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December 2013

MM Curator's picks and pans for 2013

As we get ready to celebrate the impending new year, let's take a quick look back into 2013 and reflect on the highs and lows of beauty packaging and design.  As I've done in previous years, I present to you my top three picks as well as three collections that didn't exactly knock my socks off.

First, things I loved:

1.  Cosme Decorte Makeup Coffret II:  Between the laser-cut paper insert, the luxe white lining of the box and the woodland creatures frolicking about, this is possibly the ultimate winter cosmetics package.


2.  Clarins summer bronzer:  The glowing red of the compact lid paired perfectly with the intricate, Aztec-inspired pattern imprinted on the powder.



3.  OB for Shu:  while I was deliriously happy to see the Shu/Murakami collaboration, it was Murakami's young protegé that truly captured my heart this year.  OB's collection was sheer magic, full of whimsy and beautiful soft colors.


I also wanted to give an honorable mention to something that was not released this year but that blew me away nevertheless:  the amazing memorabilia that was generously bestowed upon me by a mysterious Stila fan!


And now for the pans.  Here are three that I found to be the most disappointing.

1.  NARS/Guy Bourdin:  I was so excited to learn of another NARS artist collaboration this year given the phenomenal 2012 Andy Warhol collection, but was crushed when I saw the terribly misogynist work by Bourdin, which was used on the packaging for the NARS collection.  Ugh.

2.  Wild Horses palette by Chantecaille:  Yes, I bought it.  But did I love it?  Not really.  I'm not a huge fan of horses to begin with, and this palette followed the same basic four-pan layout as the previous five (!) Chantecaille releases. 

3. All collections by YSL:  Seriously, get it together!

Do you agree with my picks?  If you're so inclined, dig through this year's archives and see which makeup items were your faves (and least fave)!

2013 Holiday Haul


I can't believe I've neglected my beloved blog for a solid week!  But to paraphrase Bob Cratchit, I was making rather merry.  :)  We're just about wrapping up the holiday season, so I thought I'd share the products I picked up between my fall haul and now.  I haven't tried all of them but I can't wait to dig in!  You'll notice there's not much makeup this time around - it's mostly nail polish, hair and bath and body products.

First, the Pedi-sonic...I'm a sucker for fancy foot treatments, especially now as my feet are kind of a mess from running, so I'm eager to try this and see if it works better than my Diamancel file.


Chanel Cosmic, Essie Cashmere Bathrobe, Urban Decay Zodiac, OPI All Sparkly and Gold, China Glaze Ruby Pumps nail polishes.  I was shocked when, a few days before Christmas, I went digging through my polish stash and realized I didn't own a single glittery red polish.  Naturally I had to remedy that ASAP with a trip to Ulta.


Davines All in One Milk and Bumble & Bumble hair chalk, which I haven't had the occasion to try yet...but I think the fresh minty green hue will be fun in the spring.  I had heard of Davines but had never tried it until I started going to a different salon in town, and my stylist used this on my hair.  It's a little too heavy for me since my hair is fine textured, but it smells divine and detangles amazingly well, so I just use it once a week as a deep conditioner on a day that I don't have to style my hair.  I'm also a huge fan of their Sea Salt Spray (not pictured) which, I dare say, I like just as much as Bumble & Bumble's version.  I will definitely be trying more from this line!


Chanel Bronze Platine mascara and Initiation Illusion d'Ombre eye shadow (love both!), MAC Close Contact lipstick, Dark Outsider Creme Sheen lip gloss, It's Physical and Our Secret Fluidlines. 


Finally, lots of LUSH holiday stuff - Penguin Bubble Bar, Celebrate lotion (smells delish and layers well with the Penguin Bubble Bar scent), Ponche and Calacas perfumes.  I'm still testing out the perfumes, so far they're not great on me.  For some reason LUSH perfumes seem to turn weird on me.


What did you get during the holiday season?  Anything you're loving?

