The Makeup Museum is a new exhibit, which opened September 1, at 94 Gansevoort Street, in the Meatpacking neighborhood of NYC. It features the history of cosmetics, makeup artists, industry speakers, models, ads, actual makeup displays from past eras. Its presentation is eye catching, Instagram or I Phone worthy, but it is the actual exhibit which opens your eyes. Many pieces come from The Hollywood Museum. One major backdrop exhibition at the entranceway, is the pink jungle which represents the 1950’s period. An area lit with the expression colored neon pink with tropical trees. Strike a pose and have a group or individual picture taken.
Begin your tour with a section for blondes only, brunettes only, brownettes, and red heads only. Hair and makeup are a piece of every female’s daily grooming routine, yet we are not aware of the history and how the industry evolved. Max Factor was the first company which served Hollywood, beginning in the 1920-1930’s era. Max Factor, a creative and entrepreneurial man from Russia, worked with the Russian royal family. Since he was of Russian Jewish heritage, the family helped him escape and emigrate to the US. He brought lipstick, powder, makeup brushes and cosmetic innovation. Maxwell’s great great grandson, Davis and founder of SmashBox Cosmetics, spoke at the museum, this past month. He presented the company’s history which began among the actresses in Hollywood such as; Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Greta Garbo. The pancake makeup, lipstick cases, old time mirrors, decorative compacts, lipstick cases are on display. In the 1930’s and 40’s, makeup started to move beyond theater and the movies. All women started to buy lipstick, blush and eyeshadow and it became an accepted piece of the beauty standard. There was a reputation that women before this time, wearing makeup, were “hussys” or gave the appearance of a “prostitute”. The Harmony Rooms.. dressing like rooms with neon mirrors are inspired by Max Factor, as well. As the company became the founding American cosmetics company, they set the precedence for the commercialization of makeup/cosmetics, beauty appliances and goods. One can see a heart shaped compact given to a mother from a Korean War veteran, as well as a metallic designed lip case for Greta Garbo. Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden developed their powerhouse companies, run by the women themselves. There are pictures/ads of 60’s icon, Twiggy, with a colorful flower eye makeup application. A prescription skincare routine, from Ernest Laszlo, is written out for Garbo. Current makeup artists such as; Kevyn Aucoin, are highlighted and photographers like; Steven Meisel, worked with him on campaigns with Paulina Porizkova et al.. There are photos of eyeliner winged star, Amy Winehouse. This is a trend she copied from other starlets and modernized the look with her music. For Hispanic Heritage Month, the founder of Besame Cosmetics, shows off the collection. A new book: If I Had Your Face, by Frances Cha, is a fictional book about four South Korean females who try to live up to their culture’s beauty standards of K Beauty, plastic surgery, a job as a room salon girl, prestige in cosmetics and K Pop. Memorabilia, on view, also shows the all American movie; Mary Poppins and the makeup that went into the production. The history of makeup, how it affects people and the way we feel is a core theme of the museum. Whether it was 10,000 years ago with Cleopatra and Egyptian kohl eyeliner, Japanese Kabuki girls, the 1950’s, after the war, when females wanted to be feminine and come into their own, drag queens or the 1970’s disco with glitter, there is a timeline for all to see. Come and make reservations to see this exhibit, it will bring back memories of eras gone bye and bring you up to date for your next purchase.