Fridae is proud to launch Style Overload, a new column by Shah. Get maxed out on everything fashion, beauty, and living. Meet the people, learn the tricks, get the scoop.
It is a cliche I suppose: A thing of beauty is a joy forever. And when it comes to beautiful pieces of art, well, one would tend to assume that it is probably kept in a gallery or the home of some tai tai. Fortunately in fashion, beautiful things and art are actually within the reach of the most of us. Perhaps that is the best sign of the democratic nature of fashion today. The industry has made great strides in making collectibles and yes, beautiful art accessible to the masses.
The latest notable stride has got to be the newest make up collection by M.A.C, widely appreciated as the brand of choice of celebrities and make up artists, as well as firm supporter of HIV/AIDS awareness and charities.
The uber brand collaborated with French artist Fafi on this limited edition collection. It was a marriage made in multi-hued heaven, a seemingly natural one where art does have a place in products for the masses.
As M.A.C.'s Senior Vice President / Creative Director James Gager pointed out: "The Fafi collaboration embodies our connection with the world of art, and fuses M.A.C.'s philosophy that make up should be about play, experimentation, and making the customer feel good and have fun."
And Fafi is clearly a girl who understands fun. Let me say right up, that she immediately scored points with this writer when she said that if she were a boy, she would be a very gay one. By that I am assuming cute, talented with a killer sense of style, all of which I am happy to report, she is guilty of all the above.
Speaking to her when she was in Singapore recently on a promo tour for the eponymous make up collection, it was pretty clear that even as she understands the value of commercial success, she is still a girl with wide-eyed dreams.
Fafi had her beginnings as a highly respected graffiti artist, which was no mean feat considering the art form is still largely a male dominated world and to some, an urban disaster. Her earlier work however in graffiti was incredibly feminised with images of sexually powerful girls and women that would terrify the inner queen in all of us.
She has however, moved on and her art has evolved. In fact, she was determined to establish that she no longer identified herself with the niche and narrow margined world of graffiti art. She revealed: "Traditional graffiti uses spray cans and lettering. I use brushes and I didn't want to do lettering. I didn't think you get enough expression in lettering. I wanted to produce something that looked like me and my friends. For people who see graffiti only as vandalism and on the streets, I am a sell out for sure. So, I wouldn't say I am still doing graffiti anymore, I am an artist."
Her evolution as an artist clearly has reaped rewards. Her growth and success has expanded her medium base to now include comics and digital video as well as commercial collaborations, such as the one with M.A.C.
In the world she created for M.A.C, three characters were fleshed out, representing a fun, strong, and sexy spirit. Emblazoned upon the packaging of the make up standards, they are also found on limited edition items such as bags and make up pouches.
The artwork should sit very well for the beauty collector, especially since it is incredibly representative of the world today. These specially designed characters, known as the 'Fafinettes' are individualistic and quirky, with a distinctive good girl gone bad (but still good somehow) appeal. One would be reminded of society's obsession with female celebrities that have a naughty but nice image (read Lindsay Lohan... ok well, not so nice but you get the point). In fact, product names such as 'Totally It' (a lipglass in pearlised pink) and 'Nice Vice' (a dirty purple eye shadow) seem to say it all. Full of attitude, full of celebrity trash talk.
It was visionary however that Fafi chose to represent different cultures and lifestyles in the Fafinettes. Looking at the artwork of the collection, Fafi has clearly been inspired by Asian art forms such as anime and manga. And at least one of the Fafinettes is gratifyingly, Asian.
To be sure, Fafi told me that while she was initially inspired by Asian art forms, she would not steal from another culture, preferring to represent her own French culture. A respectable quality from a true artist.
Still, one cannot be faulted to think that the Asian influence is stronger than she would like to admit. In fact, keeping in line with the artwork, even the colors and products themselves were inspired from the girls at Shibuya 109 in Tokyo. Which is clearly fine by the big guns at M.A.C who are standing by the belief that trends such Japanimation will translate well even in the American market. A true marriage of product and product design.
In the bigger picture, the Fafi collection represents the very essence stated at the top of the story. M.A.C has successful brought art to the masses. As Fafi said herself: "I travel around, and see a lot of girls. I get inspired by them. I found a link between art and M.A.C. The brand is present in every city in the world. When you do art, you want to be everywhere. With the M.A.C project, I get to do this."
Art on everyone's vanity. It is a major trend of the beauty industry to produce limited edition products with specially designed packaging tend to become collectibles. But sadly though, not every brand out there can brag about incorporating bona fide artwork into their products.
I would actually put myself out there to say that the Fafi collection is destined to achieve collectible status. By that I mean, something that one would be wise to grab while they can, if not to appreciate the art work, but also because you know they would pop up on Ebay at way higher prices. The limited numbers of the collection makes it all so delicious.
But let me help you out with some discerning buys. The Iridescent Pressed Powder is always a favorite, and it is also Fafi's personal choice. All the make up bags bearing the Fafinettes will surely be instant hits. There is one particular item for the die-hard collector however, that cannot be missed at all cost. The Fafinette figurine.
The special edition Fafinette figurine is incredibly detailed and possessing it is like having an Fafi original in your home (the equivalence of your mom having a Pucci printed dress during her hey days!). If that is not enough, the dolls come from a very respectable stock.
They are produced by Medicom toys in Japan, the same company that produces the toy that every self confessed industrial design enthusiast loves and collects: the Bearbrick. Collectible dolls, such as the limited edition M.A.C Barbie that sold out in days worldwide and are being traded for sick amounts of money online, are clearly the new art pieces of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries.
Obviously this union between art and beauty is a positive one. And if success today is measured in sales, well, I'd let Fafi have the last word.
"I like to know if it is successful but it is not my job to sell. My job is to be part of the dream. But I know it usually sells, when people work with me!"
Shah is a fifteen year veteran of the fashion, entertainment and
media industries. He happily marries fashion journalism with his work
as a Creative Director with an entertainment group based in Los