MAC

Couture Monday: MAC x Toledo

Ruben and Isabel Toledo for MAC promo
How cute are these two?


(image from style.com)

I must say that upon first glance this collection didn't do much for me, or at least the packaging didn't.  Then I started reading up on the fashion super duo behind MAC's latest collaboration and was so impressed with their work I had no choice but to purchase several pieces.  Husband and wife team Ruben and Isabel Toledo are a force to be reckoned with and frankly I'm ashamed that I didn't know who they were until now. 

Both Cuban-born, Isabel is a clothing designer while Ruben works as a fashion illustrator, producing delightful drawings not only for his wife's work but for a plethora of other projects.  While I admire their work (I'll get to that in a sec) it was their long-term romance and partnership that made me connect to them, which you can read about here and here.  As for the MAC collection, both were very excited for the opportunity, explaining that they had worked with the brand on other projects for several decades.  "We were thrilled when M∙A∙C approached us to work on a collection together; it was a dream-come-true. We share a long history of 30 years with M∙A∙C, collaborating on many of the same charity projects. The opportunity to create objects of art and desire came together like a family affair, especially since M∙A∙C works brilliantly with artists and they have a global following of fans. James Gager [M·A·C creative director] and Jennifer Balbier [M·A·C VP of product development] gave us complete creative freedom and helped bring our vision to life."

I chose what I thought were the most iconic pieces in the collection.  The illustrations on the packaging, of course, are Ruben's portraits of Isabel with her signature red lips.  He says, "When creating the different illustrations for the collection I was inspired by the fluidity of the lines and the spur-of-the-moment feel of it. If I'm doing a portrait I start with the eyes. If the eyes don't speak to me, then I just start over again. I need to capture that one thing in the eyes where the mystery and the soul are. I love painting, the drawing of the lines and the graphics of it all. It is my passion on paper."  Isabel is always his primary muse, however:  “It’s the face I draw again and again and always. It’s just in the flow of my hand, Isabel’s face.”  Awwww!!

MAC-x-Toledo spring 2015

MAC-x-Toledo-collection

As for the shades themselves, they might seem rather discordant, with no connection to each other at all.  However, the variances express Isabel's early experimentation with color and also serve as a nod to her party nights at Studio 54.  She says, "I love poetic colors, unusual combos, and nameless hues, all unexpectedly mixed in with the everyday. For me, it's much more about the tones than the actual colors. For instance, I love nudes with neon or a smoky mysterious eye with a bright and happy futuristic red lip. I love to see denim worn with just a t-shirt accompanied by deep operatic lips. Studio 54, disco, punk, and new wave allowed for a lot of freedom of expression in the way I dressed, danced, and presented myself. It was a great way for me to find my look as a young lady of 14 and 15! I went from wearing jeans and a tube top with smoky film noir makeup one night, to futuristic yellow brows paired with a nude mouth the next. Makeup moves faster than fashion, that's what makes it so fresh."  Her take on unrestrained use of color definitely speaks to me, and I also was intrigued that she likens makeup to painting:  "I see Ruben's watercolor paintings, and I wanted the freedom to do that on my face. I wanted to all of a sudden do my eyelashes in yellow or green with a matching eyeliner, something that's not natural. It's like having the ability to paint. And I mean, if you think about it, women paint every day standing in front of the mirror."  Our philosophies on makeup are perfectly aligned!

MAC-x-Toledo-2015

 

I wanted to see what some of Ruben's other illustrations involve.  Once again, I'm embarrassed I didn't recognize his name or previous work as he's landed some pretty huge projects, including Nordstrom catalogs:

Ruben Toledo - Nordstrom illustration

Ruben Toledo - Nordstrom illustration

Ruben Toledo - Nordstrom ad

Ruben Toledo - Nordstrom ad
(images from dcwdesign.wordpress.com)

And of course Vogue:

Ruben Toledo - Vogue illustration

He's even done classic book covers:

Ruben-Toledo - book cover for Wuthering Heights

Ruben Toledo - Pride and Prejudic book cover
(images from pbcstyle.blogspot.it)

Ruben also did illustrations for many fashion books, including one for Nina Garcia.

Ruben-Toledo - Nina Garcia's Look Book

I included this picture from the book since the lipstick I purchased from the collection is named Opera, and Isabel references "deep operatic lips" as one of her inspirations.

Ruben Toledo - illustration for Nina Garcia book
(image from fatsistersguidetolife.blogspot.com)

I also wanted to see if he's drawn Isabel for other projects, and indeed he has.  This illustration for the 2012 holiday issue of Bon Appetit looks very similar to the ones on the packaging for the MAC collection.

