Taking flight: Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction

Japanese illustrator Hiroshi Tanabe is back in the makeup packaging game!  You might remember the lovely flower fairies he created for RMK's 15th anniversary palettes back in 2012.  Five years later Tanabe has returned to team up with Addiction, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands for their stunning artist collaborations

For Addiction's winter 2017 collection, entitled Vanilla Break, Tanabe came up with two designs:  a close-up of a woman in profile swathed in her feathery wings, and another winged woman clad in a nightgown atop a winged tiger.  I love how the minimal black and white color scheme are the reverse of one another.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

I'm obsessed with the rendering of the feathers...so crisp yet delicate.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Addiction, winter 2017

Because I'm both lazy and in a rush (what else is new?), here is a brief artist bio courtesy of British Vogue (a full one is available at the artist's website):  "Born in Kanagawa, Japan, Hiroshi Tanabe graduated from Tama Art College with a degree in Graphic Design. In 1990 he went to study at the Accademia Di Brella in Milan and focused on fine art and sculpture. He began focusing on illustration while studying in Italy. His first project was a T-shirt design for a night-club in Milan. Hiroshi's unique and vibrant illustrations mirror the graphic line work of traditional Japanese woodcuts. His illustrations have evolved into more refined and layered drawings throughout his career. Though constantly changing, his works marry old-world beauty and modernity in a way that is thoroughly fresh."   Tanabe has done a countless number of ad campaigns for the biggest names in fashion as well as a slew of top publications, including Anna Sui, Pucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Harper's Bazaar, and The New Yorker.

I was curious to see whether Tanabe had previously done anything similar to the Addiction designs, and it turns out his illustrations of feathers and women shown riding a variety of fanciful creatures don't represent a new direction for the artist.  Take, for example, the designs he created for a collaboration with Stussy in 2012 and Gap Red in 2009.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Stussy, 2012

Hiroshi Tanabe for Stussy, 2012

Hiroshi Tanabe for the Gap, 2013

Hiroshi Tanabe for Gap Red, 2009
(image from thefashionisto.com)

I thought I'd take a quick peek to see what Tanabe has been up to since the RMK collab.  Feast your eyes on these beautiful editorial illustrations for Saint Laurent and W Magazine.

Hiroshi Tanabe - YSL illustration, spring 2016

Hiroshi Tanabe - YSL illustration, 2016

This star-studded illustration combines a dress by Anthony Vaccarello, Roger Vivier shoes and bag, and starry makeup by Giamba, all taken from the fall 2015 runways. 

Hiroshi Tanabe, fall 2015

Just for fun I thought I'd include the actual items for this one, since you could say I was starstruck. (I know you love my bad word play).

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2015
(image from vogue.com)

Roger Vivier fall 2015
(images from lyst.com)

Makeup at Giamba, fall 2015
(image from thegloss.com)

But my favorite work by Tanabe in the past 5 years are his illustrations for Shiseido.  These are a fairly different style for him, in my opinion.  I'm seeing more Art Deco lines reminiscent of Shiseido's early advertising rather than the woodcut-esque, fine-line work we normally see from him.  In fact, the more I look at them the more I'm convinced they're a modern spin on Shiseido's ads from the 1920s and '30s

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2014

Aren't the colors to die for?  So vibrant but not garish or harsh - just the right amount of saturation to be pleasing to the eye rather than overwhelming it.  And you would think of a combination of hot pink, lime green and dashes of bold red, as shown in the ad below, would clash, but Tanabe's careful design keeps them in harmonious balance.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, spring 2017

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, spring 2017

Here are a few to get you into the holiday spirit.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2016

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido

Okay, these are actually from 2011...but who cares?!  They're gorgeous.  And a little '80s.

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2011

Hiroshi Tanabe for Shiseido, 2011
(images from instagram)

As for the Addiction collab, once again I have no idea how it came about or how the particular images were chosen.  I'm assuming the company approached Tanabe and they went from there, but I'd still like to know why they selected these designs for the palettes.  Given Tanabe's background in fashion and makeup advertising, I was a little surprised they didn't choose something more along the lines of the illustrations he did for, say, Clinique.  I mean, I can't say I see the connection between makeup and a winged woman riding a tiger.  Then again, it's a pretty cool image nevertheless, and the art that appears on makeup packaging doesn't have to be beauty-related in the slightest.  And that's part of the fun of artist collabs!  Initially I was also kind of hoping for something a lot more colorful along the lines of the Shiseido ads, but Addiction isn't really known for bold color.  All the collections I've seen, even the spring 2017 collection which contained many colorful pastels, feature more muted shades.  Vanilla Break in particular is about a "subtle beige-hued monotone", according to the website.  So I think it's appropriate that Tanabe kept it simple color-wise.  Plus, you wouldn't want to do the same illustration style for two different makeup brands - for the Shiseido ads, Tanabe is paying homage to the company's own early advertising.  It's so distinctly Shiseido that it simply wouldn't work for a different brand.

