In a late entry for best (or at least most surprising) collaboration of the year, Estee Lauder-owned MAC Cosmetics has debuted its limited-edition Dame Edna Collection. Following in the sparkly, high-heeled footsteps of such previous MAC guest designers as French graffiti artist Fafi, Indian fashion designer Manish Arora, and yes, Barbie, our favorite Australian megastar Dame Edna Everage “reveals the wit of her makeup passions” in “spectacular” pods of eyeshadow, lipstick, lip gloss, powder, and nail polish in cheekily named shades such as “Varicose Violet,” “Coral Polyp,” and “Kanga Rouge.” The mauve packaging is adorned with a glittery red rendering of Dame Edna’s signature spectacles and “holographic stars.” Perfect for adding a smidge of megastar power to your New Year’s Eve festivities, possums!
Archives: December 2008
We lost all faith in Barbie when in one mid-80′s version she professed to be astronaut (in a versatile hot pink and silver space suit) and then a few years later was exclaiming, “Math class is tough!” The venerable blonde of questionable quantitative skills turns 50 in 2009, and Mattel is celebrating—and hoping to revive slumping sales—with a redesign of all that is Barbie. The Wall Street Journal‘s Nicholas Casey has the details on “the sweeping makeover,” which will include everything from “revamping the corporate structure that oversees Barbie to changing the way the doll is photographed for ads. The goal: to make Barbie fashionable again with older girls, who are dropping her for other, edgier playthings like video games.” Among the first tasks of the overhaul: reining in the sprawling, inconsistent Barbie brand.
For years after her introduction in 1959, Barbie reflected and even shaped fashion trends with her bell-bottom pants and power suits. But the Barbie empire started to lose its focus in the past decade as Mattel put the Barbie name on everything from animated cartoons to golf clubs.
That meant Mattel wasn’t relying solely on doll revenue for the brand, but it also spawned inconsistency. For example, when executives reviewed Barbie’s packaging and ads, they found five different logos. Barbie’s color, pink, also ran the gamut, with 15 different shades.
The company has settled on a single logo modeled on Barbie’s scripted signature (although all of our dolls stubbornly refused to write) and is getting behind a single pink hue: #219 on the Pantone Matching System, to which Mattel reportedly owns the rights. Meanwhile, new ads slated to debut next year will “include close-up shots of Barbie’s face and show the doll posing as a model.” And next month, Barbie-crazy China is getting a massive Barbie store. Among the merchandise planned for Shanghai shoppers? “Everything from a Barbie-themed spa to a $20,000 dress designed by Vera Wang.”
The prices of flat-screen televisions, already reasonable, are set to drop even further, so that by Christmas next year, it could cost more to hang the new gadget on the wall than to actually purchase it, opines Chicago Tribune “Tech Buzz” columnist Eric Benderoff. Right now there’s excess capacity coupled with a dour economy plus consumers looking for better bargains. The day broadcasters stick to digital signals only (February 17, in case you didn’t know already) will continue to help sell sets. Besides, the sets are as high definition as they will get. Nothing else is more new on the television set horizon. Hence, 2009 will the year to buy, buy, and buy.
It’s not so much how buff you look these days, but whether your web site crashes that determines your popularity these days. If Yuan Yuan and Tuan Tuan, a pair of Chinese Panda Bears, could talk they could tell you thing or two about their newfound celebrity. The Taipei Zoo web site foundered a day after the two creatures arrived as a gift from Chinese a week ago when visits to the site surged from 17,000 to 37,000. The web site, updated with photos of the Panda Pair, symbolizing improved relations between China and Taipei, is back up and running. Phew.
President George W. Bush is competitive when it comes to reading books. Who knew? Karl Rove apparently, according to this story. The two got into a battle of the books back on New Year’s Eve 2005. The former chief of staff told Bush that he’d gotten out of the reading habit and vowed to read a tome a week. Mere days later, Bush ambushed his pal with: “I’m on my second. Where are you?” With that the two were off to the library and book stores, not the gym, unlike many Americans who commit to resolve to lose weight for the new year. Both Bush and Rove read Doris Kearns‘ “Team of Rivals.” Now that two recommend books to each other, and even write thank-you notes to the authors, showing that their mothers trained them well in the often-forgotten craft of writing letters. As for the Bush/Rove competition? Rove defeated Bush, 110 to 95. Now isn’t that worth bragging about more than losing a few pounds?
