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October 2014

Friday Fun: Halloween round-up

Happy Halloween!  I thought I'd share some spooky beauty items and ads I've stumbled across the past few months.  (These will be offered without much commententary since it's been a long week and I'm too tired/lazy.)

Estée Lauder Shimmering Spider compact from the Glitter Bug compact collection, 2000:

Estee Lauder Shimmering Spider compact, 2000 
(image from ebay.com)

B. Beauty Dead of Night palette, 2014 (swatches available at Cosmetic Candy).  As far as I know this brand is only available at Superdrug in the UK.

B. Beauty Dead of Night palette, 2014
(image from superdrug.com)

Sterling silver Volupté spider web compact, circa 1930s:

Volupte spider web compact
(image from ebay.com)

*Church Lady voice*  Could it be...SATAN?  Why yes, there is "a bit of Satan" in these Evening in Paris Satin Finish lipsticks, according to the ad (1957).

Satin Finish Evening in Paris lipstick ad,1957
(image from girl-o-matic.tumblr.com)

The devil also makes an appearance in this ad for Cutex, 1954:

(image from pinterest.com)

Cutex had a few ads fitting for Halloween, like this one from 1941.  The shade names sound like they'd be more appropriate for Christmas, however.

Cutex ad, 1941
(image from vintagegal.tumblr.com)

There's also this one from 1966:

Cutex "Killer Diller Colors" ad, 1966
(image from flickr.com)

Another witchy ad, this time for "Contoure" Make-up, 1947:

Contoure makeup magic, 1947
(image from pinterest.com)

Finally, here's a cute Elvira-esque Stila girl in from an email I got a few weeks ago.  Looks like she's also rocking some Louboutins.

Stila Halloween 2014 promo

Hope you enjoyed these!  I'm off to clean up...some staff members got into the Pumpkin Spice M & Ms I found at Target and thought it would be fun to feast on them among the decorative gourds.

Mummy Babo and Sailor Babo

MM Mailbag: Makeup ad from the late '90s/early 2000s

I love getting inquiries but I hate when I let the inquirer down by not having an answer!  This one was truly a head-scratcher.  A woman emailed me explaining that she used to collect beauty ads, and sadly her house burned down and she lost the entire collection (one of my biggest fears!) She wanted to know whether I remembered one of her favorites that was lost so that she could try to track it down.  The ad description is as follows:

- Was for a fall collection in 1998, 1999, 2000, or 2001;

- Was for a drugstore company (Cover Girl, Maybelline, etc.);

- Featured a "smoky and myterious" palette, comprised of "dark greens and purples and blues, very autumnal and mystical";

- Was at least 2 pages long, possibly 3;

- In addition to the model, there was also a cat in the ad.

Unfortunately, since I didn't get into collecting until about 2004, I had no memory of this ad.  I scoured the Interwebz for hours trying every imaginable phrase in Google image search and on Pinterest.  But I know not everything is online so I thought, we'll do this the old-fashioned way.  I bought the 1999 and 2001 September issues of Allure as well as the October 1998 and 2000 issues hoping to find it.  Wouldn't it be cool if I could find the actual ad in an old magazine and send it to her to help rebuild her collection?  Alas, nothing fitting her description was in the magazines, nor in any of the earlier ones I had purchased for my failed '90s exhibition - I had kept an eye out for something fitting the description as I went through those.  The closest thing I found was this:

(image from fuckyeahnostalgicbeauty.tumblr.com)

But that's definitely not it.  While the colors, brand and timeframe fit, there is no cat - a detail the inquirer was sure about.  She has also contacted Maybelline and Cover Girl and did not receive a response (um, nice customer service, jerks.)  I think I may have to buy issues from 2002-2004 just to check those as well. I get plenty of inquiries that most likely will turn out to be unsolvable, but I really thought that with all the information she provided and the fact that this is more recent and not from, say, the '30s, I'd have a pretty good shot at finding the ad.  That's why I'm so frustrated at not being able to unearth it.

So my last resort is to ask fellow makeup addicts:  Do any of you remember this ad and if so, can you please comment on this post or drop me an email?  I would be so happy to have this inquiry solved!


