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February 2021

The art of juxtaposition: Duro Olowu for Estée Lauder

Duro-Olowu_I was compiling trivia focused on the topic of makeup-fashion collabs to put on Instagram a little while ago, and as with artist collabs, I quickly saw just how few were with Black designers.  Even worse is that I realized the Museum was missing one of the two official collabs with Black designers there have been (which, again, like artist collabs is unacceptable and needs to change.)  Estée Lauder teamed up with Nigerian-born, London-based designer Duro Olowu in the summer 2019, which coincided with the tremendous grief I was experiencing as a result of my dad's stroke earlier that year and the loss of my parents' home that August.  Needless to say the collection slipped by my radar. Fortunately I was able to track down 2 of the 4 pieces and I hope I find the rest eventually. 

The collection consisted of two palettes (one for more casual daytime wear and the other for evening), and two lipsticks in neutral and red shades.  Two makeup looks were modeled by Anok Yai, a Cairo-born model of Sudanese descent.  She became the face of Estée Lauder in 2018 and is, in her own words, "obsessed with makeup".

Duro Olowu for Estée Lauder - daytime palette

Duro Olowu for Estée Lauder - night palette

Duro Olowu for Estée Lauder

Duro Olowu for Estée Lauder lipstick

Anok Yai modeling the Duro Olowu collection for Estée Lauder

Anok Yai modeling the Duro Olowu collection for Estée Lauder

The packaging borrows prints from Olowu's fall 2016 and 2017 collections.  Anok also modeled a dress made by Olowu for the collab.

Duro Olowu, fall 2016

Duro Olowu, fall 2016(images from vogue.com) 

According to Essence, Olowu had always been a fan of Estée Lauder and was thrilled when they approached him to collaborate. Originally he was responsible only for the packaging, but that quickly shifted to choosing the makeup shades as well.  Olowu wanted to create something for everyone. "If you’re a man, you really can’t quite imagine what it takes to decide on the right shade for your skin, especially in this world we live in with women of different ages, ethnicities and skin shades. I really thought long and hard about that and tried to bring that into the mix. It was a really great learning experience for me," he says.  Olowu infused the collection with his signature ability to harmonize seemingly disparate themes.  "My aesthetic is about mixing things that wouldn't normally be mixed together," he told British Vogue. "The idea is that the woman who wears this makeup looks like herself, but also who she wants to be.  She's worldly, cosmopolitan and international.  The collection is representative of all types of beauty - it's a global approach.  That's what we wanted to create."

Duro Olowu for Estée Lauder - day palette

So who is Duro Olowu?  Born in Lagos to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father who had met and lived in England previously, Olowu was used to spending the summers there to see his mother's family and visiting Geneva for his father's business trips.  Olowu attended school in England as a teenager and earned a law degree from the University of Kent at Canterbury before making the switch to fashion design.  With this background, it's no wonder a he arrived at his trademark cosmopolitan aesthetic.  The designer explains: "I would spend my time browsing in the Kings Road, Kensington Market and Hyper Hyper and going to clubs like the Wag, the Mud Club and warehouse parties. I managed to do very creative things in an important period of style and music in London, and I wanted to experience  all the aspects of that time. From New Romantics to  Leigh Bowery, punk and reggae, all mixed in. I read up on fashion from Vionnet and Saint Laurent to Fiorucci and knew all about that...I was particularly inspired by certain designers when I was young. Yves Saint Laurent, Stephen Burrows, Azzedine Alaïa, Madame Grès, and Walter Albini and Issey Miyake. My mother wore Rive Gauche when I was growing up, often mixing it with pieces of traditional Nigerian clothing and other pieces picked up on holidays abroad. I felt that these designers bought so many very different elements of culture and style into the realm of their work. The beauty of women was very inspiring to me, as were my parents, who loved clothes."

