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Curator's Corner, 2/2/2013

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

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!

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