A donation for the ages

Wow!  I am seriously overwhelmed by the enormous generosity displayed by a long-term Museum supporter and fellow blogger, Mag from Makeup Stash.  It all started with an innocent remark I made on Mag's Instagram page about some old MAC paint tubes.  She graciously offered to send me the ones she had since they were going to be thrown out anyway...but ended up decluttering a lot more, as you'll see.  One woman's trash is another's treasure, so I happily accepted all of the other goodies she offered up to me, completely for free!!  How awesome is that?

Donation from Makeup Stash

First up are the items that started this amazing donation: MAC paint tubes.  I was so sad that I threw mine out, as they'd be excellent for a makeup-as-literal-art exhibition (along with Chanel Les Gouaches, which I'm still kicking myself over for getting rid of).

MAC paint tubes

These eyeshadow trios from Japanese brand Kesalan Patheran were huge in the early aughts.  I'm very pleased to have these cult items join the Museum's collection.

Kesalan Patheran eye shadow trios

Ditto for these eyeshadow quads from Ed Pinaud and Lise Watier.  The Ed Pinaud is a particularly great addition to the Museum given the company's long history.

Ed Pinaude and Lise Watier

I'm in love with these palettes from Tokidoki.  In one of my very first blog posts I talked about how cute the Smashbox collab was, so when I saw Tokidoki was releasing its own line at Sephora in 2010 I was ecstatic.  The line was truly a flash in the pan, lasting only 2 years, but its short-lived nature was actually intentional.  Unfortunately during those two years I never budgeted to pick up anything from it, so I'm deliriously happy to have some items now.  These three palettes came from The Robbery set, showing Tokidoki's signature characters engaging in naughty hijinks. 

Tokidoki Robbery palettes

How adorable are these Anna Sui goodies?  The floral eyeshadow is from the fall 2010 Kaleidoscope of Color collection, while the heart-shaped eyeshadow is from summer 2014.

Anna Sui makeup

Anna Sui makeup

Some other recent treasures Mag bestowed upon the Museum include Shu Uemura's Fuchsia Fusion palette (2013), YSL Flower Crush palette (2014) and Etude House's Berry Delicious palette (2016). 

Shu Uemura Fuchsia Fusion

YSL Flower Crush

Etude House Berry Delicious

But honestly, my favorite part of this donation (or any donation, really) was this incredibly sweet handwritten note.  I've received others and they mean so much.

Note

I know I get pretty down about makeup companies and museums not paying any attention to this little blog of mine, and it's things like this that help keep me going.  In addition to all of the nice comments and emails I get, donations are a way of people showing me that they think the Museum is a worthwhile project.

I'm positively overjoyed at all of these wonderful additions to the collection!  Do you have any favorites?  Big huge thanks again to Mag, I still can't believe her generosity!

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Curator's Corner, 5/13/2018

CC logoIt's link time!

- There is no one more deserving to sell her makeup at a world-class museum than Pat McGrath.

- Here's an interesting piece on the rise of the transgender sector within the beauty industry, and another on how millennials are embracing one of the oldest approaches to beauty

- "Green" and "natural" don't mean much when it comes to beauty labels, but fortunately Sephora's new "clean" section makes it easy for consumers to identify products that lack certain potentially harmful ingredients.  In other words, it's now possible for you to go paraben-free without getting a migraine from reading an extensive ingredient list in tiny font.

- These nails are so incredibly unsettling...I much prefer this glitter trend, even though 1. we've seen it before and 2. I'd never partake in it.

- Speaking of glitter, great news!  Soon I'll be able to stop worrying about plastic-based glitter killing all the mermaids and their underwater friends.

- Lady Gaga is the latest music star to come up with her own makeup line.  Will it be as popular as Fenty?

- Meet Usage, a new beauty magazine that seems artsy but not so weird/pretentious as to be inaccessible.  I'm excited to check it out.

The random:

- Thank you, NBC, for rescuing one of my favorite TV shows from cancellation.

- Dying to see this colorful exhibition.

- This Mother's Day, remember that child-free women like me can be maternal too (but it's okay if we're not!)

What's new with you? 

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A rose renaissance with D & G

You might remember a time when many roses in makeup were simply not Museum-worthy.  I'm pleased to say that between Smashbox's amazing rose highlighters (the result of a collab with makeup artist Vlada Haggerty) and this stunner from D & G, the rose motif has redeemed itself. 

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Duchessa

The blush is appropriate for the designers' spring 2018 lineup, which can arguably be described as an explosion of roses.