Duro Olowu, spring 2021
(image from vogue.com)

In 2004 Olowu launched his own label with a single dress that mixed pieces of vintage couture fabrics and new ones with his own prints on a loose-fitting, Empire-waisted silhouette.  The "Duro dress," as it came to be known, was an instant hit among both fashionistas and critics and put Olowu on the international fashion map.  Soon the designer was dressing the likes of powerful women such as Michelle Obama.  "I'm just amazed by how women can do so much regardless of natural or imposed obstacles, and I feel that it's my duty to make sure they look good and feel comfortable doing it...whether I'm initially inspired by Eileen Gray, Miriam Makeba, Pauline Black, or Amrita Sher-Gil, I always end up designing for women of all ages and ethnicities, women whose way of life and work I respect. Then I hope that the clothes I've come to, with them as inspiration, would be of interest to them...I want to make women feel confident in an effortless way," he says.

The "Duro dress", 2005
(image from cnn.com)

Says fashion writer Chioma Nnadi, Olowu's art history knowledge is "astonishing", and it informs his designs along with his personal background. "My prints are inspired by my Nigerian, Jamaican, and British backgrounds, as well as my love of art. Over the years, I have developed a curatorial and enthusiastic knowledge of historic and contemporary fabrics and textiles from all over the world. The mixing and draping of printed fabrics and textiles is something I have been exposed to all my life in the places I have lived or on my travels. It has been a signature of my womenswear collections from the very beginning and remains an integral part of my work. Fabrics always tell a story, and, when mixed well, exude the kind of joie de vivre and allure I am constantly inspired by...The color palettes of my prints are often by inspired art and artists, including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Henri Matisse, Alma Thomas, Robert Rauschenberg, Alice Neel, Chris Ofili, Édouard Vuillard, El Anatsui, Lee Krasner and Toyin Ojih Odutola."  I can absolutely see these influences in his color schemes, but what's even more impressive is how Olowu imbues his collections with the spirits of his current muses without directly referencing them and creates a whole new aesthetic in the process.  For example, for his spring 2020 collection he was inspired by photographer Beth Lesser's images of Jamaican dancehalls in the '80s as well as sketches by Picasso's lover Francoise Gilot.  As Nnadi points out, the former can be seen in the wide leg pants and some of the dresses' ruffled hems, while Gilot's are embodied by the drapey, flowing silhouettes and softer floral prints.  I'm blown away by how Olowu combines and reinterprets the vibes of these two totally different bodies of work while also adding his own style to the mix.

Duro Olowu, spring 2020(images from vogue.com)

Images from Dance Hall: The Rise of Dance Hall Culture by Beth Lesser(images from lostinburanism.tumblr.com and timeline.com)

Joe Lickshot with Prince Jazzbo and his son on Olympic Way, photo by Beth Lesser
(image from caughtbytheriver.net)

Duro Olowu, spring 2020(images from vogue.com)

Francoise Gilot sketchbook
(images from taschen.com)

Francoise Gilot sketchbook(image from nytimes.com)

While his clothing is wonderful, it's Olowu's curatorial experience I find most extraordinary. In 2008 Olowu married Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, which further intensified his appreciation of art across all mediums. He curated his first exhibition in 2012 at New York's Salon 94 Freemans, followed by two more in 2014 and 2016.  All were so well-received by the public and critics alike that the exhibition catalogs had to be reprinted after repeatedly selling out.  Olowu's most recent exhibition, Seeing Chicago, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) is one of the most innovative and unique curatorial endeavors I have ever laid eyes on.  Comprised of 367 (!) works from all different eras ranging from painting and photography to crafts and books, the pieces are arranged salon-style to enhance the dialogue between them. Olowu's love for Chicago grew out of his long-term partnership with the boutique Ikram.  "I first came here because I've been working with Ikram, a fantastic store, for about 16 years...I was just amazed at the unique nature of the Chicago mindset. They're not followers; they do their own thing, and they're very proud of what is within their city, without showing off. And in that way I felt that sometimes you overlook actually what is there and how amazing it is." From there he  gathered objects he felt best represented the diversity and character of the city.  "I wanted to show old school, curious collecting from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, along with community and philanthropic collecting, in a forward-thinking way," Olowu tells CR Fashion Book.  "It was intuitive how it came together—the variety of having Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, and Glenn Ligon in the same space with Rashid Johnson, Martin Puryear, and Lorna Simpson. I did not purposefully seek any of the art—the artwork itself called me." I love the idea of art or objects "calling" - it happens to me when organizing the Museum's exhibitions, although sometimes I'm driven by certain words or phrases that just keep sticking in my head.

