If you're not too tired from viewing the exhibition, here are some behind-the-scenes shots I took as I was setting up. I still can't believe how expensive it was to put together...cake plates don't grow on trees! Still, I was determined to have some pretty things on which to put the objects.
The husband gathered macarons from two bakeries: Bonjour Bakery and Patisserie Poupon. I swore I'd never go back to the latter after they messed up our wedding cake, but they do have the best macarons in town so I didn't have much of a choice.
In between figuring out what should go where I made the cupcakes. I got the liners and silver ball decorations from Fancy Flours.
They were pink champagne flavored and yes, I drank the champagne that was left after making them! There wasn't much though, I needed a lot for the recipe and the bottle I had was fairly small. It's a good thing...otherwise I would have been too tipsy to take pictures. ;)
As you can see, the truffles that appeared on the bottom tier of the cupcake stand and on the plate with Shu palettes in the exhibition were Godiva. I had bought them a week before and it was sooo hard to resist eating them before the exhibition went up.
I finished setting up everything and took pictures. Then the sun went down and that's when the exhibition opening started! Makeup Museum staff was very eager to start dismantling everything so they could eat some of the props.
Here's Cookie Chef Babo warning Seasick Babo not to puke on the cookies.
The party's in full swing...
...and petered out after Exhibition Designer Power Babo collapsed from exhaustion. Poor little guy. I guess I worked him too hard.
Whew! It was a lot of work, but I'm finally ready to share the Museum's latest special exhibition!
"Sweet Tooth: Confections in Cosmetics and Beauty" examines makeup and other beauty products that are inspired by sweet edibles. From candy to chocolates to pastries, these objects convey the charm of beautifully made desserts as well as the sheer bliss a sugar rush can bring.
The idea of using sweets and dessert fare to sell cosmetics is nothing new, dating back to at least the mid-20th century. In 1940 Elizabeth Arden released a candy-cane decorated collection that was "as gay as the circus!"
Twenty years later, Revlon introduced Berry Bon Bon, a shade that "lifts red to a new boiling point [and] dips it in sugar." In 1972 Yardley expanded on their line of flavored lipsticks, this time including dessert flavors like Snappy Cinnamon Stick and Pink Fluffy Marshmallow.
A year later, drugstore brand Bonne Bell rolled out their "Lip Smackers" lip balms in a variety of dessert-based flavors, which are still best-sellers today. More contemporary examples include Prada's Candy fragrance, Estée Lauder's 2008 Chocolate Decadence collection, MAC's Sweetie Cake and Sugarsweet collections (from 2006 and 2009, respectively) and Bobbi Brown's 2006 Chocolate collection, for which the company collaborated with gourmet chocolate brand Vosges to create a limited-edition chocolate bar. And let's not forget high-end-turned-Walmart brand Hard Candy.
The trend doesn't seem to be fading any time soon. Philosophy continues to produce sweet scents in their bath and body products, their latest concoctions being Pink Jelly Bean and Raspberry Passionfruit Dreamsicle. MAC will be releasing another sweets-themed collection, Baking Beauties, in April, and Catrice is coming out with a collection called Candy Shock this summer.
In addition to celebrating delectable packaging, the Sweet Tooth exhibition seeks to provide a cursory analysis of the popularity of dessert-like beauty products. Why are beauty items reminiscent of sweets, either in scent or packaging (or both) have such longevity in beauty culture?
There are several reasons. First, cosmetic companies acquiesce to basic gender stereotypes. Baking and decorating are traditionally women's domains. In addition, there's the common (but not necessarily factual) presumption that all women have a raging sweet tooth. It's widely believed that women crave sweets much more than men; they have voracious appetites for all types of sugar-filled treats, especially chocolate. Cosmetic companies employ these stereotypes as marketing tactics, as women are the primary buyers of makeup.