Ding dong! Cosme Decorte/Marcel Wanders holiday 2013

While I love this very special Cosme Decorte piece designed by Marcel Wanders, two things make me sad about it:  one is that I most likely will not be able to get my hands on it, and the other is that unlike last year's piece by Wanders, there is no English translation for the extensive description at the Cosme Decorte website (last year I found it via Facebook.)  This year's limited-edition face powder is called Awakening Beauty, the theme of which builds off of last year's powder, which was Sleeping Beauty.  This was the most I was able to find about the inspiration behind the design:  "Silently she lies cased in her dream world. All around, water lilies dance in time to the beat of her loving heart, a protective embrace that holds her forever young and beautiful. At last she awakes to the sound of a soft lullaby of golden bells." 

As with the 2012 compact, this powder has a delicate fairy and flowers imprinted on the powder.  The porcelain bell lid is functional, producing a soft ring when lifted.


(images from cosmedecorte.com)

Wanders has an affinity for bells that goes back at least as far as 2007, when he created eight large-scale, hand-painted bells for a "personal editions" collection.  These were largely decorative but also were available with an optional light fixture.  Like the bell used for the powder, these have bows at the top.



(images from marcelwanders.com)

Earlier this year he revisited the bell theme with these lamps for Moooi.

(image from marcelwanders.com)

He also used the bell in this cheese plate for Marks & Spencer for their winter 2013 home goods collection.

(image from marksandspencer.com)

For Wanders, "The bell represents a very early and essential form of communication, generating a welcoming ring that brings people together for festivities and congregations."  In the case of the Cosme Decorte powder, the bell is used to awaken the fairy from her slumber. 

What do you think of this?  I think it's meant as a collector's piece, but I'm curious to see if anyone out there would actually use it.

Curator's Corner, 12/21/2013

CC logoLinks from this week and last. 

- How Christmas-appropriate:  Cosmetics Design offers a brief overview of frankincense, gold and myrrh in beauty products.  I don't think, however, that this is nearly as interesting as their previous story on a new marijuana-based skincare line.   I wonder how this new one compares to another hemp beauty line I mentioned early in 2013.  

 - Apparently the nail polish/nail art craze is fading.  Too bad - this news comes just after the first "Nailympics" were launched.

- Speaking of trends, move over vajazzling!  The latest for your ladyparts is steaming.  File that under WTF.

- Love high heels but hate the pain that sometimes goes with them?  Try this foot numbing spray!  (Ugh, seriously?)  Or maybe you could try out these new heels that apparently are as comfortable as sneakers - the inventor even ran a 5K in them.

- Even if you don't watch South Park, this piece at The Beheld is a must-read.  (It's beauty-related, I promise!)

- A photography student takes the use of Photoshop in beauty ads to task, and does a damn good job of it.  Now, won't someone please shut down the notion of a "bride body"?  The fact that there is an entire company devoted to helping you "look your best" (i.e., help you lose weight) for the big day is revolting.

- The first LUSH spa in the U.S. is due to open in NYC in early 2014.  I was all excited because I love LUSH, then I remembered that what I don't love is strangers touching me (hence my aversion to spa treatments.)

- I do, however, plan to indulge in these new luxurious Clarisonic brush heads.  While they are gimmicky (they provide only a 9% improvement in cleansing) they are much softer than the regular brush heads.  Plus one of them is called the "Cashmere Cleanse".  I can't resist such finery!

The random:

- I loved these vintage Christmas cards featuring fancy Christmas trees, along with this contemporary project that examines the design of various eggnog cartons.

- Look, now you can officially be a card-carrying feminist!  (via Design Crush)

- There's an exhibition devoted to vanities and dressing tables at the Met, which obviously I'm dying to see.  I was also drooling over the ancient jewels in this Christie's sale.

- Finally, some holiday cuteness.  Check out Lil Bub's holiday video, which, as far as I can tell, is just the little scamp purring in front of a crackling fire for an hour.  Trust me, it doesn't get old!  But this Nativity scene takes the adorableness cake. 

Off to attend to some Christmas activities now - got lots of presents to wrap!

