Karl Lagerfeld for Shu Uemura
Color Connection #7

Beautiful compacts from Kanebo

The Curator's little heart is breaking once again over international items she cannot purchase!  I spotted this truly gorgeous compact a while ago but was frustrated to learn that you can only buy it in Japan.  Like the Cosme Decorte Marcel Wanders compact, it must be pre-ordered from a department store.

Kanebo releases one of these compacts every year for the holidays.  They form part of the company's annual Milano collection, featuring a unique theme for each year and, as you can see,  extremely ornate designs.


I love that the picture on the outside of the compact is imprinted onto the powder.  The exterior is amazing enough, but then there's the added bonus of the powder.


Kanebo's website lists all of the compacts they've released since 1991 (except, oddly enough, 1994 and 1995).  Naturally I pored over all of them and cursed the powers that be for not allowing me to collect them all!  Google provided me with rough translations so I was able to see the theme of each compact. 

In studying them I sensed a strong neoclassical influence.  Between the themes being represented by female figures and the designs themselves, these look straight out of a movement in European art in the late 18th and early 19th centuries known as Neoclassicism

Take, for example, the Goddess of Glitter and Goddess of Glory. 

Milano-2004-2008(images from kanebo-cosmetics.jp)

The use of allegorical figures and the draping and poses of the figures are reminiscent of works from the Neoclassical period.  Compare the compacts to the following images from that movement, including Ingres's Hope:

(image from wikipaintings.org)

Joshua Reynolds' Theory (1779-1780), another allegory in which a goddess holds Reynolds' Theory of Art:

(image from wikipaintings.org)

And this painting by an artist from the circle of Angelica Kauffmann, which shows a female figure ascending from the underworld.

(image from bonhams.com)

The billowy draping of these figures' robes (which are based on classic antiquity), the sense that they are floating in air amongst clouds and the sun's rays, and the use of allegory - all hallmarks of Neoclassicism - are also found in the Milano compacts. 

Some of the compacts depict more literal allegories, like this compact from 1993 showing the goddess of beauty.


While it's not a neoclassical work, the reference for the design on the compact is clearly Botticelli's Birth of Venus:

Birth_of_venus_botticelli(image from italian-renaissance-art.com)

There is also the goddess of melody, which shows her holding a small harp:


This is the same representation of music as found in Angelica Kauffmann's Allegory of Poetry and Music (1782):

(image from bjws.blogspot.com)

Finally, there's the goddess of water, showing the goddess holding a pitcher:


A woman holding a jug to represent water also appears in Joseph Benoit Suvée s Allegory of the Water:

Suvee_Joseph-Benoit-Allegory_of_the_Water(image from terminartors.com)

My only issue with these compacts is that the designs tend to be somewhat repetitive.  The ones from 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 all more or less have the same motif - a goddess reaching for or gesturing to a shiny orb radiating light.




More recently,Kanebo has shifted away from the goddesses and turned towards using angels or putti. 


(images from kanebo-cosmetics.jp)

These are also a little repetitive theme-wise - the one for 2010 is called Angel of Blessing, while the most recent compact is called Angel Blessings (although this could be a function of Google translate not working so well!)

So while some of the designs and themes repeat a bit, I still want all of these compacts.  The elaborate, expensive-looking motifs surrounding the main design in the center and the fact that one compact is issued for each year make them are ideal collector's pieces, and I enjoy the neoclassical air about them. 

Which one is your favorite? 

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