Monthly Archives: March 2011

See me. Feel me. Retouch me.

"The skin of my upper arm is keeping it real."

Next week, I promise to stop grumping and get back to my glamour-loving, jewelry-coveting ways. There WILL be glitter. But today, I’m still feeling cranky.

Makeup Forever (a brand I like) just started running ads for their HD Foundation (a product I love) that claim to be the first ever unretouched cosmetics ads. They’re brilliant marketing, but they’re also the same old nonsense.

In one of the images, a girl holds up her camera to take a picture of herself. (You know, for the Facebook!) It’s a clever shot because it creates the illusion that the photo featured in the ad was just as spontaneous.

But what’s the message here? Our product is so amazing that it looks good on these 18 year-old models who we selected for their complete lack of pores and already flawless skin? Our product is so revolutionary that the expensive lighting, professional makeup artist, and personal styling team are just gravy?

You want to blow my mind, Makeup Forever? (I know you do.) Show us a teen with problem skin or a woman over 40 in your ads. Show us what your product can do for mere mortals.



Filed under Prettification

Wonder Blunder

So wrong it's... still wrong.

Everyone’s been talking about Wonder Woman’s new costume and I need to offer my two angry cents. (For my two cranky cents on Catwoman, click here.)

Wonder Woman’s costume has vexed a lot of talented artists. It’s iconic but it’s also completely absurd in any kind of modern context. This has proved especially problematic for live-action adaptations.

In the late 70s, it was okay for Diana Prince to run around fighting crime in a satin bathing suit since people were doing pretty much everything in totally inappropriate clothing.

Official DC Comics 2010 Redesign. Also controversial, also by Jim Lee.

Official DC Comics 2010 Redesign. Also controversial, also by Jim Lee.

But these days, we want superhero togs to be sexy, practical, and badass. Those aren’t unreasonable expectations. If Chris Nolan can make a frickin’ cape practical, then surely there’s hope for an Amazon warrior. And Wonder Woman is a warrior. That’s what makes her new costume so distressing. (She’s also one of the only female superheroes who’s stood the test of time and who didn’t get her start as a superhero spinoff– I’m looking at you Batgirl and Supergirl.)

More than a little Xena-riffic. But that's not necessarily a bad model.

I’m sure the costume’s designer, Jim Lee, did his best and I suspect he had to please a LOT of people. But the result is a mess and here’s why:

1. As many have observed, it looks cheap. Halloween Headquarters cheap. Wonder Woman’s costume should not look like it belongs hanging on the rack between “Sexy Cop” and “Sexy Firefighter.”

2. No straps. A live-action hero who plans to get her hands dirty does not belong in a strapless bustier. Cleavage is one thing. Flashing your jubblies at supervillains is quite another.

Ming Doyle's redesign is hella Hellenic.

3. It is, in no conceivable way, armor. Armor doesn’t have to mean helms and chain mail, but a superhero ensemble should look like it’s doing a job.Leather, metal, even rubber protect the wearer.

Plus, Wonder Woman is an AMAZON a breastplate would be perfectly appropriate to her backstory. (But I would have settled for a matte leather corset with some sweet hardware.)

Oh, Batsy.

4. The boots. Wonder Woman’s boots are one of the most iconic elements of her costume. And if you don’t believe me, check out this cover–>

I could totally see bringing the boot up to date in an oxblood red leather and building the coloration of the rest of the costume from there. (This might have avoided the tragic use of Hyundai blue.)

Jamie McKelvie's design may not be very "super", but it's a clear direction. Wonder Woman via Smallville.

5. No clear direction. The revamped costume doesn’t seem to represent any clear design or narrative choices. She isn’t modern. She isn’t camp. She isn’t going back to her Paradise Island roots. She isn’t doing much of anything. Even the pose in the photo is awkward.

Like many, I’ve had misgivings about David E. Kelley’s involvement in the project from moment one. The fantastic requires a bold and steady hand and I’m just not seeing that here.


And finally, on a mostly unrelated note, I want to share one of my favorite superhero redesigns ever. Below, the marvelous Annie Wu gives us the Justice League of America as a punk band (from left to right: Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, drunk Aquaman). Diana Prince isn’t in armor, but that girl looks like she will MESS YOU UP.


My heart belongs to Annie Wu.

(Many thanks to the people at Project: Rooftop for their Wonder Woman redesign competition and the many other cool things that they do. Also, to local genius Aman Chaudhary for the Wonder Woman Hiketeia cover.)


Filed under The Violet Hour

The Clock Is Ticking

I’m deep in the revisions bunker, but one must have diversions. This one was supplied by the stunning and talented Eleanor Sabaduquia, a fellow makeup artist who is also responsible for my unhealthy Game of Thrones obsession. (Okay, she got me into the books. I guess I can’t blame her for the fact that they broke something in my brain.)

The video is long and not without dull moments but there are so many lovely, mind-bending surprises. Very Gilliam-esque.


Filed under The Violet Hour

Glorious Gorey: Glimpses from the Edwardian Ball

Before I lock myself in the revisions bunker, I had to costume up for LA’s Edwardian Ball. Here are a few shots of the evening’s fun:

Wherein I startle a gentleman–>

(Headdress by designer Tonya King of QueenKing Designs)




<– Wherein even the Edwardians like to Put a Bird on It









Wherein this man’s hat is made of horns! –>



<– Wherein Vau de Vire Society presents “The Eleventh Episode” by Edward Gorey






Wherein she looks at you askance –>







<–Wherein I give you the boot


Filed under The Violet Hour

The Cruel Sting of the Lash(es)

The number one product I get asked about is mascara. But before we get into my favorites, I need to make something clear.

To the right, I’ve included an image from an ad for Maybelline Lash Stiletto mascara. There is no mascara that will give you lashes like these. This look is achieved through the use of fake lashes and A LOT of Photoshop. It’s absurd that cosmetic companies are allowed to advertise mascaras with ads like this. Don’t believe the hype.

Okay, now that we have our expectations in check, let’s get to the products that deliver!

L’Oreal Voluminous in Carbon Black: Yes, my all time favorite mascara isn’t Dior Show or Chanel Fancypants, it’s a drugstore brand. Gives you lush, glossy, gorgeous lashes and you can get it just about anywhere. (Legendary makeup artist Billy B recommended it at a show and, once I tried it, I never looked back– without batting my fantastic lashes).

But what if you really need your mascara to stay put? Most waterproof mascaras are awful. They flake, they make your lashes look and feel like plastic, and they’re a pain to remove. Imagine my joy when the amazing Kevin James Bennett introduced me to Blinc and Fiberwig (goofy name, great mascara).

Blinc comes in multiple colors, features a skinny, easy to manage mascara wand, and is cruelty free.

Fiberwig is available at Sephora, features a thicker brush, and only comes in black, but it can be layered to create a false lash effect.

They’re similar to the “tube” mascaras that cropped up a couple of years ago, but they don’t require a basecoat. This saves you time and gives you a more natural look. Cry, sweat, bob for apples– as long as you don’t rub your eyes, these mascaras will stay put and they can be removed with warm water and your ordinary facial cleanser.

We’ll save the mysteries of Latisse and false lashes for another day.


Filed under Products I Love