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March 2012

Curator's Corner, 3/31/2012

CC logoThis week's links. 

- I saw The Hunger Games today!  Loved it, but I thought I would since I devoured (haha) the books in less than a week.  I must say my enjoyment of the series was highly unprecedented - I don't usually read fiction, much less "young adult" fiction, but these captivated me.  Definitely get reading if you haven't already!

- Check out some examples of beautiful pre-Columbian art from the Bowers Museum over at The Curated Object.

- I'm so getting my hands on this peacock feathered palette (via Beauty Addict)

- How cool are these London-themed Paperself eye lashes?  Now that is an Olympic first.  (via Kiss and Makeup)

- But by far the most exciting beauty news of the week is MAC's upcoming collection to kick off summer, Hey Sailor.  I know a certain Museum Advisory Committee member who is extremely fascinated by it!


Sailor Babo likes the pretty sailor girl and will no doubt want one of the makeup bags to take with him for his voyages on the high seas.  :)

What was catching your fancy this week?

MM Musings, Vol. 2: acquisitions

Makeup Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum.  These posts help me think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning.  I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done!

Gosling.acquisitionsThe inspiration for today's installment of MM Musings was a wonderful post at Worn Through on how a fashion museum decides on acquiring pieces for the collection.  The author divides what gets acquired into three distinct categories:  "the spectacular, the unique and the historically significant."  The "spectacular" denotes high-end fashion and costumes - the showshopping pieces to which visitors will flock.  The "unique" pieces are rare and hard to come by and therefore worthy of being acquired.  Finally, the "historically significant" are those which represent an important historical moment or era.  I'm using these categories to discuss how I determine what makes it into the Museum.  How does the Curator choose what's worth acquiring and what's not?

For contemporary cosmetics, the basis for collecting is slightly different than the categories outlined (I'd say for vintage cosmetics those three categories may hold, but that's a MM Musing for another day).  The first category, "spectacular" does pertain in a way to today's collectible makeup.  These are the pieces that are widely considered to be "too pretty to use" or have amazingly designed outer packaging - items that even people who have zero interest in makeup could appreciate.  Examples of the spectacular in the Makeup Museum include Chantecaille's butterfly eyeshadows, Dior's Tailleur Bar palette, and Clé de Peau's Vintage Holiday highlighters.


As for unique, there are definitely some rare pieces.  Makeup is a mass-produced commodity, of course, but some limited-edition items that were made in very small quantities available to only a lucky few.  Museum examples are the Chanel Lumieres Bysances palette (of which only 1500 were made), Lisa Kohno for Shu Uemura Advanced Cleansing Oil (available only at select duty-free shops in Asian airports) and the Lancôme Bearbrick (available only as a gift-with-purchase in Asia, and to the first twenty people who bought something at the boutiques on a particular day).


But the last category of historically significant doesn't quite pertain to my collection.  I don't own any makeup that was once used by famous people, and it's too early to tell how valuable (or not) the makeup I'm collecting will be to future generations.  Will the items I collect now clearly represent the new millennium?   Will people look back at these and have a better understanding of the era?  We just don't know yet. 

So, in addition to the "spectacular" and "unique", what other criteria do I use to decide which items are Museum-worthy?  I'd say the decisions behind my acquisitions are very much art-based:  1.  was the piece designed by an artist collaborating with the cosmetics company?  Or 2.  does the item remind me of a particular work of art?  If I answer yes to either of these, chances are it's gained entry into the collection. 

Another standard I use is whether I can visualize the piece in a future exhibition.  Sometimes an item doesn't sweep me off my feet - it's unremarkable in its design and doesn't have any artistic meaning, and by itself appears somewhat drab.  However, I might purchase it if I think it would round out an exhibition.  It might not be the star of the show, but it's valuable in terms of helping to articulate a particular exhibition theme.  An example of this is Laura Mercier's Gilden Garden shimmer bloc.  It's the not the prettiest floral pattern on makeup that I've seen, but it definitely would be useful in a garden-themed exhibition (possibly coming next spring).


Finally, I admit I buy some things for the Museum just because they're cute.  Case in point:  all of the Stila girl palettes.  I fell in love with the illustrations over a decade ago, and I haven't really recovered.  I would dearly love to have an entire wing of a physical Makeup Museum devoted to them.


To summarize, to choose which items belong in the Museum, I use the first two categories outlined at Worn Through ("spectacular" and "unique"), along with two more:  what I call "artistic merit" and, for lack of a better term, cuteness. 

What do you think?  Are these sound ways to decide what's Makeup Museum-worthy?  What criteria would you use?

