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June 2011

Curator's corner, 6/25/2011

Mum.cc.3ppI'm a little sad that the best part of summer (for me, anyway - the solstice) is already over!  I feel like it was just Memorial Day yesterday.  Summer always goes too fast and winter always goes too slow.  Such is life.  Anyway, here's what I was digging this week.

- I guess with no wedding coming up my urge to entertain is in high gear.  Even though it's for a kid, I love this yellow birthday party.  And I've mentioned it before but after seeing this, I really really want to have an ice cream social.

- Failing that, I'd love to re-organize our kitchen so that all of our spices, etc. would be as neatly organized as this.  I'm sure my husband would be thrilled to spend a lot of time designing and making labels for everything.  *sarcasm*

- Pile of Craft, the Charm City Craft Mafia's cool craft expo, is today.   I can never leave Pile of Craft without buying at least 3 items - such great stuff from very talented area crafters!

- BellaSugar posts about these really awesome makeup drawings that are actually made with makeup.

- I saved the best for last - a new Babster from UglyDoll creator David Horvath.  I've already pre-ordered him from E-bay, but he won't be shipped until after July 20.  I want to cuddle him NOW!

Cookie dream babo
(image from toysrevil.blogspot.com)

I was confused as to whether there were 2 versions of him - one with eyes closed and one with eyes open.  However, my clever husband figured out the mystery:  his conclusion is that the little fella is double-sided!  There are several two-sided Uglydolls already so this theory makes sense.  Guess we'll find out when he arrives!

What are you coveting this week?

Stila Striking in South Beach (too many S's!!)


Stila's 4th installment in their 2011 summery travel series features Stila girl "Zoe" (who previously appeared on the Tokyo palette) jetting off to South Beach.  Loving the romper and roller-skate combo!

Here's the inside of the palette, for those of you who will actually be using it:


With flash:


Quote (like the past few travel palette quotes, this one is awfully uninspired.  It makes me sad since there is no shortage of great attributable quotes out there!)


Here's a partial screenshot of the South Beach palette info page.

South beach

Zoe's bio:

Bio zoe
(images from stilacosmetics.com)

Err, did anyone proof this?  Is it "Zoe" or "Zoey"?  And if they really wanted to be "forward-thinking", they should have used "apps" rather spelling out "applications".   Stila, please let me write your ad copy! 

Anyway, as with most of the other palettes in this series I'm not crazy about the info included in the clickable Polaroids - it just sounds like the writer looked up the most popular tourist traps and stuck them up there.  I feel like with the other travel palettes from last year (especially the Paris one), they were a little more thoughtful and not so hackneyed.  Oh well.  I can usually overlook these shortcomings given my well-documented adoration of Stila girls.   :)

Couture Monday: the animal magnetism of D & G

RAWR!  I think this is the makeup equivalent of Dolce & Gabbana's sexy corset dresses and tops.  I will get to the fashion in a sec, but first, some pics of the glorious Animalier bronzer:





With flash:




A couple more gratuitous pics in natural light:



While D & G doesn't exactly have the market completely cornered on leopard print, they definitely make extensive use of it in their clothing.  Here's a smattering from their Fall/Winter 2011/2012 lineup:

Dg leopard dresses

Dg top shoes
(images from store.dolcegabbana.com)

Interestingly, earlier this summer D & G launched a new eyewear line called Animalier, so it makes sense that they would release a leopard print bronzer with the same name.   And they even created a short video for the bronzer, showcasing some of their best leopard print designs:


So, all in all I think they did a good job with this bronzer - leopard print is one of D & G's trademarks.  I am curious to know, however, how it will stack up next to Dior's Mitzah palette (coming to the U.S. in September - brace yourselves for another Museum smackdown!)

Guest blogging!

No posts for this week and no Curator's Corner today, but I'm pleased to announce that Ada Calhoun, one of the authors behind the awesome 90swoman.com blog, asked me to write a piece on 90s womanhood!!  I was so honored.  Naturally my thoughts went to makeup and 90s beauty trends.  And also naturally, I was extremely long-winded so the piece was edited ever so slightly so as not to bore readers.  However, I have no issue with boring my own readers (all 2 of them, ha), so here it is in its entirety.  Enjoy!  And do check out 90swoman.com, even if you're not of that generation - it's truly a fascinating look at the era.  :)  Thanks again, Ada!

