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July 2015

Happy National Lipstick Day!

In honor of National Lipstick Day (who decides these things, anyway?) here's a little gathering of  lipstick-themed bags at different price points.

Save:  Sephora Beauty Insider tote bag - free with 250 Beauty Insider points

Sephora Beauty Insider tote bag

Here are some larger images...the bag is roomy enough to fit a full-sized Babo!

Sephora Beauty Insider tote

Sephora Beauty Insider tote

Spend:  Lipstick bags available via Society6, $22 each

Lipstick tote bags via Society 6
(images from society6.com)

Splurge:  Prada lipstick print shoulder bag, available for a mere $2,400 at Saks and Neiman Marcus

Prada Saffiano lipstick bag
(image from neimanmarcus.com)

There's also a smaller bag with this print available for "only" $990.  I have to admit that if it went on sale for, say, 90% off I'd totally buy it.  Or maybe one of these Saint Laurent lipstick print bags- the colors are a little more subtle and versatile.  A girl can dream...

Hope you're enjoying National Lipstick Day! 

Curator's Corner, 7/26/2015

CC logoLinks for the week.

- Jezebel covers the current state of animal testing in cosmetics.

 - Get silky smooth tresses with the new hair condom!

- Contouring has clearly jumped the shark

- Major beauty crime alert. Glad she got caught.

- Beautiful with Brains shares some very old recipes for literal face paint, while History Today provides some perfume recipes from the early 17th century.

- Speaking of scent, do you let anyone else know what perfume you wear?  I think it's weird when a woman won't share the name of her preferred fragrance.

- So excited that we Americans can now buy Kiko online!  I will be stocking up on the Vibrant Eye Pencils...seriously the best pencil liner I've tried.

The random:

- More accolades for and history of Clueless, plus some little-known facts about another '90s classic, There's Something About Mary.

- These two new exhibitions sound great to me - one is on contemporary toy design (we own some of these!) and the other is a history of internet cats

- The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne will be debuting an art installation right here in Baltimore!

Finally, a blog note: I will be having some quality mother-daughter time at the Jersey Shore later this week so will not be posting much...I should be resuming at some point after I return, but, as you know, I can never guarantee consistency.

Do you have any fun summer travel plans?

Kerrie Hess for Etude House and Lancôme

I thought I'd offer a palate cleanser today after yesterday's somewhat depressing post.  Let's take a peek at some pretty little watercolor illustrations from Australian artist Kerrie Hess.  While the two collections I'll be focusing on were released way back in early spring, I still thought they were worth writing about now since the illustrations are so utterly charming.

While Hess enjoyed her early career as a graphic designer, she soon realized that fashion illustration was her passion. (I'm sure her sister's work was also an inspiration).  In addition to her regular graphic design job for London's The Independent newspapers, she also worked on small commissions for her illustrations.  It wasn't long until they got the attention of the fashion world, and soon Hess was creating campaigns for the likes of Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Alexander McQueen.  Eventually she began collaborating with non-fashion companies like Le Meurice Hotel (where, incidentally, the husband and I stayed for our honeymoon!) and Ladurée.  Now Hess has also made her way into the world of cosmetics.

First up is Korean brand Etude House's Dreaming Swan collection.  Hess created a lovely ballet theme with loads of feminine touches - lots of pink, bows, even a hint of tulle. 

Etude House Dreaming Swan

Etude House Dreaming Swan

Etude House Dreaming Swan compact

Etude House Dreaming Swan pressed powder

Etude House Dreaming Swan makeup bag

While Hess's work is chic and fashionable (she names Grace Kelly as an inspiration), there's definitely an effortlessness about it.  Indeed, as you watch her work on the Dreaming Swan collection, the dabs of paint seem to flow from her brush with great ease.  In an interview with TOTOI, Hess states that while her uncomplicated style stems partly from the fact that she's been drawing from an early age, she also never felt compelled to make a "perfect" drawing.  "I did weekend art classes from about 5 or 6 (in my fluro bike shorts no less) and I absolutely recall my teacher telling me that you are never drawing things or people, only shapes and lines. I like this, it takes the pressure off trying to be perfect; and it still stays with me. I also think that it’s the imperfections in an art piece that can really make it.  A little smudge here or there links back to the piece being done by hand."