(first image from museumheygirl.tumblr.com)

Quick post: Givenchy Poudre Croisière

I came across this bronzer at Sephora over the weekend and was curious to know what the pattern was.  To my eye it looks like squares of crinkled silk.

(image from sephora.com)

Compare it to this silk fabric:

Crinkled silk
(image from ec21.com)

Unfortunately the product description doesn't say what the design is supposed to be.  However, I spotted the spring  "Capri" collection from new-to-me brand Collistar at BeautifulwithBrains a while back and couldn't help but notice the striking resemblance between their palettes and the Givenchy powder.

Collistar-Capri(image from collistar.com)

According to this source, the weave pattern on the Collistar palettes "aims to recall the hand-woven fabrics of Italian craftsmanship, in addition to the straw/wicker baskets that complete the Capri holiday look."  Interesting!   Given how similar these are to Givenchy's bronzer I think it's safe to conclude that the pattern on the latter also recalls fabric.  Both the Collistar and Givenchy palettes, therefore, would have been fitting for the Woven exhibition - too bad I didn't grab them before it went up!  (Although I don't think I can even buy Collistar in the States).

It's a mad, mad, mad world for Estée Lauder

So, was everyone excited for the season 5 premiere of Mad Men?  I have to admit that I don't watch the show, but I'm still intrigued by Estée Lauder's two-piece collection.  It includes a cream blush and lipstick, outfitted in pleated gold cases inspired by the company's original 1960s designs.  The outer boxes have a swirly, ultra-feminine floral motif in pale blue and gold.

EL.mad.men(images from esteelauder.com)

I wanted to see whether this collection had any relation design-wise to the company's vintage packaging to so I did a little research.  As these examples show, pleated gold did figure prominently in Estée Lauder compacts from the '60s.

El.vintage.examples(images from juliasbeadedjewelry on etsy.com and artfire.com)

It's okay that the Mad Men collection echoed Estée Lauder's chic '60s packaging, but I would have liked to see an exact replica of a real compact from their archives, rather than a new design that was vaguely inspired by older pieces.  Anyway, while it's lucrative to have product tie-ins to a hit show at any time, it's especially fitting that the company chose this season to introduce the collection.  Recent issues of Lucky, Vogue, and Elle magazines feature the retro trend that rocked the spring 2012 runways.




Elle did an especially long feature with this style (thanks to my H. for scanning all these!)





The gingham in this picture reminds me of MAC's Shop/Cook collection.


So Estée is right on trend. 

The thing that's sticking in the back of my head, though, is this article at The Gloss.  Writes Jamie Peck, "[T]his leaves me a bit ambivalent. On the one hand, I love the cat’s eyes, curvy figures, and red lips of 1960s style. On the other, I’m wary of mindless nostalgia for an era that was actually pretty terrible for women in a lot of ways, ways Mad Men examines with unflinching honesty. Much like the men who see Don Draper and go out and buy a Brooks Brothers suit in an effort to be like him (i.e, tortured and constantly lying?), I worry some women might be taking the utterly wrong message from the show if thinking about Mad Men gets them in a happy, makeup-buying mood and not a gutted, 'this shit’s not fair, why won’t they let Joan fulfill her intellectual potential?' mood.  Then again, it’s totally possible to appreciate an era’s aesthetic beauty while acknowledging that said beauty is tied to some very problematic history. I just wish that sentiment had been present anywhere in the press release."  Like Peck, I do think it's possible to enjoy the '60s look (and packaging design, of course) while remembering that that time period wasn't exactly enlightened in terms of how women were perceived.  I mean, that's kind of my point in getting  into collecting vintage compacts - while the objects are beautiful in and of themselves, they act as an historical reminder that women didn't always have the rights they have now.  

But I think the thing that really prevented me from buying the collection, however, was that these were vintage-inspired from actual Estée Lauder designs.  Don't get me wrong, I love retro-looking packaging.   As I noted earlier, however, I think the company could have dug through their archives a little more thoroughly - they could have taken an amazing design from the '60s and recreated it.  

What do you think?  And do you watch Mad Men?  Am I missing out?

Curator's Corner: Happy spring!

CC logoWoohoo, it's officially spring!  Although I'm still not ready for the warmer weather we've been having, I'm happy the season is here.  This week's links:

- I always thought the Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr was pretty funny, but this museum-inspired one is hilarious as well.

- We have some great news on the beauty front.  First, Fresh has a new coral tinted lip balm out.  When I wrote a review on the first one to be introduced (Plum), I said that I hoped Fresh would come out with more of them, especially in a peach or coral shade.  After releasing Plum, Rose, Honey and Passion tinted balms, they now have a coral one.  I will be buying it ASAP.

