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January 2012

The latest foundation technology, part 1

It's been a REALLY long time since I discussed the latest technological advances in makeup, and with a spate of new foundations on the way I thought I'd round them up to see what makes them different.   Today's post will focus on foundations, which, mind you, are distinct from beauty balms/beauty benefit creams - those will form part 2 of the latest in face makeup technology.

As we know, the goal of foundation is to improve the look of the complexion - even out skin tone and hide imperfections and blemishes.   These new foundations, however, go further by promising not only to improve the overall appearance of your skin, but make you look noticeably younger by reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles, while providing an invisible, second-skin finish. 

Now onto the products.  The second half of 2011 saw the release of Chanel's Perfection Lumière Foundation and Armani's Designer Lift foundations.  Perfection Lumière supposedly provides "seamless blendability for a naturally flawless effect", while Designer Lift claims that it "restores up to 10 years of luminosity, firms lines up to 87% and firms skin by 73% for 12 hours of lifting action. "

This year several new formulas have been or will be introduced:  Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation, Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Foundation, Sunday Riley Crème Radiance Breathable Ageless Foundation, Estée Lauder Invisible Fluid Foundation,  and NARS Pure Radiance Tinted Moisturizer.

New skin

While all of these foundations contain different ingredients and have varying amounts of coverage, they all tout anti-aging benefits and a finish that feels like your own skin.  According to Sephora, Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation has "clinical levels of two antiaging ingredients to create a youthful glow" and offers a "long-lasting, flawless finish".   There's also this notion of "breathable", of getting oxygen to the skin.  Sunday Riley's foundations - both the Crème Radiance and Liquid Light - even boast the word "breathable" in their names, while Benefit's Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow contains a "specially developed blend of vitamins, minerals and a peptide that allows skin to accept more oxygen, giving cells the energy to function at their best."  In turn, "oxygen helps stimulate cell metabolism and boosts cell turnover, promoting the appearance of healthy, youthful-looking skin".  And Estée Lauder Invisible Fluid Foundation actually contains air.

Some also include exotic ingredients.  The Hourglass foundation is infused with "Phytostem Edelweiss, an active derived from a rare Alpine plant, slows collagen degradation and reduces wrinkle depth by 15% after 20 days of use.  Lavandox, an ingredient extracted from Spanish lavender, reduces the appearance of wrinkles by 11% after 24 hours of application and inhibits muscle contractions that lead to the development of fine lines and wrinkles."   According to Barney's,  Sunday Riley Crème Radiance Foundation is a "powerhouse formula enhanced with radiance-boosting, redness-fighting probiotics, peptides, magnolia bark, and tonka bean."  NARS' new tinted moisturizers contain kopara, an ingredient from French Polynesia that is said to encourage skin cell renewal.

Clear skin is always in, but this piece in the January issue of Vogue explains the how and why behind cosmetics companies' rush to trot out high-tech foundations that promise flawless, younger-looking skin. 

Vogue article

"In this age of high definition, high resolution, and high expectations - where even the camera on the iPad can send a perfectly rational girl shrieking toward the dermatologist's office - out-of-this-world skin doesn't seem like an unreasonable wish."  I personally think it's both consumers and companies combined that make the demand for these new foundations.

Have you tried any of these newer foundations/are you planning to?  I'm intrigued by many of them but only if they're mattifying - the Hourglass Liquid Powder in particular sounds very promisng for my oily skin!

Curator's Corner, 1/28/2012

Mum.cc.3ppWhew, I'm glad it was the last full week of January.  We're one month closer to spring and summer!  Here are this week's links.

- Design Milk shows us some glass curiosity cabinets meant to be "miniature museums" by Maissa Toulet.  I bet these would be spectacular for displaying makeup.

- An Italian artist plans a 24-hour pop-up museum.  Must steal this idea.

- Another day-late, dollar-short article from the New York Times (see a previous Curator's Corner where I pointed out that the exact topic of their article was one I covered much earlier!)  This time it's about cartoon characters inspiring makeup collections.  Er, NYT, please see my post from March 2011 on the subject (and check out the links contained therein).

- It was National Peanut Butter Day on Tuesday.  I love peanut butter so much that I actually have to keep it on a very high shelf that I can't reach without a ladder - otherwise I'd be eating one whole jar every week.

