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July 2009

It's a "given": MAC's Baby Bloom collection and Duchamp

MAC released a new collection last week called Baby Bloom, consisting of a new tinted moisturizer and tinted lip balms.  Maybe it's just me, but I found the campaign image to be really creepy.

Baby bloom
(photo from maccosmetics.com)

Between her eye staring lifeless off into space and the vine wrapped around her neck, it seems like the model is laying dead in a field.   And it got me thinking of a piece by Marcel DuchampÉtant Donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage, which translates to "Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas".  This work was installed in 1969 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (where, incidentally, the Curator once worked) after Duchamp's death.  It is quite possibly the most enigmatic and, in my eyes, scariest piece of modern Western art.

You go up to the door and peer through 2 of the holes in it...


And this is what you see:

Etant donnes
(photos from artnet.com)

Pretty eerie.  While I don't think Duchamp meant for the piece to be particularly scary, that's always how I perceived it.  It's the same with the MAC photo - while trying to come up with an eye-catching ad, the company instead created a fairly disturbing image.  Neither shows the woman's face in full; a flower completely obscures the model's eye in the MAC ad, while you only get a glimpse of the woman's hair in Duchamp's work (and trust me as someone who looked at this on a weekly basis - no matter how much you crain your neck, you NEVER see her face.)  Regardless of whether you find the images disturbing, both make you wonder why the artist/designer chose to represent what they did.

Anyway, if you're in the Philly area I highly suggest you check out Étant Donnés in person, especially since there will be an exhibition in honor of the 40-year anniversary of its installation starting on August 15.

p.s. For more on this work and others by Duchamp, the following makes for good reading:  Duchamp:  A Biography by Calvin Tomkins;  Étant Donnés by Anne D'Harnoncourt and Walter Hopps; Marcel Duchamp, a collection of essays edited by Anne D'Harnoncourt; and Rudolf Kuenzli's Marcel Duchamp:  Artist of the Century.

Couture Monday: Lancôme's Pout à Porter series

In 2006 Lancôme started collaborating with fashion designers to create a limited-edition lipstick that reflected the designer's style.  These lipsticks quickly sold out and became hard-to-find cult favorites, and now it looks like a new frenzy is about to begin:  Lancôme has just announced that they will be teaming up with designer Chris Benz to develop a new shade.  Not only that, there was a naming contest via Chris Benz' Facebook page - you can submit your idea for what the lipstick should be called (alas, the deadline was July 12.)  The winner will not only have the honor of naming the color, but will also be awarded 5 of the lipsticks plus a $500 Lancôme gift certificate. 

While the Curator did not enter the contest, I'm excited to see what the color and name turns out to be.  And just to give you an idea of past creations, here are some of the others in the Pout à Porter series (unfortunately I couldn't find a good pic of the first in the series - a bright red created by Behnaz Sarafpour).

Proenza Schouler - Proenza Pink - spring 2007


Peter Som - P.S. Kiss - Fall 2007

Peter som

Thakoon - Pixel Pink - spring 2008

(photos from Makeup Minute and BellaSugar.com)

I love that Lancôme pairs up with designers - while Pout à Porter is a great series, Lancôme also branches out and comes up with different products, like the Christian Louboutin-inspired lipstick and black gloss set from last year, or the lovely Juicy Tubes designed with Christopher Kane

Friday Fun: authentic retro lip balms

U.K.-based Andrea Garland has created a lovely line of natural skin care and lip balms.  It's great that the products themselves are natural, but the packaging is the real showstopper here - not only is it adorable, it's also recycled!  Garland takes used pill boxes and fills them with her balms (after sterilizing the boxes, of course!) And you can send the boxes back to her for a refill when you've used up the balm. The designs range from retro to glamourous to downright cutesy:

Retro andrea garland

Glam andrea garland

Cute andrea garland

(all photos from andreagarland.co.uk)

The retro ones in particular remind of on10's cute lip balm tins featuring Hershey's chocolate, 7UP or Schweppes, which I've posted about before.  But Garland's are even better since they're refillable and recycled!

