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August 2012

Friday Fun: Back to school with Hello Kitty

While I'm sad the summer is ending, I do love back-to-school shopping.  The Curator has always thought of herself as a scholar - the type who feels at home on a college campus and keeps her schedule in an academic calendar.  Whether or not I ever was a true scholar is up for debate.  But one thing's for sure:  there's nothing I love more than the school-inspired prints that crop up every fall, as they indulge my fantasy of being an egghead professor.  Thus I was pleased to see this Hello Kitty Head of the Class collection.  It features two palettes with a houndstooth print (as I was assembling the Woven exhibition, I wondered why no makeup companies had done houndstooth yet) and our girl Hello Kitty decked out in deliciously nerdy, thick-rimmed black glasses.



The collection also features two compact mirrors in an oh-so-scholarly argyle print.


(images from sephora.com)

I don't have anything else to add about this collection, except that I am on the fence as to whether to purchase it.  I can't tell whether adding these items to a fall exhibition would make me sad about the fact that I will never have a career in academia, or if they will make me happy by bringing back fond memories of school.  Sigh.

What say you?  Will you be buying any Head of the Class goodies?

Mamechiyo for Shu Uemura

This post is so long overdue, but I figured it would be fitting to put up one last summer collection before the season unofficially ends this Labor Day weekend.  Mamechiyo, a designer of modern kimonos, collaborated with Shu Uemura to create one of the most vibrant and impressive collections ever.  I don't think I've been this excited for one of Shu's artist collaborations since Moyoco Anno's Tokyo Kamon Girls.  According to the Shu website, this collection is about "expressing a cuteness—a world rich and dazzling and overflowing with flowers, inviting you to enjoy your ultra femininity; enjoy just being a girl.  Mamechiyo used flowers in different colors and from different seasons for a continuous bloom.  She hopes this conveys the strength and positive energy of life...mamechiyo's world is one that is free and infinite, depending on your creativity; your world will spread from the past to the present and into the future bringing a life full of dreams and the spirit of contemporary Tokyo to your universe."

Mamechiyo created four different designs for the cleansing oils and UV under-base mousse (foundation primers), each based on a specific flower.  I purchased all of the cleansing oils but didn't bother with the primers, as the designs were identical to the ones on the boxes used to house the cleansing oils.  The description of the themes:  "For this special-edition UV under base mousse and cleansing oil, Mamechiyo used four spring flowers cherished in Japan—Fuji, Sakura, Botan, and Ume. Matching each bloom to a women's beauty, a feeling of spring wraps itself around you with a sensitivity reminiscent of the poetic world of spring. mamechiyo invites you to journey between retro and contemporary worlds like butterflies. A new world where fun and color bring happiness and the sensibility of spring blooms, full of hope and a playful beauty."

At the Shu Uemura blog, the style for each flower was described in detail, along with quotes from Japanese poets and an illustration of a girl wearing a kimono with the same designs.

Mamechiyo-fuji"FUJI –藤 Willowy wisteria

Japanese wisteria, with its delicate light purple dainty and fragrant flowers, holds a special place in Japanese tradition. The long-living wisteria vine lends a meaning of endurance interpreted as modesty; Fuji is a willowy flower that holds its volume but sways in the wind; like a woman who loves to be flamboyant and has a supple mind. Adding the yellow gave it a pop feel, adding a new dimension to the message of this flower: 'intoxicating in love.' I aimed to express the beauty of the FUJI using the coquettish attractiveness of contemporary women.

'The moon will shine over the flowers in bloom just a little longer.' ~ Basho Matsuo, Japanese poet (1644-1694)"




This design and flower was used for the Advanced formula cleansing oil.





Plum Blossom was used for the Brightening formula cleansing oil. 

"UME –梅 Plum blossom

Ume is the flower of the plum tree, representing a fascinating beauty filled with elegance even in the severe coldness of winter. mamechiyo embellishes her design with the purple of the Japanese traditional arrow pattern used in the kimono worn by the younger generations, to emphasize the Japanese unique traditions from a new point of view, expressing a cool stylishness and unique character fusing with cool impression of purple color. Tradition meets cool in this borderless world with a unique character and sensibility.

'The fragrant plum blossom beckons winter to return, bringing chilly days.” Basho Matsuo, Japanese poet (1644-1694)'

'Using the arrow pattern together with the cold color of purple, a colorful characters is brought out.' - mamechiyo




Up next, peony was for the Premium cleansing oil (for some reason this was an Asia-exclusive item, but E-bay saved the day).

