Curator's Corner, 1/26/2013
Luxurious compacts from Sulwhasoo

Couture Monday: Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Today's installment of Couture Monday was supposed to be dedicated to Chanel's Mouche de Beaute Illuminating Powder from their Versailles cruise collection, but much to my dismay, I received a very unpleasant surprise when I opened the compact on Saturday.



Yes, 2 fingerprints in the middle-left of the powder!!  Hello, trying to run a museum here!  Unless they're vintage, the items need to be in perfect condition.  So while I wait for a new and hopefully pristine compact, I thought I'd share this collaboration between Lancôme and handbag designer Olympia Le-Tan (thanks to British Beauty Blogger for the heads up on this!)

In honor of the first anniversary of Lancôme's in Love range, Le-Tan made an embroidered clutch that holds six lipsticks and six nail polishes.  Says Le-Tan, "I wanted to design the cover of an imaginary novel called 'Rouge in Love'. My idea was to create a 'mise-en-abyme', a book within a book. It is held by two hands with painted nails and surrounded by little red and violet lips that seem to dance around. I love drawing lips, so it was the perfect opportunity... The clasp and side, instead of having a gold finish like my other designs, are silver, like a mirror. Perfect to look into during the evening if you want to touch up your make-up."


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I believe this is the outer box:


The designer "reading" her creation.

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You can also watch this charming little video showing how the imaginary novel came to life.


I bet you're curious as to why I have only included stock photos.  The reason?  This limited-edition item is selling for $1,500!  Only 100 have been made, and Lancôme model Emma Watson and several fashion editors have already snagged the first few.  I personally think one should be donated to the Museum where it will be lovingly cared for and preserved rather than having it get destroyed by the grubby paws of some unappreciative editor who will carry it once or twice and then carelessly stuff it in the back of her closet, but unfortunately, that's how these things work.  If you think about it, $1,500 actually isn't bad for a designer bag, and especially one that's filled with high-end cosmetics.  But from a makeup collecting standpoint where most contemporary items are less than $100, it's definitely a bit much.

In any case, if you're not familiar with Le-Tan's work, she is famous for these book-clutches - smallish handmade purses with embroidery and felt that bear her reimaginings of first-edition covers of classic books.  As a lifelong bookworm, I absolutely love this idea.  Some of my favorite designs:


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Isn't the inside of this Madame Bovary clutch amazing?

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My favorite classic book is 1984, and lo and behold, she has created a book-clutch for that one.  I prefer the special red edition on the right.

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Here's one in action, as modeled by Natalie Portman:

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Influenced by her world-renowned illustrator father to become a designer, Le-Tan at first selected her favorite books as purse inspiration.  As the clutches gained popularity, she started choosing books based on theme.  Typically, only 16 of a particular book clutch are made, with new editions out each season.

I thought the Rouge in Love clutch was very well done - even if it wasn't in Le-Tan's signature book-clutch format, the colorful and lively lips and hands design would be instantly recognizable as her work, and it also clearly conveys makeup and the pure bliss it can bring.  What do you think of this collaboration? 

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