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, 2020

Instead of arranging artwork into neat categories, Olowu takes an unexpected and refreshing approach that still makes sense thematically. Explains MCA (soon to be Guggenheim) curator Naomi Beckwith, "I don't think we realize that when we go to museums, oftentimes the work that we see in one specific gallery or in one show is usually like for like. That is to say that all the works in African sculpture are in the African galleries. All the works by French painters of the late 19th century are in another gallery by themselves. All the pottery from Asia is either in the Asian gallery or in the decorative arts gallery. We began to separate things out in ways that feel logical, but what it doesn't often allow is for things across cultures to speak to each other, or things across time periods to live with each other. Duro kind of ignored those basic art historical claims and just asked us to realize the affinities that art may have, across the country, across the world, across time." 

The colors of the walls and pedestals reflect the color palette used by Amanda Williams in her iconic Color(ed) Theory series, in which she painted structures slated for demolition in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and named each to represent an aspect of Black consumer culture.  By using these colors for the exhibition decor, Olowu connects the objects both to each other and to Chicago's history.

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, 2020

"Both as a fashion designer and as a curator, [Duro is] interested in bringing cultures and cultural objects together in an exchange and in a conversation that allows things to speak to each other in an equal plain, without hierarchy, without a sense that one thing is superior to another, or better than another, or that one culture, one geography, one place or one history should supersede another," continues Beckwith. "And really the question for his practice is, how do we allow all this to live together, in a kind of egalitarian beauty? And you'll see that happening in the exhibition."  This is a far less elitist approach to curation that we typically don't see in major art museums. Underscoring this more democratic methodology was the display of outsider art alongside canonical names like Kerry James Marshall and Jean Arp.  "He’s not making big distinctions between self-taught and academically trained artists. He’s looking at furniture as much as sculpture, at craft as much as painting.  We're at a moment in art history when we're seeing deep dissatisfaction with the standard narratives," notes Beckwith.

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, 2020

The last room presents a group of mannequins observing the art, meant as stand-ins of fellow museum visitors.  While they're dressed in Olowu's designs, they're intended to emphasize his community-minded approach towards art and curation.  "They are looking at the art, and at you...there is a relationship between the eye and the heart, outside of genres and contexts. One of the joys of art is that it can bring people together—through diversity and unification, all divisions are gone," he says.

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, 2020(images from crfashionbook.com)

In short, Duro Olowu was meant to be a curator, more so than a fashion designer, and I hope he pursues curation full-time. I love his clothes, but I find his exhibitions even more inspiring. My spirits are also buoyed up by the fact that his shows have been generally well-received without him having any formal curatorial training. I would dearly love to have him curate an exhibition for the Museum, although since he doesn't consider fashion to be art, he probably wouldn't consider makeup worthy of curation either. Plus, his style may be very difficult to translate to cosmetics.  As Jessica Baran points out in Art Forum, Olowu's aesthetic can veer into commercial territory. "[At] its worst the display method mirrored the style of luxe domestic decor and retail store design (in fact, Olowu’s first curatorial endeavors were seen as extensions of his London boutique, which is organized similarly). Full of surface seductions 'Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago' masked with its immersive pleasure its myriad contradictions, many of which are mirrored by fashion itself: a global industry blinkered by its own excesses, situated somewhere between haute merch and popular necessity, expressive art and practical consumability."  You know I despise any museums in which makeup is presented as something to buy rather than appreciate - it's something I've been even more mindful of since I interviewed an exhibition designer so many years ago - but I think I could channel Olowu's vision and put together a broadly focused show in his style that celebrates the diversity of makeup and its history without it seeming like retail. The ideas are flying fast and furious now so I better go so I can jot them down. ;)

What do you think of the Estée Lauder collection and Olowu's fashion/curation?


