« December 2015 | Main | February 2016 »

January 2016

Curator's Corner, 1/24/2016

CC logoLinks for the week, plus a bonus pic of the epic blizzard we had!

- Autumn discusses eyelash extensions and provides an excellent history of our efforts to make them longer and lusher. 

- Hair trends for the week include color melting and glow in the dark hair, plus "man" braids (spoiler alert: they're no different than lady braids.) 

- Sephora introduces its new Accelerate program, which helps female entrepreneurs get started in the beauty biz.  Meanwhile, Shiseido proves it's one of the most progressive and innovative brands out there.

- Beauty fails this week: this poor woman misused a LUSH product (hey, at least her skin will go well with MAC's new Flamingo Park collection) and Cosmo rounds up a bunch of  hair dye mishaps.

- Loved these very creative snack-inspired makeup looks!

- Couldn't stop laughing at this.

The random:

- I think "White Rabbit" was my favorite of all these S-K covers.

- Along those lines, Portlandia started its final season this week (sniff), so here's an interview with Carrie and Fred.

- Yesterday I posted about Manet's Olympia.  This performance artist actually recreated it in the Musée d'Orsay (and was subsequently arrested).

- In '90s nostalgia, this past Friday marked the 18th anniversary of the premiere of Spice World, and Refinery29 presents an argument for Baby Spice being the best Spice Girl.

- Finally, Baltimore got 29 inches of snow!  I think that's even more than we got in the big storm of 2010.

Blizzard 2016

Sailor Babo and Yeti had a good time playing and enjoyed some hot chocolate.

How was your week?  If you're on the East coast, what was your blizzard experience like?

Quick post: Snowy Saturday: Neutrogena Limited Edition Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

We're getting lots of snow, so I thought it would be appropriate to do a quick post on some positively adorable winter-themed hand creams from Neutrogena.  As with the Nivea cremes, I know it's not makeup but this was just too cute not to share!  Neutrogena enlisted the services of Oslo-based design duo Ingrid Reithaug and Tonje Holand, better known as Darling Clementine, to create nostalgic illustrations that are inspired by traditional Norwegian design but have a thoroughly modern feel.

Neutrogena limited edition hand creams by Darling Clementine(image from neutrogena.co.uk)

Says Holand, “We were inspired by Norwegian cross stitch and handi craft – the classic winter jumper motif. Also by snowflakes and their intricate patterns and cold wintery aesthetic, and by scandi woodland scenery and wreaths. The final design contains cues from all three inspirations, with typical Nordic icons – the wooden cabin, gingerbread, reindeer, snow and mountains drawn in.”  You can also check out this short video which further explains Darling Clementine's creative process and inspiration.


I checked out Darling Clementine's website and there was a ton of other sweet Scandi-flavored items, everything from stationery to textiles.

Darling Clementine woodland card set

Darling Clementine mushroom print

Darling Clementine tin

Darling Clementine bowl

Darling Clementine laundry bag(images from darlingclementine.no)

Overall, I loved the Neutrogena hand cream illustrations - they're cute without being childish, distinctively Nordic but not blindly-copied, watered-down derivatives of traditional Norwegian designs.  I wish they were available in the U.S., but I haven't seen them anywhere. 


Shaking it with Lancome and Manet

In honor of the birthday of Edouard Manet (1832-1883), today I thought I'd share this 1949 Lancôme ad that refers to one of the artist's most famous works.   It looks like Lancôme released a lip color inspired by Manet's 1863 painting Olympia.

Lancome ad, 1949
(image from hprints.com)

Here's the original painting:

Manet - Olympia, 1863
(image from wikipedia)

