International brands

Vroom vroom! Makeup and cars

Buckle up and start your engines, 'cause you're in for a wild ride!  Well, as wild as this boring old curator can be.  ;)  I almost feel like I need a flow chart or diagram to explain the myriad and complex ways cosmetics can be related to cars, and by extension, women. I can't go into much detail since that would be an entire book, but I can provide a basic summary.  The first thing that comes up when I searched for "women and cars" is images of "hot" (read: young, thin, usually white) women standing next to, or perched on top, a car.  Traditionally these women have been used to sell cars to men; but instead of the opposite (i.e. showing hunky male models), makeup can be used to persuade women consumers into buying a car, and sometimes vice versa (a car is used to sell makeup).  Makeup and car collaborations are fascinating, I think, because they're so obviously an attempt to coax a population that's usually not associated with cars into taking an interest in automobiles, and what better way to do that than to appeal to a woman's supposed vanity?  Obviously, I love makeup and don't believe many aspects of it are un-feminist, but I do find trying to reach a female customer almost solely through the use of makeup to be remarkably sexist.  These tie-ins are also interesting when we think of the admittedly shady strategies used by Mary Kay.  Instead of being a passive consumer of cars and cosmetics, a woman could sell makeup to earn a pink car - the reverse of some of the ads and collaborations we're going to look at today. 

Starting in the 1950s makeup became a way to get women on board with the idea of car ownership.  As this site devoted to the Dodge LaFemme, the first car marketed specifically to women, explains, "Shortly after World War II (and the Korean War) America entered a new era of prosperity and success. The days of one car families were fast becoming obsolete and families were now buying second cars to accommodate their new lifestyles. Suburbs were springing up outside urban areas and super highways were the wave of the future...Living in the suburbs meant the breadwinner had to drive to work downtown each day, leaving the housewife without a car. With the current prosperity being experienced in America, it seemed natural to go out and buy a second car for 'the wife'. But what car to buy?...Gone were the days of 'the wife' simply staying at home. If 'the wife' was getting a new car, then Dodge needed to produce a car that 'the wife' would want to be seen in."  

In addition to the cars' overall design that was meant to entice women, an exclusive makeup kit was included to emphasize that this was a vehicle made especially for the ladies.  The 1955-56 Dodge LaFemme was a pink (naturally) car that boasted not only a matching raincoat and umbrella - if, heaven forbid, you got a flat tire in the rain - but also a special compartment hidden in the armrest supplied with an Evans compact and other items. 

Dodge La Femme

1956 Dodge La Femme

1956 Dodge La Femme interior

1956 Dodge La Femme makeup

From the photo below it looks like Elizabeth Arden's Ardena was also included, which seems odd - why go with two cosmetics brands?

1956 Dodge La Femme makeup kit(images from historydaily.org)

Apparently La Femme failed to be a popular seller.  Despite the alluring inclusion of cosmetics, the rest of the marketing was not on the same level as that for other automobiles.  "Some suggest that the flop of the La Femme model was due to its lack of marketing exposure. It was only displayed on single-sheet pamphlets; there were no shiny demonstration models and no evidence of magazine, radio and television advertisement. It was likely most American women never even knew it existed at the time."  Well, color me surprised - promoting a car geared towards women was not treated with the same importance as other (men's) cars?  Shocking!  Sarcasm aside, it is interesting that Dodge didn't see the need to spend the same amount of advertising dollars.  If anything, I would think a car company would have to work doubly hard and put more funds towards marketing for a segment of the population that typically did not own cars.  Guess they thought the makeup kit alone would hook women in without having to do a ton of additional advertising.

Despite this failure, Elizabeth Arden followed suit in 1959 with a tie-in to the Chrysler Imperial.  The makeup and skincare kit was stashed in the glove compartment.  The advertising also highlighted women's ability to be totally in control while still, of course, retaining a ladylike manner:  "The Imperial 1959 is powerful but well-tamed...does what you ask, instantly, serenely...you sit head-high, imperially straight, as becomes a woman whose car is so much hers that even the interior fabrics are an obedient and tasteful foil for her ensemble."  In a world where women couldn't even have a credit card in their own name, I could see how the prospect of independence and power through owning a car solely for her use would definitely be appealing.  Still, if we're to follow the aforementioned '50s narrative of suburban families with the husband as primary breadwinner, how empowered could his wife really be?  Even if she drives a car designed for women, the man still paid for it. 

