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June 2014

Couture Monday: Setting sail with Dior

Dior's Transat collection pays homage to both Dior's first resort collection from 1948 and Raf Simons' modern take on the designer's original vision.  From the website:  "Christian Dior presented his first Resort and Spring line in 1948, inspired by the great transatlantic crossings that fascinated this couturier. Synonymous with freedom, elegance and picturesque destinations, the nautical world has always been an invaluable source of inspiration for Dior and its creations. Today, Raf Simons upholds this heritage with the Cruise 2014 collection: his outfits feature all the elegance of a modern nautical look with timelessly chic styling. Transat, the summery look created by Dior makeup is reminiscent of these outfits. A radiant, sun-kissed complexion; ultramarine blue eyes; intense lips and nails with sailor stripes: Transat brilliantly breezes through summer. Nautical chic, Dior style."  I picked up one of the two eye shadow palettes in Atlantique.  The rope detailing and the colors very much align with the collection's description.





And I was pleased to see there was also a direct connection to the fashion that came down the runway for Dior's 2014 resort collection.  Compare the Transat promos to some of the looks at the show:

Dior-Transat-summer 2014-promo
(image from brownthomas.com)

(image from dior.tumblr.com)

(images from style.com)

I don't really have anything to add, except that I did come across more information in Dior's online magazine about how Dior was one of the first designers to introduce the notion of a resort collection, which was quite interesting.  "'As a true native of Granville, I have sea legs,'  wrote Christian Dior in his autobiography 'Christian Dior and Me'. The couturier grew up facing the ocean, in his beloved family villa perched on the cliffs of Granville, in Normandy. As a boy, he contemplated fishing boats with billowing sails and the Channel Islands, which seemed so near in fine weather.  Dior grew up gazing at an infinite horizon, which cultivated his taste for travel. This passion for elsewhere would last his entire life, and live in the heart of his creations. By 1948, he was a renowned couturier in France, and opened his house in the United States. He offered his American clients a collection called 'Resort and spring'. The clothes’ colors were summery, their materials and lines light and easy to wear, their names evocative of paradise : 'Bahamas', 'Honolulu', 'Palm Springs'. In America at that time, the fashion was for cruises, long voyages aboard a steamship with stops in sunny destinations. A quest for summer in the middle of winter; warm holidays spent on distant horizons during the coldest season of the year. One had to dress accordingly. One needed a wardrobe of outfits that were easy to pack and to wear, something ideally suited to long steamboat excursions. And the notion of Cruise collections was born.   'If you travel frequently, you will need clothes that don’t take up too much space, that are light and won’t wrinkle,'  Christian Dior wrote in his  Little Dictionary of Fashion ; and with his very first collections the designer expressed his taste for travel and marine codes (boat necks and sailor stripes).  In 1950, the press communiqué for his Resort collection specified that  'Monsieur Dior has chosen for his color palette soft variations on the magnificent colors of the South Seas',  and the couturier offered his French clients wide-brimmed hats, robes for lounging and shorts in floral or gingham fabrics with names like 'Bain de minuit', 'La Croisette' and 'Méditerrannée' – names that chimed with the dream of sunny, never-ending vacations.  Today, dreams of travel to sunny climes continue to inspire fashion at the House of Dior."  I tried to find images of some of these pieces but came up empty-handed.

While the design didn't knock my socks off the way those of previous Dior palettes have (i.e. Lady Dior or Tailleur Bar) I still think it's a solid addition to my summer-themed collectibles, given how well it ties into both a recent fashion collection and Dior's idea of resort wear over half a century ago.   The only downside is that it makes me yearn to take a fabulous trip on my non-existent yacht!

What do you think?

Curator's Corner, 6/29/2014

CC logoSo no summer exhibition this weekend.  :(  I realized I had made several mistakes in the labels and had to reprint them, plus one item I was waiting on has yet to arrive.  But it will go up over the 4th of July weekend!  In the meantime, here are some links.  

- The Hairpin offers an interesting take on beauty YouTubers.  I can't say I agree, but it's a good read.

- The FDA is finally getting around to making some kind of effort to discuss the topic of paraben safety in cosmetics and skincare.

- Happy 5 year blogiversary to the Unknown Beauty Blog!  Keep up the great work!!

- I thought this "random act of beauty" by British Beauty Blogger was just lovely.