Pola Muselle Nocturnal

The lovely PJ at A Touch of Blusher posted about a very exclusive artist collaboration for Japanese brand Pola Muselle.  You might remember the Pola company from a previous post I did on an event held in London that featured one of the curators of the Pola Museum (also thanks to A Touch of Blusher.)

I was intrigued not only because the museum currently lacks anything from this historic brand in its collection, but also because I wanted to see whether the patterns on the products matched the artist's work.  Japanese artist Kaori Miyayama was selected by Pola to create the Nocturnal fall collection.  After some sleuthing to see if her designs made it onto the products, I chose one blush and the eye shadow palette.

Pola Muselle Nocturnal Blush

The design comes from one her works in a series entitled The Roots of Heaven. I find this to be appropriately named given the tall spindly branches entwined with fluffy clouds stretching upwards.  The pattern extends to the very edges of the fabric, alluding to a seemingly indefinite continuation past the sky.  It's earthy and ethereal at the same time.

The Roots of Heaven by Kaori Miyayama
(image from studioetcetera.com)

I especially like it installed in multiples in this Italian church.  With this light, see-through fabric, there's an airiness in this installation that's more apparent than it would be hanging on a wall in a gallery.  And their incredible height and verticality better emphasize the idea of ascension into a heavenly realm. 

The Roots of Heaven by Kaori Miyayama - installation view
(image from elefantini.wordpress.com)

Now for the eye shadow palette.  The box in and of itself is so pretty.

Pola Muselle Nocturnal Eye Color box

I have to say the patterns on the outside of the case as well as the ones on the shadows themselves stumped me.  I looked at them every which way and while they vaguely resemble one of the pieces from The Roots of Heaven, I don't think there are exact duplicates.

Pola Muselle Nocturnal Eye Color palette

Pola Muselle Nocturnal Eye Color

I thought perhaps the pattern on the outer case came from this piece, #2 in The The Roots of Heaven series.

The Roots of Heaven by Kaori Miyayama - #2

Upon closer inspection, however, I think it came from #1, shown here (first one on the left).  However, there was no closeup of that one at Miyayama's website so I can't be certain.

The Roots of Heaven by Kaori Miyayama #1-3
(images from studioetcetera.com)

I can't give a detailed explanation of her work - little information was available online - but I will say I like it.  It's organic in that it references nature but also has a spiritual, otherworldly aspect  that I find quite peaceful and contemplative, especially in the colossal fabric hangings.  I could see myself in a state of tranquility after gazing up at them for an extended period of time (similar to how I get when looking at Rothko).   Anyway, I'm always pleased to see a company team up with artists who may not get much mainstream exposure, a highly effective strategy Pola borrowed from the master of artist collaborations, Shu Uemura. 

What do you think?

Curator's Corner, 10/26/2014

CC logoI fell off the blogging wagon for a bit - not feeling great on account of this nagging injury that refuses to budge and subsequent weight gain from not being able to do any cardio.  My mood has been...volatile, to say the least.  Anyway, here are some links from the past couple of weeks.

 - Consuming beverages that claim to have beauty benefits is nothing new, but this new line from Juice Generation takes it a step further by encouraging people to drink clay and/or charcoal.  On a related note, apparently ingesting charcoal also has the ability to help people lose weight.  Personally I find that claim to be highly suspicious.

- Speaking of not believing the hype, Jezebel brings to light that the expensive skincare you're buying is most likely nothing more than snake oil.  It could explain why the vast majority of skincare products (except for prescription ones) don't seem to do anything for me.

- Fashionista provides a fun look back at the best guyliner moments in history.

- Scientists have discovered why women want to smell like dessert, something I touched on a while back, and among the many reasons they came up with what I surmised - it's comforting.  I'm wondering if this is also related to the popularity of other dessert-themed beauty products

- I'm always excited by new beauty lines so I'm intrigued by the arrival of European chain & Other Stories in the States, thanks to this rundown of what beauty products they have to offer.