Ruben Toledo holiday illustration
(image from bonappetit.com)

I also wanted to see whether there was any correlation between Isabel's fashions and the MAC collection.  The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) offered a 2009 exhibition devoted to Isabel's work, and from there I got a better sense of her aesthetic.  Much like her taste in makeup, it's all over the place - lots of bold color, unusual but not unwearable silhouettes, and there's definitely a penchant for experimentation.

Isabel Toledo - FIT exhibition

Isabel Toledo - FIT exhibition

Isabel Toledo - FIT exhibition
(images from fitnyc.edu)

More notably, how could I forget Isabel's pale chartreuse number that she designed for Michelle Obama to wear to her husband's inauguration?  It's fashion-forward but still appropriate for a First Lady.

Isabel Toledo - Michelle Obama

Overall I was glad I read a little more about the collection and eventually decided to bring some pieces home.  It captures the essence of this husband and wife team in that they each contribute something different but the end result is even greater than the sum of its parts.  As Ruben remarked, "We're so meshed, it's impossible to separate what we do." 

I also feel like Isabel and Ruben are very creative and interesting people but have none of the pretentiousness that plagues most of the fashion world.  From interviews with them as well as the MAC promo, they seem like fun-loving, down-to-earth people who don't really care about what's cool or popular - they just want to make their art.  I could totally see me and the husband having dinner with them...he and Ruben could discuss illustration, while Isabel and I would play in my makeup stash and talk about shoes.  :)

What do you think of the collection and of the Toledos' work?


Now it's Marge's time to shine!

Like many longtime Simpsons fans, I was extremely pleased to see this collection from MAC.  I've been watching the Simpsons since I was 11 (even titling a previous blog post with a Simpsons quote), and while I've been disappointed in the more recent seasons, those first few were comedy gold.  MAC's collection pays homage to Marge Simpson (née Bouvier), the long-suffering and very sweet wife of lovable buffoon Homer Simpson. 

I'm amazed at the sheer volume of characters they were able to cram in on the outer packaging.  However, I don't see my favorite bit character - can anyone spot Ralph Wiggum?  He has to be on there somewhere, I just can't find him.

MAC-simpsons-haul

MAC-Simpsons-packaging

MAC-Simpsons-nail-stickers-packaging

I picked up Pink Sprinkles blush, Nacho Cheese Explosion lip gloss (couldn't resist a shade in the signature Simpsons yellow!) and Itchy & Scratchy & Sexy lip gloss, along with Marge's Extra Ingredients eye shadow palette and the nail stickers.

MAC-simpsons-collection

MAC-Simpsons-blush-edge

While I liked the outer packaging, I was less enthralled with the plastic cases.  Something about yellow plastic read very kindergarten to me - the rounded, raised corners of the eye shadow palette in particular made it look like a pencil case my 5 year-old niece would carry.  Granted, it's difficult to execute sophisticated packaging for a cartoon-based collection, but it's not impossible (see MAC's sexed up Hello Kitty collection and these Simpsons/Mondrian-inspired wine bottles).  It might have been better to do a black background for the plastic cases.  I could be totally wrong though, as package design site The Dieline loved the concept.

MAC-Simpsons-eye-shadow-palette-edge

MAC-Simpsons-shadow-palette

I'm glad there was also an imprint of Marge's visage on the blush and eye shadows.

MAC-simpsons-pink-sprinkles-blush

MAC-Simpsons-Marge's-Extra-Ingredient

I can't bear to use these nail stickers but I'm certainly tempted.

MAC-Simpsons-nail-stickers

(If you want to see swatches of all products and some great Simpsons quotes, check out this epic post at XO Vain.)

And now, I thought I'd share my top 5 favorite beauty and makeup moments from the Simpsons.

5.  From "The Girly Edition", season 9.  Bart has just wrapped up a super schmaltzy segment for the children's news show, Kidz Newz.

Lindsey Naegle:  "Bart, look up here.  This is where the tears would be if I could cry.  But I can't.  Botched face-lift."

Lindsey_Naegle
(image from simpsons.wikia.com)

4.  From "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", season 6.  Marge tells Homer her sisters are there for dinner.

Homer:  "Marge, we had a deal.  Your sisters don't come here after six and I stop eating your lipstick."

Homer-eating-lipstick
(image from deadhomersociety.com)

3.  From "Lisa the Beauty Queen", season 4. Lisa and Marge are getting makeovers at Turn Your Head and Coif, one of Springfield's leading beauty salons.

Lisa, as a stylist breaks out a blowtorch: "Isn't this dangerous?" 

