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January 2014

Friday Fun: the newest MM staff member!


Please give a warm welcome to Space Babo!  He's a bit of a space cadet, obviously, so I'm not sure what I can have him do at the Museum.  He's got a super fancy belt that he can store things in so maybe he can be another art handler.  In any case, he is ridiculously cute and very happy to meet the rest of his plushie family!

MM Musings, Vol. 15: Location, location, location

Makeup 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!

(image from someecards.com)

One of the issues that's foremost in my mind is finding a suitable location for the Makeup Museum, as I only have so much room at home.  While I'm still nowhere near establishing a physical space for it, I love brainstorming possible places.  There are plenty of galleries and other smaller venues where I might be able to do a temporary exhibition, but securing a permanent space is trickier.  Ideally I'd have it in my adopted hometown of Baltimore.  B'more is known for its quirkiness so I think a Makeup Museum would be a perfect fit.  I've narrowed it down to several possible areas:  Mt. Vernon (my hood, which would be very convenient for me and is also home of the Walters Art Museum), near the Inner Harbor (lots of tourist traffic), or somewhere in Station North.  But rather than starting from scratch and renting or buying a stand-alone space, tacking on the museum to an existing one may be another avenue to consider.  It may be easier to get funding for space for a new collection that will be attached to an already-established institution, plus since there are visitors I wouldn't necessarily have to lure them away to a whole different location - they're already in a museum they wanted to see, so why not stop by a little makeup-themed addition tucked away in the building?

In terms of these existing museums, I don't think it would jive well with the collections at either the Baltimore Museum of Art or the Walters (which is a shame as I live a block away from the latter.)  However, I do see it possibly fitting into the American Visionary Art Museum, an institution that features "outsider" art and non-traditional art genres - work by prison inmates, exhibitions devoted to themes like "What makes us smile?", etc.   A gallery devoted to cosmetics may be right at home there.

Finally, I was quite inspired by this post at Museum of the Future in which the author suggests alternative museum locations.  It got me thinking that the Makeup Museum doesn't necessarily need to be housed in a traditional stand-alone space or as an afterthought to an existing museum.  While it's already in a unconventional space (my home), it's obviously not available for the public to see in person, so it has to be accessible.  Some of the venues the author came up with include train stations and airports, but I was most taken with the idea of having the collection, or at least an exhibition, on view in a mall or store.  In fact, this notion has already happened in the form of Keiichi Tanaami's installation at Sephora.  Could you imagine walking into a store and seeing an exhibition, similar to the ones I "curate", and then also be able to buy some of the collectibles you saw on display?  Another possibility is also one that's been done with success - have an exhibition at a makeup expo, like the Makeup in New York show I visited back in September, or the Makeup Show LA's upcoming exhibition on Kevyn Aucoin.

I'm not sure how I would even begin to approach people at these various places, especially since it would be a most unusual conversation and I'm not particularly adept at networking (or at any human interaction, really).  Any suggestions are highly welcome.

Would you rather see the Makeup Museum in a space by itself, as part of another museum or in another venue altogether (like Sephora or a department store?)

Couture Monday: Happy New Year from YSL

As you know, I've been quite harsh on the more recent releases from Yves Saint Laurent.  Just as I had completely lost my faith in the brand being able to come up with some worthy collectible items, they released this beauty in honor of the Chinese New Year.  Outfitted in red and gold, the colors of the Chinese New Year, the design is inspired by one of YSL's floral print open-back dresses as well as the cherry blossoms used as decorations in various Chinese New Year celebrations.




While I wasn't able to find any dresses remotely resembling the pattern on the palette, I did come across one clue as to why YSL would release a Chinese New Year-themed palette:  namely, the designer's iconic Fall/Winter 1977 Chinese collection.  As The Handbook of Fashion Studies explains, "Saint Laurent had a very French idea of the Orient stemming from late seventeenth and eighteenth-century exoticism and chinoiserie, commingled with twentieth-century collecting and the display of artifacts in European interiors and museums."  I'm a little surprised I wasn't aware of this very influential fashion collection, or the link between it and the release of the designer's legendary fragrance Opium, which launched later that year (and went on to inspire two gorgeous palettes.)