Wall Street Journal opinions columnist Peggy Noonan figures that Americans will be doing a lot more reading in the near future, with Kindle, the rediscovery of libraries and Amazon (which actually did quite well this year, if this story’s any indication. Anyhow, the former Reagan speechwriter contends that with more Americans at home, out of work, they will be searching for answers not online but the old-fashioned way, fingering the paper pages of a hardbound book. Noonan, for one, has found novels enchanting. She’s also been delighted by <emHenry James, the Mature Master, Harold Macmillan and The Duff Cooper Diaries. Not surprisingly, the conservative has been swayed by Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire and spellbound by The Blair Years, Alastair Campbell’s recount of his years of his service with Tony Blair. We’re intrigued that book reading could become the new status symbol. Could this be the end of the drive-by appeal of TMZ.com?
To look at the Fox Oakland today, it’s hard to believe that the 1928 Oakland, Calif. theater was nearly demolished to make way for a parking lot. It’s also survived a 1990s attempt to turn it into a multiplex. Now, thanks to the ardent support of local preservationists, the East Indian style movie palace will reopen February 5. It won’t be showing movies, however; instead it will be a venue for live shows, paying homage to the likes of Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra and the Jimmy Dorsey band who appeared on stage years ago. The Fox showed first-run movies until 1962, and second-run flicks until 1973. The theater was used for other events until the city purchased the building in 1996 for $3 million. Here’s to a successful reopening of a fabulous theater, and a great piece of architecture.
In the event that your holiday celebrations have kept you from newsstands and other non-UnBeige media outlets, we thought it prudent to alert you that Barack Obama has been named Time‘s 2008 Person of the Year. And not just any Obama—Shepard Fairey‘s illustration of him, an update of the iconic campaign poster that Time managing editor Richard Stengel calls “the great populist image of the campaign.” As for Fairey’s latest cover creation, Stengel describes it as “a rich, multilayered poster that echoes but then expands on his original.” The cover is also a nod to the issue’s theme of “citizen art”—the millions of representations of Obama created by ordinary people (and then, frequently, posted to Flickr). Time mined 100,000 such Flickr images and highlights Obama-themed art that includes an Obama photo mosaic (made up of thousands of tiny portraits of those who attended a campaign rally), Obama’s head made out of Legos (Legobama?), and our favorite, artist Zilly Rosen‘s Obama comprised wholly of cupcakes (below).
Photo: Shasti O’Leary
If Faith Popcorn‘s prediction that the 1950s, 1960s even the 1970s are set to make a roaring comeback with the recession in full swing, be prepared to see a lot more bow ties and not just on the likes of Pete Wetz or Tucker Carlson. Thrifty types will eschew the pricey varieties at the department stores for the Do-It-Yourself variety. Prom-goers will make ‘em for the big day; brides for their spouses and they should be a hit in sewing classes such as these. Here is Burdastyle’s step-by-step how-to complete with a pattern template you can download and print out on your printer. What’s infinitely great about the bow tie is its simplicity. You can also make ‘em from silk or brocade scraps. Hard to believe but sewing a neck-tie is actually a lot more complicated than it looks. Vogue Patterns has one if you’re inclined to sew one.
Trader Vic’s in Chicago has reopened with rave reviews, just in time for the recession cocktails that bartenders nationwide are prepping to woo thrifty Americans out of their homes and into the bars. We personally like the idea of a Bourbon Bailout, a libation accompanied by a postcard asking patrons’ opinions on whether their retirement accounts are half-empty or half-full. Great take on a depressing topic. Back to Trader Vic’s. It had been closed after 48 years at the Palmer House Hilton three years ago. It’s now in the spot of Arnie’s restaurant. It should do well in the eyes of Chicago Tribune critic Phil Vettel: “This Trader Vic’s is a thinking man’s tiki bar.” Indeed, the tiki-decorated dining room should be a welcome respite for locals who are either stranded by winter storms now or simply cannot afford to head to Hawaii like our president-elect, who also calls the Windy City home.