5 Of The Most Engaging Activist-Inspired Installations at 29Rooms

Refinery29’s sold-out event produced experiences centered on art and activism that went well beyond branding.

As New York Fashion Week comes to a close, we look back on one of the hottest tickets in town this season. Refinery29’s 29Rooms had over 20,000 visitors from 45 states and 13 countries—a testament to the far-reaching appeal of the lifestyle media outlet.

In its third iteration, Refinery29 brought together a curated selection of independent artists and musicians, brands, and a handful of celebrities who collaborated to create 29 unique installations within a Williamsburg warehouse. The space was a funhouse of color and distraction, like a whimsical Instagram wonderland. Beyond that surface layer, it was an experience with substance, symbolism, and in-your-face activism.

Creative director Albie Alexander Hueston said this year’s “Turn It Into Art” theme “celebrates the transformative power of creativity in its ability to lift spirits, shift perception, and drive change. From controversial issues like gender bathroom laws to riding a carousel with unicorns, 29Rooms 2017 is our most thought-provoking and joyful experience yet.”

29Rooms tapped into the ways that art and social issues are intertwined, and—if the crowds are anything to go by—people are interested in engaging with this conversation. Below, we highlight five of the 29 rooms that explored feminism, self-acceptance, and other culturally relevant issues head-on.

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Room 3: Erotica in Bloom

At the entrance of 29Rooms, ‘Erotica in Bloom’ hangs like picture of floral decadence. Upon closer inspection, this swirling world of oversized blooms reveals these flowers as symbols of female fertility. In collaboration with Maisie Cousins, a photographer known for her provocative use of nature as expressions of sensuality, this modern garden of (She)-den invites you in with playful giggles and whispers coming from behind the petals. Short videos are hidden deeper inside the buds, with beautiful imagery celebrating the female body, sexuality and nature. A sweet clean fragrance, like fresh picked wild flowers, lingers in the air, subtly persuading your senses to drift into this dreamscape.

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Room 11: The Future Is Female

We’ve all had those days where we would just love to put on some gloves and take it out on a punching bag. Artist Jen Mussari and drummer Madame Gandhi capitalized on the sport’s current popularity, producing the ultimate creative expression: turning that aggressive energy into music. Hitting one of the punching bags inside this installation activates sounds. Both the bags and the gloves have painted lyrics like “The future is made of what we do each day” and “Fight for the future” to set the tone. The more you punch, the more music you make. The installation celebrates inner and outer strength and the power that can come from them.

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Room 22: NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism

As you swing into your chair in this conceptual salon, you are transported into the body of a young black woman. This is no ordinary trip to the hairdresser. Hyphen-Labs has created a transhumanistic experience that forces the viewer to walk in another person’s shoes (via her hair), if only for a few minutes. This virtual voyage confronts some larger themes, such as how do we harness synaptic plasticity to free our minds so can we reprogram our mental maps? When will we move past the limitations of our memories, and who is building our future? This experience confronts an empowered future, limited only by one’s own imagination.

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Room 24: Hear Our Voice

The women responsible for organizing the January 21 Women’s March on Washington (and worldwide) have created a bustling activist headquarters, engaging passersby while bridging the gap between art and political activism. The point here is clear: Art can be a catalyst for change. Colorfully illustrated postcards carry hard hitting slogans such as “Hope Over Fear” and “We Can. We Have. We Will.” These messages encourage everyone to get involved. Pens, senator’s addresses and an in-house mailbox (and postage) create an immediate call to action in a fun, creative setting.

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Room 26: Gender Neutral

Walking into Room 26 is like a time warp, bringing you back to your first day of middle school, hiding in the bathroom stall at lunch – but this time, all of the graffiti on the walls are kind and compassionate words of encouragement. Transparent’s Jill Soloway and artist Xavier Schipani have reimagined a space like those old-school restrooms but in a trans-safe environment that garners feelings of positivity, confidence and love in a time when the place you do your business is everyone’s business.

Written for and originally published by PSFK, and republished by BeautyMatter

Case Study: The Rise of Pink

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Pink, a color that was once thought of as the quintessential mark of femininity, now represents something quite different in 2017.

Beginning in fashion and then quickly adapted by beauty, pink has been reclaimed by women as a modern representation of female strength, repositioning the former ditzy association with the lady-like hue.  Women now wear a bold fuchsia lip or pale pink pantsuit as a symbol of female strength.

This shift in rosy outlook has been in the works for some time.  Over the past decade, the role of women has seen significant change. Women have asserted their position in the workforce (and beyond), becoming confident in their identity, celebrating individuality and creative spirit. Strong female role models, from Beyoncé to Hillary Clinton have encouraged women to lead as women, celebrating the differences from their male counterparts. Instead of rejecting classically feminine colors, they have been embraced.