Elizabeth Arden Chrysler Imperial ad, 1959

Elizabeth Arden Chrysler Imperial ad, 1959(images from imperialclub.org)

While Chrysler made a bigger marketing attempt than Dodge by placing ads in Vogue, I'm not sure if the sales of this car in "Arden Pink" fared any better than LaFemme.  Nevertheless, automobile companies had alternatives for getting cars on women's radar via other sorts of collaborations with makeup companies.  Take, for example, this 1955 Cutex ad for a red shade inspired by Ford's Scarlet Thunderbird that "separates the sirens from the sissies!"  If you're woman enough to wear this color, you're woman enough to own a Ford.

Cutex Slightly Scarlet ad, 1955(image from flickr.com)

Yet another tactic was the giveaway.  In 1967, Dorothy Gray and its sister brand Tussy (owned by the same company) advertised sweepstakes to win cars in the same shades as their lipsticks, which naturally had car-themed names like Defroster. 

Dorothy Gray Honda ad, 1967(image from ebay.com)

Tussy Mustang ad, 1967(images from przservices.typepad.com)

More recently, in May Givenchy revived the idea of a car designed just for women in the launch of the Givenchy Le MakeUp, produced by French manufacturer DS.  Le MakeUp borrows Dodge's concept of esconcing an exclusive makeup kit in the armrest.  The car is also "fitted with a special LED lighting system on the two sun visor mirrors in the front seats, for ease of make-up application before or after driving. Floor mats feature the limited edition Givenchy logo, while the dashboard is rose pink." While the exterior isn't pink, I can't help but be amused by the fact that they retained at least some inclusion of the color. 

Givenchy-Le MakeUp-car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car(images from forbes.com)

Not only that, but "Whisper Purple" is used for the roof, mirrors, a hubcap accent and finally, to fully tie the car to the makeup, as a nail polish in the cosmetics kit.  There's also a video of Ruth Crilly, founder of the popular beauty site A Model Recommends, highlighting the car's various features while wearing the makeup.

Givenchy whisper purple nail polish(image from dsautomobiles.co.uk)

While the promotional copy claims that the car was designed to "meet to meet the expectations of many modern-day women who are always on the go," Givenchy's Artistic Director for Makeup Nicolas Degennes says, "I dreamt of a car that would enhance the beauty of women. They would be beautiful because they would be at the helm of the new DS3, a vehicle that characterizes this era. Beautiful because of colour, the reflections on the face. Beautiful because of the liveliness of the pink interior.”  Indeed, even the style of the tires, one the company calls "Aphrodite," reference beauty ideals for women.  All of this further bolsters my opinion that the notion of gendered cars is astonishingly dated and sexist.  Givenchy may have come up with a modernized version of the "Arden Pink" Chrysler or Dodge LaFemme, and while many more women today are making their own car payments, the cosmetic aspects of the DS's design remain firmly in the '50s.  Especially since the inclusion of makeup in a car meant for women completely ignores the fact that this is the 21st century, and there are men who wear makeup as well as non-cis genders.  Finally, there are still folks out there who think all women do before/during/after taking a spin in their car is applying makeup. The remarks at this website regarding the Givenchy car take the cake:  "Girls don’t have such a great reputation as drivers, and a car with a makeup kit? Well. Let us only hope and pray that some 20-year-old doesn’t stop in the middle of a highway to dab a fresh layer of paint on her lips." Oof.

Along these lines, even in the art world women can't escape the traditional link between cars and makeup.  For International Women's Day in 2012, Indian car artist Sudhakar Yadav created several cars in the shape of a shoe, purse, lipstick and eye shadow as a tribute to women.  Stereotype much? 

Lipstick car

Eyeshadow car(images from huffingtonpost.com)

I mean, don't get me wrong, these look like a lot of fun and I give the guy credit for acknowledging there even IS an International Women's Day.  I'm sure his intentions were good and these were made as art, not to sell cars.  But it still rubs me the wrong way.  Obviously all women care about is makeup and shoes and bags, and they would appreciate the artist's offering of wacky cars only if they were in the shape of girly things.* 

As a seemingly harmless response to all of this, I'll leave you with Italian brand Collistar's summer 2016 lineup.  The company teamed up with, fittingly enough, Fiat to create a collection celebrating the 500 model. 

Collistar spring/summer 2016 collection

Collistar Ti Amo spring/summer 2016 collection

How adorable are these blushes?! 

Collistar Ti Amo spring/summer 2016 collection(images from chicprofile.com)

Personally, I generally hate cars (their design and history bores me, not to mention that they're dangerous...I have a terrible fear of driving), and no amount of cool makeup is going to make me more accepting of them.  And I sure as hell wouldn't buy a car designed just for women - I dislike the fact that in 2016 some companies are 1. still thinking in terms of binary genders for products that should so obviously be gender-less, such as cars, and 2. still thinking that a car's key selling points to reach women need to involve makeup.  The Collistar collection, however, is something I'd gladly snap up if I had access to it.  ;)

What do you think? 