Uma Thurman rocking Chanel Vamp nail polish in 1994's Pulp Fiction. 
(image from movieretriever.com)

Matte brown lipstick.  Heroin chic.  White eye shadow.  The grunge look.  These were the major beauty trends of the 90s.  And they’ve been earning the attention of the fashion and beauty world in the past year or so.  In January 2010 Selfridges staged an in-store exhibition devoted to the 90s, complete with a vintage M.A.C. Cosmetics face chart showcasing their (at the time) wildly popular brown lip liner named, appropriately enough, Twig.  Fashion and beauty bloggers have also been covering the revival of the decade’s trends.  “Messy plaids, patchwork and the overall look of 90’s grunge is back for Fall 2010, and we aren’t just talking about the fashion.  The beauty industry is taking its cue from the Courtney Love days of dark, red lipstick paired with overdone, smoky eye make-up…A disheveled plaid tee layered under a floral dress and dirty boots are the perfect balance with a dramatic ‘I don’t care’ make-up look,” wrote Jessica Ciarla at The Fashion Spot.  Last summer beauty blog Lovelyish provided a nostalgic look at 90s makeup trends.  This year, fashion blog Refinery29 reports that the “sleeper hit” of summer 2011 is 90s grunge lip color:  “Even though summer is currently awash in happy, vivid corals and pinks, there's another lip trend we've been tracking, too: A modern version of grunge-inspired lips. Mixing deep magenta-red with a little shimmer, they're like the love child of a '90s era Drew Barrymore and Married with Children's Kelly Bundy… pair your tribute-to-the-nineties lip with extra dark brows and matte skin. So angst-y!”  Finally, retailer Urban Outfitters named Cher from 1995’s Clueless their latest beauty icon.

Fashion trends, and by extension, beauty trends, are cyclical – usually about 20 years after the initial phenomenon began, it becomes in vogue once again and is slightly updated.  So it’s not surprising that the 90s are making a comeback now.    

But the point I want to make isn’t that the 90s are back fashion and makeup-wise.  Rather, I want to take a look at the transformation the beauty industry underwent in the 90s as a direct response to the new notions women had about makeup.  In 1995, the L.A. Times quoted a beauty newsletter editor as saying, "The creativity the department stores had 10 years ago doesn't exist today…the top five brands control 75% of the makeup business."  Something had to give to meet the beauty needs of the 90s woman, and it did.

Between the influence of “lipstick feminism”*, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, Riot Grrrl (and “girl power”, its co-opted, commercialized, mainstream offshoot made popular by the Spice Girls), and the smeared red lipstick of grunge poster child Courtney Love, more and more 90s women began wearing makeup not with the simplistic goal of looking pretty, but rather as a means of self-expression and empowerment.  They also didn’t want to feel as though they were being brainwashed by cosmetic companies telling them that they wouldn’t be beautiful without makeup – wearing it had to be their decision alone, and they would wear it (or not) on their own terms.  This outlook represented a huge shift in thinking about cosmetics, and beauty and business gurus pounced on it. 

In 1994 makeup artist Jeannine Lobell created a makeup line called Stila.  The name coming from the Italian word “stilare”, which means “to pen”, Lobell believed every woman’s makeup should be as unique as her signature.  The cardboard containers (this environmentally-friendly packaging was a breakthrough at the time) also displayed quotes from famous women that could be seen as empowering:  Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “The best protection any woman can have is courage,” and "Failure is impossible" by Susan B. Anthony are just a few of the quotes that made an appearance on Stila’s eye shadows.  These marketing strategies encouraged the idea that women could let their individuality shine through their makeup, and that it could even make them feel powerful.

1995 and 1996 saw the introduction of “alternative” makeup lines Hard Candy and Urban Decay, respectively.  Both got their start by introducing non-traditional nail polish colors that the founders first mixed themselves – Sky, a pastel blue, in the case of Hard Candy, and a purple color from Urban Decay.  And both were revolutionizing the beauty industry and filling in the gaps left by mainstream cosmetic companies by offering non-traditional hues.  From the Urban Decay website:  “Heaven forbid you wanted purple or green nails, because you’d either have to whip out a marker, or risk life and limb with that back alley drugstore junk…The first magazine ad [for Urban Decay] queried ‘Does Pink Make You Puke?,’ fueling the revolution as cosmetics industry executives scrambled to keep up.” 