- Possibly the most exciting news of the week is that Beth Ditto will be collaborating with MAC!!  The collection is supposed to hit counters in June.  As a long-time Gossip/Ditto fan, I can't wait. 

Beth ditto for mac
(image from fashionista.com)

What caught your eye this week?

Friday fun: The Balm Girls lipsticks

I was perusing The Balm's website for a post on some of their newer creations (Meet Matte, Nude 'Tude palettes) and I stumbled across these.  I'm not sure why they're not up at Sephora but they should be.  Not only are they cute representations of film's famous Bond girls, they have funny names.

Anita ima

Foxxy amanda

Mia mai
(images from perfumania.com)

I don't think they're meant to be exact reproductions of Bond girls (except for Ima Goodkisser, whose white bikini getup is identical to that of Ursula Andress in Dr. No) but they spot-on  '60s Bond girls. 

I'm not going to go into a lengthy essay on the feminist (or unfeminist) implications of packaging like this, but I do want to mention the topic.  Some scholars have made the argument that Bond girls are feminist icons (see the book Shaken and Stirred:  The Feminism of James Bond), or at least, not the symbols of patriarchy they appear to be on the surface.  However, these particular illustrations seem to make the girls  eye candy and nothing more.  Notice that the men, although relegated to the background, are leering at the girls, their gaze ever present.  Plus there's the issue of putting these women - who arguably have been seen over the years as mere accessories - on an accessory itself.

All my feminist leanings aside, I'd still argue that these are harmless and fun.  These retro items always makes me wonder who did the illustrations!

Super kawaii cleansing oil by Lisa Kohno for Shu

As I mentioned in a previous post, the first winner of the Shu Uemura art award was Lisa Kohno, who had the honor of designing the Florescent collection for the company.  She also created the illustrations for two Asia-exclusive cleansing oils sold in duty-free shops, one of which I was able to get my hands on through E-bay.  Sadly, it was not packaged well and the box was totally crushed by the time it arrived, and very greasy as the oil had leaked from the bottle.  I'm a little upset that this is not in museum condition.  Nevertheless the bottle and box have some very cute and whimsical pictures.

The box features a smiling, green-haired girl amidst pink bows morphing into butterflies.  We've seen the conflation of butterflies and bows before - remember Alexis Mabille's Butterflies Fever palette for Lancôme last spring?  I like that her makeup (yellow eye shadow, pink lips and cheeks) echoes the yellow fruits and pink butterflies.

Lk box

One the bottle, the girl's profile is cleverly cut out so that the oil becomes her green hair, and a sprinkling of hearts is added to the mix.




Seems these girls and floating fruit are motifs for Kohno, as this work Eternal Flower (2010) can attest:

Eternal flower

Bows are big for her too, as in The Afterlife Was Sparkling, (2010):

(images from bambinart.jp)

I tried to find out the inspiration for her work, but the only English translation I was able to find didn't make a whole lot of sense.  From the Bambinart Gallery, which showcased the Eternal Flower exhibition:  "Lisa Kohno draws her utopia in her works. Drawing helps her being herself and finding place where she gets peaceful mind in her works. Women appear in her works seem her self-portraits, but actually, they represent transcendent existence with eternity which Kohno adores.  The theme for the exhibition is 'eternal flower'. She draws flowers blooming beautifully and eternally, and amorous figures with immortal life as if they are flower personified. These flowers and figures with eternity have beauty, but also come across awe and the image of coldness. That's because being immortal means that they don't belong to this world since every creatures have mortal life. The amorous aura of works indicates that acquiring eternal life is abstinentia even if it's for our hope or peace of mind."  Uh, okay.  Based on that, my take is that the girls aren't of this earth; they are otherworldly creatures in a utopia filled with flowers and fruits that are forever at their peak.  And that's certainly a wonderful, worthy idea to represent.

GIVEAWAY: MAC My Paradise Cheek Powder

Do you have the winter blues?  Are you tired of these dark, cold days and wishing for a little pick-me-up?  If so, enter to win a taste of summer!  I'm using Rafflecopter to give away one MAC My Paradise Cheek Powder to a lucky winner! 

