...to see the senoritas dance with flowers in their hair! Okay, not really, that's part of a song my sister and I used to sing as kids. But it looks like Paul & Joe had their own personal circus at Isetan Shinjuku department store in Tokyo to celebrate the release of their new lipsticks. I'm not sure why they went with a circus theme or why they had to make these exclusive to Isetan, but what I do know is that a certain curator was determined to get her hands on them by any means necessary. Basically I paid through the nose to use a personal shopping service in Japan. But I believe it was worth it, as these new cases are easily some of the cutest and most unusual Paul & Joe has come up with in a while. I also suspect these are brand new prints that are unique to the cases. I might have looked too quickly, but I did briefly peruse the fall 2017 Paul & Joe fashion collections and didn't see any of them.
I love the caps! (And I was ever so happy to see the return of Cap'n Kitty!)
While the cases retailed for a mere 1,100 yen (about $10 U.S. each), the shopping service itself charged...well, I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much. But look at this very dapper penguin. I mean, he's wearing a freakin' top hat and bow tie!! As I said, worth it.
While Cap'n Kitty will always hold a special place in my heart, I think this was my favorite case of the bunch. The images are just so delightfully absurd. We have a cat lady in a hoop skirt, a tiger riding a bicycle, an antelope, a parrot riding a zebra, and for some reason a monkey holding a fan sitting by a windmill. Bizarre, but the vintage style is utterly charming nevertheless - reminds me a little of Alice in Wonderland.
If you thought the cases were awesome, you need to take a gander at the Isetan event itself. I'd have given my eye teeth to be there, as it looked amazing. Whoever Paul & Joe's event planner was, they hit it out of the park. (I hate the event planning I do for work but if I could do these types of events for a beauty company I probably wouldn't mind so much!)
I loved the gigantic kitty lipsticks, which naturally made for a perfect photo opportunity.
They even had a life-size statue of the cat lady! She was cleverly placed in front of the lipstick case print and wearing one of Paul & Joe's fall 2017 dresses.
There were even actual circus performers!
The huge gumball machine was a fun touch too. While it looks like simply a novelty piece of decor, it actually worked. I don't have the video of a couple girls putting a few coins in and getting their prizes because Paul & Joe only had it on their Instagram stories, but there was proof that it wasn't just for show.
I'm wondering how much this event cost and how long it took to plan - those giant cat lipsticks, gumball machine, framed prints and other decor couldn't have been cheap or produced overnight because they would have to be custom-made with Paul & Joe's designs. Even these little balloons must have been pricey. (I guess because of my day job and also planning elaborate birthday parties for my niece, I just can't stop thinking about the work and money that went into this event!) They must have had an unlimited budget and an entire fleet of event coordinators.
But wait, there's more! Another spectacular event was held for CanCam, a popular Japanese fashion magazine. Entitled "CanCat Night Pool", the event name put a fun Paul & Joe kitty spin on the magazine's moniker while pointing to the night swimming activities. This one also looked like a ton of fun!
All in all, I was overjoyed to be able to add these cases to my collection, and I was glad Paul & Joe provided plenty of pictures of their wonderful events for those of us who are thousands of miles away and couldn't attend. Also, I think my new career goal might be doing event planning for a big makeup company. ;) If you weren't able to get your hands on these lipstick cases, don't despair - I wouldn't be surprised if Paul & Joe releases them worldwide eventually.
Sigh. After nearly 9 years of blogging I don't know why I still haven't learned to look before I leap when purchasing items for the Museum's collection. After seeing the write-up at Allure of indie brand Tooth and Nail's Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette and previous mentions of this company in other reputable publications like Nylon, I nevertheless pondered whether I really needed yet another mermaid-themed palette to add to the Museum. Initially I wasn't going to go for it, but I figured Allure would never steer me wrong, plus Tooth and Nail mentioned the name of the palette's illustrator/designer, Australia-based artist Megan Allison. Once I read an independent artist was behind the design I had to buy it.
I actually got up the courage to email Megan with a request for an interview about her art and her work for Tooth and Nail. She kindly obliged so here's some more in-depth information. Megan has been drawing since high school and studied Visual Communication (graphic design) at the University of Technology Sydney. When not working at her day job at an Australian packaging company, Megan creates stickers and enamel pins featuring a variety of whimsical (and sometimes creepy!) characters.