*The art cars remind me of the time my sister attended a conference on women business leaders, and the swag was all Clinique products.  Not like, a tech gadget or a nice business card holder or something.  (Ironically, my sister doesn't wear a stitch of makeup.  I believe her exact words were, "I don't even use this shit!") 


MM Smackdown: Balloon Brawl!

Balloon.smackdown.poster.3pp

Two French brands wanted to go up, up and away this spring with some balloon-themed offerings...but only one will make it to the stratosphere.  Let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

On one side of the ring we have Lancôme My Parisian Pastels Shimmer Cube.  A très cute girl wearing a pink top, polka dotted skirt and pink shoes sets out for a stroll with her dog on the rooftops of Paris.  The bunch of colorful balloons she holds seem ready to take flight, all set to join the others floating in the distance. I'm not sure who was responsible for the illustration (I don't think it's Kerrie Hess, whom Lancôme worked with previously) but it's so perfectly Parisian. 

Lancôme spring 2016 shimmer cube

The metal tin is tough enough to withstand any blows from its opponent.

Lancôme spring 2016 shimmer cube

Even the dog has a pink collar!  Lancôme deals a strong right hook (bite?) with this detail.

Lancôme spring 2016 shimmer cube

Les Merveilleuses Ladurée's spring palette, however, isn't getting knocked down so easily.  Ladurée retaliates with a lovely palette adorned with vintage-inspired illustrations of hot air balloons peacefully drifting against a pale blue sky.  The purple ribbon, while delicate and silky, is actually a practical addition as it functions to keep the palette closed.

LM Ladurée spring 2016 palette

While Lancôme's illustration may have been completed by an actual artist and Ladurée's balloons resemble the results you'd get if you searched "vintage hot air balloon wallpaper" (seriously, try it), we don't know the name of the Lancôme artist; therefore, the illustration's power is somewhat diminished.  Plus, Ladurée at least attempted customization of their slightly generic, clip-art-esque dirigibles.  The details on the larger balloons, like the large script "M" and the signature cameos that are featured on nearly all products in the makeup line, pummel Lancôme's rather plain versions. 

LM Ladurée spring 2016 palette

The inside of the palette features more delightful balloon illustrations and an elegant layout overall, in stark contrast to the interior of the Lancôme tin, which looks painfully similar to children's crayons or chalk.

LM Ladurée spring 2016 palette

But wait!  Lancôme reveals a secret weapon to hold off their adversary: a truly magical ad for their spring collection.  This is a huge turn of events!  Ladurée has no such campaign for their spring lineup.

Lancome spring 2016 promo

Lancôme's sturdy metal case, chic Parisienne, and surprise attack with a whimsical promo all prove they've got the capacity to flatten their rival.  But despite this, LM Ladurée's larger size, dainty yet resilient ribbon, and variety of balloon designs full of vintage charm may still send Lancôme down for the count.   Which one will be deflated...er, defeated?  Tell me in the comments!  (Also tell me whether you think either of these designs surpass Guerlain's Poudre aux Ballons, or this excellent 2013 ad.)

 

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Pola BA holiday 2015 collection

As soon as I got wind of this collection over at A Touch of Blusher I started coveting it.  According to PJ, this was the first time Pola's BA line ventured into color cosmetics.  The collection was also created in collaboration with Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma.  I figured this item was out of my grasp, then it miraculously popped up on Adambeauty so I pounced.  

The outer box is so pretty!  I'm assuming the photo was taken by Azuma's photographer partner-in-crime (more about that later).  It reminds me a little of Mika Ninagawa's images for her third collaboration with Shu.

Pola BA Active Flower set

The palette comes in a zippered pouch.

Pola BA Active Flower set

I'm still not sure how I feel about the design.  Online it looked pretty neat, as you don't often see any sort of design in cream products.  But in person I was a bit underwhelmed.  The thick black borders separating the colors are reminiscent of stained-glass crafts I used to do as a kid.  And I don't understand why they had to make the lip base a sickly, mucus-green color.  I guess they wanted it to look like leaves, but they really should have just left it clear or even white - it's an extremely off-putting hue.

