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March 2020

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

I hope to cover Sulwhasoo's beautiful ShineClassic compact that they released for the holiday season a few months ago, but in the meantime I'm focusing on this lovely cushion compact they came up with for spring.  Sulwhasoo collaborated with Antoinette Poisson, a design studio specializing in domino wallpaper.  I know some folks think it's just marketing hogwash, but Sulwhasoo seems genuinely invested in preserving historic art forms to ensure they aren't forgotten rather than making a quick buck off of a watered-down idea intended solely for mass commodification. The company has consistently highlighted traditional Korean artistic practices for over 15 years by releasing collections based on a particular technique or genre and collaborating with top artisans. Continuing in this vein, for spring 2020 Sulwhasoo is partnering with an outside company that is equally committed to revitalizing centuries-old art production: "Sulwhasoo chose Antoinette Poisson as its collaborative partner for the year of 2020 because of the art studio’s commitment to and philosophy toward carrying on and delivering cultural heritage to present generations, with which Sulwhasoo fully identifies."

The compact features intricate embroidery depicting a blossoming flower branch and a butterfly to represent "spring, hope and joy".  Gold and silver threads are interwoven with the pink and red of the flowers and butterfly for an elegant, glamorous touch.

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

I'm no embroidery expert, but it looks well-made to my eye.  I also love the embroidery because it's rare to see embroidered compacts that aren't generic, mass-produced designs.  With the exception of Marcel Wanders's 2016 compact for Cosme Decorte, I can't think of any contemporary makeup brand that has done one of these.  And while petit-point compacts were quite popular in the early 20th century, they've largely faded now.

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

I'll get to Antoinette Poisson's work in a sec, but can we take a minute to appreciate the Sulwhasoo box?  The gold and silver foil details mimic the embroidered threads on the compact, while the dotted pattern pays homage to the overall aesthetic of 18th-century France.

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson

There was another version available with slightly different colored flowers, which unfortunately was not available in the U.S. - for some reason we only received the Perfecting Cushion and not the Brightening version.  I'm debating whether to use some of the Museum's limited budget on purchasing it via eBay.  Given that it's the same design I'm hesitant, but it's so pretty and as a collector I feel the need to have both.

Sulwhasoo brightening cushion spring 2020
(image from sulwhasoo.com)

So who is Antoinette Poisson?  The Paris design studio was founded in 2012 by three paper conservators: Julie Stordiau, Vincent Farelly, and Jean-Baptiste Martin.  The brand takes its name from Madame de Pompadour, famed mistress of Louis XV who the team describes as an "art patron and wallpaper enthusiast."  I'll let Vogue take it from here, as I'm both lazy and also prepping the spring exhibition - I'm loathe to regurgitate this information in lesser wording.  "Antoinette Poisson’s niche is the making of domino papers (papier dominoté), using artisanal techniques that date to the Age of Enlightenment, when these patterned sheets with their distinctive patterns—small geometrics or sinuous floral garlands—were all the rage. These motifs are printed on a single piece of paper using woodblocks and then hand-colored using stencils. Their compact sheet size made dominoes ideal for use as trunk liners or endpapers, but their allure was too great to keep under covers, as it were, and they were adapted for use as (pre-roll) wallpapers. At the time, decorating with domino paper signaled not only the owner’s taste, but also their wealth. Their production stopped with the advent of the 19th-century Industrial Revolution...almost all of [Antoinette Poisson's] products—trays, boxes, fabrics, and wallpapers, et cetera—are fabricated in their Parisian atelier using time-intensive 18th-century techniques. Even the paper sheets they use are handcrafted in a mill that uses methods dating to that earlier, gilded age. The impetus to launch Antoinette Poisson came when the trio re-created a domino paper for a restoration project. The results were so marvelous, that the team decided they 'wanted to propose [this style] for current decoration.'"