And since I had to know, she's Team Unicorn. For shame! Just kidding, of course. ;)
Tooth and Nail found Megan via Instagram and contacted her to create some of the labels for their Sailor Moon-themed highlighters. After the success of that collection, the company contacted her again for the Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette. Hannah Foote, owner of Tooth and Nail, sent Megan a preliminary sketch of the general concept.
From there Megan did her own sketch.
Once approved, she did the full rendering, with the colors taking an entire day to get just right. While Megan isn't loyal to one distinct style - she frequently goes back and forth between more traditional colored pencils to digital illustration and dark vs. cute themes - she enjoys tattoo design, an interest she shares with her sister (they have matching forearm tattoos, awww!) I feel as though the mermaid looks a bit old school tattoo-inspired.
Seems all well and good, right? Alas, a very sweet Instagram buddy of mine alerted me to the fact that Tooth and Nail has had a lot of customer complaints. And it's true: when I googled the company the fourth result that appeared was a complaint on Reddit. Apparently not only was the customer service poor, the quality of the products themselves was shoddy. While this one appeared nearly a year ago, other customers have shared their own tales of never receiving the products they ordered with a lengthy wait for a refund or zero resolution, some as recently as late May. Sadly, the lack of service isn't limited to customers. Via our email interview a few weeks ago, Megan stated that she never received the final versions of the products she designed (neither the Sailor Moon items nor the Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette), which was the agreed-upon payment for her services. So not only have customers been ripped off, Tooth and Nail has allegedly also not paid their own designer. I haven't been in touch with Megan since then so I'm hoping she has received her items in the past 2 weeks, but given everything I've seen it's doubtful. It's especially disheartening since Megan agreed to accept products instead of money - it shouldn't be difficult for a company, even a small indie one, to fulfill their end of this simple barter. (Plus, as the wife of an extremely hard-working freelance designer who has had his share of clients screwing him over, I personally HATE people who don't think independent designers/artists deserve payment...which is more common than you'd think. Freelance ain't free!)
I certainly don't wish to vilify Tooth and Nail, but I felt the need to mention these incidents. I'm also inclined to believe they're true - why would so many people complain without cause, and why is there no response from Tooth and Nail to any of them or going so far as to report/remove customers' comments on Instagram? I understand that things happen beyond our control and that Tooth and Nail is a fairly new company with literally just two people rather than a huge, established business with lots of experienced staff to handle customer issues, but it seems other tiny indie companies are able to better handle any problems that come up. With such a small company it's easy to get overwhelmed with orders, but whatever customer service system Tooth and Nails has in place clearly hasn't been working and needs to be addressed. Maybe it has been, as I haven't witnessed any other complaints regarding the Unicorns vs. Mermaids palette...then again, perhaps any negative feedback has been wiped clean from social media.
Anyway, as you can imagine, I was conflicted for weeks about what to write or even to write anything at all, plus I was annoyed with myself for not doing proper background research on an unknown-to-me brand before purchasing the palette. Ultimately I decided to post because while Tooth and Nail may not be reliable or, at least, wasn't reliable in the past, I felt it was important to highlight Megan's work. After all, focusing on the makeup design rather than the makeup itself is kind of what I do, right? Oh, and in the snowball's chance in hell that any makeup companies are reading this post, I'd like to let you know that Megan is available for design/illustrative services, but you must pay her up front!
UPDATE, 8/2: Megan emailed me to let me know she followed up with Hannah a few more times and eventually received the agreed-upon items! So hopefully this begins a new, more responsible phase for Tooth and Nail.
- If I spent $13K on neck cream and then found out I'd also need a $15,000 machine to accompany it, I'd probably sue too...but then again, for that amount of money you could have surgery or other treatments, which would be way more efficient than a cream anyway.
I was originally going to write a meatier post about the history of tanning that included sunless tanning, but there's actually been plenty of research already. Rather than essentially re-writing what's already out there I decided to go the more visual route and show ads for products promising to give you that sun-kissed glow for both face and body. I will include some history and links throughout, but mostly this is a way for me to share my never-ending obsession with vintage beauty ads. :)
Prior to the early 1920s, having tawny, sun-drenched skin simply wasn't desirable - at least for women. Fair complexions were associated with the leisure class, while tan skin indicated a lower social status (i.e. people who had to work outdoors). While the beauty industry was in its infancy, there were still plenty of products, such as this Tan No More powder, that promoted the pale skin ideal.