It's not surprising a French cosmetics brand referred to a well-known work by an equally well-known French painter; however, I am curious to know why they chose Olympia.  The woman in the painting was Victorine Meurent, who served as Manet's model for many of his works.  Meli at Wild Beauty wrote an excellent post on Victorine and how scandalous the painting was considered when it debuted at the Paris Salon in 1865.  As she points out, not only was Victorine posing as a prostitute, she was daring to confront the viewer with absolutely no shame: "...she was staring straight at the viewer – without a hint of embarrassment or coquettishness. Once again, Manet had painted the viewer into an awkward encounter.  Even in modern times we expect our whores to project either seduction or shame, so Victorine’s matter-of-fact expression is startling in any age. But in 18th century Paris it hinted at a moment many had never seen – and those that had probably pretended they hadn’t. This might be a 'backstage' moment – before the courtesan greets a lover, and it’s almost too revealing in its frankness – we see the courtesan’s youth, beauty, cynicism, and business acumen all at once."  Indeed, the bold, thoroughly non-traditional presentation of a prostitute (or even a reclining nude, for that matter) that brings to the forefront the harsh reality behind the trade was cause for an uproar in 1860s Paris.  So this goes back to my question of why Lancôme chose to use Olympia, given that critics, having no idea what to make of the depiction of this woman, called her everything from a "grotesque India rubber" to an "ape on a bed."  Olympia seems to be a highly unlikely candidate for a beauty icon, but as Meli notes, perhaps her unconventional looks and fearless gaze were being celebrated by 1949.

In any case, this ad offers another bit of intrigue.  I noticed that the packaging for the lipstick is referred to as a "carquois", which translates to "quiver".  If you look really closely at the lipstick on the right in the ad you can see a Cupid holding a quiver of arrows.  Interestingly, Lancôme released their Fleches (Arrows) fragrance in 1938, the ads for which also feature Cupid and arrows, so maybe the theme of the "carquois" was borrowed from the perfume.  But that's not the only thing:  the "carquois" is also listed as a "shaker".  Another Lancôme ad, this one from 1951, uses this name for a particular case.  (Side note:  I like how the curved shape of the lipstick on the left is still in production today for their L'Absolu Rouge line.)  Apparently you could choose which jewelry-inspired case you wanted to house the new Rose Printemps shade (this assumption is based on me typing the ad copy into Google Translate, which we know isn't all that accurate).

1951 Lancome ad
(image from hprints.com)

Why is this notable?  Well, for spring 2016 Lancôme is introducing their "Juicy Shakers", a new "two-phase" formula consisting of oil and pigment that requires shaking before application.  I imagine it's similar to YSL's Volupté Tint in Oil but more fun to use - I like the idea of jiggling my lip stuff around in a cute martini shaker-like package.

Lancome Juicy Shakers
(image from chicprofile.com)

Lancôme seems to have taken a great deal of care in coming up with the name/idea, as they filed a trademark for it nearly 2 years ago.  I doubt any of their people used the Olympia ad or other vintage Lancôme ads that refer to the "shaker" when naming this new product, but it's a very interesting coincidence nonetheless. 

So, two separate and quite fascinating ideas provided by Lancôme's Olympia ad.  Which do you find more intriguing, the use of a rather scandalous work or the fact that Lancôme previously had the idea over 60 years ago to house one of their lip products in a so-called shaker?

More zodiac compact fun with Estée Lauder and Erté

This is the third and final installment of my unofficial series on zodiac/calendar themed beauty items.  Today I'm sharing Estée Lauder's epic collaboration with Art Deco artist Erté (1892-1990).  Erté completed a series of illustrations for the 12 zodiac signs, and in 2004 Estée rendered them in enamel to appear on their Lucidity powder compacts.  Why they added clear rhinestones on the sides is beyond me, as I feel the illustrations are beautiful enough to stand on their own.  Another thing I'm not clear on is when Erté illustrated these. I know the serigraphs were produced in 1982, but I don't know if that means Erté actually created them that year as well or if they existed as paintings prior to that.

Anyway, let's have a look.  Here are the compacts and the artist's original illustration below.  Capricorn:

Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Capricorn

Erté - Capricorn
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Aquarius

Erté Aquarius
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Pisces

Erté - Pisces
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Aries

Erté - Aries
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Taurus

Erté - Taurus
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Gemini

Erté - Gemini
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Cancer

Erté - Cancer
(images from etsy.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Leo

Erté - Leo
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Virgo

Erté - Virgo
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Libra

Erté - Libra
(images from etsy.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Scorpio

Erté - Scorpio
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)


Erté Estée Lauder zodiac compact, Sagittarius

Erté - Sagittarius
(images from ebay.com and wikiart.org)

Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg and moved to Paris at the age of 20.  Adopting the French pronunciation of his initials as his artist's name, he initially worked as a costume designer for the opera and theater.  Erté was a talented illustrator in his own right, but it was his work for Harper's Bazaar that catapulted him to fame among fashion and theater insiders.  His cover art for the publication, 240 covers in all between 1915 and 1937, had an immediate and long-lasting (albeit cyclical) impact on the fashion industry.  He was somewhat ignored by the art world until the late 1960s when they was a resurgence of interest in his work.  That faded again until his death in 1990, then resurfaced full-force in 2004 when a gallery in London held the most comprehensive exhibition of his work since 1967.  Consisting of 75 of Erté's best pieces, the show included his famous alphabet series, which had never been exhibited in its entirety (the artist had began working on it in 1927 and did not complete it until 1967). The series was to be sold as one piece, with an asking price of £2 million.  The 2004 exhibition and ensuing craze for Erté's work also explains why Estée Lauder chose to release their Erté compacts then. Erté's work is still quite popular today, as a recent exhibition at the Met and upcoming exhibition at the Hermitage demonstrate. 

The Financial Times has an excellent summary of Erté's life and influence, which you can check out here.  There's also this informative article from the New York Times and some general articles on Art Deco design (Erté is known as the father of this style)1.  Right now though I want to show you some of Erté's other work, as it's truly dazzling.  The man loved taking on series - in addition to the alphabet, he covered everything from card decks to the 4 seasons to the 7 deadly sins. 

Here is one illustration from the Alphabet.  I think it's pretty obvious why I chose the letter G to highlight.  #mermaidsrule

Erté - Letter G

Number 3:

Erté - Number 3

He also illustrated each birthstone - here's Sapphire.  Both the Numerals series and the Precious Stones were originally produced as lithographs in 1968 and 1969, respectively.

Erté - Sapphire

And another mermaid for good measure.  I think this is my favorite Erté mermaid.  Between the shell and coral headdress, multiple fins and the fact that she's astride a seahorse and wielding a pearl-strung coral branch as a spear, she is possibly the fiercest yet chicest mermaid I've come across.  All hail warrior glam mermaid!  She represents water from Erté's The Four Elements series.

Erté - Water
(images from wikiart.org)

I felt as though I needed to include some examples of Harper's covers as well.  Some faves:

Erté - Harper's Bazaar cover, May 1919
(image from intothebeautifulnew.tumblr.com)

Erté - Harper's Bazaar cover, March 1926
(image from harpersbazaar.tumblr.com)

Erté - Harper's Bazaar cover, March 1934
(image from americanfashionmagazines.com)

Finally, two makeup-related illustrations.

Erté - Compact Vanities

Erté - Makeup

Erté explains his work in a 1986 interview:  "It is different from everyone's...Art Deco is considered as the style of the 20th century.  I was always by myself. I was influenced only in my childhood, by the on Greek vases and by a book on Persian and Indian miniatures, because of the colors. At the age of 6 or 7, I found a book in my father's library of these miniatures, and every night after dinner, I wanted to look at it."  These miniatures in turn influenced his process.  He never used pencil or pen; instead, he painted with gouache using a tiny brush, sometimes with a single hair.  Equally impressive was his work ethic.  He worked right up until a few weeks before his death at the age of 97.  In one interview from 2 years before, when he was 95, he stated, "If I don't keep working, I would be bored to death."

Getting back to Estée Lauder, I seriously love these compacts.  From what I can tell in photos, the illustrations transferred nicely to a compact format (except I'm not crazy about the rhinestones...while I love me some bling I don't think they added anything to the design.)  Like Elgin's zodiac compacts, I feel a compulsive urge to collect them all!  I also think "warrior glam" could be the latest fashion trend. Let's try to make it a thing, shall we?

What are your thoughts on Erté's work and the Estée collab? 

1 There has been so much written about Erté I couldn't possibly fit it all into this post.  For further reading and eye candy check out the huge selection as Amazon.


MM Musings, vol. 22: a different kind of beauty school

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 ecardToday's installment of MM Musings is not actually about museums. (I know, I know - I should stick to the general purpose of this series.  But this is a cool topic, I promise.)  Instead, I want to talk about where beauty history and culture belongs in academia. I came across this post at one of my favorite fashion blogs, Worn Through, and it got my brain percolating on a beauty-focused academic curriculum.  Obviously this is a challenge that fashion historians are still grappling with, so it will be equally tricky determining where beauty culture should go if courses in this area were offered.  And I really hope they are some day, with me as the fearless founder and pioneer in the field. 

