Macaron madness! Lancôme vs. LM Ladurée, round two


I'm kicking off summer with a very sweet smackdown!  Because it involves macarons (or as MM staff calls them, "fancy French cookies"), I've selected the Museum's education specialist, Cookie Dreamer Babo, to serve as referee.  I also needed to keep an eye on him and the others to make sure they didn't eat the makeup as I was taking pictures.  ;)

LM Ladurée vs. Lancome

"What have we here?"

Given LM Ladurée's fight with Bésame, you can guarantee that she's one of the feistier combatants the Museum has had in the ring despite being a relative newcomer to the makeup world.  But more importantly, the current battle is not the first time LM Ladurée has squared off against Lancôme...and now it's time to see which of these venerable French brands wins their second bout.  Let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

LM Laduree vs. Lancome

LM Ladurée gets off to a strong start with eyeshadows and cheek colors encased in illustrated macaron packaging a variety of delightful shades.  While they are mini sized - although not with a mini price tag, mind you, which is why there are only 3 compared to Lancôme's quartet - LM Ladurée's prowess lies in the details.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

LM Ladurée summer 2018

Blammo!  That's the sound of the adorable border of macarons on the side of each box delivering a sharp upper cut to Lancôme.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

In addition to macarons, there are what appears to be profiteroles in the lineup.  LM Ladurée is really bringing the heat! 

LM Ladurée summer 2018

LM Ladurée summer 2018

Finally, each color is embossed with LM Ladurée signature "merveilleuse" silhouette.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

But what Lancôme lacks in detail it makes up for in size and authenticity.  This blush set comes in a cheerful patterned box with two generously sized cushion blushes and two macaron-shaped application sponges. 

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

Ka-pow!  Lancôme's very realistic packaging packs a strong left hook to LM Ladurée's daintier collection.

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

Looks like LM Ladurée is getting a tad bit overcome with the size and durability of Lancôme.  While the sponges are soft, the plastic packaging of the blushes is way sturdier than LM Ladurée's cardboard. 

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

Lancôme Le Teint Macaron set

LM Ladurée is down!  Cookie Dreamer Babo is giving the count...six,, WAIT!  There's been a breaking development!  LM Ladurée is getting up and retaliating with quite the unexpected weapon: a beautiful face powder shaped like an elaborate pink cake, complete with delectable embossing.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

LM Ladurée summer 2018

Another development! Lancôme just called for a timeout and claimed LM Ladurée was fighting dirty since the cake is much bigger than the other items, but Referee Cookie Dreamer said it's fair play because it looks so tasty.  Not sure I agree with his rationale, but Babos aren't known for being bright and he is the referee, so back at it they go.

LM Ladurée summer 2018

We have a fight for the ages on our hands!  Will Lancôme's incredibly realistic and more economical set come out on top?  Or will LM Ladurée's attention to detail and last-minute cake surprise triumph over her fellow French foe?  Tell me in the comments!




Wrapped up in books: Olympia Le-Tan for Lancome, revisited

Lancôme has teamed up with a number of fashion designers in the past and this fall they're giving one of their previous partners another collaboration.  You might remember French designer Olympia Le-Tan's beautiful, but largely unaffordable, lipstick book set from 2013.  Perhaps Lancôme realized that the $1,500 price tag wasn't attainable for most and decided to grant us peons a chance to get our impoverished mitts on another Lancôme collection designed by Le-Tan.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad Lancôme revisited Le-Tan as a collaborator and offered a more affordable collection that still represents Le-Tan's signature quirky, literature-inspired style.  

If you're not familiar with Le-Tan, in a nutshell she is a London-born and Paris-bred designer - and daughter of renowned illustrator Pierre Le-Tan - who came up with the genius idea to recreate vintage book covers in clutch form.  While this may not initially sound like a novel idea, what makes these minaudieres so special is their rendering in embroidery.  Surrounded by her father's classic book collection and having learned embroidery during her teenage years from her grandmother, Le-Tan combined these inspirations to make one-of-a-kind pieces.  Rather than bland reproductions of random book covers slapped on a bag, these are pain-staking, handmade creations that reflect Le-Tan's personal relationships with books and art.  In other words, I get the sense they're not chosen at random, but are carefully selected based on the meaning they hold for the designer.   The embroidery itself is notable for the fresh, modern treatment provided by Le-Tan.  Not to sound ageist, but when I think of embroidery I typically associate it with old lady frumpiness.  Le-Tan thoroughly updates the embroidery craft to give it a more youthful and fashionable spin.  The Curator hopes someday to own one of these clutches for herself, but in lieu of that, right now I can have these beauties from Lancôme.  Before we dive into the collection, let's take a quick peek at what Le-Tan's been up to since last time.

