MM Mailbag, Twitter edition

I much prefer email for inquiries but am always excited to receive them in any format, so when someone Tweeted at me last year to request any information on the vintage item below I eagerly began searching.  The person who sent the Tweet thought it might be Rimmel, but the name Po-Go was not a Rimmel product as far as I could tell.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

Online searched proved fruitless - I couldn't find any reference to Po-Go rouge whatsoever...until a few months ago when I was researching lipstick tissues at newspapers.com and spotted an ad for Po-Go Rouge in the very bottom corner of an article.  I was so excited to have found something even though it was roughly a year since the poor person had originally Tweeted at me.  I found some basic information, but let me just say up front that definitively dating the various Po-Go Rouge pots I came across in ads and elsewhere proved rather difficult, if not impossible.  Still, I was able to get some clues and can narrow them down to the span of a few years.  Come with me on my research adventure!

I forget what I typed in to Google, but miraculously I came across another specimen at the Museu del Perfum.  Fortunately this item has the back label displayed.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge
(image from museudelperfum.net)

So from there I typed in all sorts of phrases, but the one that got the results I was looking for was "vintage Guy T. Gibson, inc. New York".  Via several perfume blogs I discovered that Guy T. Gibson was established in 1921 by a perfume importer, J.S. Wiedhopf.  The Vintage Perfume Vault explains:  "As a young man, Wiedhopf worked for the Alfred H. Smith Company, who were the only stateside importers of Djerkiss perfume. After he learned the business and perhaps sensing there were more lucrative opportunities, Wiedhopf struck out on his own. In 1921 he started his own business, Guy T Gibson Inc. There he began to import the exclusive Parisian brand Parfums Caron, which he sold to American customers in his New York retail shop. Soon Wiedhopf began offering perfumes under his own label, although the scents were actually being manufactured and bottled by Gamilla in France."  Wiedhopf's perfume brand was known as Ciro, and rarely came up when advertising Po-Go Rouge.  Why Wiedhopf chose a totally different name for the company and why he decided to sell imported rouge along with perfumes I don't know, but as of April 1922 he had set up shop at 565 Fifth Avenue, as shown on the Po-Go label above and this office space ad below.

Straus building ad, April 1922

The earliest mention of the product that I found was October 1923.

Oct. 1923-first-mention-pittsburgh

Here are some from 1924. 

Po-Go Rouge ads, 1924

This one is notable for being one of two ads I could find that actually mentions that Po-Go and Parfums Ciro are both imported by Guy T. Gibson, Inc.

Parfums Ciro ad, 1924

The shade name listed on the one from the perfume museum is Vif, the first mention of which I found was in 1927.  However, what leaves me scratching my head is that the packaging also seems to be different starting in 1927.  The full Paris address is listed on the perfume museum's item, which is consistent with the labels we saw in the 1924 ads, but there was no mention of the Vif shade until 1927...and you'll notice the label below has changed to simply "Paris, France".  So how did a container that is presumably dated 1924-25 hold a shade that wasn't introduced until 1927?

Po-Go Rouge, 1927

Anyway, the earliest mention of two more new shades (Saumon and Cardinal) was in February 1930.  I just had to include an ad from June 1930 as well even though the text is the same.  How cute is that girl with her little paint palette?!  I'm always looking for ads and packaging that take the "makeup as art" literally, since I think it would make a great exhibition and/or book. ;)

Po-Go Rouge ads, 1930

By March 1932 Po-Go had expanded to include lipstick. I don't know what a "Frenchy" case is but it sounds very fancy.

Po-Go Rouge ads, 1932

I suppose the reason Wiedhopf branched out into blush and lipstick in addition to perfumes was to capitalize on the already entrenched obsession with French beauty, judging from the ads.  (That would make a fantastic paper or even a whole book, no?  While I was browsing these old newspapers I stumbled across a great news article from February 1923 that talks all about how the fashionable Parisian women are wearing their blush and lipstick and how Americans are so uncouth by comparison...proof that our obsession with "French girl beauty" goes back way longer than we would assume!)