First we need to accept the premise that beauty culture and history are valid areas of study.  Why?  Any form of self-adornment, from tribal body piercings to lip gloss, speaks volumes about a particular culture - it's a unique window into the artistic, commercial, and social values of any group of people. Furthermore, I've already argued that some cosmetic items and beauty practices are a form of art and therefore belong in a museum, so it follows that they should be accepted as legitimate fields of study. I realize that's a rather simplistic way of saying beauty culture is important enough to warrant serious academic attention, but that's not what I wanted to tackle today.  I want to focus on the admittedly more fun notion of actually being able to study and research all topics pertaining to beauty in a formal program.  Many individuals have done scholarly work on beauty topics, but there is no one dedicated academic curriculum for them.

So if we accept the argument that beauty culture and history should be taught, that brings us to the main question:  where does it belong?  There are several possibilities.  My first inclination is to assign topics pertaining to beauty and cosmetics to fashion history curricula.  This would be a natural fit given the close relationship between beauty and fashion.  However, since fashion studies itself is still struggling to figure out its proper place within academia, this may be problematic.  The short (or long) answer is that like fashion studies, beauty culture and history encompass many disciplines.  Therefore, just like fashion studies, they can find a home in a variety of fields.  

Case in point: think of all the people who write about beauty and organize beauty-related exhibitions.  They run the gamut from fashion curators and historians to feminist authors, from economists and business scholars to art historians and makeup artists.  There are also collectors and other folks with a general interest in cosmetics.  Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the study of beauty culture and history, it would fit in a variety of academic areas.  The most obvious ones in my eyes are art history, general history, gender and women's studies, cultural studies, material culture, and anthropology.  These would be ideal areas to host an individual program or track focused solely on beauty culture and history - sort of the way the Courtauld Institute in London has art history undergraduate and MA degrees with a specific "history of dress" track.  Additionally, students in other fields could take individual courses in beauty culture to help round out their studies.  For example, an art history major who wasn't signed up for the entire beauty culture track could take just one course in how ideal beauty is portrayed in art, from ancient Egyptian portraits of Nefertiti to Renaissance paintings to contemporary works. Design students could take a course in the history of cosmetics packaging design, and marketing majors could take a course examining the history of beauty advertising and where it's headed in the future.  All of these classes would fall under the general umbrella of the beauty culture and history program, so students could be enrolled for that or take selected courses pertinent to their major.

What do you think?  Would you attend a class or a whole program in beauty culture and history?  I would, but I'm more interested in teaching...I have so many ideas for courses and could easily develop a whole curriculum. ;)

(image from someecards.com)


Curator's Corner, 1/17/2016

CC logoLinks for the week.

- I can't say I was an avid fan of Bowie, but I definitely admired him - he was a strange guy but not for the sake of being strange.  He was authentically weird, and I loved that. Here's a look back at some of his most memorable makeup ensembles.

- Less pop, more fizz:  Korea's latest trend is carbonated face masks

- Speaking of trends, hair fads this week include snowlights and watercolor hair.  Also, I thought we were leaving the contouring craze back in 2015, but XO Vain walks us through yet another permutation of the trend.

- In addition to enjoying an arsenal of privileges, a new study shows that pretty girls also receive better grades. Er, did we really need a study for that?  While the news is completely unsurprising and also depressing, I take comfort in the fact that as a non-pretty person, I can conclude that my excellent academic record was earned purely on merit.

- Why this guy stole over $1,600 worth of Essie nail polish is beyond me, but we do know it's not the first nail polish heist

- In beauty history, did you know there was once a competition in which women were measured to see who most resembled a famous ancient sculpture?  Yikes.  I suppose that's better than these fad diets, however.  Anyway, I liked how the Glamourologist looked at lipstick in a 1931 film.

- I can't believe this ad exists in 2016.  As a corollary, while searching for vintage compacts I stumbled across hard evidence that blackface was a real thing that white people really did.  I mean, I knew that already but seeing the actual product was mind-blowing.