Her latest collection for fall 2017 is an ode to Hitchcock.

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2017

Some other highlights include a take on crazy 60s psychedelia design for spring 2017, a return to classic book covers for pre-fall 2016, the elementary school-inspired spring 2015 collection, and a delightful maritime theme for spring 2014.  I know of some sailors who would love it. ;)

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2017

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2017

Olympia Le-Tan, pre-fall 2016

I'm in love with this beaded upgrade to the squiggly pattern of traditional composition books.  Something that I normally saw as fairly ugly and mundane is elevated to a beautiful objet d'art.

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2015

Olympia Le-Tan, spring 2014

My favorite since we last looked at Le-Tan's work though is the "Framed" collection from fall 2016, which consists of art history classics translated into gorgeous embroidered bags.  Yes please!

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2016

Olympia Le-Tan, fall 2016(images from

Now that you've seen some of Le-Tan's newer work, let's get to the Lancôme yumminess.  The collection consisted of nail polishes, the brand's relatively new Matte Shaker liquid lipsticks, a palette, cushion compact and several of the classic L'Absolu Rouge lipsticks in the shape of...wait for it...a pair of lips!  So meta.  And so cute! 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

I love that the palette came in its own dust jacket, just like a fancy first edition of a beloved book.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

The embroidery is pretty spectacular.  I know it's obviously not hand-made like the actual bags, but it's very nicely stitched.  I'm not sure whether my photo conveys that it looks much more expensive than it is.  Le-Tan notes she's proud of "how beautifully the make-up palette is made," adding, "I didn't think we’d manage to create such a pretty piece made of embroidered all the collaborations I’ve done so far, this is the first time we’ve managed to produce an embroidery. It really does look just like one of my minaudières."

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

As she did with the previous Lancôme collection, Le-Tan dove into the company's archives (so wish I could!) to get inspiration for the various motifs on the packaging.  While the floating lips are consistent with the former collection, this time around Le-Tan was also quite smitten with the brand's cherubs, which represent the makeup branch of Lancôme.  She explains: "There are always interesting things in the archives of any Maison. And since the Lancôme brand has such a long history, I couldn’t resist delving into it. The idea behind my brand is – among other things – to reinterpret the design styles of the past and add my own personal touch. I like to build on something rather than start from nothing. That gives me more layers of storytelling to work with. In this case, there was this little cherub that I wanted to reinterpret – by making it more feminine, for a start."  From there she designed, appropriately enough, a bookish, girly angel blissfully lost in a tome about Lancôme.   The scrolls are a great touch, since they also figured prominently in Lancôme's early advertising.  I've included some examples below for your viewing pleasure...or, I guess, mostly for me since you know I can't get enough vintage makeup ads. :)  Meanwhile, the rose is a nod to Lancôme's official symbol for their perfumes.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme 

Lancôme ad, 1945

Lancôme ad, 1948

Lancôme ad, 1947

Lancôme ad, 1947
(image from

As for the colors in the palette, the selection came easily to Le-Tan: "Usually when I choose a theme, I straightaway start thinking about what colours would fit with that and it doesn’t take me long to put together a palette. In fact when I worked with Gilles Dufour, I was the one in charge of colours. I have zillions of coloured sheets of felt in my office. I cut bits off the all the ones that make me think of the theme. Then I put them together, I see which combinations work and which don’t... For this collection I did the same thing, I brought together bits of felt in colours I liked and wanted to see translated into make-up."  