Pola BA Active Flower set

Pola BA Active Flower palette

To be honest, I was more interested in the traveling flower stall that Makoto Azuma created for Pola.  Azuma (b. 1976) has quite a fascinating career trajectory. In 2002 he joined forces with photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki to open Jardin des Fleurs, a haute couture flower shop offering custom bouquets in Tokyo.  In 2005 he began exploring the idea of flowers as art, inventing the genre of "botanical sculpture", and in 2009 he launched his own experimental "botanical lab".  His work has since been shown in exhibitions across Europe, China, Mexico and New York City.  I love this story - a florist turned avant-garde artist!  In addition to his private works, prior to his collaboration with Pola Azuma was hired by many big fashion names to create installations for new stores or exhibitions, like Dries Van Noten:

Azuma Makoto - Dries Van Noten

Azuma Makoto - Dries Van Noten

A "fur tree" for a Fendi pop-up store in Ginza:

Azuma Makoto - Fendi, 2015

Azuma Makoto - Fendi, 2015

Azuma Makoto - Fendi, 2015

Hermès store display:

Azuma Makoto - Hermes display

Azuma Makoto - Hermes display

Azuma Makoto - Hermes display

Grand opening of Isetan department store in Shinjuku:

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

Azuma Makoto - Isetan grand opening, 2013

An amazing take on the Lady Dior bag for Dior's "Lady Dior As Seen By" series, which features artists interpreting the bag in their individual style (you might remember Vincent Beaurin's version and subsequent palette for Dior):

Azuma Makoto - Dior Lady Dior bag, 2012

Azuma Makoto - Dior Lady Dior bag, 2012

Some fun things: collaborations with Hello Kitty and macaron magnate Pierre Hermé:

Azuma Makoto - Moss Hello Kitty, 2011

Azuma Makoto - Pierre Hermé, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Pierre Hermé, 2014

Finally, I don't think this piece was for any particular company but it blew me away. I wonder how long it took to get all those flowers into jars and then arrange them into that huge square.

Azuma Makoto, Petal Box 2015

Azuma Makoto, Petal Box 2015

As for the Pola stall, I'm not sure exactly what the purpose of the structure is, like what those dials and pipes are for, but it's eye-catching nonetheless.  The overall shape of the metal frame for the cart looks rather steampunk to my eye, and is unique from Azuma's other work.  (But it may be a reincarnation of the vintage "paludarium" he dreamed up for Hermes, which you can see in the photos above).

Pola BA flower stall

Pola BA flower stall

Pola-ba-flower-stall-detail

You would think that the website devoted solely to the stall would be chock full of information on it, like the inspiration behind its design, its purpose, etc.  Unfortunately all I found was this meager description.  "On the night of the new moon, the flower stall appears.  Its location - a surprise.  In the woods?  By the sea?  Or in a tiny alley.  If you're lucky you will witness its magic.  Pull the lever and watch the buds burst into blossom.  The spark is ignited.  The flower stall brings new life."  (Azuma's own website did not have any description either.)

Maybe I've been watching too many horror movies, but photos of the stall by itself, isolated from humans and in odd places, kind of creeped me out.  These three pictures in particular reminded me of the image on the poster for Rosemary's Baby.  It just looks so unnatural and menacing on a beach, like an evil object someone abandoned there, hoping the tide will take it out to sea.

Pola BA flower stall

Pola BA flower stall

Pola BA flower stall

Only slightly less unsettling was its being situated in a forest because it's at least surrounded by other plant life, but really, if I came across this while hiking in the woods I'd run the other way.

Pola BA flower stall

As I discovered, the unnatural placement was totally deliberate, according to the artist's website.  "In recent years, Azuma has been focusing on his project arranging flowers in all kinds of mundane situations that don’t occur in the realm of nature, and continues to pursue the beauty of plants from a unique point of view."  It's a great concept, but I think for the Pola stall it didn't quite work.  However, Azuma's other experiments with putting flowers where they're not normally found turned out beautifully.  Some examples include this stunning installation in the middle of the Hinoba-an Sea near the Philippines. 

Azuma Makoto, In Bloom #2, 2015

And he's even sent flowers into space!  I thought maybe these pictures were Photoshopped, but apparently Azuma hired a space engineer help launch the flowers from the Nevada desert and used a Go Pro for the images.  "Plants on the earth rooted in the soil, under the command of gravity.  Roots, soil and gravity – by giving up the links to life, what kind of 'beauty' shall be born?  Within the harsh 'nature,' at an attitude of 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees Celsius, the plants evolve into EXBIOTA (extraterrestrial life). A pine tree confronting the ridge line of the Earth. A bouquet of flowers marching towards the sun hit by the intense wind. Freed from everything, the plants shall head to the space."  I adore the idea of "freeing" flowers from their natural habitat and transforming them into alien life forms.