A 1998 New York Times profile of Hard Candy founder Dineh Mohajer, states that she was a leader in providing the modern teenage girl with the daring makeup she wanted to use to express herself.  “Ms. Mohajer's timing couldn't have been better: young women were ready for hard-edged, ‘ugly’ colors, which were a departure from the powdery, harmless pinks that once accompanied every American girl's journey to womanhood. Suddenly, blue lips, blue hair and blue fingernails became a statement about independence -- even if independence might make you look as if you were suffering from frostbite.”  Still, in the article Mohajer insists that ''I didn't make that first batch of blue nail polish so I could stand up to men or be outrageous…or so I could make some sort of stand for women.”  She continues:  “[what] it's really about is self-esteem, women being able to do whatever they want and look stylish and attractive and cute at the same time.”  Mohajer, who was all of 22 when she founded Hard Candy, clearly represented the new way in which women were viewing makeup.

The decade culminated in the 1999 release of celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin’s iconic book Making Faces.  The book offered details of makeovers performed on “real” women, and provided step-by-step instructions to create a myriad of looks.  Women could essentially try on personalities like “The Diva” or “The Siren” through makeup.  Aucoin writes in the introduction, “…it is my hope that you will find yourself, or rather, your selves inside.”  His book was illustrative of the sweeping change that took hold in both the general population’s notion of cosmetics and the beauty industry.

Where does all of this leave us now?  I’m of the opinion that if you asked teenagers and women today, most would say they don’t wear makeup for anyone but themselves.  Personally I wear it because it makes me happy and because I think it’s fun to play with color, not because I feel as though I have put on my “face” before going out in public.  While I can’t know for sure what other women think, I have a feeling most of my generation and younger generations share this perspective.  That is one of the indisputable legacies of the 90s.

So, girls and women of today, bear in mind that your perception of cosmetics is in some way descended from ground-breaking beauty philosophies that were set in motion some 20 years ago.  The notions that makeup can be a creative outlet and a way to express your individuality were forged back then.  And if you’re a true 90s woman, relish the current comeback of makeup trends from your decade…everything except the matte brown lipstick. 

*The debate between lipstick feminists and second-wave feminists is far too broad to discuss in this post.  I’m leaving out the argument as to whether women should or shouldn’t be participating in beauty rituals; I’m only mentioning lipstick feminism as one of the many reasons for the change in women’s perception of wearing makeup in the 90s.

Curator's corner, 6/11/2011

Mum.cc.3ppWhew, it was hot this week.  As much as I hate getting all sweaty, I do prefer it to being cold.  And of course, the days will be getting longer up until the solstice, so I'm greatly enjoying the daylight. 

Here is the weekly round-up.

On the local front:

- Love to see one of my favorite mags mentioning the creator of some our plushies (and Museum registrars!)

- I missed HonFest again.  It's just as well - way too hot and humid to be wandering outside for hours on 36th St.

More generally:

- I like making ice cream and I like having people over, therefore,   I want to have an ice cream social!  And have cute invites like these.

- Poor little gummy bear!

- The New York Times on Riot Grrrl.  I MUST disagree with this statement:  "Now, two decades after its heyday, riot grrrl is beginning to formally take stock of itself."  Um, hello, I wrote my thesis on it in 2004.  So this interest isn't exactly new.  If it is, well then, I'm a pioneer in the field!

- Finally, some makeup design weirdness from Ted Noten.  Guns freak me out, so this is definitely not for me.  I understand it's meant to be more cool-Bond-girl and an exploration of traditional gender roles, but I'm still not crazy about it.

Gun makeup
(image from bellasugar.com)

And of course, the idea of a makeup gun reminds this Simpsons fan of Homer's ill-fated invention:

Make up gun
(image from popchampagne.blogspot.com)

Marge:  "Homer, you've got it set on 'whore'!"...
Lisa:  "I don't think women will like being shot in the face, dad."
Homer:  "Women will like what I tell them to like!"