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

So let's take a look at the lipsticks.  I picked up Rouge Profund 1988, but in hindsight should have also gotten the other shade that was available in the U.S., Olympia 1980.  The others were Rouge de Rose 1955 and Anemone 1959, which didn't seem to make it statesideApparently they were all updated and named after the original shades, but the Olympia one still has me scratching my head.  I had assumed the years following the names were the years they were released, but Le-Tan says that Olympia 1980 was named after the original Olympia shade that debuted in 1949, so I'm not sure where the 1980 part of the name fits.  In any case, all of them are shades of red, which makes sense given the designer's love of red lipstick (which was also apparent in the previous collection). 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

The lip shape is fairly surreal and once again echoes the surreal touch Le-Tan brought to the 2013 Lancôme design.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme

Finally, there was a cushion compact, which also wasn't available in the States.  Fortunately it's mostly the same design as the palette, so I don't feel the need to track it down. 

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme(image from

Here's the original sketch...Le-Tan clearly inherited her father's talent.

Olympia Le-Tan for Lancôme - sketch
(image from

All in all, I think this is a great collection that perfectly combines Le-Tan's unique, whimsical style with Lancôme's vision.   Her slightly offbeat take on certain motifs used throughout the brand's history is truly original and refreshing.  Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed Lancôme's many variations on rose-embossed powders, but this is something totally new and different from those.  So this collection gets an A from me.

What do you think?  

I need a miracle! Specifically, these Lancôme Miracle Cushion Compacts

I was searching for swatches of Lancôme's new cushion blushes when I stumbled across these delightful versions of the brand's Miracle Cushion foundation. 

Lancome cushion compacts - designs by Ayang Cempaka(image from

Unfortunately for me, these were exclusive to Indonesia to celebrate the product's launch back in October 2015.  My only consolation is that the compact cases themselves were not limited edition - the designs were actually stickers to affix to the compacts. Created by Indonesian-born, Dubai-based artist Ayang Cempaka, the stickers were available at various launch events during October.

Lancome cushion compacts - designs by Ayang Cempaka(image from

Lancome cushion compacts - designs by Ayang Cempaka(image from

Ayang's lifelong interest in drawing is influenced in part by being surrounded by a family of artists.  “My mother, Dyan Anggraini, is a painter who used to work in a cultural institution owned by the government. My grandfather is a painter and sculptor, while most of my cousins work in the art world—curator, ceramic artist, and even musician,” she says. After graduating from architecture school in 2007, she founded an accessories line called Cocomomo three years later.  Then in 2013 Ayang wanted to focus more on her illustrations, so she launched a stationery line named Linoluna.

Some of my favorites:

Ayang Cempaka tropical girl print

Ayang Cempaka scarf

As far as inspiration goes, Ayang explains, "My mom loves flowers, and I love flowers too. In Dubai, flowers [are] really expensive. Instead of buying flowers and those flowers will be wilt in 3 days, so I draw those flowers. I love pop colors, and pastel. I love pink. My references are old children story books. I love vintage children books. I can’t remember the names. And I love Kate Spade, and J.Crew. My favorite flower is Ranunculus. Besides, I look for inspirations on Pinterest, then search wedding bouquet."  I can definitely see all of these in her work. 

Ayang Cempaka summer print

I really like her work but somehow felt I had seen it before.  Turns out that it's quite similar to the illustrations of Anna Bond, owner of one of my favorite stationery brands, Rifle Paper Co. 

Ayang is above, Bond is below - the flowers have nearly identical shapes.

Ayang Cempaka and Anna Bond

Ayang on the left, Bond on the right:

Ayang Cempaka and Anna Bond floral hearts

I noticed there's some thematic similarity as well.  Both artists enjoy making prints of various destinations.

Thailand print by Ayang Cempaka

Bangkok print by Rifle Paper Co.

Even the way they styled these two ladies is almost the same, down to the ribbon both are sporting in their buns, large round earrings and delicately rouged cheeks.

Ayang Cempaka for Lancome / birthday card by Rifle Paper co(images from and

These two illustrators have actually met, according to this Flickr photo.  I don't know if there's any other professional relationship beyond that, but I do find it very interesting that halfway around the world another artist has such a similar style.  And I'm not the only one who noticed:  after posting an interview with Anna Bond, this blogger remarks on the resemblance between the two (at least, that's what I gathered from Google Translate).