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)

Keeping it cool: Stila Italian Ices trios

File this under "oldies but goodies".  In the summer of 2003 Stila came out with these adorable Italian water-ice inspired eye shadow trios featuring the famous Stila girls outfitted in summer finery. 

Uno, Due and Tre:



The colors in each are just as summery and refreshing as a delicious cold water ice on a hot summer day, no?  I do wish Stila would return to this type of palette!

An African odyssey: Moroccan-inspired design

Several recent releases are taking their cue design-wise from Moroccan architecture and patterns.  The raised surface of Laura Mercier's Moroccan Bronze palette looks to be inspired by the amazingly intricate stucco work in the Bahia Palace in Marrakech:


Bahia palace stucco
(photo from s3images.com)

And the interlocking pattern of the Sephora Moroccan collection palette is reminiscent of the door to the Mohamed V Mausoleum in Rabat:

Sephora moroccan
(photo from sephora.com)

Mausoleum rabat

If you can't get to Morocco any time soon these items can suffice.  Pretty!

Guest blogging today!

In lieu of Couture Monday, I'm very honored to be guest blogging over at City Girl Lifestyle.  You may think the Curator only collects pretty makeup, but believe it or not, I actually use it everyday (check out my product reviews listed on the right.)  Today I'm reviewing Laura Mercier's new Body Bronzing Makeup.  If you haven't already checked it out, City Girl covers a range of topics, from food to fashion to beauty and has won multiple blog awards.  I'm so happy I was asked to blog there!   Big thanks to City Girl for the opportunity!  

A boudoir in the drugstore: Nivea and Chantal Thomass

Looks like Nivea, a leading drugstore skin care line, has partnered with lingerie designer Chantal Thomass to create a limited edition "Boudoir" makeup line.  The collection debuts this month and alas, is only available in Europe.  I think it's an odd choice for Nivea, given that they've never done anything glamourous/sexy in packaging or the products themselves, but it's good to see them branching out.  The collection features 8 lipsticks, 6 shadows and 2 blushes.  According to the Chantal Thomass site, the designer "chooses glamourous printings elegantly styled on the packaging...to choose the tint of the blue of the packaging, the creator was inspired by a small pantie, a silky one of course."


The blush appears to have a corset design on it.  Not terribly interesting as we've seen this motif in Benefit's Thrrrob blush, but I'm guessing an image of a lacy bra or undies would have been too risque.  Some of the eye shadows have little bows embossed into the powder, and others have a key (with the keyhole on the outer package shown above.)  Still, I think they could have had slightly more inspired packaging - the bow was a great idea, but how about a just an abstract lacy pattern?  Or maybe a patterned stocking?  Ah well.  I'm happy Nivea took a chance and strayed from its "safe" products to create a sexy makeup line.  Hopefully there will be more partnerships in the future!

Gold: A gilded collection from Paul & Joe

The inspiration for Paul & Joe's summer collection is, simply, gold.  Here's part of the theme from the website:  "Gold radiates beauty, gold defines opulence, gold shimmers with life, gold has a myriad of hues.  Summer is the golden season, embrace it, renew in its radiance, become beautiful in its glow."  While gold seems a little predictable for summer, I like that the company came out with variations on the shade - swirly lip glosses and nail polishes with bright pink, yellow and bronze all mixed with a ribbon of shimmery gold ensures everyone can wear a golden hue.  But what I liked most were the bronzing powders and blotting sheet compact:

Pj bronzer 09


I liked that the powder came in a special gold case and the pattern on the blotting sheets, although I'm not sure I buy into the claim at the website that says it's taken from the spring/summer fashion collection.   I looked at every piece and couldn't find that pattern anywhere, so I'm not sure why it says that.  Nevertheless it was nice to see a new blotting sheet compact.

If you need another gold fix,  check out this slideshow for the exhibition "The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani", which opens tomorrow at the Getty Museum.  :)