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April 2012

Curator's Corner, 4/28/2012

CC logoWhat a week.  Way too much rain for me!  I hope May is much more sunny.  Here are this week's links.

- Digging this ink blot manicure

- Via Beauty and What It Means, here's an interesting article on beauty packaging. 

- I liked this shout-out to Stila's eye shadow packaging at The Dieline.

- Good post on whether loving makeup makes one a bad feminist.

- Today I tried my hand at rose macarons.  Not anywhere near Laduree quality, but not bad for my first try either!


What were you up to this week?

Clarins' spin on pinwheels

Clarins' summer collection is already out, but my mind is still on spring and their Colour Breeze Face Palette, which features three different-sized stemless pinwheels against a beige background.

(image from nordstrom.com)

When I first saw the palette I wasn't so surprised by the motif - the pinwheel has recently been gaining popularity in various forms, especially wedding accoutrements. 

Pinwheel.wedding.collage(Cake from Polka Dot Bride, "bouquets" from F*ckyeaweddingideas, ceremony decor from As You Wish, escort cards from Oh Happy Day, centerpiece from Hostess with the Mostess, notecards from Duet Letterpress)

The pinwheel began as a simple children's toy, while the wheels themselves morphed into a popular geometric pattern used for quilts starting around 1795.  Over the years the pinwheel made its way into "high" art, as evidenced by Alexander Calder as well as contemporary artists.  But I think my favorite pinwheel-based art is this installation at Los Angeles' 2007 Swerve Festival (for my fellow Balti-morons, the description of this festival sounds a lot like our Artscape).

(image from laist.com)

And pinwheels aren't only used in design and art.  In looking up images for this post I found that pinwheels are utilized as the symbol for a variety of charitable causes.  Some examples:

Pinwheels for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - these are made from license plates...

(image from findingtampa.wordpress.com)

..."whirrled peace", like this example from Rowan University in New Jersey...

(image from williamwolfe.org)

...and for the prevention of child abuse, demonstrated here at Penn State University:

(image from live.psu.edu)

Looking at all these makes me think it would have been nice for Clarins to work with one of these organizations and donated a portion of their profits to them, but in all likelihood they may not have realized just how many organizations use the pinwheel motif as a force for positive social change (I certainly had no idea!)  Still, it's a cute palette and I might still pick it up as it will be good for future spring exhibitions.

What do you think of the Clarins palette and pinwheels more generally as a design element?

Predecessors to modern day cosmetics

I was browsing the Metropolitan Museum of Art's ancient cosmetic collection and I couldn't help but notice how similar the design of some of the pieces were to today's makeup.  Sure, the ingredients have vastly improved and technology has advanced, but the basic design for some objects remains the same.  I thought I'd share a few examples. 

1. Swivel containers

Overall I prefer makeup in more traditional compacts that open bottom to top, but swivel palettes add a luxurious touch.  Who knew they may have been rooted in ancient Egpytian cosmetic containers?  The top row in this picture contains pivoting containers from roughly 1500-300  B.C. The blue one (middle)  is in the shape of a column capital and has several compartments, while the one on the right is made of ivory and was most likely used to store powder or blush.  (You can read more about the last two here and here).  The bottom row shows what I think are some contemporary counterparts:  Dior Cristal Boreal lip gloss pendant from 2009, Le Métier de Beauté Kaleidoscope eye shadows, and Hourglass Cosmetics Illume Creme-To-Powder Bronzer Duo.

Swivel.cosmetics(top row images from metmuseum.org, bottom row images from newjuless.blogspot.com, nordstrom.com and sephora.com)

2.  Cosmetic boxes with drawers

I always thought palettes with sliding drawers were pretty cool - they're like jewelry boxes but with makeup.  These boxes in the top row of the picture below (all Egyptian) are made of wood and have compartments for storing various cosmetics.  The middle one is from the tomb of an artist and dates from 1279-1213 B.C., while the more elaborate one on the right dates from 1814–1805 B.C. and was found with a mirror and 4 ointment jars.  Today, we have Lorac's Private Affair palette, Urban Decay's Book of Shadows, and Bobbi Brown's Holiday 2011 palette, all of which feature drawers reminiscent of their ancestors. 

