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September 2014

Fall 2014 color trend

What started as a hashtag for charity (#nomakeupselfie) back in March 2014 has now morphed into a full-blown trend.  While it seems that fewer people wearing makeup could have translated to many lost sales, for fall the beauty industry wisely chose to embrace the no-makeup fad by rolling out a slew of "nude" or neutral-colored items for those of us who wouldn't dare post a makeup-less picture on social media.  Of course, the new nude isn't purely the beauty industry's response to an online craze; neutrals and earth tones tend to be perennial autumn favorites.  This fall, however, the feel of these products is less heavy and muddy, with more of a glow to them, than in years past.  This gives them a bit of an oomph so you don't end up looking washed out.

Fall 2014 color trend: neutral

  1. NudeStix Eye Pencil in Burnish
  2. MAC Artificially Wild collection Lip Glasses
  3. Becca Ombre Nudes eye shadow palette
  4. Tom Ford eye shadow quad in Nude Dip
  5. Bobbi Brown Smoky Nudes eye shadow palette
  6. Zoya Naturel Deux collection nail polishes
  7. Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette
  8. Stila Eyes Are the Window eye shadow palette in Soul
  9. Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheer Lipstick #114 (Incense)

Additionally, as evidenced by several magazine spreads I came across, the look is a monochromatic, all-over-nude face (and nails, for that matter) rather than neutral eyes paired with bold lips or smoky eyes with a nude lip shade.

Harper's Bazaar, August 2014:




Allure, September 2014



InStyle, September 2014:





Maybelline ad, September 2014:


While I like this on others (Armani's spring 2014 promo in particular made me swoon - it remains the most beautiful glowy nude look I have ever seen), it doesn't appeal to me personally.  The only times I've ever worn a totally neutral face were for job interviews, and I felt rather lifeless and blah, even with a dab of highlighter or shimmer.  Plus, I feel as though my features and coloring lend themselves to shades beyond neutrals - jewel tones are especially flattering - so no matter what products I use whenever I do a neutral look I'm supremely unimpressed with the results.  I tried to replicate the aforementioned Armani spring ad, but it simply didn't look good on me.  Given all the items I have in my stash I doubt it was only a matter of not having the right shades and textures.  But I am intrigued by all these new releases so I may invest in a palette just to give it one more shot and see if I would become a convert to the all-neutral face.

What do you think about this trend? 

Exhibition recap: "Praise of Complexion" at Makeup in New York

Last year I made a pilgrimage up to Manhattan to catch the exhibition of vintage lipsticks at the Makeup in New York show.  This year I realized I had to go back for the 2014 show since it featured an exhibition of vintage compacts and powder boxes. 


The banner was cool but I'm laughing at the date typo at the top.  Those June dates were for the 2014 Makeup in Paris show.  Whoops.


Inside there was a directory, which in hindsight I should have looked at before blindly wandering upstairs. I walked around the 2nd and 3rd floors before realizing the exhibition was on the 4th floor.  I was just so eager and there weren't any maps being given out like last year.


I made it!  I think there might have been an issue with this banner too, although this time I think it's a translation issue rather than a typo.  In the directory banner and online the exhibition is referred to as "Praise of Complexion" while on the exhibition banner it says "An Ode to the Complexion".  Oh well.  I think perhaps they were just re-using the name of the 2012 Guerlain-sponsored exhibition, which featured many of the same items.


Exhibition view:


The tall handsome man on the far right holding a coffee cup and politely pretending to be interested is the husband.  Isn't he sweet to come with me to the exhibition?


So let's get started.  I didn't take pictures of every object but I did get a nice selection.  These two ladies greeted me by the front door.  They're papier maché powder boxes from 1920.



By the windows there was a great lineup, starting with some oddly surrealist powder boxes.

Dressing-Table and Piano-compacts


There were some lovely French 18th-century-inspired compacts and boxes from the 1920s.  So even in the '20s companies were doing the retro packaging thing.


This display of Bourjois boxes was pretty cool.


Bourjois label

I was thinking that if I ever did a bird-themed exhibition I'd definitely have to have a peacock display.  Looks like Praise of Complexion beat me to it!  The top box from Nylotis is from 1920 while the other box and compact are from 1930.


