All photos by me unless otherwise noted
Above photo from Jill Stuart Beauty
A couple weeks ago, I went to the launch of Jill Stuart Beauty's (site in Japanese, but graphics intensive) latest collection for spring, Angel Rocker. The eyeshadows and blush are too glittery and perfumed for my taste, but I was entranced by the ornate and extremely princess-y packaging. Most of my everyday make-up is from MAC or Nars, and their plain, black, "we are professional makeup artists and we mean business!" packaging is completely different from the shiny crystal-clear compacts and ornate, jeweled nail polish bottles I saw at the Jill Stuart Beauty launch. The brand is very popular in east Asia, but (as far as I know) available only at certain Jill Stuart stores in the US.
I can see how pulling out a crystal-like compact when you are touching your make-up in the middle of the day might give you a small lift, even if you are just quickly swiping on some lip gloss at your cubicle or patting on some powder in a flourescent-lit office washroom.
This made me wonder how important packaging is to women when they make cosmetic purchases. It was to me when I was younger and make-up seemed like a magical thing. I wanted enameled compacts that closed with a satisfying click and lipstick in gilt tubes. When Coty still sold lipstick, I bought them even though the texture was too dry for me because they came in vintage-style packaging; even the lipstick had that mid-century bullet shape. I also bought Coty loose powder because the packaging had not changed since the 1930s). I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes I'd just wave the puff in front of my face and enjoy the scent, which just smelled so vintage-y. I felt like a character in a Rosamunde Pilcher novel!
Credit: Ad Classix... the vintage ad is for sale
When I used Coty make-up as a vintage-obsessed teenager, I felt like I was playing a role. I'd swivel the lipstick out of the tube and pull it against my lips. The almost paste-like texture didn't bother me because I figured that was what women in the 1950s were accustomed to. I set my precious Coty powder box on my dresser next to my iridiscent Caboodles case and felt like I'd been transported into a more glamorous era.
I no longer pay attention to cosmetics packaging, however -- I just want make-up that doesn't irritate my skin, give me a headache with too much perfume or wear off quickly. But when I saw the Jill Stuart cosmetics and all the fans of the brand who were at the event, it made me wonder: what do those compacts and bejeweled brush handles symbolize to them? I got the feeling that most of the women were young professionals like me. Is part of the reason they chose make-up brands like Jill Stuart and Anna Sui over Mac, Smashbox and Nars because the packaging gives them a bit of escapism in the middle of a stressful day?
What do you think? Is fancy, ornate packaging a marketing trap or a way to inject some beauty (or at least prettiness) into your day? Would you be willing to spend extra for product in ornate containers? And (since I'm on this topic) what brands do you think have the most attractive packaging?