On the comfort zone

Posted on April 24, 2015 under Thoughts

I am, generally, quite adventurous with my makeup. I’ll wear a dark purple lipstick or blue eyeshadow in public. Sometimes I’ll even wear them both at once. Hell, I own black lipstick.

In the past year or so, I have considered myself a fairly adventurous person when it comes to makeup. But lately I’ve been thinking, and even though I wear makeup that a lot of people would consider adventurous (or even too much), I still have my own comfort zone. That comfort zone just happens to include several shades of purple lipstick.

Like, there aren’t many colours I will wear on my eyes. Anything that could be reasonably classified as a neutral, check. Purple, check. Blue, check – but generally in small doses. Red, orange, yellow, green? Anything neon? No way.

I generally avoid wearing false eyelashes, because I feel overdone with them on. I hate that feeling, that people think I’m trying too hard, that I’m wearing too much makeup, that I have something to hide. And for some reason, false eyelashes make me feel like that. Wearing red lipstick to class does not make me feel like that, and it makes no sense. It’s the same damn thing! It’s indulgent, it’s unnecessary, it’s a noticeable alteration to my appearance. But, even though I think false eyelashes are fun, I just cannot abide by them for myself.

And lipstick – well. Lipstick is where I have the fewest boundaries. While I’m still tentative about adding colour to my eyes, I rarely go anywhere without a bold colour on my lips. But survey my collection and you’ll find a variety of colours – but only one orange, and one warm red (which is sheer). No peach, no coral, no beige-y nudes, no browns. I do not do warm colours on the lips, hardly ever. I’ll do them on the eyes, I’ll do them on the cheeks, but I will not do them on the lips.

And why? I look good in my orange-red. I look good in my straight-up orange. But those colours are just not in my comfort zone, and so I avoid them. How many times have I worn my orange lipstick in half a year? Maybe three. And yet it’s sitting there, alongside so many other lipsticks, and it looks just as good on me as plenty of the other colours I own, and I ignore it because it scares me a little bit.

So I guess I’m as much in my comfort zone as anyone else. Because even if it’s bigger than other people’s, it still exists. And it’s always hard to get out of your comfort zone, because even though I have that orange lipstick and I can put it on just easily as any other colour, it’s tragically underused.

One of these days, I’m either going to have to use that lipstick or give up and get rid of it. It’s sure as hell not doing me any good sitting stagnant and unused.

The Makeup and Style of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Posted on April 04, 2015 under Thoughts

When I was in London last weekend, I had the chance to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert museum (for free, thanks to Aisling‘s membership). I’d heard incredible things about the exhibition from those who had seen it at the Met in New York, and I was incredibly excited to go.

It did not disappoint. The exhibition was unbelievable – so well-curated and presented. Alexander McQueen was a visionary and his work speaks for itself, but the presentation of the exhibition was incredibly tasteful and atmospheric, lending itself to enhancing the garments without distracting from them.

No photos were allowed inside of the exhibition hall, but Aisling bought the accompanying book and I have some pictures to share from that, which I hope will help to capture the feeling and scope of the show.

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For someone who is incredibly interested in the creation of an aesthetic sense of self, I found the show absolutely inspiring. McQueen’s imagination seemingly had no limits, something that’s obvious when you wander through room after room of extravagant, wild, and ultimately beautiful clothing. I’m reminded of when my friend Ashley said that “looking at textures, patterns, and colors in runway clothing is a great source of inspiration; I like thinking about how to recreate a certain mood.” All the pieces displayed throughout the exhibition were indeed incredibly moody, and I think would lend themselves well to beauty inspiration.

Aside from the idea of translating clothing into makeup looks, there’s also the hair and makeup itself. The book is chock full of beauty inspiration, from the soft and ethereal to the almost grotesque. There’s something for everyone, makeup-wise. I often love runway makeup for the same reason I love haute couture collections: there is no constraint of “wearability”, which allows us access to some of the most unrestrained creativity and artistry on the planet.

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I love this graphic cut crease. I think it could be translated into a more wearable look!

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I love these overdrawn black lips with the center not filled in – there’s something so unexpected about the fleshy colour in the center of the harsh geometric black.

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Another very wearable look – a 60s-style modular cut crease.

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I adore the shiny blood-red lips that go far past the natural lip line. It’s so animalistic. This makeup is the definition of “savage beauty”. I love that idea that if makeup and femininity are so tied up in each other, this look is about femininity going out of bounds, refusing to adhere to expectations.

There was a piece in the book about the makeup of the Alexander McQueen runway shows, which I found fascinating. It read almost as a visual analysis that you’d find in an art history or film class, deconstructing the makeup choices, their symbolism, how they contributed to the collections they were a part of, and what these choices say about femininity.

The show was amazing in itself, but as someone who obviously has quite an interest in beauty, I found it particularly inspiring.

The show is on at the V&A Museum in London until August 2. Tickets cost £17.60 (free for V&A members) and can be booked online. If you have the chance to go, I heartily recommend it – you won’t regret it.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Focus on Beauty

Posted on March 30, 2015 under Thoughts

I was in London and Brighton this weekend to visit Aisling – and also to be a tourist, because duh. I’ve only been to London once before, in October, and there is just so much more to see there, always! (I’ll be back one day, mark my words.)

Amongst other things, we went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which is absurdly overpriced but absurdly awesome for the hardcore HP fanatics out there. (Aisling and I certainly fall into that category.)

One of my favourite parts was the hair and makeup station – it was so incredibly illuminating to see the wigs and all the products the makeup artists used!

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It’s obvious that some of the characters were very heavily kitted out with wigs and artificial facial hair (Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid, Lucius Malfoy), but there were others who I was surprised to learn were wig wearers – Molly, Arthur, and Ginny Weasley, for example. Not that I necessarily thought they were all natural gingers, but I guess I assumed they just dyed their hair for the roles!

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The sticky note on the mirror says “We ♥ Dan if he does not pick his scar off!”

It was so much fun trying to spot products and brands I recognized – I see Laura Mercier, Lancôme, MAC, and lots and lots of stage makeup brands. And falsies galore! I suppose it makes sense that false lashes would be used, but it does make me laugh to think of a witch putting on individual lashes in the middle of a wizarding war.

I think I was a bit surprised at how many “normal” and recognizable products were used here – although, in retrospect, I shouldn’t be. Although there’s a lot of costume makeup, scars, prosthetics, and weird facial features there are plenty of characters who just have the faces they were born with. I suppose it’s especially funny because you never really think about cosmetics in the wizarding world – I don’t think there was a single mention of any sort of makeup in any of the books! I can’t imagine Hermione applying blush.

You guys know I love seeing people’s makeup collections and how they organize it all, so I adored this part of the tour. It’s like peering into someone’s vanity, but on such a large (and more interesting) scale. I feel a newfound feverish desire to find out what products are used on different movie sets now!

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And because she’s my favourite, Luna’s wardrobe. God bless her soul.

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I was very enthusiastic about this!!!!

(All photos by the wonderful Aisling Brock!)