Stylist, donning a welder's mask:  "Don't worry, I am well protected."

Turn_Your_Head_and_Coif
(image from simpsonswiki.com)

2.  Same episode as above.  Lisa and another contestant are at a rehearsal for the Little Miss Springfield pageant, looking at previous winner Amber Dempsey.

Pageant contestant:  "She's about to bring out the big guns...eyelash implants." 

Lisa:  "I thought those were illegal." 

Pageant contestant:  "Not in Paraguay."

Amber-Dempsey-simpsons
(image from es.simpsons.wikia.com)

1.  My all-time favorite beauty moment is, obviously, Homer's makeup gun ("The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace", season 10). 

Marge:  "Homer, you've got it set on 'whore'!"

Lisa:  "Dad, women won't like being shot in the face."

Homer:  "Women will like what I tell them to like!"

Simpsons makeup gun
(image from jezebel.com)

What do you think of this collection?  Are you a Simpsons fan?  Overall, I thought it was nicely done, and the colors were spot-on.


Couture Monday: Antonio Lopez for MAC

Antonio-Lopez-Juan-Ramos
Lopez at work while Juan Ramos looks on (image from latinoaids.org)

Like the stars of previous cosmetics collaborations (Warhol, Basquiat), the work of fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez (1943-1987) has been particularly popular of late. With an exhibition at SCAD this summer, along with a beautifully detailed monograph and accompanying exhibition last year, Lopez's art is enjoying a robust resurgence.  The MAC collaboration honors this extremely influential artist and uses images that represent perhaps his best-known style from the early '80s for the packaging.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and raised in Harlem, Lopez attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and landed a short-lived job at Women's Wear Daily in 1962.  Within a year he left to become a freelance illustrator, and by 1965 he was earning $1,000 per illustration.  Lopez spent most of the 1970s in Paris, where he befriended the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.   In the early '80s he returned to New York, continuing his work for magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Interview and Vanity.  (You can read a brief bio here.)

Onto my purchases. 

Mac-antonio-lopez-collection

I picked up one of the eye shadow palettes:

Mac-antonio-lopez-eyes

Mac-antonio-lopez-teal-eyes

Cheek palette:

Mac-antonio-lopez-cheeks

Mac-antonio-lopez-blush

Lip palette:

Mac-antonio-lopez-lips

Mac-antonio-lopez-lip-palette

And the makeup bag - I love the velvet backing:

Mac-antonio-lopez-bag

Mac-antonio-lopez-velvet

The image is a 1983 portrait of Maria Snyder:

Antonio-lopez-maria-snyder
(image from elle.com)

And the mirror:

Mac-antonio-lopez-mirror

I'm not sure who the model is, but here's the original image:

Lopez-image-for-mirror
(image from theantoniolopezbook.com)

Let's take a look at Lopez's work and how it captured the essence of the heady times in which he lived.

Some psychedelic work for Intro Magazine, 1967:

Antonio-Lopez-intro-1967

ANTONIO-LOPEZ-intro-mag-1967
(images from sweetjanespopboutique.blogspot.com)

A similar style for Elle Magazine, May 1967:

Antonio-lopez-elle-1967
(image from trendland.com)

In 1970, we can see his style changing with the dawn of a new decade.

Antonio-Lopez-1970
(image from notedelhotel.blogspot.com)

As early as 1972, we can see a bolder, more graphic style that serves as the foundation for some of his most notable illustrations in the '80s.  

Antonio-lopez-1973

Mr. Chow's Drawing, Paris III, 1973:

Antonio-Lopez-mr-chows-drawing_parisiii
(image from fashionschooldaily.com)

An illustration of Brigitte Bardot for Interview magazine, 1975:

Antonio-Lopez-interview-1975
(image from independent.co.uk)

The following images most closely resemble those on the MAC products. 

Vanity Magazine, 1981:

Antonio-lopez-vanity-1981
(image from style.com)

1983:

Antonio-lopez-1983
(image from wewastetime.wordpress.com)

Yves Saint Laurent ad, 1984:

Antonio-lopez-ysl-1984
(image from theantoniolopezbook.com)

So what made Lopez stand out from other fashion illustrators?  For one, in the early '60s most fashion illustrations resembled very basic, catalog-like depictions of clothing.  Lopez galvanized the medium, infusing representations of designer garments with an energy and movement they previously lacked.  Secondly, Lopez understood how to both capture and evoke a particular era.  André Leon Talley, Vogue editor and a former colleague of Lopez, remarks that Lopez "knew how to suggest the mood of the time."  Adds East of Mayfair Director Janina Joffe, "The greatest fashion artists create desirable images that capture the entire spirit of an era and still remain timeless. Antonio Lopez was a definitive master of this skill."