- Not sure how I feel about MAC setting up stores meant for tweens and teens.  On the one hand, it's nice  for the young'uns to have a beauty space just for them, but at the same time I don't think they should be targeted as makeup consumers.  They'll have their entire lives to be bombarded with beauty marketing, no need to start them purchasing makeup at such a young age.  Plus MAC already makes a fortune; this sort of comes off as a callous grab for more profit.  Then again, there's plenty of beauty stuff out there being peddled to this demographic so I don't know.

- From the longest hair to the smallest waist, Beautylish rounds up some of the world's record holders in beauty.

- Makeup Loves Me gives us a peek into the Hard Candy factory.

- I don't think the cost of Jessica Simpson's beauty routine is anyone's business but her own.  I admit if I had that kind of cash I'd probably spend a similar amount (and don't pretend like you wouldn't, either!)

The random:

- If you still don't have any ideas for a Halloween costume, check out these '90s-themed ones here and here

- Ooh, this color thesaurus would very much come in handy for someone as obsessed with color as I am. 

- Greatly enjoying this funny new Tumblr

- Feast your eyes on the latest Starbucks creation:  the Chestnut Praline Latte.  I had already known about it since Baltimore happened to be one of the test markets last year.  I can confirm that it's tasty and I'm happy to see it go nationwide this year. 

- Wired presents a great history of mermaids.

- Um. Stay classy, Baltimore.  Seriously, WTF?  On a more positive note, I was pleased to get confirmation from a linguist that Kathy Bates's character on American Horror Story: Freak Show does indeed have a Baltimore accent (albeit quite exaggerated and not 100% accurate), something that I had suspected but for which had no evidence.

- In other TV news, I loved this piece on why Broad City is so awesome

- There's an exhibition on the legacy of Riot Grrrl at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco called Alien She (after the Bikini Kill song). I'm really pleased Riot Grrrl is continuing to get its due, but at the same time I'm beyond crushed that despite my academic work on the subject, which was among the first to recognize the importance of the movement, I have not once been approached to give any insight or guidance on these major projects (see here and here) save for a conference in London.  I have much more to say but this blog isn't the appropriate space for it. 

- Anyway, let's end on a good note (literally).  I saved the biggest and best news for last! Back in September I mentioned that I ordered a very special Sleater-Kinney box set.  Well, turns out it included quite the surprise: a song from their new album that will be released on January 20. Yes, MY FAVORITE BAND IS REUNITING!! Not only that, S-K (or as I like to call them, the holy trinity) is going on tour and after much frustration I got tickets to one of their DC shows in February.  Anyway, here's the song that was released. I've only listened to it once - being the huge dork that I am, I started to cry every time I tried to play it. I just can't believe I'm hearing new music from them, something I never thought would be possible after they announced their "indefinite hiatus" back in 2006 (I cried then, too, for a solid hour upon hearing that news).  And it's good, too!  They sound like their usual awesome, imcomparable selves.  


The video is a bit creepy but it was made by Miranda July, who is, incidentally, one of the artists whose work is featured in the Alien She exhibition.  Anyway, I'm still reeling from the news and just so so so happy.  :)

What's new with you? 

Friday Fun: Too-Faced Quickie Chronicles artwork, solved (part 2)

The first part of this series focused on the art of George Gross, who did some of the illustrations used in Too-Faced Quickie Chronicles palettes.  Today I'm looking at the work of two more artists whose work was appropriated by Too-Faced:  Reginalde Heade and Paul Rader.

The very mysterious British artist Reginalde Heade was responsible for many pulp covers in the 1950s.  I say he's mysterious because there's not even a formal record of his birth (he was born in either 1902 or 1903.)  According to the author of Good Girl Art, "[Heade] died in 1957, leaving no children, no will and no evidence of his existence other than his signatures on those gorgeous covers he produced.  And in 1954, he even stopped signing his work, when the publisher of the books he illustrated went to jail on obscenity charges.  Heade produced over 300 covers, most of them impossible to find.  He is not listed in any British standard artist references - no one even recalls meeting him."  How strange. I wonder if this man was leading a double life, sort of like Ron Swanson/Duke Silver.  In any case, while he was best known for his covers for pulp crime books, he also did some covers for "romance" novels.