These two 1962 Heaven Sent compacts by Helena Rubinstein are so cute.  The one on the left would be perfect for a holiday exhibition.


Here's the famous "Golden Gesture" compact by Volupté from 1945.  (Why yes, that IS a Babo iPhone case.  Come on, did you really expect me to have something else?)


Here's a bakelite bangle containing powder flanked by two lipsticks (1928).


As we know, celebrity collabs are nothing new.  Check out these compacts featuring the A-list performers of their time.




There were also some quite fancy compacts on display that seem to be closer to the objects at the Ultra Vanities exhibition.  On the left is a 1945 gold and silver compact encrusted with rubies by Boucheron and on the right is Hermès (1960).


I think what I enjoyed most though were the really old boxes, like these French ones from the 18th century.



The small one at the top has a picture of Marie Antoinette on the outer side of the case.



I was curious to know whether these selections were from a book, and indeed they were.  This book is from 2012 but doesn't seem to be available for sale anywhere, which is a shame as it also was the impetus for the aforementioned Guerlain exhibition.  :(


I didn't dare touch the book in the display, but I tried picking up the copy laying on the table to flip through it, only to find that the back cover was adhered to the table with putty.  Respectful exhibition goer that I am, I took it as a sign that no one wanted it to be moved so I just perused it carefully while it was still laying flat.  Not 10 minutes later I glanced back and it was gone.  And NO, I didn't steal it!  I'd be pissed if it were my exhibition and someone walked off with a copy of a book that was deliberately not supposed to be moved.  I couldn't believe someone just snatched it.  It's not like it could be mistaken for a free catalogue - there was only 1 besides the one standing upright in the display.  Plus someone took the time to adhere it to the table with putty, indicating that you should only flip through it at the table.

Anyway, I thought display-wise it was a big improvement over last year.  The labels were more informative and better designed, and there were pretty floral patterns on the backgrounds of the cases holding the compacts.

After I was done drooling over the exhibition we wandered around and a couple of other things caught my eye.  Right behind the exhibition there was a booth from a company called Qualipac, which, apparently, was responsible for the spiky Louboutin nail polish bottle along with many other objects I recognized.


I asked the woman working there about the bottle and she said the Louboutin people were "very picky".  I thought that was pretty funny.  Then again, if they want people to shell out $50 for their nail polish they can't afford to put it in just any old packaging, right?  Plus I imagine beauty companies would have the upper hand in terms of choosing a packaging vendor, given the sheer volume of them I witnessed at this show, so I bet they can be as picky as they want.

I can't remember which company this was but I loved the little lipstick tree they had set up.


This is a terrible picture but you can sort of make out the really cool floral print nail polish bottle caps in the lower right.  I spied an array of wooden caps above too, so I'm speculating that this company (Pinkpac) may do the packaging for Sheswai.

Pink-Pac-nail polishes

I spotted something very interesting at this company's display.  If you look towards the middle-left you'll see two Tom Ford lipsticks (one burgundy, the other ivory) covered in a croc-patterned leather case.  I'm assuming this is just an example of what they would look like with leather casing and weren't actually put into production.  Still, I wonder if we'll see them at a later time?


I couldn't resist picking up a t-shirt - something that wasn't available last year.



There was also a bag like last year with bits of swag.  It had the same Pantone-esque collection of vendors and a pencil, but this year the pencil had glitter (ooh!) and there were also lipstick and nail polish samples.


So that's my tale from the 2014 Makeup in New York show.  I hope there's an equally cool exhibition next year. 

What are your thoughts?

Curator's Corner, 9/20/2014

CC logoI've obviously been very busy given the neglect of this poor little blog, but I was still collecting links over the past few weeks.  Here's a massive catch-up. 

- Here's a great piece at The Hairpin on the myth of white beauty and how actress Lupita Nyong'o is helping to "loosen the claws of colorism."

- NARS will be collaborating with designer Christopher Kane for a spring 2015 collection. I liked the Pierre Hardy collab so I'm excited to see what colors they'll come up with. Other news of note includes the Hourglass flagship opening in L.A. and an upcoming collaboration between Sephora and jewelry designer Alexis Bittar.