Prior to the Etude House collaboration, Hess did a collection for Lancôme in honor of their 80th anniversary.  While I'm peeved it was exclusive to Australia, I can't imagine a better match for this collaboration.  Hess was born and raised in Australia but lived in Paris for over a year.  Calling it her home away from home, she is able to perfectly capture the sophistication and style that are unique to the City of Lights.  About being selected for the collaboration, she says:  "As my illustration aesthetic is very French, all about couture, beauty and Paris, we were a perfect match...I love the sense of history of the Lancôme brand and have always used the products myself. It was also really wonderful as an artist to be given a lot of creative license from Lancôme.  I always feel that I do my best work when this is the case. And with that trust I wanted very much to create really beautiful images to represent a brand that I personally admire.  I hope I have really captured the city of Paris in all of the images, Lancôme being so associated with the city of lights and made the products that we have collaborated on, ones that people will want to keep as much as use."  I personally think she nailed it, but have a gander at her work below and decide for yourself.

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia promo

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia promo

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia promo

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia makeup bag

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia makeup bag

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia makeup bag
(images from spoiltblog.com and facebook.com)

Additionally, the Lancôme collaboration gave Hess the opportunity to add a little more color to her models' faces than she normally does.  She explains, "Working with Lancôme has inspired me to become a bit more dramatic in my illustrations, with dark eye make-up and red lips, whereas I used to keep my faces bare to keep the spotlight on the dresses.” 

I really like how Hess is able to adjust her aesthetic to fit both brands.  The Etude House Dreaming Swan collection was very girly and clearly meant for their teenaged demographic, whereas the more high fashion-inspired, Parisian-themed Lancôme collection would appeal to women in their 20s and older.  And she also emphasized the cosmetics aspect in each by adding some color to the models' pouts (pink for Etude House and red for Lancôme.) 

I'm currently browsing her Instagram and online print shop...I'd seriously consider buying this one if it wasn't sold out!  What do you think of these collections and Hess's work overall?

Makeup as Muse: a cycle of destruction, but also rebirth?

I have a simultaneously inspiring and saddening Makeup as Muse to share with you today. First, I'll focus on the artwork itself.  The city of Donetsk in Ukraine was almost completely destroyed by the German invasion during World War II.  But after the war, the city underwent a great renaissance thanks in large part to the women who went to work in Donetsk's newly created factories.  In 2012, nonprofit arts group Izolyatsia commissioned a public artwork to honor these women and chose Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou to create the piece.  Inspired by Claes Oldenburg's giant lipstick sculpture, Tayou produced an oversized lipstick tube, appropriately titled Make Up! to crown one of the city's industrial smokestacks and pay homage to the women who helped rebuild the city after the war.  She explains, "I noticed that, thanks to the courage of the Ukrainian women, Donetsk rose from the ashes after the war and wanted to make some of their own symbols of love and hope, because, from my personal point of view, Donetsk - is not only a city of mines and metal. It is also an island of dreams, ready to share its hidden treasures." What better way to express this sentiment than lipstick?

Makeup sculpture by Pascale Marthine Tayou
(image from news.artnet.com)

Makeup sculpture by Pascale Marthine Tayou
(image from next.liberation.fr)

Makeup sculpture by Pascale Marthine Tayou
(image from espoarte.net)

Makeup sculpture by Pascale Marthine Tayou - construction
(image from news.artnet.com)

Now here's the sad part.  In early June, Russian separatists from the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) blew up the sculpture, as shown in a video that surfaced on June 24.