His cover for Plaything of Passion (1951) was used for Too-Faced's Sex Kitten palette.  I was looking for any differences between the two, and it looks like the left side of the pin-up's bra provides a little more coverage than in the original.  Who would have thought we'd be more prudish in the early 21st century than in the 1950s?

Plaything of Passion = Too-Faced Sex Kitten Quickie Chronicle
(image from moviepostershop.com)

Heade's work for the 1950 book Coffin for a Cutie (uh, nice title) was also used for the Bad Girl side of the Too-Faced Good Girl/Bad Girl palette.  The Good Girl side is by an unknown artist and used for a book titled No Time for Marriage.

No Time for Marriage and Coffin for a Cutie
(images from moviepostershop.com)

Sorry for the small picture.  Believe it or not, I actually don't own all the Too-Faced Quickie Chronicles, and this was the best stock photo I could find.

Too-Faced Good Girl, Bad Girl palette
(image from urbanoutfitters.com)

Now on to the second artist of this installment, Paul Rader (1906-1986).  Fortunately there's a lot more information on him.  He got his start painting portraits of well-to-do figures in Detroit in the early '30s.  In the early '40s, with a family to support, he moved to New York and began doing advertising illustrations for various companies like General Electric.  By the late '50s he had started getting work with top publishing companies, most notably Midwood.  It was during this time that he cemented his status as a top illustrator for pulp novels.  His wife Edith explained, "[Paul] had the ability to create a desirable woman on canvas...his idols were [George] Petty and [Alberto] Vargas. Paul loved George Petty’s formula for turning each woman he painted beautiful. But Petty’s girls were sometimes anatomically impossible, if those legs were real they would be 9 feet tall. Paul was more of a realist.”  (source

Among the many pulp novel covers he created was for 1961's Sin on Wheels, which was used for Too-Faced's The Makeup Trailer palette.  Saucy!

(image from thegreenlemon.com)

 I apologize again for the atrociously small picture - The Makeup Trailer is another one I don't own and this was the only stock photo I could find online.

Too-Faced The Makeup Trailer palette
(image from beaute-test.com)

He also did the cover for The Little Black Book (1961), which Too-Faced used for its Sure Thing palette.  I like that there is a nod to the book title in the description of the palette.  I noticed the same kind of change as in the Sex Kitten palette:  Too-Faced covered up the model a bit more by extending her blouse on the right side.  Again, I'm not sure why the company chose to do this.  Does Too-Faced have a problem with substantial cleavage?  I guess they didn't want to sex up the covers too much for fear of offending their consumer base, but honestly, it's a pin-up.  They're supposed to be scantily clad. 

Little Black Book = Too-Faced Sure Thing palette
(image from pulpcovers.com)

So that's it for today's installment.  Stay tuned for part 3 where I will be covering more artists.

Don't look back in anger: regarding the MM fall exhibition (or lack thereof), plus a gif party

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.


The lack of time was also a huge obstacle.  I regularly fantasize about quitting my job and writing about beauty and various other topics and also establishing a physical beauty museum.


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!


Fall 2014 haul

I'm taking my quarterly break from writing about art and collectibles to show the makeup I'll be wearing this fall.  :) I also managed to snag the very popular Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Pecan Waffles 2 in 1, which is delicious.

Fall 2014 makeup haul

Remember how I said I may try one of these new neutral palettes?  Well, I did...in the form of Tom Ford's Nude Dip quad.  As you can tell, despite this purchase I'm still loyal to greens which remain my favorite shade to wear in the fall. 

Clockwise, starting from the top left:  Tom Ford Nude Dip, NARS Jardin Perdu duo, Laura Mercier Satin Matte eye color in Tempting Green, Dior Pied-de-Poule quint, NARS Night Porter eye liner and MAC Water Willow Fluidline Eye Pencil, and Chanel Tisse Venitien.  I wore this Chanel quad with Water Willow and it was so pretty! 

Fall 2014 makeup haul

I also picked up NARS Unlawful blush, Armani nail polish #214 (the box says it's called Incense Velvet but I've seen it referred to on other blogs as Woodstone - go figure), Chanel Rouge Noir (been wanting this for a while!) and Orage, Llarowe Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (also been wanting the long-gone Essie Starry Starry Night and found the Llarowe was a good dupe), and some new shades from an indie brand called Contrary Polish.  You can see swatches of those here.


