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January 2013

Into MM storage: Ai Yamaguchi for Shu Uemura, 2005

As I was rummaging about in museum storage trying to make room for the newest batch of Shu Uemura cleansing oils (the Unmask spring 2013 collection - stay tuned!), I came across a previous collection and realized I hadn't yet posted about it. 

As you may remember, Japanese artist Ai Yamaguchi had collaborated with Shu in 2004 to create a line of limited-edition cleansing oils.  She teamed up again with the company in 2005 for another set.  This time, the theme was "cycle of life", with each oil representing one of the four seasons. 

We'll start with fall, represented by the orange "Enriched" oil.  I love the leaves and stylized acorns swirling about.





Another interesting element is the origami crane that appears throughout the bottle and box.




Next up is the season of winter, represented by the "Regular" yellow oil that is adorned with snowflakes and wintry blooms.






After winter comes spring, as represented by the "Light" cleansing oil with fresh green and white flowers and clovers.



I very nearly missed the girl peeking out at the bottom of the bottle - she blends right into the flowers.



Rounding out the collection is summer, represented by the green "Premium" oil.  Unfortunately it was an Asia-exclusive so I never got my hands on it (damn Shu and their refusal to bring whole collections to the States!)  I really wish I had this in my collection if for no other reason than to see where the girl is hiding.


(images from ninyu.com)

I have already discussed Yamaguchi's work in my post for the 2004 cleansing oils so I won't rehash it now.  I will say that I like how you can tell these are different from the 2004 versions but still retain Yamaguchi's signature element, albeit less prominently:  the girls inspired by both contemporary anime and woodblock prints of the Edo period.

Based only on aesthetics, I enjoy both the 2004 and 2005 Yamaguchi cleansing oils equally.  But thematically, I prefer the 2005 versions since much like Makeup Museum exhibitions, they center on the four seasons. 

Do you prefer the 2004 or 2005 collection?  And which of the 2005 oils is your favorite?  Mine would probably be summer since it's my favorite season - too bad I can't track it down!

Luxurious compacts from Sulwhasoo

I first laid eyes on these limited-edition compacts from Korean luxury brand Sulwhasoo in the November 2012 issue of Elle magazine.   Since 2003, the company has been releasing their "Shine Classic" compacts featuring a new design (much like the Kanebo Milano compacts) that is "inspired by various elements that symbolize Korean beauty".  When Neiman Marcus had them on sale for half price a few weeks ago, I pounced and bought two for the Museum - the 2010 and 2005 editions.   

According to Neiman Marcus, "Sulwhasoo took inspiration from a classic Korean motif in creating this compact, weaving the iconic six-petal plum blossom into its design. Found on the flower-patterned doors of Buddhist temples, the plum blossom evokes the infinite beauty of curves and straight lines.  The color within reflects the apricot color of plum blossom coming into bloom after winter, while plum blossom extracts offer skin the same protective benefits that shield the delicate flower from the elements."





Indeed, compare the flower's shape and hexagonal design they form to these doors on Korean Buddhist temples.

(images from daleskoreantempleadventures.blogspot.com)

The powder itself has an identical pattern.



And here's the compact from 2005.  "The traditional Korean quilt is made by connecting colorful pieces of fabric to pray for good fortune. Since the old times, quilts conveyed the belief that endeavors bring good luck.  The beauty of liberal, yet moderate patterns created by small pieces is part of the Shine classic design in the spirit of 'gathering little for a fortune.' Also, the technique of Seven Jewels has been applied to uphold the Korean aesthetic of seven jewels in beautiful and rare colors."







The pearly clasp is a nice little detail.


I couldn't find anything on the "seven jewels" technique, but I did find a traditional Korean quilt.  The compact's design is spot-on with its bold colors and piecemeal application.

(image from scarlet.unl.edu)

There are several other Sulwhasoo Shine Classic compacts (and Colorpacts) that I would dearly love to get my hands on, but I will post about those as I hoard collect them.  ;)

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."


(images from lancome-usa.com)

I believe this is the outer box:


The designer "reading" her creation.

(images from olympialetan.tumblr.com)

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:


(images from bagfetishperson.blogspot.com)


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

(images from lastdollstanding.blogspot.com)

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.

(images from anothermag.com and olympialetan.tumblr.com)

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

(image from appleandeden.wordpress.com)

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? 

Curator's Corner, 1/26/2013

CC logoIt's freezing cold weeks like these that make me wonder why humans can't hibernate through the winter like bears.  All I want to do is drink hot chocolate and sleep!  Maybe the funny/cool/interesting things in this week's links will keep me warm.