Cosmetic.boxes.palettes(top row images from metmuseum.org, bottom row images from sephora.com, ragingrouge.com and bobbibrowncosmetics.com)

3. Makeup bags

The Met also has an ancient leather pouch meant to store cosmetic implements.  While most makeup bags today are rarely made of leather, (companies tend to opt for nylon or plastic), some brands employ faux leather to give a more luxe feel.  Case in point:  Bobbi Brown's Chrome brush kit from 2009.

Leatherpouch.ca.1550-1295bc(images from metmuseum.org and amazon.com)

I find it so interesting that certain design principles for cosmetic tools from thousands of years ago still exist today, albeit in more technologically advanced ways. 

Which item from the Met shown here is your favorite?

Couture Monday: let it snow with Dior

I know it's odd to be posting a wintry palette such as this at the end of April, but Dior's Asia-exclusive Icy Halo collection came out a little over a month ago, and I simply couldn't wait till next winter to share the stand-out from the collection:  the Voile de Neige Light Amplifying Face Powder.

The outer case is a beautiful pearly white that seems much more expensive than white plastic normally is. 


Inside, white shimmering snowflakes gently drift against a background of pale pink stripes with the Dior name in the lower right corner.






With flash:


According to the Dior website, the palette was designed by Dior makeup artist Yasuhior Tokunaga especially for Asian skintones.  "Like the sky reflected in snow...A hazy, barely blue sky, ice crystals that toy with the light... Dior draws inspiration from the beauty of winter to create Diorsnow Icy Halos.  Inspired by the purity of snow crystals, Diorsnow Voile de Neige is applied as a final touch of beauty whose transparency reveals the skin's radiance. The 4 Voile de Neige shades were specially designed for Asian skin.  Once blended, the four delicate shades give the face beauty and synergy. The radiant pink gives the complexion a healthy rosy glow. The pale pink neutralises the yellow of the skin tone, giving it greater freshness. The soft beige swathes the skin in a lightly golden halo. Finally, the pearly pink catches the light in incredible fashion. The four shades are rich in new-generation shimmers that reflect almost 100% of the light, just like snow. "

I wonder how the concept is different from the Lumières de Neige palette that was released in 2009:

(image from weloveshopping.com)

I like the idea of "ice crystals toying with the light" and the snow's luminous reflections.  If I wasn't collecting this palette I'd use it for an ethereal glow.  I also would like to be wearing it should I ever  experience an installation like this.  Designer Tokujin Yoshioka created an otherwordly installation for design chain Kartell's flagship store in Milan to go with his "Invisibles" collection - furniture made of sturdy clear acrylic that will leave the sitter feeling as though they are floating in mid-air.



(images from architecturephoto.net and cubeme.com)

Says the artist for the Snowflake installation:  "I will create a serene world with numerous transparent prism sticks in plastic. The accumulation of transparent sticks is tinged with white color just like real snow. I believe that the installation will offer visitors extraordinary experiences as if stepping into the snowflake."  This guy has great ideas - chairs that make you feel weightless and installations that mimic being nestled within a pristine snowflake?  Both sound fantastic. 

Getting back to the Dior palette, I think I prefer their other limited-edition palettes that reflect the history of the couture house (Mitzah, Tailleur Bar, etc.), plus I feel as though the design could have been a little more inventive.  The snowflakes are all the same shape, but no two snowflakes are exactly alike, correct?  They could have made them all a little different.  Still, this is rather pretty and will make an excellent addition to winter exhibitions.  If only I could get my hands on the 2009 version!