Secondly, dessert-like makeup serves as a substitute for a real, edible dessert, but still retains the sense of indulgence and luxury that comes from nibbling on sweets. Encouraging consumers to give in to temptation is a key theme. Estée Lauder challenges one to "tempt your color palette": "From Berry Chocolate Truffles and Caramel
Pralines to swirls of marbled fondant dusted with golden spun sugar,
Estée Lauder has captured the essence of a luxurious chocolate boutique
filled with rich chocolate works of art." LORAC's Eye Candy Full Face collection claims to "satisfy your beauty cravings" with their "deluxe
assortment of sweet, tempting treats contains a luxurious selection of
fresh colors for eyes, cheeks, and lips that you simply can’t resist". (Sometimes the idea of indulging in makeup instead of sweets isn't so innocuous, as some ads present the dessert-like items as weight loss aids - always a bad strategy. "Indulge your taste for sweets
with Berry Bon Bon...you won't gain a thing but admirers!" says the commercial for Revlon's Berry Bon Bon. The commercial aired in 1960, and while cosmetic marketing has greatly shifted since then, this line of thinking unfortunately persists today. A 2012 Marie Claire blog post on Mor Lip Macarons states that with these scented lip balms, one doesn't "have to book a flight or consume a single
calorie to get the same aesthetic satisfaction" as downing real
At times, the advertising for sweets-based collections goes a step further, literally transforming desserts into makeup. "Ice the eyes in almond, top your nails with sprinkles," says the copy for MAC's Sweetie Cake collection. Korean brand Etude House's recent Sweet Recipe collection depicts women turning the treats they've just made into blush and lipsticks.
The idea of luscious, freshly-made desserts as bases for an alchemical process that results in makeup further blurs the line between cosmetics and comestibles - they become interchangeable treats. This dual nature is alluring for consumers because they feel as though they're receiving twice the gratification. Purchasing only regular makeup or sweets is enjoyable, but buying makeup that also resembles dessert creates the impression that you're getting two for the price of one.
Finally, the last reason dessert-like makeup prevails is simple: color. As we saw with fruit-themed cosmetics, sweets are an excellent
source of color inspiration - seemingly all shades, from deep chocolate
hues to macaron pastels, can be expressed well in a sweets-themed makeup
Now for the exhibition! Grab your sweet of choice and enjoy. :)
I believe this is the first time in the Museum's history that I have incorrectly labeled an object. The palette in the back that's closed (fortunately) is actually the Raspberry Mocha palette, not Mint and Vanilla.
bottom tier contains Majolica Majorca Puff de Cheek blushes in
Raspberry Macaron and Apricot Macaron, along with Etude House Cupcake
Eyes and All Over Colors.
Etude House Ice Cream nail polishes:
The collage consists of the following ads: Jo Malone Sugar and Spice collection, Shiseido Candy Tone lipsticks, Jill Stuart Patisserie collection, Clinique Chubby Sticks (one for lips and one for eyes), Shu Chocolate Donna, MAC Sugarsweet, Bobbi Brown Chocolate, Bourjois Paris Sucré, and Estée Lauder Chocolate Decadence collections.
As a huge dessert fan myself (I guess I fit the stereotype!), I'm immediately drawn to any makeup or beauty item that looks or smells like I could eat it. But while the objects themselves were definitely inspiring, a French influence was strong as well. As MAC's Sugarsweet ad says, "Temptation is everywhere – luscious, whipped-cream decadent, deliciously
decorative frosting colours and sugared almond combinations. Like
peering through the window of a Parisian patisserie, you’ll want to
become one of each!" It's true - when I went to Paris a few years back I was dumbfounded at the abundance and quality of the desserts. There were patisseries on literally every street, and when I had my first Laduree macaron on that trip, I realized the French really knew what they were doing when it comes to sweets. Sure, I had heard of pain au chocolat and macarons before I visited, but didn't know just how amazing they were until I got there. So I wanted the exhibition to have a slightly French mood as an homage to their desserts. Also, the "I Want Candy" scene from Sofia Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette has stayed fresh in my mind all these years, and I wanted to highlight the luxury and extravagance of both gourmet desserts and high-end makeup. In terms of styling the actual table,well, I blame Pinterest. I never really paid too much attention to party planning and design until I started planning my wedding a few years ago, and I just fell in love with all of the little details. My aforementioned affinity for sweets, combined with my more recent interest in party planning, led to an obsession with dessert tables. And once I got on Pinterest there was no turning back. Given the theme, this exhibition was a great opportunity to depart from the Museum's usual shelves and play with dessert table styling.
Marie Antoinette-era stylings also were the inspiration for the colors I wanted to emphasize (mint green and pale pink), but this time, it was Marie Antoinette by way of contemporary Chanel. While researching Chanel's 2013 Cruise collection for the Mouche de Beaute Highlighting Powder, I was struck by the candy-colored wigs the models were sporting for the runway show.
I also thought touches of silver (as seen in the cupcake stand, sugar bowl and candy dish) would give it a fancy, gourmet feel.
