Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inspired By: Victorian Curio Cabinets

I've long had a habit of connecting one seemingly unrelated thing with another. Literature and makeup, for instance, are regularly forced to collide and coexist on Getting Cheeky ... with surprising success. For months now I've been turning over an idea in my mind that has only just come to fruition: the similarity of our modern makeup collections to the Victorian need to collect and categorize. I'm no historian, but years of studying 19th and early 20th century literature have provided me with a lovely acquaintance of a bygone era and its idiosyncrasies.

Victorian curio (short for curiosity) cabinets or closets often housed oddities, biological collections of insects and trinkets sourced the world over. For a literature (and history) lover, it's hard not to notice the similarity--albeit less grotesque and prying--between a curio cabinet of old and my own curiosity closet filled to the brim with polishes, glosses, powders and creams. I've selected a few themes the two kinds of collections have in common.

Resplendent metallic colors. 
Be it the shiny oil slick green of a beetle's outer shell or the beautiful glowing blue hue of a butterfly wing, metallic colors now popular in cosmetics have been no stranger to collections of the past. My nail polishes certainly reflect this quality, and quite frankly I have enough varnish to organize them as one would a collection of insects!

(Left to right): Hard Candy Beetle, L'Orèal Owl's Night, Chanel Peridot, Chanel Graphite, OPI Warm and Fozzie


Tarnished golden hues. 
Though I love neutrals, there's nothing quite so flattering and subtly alluring as tarnished golden eyeshadow. For a relatively unique color, I've accumulated quite a few varieties as one might a handful of antique gold jewelry in need of a polish.

(Clockwise from top right): Laura Mercier Black Karat, Rouge Bunny Rouge Abyssinian Cat Bird, Illamasqua Ore Pigment 


Oddities collected more for value than use.
Above all else my personal need to collect items based on their appearance or uniqueness in comparison to other items available in a large world of cosmetics seems most like the drive behind a curio cabinet of years past. Though I've attempted to put a stop to this habit, some items are simply irresistible!

(Clockwise from top left): Guerlain Terra Inca Bronzer, Tom Ford brown suede pouch, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment


As much as I'd love to entirely reduce my collection, there's something about it that I can't entirely let go of. Chief among the reasons I like to hold on to high end items is their ability to inspire when grouped together be it in an Inspired By Literature post or on my face as I apply my makeup each morning.

Though I only photographed three similarities between my collection and those of the 19th century, the list is endless and I enjoy continually discovering new comparisons that can be drawn. What patterns have you noticed in your own makeup collection? Do you find inspiration by grouping your cosmetics together thematically?