- Next, it looks like Sephora may be carrying Tokyo Milk (one of the Curator's favorite bath and body lines - their items may end up in the Museum's collection despite not technically being makeup).  I was browsing Sephora online and Tokyo Milk is in the brand list.  No products showed up, but it's interesting to see the brand name on the site.

- Finally, it's still fairly early in the year but this is bound to be some of the most exciting news of 2012 - NARS will be rolling out an Andy Warhol-themed collection in October!  Apparently it will “evoke the cool, image-rich, character-laden world of Warhol” and have “innovative packaging, formulas and shades.”  Can't. Wait.

- I'll leave you with this bizarre but springy image from 1573, courtesy of WTF Art History


Vera Neumann for MAC

MAC-Vera-Neumann-promo(image from a MAC email)

In keeping with the optimistic spirit that pervades the first week of spring, I present to you the Vera Neumann collection for MAC.  "Brilliant butterflies, flashy florals and gorgeously geometric graphics…A colourful collaboration between M·A·C and the artist known worldwide as Vera, who merged fine arts with linens, murals, textiles and silk scarves in her punchy, painted patterns. Now in shades plucked straight from her most lavish prints, M·A·C Vera embraces the luxe, lighter-than-air spirit that delivers the kind of startling, look-at-me statement that defines what it means to be an instant classic."  The colors are definitely Vera-inspired, but what interested me the most were the Pearlmatte Face Powders, which feature the artist's signature ladybug perched on what appears to be the edge of one of her wildly popular scarves.  I picked up Sunday Afternoon:




With flash:


Despite being a pretty big design/art enthusiast, I have to admit I wasn't familiar with Vera Neumann's work.  An artist turned textile designer, Vera's somewhat kitschy, colorful prints were household staples from the 1950s through the '70s.1  (I imagine she was sort of like the Orla Kiely of her time.)

From what I gathered she was best known for scarves:

Vera.neumann.scarves(images from artfire.com, cherryrivers.blogspot.com, and curiouscrowvintage on Etsy)

And a wide range of kitchenwares:

Vera.kitchen(images from yorkshiregalhomeshop, hotcoolvintage [both on Etsy], thevintagetraveler.wordpress.com, and thamesandbrass on Etsy)

Note:  These aren't necessarily the best images that came up, but I was determined to show authentic, vintage work by Vera rather than the ubiquitous reproductions found nowadays!  Anyway, I think my favorite works by her are these cheerful sun prints she created for the 1964 World's Fair.

VeraSuns(image from ellenbloom.blogspot.com)

Getting back to the MAC palette, I thought I'd include some examples of the ladybug that accompanied her signature. 

Vera.ladybugs(images from sixballoons.blogspot.com, retrorenovation.com, vintagedetail.blogspot.com, smilesgowitheverything.com)

"A ladybug means good luck in every language," she explained about  her signature motif.  While I think it's great that MAC worked it into some of their collection's pieces, I think they could have done more for the outer packaging given the enormous wealth of prints and patterns to draw from.  Maybe they just couldn't get the licensing to use her prints on the packaging, but I'm doubtful given how many companies have churned out Vera collections.  In any case, this powder is quite charming and will make a nice piece for a spring exhibition. 

What do you think, both of Vera's work and the MAC collection?

1For a great summary of her work and life, check out this post.  And if you're really into Vera, buy this book.

And the spring 2012 color trend is...

Neon!   (And neutrals).  Okay, so neither of those are specific colors, but the combination is definitely everywhere this season.   The idea is to use a pop of neon on lids or lips and keep the rest of the face simple and natural-looking (so you don't look like a circus performer).  Of course, if you're too timid to use neon on your face, you can always look to nail polish for a little jolt.

Spring 2012

Clockwise, from top left:  MAC Mineral Skinfinishes and blushes from the Naturally collection; Pantone + Sephora Tangerine Tango lip glosses; lipsticks from MAC's collection with Iris Apfel; Bobbi Brown lip glosses from the Neons and Nudes collection; China Glaze Sunshine Pop from the Electropop collection; neon and nude nails (via The Hairpin); a model at Richard Chai's spring 2012 show (via Lucky Magazine).

I also found some great examples of the trend in Vogue's February issue. 




Here are just the heads so you can really focus on the makeup:

I'm really liking this trend - bold and bright, but wearable (definitely on weekends, at least), since the neon is balanced by an otherwise neutral face.  I for one am itching for a fuchsia lipstick and some of Sephora's Tangerine Tango polishes and lip glosses.  I might also try a crazy blue eyeshadow too. 