Makeup sculpture by Pascale Marthine Tayou - destruction
(image from news.artnet.com)

This was not a random attack.  Roughly a year prior to the destruction of Make Up!, DPR took over Izolyatsia's exhibition space and foundation.  A DPR leader stated, "We had no choice but to occupy it, because the art, which they spread, was not an art at all. On the territory of Donetsk Republic this kind of art will be punished." Another official noted in an interview, "Considering what kind of art they have shown here, this center had to be seized...this is not art and it cannot be art. These people are sick, and they have demonstrated this art to other sick people...this has nothing to do with anything lofty or sublime, with anything Slavic. These people hate everything Slavic, everything Russian...they’ve brainwashed our youth with this pornography. Our youth, instead of growing, marrying, getting children and getting jobs, they degrade...here our population here hasn’t grown, but started dying out.”  The "pornography" that the official was referring to was a book of photographs that contained nude portraits.  Additionally, according to Hyperallergic, Izolyatsia also "earned the group’s ire by resisting the xenophobic nationalism that increased in Donetsk after the fall of the Soviet Union and promoting provocative international art — being an 'agent for change,' as Izolyatsia founder Luba Michailova told Hyperallergic last year."

Izolyatsia's entire space - offices, galleries, bookstore, library - was looted and is currently used as, among other things, a prison, training ground for militants, and *shudder* a place for executions.  Izolyatsia was forced to leave behind much of the art.  Most of what remained has been destroyed, in some cases used for target practice or sold for scrap metal. 

I'm still holding out for a happy ending to this.  The city was nearly obliterated during World War II but was later revitalized.  Maybe a similar renewal can happen after this latest attack.  The cycle has been destroy, rebuild, destroy...so the natural next step is to rebuild again, right?  It's just wishful thinking on my part, I suppose, but I have hope that Donetsk will reclaim its art someday.

The latest in green beauty

Today I thought I'd bring you some very interesting green beauty innovations courtesy of one of my favorite design and architecture blogs, Dezeen.  First up is this hairdryer made out of bamboo, which was designed by Samy Rio and won top prize at the 2015 Design Parade competition.  It's sleek, minimal and looks like something you'd find in a high-end eco-friendly salon or spa.  

Bamboo hairdryer

Bamboo hairdryer

Bamboo hairdryer display
(images from dezeen.com)

From an aesthetic perspective, the design is fantastic - it would look so pretty sitting on my vanity.  But from a practical perspective, I'm curious to know how a simple material like bamboo stacks up next to our fancy ionic hairdryers made of metal and plastic. Would my hair be as smooth as with a regular dryer?  How loud is it?  How does the drying time compare?  Bamboo is a recyclable, renewable resource and I would love to see it used more in beauty gadgets, but if it doesn't perform well, forget it.  

Next up are these false eyelashes fashioned from blades of grass and pine needles, while the glue is made from eggs and water.  Kingston University student Mary Graham designed these eyelashes to highlight the fact that while many cosmetic companies slap the "natural" label on their products, many of them contain ingredients that have been treated with artificial chemicals.  Plus, only 1% of the product actually has to be natural to be earn the label. 

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham
(images from dezeen.com)

While I don't think these lashes are practical for most people (especially those of us with grass allergies) and certainly not intended for everyday wear, Graham believes that they would eventually win over cosmetic aficionados.  "With the ever-growing DIY culture infiltrating cosmetics I do believe that these lashes could catch on as a trend...people are now encouraged to go into their gardens and gather plants and mud to make face masks, so why not eyelashes?" Given how time-consuming it must be to make them and the fact that one can't re-use them as they wilt within 24 hours, I'm not sure how the average person would actually construct their own false lashes from plants.  But I could definitely see them working for magazine editorials and couture shows, especially since the materials change with the seasons.  "I want to create these lashes again but in the autumn so that I could use beautiful oranges and reds.  These lashes have seasons and would appear differently depending on the time of year. Almost like fashion trends, they are always changing and never constant," Graham says.  She also hopes to expand beyond lashes to form a full-fledged, all-natural beauty line that would feature lipsticks made from beetroot and mixtures of sand and chalk for a fake tanning solution. 

Would you try out either of these new beauty innovations?  I'd definitely try out the hair dryer but I'm iffy on the eyelashes.  Not because I don't love how they look, but my eyes are super sensitive and might react poorly to the materials, natural though they may be.

