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November 2008

Seeing red: MAC holiday palettes

Every year MAC releases several eye shadow and lip color palettes in limited-edition packaging as part of their holiday collection.  This year's design features red snakeskin and a big red jewel in the center of each palette.  While I'm not crazy about combination of strong colors, animal print and gems -- it strikes me as overkill -- I'm liking how the palettes are presented in the promo ad.  They're surrounded by pomegranates, which at first is what I thought the print on the packaging was.  It didn't look like snakeskin upon first glance, but rather bits of juicy, ripe pomegranate seeds, which for some reason I think make the palettes look infinitely better than they would on their own:

(photo from maccosmetics.com)

I think the other reason why I like this ad so much is that the translucence of the pomegranate seeds and the shiny surfaces of the palettes remind me of Dutch 17th-century still lifes.  All of MAC's holiday items are shown with delectable looking fruit including grapes, raspberries, pears, and grapefruit.  Compare them to the details from a couple of Dutch paintings - the way the textures are represented is very similar:

Mac still life grapefruit
(Jan Davidz de Heem, detail from Still Life, date unknown, photo from artunframed.com)

Mac still life
(Floris Claesz. van Dijick, detail from Still Life with Cheeses, c. 1615-1620, photo from rijksmuseum.nl) 

There are completely different objectives, of course - the meaning in a 17th-century Dutch still life does not correspond to a contemporary photo advertising makeup.  Nevertheless there is a resemblance in the way the fruit is presented.  
Getting back to the snakeskin palettes, they come in 2 shades - a bright true red and a reddish-orange.  I suspect that once I see them in person and not artfully in arranged as they are in the ads, my interest in these will drop.  I just think there's too much going on in the packaging and they'll look quite cheap in real life.  However, I've been wanting to start collecting MAC holiday pieces and, well, no time like the present!  

Couture Monday: Chanel Lumière d'Artifices palette

Chanel put out this little gem for the spring 2007 collection, but with the colors, texture and shimmer this always struck me as being more appropriate as a holiday release.  This palette was "inspired by the hand-detailed designs of Chanel master embroiderers" and features three rows of dazzling sequined-shaped eye shadow/highlighter.

Sequins small

As with the tweed-patterned Pink Lamé palette and the Camelias palettes, this item doesn't focus on any particular season but rather expresses the overall use of sequins by the brand on various fashion pieces, like these couture gowns: 
Spring 07 couture
(photos from style.com)

I'd say the color on the middle row of sequins in the palette is a dead ringer for those on this evening bag:
Sequined bag
(photo from harpersbazaar.co.uk)

While tweed jackets and camellias come to mind when I think of Chanel, that's not necessarily the case for sequins. I don't doubt Chanel does amazing things with sequins, as seen in the couture gowns and bag above, but I don't think their use is quite as iconic as tweed or camellias.  Still, this palette was well-executed, especially considering the tiny  "threads" holding the sequins on - it truly looks like embroidered sequins.  
The only thing that would have made this palette a little better is releasing it for the holidays rather than spring.  Maybe I have Christmas on the brain, but when I opened the compact this morning to help me write this post, all I could think of was how festive and perfect for a holiday exhibition this piece is.  Ah, silver and gold...just like the song Sam the Snowman sings in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer"!  If you're not in the holiday spirit yet, here's a little serenade...and a very fitting one for this palette.  :)

Friday Fun: Disney for Paul & Joe, revisited

I posted a while back about Paul & Joe collaborating with Disney to create a 4-piece Japan-exclusive collection last spring.  While I did manage to get 3 of the 4 items, I was a little bummed about not being able to get my paws on the Lady hand cream.  Apparently the company has seen the light and realized how well the collection would sell stateside, so they re-released it!!  The collection is available at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC and beautyhabit.com.  I placed my order at Bergdorf because I've been loyal to their Paul & Joe counter for years (at least since the company pulled out of Sephora, anyway) and received the missing piece of my collection.  So without further adieu, here is Lady:

Disney lady 2008

And the salespeople at Bergdorf threw in an adorable notebook with the kitten pattern that appeared on the makeup pouch from this season's holiday collection (as well as the previously released "Flea Market in Paris" collection.")  It was such a nice surprise when I opened the box.  They take good care of you at that counter!

Pj kitty notebook

I'm really thrilled this collection is available in the U.S. so that everyone can enjoy the cuteness, and as a Curator I'm pleased to have filled a gap in the Museum's collection.  :)

Shu Holiday 2008: the magic of Mika

One of my very favorite things about Shu Uemura is how frequently the company collaborates with outside artists to create truly unique and beautiful packaging.  This holiday season Shu teamed up with photographer Mika Ninagawa, whose photos of flowers and exotic fish adorn the packaging for the limited-edition collection.  What I love most is Ninagawa's exquisite use of color - every photo used for the collection is chock full of bold, sharp color, but it's still delicate rather than garish.  