Finally, Lopez's work disguinshes itself from from that of other illustrators in that it heavily influenced the designers - they took their cue from his work rather than the other way around.  In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Mauricio Padilha, one of the authors of Antonio Lopez:  Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco, had this to say:  "Some of the models, he wouldn’t even put clothing on them. He would have the model standing next to the clothing in a leotard or whatever and he would illustrate how he saw the clothing onto the model’s body. It became something different and a lot of times designers would go back and then rework their outfits so it looked more like his illustrations."  Indeed, Lopez's influence is still rippling through the psyche of various designers today.  "[A] fresh crop of fashion designers, stylists and photographers seem to have been thumbing through Antonio's back-catalogue – the December 2012 issue of Vogue Italia featured a Steven Meisel covershoot titled 'High Gloss' that paid homage to the heady world of hedonism captured in Lopez's polaroids, eye-obscuring Jerry Hall mane and all. The same imagery – and that lop-sided hairdo – roamed Jonathan Saunders' spring catwalk in London...Antonio, of course, wasn't only about girls – his eroticised drawings of male models populated campaigns for Versace and Missoni in the eighties.  Those exaggerated images – man as hunter-gatherer in buttery-leather and luxury knits, respectively – were fodder for Kim Jones' sophomore menswear collection for Louis Vuitton, where the emphatic shoulders, artfully wrapped capes and chiselled jawlines whispered of Antonio heroes past.  Their feminine counterparts, the sketches of Jerry, Pat et al, inspired the disco diva bugle-beaded gowns of New York designer Jason Wu's 2013 pre-Fall collection, translating Antonio's pen marks into cashmere and chiffon," writes Alexander Fury at The Independent.

Getting back to the MAC collaboration, MAC Creative Director James Gager states that it was Lopez's "tremendous zest for living" that was the catalyst for the collection.  He adds, “When you see the pictures and the drawings, you want to re-meet these people at a party or on the street. You want to stop them and say, 'You look incredible!'”  I suppose if any company is going to launch a collection inspired by Lopez's hedonistic vibe expressed in bold colors and strong lines, MAC is appropriate.  However, I would have liked if they could have indicated which models were in the illustrations that appeared on the packaging.  The promo ad reunites three of "Antonio's Girls" (Jerry Hall, Pat Cleveland and Marisa Berenson), but it's unclear if any of them are in the illustrations that were selected.  Plus, I stumbled across this image and thought it would have been perfect for a makeup collection:

Antonio-Lopez-makeup
(image from theantoniolopezbook.com)

Anyway, I prefer Lopez's earlier work of the late '60s to the flashier designs he created in the late  '70s and '80s.  The colors appear garish and incongruous, the lines harsh and severe.  Of course, it could just be that I simply don't care for '80s fashion, and Lopez amplified the excess of the decade.  If I find the '80s aesthetic to be unappealing, Lopez's work certainly heightened it (i.e., made it seem uglier than it actually was.)  Conversely, if you love '80s fashion then Lopez's work sublimely elevates it.

What do you think, both of Lopez as an illustrator and of the MAC collection?


MAC Illustrated, part 3: Rebecca Moses

The final installment in MAC's 2013 Illustrated collection is brought to us courtesy of fashion designer and illustrator Rebecca Moses.  This was a large Nordstrom-exclusive collection containing several lip color sets and brush sets, along with two color kits.  I picked up the Brown Face Kit.

MAC-rebecca-moses-palette

MAC-rebecca-moses-palette-open

I liked seeing Moses' signature on the mirror.

MAC-rebecca-moses-mirror

About her illustrations, Moses states, "I think it is all about the ability to create color.  There is a dreamlike quality to watercolor.  But in the past couple of years I have fallen in love with markers and pen.  But I have learned to blend markers in a way to give me a similar movement of color that I do with paint and now I use all the mediums together....Color is fundamental, moods are exaggerated, body language strong, and the attitudes are large...My work has become more humorous and spirited...I like being able to laugh at oneself."  In looking at her work, I find her assessment to be quite accurate.  Bold yet harmonious color combinations and strong lines give Moses' women a certain intensity.  At the same time they're distinctly feminine and sophisticated. 