Mamechiyo-botan"BOTAN –牡丹 Peony

Beautiful and elegant in every scene and position, the peony is a strong metaphor for women's natural beauty. Meaning magnificence, and noble, this flower has gorgeous petals layered in richness and beauty. Befit for a king, they speak of magnificence and nobility. Having inner fortitude and dignity, they are also full of flexibility and the rich sensitivity of women. After the full blooms of spring, Botan celebrate the energy of the fresh, young shoots of summer, in a natural green that's not full of emotion, but remains fresh and neutral. Here mamechiyo gives a contemporary edge to that vision.  

'Standing, she is a peony. Sitting, a tree peony. Walking, a lily.' ~ anonymous

'To have a strong core,but to have rich sensitivity and flexibility of mind. The color of green in kimono language is neutral. Not movement nor stillness, not feminine not masculine … just like the young fresh leaves after the spring flowers blooms.' - mamechiyo"





Finally, we have the delicate pink of the cherry blossoms, used for the Fresh formula cleansing oil.

"SAKURA –桜 Cherry blossoms

Sakura that represents the ultimate image of Japan, small delicate blooms hold the essence of beauty-swaying in the wind, falling, softly covering the ground in prettiness. Just like gently catching the butterfly's wing, inviting you to the dream world. Meaning "purity" and "elegance" mamechiyo adds a gentle smile, and mixes in stripes for a more contemporary vision of sakura. 'butterfly in my hand – as if it were a spirit. unearthly, unsubstantial' ~ Buson Yosa, Japanese poet (1716-1783)

'like gently catching a butterfly that had been perched on a flower. You are transported into a fuzzy dream world.' - mamechiyo"

I don't know about you, but I love the idea of being in a fuzzy dream world!




I also couldn't resist this gorgeous and cheerful foundation case:


So what inspired Mamechiyo to create kimonos for the modern, Western-influenced woman?  In an interview with Trust Your Style, she says,  "After World War II, the Japanese began to Westernize, and the idea that 'Japanese traditions equal old-fashioned things' became strong. Everyone started mainly wearing Western clothing, and people who wore the kimono as casual wear became scarce. The kimono became formal wear unrelated to expensive new fashions. With the rise of Western clothes, over 50 years of the culture of the 'everyday kimono,' which made both Japanese fashion and landscape so vivid, came to an end...When I was in my teens, after being born into and growing up in this 'Westernized' Japan, I was into London punk fashion on the one hand, but I also enjoyed the fashions of cheap antique kimonos at the same time... it was really fun to take these antique kimonos and coordinate them using a modern sensibility, but it was frustrating that there weren't more kimonos that could blend into the 'cyber scenery' of modern Japan. One day, I realized, 'if these kinds of kimonos aren't out there, then why not make my own?' and I began creating designs for new kimonos that would suit me as someone who grew up in a culture of Western clothing."  She adds that her demographic consists mainly of 20- and 30-somethings who have never worn kimonos, but there are a few older women who are nostalgic for the days when kimono-wearing was common.  As for the style and feel of her kimonos, she insists that "there are no boundaries between old and new eras, but rather boundaries of taste...it's the same reason that there are no boundaries between East and West--if there is taste, the two sides can fuse together."  And the bright colors?  "A kimono can seem very colorful, but in the past, if it was worn in a garden, then it would melt into the scenery. They are all based on colors found in nature."

Much of Mamechiyo's work is a lively melange of seemingly disparate patterns, flowers and butterflies.  Stripes, checkers, dots and arrows figure prominently and were, appropriately enough, used in the boxes for the cleansing oils.




She does branch out on occasion, eschewing the explosion of flowers and butterflies for black lace or a swirly water-like pattern.



And she even works in some animals.  I was immediately drawn to the koi pattern in the kimono on the left, thinking that the black one on the right was too somber, but then I noticed the cats at the bottom of it.

(images from mamechiyo.jp)

The events surrounding the Shu launch were just as elaborate as the collection itself.  The main press event took place on January 11, with Mamechiyo's patterns spanning the entire floor and ceiling of the space.


Four models showed off Mamechiyo's kimonos, each one, of course, representing the four flowers.





(images from Shu Uemura PES press presentation on flickr)

What's not clear is whether these kimonos were especially created for the event or even the collection, given that two of the four had made an appearance at Mamechiyo's blog in 2011.  Unfortunately, Google translate didn't seem to work so I couldn't read the entries on them - it's not certain whether she made the kimonos based on her designs for the collection and then used them for the press event or if they were existing patterns that she then used for the collection.  Anyway, more of her work was modeled at another press event with makeup demonstrations, and there was even a contest in Indonesia where participants submitted their own kimono designs based on the four flower themes.  The winning designs were displayed in the windows of the Shu boutique and modeled at a fashion show hosted by the Raffles Design Institute.

