i say that phrase all the time, but it's the first time i feel the need to apologise for my tardiness here on my blog, because the fact is that i'm about to discuss something that's already been discussed and review things that are already somewhat hard to find... i am truly sorry. you can't see my lack of sarcasm, but i assure you, it's there.
|you still love me, right?|
bourdin's photography is graphic in every sense- he uses stark imagery and bold colour, but often the scenes presented are violent and shocking, in contrast with the haute couture beauty of his subjects. this propensity towards violence, particularly violence towards women- the objects of his lens/ eye- makes him controversial as an inspiration and as an artist. some would argue that bourdin wasn't an artist at all, since the commodification of women's bodies in order to sell fashion [or cosmetics] is usually perceived as a crass commercial venture rather than something artistic. there are fashion photographers whose work is seen as having artistic merit [including bourdin's contemporary, helmut newton], but that merit is often spoken as if an asterisk is appended to it- it's not really art. and those whose work is generally considered as at least being "art-influenced" aren't nearly so difficult to confront as bourdin.
|bourdin for vogue magazine|
the extent to which bourdin's personal life bled into his work [yes, i chose that phrase carefully] is unknown and it's unknown because the man himself chose to remain largely unknown [unknowable?]. there are stories of his mistreatment of women with whom he worked, but likewise tales of successful working relationships, like the one he had with the editor of french vogue for many years.
stylistically, he is clearly influenced by the work of man ray, another iconic photographer whose images tended to present women as fetish objects, parts without a whole, as decorative. the added elements of violence and alienation definitely give a more chilling air and bourdin's work is highly dependent on clear, saturated colour, whereas man ray worked in black and white, but you can see the parallels between the two photographers.
|bourdin for vogue|
in the interests of having money left to buy presents for people who aren't me, i limited myself to a few select products. limiting myself still meant taking advantage of the sephora 20% off sale and a couple of other deals to get the two limited edition blushes and two of the five limited edition lipsticks that came out with the collection. the blushes are in the standard nars formula, but the colours are unique to this collection. the lipsticks, however, are in a new formula, dubbed "cinematic", different than any of those normally offered by nars.
i'm not going to add anything to the literature on nars blushes. they are considered the industry standard for a reason and the two limited edition shades, "coeur battant" and "day dream", live up to every bit of the hype.
"coeur battant" is the more striking of the two, a stark, cool, eye-popping magenta pink that certainly recalls the bold slashes of colour from bourdin's photography. it's always a bright colour, but it can be built up or sheered out according to your needs. i have absolutely no problem achieving a comfortable level on my skin, which is paler than average. the intensity of the pigment means it's going to be a bright, cheerful colour on every skin tone, from palest to deepest. i do think that the cool tones in it are going to make it more friendly on those who have a neutral to cool undertone. i just don't think that "coeur battant" is going to be able to connect with predominantly gold, amber or tawny pigmentation. but if you love the shade, you might want to give it a try anyway. it's that nice.
there are other magenta blushes available, but it's hard to beat the quality of this one. it was most similar to the limited edition mac shade "her blooming cheek", which has more shimmer and is neither as bright nor as blue. "her blooming cheek" is a fine blush, so it really says something that "coeur battant" outperforms it to such an extent.
|l to r :: coeur battant, mac her blooming cheek [l.e.]|
|l to r :: mac ripe peach [l.e.], day dream, nars deep throat|
for the lips, the new "cinematic" lipsticks from nars offer an opaque, creamy finish that has more sheen than the traditional satin lipsticks nars offers. i picked up two shades and the formula on both is very consistent. it's very lightweight, but still emollient. it applies creamy and shiny, but the shine fades relative quickly, leaving an even stain in its wake. like a lot of creamier formulas, i felt like the wear time was less than drier formulas, although the stain is fairly persistent. i like the cinematic lipsticks, but i'm also a huge fan of nars regular formulas and i'd classify this one as "different" rather than "superior".
of the two shades purchased, my favourite is "goodbye emmanuelle", a fairly bright, cool pink that i naturally think of [not just because of the name] as "porn star pink". it's eerily unnatural and undeniably eye catching. for a shade that isn't shockingly bright or dark, it is likely to stand out on virtually any complexion, which makes it a nice alternative for people who want something that has an effect, but who don't want a lip shade that broadcasts its presence.
|l to r :: goodbye emmanuelle, mac sweetie, mac milan mode|
|l to r :: last tango, nars bilbao, chanel caractere|
there are also nail polishes and a wide selection of gift sets available, many with special packaging, including an adorable carry case shaped like a bright red pair of lips.
i feel like this is one collection where i can really see the links between the products and the inspiration without feeling like the association is forced [as i did with last year's andy warhol collection]. the contrasts of colour and flesh are there, the everyday juxtaposed with the exotic. as always with nars, the names hint at the salacious and shocking where the colours can't and give glimpses of the cultural reference points that were used in their creation. no company can compete with nars in terms of building a narrative for a beauty collection, which is what makes the company so perfect for artistic collaborations, rather than ones with hit films or pop stars.
|bourdin studio photo|
for my part, i'm not going to deny that i'm attracted to a lot of bourdin's photographs, in part because i find them troubling. unlike a lot of advertising that i think is purely exploitative of women and the power of sexuality, i do see something deeper, more sinister and more haunting with bourdin. for my part, the collection has made me think about where i draw the boundaries between art, pornography and violence, which is a pretty remarkable thing when you consider it's makeup, normally something dismissed as inherently frivolous [although never by me].
if you are offended by bourdin's work, or by the type of person he was, then by all means skip this collection and let your thoughts be known. however, if you want to indulge, i suggest that you avail yourselves of the products, which are top-quality and also avail yourselves of the opportunity to think about the controversy around the collection and the artist who inspired it.
here is a well-written article from the new yorker about bourdin and of course you can check out his official web site. i have to caution that while i normally recommend wikipedia as a good starting point for investigations, the page on bourdin is embarrassingly bad- devoid of meaningful information, poorly written and fairly biased against its subject.
and finally, here's a look at a couple of the products i purchased in action.
the base ::
marcelle beauty balm "light/ medium"
nars eyeshadow primer
urban decay naked foundation "1.0"
dior firming concealer "010"
nars light reflecting setting powder
the eyes ::
marc jacobs e/s palette "the mod" [pearly white, shimmery soft grey, black with silver sparkle]
illamasqua precision gel liner [black]
hourglass film noir mascara
the cheeks ::
nars blush "day dream" [soft peach-pink]*
the lips ::
nars l/s "goodbye, emmanuelle" [creamy blue-pink]*
photos by guy bourdin were copied from his web site, linked above.
the link to nars web boutique is provided for convenience. i do not have any affiliation with nars and am not compensated for any purchases. some of the products reviewed here are sold out in stores, but you can still find many of them at nars counters and at sephora.