Antoinette Poisson wallpaper

House and Garden expands on the pain-staking technique of producing the patterns.   "Although these papers are almost indistinguishable from the originals, computer technology ensures the engraving blocks, their designs first drawn by hand, are absolutely precise. Jean-Baptiste stresses that 'all the blocks are perfect, it is the printer who adds their own imperfections in the printing and hand-painting process'." I couldn't really visualize how it all worked, so here's a brief video showing the stenciling and painting.

By 2014 the studio had produced 14 patterns, 8 of which were either exact reproductions of original prints or looser, modernized "reinterpretations" of them.  These, for example, are reproductions of papers made by mid-18th century printmakers.

Antoinette Poisson domino paper

Antoinette Poisson domino paper

This one is a reinterpretation of a pattern found in the "Chambre aux Amours” within the Museum of Wallpaper's collection (yes, that's a real museum.)

Antoinette Poisson domino paper

The rest of Antoinette Poisson's patterns are their own creations. 

Antoinette Poisson domino paper

If you look closely at this one, you can see that the dot and diamond pattern in the middle is the same as the one on the Sulwhasoo box.

Antoinette Poisson domino paper

This one appeared on Ladurée's gift packaging last year.

Antoinette Poisson for Ladurée, 2019
(image from test.angels.lu)

Speaking of which, the studio is no stranger to collaborations.  Besides their usual task of producing bespoke decor for stores and individual clients, Antoinette Poisson partnered with Diptyque to create a pattern for their 2017 Rosa Mundi candle collection.

Diptyque Rosa Mundi
(image from harpersbazaararabia.com)

More recently the studio collaborated with Gucci for their resort 2019 collection.

Antoinette Poisson for Gucci(images from vogue.com)

How does Antoinette Poisson's work relate to Sulwhasoo and their goal of preserving Korean heritage? The pattern they designed is reminiscent of Hwajodo, or paintings of flowers and birds. As with my last foray into traditional Korean art with Sulwhasoo, I'm by no means an expert but I can provide some basic information about Hwajodo.  Hwajodo is a genre within Korean folk painting ("Minhwa") and was produced either by painting on paper or embroidered onto screens.  Minhwa was especially popular in the 19th century, which I guess is why all of the examples I'm finding online are from that time period*.  Typically Hwajodo depict birds in pairs to represent domestic harmony and love between husband and wife, which is why they were often given as gifts to newlyweds. 

Hwajodo screen, 19th century(image from christies.com)

According to the Folk Painting volume within the Handbook of Korean Art series, the various birds represented particular virtues.  For example, peacocks symbolize longevity, while pheasants signal beauty.  There were also rules governing the composition of Hwajodo; certain birds had to appear with certain plants, i.e. ducks and egrets were always shown with water plants. 

Hwajodo painting

However, given the lack of birds and the inclusion of butterflies, I believe the pattern created for Sulwhasoo would fall under a sub-category of Hwajodo known as Hwajeopdo, or paintings of flowers and butterflies.  (The plum blossoms are appropriate, as they are a symbol of early spring in Korea.)

Hwajeopdo screen by Kim Mijung
(image from londonkoreanlinks.net)

A company specializing in historic French wallpapering doesn't seem like it would be a match, but Sulswhasoo cites the studio's "understanding about and interest in Oriental art" as one of the reasons for the collab. The primary impetus for the partnership, however, was that Sulwhasoo found a kindred spirit in Antoinette Poisson in terms of wanting to protect and celebrate a particular type of art.  The production of domino papers was a "largely forgotten process" much like the ipsa featured in Sulwhasoo's holiday 2018 collection.  The founders of Antoinette Poisson felt it was up to them to rescue this beautiful 18th century craft and breathe new life into it.  Without them and the dedicated artisans Sulwhasoo commissions, these art forms would be erased from history.  As co-founder Vincent Farelly notes, "Even though we come from different cultures, we share the same mindset.  We both love to find inspiration from our heritage."