2. Time frame
I had the idea to do a dessert/makeup exhibition since last summer. Once I saw Shu's Chocolate Donna collection and the LORAC Eye Candy and Too-Faced Love Sweet Love sets late last fall, I knew I had plenty of fodder to pull together a good exhibition. I did want to have it posted right before Valentine's Day, but then I stumbled across the Etude House Sweet Recipe collection and decided to postpone it, as I considered those to be essential pieces for the exhibition and it would take a few weeks for them to arrive from Korea.
3. Things I would have done differently.
I'll start with the details. First, it would have been great if I had access to really fancy cupcakes and pastries like these:
But no bakeries around here do anything like that and I lack the necessary decorating skill, so homemade cupcakes it was. For the labels, I would have printed them out on white paper instead of pink so that it didn't clash with the tablecloth. I forgot to specify to the designer (a.k.a. the husband) that I wanted white paper before he printed them out on pink. With not much time left to photograph everything before what little daylight we had faded away, there was no time to reprint them on white paper. And the tablecloth...I wasn't expecting how wrinkled it was going to be when I unfolded it, so I didn't unfold it until right before I started installing the exhibition. Only too late did I realize that it was totally rumpled and had no time to iron it.
On a bigger scale, space is always an issue. Not necessarily a lack of space, but since the exhibitions are taking place in my home I am somewhat limited by the layout. The collage hanging in the back was really just a way to cover up the TV. The credenza that the exhibition was set up on is way too heavy to be moved conveniently, and there was also no place to move it without some of the artwork on the walls getting in the way anyway. So we had to leave that there. Same issue with the TV - too cumbersome to take off the wall, and too time-consuming to Photoshop out all the holes in the wall where the wires go in behind the TV. Overall, it was much more convenient and less expensive to make a collage out of ads rather than moving the TV or having a big poster designed and printed. However, I can assure you that if the Museum did occupy a real, public space and had unlimited funds, the backdrop for the table would be magnificent.
Speaking of funding, I would dearly love to re-stage the exhibition, possibly in a different space (don't know where) and hire a professional photographer. While the pictures are slightly improved from previous exhibitions due to my purchase of a new camera, they are nowhere near professional and thus do not capture the beauty of the objects and table setup.
I would have done more research and written a more thoughtful and polished essay about sweets-themed makeup and the relationship between women, dessert and cosmetics (would love to work in Janine Antoni's 1992 work Gnaw somehow). For a temporary exhibition I just couldn't put in the time, but maybe for the coffee table book I could do this, especially if I re-do the exhibition and have it professionally photographed.
In terms of curation, I was pleased with all of the objects. The only things I would have added would be the Creme Caramel Shimmer Powder and Caramel Swirl lip gloss from the Estée Lauder Chocolate Decadence collection, Steamcream's "Lola" tin, which is adorned with a cupcake illustration, and these gorgeous cupcake-shaped "bath bakes" from Miss Patisserie. I was going to order all of this and put the exhibition off even further, but then I decided it was probably going to be too much to fit on the table. Plus having too many objects negates the whole idea of curating - each piece in an exhibition is selected for a good reason.
- 'Tis Girl Scout cookie season, and this year they've started taking credit cards. God help me - as someone who rarely carries cash, the only thing prohibiting me previously from buying dozens of boxes of cookies was the lack of credit card capability.
- Finally, posts have been short here at the Museum and things might be quiet for the next week as I make the final preparations for the special exhibition. Here's a peek of the mock-up of the displays I'm working on.
Can you guess what the theme is now? I gave a little hint a few weeks ago, but I think now it's clear! ;)
MAC seems to have the market cornered on cartoon/comics collaborations. In addition to numerous Disney collections, 2011 was the year they released a Wonder Woman-themed collection. This time MAC is back in the comics game with Archie's Girls, which is based on Betty and Veronica, the two girls who vie for Archie's heart.
I picked up one of the Pearlmatte powders.
I also purchased the Jingle Jangle Coin Purse - I loved the lining!
In addition to the more general products, MAC offered individual Betty and Veronica collections. I selected one piece from each. On the left is lipstick in Boyfriend Stealer, whose vampy color is representative of Vernoica (according to MAC): "The envy of every girl, Veronica smoulders with a limited-edition colour
collection rich in deep, seductive tones. Lipsticks in violet, red and
blackened plum play up the va-voom while Lipglass shimmers in shades
certain to steal hearts. Nails lacquered in dark berry and navy crème
ready for a soda fountain catfight."