(image from pinterest.com)

(images from fondation-pb-ysl.net and pinterest.com)

(image from decadesinc.com)

Style and culture blogger Suzanna Mars has an excellent description of the collection:  "St. Laurent was on an exotic-destination high that summer of 1977, having earlier discoursed on Les Ballets Russes, gypsies, and peasants a l'Espagnole. Now he ventured onto the steppes of Outer Mongolia for a fantasy (but still wearable) collection, his most sumptuous to date. In a 2.5-hour runway show, St. Laurent sent models down the catwalk in Empress dresses (robes d'Imperatrice), pantalons, vests, jackets, and kimonos. These garments were rendered in suede, taffeta, silk, oilskin, damask, satin, and velvet with gold-thread embroidery, tassels and mink trim. The gold thread cost $200 a meter. Tatar and Chinese influences were equally represented in a triumph of aesthetic refinement."

Seeing this collection, along with how Tom Ford re-invented the theme for his final YSL show in 2004, gives me a much better understanding of the link between the palette and the fashion - something that's been sorely lacking in recent YSL beauty releases.  While I do wish I could see the exact YSL dress that inspired the pattern, this palette is much more harmonious in terms of the fashion of YSL while also beautifully representing the Chinese New Year.

Interestingly, when I was researching the connection between YSL and China, I stumbled across this equally lovely palette that was apparently released back in the fall of 2013 in honor of the brand's launch in China. 


(images from butterboom.com)

I'm adding this to my "ones that got away but still hoping I can track down" list.  :)

What do you think of Chinese New Year palette?  Has YSL Beauty made a comeback in your eyes?

Quick post: Lise Watier Illuminating Powder

This pretty little palette from Lise Watier nearly slipped through my curating radar (curadar?) when it was released about a month or so ago with their Jardin de Givre collection.  I guess technically it's a holiday piece, but the silver glitter embellishments and wintry white of the case makes me think of freshly fallen snow, so I deem it suitable for the post-holiday winter season as well.  While I love the beautiful feather pattern on the inside, it was the simplicity and purity of the case's color combination that spurred me to buy it.  As far as I can tell, "jardin de givre" translates roughly to "frost garden", and I think the case captures the idea of an icy garden quite nicely.  While the pattern is clearly peacock feathers, the placement of the silver glitter within the billowing feathers is reminiscent of frost atop delicate winter blooms.







What do you think?   While I think Guerlain's holiday 2011 Parure de Nuit palette is still tops in terms of feather designs, this one is super pretty.

Curator's Corner, 1/19/2014

CC logoLinks from this week and last.  :) 

- Loved these gorgeous Egyptian-inspired beauty tools created by Sarah Linda Forrer.

- Remember how I mentioned that I wanted to see this exhibit on vanities and dressing tables?  Well, lucky duck Meli at Wild Beauty got to see it.  Check out her review

- Here's a great piece by Sali Hughes on judgemental Internet comments on beauty blogs.

- Benefit has some exciting news - they'll be the exclusive beauty partner of Tim Gunn's new show, Under the Gunn (which I can't wait to see since I have such a massive crush on him!)

- The Disney beauty empire continues to expand with these admittedly awesomely designed perfume bottles

- These beauty tips from the 1950s published at Glamour Daze show that some of the tenets we rely on today (i.e., splurge on quality foundation, don't use too much powder) were founded over half a century ago.

- While beauty pointers of yesteryear may have been useful, ads were a different story, as evidenced by the vintage ad blog Do I Offend?  Read an interview with the founder here.

- I'm not really sure what's more horrifying - the idea of DIY plastic surgery, or an app that lets "girls aged 9 and up" perform virtual plastic surgery on Barbie.  Fortunately there was enough backlash against this abomination that it was pulled from the iTunes store.

- What's the total cost of the makeup/skincare you're wearing right now? For Martha Stewart, it's $2,000.  (I actually don't think this is THAT bad, especially for a celebrity...my average is somewhere around $350.)

- I was so sad to learn that Beaute.ie was folding, but by some miracle they have decided to forge ahead!  Long live beaut.ie! 