Spotlight on vintage lipstick holders, part 2

Now that we've covered porcelain lipstick holders, let's take a peek at the other main type of vintage holders:  metal.  Nearly all of the metal lipstick holders produced in the 20th century had filigree work or equally ornate details like rhinestones and faux pearls.  And many were fashioned out of ormolu (if you don't know what that is, no worries - I had no idea what it was either.)  According to the good old Merriam-Webster dictionary, ormolu is a "gold-coloured alloy made up of copper, zinc, and sometimes tin in various proportions but usually at least 50% copper. It is used in mounts (ornaments on borders, edges, and as angle guards) for furniture and for other decorative purposes. After the molten alloy has been poured into a mold and allowed to cool, it is gilded with powdered gold mixed with mercury. It is then fired at a temperature that evaporates the mercury, leaving a gold surface.  Ormolu was first produced in France in the mid-17th century, and France remained its main centre of production."  

Some of the heavy hitters in terms of brands included Sam Fink, Matson, and Florenza.

There's very little information on Sam Fink, but if you see a goldtone lipstick holder with a cherub on it, chances are it's a Sam Fink.  The company was active from the 1950s through the '70s.  I'm not sure whether the company's signature design was an angel or if there just happens to be a large proportion of them for sale currently, but quite a few Sam Fink pieces have this figure.

(image from ebay.com)

(image from etsy.com)

(image from ebay.com)

As with Sam Fink, there's hardly any information on Matson.  However, the dogwood flower and roses were common in their designs. 

(image from rubylane.com)

(image from rubylane.com)

Florenza was a jewelry company founded in 1949.  Lest you think their pieces have some kind of Italian flair, the company name had nothing to do with the city of Florence but was a riff on the founder's mother's name.  Florenza manufactured slightly higher-end pieces that were sold in department stores like Bloomingdale's and Lord & Taylor.  Unlike their competitors, Florenza offered a multitude of finishes for their lipstick holders beyond plain gold.  These are two of their "French white" items, which were actually enamel that sometimes had a metallic finish.

(image from ebay.com)

(image from ebay.com)

Picking up from where I left off in part 1 of this post, I am curious to know why these types of holders are unpopular now.  Or at least, not liked enough that any company would manufacture any in these styles.  Perhaps it's just a matter of trends and popular opinion - the taste for ornate display pieces has simply disappeared in favor of more practical, space-saving options.  Or could it be that as women gained more freedom in the latter part of the 20th century, unabashedly feminine items were considered a liability to the feminist movement.  I'm not claiming that feminism killed the lipstick holder, but maybe it helped shift the original aesthetic to something that would appeal more to the "liberated" woman.  As more women entered the workforce, a sensible lipstick organizer would make sense in helping them get out the door on time rather than fussing with an overly-designed holder.  It seems very likely that in reaching for a lipstick one would knock over a figurine or one with a large element in the middle, like the third Sam Fink and the Matson holders shown in this post.  And maybe women wanted to shift away from wearing makeup to look pretty or viewing it as a luxury - toned-down makeup became the norm for working women who wanted to appear nothing but professional, and they wanted something equally plain to contain their products.  (I can't back any of this up, of course...just speculating here.)  Fortunately, nowadays we've moved beyond the functionally sound but dully designed acrylic holders.  I think Anthropologie strikes a nice balance between elegant and utilitarian in their lipstick holders.

(images from anthropologie.com)

What's your preference?  Do you enjoy the gaudiness of the gold filigree holders, the super girly porcelain figurines, or a basic acrylic lipstick organizer?  Or a combination of modern design and retro style, as represented by the Anthropologie lipstick holders?  To be honest, porcelain figurines creep me out, I find clear plastic holders extremely uninspired, and the more modern ones just don't have the same appeal as true vintage holders.  So I'm partial to the old-school filigree metal lipstick holders - I love how over-the-top they are!

MM Smackdown: Rodent Riot

Thanks to the husband for the awesome poster!

Peace on earth?  Screw that!  It's time for an old-fashioned Makeup Museum Smackdown!!