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Azuma Makoto - Botanical space flight, 2014

Getting back to the Pola stall, I liked it so much better in Tokyo.  It was much less scary in an environment bustling with activity, and it allowed for human interaction.

Pola BA flower stall - Tokyo

Pola BA flower stall - Tokyo

Pola BA flower stall - Tokyo(images from azumamakoto.com)

Again, while there was no concrete information about the flower stall, there was at least a short video of it making its way through the city, which was pretty cool.  People were stopping to look at and photograph the stall, and it looks like you could even buy a flower from it.

 

I'm assuming Pola does not have its own storefront, which is why Azuma went the mobile route rather than creating an amazing installation.  Yet, I think perhaps he could have done an installation for one of Pola's department store counters or the salon in Japan.  I also wish I could definitively figure out why he went with an industrial-looking design for the stall as well as his role in the palette's design.  I understand why Pola chose Azuma to collaborate, however; the company has a rich history of dedication to both the arts in general and preserving and exhibiting beauty culture, so it's no surprise they wanted to team up with an artist to create a collector's piece.  Additionally, Pola's cutting-edge BA line is derived from a variety of plant extracts (hence the "Bio Active" name) so it's quite fitting that Pola selected Azuma, who also thinks outside the box when it comes to botanicals.  In much the same way the flower stall "brings new life" to its environment, Pola's BA line will (allegedly) invigorate and refresh one's skin.

What do you think of the palette and Azuma's work?


Quick post: A beautiful 15-year anniversary celebration with EST

I saw this lovely collection over at A Touch of Blusher months ago and immediately began trying to track it down.  Ichibankao didn't carry it but fortunately it popped up on Imomoko.  For their 15th anniversary collection packaging, EST created a gorgeous floral arrangement set against a crisp white background.  While the freshness of these blooms would seem more appropriate for a springtime release, it's so pretty I don't care that it's not quite what we think of for a holiday collection.  I picked up the pink set (there is also a blue one.)

Kao EST 15th anniversary set

Kao EST 15th anniversary palette and gloss

Kao EST 15th anniversary palette

Kao EST 15th anniversary palette

Kao EST 15th anniversary gloss

Kao EST 15th anniversary bag

I love the realism and variety of the flowers.  It looks like a professional florist made this bouquet and I can imagine it sitting in an equally elegant vase.  I'm not sure whether there was an outside artist involved in the creation of the design as I was unable to translate the product description from the EST website, but if not, EST did a great job on their own.

What do you think?


Friday fun: Sophia Webster for Maquillage

I spotted this crazy makeup set over at Musings of a Muse and immediately burst out laughing!  I don't know why but I found the notion of a palette and lipstick tucked away in a high-heeled shoe to be rather hilarious. 

Sophia-webster-maquillage

I can't believe the mirrored heel detaches to reveal a lipstick inside.  That's pretty next level since it makes for a unique heel but also a great lipstick case.

Sophia Webster x Maquillage
(images from gooddealer.com)

There is actually a story behind this bizarre creation.  British shoe designer Sophia Webster collaborated with Maquillage to celebrate the brand's 10th anniversary for their holiday collection.  You might know Webster from her playful (and in some cases, completely impractical) shoe designs, particularly the famous Evangeline winged heels, which you get a glimpse of in the Maquillage promo.

Sophia Webster Evangeline

Sophia Webster Evangeline

I have to admit, I wouldn't mind owning these in silver.

Sophia-Webster-Evangeline

Her designs remind me quite a bit of Charlotte Olympia's in that they're both more strange yet fun art objects rather than shoes.  I'd have significant trouble figuring out how to wear some of Webster's styles.

Sophia Webster Jade

Sophia Webster Chiara

Sophia Webster Coca Cola shoes

Except for these, from the spring/summer 2014 collection - every '90s woman NEEDS these in her shoe wardrobe, especially me since it's one of my favorite songs from the decade.  Too bad I had no idea they existed and now they're gone.

Sophia-Webster-here-comes-the-hotstepper
(images from sophiawebster.com and creativeobservations.tumblr.com)

Anyway,  I couldn't identify the shoe that the Maquillage palette is based on.  It looks sort of similar to the Amanda style, but it's not an exact match.

Sophia Webster Amanda

The slide-out palette in the toe of the Maquillage shoe looks a little childish (sort of reminds me of Polly Pockets) but the overall piece is just so weird and goofy I can't help but smile when I see it.  Plus, obviously it would make a great display item for the Museum.  Therefore I think I may have to order it shortly.  ;)

What do you think of Webster's style and the Maquillage design?