While the partnership between Sulwhasoo and Antoinette Poisson makes sense, I still wonder how it came about.  Antoinette Poisson isn't exactly unknown given their previous high-profile collaborations, but I'm curious to know at Sulwhasoo who came up with the idea to work with them.  I also find it interesting that Les Merveilleuses Ladurée haven't seized the opportunity for an Antoinette Poisson makeup collection of their own given their 18th-century aesthetic and especially since the studio collaborated with the main Ladurée company.  In any case, the Sulwhasoo collaboration yielded a well-designed result that combines traditional Korean and French decorative art and gives it a modern spin in the process, while also bringing these lesser-known and nearly forgotten artistic practices to a wider audience.  The metallic details of the box and embroidery elevate the compact to a more luxurious objet d'art, while the pattern itself is beautiful and appropriate for spring. 

What do you think?  Have you ever heard of domino paper or Hwajodo before?  I have to say I was dazzled by the versatility of Antoinette Poisson - I want one of their creations as wallpaper, boxes and pillows in addition to makeup!



*This website provides more background on minhwa, if you're curious:  "Minhwa, an artistic style that reflects the lives and spirits of Korean people, became widely popular during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was in high demand from the new merchant class and civilians, as the centralised authoritarian rule of the Joseon Dynasty slowly collapsed starting in the late 17th century and through the 19th century.  Up until the middle of the Joseon Dynasty, minhwa paintings were painted by court artists for use in palaces. However, with the societal changes in the late Joseon Dynasty, they started to be painted by anonymous artists of the middle and lower classes, who produced and disseminated minhwa. The common people’s wishes for a healthy and prosperous life and desire to beautify their own living environments gave birth to the development of minhwa that reflects Koreans’ daily life, customs, and aesthetics."

Lipstick prophesy: Revlon Futurama

"I want a case that glows with fashion. That has such fashion magic it trans­mits right through the lipstick and onto the faces of women. Makes them feel the beauty touching their lips." - Charles Revson, January 13, 1954.

I know, more vintage Revlon lipsticks.  But I promise it's very interesting!  There didn't seem to be a comprehensive history of Revlon's Futurama line so I thought I'd take a stab at it.  Futurama was a collection of refillable lipstick cases designed by famed jewelers Van Cleef and Arpels for Revlon.  The line was introduced in 1955 with much fanfare, especially its debut on the popular game show the $64,000 Question.  But how did the collaboration between Revlon and Van Cleef happen?  Who was responsible for the design?  What is Futurama's significance in makeup history?  I can't say I have answers to all of these questions, but I'll do my best. 

Revlon Futurama ad, 1956

First, a quick background.  Refillable lipsticks had been on the market since the 1920s and became more widespread in the '40s as a way to save metal during wartime.  Every last scrap was needed; the country couldn't afford to have women wasting a used lipstick tube. 

Elizabeth Arden and Hudnut lipstick refill ads, 1942

The concept of makeup-as-jewelry has a longer history, with "etuis" produced in the 1700s.  At the turn of the 20th century artisans were creating pendants and bracelets that held powder and lip color, and by the 1920s high-end jewelers were producing vanity cases made out of precious materials.  In 1933 Van Cleef and Arpels invented and patented the minaudière, a new variation of the portable vanity case.1

Van Cleef and Arpels minuadiere ad, 1952(image from ebay)

The notion of makeup as an additional accessory was reinforced by the fact that many compacts were sold in jewelry stores in addition to the jewelry section at department stores, with custom engraving and monogramming available. 

Compact engraving-Oct_17__1947_

Jewelry designers Ciner and Paul Flato also had their own compact and lipstick combinations in the late '40s and early '50s.

Ciner compact and lipstick(image from thesprucecrafts.com)

Paul Flato lipstick and compact, ca. 1950

By and large, compacts and lipstick cases were already perceived as another item of jewelry thanks to companies like Van Cleef and Arpels leading the way. So what was new and special about Revlon's Futurama cases? 