Getting back to the Lancôme compacts, a part of me wishes they weren't just free stickers only available at launch events but designs on the cases that were actually sold at counters - this way I might have a shot at getting my hands on them through e-bay!  On the other hand, it's a rather novel marketing ploy that Lancôme went with something temporary like a sticker, and it's good that they collaborated with an Indonesian artist for something exclusive to the country.  Much as I'd like to track these down for the Museum's collection, it's nice for a country to have something created just for them and not available anywhere else - makes it more special, I think.

Thoughts?  And do you have a preference for the work of Ayang or Anna?  I can't choose, both are totally adorable to me!

MM Smackdown: Balloon Brawl!


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, 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.)



Shaking it with Lancome and Manet

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

Lancome ad, 1949
(image from

Here's the original painting:

Manet - Olympia, 1863
(image from wikipedia)

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

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

1951 Lancome ad
(image from

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

Lancome Juicy Shakers
(image from

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

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

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 and

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?

Makeup as Muse: Lancôme/Sephora contest

Via Beautezine, a few months ago I discovered that Sephora Canada was holding a nationwide contest for its makeup artists to create illustrations for Lancôme using only their products around the theme of their holiday collection, called Parisian Lights.  The winning image would adorn the packaging of three Canada Sephora-exclusive limited edition holiday sets, and the artist behind it would receive a trip to Paris.  I thought this was a great concept.  While makeup artists are accustomed to using one's face as their canvas, it's very interesting to see how their skills would translate to a traditional 2D surface. 

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme was announced in June and the 10 finalists were chosen in July.  Here are their drawings, all created with Lancôme makeup (mouse over the image to see the artists' names, where available - there were 10 finalists and now there only seem to be 8, so I don't have the names of 2 of the artists.)

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Alyssa Steinhubl, Kingsway store in Edmonton

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Ashley Creed, Upper Canada Mall

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Chrizta Tetangco, Bloor store

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Kaylyn Pshyk, Bloor store

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme: Sarah Ebisuzaki, Eaton Centre store

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Sandra Huynh, Markville store:

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme finalist

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme:  Sharon Rodrigues, Sherway Gardens store in Toronto

Sephora Presents to Paris with Lancôme: Whitney Herman, Mapleview Mall store
(images from

While I thought some of these were really amazing, only one could be chosen as the winner.  Alyssa Steinhubl's drawing of a woman in a ball gown and gloves, hair back in a chic low chignon, gazing at a starry sky over the Eiffel Tower was the winning image.  This one was definitely one of my top three of the finalists so I was pleased with the outcome, although I'd love to know exactly which products she used.  Steinhubl's illustration appeared in 3 color variations on the Lancôme sets, which were revealed in October. 

Lancome Sephora Presents to Paris sets 2014
(image from

After hearing about this contest I knew I had to get my hands on one of these sets, especially since the illustration fit so well within the holiday exhibition theme.  However, there were none available from my usual source (Ebay) and Sephora Canada won't ship to the States.  Fortunately, the husband has an old college friend who now resides in Toronto, and she very kindly agreed to pick up a set and mail it to me.  How awesome is that?!  Not only did she go out of her way to get this for me, she also refused to accept payment for the item or for mailing it, so it was truly a generous donation to the Museum.  I chose the Starry Eyes set since the blue coloring and starry title were perfect for the holiday exhibition.

Lancome Starry Eyes makeup set 2014

Lancome Starry Eyes makeup set 2014

(I didn't take pictures of the products inside, since they consisted of makeup remover, mascara and eye cream.)  Overall, I loved the idea of having a makeup artist create an illustration using cosmetics and putting it on the packaging.  I think Sephora and Lancôme should do another one of these contests in the States!

Which of the finalists was your favorite?  What do you think of the winning illustration?

Couture Monday: a new wave from Lancôme

(image from

Lancôme has quite the history of teaming up with top designers, including Alber Elbaz, Olympia Le-Tan and Jason Wu.  This summer the company collaborated with three rising Paris-based designers:  Jacquemus, Alexandre Vauthier and Yiqing Yin, who were tasked with creating a very exclusive (read:  expensive) line of handbags, dubbed Nouvelle Vague, filled with Lancôme's best-selling products.

I was pretty excited to see what these three could come up with since I first heard about the collaboration back in April.  Let's take a look at each bag and see if it's a good reflection of the designer's aesthetic.