Yeah, I don't think any sort of makeup guns, however meaningful or "design-y" they were meant to be, are a good idea.  :P

Friday fun: mermaids ahoy!

I just had to share this adorable Beautyhabit.com catalog.  MERMAIDS!!!  You may remember me telling you how much I love them in an earlier post.  Here they are swimming happily:



Here's one admiring her long luxurious mermaid hair:


And this one looks like she's trying to catch a snack?


I don't know who the designer of this catalog is, but my hat goes off to that person for creating such a cute summery mailer!

Clarins Mosaique vs. Guerlain Terracotta

Oooh, two makeup brands coming out with mosaic-inspired bronzers.  You know what that means!!  Ding ding!  Time for an old-fashioned makeup design SMACKDOWN!  Awwww yeah, it's ON!  (We are way overdue - the last MM battle took place in 2009!)

Mosaic poster
In the first corner we have Clarins Mosaique bronzing powder.  As the item still hasn't appeared on the Clarins website, I was fortunate to have found the description at  Addictedtolipstick.

"Mosaic, a timeless decorative motif, has crossed the ages to reach us in all its beautiful splendour. As an ornament of Roman baths, frescoes in the elegant homes of ancient Pompeii or the sumptuous decoration of Byzantine basilicas… the mosaic has been a major, refined art in all Western civilizations.  This summer, Clarins has taken its inspiration from the rich forms and colours in the mosaic universe to offer a vibrant make-up collection full of sun and vitality."

Wow.  Clarins certainly talks a big game, but can it deliver?

In the other corner, weighing in at a whopping .98 oz and measuring nearly 5 inches across (since it's meant for both face and body) we have Guerlain Terracotta Mosaic bronzer.  This one is so confident in its design it doesn't even have a detailed description like Clarins.  However, it also lacks a connection to the previous Guerlain summer release (the Inca collection) - I'm not sure why they would come out with a mosaic bronzer which has basically nothing to do with the rest of the summer collection. 

Now, since budget constraints precluded me from buying these two items, you can look at the stock photos in my oh-so-cool poster above (I know you're all jealous of my mad design skillz), or you can check out real-life pics of Clarins here and Guerlain here.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

So...who wins the Mosaic Melee??   Is it our fearless Guerlain, who has a lot more experience with limited editions and whose sheer gigantic size obliterates all other bronzers?  Or is it the quiet underdog Clarins, who makes up for its small stature with a prettier, more detailed outer case?  Let me know in the comments section!

Couture Monday: have a picnic with Dior

Just in time for summer, Dior gives us a lovely bronzer featuring a woven pattern.  At first it reminded me of a straw picnic basket.

Bronzer 2011
(image from nordstrom.com)

However, knowing Dior, I knew it was probably a pattern that had appeared on one of their bags.  Sure enough, the Lady Dior Avenue bag has this weaving not in straw, but in delectable soft leather:

Dior lady avenue
(image from thebagforum.com)

As far as I can tell this bag was first released in 2008 and I'm not sure whether any others in different colors have been released this year.   So it seems a little odd Dior would choose now to introduce this pattern on a makeup item.  Still, I like that they put a pattern other than their usual cannard on this bronzer.  Nothing earth-shattering but a subtle change of pace.  :)

Curator's corner: 6/4/2011

Mum.cc.3pp- Can't believe Father's Day is almost here.  Check out these awesome cards, rounded up by Paper Crave.

- On the local front, we're off to dine at Volt tonight (the restaurant run by Top Chef finalist Bryan Voltaggio).  Hopefully it'll live up to the hype.

- Christine at Temptalia raised quite the thoughtful question about makeup art vs. function.  I have to say I was a little taken aback by the comments.  Nearly all said that makeup should be used and not collected like art, and to buy makeup just to look at it/display it is a total waste.  :( It looks like I swim very much alone in the sea of makeup addicts.  However, one person did give a shout-out to the Museum.  Whoever you are, thank you for your support!

- Did you know that yesterday was National Doughnut Day?  Neither did I.  This is a celebration that Homer can definitely get behind.

(image from simpsonstrivia.com.ar)

Have a good weekend!