Rebecca-Moses-watercolor

Moses cites Modigliani as one of her favorite artists, and I think there's a definite resemblance between the two artists' women, particularly in the slightly tilted heads and elongated oval eyes and necks.  Compare this ad by Moses:

Rebecca-moses-women
(images from trafficnyc.com)

To these portraits by Modigliani (Jeanne Hébuterne with Hat and Necklace, 1917, Jeanne Hébuterne Sitting, 1918, and Portrait of Margherita, 1916):

Modigliani-women
(images from wikipaintings.org, royalacademy.org.uk, and commons.wikimedia.org)

As for the MAC collection, this palette and other pieces showcase some comparable illustrations to Moses' previous work.  Her signature swirling black ribbons appear in this illustration she completed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Marie Claire Italia magazine, similar to those she drew for the MAC sets.

Rebecca-Moses-script

I don't know what client this particular design was for, but it's nearly identical to the pattern on the MAC palette - just sans lips.

Rebecca-Moses-eyes

And this illustration for Icon Magazine actually does include both lips and eyes:

Rebecca-Moses-eyes-lips
(images from trafficnyc.com)

While overall I liked the collection, I do wish it would have depicted fully-drawn women instead of disembodied eyes and lips.  The level of detail that goes into most of Moses' patterns on the clothing worn by the women in her drawings and her use of color are the strongest aspects of her work, and it's unfortunate that the areas where she really shines were not included in the MAC collection. 

What do you think?  Did you pick up anything from this collection?  And of the three artists featured in the MAC Illustrated series this year (Anja Kroencke, Indie 184 and Rebecca Moses), which was your favorite?


MAC Illustrated, part 2: Indie 184

“Graffiti has taught me so much to not only put myself out there even if what I do is not perfect but most importantly I learned how to be fearless and just go for it.” – Indie

Indie-184-at-work
(image from beyondmention.com)

The second part of MAC's 2013 Illustrated collection features the work of graffiti artist Indie 184.  Born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents and raised in New York, her style combines vivid colors with a contemporary take on old-school New York City graffiti.  Her indomitable spirit is fittingly expressed in her tag, a riff on the movie adventurer Indiana Jones, while 184 comes from the street she grew up on in Washington Heights.

The first MAC bag shows off Indie 184's unique spin on a more traditional, "bubble"-style graffiti.  

Indie-184-MAC-1

The interior (which is the same design as the exterior of the other bag in the collection):

Indie-184-MAC-interior

The design on the exterior is similar to the one that appears on a subway map she created for online gallery Etch-A-Sketch.net.

Indie_Cheri_Map
(image from etchasketsh.bigcartel.net)

Or one of her many tags throughout New York:

Indie-184-tag
(image from tumblr.com)

The second bag is more similar to her latest work on canvas.  As she is an admirer of Basquiat and cites him as an inspiration, I can't help but wonder whether the halo and crown shapes are paying homage to him.  

Indie-184-MAC2

Indie-184-MAC-halo

Indie184-MAC-crown-detail

While I appreciate the "bubble" graffiti approach, my love of color means that I'm most captivated by Indie's bright, multi-hued paintings.  She seamlessly translates her style from walls to canvas, weaving together images of famous women and phrases that convey their power.  In her artist's statement, she writes, "My creative process usually starts by pouring out conflicting ideas or emotions using words, images and color. When I create a painting, it’s like a page of my personal diary – all the pieces are worlds of personal declarations. Constant use of word play, found scraps of paper, stencil, graffiti, graphics and photographs mixed with vivid colors...I use iconic female imagery provoking mood and expression embellished with dripping paint juxtaposed with words...The composed painting reflects power, motivation and with an undeniable twist of feminism in my paintings."  The feminist angle, I believe, comes partially from her struggle to be fully accepted as a genuine graffiti artist in a male-dominated environment.  She says in an interview, "[A]s I got more into the culture, I learned that NYC in the 80’s produced few active girls in graf.  So any new girl in the scene would stand out. But of course, that did not mean free rides. I had to push harder to get down on walls. Most male writers don’t take females writers, especially new ones, seriously.  I did not want to stand out only because I was a female writer. I wanted to make my mark and represent for myself. Even now, on occasions, when I’m painting in the streets, some guy comes along and acts surprised when he sees me working with spray paint."

The titles for some of these paintings - Powerful Creation, Call the Shots, Fearless, Knock 'em Out and Own Your Power, combined with Indie's signature hearts and stars - further drive home the idea of feminine strength.  Some of her work is also a tribute to Latina women and a demonstration of allegiance to her cultural heritage, as she references figures such as Frieda Kahlo, Jennifer Lopez and Marquita Rivera.