A not so magical holiday with Holiday Magic Cosmetics

While hunting for vintage Christmas makeup a few months ago I stumbled across a brand from the 1960s called Holiday Magic. This won't be a complete history either of the brand or the man who founded it, but it's one of the most compelling (for all the wrong reasons).  Buckle up because you're in for a truly wild ride!

In 1964, a California salesman by the name of William Penn Patrick (b. March 31, 1930; d. June 9, 1973) noticed a neighbor having a garage sale of organic fruit-based cosmetics called Zolene.  Sensing a new business opportunity, Patrick bought the entire stock for $16,250 (or about $137,000 today).  Re-branded as Holiday Magic, Patrick proceeded to start selling them as a multi-level marketing business (MLM).  Now, MLMs for cosmetics and other goods had been around for many years prior to Holiday Magic, such as Avon, Mary Kay, Watkins, Fuller Brush, etc. While their ethics are murky - on the one hand it gave people jobs and products that they otherwise wouldn't have access to, on the other they require fairly unsavory tactics - they are not technically against the law.  But Holiday Magic wasn't just your average MLM:  it was possibly the biggest pyramid scheme prior to Bernie Madoff. 

Holiday Magic ad in Vogue magazine, October 15, 1967

Within a year of its launch, Holiday Magic had made Patrick a millionaire, and by 1967, the company was allegedly earning $6 million per month.  The makeup products were quite average - nothing appears to be innovative about them.  There was the standard eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, brow pencil, lipstick and blush.  I would have had my own photos but I have no idea what happened to the objects I purchased from eBay, which sadly has become the norm these days.  (It looks like tracking information was prepared but the package never was actually mailed. I've contacted the seller numerous times and have yet to receive a reply, let alone a refund. I guess William Penn Patrick is still working through others to scam customers from beyond the grave.)

Holiday Magic cream blush and face powder

Holiday Magic eye products

Holiday-magic-lipstick

The only thing of interest makeup-wise was the connection to the House of Westmore.  The details aren't clear, but it seems Ern Westmore allowed his facial exercises to be used by Holiday Magic, which may have given an air of legitimacy to the brand. 

Westmore facial exercises record for Holiday Magic

Westmore facial exercises for Holiday Magic

Westmore facial exercises instructions(images from ebay and amazon)

While the makeup itself wasn't all that groundbreaking, the fruit-based skincare was fairly ahead of its time.  The two women who founded Zolene, Helene Fly and Zoe Swanagon (hence the company's moniker, a combo of their first names), were committed to using fresh ingredients without preservatives, and did a lot of research on skincare recipes that had been circulating quite literally for centuries.  They were even writing a cosmetics history book!

Zolene cosmetics, 1964

Zolene cosmetics

A lot of their products remind me of LUSH or 100% Pure's offerings.  And I really wish I could find them, I love the Mid-Century Modern star packaging.  Anyway, Zolene continued to supply Holiday Magic with its concoctions until 1967 when the founders became aware of Holiday Magic's business practices. But the company's lack of innovative makeup did not deter it from making a fortune for Patrick. In pyramid schemes, profit is not made by selling products but rather recruiting more salespeople - the products themselves have nothing to do with how the money is made, so it doesn't matter if they're any good.  According to The Snapping Point, a website about business scams, the four characteristics that separate pyramid schemes from MLMs are:

  • the only way for consultants to make a profit is to recruit other consultants. 
  • consultants are required to ‘inventory load’, or constantly inventory to profit.
  • consultants are operating in a ‘saturated market’, or a market where there are more sellers than buyers. 
  • consultants are required to sell products for a fixed price (‘price-fixing’). 