- Just a reminder that lip balm shouldn't cause your lips to bleed

The random:

- MoMA highlights the work of one of the Curator's favorite artists.

- Fashionista takes a look at two intriguing fashion exhibitions: one on the history of plus-sized fashion and the other on fairy tale style.

- In '90s nostalgia, one author explains why 1995 was the best year for movies.  I'm not sure I agree since Pulp Fiction was released in 1994, but it's a good argument nevertheless. 

- I don't know how one could possibly leave a beloved plushie behind, but if it does happen to you, hopefully people will take excellent care of him/her like this hotel staff did for one little girl's stuffed rabbit.  Too cute.

How was your week?

Into the MM archives: Stila Look of the Month palettes

When I was re-organizing the Museum's collection storage I realized I had never featured these Stila Look of the Month palettes.  Plus I figured it would be a good follow-up to my vintage zodiac compact post from last week.

In early 2004 Stila released the first of 12 adorable 3-pan palettes sold exclusively at Nordstrom.  They sold for $8 each empty, and for every month Stila recommended specific eye shadows and blush pans from their line to go in the palettes along with other products that would complement the palette items. While mine are not in mint condition, they're in pretty good shape considering that 1. they're over 10 years old at this point; 2. they're made of laminated cardboard, which isn't the sturdiest material; and 3.  I (stupidly) actually used them to house eye shadows for a period of time before moving them to metal palettes.  I totally couldn't remember the suggested shades for each one, but fortunately a very helpful reviewer at MUA listed them all.  Many things are long discontinued, which I've marked with an asterisk.

Here are January and February.  January's suggested shades:  Shore* and Pewter eye shadows, Bloom blush*Other items to go with the colors in the palette:  Grapefruit Lip Glaze, and All Over Shimmer #7 (All Over Shimmers were pressed highlighting powders.)

February's shades:  Cassia*, Shell and Poise eye shadows.  Other items:  Lillium Convertible Color and Demi Pink Twinset* (the Twinsets were double-ended products with a matte lip shade on one end and a high-shine gloss on the other that could be layered together or worn separately.)

Stila Look of the Month palettes - January and February

March's shades: Wheat, Sage* and Espresso eye shadows.  Other items:  Nude Flash*, Praline Lip Glaze

April: Charm* and Cassis eye shadows, Cozy blush*.  Other items:  Fig Lip Glaze*, All Over Shimmer #1*

Stila Look of the Month palettes - March and April

May:  Launey*, Sun and Twig eye shadows.  Other items:  Gerbera Convertible Color, Spangle Lip Polish*

June:  Chinois and Jade eye shadows, Tint blush*.  Other items:  Twinkle Lip Polish*

  Stila Look of the Month palettes - May and June

July: Ray*, Sun and Twig eye shadows

August:  Nude* and Puppy eye shadows, Soar* blush

Stila Look of the Month palettes - July and August

September:  Wheat, Golightly and Java eye shadows.  Other items:  Teak Convertible Eye Color*, Water Lily Rouge Pot*, Gleam Lip Polish*

October:  Oasis, Jezebel* and Mood* eye shadows.  Other items:  Clove Convertible Eye Color*, Amaryllis Rouge Pot*, Praline Lip Glaze, Illuminating Powder Foundation

Stila Look of the Month palettes - September and October

November:  Heather*, Viola* and Pigalle* eye shadows.  Other items:  Berry Convertible Eye Color*, Rose Convertible Color, Fraise Lip Pot*, Illuminating Liquid Foundation

December:  Twilight* and Storm* eye shadows, Cozy blush*.  Other items:  Pomegranate Lip Glaze*, Illuminating Liquid Foundation, All Over Shimmer #8*

Stila Look of the Month palettes - November and December

I simply adore how each illustration perfectly corresponds to its respective month.  The names of the months aren't listed but you can easily tell which is which, or at the very least, which of the four seasons it belongs to.  I like to think of them as a modern, fun version of medieval Labors of the Months - but no work, only play for these stylish Stila ladies.  I also love that the patterns continue on the inside of the palettes. 

