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April 2014

Curator's Corner, 4/26/2014

CC logoLinks for the week. 

- If you're not up for reading the full history of Estée Lauder, Beautylish provides a brief overview of the brand.  Bellasugar also got in on the cosmetics history action by writing up a short piece tracing lipstick's origins thousands of years ago to the present day.

- I'll be featuring her work in a few weeks, but for right now check out artist and doula Susan Merrick's enlightening account of going makeup-free for a full month

- Remember that fancy gold facial I mentioned on Curator's Corner a while ago?  Some lucky editors at Refinery29 got to check it out.  Between this and testing out gold nail polish I'm very interested in knowing whether they're hiring. 

- Loved this parody of Dove's "Real Beauty" commercials

- The gluten-free trend spread from food to makeup a few years ago, but by and large was limited to more indie, lesser-known companies.  I'm pleased to report that mainstream brand Vincent Longo is hopping on the bandwagon and reformulating some of their products to be gluten-free. 

- Via Bust, I learned of an interesting art project that combines the ideas of identity, makeup and empowerment

- WWD reports that Lancome will be collaborating with three Paris designers to create limited edition couture makeup bags, debuting in June.  Of course, the article is behind a paywall but you can read the full scoop at Yahoo.  While these bags are too pricey for me ($500-$1,500) I love the idea of a couture makeup pouch!

- Speaking of the City of Light, Into the Gloss profiles a Paris beauty boutique that sounds right up my alley - vintage-inspired (and I mean vintage - think early 1800s), gorgeously packaged goods with natural, fresh ingredients that you can mix and match.

- These new enamel compact mirrors produced in Birmingham, England's Jewellery Quarter are so lovely.  If you're looking for a Mother's Day gift one of these would be perfect!  Or you could just treat yourself.  ;)

The random:

- Today is Berlin's Museum Marathon!  Some very energetic folks will visit 26 museums throughout the city.  This is such an awesome concept, but I'm a little sad the Lipstick Museum isn't on the route.

- I have often wished Andy Warhol were still alive today, as I would have loved to see his take on social media and the digital age (could you imagine his Tweets?!)  While that won't happen, I am comforted by these recently discovered images he created on a computer back in 1985

- I'm pleased to see this Tiny PMS Match project in which Inka Mathews matches everyday objects to Pantone swatches - similar concept to my Color Connections, no?

- I knew all of these 25 things about Kids In the Hall's Brain Candy movie except for two of them!  In other '90s nostalgia, National Geographic will air a 3-night mini-series on the decade in July.  Can't. Wait.

- Lots of news and fun things about pizza.  First, check out this hypnotizing pizza remake of Cinderella's dress.  Next, a photographer snaps photos of pizza in "natural" habitats, a project he dubbed Pizza in the Wild.  Finally, I have two words for you:  pizza cake.

- On the local front, I have to say I burst out laughing when I read this headline, even though I shouldn't have.  Great job, Baltimore!  I just hope similar issues don't plague the Maryland Bacon Festival taking place today at Rash Field.

What's going on with you? 

Mika Ninagawa for Shu, round 3

To me, makeup is a way to open the door to an unknown world, a world filled with excitement. The magic that takes you from your regular life to an unknown new world and the sense of adventure that accompanies this journey are what I wanted to express through this collaboration.” - Mika Ninagawa

This is the third collaboration Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa has done with Shu Uemura, the previous two having been in 2008 and 2011.  I greatly admired both of those, but I have to say the spring 2014 collection is my favorite of the three.  Ninagawa has taken her work to a whole other level I didn't think was possible. 


As animated in the quirky video above, the artist created four magical wonderlands for Shu's products.  Naturally I had to get all four cleansing oils that depict each one. 


The red Ultim8 cleansing oil’s theme is Forbidden Fruits:   “Evil butterflies are in love with the passion filled garden, ripe with seductive apples and strawberries. One bite of the forbidden fruits will poison you with delight.”  I have had many makeup dreams but none of them involved glittery lashes on fruit!




