Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Jon Clark - The Ultimate 'Look'

Based on Patrick Suskind's famous book Perfume,  Illustrator Jon Clark shows that the links between reading and consuming the written word are closer than we may imagine.  By examining the indulgence of one mans greatest passion, his sense of smell, and the relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may carry, Clark's skin imprints insinuate that the link between the murderous intention of the central character and fashion's obsession with procuring identity through the decorated body are intertwined.  As the book goes on, smell assumes such an importance that it becomes close to the building bricks of human interaction.  Charm, innocence, courage, godliness - all of the just scents, all of them within Grenouille's reach.  It is this obsession with procuring the perfect scent that will make Grenouille fully human, thereby allowing him to consume and envelop himself in the originator of the scent, subsequently allowing Clark to mirror fashions cosmetic desire to uncover the ultimate 'look'.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Pillow Book - handwriting more important than the surface of the face

The Pillow Book is Peter Greenaway's movie (1996) which dramatize the ceremonial of calligraphy on human skin. The brush's slight caress on the body and the mystery of those signs, develop an irresistible eroticism.  The film's central character, Nagiko flees from Kyoto to Hong Kong, where eventually she finds work as a fashion model and begins to seek lovers who will fulfill her dreams. For her the appearance of a person's handwriting is more important than the surfaces of his face; she wants to be used as a book, to be written on, to be read.

Her fetish ties in with two ancient Japanese artistic practices. One is the art of tattooing, which can be much more elegant and artistic than in the west, and is used by the yakuza as a way of bonding with their criminal brothers.  It can be seen as a form of submission - to the will of the tattoo artist, to the will of the group dictating the tattoos, or simply in the willingness of a person to be used as an object.

The funniest thing I have read today.......

Sometimes, it does one good to see what other people are saying on their make up blogs....or maybe not.
"Women often think about what guys want, but what about when applying their makeup? When it comes to makeup, what women find attractive can be completely different than what men find attractive. This brings us to the topic of what men want women to know when it comes to our makeup. Luckily, the handsome men around me enlightened me to their opinion on the subject and guess what? Too much makeup is a big DON’T."

Laugh? I almost smeared my lip gloss. Almost.

Destination Uslu

While browsing 10 Corso Como in Milan this weekend, I came across the decorative cosmetics brand Uslu Airlines and their wonderful videos that support the use of a cosmetic grade airbrush system, "bringing the ease and beauty of airflow to make-up".  The micronized liquid airbrush make up is available in a variety range of shades and can be used as foundation, rouge, eyeshadow and lip colour.    But ultimately it is the unrestrained way in which the brand proposes users engage with airbrushing that will be so exciting for the future of make up that I find particularly enchanting.

Video from Hasselblads Victor Magazine - 2007

I don't CARE if you have seen this before...I LIKE it.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

First Impressions - Marked

"The marked series is an investigation into the residue left behind by jewellery, the physical presence and sensations which resonate on the skin after a piece has been removed. This project uses skin as a self-referential mechanism and demonstrates how surfaces can be gently manipulated to respond to ephemeral embellishments.  The premise behind the marked series is the ability of skin to transmute into temporary articles of jewellery, in addition to the more common role as a site for adornment."  
As seen on Klimt02

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Kim Joon

Cradle Song - Vivienne Westwood - 2009

Korean artist Kim Joon explores the human skin as an extension of canvas and tattoos as a manifestation of human desire.  Using animation photography, Joon creates three-dimensional human figures over which he meticulously grafts human, animal and artifically-created skin. These figures are then covered in bright patterns of "tattoos" made from logos of designer labels and traditional Asian imagery. His work explores the idea of the tattoo -- a major taboo in Korea -- as an expression of secret desires and hidden pain.

Cradle Song -Montblanc, 2009

Cradle Song - Ferragamo, 2009

Tiffany Parbs - Cosmetic

Tiffany Parbs work looks to broaden and augment definitions of jewellery, and to challenge and extend the medium in the public arena. Parbs is a jeweller who works in close contact with the body, her series 'Cosmetic' explores cosmetic surgery through ephemeral gently manipulated changes to the skin.

Tiffany Parbs featuring extension

Links to Parb’s work: NGV The Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award 2006, klimt02, craft victoria

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hannah Perry - Hair Artist and Future Visionary


Hannah Perry's first hair collection is unnamed at present but nevertheless is an evocative response to hair which she sees as a beautiful thing that can be styled, sculpted, coloured etc into just about anything and can change the way someone looks and feels in an instance.  Based around her research into trichophobia, the fear of hair, her observations of why others respond to hair once it has been removed from the body has been translated in a number of ways.  These images are just part of a collection of ideas, so it will be interesting to see what Hannah will do next!

The next new thing

After reviewing Michael Burton's exhaustive vision of the future, I have to post his Lecture at the Paris Nanoart Conference in 2009.  The links to cosmetic application may not be immediately apparent, but it raises questions about aesthetic preference that we will all have to consider in the near future, whether we like it or not since Nanotechnologies are already in use in the cosmetics industry. Nonetheless, nanotechnology will become the next new thing in beauty products and skincare and we need to consider the capacity of nanotech to improve cosmetic application and and its effect on design on the body in the future.