Curator's Corner: First race edition

This post is a little late because I just got back into town yesterday, but this week's installment of Curator's Corner is devoted to my first race, which I ran 2 days ago.  :)

My running history:  I've been running for nearly 12 years now but it never occurred to me to actually run a race, or even outdoors - I was strictly a treadmill runner who only ran about 10-12 miles a week.  I don't know what happened but about 2 years ago I decided I wanted to try running outside and maybe even enter a few races.  A few months after that I decided I was going to start training for the 2011 Baltimore marathon, and of course, developed a horrible injury a few days later that kept me sidelined from running at all for most of 2011.  Last fall I was finally able to start running a little again so I hope to run the 2012 marathon.  But before I start training for that I wanted to see if I even liked running races, so I thought a shorter race would be good practice.

Anyway, this particular race was 10 miles, and my distance runs are about 10.5 so I knew I could do it.  I was just hoping to go a tiny bit faster than my usual turtle-like pace (what I do is not technically running, I suppose - I'm more of a very slooooow jogger.  I think my body is meant for distance, not speed.)

So here I am at right before lining up to start.  Of course I managed to blink just as my husband took the picture.  I'm wearing all Lululemon except for shoes and socks - I should get free stuff from Lulu for all the advertising I did. 


Here I am during...I know it looks like I'm walking but I can assure you I wasn't!  Like I said, I just run super slow.


Here's the awesome sign my husband made, featuring Museum Advisory Committee members Jeero and Babo's bird.  Our Jeero is a kind of he-man - very macho, a real meat-and-potatoes "guy's guy" who loves working out (especially lifting weights), so he was the natural choice to cheer me on.   "GRRR, RUN!" He does have a soft spot for Babo's bird, however.  "Pretty bird, pretty bird".



And here's an extremely sweaty Curator with her medal! 


I didn't finish any faster than I normally do during my training runs, which was disappointing, but oh well.  There was a VERY steep 0ne-mile hill starting at mile 8.5, which slowed me down even more, especially since I was starting to get fatigued by then.

So all in all, not bad for my first race.  I do want to get a little faster and get to a respectable pace, but I think for right now I will continue focusing on distance rather than speed. 

Do you run?  And if so, any tips/racing experiences you'd like to share?

Designer's dream: Pantone + Sephora

I have to admit, I was pretty excited when I saw this collaboration between Sephora and Pantone.  When I first met my husband over a decade ago, I remember being fascinated with the Pantone color guides he had in his home office.  I felt especially cool and design insider-y when he explained what they were and how they're used.  Basically, Pantone is a standardized color system used by designers to accurately calibrate their color usage.  "By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another."

Lately though, Pantone has been making its way into the non-designer's world.  The company introduced Pantone Universe, "a collection of lifestyle products based on fashion color trends for the consumer. The collection, consisting of tabletop, stationery items, travel gear, accessories and rainwear, combines timeless designs and modern materials with current trend colors."  Us regular folks can buy or drool over a range of Pantone items or just Pantone-inspired ephemera like these:

Pantone.products(Mugs from YumSugar, eggs from How About Orange ornaments from seletti.it, paint chip cookies by Kim Neill, folding chairs from The Holding Company, phone cases found at Design Boom)

Says the Pantone Universe website, "Color is essential to your life. The colors you love are deep and vital affirmations of who you are. Bringing those colors into your day and your environment is the ultimate form of self-expression."  This would make an excellent makeup philosophy, which is why Sephora was a perfect partner for this company.

I got the Tangerine Tango lip gloss set, which includes 4 glosses and a pretty fancy box.  I like the mix of matte and glossy finishes on the square swatches, along with the Tangerine Tango-lined interior.




What was really cool though was the mailer I received from Sephora about the collection.


It explains how to wear the colors from the Pantone collection with other colors and details several different looks using the Pantone system.  Here's look 2:



All in all, this was a lovely marriage of design and cosmetics.  I wish Sephora (or other makeup companies) would do a Pantone color of the year collection every year. 