- A study by Lancôme shows that most women start to feel old at the age of 45 but feel 5 years younger up to that point.  I guess I'm an anomaly - I've been feeling ancient since I was, oh, 18.

- Oh, take your stupid survey and shove it, St. Ives. I'm with this author over at the Beauty Plus - I don't give a flying fig what men think of my makeup.

- In beauty history, Beautiful With Brains shares some 19th century haircare recipes, while The Cut reports on the recent discovery of the remains of an ancient Egyptian woman sporting hair extensions.  XOJane also shares yet more deadly or dangerous historical beauty practices.

- Sigh.  Date rape drug-detecting nail polish, like so many anti-sexual assault strategies, puts the burden of prevention on the victim.  See why it's a misguided idea here and here.  How about focusing our energy on, you know, teaching people not to rape?

- Rouge Deluxe has the full scoop on the Shu Uemura Shupette holiday collection. I know where most of the Museum's budget is going this holiday season!

- Is my dream of an effective hands-free hair dryer finally coming to fruition?

- In beauty trends, faux freckles are making their way back to the spotlight, and Topshop's new freckle pencil is proof.  Also check out XOVain's report on it, which includes a very nice shout-out to the Museum and a link to my post from last summer on fake freckles. Additionally, it looks like drawn-on spots are here to stay through spring 2015, as evidenced by several runway shows at New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week.

- Speaking of NYFW, let's take a quick look at the top trends, shall we?  I hate to say it but I'm not crazy about the biggest one: the no-makeup look.  Models were sent down the runway with literally no makeup at all at Marc Jacobs, while at some shows they were deliberately made to look as though they were sweating. Ugh.  The only beauty look I really liked was Rodarte's slightly punk eyebrow rings, which sadly isn't even wearable for the average woman, i.e. me.  I guess we'll see what the spring makeup collections have to say.

The random:

- So I'm not that bright.  A new study suggests that children's drawings show how smart they are.  Given my god-awful drawings (I couldn't really even do a proper stick figure) I fear my IQ may be lower than I originally thought.

- In other art news: Hershey Park, eat your heart out.  A chocolate museum just opened in Brussels, Belgium. Must. Go.  And you all know how much I love Morris Louis, so it's great news that images of over 1,000 of his works have been made available online. Of course, there is always some news that pisses me off, like this nonprofit getting serious funding for a museum devoted to the history of video games. Once again I wonder why no one wants to pony up for a beauty museum.

- Coming off the heels of my re-watching of Strangers with Candy, I'm especially looking forward to this new animated Netflix series voiced by Amy Sedaris and Will Arnett. 

- Being the huge Sleater-Kinney fan that I am, I have pre-ordered this very special box set.  October 21st can't get here fast enough.

- Finally, I am heading north for the Makeup in New York show this week and I can't wait!  Last year you may recall I went to see the collection of lipsticks that were on display from the book Lips of Luxury.  This year I'm going to see "Praise of Complexion" which features vintage compacts and powder boxes.  I'll be back with a full report.  Too bad I won't have time to pop over to Brooklyn to see the "Killer Heels" exhibition.

What's going on with you?  

Now it's Marge's time to shine!

Like many longtime Simpsons fans, I was extremely pleased to see this collection from MAC.  I've been watching the Simpsons since I was 11 (even titling a previous blog post with a Simpsons quote), and while I've been disappointed in the more recent seasons, those first few were comedy gold.  MAC's collection pays homage to Marge Simpson (née Bouvier), the long-suffering and very sweet wife of lovable buffoon Homer Simpson. 

I'm amazed at the sheer volume of characters they were able to cram in on the outer packaging.  However, I don't see my favorite bit character - can anyone spot Ralph Wiggum?  He has to be on there somewhere, I just can't find him.




I picked up Pink Sprinkles blush, Nacho Cheese Explosion lip gloss (couldn't resist a shade in the signature Simpsons yellow!) and Itchy & Scratchy & Sexy lip gloss, along with Marge's Extra Ingredients eye shadow palette and the nail stickers.