There's "snow" beauty like Maquillage

I meant to snap up the Snow Beauty powder from Shiseido's Maquillage line when it was released for the 2014 holiday season, then ended up completely dropping the ball.  This year when I saw the powder was returning I was determined not to miss out.  (You can see a full review of the 2014 powder over at the excellent Silverkis' World).  While the 2015 powder is similar to last year's, there are a couple of additional touches that, in my opinion, make it even prettier.  The Snow Beauty powders have a different design each year centered on "moments of beautiful snow" taken from all over the globe.  This year's theme is Night Snow Flower, which features "snow flowers dancing in the sky of Nordic Finland" and is based on the 24-hour period of darkness that occurs once a year:  "This city has a night called Polar Night where the sun does not rise all day.  A moment of magical snow flowers illuminating the deepest night sky is captured in the compact."  I'm not sure whether the description meant "country" and not "city", as Finland is a country, but at least there was an attempt to describe the inspiration behind the pattern.  Or perhaps the "city" is in fact Helsinki, since it's referenced in the short film Shiseido created to go along with the compact's release.  (Alas, I couldn't fully understand it since it's in Japanese, and Google Translate was, once again, no help when I plugged in the film's description...something about an abominable snowman?!)

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2015

I know the outer casing is plastic but the rest of the compact is metal, so it's a nice substantial weight that doesn't feel or look cheap.  The snowflake pattern is just lovely and the large snowflake at the top has a subtle aurora borealis finish that catches the light beautifully.  It also reminds me of Dior's Cristal Boreal pendant from 2009.

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2015

The puff is adorned with a cute little golden snowflake.

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2015

Whereas last year's Snow Beauty only had the Maquillage name engraved in the powder, this year's version spells out the product name with a smattering of snowflakes.

Maquillage Snow Beauty 2015

All in all, a great addition to the holiday exhibition lineup.  :)  What do you think?  And can you help me figure out what the film was about?

 

 

 

 


Kerrie Hess for Etude House and Lancôme

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

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

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

Etude House Dreaming Swan

Etude House Dreaming Swan

Etude House Dreaming Swan compact

Etude House Dreaming Swan pressed powder

Etude House Dreaming Swan makeup bag

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

 

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

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia promo

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia promo

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia promo

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia makeup bag

Kerrie Hess - Lancôme Australia makeup bag

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

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

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

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


On my radar: cute and creepy packaging finds

Today I wanted to share two relatively noteworthy finds I've recently come across, one extremely adorable and the other...not so much.  The first is Korean brand Too Cool for School's Dinoplatz range.  Too Cool for School is a trendy, youth-oriented brand (intended for 16-25 year-olds), and their Dinoplatz collection features a broad variety of products for their target demographic, all outfitted in quirky illustrations of dinosaurs that occasionally appear to be running amok in New York City.  The range has been around for a while so why I'm only finding out about it now is a mystery, especially since the packaging won a Dieline award in 2013 and I've been following The Dieline for years.  Anyway, let's get to the goods. 

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz pop up packaging
(image from pinterest.com)

The illustration style is intentionally somewhat crude, which I think is perfect for teenagers - the drawings remind me of the doodles you'd make in the margins of your notebook when you were bored during class.

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz mascara

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz eye shadow

Dinoplatz cotton swabs

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz
(images from toocoolforschool.com)

There are tons of Dinoplatz items available from reliable sellers on E-bay, so if you simply must own a CC cream with an illustration of a dinosaur scaling the Empire State Building, you still have a chance!  I think I see some of these items ending up in the Museum's collection in the near future.  ;)

The second, considerably less cute item I wanted to highlight today is Shu Uemura's Tokyo Doll palette, which I discovered at Chic Profile.  According to the information there, the Tokyo Doll palette is a highly exclusive item which will most likely be available for sale only at Asian travel retailers, i.e. duty-free shops, later this summer.  I think I'm okay with not getting my hands on it.  If I know Shu, I bet there was an outside artist involved in the design which sort of makes me want to go after it, but honestly, I'm a little freaked out by this.

Shu Uemura Tokyo Doll Palette
(image from chicprofile.com)

Maybe it's just because I find dolls to be creepy in general so the name of the palette is throwing me off, but I'm finding this to be rather strange.  The oversize eyes would actually look cute (or harmless at the very least), but combined with the egg-shaped head and the slits for nostrils, the face as a whole is a little disconcerting.  She looks quite alien-like, and her little grin doesn't help matters. I also don't like how her fingers curl around her face.  The proportions look off - that pinky finger seems way longer than it should be and reminds me of a tentacle.

