Soy happy about this new Fresh cleanser!

I've been following fashion illustrator Blair Breitenstein on Instagram more or less since I joined about 2 years ago, and I figured it was only a matter of time before her work appeared on beauty packaging.  The only surprise was the brand - I thought for sure MAC would have scooped up Breitenstein for a collab (more on that later) but it turns out Fresh beat them to it.  As you know, I try not to make a habit of collecting skincare/bath and body products, but I haven't been able to resist Fresh's artist collaborations and knew their iconic soy cleanser illustrated by Breitenstein had to join the crew.  It seems like odd timing, as Fresh usually does special packaging to mark an expected milestone, but decided to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the introduction of the cleanser.  Why they wouldn't wait until 20 years is beyond me, but really, no special occasion is needed for an artist collab in my view.  :)

Breitenstein honored the original product packaging that featured a "soy girl" by maintaining a female presence, but thoroughly modernized it with her own style and added another girl.  I love the image, since for me it represents the timeless tradition of women bonding over beauty rituals.  And their robes look so plush!  It's an appealing scene and one that reminds us to take some time out for ourselves and take pleasure in the cleansing process.  I love applying my makeup, but I also enjoy feeling the warm water rinsing away the day's grime and knowing that it's time to wind down for the night.  (I guess if you use it in the morning it's an equally enjoyable way to prepare for the day ahead.)  While I think the concept of "self-care" has been ridiculously co-opted at this point, face-washing is a necessity so you might as well make it a nice experience for yourself.  This cozy and comforting image definitely helps with that.

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Here's the original "soy girl" for reference.

(image from

Let's get to know Breitenstein and take a look at her work, shall we?  Born and raised in Seattle (though she now calls NYC her home), the 28 year-old illustrator attended Washington State University and majored in communications (with a minor in art history, ahem!) Breitenstein had always loved art, especially painting, but it was a class she took her junior year of college that helped shape the path to her career as an illustrator and, arguably, her spontaneous drawing process:  "My junior year I studied abroad in Florence and took all art classes. One of my classes was called Florence Sketch Book. The class was literally drawing all over Florence in our sketchbooks. One assignment was to draw as many paintings in the a museum as you could before class ended. That's when I fell in love with sketching. I loved the quick quirky half drawn pieces more than anything I had ever taken a lot of time to paint."  Indeed, there a freshness and immediacy to Breitenstein's illustrations.  While they appear hastily sketched at first glance, they're much more detailed than meets the eye. 

Blair Breitenstein, Meow in Miu

Fashion was a natural source of inspiration, given her family's interest in fashion and Breitenstein's own lifelong affair with fashion magazines.  "I grew up surrounded by fashion. My mom and grandma love fashion, so even early on my art has been inspired by fashion. My grandpa was an artist. I have always wanted to be an artist...When I was growing up fashion was an escape. I remember flipping through a W Magazine when I was very young, and I was fascinated with the opulence of it all. I was intrigued by the fantastical and remote settings in the editorials. At the time, I assumed everyone enjoyed magazines and fashion imagery as much as I did.  Later I realized I didn’t just enjoy flipping through magazines. I realized fashion was my passion and my still is an escape. The things I draw are not realistic to me. I do not have the place or money to wear Dior but it is too beautiful for me to ignore so I draw these things."

Blair Breitenstein, Oscar de la Renta

Blair Breitenstein, Met Heavenly Bodies gala

Blair Breitenstein, Chanel

As for her process, Breitenstein selects images from the runway, magazines, or social media and works from those. "I am always collecting images. I screenshot, browse tumblr, mark up magazines, etc. I usually start my morning reviewing all of my images; then I just start drawing. I draw for a few hours in the mornings." For tools, Breitenstein relies mostly on watercolor, but utilizes markers and pastels as well.  The variety ensures she's able to capture the range in materials and silhouettes in the clothing she represents.  "I get fixated on textures, colors, shapes and movement of clothing. I get completely lost looking at fashion week coverage," she says.  One of my favorite uses of various artist tools comes in the form of these illustrations based on couture gowns by Dior and Giambattista Valli.  The watercolor allows the viewer to practically feel the sheer, gauzy texture of the garments between their fingers, while markers add just enough definition to the dresses' layers as well as the models' hair and makeup; in the case of Dior, the dark eye makeup provides a delightfully sharp contrast to the soft tulle on the dresses, while the red pouts on the models at Giambattista Valli stand out without overpowering the design.