What say you?  Will you be partaking in neons and neutrals?

Oh, and happy spring!  (Silly me, I thought it was tomorrow!)

Couture Monday: Have a garden party with Dior

I bought Dior's spring 2012 palettes back in January, but wanted to wait till it was closer to spring to post about them.  As it's officially spring in 2 days, today's installment of Couture Monday is dedicated to Dior's Garden Party collection.

From the press release:  "'After women, flowers are the most heavenly creation.' — Christian Dior 
Christian Dior grew up in Granville, on the cliffs of Normandy, in a house buffeted by strong winds, and seemingly unsuited to the creation of a garden. However, the young man’s creative strength and relentless hard work defied nature, and today one can still admire the garden in bloom and in particular, the fantastic rose garden planted with his own hands.  Christian Dior also loved the excitement of parties, and often hosted the aptly named 'Grand Balls of the Century' with enchanted beauties from the Normandy coast and Paris alike. The theme of the festive garden is still alive today throughout many Dior creations. The Dior spring color collection is inspired by Dior’s fantastic garden."

Fantastic it is!  Before we get to pictures of the gardens, however, let's take a look at the eye shadow quints and combination palettes.  The embossed roses are pretty on their own, but the lace pattern woven around them is a nod to the designer's couture flower gowns and elevates these palettes to museum status. 

Garden Pastels:





With flash:


Garden Pinks:




With flash:



Here are the combination palettes, housed in a glossy white case with a basket-weave pattern.  Milly Garden Clutch:


I adore the little metal rose clasp:




With flash:



Granville Clutch:




With flash:



According to the Dior website, "Ever since the emblematic 'Corolle' line in 1947, flowers have been a favourite  theme in Dior Couture creations, running through the choice of colours,  prints and silhouettes."  Since I don't associate Dior with florals I decided to take a peek through some of the past and present collections to see if flowers were prominent.  Were they ever!  Feast your eyes on some vintage Dior flower dresses.

(image from iheartweddingdress.blogspot.com)

I love the cascading petal effect from these 1949 beauties.

(image from achicdirection.com)

"Nuit d'aout" (August Night), spring 1954:


"May", 1953:


"Chambord", 1954:

(images from styleiseternal.net)

Fast forward to the present day. Some 60 years later Dior is still working florals into the collection.  Spring 2009:



Spring 2012 Couture:


But my favorite of all the Dior flower/garden-inspired designs came from the spring 2010 couture show. 



Pansy.dress(images from style.com and dailymail.co.uk)

I'm not sure why I didn't think Dior did florals...I was definitely misguided! 

Now  let's look at the gorgeous Dior gardens in Normandy.  You can read more about the history here

Dior Granville Garden in Normandy:


(images from musee-dior-granville.com)

Granville sign


Granville.garden3(images from jardinsclariere.blogspot.com)

After seeing these pictures and the palettes, I think Dior's beauty department did a great job embodying the spirit of the designer's childhood home as well as his style.  Pretty but not precious, the flowers in both the brand's couture gowns and the Garden Party palettes show Dior's unique take on florals. 

What do you think?  Are these palettes just run-of-the-mill rose designs or something better?

Curator's Corner, 3/17/2012

CC logoThe good for this week:  it was daylight savings time which means the days are getting longer, and it's been unseasonably warm here.  The bad:  I'm always more tired than usual on account of daylight savings, and I'm totally unprepared for the warmer temps we had! I have to dig out some spring clothes from my closet.  Nevertheless I'm happy to see spring has sprung a full week early.  Anyway, here are this week's links.

  - Hilarious Tumblr for the art historian. 

- This print is great, not just because of the typography but because it happens to be one of my favorite Belle & Sebastian songs.

- May is shaping up to be a good month for new music releases.  Last week we found out Beach House will release their 4th album, and this week Gossip announced their new album

- Finally, I was astonished to learn there is a Lipstick Museum in Berlin.  I want to go!!

Lipstick.museum.berlin(image from lippenstiftmuseum.de)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday Fun: yet another MM staff member

Heeee!  I bought the mini version of this fella a while ago but I was still looking for the rarer, full-size version.  Lo and behold he popped up on Ebay so I adopted him right away. 


We had lots of cookies to welcome him, fortunately.  Usually we try not to keep so many in the house despite the Babos' cookie obsession, but this week we had a lot.



I think he'll be very happy here!  Oh, and in honor of his homecoming my husband made this for him (inspired by the Oreo cookie cameos I posted about last week):


Needless to say, Oreo cookie babo didn't last too long.

As for Ice Lodge Babo, I haven't decided what his role will be at the Museum but I'll think of something soon.  :)