The 1940s saw an increase in the number of bronzers and tanning body makeup, the latter influenced partially by the shortage of nylon stockings during World War II - women resorted to painting their legs with makeup or staining them with a tea-based concoction to create the illusion of stockings. Always looking to sell more products, companies soon began offering tinted body makeup to mimic a natural tan.
In the late 1950s Man Tan sunless tanning lotion - or what we call self-tanner more commonly these days - debuted, featuring a new way of getting tan without the sun. Instead of traditional tinted makeup that merely covered the skin, Man Tan used an ingredient known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which works on the amino acids on the skin's surface to gradually darken its color. It sounds like a harmful, scary process that relies on synthetic chemicals, but DHA is actually derived from sugar cane and is still used in most self-tanners today.*
In addition to bronzers, around this time companies were also launching color campaigns specifically for tanned skin. These shades aren't so different from the ones we see in today's summer makeup collections - warm, beige and bronze tones abound. Both Max Factor's Breezy Peach and 3 Little Bares (get it?!) were seemingly created to complement a tawny complexion, while Clairol's powder duos and Corn Silk's Tan Fans line offered bronzer and blush together to artificially prolong and enhance a natural tan.
Meanwhile, Dorothy Gray had tan-flattering lip colors covered. This was not new territory for them, as this 1936 ad referenced a new "smart lipstick to accent sun-tan". In any case, the 1965 ad is also notable for the yellow lipstick all the way on right, which was meant to brighten another lip color when layered underneath...over 50 years before Estée Edit's Lip Flip and YSL's Undercoat.
The tanning craze wasn't going anywhere soon, as various self-tanning and bronzer formulas for body and face continued to be produced from the '70s onward. As skin cancer rates rose, there was also an uptick in the number of ads that emphasized protection from the sun over the convenience angle (i.e., the ability to get a tan in just a few hours and no matter the climate) - self-tanners started to be marketed more heavily as a healthy alternative to a real tan.
When it launched around 2004, I thought Stila's Sun Gel was such an innovative product. Little did I know Almay had done it roughly 30 years prior.
I searched all the '90s magazines in the Museum's archives, but realized almost all of them were March, September or October issues, so I couldn't unearth any fake tan ads for most of the decade. I did have better luck with finding ads online and in the Museum's archives for the 2000's, however. It makes sense as I had started collecting by then, not to mention that the early-mid aughts were the Gisele Bundchen/Paris Hilton era so fake tanning was at its peak. I just remembered that I neglected to check my old Sephora catalogs...I'll have to see if I can locate any photos of Scott Barnes' Body Bling, another hugely popular product in the 2000's.
As the decade came to a close, there was some discussion as to whether tanned skin, real or fake, was passé. But the continuing growth of the self-tanning market (as well as the influence of the bronzed Jersey Shore cast) showed that the infatuation with tanning wasn't slowing down. The Paris Hilton era segued seamlessly into the Kardashian age, which also contributed to the popularity of the bronzed look. Companies are still trying to keep up with the demand for bronzers and self-tanners. For the past 5 years or so, Estée Lauder, Lancome, Clarins, Guerlain and Givenchy have released new bronzing compacts at the start of the summer, and just this past year Hourglass and Becca released a range of new bronzing powders. Meanwhile, established products like Benefit's Hoola bronzer and St. Tropez's self-tanning line are being tweaked and expanded.
In terms of advertising bronzers and self-tanners, I think cosmetics companies do a damn good job. The products themselves certainly look tempting, but one also can't deny the sex appeal of the glowy, bronzey look of the models (not to mention that a tan makes everyone look like they lost 10 lbs). Who doesn't want to resemble a sunkissed goddess lounging about in a tropical paradise? It's largely this reason, I think, that the tan aesthetic persists. As usual, Autumn Whitefield-Madrano offers an insightful exploration of why tawny skin continues to be in vogue so rather than me rambling further I highly encourage you to read it in full. As for me, well, I've largely given up on self-tanning. It was messy, came out uneven no matter how much I exfoliated and how carefully I applied it, and still didn't look quite like the real deal. I do, however, still use bronzer once in a while (mostly as blush, but occasionally in the summer I'll dust it all over my face) and have been tinkering with temporary wash-off body bronzers. I don't consider bronzer a staple by any means - most days I fully embrace my pasty self - but the fact that I own 6 of them is proof of the long-standing allure of the tan and how effectively the products required to achieve it are marketed.
