Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fashionable Beauty

The link between fashion and beauty in inextricable. Yet rarely done with as much panache as this.

This week Selfridges introduce a new collection of 32 lip colours inspired by incredible vintage Christian Dior Haute Couture gowns. Grouped into three colour families: from red to coral; pink to lilac; and beige to brown - making it easy to find your favourite. "Two different sizes of Hyaluronic sheres" promise to "plump the lips both instantly and in the long-term." Priced at £22, they are just within my threshold (any more than £20 and I'm out... but, well it is Haute Couture - I mean, Haute Couleur.)

Christian Dior Haute Couleur Voluptuous Care, definitely no.1 on my current wishlist. Check out these images! I think it represents makeup at its most perfect. 


With the backlash so ferocious, MAC and Rodarte have done the ultimate right thing. As Temptalia reports, "In response to public concern over the limited edition MAC Rodarte makeup collection, set to launch in fall 2010, MAC will donate all of its global profits from this collection to a newly created initiative to raise awareness and provide on-the-ground support to the women and girls in Juarez. MAC and Rodarte are deeply sorry that this makeup collection was so offensive to the people of Mexico and concerned global citizens."

I am relieved not to be addressed as "fans and consumers" - now it is the far more austere "global citizens". Good. What is clear from this fiasco is that MAC's PR have made a bungled job of this, and MAC and Rodarte came across very badly. If only there had been clarity from the start! In contrast to MAC's very forthright apology and commitment, Rodarte seem to emerge rather unconvincingly: “Rodarte is committed to using creativity for positive social change. As designers, we strongly feel it is our responsibility to use ideas and actions for the good of our global community and are truly sorry for the offense we have caused. We are raising our voices in support of the strong women and girls of Juarez and joining others who are working internationally to improve their lives,” said Kate and Laura Mulleavy, designers of Rodarte. (my italics)

The main thing is, buyers do hold the cards, and we make the decisions. Thanks to blogs, buyers have a clear and resounding voice. MAC have realised that with so many buyers threatening to boycott MAC altogther, this concession was a small price to pay. Hopefully the money, as implied, will be coordinated by those who really can make a difference, and not fall into the hands of corrupt officials. I would also like to think that bloggers will now encourage MAC to make this charity collection idea more than just a one-off to silence the critics. I want to think that this will be a regular new pattern. Awareness of the issues has spread far and wide, and sales will generate yet more advantages.

I am relieved to hear that the names and marketing is being changed, making the apology more wholesome. However with so many bloggers remarking on the "blood dripping" eyeshadow and "pale dead lipsticks" etc, will they really be able to wash their hands clean this easily?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

What's in a name?

 "So I'm thinking "Deep Throat", "Sex", "Orgasm", "Milf" and I'll just finish it off with this "Lube in a Tube" 

With NARS having lampooned makeup names with "Orgasm", "Super Ogamsm" and "Deep Throat", and Benefit following the trend with "Throbb", Soap and Glory's "Glow Job", Urban Decay's "Lube in a Tube", not to mention Illamasqua's litany of crude names: "Phallic" (a dark blue nail polish, so not even a logical name, at least one would hope not),"Fetish" (a blue lipstick, perhaps this is a clue??),"Welt", "Milf", "Climax"... What would it take to shock us now? Nothing short of the F bomb, or the C word, or a combination thereof, before we would flinch. But wait, here's some unchartered territory: how about tragedy and violence? Yes Ellis Faas introduced her so-called "Human colours" theory, and Illamasqua have both a "victim" and "Sadist", but apparently MAC have gone one better.

The criticism has so cut to the bone that both MAC and Rodarte have issued statements, and MAC has decided it had better give some of the profits to help.

The latest MAC collaboration takes inspiration from Mexico, and isolates Juarez as the perfect name for a "bright opal pink" nail polish. Juarez is notorious as a hotbed of drug dealing, violence and corruption.
"According to tallies at the respected Ciudad Juarez daily El Diario, June was the bloodiest month yet with 306 deaths and July could surpass that total, with more than 130 deaths over the past 13 days." In addition to its drug wars, there have been hundreds - possibly thousands of murders, young women working in the local factories, killed for sport. This video gives some inkling of the entrenched violence that pervades the area.

Rodarte, the fashion label owned by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, have used the town as inspriration for their clothes.
"Before their show, the sisters explained that a long drive from El Paso to Marfa, Texas, got them thinking they might like to explore their Mexican roots. From there, they became interested in the troubled border town of Ciudad Juárez; the hazy, dreamlike quality of the landscape there; and the maquiladora workers going to the factory in the middle of the night. And that, according to the designers, who certainly know how to romance a pitch, led to this conclusion: They'd build a collection off the idea of sleepwalking."