Blair Breitenstein, Dior and Giambattista Valli(images from and instagram)

Just for fun (and because I'm almost legally blind from nearsightedness), I wanted to share another area in which Breitenstein excels: eyewear.  Her drawings of fabulously bespectacled ladies seriously make me want to ditch my contacts.

Blair Breitenstein, Chanel glasses

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein(images from instagram)

I can't tell whether I like Breitenstein's takes on Vogue covers more than her runway illustrations...probably just a little bit more since, like me, she's a huge Pat McGrath fan.  McGrath did the makeup for the following covers, and I think Breitenstein captured the vibrancy and uniqueness of her work perfectly. 

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue December 2017(images from and instagram)

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue Italia 2012(images from fashionista and instagram)

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue Italia 2004(images from and instagram)

Breitenstein also recreates some pretty amazing vintage covers.  It's not surprising, since she cites '60s and '70s style as an  influence: "I would describe my style as exaggerated, moody, sexy, and fashionably on trend with a nod to the 60’s and 70’s."

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue 1968

  Blair Breitenstein, Vogue 1965

Blair Breitenstein, Vogue 1965(images from instagram)

In hearing her describe her work, I feel as though she left out one descriptive term, but perhaps one that was too obvious.  All I could think of was "chic".  Even non-models are impossibly chic - whether playing tennis, gardening, or just languidly lounging about on sofas or poolside in bikinis, these women are incredibly stylish, and seem somewhat intimidating in all their glamour.  But perhaps their confident stares are signaling mystery and intrigue.  As Breitenstein notes, "I think I’m a bit mysterious, and I think my illustrations are a bit mysterious too."

  Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

Blair Breitenstein

The bathing beauty on the left is particularly great.   Drink in hand, this woman combines a bouffant, pearls and a fierce winged liner with an expression of mild disdain and boredom.  She's a completely unapologetic rich bitch, which for some reason greatly amuses me.

Blair Breitenstein(images from instagram)

I saved my favorite subject (makeup, obviously) for last.

Blair Breitenstein, Complimentary Colors

Blair Breitenstein, Ode to Pat McGrath

Blair Breitenstein, Sies Marjan(images from and instagram)

Blair Breitenstein, Vivienne Westwood makeup(images from elle and instagram)

Breitenstein also dabbles a little in makeup still lifes, which I adore as well. 

Blair Breitenstein

Not only does she draw pictures of MAC products, she also paints with them on occasion.

Blair Breitenstein(images from instagram)

To bring this post full circle, the MAC sketches are why I was a little surprised Fresh tapped Breitenstein for a collab - if any beauty company was going to approach her I think it would be MAC.  Then again, it's always possible she'll get a line from them too.  In any case, the ever humble Breitenstein notes how pleased she was to work with Fresh and create a more regular girl rather than a high-end fashion model.  "I was really excited to work on the Soy Face Cleanser because I got to bring the Soy illustrated girl to 2018.  She's different than the normal girls I create.  She's also a bit more like me - less done up - and that was really exciting for me to be able to create a girl that I can really relate to." 

These girls definitely seem more approachable than Breitenstein's usual figures, while still maintaining her signature chicness.  I think it's partially due to the fact that they're in profile and not staring out at the viewer, which is the case for most of her work.  And I know I mentioned the fluffy robes previously, but depicting women in "bath-leisure" attire rather than high fashion also helps tone down the intimidation factor.

