I'm not sure why but this spring I have bees on the brain! It could be the lovely Chanel Mouche de Beauté powder, Marc Jacobs' upcoming Honey fragrance or these stunning images for McQueen's bee-themed spring 2013 collection:
Dior Garden Party palettes, which I neglected to include in last year's exhibition! I meant to do a capsule exhibition with them but never got around to it. Probably should have anchored the clutch palette on the left somehow.
- Speaking of trends, apparently belly button rings are back. I didn't know they were out! I've always loved navel rings - I had one when I was a wee lass of 17, in the good old days when my tummy was still relatively flat. Of course, with my luck it ended up getting horribly infected and I had to remove it, but I seriously loved it for the few months I had it.
- I love Bumble and Bumble's Surf Spray, so I'm over the moon that they're introducing Surf Spray Shampoo and Conditioner! This will take my attempts at beachy mermaid waves to exciting new heights.
- The Awl links to an article containing some of the most bizarre interpretations of Radiohead songs. I do have one to add: while "Paranoid Android" is on an album that was released in 1999, I still see some of the lyrics of that song as an eerily prescient description of 9/11's carnage at the World Trade Center.
- I've been experiencing some intense '90s nostalgia the past couple of weeks. Naturally I loved this round-up of bad clothing from the earlier part of the decade, along with this 1999 pop culture supercut. It includes the gems of that year (Office Space, Futurama), along with the more cringe-inducing moments ("Mambo Number 5", Blink 182).
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!
There are literally thousands of general ethics guidelines for museums and entire books written about how to run a museum ethically. In this installment of MM Musings I'm hoping to narrow down what the main areas of ethical concern are and how general museum ethics protocols can be specifically applied to a museum devoted to cosmetics.
With most museums, the one of the biggest ethical issues is procurement - in the past, some major museums gathered their objects in ways that are considered unethical, if not illegal (the most prominent cases being the Elgin Marbles, Nazi-looted art, and the plundering of artifacts from indigenous populations). But there is no moral quandary with how items are collected for the Makeup Museum, as these are contemporary items that I buy with my own money. I'm certainly not shoplifting and I do not receive anything for free from cosmetics companies. And while I buy some of the items through E-bay, with the exception of one item, I have not bought anything from sellers that clearly purchased the entire stock of a highly sought-after collection purely to re-sell it for several times the retail cost (MAC's collections are famous for exorbitant E-bay prices).
However, a makeup-focused museum does raise other ethical questions. As I see it, the three main topics in running an ethical Makeup Museum are: 1. transparency - making the museum's procurement and other policies clear to the public; 2. cosmetics production, i.e. do the companies that manufactures these items engage in unethical practices; and 3. Sponsorship: how can the Makeup Museum partner with cosmetics companies in a way that will maintain its integrity?
For now, this isn't an issue. I have always been up front about how I obtain the Museum's objects, and its governance and mission have always been clear as well. Right now, museum operations are straightforward - I buy the objects with my own money (pointing out any gifts from friends or family members) and from a blogging standpoint, it's a one-woman show.
2. Cosmetics production.
This is the most perplexing issue I grapple with, and it's unique to a museum that showcases cosmetics. I know that some of the items I purchase for the Museum are produced by brands that are owned by L'Oréal, a company that still supports animal testing in some way or another. I also wonder about the working conditions at the factories that produce cosmetics. By purchasing these objects, I am complicit in the suffering of animals and/or worker exploitation. I'm not really sure how to fix this problem without compromising the Museum's mission. There are certain pieces that are critical to exhibitions...it's definitely a conundrum that will need to be resolved should the museum become a bona fide 501 c 3 organization.
Many museums accept corporate sponsorship for exhibitions and other programs. While I do like the idea of having the Makeup Museum be totally independent of corporate handouts, it would be a huge financial boon to have a major company sponsor some aspect of the Museum - a website overhaul, a pop-up exhibition or the donation of objects. As long as I had complete oversight of the exhibition or website content (making sure it holds true to the objectives of the Makeup Museum rather than acting as a glorified ad for the company's products), I think corporate sponsorship could be done ethically.
These are the biggest ethical topics I can think of right now. What do you think an ethical Makeup Museum consists of?