While I liked the outer packaging, I was less enthralled with the plastic cases.  Something about yellow plastic read very kindergarten to me - the rounded, raised corners of the eye shadow palette in particular made it look like a pencil case my 5 year-old niece would carry.  Granted, it's difficult to execute sophisticated packaging for a cartoon-based collection, but it's not impossible (see MAC's sexed up Hello Kitty collection and these Simpsons/Mondrian-inspired wine bottles).  It might have been better to do a black background for the plastic cases.  I could be totally wrong though, as package design site The Dieline loved the concept.



I'm glad there was also an imprint of Marge's visage on the blush and eye shadows.



I can't bear to use these nail stickers but I'm certainly tempted.


(If you want to see swatches of all products and some great Simpsons quotes, check out this epic post at XO Vain.)

And now, I thought I'd share my top 5 favorite beauty and makeup moments from the Simpsons.

5.  From "The Girly Edition", season 9.  Bart has just wrapped up a super schmaltzy segment for the children's news show, Kidz Newz.

Lindsey Naegle:  "Bart, look up here.  This is where the tears would be if I could cry.  But I can't.  Botched face-lift."

(image from simpsons.wikia.com)

4.  From "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", season 6.  Marge tells Homer her sisters are there for dinner.

Homer:  "Marge, we had a deal.  Your sisters don't come here after six and I stop eating your lipstick."

(image from deadhomersociety.com)

3.  From "Lisa the Beauty Queen", season 4. Lisa and Marge are getting makeovers at Turn Your Head and Coif, one of Springfield's leading beauty salons.

Lisa, as a stylist breaks out a blowtorch: "Isn't this dangerous?" 

Stylist, donning a welder's mask:  "Don't worry, I am well protected."

(image from simpsonswiki.com)

2.  Same episode as above.  Lisa and another contestant are at a rehearsal for the Little Miss Springfield pageant, looking at previous winner Amber Dempsey.

Pageant contestant:  "She's about to bring out the big guns...eyelash implants." 

Lisa:  "I thought those were illegal." 

Pageant contestant:  "Not in Paraguay."

(image from es.simpsons.wikia.com)

1.  My all-time favorite beauty moment is, obviously, Homer's makeup gun ("The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace", season 10). 

Marge:  "Homer, you've got it set on 'whore'!"

Lisa:  "Dad, women won't like being shot in the face."

Homer:  "Women will like what I tell them to like!"

Simpsons makeup gun
(image from jezebel.com)

What do you think of this collection?  Are you a Simpsons fan?  Overall, I thought it was nicely done, and the colors were spot-on.

For the modern DIY beauty devotee: The Alchemist's Dressing Table

I came across this concept for a DIY cosmetics setup via The Fox Is Black a few weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head!  London-based designer Lauren Davies came up with a "collection of analog tools for the production of natural cosmetics at home, inspired by beautiful ancient rituals and the transformative powers of alchemy." 



Other Tools

Hand Tools
(images from heka-lab.com)

Here's the concept:  "The palette of copper and maple wood are chosen for their traditional and folkloric symbolism respectively. Cork is used for its insulating properties, borosilicate glass for its heat resistance and stainless steel for strength. All components are fabricated in collaboration with London-based craftsmen.  Together, the tools form a statement piece; reigniting a dialogue about our relationship with nature and the materials we use...The tools I’ve designed will enable women to forge a stronger connection to their personal beauty rituals and a more magical relationship with nature’s intricate mysteries."  I love this description.  Since I'm not too familiar with DIY beauty recipes and can barely figure out our French press, the video really helped me see how everything works.


The idea of mixing one's own lotions and potions is not new; in fact, up until the late 19th century most women concoted their own beauty treatments.  Says Kathy Peiss in her excellent book Hope in a Jar:  The Making of American's Beauty Culture:  "Nineteenth century American women inherited a tradition of cosmetic preparation, which freely borrowed from a variety of sources and reached back through the centuries...like household hints and cooking recipes, cosmetic knowledge spread by word of mouth, within families and between neighbors.  Women often compiled their own recipe books and passed them on to their daughters...women's access to information about cosmetics expanded even more with the publishing boom of the 1840s and 1850s." (p.12-14)  You can even find these recipes today.

