Yves Saint Laurent

Makeup as Muse: creative recycling

I had actually been working on a particular artist for the next Makeup as Muse for months - her work is pretty involved - but when the maker of this robot tweeted at me a few weeks ago I decided to hold off a little longer on my original installment and feature his creation instead. Meet Yslabelle (pronounced ees-la-bell), a functioning robot made entirely of repurposed YSL makeup packaging!


Standing roughly 6'6" tall (2 meters), Yslabelle was made from hundreds of boxes and her sword from the Shock mascara and Touche Eclat tubes.  Gathering the materials took 14 months.  I was in awe when I thought Yslabelle was simply a stationary robot statue, but as it turns out, her head is motorized so there's also some movement there.  This is particularly mind-blowing to me given that I can't figure out how to hook up the attachments to our vacuum cleaner.  Seriously though, I was never gifted at science/math/generally understanding how things work so I've never been all that interested in robots; however, my brother-in-law is a roboticist for Boston Dynamics, so that, combined with my own inability to comprehend anything mechanical, has made me appreciate the art of crafting robots a little more. 

IMG_1963-1(images from robotazia.co.uk)

Yslabelle was made by Cyberigs Robots, a collective founded in 2015 by Mark Swannell to develop a collection for Robotazia.  From what I can tell, Robotazia is a permanent exhibition of sci-fi themed robots somewhere in the U.K. that will be open to visitors sometime this year.  I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I love the idea of all these different roboticists coming together to build cool new robots and repair old ones for the exhibition.  Apparently you'll even be able to grab a snack at the "robo-bistro." 

I have to say that this is a marvelous use of old makeup packaging, and it got me thinking about why more companies still don't offer recycling.  LUSH, Zoya and MAC are the only companies I can think of off the top of my head that have official recycling programs.  Yslabelle also makes me wonder what, if anything, we consumers can do about it besides writing letters and signing petitions encouraging companies to recycle (and as I've said previously, I don't think the entire burden should be on consumers).  As we've seen with other Makeup as Muse posts, beauty packaging can be quite wasteful and it's not always easy to properly dispose of or repurpose it.  I always put the outer paper boxes into our recycling bin, but this still doesn't help the bigger issue of the inner packaging like plastic/metal containers and tubes.  Then of course, there's some completely superfluous packaging like Pat McGrath's sequin-filled bags.  Now, I am a huge Pat McGrath fan and she can do no wrong in my eyes.  I'd be so sad buying a product from her without those lovely shiny sequins - it just wouldn't be the same!  I, along with lots of other beauty bloggers, reuse the sequins for photo props.  However, if her company won't have some way for customers who don't want the sequins to send them back to be reused, we have to get creative.  Enter Parisian fashion student Ana Ouri, who has been sewing the sequins onto her pieces.  Genius!

Ana Ouri - sequins

Ana Ouri - sequins(images from instagram.com)

I am nowhere near as imaginative as Cyberigs or this fashion student, but both projects inspire me to think of cool ways to recycle makeup packaging.  Of course, since I'm a collector I don't even want to think about disposing of my beloved collectibles, and my huge stash (i.e., the makeup I actually use) is so massive I can't imagine actually finishing a product except for samples, so it's mostly a moot point for me.

Have you ever tried to repurpose cosmetics packaging in a more artistic way?  


Couture Monday: with love from Yves Saint Laurent

Ah, Yves Saint Laurent.  I had high hopes that last year's Chinese New Year palette would be the start of a renaissance for the brand in terms of collectible items, but unfortunately they continued their trend of bland, fairly nondescript releases through the end of 2014.  But at least YSL managed to pull it together again for the 2015 Chinese New Year (which is this Thursday) with this eye shadow palette whose case is decorated with an explosion of hearts outlined in gold against a red background.

YSL Chinese New Year palette 2015

YSL Chinese New Year palette 2015

YSL Chinese New Year palette 2015

So...the questions on my mind were why hearts and why now?  Well, YSL has a history of using hearts in their designs, most notably in accessories, but also occasionally on the clothing.  Take a peek at this heart-printed maxi skirt, jacket and "le smoking" suit from the '80s:

Vintage YSL maxi skirt
(images from pinterest.com and etsy.com)

Vintage YSL heart-print jacket
(image from lyst.com)

YSL Le Smoking heart suit, spring 1987
(image from 1stdibs.com)

More recently, YSL Creative Director (or should I say Saint Laurent, since the "Yves" was dropped) Hedi Slimane resurrected the original designer's love of hearts in an extensive collection containing a slew of heart-printed items, from dresses and shoes to bags and sweaters.  I'm not sure when this came out, as none of these pieces appeared in any of Slimane's ready-to-wear shows to date, but my best guess is around summer 2014.  

