Celebrities and celebutantes lend their names to fragrance collections, accessories, clothing lines and everything in between, so it shouldn’t have surprised me to see that artist/living Japanese national treasure/Queen of the Polka Dots, Yayoi Kusama, partnered with Lancôme on their cash cow lip balm, Juicy Tubes. Yes, Katy Perry and Justin Beiber have nail polishes created in their honor, but they’re celebrities… celebrities, not famed, world-renowned, highly-respected visual artists scribbling on tubes of lip gloss. I know that commercialism and art is and was a thing (yes, Andy Warhol has come to mind), but Kusama’s work isn’t… like that… and isn’t there supposed to be a difference between the two? Either way, I would love to see the e-mail from Lancome that initially pitched this idea to her. Next up, Post-It will be contacting Harper Lee regarding paper designs.
Artists before and after Piet Mondrian have made appearances in contemporary fashion; the Yves Saint Laurent dress his work inspired is iconic, and even enfant terrible Damien Hirst’s dot print has appeared on boots and umbrellas. Yes, Takashi Murakami emblazoned cherry blossoms and space creatures all over Louis Vuitton bags sold at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008. But clothing, by many, is considered wearable art– for what other reason would the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute be in existence? Cosmetics and art, though, I’m convinced. (Cosmetic surgery and art, that’s another thing– Just ask Saint Orlan.) While Kusama appears to have polka dotted the packaging and drawn her trademark Yellow Submarine-esque flora underneath the text, I can hardly see someone considered a living legend in her home country taking package design work seriously.
I love Lancome’s Juicy Tubes. I love the work of Yayoi Kusama. I just don’t know that I love them… together. Combined. Co-branded and cross-partnered. Perhaps there’s some sort of Sephora department store kiosk hitting museum stores just in time for summer– or maybe I’m a little too elitist and anti-gimmick with my art tastes for my own good?