The random:

- If you're in NYC, check out this new exhibition on 1930s fashion at FIT. 

- Some fun mermaid things:  Charlotte Olympia released a nautical-theme collection for spring-summer 2014, which, as I hoped, included an adorable pair of shoes with mermaids, while this photographer situates mermaids in different cities across the globe.  And a "sushi artist" made this mermaid sushi, among other images.

- Speaking of mermaids, who wants to go to an underwater art museum?

- I loved reading these interviews here and here with my idol, but I seriously got heart palpitations when she hinted at a possible reunion of my favorite band.

- Late to the Archer party, but I've been greatly enjoying it since I'm a fan of both Sealab 2021 and H. Jon Benjamin.  Naturally I liked this interview with creator Adam Reed.

- On the local front, a stolen Renoir that had been missing for over 50 years was rightfully returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

- It's only the first month of 2014, but Uglydolls has already released a new Babster!  Can't wait to get my hands on Space Babo!

That's all for me this week...how are you?

Friday Fun: new MM staff member


Amidst all the holiday bustle I forgot to introduce our newest staff member, who joined us a few weeks after Thanksgiving.  Say hello to Ugly Yeti!  As you know, it's very rare to spot a real live Yeti, but we managed to snag one!  (And he is indeed rare - he's one of only 50!)  He loves forests and snow and all things winter, so he especially liked hanging out with Babo Bear beneath our white Christmas tree.


He might look ferocious but he's actually quite cuddly.  :)

I think I'm going to put him in charge of museum membership...we'll see how that goes. 

Trending: Bold lips

One prediction I have for 2014 is that it will be the year of the strong lip.  And by "strong" I don't mean deep burgundy, neon pink or even bright orange.  I'm talking about the truly extreme hues - blue, green, yellow, black and grey.  Unusual lip colors aren't exactly new, but in recent years, shades and designs once reserved for Halloween started making their way to the mainstream.   After Yves Saint Laurent introduced a black lipgloss in the fall of 2008, more companies (outside of MAC and various drugstore brands, which always sold them) started offering the lip color that was previously solely the domain of the goth kids.  UK-based cult brand Illamasqua joined Sephora in fall 2009 and brought their matte black lipstick with them, while Urban Decay released a sheer black lipstick dubbed Oil Slick with their fall 2009 collection.  In 2010 Makeup Forever released a new line of lipsticks that included a glossy opaque black.

More rumblings of a bold lip trend surfaced in 2011 with the very popular Violent Lips temporary lip tattoos, available in a range of patterns and finishes, along with a sheer green lip gloss from Illasmasqua. 

(images from beauty.com and illamasqua.com)

2012 proved that the obsession with black lips wasn't over with the debut of MAC's limited edition Grey Friday lipstick, followed shortly thereafter by a black lipstick with gold shimmer.  Also in late 2012, indie fave OCC joined the Sephora fold, offering their popular Lip Tars in bright blue, shimmering lime green and bright white.

MAC Grey Friday and Firm Form

Last year, however, is when things started to get even crazier.  Not only did we have Dolce & Gabbana launching a green lipstick with their holiday collection, both Ardency Inn and Lipstick Queen both introduced blue lipsticks, while music star Rihanna wore blue lips for a night out in London.

(images from sephora.com and nordstrom.com)

(image from ivillage.com)

Meanwhile, new kid on the block MDM Flow made a splash in November 2013 with its hip hop-inspired lipsticks.  Founder Florence Adepoju is a recent cosmetic science grad from the London College of Fashion and says that the line is "an accumulation of all my obsessions, the colours black and gold, hip hop, beauty, fashion and science."

(image from mdmflow.bigcartel.com)

The very end of the year witnessed coverage of the statement lip trend at various blogs and print magazines.  Here are some selections from Harper's Bazaar and Allure November 2013 issues.  (Interestingly, this issue of Allure also contained an article about Hunger Games-inspired beauty and how outlandish makeup is becoming more of the norm.)