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Fresh Soy Cleanser illustrated by Blair Breitenstein

Overall, I think the illustration perfectly captures the essence of Fresh Soy Cleanser.  In terms of brand imaging, Fresh packaging has always been spa-like and sleek, while the product itself is soothing and calming, just like the water cascading from the girls' hands.  I admire how Breitenstein modified her style just a bit to accommodate both the Fresh brand and a specific product from them.  Plus I'm really happy to see her continued success via a collaboration with a major beauty company.  Not only is Breitenstein talented, she seems pretty down to earth and grateful for the exposure her work garnered via social media. "I never thought art would lead to a career. No one ever explained that their are SO many jobs that require a BFA...If instagram was a person I would hug it and send it a billion thank you cards and flowers."  I just hope the fashion industry doesn't crush her spirit!

What do you think?




Off to Umbria with Fresh

As with Fresh's collaborations with Jo Ratcliffe and R. Nichols, this was quite a nice little surprise.  The company teamed up with renowned Italian ceramic house Rometti to create limited-edition packaging for their Umbrian Clay Mask.  I can't think of a more appropriate company to produce the design, as Rometti is not only based in Umbria near where the clay for Fresh is sourced, but obviously pottery-inspired limited edition packaging for a clay-based mask is perfect.

Fresh Clay Mask Rometti

Why the clay mask to get the artistic treatment?  Fresh co-founder Alina Roytberg explains, “The Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask is one of our most iconic products. The mask is truly amazing, because it can be used on all skin types without drying out the complexion. When the product first came out, we didn’t launch it in a big way, and we’re very excited to do that now and be able to share the rich history behind the ingredient.”  The Umbrian Clay line was first launched in 2000 after Roytberg witnessed the amazingly clear complexion of a Rome-based friend who previously struggled with acne - the clay she found in a local store had done the trick.  Roytberg tracked down the source of the clay, which is a small town in Perugia called Nocera Umbra, and from there the Umbrian Clay line was born.  The clay has been used literally for centuries to treat various skin concerns and is a renewable resource that's mined ethically by Fresh. (You can read more about the production process here.)

Fresh Clay Mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

Fresh clay mask Rometti

As for the design, Rometti Artistic Director Jean Christophe Clair says that he was inspired by all of Umbria, from its natural elements ("rivers", "hills" and "sunsets" were his key words) and architecture to its status, as he puts it, "the center of the history of Italy." The soft colors Clair used reflect the region's blue skies and earthy terracotta hues of the clay.

Rometti is a 90-year old company that's known for being the first Italian ceramic house to put a more avant-garde style on their wares as opposed to traditional Italian Renaissance and Art Nouveau designs.  Most of the early pieces were produced in conjunction with artists Corrado Cagli and Dante Baldelli.  I wasn't familiar with either of those two names, but apparently Baldelli was a nephew of Settimio Rometti, one of the company's founders.  He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome where he met Cagli.  Along with a host of other artists, including Futurist Giacomo Balla (love the Futurists!), they "were given complete freedom to experiment their artistry."  The Fresh collab maintains this tradition of artistic freedom today, as the company gave Rometti "free reign".  The design process came about easily, which is not surprising given that the mask is a product that comes directly from Rometti's everyday environment.  Says Roytberg, “It was one of those incredible things where you communicate without over-communicating because the response, for [the Rometti owners], it’s natural—they live in this world, they work with clay under the sky—so it’s one of those transcendental things that just happens."




While Clair created a unique new design for Fresh, it's clear he was continuing in the footsteps of Cagli and Baldelli, which you can see below in some examples of their work.  What's notable about these is the modern style given to traditional decorative themes, e.g. mythological scenes, farming, fishing, etc. - they're a far cry from, say, ancient Greek vases or majolica.  I'm including just a few pieces here but if you're finding yourself head over heels in love with Rometti's work, here's a whole book to drool over.

Corrado Cagli for Rometti, Marcia su Roma (March on Rome), 1930

Corrado Cagli for Rometti, Il lavoro dei campi, 1930

Dante Baldelli for Rometti, Pescatore, 1932-34

I spy mermaids!

Dante Baldelli for Rometti, Le Sirene, 1934

 I love this jellyfish-topped vase.