I loved the old-timey quality of Paul & Joe's Carousel collection description. "Join Paul & Joe on 'Carousel' - a thrill ride of fashion that spins beauty, whimsy and enchantment into a revolution of style! You'll be dizzy with delight, when you discover the whirling, twirling assortment of textures and tones that beguile with childhood innocence - and tempt with grown-up sophistication! 'Carousel' spring 2013 - it's a ride you will remember!" The text definitely makes me think of my childhood vacations at the beach. The only place I've ever seen a carousel is a boardwalk, so the association between carousels and the shore is very strong for me - reading this text I can practically smell the caramel popcorn and salty ocean air.
Anyway, onto some pics of this delightfully nostalgic collection!
The collection features three eye color powders in predictably adorable prints.
Here's Calliope (082):
La Belle Epoque (084):
There's also a pressed powder.
The elaborate puff and insert lend a cushy feel.
The powder itself consists of pink, green and gold swirls reminiscent of cotton candy.
Finally, three new lipstick cases were introduced for the collection.
I purchased two of the lipstick refills. Even the refill carton is extravagantly detailed.
Merry-Go-Round on the left, Manège on the right:
Now it's time to play one of the Curator's favorite games - seeing if the prints in the cosmetic collection appeared in Paul & Joe's seasonal fashions. And yes, we have a winner! The cat print from one of the eye shadows and the face powder is borrowed from several clothing items, including a dress and top.
Paul & Joe once again delivers a solid collection, hitting all their hallmarks - an extradordinary amount of detail in every piece of packaging, a design that perfectly expresses the collection's theme, and a variety of cute prints, including ones made just for the makeup collection but also one that ties into the seasonal fashion lineup.
Normally I try to showcase pieces that are worthy of the Makeup Museum. Every once in a while though, I feel the need to call out a company on shoddy, unimaginative work. I have been displeased with Yves Saint Laurent for years now, and I'm not sure why they consistently have been releasing such boring palettes. Are they having some sort of identity crisis, perhaps tied to the re-branding of the company to drop the "Yves" in the name? Or are they just not trying at all?
Here are some examples of palettes that I found disappointing.
Sadly, their lackluster offerings continue with both the spring and summer 2013 lineups. The Arty Stone collection for spring had nothing to do whatsoever with the clothes that came down the runway for that season. The Creative Director for YSL Beaute, Lloyd Simmonds, explains the collection: “Pink quartz, amethyst, pyrite, malachite, azurite, jade, each possesses
a hypnotic beauty. When you hold them in your hands, these precious
stones diffuse energy and light, like galaxies. Their crystalline purity
and voluptuous opalescence were the departure point for the creation of
the Spring Look 2013 for Yves Saint Laurent." That's a nice description, but gemstones are an easy jumping-off point for a gorgeous palette (see Clé de Peau's Vintage Holiday palette and Luminizing Compact). Instead YSL gives us an extremely boring geometic pattern, and one that also doesn't resemble their Arty jewelry line.
Even the items I have purchased in recent years I have not been thrilled with (see the spring 2010 Y-Mail palette, the 2008 Bow palette, and the fall 2012 croc palette). I long for the days of the lovely Palette Pop, which was based on a holiday card designed by Yves Saint Laurent, or the fabulous Opium palettes. I wonder why Mr. Simmonds can't do something great with the fashion YSL is known for - how about a palette with a Le Smoking jacket embossed on it? This would be a big improvement to the rather mundane tuxedo collection from holiday 2011.
I have lost faith in this brand at the moment. Let's hope YSL can find their creative footing again.
As someone who is endlessly fascinated with color and tries to find exact shades to match whatever I'm inspired by at the moment, this new app from China Glaze is pure genius. Basically it allows you to take a picture and get a nail polish match for it instantly.
My favorite examples of the app in action came from the cheeky writers at Jezebel, who took many an amusing picture to get a color match for things such as Plan B pills, Mitt Romney's tan, and a tabloid headline.
I, of course, put the app to a more noble use: matching the fur of one of my beloved Museum staff members.