What do you think? Which of these ads are your favorite? And are you down with the tanned look or no?
Baltimore's City Paper is shutting down, but before they go I was delighted to see this article on a local artist who paints with makeup. Gloria Garrett calls herself the "mother of makeup art", which I think makes her the ultimate Makeup as Muse. By complete coincidence, she also happens to live roughly a mile away from me on the same street! Smalltimore indeed.
Garrett, a 57-year-old artist and mother of three daughters, is entirely self-taught and creates, as she says, "folk art for the folks." Garrett worked for the National Security Agency for most of her life, but was always drawing on the side - primarily black and white drawings made with pen. It wasn't until 2005, following the tragic murder of her 18-year-old nephew, that she started painting in color. From the City Paper profile: "'I said, 'God, please let me have color in my life,' she says. And then she dreamed that God said she was going to be a painter, but she's allergic to paint. Then her mother gave her some makeup, and a light went off in her head." Garrett began showcasing her work at farmer's markets for donations. She would allow people to take her pictures and pay whatever they thought was fair. Later she turned to YouTube to not only help promote her work but also highlight the work of other area artists and provide tips on marketing. She also shares videos of her travels and her experiences within the Baltimore art scene. I love this one, which shows her painting on the steps of the American Visionary Art Museum (a must-see if you're ever in town). I also love that her photographer husband shoots all of her videos. Hooray for supportive spouses!
Thematically, Garrett's works range from family life and religious scenes to still lifes and depictions of Africa.
I had my eye on one of these two paintings, as they are relatively affordable. Alas, when I wrote to her to find out what kind of cosmetics she used (looks like mostly eye shadow, foundation and lipstick to me), my email bounced back. I am so sad since I also offered to donate some very lightly used makeup and brushes I'm no longer using and asked for a mailing address where I could send a box of items. I also wanted to see whether she'd be interested in doing a commissioned piece...I was thinking if I sent her a photo of my vanity, perhaps she could make a painting of it with makeup.
Garrett has adopted a fairly loose application technique in that she often applies makeup straight from the package/tube and uses a variety of simple tools. Everything from her hands to plastic forks is fair game. In 2014 she discovered lip gloss, which she likes to add to her paintings on occasion to "give them a shine". According to City Paper, "She uses rouge, base, eyeliner, crayons—even nail polish. When she paints, she starts putting materials together around 10 p.m. and gets going by midnight. 'And I'm usually not done 'til 10 the next morning!' she shouts, smiling. 'I put my makeup in front of me, my Wite-Out, my crayons, and God works through me.' She spends hours on the backgrounds, she says, and moves to the faces last: 'I do the face. I put the Wite-Out over it, I say I don't like it, and I do it again. And again. And again!'" This process of crossing things out and repetition sounds a bit like Basquiat, no? However, the finished product, stylistically, reminds me a little of various early 20th century artists but with a folk art vibe. The flowers look a little like some of Emil Nolde's floral paintings, while the figural ones resemble Chagall or Matisse.
To sum up, I'm thrilled that one of the first artists to ever create paintings with makeup is a Baltimore native. I find Garrett's work to be absolutely charming and unique - her folk art style is very different from that of otherartists we've seen who use beauty products as their medium. And I'm so happy to see that she was able to turn to cosmetics to create the colorful art she wanted to make when faced with the challenge of being allergic to paint. Makeup saves the day! I'm just sad I can't get in touch to ask her more specific questions about her artistic process, as my emails keep bouncing back and I also can't find a mailing address to donate some items. (Garrett is on Facebook but I am not, so that route is out, and there is a phone number listed on her website but my anxiety prohibits me from attempting a call - the phone is way more intimidating for me than email).
As with Fresh's collaborations with Jo Ratcliffe and R. Nichols, this was quite a nice little surprise. The company teamed up with renowned Italian ceramic house Rometti to create limited-edition packaging for their Umbrian Clay Mask. I can't think of a more appropriate company to produce the design, as Rometti is not only based in Umbria near where the clay for Fresh is sourced, but obviously pottery-inspired limited edition packaging for a clay-based mask is perfect.