A very generous donor kindly bestowed all three palettes upon the Museum in honor of the Curator's birthday.  Here's the Adorned Marguerite palette:

Mika marguerite
Gift of GGD

Luscious Rose:

Mika luscious rose
Gift of GGD

And the Winter Sakura palette:

Mika winter sakura
Gift of GGD

So why Mika Ninagawa and why flowers?  Given the company's history of working with Japan's top artists, it wasn't much of a surprise that they'd work with Ninagawa.  According to Vanity Fair, Mr. Uemura, as a longtime fan of her work, approached the photographer in May 2007 about collaborating on the project.  As for the flowers, the artist explains in the video at Shu Uemura's website that her attraction to them is based on a flower's fleeting beauty: "flowers wither...but with photographs I can trap the beauty." (The name "Mika" also means "blooming flowers" in Japanese.)  I was also struck by her thoughts on the collection itself.  To her, it was created for women who "pursue their own vision" and "dress up for their own beauty."  Given the array of colors in the collection - the Luscious Rose palette, for example, contains a couple of basic neutrals but also a dark blue and purple -  women can indeed "pursue their own vision" no matter what that vision is, since the range of colors allows for so many possibilities.
Finally, the last reason I'm so taken with this collection is that unlike the other artists Shu collaborated with, Ninagawa is vocal about her healthy appreciation of cosmetics:  "Wearing makeup is so special I can't imagine life without it." Amen!

Happy Birthday Sephora!

Sephora, possibly my favorite store on Earth, turned ten years old this fall.  To celebrate the company came out with several limited-edition items, including this lovely Stila can filled with goodies.  

Stila sephora can

Some alternate views of the can:

Stila 2008 can

I thought the paint can was a great way to celebrate Stila at Sephora.  For those of you unfamiliar with Stila history, shortly after the brand was created, paint cans with Stila girls on them were placed at department store counters to hold Q-tips, brushes, cotton balls, etc.  These cans proved to be cult items, as customers started walking off with them when the salespeople weren't looking - apparently they were too cute to resist!  The company finally started understanding the popularity of these cans and began working them into their lineup as promotional, limited-edition items.  While some may say it's predictable that Stila came out with another paint can to celebrate Sephora's 10-year anniversary, since Stila has been with Sephora almost since its inception,  I think it's highly appropriate for them to create a special paint can for Sephora. Another can to add to my collection!  

Couture Monday: Dior Night Diamond powder

P224713_hero The glitz and glamour of the holiday season are fast approaching, so today I'm looking at the oh-so-sparkly Night Diamond palette by Dior.  Adorned in big clear crystals, the sparkliness continues on the interior of the palette - it's filled with a glowy highlighting powder that will come in handy for all those fancy holiday parties.  
I have to admit that at first glance I didn't think this was anything special, particularly after I saw it in person.  It just looked like a compact with a lot of overly large cheap fake crystals glued onto it, making it seem, dare I say, a bit tacky.  The compact is apparently inspired by Dior's "On the Rocks" sunglasses collection, which features the same crystals on the stems of the glasses (see photo below).  But I was pleased to see that the concept behind one of Dior's fashion accessories was carried over into the makeup line of the brand, since Dior can be hit or miss when it comes to articulating their vision clearly in cosmetics.  While these big faux gems don't appeal to me personally (which is why I'm still debating purchasing it for the Museum), Dior made a very fitting choice in grafting the crystals from their sunglasses onto a palette that's being marketed for the holiday season.  

Dior on the rocks
(photo from amazon.com)

Hourglass cosmetics: modern elegance


Ever since Allure magazine featured palettes by Hourglass I've been intrigued by them.  Well, the not the palettes themselves but the leather case used to hold them!  The delicate, understated trees have a gorgeous Art Nouveau character about them, and even the font on the Hourglass logo looks vaguely early 1900s. At the same time, the palettes have a modern sensibility in how compact they are as well as the colors and ingredients used. The colors are subtle and are carefully chosen to create a cohesive look - whether it's a tropical one (the Island palette, with its bronzes and light golds, would be perfect for a sun-kissed summer look) or a daring nighttime one (the smoky shades in the Dusk palette are spot on for this), there is a palette to fit any mood of the wearer. And as a skincare bonus, all of the blushes and shadows contain Vitamin E.

I do wish the packaging for the rest of the line outside the palettes was as interesting, or at least for the palettes to have different designs depending on the colors.  They could just make the trees a different color to distinguish the palettes from one another...especially given that the makers of Hourglass seem to enjoy the tree motif - they've also created a separate bath and body line called, you guessed it, Trees.  Here's hoping the palettes are merely a starting-off point for more pretty packaging!

(photo from sephora.com)

Election Day Madness!

This post isn't makeup-related, but I felt it was important to urge everyone to vote today.  I'm pretty fired up about the election, and given how hard the suffragettes fought for a woman's right to vote in this country, I feel it's especially important for us ladies to put our beloved makeup on hold just for a tiny bit and cast our ballots.  So if you haven't already, make your voice heard and GET TO THE POLLS NOW!  If you don't know where to go, click here to find your polling place.