Did you or will you be purchasing any Tangerine Tango items?  And did you know what the Pantone system was before the Sephora collection came out?

Lancôme La Roseraie

Lancôme's spring 2012 collection definitely has the most decadent-sounding copy ever. 

"The sheer joy of a blissful afternoon spent in a rose garden in full bloom. Voluptuous pleasure, freshness, spontaneity… the very essence of joie de vivre. Savouring nature’s beauty. Luxuriating in sun-dappled shade. Lounging, eyes skyward, on a delicate-as-lace filigree bench in the heart of the rose garden… The breeze is tinged with the irresistible scent of lightness. A remarkable garden punctuated with thousands of roses in the most delectable shades imaginable, an array of tempting treats: macaroons, éclairs, cupcakes, candies and seasonal fruits… Time to indulge in delicious delicacies. Suffused with all of the pleasures of a radiant afternoon, 'Roseraie Des Délices' marries sensual pleasure with joie de vivre, and coquettish allure with playful fantasy…

Shades infused with guilty pleasures 

Spring fruits, macaroons, barley sugars… A trio of delectable shades sets the tone for this collection: candy pink, tangerine and soft green exist in pastel or tangy incarnations, evoking a basket of sweet delights as well as a blossoming rose garden. As sheer as watercolours, radiantly capturing the light of spring… the 'Roseraie Des Délices' shades illuminate the face with infinite softness. Set against an enhanced complexion, lips are adorned with translucent pink, orange or fuchsia, inspired by the most vibrant flowers, whilst eyes are illuminated with subtle shades of pink or green. As for nails, the hues of choice are tangerine, powder pink and almond green, as if playfully dipping hands into candy."

Candy and cupcakes and pretty flowers - not only decadent but incredibly girly.  And Lancôme didn't hold back in creating a very feminine palette as the centerpiece for the collectionLa Roseraie ("bed of roses") higlighting blush features a large, lush rose with shimmering stripes bursting out of it, alternating between two hues of pale pink.




With flash:


According to the company's blog, "One of the places most cherished by Nelly, the wife of the Lancôme founder, was her rose garden, a unique hideaway created by Armand Petitjean. There, they would enjoy the mild days of spring surrounded by the blossoms of their favourite flower, which also became Lancôme’s emblem.So that's the inspiration for the palette.  I just wish Lancome would have included a picture of the garden at their website (I am unable to find one).

I think 2010's Coral Flirt palette, which was also a variation on Lancôme's famous rose, was more interesting than this but it's pretty nonetheless.  What say you?

Not So Nude palette from Stila

I spotted this palette at Ulta and since it's been a while since I've purchased any Stila girl palettes, I bought it.  A brunette girl wearing nothing but a short ruffly skirt (underwear?) poses against a blush pink background.



With flash:


What I liked most was the quote that was included.  Finally, Stila makes a return to attributed quotes AND uses one that's very apt for the particular palette.


British poet and printmaker William Blake (1757-1827) is one of the most well-known artists from the Romantic era.  Heavily influenced by the work of Raphael, Michelangelo and Dürer, the subject of most of his works were Biblical figures and Christian allegories (you might remember The Great Red Dragon played a big part in the movie Hannibal).  At the same time, his poems and other writings demonstrate his contempt for organized religion. 

The quote above is of the many scribblings on the edges of an etching Blake made of the famous Laocoön, "the Greek statue unearthed in Rome that inspired Michelangelo's heroic depiction of the naked body, inspiring in turn the rebirth of the nude in Western art."   You can see it in the upper right:

Blake.laocoon(image from blakearchive.org)

According to scholar Seymour Howard, Blake had conflicting views of nudity in his own work and in art in general.   Here's an excerpt from Howard's essay "William Blake:  The Antique, Nudity and Nakedness:  A Study in Idealism and Regression":

"The early Romantics equated the youthful and seemingly unselfconscious nudity of antiquity with health, innocence, purity, life-giving force, and unfettered freedom - in short, natural virtue...[but] for all of Blake's use of the nude and for his confessed admiration of its powers, he often avoided the depiction of total nakedness..."  The author concludes that there were 4 different approaches to the nude in Blake's art - he "presented nakedness with equanimity, evasiveness, exaggeration, or transformation".   Seems Stila is equally conflicted.  Releasing a palette with "nude" colors and including a nude-positive quote, but calling the palette Not So Nude and making sure the Stila girl is at least partially covered. 