All in all, I was pleased with this collab.  And maybe I'll get up the courage to ask Tanabe himself what his inspiration was for the images on this collection as well as the upcoming spring 2018 Addiction collection.  ;)

What do you think?  If you're really smitten, there are two books of Tanabe's work for you to drool over.  :)


MM Musings, vol. 26: the rise of the "Instagrammable" museum

Makeup Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum. These posts help me think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning. I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done!

Instagram-food-pictures-meals-funny-ecardThe recent notion of a "made for Instagram" museum experience is a topic that is near and dear to my IG-loving heart. I've been on Instagram for about a year and half, and it's easily become my favorite social media platform.  The idea of designing restaurants, hotels, and food with Instagram in mind has officially spilled over into the museum world, so today I want to explore not how museums are using this immensely popular app (800 million users and counting), but the pros and cons of offering museum spaces and exhibitions partially based on how photogenic they are.  I also want to talk about how "Instagrammable" the Makeup Museum would be if it occupied a physical space.

There were a few articles I consulted for background information, most of which mentioned the same few museums and exhibitions that seem to be made for Instagram:  most notably, the Museum of Ice Cream, Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms, The Color Factory, the Rain Room, Refinery29's 29 Rooms, and the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery's 2015 "Wonder" exhibition. While the directors and curators behind these insist that they did not design them solely for photo-opp purposes, for many visitors it's the main takeaway.  And some museum professionals and art critics have questioned whether that's a good thing. 

First, let's look at the pros of having Instagram-friendly spaces and exhibitions.  Many agree that highly photogenic, immersive, colorful exhibitions are an excellent way to boost attendance and name recognition.  Not only do these exhibitions get more people in the door, once visitors are there they tend to wander to other parts of the museum. In an insightful article for the Washington City Paper, Kriston Capps argues that the made-for-Instagram museum has been a boon to DC's art scene:  "Locally, if there’s a concern about museums serving too many sweets and not enough vegetables, it’s that exhibits that are low on nutrition—meaning shows that lack scholarship, quietude, or the possibility of an anti-social experience—will crowd out shows of substance...quieter shows aren’t going anywhere; in fact, museum directors say that more people are seeing them than ever before, thanks to the louder stuff.  'There are incalculable benefits when a place that has long been almost invisible in Washington’s crowded museum scene suddenly is one of the hottest destinations in town,' says Elizabeth “Betsy” Broun, the longtime director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. 'Yes, it helps with funding appeals when potential supporters say ‘Wow, the Renwick!’ instead of ‘Where’s the Renwick?'  Surely those museums saw upticks in attendance from Rain Roomers who wandered into other art exhibitions. People queued up outside the building means more foot traffic through the doors—always a plus. And museum boards, donors, and members are no doubt pleased to see high-water marks for attendance...D.C. museums are betting that spectacles are a way to convert crowds into viewers." 

Secondly, even if critics don't think a particular exhibition is actually art and more of a spectacle made for photo opps, does it really matter?  People are having fun in a museum setting, which ostensibly is a good thing.  And this might lead them to think about art and museums on a more meaningful level than the pool of ice cream sprinkles they just swam in.  As former editorial fellow for the Atlantic Katherine Schwab notes, "Engaging people with art in any way possible is, for many museums, the first step in persuading them of its deeper value. And taking photos of works, however performative it may be, is a way for people to show off what’s important to them."  Adds Russell Dornan for Museum ID, "By photographing their way around a museum, visitors may engage in a deeper way than they otherwise would. Crucially, they also spread the word."