Call the Shots, 2012 (I love the nod to Warhol represented by the soup cans):

Indie-184-call-the-shots

Powerful Creation, 2012:

Indie-184-powerful-creation

Fearless, 2012:

Indie184-Fearless

Knock 'em Out, 2012:

Indie184-knock-em-out

Own Your Power, 2013:

Indie184-Own-Your-Power
(images from indie184.com)

Looking at the dizzying array of flashy colors, it's no surprise to find that Indie's heroines include Jem and Rainbow Brite.  I also find her work to be a true expression of her outspoken, feisty personality and thoroughly unselfconscious attitude.  In an interview regarding her recently launched clothing line named Kweenz Destroy, she states, "Kweenz Destroy is for ladies who hold their own and make an impact with what they do. They love to get their hands dirty and don’t give a shit what people have to say...I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone...I am fulfilling my own desires, not living other people’s ideal of what a graffiti writer should be, because at the end of the day people are going to talk shit regardless."

Overall, I like Indie's work - it's brash, highly personal and has an exuberance and freshness to it while remaining forceful.  And I was pleased to see she's left-handed, given my fascination with southpaws.

What do you think?  Do you like Indie 184's work more than that of Fafi (a graffiti artist that previously collaborated with MAC)?


MAC Illustrated 2013, part 1: Anja Kroencke

MAC began their "Illustrated" series last year, where the company teamed up with several talented graphic artists (Julie Verhoeven, Nikki Farquharson and François Berthoud.)  This year MAC revisits the collaboration idea by working with three artists:  Anja Kroencke, Indie 184 and Rebecca Moses.  I'll be covering the latter two shortly but for now let's take a look at the bags designed by Austrian-born, New York-based fashion illustrator Anja Kroencke.

Kroencke's depictions of women are characterized by graceful, elongated necks and voluminous, often intricately detailed hair.  These elements distinguish Kroencke's work from that of other fashion illustrators by harmoniously combining boldness and delicacy, romanticism and strength.  Says the artist, "It's a mix of all kinds of women I see on the street, in movies, in magazines--but they are all strong and yet very feminine and vulnerable, sometimes even fragile but showing a strength that comes from within, the expression of the face, the pose, being in charge of their own life not dictated by fashion, society or men."

Kroencke-MAC-bag

Kroencke-MAC-bag-interior

Kroencke-MAC-bag2

I'm particularly drawn (haha) to the short, deft strokes she uses for the irises of the girls' eyes.

Kroencke-MAC-eye-detail

Kroencke cites artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Elsa Schiaparelli and Frida Kahlo as inspiration, and acknowledges the influence of her upbringing in Vienna and her parents' Scandinavian and Bulgarian aesthetics.  She also states, "I was always drawn to a more graphic, bold style.  I love simplicity, which is actually very difficult to achieve, and developing tension in a drawing or painting through a strong composition and color palette."

I picked out some favorites from her vast portfolio.  I love the color combinations that appear in the ads for Claire's Accessories:

Kroencke-claires
(images from issuu.com)

Kroencke-beachy
(image from ua-net.com)

Her illustrations for high-end designers are imbued with her signature elegant necks and billowing tresses, while still retaining the clothing's original elements. 

Louis Vuitton, spring 2012:

Kroencke-louis-vuitton-2012
(images from anjakroencke.com and style.com)

Prada spring 2013:

Kroencke-PRADA-Spring 2013
(images from anjakroencke.com and style.com)

Some other favorites.

Tiffany's:

Kroencke-tiffanys

Vogue Nippon 2008:

Kroencke-nipponVogue-2008
(images from issuu.com)

Jill Stuart:

Kroencke-Jill-Stuart

And I have no idea what this one is for, but I love it!

Kroencke-modern
(images from ua-net.com)

Looking at these you can definitely see how Kroencke's work has evolved over the years, particularly her use of color.  "I always try to find interesting and rather unusual color combinations that can translate to the mood of the illustration.  My color palette is very much influenced by what is happening at that time in design, architecture and fashion...I remember in the late '90s it was all about midcentury modern, lots of olive green, mustard and blue-grey; currently I'm totally into black line drawings with sometimes only a few colors," she says in a recent interview.  Indeed, her latest work, including the illustrations she created for MAC, display this gravitation towards a simpler color palette.  She also notes that her work has gotten "darker in mood and in some ways, more personal, less commercial." 

While this particular collection didn't blow me away, I think Kroencke's style is well-represented in the MAC bags - when you see them, you know the women are hers. What do you think?


Lovin' from the MAC oven

In case you haven't had your fill of desserts from the Sweet Tooth exhibition, I'm bringing you more sweet treats courtesy of MAC's Baking Beauties collection.  I picked up the two Pearlmatte face powders:  In For A Treat and Pink Buttercream, which feature delicate, frosting-like floral designs.  And for your viewing pleasure I put them on this positively adorable macaron wrapping paper from Paper Source.

