that instead of going with plain old leopard.  So I asked City Girl, Brooklyn-based author of a very informative blog on city lifestyle (and whose first language is French!) if she could shed some light on this.  According to her, the French have several words for this kind of creature:  guepard, panthere and léopard.  She hypothesized that since léopard is not usually used in the fashion sense, and Cartier has a "panthere" collection, and "fauve" is more encompassing than guepard, it made the most sense for YSL to name the palette fauve.  Interesting, no?

Now let's look into why YSL chose a leopard print.  The copy for the palette said that the palette was "inspired by one of the most distinctive fashion features of the legendary design house."  While I don't think the use of leopard print is the number-one icon of YSL, the company does utilize it frequently (and wisely, I would say) on accessories:


Ysl bag

Ysl flats

(photos from

Although sometimes the brand ventures out and uses it on clothing:

Ysl coat

(photo from

Ysl dress skirt bg

(photos from - note that you can't actually click to zoom...these are screenshots and I didn't want to cut off the model's feet so I didn't crop out that part.)

Judging from these, I'd say it's appropriate for YSL to use the leopard print on a compact - it definitely goes with the fashion the company produces (even though Yves stepped down in 2002).  Plus, in my opinion even in compact form there's something about leopard print that makes the wearer feel powerful, a bit dangerous and definitely wild.  Call it the Fauve effect.

Speaking of which, now it's time for a little art lesson!  The palette's name brings to mind one my favorite (though short-lived) art movements:  fauvism.  Starting around 1905 and led by Henri Matisse, fauvism was characterized by an unfettered use of intense colors, strong brushwork, and a flat, almost 2-d approach to the picture plane.  Fauvism got its name from an art critic who, upon seeing the colorful work of this group mixed in with a conventional, Renaissance-type sculpture, exclaimed, "Donatello au milieu des fauves!"1  

Some examples:

Andre Derain's Charing Cross Bridge, London (1906)


(photo from National Gallery of Art)

Maurice de Vlaminck's The River Seine at Chatou (1906) 


(photo from Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Luxe, Calme et Volupté (1904-1905) by Matisse - the title is taken from an 1857 poem by Baudelaire.1 


(photo from wikipedia)

So what can we conclude from all this?  Perhaps it's that in makeup as in art, the wild beast within us sometimes cannot be tamed.  ;)

1 Arnason, H.H. and Marla F. Prather.  History of Modern Art, 4th edition. (New York:  Harry N. Abrams, 1998) p. 132.  For more comments on the title, see this essay.

2 Arnason, p. 131. For further reading: Whitfield, Sarah.  Fauvism.  (Thames and Hudson, 1996.)  You can also check out this online exhibit of Fauvism at the National Gallery. 

Friday Fun: Tokidoki for Smashbox

Graphic artist and creator of Tokidoki, Simone Legno, collaborated with Smashbox in the spring of 2007 and came up with a whimsical, playful collection for the company.  All of the limited-edition items featured Tokidoki's signature illustrations as well as Italian names such as Bella (the cream blush stick), Stellina (the mirror outfitted with small silver stars) and Modella (one of the eye shadow palettes.)  In this way it fuses Japanese and Italian cultures. 

Here's the Modella eye shadow quad:

Here's the compact opened - a nice little surprise awaits on the lower-left corner of the mirror:

1 "Designs Reveal Artist's Personality", Nadine Kam, January 11, 2007.  To watch an interview with Legno, click here.

Paul & Joe Fall 2008 collection

Created by Parisian Sophie Albou in 1995, clothing label Paul & Joe branched out into cosmetics in 2002.  Each season the company releases limited-edition collections (almost always consisting of 3 face color powders and 3 lipsticks) featuring absolutely stunning packaging and which are, according to the website, "linked with that particular season's fashion."  In the past it was cute, precious and almost cloying - lots of delicate flowers and ribbons - but the company has slowly been moving towards more sophisticated, Art-Nouveau-inspired designs. 
This fall's theme is called "Inspiree":

“An intriguing room,
A delicate floral pattern,
A fragile antique plate,
An old cushion cover saved from a Paris flea market,
These eclectic things are the source of inspiration
For Paul & Joe creator Sophie Albou.
Keepsakes we will continue to adore and be entranced by
As the days and years pass.
We have created a collection of colours inspired by these special things. 
Remarkable colours that conjure up such haunting memories."

Here are the face color powders.  From left to right: Pressed Petals, Lullaby and Atelier (with flash and in natural light)

Fall08 shadows

And two of the three lipsticks, Muse on the left and Motif on the right:

Fall 08 lip natural

The pattern continues all the way around to the back of the lipstick bullet:

Fall08 lip backs

I'm not  sure the theme behind this collection matches the packaging and colors.   "Intriguing room", "delicate floral pattern", "fragile antique plate", "old cushion cover" - all of these could be used to describe the colors and packaging designs of previous collections.  The theme also mentions a "Paris flea market", which was, incidentally, the name of the fall 2005 collection.  While the packaging is lovely, the theme could have been a little better written to more fully tie into the feel of the collection - it's a bit uninspired this time which is a shame considering the collection's name.  Nevertheless I'm loving the designs and the fact that the lipsticks are all engraved with the signature Paul & Joe flower that appears on most of their packaging, which is something the company hadn't done before.   It definitely "projects a unique presence", as is Ms. Albou's vision for the cosmetics line.

