Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Round up Beauty thoughts

I have several ideas but usually they are not enough to justify a post in themselves, so I thought I would try out a round-up post and see how it goes...?

First up, those Chanel ads - how odd to have a man (ok no not "a man", I mean, Brad Pitt) fronting a women's fragrance. It has always been obvious that women could be used in adverts to sell a man's fragrance (or anything else) but it seemed clear that to sell to women we want to be enticed by a woman promising us an equal beauty to hers', if only we were to whip our credit card out for said item. But now, I guess in a classic case of post feminism, we too have the experience of being seduced for our purchase. These clips are the closest most of us will ever get to being chatted up by Brad Pitt, and I have to say I think it's a great ploy. Well worth his reputed $7M fee. It doesn't matter that what he's saying makes no sense, he is mesmerising, who is listening to him anyway?? Chanel No.5 really is legendary (in large part thanks to Marilyn Monroe's famous quip when asked what she wore to bed.) Chanel have made a video, somewhat bombastic and garish but describing its history (watch it here.) Personally I would probably still prefer Chanel's green bottle fragrance but I think it's ingenious to have the tagline "Inevitable" as there are plenty of clueless men buying their women fragrance or even women who don't know what they're supposed to like, so I am pretty sure Chanel No5 will indeed become an inevitable purchase and the campaign is bound to do amazingly well.

Seeing as I mentioned Marilyn Monroe, and seeing as MAC currently has their Marilyn Monroe collection out, I thought I would recommend a biography I just read - highly recommended if you are besotted with Marilyn Monroe as so many are. It is by Sarah Churchwell and called 'The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe.' It is very academically written and examines the various theories surrounding her. It also goes some way to explaining why Marilyn Monroe still to this day, more than half a century after her death, seems so modern and fresh and is still used as the benchmark for confident alluring females from Madonna to Gwen Stefani and various Hollywood actresses in between, who would all hope to be today's equivalent. In her day Marilyn Monroe was a subject for ridicule: her wobbly walk lent itself to comedies and the real seductive actress du jour was Liz Taylor. But when Hugh Hefner launched his career and sealed his future by buying and exposing Marilyn Monroe's nude photographs (she had posed nude whilst still a 'struggling actress') Marilyn Monroe refused to deny they were of her as her studio would have preferred, and instead admitted they were and simply absorbed the extra attention without allowing it to provoke shame. On the other hand, many feminists argue that by adopting the pre-war persona of humble, hapless and doting hourglass woman, she plunged women back into their former place. She had a very bizarre mix of naive openness and cunning wit. To take the Chanel quote above for instance, Marilyn Monroe explained that this was a way to avoid saying naked but that she didn't know why they would be asking her anyway. And the seemingly retrospective attitude of thinking of Marilyn Monroe as a tragic figure was already in place in her lifetime; every authorised biography made sure to reference her childhood in an orphanage and the studio loved her Cinderella tale. But the book is also objective enough to recount her flaws and ultimately it seems more than likely that her drug taking and overdose was all a part of her disorganised state rather than a murder or even a deliberate cry for help let alone suicide. We will never know the truth and that is one part of why her image never tires. Even her mole has become a cypher to her legend. As such, let me say that MAC'S hideous packaging really is an insult! It is good that they found a photograph not gernerally known as it does escape pastiche, but the black and red looks lazy and we all know Marilyn Monroe would never have carried that gaudy packaging around... However the colours did seem pretty accurate. Personally I hardly wear red lipstick (too ageing) so I found it an easy collection to resist. By the way, the unbelievably famous white dress (valued at £3M) from 'The Seven Year itch' film is going to be on show in London for the first time.

And finally in my roundup, do you recall the slave earrings? Well the Guardian and Telegraph  say this time it is an Aunt Jemima looking print dress and earrings at Dolce & Gabbana (spring/summer 2013 collection) causing an outcry. The irony is that if this black image was a black woman with european features, i.e small nose and subtly plump lips, this would probably have gone unremarked. I see countless dresses and earrings featuring white women or ethnic women prints - but apparently having a typical black featured woman is racist. It is very sad that showing a black face and having it modelled by a white model is taken as derogatory. If it were a black model I am not sure if it would be attacked even more, or whether in that context it might be taken as celebratory?
 images:, PHOTO: Vladimir Potop; Rex Features.

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