Revlon Futurama ad, 1957

There were two key factors that Revlon advertised as the differentiators: design and price point.  The concept for the design is a fascinating story.  As he explains in the book Business Secrets That Changed Our Lives, Revson was inspired by a business trip to Paris. “The candlelit room, the elegant service, the fine furnishings bespoke good taste and an appreciation of beauty. Next to me sat a chic and lovely woman. What interested me most about my dinner partner was not her beauty but a small object she had taken out of her purse. My eyes returned to it again and again, until finally, with an amused smile, she handed it to me saying, ‘I would not have expected an American man to be so interested in a lipstick.’ The beauty of the   case, hand-engraved and diamond-bedecked, was one outstanding feature. What really caught my eye, though, was that the lipstick could be removed with a single click-in, click-out action in just one section. And because the lipstick was contained in its own cylinder, removal of it was not only easy, but smudge-proof. My dinner partner's remark kept goading me-‘I would not have expected an American man to be so interested in a lipstick.’ Of course not! All that an American man ever saw was one of those undistinguished brass bullets!”2 Revson took a similar case back to the U.S. and less than a month later, on January 13, 1954, summoned Earl F. Copp into his office. Copp was Chief Operation Officer for Risdon Manufacturing Company, which had been making Revlon’s cases since 1947. Revson explained what he had in mind: “I want a case, a refillable case. You have to make it different from this one. This is too much like the others, refillable perhaps, but not elegant enough. I want to see luxury, fashion, expensive jewelry. No more bullets. Can you see what I mean? I want a case that glows with fashion. That has such fashion magic it trans­mits right through the lipstick and onto the faces of women. Makes them feel the beauty touching their lips…I don't want just one case, but a whole line. So that women will want one for morning, one for evening, one for special occasions-all suitable for refills with whatever different colors they prefer.”  While refillable lipsticks existed previously, the way Futurama was advertised suggested a totally new frontier. According to design historian Matthew Bird3, Lurelle Guild (1898-1985), a prominent industrial designer at the time, was brought on board to oversee the aesthetics of the cases.  As another design scholar notes, Guild was the ideal choice to design a cutting-edge, futuristic lipstick case, as he had been responsible for other iconic '50s styles such as Electrolux's Model G vacuum, which sported "rocket-like fins".4  While the cases were being advertised in 1955, Guild filed a patent in early 1956.  Grace Gilbert van Voorhis, Raymond Wolff and Henrieta Manville are also named on the patents, with Manville’s name on the “utility” patent for the inner mechanism of the case.  Based on census records, Manville most likely worked with Earl Copp at Risdon Manufacturing, while Wolff may have worked in Guild’s office.  As for Van Cleef’s role, it appears they signed on in name only and let Revlon deal with the designs themselves; this seems especially likely given that none of the cases really resemble anything Van Cleef was making at the time.

Patent for Revlon Futurama liptsick

Patent for Revlon Futurama liptsick

The designs on their own were modern for the time, but another aspect that Revlon claimed as new was the actual refill mechanism.  While they weren't quite the hardship Revlon's Futurama ads made them out to be, earlier versions of refillable lipsticks could get a little messy and took a minute or two to change as compared to Revlon's alleged 3 seconds. 

Lipstick refill-instructions-Wed__Mar_31__1943_

Futurama's "click in, click out" was certainly less involved than wartime lipstick refill instructions!

Revlon Futurama lipstick ad, 1956
(image from cosmeticsandskin.com)

The second aspect that set Futurama apart from previous lipsticks was that customers were made to feel as though they were getting a luxury item by a brand name at an affordable price. "Like rubies and emeralds, a really luxurious lipstick case has seemed out of reach to most women...though Revlon's new cases look loftily priced, some are a low $1.75, including lipstick. Besides which, women find Futurama a money-saver since refills only cost 90c."

Revlon Futurama ad, 1956(image from Life Magazine)

The cases themselves were presented as affordable, but Revlon also promoted the idea of the refillable lipstick as a cost-saving measure - once the customer "invested" money in a case, refills would be less expensive in the long term than buying a whole new lipstick.