- I can't resist reading about absurdly expensive products, so naturally I had to check out Into the Gloss's review of $100 toothpaste

- I'm intrigued by this new kid on the beauty blog block.  The Beauty of Apathy is a no-rules beauty blog that "welcomes diversity and encourages open discussion."  I'm excited to see what's in store.

- At the request of a U.S. journalist, artists in 27 countries photoshopped her likeness to meet their own beauty standards.  The results were as varied and fascinating as you would expect.

- A Weighty Subject shows yet another hilariously awful vintage diet ad

The random:

- You thought beauty products were dangerous what with lead face powder and belladonna, but apparently fashion could be deadly too

- Wish I could see this exhibition at the National Gallery in London on the techniques and materials artists used to create color over hundreds of years.

- On the local front, I am very excited for Insomnia Cookies to be open, as is Makeup Museum staff. 

- Finally, you may remember last year I had gotten many many tiny shell beads with which to make a proper mermaid necklace.  With marathon training I never got around to it.  This year, however, I have even more beads and more determination to actually make something with them!  How cute are these?! 


What's been catching your fancy this week?

Paul & Joe sell (leggy) seashells by the seashore

I didn't think Paul & Joe could top their delightful yellow and grey dolphin printed blotting sheets from last summer, but their latest offering proved me wrong.  How adorable are these multicolored shells sporting shapely legs?!  



This print is so quirky and fun I was hoping to see it on some of the summer collection items, and Paul & Joe delivered.  I'd be happy to have either of these two tops in my summer wardrobe, although I am partial to the yellow shell.  I especially love the contrasting print on the sleeves.



I love how it's styled here but I would also totally wear this with white skinny jeans and flat sandals.


The shells also made their way into a anemone-laden under-the-sea-print on multiple pieces.



In looking at this dress more closely I think I need it in my closet - appropriate for a wannabe mermaid, yes?  Plus I have the perfect pair of corally-red wedges to go with it.  Still, I'm short so it would probably be to my ankles...but I could always get it hemmed. 

(images from paulandjoe.com)

The rest of the summer collection, which has ice cream theme, didn't really do anything for me.  It's a shame because it's a great idea and I could see so many cute things - ice cream cone-shaped lipsticks, little ice cream cones embossed onto powder, etc. - as a result of the ice cream inspiration.  However, I think the blotting sheets make up for the lackluster remainder of the collection (even though shells have nothing to do with ice cream). 

What do you think?

Makeup as Muse: Susan Merrick

UK-based artist Susan Merrick is a woman of many talents.  In addition to her work as a doula, Merrick produces oil paintings, book illustrations, and "bump" art.   While I do enjoy her oeuvre in general, what intrigues me the most is the art she creates using makeup.

Last summer Merrick embarked on a street art project, making a portrait of a pregnant woman using only cosmetics.  Her goal was to question what we put on our skin.


Her inspiration for the project came from a somewhat unsettling place:  new recommendations from the Royal College of Obstreticians and Gynaecologists (an organization akin to our American version) vaguely advising women to be more aware of skincare and cosmetic ingredients, and reducing their use during pregnancy.  In an article for The Mother Magazine, Merrick notes that this "raised many questions...whether the recommendation was necessary, if it was underplayed or overplayed and what is actually known/reported about the ingredients of cosmetics."  She added, "For me personally it raised the issue that regardless of pregnancy, I should be aware of what am I putting on my skin everyday!  I realised that with or without clear research, perhaps we should be paying more attention to what chemicals we are exposing ourselves to."  Indeed!  Admittedly I  never look at ingredients except for skincare, and that's just because I want to see what the concentration of active ingredients is - I'm not looking for potentially harmful things.  Anyway, I thought that the street art project was an excellent way to bring attention to what we're slathering on ourselves every day.   It also led to some other interesting projects, like going makeup-free for a month (you can check out her detailed experiences at her blog - definitely worth reading) and using up some of her old products to create more makeup paintings. 


I love how she manipulates the makeup to mimic acrylic - in this way cosmetics and paint are interchangeable.   And in the portrait below, the notion of painting one's face becomes literal.



Merrick will also now be able to add entrepreneur to her ever-growing list of work titles, as the above painting is available at her Etsy shop as a print.  (There's more on the way so keep your eyes peeled!)