Over the years brands have used the color to appeal to the female demographic – imbuing it with meaning. The cosmetics magnate Mary Kay empowered women to enter the workforce on their own terms, and rewarded hard work by gifting top performers with blush pink Cadillacs.

Fast forward to 2017, where “millennial pink” is representative of a “post pretty” movement ruled by ironic, honest beauty. Indie cosmetics darling Glossier is the poster child, wielding the color like a product itself.

As businesses start to gain a conscience and align themselves with social movements, pink continues to be a beacon of female strength. Social justice driven brand The Lipstick Lobby donates 100% of net profits from the sale of their signature shade, Kiss My Pink to Planned Parenthood.  The high impact color brings attention to the cause, while at the same time being a fresh and flattering tone on the lips.

Like kale and avocado toast, Pink is currently having a moment. It is yet to be seen what lies ahead for the hue, but it is safe to say that it is no longer just a color, but a symbol of the modern woman – whether she’s wearing makeup or is au naturel. 

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Written for and published by Counter Intelligence

Images courtesy of Pinterest, Glossier and The Lipstick Lobby

Creating Color: Behind The Scenes of Trend Forecasting

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Whenever I tell someone that my profession is working as a color trend forecaster, I often get a lot of blank looks. It’s a relatively under the radar field, and those that have heard of it rarely understand what it involves.

At its root, color forecasting is a tool that helps companies gain an edge by understanding shifts in the consumer landscape and the trends that will appeal to their customers.

What's It All About?

Have you ever wondered how products go from a concept to the runway to the sales floor? There is a reason that all of a sudden, it seems like everyone is wearing fuchsia lipstick. This is the work of color trend forecasting.

A trend forecaster seeks to anticipate cultural nuances, socio-political shifts, innovative design and technologies to inspire the latest and greatest within a particular industry.  There is no magic crystal ball, but instead a practice that relies on research, observation, analysis and intuition to connect the dots.

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What Does The Process Look Like?

These Are The Basic Steps That Go Into Creating A Color Trend Forecasting:

1. Observation: A key component to trend development is watching to see what is going on in the stores, on the street, at events and on the runway. Pretty much everywhere you look can be considered a source of inspiration. As a trend forecaster, your brain never fully gets to rest.

2. Research: Investigating what is on the horizon is what sets apart a trend forecaster and a   cool hunter. Since we are generally working up to 2 years ahead of the selling season, it is important to keep on top of new innovations. Visiting tradeshows, speaking to manufacturers and learning about new technologies all help to create a vision of the future. Understanding what the world will look like for the season in question is an important part of this step. This includes reviewing the art, design, architecture, film, entertainment, and sporting events that will help shape our tastes

3. Analysis: After collecting all of this information, the real work begins. Recognizing patterns is a central part of the process.

4. Intuition: This one is hard to teach. It’s all about instinct, understanding cultural cues and trusting your gut

Some trend forecasting agencies rely on the intuition of one particular expert, a method I refer to as the “guru model,” to analyze market trends. Decisions are made based on the thought leadership of this leading specialist.

Others, such as The Color Association of the United States, embrace a slightly more democratic process by enlisting the help of a panel committee of experts. These influencers are tastemakers in their specific industry. They are often designers, retail buyers, stylists or merchandisers. When they come together it is an explosion of creative energy. At these committee meetings, any source of inspiration is fair game. 

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What happens at a Trend Forecasting Meeting?

Sharing of Ideas: Each panelist brings in what they think will be the driving influences for the season. These resources are often magazine tears, color swatches and found objects, though sometimes, people get very creative. I have seen everything from dried flowers and artisanal salt to vintage playboy magazines to inspire the development of a nuanced color palette. Influences can be researched and be presented as fully formed concepts, or they may capture a feeling, moment or simply, a color.

After everyone has presented their seasonal inspirations, the next step is to identify synergies within all of the committee members’ inspirations. Often times, panelists have picked up on similar influences, which means the trends  - and colors - overlap. This process begins to outline dominant themes, and highlights commonalities in inspiration as well as colo

Once the trend stories have been confirmed and the color palettes are developed, each trend color is named. These names connect back to their driving influences

Depending on what company is producing the forecast, colors may be appear on color cards as dyed swatches, or have a reference to a color notation such as Pantone so that designers can match the color to a reference in their library.

From here, designers, marketers and merchandisers buy subscriptions to these color cards, influencing their creative output, be it the products they develop, in-store displays and promotional materials

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When it comes to beauty, trend analysis can assist in the development of everything from scent – and what we want to smell like – to whether or not matte nail polish will be in this season. Color is one of the biggest influences that encourage purchasing behavior, and as such, color forecasting is big business in beauty.