But there are detractors who believe museums shouldn't fully embrace the Instagrammable hype.  For one thing, it might have the opposite effect on art's worth, reducing it to a prop rather than enhancing its cultural and historical merit. "Nowadays, art for the sake of art is much less desirable if you can’t document it with an aesthetically pleasing photo to showoff your followers. Art is becoming more of a supporting background in our self-portraits than something of stand-alone value," warns Annie Francl in Shapeshift Magazine

Secondly, people may not even be enjoying the experience after all; instead, they're only there to one-up their Instagram buddies and keep up with the Joneses.  The Cut asked several people waiting in line for Kusama's Infinity Mirrors about why they were there.  The responses? "All my friends on Instagram have gone. It looks cool" and "I saw them all over the place on Instagram. A lot of friends have come here."  Indeed, the "worthless without pics" mantra is alive and well.  Says Shelby Lerman for Thrive Global, "[The] bigger issue here is not that these spaces are made for Instagram, as seemingly everything today is made with Instagram in mind. It’s that these spaces are created to be adult playgrounds and a huge part of that play depends on being able to prove that you’ve played. (As the saying goes, Instagram or it didn’t happen.) It is not experiencing for the sake of experience: it’s doing something specifically so you can record it and post it to your followers...Plus, these whimsical wonderlands encourage you to shake loose from your daily routine, but also rest on the idea that you’ll be grabbing your smartphone to do it. And to think that spaces are made less habitable in real life so that they work better on social media is a strange thought indeed."  If people aren't fully immersed in the exhibition experience because they feel an urgent need to document it, museum-going may seem more of a chore than anything else.  This PBS article highlights a quote from the premier membership manager at the Seattle Art Museum, who, while heartened at seeing the lines stretching around the block for Kusama's Infinity Mirrors exhibition, also "felt social media usage hindered the experience, for some users, of an exhibit designed for quiet reflection on the idea of infinity. 'Instead, people went in there and were like, ‘I only have 30 seconds to take the best picture, the coolest picture,' he said.'" The article also mentions a study at Fairfield University in Connecticut which found that museum-goers didn't remember the art when they took photos of it as well as when they were simply observing the art.  Along those lines, in the frenzy to get the perfect photo, art can even be damaged - one of Kusama's sculptures was shattered due to an overzealous selfie-taker in the Infinity Mirrors exhibition.  

Perhaps the best expression of my main concern with highly Instagrammable museums comes from Wired Magazine, which produced a short video and more in-depth article on the subject.  What benefit do people really get out of the made-for-Instagram museum?  "Maybe the question is not whether or not these spaces contain art, or even what their relationship to social media says at all, but instead: What do we get out of these spaces? Do they make us think and reflect and see the world differently? Or does the experience inside amount to the little square photo you post online?"  I know that if the Museum occupied a physical space, I certainly wouldn't want it to be just about photo opps with oversized lipsticks, fun though they are.  I want people to actually learn something about makeup and art.  And I know when I visit museums I take a few photos here and there, but not for Instagram purposes.  I take them to help me remember how special it was to experience the art first-hand - I'm far more invested in learning something and simply observing the art rather than documenting everything I saw or trying to get a selfie.  I'd probably be somewhat disappointed if I visited the Museum of Ice Cream since, to my knowledge, there's no actual attempt to provide people with the history of ice cream, facts about its consumption across the world, etc. But it seems people want to be entertained more than they want to be educated (according to the findings of this study), and no museum director wants to alienate the whopping 81% of people who expect some sort of social media tie-in to their visitor experience, so how would a physical Makeup Museum strike the perfect balance between fun and education? 

Obviously the answer lies in striving for compromise.  The Makeup Museum would definitely have its fair share of highly Instagrammable spaces.  For me, makeup is mostly about having fun and playing with color, so it would almost feel like a crime not to have some kind of crazy colorful installation, if not several, that serves as the perfect selfie backdrop.  Who wouldn't want to take a dive into a pool full of soft, spongey, brightly hued Beauty Blenders?  Or capture the perfect picturesque view atop a gigantic lipstick tower?  As the study pointed out, the vast majority of museum-goers are expecting an opportunity to show off their snaps.  The Cut article highlights several exhibition goers who had actually strategized how they were going to take photos:  "Why else would you come [if not to take photos]? We’re going to have to go through it first and then go again, so I know what I need to take pictures of."  Another remarks, "I kind of did some research of what pieces will be shown at the gallery. I brought my Insta360 camera and two iPhones to shoot as much as I can, since I heard there was a time limit for each piece. Specially the Infinity mirror room and polka-dotted environment were the perfect two pieces to do a 360."  At this level of photography planning on the part of visitors, it's important not to disappoint them. 