Stila 3 pan palette

I would greatly enjoy telling you more about the artist responsible for these particular Stila girls, but that's a special exhibition story for another time. ;)

What do you think?  I know I am seriously pining for Stila's glory days, when they were chock full of these incredibly cute illustrations. Also, if you're curious about any of the discontinued eye shadow shades, I can tell you about those as I own nearly all of them - they still apply flawlessly. 



New year, new basics (that are actually old)

A few months ago I was digging my blotting sheets out of my makeup bag at work and realized that it was a total disaster.  Not that I had too much stuff crammed in there, but that the bag itself was an embarrassment.  Should a Makeup Museum curator really be walking around with this horribly beat-up bag?  (The paper stuck to the front is an old receipt...how it got there I don't know but I could never get all of it off.)


The corners were totally cracked.  It's a wonder things weren't constantly falling out.

Old makeup bag

When I dug out my blotting sheets I also noticed I needed to part ways with my beloved Paul & Joe mirrored blotting sheet compact.  I loved it and they don't make these particular compacts anymore, but the thing is a mess - completely faded, stained and torn. 

Old mirror

Old mirror

There was also this very worn powder compact.  I loved Prescriptives but dear god, this needed to go.

Aw hell no

In addition to my makeup bag, I came to the conclusion that the compact mirror on my vanity could use a refresh as well.  There is a huge wall mirror for the vanity, but it's a few feet from where I sit - even leaning over I can't get as close as I'd like.  And sometimes I need to get really up close (like when I'm not wearing my contacts) so I use a small compact mirror so I don't have to stand up to move to the wall mirror.  I know it sounds weird, but having a compact mirror is a lot more convenient.  For years I had been using yet another decrepit Prescriptives compact.  Again, should a Makeup Museum curator's vanity have such a bland, worn-down compact mirror?


I decided I needed some upgrades, post-haste.  First order of business, the bag.  I knew I definitely wanted to continue with a clear bag, as it makes it so much easier to find things.  After much research I got this one at Sephora.  It's actually part of a really cute set. I found the medium-sized one to be just right.  I absolutely adore the looks of Truffle Clarity clutches or pouches, which Sabrina at the Beauty Look Book brought to my attention (she knows the good stuff!), but I think even the smallest ones might be a little too large to fit well in my purses.  Even though the Truffle site has super-helpful pictures with the bags filled, I still couldn't quite visualize how they would look.  (I am notoriously bad at estimating size/volume).  Still, I may just buy one anyway because they're so pretty - I'm especially loving this lemon and silver one.  Anyway, if you're in the market for a clear makeup pouch I think either this Sephora set or Truffle are your best options. 

New makeup bag

Then I rounded up some ideas for compacts.  And here's where the old stuff comes in...I didn't want anything new, surprisingly.  I feel as though vintage compacts have so much more personality than most of today's (at least the standard, non-collectible ones).  So vintage hunting I went. I selected this Stratton compact from Etsy for my makeup bag. I think it has the perfect amount of wear - not so much that it looks like trash but just enough to know it's vintage.  I also like the scalloped edges and the combination of silver and gold.

How baller is this?

My current project is to determine whether I can somehow remove the old powder that's in there and replace it with Makeup Forever's High-Def pressed powder, but I highly doubt it'll fit.  Guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  As for the blotting sheets, I thought it would be pretty funny to contrast the sophistication of the Stratton compact with something totally off the wall, like these Dinoplatz sheets

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz blotting sheets

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz blotting sheets

Truth be told, I haven't found any blotting sheet compacts that measure up to the Paul & Joe ones. Bobbi Brown makes a nice one, if a little boring.  And obviously Paul & Joe still makes adorable blotting sheets and Boscia has some pretty patterns (I'm partial to the peppermint sheets since they smell yummy!), but they're stored in a flimsy cardboard container that gets worn quickly.  Tatcha sheets are lovely but also in a cardboard container that's not much sturdier than the others. And none of these are actual compacts with mirrors. Even though I don't really need a mirror since I have one in the Stratton compact, I just got so used to having a mirrored blotting sheet compact that not having one seems strange.  So Dinoplatz it was.  I just hope the plastic doesn't get too dirty.  We shall see.

For the other compact, I decided my vanity was in desperate need of some bling.  I set out to find one of the gaudiest, shiniest, rhinestoniest (okay, that's not a word) vintage compacts I could find.  I settled on this Dorset one, which I found on Ebay.  It's heavier than you would expect. 