On the right is Kiss and Don't Tell from the Betty collection, which MAC describes thusly: "Beautiful Blonde-Next-Door Betty inspires a limited-edition colour
collection with a soft, innocent sexiness. Lipsticks in peaches and
pinks beam bright under layers of Lipglass in girly shades. Nail Lacquer
in Comic Cute and Pep Pep Pep to win Archie's affection."
Having never read Archie comics I can't say for sure whether MAC's character descriptions and subsequent color choices are accurate and appropriate, but from everything I've read online the shades seem spot-on for each girl.
As with the Wonder Woman and Hey Sailor! collections, the best part for me was the freebie MAC provided with my order. Oh, how I live for collectibles like this!
Overall I thought this was a fun, cute collection, but I probably would have enjoyed it much more if I were actually familiar with the comics.
What do you think? And are you a Betty or Veronica?
As much as I liked pulling together heart-adorned cosmetics for yesterday's post, I maintain the belief that Valentine's Day is stupid (except that it does give me an excuse to eat an entire box of chocolates by myself). Therefore I am continuing the Valentine's Day Massacre tradition I started last year. 2013's smackdown is gonna be a bloody, bodice-ripping good time!
Clash of the Corsets is ON! Let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle! *ding ding*
In the right corner we have historic brand Avon with an eye shadow quartet in flirty, sexy hues of cream and purple. Outlined in hot pink and black, the compact flaunts its power and sex appeal with a ruffle-trimmed corset that can barely keep the shadow contained.
In the other corner we have drugstore mainstay Physician's Formula Sexy Booster bronzer. Unlike its foe Avon, the corset shape is imprinted into the powder itself rather than being outlined in plastic. Packaged in a red fishnet stocking design complete with high heel silver charm dangling sexily on the side, this shimmery bronzer promises to provide a "hot and sultry" glow.
So who wins the Clash of the Corsets? Does Avon have the upper hand due to its bigger size and wider color range? Or will Physician's Formula overwhelm its opponent with its fishnet pattern and bronzey shimmer? Tell me in the comments!
I couldn't believe the volume of heart- or love-themed items this spring. And these aren't specifically for Valentine's Day either - these are just part of the company's regular seasonal lines. I've rounded up some of the best examples.
This week wouldn't have been so bad if my normally stellar immune system hadn't faltered and allowed some nasty bug to get in. It's been five days of fever, headache and a horrific cough that will not budge. As of last night the virus seems to have settled into my nose, which is at least better than the dizziness and nausea earlier this week. I had a good run - I honestly can't remember the last time I was sick. And even though I was/am ill, I managed to gather quite a few links.
- Stereogum rates the albums of my all-time favorite band (yes, I'm aware they broke up in 2006...I have yet to encounter any band that so enthralls me). Can't say I agree with the author's listing. At. All.
- Damn, my name is the "most poisoned" baby name these days? (Thanks to my former colleague Phil for passing this along!)
- Also via The Awl, a new study suggests that a "safe" dose of caffeine is much smaller than originally thought. I KNEW it! Caffeine is evil, at least for my body. It's also incredibly unfair given how much I love chocolate.
- Threaded has an informative post on the rise of makeup in the flapper era, while Meli at Wild Beauty shares a fascinating history, complete with patent illustrations, of the eyelash curler.
- Bust Magazine asks the tough questions, including why secretary is still the top job for women. And I don't mean the "good" kind of secretary, like Secretary of State. I still wonder about this myself as most of my professional life has amounted to secretarial-like drudgery.
- Superbowl celebrations are still in high gear for us Baltimore residents. Museum Advisory Committee member Sailor Babo reveled in the glory.
- Finally, I am on the hunt for a new camera and am too lazy to do much research, but I need it quickly to have it in time for the Makeup Museum's upcoming special exhibition. I want something that's better quality than my current 4 year-old point and shoot but not anything too crazily expensive. Any suggestions?
Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum
topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my
vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum. These posts help me
think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual
organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning.
I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a
museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done!
The following exchange is an excerpt from an episode of the Simpsons in which Homer takes his daughter Lisa to the Springfield Natural History Museum, which is closing due to "lack of interest".
Homer: What do you mean by "suggested donation"? Admissions clerk: Pay any amount you wish, sir.
Homer: And uh, what if I wish to pay... zero?
Clerk: That is up to you.
Homer: Ooh, so it's up to me, is it?
Homer: I see. And you think that people are going to pay you $4.50 even
though they don't have to? Just out of the goodness of their... (laughs) Well, anything you say! Good luck, lady, you're gonna need it!
