In 2010, Japanese multi-media artist Takashi Murakami unveiled 6 Heart Princess (6HP) at the Murakami Versailles exhibition, an animated work in which six good princesses, represented in pink, fight against an evil princess, represented in black. The work is set to air as a TV series in 2014. According to Shu's press release, Murakami "captured the essence of the adventures of magical 'majokko' (magical witch girls) in animated form. 'Majokko' has remained a popular animation genre in Japan for more than half a century; in this world normal girls transform into super women to fight the enemy or solve problems. The new animation work is Takashi Murakami's modern reinterpretation of this genre, subliminating aspects of Tokyo's 'otaku' subculture and the worlds of cosplay and manga into an artwork." In an interview, Murakami explains that 6HP was based on an old Japanese story entitled "Tale of Eight Dogs" that utilizes the format of post-war Japanese cartoons involving "majokko". He also talks about why he chose 6HP for the Shu collaboration, opting for a more, in his words, "raw", expressive animation style as opposed to the more abstract style he had used for previous retail collaborations.
For the Shu Uemura collaboration, one of the six pink princesses and the black princess appear as the two central characters, thus embodying the idea of duality. The collection "reflects the timeless and universal theme of the transformation of feminine desire to reflect another, inner self; the parallel universe between real and surreal, the dark and light sides that exist in every woman...this contemporary makeup collection focuses on the 'paradox' of pink and black princesses as feminine icons, because every woman has a duality within, nice and naughty, innocent and sexy. Explore further dimensions of your charm, your pink side and your black side. Play with the possibilities of multi-faceted beauty, and transform into your other self." That's a good description, but you really should watch the collection video (also produced by Murakami) to get the full picture.
I'll provide more background information in a minute, but first let's take a look at some pics. I got the cleansing oil:
I also got both palettes and lip gloss:
Here's the Enchanted Black Parallel palette. I have the say the black princess is pretty bad-ass with her fishnets and short hair. And that sword!
Here's the Heart-full Pink Parallel palette with the super girly pink princess sporting a heart-shaped scepter, an innocent floppy neck bow and a tiara atop her pigtailed head.
The lip gloss:
The palettes I got were each housed in this dual-sided plastic pouch featuring the faces of the mascot (spirit animal?) of each princess.
The nice e-bay seller I got these from also included the shopping bag - I love that the handles are black and pink!
Of course, you know I can't resist including pics of various launch parties and press events - no company does 'em like Shu. Below is the maniacally-grinning flower in plush form (iterations of this flower have appeared previously in Murakami's work):
But the grandest party was the official press event, which was attended by Murakami himself and, much to my delight, featured lots of plushies. I shudder to consider the possibility that they were thrown out! There were also models dressed up as the princesses. It's not unusual to have models in costume at these events, but in this case I'm wondering if it's a nod to the notion of cosplay.
I don't want to discuss how this collection fits in with Murakami's other work because there is entirely too much of it. I will, however, delve a little deeper into the collection's theme and how Murakami, after other successful retail collaborations, came to partner with Shu. In an interview with Refinery29, Murakami discusses how several characters he created a few years ago were transformed into a makeup collection. "In the past, when I’d had collaboration projects, it was more like...Takashi Murakami and this particular brand. I wanted to change that methodology — I wanted to create a collaboration between Shu Uemura and the animated girl characters that I have created. It’s a very dark story, but when the Shu team heard about it, they focused. They said that this mix of the dark part and the bright part that all women have… if we were to transform that concept into the product, it could be very interesting. I made a very challenging request with this project, but the Shu Uemura team accepted it. So, first of all, there was the concept. Then came the products. I have not been involved product by product per se, but that’s how I was able to do this project." Murakami also talks about how makeup fits perfectly into his recent fascination with cosplay, and how he now understands that putting on makeup, even just an everyday look, is a type of transformation. "People who do cosplay try to transform themselves into animation characters, which have unnatural hair, as well as unnatural faces. They utilize makeup to become that character, and through that process, their personality changes as well. But, makeup is something that women do every day — they transform themselves every day. I don’t wear makeup, so I didn’t know that kind of thing was happening. But, when I interacted with cosplayers, [I realized] that through the makeup process, they 'create' themselves and become a totally different person. They're using makeup as a tool to transform themselves."
Overall, I like the collection. The feminist in me isn't wild about the emphasis on women consisting of two extremes, as it hits a little close to the madonna/whore dichotomy; however, I don't think that's how Murakami intended the story to be interpreted. Given the fact that Murakami is most likely not steeped in Western women's history, I don't think he meant to portray women as being pigeonholed into neat little categories of good and evil. In watching the collection video it seems more obvious, since one can clearly see the focus of the collection was more about transformation and how one can use makeup to accommodate or accentuate different sides of their personality. I also think that while 6HP was an idea Murakami had previously, he completely reworked it to fit a makeup collection, which takes a fair amount of creativity. Plus, he made it holiday/winter appropriate with the addition of snowy trees in the illustrations. While I may have liked to see more details on the inside of the palette (maybe the flower or animals could have been imprinted on each shade), I think the design was well done.
What do you think of the collection? Are you team pink or team black? Me, definitely black...'tis way more fun to be naughty than nice! ;)