At the same time, however, it's equally important to make sure people who want to be educated and who maybe just want to take everything in don't get overwhelmed with crazy, over-the-top, made for Instagram exhibitions and spaces. There would be a few spaces and installations available for those who want the full Instagram documentation, or if the space the Museum occupied really didn't allow for that, I could at least offer a guide to the most Instagrammable spots in the Museum.  Smithsonian Magazine highlights how some museums have been rearranging a few of their galleries to make them more selfie-friendly.  "The Getty Museum in Los Angeles rearranged mirrors in its decorative arts gallery to make mirror selfies easier, while San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art added terraces designed as selfie spots. On its website, the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama describes its summer art series as 'Instagram gold' and offers an online slideshow of the top places in the museum to take a selfie."  But this would definitely not be the focus of the Museum, as my primary aim in founding it was for people to learn something about the history of makeup and appreciate the artistry that goes into the packaging.  Especially since, despite the hordes of visitors who are chasing the perfect shot, there are still those who want to simply experience the art and not worry about documenting it.  About her plans for visiting Infinity Mirrors, another museum-goer tells The Cut, "You’re going to miss the whole thing if you take a video! I’ll probably take one or two pics, but I’ll probably try to just take it all in, because we’re only in there for a limited amount of time. I don’t really want to take a photo, I kind of want to just chill."  This is largely my approach as a museum visitor and basically every other outing.  There's a reason you hardly ever see food photos on my IG, as I prefer to eat my food than take pictures of it.  Same with concerts and other shows - as much as I'd like to get the perfect photo, I feel as though the stress of it completely negates my enjoyment of the event.  My goal is to have the Makeup Museum be a place for both people like me as well as those who prefer spectacle over substance, a positive experience for everyone.  As professional Instagrammer (yes, it can be a job) Patrick Janelle concludes in the Smithsonian article, "Ultimately what we want are really wonderful experiences...and sure we want to be able to document them on social media, but we also crave things that are just really wonderful and special in real life.” 

What do you think?  And what would be the ultimate Instagram bait for a makeup museum?

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Golden boy: Robert Lee Morris for MAC

It's nice to see a makeup brand continue the long-standing tradition of collaborating with jewelry designers.  The most recent partnership was between MAC and Robert Lee Morris, whose name I admittedly hadn't heard of until now. 

Robert Lee Morris for MAC

Robert Lee Morris for MAC

Says Morris, “I am thrilled to be working with MAC, as I believe this partnership exhibits a true coming together of beauty, art and design...The collaboration is an exciting moment for both brands, as we are both leaders in cutting edge imagery and enhance one another. I have always been fascinated by the personal ritual we all experience while grooming and getting dressed each day; and the tools we hold should be as luxurious as possible. My pure and iconic aesthetic seamlessly translates to the shapes and forms created for MAC, and I have designed the collection with an ultra-modern focus; sleek, architectural lines and dynamic, like my jewelry.”  I'd say that's a fair description of what he came up with for MAC, particularly with the lipstick case, as it looks reminiscent of a modern skyscraper.  The compact looks simultaneously futuristic and organic, sort of like a UFO crossed with an egg.  I know that's a less-than-eloquent description, but arguably accurate. 

Robert Lee Morris for MAC

Robert Lee Morris for MAC

The shape and finish on this mirror reminds me of a smooth pebble you'd find in a serene yet opulent koi pond.

Robert Lee Morris for MAC

If you purchased the mirror, know that it swivels open - I nearly broke mine trying to open it like a regular compact. #curatingfail

Robert Lee Morris for MAC

I'd prefer not attempting to trace Morris's entire career since he is quite prolific, but here's the condensed version.  Born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1947, Morris was exposed to a variety of cultures on account of living in many different countries for his father's military career.  Entirely self-taught, after graduating from Beloit College in Wisconsin in 1969, Morris began making jewelry on an artist commune he established with some friends.  “Everyone on the farm made something different—pottery, sweaters, macramé...I decided to make jewelry.  I got a book called How to Make Jewelry by Thomas Gentile, which was easy to follow with lots of pictures.  I said to myself, I need a hammer and some wire, and I built a workshop in a tool shed.  I would listen to Led Zeppelin’s first album and worked until two or three o’clock in the morning in total ecstasy.”  Unfortunately, the farm burned down, and Morris moved to Vermont.  He didn't have to wait long to be discovered, however, as in 1971 a gallery owner who wanted to display jewelry-as-art at her space, aptly named Sculpture to Wear, asked to showcase and sell his jewelry.  By 1977 Morris had opened his own store in New York, and during the '80s became a favorite with both fashion designers (Calvin Klein, Michael Kors) and celebrities (Madonna, Jodie Foster) alike.  Among his most memorable pieces were the result of his work with Donna Karan, whose black knitwear soon seemed incomplete without one of Morris' signature gold baubles.