Why the clay mask to get the artistic treatment? Fresh co-founder Alina Roytberg explains, “The Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask is one of our most iconic products. The mask is truly amazing, because it can be used on all skin types without drying out the complexion. When the product first came out, we didn’t launch it in a big way, and we’re very excited to do that now and be able to share the rich history behind the ingredient.” The Umbrian Clay line was first launched in 2000 after Roytberg witnessed the amazingly clear complexion of a Rome-based friend who previously struggled with acne - the clay she found in a local store had done the trick. Roytberg tracked down the source of the clay, which is a small town in Perugia called Nocera Umbra, and from there the Umbrian Clay line was born. The clay has been used literally for centuries to treat various skin concerns and is a renewable resource that's mined ethically by Fresh. (You can read more about the production process here.)
As for the design, Rometti Artistic Director Jean Christophe Clair says that he was inspired by all of Umbria, from its natural elements ("rivers", "hills" and "sunsets" were his key words) and architecture to its status, as he puts it, "the center of the history of Italy." The soft colors Clair used reflect the region's blue skies and earthy terracotta hues of the clay.
Rometti is a 90-year old company that's known for being the first Italian ceramic house to put a more avant-garde style on their wares as opposed to traditional Italian Renaissance and Art Nouveau designs. Most of the early pieces were produced in conjunction with artists Corrado Cagli and Dante Baldelli. I wasn't familiar with either of those two names, but apparently Baldelli was a nephew of Settimio Rometti, one of the company's founders. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome where he met Cagli. Along with a host of other artists, including Futurist Giacomo Balla (love the Futurists!), they "were given complete freedom to experiment their artistry." The Fresh collab maintains this tradition of artistic freedom today, as the company gave Rometti "free reign". The design process came about easily, which is not surprising given that the mask is a product that comes directly from Rometti's everyday environment. Says Roytberg, “It was one of those incredible things where you communicate without over-communicating because the response, for [the Rometti owners], it’s natural—they live in this world, they work with clay under the sky—so it’s one of those transcendental things that just happens."
While Clair created a unique new design for Fresh, it's clear he was continuing in the footsteps of Cagli and Baldelli, which you can see below in some examples of their work. What's notable about these is the modern style given to traditional decorative themes, e.g. mythological scenes, farming, fishing, etc. - they're a far cry from, say, ancient Greek vases or majolica. I'm including just a few pieces here but if you're finding yourself head over heels in love with Rometti's work, here's a whole book to drool over.
I spy mermaids!
I love this jellyfish-topped vase.
I think Clair may have been looking at this 1936 piece when coming up with one of the designs that appeared on the Fresh packaging.
And perhaps borrowed from one of his own more recent works for the face that appears on the lid.
Some more recent Rometti collaborations that caught my eye were with surrealist artist Jean Cocteau (been eyeing this vintage compact with his work on it for over a year now but can't pull the trigger - so expensive!) and lingerie designer Chantal Thomass, both of which were overseen by Clair.
Final thoughts: I can appreciate Rometti's craftsmanship but the artwork in the Baldelli/Cagli vein just isn't my speed, so the Fresh packaging isn't my favorite. However, the design was definitely the most representative of Rometti's aesthetic and it is a historic company. And as I said earlier, if Fresh was going to choose any company to partner with to create a limited edition Umbrian Clay Mask, Rometti is absolutely perfect. It shows that some thought went into the collaboration rather than blindly choosing a random artist who probably couldn't capture the essence of Umbria, not to mention clay, as well as Rometti can.
I'm questioning this study that says the average woman will supposedly spend nearly a quarter million dollars on beauty maintenance during her lifetime. I don't think my spending will ever come close to that and I invest way more in beauty products and services than the average woman.
- Still, as pretty privilege is a very real thing, maybe it's true women funnel as much cash as the study claims into trying to look good in order to reap the rewards that being attractive brings. I'm glad this article was written because it always seemed to me that the "beautiful people" have a much easier time in life - turns out it's not my imagination.
- Unless you've been living under a rock you know that NARS (or rather its parent company Shiseido) has decided it will be sold in China, which means it loses its cruelty-free status as China mandates animal testing. It would be hypocritical of me to boycott NARS and get rid of all their products I have in the collection/my personal stash, but I will say just from a business perspective I don't think this is a wise decision. The industry is moving away from animal testing, not towards it - any cosmetics company that wants to remain competitive should be cruelty-free and/or vegan. What's almost as bad is NARS' response (or lack thereof) to the backlash.