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018
(images from us.dolcegabbana.com)

As a matter of fact, D & G has been celebrating their favorite flower rather heavily the past few years.  A few highlights from recent seasons:

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2017

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2016

Dolce & Gabbana fall 2015

Dolce & Gabbana fall 2014(images from vogue)

While there seems to be a noticeable uptick in the use of these blooms more recently, they've been blossoming in the D & G line nearly since its inception.  According to this profile, the first instance of the rose motif appeared in the the fall/winter 1989-1990 collection, which was inspired by actress Anna Magnani in the 1955 film The Rose Tattoo.  The collection was modeled in Vogue Italia by Isabella Rossellini.  Alas, I was unable to find a good photo that actually showed one of the pieces featuring a rose, but I hope this dress from the mid-90s will help trace the evolution. 

Dolce & Gabbana '90s rose dress
(image from 1stdibs)

The runway makeup also has a rose-centric tendency of late.

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018 makeup

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2016 makeup(image from makeupforlife.net)

Dolce & Gabban fall 2015 makeup(image from vogue)

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2014 makeup
(image from yourfacebeauty.info)

Finally, D & G's makeup itself serves up a rose bouquet.  One of the inspirations behind the beauty line is Stefano's memories of his mother's rose-scented lipstick:  "The rose was everything to the [fall 2015 fashion] collection, not just because it's the flower you give your mother on Mother's Day, but because Stefano's favorite childhood memory of his own mother is the rose scent of her red lipstick. That's why Dolce & Gabbana's lipsticks are uniquely fragranced."  Additionally, the mauve and pale pink tones of the spring 2016 makeup collection took their cue from a rose garden, and later that year a line of cream blushes called Blush of Roses was introduced.

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2016 makeup collection(image from fashionisers.com)

The spring 2018 highlighter, however, is the first time the rose has been visually represented in the makeup.  While I don't think this is the most unique palette - roses in makeup are nothing new, and D & G might have chosen a more interesting motif that reflects their appreciation of Sicilian culture like the carretto or coins as they did in seasons past (and how cool are these fish?!) - I believe design-wise they did a good job.  The rose looks more like a somewhat abstract illustration rather than a literal image of the flower, lending an artful and sophisticated air.  And I can lose myself in the ever so slightly shimmering pink and fuchsia swirls of the powder.  Would I like to have seen the rose embossed rather than a flat representation?  Maybe, but it's gorgeous as is.  I just wish I could find more comprehensive information on the designers' love of roses.  My theory is that the particular character and significance of the rose changes each season to accommodate whatever theme they've created.  For example, the fall 2015 collection was inspired by maternal love and the roses presented as gifts to mothers, while during the previous season, the flower took on a different meaning to fit the Spanish flair of the collection:  "Carnations and roses are the flowers most symbolic of love that were also thrown into the arena to show admiration and love for the toreador in traditional bullfights," explained Gabbana.  I'm not exactly sure what message they were trying to get across with the rose for spring 2018 (other than general theme of love in the case of the clothing and this rather bland description of the makeup collection: "inspired by a springtime garden in Sicily"), but this is one of those instances where I can let it slide due to the beautiful design of the blush.

What do you think of this palette?  Do you like rose-hued makeup?

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Magical mermaid makeup brushes!

I've been waiting for literally over a year to blog about these amazing mermaid brushes by, funnily enough, a UK-based brand named Unicorn Cosmetics.  I finally got them in hand back in December, but wanted to wait until the warm weather was imminent to blog about them.  The brushes themselves are incredible, but the packaging was also breathtaking. 

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

Each brush came individually wrapped with a little charm in the shape of that particular mermaid tail.  What a great little detail!

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush

All of artwork was done by American artist Kurtis Rykovich, who created four mermaids to correspond to the brushes.  Save for this interview, information about the inspiration behind his work and his partnership with Unicorn Cosmetics was non-existent, so I gathered all my courage and reached out to this artist for an exclusive Makeup Museum interview.  Initially he seemed very enthusiastic and agreed to provide answers within a week, but after not hearing anything, followed by several gentle reminders via both email and IG over the course of a month, I gave up.  This is why my blogging schedule got completely off track recently, as I was patiently trying to give plenty of time to accommodate him.  In the end I just couldn't wait any longer.  I'm incredibly disappointed, to say the least, because I'm so interested in hearing his perspective and there wasn't any other in-depth info about this collection.  Guess it's just another item to add to the long list of Museum failures. And it will most likely be the last time I contact an artist.  :(

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set postcard - artwork by Kurtis Rykovich

In an effort to not be too salty about the lack of communication on his part - us Scorpios are known to hold a grudge - I'm sharing some of Rykovich's other work, which consists of (mostly female) otherworldly beings.  Everything from Disney princesses and fairy tale heroines to creatures of ancient myths are represented.  I also find it interesting that they all have such long lashes - you might be aware that Unicorn Cosmetics was formerly known as Unicorn Lashes and specialized in uniquely shaped, fairly elaborate false eyelash sets that resemble the ones in Rykovich's paintings.  I can only wonder if the company saw Rykovich's long-lashed beauties and reached out to him.