The blue Whitefficient cleansing oil represents curiosity and shows the Enchanted Carnival where one can “search for the key to another beauty wonderland.”  This is probably my least favorite of the four - that eye mask creeps me out a bit.  However, Mika's incomparable talent for taking haphazardly scattered objects and forming a harmonious composition makes up for it.



The green Anti-Oxi oil depicts the Singing Forest:  “Even the evil butterflies cannot resist the soothing lullaby of luscious lips that put you into a sweet beauty slumber. Once the fresh ivy and wild mushrooms cross your lips, you will slip into an eternal dreamscape.”  Those floating pillowy lips, especially the pair atop the blue-capped mushroom, are insanely cool.  Could you imagine walking through a forest and seeing those?!



The pictures on the pink Pore-Finist cleansing oil form a sweet-filled fantasy that corresponds to Melting Sweet Dream, which is described as a “lucky charm that guides you to angelic butterflies” and encourages one to “enter a dream filled with charming, sweet candies that melt on your mouth.”  While I adore the sexy strawberries in Forbidden Fruits, I think I love the long-lashed candies on this one even more.  I'm also enamored of all the other things in the mix - yellow fluffy chicks nestled up against marshmallow Peeps and little plastic ballerinas surrounded by colorful candy.  Maybe it's my sweet tooth or that I find the color combination to be even more pleasing than the others, but I think Melting Sweet Dream is my favorite.  As Liz Lemon would say, I want to go to there.




Mika's work for this collection impressed me more than the other two because I felt as though she thought about new worlds she wanted to create and then executed them perfectly.  The other two collections contained photos that were, of course, quite beautiful, but lacked the whimsy and imagination she displayed here.  While her amazing composition and use of color are more or less unmatched, I think the addition of a unique concept - in this case, the invention of four magical worlds - elevated her work and made it even more sublime.  I also liked the vibe of these four dreamscapes.  They're a bit surreal, what with disembodied lips and anthropomorphized fruit and candy, but they're inviting rather than menacing ("evil" butterflies aside).  I'd love to put myself smack dab in the middle of any of them and explore!  Well, maybe not the Enchanted Carnival...

What do you think?  And which of these is your favorite?

MM Spring Exhibition 2014


The spring 2014 exhibition is quite flower heavy.  I know what you're thinking. 

Florals for spring
Re-using one of my favorite gifs

However, given how bad this winter was, I am even more deliriously happy than in years past to see flowers again.  They are truly the ultimate expression of rebirth and rejuvenation.  That, combined with how inspired I was by the Philadelphia Flower Show, led to a strong emphasis on flowers for this exhibition.  Finally, you'll notice that some of the pieces are a little...off-kilter.  It's sort of a crazy garden theme rather than standard floral prints.  From a curious flower hat to to Mika Ninagawa's "singing forest" to human heads blossoming, there's a bit of a peculiar, playful feel to the exhibition - neatly tied together, I feel, by the inclusion of Urban Decay's Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows.


Top shelves:


Bottom shelves:


Top row, left to right.

Avon Flower Show Case Lipstick ad and cases...okay, so the cases are plastic and not at all that rare, but I couldn't resist their delightful vintage kitschy-ness. 




Mika Ninagawa for Shu Uemura cleansing oils:





Stila High Tea workbook and quad:



Second row, left to right.

Yayoi Kusama for Lancôme Juicy Tubes:




Clarins Cotton Flower palette:


Armani Belladonna palette:



MAC Hue-topia postcard and Prescriptives In Bloom Cheek Duo:



Third row, left to right.

Dior Pink Pompadour palette:




Chantecaille Save the Bees palette:



Urban Decay Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows:



Milani Illuminating Powder and Rose blush:



Bottom row, left to right.

Stila Look of the Month palette (April) and Garden of Glamour palette.  Can anyone identify the flowers on the latter?  At first I thought they were pansies but now I'm thinking they might be orchids.