- Oh, social media, what trends will you come up with next? The past couple weeks have given us sushi salmon hair (not sure how this is different than pink champagne or rose gold hair) and ocean hair. Meanwhile, the 100-layer craze is still making the rounds. We also have a manicure that goes nicely with the Museum's summer exhibition theme.
- Yet another item to add to the growing list of things not to insert into your lady parts. Seriously, WTF??
- I'm embarrassed to admit I still don't fully understand the concept of a podcast, but this new one sounds awesome.
- Play with your food: This pizza bikini is not a good idea for me, since I'd eat it and end up naked (although seriously, who the hell is going to pay $10k for that?!) More my speed are these adorable plushie cakes.
As soon as I saw this adorable lip balm at various blogs I ordered it immediately from Sephora. It doesn't really get any cuter than this - a sparkly pink strawberry-scented lip balm in the shape of a flamingo pool float, plus a reference to one of the greatest films of the '90s?! Yes please.
Another precious detail is the flamingo-shaped "F" in Felicia.
Our mini Babo loved it and asked if I could fill the bathtub so he could take it for a proper spin.
That seems okay, until you realize that the "Bye Felicia" meme Taste Beauty is referencing with their lip balm may actually be a form of cultural appropriation in and of itself. Let's take a look at the original clip, which, if I'm being honest, still makes me laugh. (I also love Smokey's "remember it, write it down, take a picture, I don't give a fuck!" Classic.)
Impeccably delivered, it's a funny line that wasn't even in the script (apparently Ice Cube's son came up with it)...but as it turns out, Felisha is a crackhead. To a clueless white person such as myself, I thought she was simply an annoying, mooching neighbor. For "bye Felisha" to take off as a meme, I guess there were other people who accidentally (or perhaps intentionally) overlooked that aspect of Felisha's character. Or worse, many people using the meme were totally oblivious to the original source. As this article on white people's inappropriate use of black slang notes, "What’s amazing though is that over the last year  or so, so many white people and non-black people have used [Bye Felicia] (as a sassy dismissal) without actually knowing where it’s from." Also, the spelling of Felisha's name morphed into "Felicia", I'm assuming to make it more palatable to white people. As Fayola Perry writes in XPress Magazine, "Cultural appropriation sanitizes and spreads lies about people's culture. It takes away the story of Felisha, the addict who represents and symbolizes so many black and brown women's struggle with drug addiction in that era and makes her a passing internet trend. This lack of attention to detail can perpetuate racist stereotypes. Someone may think they are paying homage to someone's culture and the person whose culture they're paying homage to is completely offended at the misrepresentation. Fear not, you can enjoy a great burrito if you are not Latino and do yoga if you're not Indian, but be thoughtful, check your privilege and be considerate of context and history. Everyone has some type of privilege, people of colour appropriate each other's cultures as well. We must all be mindful of our lens, other people's perspectives, the legacy of oppression and try our best to make sure that we are not continuing it. At the very least, know where the appropriated element came from and at the very, very least, spell her name right. It's Felisha, not Felicia."
So while I was overjoyed to see the phrase take off as a meme given how much I love Friday, turns out I should have been aware that it was a form of whitewashing, since it seems that the vast majority of people using it don't know where it originated. Or in my case, had no clue about the more serious implications of Felisha's character and her dismissal. In reading more about the history of the film and that scene in particular, I don't think anyone involved with Friday intended the phrase to be perceived as anything other than comic relief, but now I can see how it can be viewed as a microcosm of the bigger issue of black women's needs continually being ignored.