Po-Go Rouge ad, February 1933

Po-Go Rouge ad, May 1934
Now you know I was on the hunt for a Po-Go Rouge of my very own.  I've been having excellent beauty luck lately (knock wood it sticks around) and this was just another incredibly fortuitous find.  It's in pretty darn good shape too - a little wear on the outside but the product itself is totally intact and the puff is unused. 

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

Speaking of the puff...OMG.  So. Cute.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

You can see how tiny it is - our blush nowadays are supersized in comparison.

Vintage Po-Go Rouge

For this lovely addition to the Museum's collection, I was actually able to date it within a few years.  First, you'll notice that the shade name on the back is Saumon, which, as we saw previously, wasn't introduced until 1930.  Additionally, the early Po-Go packages (ca. 1923-25) had the shade listed on the side. 

Po-Go Rouge ad, 1925

Next, the label on the front has done away with the "Paris, France" and replaced it with "Parfums Ciro, Distributor, New York", while the one on the back also lists Parfums Ciro instead of Guy T. Gibson, which was what the Museu del Perfum rouge label listed.  The Vintage Perfume Vault notes that Wiedhopf officially changed his company's name from Guy T. Gibson to Parfums Ciro in 1936.  This would explain an ad from the same year which notes that Po-Go Rouge is from Ciro.

Po-Go Rouge ad, March 1936

Finally, while Parfums Ciro lasted until the mid-60s, the last mention of Po-Go Rouge I could find in newspapers was from September 1942.  So basically, the Po-Go Rouge I have must date between 1936 and 1942 or thereabouts.  I will say that the puff in the one I have looks markedly different than the one in the 1936 ad, but consistent with the one that was Tweeted and in other previous ads, so I'm not really sure what that means.  In any case, after all this I was dismayed that I couldn't give an exact date for the Po-Go Rouge that was brought to my attention via Twitter, since the biggest clues are the sides and back of the container and the top is too blurry to read.  The text does seem too long to be "Paris, France", so my best guess that it's either very early (with the original Paris address), or after 1936 with the Parfums Ciro label like the one I have, since the text for both of those extend further on each side.  Another clue is the indentation on the front, which is consistent with the one from Museu del Perfum - this may mean it's on the earlier side since the later one I have doesn't have a pronounced indentation.  The color is also a little strange, as both mine and the one from Museu del Perfum are reddish, while the one that was shared with me online is pink.  I'm not sure whether the color has faded significantly or if the container was damaged, but perhaps it was yet another hallmark of a very early version of Po-Go.  This 1929 ads highlights "the gay red box", so it wasn't pink at that point, and the ad copy also implies that there was one colored box for all shades, i.e. different shades weren't packaged in different colored boxes.  (Still love this Parisian artiste!)

Po-Go Rouge ad, 1929

So that's really the best I can do without seeing the back label or making out the print on the lid.  Alas.  While I didn't get exact answers for the request, at least I had a ton of fun poking around newspaper archives and comparing packaging, two of my favorite things!  I did reply excitedly to the the submitter on Twitter and it doesn't seem she's online very much now, but hopefully she'll see this post eventually if she goes back on social media. 

Do you agree with my assessment? 


Fall 2017 color trend

I've been having much trouble with clearly identifying color trends the past few years.  Previously there was always one shade that I kept seeing over and over again each season, but now the focus seems to be more stylistic rather than color-related, i.e., different styles of a makeup item such as eyeliner.  Having said that, I did notice there was a good amount of plum floating about in the beauty world.  As with previous color trends, this year's version presents a new twist on an old favorite.  It's not the usual vibrant purple plum, but rather a slightly warm, smoky, dusky hue - sort of a mix between mauve and burgundy with a tiny hint of taupe.  It's a bit more subdued than a true plum, which in my opinion elevates it to an incredibly chic and sophisticated update on the beloved fall hue.  It's also notable in its use on eyes and/or cheeks when a vampy plum lip usually reigns supreme this time of year.