This season, both Korean drugstore champ Etude House and the ever-kooky Anna Sui collaborated with Disney for Minnie Mouse-themed collections.   Now they're going to duke it out in an epic Rodent Riot to see who did it the best.

Let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

In the right corner, we have a strong lineup from Anna Sui.  The collection includes nail polish, lip balm and a tin with an eye shadow palette and lipstick.  There are two versions of the tins - punk fiend that I am, I selected the red-hot Rock Song set over the purple Romantic Serenade set.



KAPOW!  Anna Sui throws a solid first punch with the adorable details on the sides of the tin.


A bow-shaped palette echoes Minnie's hair accessory of choice, and is decorated with the reverse of the pattern found on the tin.



Borrowing a move from Paul & Joe's playbook, the lipstick is shaped just like Minnie's head, and she's even winking!  BOOM.


The Anna Sui collection still has a few tricks up its sleeve with a sparkly red nail polish with a Minnie-shaped cap and a lip balm with a Christmas-appropriate holly design.


But Etude House is in it for the long haul and won't be taken down easily.  Their collection features nail polish and several blushes and highlighters in more Minnie-esque colors than their foe.


The uncomplicated black-and-white sketches of Minnie against a background of her signature dots deliver a sharp right hook to Anna Sui's more complex illustration of the famous mouse.


WHOA!  The Minnie imprint on the powders themselves gets a good jab in at the Anna Sui collection, which left the eyeshadow powder unadorned.





The nail polish cap features a classic mouse-ears print...


...while the bow-shaped glitter in the polish strikes another blow.


So who will emerge victorious?  Will high-end Anna Sui edge out a little-known (stateside, anyway) drugstore brand?  Or can the simpler design and precious color palette of Etude House's collection defeat the more substantial Anna Sui lineup?  Tell me in the comments!

Quick post: Lulu Frost for Bobbi Brown

Sometimes tons of crystals on a palette can appear, for lack of a better word, cheap.  Not so with this very tasteful mirror compact created by jewelry line Lulu Frost for Bobbi Brown's Hollywood-inspired holiday collection.  Lisa Salzer, founder and creative director of Lulu Frost, spoke to elle.com about how the collaboration developed.  "[Bobbi] bought a necklace of mine and wore it out to a wedding and loved it...she actually called us afterwards and from then on, a great relationship was born.”

I thought the pattern was really unique and pretty, and I like that there's a retro feel to it without being costume-y.  It's the ultimate expression of "modern vintage".






Salzer states that the design took its inspiration from an old compact that Brown had purchased at a flea market.  “So I took that [compact] and created one that was encrusted with an Art Deco pattern of crystals on top. I love Deco. It’s so classic, the craftsmanship is incredible, and there’s also a geometry to it that’s very cool.”

Since I'm short on time today I will not go into comparing this piece to Art Deco compacts or jewelry, but I will say that it's a good representation of the Lulu Frost style.  Incidentally, I did look at the website to see if there was anything identical to the pattern on this compact.  There were similar items but nothing identical, so I was pleased that Salzer did something different just for this collaboration but still kept true to her aesthetic.

What do you think of this compact?  Too blingy or just right?

Spotlight on vintage lipstick holders, part 1

I was doing a lot of scouring on E-bay for vintage compacts and came across a slew of other vintage beauty items, that, sadly, have waned in popularity.  Lipstick holders were a mainstay of many women's vanities from roughly the 1930s through the '70s.  These often ornate accessories seem to have been replaced nowadays with more utilitarian lipstick "organizers" made from clear plastic.  I'm not sure why - I'll explore possible reasons in part two of this post - but for now I want to give a very quick rundown of how past generations of women stored and displayed their lipstick.

From what I've found, there were generally two types of materials used for lipstick holders in the 20th century:  porcelain and metal.  Part one of this post will cover the former.  According to this article, the three largest and well-known producers of porcelain lipstick holders were Josef Originals, Enesco and Lego Imports.