In turn, if we're arguing that the meme itself is a form of cultural appropriation, then the lip balm is as well, since it's directly referencing the meme and obviously not the original source. I mean, Felisha didn't wear makeup1, and flamingo-shaped pool floats didn't make an appearance in the film as far as I know - this lip balm really has nothing to do with Friday. A succinct reaction comes from this Twitter user: "It's time for black brands to start monetizing our shit. But we're not corny enough to slap bye Felicia on some lip balm all outta context." Blogger Aprill Colemanexplains further: "Felisha was an accurate representation of black culture in the early 90s on the heels of the crack epidemic. Taste Beauty’s use is completely out of context. Felisha is an African American, crack-addicted character that did not wear makeup, whereas Felicia is a brightly colored flamingo shaped like a pool float. A tiny part of my black American culture was appropriated, reinvented, and packaged into a strawberry scented balm for profit." Coleman also astutely points out that two of the three Taste Beauty founders are white men, so it's possible that the company, like so many others, wasn't fully aware of the phrase's origins; they just saw the meme and thought an alliterative novelty lip balm with the same name would be marketable. And if Taste Beauty did know where it came from and still wanted to go ahead with the product despite the potential for offensiveness, perhaps they could have donated a portion of the sales to Angie's Kids. This is a nonprofit founded by Angela Means, the actress who played Felisha, that focuses on health and early childhood development. (Side note: I would seriously love to get her thoughts on this. She seems okay with the phrase's popularity but I'm not sure about the lip balm.)
So where does that leave us? Well, on a personal level I feel like a jerk for buying it and also for not understanding, quite literally for the past 3 years, that the "Bye Felicia" meme was actually white people appropriating yet another piece of black culture - I honestly thought it was a widespread, '90s-nostalgia-fueled, long-overdue tribute to Ice Cube's legendary diss. As someone who sees herself as a feminist, which means being aware of the struggles of WOC, my ignorance is rather troubling.2 As for the item's inclusion in the Museum's collection, I will likely not display it unless I'm doing a more educational exhibition on cultural appropriation in cosmetics. In addition to the ads explored in my 2013 post on the topic, sadly there are tons more examplessince then that could be provided.
What do you think about all this? Have you seen Friday and if so, do you find the "bye Felisha" scene funny?
1 Interestingly, the actress who played Felisha cites the makeup artist on set as the one responsible for helping her fully inhabit Felisha's character. The somewhat haggard look was entirely intentional. She notes in an interview: "What was funny was when I got on set the makeup artist looked at me and she was like, ‘O.K.,’ and she kind of went with my look and when we got to the set (“Friday” director) F. Gary Gray looked at me and was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, wait, wait. She’s not a beauty queen.’ I give the makeup artist so much credit for helping me create Felisha...So when I got in the makeup artist’s chair, once Gary said, 'No, she’s a hoodrat,' we went back to the drawing board and I fell asleep. But when I woke up and saw myself, it clicked. It helped me go there."
2 Equally problematic is that I've been rewatching the clip and still think it's hilarious - proof that white privilege is real. I'm able to ignore the broader issue of dismissing black women and perceive "bye Felisha" as comedy. Save
I can't believe I'm just now getting around to writing about this lovely little piece from Givenchy, as I've had it in my possession since, maybe, March? But I figured it's better late than never when discussing pretty makeup items. Alas, this will be another quick post since I couldn't find much information about the inspiration behind this bronzer.
The outer case, while furnished in Givenchy's signature sleek shiny black with gold lettering, doesn't really compare to what's inside.
Behold! An explosion of beautifully embossed blooms spreads over the entire surface of the bronzer.
I also picked up the lipstick - minty green becomes quite sophisticated when rendered in leather. I don't have anything else to say except that mint green is one of my favorite colors so naturally I had to buy it.
Back to the star item: the Gypsophila bronzer borrows its pattern from ones that went down the spring/summer 2015 runway. Gypsophila, I discovered, is just a fancy name for baby's breath.
While the print is pleasing on its own, the addition of pearls sewn onto the flowers really takes it up a notch. The pattern stands out more given the raised, smooth texture of the pearls and their subtle sheen. It's these pieces that most closely resemble the pattern on the bronzer - the single pearls on some of the leaves as well as the curved rows are nearly identical to the bronzer's flowers.
I'm not sure what meaning baby's breath has for Riccardo Tisci, formerly chief designer for Givenchy, other than that it's allegedly his favorite flower. The blooms were described in the show's press release as "poisonous romantic flowers", whatever that means - are they intended to be dangerous or sweet? I guess both? Who knows...especially since baby's breath, to my knowledge, isn't poisonous at all. I also can't figure out why a print from 2 years ago by a designer that's no longer with the company is showing up now. It just shows there's really no alignment between the fashion and cosmetics sides within Givenchy.
Having said all that, this bronzer is a showstopper for sure. While I'm not including it this summer's exhibition as it didn't fit the theme so well, I will hopefully remember to add it to the checklist for next spring.