As for lips, I'm going very vampy this year.  I did pick up one caramelly/neutral that will pair nicely with smoky eyes.   I actually tried it out for a more neutral look (trying!) with the Tom Ford quad.

From left:  MAC Hearts Aflame, NARS Bette, MAC Lingering Kiss (not sure what I was thinking when I bought this - it's super opaque and showed up way too dark next to my pasty skin...I looked much too goth!), Chanel Aura, and Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheer #114.


So that's what I hauled this fall.  What did you get?

Makeup as muse: Juan Sanchez Castillo

Neatorama had posted this a while back and I was immediately intrigued.  Makeup + miniatures = awesomeness.  Spanish photographer Juan Sánchez Castillo primarily works on high fashion campaigns, but a new series, Making It Up, shows a more playful side.  Making It Up combines close-ups of a model's face with miniatures to create visually appealing and whimsical vignettes, inspired by his wife's love of miniatures and his own passion for beauty photography.  He says, "My wife loves miniature figures. She used to have whole doll houses filled with little figurines and furniture. And I really love beauty and fashion photography. Whenever I find creative images of miniature figures on the internet I always have to show them to her. With our two hobbies combined, my collection of inspirational images became the beginning of this project.  I came across several creative photography projects with miniature figures placed into landscapes and photographed with female bodies. My own creative project idea was then born in my mind. I have been longing to shoot some beauty images, but make them look like landscapes and place miniature figures into them." 

Let's take a look.



The Gardener:


Painters at Work:


Painters at Work II:


Playing in the Snow (my favorite):

(images from designboom.com)

The project took six months of planning, and they were shot all in one day.  You can read more about the painstaking process of arranging the miniatures here

I love this series because it captures the essence of what makeup application is about:  the art of understanding the contours and planes of one's face to strategically apply cosmetics, determining where the shadows and highlights should go - it's essentially thinking about faces as landscapes with their own unique topography.  Castillo's images express this concept literally in a fresh, fun way.

What do you think?  I love closeups of pretty makeup application and I love miniatures, so this was a total win for me.

Curator's Corner, 10/12/2014

CC logoThis week's links. 

- The Dieline covers a limited edition bottle of Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion, adorned with photos by Andy Warhol photographer Christopher Makos (Warhol was a fan of the product). 

- Via MakeupAlley's makeup board, here's a link to a fabulous paper on the history of lipstick regulation

- Ooh, there's a new reality TV competition for nail art.  Will you be tuning in? 

- In other nail news, Louboutin releases a nail art pen specifically meant to give your digits the red sole treatment.

- Gio at Beautiful with Brains weighs on the merits of glass packaging for beauty products.

- Jezebel reports on the world's most expensive perfume, ringing up at a whopping $228,000 at Harrod's, while their sister site Gizmodo discusses a $4,000 (!) toothbrush.

- Glamour Daze takes us back in time to 1947 and into the Tangee lipstick factory.

- A very talented makeup artist transforms himself into a variety of female celebrities.

- Jane at British Beauty Blogger brings us some spook-tacular coffin-shaped palettes for Halloween.

The random:

- An exhibition displaying Helena Rubinstein's personal art collection is at the Jewish Museum in NY.

- 40,000 year-old cave paintings were found in Indonesia, proving that the earliest cave paintings did not solely exist in Western Europe.

- Deep fried pumpkin spice latte?  Yes please! 

- Carve your Halloween pumpkin the Grumpy Cat way.

- Legendary '90s TV series Twin Peaks will be back in 2016! To help you get ready for its return, here's a slideshow of all 117 sweaters seen on the show.

What's been up with you this week?

New MM staff members!

Some new staff members arrived earlier this week.  Say hello to Cowardly Lion Babo and Origins Babo!



I think since Cowardly Lion Babo is still a bit skittish despite getting his courage medal I will make him an intern.  Plus he'll get along well with the Museum's other intern Babo Bear (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  Well, no tigers...)  I'm not sure what Origins Babo will do.  I might make him in charge of Membership Services. 

I'm off to see how they're getting along with the others!