MAC-Baking-Beauties-pearlmatte-spring2013

MAC-Baking-beauties-pearlmatte-powders

MAC-in-for-a-treat2

MAC-In-For-A-Treat-pearlmatte

MAC-in-for-a-treat-detail

Pink Buttercream:

MAC-Pink-Buttercream-pearlmatte-powder

MAC-Pink-Buttercream-2013

MAC-pink-buttercream-detail

MAC-pink-buttercream-closeup

I also love the promo image with its abundance of beautifully decorated cakes and a plate of macarons - the model is purely secondary to them!  Incidentally, I think the green plate on the lower right is the same one I used to hold the Ladurée trio in the Sweet Tooth exhibition. 

Mac-baking-beauties-promo

I can't look at cake displays without immediately thinking of Wayne Thiebaud's famous cake paintings, which he painted from memories of his work in restaurants rather than actual displays.  Here is perhaps the best-known one, Cakes (1963).  B'more is so close to DC - I should make a trip to the National Gallery to visit it again.

Thiebaud-cakes
(image from nga.gov)

More yumminess.  Display Cakes, 1963:

Thiebaud-display-cakes
(image from sfmoma.org)

Wedding Cake, 1962:

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(image from friendsofart.net)

Cake Window (1964):

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(image from finecartoonart.wordpress.com)

In my opinion, his work is very appealing because it conveys nostalgia and is completely unpretentious.  An article by Cathleen McGuigan for the Smithsonian hits the nail on the head in describing what is so enjoyable about Thiebaud's cakes, and I think it could be applied to his other subjects as well (lipsticks, hot dogs, gumball machines, just to name a few.)  "In a contemporary art world enthralled with such stunts as Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, Thiebaud is wonderfully ungimmicky. He belongs more to a classical tradition of painting than to the Pop revolution that first propelled him to national attention in the 1960s. Then, the sweet everydayness of his cake and pie pictures looked like cousins of Andy Warhol’s soup cans. But where Warhol was cool and ironic, Thiebaud was warm and gently comic, playing on a collective nostalgia just this side of sentimentality. He pushed himself as a painter—experimenting with brushstrokes, color, composition, light and shadow. The cylindrical cakes and cones of ice cream owed more to such masters of the still life as the 18th-century French painter Chardin, or the 20th-century Italian Giorgio Morandi, as critics have pointed out, than to the art trends of the time."  That's all well and good, but was the man just obsessed with desserts and food in general?  Of course not.  As McGuigan explains, "Over the years Thiebaud has repeatedly tackled the same subjects—not to perfect a formula but to keep exploring the formal possibilities of painting. 'What kinds of varying light can you have in one painting?' he asks. 'Direct glaring light, then fugitive light, then green glow. It’s a very difficult challenge.'...When Thiebaud paints an object or form, he famously surrounds it with multiple colors, often stripes or lines, of equal intensity, to create a halo effect—though you might not notice that unless you look closely. 'They’re fighting for position,' he says of the colors. 'That’s what makes them vibrate when you put them next to each other.'"  Though some see a loneliness or melancholy in his cake paintings, I choose to perceive them as  taking on a "celebratory" tone, as one critic states.  Thiebaud himself has denied any sense of sadness in these works.  In a PBS interview from 2000, he shares why it was risky for him to make paintings of cakes and pies:  "It's fun and humorous and that's dangerous in the art world, I think. It's a world that takes itself very seriously, and of course, it is a serious enterprise, but I think also there's room for wit and humor because humor gives us, I think, a sense of perspective." 

I think the pretty designs on In For A Treat and Pink Buttercream would be right at home in a Thiebaud painting.  :)  Did you pick up anything from Baking Beauties?  And do you like Mr. Thiebaud's work? 


Friday Fun: MAC Archie's Girls

MAC seems to have the market cornered on cartoon/comics collaborations.  In addition to numerous Disney collections, 2011 was the year they released a Wonder Woman-themed collection.  This time MAC is back in the comics game with Archie's Girls, which is based on Betty and Veronica, the two girls who vie for Archie's heart. 

I picked up one of the Pearlmatte powders.

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With flash:

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I also purchased the Jingle Jangle Coin Purse - I loved the lining!

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In addition to the more general products, MAC offered individual Betty and Veronica collections.  I selected one piece from each.  On the left is lipstick in Boyfriend Stealer, whose vampy color is representative of Vernoica (according to MAC):  "The envy of every girl, Veronica smoulders with a limited-edition colour collection rich in deep, seductive tones. Lipsticks in violet, red and blackened plum play up the va-voom while Lipglass shimmers in shades certain to steal hearts. Nails lacquered in dark berry and navy crème ready for a soda fountain catfight."