Kurtis Rykovich, Sleeping Beauty

Kurtis Rykovich, Medusa

Kurtis Rykovich, Goldilocks

Kurtis Rykovich, Mushroom Fae

Kurtis Rykovich, Our Madness

Kurtis Rykovich, Hammerhead Abyss

Kurtis Rykovich, Moondust

Kurtis Rykovich, Flurry

This magical unicorn princess was used for another Unicorn Cosmetics brush set.


Unicorn brushes box

This one was especially created for a new Unicorn Cosmetics palette.

Kurtis Rykovich, Glimmer

Unicorn Brushes palette
(images from rykovich.com and instagram)

As for the mermaid brushes, the purpose of each one is described on the back of the postcard with Rykovich's image. 

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

We'll start with the highlighting brush that corresponds to Bubbles.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Bubbles

Next up is Korali (all-over powder brush).

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Korali

Delphie is for blush.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Delphie

Finally, there's LiLu, used for foundation and contouring.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush - Lilu

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

The brush set also came with a clamshell stand for display - how cool is that?!

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set

I also really loved seeing the evolution of the design.  These images are from January 2017 through their release at the end of the year.

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set prototype

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set prototype

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set prototype

Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brushes

Overall, I'm positively in love with these brushes.  We've seen mermaid tail brushes before and they're very cute, but they lack the level of detail of the Unicorn Cosmetics set.  I also think Rykovich is a perfect match for Unicorn Cosmetics, given the mutual love of magical, feminine creatures that only exist in our imagination. 

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite?

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It's panda-monium! MAC Nicopanda

This was another one of those "buy first, ask questions later" type of purchases.  As soon as I saw the images I knew this collection belonged in the Museum, even though I had no idea who or what Nicopanda was.  Turns out, Nicopanda is a streetwear line founded by designer Nicola Formichetti in 2011.  I'll talk more about the brand in a bit, but first, let's feast our eyes on the positively adorable packaging.

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

In keeping with the brand's spirit, I picked up what I thought were the most fun lip colors.

MAC x Nicopanda

Even the boxes are precious.   You know how much I appreciate patterns on both the inside and outside!

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

I normally would have gone for a palette rather than face stickers, but these were apparently Formichetti's favorite item in the collection, and when I thought about it a little bit, it occurred to me that they were the most representative of Nicopanda's vibe.

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

MAC x Nicopanda

The panda design on the MAC collection, obviously, is a replica of the panda mascot in the Nicopanda clothing line.  Formichetti notes that it was imperative to incorporate the panda motif in a big way - as with the Jeremy Scott collection, custom molds for the packaging were required, and Formichetti sees the final designs "almost like a collectible".  As we'll see shortly, the the Nicopanda symbol holds a lot of meaning for the designer.  "Ultimately, the panda was a big part of this inspiration. I originally created this character to represent something that is a symbol of creativity and diversity. It was very important to bring the panda into the design and creative process. The packaging is clearly inspired by the panda, which is custom made and the first time MAC has launched something like this. It’s visually so exciting, elegant, fun, unisex, and everything we wanted to accomplish."

Nicopanda shirts(images from nicopanda.com)

Now that we've seen a bit of the MAC collection, let's get down to the what, how and why.  The Nicopanda brand began as a pop-up store in 2011. as a side project of Nicola Formichetti and his brother Andrea.  Nicola was working as a stylist to the ever-eccentric Lady Gaga at the time (and became creative director for Diesel a few years later), and due to its overwhelming popularity the line expanded to become a full-time endeavor by 2015.  As for the panda moniker, Formichetti explains:  "My friends used to call me Nico Panda because I’m half Asian, I had this long beard back then; and was a little chubby, so I looked like a bear—an Asian bear. So people started calling me Nico Panda on Twitter, and then once Gaga did that panda makeup, I created this character for the store."