So gloriously tacky

My vanity is fairly minimal and modern so it looks pretty cool sitting there in the plain acrylic box with the rest of my basics (foundations, primers, etc.).  It's like the other makeup is having an elegant soirée, all dressed in tasteful, black or neutral shades and talking softly, and in walks someone's very eccentric aunt, dripping with multi-colored fake gems and outfitted in gold lamé from head to toe.  All heads turn as she holds court, loudly spouting some wild, unbelievable story in her own hilarious way.  Now that I think about it, maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to this compact is that I did have a fairly crazy aunt who, at one family get-together, wore blue Ked sneakers, a leopard print fur coat, stirrup pants, tons of costume jewelry and insanely heavy makeup...and let me tell you, that was normal compared to the stuff that came out of her mouth!  I remember her fondly though, so perhaps that's why I chose this one - it's her compact equivalent.

Anyway, I feel as though I have accomplished my mission of overhauling these basic items to be more fitting for a curator of a Makeup Museum. What do you think?


True luxe: Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

As soon as I saw these new lipstick cases at Chic Profile I knew I had to have one, no matter the cost.  There were only 600 Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto leather cases produced and I was determined to snag one for the Museum.  Givenchy's Artistic Director for Makeup, Nicolas Degennes, worked with master gold and silver leaf artist Hiroto Rakusho to create these beauties.  They are all hand-painted with 22 carat gold, so supposedly no two are alike.  I wanted to see for myself so I ended up splurging on two cases from Harrod's (which customs held hostage for over a week) and I am pleased to say that they are truly unique. 

The cases are packaged in a fancy black woven box with a mirrored label.

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

I have to say I'm a little disappointed that these aren't numbered.  There were 1,450 Dior Bastet palettes made and those had the number etched on the back.  Less than half that amount was made by Givenchy, and for something they're touting as this rare and collectible (and given the hefty price tag) each one should be numbered. 

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Some detailed shots.

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Here's the other case.

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

I tried my darndest to find comprehensive information on the collaboration between Degennes and Rakusho, but what I was able to translate didn't make a lot of sense.  From what I could gather, Degennes and Rakusho met through a mutual friend/translator and began the design process in late 2014.  Rakusho was enthusiastic to work with Degennes due to his understanding of the traditional colors of Japan, along with the fact that Degennes gave him free reign to create whatever patterns he wanted - he trusted him completely.  The duo considered the possibility of making the cases from from kimono fabric or washi paper, which are the traditional mediums for Japanese metallic leaf art, but ultimately settled on leather.  This decision maintains Givenchy's signature lipstick packaging and also allows for a more durable product, as leather is hardier than fabric or paper.  Even though I can't imagine anyone carelessly tossing one of these cases into their makeup bag, it's still a smart move to make the case as sturdy as possible.  I also think purely from an aesthetic standpoint, the leaf looks really cool against the texture of the leather - it toughens it up a bit without losing the delicacy of the leaf.

Additionally, this site had a brief explanation as to why Degennes was in Japan in the first place, as well as his original inspiration behind Le Rouge Kyoto:  "Givenchy’s artistic director for make-up, Nicolas Degennes, has spent the past 15 years taking research trips to Japan to inform his own collections...in homage to the hand-painted screens of Kyoto’s ancient temples, Degennes teamed up with Hiroto Rakusho – a master of gold and silver leaf – to create unique pieces of art to wrap around 590 hand-made limited-edition lipsticks...they provide a fitting reminder of the two halves that seem to permeate everything in Japan: a rich cultural history, hiding just beneath the surface, which dances happily alongside a hunger for the bright, the shiny and the new. 'I’ve learnt a lot about [Japanese women’s] approach to beauty...how to play with textures and play with your look. What’s fantastic is how the women here can transform themselves, but in subtle ways.'"

Now a little bit about the artist himself.  Hiroto Rakusho was born and raised in Kyoto.  He learned the craft of gold and silver leaf application from his father, who was also a prominent artist trained in this area.  In 1997 Rakusho was awarded certification as a master of traditional handicrafts from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.  He is a pioneer in the technique of digitally reproducing historic masterpieces housed in museums and temples, such as these folding screens. 