This book explains it in more detail.  Basically, the only way for sales reps to make money was not by selling products but through essentially "buying" more sales people, convincing them to make an "investment" in the company.  Unlike regular MLMs, where by the majority of product purchased by sales reps is actually sold to customers, in pyramid schemes most of the product does not reach them.  In Holiday Magic's case, in 1967 it was estimated that 55% of their product was not distributed to customers, with sales reps having entire garages full of makeup.  In 1973, an FTC attorney stated that he could find no evidence of products being sold directly to customers, only to "master" and "general" distributors, while the former president of Holiday Magic, Benjamin Gay, testified that less than 10% of products sold to distributors ever reached customers.  "There could be sawdust in those jars. The cosmetics were there as a front," he said. The way in which Holiday Magic's hierarchy was arranged, Holiday "girls" could invest $18.91, "organizers" $109.71 to $501, "master" distributors $4,500 (plus a $250 training fee that was never mentioned until the investor signed the contract), and "general" distributors $8,750, plus training fees. 

Holiday Magic ad in Vogue, September 1967
(image from archive.vogue.com)

In addition, Patrick was known for other aggressive, highly immoral practices that went beyond pyramid selling. While Holiday Magic did not officially go bankrupt until 1974, as early as 1967 the company was charged by the California State Attorney General's office for "false and misleading advertising" in which the ads claimed distributors could make roughly $2200 a month (or $18,600 nowadays) working full-time. In retaliation, he took out full page newspaper ads attacking the state attorney general. Basically, any time the company faced a legitimate lawsuit, Patrick would double down and countersue, claiming that his constitutional rights were being violated.  But the coup de grace was Leadership Dynamics, a "training institute" for Holiday Magic representatives established by Patrick and then-company president Gay in 1967.  Sales agents were not required but "encouraged" to take a training course for a mere $1,000, while those higher up on the pyramid were required to take courses there.  However, Leadership Dynamics was not so much training as it was torture; according to a 1972 exposé entitled The Pit, among the many cult-like techniques used to humiliate and brainwash sales reps were severe beatings, being locked naked in cages or tied to a cross, forced to sleep in coffins and, of course, racial slurs hurled at the Black attendees. I'm not sure how much of the book is true, but several newspaper articles as well as an article in Newsweek detail the abuse and numerous lawsuits brought about by attendees who supposedly sustained serious injuries. 

William Penn Patrick
The exceedingly punchable face of William Penn Patrick.

Patrick also dabbled in politics, running against Ronald Reagan in California's 1966 gubernatorial race as an "ultra-conservative Republican" with the slogan "Stop the Commies at Cal".  Gee, color me shocked that a money-hungry narcissist was the complete opposite of liberal.  His political views are not surprising; many rich white mediocre men truly believe the conservative myth that success is due to hard work (bootstraps!) and brilliance, rather than their own privilege, dumb luck or directly screwing over other people.  Indeed, as one former Holiday Magic employee reminisced in 2016, "The whole organization (or lack of) was absolutely bizzare [sic], run by a bunch of frat boys with not a business degree among them. But they had a Phd in pyramid schemes."  A couple of other tidbits:

  • In 1967, as president of the "Victory in Vietnam Committee" he attempted to run a recall campaign against an Idaho Democratic Senator, because you know when Democrats win an election it's because they stole the race (insert eyeroll here).  When the AFL-CIO organized a boycott of Holiday Magic, Patrick promptly sued them.
  • His wife, Marie, was going to be a doctor but abandoned her plans shortly after marrying him to work as a teacher, largely to support them both after Patrick's string of failed businesses. Once Holiday Magic achieved success, she began attending meetings with Patrick because "otherwise, I'd never see him". 
  • On September 24, 1972, one of Patrick's vintage planes, an F86 Sabre piloted by the general manager of Spectrum Air (another company owned by Patrick) crashed into an ice cream parlor shortly after takeoff.  The pilot escaped with a few broken bones and scratches, while 22 on the ground died, including 10 children. Patrick wasn't directly responsible, but the fact that he allowed it to be flown speaks volumes about his complete disregard for others.
  • On June 9, 1973, Patrick died in a crash while performing stunts on another one of his vintage jets, a WWII plane called a P51 Mustang that, again, any regular citizen should not have had a license to own, let alone fly. He also managed to kill a colleague who was in the plane with him, a 30 year-old director of Holiday Magic in Finland named Christian George Hagert.  SMDH.