Nicopanda-store(image from elleiconlee.com)

Nicopanda was born out of Formichetti's desire to both explore his Japanese roots and create a unique, light-hearted streetwear line that's also genderless.  "It's our job to provide as many options as possible for people to choose from so they can be whatever and whoever they want to be," he stated.  "We should have unisex garments.1  But, we also have to have more feminine and more masculine clothing because there are times when you'll want dress more masculine, more girly or in between."  As you can see from recent collections, Nicopanda definitely appears to be a pioneer in genderless dressing.  Not only is the clothing intended for all genders, the casting of androgynous models furthers the notion of a future without gender labels.  I have to say I like the concept of readily accessible clothing that's not intended for men or women.  Wouldn't it be fun to go into a store, see an item you like and buy it without worrying it's the "wrong" gender for you?  I mean, if I like a piece of menswear I'll buy it, but there's a great sense of freedom in buying non-gender specific clothing.

Nicopanda fall 2016

Nicopanda 2018

Another way Formichetti is turning the notion of gendered clothing on its head is the use of traditional markers of femininity - pink, ruffles, skirt silhouettes - on ostensibly male models.  The point Formichetti seems to make isn't men embracing their feminine side, but rather wanting to create styles that anyone would feel comfortable wearing if they chose.

Nicopanda spring 2018(images from vogue.com)

Nicopanda 2015(images from voltcafe.com)

Obviously, the topic of genderless clothing is far beyond the scope of this post, but I want to look at how Nicopanda applied the concept to makeup.  In the video below, he stresses that the MAC collection is for everyone:  "I made this collection for everybody - girls, boys, and then everyone in between...I think it's very genderless and freestyle...diversity and inclusivity are part of everything I do and Nicopanda does." 

Indeed, most of the models in the ads defy gender and even race.  Diversity and playing with opposites were central to Formichetti's vision for the MAC collection, since they are also tenets of the Nicopanda brand.  "The inspiration for me was to create something that was new and different and focuses on creativity and diversity all while being playful and fun. That’s kind of the inspiration for everything I do. I wanted to create something that was personal to my brand and something that was special to celebrate my longstanding relationship with MAC.  Together, we desired to develop something fresh, new, and contemporary for this new generation of makeup users. I’m half Asian and half European so it was important to me that this collection delivered a little bit of east and a little west. There’s a touch of street culture and high fashion.  The theme was diversity. To create something that was very feminine but also masculine. For the packaging, we wanted this to show polar opposite colors that worked together just like a panda. I love bringing together opposites - you can even see that in the packaging - contrasting the white and black. Nicopanda brings together high-fashion and streetwear just like this make-up collaboration." 

Nicopanda-models

As for the makeup in the ads, it seems Formichetti's insistence on creativity may not have resonated with everyone.  Many expressed the opinion that the application resembled a toddler's finger paint (you MUST check out Karen's hilarious take on this over at Makeup and Beauty Blog), while some were genuinely confused.

MAC Nicopanda ad

While I personally admire the very avant-garde application, I'm inclined to say that these sorts of looks aren't as wearable as Formichetti intended.  He says that there is something for everyone, and that non-traditional shades are in fact versatile:  "With the actual products, I desired to create something that could go from day to night. Something that was fun and funky for the person who wants to take their makeup to the next level, but something that also works for someone who wears minimal makeup. The mix of colors is so couture.  I wanted to use non-traditional colors that are really popular with my Nicopanda crew - all the colour palettes for lips, eyes, and cheeks are very wearable and absolutely fabulous."  I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not seeing this in the ads or even in the makeup itself.  For the most part the colors skew bright - there's nary a neutral to be found, save, perhaps, for the face powder.  Again, I have no issue with this, as my love for so-called weird colors and non-traditional application knows no bounds, but it seems rather disingenuous to claim the collection is easily wearable when at the same time promoting solely unusual looks.  Traditional application is entirely left out of the official ads; MAC encourages customers to "let out your inner weirdo" and "never stop breaking the rules". 

MAC Nicopanda ad(images from instagram)

I feel as though Formichetti can't disguise his penchant for "crazy" makeup colors and application, and he shouldn't have brought up the issue of wearability with the MAC collection.  I would have expected nothing less than totally out-there makeup, given previous looks from his runway shows.  The MAC collection is absolutely an extension of the Nicopanda aesthetic, and I don't think Formichetti should have tried to promote versatility as a selling point because that's clearly not what he's about.  As my mother would say, a leopard can't change its spots.