Mamechiyo was no stranger to working with Shu.  In 2007 she constructed an amazing butterfly pattern to adorn the ceiling of the now closed Shu boutique in Boston.  She explains, "I perceived of the boutique's ceiling as a canvas, and produced a work that was a fusion of my world and the world of cosmetics.  Using kimono designs and a fan-based layout, I made a display of three-dimensional butterflies that 'fly' around the ceiling. It was meant to express the metamorphosis that each young woman undergoes in her lifetime."

(image from trustyourstyle.com)

Overall, I think this is easily one of the best collections of the year.  I admire Mamechiyo's creativity with patterns, the imagination she showed in each of the four floral themes for the Shu collection, and most of all, her persistance in pursuing her dream of making kimonos more accessible for the 21st-century woman.  Kimono design1 is not something you hear about all the time, at least not in the West, and the idea to try to make it more modern is pretty unique. 

What do you think?  And which design of the four is your favorite?  If I had to choose, I'd say the Fuji is my favorite...but I love them all.

1 Can't get enough kimonos?  Check out Mamechiyo's book here, and if you're in the San Diego area, get thee to the San Diego Museum of Art's show,  Dyeing Elegance:  Asian Modernism and the Art of Kūboku and Hisako Takaku, an exhibit featuring the work of a 20th-century father-daughter team of kimono designers.  For more on the modernization of Japan/East meets West themes as represented in the decorative arts, have a gander at Art Info's slideshow highlighting pieces from the Japan Society's exhibition "Deco Japan:  Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945".  I'm guessing it would be a fascinating precursor to the post-WWII modernization Mamechiyo describes.

An illustrious collection for fall: MAC Illustrated

For one of their many limited edition collections for fall 2012, MAC collaborated with three distinct illustrators:  Julie Verhoeven, Nikki Farquharson and François Therboud.  The collection consists mostly of makeup bags, but some palettes were released for Nordstrom's anniversary sale back in July. 

We'll start with Verhoeven.  I picked up the Smokey Eye Kit from the Nordstrom anniversary sale, as Verhoeven was the only illustrator of the three in this collection to have palettes with her work on the it (Farquarson's and Therboud's designs appeared only on makeup bags).


The outer case for the palette is made of a canvas-like material, the same that is used for the collection's makeup bags.


Inside, in case you're curious:


There is also this design, which appeared on the Petite makeup bag.  Alas, I have to watch the Museum's budget (the upcoming NARS Andy Warhol collection is much larger than I thought!) so I did not purchase this.

(image from chicprofile.com)

UK artist Julie Verhoeven began her career in fashion illustration and gradually moved into graphic design.  She still switches back and forth between the two spheres, providing illustrations of "girls who swing between sweetheart pretty-pretty and angst-ridden and desperate" for articles in magazines such as Dazed and Confused:


And lending her work to fashion houses such as Mulberry (2007) and Versace (2009):




She also put of a few of her signature girls on a limited-edition lip gloss set for Lancome in 2007:


What's most interesting to me about her work is the stylistic shift her depictions of women have undergone.  Illustrations from 2006/2007 are softer and more feminine than her most recent work, which has taken a turn towards stronger lines and have a more abstract feel.  In a 2012 interview, she says,  "My drawings are less pretty and fey now.  More visceral and crude, but fragile and steely in a way.  Just a mush of contradictions."  Compare, for example, this illustration from 2006 with one from 2011:


Force a Smile, Flaunt Magazine, 2011:


It is this more recent style that most resembles the faces seen in the MAC collaboration, as seen in the Winter 2012 issue of Plastic Dreams magazine.



(images from clmuk.com)

The thick outlines of the eyes and broad swaths of color are similar to the ones on the palette, while the exaggerated lower eye lashes can be seen on the Petite makeup bag.  I actually prefer this later style, as it appears more forceful and intense than the delicate strokes of Verhoeven's earlier work.

Up next is British illustrator Nikki Farquharson, whose illustration appeared on two makeup bags for MAC (the same pattern for both bags, so I got the smaller one).



According to her bio, "her goal is to combine her love of creating work with time and care on paper with her affection for abstract shapes, colourful patterns and assorted details. Mixed-media artwork is fast becoming the predominant feature in her portfolio - a serendipitous style which she intends to continue and develop."   While I do enjoy the patterns she created for MAC, I'm most struck by the work that uses found images in conjunction with her illustrations. 