Mark Blooming Pretty powder and Clinique Cheek Pops:


Paul & Joe Color Powder and Face Powder for spring 2014:



Chanel Fleurs Célestes palette...just realized I left out an "s" in the exhibition label.  Sigh.



That concludes the exhibition.  I hope it incited some serious spring fever.  Now off you go.  Get off the internet and go outside to enjoy a warm sunny day!

Curator's Corner, 4/19/2014

CC logoI was out of town last weekend, so here are links from this week and last. 

- An editor at Refinery29 tests out a $500 nail polish made with 24k gold.  As we know, I'm a sucker for over the top beauty products so naturally I want to try it too.

- As much as running makes me feel like death, perhaps I should keep doing it since a new study shows that exercise has anti-aging benefits for the skin

- Speaking of anti-aging, a new study confirms what we already knew:  teens are so fickle when it comes to products there's no point in trying to hook them early with anti-aging claims. 

- Another unsurprising study shows that beauty is totally subjective (unless you're a plastic surgeon.)

- In offensive advertising news, Veet unveiled some truly horrific commercials.  Fortunately the backlash was swift and fierce the company pulled them

- Mental Floss rounds up 9 vintage beauty tutorial videos

- Equally fascinating was a slideshow of vanity tables from Into the Gloss.  I love the Marcel Wanders one!

- How gorgeous is this new Jo Malone collection designed by Michael Angove?  And if you can't get enough pretty perfume bottles, check out highlights from the Masters of Fragrance exhibition over at Art Info.

- I was intrigued by this very interesting point/counterpoint between Slate and Jezebel on the politics (?) of not wearing makeup.  I'm inclined to agree with the latter piece - sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

- I'm very curious to check out this new documentary on beauty standards.

The random:

- These fashion predictions from 1893 were truly hilarious.

- Loving this new hip-hop/art history Tumblr (via Hyperallergic.)

- One of the Curator's favorite artists, Marcel Duchamp, gets his very own dictionary.

- In '90s nostalgia, the Offspring's Smash turned 20

- See, you CAN actually get a job with a humanities Ph.D.!  Suck it, everyone!

- I don't care what this new study says.  You will pry my weekend daytime naps from my cold, dead hands.

- Lots of Easter fun!  Check out 10 internet memes as illustrated by Peeps, or find out what kind of Easter candy you are by taking this quiz. Also, did you know Peeps introduced flavors like Blue Raspberry and Party Cake this year?  Hmm...that actually sounds kinda gross.  Not as gross as jelly bean flavored milk, though.

- Back to the good Easter stuff - my parents sent me a truly obscene amount of candy.  If you don't hear anything from me in the next few days it's because I've slipped into a diabetic coma.



How was your week?  If you celebrate Easter, what are your plans tomorrow?

Spring 2014 haul, part 2

I couldn't resist placing one more order at Sephora during the VIB 15% discount last week.  Then Nordstrom had a gift-with-purchase and I'm a sucker for those too...and then I decided I needed new spring nail polishes.  Without further ado, here is the rest of my spring haul.

I'll start with some of the more practical items. I picked up Clé de Peau concealer (trying to see whether it creases under my eyes, which is the bane of my existence at the moment), YSL Touche Eclat since I'm almost out of the tube I have, and I'm giving Becca Ever Matte Foundation a shot.  I took a wild guess on the shade since Becca isn't at my local Sephora, and forturnately Shell is a perfect match.  Also got Deborah Lippmann Steppin' Out foot cream, which is the best one I've ever tried.


Now for more "fun" products:  NARS Années Folles lip gloss, Benefit Lolli Tint (I intend on layering the NARS gloss over it and pairing both with MAC Full of Joy blush, which was in part 1 of my spring  haul), Shiseido Fuchsia lipstick, which I've been pining for for over a year, YSL Gloss Volupté in Corail Trapeze, and Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream #53 - another item I should have just bought last year.  It was limited edition and not available at Sephora anymore but I managed to track it down on E-bay.


And finally, the nail polishes...what can I say, the China Glaze ones were a mere $3.25 each at head2toebeauty.com.