Mac my paradise box

My paradise closed

MAC my paradise open


Photo 2

With flash:

With flash

My Paradise is from MAC's summer 2011 Surf, Baby! collection.  It's a beautiful peachy-coral shade with a gold hibiscus overspray.   In case you're wondering, here's the backstory:  I procured two of these last year - as a collector I was panicking that I wouldn't be able to get my hands on one, so after convincing myself that MAC was going to cancel my order, I ordered one from Nordstrom as well just to be safe.  Well, MAC didn't cancel my order and so I ended up with two.  (And was too lazy to return or E-bay it - my laziness is your gain!) 

The winner will be announced next Wednesday, Feb. 1.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Couture Monday: Anselm Reyle for Dior: it's electrifying

Anselm_reyle_pour_christian_dior_3544_north_320x480Ah, another beauty from Dior.  This time, instead of going back into the archives (Tailleur Bar and Mitzah palettes) or mixing old and new (Lady Dior palette) the company collaborated with German abstact artist Anselm Reyle to create a fresh, contemporary twist on classic Dior style.  The collaboration is also a nod to Dior's original aspiration of owning an art gallery.

The collection was unveiled with much fanfare at Art Basel Miami back in November, where Dior had a pop-up shop showcasing the goods.  Before I get to the palette, let's take a look at how elaborate the launch was and the other items in the collection.





Here's the pop-up store:

(image from fashionstylexxx.com)


They even pimped out a food truck in Reyle's print created especially for the collection:

Dior foodtruck
(images from jesuswassize0.com)

The highlights of the collection were most certainly the bags.  Decked out in variations of Reyle's custom print, they formed an electric array of totes, satchels and clutches.

Dior AR bags

My favorite item from the collection (besides the palette, of course) was this pair of wedges.  Wouldn't these be fun for summer?

AR Dior shoes

The palette wasn't the only beauty item, however:  there is also a range of nail polishes.

(images from alapeach.com)

 Finally, the palette.  Here is the front of the booklet that came with it:


The interior of the booklet in an eye-popping florescent green:



The velvet interior of the box, complete with satin purple ribbon:


The palette itself:




With flash:


Reyle's tilted twist on Dior's classic cannage pattern:


This description from the Tate summarizes Reyle's style:  "Reyle 'samples' familiar motifs from art history – particularly Modernist painting and Abstract Expressionism – and brings them up to date; as he puts it, 'taking a stereotype in order to breathe new life into it'. Reyle's paintings echo various (and sometimes contrary) abstract painting styles of the past: gestural smears, hard-edge stripes or poured and dripped paint, bringing to mind the work of artists such as Karl Otto Götz, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman...In his sculptural works, Reyle takes objects like wagon wheels, haycarts or 1970s ceramic vases and lamps and imbues them with new life – giving them shiny surfaces, startling neon shades or coloured lighting."

I suspect Dior approached Reyle because he's known for his use of neon - a 2012 trend the fashion house was complicit in setting - and also to make their classic, ladylike bags and other accessories fresh and edgy ("breathe new life into it"). It's worth pointing out that Reyle doesn't just use bright colors in paintings; many of his found-object work utilizes neon lights, as in Arise (2010):


And an untitled work from the same year:

2fb9dbba88d83487a0f96225eab7e9ae(images from gagosian.com)

In an interview with Dazed Digital, Reyle discusses how he infused the collection with his signature style.  "I tilted the Cannage which may be considered as a kind of intervention and deconstruction of the well-known and most classical signature of Dior.  In my art, I also often take found things as a starting point that are further developed, modified and brought into a new context.  Similar to this, the camouflage pattern is a motif which I already used for my material paintings instead of the typical support of a white canvas. For me it’s interesting to see how it has been adapted by the pop world from its military background and how it then loses the original meaning. It remains a kind of empty phrase. Usually the camouflage hides something, but here it’s the opposite - it is very visible because of the signal neon colours... I am interested in combinations that seem to be dissonant at first sight."  Indeed, between the tilted cannage pattern and the drippy, almost psychedelic camouflage pattern, the palette does reflect the artist's interest in making radical changes to traditional motifs.  To my eye, the pattern is a continuation of paintings like this:

Little yorkshire
(image from gagosian.com)

Additionally, it's no surprise that purple and dark grey were chosen for the palette, as they are prominently featured in the artist's work (not to mention that they make for a great eye shadow combination that works well on most women):

Monochrome Age, 2010:

Monochrome age

Mystic Silver, 2011:

Mystic silver

And this untitled work from 2010 actually uses both colors together:

Untitled 2010 purple and silver
(images from gagosian.com)

Overall, I think Dior was spot-on in choosing this artist and I think Reyle, in turn, did a fabulous job of reinterpreting and modernizing Dior's accessories while still making them accessible and wearable.  What do you think?