Saint Laurent heart print(images from barneys.com and lyst.com)

Saint Laurent heart print sweaters
(images from polyvore.com and lyst.com)

While the cosmetics arm of the famed fashion house has also worked hearts into recent releases, including the Love collection, some matte face powders from 2010 and a powder compact from the holiday 2013 collection, I was surprised to see that the use of hearts in YSL's makeup range goes as far back as the '80s, as evidenced by these bejeweled compacts.

Vintage YSL heart compacts
(images from rubylane.com)

Vintage YSL heart compacts
(images from etsy.com and onekingslane.com)

So hearts appearing on YSL's makeup is nothing unusual.  But why now, for a palette celebrating the Chinese New Year?  Well, each year from 1970 until 2000, the designer illustrated a love-themed card to ring in the new year and sent them to his friends and family.  (Perhaps you remember the spring 2008 Palette Pop, which was based on a card from 1992.)  Thus, a New Year's palette decorated with hearts is the perfect homage to this tradition.  Additionally, as of last Friday the book detailing all of these "love cards" has been reissued in France and the U.S., a sneak peek of which you can see here.  While I would have liked to see another palette centered on the design of one of these cards, or maybe a design that had more to do specifically with the Chinese new year, the hearts were a good choice and appropriate given the aforementioned 2014 heart-printed fashion collection.

What do you think?

Couture Monday: Happy New Year from YSL

As you know, I've been quite harsh on the more recent releases from Yves Saint Laurent.  Just as I had completely lost my faith in the brand being able to come up with some worthy collectible items, they released this beauty in honor of the Chinese New Year.  Outfitted in red and gold, the colors of the Chinese New Year, the design is inspired by one of YSL's floral print open-back dresses as well as the cherry blossoms used as decorations in various Chinese New Year celebrations.




While I wasn't able to find any dresses remotely resembling the pattern on the palette, I did come across one clue as to why YSL would release a Chinese New Year-themed palette:  namely, the designer's iconic Fall/Winter 1977 Chinese collection.  As The Handbook of Fashion Studies explains, "Saint Laurent had a very French idea of the Orient stemming from late seventeenth and eighteenth-century exoticism and chinoiserie, commingled with twentieth-century collecting and the display of artifacts in European interiors and museums."  I'm a little surprised I wasn't aware of this very influential fashion collection, or the link between it and the release of the designer's legendary fragrance Opium, which launched later that year (and went on to inspire two gorgeous palettes.)

(image from pinterest.com)

(images from fondation-pb-ysl.net and pinterest.com)

(image from decadesinc.com)

Style and culture blogger Suzanna Mars has an excellent description of the collection:  "St. Laurent was on an exotic-destination high that summer of 1977, having earlier discoursed on Les Ballets Russes, gypsies, and peasants a l'Espagnole. Now he ventured onto the steppes of Outer Mongolia for a fantasy (but still wearable) collection, his most sumptuous to date. In a 2.5-hour runway show, St. Laurent sent models down the catwalk in Empress dresses (robes d'Imperatrice), pantalons, vests, jackets, and kimonos. These garments were rendered in suede, taffeta, silk, oilskin, damask, satin, and velvet with gold-thread embroidery, tassels and mink trim. The gold thread cost $200 a meter. Tatar and Chinese influences were equally represented in a triumph of aesthetic refinement."

Seeing this collection, along with how Tom Ford re-invented the theme for his final YSL show in 2004, gives me a much better understanding of the link between the palette and the fashion - something that's been sorely lacking in recent YSL beauty releases.  While I do wish I could see the exact YSL dress that inspired the pattern, this palette is much more harmonious in terms of the fashion of YSL while also beautifully representing the Chinese New Year.

Interestingly, when I was researching the connection between YSL and China, I stumbled across this equally lovely palette that was apparently released back in the fall of 2013 in honor of the brand's launch in China. 


(images from butterboom.com)

I'm adding this to my "ones that got away but still hoping I can track down" list.  :)

What do you think of Chinese New Year palette?  Has YSL Beauty made a comeback in your eyes?

Couture Monday: O YSL, where art thou?

Normally I try to showcase pieces that are worthy of the Makeup Museum.  Every once in a while though, I feel the need to call out a company on shoddy, unimaginative work.  I have been displeased with Yves Saint Laurent for years now, and I'm not sure why they consistently have been releasing such boring palettes.  Are they having some sort of identity crisis, perhaps tied to the re-branding of the company to drop the "Yves" in the name?  Or are they just not trying at all?