Top row:  China Glaze Love's a Beach, Hang Ten Toes, Strike a Rose, Pink Plumeria

Bottom row:  Essie Resort fling, China Glaze Mimosas Before Manis and Keep Calm, Paint On, Essie Naughty Nautical


So much makeup and yet I'm already looking ahead to summer hauls!  The NARS Adult Swim summer collection in particular is calling my name.

MM Smackdown: Duel of the Daisies


I knew I wanted Clinique's very happy-looking Cheek Pops from the moment I saw them a few months ago.  Little did I know that Mark had an equally exuberant daisy-inspired design up their sleeve.  And you know what that means:  time for a spring smackdown!! 

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

In the right corner we've got some dainty yet fierce flower blushes from Clinique.  Available in four bright shades, they're intended to give your cheeks a fresh pop of color (hence the Cheek Pop moniker).  I've chosen two contenders, Berry Pop and Peach Pop, to battle the palette from Mark.


Unlike a real daisy the whole flower is the same color, but the versimilitude in the shape of the petals and dotted center delivers a powerful blow to its opponent...


...not to mention that the colors are spot-on matches for real gerberas.


In the other corner we've got Mark Blooming Pretty highlighting powder.  While it's not 100% certain that the flowers shown are daisies (the website describes them as "embossed blooms"), they were indubitably close enough to go up against Clinique.   The Blooming Pretty palette's strength partially lies in its outer box, whose blue background offsets the pink and yellow of the flowers nicely...and ruthlessly pummels Clinique, who offers no such pretty outer boxes with their Cheek Pops.


The multiple rows of petals are two-toned, unlike Clinique's monochromatic scheme, but these are more stylized and look less like real flowers.  Looks like Mark's lead may be slipping just a bit.



But wait!   The cheerfulness of the sunny golden rays behind the flowers is rallying to spar with Clinique's joyously vivid shades.


So who wins this daisy duel?  Do the Blooming Pretty palette's larger size, pretty blue box and multi-hued flowers annihilate Clinique's Cheek Pops?  Or do the Cheek Pops' simpler, more realistic design and bold colors come out on top?  Tell me in the comments!

Book review: Beauty Imagined

Beauty-imaginedI was a little leery of this book.  While it's been on my Amazon wishlist for a while, I was concerned that the author, an economist from Harvard, would take a topic I adore and turn it into something dreadfully dry and boring.  Or worse, he would use all kinds of fancy jargon that someone with very little understanding of economics (i.e. me) wouldn't be able to comprehend.  However, Beauty Imagined:  A History of the Global Beauty Industry by Geoffrey Jones was quite enjoyable and informative.  Jones thoroughly traces the industry's origins in the late 19th century through its emergence as the mammoth business it is today, connecting company histories with cultural and economic shifts that ultimately helped shape the perception not just of the industry but also our very definition of beauty.  While Madeleine Marsh's Compacts and Cosmetics and Kathy Peiss's Hope in a Jar are similar in subject matter, Beauty Imagined delves more fully into the economic side of beauty's history.  Still, like his fellow authors on cosmetics history, Jones ensures his writing never gets dull by peppering the text with a plethora of interesting facts and figures.

In the first three chapters, the author gives us a compelling history of fragrance, hair products, toothpaste and soap and how these products laid the foundation for color cosmetics.  It was enlightening in that I hadn't really thought of these as being the ancestral relatives of makeup; I had thought of them each having their own discrete background and not integral to, say, the development of lip gloss.  But as Jones explains, without these more basic items taking root in the early 20th century, other products would not have been born.

Chapters 4 and 5 discuss how neither the Great Depression nor two world wars could stop the growth of the beauty industry, as well as the establishment of the connection between Hollywood celebrities and beauty.  These chapters also explore the growing use of radio, movies and TV for beauty advertising.  Chapters 6 through 8 detail the rise of globalization in the industry, describing how local companies slowly but surely transformed into regional, then national, then international brands from roughly the 1970s to the present day, along with the relationship between phamaceutical companies and beauty brands. 