Revlon Futurama ad text, 1956

You would think a company as large as Revlon wouldn't take a chance with their reputation by participating in price fixing, but in 1958 their shady tactic of setting refill prices was admonished by the FTC, who cracked down on them for conspiracy.  The author of the fabulous Cosmetics and Skin website explains: [Futurama] went on sale in 1955 after Revlon acquired the Braselton lipstick patents for lipstick cartridges in 1954. Revlon then entered into an agreement with Helena Rubinstein and Merle Norman – along with a number of container manufacturers, including Scovill and Risdon – to fix the price of lipstick refills, including non-patented lipstick inserts, until they were charged by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with conspiracy." 

Revlon Futurama ad, 1956(image from saintsalvage.blogspot.com)

Even though it had been advertised previously, the breakout moment came when Revlon featured a commercial for Futurama on the game show The $64,000 Question, which they were sponsoring. (Revlon's sponsorship of the short-lived quiz show is a fascinating history in and of itself.)  It was during this commercial that viewers could witness in real time the ease and tidiness of Futurama lipsticks, making video even more critical than print ads.  As Bird notes, "YouTube allows us to watch a vintage television ad and learn that the design separated the lipstick from the case, and saved money by offering refills.  The line was marketed to women, but also to husbands and children as an affordable but seemingly luxurious gift. Without this TV advertisement, the design is easy to write off as mere decoration.  With this added information, the design transcends mere aesthetics to address user needs, perceived value, material use, marketing, and problem-solving.  Seeing the design in action gives it a life and sophistication not evident in the brutality of an elevation view patent drawing or two-dimensional photograph."6

Overall, Futurama was presented as the wave of, well, the future. The case designs, particularly the elongated styles that were tapered in the middle and wider at the ends, were intended to reflect the modern era rather than mimic shapes of the past. Revson discusses the design selection process.  "When the designs started to come in, it was an exciting and stimulating experience. Many shapes were proposed: prisms, octagons, ribbons and bows, pencils, thimbles and countless others. But the most inspired was the hourglass, a shape that four designers suggested independently. We experimented with many surface treatments, too: brocaded gold on silver, silver-plated with a gold spiral, wedding bands en­ circling the cylinder. With Bert Reibel, our packaging designer, I selected two basic shapes by the end of March, 1954. One group of cases, shaped like hourglasses, would retail at $2.50 or more; the other group, thimble-shaped, would be less  expensive. Of all the samples submitted, only one surface treatment resembled that of expensive jewelry. We had to make arrangements with Fifth Avenue jewelers and designers, visit art museums and study color photographs of good-looking jewelry from the archives. Almost every major jewelry shop in Manhattan was visited, to study expensive, hand-designed compacts and cases. But we were still little closer to our goal. During the next eight months, we made up many thousands of designs and some five hundred actual models, each with a different surface or slightly modified shape. Parts were interchange­ able, so we could produce still different combinations. We in­vented our own special language: 'belts,' 'skirts,' 'balances,' 'waistlines.' Which 'belt' looked best with which 'skirt'? Which 'waistline' went best with which 'collar'?  It got to be a joke that I was often awake all night worrying about a dimension of one-sixteenth of an inch. And it was true! The search for new surface treatments inevitably brought us face to face with the limitations of machinery. I had become in­trigued by one finish we found on expensive compacts-'Florentine' by name-which was a texture of minute, finely etched lines. In 1954 no case manufacturer had the facilities or know­ how to produce it in volume...[Copp] finally, after long weeks of experimentation, had de­vised belts and grinding wheels that would simulate the 'Floren­tine' finish. To produce other finishes, he had to dispatch engineers to Switzerland and Italy before he could locate and buy the only turning machines on earth that could do a mass production job."

You'll notice there are very few scratches on this black case, which was the result of Revson's insistence that all the finishes should last at least 2 years before showing significant wear.  "Two coats of high-bake vinyl lacquer" did the trick.  The longevity of the pavé settings on the tops of some of the cases was also difficult to ensure. 