Here are some examples of palettes that I found disappointing.

Fall 2010 and spring 2011:


 This absolutely abhorrent mess:

YSL.facebook palette

Holiday 2012 - a sequined case does not a collectible palette make:

(image from allurabeauty.com)

Sadly, their lackluster offerings continue with both the spring and summer 2013 lineups.  The Arty Stone collection for spring had nothing to do whatsoever with the clothes that came down the runway for that season.  The Creative Director for YSL Beaute, Lloyd Simmonds, explains the collection:  “Pink quartz, amethyst, pyrite, malachite, azurite, jade, each possesses a hypnotic beauty. When you hold them in your hands, these precious stones diffuse energy and light, like galaxies. Their crystalline purity and voluptuous opalescence were the departure point for the creation of the Spring Look 2013 for Yves Saint Laurent."   That's a nice description, but gemstones are an easy jumping-off point for a gorgeous palette (see Clé de Peau's Vintage Holiday palette and Luminizing Compact).  Instead YSL gives us an extremely boring geometic pattern, and one that also doesn't resemble their Arty jewelry line.

(image from xxymagazine.com)

Same for the Saharienne Heat palette for the summer, the case of which is adorned with an "opulent Moroccan arabesque design."

(image from becomegorgeous.com)

Even the items I have purchased in recent years I have not been thrilled with (see the spring 2010 Y-Mail palette, the 2008 Bow palette, and the fall 2012 croc palette).  I long for the days of the lovely Palette Pop, which was based on a holiday card designed by Yves Saint Laurent, or the fabulous Opium palettes.  I wonder why Mr. Simmonds can't do something great with the fashion YSL is known for - how about a palette with a Le Smoking jacket embossed on it?  This would be a big improvement to the rather mundane tuxedo collection from holiday 2011. 

I have lost faith in this brand at the moment.  Let's hope YSL can find their creative footing again.

Couture Monday: Get your croc on with YSL

We've seen crocodile-patterned palettes before, but I thought the print looked particularly smashing on the gold outer casing of YSL's Palette Couture for fall 2012.  Very luxe!  


Apparently crocodile is the "emblem of the YSL accessories and leather goods collection," according to the press release.  I don't know why they never used it on a makeup item before.



With flash:


While I think crocodile-themed items always make a good addition to the Makeup Museum, I was disappointed that this was more or less a rehash of YSL's summer 2012 bronzers:

(image from nordstrom.com)

 Plus, there was no crocodile to be found anywhere for the fall 2012 ready to wear show.  The look was supposed to be "contemporary Amazon" (which was also the theme for the fall 2012 makeup collection).  The strong shoulder contours and metal chain mail accompanied by dark blood-red lips and slicked-back hair definitely evoked fierce women warriors.


But what really stood out to me was the use of calla lillies.  According to Style.com writer Tim Blanks, "Backless dresses in a chain mail made of metal and rubber were the ultimate expression of [designer Stefano] Pilati's hypersexualized vision.  So he naturally picked the calla lily, Roman symbol of lust, as the floral accent for the collection."

YSL-fall-2012-callas(images from style.com)

I think that these flowers would have made a more interesting and relevant design for the palette than crocodile print.  What do you think?

Quick post: YSL Facebook palette

This isn't a post so much as a rant.  Really, YSL?  Instead of coming up with a palette that's based on the fashion of the iconic designer, which would be easy given the rich history and prolific work of YSL, the marketing group devised a palette based on a glorified online stalking mechanism that will most likely be obsolete in a few years.  (Anyone remember Friendster?  Or use MySpace anymore?)  According to Kiss and Makeup, those who buy the palette will also "receive special 'privileges', such as exclusive information, perks and services through their Facebook feed and in store."

YSL.facebook palette(image from kissandmakeup.tv)

I'm annoyed not just because I hate Facebook and I don't like seeing a brand I like selling a palette based on it, but also because I'm one of the biggest YSL makeup fans out there - I not only collect their palettes for the Museum but I use their non-collectible products (love the gel eye liners, Voile de Blush, Rouge Volupté lipsticks, Golden Glosses, and Matt Touche primer, in case you're wondering).  Just because I'm not on Facebook doesn't mean I'm not a YSL devotee, and they should recognize that a few of us want to maintain at least some semblance of privacy online.  If they truly wanted to sell a palette that's a "declaration of love" to their fans, they should make it available to all of their fans, not just Facebook ones, right?