Curator's Corner, 1/14/2012

CC logoThis week's links:

- How cute are these Dolce and Gabbana pencil charms

- Love this video spoofing Photoshop usage. 

- Now that I've gotten my fancy new iPhone, I want this alarm clock/docking station for it. 

- An interesting post from one of my favorite blogs, Collecting Vintage Compacts

And a quick note:  I'll be taking this coming week off from blogging to make preparations for a special exhibition.  As a matter of fact, I most likely will be blogging one week on, one week off until spring - it feels far too early to discuss spring items now, and I don't think I will have enough good content to post every week.  But even though blogging might be light, I'm always adding product reviews so be sure to stop by!

MM Musings: Makeup in museums


In 2011 I came across several articles about fashion in museums and it got me thinking.  So instead of showing a collection item today, I want to talk about whether makeup belongs in a museum.  (Yes, I realize that I may be biased, but humor me).  Since makeup is so intricately connected to the world of fashion, and since the notion that fashion is art is relatively new and still struggles to be validated, I will use the discussion of fashion-as-art as a springboard. 

A poll on whether some makeup pieces are "more art than function" at Temptalia revealed that beauty fans and bloggers overwhelmingly think makeup is not meant to be collected and displayed.  One of their top reasons:  It'll go bad.   "...Make-up is not like other stuff such as jewelry, clothes, or shoes, it will expire in time so no point to keep it," says one commenter at Temptalia.  Adds Glinda at Manolo for the Beauty:    "I wonder exactly how long a makeup palette would last, anyway.  I’m guessing that to keep it in prime condition, you wouldn’t open it if you could help it.   Otherwise, I would be afraid of something happening to it.  If I spent that much money, I’d be paranoid that even a tiny bit of exposure to oxygen would hasten its demise."

Second, many feel makeup is meant to be worn, not looked at; it's totally impractical to buy a makeup item and not use it.  "If a product is too beautiful to look at, why buy it. Isn’t the purpose of buying a product is to use it. I like packaging but art powder deco seems a bit over the top. Unless the product is totally functional, I wouldn’t care if the art design faded but if it wasn’t functional and bought it purely for aesthetic purposes then not only would I feel like a fool but have also wasted $$$ for some eye candy.  No thank you."   Says another, "i just get my brush and i actually dont care about spoiling the design or pattern and swipe swipe away and enjoy the colour of the product. too busy a person to sit looking at a pattern all day and i cant afford to buy pretty things to just sit in a drawer and have no purpose."

Along this line of thinking, Sarah Joynt at The Fashion Spot points out that the design of some limited edition palettes actually interfere with their usage, citing MAC's Street Art palette.  "From luxury brands such as MAC and NARS to UK drugstore favorite No. 7, we've seen eye shadow and blusher palettes that feature intricate designs either sprayed on or baked into the powder. But are they really worth the investment? Sure they're pretty and collectors items, if you're into things like that, but for the most part they aren't practical, and if you're looking to buy an eye shadow palette, you want to be able to use it.  For example, the MAC Street Art Palette from the Art of Powder Collection (above, left) features six colors in a graphic design. While the set itself might boast a heavier than normal weight (0.31oz, meaning more product for you to use) the design limits you to the point where there are some colors that you can't even access without blending into an adjacent shade."

Finally, many beauty enthusiasts argue that since cosmetics are mass-produced, they are not really art.  From the Temptalia poll:

"Pretty makeup designs are certainly fun! But when it comes down to it…it is a manufactured product, you know? It’s NOT art. It may have been designed by an artist, but ultimately it was mass-produced by a machine for a specific purpose – to be used on your face, ultimately resulting in a ruined design. ..There’s plenty of legit art out there to enjoy in that way."

"...[D]esigns like this belong on a fabric pattern or on a picture…not makeup. This is a gimmick. After all, this is just made of powder and once you start using it, the design starts to disappear over use. This is impractical. This is makeup…not Picasso."