First up is Yiqing Yin.  Born in China, she emigrated to Paris at the age of 4 and later studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs.  According to her website, "her aim has been to create a garment that protects and reinforces, being at the same time a second skin and a supple armour...she imagines structures which are never fixed, shapes that are always in mutation."  I like the bold geometric lines and overall boxiness of the bag - there's something powerful about it.  The lamé gives it a glam touch.



(images from

In Yin's clothing designs we see more of the strong geometric silhouettes, along with dabbles in various textures.  From delicate feathers to rough-hewn wool, Yin can seemingly make any fabric bend to her vision of a "supple armour".  


I can also see why she used lamé in her Lancôme design - this woman is not afraid of shiny materials!

(images from

Next up we have a very cheerful bag from Simon Porte Jacquemus, a 24 year-old self-taught designer who started his own line at the age of 19.  Right when I saw the shape and color of the bag, I knew it came from a young'un.  Indeed, he says of his aesthetic, "I’ll always be sporty and young...[Jacquemus as a brand] is a whole universe, a concept. Something could be a 'Jacquemus'-y shirt, or a 'Jacquemus'-y’s more of a playful spirit, clean, fresh, and at the same time raw. If you put photos in front of me, I could tell you whether things were Jacquemus-y or not!"



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The bag's shape directly references some of the pieces that came down the runway for his fall 2014 collection.  I find this quote from him to be a perfect description of the collection: "If I had a bigger budget I would do more couture moderne:  more refined, more exacting, spectacular space-age pieces from the ‘60s; that's what I like.  But always mixed with T-shirts and sneakers."  Bigger budget or not, I do find these pieces to have a futuristic '60s vibe.


I also thought the strap attachment on the Lancôme bag looked similar to the yellow strips adhered to this coat.


Circles are definitely this designer's muse as of late.  In addition to Jacquemus's clothing, they appear in many of the images used in his campaigns.



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Of the three I think this one is the most youthful and fun.  I couldn't pull off this bag, but I appreciate the style.

Finally, we have Alexandre Vauthier, whose sleek black clutch features his signature gold bar across the front.  As for the fold-out mechanism, he says, "I wanted to have something that opened up like this, very technical. I’m very crazy and obsessed by horlogerie [the practice of clock-making], as well as the precision of haute joaillerie [fine jewelry], like when you cut a diamond. I want to have something that represents this kind of work." 


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A streamlined clutch made its way into both his fall ready-to-wear and couture collections, making a subtle counterpoint to the intricately detailed (and undeniably sexy) dresses he created.

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This bag is my favorite since it seems to be the most versatile of the three - I could easily see myself carrying it with a number of outfits (I think it would pair especially nicely with those leopard print Louboutin pumps!)  I also like that there are individual straps to keep the makeup in place.

I wish I could get all three for the Museum since I feel each one represents their respective designer very well, but given they range from $500 to $1,300 each, it's not happening.

What do you think of these?  And which is your favorite? 

Lancôme holiday 2013

As I noted yesterday, I am defenseless in the face of glittering, glimmering makeup items come holiday season.  Well, to be honest I can't resist sparkly makeup at any time of the year, but the holidays make me even weaker.  So when I saw what Lancôme had up their sleeve for their collection I pounced on the two collectible items in it:  The Rose Étincelle Highlighter and the Swarovski-encrusted Rouge Absolu lipstick.


Inspired by the "magic of a snowy winter scene", the highlighting powder features Lancôme's signature rose surrounded by star-like snowflakes, making it look as though it's "captured in crystalline frost."  I'd say given the highly shimmery surface, with its miniscule glitter particles, the description is apt.





This lipstick shade is a reissue of a "heritage" shade from 1955.  While I was frustrated at not being able to find much on this vintage color, I loved the use of tiny silver beaded crystals on the cap.


I also liked the relatively restrained use of the crystals.  Instead of covering the entire cap, Lancôme left the middle portion unadorned, leaving the sleek black of the case to shine through.




I really could not find anything regarding the Étincelle shade or heritage collection from 1955, other than this French ad.  Sadly it's in black and white so we can't even see the color to compare to today's version.

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If anyone can provide any insight on the original Étincelle, I'd love to hear it!

What do you think?  Will you be picking up anything from Lancôme's holiday lineup?