- I didn't think I could love Ladurée more than I do now, but these new limited-edition candles have made me even more crazy about them. 

- National Peanut Butter Day was this past Thursday.  Best Friends with Frosting has a ton of yummy recipes to help you celebrate.

- I was quite the New Kids on the Block fan when I was a young'un so I got a kick out of seeing them come back on a "boy band" tour

- More '90s nostalgia with Animals Talking in All Caps.  The bigger elephant really hit the nail on the head! 

- Beautiful with Brains brings us descriptions of plastic surgery...from 1910. 

- A behind-the-scenes look at how beauty packaging details are made.

- Lastly, here's a little sneak peek of the latest Museum acquisitions:


Can you guess which item(s) will be included in the upcoming special exhibition?  ;) 

Group portraits: Chantecaille

(Click to enlarge)


Top row:  Protected Paradise compacts

Middle row:  Coral, La Baleine Bleue, La Baleine Blanche

Bottom row:  White Tiger and Bengali Bronzer compacts


Top row:  Save the Sharks, Coral Reefs

Bottom row:  L'Éléphant, Les Dauphins, Sea Turtle


Top left:  The Shadow and the Rose

Middle:  Garden in Kyoto, Elephant Cheek Shade, Ethereal Eyes

Bottom:  Les Papillons eye shadows

Curator's Corner, 1/19/2013

CC logoThis week's links.

- I'm excited to see what Alber Elbaz of Lanvin fame has up his sleeve for a new Lancome collection

- As if one needed another reason to visit Paris, MAC is opening a flagship there.

- I'm curious to know if this new primer from Shiseido really delivers.

- Well, this is sad.  Van Gogh's Sunflowers are turning brown as a result of prolonged exposure to LED lights. 

- Baltimore's very own Duff Goldman will be creating the official inaugural ball cake for the Prez. 

- YES!  Someone finally pointed out that Pret a Manger in the States just doesn't compare to the ones in London.

- Finally, I've been very inspired lately by both The Typologist and the "stash pics" I see at Makeupalley.   This week, I will be featuring pictures of some of the Museum's collection by brand, which I'm calling "group portraits".  I think this will be particularly appealing to those of you who want to see makeup collectibles all together rather than in a more formal, spaced out exhibition format.

Book review: Mueller's Overview of American Compacts and Vanity Cases

Vintage compact bookI must say that the title of this blog entry is misleading.  There isn't really much content to review in this book, but there sure are some wonderful vintage compacts to drool over!  I guess it will be an overview of an overview.

Mueller provides a very brief (a mere 3-page) summary of American compact companies at the start of the book, and explains that it's not a pricing guide.  While I am curious to know what these pieces might go for if they were for sale, I was not disappointed that the book doesn't contain pricing information.  From there on it's all pictures of glorious compacts and even some ads for them.  Each one includes the sizes of each piece and the manufacturer.

I thought I'd give you a little taste of what you'll find in the book if you decide to purchase it.  And you really should if you like admiring pretty makeup* - because compacts are relatively small objects, there were usually 4-5 pictures of different ones per page.  So. Much. Eye candy!  You can buy it here.

Here are some of the compacts that jumped out to me immediately.

These iris and poppy compacts are from the early 1940s and according to the book, are very rare.


I love the little legs on this Volupté "Petit Boudoir" compact from 1950:

Legged compact

These four are by Rex Fifth Avenue.  The two on the right bear the signature of cartoonist Hilda Terry, whose designs of "bobby soxers" somehow made their way onto these compacts.


How adorable are these Bell lucite compacts featuring charming Paris scenes?  They're pretty similar in style to Nathalie Lété's Paris designs for Bourjois.


In addition to illustrated compacts, there were some fantastic blingy pieces, like these from Volupté and Evans.


I thought I'd save my favorite for last:  a zippered compact bearing a mermaid (!!!) and seahorse:


There are so many more pieces to ooh and aah over, including one with a map of New York designed especially for the 1939 World's Fair, the famous Dali compact, and even an enameled compact with a picture of fruit.  Mueller notes that depictions of fruit were very rare in compacts - how unlike the abundance I found in vintage ads!

I know I'll enjoy re-perusing all the compacts in this book, and I do find it helped me get a sense of what to look for in terms of vintage compacts.  As you know, the Makeup Museum is mostly focused on contemporary cosmetics, but I really want to add vintage pieces to the collection.  This was a great primer.

*I am not affiliated with the author in any way and received no compensation for writing about this book.