Personally, I feel these express quite a narrow-minded perspective.  My question is WHY NOT?  Why can't certain makeup items be considered art?  A snippet from this article from The Atlantic, which discusses how fashion is art, can also be used to make the case for makeup as art despite its mass production.   "With its fluctuating forms and needless decoration, fashion epitomizes the supposedly unproductive waste that inspired 20th-century technocrats to dream of central planning. It exists for no good reason. But that’s practically a definition of art... it’s hard to come up with objections to fashion collections that don’t apply to other museum departments. Fashion is mass produced? So are prints and posters, often more so than haute couture. Ephemeral? So are works on paper. Utilitarian? So are pots and vases."  I'd also like to point out that artists collaborate with makeup companies to create limited-edition pieces, which serve to showcase the work of the artist and elevate the item from its utilitarian purpose.

This interview with fashion curator Valerie Steele gave me hope that one day, makeup will make it into a museum despite all the naysayers.   Steele discussed how she managed to establish fashion as a valid field of study, and by extension, how it became acceptable to display clothing at an art museum.  "The fact that fashion’s increasingly shown in museums has contributed to the beginnings of a dialogue about whether fashion should be perhaps redefined as art. I think the museum has a very important role because we’re used to thinking of things that are in museums as art, even if they weren’t originally created as art. So lots of ritual objects, for example from Africa or Oceania, were not originally created as art. They were part of ritual and daily life. But now they’ve been redefined as art. So the fact that a Balenciaga ball gown was originally made by a 'couturier' and not an 'artist,' someone who was trained in haute couture and sold it to a lady to wear, that original function does not necessarily trump all later definitions."  The same can be said of makeup.  Even though it is meant to be used, the intended purpose does not necessarily make it impossible to consider makeup as art.

Finally, even if makeup will never be viewed as "high art" or a valid field of academic study, it still provides entertainment. In response to an article at Bust regarding whether fashion deserves to be in a museum, a commenter writes, "Arguing over what is art or not is missing the point. If it gets people in the door and they get the chance to experience something new, it's valuable. It's also an entrance point for people who might not otherwise visit a museum, and who then might wander into other exhibits."

So, what do you think?  Do you think cosmetics have a place in museums?  Would you visit a makeup exhibition?

Stila goes shopping at Nordstrom Rack

Thanks to MusingsofaMuse for the heads up on these!  If you can believe it, Stila has come out with even MORE travel palettes, this time in collaboration with Nordstrom Rack.  Since they are not available online I had to get off my butt to purchase them.  Okay, maybe I dispatched the husband to get them (hey, he was going out anyway).  At only $10 each and centered around a shopping theme, which is irresistible to me, I decided to make them part of the Museum's collection.

Fashionable on Fifth Avenue:




With flash:


Majestic on Michigan Avenue:



With flash:


Ravishing on Rodeo Drive:



With flash:


While these are a shameless plug for Nordstrom Rack, I do enjoy the architectural backgrounds in each one - you can clearly tell the location from the illustrations, so I think more thought went into these than with some of the previous travel palettes.  What do you think?

My white whale: duty-free Shu cleansing oil by Lisa Kohno

Shu_Uemura_oilDo the designs on this cleansing oil look familiar?  They should, as they're similar to the ones that appeared on Shu's Florescent collection from fall 2010.  I remember being confused as to why the palettes for that collection said "Lisa" in the bottom right corner.  Well, I finally figured it out while I was browsing Shu on E-bay last week:  artist Lisa Kohno was the first winner of the Shu Uemura Art Award (established by the company to discover up-and-coming artists and offer them a chance to share their work with the public by collaborating with Shu) and designed the Florescent line.  Why this wasn't made apparent at the U.S. Shu website is beyond me, since the whole point of the award is to get exposure for the artist - why not include that information for the U.S. market?

In any case, Ms. Kohno also designed beautiful bottles for cleansing oils.  One is the Advanced formula, available only at duty-free shops in Asia.  According to beauty-free.co.uk, the design "aims to express a fantasy dream world that she describes as 'a utopia in the sky', featuring butterflies and fairy flowers guiding travellers to a destination of wonders.  The imaginative motifs of flying hearts and butterfly flowers create a beautiful scene on the golden oil, which gives a happy energy to the bottle." It's so cute and would be such a great addition to the Museum's collection, but I haven't been able to get my hands on it.

The other is the green Premium oil - although this was created exclusively for Korean Airlines, several were available on E-bay so I have this beauty on its way to me.

Lisa kohno stock

Stay tuned for a post on this one.  :)

(images from moodiereport.com and ebay.com)