What do you think of these two?  And which is scarier in your opinion, Shu's Mon Shu girl or this new Tokyo Doll?


Brand profile: Rouge Baiser

A few weeks ago I was browsing a farmacia in Rome, trying to determine if there were any good drugstore products I should bring back to the States, when I saw this display.  I knew I had seen that image of a red-lipped woman wearing a blindfold before, but where?

Rouge-Baiser-display

Aha!  It was at good old hprints.com, where I end up browsing vintage makeup ads for hours.  I had assumed it was a long-gone brand since it's not sold in the U.S., but apparently Rouge Baiser is alive and well in other countries.

Rouge Baiser was launched in 1927 in Paris by a French chemist named Paul Baudecroux. Considered to be the first "kiss-proof" lipstick, the original formula was actually so indelible that it was banned from the marketplace, having been declared too difficult to remove.  (I don't know who made that decision, but I'm guessing that if they were alive today, they would certainly ban glitter nail polish - talk about hard to remove.)  I'm no cosmetic chemist, but here's some more technical information on the original formula if you're interested. According to this article, Baudecroux used "eosin dissolved in propylene glycol to make Rouge Baiser...a strong stain was produced with this lipstick as the eosin was in complete solution when it came in contact with the lips. Some said it was too strong! However, as other chemists also discovered, using propylene glycol was not without its problems. As well as having an unpalatable taste, propylene glycol is affected by changes in the atmosphere – losing water when the air was dry and picking it up when the air had a high humidity – with potential effects on the integrity of the lipstick." 

While the original formula was modified, Rouge Baiser still marketed its product as being the no-smear, long-lasting answer to women's lipstick prayers.  Several prominent illustrators worked on the ads, including André Edouard Marty:

1947 Rouge Baiser ad by André Edouard Marty

Charles Kiffer:

1947 Rouge Baiser ad by Charles Kiffer

And Pierre Fix-Masseau:

1947 Rouge Baiser ad by Pierre Fix-Masseau

1947 Rouge Baiser ad by Pierre Fix-Masseau

1948 Rouge Baiser ad by Pierre Fix-Masseau

But in 1949 famed fashion illustrator René Gruau created the iconic image of the blindfolded woman with red lips, which, as my Rome pharmacy photo attests, is still used today.  You might remember Gruau from his work with Dior.  I think there is a story here on how Gruau came up with the idea for this design, but I can't read French and once again, Google Translate makes no sense.

1949 Rouge Baiser ad by Rene Gruau

He came up with several equally chic variations for the brand as well.

1949 Rouge Baiser ad by Rene Gruau

1949 Rouge Baiser ad by Rene Gruau

1950 Rouge Baiser ad by Rene Gruau
(images from hprints.com)

Interestingly, more illustrators worked on the Rouge Baiser campaigns following Gruau, yet his remained the brand's trademark. 

Pierre-Laurent Brenot, known as the "father of the French pin-up":

1950 Rouge Baiser ad by Pierre-Laurent Brenot

Carl Erickson (a.k.a. Eric), who was more well-known for his work with Vogue and Coty:

1957 Rouge Baiser ad by Carl Erickson

And Pierre Couronne, who also did work for Dior's lingerie line:

1960 Rouge Baiser ad by Pierre Couronne
(images from hprints.com)

(Now here's an odd coincidence: with the exception of Carl Erickson, all of the illustrators I've mentioned here lived quite long, well into their 80s and 90s.  Perhaps working on ads for a long-lasting lipstick translated into lasting long themselves.)

Fast-forward to today: From I can piece together, Rouge Baiser is sold only in France and Italy.  It was acquired in 1994 by the Deborah Group, an Italian company that dates back to 1903.  To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the brand, in 2007 a series of lipsticks featuring Gruau's illustrations was released in France.  Called "L'Authentique", the line consisted of reissued shades in a matte, long-lasting texture meant to mimic the original formula. Unsurprisingly, "L'Authentique" was the preferred lipstick of the ever stylish Audrey Hepburn in the '50s.

Rouge Baiser lipsticks
(image from graphemes.com)

Rouge Baiser L'Authentique lipstick
(image from doitinparis.com)

Rouge Baiser was then launched in Italy in 2012 with the same outer packaging for a few of its lipsticks.

Rouge Baiser Italy

Rouge Baiser Italy launch
(images from tentazionemakeup.it)

And now I am very sad since I realized I should have bought some.  In looking at the photo I took more closely, you can see that the packaging with Gruau's illustrations was available (I guess it's permanent and not limited-edition).  I was just so distracted by the image on the display itself I didn't even look at the products!  For shame.