What do you think of Merrick's work?  Do you read cosmetic labels or avoid certain ingredients?

Couture Monday: Givenchy summer 2014 bronzer

I feel as though every summer cosmetic companies up their design game when it comes to bronzers.  Givenchy hopped on the too-pretty-to-use bronzer bandwagon this year with its Terre Exotique Healthy Glow Powder.  I didn't even know what the pattern was when I first looked at it; all I knew was that it was a must-have for the Makeup Museum.

This little treasure comes outfitted in a sleek black case with a coppery chain detail.


My first impression of the design was that it looked vaguely organic - leaves of some kind, but I had no idea what the raised portions of the patten were.





I figured the pattern had its origins in Givenchy's fashion, as it seemed too intricate to be something that was designed solely for this bronzer.   Low and behold it appeared, quite colorfully, in the 2012 resort collection. 

(images from style.com)

Here's a better image of the print.  An abbreviated version appears in the bronzer - only the central part of the pattern (outer leaves of the irises and bird of paradise flowers) and some chains were used.

(image from artesoul.tumblr.com)

Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci was so taken by the blooms of Hawaii for his 2012 resort collection that the above print appeared on nearly every piece that came down the runway.  But the body-conscious silhouettes gave a hard edge to the brightly colored pattern.  As one critic remarked, "flora has never looked more urban or street."  

Indeed, the print was also used for the packaging on the Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne (Tisci has previously designed the cover for their H.A.M. album in 2010.)

(image from rollingstone.com)

(image from freshnessmag.com)

It's still a mystery to me as to why this pattern ended up on the bronzer this year rather than in 2012 or even 2013.  Was Givenchy running out of ideas and figured this would work well?  Or is it that it's just a fabulous print and the company wants to get as much mileage out of it as possible?

In any case, I think the bronzer is quite lovely, even though it may have worked slightly better if it had multiple colors or at least outlines of the flowers.  I'm glad I found the print on which it's based because you can't initially tell what it is in the pan - it didn't immediately read irises and birds of paradise to me, just symmetrical, pretty shapes.  After seeing the original design you can better recognize the tropical flowers and see how appropriate the pattern is for summer.

What do you think? 

Curator's Corner, 6/22/2014

CC logoHappy weekend!  Did you enjoy the solstice?  I was a little bummed it wasn't sunny here yesterday to fully appreciate the longest day of the year, but c'est la vie.  Anyway, here are some links from the week.

- Bobbi Brown starts her new post as Yahoo Beauty's editor-in-chief...very interested to see how this will pan out.  

- PJ at A Touch of Blusher digs up some fantastic Shiseido commercials from the '60s

- The latest thing beauty woe for women:  "pre-cellulite".  Well, I don't have to fret - I'm already well into the full-on cellulite stage.  :P

- Gio at Beautiful With Brains presents some of the most dangerous beauty practices in history.  I knew about lead face powder, but not belladonna! 

- Refinery29 rounds up some of the latest and greatest beauty apps

- Beautylish gives a brief history of Inglot Cosmetics

- An acne sufferer explains at XO Vain why makeup isn't "false advertising".  Damn straight. 

The random:

- Mental Floss celebrates 29 "weird" museums.  I was surprised I hadn't heard of all of them. 

- Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal discusses a new study that shows how the human brain is hardwired to appreciate art. (via Art Observed)

- The Oatmeal had me in hysterics this week between "The Do's and Do Not's of Running Your 1st Marathon" and "Why Dieting Is Hard".

- Equally funny (or maybe not) was the fact that Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino was arrested for brawling at...wait for it...yes, a tanning salon.  (Come on, don't pretend you don't remember Jersey Shore!)

- In other entertainment news, Vulture votes H. Jon Benjamin the best male comedy performer of the year, and rightly so.  Vulture also named Bob's Burgers the best comedy of the year.

How was your week?

Friday Fun: The Balm illustrations, solved (partially)

I had always been drawn to The Balm's kitschy retro packaging, especially since it reminds me so much of Too-Faced's Quickie Chronicles palettes (see my original post on The Balm from nearly 5 years ago for the company's background).  Many months ago Hautelook had a sale so I stocked up on a lot of the brand's items that I had been eyeing literally for years. 