Curator's Corner, 7/19/2015

CC logoLinks for the week.

- Into the Gloss investigates Philip Johnson's lipstick building.

 - Can't say I'm understanding the clown contouring thing.  But multimasking actually makes sense.

- Here's the latest scoop in bioprinting.

- This guy is taking sunburn art to a whole new level

- MAC will be releasing a collection in honor of the late singer Selena in 2016.  Very exciting! 

- Also exciting is this new guide to Korean beauty, which I sorely need.

- Can you believe it? Clueless turns 20 today!!  Here are the best beauty moments and tips from the classic film.  

The random:

- Clueless odes and history continued here, here, here and here.  Whew!  There's also this newly released oral history of the movie, which I must order ASAP.

- If that wasn't enough '90s for you check out this massive 90s playlist.  I dare say it's even better than mine. 

-  The ladies of Sleater-Kinney prove yet again why they are the most awesome.

- On the local front, the husband and I have been greatly enjoying the fruit at the farmer's market.  Yesterday I made a peach pie and blackberry ice cream.  They were both very tasty if I do say so myself, although you couldn't taste the blackberry so much in the ice cream...I should maybe double the purée to get a stronger flavor.

Peach pie

Peach pie and blackberry ice cream

What's new with you?

MM Musings, vol. 20: Makeup skills

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!

Some e-cardA while back the excellent fashion blog Worn Through had a post questioning whether fashion curators needed to also be designers, or at the very least, know how to sew.  It got me thinking whether the same conundrum would face a beauty curator, i.e., does one need to be a professional makeup artist to oversee a beauty museum? 

My gut reaction, naturally, is no. The curators at most art museums are not artists themselves.  And as Jill points out in her Worn Through post, a background in art history and museum studies and/or cultural studies is more crucial for fashion historians and curators than being able to construct a garment.  Seeing as how I have degrees in art history and cultural studies, plus work experience at several museums, I think I'm very qualified to be a beauty curator.  Moreover, I'd argue that just because one is a professional makeup artist doesn't necessarily mean they're any more knowledgeable than I am about beauty history.

However, besides the fact that in recent years there's been a growing interest in the idea of the artist as curator, it is undeniable that a professional makeup artist would possess an abundance of knowledge that would prove useful in a museum or academic environment.  An artist working at a department store counter, for example, understands the cosmetic needs of the average woman, which would be a valuable topic to contribute towards a book or exhibition on contemporary culture.  Meanwhile, celebrity makeup artists and beauty directors for fashion houses offer a unique perspective on the relationship between fashion and makeup.  They themselves are setting the trends - in effect, helping to create beauty history.  Then there are the artists who do it all, from showing non-makeup pros how to easily achieve a certain look to providing their services for magazine photo shoots and runway shows.  Case in point:  Lisa Eldridge, a makeup artist whose enormously popular YouTube videos shot her to fame, is releasing a beauty history book this fall entitled Face Paint:  the Story of Makeup.  As Alex at I Heart Beauty says, "if anyone's qualified to tell the story of makeup it's Lisa Eldridge."

So where does that leave us?  While I believe professional makeup artists could also make good beauty historians or curators, I still don't think being a pro is an absolute necessity.  If you look the beauty history books that I've reviewed or recommended, many of them are not authored by pro makeup artists.  It's a mixed bunch of historians, independent authors and collectors.  I was also thinking of other fashion curatorial and history luminaries - do you think Valerie Steele or Tim Gunn could make a garment?  Highly doubtful.  While my application skills are nowhere near the level of a professional's (I still can't do winged eyeliner to save my life), I at least know which colors and looks are flattering on me, and I continue to experiment with the latest products and techniques.  And given my art history background, I can also both appreciate and analyze the work of pros that I see in magazines and runway shows and on blogs.  Combined with my passion for art, design, history and fashion in general, I think this is more than enough to run a beauty museum.