Josef Originals was created by Muriel Joseph George in 1945.  Originally the ceramics were produced in California, but when rival companies began selling cheap knock-offs, Josef Originals merged with pottery distributor George Good.  The new Josef Originals figurines were then produced in Japan from 1959 through the 1980s, when the company was acquired by Applause, Inc. and the figurines ceased to be produced.  Most of the lipstick holders were made in the '60s and '70s, and in the latter decade the company introduced a lineup of mermaid (!) and fairy figurines.


(images from ebay.com)

Enesco was founded in 1888 and remains one of the leaders in porcelain production (this is the company that produces Precious Moments figurines).  These are a bit more rare and hard to find than Josef Originals.

(images from ebay.com and worthpoint.com)

(images from ebay.com)

Lego Imports (not to be confused with the little toy blocks) is also still in existence today.  Primarily known for its head vases, the company also made lipstick holders in the same style.

(image from ebay.com)

While The Examiner article cites the pieces produced by these three companies as being the most desirable lipstick holders to collect, I found another source that manufactured lipstick holders of equal or nearly equal quality, or at least, popularity.  Norcrest Fine China was founded in 1958 in Portland, Oregon by Japanese-American businessman Bill Naito, whose father Hide, established a gift shop there in 1921 that sold porcelain wares and other trinkets.  While the business was headquartered in Portland, the items were manufactured in Japan and shipped to the U.S.  (You can read more about the history here.)  The company closed in 2004.

(image from ebay.com)

(image from mermaidmania.com)

Like the metal holders we'll see in part two of this post, ceramic lipstick holders largely fell by the wayside in the late 20th century.  I'm still awestruck by how overtly feminine they are - not only do they overwhelmingly come in pink or other "girly" colors, the spaces for the lipstick are often gathered in the folds of an enormous hoop skirt.  I know it's a lipstick holder and thus, an object that is geared towards women, but the markers of femininity in these vintage holders are incredibly exaggerated...and are perhaps one of the culprits behind their disappearance from most women's vanities in the late 20th century?  We'll explore that in part two.  Stay tuned!

MM Holiday 2013/Winter 2014 exhibition


For this exhibition I had one word running through my head:  ornate.  I was thinking about items that had all sorts of elaborate designs - swirls and scrolls and gemstones were what captivated my imagination this season.  And gold!  Lots and lots of gold.  I always enjoy the excess of the holidays in both shopping and eating, so I figured I'd indulge in makeup that's over-the-top too.  

While the label paper looks beige, it's actually a pale metallic gold.  My lackluster photography skills couldn't capture it properly!





Top shelf, left to right.

Stila paint can and Glacier Ice palette:


Vintage Revlon ad (which, unfortunately I managed to tear during installation - #conservationfail) and lipstick case:


The case has some marks on the interior but I was too afraid of doing more damage to attempt to clean it.  Better call in Poe to help me.




Murakami for Shu:



Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Jewels lipsticks:




Second shelf, left to right.

Lulu Frost for Bobbi Brown mirror compact:



Cosme Decorte Makeup Coffret:



Clarins Barocco palette:


Guerlain Météorites from holiday 2009:



Third shelf, left to right.

Marc Jacobs Light Show powder:


Armani crystal palette and lipstick from 2009 - I totally spaced on taking a picture of the label, so here's the text:

"Infused with Art Deco style, Armani's holiday 2009 palette and lipstick are embellished with a circular pattern of clear and black Swarovski crystals.  The collection is a nod to the designer's fall 2009 couture collection, which combined modern silhouettes with a glittering, vintage-inspired array of multi-hued crystals."


Dior Illuminating Powder:




Clé de Peau holiday palette from 2009:



Bottom shelf, left to right.

Elegance Nouvelle Eyes palette:


Paul & Joe holiday 2009:


MAC Antiquitease postcard and Royal Assets palette from 2007.  I was trying to nab the palette with gold casing on ebay but could only find the silver one...must keep an eye out for it.


I do clean the shelves, I really do, but I can't always remove the sticky residue from the double-sided tape I use to adhere the labels.  I don't know how it ended up on the top of the shelf.


Lancôme palette and lipstick:



So what do you think?  Are these pieces too busy for you?  Or do you like how crazily embellished everything is?