Dante Baldelli for Rometti ceramics, Medusa, 1936

I think Clair may have been looking at this 1936 piece when coming up with one of the designs that appeared on the Fresh packaging.

Dante Baldelli and Corrado Cagli for Rometti, Allegoria, 1930-32

And perhaps borrowed from one of his own more recent works for the face that appears on the lid.

Jean Christophe Clair for Rometti, Bacchanti, 2017

Some more recent Rometti collaborations that caught my eye were with surrealist artist Jean Cocteau (been eyeing this vintage compact with his work on it for over a year now but can't pull the trigger - so expensive!) and lingerie designer Chantal Thomass, both of which were overseen by Clair.

Cocteau for Rometti

Chantal Thomass for Rometti


Chantal Thomass for Rometti
(images from , and

Final thoughts: I can appreciate Rometti's craftsmanship but the artwork in the Baldelli/Cagli vein just isn't my speed, so the Fresh packaging isn't my favorite.   However, the design was definitely the most representative of Rometti's aesthetic and it is a historic company.  And as I said earlier, if Fresh was going to choose any company to partner with to create a limited edition Umbrian Clay Mask, Rometti is absolutely perfect.  It shows that some thought went into the collaboration rather than blindly choosing a random artist who probably couldn't capture the essence of Umbria, not to mention clay, as well as Rometti can.

What do you think? 



Fresh Rose Face Mask 15th anniversary

The limited-edition packaging for the 15th anniversary of Fresh's Rose Face Mask reads very fresh and spring-like to me so it feels a little weird posting it when there's a fall nip in the air, but I positively had to share its gorgeousness.  British artist Jo Ratcliffe was responsible for the graceful, swirling composition.

Fresh Rose Face Mask

Fresh Rose Face Mask

Fresh Rose Face Mask

You would think roses would be a fairly straightforward motif to illustrate, but to get them to look modern and youthful (i.e., not looking like an old lady's nightgown) is trickier than you'd expect. Ratcliffe explained the process to Nylon magazine:  "Roses are a very traditional thing to draw, so I knew that I needed to make something that stood out but also fit within the brand’s aesthetic. It was a challenge: We went through a few stages of drawing women, then we removed details but kept the curves and the feminine lines. Then we just reduced [the image] to roses. I started to make drawings that weren’t so botanical looking, but then they looked too much like tattoos. It’s one of those things that you think is going to be very easy, but proves to be quite difficult...with fashion illustration, you need to follow trends, and I just discovered through doing this that beauty products remain quite classic. You can make it modern, too, but the twists have to be really subtle...once I started to draw roses on their own, it felt really difficult to make something that was unique, so I started to add in these paint marks and things that felt more organic and more like a sketchbook. I wanted to create something that was a little wild looking—something that stands for natural beauty."  Ratcliffe also told Allure, "Roses feel like a very English flower to me, but also a little bit punk, given their beauty and their thorns.  I was inspired by beautiful old botanical drawings of roses and thinking of ways of reinterpreting them into something more modern...I wanted to bring a kind of motion in an irregular way so that it felt a little wild and alive." To do that, she "began to paint with Indian and acrylic inks, layered with a more loose version of traditional roses, which I painted using gouache.  I brought in a layer of blue so there was a hint of something unexpected but that also helped bring the sensorial essence [of the product] to life."

Fresh Rose Face Mask

You can see how the drawing came to life in this video.  I noticed she's fascination with southpaws knows no bounds.


She also made a print for a scarf that was available as a gift-with-purchase at Fresh's Marylebone store in London.  Obviously I'm annoyed I couldn't procure it.

Jo Racliffe for Fresh - scarf

Let's take a peek at Ratcliffe's other work, which displays a truly impressive range. We know she can do fashion and beauty illustrations, both from the Fresh collab and her live fashion illustrations during runway shows, like this one for Peter Pilotto:

Jo Ratcliffe - Peter Pilotto fashion illustration

But she's equally skilled at abstract work.