Having said all that, I do think it's necessary to have some knowledge of basic application and an interest in fashion.  Makeup doesn't exist in a vacuum, and I think it may be difficult to curate a beauty museum without having at least some sense of which product goes where on one's face, how makeup artists use these products to create various looks, and a cursory knowledge of high-end fashion brands.  How else would you come up with exhibition themes or know what's worth purchasing for the museum's collection?  Additionally, it wouldn't hurt to familiarize yourself with vintage cosmetics objects in order to gain a better understanding of product design and how it's evolved over the years, not to mention the cultural history these objects reflect.

What do you think?  Do you think would-be makeup museum curators need to go to beauty school or are the other skills and knowledge I've mentioned sufficient?

Summer 2015 haul

I outdid myself yet again this season, oops.  Most of the damage was done online, but the husband and I took a trip up to NYC to escape what was going to be a very noisy 4th of July weekend in our neighborhood, and I bought some more things there. 

It was so nice to play at the Armani counter since the closest one to us is in Virginia and I never get a chance to see anything in person.  I got an eye tint (#12, a very nice neutral) and Fluid Sheers in 5 and 6.  I have no idea why but I didn't realize there were some pigmented Fluid Sheers that could be used as blushes - I thought they were only highlighters.  I also picked up a Troy Surratt powder brush and it's seriously the softest brush I've ever had.  I thought Trish McEvoy had soft brushes but this one blows them away.  I now want the blush brush too.  I got the powder brush and the Armani stuff at Barney's.  The Armani counter manager there, Judy, was super nice and gave me a ton of samples.  I was really shocked as it's the first time I've had a non-pushy sales person at the beauty department at Barney's - usually they're incredibly aggressive, but Judy was great.  So keep that in mind if you're in the vicinity.  :)

Summer 2015 makeup haul

I am loving all of my new blushes.  Clockwise from top left:  Hourglass Incandescent Electra, Bobbi Brown Sunset Pink shimmerbrick, Tom Ford Pink Sand, Stila Shimmering Lotus, and NARS Silent Nude.  The Armani Fluid Sheers are excellent too. 

Summer 2015 makeup haul - cheeks

Here's the lip stuff.  Clockwise from top:  Tom Ford Skinny Dip (goes beautifully with the Pink Sand blush), Clinique Melon Pop, MAC Tumble Dry, Becca Beach Tint Lip Shimmer Soufflé in Watermelon/Opal (love this with the Stila Shimmering Lotus) MAC Fashion Force, and Lancôme Shine Lover #140 Corail Lover.  Overall I'm pleased with these, but not wild about MAC Fashion Force and the Lancôme Corail Lover.  They looked very different when I swatched them in store.  When I got them home, they were just meh.

Summer 2015 haul - lips

I was over the moon when I saw that Bobbi Brown was re-releasing some old gel eye liner shades.  Bronze Shimmer remains one of my top 5 favorite liners ever.  I also picked up a replacement for my old Ivy Shimmer, which was pretty dried out, and Gunmetal, which I didn't own previously. 

Obviously I couldn't resist Tom Ford Midnight Sea either!

Summer 2015 makeup haul - eyes

Oddly enough, the new Ivy Shimmer looks considerably darker than the original version.  I'll have to swatch them to see if there's a noticeable difference.

Bobb Brown Ivy Shimmer Ink gel liner - new vs. old

We were wandering about Soho when I spotted & Other Stories, which I had heard of previously but had totally forgotten that there was a location in New York.  

& Other Stories nail polishes

I love Philosophy's Iced Mint Lemonade - it's not overly citrusy, minty or sweet, just a perfect mild lemon scent.  I actually picked up a second tub of the body butter!  I went a bit crazy at & Other Stories, they had tons of really lovely scents but I limited myself to Punk Bouquet (very unique and of course I fell for the name) and Lemon Daydream, which reminds me a little of Fresh Hesperides.

Summer 2015 bath and body haul

And now for some non-makeup goodies.  Another Barney's find was this shell necklace on a massive sale - so perfectly mermaidy!  Sailor Babo insisted on modeling it.


Then we went to the Anthropologie store in Soho.  We have several Anthro stores in Baltimore but the one in Soho is much bigger than the ones around here, so I thought I'd take a look around.  When I saw this shirt I knew I couldn't leave the store without it!  I mean, really, is there anything more perfect for a beauty junkie?  It fits me well but obviously it looks way better on Seasick Sailor Babo.