Anyway, I think this is one of the greatest apps ever. I don't use many apps because I tend to think most of them are useless, but I think every cosmetic company should offer this. Just think of the possibilities...you could get a lipstick that perfectly matches your favorite coral t-shirt or a blush the exact same delicate rose of a Laduree macaron. Plus it would be infinitely useful for foundation matching. This is, of course, assuming the color matches that the app provides are totally accurate.
Maybe I'm just tired and delirious from my longest run to date this morning (16.25 miles!) but I am in love with this app. What do you think? It's free, so if you haven't tried it already give it a spin!
In case you haven't had your fill of desserts from the Sweet Tooth exhibition, I'm bringing you more sweet treats courtesy of MAC's Baking Beauties collection. I picked up the two Pearlmatte face powders: In For A Treat and Pink Buttercream, which feature delicate, frosting-like floral designs. And for your viewing pleasure I put them on this positively adorable macaron wrapping paper from Paper Source.
I also love the promo image with its abundance of beautifully decorated cakes and a plate of macarons - the model is purely secondary to them! Incidentally, I think the green plate on the lower right is the same one I used to hold the Ladurée trio in the Sweet Tooth exhibition.
I can't look at cake displays without immediately thinking of Wayne Thiebaud's famous cake paintings, which he painted from memories of his work in restaurants rather than actual displays. Here is perhaps the best-known one, Cakes (1963). B'more is so close to DC - I should make a trip to the National Gallery to visit it again.
In my opinion, his work is very appealing because it conveys nostalgia and is completely unpretentious. An article by Cathleen McGuigan for the Smithsonian hits the nail on the head in describing what is so enjoyable about Thiebaud's cakes, and I think it could be applied to his other subjects as well (lipsticks, hot dogs, gumball machines, just to name a few.) "In a contemporary art world enthralled with such stunts as Damien
Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, Thiebaud is wonderfully ungimmicky. He
belongs more to a classical tradition of painting than to the Pop
revolution that first propelled him to national attention in the 1960s.
Then, the sweet everydayness of his cake and pie pictures looked like
cousins of Andy Warhol’s soup cans. But where Warhol was cool and
ironic, Thiebaud was warm and gently comic, playing on a collective
nostalgia just this side of sentimentality. He pushed himself as a
painter—experimenting with brushstrokes, color, composition, light and
shadow. The cylindrical cakes and cones of ice cream owed more to such
masters of the still life as the 18th-century French painter Chardin, or
the 20th-century Italian Giorgio Morandi, as critics have pointed out,
than to the art trends of the time." That's all well and good, but was the man just obsessed with desserts and food in general? Of course not. As McGuigan explains, "Over the years Thiebaud has repeatedly tackled the same subjects—not
to perfect a formula but to keep exploring the formal possibilities of
painting. 'What kinds of varying light can you have in one painting?' he
asks. 'Direct glaring light, then fugitive light, then green glow. It’s
a very difficult challenge.'...When Thiebaud paints an object or form, he famously surrounds it
with multiple colors, often stripes or lines, of equal intensity, to
create a halo effect—though you might not notice that unless you look
closely. 'They’re fighting for position,' he says of the colors. 'That’s
what makes them vibrate when you put them next to each other.'" Though some see a loneliness or melancholy in his cake paintings, I choose to perceive them as taking on a "celebratory" tone, as one critic states. Thiebaud himself has denied any sense of sadness in these works. In a PBS interview from 2000, he shares why it was risky for him to make paintings of cakes and pies: "It's fun and humorous and that's dangerous in the art world, I think.
It's a world that takes itself very seriously, and of course, it is a
serious enterprise, but I think also there's room for wit and humor
because humor gives us, I think, a sense of perspective."
I think the pretty designs on In For A Treat and Pink Buttercream would be right at home in a Thiebaud painting. :) Did you pick up anything from Baking Beauties? And do you like Mr. Thiebaud's work?
To brighten up this gray day I thought I'd share a little floral happiness from Clarins. The spring 2013 face palette features an embossed iris with stripes and pink and peach on either side.