Nicopanda spring 2018

Nicopanda 2015(images from vogue and voltcafe.com)

There is also the issue of claiming diversity when there's not a single model over the age of 25.  Perhaps in terms of gender and race Formichetti nailed diversity, but let's be honest, he clearly wasn't making face stickers with people my age in mind.  In explaining how the MAC collaboration came to be, Formichetti notes that a more youthful demographic is the key focus for Nicopanda.  "Nicopanda is about youth — the new generation. The brand is always about trying new things, sharing and creating new ideas, so I wanted to tackle the beauty world with Nicopanda. A cosmetics collaboration with MAC is a natural partnership...I’ve been collaborating with MAC for a long time, working on their campaigns and projects for years...it was a natural progression to create product together with Nicopanda. They are like family, and we really trust each other."  In the earlier video interview, he states that his vision and MAC's are similar due to their interest in spurring creativity, but also because of their "work with young talent."  While MAC and Nicopanda are a great match for the most part, Formichetti seems to have left out the "all ages" part of MAC's 3-phrase tagline.  Once again, I wouldn't mind so much if he didn't claim otherwise - if you want to make a collection for the teens and 20-something crowd, that's fine, but don't insinuate that it's the epitome of diversity because it's not. Formichetti maintains he's talking about the "young at heart" when discussing his customers.  "The Nicopanda customer for me is someone who wants to play and isn’t scared of trying new things. I desired to give them the materials to inspire their creativity and encourage that playfulness. My consumers don’t take things too seriously and are super young-spirited. Not necessarily in age, but they exude a young energy. This collection is so in sync with that; sophisticated yet light-hearted."  I still say the ads tell a slightly different story.

Overall, I applaud Formichetti for breaking gender barriers in fashion, and making it affordable to boot.  I love the concept of Nicopanda and MAC was an excellent match for a cosmetics line.  I only wish Formichetti would have insisted on including a few older faces and some more traditional looks for the campaign, or left diversity out of the conversation all together.  The models in the ads were certainly varied in race and gender and the makeup looks felt fresh and modern, but the lack of models in their 30s and up, along with the presentation of solely non-traditional makeup application, directly contradicts Formichetti's stance that this was a collection meant for everyone and could be worn in more traditional ways.  Nevertheless I'm willing to overlook it in this case because that panda packaging is simply too cute and unique.

What do you think?

 

1I must point out that genderless is not equal to unisex.  This article explains why.

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Curator's Corner, 4/29/2018

CC logoSigh.  I know it doesn't seem like it, but I actually schedule my posts 4-6 weeks in advance.  And when I say schedule I don't mean I have a vague idea about what I want to blog about, I have specific days picked out for posts.  Inevitably, no matter how much I plan, my schedule gets off track...which is why my posts have been so massively inconsistent timing-wise.  I can only hope this bothers you less than it bothers me!  I'm aiming to stick to the schedule I have planned through the month of May, but we'll see what happens.  Without further ado, here are some overdue links for April. 

- If I make it to the beach this year I'm definitely taking some glitter sunscreen.  Alas, Racked is a total killjoy about it, but at least one brand offers biodegradable glitter.

- Out:  brow art.  In:  nose art.

- We are inching ever closer to making the beauty industry truly diverse and inclusiveAlmay still needs a lot of work on that, though.

- For years I thought drugstore mainstay NYX was founded in the early '80s, but it was actually established in 1999.  This timeline of the company proved rather eye-opening.

- Not sure which is worse, counterfeit makeup or makeup for kids.  Yikes. 

- Speaking of cosmetics safety, I'm no fan of the Kardashians but if it takes one of them meeting with members of Congress to push for cosmetics regulation, I'm all for it (hypocritical though it may be.)

- Just for fun.

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, 1995 film Empire Records is getting the musical treatment, and Nickelodeon is rebooting kid favorite Double Dare.  Meanwhile, some film critics propose that the decade was indeed the best for movies.

- Elsewhere in pop culture, Broad City is coming to a close.  To be honest though, I'm relieved as I thought the past 2 seasons were rather lackluster.

- Every dog has its day...or museum?  At least these are real institutions, unlike the spate of Instagram-friendly museums that keep popping up.  Maybe I'm just jealous and bitter that I still don't have an actual museum, but I have to agree with this piece that these sorts of places cannot be defined as museums.  While I don't have an issue with the overall concept, it's annoying that they call themselves that. Perhaps if I focused solely on entertainment rather than education and history I could finally have my makeup "museum," but I'm not willing to do that.

- Anyway, this mermaid book is at the top of my wishlist!  Also loved this piece on the history of merpeople sightings.

How have you been?  Are you getting excited for warmer weather and longer days? 