On the right is Kiss and Don't Tell from the Betty collection, which MAC describes thusly:  "Beautiful Blonde-Next-Door Betty inspires a limited-edition colour collection with a soft, innocent sexiness. Lipsticks in peaches and pinks beam bright under layers of Lipglass in girly shades. Nail Lacquer in Comic Cute and Pep Pep Pep to win Archie's affection."

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Having never read Archie comics I can't say for sure whether MAC's character descriptions and subsequent color choices are accurate and appropriate, but from everything I've read online the shades seem spot-on for each girl.

As with the Wonder Woman and Hey Sailor! collections, the best part for me was the freebie MAC provided with my order.  Oh, how I live for collectibles like this!

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Overall I thought this was a fun, cute collection, but I probably would have enjoyed it much more if I were actually familiar with the comics.

What do you think?  And are you a Betty or Veronica?


The sexy slither of a lady snake*

I was intrigued by MAC's Year of the Snake collection since I first laid eyes on this magnificent promo image.


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I was surprised by how much I liked the packaging.  It's very simple but perfectly captures the allure and texture of shiny snakeskin.  And you wouldn't think purple, gold, hot pink and black would go together well but here they work.

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The snake pattern is woven throughout all the items.  Here's one of the eyeshadows (Altered State).

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With flash:

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Beauty powder:

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With flash:

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One of the lipsticks (Cockney) - I think the snake pattern works best here.

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With flash:

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Some fun facts about the Year of the Snake:

  • It is the sixth sign of the Chinese zodiac.
  • People born in the Year of the Snake tend to be highly intuitive, insightful, quiet, and enjoy the finer things in life.
  • Famous people born in the Year of the Snake include Oprah Winfrey, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Picasso, Bob Dylan, and Edgar Allan Poe.
  • 2013 brings good financial fortune for those born in the Year of the Snake.

What did you think of this collection?  I think the most interesting thing about it was the fact that all of the colors are re-promotes of items in the permanent line or shades that had been previously released in other collections - it's as if MAC is testing consumers to see if they'll buy  items solely if they come in special packaging.  Naturally, I succumbed.

*To find out what the title of this post is referencing, click here.


Gentlemen prefer blondes...who wear MAC

Iconic bombshell Marilyn Monroe has been garnering much attention in 2012, in part, sadly, because this year marks the 50th anniversary of her death.   So far she has been the subject of the official poster for the Cannes film festival, several TV shows and series, and a plethora of museum exhibitions and art auctions.  This month, MAC released a collection featuring the famous sex symbol, with the packaging consisting of photos from a session known as "The Black Sitting" shot by Milton Greene in 1956.  According to Greene's wife at the time, Amy, "Milton made this black velvet womb. Velvet was draped over chairs, they must have cornered the black velvet market on 7th Ave...There is something about black velvet that is very sensuous and very rich."  I think this sensuality is exactly the vibe that MAC was trying to bring out in the collection, based on their description.  "Pure platinum Hollywood glamour. Channel the legend's luster & sex appeal in a colour collection distinctively Marilyn. It's everything you need to capture the MM look."

Perhaps it is everything you need for the Marilyn look, but only if you were quick enough to snatch it before it sold out online and in every brick and mortar store.  Unfortunately, I was not as fast as others and only managed to snag an eye shadow and lip gloss.  :(

Here are Preferred Blonde shadow and Little Rock lip gloss.

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The lipstick kiss inside the boxes was a nice touch.

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Here are the some of the other items from the collection with different images, sniff.

There was a Beauty Powder (highlighter):

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Five lipsticks (this one is called Deeply Adored):

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And two blushes, this one is called Legendary:

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(images from bellasugar.com)

I think MAC chose wisely in terms of the images used for the packaging.  Of all the movies and photo shoots Marilyn starred in, the Black Sitting seems to capture all of her facets at once - the come-hither sexiness and womanly glamour, to be sure, but also her child-like innocence and vulnerability.  Additionally, the starkness of the black-and-white photos hints at her inner turmoil,  and reminds us that 50 years later, it's not totally clear whether her tragic early death from an overdose was accidental or intentional.  (Wow, sorry to go into pretty morbid territory there).  Anyway, I thought this was a nice collection - it didn't knock my socks off, but it was tastefully packaged, and I think Miss Monroe herself would have approved of the colors.

Did you manage to get anything from the collection?