Perhaps the best examples of this type of collage are found in the work she's done for magazines and fashion shoots, where the model is placed against one of the very colorful patterns or actually becomes part of the illustration.

Here's one for Polish fashion brand Paradecka, 2009:


And New York-based Missbehave Magazine, also from 2009:


(all images from nikkifarqharson.com)

If her work looks familiar to Benefit fans, it's because she designed the patterns for the brand's Maggie and Annie collection palettes from 2010.  I knew the illustrations had to have been done by an outside artist!  Why Benefit chose not to disclose that they used Farquharson is beyond me.  Especially since there is a great deal of work involved - each one of her patterns is drawn meticulously by hand.  Anyway, I would have liked to see some of her mixed-media style in the MAC collection bags, but I'm not sure how well it would have translated to nubby canvas. 

Finally, we have Swiss illustrator François Berthoud.


Neat little multi-colored squares on the inside of the box:


The bag itself.  Something I didn't notice at first glance was that the colors are ever so slightly different on each side.



There was also this Petite bag (I got the bigger one because it had more color combinations):

(image from chicprofile.com)

Here's Berthoud's work in a nutshell:   "Trained at the School for Graphic Design in Lausanne, Berthoud crafted a signature style that uniquely marries new digital techniques with traditional analog methods. The artist’s expressive, aesthetically appealing linocuts, illustrations, and computer graphics complement exquisitely with one another...He says, 'Eroticism is a constant theme, also in advertising. But in comparison to photography, illustrations can offer more room for imagination and interpretation.'"

Let's take a peek at some of his other work. 

The Hen Who Wanted to Be a Rooster, 2009 (for Roger Vivier):


Tiffany ad, 2003:


Panties, (for Dior) 2004:


Like Verhoeven and Farquharson, Berthoud did illustrations for beauty products in addition to fashion. 

Le Vernis Mirobolant, 1999:


Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb fragrance, 2008:


And here a couple more, just because I like them.  :)


(all images from francoisberthoud.com)

I love that his work is based on photographs but the end result isn't quite photographic.  You can tell that these images are made by hand (using the aforementioned linocut technique) but that they also aren't real photos.

Overall, I thought this was a good collection.  I think Berthoud's work lent itself best to the canvas material.  I felt as though Verhoeven's bold paint strokes became somewhat diluted and Farquharson's precise lines, not as crisp.  While the canvas did prove a bit challenging for an accurate representation of these artists' works, I did appreciate that the outer packaging mimicked it.  My husband was enamored of the thick, textured paper used in the boxes for the bags.


So what do you think?  And which of these three artists is your fave? 

Curator's Corner, 8/19/2012

CC logoThis week's links (a little late because I was out of town).  By the way, did you like the first installment of the Museum's new Color Connections series? 

- Refinery29 presents the most interesting jobs in the beauty industry.

- Eyebrow implants?  No thanks.

- Here's a piece on oversharing on the internet at The Awl. 

- Baltimore Fishbowl provided scenes from the Maryland Cat Show.  I didn't even know such a thing existed. 

- I greatly enjoyed this "people I'd like to punch in the face" card.  Would definitely come in handy!

- I was pleased to see this slideshow devoted to palettes at Art Info, but I think they could have added information for each piece.  All of these are either pieces I already own or will own soon.

- Finally, I was up in NYC for a wedding this weekend.  It was lovely, but I don't think we had nearly as good a time as Sailor Babo, whom we took to first outpost of Ladurée in the States.  A full post on his adventure will be forthcoming over at Postcards from Sailor Babo.


I have a crazy busy week coming up and since I was away I had no time to prepare posts in advance, so I will be taking this week off from blogging.  But I will be back next week with some fall goodies so check back then.  :)

Egon Schiele Cosmetics

Egon-schiele-makeupDid you know there's an entire line of cosmetics based on the work of Austrian artist Egon Schiele?  Neither did I until a few months ago, when one of the company's representatives emailed me (full disclosure:  I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for posting about this line).  Sadly, the packaging is fairly non-descript.  If the company is able to use Schiele's name I'm not sure why they wouldn't put his images on the packaging. 

Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was an Expessionist artist best known for his highly sexualized, grotesque figurative images, mostly of women but many self-portraits as well.  By his untimely death at the age of 28, he had produced over 3,000 works on paper and 300 paintings. Let's take a look at some and try to figure out what it is about them that inspired a whole cosmetics brand.