I got Bahama Mama bronzer, Down Boy blush, Read My Lips lipsticks, Cabana Boy blush, Hot Mama blush, Rockstar palette and one of the Instain blushes.  



While I still haven't solved the mystery of why the company chooses to go with retro images for a such a modern-themed brand, I did manage to track down a couple of vintage illustrations that were used in some of the packaging.

Illustrator Al Moore (read a great profile of him here) was famous for his drawings of pin-up girls in the '40s and '50s, with his work appearing in McCall's and Cosmopolitan, but his main client was Esquire magazine.  Moore was commissioned to create a special calendar for the magazine in 1949.  Below is the June calendar girl: 

(image from ebay.com)

So now we know where The Balm got their Bahama Mama!  

Next up we have the work of Peter Driben (1903-1968), possibly the most prolific American pinup artist.  This image appeared on the November 1946 cover of Titter magazine.  Yes, you read that correctly.   "America's Merriest Magazine," indeed!

(image from flickr.com)

It looks The Balm replaced the mirror with a maraca in the packaging for Hot Mama, which is puzzling.  But what I had been really wondering about all these years is how The Balm, and Too-Faced, for that matter, had been able to get approval for these images for commercial use.   According to my cursory research, they didn't have to.  Apparently once a copyright expires on an image they are considered to be part of the public domain, so anyone can use them for anything they wish.  This is probably common knowledge but I had no idea until now.  I can only assume that these images were in the public domain (i.e., the copyright on them had long expired and was not renewed) and so were able to be used freely on these products.  However, it would have been nice to see some acknowledgement of the original artist on the packaging somewhere.

In any case, I tried to find the images for Down Boy and Cabana Boy but to no avail.  However, my searches did turn up quite a few original illustrations for many of Too-Faced's Quickie Chronicles, so perhaps another post comparing those palettes and their original artwork is in the making.  ;)  Stay tuned!

p.s. This is quite a timely post, as The Balm is once again on Hautelook today. 

Quick post: imagining the future of your beauty routine

I came across this article at Mental Floss about a series of French illustrated cards produced for the 1900 World's Fair that depicted what daily life might be like 100 years in the future.  They're all pretty great and some are downright hilarious (underwater croquet and eel racing, anyone?), but naturally the one portraying a woman's beauty routine was my favorite.  This particular image was produced in 1910 by an illustrator called Villemard. 


Seems rather complicated for something that should be more efficient in the future, no?  Lots of levers to pull and buttons to push - I think I much prefer the gadgets we have now to the contraptions in this picture. 

What do you envision people using in their daily routines in the year 2100?  Assuming I'd live that long, which obviously I won't, I would love to have something that dries and styles your hair perfectly every day in a matter of seconds - no more wrestling with tangled hair and blowdryers!  Villemard's image hints at that but I'd like something less cumbersome and more streamlined, like a helmet of some kind.

Behind the scenes at the Makeup Museum, part 1

In lieu of showing shiny new things today I thought I'd share a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes at the Makeup Museum.  Part 1 will cover the basics while in part 2 you'll see how I install my little home exhibitions.  

So this is where the blogging "magic" happens - our home  office.  The big monitor belongs to the husband since he's a fancy schmancy graphic designer.  I work on the laptop, which I hope to replace this year.  You might remember the Marcel Wanders table that I didn't recognize despite working at it for years.  I also just realized I still haven't removed the labels from the fall 2013 exhibition, whoops.


Our cork board, filled with silly bits of ephemera we've collected over the years:


On the adjacent wall is the Chairman - he keeps me on task, the bastard.


Here's the windowsill where I take pictures of the Museum's objects.  Yes, it looks worn...the reason is that the building is over 150 years old and the historic association fights us every time we ask about getting new windows.


I attempt to use this very nice Canon camera that I acquired last year.  I really wish I could figure out how to properly take pictures - it's a good camera but it's useless if you don't know what you're doing.  Methinks I need a photography course.  I leave the instruction booklet out with the vague hope that one day I'll actually learn to use all the settings.


As for actual writing, I am ALWAYS in my pajamas.  I mostly blog at home, and while there I'm  never actually dressed unless we have people over...plus I need to be comfy!   (The pajamas shown here are seersucker ones from Anthropologie but I'm partial to the printed ones from Old Navy.)


While I write it's not unusual for a staff member to wander in and ask me what I'm doing.