I don't really have much to say about this, except that like Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog, I thought this was a hibiscus. It doesn't look very iris-like to me either in color or shape. I also wish Clarins would fill us in on where they get their inspiration. They've been making some really gorgeous palettes in recent years but it seems they just slap something on with no explanation. It's a little frustrating for collectors like me, who like to know about the design behind each piece. Still, it's a worthy addition to a spring exhibition.
I was so excited for the Bastet palette that I completely forgot I hadn't featured Dior's regular spring collection. The centerpiece of the collection, the Cherie Bow palette, pays homage to the designer's fondness for bows in any and all forms. Says the press release, "Among the timeless
codes of the history of Dior, the bow is one of the most enduring. When
Christian Dior presented his first collection in 1947, he created the
first Miss Dior perfume to commemorate the occasion. Each
bottle of Miss Dior – available exclusively to Dior couture customers –
featured a bow tied around its neck. 'I like bows to finish a neckline, decorate a hat or close a belt,' said Christian Dior. 'Whether small, large or enormous, I like them in any style and any material.' The
bow embodied a playful femininity embodied by the Christian Dior brand,
acting as an essential punctuating element, an eye-catching, finishing
touch of a dress. Known as the 'Fontanges Bow,' the iconic accent serves
as a charming echo of the ribbons that Louis XIV’s mistress wore in her
hair, and quickly became a recurrent reference at the House of Dior,
decorating, among other things, the oval medallions of the House." As for the palette itself, it "features the classic Fontanges Bow
reinvented by Dior jewelry designer Camille Miceli with three elements
that come together to form a delicate bow shape, sealed with a pearl duo
clasp reminiscent of one of Miceli’s iconic designs." You can read more about the origins of the Fontanges Bow here.
Here is the palette. After reading the description as well as the overview of the use of the bow throughout Dior's history, I was a bit underwhelmed by the design, especially after seeing it in person. The hard plastic used for the outer casing looked cheap, which was surprising given how luxe it seemed on last spring's Garden Party palettes. The overall shape seemed bland to me as well. Thus, I did not purchase it for the Makeup Museum.
After reading that the bow was used for Miss Dior perfume, I did a little digging to see if it made an appearance in the ads for the fragrance. Indeed, the bow was popular in the early ads (from 1949 and 1954.) In these you may recognize the style of Rene Gruau, who also drew the New Look silhouette that appeared on the Tailleur Bar palettes:
Even in the '80s Gruau held tight to the bow motif.
With all these examples, you would think the Cherie Bow palette would have been a little more inventive. Additionally, there was no reason Dior should reference the work of their jewelry designer given the bow's extensive manifestation throughout Dior's history.
What do you think of the Cherie Bow palette? Could Dior have done more with its design?
- Exciting news for one of my very favorite bloggers, Autumn Whitefield-Madrano of The Beheld - she's writing a book!! I think she is possibly the most insightful and articulate writer on various topics related to beauty, so her book will no doubt be amazing. It also reminds me to get moving on my coffee table book, as well as another, meatier beauty book on a completely different topic. ;)
- It's a good thing Mint didn't include me in their survey of beauty shoppers; otherwise I may have skewed their results, one of which found that a woman will spend, on average, $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime. I can tell you I will spend significantly more than that, if I haven't already. And they only shop for makeup 5 times a year?! Try 5 times a week. (via Refinery29)
- I consider myself to be fairly savvy and up on the latest beauty trends, but even I cannot keep up with this seemingly endless alphabetization of foundation/skincare mashups. You know about BB creams and possibly CC creams, but now there are DD creams? This is getting out of hand.
- Michael Kors will be debuting a beauty line in August. I have to say that all the more recent fashion companies' releases of beauty collections (Burberry, Tom Ford, D&G) are all sort of running together in my head packaging-wise, and Kors is further muddying the pool. With the exception of D&G's limited edition pieces, they're all very similar, which is disappointing.
- I have heard countless times that it's a terrible idea to get your Ph.D. in any humanities field, which is why I abandoned my lifelong dream of pursuing a doctoral degree years ago (and have been absolutely miserable job-wise ever since). Nevertheless, every time I read an article like this one detailing just how awful it is in academia, my response is always the same.
Once again, I don't CARE if I'm unemployed or working a crappy job the rest of my life, I want my damn Ph.D!