Robert Lee Morris for Donna Karan, ca. 1980s(image from 1stdibs.com)

I'll let Morris describe his style in his own words:  "My original idea was to create a body of work for an imaginary futuristic society that was post-apocalyptic and that the pieces would be a combination of savagery with high-tech gadgetry. Today, I'm probably in the exact same place, but I'm also thinking about what kind of jewelry people would wear who aren't from this planet. What would you wear on deck in a spaceship? What would you wear with your Mylar spacesuit? And seeing how all beauty is based on sacred geometry, I'm fascinated with taking jumbled, tribal pieces and finding the sacred geometry that's there."  Obviously I'm raising an eyebrow at the words "tribal" and "savagery", but they are apt in that Morris's earlier pieces definitely embody a romanticized notion of so-called "primitive" societies. 

"Gladiator" collar necklace by Robert Lee Morris, Vogue 1976
(image from stylewisetrendfoolish)

Robert Lee Morris with models, 1987(image from gettyimages.com)

Indeed, one news article describes his work as a "mix of ancient/primitive with Flash Gordon" and notes that Morris enjoys traveling to "exotic outposts such as Peru and Kenya, where he draws inspiration from ancient cultures".  Oy vey.  I don't think it's inspiration so much as cultural appropriation, but fortunately Morris seems to have outgrown that style.  Modern and sculptural with an organic quality to them, Morris's work nowadays seems to be more inspired by natural forms rather than appropriation of native peoples' body adornments.  These pieces in particular resemble the more futuristic/architectural items from the MAC collection (the compact, lipstick and mirror, respectively).

Ring-like-compact

Robert Lee Morris necklace

Pebble-necklace
(images from robertleemorris.com and bloomingdales.com)

I have no idea why MAC decided to join forces with Morris now, but I do know it's not his first rodeo designing makeup:  he created a refillable compact and lipstick case for Elizabeth Arden in 1992.  Called Rituals of Color, the collection reflects Morris' fascination with spiritual rituals and how beauty routines can be elevated to their own sort of ritual through beautiful packaging.  As this article shows, Morris was partially influenced by his mother's makeup routine and the importance of "presentation".

  Dec. 1992

Indeed, the Elizabeth Arden collection provides a lot more context for the MAC lineup as the concept is essentially the same, just executed differently.  "What women wear day in and day out becomes their statement of who they are, an extension of their identity.  Designing both [jewelry and cosmetics] is a very intensively intimate process," he noted in October 1992, explaining further: "'I'm a symbolist," the designer says. "'I believe packaging is very much a part of the ceremony we all go through in the morning to put ourselves together. People need to form an environment to heighten the experience of the ritual. Those who want to treat themselves better need the product and packaging to be very much a part of their beauty psyche.'" The first two pieces in the line are a lipstick case and compact, designed 'to look and feel organic, with a natural-looking shell for what's inside, like a clam or mollusk's shell.'"  Another article points out that he actually came up with the design in 1976:  "Taking two discs, I noticed they sandwiched as a clam." 

Both pieces are so fantastically '90s - as modern as they seemed back then, they look pretty dated now.  Then again, I definitely appreciate a fashion relic from my favorite decade, and I'm enjoying the luxuriousness and nod to natural elements in both pieces.  The compact does indeed look like a golden shell, while the lipstick case resembles a rather elegant bamboo twig.

Robert Lee Morris for Elizabeth Arden, 1992
(image from skinnerinc.com)

Robert Lee Morris for Elizabeth Arden, 1992
(image from ebay.com)

Robert Lee Morris for Elizabeth Arden, 1992
(image from doyle.com)

The idea of elevating a mundane task such as applying makeup through the design of the makeup itself - especially when that design is created by a jeweler - isn't new, but it's always fascinating to see what various jewelry artists come up with.  In the case of Morris, it's particularly interesting since he's done two makeup collections spaced 25 years apart, so you can really see how his style has evolved.  His approach is the same, but the pieces are quite different stylistically.  I appreciate the Elizabeth Arden collection for being so representative of early '90s style, but I also like the more futuristic vibe and burnished gold finish of the items in the MAC collection.

Which iteration of Robert Lee Morris makeup do you prefer?  And had you heard of him before now? 

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