Spring 2018 color trend

Move over, Milennial Pink!  This season is all about Gen Z  yellow, which I'm having a bit of trouble describing.  It's not mustard but not pastel or neon either; the most appropriate term I can come up with is canary, and a bright one at that.  I must say, yellow is my favorite color so I've been waiting for its moment in the sun.  I just love the idea of having a little dose of sunshine on my face/hands!  It can be a tricky shade to pull off, especially for fair skin ("jaundiced" isn't a highly coveted look to my knowledge), but anyone can wear it in small, not-as-noticeable doses.  If you don't want to go the full-on eye shadow route, more manageable ways are nail polish, eyeliner and mascara. 

Spring 2018 color trend: yellow

  1.  Model at Anteprima's spring 2018 show
  2.  Chanel nail polish in Giallo Napoli
  3. Lunasol Macaron Eyes in EX 07
  4. OPI nail polish in Sun, Sea and Sand in My Pants
  5. Dior Diorshow On Stage Liners
  6. Maybelline Lemonade Craze eye shadow palette
  7. Lancome Ombre Hypnose Mini Chubby Stick
  8. Model at Pam Hogg's spring 2018 show

What do you think?  Will you be sporting this bright cheery shade?  I know I will, especially since I have so many polishes from the craze of spring 2011.


Book review: Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart
Before I get to my review of Susan Stewart's Painted Faces, I must disclose that I received a copy for free from the author.  In no way, shape or form did getting it for free influence my review, nor was it intended as a bribe for a positive one - I believe I was given a copy in exchange for me lending photos of some of the Museum's collection to be included in the book.  Not only did Dr. Stewart provide an autograph, she also included me in the acknowledgements, which was incredibly kind.

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart

Again though, I'd like to reiterate that this did not sway my opinion of the book at all.  Now that that's out of the way, I can dive into the review.

The goal of Painted Faces is much the same as Lisa Eldridge's Face Paint in that it strives to provide a history of makeup from ancient times to the present day.  However, a trained scholar/historian approaches this vast topic in a markedly different way than a makeup artist such as Eldridge.  Neither perspective is better or worse than the other; ways to tell the story of makeup are nearly as varied as the people who wear it.  Nor do I believe one has to have a set of particular credentials to write accurately and compellingly about makeup history, as I believe it comes down to a matter of preference for a certain writing style.  As we saw with her first book, Painted Faces is more academic than Face Paint and relies on highlighting the economic and sociological aspects behind various beauty practices, whereas Eldridge adopts a more artistic tone, choosing instead to communicate makeup's history by focusing on application and styles as they evolved. 

Stewart begins with an introduction (which also serves as the first chapter) summarizing the need to study makeup and beauty practices as it gives valuable insight into history that we may not have considered before.  "Because of its wider significance, researching makeup, its uses, ingredients, its context and application, can provide clues not only to the nature and circumstance of the individual but can also help us to interpret the social, economic and political condition of society as a whole in any given period.  That is to say, studying cosmetics can further our understanding of history...they are a window into the past and can encapsulate the hopes and ideas of the future.  In short, makeup matters" (p. 8 and 10).  Can I get an amen?!  Stewart also carefully sets the parameters for the book, outlining the sources used and why she is primarily writing about cosmetics in the Western world.

Chapter 2 is essentially a condensed version of Stewart's previous tome on cosmetics in the ancient world, which doesn't need to be rehashed here (you can check out my review of that one to peruse the content).  That's no small feat, considering how thorough it was.  The next chapter covers the Middle Ages, which is interesting in and of itself since so little information about makeup and beauty exist from this era.  As Stewart points out, the rise of Christianity meant people were no longer being interred with their possessions as they were in ancient Greece and Rome - these artifacts provided a wealth of knowledge about beauty practices then.  Thus, any time after the spread of Christianity and before the modern age historians must rely primarily on texts, such as surviving beauty recipes and classic literature, rather than objects to infer any information about the use of makeup and other beauty items.  The dominance of this religion also meant even more impossible beauty standards for women and more shame for daring to participate in beauty rituals.  "According to medieval religious ideology, wearing makeup was not only the deceitful and immoral - it was a crime against God" (p. 60).  The other interesting, albeit twisted way Christianity affected beauty is the relentless belief that unblemished skin = moral person.  Something as innocuous as freckles were the mark of the devil, and most women went to great lengths to get rid of them or cover them so as not be accused of being a witch.  I shudder thinking about those who were affected by acne.