Seasick Sailor Babo modeling

They look very pleased with themselves, no? 


What did you haul this summer?  And if you have any questions about specific products I mentioned in this post, leave them in the comments...I know I didn't do in-depth reviews but I have tried everything out so I can provide additional info.  :)

Couture Monday: Dior Fleurs des Vents palette

So many pinwheels, so little time.  I was heartbroken from not being able to get my hands on this palette back in the fall of 2014.  In honor of the grand opening of Dior's Omotesando beauty boutique, a small collection was launched and sold exclusively at the boutique.  The star of the lineup was this lovely blush with Dior's name spelled out in whimsical pinwheel form.  It just happened to surface on e-bay from a reliable seller that I've purchased things from in the past, so I pounced.

Dior Omotesando exclusive Fleurs des Vents palette

Dior Omotesando exclusive Fleurs des Vents palette

Here's a promo image so you get a better sense of the design:

Dior Omotesando collection promo
(image from chicprofile.com)

The exclusivity and the pretty colors were enough for me to add it to the Museum's collection, but I'm still curious as to why they chose this design for the palette.  According to Rouge Deluxe, the letters aren't actually pinwheels but toy windmills.  However, to my knowledge neither pinwheels nor windmills figure prominently in Dior's work.  I did find this "Moulin à Vent" ("windmill") dress from the 1949 fall/winter  Trompe L’Oeil collection, but that was basically it.

Dior "Moulin a vent" dress, 1949
(image from metmuseum.org)

I also checked out Dior's fall 2014 couture and ready-to-wear collections, and saw nothing that would point to windmills or pinwheels.  So I have no idea why Peter Philips, Creative and Image Director for Dior Beauty, would select this motif...unless, as I wondered with Guerlain's Poudre de Soie palette, pinwheels/windmills are meaningful in Japanese culture?  

In any case, I was pleased to be able to cross this palette off my very extensive wishlist!  While it was released in the fall, I think it would be a nice addition to a spring exhibition.  What do you think?

Curator's Corner, 7/12/2015

CC logoLinks from the past 2 weeks.

- I suppose this is as good a use for fake nails as any.

- "You’d look so much prettier without all that douchebag."  Yeah, it's a must-read.  I also loved this very truthful piece on beauty writing.

- R.I.P., Burt Shavitz.

- Yahoo Beauty had a plethora of brief beauty history articles, including one on brow trends, cold cream in the U.S., and the evolution of temporary tattoos

- OPI's Avojuice line gets a lovely packaging makeover.

- Contouring your face is so January 2015.  Try butt and boob contouring instead.  Actually, forget contouring altogether.  Baking and strobing are where it's at.  (Is the latter really any different than highlighting?) 

- Another trend apparently is burning off your hair's split ends with a candle.  Rather than risk setting both my head and my house on fire I think I'd try a trim and a good deep conditioner first.

- Tanning in the name of beauty is bad, but what's even worse is getting a sunburn in the name of art.

- MAC is opening their very own makeup salon. I'm curious to see how this will be different than getting makeup application at a regular store. 

- Seriously?

The random:

- Your '90s roundup:  an interesting take on Fiona Apple's "Criminal", a crash course in '90s trends, a list of what we were afraid of during the decade, and an article on the Beanie Babies craze.  Also check out this Kickstarter.

- The fall 2015 couture collections debuted this week, with Viktor & Rolf taking the "fashion as art" theme rather literally.

- We're sending art to the moon!

- Some good exhibitions are out now, including "Fashioning the Body:  An Intimate History of the Silhouette" at Bard Graduate Center in NYC and a great retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent at the Bowes Museum.

- Remember, you don't have to live with ugly art in your city!  (I'm thinking of starting a similar campaign here to take down the abomination by Penn Station - I don't care how much love that thing gets, it's still hideous.) 

- In keeping with this year's summer exhibition theme, here's a video of glowing coral deep in the Red Sea.

How have you been?