MAC also kept the trend up with the Punk Couture collection that was released the day after Christmas and included a matte black lipstick - Hautecore, which was previously for sale on Black Friday, and a sheer black gloss, Dark Outsider. 


Finally, based on the sales of lipstick in 2013, some are even suggesting that bold lips are edging out nail polish/nail art as the must-have cosmetic accessory this year.

Personally I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to wearing basically any color on my eyes, but lipstick is a different matter.  While I'm eager to jump on the bandwagon and try all these weird colors, my lips are on the thin side and thus aren't so accommodating for unusual hues.  Plus, while I can get away with green eye shadow at work, I'd definitely get some disparaging looks if I attempted black or green lipstick.  So this boring office job holder can only experiment with the trend on weekends.

What do you think?  Are you up for crazy lip colors? 

Blog note: upcoming projects

Two MM staff members, hard at work helping me dream up new ideas...or maybe just thinking about cookies.

I've been a little quiet but it's not for a dearth of ideas.  In fact, I have tons, but I'm finding they're sort of larger projects that will take more time.  Therefore posting will be a little spotty for the next month or so, or maybe until the spring collections are in full bloom.  But if you're curious, I'll give you a little taste of what I'm plotting:

- a complete Makeup Museum inventory that will be updated quarterly

- a Makeup Museum "library" of sorts

- Curator's wishlist of items I'm still trying to hunt down

- pre-spring capsule exhibition (hint: it builds off the theme of the fall 2013 exhibition)

- a snapshot of what goes on behind the scenes here at the Museum

- and, of course, continuing to work on getting a temporary exhibition in a physical space going and plugging away on the repeatedly mentioned coffee table book (I swear I've started it, I really have!  I've got a working title and main subjects of each chapter figured out.)

As you can see, these aren't things that I can do in one day, so it'll take a bit of time.  But please check back every so often for updates!  :)

Curator's Corner, 1/5/2014

CC logoHappy new year!  Here are some links from the very first week of 2014 (and some from 2013). 

- Congratulations are in order for legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, who was named an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for her work in fashion and beauty.

- Do you dare to try the mismatched eye liner trend?  Eh, I'm passing on this one.

- Something I'm not passing on, however, will be Makeup Forever's new pressed HD powder.  I've been a fan of the loose powder for years so I'm stoked I can get a pressed version to toss in my makeup bag - much less messy for touch-ups than loose.

- Dezeen presents some spectacular masculine packaging for men's makeup.  Will it be enough to get guys stateside to wear it?  Amazing design aside, I'm leaning towards no.

- Salon gives us a thought-provoking piece on feminism, animal cruelty, and wearing makeup.  It's good, I just wish I could fully enjoy makeup without this author and others making me feel bad about it.  (And you will pry my Latisse from my cold, dead hands.)

- Apparently we're beyond BB and CC and even DD creams - EE products have arrived.  I really hope ZZ creams will be end of this ridiculous alphabet-named product craze.

- I'm bidding a somber farewell to beaute.ie, a great Ireland-based beauty blog that decided to fold after 8 fabulous years.

The random:

- There are some really cool-sounding exhibitions going on that I wish I could see, including this one on snow (yes, the cold powdery precipitation) at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, 19th-century toys at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden in New York, and an exhibition on the history of men's suits at the London Museum.

- The authors at Bitch Flicks write an excellent piece describing why Tina Belcher of Bob's Burgers is such a wonderful character. 

- Here are some art masterpieces rendered in Lego form.

- I love sweets so naturally I found this candy-inspired furniture very appealing.

- Horror movie fiend that I am, I watched Insidious: Chapter 2 last night and was scared out of my wits!  If you like horror movies and the first Insidious definitely check it out...in my opinion, it was WAY scarier than the first one.  I was a bit shocked at how the plot actually stayed together too.  Usually horror movie sequels don't make any sense or are just plain stupid, and although a few loose ends could have been tied up, it was surprisingly good.

- Finally, we've had some pretty nasty weather here in B'more and the sidewalks have become death traps.  For this brief post at Gawker, I say THANK YOU.  (Seriously, it is so hard to shovel and salt the five feet in front of your home/business?)

How has 2014 been treating you so far?  Any big plans?