Hiroto Rakusho, Wind and Thunder Gods

Hiroto Rakusho, Bugaku Dancers

Hiroto Rakusho, Kabuki Drama

Hiroto Rakusho, Crest of Wave(images from gold-leaf-kyoto.com)

However, more recently Rakusho expanded his oeuvre to include his own personal art as well as collaborations with other artists and designers. In 2002 he registered his name as an independent brand, and ever since he has been exhibiting in galleries across Europe and the U.S.

Hiroto Rakusho, Gold

Hiroto Rakusho, Red

Hiroto Rakusho Infinity(images from hiroto-rakusho.com)

Givenchy's Le Rouge Kyoto may have been Rakusho's first foray into beauty, but he is no stranger to the world of Western fashion: in 2010 he teamed up with the Chado Ralph Rucci label on several collections.  Launched by designer Ralph Rucci in 1994, the Chado line's namesake refers to a Japanese tea ceremony and is inspired by Rucci's love of Japanese cultural traditions.  Obviously a partnership with a master of metallic leaf art, which holds extraordinary cultural significance in Japan, was a match made in heaven.  Some pieces and the original artwork:

Hiroto Rakusho/Ralph Rucci

Hiroto Rakusho

Hiroto Rakusho/Ralph Rucci

Hiroto Rakusho/Ralph Rucci

Hiroto Rakusho/Ralph Rucci(images from hiroto-rakusho.com)

Getting back to the Givenchy collection, I must admit that I have only the vaguest grasp of the actual application of the metallic leaf. The basic process is that gold and silver is hammered out into thin sheets, then the leaf is either glued to washi paper with a certain kind of lacquer or cut into extremely thin threads and woven into fabric, usually silk. 

Hiroto Rakusho at work

I guess what I'm not certain of is how the leaf is painted to make the colors on the lipstick cases.  It's hard to tell from photos and I couldn't find any video of the technique.  In the picture below I can see how he's attaching the gold leaf but I don't understand how the painting works...does he put the leaf on top of the paint?  How is it sticking to the leather?  What kind of paint is it, anyway?  I couldn't tell even looking at the cases in person!

Hiroto Rakusho at work

Anyway, while I'm still a little fuzzy on the details, here are some prototypes in their yet-to-be-wrapped form.  Neat!

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto

I love seeing that there were actual discussions about the collection, and Degennes and Rakusho seem pleased to be working with one another.

Nicolas Degennes and Hiroto Rakusho

Hiroto Rakusho and Nicolas Degennes
(images from tw.mobi.yahoo.com)

To conclude, naturally I loved this collaboration.  Givenchy's timeless style combined with incredibly luxurious materials handcrafted by a world-class artisan is an absolute win.  Not only are these cases unique, but beautiful to look at.  Plain metallic leaf would have been gorgeous, but the addition of abstract, subtly colorful patterns makes them even more exquisite and lends a modern touch.  Once again though, I must express my displeasure that these were not numbered editions.  Also, for the price it may not have killed Givenchy to include a lipstick refill.  But overall I am happy as these are collectors' pieces and so very perfect for the Museum. 

What do you think?



Curator's Corner, 1/10/2016

CC logoLinks for the week.

- I don't want to be any part of a beauty pageant, especially one judged by robots

- Not sure how I feel about Eyeko's and Birchbox's new makeup designed for working out.

- In hair news, icicle hair is perfect for these chilly months, and this stylist gives new meaning to the phrase "hat head".  Also, meet your newest hair-related time-waster.

- Guys, if you're over man buns and glitter beards, you can now have your back hair styled

- Speaking of glitter, maybe don't try the glitter eyebrow trend.

- Fashionista summarizes the kerfuffle surrounding Slate's piece on K-beauty as a feminist act.

- Loved this story

The random:

- Here's what fashion looked like a century ago

- Ah, the Onion.  According to them, Baltimore has the best quality of pigeon life.  Well played.  (Although I think this one is funnier.)

- In '90s nostalgia, this past Friday marked the 24th anniversary of George H. W. Bush barfing all over the Prime Minister of Japan.  Meanwhile, a George Costanza-themed bar opened in Melbourne, Australia.

- Woot!