Fall 2017 color trend

  1.  Maybelline Burgundy Bar palette
  2. RMK FFFuture Cheeks in Rose Stone
  3. Dior fall 2017 ad
  4. NARS blush in Blissful
  5. Mary Kay Eye Color Palette in Rosé Nudes
  6. Pola Muselle Rare Touch Eye Mousse
  7. La Perla fall 2017 runway makeup
  8. Rituel de Fille Ash and Ember Eye Soot in Exuviae
  9. Colured Raine Berry Cute palette
  10. Clinique Sweet As Honey palette

I have to admit I was little intimidated by this shade at first.  I'm no stranger to plum, but I tend to wear it mostly on lips and nails.  If I do go the eyeshadow route I stick to cooler hues since anything too warm/red will make me look bruised, and plain mauve and taupe by themselves generally wash me out.  I was surprised to see that the slight earthy undertones make it very wearable.

What do you think?  Will you be trying this out this shade for fall?  Oh, almost forgot to mention - if you need a highlighter to go with your sultry plum eyeshadow and blush, check out Becca Smoky Quartz, as it complements it perfectly.  :)

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Da Bears: Moschino for Sephora

It was quite the quest to get this collection into my grabby paws, but with the help of my phone's alarm and my lovely mother-in-law, I was able to nab this highly coveted collaboration between Moschino and Sephora. 

Moschino x Sephora

As soon as I laid eyes on it in July I knew I had to have it for the Museum, especially considering that one of the Museum's interns is a sweet little cubby who would be very happy to see it.

Moschino x Sephora

Moschino x Sephora

I don't think I'm getting these back from him.

Moschino x Sephora

Moschino x Sephora lip gloss set

Not only did my MIL go out of her way to get to Sephora (and early - she got there at 9:10 and there were already 2 people waiting!), she picked up the shopping bag palette for me in addition to the eye shadow palette.  And also refused to accept reimbursement for either item.  I'm a very lucky girl, yes?

Moschino x Sephora shopping bag palette

Moschino x Sephora shopping bag palette

And here we are!  The star of the collection, the most coveted and hard to get.  My MIL reported that the store only got 6 in stock.  The two women ahead of her got theirs (1 each, thankfully), my MIL got one for me, and then she said the guy behind her bought the last 3, the jerk.

Moschino x Sephora eye shadow palette

Moschino x Sephora eye shadow palette

Babo Bear insisted on doing a little more modeling.

Moschino x Sephora eye mask

Let's explore a little bit of the fashion behind the teddy bear and shopping bag motifs.  Franco Moschino (1950-1994) began his irreverent line in 1983, poking fun at the world of couture despite (or perhaps because of?) being totally immersed in it.  I'm ill-equipped to fully explain his style since I am not a fashion historian, but I found some good articles here, here and here if you're so inclined.  I was flabbergasted to learn that both the bears and bags seen on the runways the past few seasons were inspired by Moschino's original designs - I had mistakenly believed that both were new concepts dreamed up by the ever-wacky Jeremy Scott, Moschino's current creative director.  Little did I know that Moschino had a sense of humor about high fashion long before it was, well, fashionable.  Scott is doing an excellent job of carrying that torch by putting his own spin on Moschino's original aesthetic and adding some new motifs (I adore this "capsule" collection, controversial though it was), but the teddy bears and shopping bags are not actually his brainchild.  This was the famous dress and hat from Moschino's 1988 fall collection that put the bear motif on the fashion map.

Moschino teddy bear dress, 1988

Moschino teddy bear dress, 1988
(images from pinterest and betrendymyfriend.com)

The shopping bag dress had debuted a year prior.

Moschino 1987(image from pinterest)

Under Rossella Jardini, Moschino's director from the designer's untimely death in 1994 until 2013, both of these iconic pieces were resurrected for the house's 30th anniversary.