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

After nearly a year of design work, Revlon began working on the marketing, with Vice President Kay Daly (who later came up with the questions for Revlon's iconic Fire and Ice quiz) leading the way.  "Early attempts missed the boat because they emphasized the fashion element, but did not adequately sell the 'refillable' idea. The most frustrating task [Daly] undertook was the selection of a name for the cases. Hundreds were suggested, considered and re­jected. l could not agree-no one could agree-on any of them. Finally, she hit on Futurama. To my mind, this suitably brought home the newness, the excitement, the fashionableness of the product...A market research or­ganization reported that Futurama 'is not a good name. It is too masculine. It sounds too much like General Motors.'...In the end, I had to make the decision. There was, of course, only one way to look at it: from the viewpoint of the American woman herself. I de­cided to rely on my original reaction that the name was good, and that it would appeal to the consumer I knew best."  The name was rumored to be taken from the Futurama exhibition at the 1939 New York World's Fair and speaks to the post-World War II futurist trend in American design and technology.  Additionally, Revlon declared both the economic practicality and new designs to be the most cutting-edge ideas in cosmetics, and any modern woman should want to join the party.  "Are you ready for Futurama?" asks this 1958 ad.

Revlon Futurama ad, 1958

If you weren't on board with Futurama, you were getting left behind; the ads not so subtly implied that women who didn't purchase Revlon's latest offering were unfashionable and stuck in the past. According to one commercial, "The days of old-fashioned, un-style-conscious mothers are about as out-moded as old-fashioned brass lipstick...modern mothers may be old-fashioned on the inside, but they want to be the picture of glamour and style on the outside."

By late 1957 Futurama had expanded to compacts, which were also refillable.  While not as notable as the lipsticks, the compacts solidified Futurama as the most recognized line for Revlon at the time.  Something that is of note, however, is the fact that Andy Warhol may have been involved in the design of at least one of the compacts. A while ago a private collector sent me some photos and surmised that Warhol might have been responsible for a Revlon Futurama compact featuring his drawing of an early 1900s style shoe. This is what she had to say:  "I emailed Van Cleef and Arpels about who exactly designed these lovely creations and I actually got a call from a representative wanting to find out information on a specific compact I have that she called 'the Warhol Boot'...It was supposedly one of 5 display/prototypes that went missing between 1959 and 1961. It was designed by Andy Warhol but rejected by Revson because it didn't fit the 'mood' of the collection."  If this is true, what an amazing find! Take a gander at the second compact from the left in the second row.

Revlon Futurama compacts, private collection

I reached out to another collector whose father worked for Revlon, but she was unable to find any definitive proof that Warhol designed the compact.  Still, it resembles his shoe illustrations.

Andy Warhol shoe illustrations, 1955
(image from artnet.com)

Getting back to the lipsticks, Revlon's competitors were just as cutthroat as they would be today in that several companies released jewelry-inspired cases of their own.  Take, for example, DuBarry's Showcase.  Model Suzy Parker was featured in DuBarry's ads - an unusual move given her appearance in Futurama ads.  What is not surprising that the company doing this is DuBarry, who you might remember would go on to shamelessly rip off Revlon's Fire & Ice lipstick with their Snowball of Fire shade in 1959.

DuBarry Showcase lipstick ad, 1957(image by feldenchrist on flickriver.com) 

Dubarry Showcase lipsticks ad, 1957

Dubarry Showcase lipsticks ad, 1957(images from pinterest)

Cutex was even more blatant in their plagiarism (but at least they used a different model, Sara Thom).  In 1958 the company introduced their "designer's cases" which were apparently similar to something one would find in a "Fifth Avenue jeweler's window".  The notion of previous lipstick case styles as being "passé" was also copied from Revlon.  I'm not sure these were refillable, but they were definitely lower priced than Revlon's refills.

Ad for Cutex Designer's Case lipsticks, 1958

Ad for Cutex Designer's Case lipsticks, 1958(images from ebay)

There was also this Avon clone making a series of "jewel-like" cases at a price "every woman can afford."

Cort representative booklet, 1959

Can you say "knock-off"?  Then as now, this sort of plagiarism was rampant in the industry (more on that in another post).  To my knowledge none of these brands had partnerships with actual jewelry companies the way Revlon did, but they were definitely capitalizing on the makeup-as-inexpensive-jewelry concept.  