I thought I'd highlight some of my favorite nuggets of information:

- Coty's first fragrance, La Rose Jacquesminot, got picked up by a department store after the founder smashed a bottle of it on the counter to get customers to smell it.

- Cosmetics weren't regulated by the FDA till 1938.

- Toothpaste was available as early as the 1850s, but it was packaged in jars.  Colgate invented the first collapsible toothpaste tube in 1896.

- The first metal lipstick tube was invented in 1915, and the first twist-up tube in 1921.

- Avon's original name was the California Perfume Company.

- The notion of "green" beauty goes back much further than one would think.  Clarins, Yves Rocher and Biotherm were all established in the 1950s, with an emphasis on using natural, plant-based ingredients.

- As of 2010, consumers spent $382 billion (!) on cosmetics, fragrance and toiletries worldwide.

The only "problem" I had with the book in that it's not actually a problem at all is that there are complete endnotes for each chapter, and perusing them I came across a ton more beauty history books I want to read! 

Bottom line:  Beauty Imagined is different than other beauty books but in a good way, and an excellent read even for those of us who don't have a background in business.  Oh, and if your thirst for knowledge still isn't sated, check out the videos of Dr. Jones discussing the book here and here.

Quick post: Chantecaille Save the Bees palette

I don't really have much to say about this palette except the usual stuff I write about animal-themed pieces by Chantecaille, which is that 1.  Five percent of the proceeds will go to a cause that helps the animal or their habitat (in this case, the Xerces Society); and 2.  I'm getting REALLY sick of these 4-pan palettes.  Please, Chantecaille, come up with something that rivals your old stuff.  It's almost like they told some intern, "This is easy - just copy the design from the horses/sharks/ elephants/turtles/tigers/ dolphins palettes."  Meh.


The bee design is nice, but why not make each one a different color instead of all of them being gold?  Or if you want to get really intricate, make the colors of the wings different from the bodies on each, a la the butterfly eye shadows.  I'm also puzzled as to why the neat little honeycomb pattern on the palette case isn't repeated in the backgrounds of the individual pans.  It's not even a flower either, at least none that I can recognize - just a strange, jagged abstraction.





While I'm bored with the 4-pan format, I bought this because it's good for rounding out a spring exhibition (for some reason I associate bees/honey with spring - see last year's exhibition poster) and also because the idea of having a whole menagerie in palette form is appealing to the collector in me. 

Have you gotten stung by Chantecaille's bees or are you keeping your distance?

Spring 2014 haul, part 1

Okay, so my spring haul might be...excessive, even for me.  I actually had to divide it into two parts, the second of which I will post as soon as my Sephora order arrives (I used the VIB 15% off discount late last week.)  In the meantime, here's what I scooped up between January and the end of March.  As you can see, I focused mainly on lips and cheeks - there's nary an eye product to be found, which is highly unusual for me.


Tom Ford lip sheers in Sweet Spot, Pink Dune and In the Buff, Bobbi Brown shimmer lipsticks in Pink Apricot and Pink Gold, Rouge d'Armani Sheer #314:


So far I've dug in to the Bobbi Brown lipsticks - both are amazing and look fabulous with Stila Kitten eye shadow and NARS O blush.

Now for the blushes.  Top row:  Hourglass Diffused Heat, MAC Full of Joy, NARS Sex Fantasy (can't stop wearing this with a little bit of Bobbi Brown Rose shimmerbrick on top and Bobbi Brown Rose Gold lip gloss.)

Bottom row:  Bobbi Brown Hibiscus Rouge Pot, Armani Cheek Fabric #305, NARS Final Cut and Love


And the rest:  Chanel Sonate Glossimer, NARS Pro Prime primer (not impressed with this so far, sadly), Nails Inc. polish in Princes Gardens, Deborah Lippmann Flowers in Her Hair polish


Davines conditioner, which is too much for my fine hair as an everyday conditioner but makes quite a nice weekly treatment.


What have you hauled so far for spring?