Reclining Woman with Blond Hair, 1912:


Woman in Black Stockings, 1913:

(images from wikipaintings.org)

Seated Nude, 1914:

(image from egonschiele.tumblr.com)

The Egon Schiele cosmetics website refers to these women as "sensuous beauties", whereas I find their frank depictions to be more blatantly sexual rather than sensuous.  From a color standpoint, the decision to make Schiele the inspiration is...unusual.  Schiele is not known for his use of color, or at least bright, pigmented color.  The website maintains that "the colors have been carefully chosen and developed to perfectly compliment the lustrous hues of Schiele's paintings and drawings."  I haven't seen Schiele's work in person so the colors may in fact be "lustrous", but online they look washed out and diluted - even strong shades like red:

Standing Woman in Red, 1913:


Here are a couple more of his more colorful works, which still aren't as vibrant as those of most other Expressionists.

Portrait of Edith Schiele, 1915:


Seated Woman with Bent Knee (Artist's Wife), 1917:

(images from egonschiele.tumblr.com)

There's nothing wrong with muted makeup, of course, but somehow I don't think that's what the line was aiming for.  And while the website shows color swatches of their products next to some of Schiele's drawings, they don't correspond exactly; it seems like they took random works and put them next to the swatches, and then gave them a vaguely Schiele-related name on a whim.  (An excellent example of a literal interpretation of color from paintings is Rescue Beauty Lounge's limited edition nail polish collection that dares not speak the artist's name).

Ultimately, I don't think this line has a strong identity - it appears to be Schiele-inspired in name only.  The website notes that "application of Egon Schiele cosmetics will make you look and feel like the creation of a famous artist."  That's a nice sentiment, but it could be any famous artist.  If I were writing the ad copy I'd make it specifically about Schiele and say something about how the cosmetics would make you feel/look like one of the women in his work (even though I'm not necessarily sure most women would want to strive for that), or at least, capture the artist's unabashed, bold spirit.

What do think of both Schiele and the makeup line inspired by him?  I think it's an extremely odd choice!

Going Fauve with Sonia Rykiel

I'm not sure why fashion brand Sonia Rykiel's makeup line is only available in Asia, but I do know that it's not fair!  Animal prints are shaping up to be even bigger than usual this fall, but Sonia Rykiel got a head start by releasing a leopard-tastic collection, named Fauve, for summer.  I'd love to get my hands on the eyeshadows.



(images from chicprofile.com)

I've already given a brief lesson on Fauvism way back when I posted about Yves Saint Laurent's 2005 Fauve palette so I won't rehash it now.  I will say that I think it's odd that Sonia Rykiel released this collection while leopard print made zero appearances in the brand's 2012 summer and fall runway shows.  I also think the pattern is less feral than the Fauve moniker would suggest - these look more like sweet kitten pawprints rather than ones made by a ferocious jungle animal.

What do you think?  I do love leopard print and these palettes would fit in nicely with several exhibition concepts I've been contemplating, but I don't think I can get them easily here in the States so I may not pursue them.

Curator's Corner, 8/11/2012

CC logoThis week's links. 

- So excited for some new Arrested Development

- Stereogum interviews one of my many idols.

- This is cool - it's the world's first exhibition on Alice in Wonderland.

- Have a gander at some of the most expensive shoes in the world.

- I'm not on Facebook, so clearly I am a sociopath.

On the beauty front (lots of nail news):

- In addition to the aforementioned world's priciest shoes, here are the most expensive beauty products.

- Check out photographer Leland Bobbé's half-drag portraits.

- The wildly popular beauty sample subscription service Birchbox surveyed 10,000 of its customers about beauty trends.  Unsurprisingly, the survey found that beachy waves were the most coveted hair style, but I was taken aback by the fact that only 2 out of 5 are "puzzled" by BB creams.  I admit I was when I first heard about them months ago, but they've been in the U.S. market for nearly a year now - I would think even non-beauty junkies would be familiar.

- Jezebel posts a very enlightening infographic showing the relationship between beauty and happiness.   Apparently Americans spend billions a year on beauty products but overall, we're still not very happy.  As the Dude would say, "That's f*ckin' interesting."

- Another story from Jezebel, this one exploring why nail art is still a woman's domain.

- The Fashion Spot gives us a brief history of the manicure.

- Olympic-themed nail art is old news.  Lucky Magazine presents manicures in honor of the Discovery Channel's Shark Week.

(image from luckymag.com)

- Finally, I am gearing up to start a new series here at the Museum, which will be posted every few weeks (read:  whenever I get around to it).  I'm still struggling with a name...hopefully I can come up with something decent soon.  ;)