Friday, May 25, 2012

At the Vanity - The best of branded makeup collaborations

Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Carrots and Ranch.

Steak and Eggs.

Diet Coke and Bitters (I'm I alone in my love for this combination?).

All of these pairings beg the question, Why have just one good thing when you can have two?

And thus is the reason why makeup collaborations between brands and respective artists, movies, designers or other excite the masses and generally cause a fervor among consumers to buy, buy, buy the limited edition products produced for these short-lived promotions. It's quite a good marketing technique, really, to make all products of these collaborations seem as though they are on the cusp of being sold out so as to urge shoppers to run - not walk - to snatch up said items. After all, it's a source of pride to have gotten hands on a lipstick that was one of only 1,000 created worldwide.

The best makeup collaborations happen when two powerful brands come together, with each bringing its individual aesthetic to the table to design products that embody the essence of both brands, thereby creating a powerhouse of products that seem impossibly cool. The collaborations that tend to flop are the ones whereby two brands pair up with each other, but neither seems to be the right fit for the other. It smells like a poorly thought out money-making scheme more than an attempt to fuse creative visions. An example of a flop would be OPI's Muppets themed collection, simply because the clientele that likes OPI is probably different from the clientele that is rushing to see the Muppets movie (I don't think toddlers paint their nails). That being said, OPI has done very well with other collections, like it's decision to pair with Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and the movie Burlesque.

If there is one shining star that leads the pack, a cosmetics collaboration master, if you will, it would have to be MAC. In the past few years, MAC has paired with Dita Von Teese, Eve, Lil' Kim, Ricky Martin, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper, drag queen RuPaul, socialite Iris Apfel, socialite Daphne Guinness, graffiti artist Fafi, Barbie, fashion label Lilly Pulitzer, Disney, Hello Kitty, fashion label Alice + Olivia, fashion designer Manish Arora, now-defunct fashion label Heatherette, Wonder Woman, Miss Piggy, fashion label Liberty of London, caricature Dame Edna, fashion designer Gareth Pugh, fashion label DSquared, actress Racquel Welch, fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, plus more on imaginative, colorful collections that always contain a blend of both MAC's USP as well as the entity its collaborating with.

And some of the upcoming collections include partnering with fashion label Ruffian, singer Beth Ditto, former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld and creating a Marilyn Monroe-themed collection.

But there are other brands that have had some stellar match-ups as well, such as:

1. Lancome's fashion designer Pout-a-Porter series of lipsticks
 Lancome paired with a different designer for five years to create single, small batch limited-edition lipsticks based on colors in the chosen designer's latest runway show. Behnaz Sarafpour, Proenza Schouler, Peter Som, Thakoon and Chris Benz are all designers that paired up with the French cosmetics brand. I fell prey to the appeal of the Proenza Schouler lipstick, fittingly named Proenza Pink, which was marketed as a surfer-on-acid look. In retrospect...I'm not sure how that description lured me in, but I was smitten. The milky Pepto Bismol lip color sent out a siren call in my direction, forcing me to place a $40 order at Macy's in New York City so that when it shipped, I could be the proud owner of a lipstick that smelled wonderful, mimed the color of lipwear that I'm sure Twiggy would have worn in the sixties and which saluted a great fashion label. When, after a year's hiatus from the Pout-a-Porter line, Lancome created partnered with Chris Benz to create the most lustworthy pinky-coral lip color on this green Earth, I had to have it. Unfortunately, even though I had my name on the list for the lipstick, the Macy's Lancome clerk lost my name and I didn't end up getting one (insert sad face).

Chris Benz's Chris & Tell lipstick  

Peter Som's PS KISS

 Thakoon's Pixel Pink

 Prozena Schouler's Proenza Pink

And my own much-loved Proenza Pink lipstick

2. Urban Decay's Book of Shadows, Tim Burton's Alice in   
  Wonderland edition
Alice in Wonderland (both the cartoon and live action versions) is one of my favorite movies due to its quirky, fantastical, funny and utterly imaginative storyline. Paired with Urban Decay, a line that is known for its urban, ultra-pigmented, break-all-of-the-rules USP, this was a product that I couldn't resist. Unfortunately, neither could anyone else, as I found when I traipsed to three different Sephoras only to find that the palette was never in stock. Gah.

Seriously...look at how great this set-up looks. 
 (photo c/o

 The names themselves are selling points. 
(photo c/o

3. Nars pairing with Thakoon for a line of six nail polishes
The Nars line is about mixing a minimalist, elegant aesthetic with pigments that are almost incomparable to many other brans in terms of their intensity of color payoff. The Nars brand also incorporates risque elements, be it from the names of some of the products offered (Orgasm and Deep Throat are names of two of the most popular blushes) to the pairing of seemingly counterintuitive hues (such as the lime green and royal blue match-up in the Rated R Duo Eyeshadow compact). Thakoon, who has appeared twice on this short list (!), also prefers to create understated, elegant clothing designs, but chooses to go big and bold when it comes to the hair and makeup that he sends his models down the runway with. His past collections have featured models with sweeping red eyeshadow, baby pink Marie Antoinette-esque chalk-caked bouffants and tomato-colored lips. Thus it makes perfect sense that a fusion between these two like-minded brands would result in such marvelously bright and seriously opaque nail polishes.

Lal Mirchi, the most amazing shade of the bunch, in my opinion
(photo c/o

4. DuWop with Twilight
I've been a fan of DuWop's Venom products since the beginning of high school, when I first tried the lip-tingling cinnamon-infused product after having purchased it in a Sephora while on vacation (the store wasn't in our proximity yet, so I had to state-hop). Lip venom uses pepper and cinnamon to make the blood rush to the wearer's lips thereby creating a flush and giving a plumped-up, bee-stung effect to the pout. The brand has an entire line of venoms, from the original clear formula to one that is infused with gold glitter, another with pink glitter, a blue-tinged formula to make teeth look whiter, and now a blood-colored stain-meets-gloss that invokes a vampyric quality. Even if Twilight, or vampire mania for that matter, isn't your thing, this collaboration is still a great pairing.

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