On a stylistic note, I do wonder whether the rays on the front cover of the Stila palette drew their inspiration from Blake as well.  Some "ray-diant" examples (harhar):

The Angel of the Revelation, 1803-1805:

(image from metmuseum.org)

Jacob's Ladder, ca. 1800:

(image from keithpp.wordpress.com)

Annunciation to the Shepherds, 1809:

(image from flickriver.com)

God Blessing the Seventh Day, 1805:


I guess we'll never know for sure, but it's interesting to consider.  In any case, I enjoyed that Stila put a little more thought into the quote.

What do you think, both of the palette and of Blake's work? 

Service interruption

I am far behind with some posts I wanted to put up last week and over the weekend, but I have a good reason (for us beauty junkies, anyway) - I'm dealing with a beauty crisis of epic proportions.  EPIC!!  I have just discovered that a favorite fragrance of mine had been phased out of production a few years ago, so I have spent the past 48 hours on a literal worldwide search for even a few precious drops.  This perfume has proven to be exceedingly difficult to track down and the search has sapped my mental energy, as it's extremely upsetting that I might not be able to procure any more.  (Yes, I realize this isn't a true emergency.  Nevertheless it is disheartening.)

With makeup, if something gets discontinued I get a little bummed but I know something as good as, if not better than, the product I liked is right around the corner and will work for me.  Fragrance, however, is an entirely different animal.  The Curator's body chemistry is absolutely wonky and few perfumes actually work well on me, so when I find one that does, I cling to it for years and stock up if I know it's limited edition.  Had I known this particular beloved scent was discontinued I would have stockpiled several bottles years ago, but I really thought it was permanent and so only have a little left, which is quite distressing!

I know you all understand!  ;)  I'll be back as soon as I can resolve this one way or another.

MM Spring 2012 Exhibition

Spring 2012.poster3

Welcome to the Makeup Museum's 2012 spring exhibition! 

I couldn't choose between green and pink paper for the labels, so I ended up doing both.  Also, you may notice that Dior's Garden Party palettes are strangely absent, but I am saving those for a capsule exhibition that I will be posting shortly.  In the meantime, enjoy the main spring exhibition.  :)






Now for the details. 

Top row, left to right, starting with the MAC Liberty of London collection:




Stila "Look of the Month" palettes and Ephemeral shadow trio:




Lisa Kohno for Shu Uemura cleansing oil:



Highlights from the Paul & Joe "Meow" collection:




Second row, left to right, starting with Chanel 4 Fleurs de Chanel eye shadow quad:




Clarins Cotton Flower palette:



Pop Beauty Sunblossom Bronzer/Blush:


Highlights from the Nathalie Lété for Bourjois collection:




Third row, left to right, starting with Milani Illuminating Powders in Hermosa and Amber Nectar:


YSL Palette Pop.  In the 3 years that passed since I wrote the original post on it, an image of the original card the palette was based on finally came up in Google images.  Glad I decided to re-open the search for it.



Chantecaille Les Papillons eye shadows and makeup bag:



Lancôme La Roseraie palette:




Bottom row, left to right, starting with RMK's 15th Anniversary cheek palettes:



Guerlain Cherry Blossom palettes:




Vera Neumann for MAC:



Stila Spring 2006 lookbook and Sakura eye shadow trio:


Well, what do you think of this exhibition?  Tell me in the comments!