Bonnie Bells Lip Smackers were my first and foremost introduction to beauty when I was in the sixth grade. Watermelon was my first and favorite flavor, and then came a second version, The Untouchables, which I dubbed my holiday gift set. I wanted them to be perfect and perfect. So, in this way, they remained.
My box of Untouchables has remained unblemished, although its contents have been reduced to just three collections that have stood up to the test of time: Urban Decay's tribute to Pulp Fiction, Nars' tribute to Andy Warhol and his Factory, and MAC's whimsical and visual riff on The Simpsons, complete with Marg Simpson blue Lipglass, a nod to her 10-foot-tall bouffant hairdo.
These beauty collections push the boundaries of makeup more towards artistic intentionality. They are smart, funny, and extremely sophisticated; tangible pieces of personality combined with sentimentality and nostalgia. And theyre rich in my memories for what they represented, where I was when they were launched, and the iconic moments they honored.
Pulp Fiction is the edgy, somewhat dark, somewhat misunderstood narrativeteller, often moving to a music only I can hear. Warhol is a piece of New York history. Of being ahead of his time. Who saw art, people, and even the way we lived differently.
Limited editions that commemorate a milestone or pay homage to an icon, if done correctly, are a seamless marriage of wearable art: tribute meets usability. They are enthralling and time capsule-worthy, filled with meaning and dedication, immortalized in supreme shimmers, shiny glosses, and purposeful packaging.
Most limited-edition beauty collaborations these days, however, feel instant without the reward; void of legitimacy or personal connection. Others have lost the cultural references, the iconic experience, and historical moment.
What makes my Untouchables collection different? According to Silvia Galfo, general manager of Giorgio Armani Beauty, there must be a connection between the brand's values and what the cultural [moment] represents.
Wende Zomnir, who founded Urban Decay in 1996, was already a huge fan of the Pulp Fiction film when she launched the collection in 2012. The 2012 release coincided with the 20th anniversary of the film and was a throwback to the brands beginning. Zomnir placed Samuel Jackson's poem, The Path of the Righteous Man, on the front of the eye shadow palette.
The MAC Simpsons collection commemorated the show's 20th anniversary and the cartoon family's matriarch, Marge. The items highlighted everything the program was and is original, intelligent, and satirical. There were shadows, blushes, and false lashes, as well as Marge Simpsons Cutie-cles nail stickers.
The Untouchable Collection, which includes 29 pieces of cosmetic art, was created in 2012 and resembled and expressed Warhol's personality. Included in the collection were famous names like the Silver Factory and Chelsea Girls, as well as eyeshadow palettes imprinted with Warhols 1967 Self Portrait and 1965 Flowers painting.
My desire to keep the Untouchables in perfect condition, unblemished, and sealed away as artifacts, is personal, psychological, and emotional. Its paired with a strong desire to hold onto a particular moment, and perhaps my youth.
Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, describes this nostalgia. In this society, we advertise our identity through our taste. These items make me smile because I understand the inside jokes. The promise of forever.
And these items represent loss. For the moments we cant hold on to, and the lives that are no longer here. I was 18 in February of 1987 when Warhol died. I still do so today, and I am still interested in his work. Pulp Fiction premiered two years later in 89. I remember being mesmerized by the performances as I sat in a room filled with strangers during a special moment.
Perhaps these collections answer or reflect questions I am still trying to answer: where do I belong and how do I fit in?
Today, they are still in a sealed box, currently inside my closet, where I keep my will, contracts, copies of my filed taxes, and apartment paperwork.
Thompson believes that having these items is important, and even more so to keep; unworn, as my Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers is. A product collection that serves as a brief chapter in your autobiography. Memories and moments of my former self, frozen in time.
Galfo puts it neatly: If you use it up, you will not be able to use it again.