A few months after his death and a spate of lawsuits in multiple states, as well as a $5 million suit from Avon, Holiday Magic's new president, along with Patrick's widow, announced that the line would be sold "along conventional marketing lines" and get rid of the pyramid aspect of their sales.  They also promised a "fair" method of reimbursing roughly 3,000 of the Holiday Magic distributors in California who had been swindled.  The SEC's ruling earlier that year claimed that 80,000 individuals had been bilked out of $250 million, so it's not clear what happened to the other 77,000 people who were ripped off. In May 1974 there was a class action settlement of over 31,000 members that established a trust fund of approximately $2.6 million, but that's pennies compared to the actual amount investors lost. Even in 1980 people were still writing to their local paper about the various lawsuits that had been filed and whether they'd get their money back.

But the big issue I wanted to highlight in this sordid tale is the fact that Holiday Magic seemed to have actively sought out Black communities in the U.S. to recruit distributors.  While some other MLMs such as Avon, Fuller and Watkins targeted Black sales reps and customers, in their cases it seemed to be more a matter of expanding their market reach and at least supplying steady jobs rather than overtly preying on marginalized people. (Stay tuned for more about Black people's roles in various MLM cosmetic companies.)

Holiday Magic ad, Ebony Magazine, January 1968(image from books.google.com)

I really wish I could find some numbers to further support my theory, but it appears the scheme disproportionately affected Black and other POC investors.  "The real tragedy is that Holiday Magic appeals to minority people who want to get rich," remarked SEC staff lawyer Louis F. Burke. Patrick bragged in 1968 that 2 of his top 6 distributors in the U.S. were Black, but even if that were true, it's not necessarily a good thing. As a former distributor noted, Holiday Magic's setup was "like being thrown into a dark pit. The only way you can get out is to drag another person into the pit and step on his shoulders." For the most part, Black customers would only be further disenfranchised if they bought into Holiday Magic.  As if that's not bad enough, the company didn't even attempt to formulate any products for deep skin tones. As one wise Black would-be Holiday Magic salesman pointed out in 1975, the line was intended for white people: "Holiday Magic packaged cosmetics for fair-skinned people. Now why in the world would I want to sell light lipstick to Black women?" At least Avon tried to come up with products that would be suitable for Black customers.

Holiday Magic handbooks
(images from ebay) 

In the UK, it's estimated that the West Indian community lost £33 million in the early 1970s, and 26 people committed suicide after losing everything.  These figures are somewhat corroborated by a British publication called Grassroots, which in 1974 reported that Holiday Magic targeted "almost exclusively West Indian and Asian communities" in the Midlands region.  It's incredibly heartbreaking considering that people were taking out second mortgages on their homes to sink £1,000 into becoming a Holiday Magic distributor, only to end up paying at least double that in the long run and ending up far worse off financially than they were before. Note: I know nothing about this Grassroots publication and have no idea how reliable it is, but I don't think their claims are completely baseless. 

It was obvious early on that Patrick was going beyond an MLM and into pyramid scheme territory along with the other illegal sales tactics, yet Holiday Magic was being advertised nationally in well-known publications as late as 1969, and still being sold in pyramid form through 1973. (A new Holiday Magic line with a less deceptive sales model was sold through the mid-'80s.) Perhaps it was a combination of systemic racism and his unbridled wealth that Patrick's sham wasn't stopped before it did so much damage.  Maybe if he targeted only wealthy white people he would have been shut down sooner? Then again, Madoff did just that for about the same amount of time.