As of December 1960 Futurama was still being heavily promoted by Revlon.  A vast array of designs had joined the original lineup, while the older styles received elaborate outer packaging to suit any occasion.

Revlon Futurama ad, 1960

Revlon gold Futurama lipstick case

Revlon Futurama ad, 1960

Something that I have not been able to confirm is the numbering of the cases.  This one is listed in the ad as 9029, but engraved on the bottom is 587.  I believe the numbers on the bottoms of the Futurama cases correspond to the lipstick shades, not the case model, but I can't be certain.

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

Revlon Futurama lipstick case

Futurama was phased out by the mid-1960s, but its influence is alive and well today.  Many makeup companies have collaborated with jewelry designers either for their permanent collection or limited edition collections.  The idea of owning luxurious yet modestly priced jewels via makeup persists.  As with the beauty lines of fashion houses or artist collaborations, if one cannot afford vintage jewelry or an original piece by a high-end designer/artist, makeup allows the customer to get a taste of the real deal. Here's a quick list of some of the more memorable makeup/jewelry collaborations.  I'm also keeping my eyes peeled for one of these Cutex lipstick bracelets, which were sold around 1955-1958.


  1. Lulu Frost for Bobbi Brown, holiday 2013
  2. Bauble Bar x Stila, holiday 2014
  3. Elsa Peretti for Halson, late 1970s
  4. Ayaka Nishi for Suqqu, holiday 2016
  5. Ambush for Shu Uemura, spring 2017
  6. Robert Lee Morris for Elizabeth Arden, 1992
  7. Jay Strongwater for Chantecaille, spring 2007
  8. Robert Lee Morris for MAC, fall (see also MAC's collaborations with Jade Jagger and Bao Bao Wan)
  9. Monica Rich Kosann for Estée Lauder, holiday 2016 (Kosann continues to design Estée's holiday compact line.)

Some high-end lines go the Cutex route by creating makeup that can actually be worn as jewelry.  Dior, YSL and Louboutin have all released lip products in pendant form.

Lip gloss pendants - Dior, YSL and Louboutin

Refillable lipsticks with outer cases meant not only to last but also displayed are thriving in 2020, given the increasing demand for sustainable packaging.  The most recently unveiled jewelry-inspired line, and probably the one most similar to Futurama besides Guerlain's Rouge G, comes from fashion designer Carolina Herrera.  “We wanted to give women an opportunity to wear their makeup like a piece of fabulous jewelry," Herrera stated.  The entire line is refillable and offers customization options in the form of detachable charms and a variety of case styles.

Carolina Herrera makeup line(image from vogue.com)

Would all of these examples have existed without Revlon Futurama?  Sure, but Revlon did a lot of the heavy lifting.  Despite the exaggerated tone of the ads, Futurama was groundbreaking in that it popularized the notion of attainable luxury within the cosmetics arena and simplified the lipstick refill process.  The cases also serve as a prime example of the futuristic flavor of 1950s American design. These factors make Futurama a significant cultural touchstone on par with Revlon's previous Fire & Ice campaign. At the very least, Futurama represents several key developments in cosmetics advertising and packaging that helped lay the groundwork for today's beauty trends and shape consumer tastes.

Which Futurama design is your favorite?  Would you like to see a history of refillable lipsticks or an exhibition expanding on the makeup-as-jewelry concept?  I have to say I'd be curious to see what Revlon would come up with if they did another collab with Van Cleef...it would be awesome if Futurama 2.0 incorporated Van Cleef's signature Alhambra motif.


1 Give yourself a crash course in learning the lingo for various makeup cases and the differences between them. Noelle Soren's website is a treasure trove of knowledge!

2Revson elaborates on existing cases. "For a long time it had been bothering me that American women-so alert in many ways-had been content with that old smooth brass cylinder . It had no distinctive shape, color, finish or design. It looked like a cartridge case. They would buy them and discard them when they were used up, and then buy another…A number of cosmetics manufacturers had for years tried to make cases more distinctive. We had played around with the idea at Revlon. But all that any of us ever came up· with was an­ other version of the cartridge case. For one thing, all case manufacturers, including Risdon, had the same kinds of machines, with the same old limitations." ("The Matter of Beauty:  The Development of the Futurama Lipstick Case" in Business Secrets that Changed Our Lives, edited by Milton Shepard (1964), p. 294.