What do you think?  For those of you living in the U.S., do you think we should start a campaign to bring it here or is it not worthy?  I personally want it for the packaging alone!


Bradley Theodore for RMK

Bradley TheodoreRMK has borrowed a page from the playbooks of MAC, Smashbox and Addiction by bringing us a collaboration with NYC-based street artist/painter Bradley Theodore.  Alas, the stand-out piece in the RMK Street Essence collection is only sold at Japanese department store Isetan, and they do not ship to the States so I'm totally out of luck in getting my hands on it.  Nevertheless the collection is definitely worth posting about.

The super-exclusive palette features one of Theodore's signature portraits of a colorful, skeletal figure in profile.  This particular one, appropriately enough, is shown applying lipstick.   I'm still not sure who it's supposed to be.  At first glance I thought it was simply a random woman, but as I read more about Theodore's work I realized it might actually be a fashion or art icon.

RMK-Bradley-Theodore-Street-Essence-palette-case

RMK-Bradley-Theodore-Street-Essence-2015-palette
(images from chicprofile.com)

There were other pieces in the collection with the same image, but I believe these are also Isetan-exclusives.

RMK-Bradley-Theodore-bags(images from rmkrmk.com)

Apparently there was even a live painting event with the artist (!) last week at Isetan, which I would have given my right arm to attend.  Some photos via his Instagram:

Bradley Theodore at Isetan

Bradley Theodore signing autographs

Now that we've looked at the collection, let's take a peek at Theodore's work.  Weaving together fashion and art in large-scale murals throughout Manhattan, Theodore honors various icons in these fields by portraying them in a never-before-seen light.  I don't think the skeletal representations are meant to signify death; rather, I believe he's trying to get to the essence of each person he paints by stripping them down to the bones, leaving only certain identifying features intact. 

Diana Vreeland:

Bradley-theodore-diana-vreeland

Andy Warhol:

Bradley Theodore - Warhol
(images from thestyleclock.com)

Karl Lagerfeld with his cat Choupette:

Bradley-Theodore-Karl-choupette
(images from instagram.com/bradleytheodore)

Theodore also creates some interesting pairings based on real or imagined relationships between his subjects.  Take, for example, his mural of Anna Wintour and Lagerfeld.  He explains how the idea came to him: “I’ve always wanted to paint Karl, people say bad or strange things about him, but for me and my friends we believe you can always judge a man by his parties. A friend invited me to one of his fashion week parties when I was living in Paris, the vibes in the room were amazing, people were dancing, having fun, all was smiles on their faces. Karl was just cool as hell in the middle of this Great Gatsby style party...New Yorkers don’t really care about wealthy persons, the fact is we all live together in this crazy city, and it’s almost impossible to have a close friendship with someone more than 3 years. Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, for them, it’s been over 20 years, there's something to be said for that. One day, I ran out of paint and made a quick trip to the art store and Anna walked near to me and jumped in to a car...then I knew I had to paint them together. I wanted to paint their friendship and I let my mind go and just paint."

Bradley Theodore - Anna and Karl

Especially fascinating is his portrayal of Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel.  "[The pairings] are all about the conversation, just imagining what would a real candid and uncensored dialogue between these icons consist of, if I were a fly on the wall," he says.

Bradley Theodore - Frida and Coco

But why fashion and art as the main themes?  For Theodore, as fashion enables one to take on a persona, it's essentially a form of performance art.  "Fashion allows people to become art...it’s the only time in our society that’s truly accepted for you to be a form of art. The average person on the street is trying to convey an image. That image could be an identity, he or she could be building himself as a painting: it might be the most super-glossed up glam queen, or they could be portraying this stupendous image of Madonna.”  

So there you have it.  Generally speaking I like his work, but I do find it troubling that he chose to paint Terry Richardson, who has been accused on multiple occasions of sexual assault. But Theodore also painted a member of Pussy Riot, so maybe one cancels the other out?

Getting back to the RMK collection, I'm still trying to figure out who the woman on the palette is supposed to be.  Red hair, pink bow...is it someone totally obvious and I'm just oblivious?!  My first thought was Lana Del Rey but she's not nearly on the level of Theodore's other subjects, i.e. I wouldn't consider her iconic either for her style or her music.  If anyone has any theories or could provide solid info on who is represented I would appreciate it. 

Anyway, I'm impressed at RMK's choice for this collaboration and I hope we see more of them with other artists in the future - although I do hope that RMK would make it available to those living in the States!  I also have a hunch that the next time I'm in NYC I'm going to have to take a little Bradley Theodore tour as I wander about.  :)

What do you think of the collection and of Bradley Theodore's work?