Anyway, despite what the show's creators say, I think the short-lived TV series On Becoming a God in Central Florida was based mostly on Holiday Magic - even more so than Amway.  Everything, from the cult-like behavior and "motivational" mantras spewed by Patrick to the garages full of product and targeting of BIPOC communities has an uncanny resemblance to Holiday Magic.

On Becoming a God in Central Florida
(image from meoww.com)

Thoughts?  Had you ever heard of this brand? I promise I have a much more positive story on the way. ;)

 

 

Sources:  In addition to the links throughout this post, here are some newspaper articles used.

"Holiday Magic Inc. Offers Tasty Cosmetic Products," Asbury Park Press, September 17, 1967.

"The Real William Penn Patrick," Daily Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA), December 28, 1968.

"Cosmetics Firm Files Suit Against Competitors," Harford Courant, May 18, 1972.

"'Torture Training' Basis for Suit by Students," Associated Press, August 16, 1972.

"22 Die as Ex-Fighter Jet Hits Ice Cream Parlor," Chicago Tribune, September 25, 1972.

"Patrick Hit With $5.2 Million Suit," Daily Independent Journal, October 19, 1972.

"Holiday Magic Hit With Two Big Suits," Daily Independent Journal, February 22, 1973.

"4.2 Million Suit Names Patrick," San Francisco Examiner, March 19, 1973.

"The Magic Pyramid," Daniel Grotta, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 8, 1973.

"William Penn Patrick, Cosmetics Millionaire, Dies in Plane Crash," The Fresno Bee, June 10, 1973.

"Quiet Helpmate at Patrick Empire Helm," Daily Independent Journal, August 1, 1973.

"20.3 Million Suit Against Patrick Firm," Daily Independent Journal, September 29, 1973.


Curator's corner, January 2021

Curator's cornerLinks for one of the most miserable months of the year. Good riddance, January!

- Sephora unveiled an action plan to eliminate racial bias in their stores.  Let's hope they keep the public informed on their progress.  Ditto for L'oreal's new partnership with the NAACP and a ban on animal testing in the EU.  

- In accessibility news, here are some new makeup brushes designed for people with vision and motor impairments.

- You know I'm obsessed with vintage makeup ads and can spend hours dissecting the harmful messages they embodied, so I'm loving these reimagined ones featuring diverse models.

- Refinery29 had an interesting piece on the meaning of tacky makeup for fat women.

- The future is here: more developments are on the horizon for AI and AR in beauty.

- Not sure how I feel about my favorite magazine opening a store in NY.  Guess I'll have to check it out and see if/when the pandemic ever ends.

- Undereye circles, both exaggerated versions of natural circles and wildly colorful ones, are making the rounds on TikTok.   (BTW, the Museum has a Tiktok account but no clue what to post...I'm open to suggestions.) Not all are enthusiastic about the trend, however.

- You knew "regencycore" makeup only a matter of time thanks to Bridgerton

- Vogue has an ode to a '90s cosmetics staple. Can you believe I didn't own a Caboodles?  If I recall correctly it's because even when I was a teenager I hoarded collected makeup and I knew it wouldn't all fit.

- Inaugural beauty: the always fashionable former First Lady Michelle Obama wore Fenty and Pat McGrath makeup to President Biden's inauguration, and a makeup artist turned the Bernie meme into lip art.

- It was Christian Dior's birthday on January 21, so to celebrate I took a picture of nearly all the Museum's 5-Couleurs eyeshadow palettes.  Of course I managed to forget one.  Oh well. They still look pretty. :)

Dior 5-Couleurs collection, Makeup Museum

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Silence of the Lambs turned 30, and for some reason one hit wonders New Radicals performed, well, their one hit at the inauguration.

- Museums' new purposes apparently include serving as vaccination centers and sites for Bernie memes (yes, I had to mention the memes a second time.)  Still, I'd take those over "for-profit experiential art centers", which in my opinion are not actually museums.

- Who came up with this monstrosity?  I love candy and I love Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese, but the two together sound positively putrid

- At least this made me laugh. The resemblance is uncanny!

How was the first month of 2021 for you?