I don't know, perhaps I'm just bitter because only 1,650 of these palettes were made and I know I have no chance of getting it (it's available starting today), or because I'm still mad that something as dumb as Facebook has become so successful and influential. Or maybe because the palette itself is fairly ugly and unimaginative.  Congratulations, YSL, you have the negligible amount of design ability it takes to slap the blue and white Facebook colors and the designer's initials onto the case. 

What do you think?  Do you "like" this palette?  (Ugh, can't believe I just typed that).

Couture Monday: Yves Saint Laurent bow collection (Ghosts of Christmas makeup past, part 1)

YSL's 2008 holiday collection celebrated the designer's use of bows.  From the press release:

“One should always be tempted to untie a woman’s clothes” – Yves Saint Laurent

A symbol of femininity and the love that Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent had for women, the bow — be it demure or sexy, a velvet loop or a satin tie — has woven its way through his collections. Here, gracefully placed at the small of the back. There, tied around the neck in a protective, airy gesture to veil a lovely décolleté in transparent chiffon. Or just there, on the hip to highlight the endless length of a leg.

For the 2008 year-end holidays, the BOW COLLECTION reinterprets the symbol and pays tribute to the Couturier. With a look created by Val Garland, the sparkling, mischievous eyes of Coco Rocha are hidden behind a thick fringe of hair and her laughing lips are defined with an intense, plumping lipstick.

While not as stellar as some of their past releases, I did enjoy the shiny gold compact with a matte  bow on it:


With flash:


Too bad there was no pattern on the inside. 


Let's see, does Yves Saint Laurent really make use of bows in his fashion?  Indeed.  In searching the runway shows at style.com, I don't think there was one season where bows didn't make at least one appearance.  Here are a couple examples.

Some dresses:

(image from net-a-porter.com)

(image from style.com)

And bags:

(image from purseblog.com)

(image from bluefly.com)

And, of course, the iconic dress from 1983, which was the inspiration for the Esprit Couture palettes from fall 2007:

image from chicshoppingparis.blogspot.com

(image from kissandmakeup.tv)

Looking at those makes me think this holiday collection was pretty much recycling the bow theme, and not executing it nearly as well as the Esprit Couture palettes.  Overall, pretty meh.  It's been a long time since YSL has done a truly interesting palette - let's hope in 2012 they do something more creative.

Couture Monday: YSL Boheme Libertine

Palette pink collection26346.jpg[254x254]
Well, spring is nearly over but I'm still not through talking about the spring collections!  Today I'm looking at YSL's Pink Celebration palette.  The pattern is meant to look like ribbon (I think?) and the outer case has the repeating YSL letters.  All in all I thought it was rather uninspired and not very unique, so I did not procure it for the Museum.  I am patiently waiting for Chanel, YSL and Armani to release some more interesting things, which it seems they have not done for the past few collections. 


(image from ysl-parfums.com)


Couture Monday: YSL Rock n Baroque

FALL_PALETTE_LRG I'm still trying to figure out the design on this palette.  From the website:  "YSL's New Limited Edition Palette for Complexion is inspired by YSL Fashion. This season's star is embellished with a detail of passementerie engraved on the emblematic YSL compact in contrasting matte and shiny gold. This powder in interlacing barely-there shades will give you sinful radiance."  Hmm, to my eye it looks like a big squiggly blob.  I must admit I didn't know exactly what passementerie was, but a quick Google search revealed that it is type of trimming, most often in gold or silver cord or silk and used in a range of fashion items (prominent, oddly enough, in military uniforms.)  While it does look like the examples I found, I still say overall it's not a very interesting design - the company could have done a lot more with a fashion detail that has such a rich history.  I don't think YSL is especially known for passementerie details either, so this seems pretty uninspired.  I will save Museum funds for something better!

(image from yslbeautyus.com)

Couture Monday: YSL mail call

I have to admit I didn't think this was the most interesting palette YSL has come out with, but I thought enough of it to buy it for the Museum.  It's basically the YSL "Y-Mail" bag, which bears the French address of the YSL boutique,  in highlighter form.


Outer case (excuse my grubby paw prints):


The powder, with and without flash:

I like that it came with a little replica of the actual bag, shown here in shiny patent:

Ysl tote

The Y-Mail bags were originally released in spring 2008, so why YSL is coming out with palette inspired by them now is a little strange.  Perhaps they're running out of ideas, since they came out with a Y-Bag inspired palette this past fall.   Still, while the concept isn't all that original, I do like the partial-stamp design in the powder itself.  And since I'm a sucker for anything miniature, I love the little replica bag!