Jo Ratcliffe

And more detailed portraits, such as this editorial for V magazine featuring illustrations of supermodels posing with various beauty products.  This spread also shows Ratcliffe is capable of putting a different spin on beauty products depending on the client.  Whereas for Fresh the design was simply modern and pretty, for this magazine she gave the makeup an appropriately edgy, high-fashion, sleek treatment. 

Jo Ratcliffe for V magazine

Jo Ratcliffe for V magazine

Jo Ratcliffe for V magazine

Jo Ratcliffe for V magazine
(images from and

She also works on a variety of animations for top fashion companies.  I think my favorite is this Devil Panda/Angel Panda video for Jimmy Choo.


What I was most surprised about though was that she was the one behind the excellent Sephora holiday 2014 graphics.  I thought they were so cool that I actually saved an email I got from Sephora spelling out my name in that crazy makeup font as well as the little promo brochure.

Jo Ratcliffe - Sephora holiday 2014

Jo Ratcliffe - Sephora 2014 brochure

Jo Ratcliffe - Sephora 2014 brochure

At the time I couldn't track down who the artist was, so I'm glad I finally found out.  This work also shows how varied Ratcliffe's work is, even between beauty companies.  I never would have guessed this is the same artist who created the Fresh packaging. 

Overall I think the Fresh piece is lovely and well-thought-out.  And if you're actually going to use it, so much the better, as the pretty factor will instantly skyrocket for any vanity or bathroom.  I'm also really impressed with the variety of styles Ratcliffe is able to execute - no boring repetition or recycling previous work here.

What do you think?

Still Fresh at 21

While this post isn't technically about makeup, it does involve limited-edition packaging for a beauty brand.  I think the Makeup Museum empire will have no choice but to expand into bath and body products.

To celebrate its 21st birthday, Fresh released a trio of soaps with illustrations by R. Nichols.  According to his blog, the story of the collaboration goes like this:   "Last winter I received a call from my friend, Alina Roytberg (who also happens to be the co-founder of Fresh, Inc).  Fresh was turning 21 this year and she thought it was the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate on a project.  I love Alina and I love Fresh so I was inwardly doing cartwheels across the room, out the door & down the street.  I flew to New York where I met with the Fresh team and got my assignment.  'It all began with soap' - they told me.   So they asked me to do illustrations to capture the story and essence of 3 of their most iconic oval soaps: Sugar, Hesperides Grapefruit & Patchouli. I returned to LA, got out my scissors, glue and colored paper, and got to work.  The images just flowed out of me - and the result was pure joy."


Hesperides features a woman lounging lazily in a hammock, her shoe dangling carefree from her foot.




Patchouli depicts a couple enjoying their safari atop an elephant.




Finally, Sugar shows a couple carrying, appropriately enough, sugar cane.



Let's take a look at some of R. Nichols' other work.  I couldn't find much information about him, other than he was raised in D.C. (and attended Sidwell Friends, alma mater of Chelsea Clinton) and liked to make paper collages growing up.  Previously he designed Target gift cards and the pictures for the book French Women Don't Get Fat.

I'm enjoying the modern vibe his work gives off.  Especially since it involves makeup and shoes!  Here are some lipstick notecards:


R. Nichols-lipstick2

And this one of a shoe shopping outing:

R. Nichols-shoes

These images make fashion and beauty seem approachable and fun but stylish at the same time.  I feel as though the work of some other artists, like Berthoud for MAC's Illustrated collection, looks very haute couture and intimidating by comparison.

Additionally, even though the lines are simple and flat, Nichols manages to make the objects in his works appealing.  Take, for example, these sweets-themed birthday cards.  The cherry, sprinkles and cakes look scrumptious.


R. Nichols-madame-cake

Same with this baking-themed candle - I feel like I can practically smell that fresh-0ut-of-the-oven bread.  I think I need to buy it, since it's one of those items I can look at and instantly feel happy.

R. Nichols-baking-candle
(images from

What do you think?  And which of the Fresh soaps is your fave?