Moschino spring 2014(images from vogue.com)

Scott took over in October 2013, and wasted no time building on the teddy bear empire by releasing the Toy fragrance roughly a year after his appointment.  This was not unexpected, seeing as how before his post at Moschino, Scott had designed these teddy bear sneakers for Adidas in 2011.

Jeremy Scott Adidas sneakers
(image from sneakernews.com) 

I love the Surrealist-esque "This is not a Moschino toy" on the bear's shirt, since it's one of my favorite art movements, but also because Franco Moschino was also inspired by both Surrealism and Dada so it fits perfectly with his original vision.  I'm less crazy about the fact that you have to remove the bear's head to apply the perfume, however.  (See last year's Halloween post for similar creepy items). 

Moschino Toy perfume(images from vogue.co.uk)

Scott also continuously works in new iterations of teddy bear fashion.  I'm truly impressed by how he's able to reinvent one of Moschino's stand-out pieces while remaining true to the original designer's vision as well as his own - the iconography is similar but has been modernized to reflect contemporary culture, taking on a slightly different meaning now.  This article explains it better than I can:  "For Scott, the teddy bear motif has been a career theme of symbolic materialistic significance similar to how Jean Charles de Castelbajac famously used it, but in the context of the American designer's new era at Moschino, the teddy bear's connotations are something else.  When fangirl mania was at its height circa early-mid 90s and teen idols like Take That were climbing a never-ending fame ladder, their hordes of fans would bring teddy bears to concerts and outside hotels, throwing them at the bad as tokens of their support. With the teddy bear as their mascot, this generation of ultimate fangirls displayed the innocent, childlike obsession that lies at the root of fandom in pop culture, and portrayed the spirit of materialism and unapologetic commercial opportunism it generates. Franco Moschino created his house in a time when the foundation of this kind of excessive 90s fandom was being built - courtesy mainly of Michael Jackson and Madonna - and while his work dealt more with the consumerism of the time, brand idolisation was a huge part of Moschino's genetics."

Moschino fall 2015

Moschino fall 2016

Moschino spring 2017

Ditto for the shopping bag, incidentally.

Moschino resort 2016(images from vogue.com)

Getting back to the Sephora collection, obviously the packaging is a natural extension of the Toy fragrance.  I think Franco Moschino would be pleased not only by Scott's fashion but by the Sephora collection as well.  The packaging is slightly absurd and therefore lends a tiny bit of Dada flavor (especially so with the brush set), and I personally think the shiny gold finish is poking gentle fun at our cultural obsession with status symbols and "bling".   And since the collection was in collaboration with a higher-end makeup store, there's the trademark Moschino mix of humor and quality.  As for Scott, I think he had fun with the collection as well, noting that he "loves the power of makeup and the way it can transform your mood."  He also points out that a makeup line from a couture house allows accessibility for those who can't afford the fashion, which I'm always in favor of.   "I learned very early on how much young people love my work, and sometimes they don’t have the means to get it. This is another way for me to do Moschino and not sacrifice quality. It’s a lot more accessible. I love to be able to put my arms around more people and have them be a part of the Moschino family in some capacity."  However, the irony of this was how difficult the collection was to procure, and many people didn't get theirs.  It's a long story and I don't want to tell it, but I will say that the collection's release and sale was an example of how NOT to sell a highly anticipated collection with so little stock.  I think Sephora really screwed the pooch and I feel bad for those who couldn't get their hands on it, especially when you have unscrupulous ebayers selling the goods for over twice retail.  How's that for affordable?  I wish Sephora would do what MAC did when Selena sold out immediately:  make more for another run, and also release it worldwide (as far as I know the Moschino collection was only available in the U.S. and Canada).  It would be silly not to from a profit perspective - obviously lots of folks really wanted this collection so Sephora could stand to make even more money if they re-released it.

What do you think of the Sephora collection and Moschino?  After reading more about the history of Moschino and Scott's current creations I'm pretty enamored of the line and wouldn't mind owning a few pieces. It's kitschy, offbeat, clever but also well-made.