Couture Monday: Alber Elbaz for Lancôme

The much-hyped Lancôme collection dreamed up by Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz has finally arrived!  Fortunately, much has been written about the collaboration and Elbaz's vision for it.  Here's the scoop:  Elbaz was approached by his close friend and Lancôme president Yousef S. Nabi to design a limited-edition collection.  Since the company's mascaras are best-sellers, Elbaz and Nabi chose to focus on those.  Additionally, said Elbaz, "Eyes are so important to me...when I think of cosmetics, I think of eyes. For Lancôme, I wanted to do something funny and a little handmade."  He added that he hoped customers "will collect all four" designs (blue stars, pink polka dots, doe eyes and red hearts).  While the article states that the designer is "hesitant about expanding and diluting his brand" and that " partnerships are also a rare affair; he never collaborates unless it makes creative sense", Elbaz actually has done a few collaborations before (see his line for H&M and limited-edition packaging for Ladurée). 

As for the story behind the packaging, watch this animated short (drawn by Elbaz) below.


In the June 2013 issue of Elle magazine, Elbaz states that the story was inspired by the makeup looks for his fall 2013 show.  "The project is accompanied by an animated short drawn by Elbaz, featuring a fashion show in which the spectators' faces are dominated by colorfully made-up eyes.  This is apt, he says, as cosmetics played a key role on Lanvin's fall 2013 runway, where models sported four different makeup looks...'I asked myself, Why is it I have to decide whether or not I want mashed potatoes or french fries?' Elbaz says. 'Why can't I have both?'...'There's something almost naive and childish about the packaging,' he says, 'but I thought, Maybe if it's like a fairy tale, we'll all have a happy ending!'  The experience of using the products, he believes, should be a 'joyful' one.  'It's about light-hearted luxury,' Elbaz says.  'I wanted to do something personal and kind of funny - but also totally serious.  Which is exactly what makeup is.'"

Now that we've got the development of the collection out of the way, let's take a look at the goods.  I picked up two of the mascaras and two of the eye shadow palettes.  Lancôme also threw in a free mirror, which, as we've seen with previous gifts-with-purchase, is almost better than the makeup itself.  These sorts of freebies are collecting gold!


Hypnôse Drama and Hypnôse Star mascaras:


Doll Lashes Color Design Palette in Rose Croquette:



Définicils Color Design Palette in Mint Jolie:




And the mirror, so cute.





My first thought on the illustrations is that they are similar to those Elbaz did for Ladurée, a playful take on his streamlined, sophisticated aesthetic.  And they're not literal - the prints and silhouettes of the dresses seen on the runway models in the animation aren't directly from Elbaz's recent collections - but they still hint at his work through the use of color.  Elbaz utilized lots of black and white in his spring 2013 collection, with some red, blue, green and pink thrown in for his resort 2014 collection.

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Also, the women in the front row of the fashion show in the video are all wearing some very chic LBDs, similar to the looks he sent down the runway for spring 2013. 

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Elbaz is known for a slightly more down-to-earth fashion philosophy.  "Unlike most fashion designers who operate on a global scale, Elbaz is a kind of hands-on artisan who specializes in women. He has never been interested in trends or whether his creations—which are almost always beautifully constructed classic shapes with a twist—fit a particular age or demographic. Elbaz is committed to the idea that his clothes be timeless and, in a way, helpful:  He wants to make it easier for women to dress for their complicated lives. “I am not interested in perfection, and neither are the women who wear my is very hard to be a woman today. The media says you have to be really great in your work, you have to be a wonderful mother, you have to be a great wife, and you have to be skinny! Women try to be the best everywhere, and it’s impossible. I want my clothes to give women the freedom to just be—I want them to put on my dresses and shine.'” (source)  

Empathy for women's struggle to "have it all" and whimsical illustrations aside, the video Elbaz came up with depicts a world many women don't have access to.  Being in the front row of a high-end fashion show feels unrelatable unless you are actually a fashion editor, and even a little intimidating (I was not fond of the catty eye-rolling behavior of some of the women).  Nevertheless I appreciated that Elbaz was having some fun with the collection, even if it's more of a representation of his experiences in the high-fashion world rather than the lives of the vast majority of women who don't work in fashion (which would be too mundane, I guess, for collection coming from such a renowned designer).

What do you think of the collaboration?