Another new Shu cleansing oil

Oops, they did it again!  That is, Shu Uemura has released a new advanced formula cleansing oil, and in honor of its launch created a limited-edition, Asia-exclusive bottle.  It's not clear when the advanced formula will hit the States.  But what's bothering me more than that uncertainty is the fact that I don't know if an artist collaborated on the bottle's design.  

Shu advanced oil

It's impossible to tell whether this is something the company has come up with or if an outside artist was brought in.  (As mentioned earlier, Shu has a history of working with artists on designs for the cleansing oil bottles.)  I'm guessing this is something the company did itself since there's no mention of an artist on the bottle or box. 

The abstract flourish is reminiscent of this painting by Franz Kline:

Kline chief(photo from

I think it's fitting that Shu chose an abstract design for this product.  The idea of a product having a new "advanced" formula is difficult to express visually, so a simple abstract brushstroke in silver works well in terms of signaling the release of a new and improved product.

Couture Monday: Armani python (crocodile?) palettes

For the inaugural Couture Monday post, I'll be looking at Armani's fall 2007 blush and fall 2008 palette, both of which feature animal prints.  The Fall 2007 palette has the pattern on the outside of the case, while the fall 2008 one moves the print inside the palette. 

Fall 2007 Leather collection blush (there was also an eye shadow palette with the same print on the case):

Leather flash

The blush inside: (with flash on left; in natural light on right)

Leather blush

Fall 2008:

Python inside

Let's first examine the fall 2007 blush.  The copy for this item at the Armani website read "Outfitted in a unique black faux-crocodile skin packaging, the tender peach-pink hue is a one-of-a-kind addition to any fall wardrobe."  The trouble with this is that the print is identical to the eye palette, the copy for which read, "Drawing inspiration from Armani's exquisite collection of leather accessories, the eye mania palette features four versatile shades encased in a luxurious black snakeskin print compact."  So the blush is apparently crocodile and the eye shadow is snakeskin, but they're exactly the same!  

Now, let's just say the blush really is a crocodile print.  Armani's fall 2007 ready-to-wear line did feature some croc pieces, or at least ones made of leather embossed to look like croc:

Fall2007 rtw

Additionally, Armani stated that he was inspired by David Bowie and rock music1 for his privé line that season, hence the prominence of fedoras and fingerless gloves:




And lo and behold, the model for the Leather collection is wearing a fedora, along with leather gloves (albeit not fingerless ones):

Armani fall 2007

I think Armani did a splendid job in coordinating the fall makeup line with the fall clothing collections. Even though there is some conflation of crocodile vs. snakeskin, the overall themes, the use of leather and hats as well as a rock n' roll type feel in both makeup and clothing is harmonious and inspired.  

Now let's turn to the the fall 2008 python palette. At first glance it expresses the themes of the fall ready-to-wear collection, at least colorwise.  Black, white and grey/silver dominated the ready-to-wear line,  as evidenced in these photos from the runway:


This model is carrying what looks to be a python bag.

Fall08rtw python

Take a look at the models' eye makeup too - it's a very dark, smoky greyish black, which is the look the python portion of the palette is meant to create. 
The privé line continues with the color scheme and also features a shiny python jacket:

Fall08prive silver


Fall08prive python
(all runway photos from

However, Armani described his ready-to-wear look as "free-spirited"2, which doesn't quite match the palette - when I see python print, I think sophisticated and drop-dead sexy, while "free-spirited" brings to my mind a more playful, carefree style.  The privé line contained a python jacket and some dresses but the majority of the looks were pantsuits, which don't exactly correlate to the sultriness  and glamour of snakeskin (although the suits do convey a sense of power.)  Also, if you look at the fall 2007 ready-to-wear line in its entirety, the exact same color palette is there, right down to the model's makeup.  Thus it seems as though this season Armani recycled last fall's makeup collection, without consideration of style of the clothes that were sent down the runway.  The choice of snakeskin print for the palette really doesn't go with the feel of either the couture or ready-to-wear lines; there is no unifying theme between makeup and fashion.  While a couture brand does not necessarily have to link the two, the makeup is an extension of the clothing, so for big seasonal releases it would make sense to have them go together. 

1 Review by Sarah Mower, July 2007,
2 Review by Nicole Phelps, February 2008, 

Friday Fun: Benefit Roadside Attractions palettes

I've decided that a couple days a week posts will have a certain theme. This blog could use just a tiny bit of structure! Therefore, Fridays will be devoted to retro/kitschy/just plain fun packaging. Mondays will feature makeup by the big fashion houses (Chanel, Dior, YSL, etc).  The rest of the time I'll have a more freeform approach.

For the first installment of Friday Fun, I'm looking at some fall items from a few seasons ago:  Benefit's Roadside Attractions palettes.   Released in the fall of 2005, these kits feature either eye shadow or lip gloss and have retro images for the outer packaging, complete with cheeky phrases like "Exes Make Great Speed Bumps".  The interior cleverly features a mirror in the shape of a rear-view car mirror. 



Nice ride

(photo from

These palettes definitely stay true to Benefit's mantra:  "Who says makeup has to be serious to be good?"  Indeed, the concept of a road trip and visiting places ("roadside attractions") along the way is fun, and the idea was perfectly executed in these palettes.