Today I want to discuss museum admission fees and determine whether the Makeup Museum would be free to visitors. Obviously, since there are myriad factors that go into deciding such a thing, I don't know if the question will be settled today. But then, that is the whole point of MM Musings - to explore the various facets of an important issue for a would-be Makeup Museum.
Let's start with why museums shouldn't be free to visitors. The most basic argument is that since museum outings are a form of entertainment, it's no different than charging people to see a movie or attend a sporting event. The former director of the Met, Phillipe de Montebello, remarked, "What is it about art that shouldn't be paid for?" Secondly, museums wouldn't be able to offer a broad range of programming and
activities unless their visitors pay. According to LACMA director
Michael Govan, free museum admission "would severely limit the kinds and numbers of programs we could offer,
because our budgets would be smaller. When people are paying, and it's
less than a movie ticket, they are actually contributing to a museum
that serves a lot of people." Finally, a museum devoted to cosmetics is considered a niche museum, meaning that it would most likely be out of the running for financial support from the local government or foundations, and thus would need every penny that could be generated from admissions income just to cover operating expenses.
However, it's been my long-standing belief that museums should always be free. For starters, the argument that they're like other forms of entertainment rings false - museums are more of a public service, like libraries. Secondly, is anyone really going to be willing to pay? An article at The Art Newspaper points out that "museums in major cities, especially those that attract tourists, by and
large charge for entry. Their counterparts in areas with fewer
international tourists or which rely on local visitors are more likely
to be free because they need those visitors to return...Regional cities have fewer tourists to exploit and, as a result, tend to
be more altruistic and community-minded. Of the museums surveyed that
do not charge admission, two-thirds were in smaller cities." Baltimore is a prime example of this: the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art established free admission in 2006. I don't think people are going to fork over any money to visit the Makeup Museum when they could see world-renowned art for free at other museums in the city.
Third, it's actually not as financially essential for a museum to charge admission as one would think. A 2006 New York Times article reports that "according to the Association of Art Museum Directors, museums earn an
average of 5 percent of their revenue from admissions." And Art Info states that in 2010, only 3% of LACMA's budget came from admissions fees. One may argue, while it's a small percentage, where are you going to make up the money gained from admissions if you make it free? The New York Times article adds that "eliminating admission fees can attract new community support. When the
Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston stopped charging admission in 1995,
public donations increased enough to make up for the loss of income." The L.A. Times notes that here in Baltimore after the Walters went free, the "income loss was made up from a combination of public funds,
private philanthropy and increased memberships from newly engaged
locals. Museum income fluctuations of 3% to 4% are so common as to be
insignificant; it makes sense to seize control of the one fluctuation
tied to visitors, because they matter most." Additionally, contrary to popular belief, free admission does not mean an automatic decrease in museum membership either.
Lastly, there's the issue of accessibility, which is why I have unequivocally believed that museums should be free. Says Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum in L.A., "In my mind there's no question that even a relatively small entry
charge is a major hurdle for many people. The ones you most want to
come, for whom that $6 is really quite a significant amount, they're the
ones you lose. The people who can afford to collect, have an art
history degree, go to museums around the world -- they can still afford
it, they can still come. It's the people who haven't had all those
benefits, but you really want to open their eyes to what an art museum
represents, and they're the ones you lose by charging even a relatively
small amount." An example of this is the recent price slash for low-income families at the Boston Children's Museum, which significantly dropped the cost of visiting after current discounts still weren't getting low-income families into the museum. Free admission works: in the six months after the Walters implemented free admission, attendance increased almost 40%, of which half were first-time visitors. This spike held steady for almost four years, and what's more is that
nonwhite attendance has tripled. I think every museum professional wants their museum to be accessible to everyone, especially those populations that wouldn't normally be able to afford the entry free. The bottom line is that without free admission, museums could easily turn into "social halls for the well-off" (case in point: the recent ejecting of a poor family at the Musée d'Orsay). And I certainly wouldn't want the Makeup Museum to end up that way!
In looking at all these arguments, I think that while it would be difficult to fund the Makeup Museum initially, I'd have to have free admission, even for special exhibitions. Not only because it seems like the right thing to do and I want as many people as possible to visit, but also because I think it would be sustainable. The beauty industry makes literally billions of dollars a year - surely one of these gigantic companies would be willing to sponsor a museum centered on cosmetics, especially when their own products would be so prominently displayed. I think I may still have a little "suggested donation" box, however - if for no other reason than to satisfy my own curiosity as to whether people would actually give money.
If you were to visit the Makeup Museum, would you expect it to be free?