Examples of new nanotechnology applications in personal care products include: 

L’Oreal (which ranks No. 6 in nanotechnology patent holders in the U.S.) has used polymer nanocapsules to deliver active ingredients, e.g. retinol or Vitamin A, into the deeper layers of skin. In 1998 the company unveiled Plentitude Revitalift, an anti-wrinkle cream using nanoparticles.  

Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand was designed with nanoemulsion technology in 2005.

Other companies using nanotech in their skin products as of 2005 include: Mary Kay and Clinique from Lauder; Neutrogena, from Johnson & Johnson; Avon; and the Estee Lauder brand. 


In an attempt to consider the future of design development through cosmetic construction of the face and body, it is always exciting to find work at the cutting edge of science and technology. Nanotopia, is such a work, and in doing so it suggests alternative ideologies by presenting a future vision for people at the extremities of the social classes.  Michael Burton's  project references how people currently use their bodies as a last resort, to sell their hair, blood and kidneys. Nanotopia then envisions a future where the poorest utilise new possibilities of fusing nanotechnology and the body as real-estate. In reaction to this use of the body, the film also visualises the changes in bodily aesthetics within the upper classes.  Burton's vision is important in considering the future of what we desire cosmetic application to be.  Is this such a big leap from the current fashionisation of body modification such as cosmetic surgery, subdermal implants, piercing, scarification and tattooing?

Recently, in presenting the premise of Nanotopia, my observation of the reaction of others to Burton's proposition for the future has been one of shock, disbelief  and barely hidden disgust. Yet further discussions of what they deem acceptable today, aesthetically and morally, in comparison with 10-15 years ago only serves to suggest that we are more prepared for this vision of the future than we think.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Scotland's No1 Male Barbie - Snog, Marry, Avoid? - BBC Three

In the pursuit of 'natural beauty', 2 years ago the BBC devised a programme called 'Snog, Marry, Avoid', which has subsequently garnered cult viewing.  It presents itself as the world's first make under show, which sees POD - Personal Overhaul Device - transform OTT girls and boys into natural beauties. Before and after each make under, the public votes as to whether they would rather snog, marry or avoid POD's willing victims. While the 'victims' are often ridiculed for their excessive use of make up and dress sense, I think it is time such inventiveness was applauded and rewarded. Seen in this context, natural is definitely overrated.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

It's make up, but not as you know it.

Could there be a better way to promote cosmetics? No? I thought not.

Yasmina Alaoui & Marco Guerra

"Artist Yasmina Alaoui and photographer Marco Guerra love to tantalize their audience. In their life-sized photographic series "one thousand and one dreams", statuesque bodies apear frozen in time, covered from head to toe in meticulously detailed, contemporary Arabic Henna patters. Captivated by the realism and sculptural quality of each human form, the viewer becomes lost in an illusion."

Found at Opera Gallery via Acidollate

Hans Haveron - An ideas man rather than an artist

“Beauty is the moment when you raise your head” – Serge Lutens

Via Coilhouse

Friday, 14 May 2010

Keep on flashing those eyes at me

In LED Eyelashes, Soomi Park created a set of artificial eyelashes attached with LED lights. As part of her DigitalVeil project, Park tried to project Korean's obsession to big eyes, and how this fetishism is interpreted into excessive plastic surgery done on the eyes among Korean women. The Digital Veil project engages with the increasing fascination and banalization of plastic surgery not only in Korea but also in many countries around the world.

"I really thought the obsession with big eyes can be represented through media design, because both yearning for bigger eyes and projecting the look through lights can be done by distorting the representation and creating new images. The LED Eyelashes have a mercury sensor that controls the light on the face. When wearing the LED eyelashes, you look embellished as if you were wearing a piece of fashion jewelry. It was really pretty and models who wore them and viewers who watched them wanted it!"

"Media fashion design products like the Veil and the Eyelashes actually represent people's deepest inner desire in a way the desire can be externalized through design in a less serious manner. The desire of wanting to have bigger eyes and to get plastic surgery targets to deform their original figures, and in my view, people are excessively obsessed with the deformation, to a degree that can be called fetishism. My interactive media and fashion design piece does not disfigure people's appearance and is hopefully less damaging to the body, but it generates the similar effect."

Via We Make Money Not Art and Coilhouse

Hair Wars

Well I guess I should have known better, but it seems that the origin of many of the extreme styles seen on the catwalks today had precursors in the form of Hair Wars.  Competitions which began in the mid 1980's arose from traditional Africa American beauty parlours, where in a world of braids and weaves no style is considered too extreme.  Photographer David Yellen discovered Hair Wars in 1984 and toured the country, photographing stylists and their creations.  In the book Hair Wars it is evident that Yellen has captured the unconventional beauty and authenticity each stylist brings to the hair.
"I’m essentially attracted to anything that’s a unique subculture—cultural moments that are phasing out. That’s what makes humans unique and I think it’s important to preserve these things. If you take pictures, people will notice them—or at least talk about them."
David Yellen

The Hair Wars phenomena became so big it was even featured in America's Next Top Model, Cycle 7 as seen below.

Via Coilhouse