The Alchemist's Dressing Table works in these age-old traditions as well as the tools used, but modernizes everything to create a sleek, streamlined design.  The ancient Egyptians used a combination of a lead-based mineral and soot to make black eye kohl, and Davies provides a rather elegant way to produce soot that can be used in a recipe for eye liner.  Additionally, you can see the similarity between the ancient kohl applicator/mixing tool shown in these images from the British Museum and the one Davies designed. (And look! You can buy an entire book on cosmetic sets in early Britain!)


(images from britishmuseum.org)

I also liked how Davies modified an alembic to distill ingredients for beauty treatments, but still uses the traditional materials: copper, glass and sometimes cork.  Here's a reproduction of a traditional copper alembic and some 19th century alembics for comparison.

(image from coppermasters.com)

(images from mhs.ox.ac.uk)

As for practicality, I personally can't see any use for the Alchemist's Dressing Table myself as I'm a disaster at both cooking and science experiments.  The only value for me would be the packaging of the end product.  I'm envisioning putting everything into pretty little jars I found on Etsy with vintage-inspired labeling, and frankly, I can buy pre-made products that have that packaging.  Purchasing them would eliminate the risk of setting my kitchen on fire, which would no doubt be the end result of my attempt to distill some lavender.  I also imagine this set would be a rather pricey investment for consumers if it were put into production.  Having said all that, I certainly recognize the value of such a setup for those that need or want chemical-free, all-natural beauty products.  If, for example, a vegan and/or gluten-free lifestyle is a necessity, making your own products from start to finish is a way to be 100% sure the products you're using comply with your needs.  You control the entire process.  Indeed, Davies states, "I believe this could be the future of cosmetics for the modern woman who has a desire to be more in control of what she uses on her skin and the impact they have on our environment."  You don't even have to buy, say, rosewater since you can now make your own.  I suppose there are ways to make your own products without this carefully designed ensemble, but these are such beautiful pieces it makes mixing a homemade cream in your old soup pot - you know, the cheap one you got in college that's now scratched to hell - seem downright sad.

The bottom line is that objectively speaking, this is simply gorgeous.  It's not just the beauty-obsessed among us that appreciates this work - the Alchemist's Dressing Table was nominated for the 2014 Design of the Year Award at London's Design Museum.  I would dearly love to get my hands on it...especially if I had a physical Makeup Museum.  I'd have a whole room with this as the centerpiece and people could make appointments to come in and make whatever they want.

What do you think?  Do you mix your own products and if so, would you use something like this?

MM Musings, vol. 18: interview with an exhibition designer!

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!

Ashley-B.Since my last MM Musings post on what a permanent collection display might look like in an actual beauty museum, I've been thinking about ideas for special exhibitions.  But I kept getting overwhelmed with the details of a specific exhibition's themes.  After a while I realized my usual musings style wasn't going to work for a post on special exhibitions, so I changed tactics to bring you something much more interesting and enlightening than my usual reflections:  an interview with Ashley Boycher, Associate Exhibition Designer at the Walters Art Museum here in Baltimore.  Yes, I got to chat (email) with a real-life exhibition designer at one of the top museums in the country!  Enjoy.

MM:  What is the basic process of exhibition design?  Does the curator tell you which pieces they want and you go from there?  Who else do you work with besides the curator?