Chapter 4, which discusses beauty in the late 15th and early 16th centuries (i.e., approximately the Renaissance) presents the continuation of certain beauty standards - pale, unblemished skin on both the face and hands, a high forehead, barely there blush and a hint of natural color on the lips- as well as judgement of those who wore cosmetics.  As we saw previously, it's the old "look perfect but don't use makeup to achieve said perfection" deal - women who wore makeup were viewed as dishonest, vain sinners.  But one's looks mattered greatly in the acquisition of a husband, so many women didn't have a choice.  "Clearly a woman had to get her makeup just right not simply for maximum effect but to avoid getting it wrong and spoiling the illusion of youth and beauty entirely, a fault that could cost her dearly in terms of wealth, status and security" (p. 94). 

However, there were some notable differences between the Renaissance and medieval periods.  For starters, due to inventions such as the printing press, beauty recipes were able to be much more widely disseminated than they were previously.  Increased trade meant more people could get their hands on ingredients for these recipes.  Both of these developments led to women below the higher rungs of society (i.e. the middle class) to start wearing cosmetics.  So widespread was cosmetics usage at this point, Stewart notes, that the question became what kind of makeup to wear instead of whether to wear it at all. 

This chapter was probably the most similar to those on Renaissance beauty in Sarah Jane Downing's book, Beauty and Cosmetics: 1550-1950.  Given the lack of information regarding cosmetics during this time period, both authors had to draw on the same sources to describe beauty habits.  However, as with Eldridge, the approaches Downing and Stewart take are slightly different.  Once again, Stewart opts for a straighter historical approach whereas Downing looks more to paintings and literature of the time, and doesn't take quite as deep a dive into the larger social and economic forces at work.  There's also not much overlap between the descriptions of recipes and techniques, as you'll find different ones in each book.  For example, one that was mentioned only in passing in Downing's book was using egg white to set makeup. I'm thinking of it as a early version of an illuminating setting spray (although obviously it was brushed on, not sprayed in a bottle) as it lent a slightly luminous, glazed sheen.  Stewart points out that it also caused one's face to crack, thereby eliminating the wearer's ability to make any sort of facial expression.  It seems certain beauty treatments, whether egg white or Botox, occasionally come with the side effect of suppressing women's expression of emotion.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Chapters 5 and 6 are tidily sequential, discussing beauty during the the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively.  As in the Renaissance, both eras witnessed significant growth in the number of women who wore makeup due to technological advances and increased trade.  Growing literacy rates drove demand for the new medium of ladies' magazines. Pharmacies selling raw materials to make beauty treatments had started to crop up in the 17th century and their numbers increased dramatically by the beginning of the 18th century.  Not only that, pharmacies and chemists started offering their own pre-made formulas, and these goods became commercially exported to other countries.  The widespread sale of these products came with several undesirable effects:  counterfeit cosmetics and downright false claims about the product's efficacy. 

The 1700s also saw the rise of excessive, decidedly unnatural makeup being worn by members of the aristocracy in both France and England, followed by a post-French Revolution return to more subtle makeup in the early 1800s. This brings us to Chapter 7, which outlines the myriad changes leading to what would become the modern beauty industry, including department stores, industrialization and the new commercial market of the U.S.  As for beauty standards, a natural look was still strongly preferred by both men and women, with the emphasis in terms of products on skincare rather than color cosmetics.  Here's a literal lightbulb moment:  despite my research on Shiseido's color-correcting powders, in which I learned some were meant to counterbalance the effects of harsh lighting, I had completely overlooked the influence of artificial light on the skyrocketing production of face powders.  "Suffice it to say that in the early years of the twentieth century, the use of artificial light in homes of the wealthy as well as in public places such as theatres and concert halls would become more widespread, in the latter years of the nineteenth century there was already an understanding that to make the best impression, makeup needed adjusting to suit the light, whether it be natural or artificial" (p.198).

Chapter 8 leads us into the 20th century.  While there are more detailed accounts of makeup during this time, Stewart does an excellent job describing the major cultural and technological influences that shaped modern beauty trends and the industry as a whole.  I was very impressed with how she was able to narrow down the key points about 20th century beauty without regurgitating or simply summarizing other people's work.  Some of the information presented is familiar, of course, but the manner in which it's arranged and categorized sets it apart.  It just goes to show that everyone's individual background equals an infinite number of ways to tell the story of makeup.

I'm partial to this chapter since the items I took photos of for the book are all from the 20th century.  :) 

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart

Here are some powder boxes on the dust jacket. 

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart

While I was deliriously happy to see some of the Museum's items in a real published book and get credited for them, I was also pleased to see photos of other pieces as well.  Their inclusion in addition to illustrations was a bit of an upgrade to Stewart's previous book.  This is a minor issue to be sure, as I believe solid writing more than makes up for a lack of photos, but they are a nice touch if available.

Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics by Susan Stewart

The last chapter serves as an addendum in which Stewart reflects on how the past, present and future of beauty are linked, noting that while some things have stayed the same - the use of ancient ingredients in modern formulas, the connection between health and beauty - 21st century attitudes towards cosmetics represent a significant change from earlier times.

Overall, this is a more scholarly history of makeup than we've seen before, but by no means dry and boring.  Stewart's gift for wading through hundreds of historical documents and neatly consolidating the major social, economic and cultural forces that shaped makeup's history, all while sharing fascinating snippets such as ancient beauty recipes and anecdotes from people who lived during the various eras she covered, makes for a thoroughly engaging read. 

Will you be picking this one up? 

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Givenchy spring 2018

'Tis Friday, so I will keep this post on Givenchy's spring 2018 couture collection brief.  The floral print, while beautiful, doesn't exactly read spring to me - the black background and dark hues of the flowers themselves seem rather moody and more suited to fall.  Nevertheless these items were definitely Museum-worthy and a nice addition to previous Givenchy couture releases.

Givenchy spring 2018 couture collection

Givenchy spring 2018 couture collection

I've seen this lipstick swatched and it's a gorgeous rich raspberry shade.

Givenchy spring 2018 couture lipstick

It took a while for me to identify the print, and that might have because I assumed it would be from the most recent spring or even fall collection.  Turns out, it's actually from the fall 2013 collection.  So my perception of the pattern being more appropriate for cool weather wasn't inaccurate. 

It looks like the color scheme was adjusted slightly from the original red and ivory to include blue, purple and dashes of yellow on the makeup packaging.

Givenchy fall 2013 bag
(image from fusionofeffects.com)

Givenchy fall 2013 runway

Givenchy fall 2013

As you may know, I'm obsessed with finding the exact portion of the print that appears on the makeup. 

Givenchy fall 2013 print detail

While I maintain that the print is even lovelier on makeup packaging than on the clothing, I'm still scratching my head as to why Givenchy chose a five-year-old pattern that was originally from a fall collection for their spring 2018 couture makeup release.  Overall, I'd say it's pretty to look at but rather uninspired.  It seems like they slapped on any floral print they could find but one they hadn't put on packaging previously just because it's spring - everyone likes flowers for spring, right?  It appears all the more unimaginative when you consider Givenchy had some interesting prints to choose from the ready-to-wear collection that would have worked nicely on makeup, such as these clovers.  The print is a 1961 original by Hubert de Givenchy, resurrected by recently appointed Givenchy designer Claire Waight Keller.

Givenchy spring 2018
(images from vogue.com)

It's another example of a disconnect between the clothing and makeup branches of a couture house, which we've seen with others.  Perhaps Makeup Artistic Director Nicolas Degennes is not "collaborating" as much as he should be with Keller.  Unfortunately it seems this laziness and lack of coordination is continuing, along with a dash of cultural appropriation, in the upcoming "African Light" highlighter Givenchy is releasing for summer (more about that later).

What do you think about this collection?

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Curator's Corner, 4/1/2018

CC logoHappy Easter Fool's!  Let's take a look to see what the interwebz had in store for the past few weeks.

-In what I thought for sure were early April Fool's jokes that turned out to be true, Chanel beauty will now be sold at Ulta, while Einstein Bros. inexplicably released cheese-scented shampoo and bacon-scented conditioner.  Equally confounding is the fact that both items sold out

- The crazy brow trend isn't going anywhere any time soon.  However, Racked points out why we fall for these and explains why they're actually not trends at all.

- In makeup history, the Smithsonian outlines Madam C.J. Walker's philanthropic endeavors, and we finally discover what brow pencil Frida Kahlo wore.

- On why J-Beauty isn't the new K-beauty.

- Certainly a novel use for a hairdryer, but I guess when you shell out that kind of money for a Dyson it should do more than merely dry one's hair, yes?

The random:

- So much '90s nostalgia!  Twentieth birthday wishes are in order for both Dawson's Creek and one of the Curator's favorite movies (read more critics' thoughts here and here).  Meanwhile, '90s-era music is experiencing not so much nostalgia as a resurgence, what with bands like The Breeders, Belly and Superchunk all releasing new albums.

- On the museum front, what's worse than another made-for-Instagram museum?  One that rips off legitimate artists. Sigh.

- No idea how I missed this book - it was just recently brought to my attention via Twitter - but it's now on my wishlist. 

How are you?  Did you have a good Easter/Passover/weekend?

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