3 Matthew Bird, "Using Digital Tools to Work Around the Canon" in Design History Beyond the Canon, edited by Jennifer Kaufman-Buhler, Victoria Rose Pass, and Christopher S. Wilson (2018), p.114-117.

4 Through this paper I discovered that there are two folders worth of Revlon correspondence and sketches for lipsticks in the official Lurelle Guild papers, which are housed at Syracuse University.  I have requested electronic copies of these but obviously since the library is closed due to the coronavirus I will have to wait to receive them and see if they shed any more light on the Futurama design process.  I'm also still trying to figure out whether Van Cleef designed this beautiful jeweled case, as Pinterest is literally the only place I've ever seen it.

5 There is an ad in the January 1956 issue of Reader's Digest that mentions Charles Revson "commissioning" Van Cleef and Arpels to design the Futurama line. Google, however, will not let me see the entire ad, and I've purchased 2 copies of that particular edition of Reader's Digest to no avail - there was no Revlon ad in either of them. Either Google has the date wrong or, as one eBay seller noted, the ads differed between Reader's Digest even if they were the same exact editions (i.e. same month and year.) If anyone knows how to access Reader's Digest in full online, please let me know!

6 Matthew Bird, "Using Digital Tools to Work Around the Canon" in Design History Beyond the Canon, edited by Jennifer Kaufman-Buhler, Victoria Rose Pass, and Christopher S. Wilson (2018), p.114.

Curator's Corner, February 2020

CC logoLinks and other bits for the second month of 2020.

- The Fashion History Museum had a very helpful post that translated some new research on the history of beauty patches

I guess if the FDA won't thoroughly regulate beauty products, it's up to retailers.  Sephora announced new standards for CBD-infused products sold at their stores, which they hope will build customers' knowledge and trust in CBD products. I suppose it's a good thing but I still say most "clean beauty" stuff is a lie - I cannot roll my eyes any harder at Sephora's "Clean Beauty" section.

- '90s nostalgia continues full force in the beauty arena with Salt n Pepa's collection for Milani.

- I think black history should be incorporated year-round and so many magazines tend to highlight the same histories each February, but Allure went outside the box and brought the work of this beauty vlogger to my attention.  (Note to self: figure out what the hell TikTok is.)

- Makeup continues inching along towards accessibility for everyone thanks to Guide Beauty, founded by a makeup artist who was diagnosed with Parkinson's. 

- Jezebel highlights a trans beauty clinic in New York.  *insert applause here*  I am not, however, applauding the rise of beauty products intended for women's nether regions.  As if we haven't grown up with enough shame about our lady bits.

- Last month it was F-beauty, this time it's C-beauty.  Although unlike predictions for other countries, I can definitely see Chinese beauty brands taking off, or at least, they're on my radar to add to the Museum's collection - I know a handful are offering some truly amazing embossed products.

- Speaking of acquisitions, I'm really pleased with how the Museum's vintage Lancôme collection is coming along.  How perfect are these cheeky little cherubs for Valentine's Day?

Vintage Lancome makeup

The random:

- Two of the Curator's favorite TV shows returned in February, woohoo!

- An exhibition on Christian Louboutin sounds fantastic, and I must figure out how to incorporate a virtual tour for the Museum's exhibitions.

- In other museum news, I'm working on more MM Musings posts about diversity, inclusion and social change.  The amount of resources I've found so far is making my head spin, but I'm determined to give myself a crash course in these areas and figure out an action plan for the Makeup Museum.

- I managed to take a very quick trip to NYC to visit the Anna Sui show at the Museum of Art and Design, which was fabulous. My love for the '90s has never been stronger.

SBoB anna sui

How are you?  Did you do anything fun in February?