You know what? The beauty blogging world have had the knee-jerk reaction of condemning the use of an impoverished and traumatised town, exploited for a fashion line - or worse, a makeup line! - but I have to tentatively disagree. Looking at the collection, it is clear that the sisters have genuinely absorbed the atmosphere and distilled the misery and beauty of the area. They transcend the stereotype of Juarez and come out with a haunted, stifled beauty. In an age where we are hardened to news articles reporting death (in fact just yesterday in Juarez drug hitmen killed 17 at a party), not to mention troops being killed in Afghanistan; suicide bombs; crazed gunmen - these reports and the language become hackneyed. Until the context is misappropriated, then, suddenly, our senses come alive.

Perhaps MAC and Rodarte were oblivious to the outrage they stirred. Perhaps MAC thought Viva Glam gave them carte blanche. But I think both deliberately set out to achieve a social commentary, they just misjudged their audience. In fashion, where Alexander McQueen and countless others already paved the way for fashion to be allowed to reference tragedy and death and any issue which inspires, makeup is not afforded the same lenience. It appears makeup is not allowed to be as complex as fashion: makeup is its poor, simple sister, merely there to be pretty or flatly artistic. I refute this, and moreover I welcome makeup houses to step away from the tired sexual double-entendres.

Of course both Rodarte and MAC are businesses, and there is an undeniable edge of exploitation. This would have been eliminated if at the outset the collection had been introduced as a charitable project. It appears neither realised that they had to justify their inspiration. But the fact still remains, that we are all now aware of this sorrowful town.

The collection itself looks wonderful for pale skins, and I also think the ghostly and sad promo image is fitting. Juarez is not the only part of Mexico that Rodarte could have found when searching for their heritage, but that place affected them and they used their artistic senses to translate the emotion. Pretty pictures are all very well, but sometimes it is only by searching into the abyss that you can find depth of beauty.

I applaud MAC for forcing us "consumers" to realise there is a whole world beyond that lipgloss. Life would be great if every makeup brand took on a current global issue, named its products after it, and gave a portion to charity. And to those who compare this to calling a lipstick after a concentration camp, that is hugely offensive. Firstly for the scale: there is no comparison; but fundamentally, because this issue is a live one, that can be helped via campaigns and raising awareness. I will be buying from the collection because it looks pretty, and because some of it goes to charity, and because it has made me THINK.


20/07/10 ///STOP PRESS/// UPDATE:

MAC and Rodarte released a further statement. See Temptalia for details. I must say I find it patronising to be repeatedly addressed as "consumers and fans", as if MAC is a cult or tribe...? Evidently MAC assumed that their name was synonymous with equality and charity, so much so that they didn't remotely forsee the backlash. It must have been sobering for MAC to be greeted with people declaring they would NOT be purchasing! The PR statements have unfortunately given credence to the fear that this was an insensitive error, and not that it is us consumers who misunderstood them... I do like to think that this is PR damage limitation, doing what they have judged that we want to hear - and that in fact we did misunderstand them, afterall. It will be shrouded in mystery now, anyway.

The decision to give a bulk sum ($100,000) is either brave or stingy, depending on who you ask. I think, again, it is damage limitation - to throw out an impressive round number like that, and not alienate those who swore they would boycott the collection. In any event, this makes the collection a charity one to some degree, and that is a good result.

However, if none of the names make it, surely the charity link becomes ostracised? What has been shown is undeniable: unfortunately, tragic events can colonise the evocation of a place or time, and some things should be treated with dignity. Calling a mint polish by that name - really was offensive to many. Time will tell whether the whole collection takes on a different tone. Because if they keep that misery-drenched image of a model haunted by a ghost, well, people will remember the outrage afresh. For the sake of a clean sheet now that MAC and Rodarte have made a big show of bowing to popular demand, they ought to re-evaluate the whole concept of a deathly pale, gaunt, black eyed woman enticing us to buy a pale lipstick....

(Lucky MAC come up with collections nineteen to the dozen, soon this will all be forgotten.)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Fun v Boring

Here are the long awaited promo images for Burberry makeup, as shot by celebrated photographer Mario Testino.

I do own a Burberry trench (inherited from my grandmother in fact) and love wearing it, but would never wear a Burberry cap or scarf, as it's, well, how do I say "chavvy" delicately...? And the packaging has now disappointed me. At first I expected luxury trench coat, but the check overload and engraved lipstick just seems more like Burberry cap than Burberry trench. And the makeup looks themselves - are just so uninspiring. It also looks as if, even with the androdgynous model, it's aimed at a specific type of woman... white, blue-eyed and reticent.

On the other hand, the opposite extreme, does a grown woman want to pull out this compact from her handbag?

MAC's Disney Venemous Villains Collection features four Disney characters: Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), The Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), and Dr. Facilier aka Shadow Man (Princess and the Frog), and the range will consist of lipstick, powder, lip gloss and blush shades ranging in price from $12 to $29.50.

