The holiday collections are rolling in and little peeks of other holiday swag are starting to make their way into stores, so it's high time I address the fall 2014 exhibition situation. As you may have guessed from the title of this post and from several other hints I've been dropping since, oh, February, my plan was to not do a traditional seasonal exhibition but do one on '90s beauty and the revival that '90s trends have been enjoying lately. This is an area in which that I declare myself to be an expert, and thought, would it really be so difficult? The answer: yes.
Here's my story about the various challenges that prevented me from executing the exhibition, or even a week's worth of posts on the subject (that was my alternate plan). Figured I might as well make it a '90s gif party to better express my tale of woe.
First, there was the packaging issue. Look, I love the '90s. It was "my" decade. However, from a design/packaging standpoint, there wasn't a whole lot to look at. Pretty embossed powders, to my knowledge, didn't really begin to take off until the early aughts. To make an exhibition focused heavily on '90s products work, you have to add in many more elements. I could have sat a vintage bottle of Hard Candy's Sky nail polish or Revlon Toast of New York lipstick on my shelves, but it just wouldn't have much visual impact even with the addition of ads or other ephemera.
My rudimentary home museum setup works well enough for seasonal exhibitions, but wouldn't properly capture an entire decade. It would be necessary to highlight these objects in more grandiose ways than I'm capable of. If I had a real museum you better believe visiting a '90s beauty exhibition would be like stepping back in time - it would be a multi-sensory experience.
Secondly, accessible resources are lacking unless you're in the beauty industry or in academia. While I have plenty of beauty history books, they don't have extensive info about the '90s beauty or even good, easy-to-find sources (I looked in the footnotes). I don't have access to the Condé Nast archive or Women's Wear Daily, and many important articles about beauty are trapped within those and others like them. It's just evil that they don't make these more easily available or affordable (looking at you, WWD).
So I ended up ordering a bunch of '90s issues of Allure on E-bay, which proved to be not only expensive but also incomplete. I couldn't do a whole exhibition based on a few measly magazines.
While I gleaned some useful information and ads from them, in the end it didn't feel like enough. Plus the thought of tearing out and scanning vintage ads made me very sad.
Plenty of information about '90s beauty is online but I found it consists mostly of slideshows of the same '90s products everyone already remembers, or a quick report of some celebrity updating a '90s trend. There are tons of articles which are helpful as a starting-off point, but they all just barely scratch the surface. I'm guessing this is in part because most online articles are written by milennials who were mere children in the '90s.
I wanted to remind people of things they hadn't remembered, or at least explore the bigger trends and topics much more in-depth than you would see anywhere else, since, as someone who came of age in the '90s and started nurturing my beauty addiction back then, I'm in an excellent position to do so.
For example, it occurred to me that I wanted to have a totally kick-ass infographic with a timeline and fun facts about beauty in the '90s that you didn't already know - sort of like Allure's "By the Numbers" feature but with spectacular design. Good idea, yes?
But with such meager resources I couldn't do it.
In reality I have to work a regular boring full-time job and squeeze in blogging whenver I can, and it's a rather sad blog as I have virtually no readers.
Anyway, to make a good exhibition that goes well beyond the usual seasonal ones would essentially be a full-time job. The alternative of putting up a mediocre exhibition on such a rich topic didn't sit well with me.
The final nail in the coffin was technology. Since I am a bit older (that's how you know I truly am a '90s woman) I was planning on uploading my ultimate '90s playlist for readers to listen to while they browsed the exhibition, but figuring out how to create an online playlist proved too complicated and overwhelming for me.
The bottom line is that it was too broad of a topic to cover the way I wanted to, and rather than put up something that's just meh, I scrapped the exhibition/posts entirely.
It would make a good book though, I think. Wouldn't it be cool if I could write the definitive book on beauty in the '90s?
Note: I already have a title picked out and so help me if anyone steals it I will have no choice but to get violent.
So that is my very long-winded explanation about why there is no fall exhibition this year. But keep your eyes peeled for the holiday exhibition - that one is definitely a go. As a matter of fact I'm off to order some more objects for it. Bye now!