They try to help but every time they end up googling cookie recipes and pictures. 

"Typepad? What dat?"

I don't have a formal writing process.  I generally have a basic idea of what I want to say when I start typing, but it takes a while to flesh it out and make it coherent.  I will say that I have difficulty writing a post about an object without the pictures in the draft.  I'm not sure whether that's an effect of this increasingly image-based culture in which we're all immersed or whether I'm just particularly in need of visuals, but it's much easier for me to write when I have the photos in the draft post.  I'm also prone to falling down rabbit holes - researching one thing will lead me to many other things I find interesting or relevant, so it takes a fair amount of time for me to get a post finished.  Finally, I'm always reminded at how vastly different blogging is than writing an academic paper, even though I've been blogging for years.  I enjoy blogging but I would give anything to write a formal paper again.

Where and how do you blog?  And do you have any tips? 

Curator's Corner, 6/15/2014

CC logoWhew!  There is much to catch up on.  As you've probably guessed I've been either too busy or too drained from the workweek to blog, but I have a brief respite now.  Let's see what's been catching my eye over the past few weeks, shall we? 

- Thoroughly enjoyed this piece on why loving makeup does not also make you any less of a feminist

- I had heard of Make Cosmetics, but what I didn't know prior to reading this profile of the company is that the packaging is based on the work of Donald Judd, plus part of the proceeds go to a foundation "dedicated to accelerating women-led, worker-owned cooperatives to drive large scale change."

- Meli at Wild Beauty explains how, despite the frenzy surrounding 3D makeup printing, it's all a hoax.

- The Dieline gives a shout-out to Marc Jacobs Beauty.  It's all in the "smile". 

- So pleased to see that one of my favorite beauty and lifestyle blogs is back! 

- Next on my reading list is Nails:  The Story of the Modern Manicure, reviewed over at Nailed It.  I feel more validated now in looking to fashion museums for guidance in establishing a beauty museum, since the book was written by a fashion researcher at the Met's Costume Institute.

- Too-Faced's latest mascara ad takes the "better than sex" theme to the next level.

- Glamour Daze covers beauty tips from the '30s

- Avon calling!  Beautylish provides a brief history of the company.  Refinery29 also gives us some beauty history with their slideshow of men in makeup.

- One of my favorite sources for vintage images, Found in Mom's Basement, has some great roundups of both ads for red lipsticks and beauty ads from the '80s and '90s.

- The latest in crazy plastic surgery includes a "hand selfie" in which a woman's hands are injected with Juvederm to make them appear younger in engagement ring photos, along with the "internal bra", which I don't even want to describe.  *shudder*

The random:

- On the pop culture front, check out this interview with the fabulous Carrie Brownstein, along with an interview with Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts of Comedy Bang! Bang!  Oh, and one of my favorite comedies turned 30 and another favorite turned 10 - I can't believe it!

- Chloe Sevigny hits the nail on the head as to why '90s nostalgia is so powerful among my generation.  I also liked this revisiting of 1998's radio hits.  How many do you remember?

- Baltimore simultaneously makes the list of best cities in the world and gets called an "uninhabitable wasteland" by Stephen Colbert

- Have to admit I'm pretty excited for this H&M/Jeff Koons collab.

- In other art news, a German museum replicated Van Gogh's ear through growing his relative's cells.  Kinda creepy but also pretty cool.  On a different art note, I chuckled at 500 years of women ignoring men and cats in art history.

- I was very inspired by this marathoner - I hope to still be this active if I live to 91! 

- Speaking of running, I ran the Baltimore 10-miler this weekend, my third year in a row.  It's a great race, although I was so disappointed in my time - much slower than the previous two years.  Shouldn't I be getting faster?!  I had fun though.

At the start:


At the end modeling the swag:


And I made a friend:


Since my parents were in town, I made a few desserts for them to enjoy, including a strawberry pie.  


Babo Bear loves berries (obviously, since he's part bear) and was very eager to chow down:


I also made honey vanilla ice cream with crumbled Speculoos cookies and raspberry sea salt brownies:


The berries are sooooo delicious and abundant this time of year at the farmer's market.

- Finally, the most exciting news - a Wizard of Oz Uglydoll collection is coming in September!  Naturally I have to have Cowardly Lion Babo.

(image from curiozitycorner.blogspot.com)

So what have you been up to?