U.S. – 30 September 2010
International - October 2010

“Come on — aren’t the nastier ones more fun?”, “It’s great to be sweet and kind, of course, but everybody wants to take a bite of forbidden fruit from time to time.” says James Gager, creative director for MAC Cosmetics

“In beauty, women look for fantasy and transformation,” , “When you go to a makeup counter, you want to express an attitude — what we’re finding is the Disney characters are great mediums to tell those stories. I think it’s a little unexpected when people see Disney playing in adult beauty, but as adults, we relate to the classic stories on new levels.” said Johanna Mooney, beauty director for Disney Consumer Products.

**All pics and info sourced from the ever reliable WWD.

I hate to admit it, but MAC's fun, albeit childish, packaging and attitude has won me over. I am trying to convince myself it's "artistic" packaging, not immature at all... //EDIT// Now going off it...I'm not sure if it's a sticker or printed, some hunting online has found this as yet unconfirmed preview:

In any case, judging from Temptalia's post round up, it looks like MAC have faith in numbers. It's a huge collection, and promises variety.

OH and PS. For everyone wondering why the hell MAC chose these characters and not others, etc etc, I used to work in character licensing a million years ago, and it's all got to be bid for and essentially Disney are the ones who dictate these things. They have characters to plug I guess...

Which type do you fall into? Burberry safe or MAC Villain bold?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Making up for the hot weather...

How do people who live in hot climates ever become makeup addicts???

I have found that since the London heatwave, I've hardly touched most of my makeup... The thought of putting on makeup in the heat is just SO unappealing. I have had to wrench myself away from my beloved Estée Lauder Double Wear and switch to its less audacious cousin, Double Wear Light. As for eye makeup, if I do go to the effort, it just looks very heavy and ageing and superfluous at best. Cheeks have to be kept light or it looks cakey and ageing too. Lips seem the only way to exercise your makeup stash at all!

Summer makeup is something I have not perfected. Holiday makeup is very different to being in the UK in a heatwave. Holiday makeup is of course all about glossy skin, bronzer, lipgloss and fun. Being on the tube during a heatwave is not equivalent and therefore cannot be levelled with the same makeup rules.

This is my current routine, I would be grateful if anyone has found a good hot weather makeup solution? - Post your regime or ideas below if you think you have the answer...

Estée Lauder Double Wear Light SPF 10
(will be doing a review on this once I test it more) - So far, this is a good foundation, but it cannot compete with original DW in terms of shine control, nor obviously coverage.

I top it off with Clinique Almost Powder Makeup SPF 15 which helps on both those counts.

Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Bronzing Gel

This has actually become a staple of mine. I would never have picked it up, but once tried: instant brilliance. If you haven't got time to self tan but you want to look like you caught the sun, this mimics that effect. Added bonus: it makes any blusher or bronzer you add on top, stay there for hours longer.

MAC Hipness (To the Beach L.E Collection)

I am loath to admit this, but the blusher I scorned as being basically irrelevant - given Marine Life's hallowed presence - has actually become the one I reach for daily. Marine Life has the NARS syndrome: clown face is all too readily achieved unless you exert the utmost vigilance. I love the way Hipness is a reddish deep coral, it works so well with any bronzer to create a very summery face. It should definitely be in their permanent line, as it's so much better than Springsheen, Fleur Power and any of their other peachy main line of blushers.

Terracotta Limited Edition Light Bronzing Powder (Shade No.1 Blondes Hâlées)

This is a limited edition 2010 version of their beloved Blondes 01. It's less golden and more reddish pink, almost, so looks like a natural fresh suntan. Also gives a superb glow. Very worthwhile recent purchase! Craving the Kabuki brush now....

Considering buying a backup but at £32.50 I should probably hope one compact suffices. I adore this and highly recommend it as a perfect treat. Previously I'd been using MAC Springshine ombre (LE) but it was too dark and 'rusty' looking. A flattering bronzer is hard to find! FYI if you prefer to be more economical, the closest dupe to the Guerlain is Too Faced Sun Bunny.

After lining my lips (GOSH velvet touch is a good choice) I choose a shiny gloss. My favourites are all LE but solace can be found via the new Estée Lauder Pure Colour lipgloss in Twilight Petal

  a pale amber pink which is very shiny and not too sticky. Lasts really well and looks great in sunlight!

For eyes, as eyeshadow looks so overbearing when all about you are sporting no makeup at all, I have simply been using MAC Soft Ochre paint pot to even out my lid, and lining with MAC Blacktrack fluidline, a bold, flat black. I prefer Blitz and Glitz fluidline but in summer, Blacktrack really is the best. Using my new favourite Louise Young brush (think it's LY23 but no number on the brush). And as always, the HG Lancome Hypnose mascara.

