Laura Mercier

Makeup illustration mysteries with Urban Decay and Laura Mercier

Today I'm playing detective to decipher who's behind the packaging of a couple recent releases.  First, I spotted these two Urban Decay palettes at Chic Profile over the summer.  They are exclusive to the French Sephora website and bear the tag of "Pboy", ostensibly the graffiti artist who created the designs.

Urban Decay France-exclusive Naked palettes
(images from

I searched high and low but could find zero information on this artist.  (There is a group of graffiti artists collectively called Poster Boy, but given their anti-consumerist agenda and their collage style I highly doubt they lent their work to Urban Decay.)  I've emailed the company and if they provide any info I will update.

The other designs I was curious about come from Laura Mercier.  Several recently released items - the Flawless Contour palette, the Candleglow palette and the Reflections of Hope mirror - all have the same illustration style.  The windows of Laura Mercier's boutique in Paris are also decorated with these sorts of designs.

Laura Mercier Flawless Contour palette

Laura Mercier Candleglow palette

Laura Mercier Reflections of Hope mirror
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Laura Mercier illustration

Laura Mercier boutique in Paris
(images from

At first I thought the artist might be Izak Zenou, who, in addition to illustrating a Sephora collection, also did the illustrations for Laura Mercier's book.  But his signature was nowhere to be found on any of the designs for these more recent palettes.  Actually, there's no signature at all.  I decided to watch this video I found on the company's Facebook page to see if it could provide any clues. 


And it did!  Look at the lower right at the 1:30 mark, the word "Chesley" appears.  One quick Google search yielded the full name.  According to her website, NYC-based Chesley McLaren is obsessed with anything French, earning her the nickname of "the French illustrator in New York".  She has done illustrations for the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Henri Bendel as well as a campaign for Bloomingdales called Vive La France.  So it's quite appropriate that she's been partnering with Laura Mercier.  I do wonder though why none of her work, save for the video above, bears her signature.  Anyway, I'm still debating whether to get any of these latest Laura Mercier items for the Museum.  They're cute but I don't know if they're a necessity.

Do you like figuring out packaging mysteries?  And if anyone knows anything about the graffiti artist for Urban Decay, do let me know!

April is the cruelest month...for Guerlain, anyway

Just a quick post to point out how similar Guerlain's spring Cruel Gardenia highlighting powder is to Laura Mercier's Rose Rendezvous palette from the holidays.  What's going on here?  How did these two items with a nearly identical design manage to get released?

(image from

Compare to Rose Rendezvous:


Really, the only difference are the petals in the center:  Guerlain's are more clustered while those in the Rose Rendezvous palette features a star-like pattern.  (Although I find it funny that one calls it a rose and the other a gardenia when it's the same floral design!)  These two are virtually twins so they weren't even worth a classic Makeup Museum smackdown, sniff.  But don't worry, one is coming tomorrow.  ;)

Roses done right: Laura Mercier

Laura Mercier stealthily put this lovely little highlighter on the table for the 2011 holiday season.  Now we all know my feelings on rose patterns in makeup design, and I do find it strange to do flowers for a winter release rather than spring, but this time I think the roses are executed beautifully. 




With flash:


They almost look like they're sprouting from the palette itself, and they're not "traditional" roses - these look more like big ruffly garden roses (of which I am a huge fan).  Between the soft rose-gold hue and the slight 3D effect, Rose Rendezvous presents a pretty new twist on floral makeup design.  What do you think?

Just gorges: Canyon Sunset palette from Laura Mercier

Laura_mercier_canyon_sunset_cheek_melange I thought this was a nice offering from Laura Mercier for fall.  While I didn't buy it (yet), the more I look at it the more I think it would be a good acquisition for the museum.  The reason: it's reminding me of all the lovely canyon and mountain landscapes done by the Hudson River School.  Let's take a peek at some of their work, shall we?

In a nutshell, the Hudson River School was an East Coast-based group of artists in the mid-19th century who focused on capturing the American landscape.  Heavily influenced by Thomas Cole and European Romanticism, these artists forged both the rise of American tourism and a foundation for an artistic style that was distinctly American.  If you're so inclined, the Met and PBS both have good summaries on them.1

Let's start with Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900).  This artist traveled all over the world, visiting Ecuador, Columbia and most of Europe.  He is probably best known for his representations of the Andes - at least, that's what I remember him for!

The Andes of Ecuador, c. 1876:

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He also did a magnificent sunset at Grand Manan Island (a Canadian island in the Bay of Fundy), which I think best relates to the Canyon Sunset palette out of all his works:

Grand Manan Island, Bay of Fundy, 1852:

Grand_Manan_Island,_Bay_of_Fundy(image from

Then there's the German-born Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) who went west and painted the Rockies and the Yosemite Valley.

Looking Down Yosemite, 1865:

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Deer at Sunset, c. 1868:

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Finally, British-born artist Thomas Moran (1837-1936) also traveled out west (at least 7 times, in fact) from his home in Philadelphia, and completed many beautiful paintings of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon with Rainbows, 1912:

Thomas Moran Grand Canyon with Rainbow, 1912 - Final AssemblyALT(image from

Under the Red Wall, 1917:

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So now that we've had a little art history lesson, which of the Hudson River School artists mentioned here is your fave?  Or are you not digging any of them?  And which of their work reminds you the most of the Laura Mercier palette?  I personally am not into landscapes, but for the Hudson River School I make an exception.  The fact that these artists traveled so far at a time when travel for the sake of travel wasn't done very much (unless you were an actual explorer) is extraordinary.  The role they played in creating the notion of American tourism is significant as well.  Anyway, I think my favorite of these three is Church, since he traveled the farthest.  And I think the Canyon Sunset palette most closely resembles Moran's work in terms of color and the fact that you can really see the canyon striations in both his paintings and the palette.

1 For more on these artists and the Hudson River School, check out Frederic Church, Winslow Homer and Thomas Moran:  Tourism and the American Landscape, The Hudon River School:  Nature and the American Vision, and Different Views in Hudson River School Painting.

An African odyssey: Moroccan-inspired design

Several recent releases are taking their cue design-wise from Moroccan architecture and patterns.  The raised surface of Laura Mercier's Moroccan Bronze palette looks to be inspired by the amazingly intricate stucco work in the Bahia Palace in Marrakech:


Bahia palace stucco
(photo from

And the interlocking pattern of the Sephora Moroccan collection palette is reminiscent of the door to the Mohamed V Mausoleum in Rabat:

Sephora moroccan
(photo from

Mausoleum rabat

If you can't get to Morocco any time soon these items can suffice.  Pretty!

Laura Mercier Gilded Garden shimmer bloc

I was surprised and pleased to see this little number from Laura Mercier's spring collection.  Normally this understated line doesn't go into patterns on their items (with the exception of a basic diamond pattern on their shimmer blocs) so this is a nice change.


Gilded garden 2009


I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, however, given that the brand had previously released violet-embossed eye shadow palettes last spring.


Violet quads

As with Estee Lauder's floral palettes from this spring, we'll have to wait and see if Laura Mercier continues with these designs.