AB: Although sometimes exhibition ideas come from the public, certain museum trends, conservators, and/or museum educators, the seed of an exhibition is almost always planted by the curator, and the curator is academically responsible for the exhibition throughout the process. Once the seed is planted, the curator writes an exhibition narrative and begins to make a list of objects that s/he believes will best illustrate that narrative. Then there are lost of talks with conservators about which of the objects are in good enough shape and/or can be made into good enough shape for the exhibition given the timeframe. Also, when applicable, there are talks with registrars, who are responsible for the handling and logistics of moving and storing objects, and other institutions' representatives about the feasibility of bringing objects to our institution for the exhibition from other places. This happens with almost all large scale exhibitions and the negotiations with the other institutions often includes logistics about traveling the exhibitions to those institutions as well. In fact, grant funding is often dependent on the ability to collaborate with other institutions and travel the show domestically and/or internationally. Once many of these things are worked out, the curator and I begin conversations.  This is usually about 18 months out from the exhibition opening. We do some preliminary ideation about object groupings and the look and feel of the show. During that time, the curator is also talking in a preliminary way with a museum educator about different didactic and interactive elements that might enhance the exhibition experience. At about a year out, the three of us come together and begin to really hash out the meat of the show. We also bring in representatives from the other museum divisions: IT, marketing, development, security, etc, when we need to collaborate on things like how we will advertise the show and what technology, if any, will benefit the exhibition message, both outwardly and inside the exhibition itself.  All of the details come together in about 8 months, and for the last 4 months of the development process we are in production mode - labels being edited, graphics being printed, cases being built, walls being painted, etc - along with any straggler details that we miss beforehand, which always happens.

MM: Do you do some kind of prototype before the exhibition opens?

AB: It depends. Sometimes we're not exactly sure how a paint color will look in the space, so we'll slap it up on the wall and look at it for  a few days and adjust where necessary. That is, if we have time. Often art is coming out of a space only a week before other art is supposed to go in, which means we don't always have the opportunity to do this. Other prototyping sometimes happens when we are trying out a weird or new display type. And we almost always prototype interactives, both low tech and high tech.

MM:  Do you have experience with designing decorative object-based exhibitions and if so, how does it differ from designing exhibitions for other types of art?

AB:  I've never designed a show that was purely dec arts objects, but they have been a part of shows i've designed. The new installation that opens here in October has lots of dec arts in it.  I would say that in my experience one of the main differences is that many dec arts objects are heartier than other art, in better shape, and often made of less than precious materials, which means that conservation does not always make us put them under a vitrine. In this way they can help to create the look and feel of a space rather than just being purely on display. I suppose that was their original function anyway. :)

MM:  What are some of the latest, cutting-edge developments in exhibition design?

AB:  Well, unfortunately the latest cutting-edge development design aren't really happening at many art museums. Science museums and natural history museums are the ones that are usually on the cutting edge when it comes to design and technology. This summer I visited the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and one of their exhibitions had this amazing custom theatre system. It was made using custom craft carpentry, crazy projectors, and bit mapping. You can see a cool video about the making of it. 

MM:  What was your favorite exhibition you designed and why?

AB:  That's a really hard question! The reason I got into exhibition design was because I was interested in too many different things to pick one thing to continue studying (I'm also just not that much of an academic eve though I really loved school). Working on exhibitions awards me the opportunity to learn about another fascinating different thing with each new project. So I guess my favorite is always whatever the latest project is. I suppose I have shiny thing syndrome. 

MM:  If money wasn't a factor, what would your “dream” exhibition be?

AB:  When I was in graduate school, one of my big solo projects was an exhibition about the art, science, and history of tattooing throughout time and across the globe. I am fascinated by tattoos because they have so many different facets: cultural heritage, technology, biology, taboo, straight up beautiful artistry, the list goes on and on. I think a well planned and designed exhibition about tattooing could be interesting to just about everyone for one or more of these reasons. I'd love to be on a project like that.

MM:  Do you have any ideas or suggestions regarding exhibitions that would have lots of small objects, i.e. makeup?  I promise I'm not asking you to work for free - I'm just looking for any sort of general advice or tips off the top of your head!

AB:  The hard thing about showing a bunch of small things is that the displays always want to look like retail rather than museum quality. My biggest advice would be to make sure you single out your best pieces. Put them on their own pedestals, maybe give them a bigger brighter pop of color, or a few more inches in height. Just make sure they actually stand out in a way that tells your visitor, "hey, you want to make sure you look at me and only me for a sec." If you want to do a display of a bunch of things together for impact or to get a certain point across, especially if it's several examples of one type of thing, make sure you save your 2nd and 3rd tier objects for those displays.


Thank you so much, Ashley, both for the peek into the life of an exhibition designer and for the invaluable advice!!  (And I think we both have "shiny thing syndrome" - more literally for me).