Et voilà! A frustratingly humble makeup face, but all I can manage these days, and the only things that have proven they will not let me down, as I strive to battle against the odds to look cool as a cucumber. 

And although I prefer a bath, a shower is the order of the day in Summer time. No self respecting hippie is without their Dr Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap. I have been loving the Organic Peppermint.

Only a tiny amount is needed for a thorough foaming cleanse, very invigorating. However if you've been sunbathing, a wonderful solution is the moisturising Herbal aloe shower gel by Herbalife. This was sent to me and I have been using it all summer, it's a godsend for scorched limbs!

Hope you are enjoying the summer. I need to get a holiday sorted ASAP.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Love this (non makeup)

OMG Everyone is posting this on their facebooks apparently so I'll just post it here, I really like this guy think he has talent....

Half Tom Waits half cookie monster but it works.

Sorry for the off-topic post but think he is really good..............................


Thursday, 1 July 2010

Selling your swag

BritishBeautyBlogger has lombasted the elephant in the room: How do we feel about our favourite bloggers and YouTube hosts appealing to us to buy their unwanted makeup? And how do the PRs feel about the free swag being turned into gold (well, ok, £4.26 before ebay fees.)

I think one of the reasons the post has received so many responses is, I would hazard a guess, that some people there protest too much...???

I stopped following a lovely person because the only posts were sales. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but (a) By the time I saw them, a milion had people had already claimed it, and (b) It was boring. However, fundamentally, the price was right, and I saw nothing ethically wrong with it - even if I could never be sure if it was bought or given originally. I do however think it is stupid to sell something marked sample, and let alone pre release; and I definitely think it's rude to your readers to sell something that they know you got for free. (And often recommended they go out and buy!) I also think it undermines the camaraderie of blogging to sell LE items at an inflated price - that's what ebay is for, if you must.

It is easy to see the attraction of selling on a blog - directly to beauty enthusiasts who might otherwise not happen to search for it on ebay, plus you get to avoid the heavy ebay fees. From a buyer's point of view, ideally I would see it as a chance to let someone (a virtual friend) try your product for a bargain. If it is for charity, all the better. However the post was geared toward the pure pursuit of making a quick buck.

In my opinion, beauty blogging in particular, is crowded out with rubbishly written, misspelled and fake bloggers. People who in real life would possibly shun you, let you into their world, and you relish the chance, although it's hollow. Many readers don't mind if a review is poorly structured and riddled with spelling and grammer mistakes... perhaps it even makes it more appealing, as it's not too lofty... Personally, I don't enjoy those. If PRs are simply going in for the "numbers game" without considering whether the blogger has integrity, then it really shouldn't shock anyone if occasionally they do see their samples surface on blog sales and ebay. Indeed I would imagine that PRs are used to their samples being sold off by even the most prestigious publications. I reckon the greatest ire comes from the fact that BLOGS ARE NOT MAGAZINES. No, blogs are NOT replacing magazines, they are eternally associated with a friendly fellow beauty addict, who isn't hawking their wares. Who is trustworthy and dependable and not vulnerable to corruption, because afterall, it's just a harmless hobby. However hard the lines get blurred, the fact that blogs have a homely immediacy means they have to walk the line. With a magazine, I think a poorly paid intern can be forgiven for selling off a LE Guerlain compact; but with a blogger who voluntarily set up a blog, ostensibly to showcase their love for beauty products - well in that scenario, selling a LE Guerlain compact that they were lucky to get as a sample - it's unforgiveable. 

I have often mentioned in passing how annoying it is for me to see makeup sales that are either selling at a premium or selling former proclaimed "must-haves"; but I never thought it was worthy of its own post. PRs must know it goes with the territory, and as for bloggers privileged enough to get freebies, if they can't act honourably one can only hope that they are known to the PRs who can then decide whther to deal with them again. PRs are not auditioning for Judgment Day, so I would not be surprised if, let's say, they found a key player in the blog world, who gave them tons of exposure but then sneaked off to ebay with their loot, continued to be indulged. It was a post worth doing for BritishBeautyBlogger, if only to put the scare into unscrupulous and insulting behaviour on the part of whoever it was... let's hope it works... But on the other hand, this knowing (and cliquey, as it implies a select few knowing) whispered witch hunt merely puts everyone on edge: who is the rotten apple in our midst?

I am not sure it is bad to sell your surplus makeup, but discretion is essential. If it says sample, perhaps best leave it as a gift; if it hasn't launched yet, perhaps wait. But once it's given to you, yes it is yours, so I don't think it's quite sinful to sell... just best not to, if only for your own conscience. 


PS. I have a load of Make Up For Ever lipglosses I bought way too many backups, I really want to sell them but have never had a blog sale and feel queasy even considering it. How do you feel about blog sales? I am interested to know, how do blog readers feel about blog sales???