In recent years, color forecasting has been given a more visible role in retail through the marketing practices of color agency Pantone. The brand has worked to popularize their “color of the year” through partnerships with industry relevant businesses such as Sephora. Despite my personal view that there is not a one-size fits all color for the year, Pantone has become an industry authority, leading many brands – from boutique to mass market– to follow its direction. 

Written for and published by Counter Intelligence

 

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: A CONVERSATION ABOUT CUSTOMIZATION IN SKINCARE

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One could argue that customization and personalization have been a trend as long as the beauty industry has existed. Perfumeries have created fragrances for individuals, including royalty and the insanely rich, for centuries. The desire to have something tailor-made is not new, but as consumer appetite for it increases, technology is making it more accessible and scalable.

The topic of customization has been top of mind for us, so we were excited to explore it at the Millennial 20-20 conference in New York, where BeautyMatter founder Kelly Kovack moderated a panel entitled “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, personalization is everything.”

Christine Chang, Co-CEO of Glow Recipe, Sabrina Tan, CEO & Founder Skin Inc, and Jill Tomandi, Vice President Product Development and Innovation at Smashbox, shared how they’re integrating the consumer’s desire for personalization into their brands and their thoughts on scalability. These brands may vary in size and in their approach to personalization, but they agree on the need to reimagine how consumers interact with and purchase beauty.

Glow Recipe, the go-to curators of Korean skincare, are integrating personalization as sales animation. Many K-beauty products like single-use sheet masks lend themselves to mixing and matching based on daily skincare concerns.

Smashbox has leveraged customization in their business for the fall launch of their Be Legendary 120-shade lipstick collection with digital activation and limited-edition 3-D printed lipsticks. They also animate the brand through encouraging influencers to come to the “lab” and create their own shade—fueling excitement and social media engagement. Jill Tomandi’s advice regarding innovation is test small, then scale.

Skin Inc has created a simple regime based on suiting individuals’ specific skincare needs through a custom-blended serum called My Daily Dose. An online quiz of about two dozen questions and an algorithm recommend three out of nine targeted serums to decode individual skin identities and address a consumer’s unique needs.

We followed up with Sabrina Tan, CEO & Founder Skin Inc, after the conference for a mini interview:

1. What role does customization play in your brand? (is it the foundation, a marketing touchpoint, animation at retail, etc)

Skin Inc’s backbone is customization, and we’re the global leader in skincare customization. We started with our signature customized “my daily dose” serum followed on by mask, LED devices and the latest with our moisturizer. Millions of consumers have done our Skin Identity service.

2. Customization is inherently complicated. How do you reconcile the consumer’s desire for customization with their desire for simplicity?

Not anymore with technology and on digital platforms. It is probably much faster with a few ticks online. Look at NIKEiD.

3. The desire for customization isn’t new. One could argue it’s as old as the beauty industry. What do you think is driving the customization segment now—Millennials or technology?

I will say it feeds on each other—the desire of individuality, self-expression, and having that voice heard. And technology and digital enabled that whole life cycle and experience.

Beauty consumers have never been more educated or discerning, making made-to-order beauty a way to differentiate a business in the crowded beauty sector. Startups and established brands are increasingly finding ways to leverage technology to allow consumers to create their ideal products.  Only time will tell if technology is truly going to be able to scale customized beauty. Will customized beauty businesses be the next billion-dollar brands?

Originally written for and published by BeautyMatter

SPRING / SUMMER 2016 REAL-TIME BEAUTY COLOR TRENDS

Spring/Summer 2016 is fueled by a sense of distinction. Individualism is at an all-time high. Women are tired of trying to be someone or something other than themselves, and are embracing a more accepting attitude. They want to achieve the best version of themselves, rather than an unattainable ideal.

This season, unique looks were created for individual models at select shows on the SS16 runway – a testament to the heightened desire for personal expression. This exploration is expressed in two divergent movements. The first is a minimalist aesthetic that favors a sleek “no makeup” makeup look, relying on color correcting concealers and a light-handed contour to create an enhanced version of natural. The second takes a more maximalist approach, celebrating color whole-heartedly with bold strokes of the season’s biggest hues. These are featured below in the most indispensable color trends in cosmetics for SS16.

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BLUE BUZZ

Blue has been buzzing for a number of seasons, and SS 16 sees this cool tone gain even more momentum. A current societal preoccupation with water—from rising sea levels to floods and droughts—brings us face to face with aquatic influence. Splashing out around the eyes in shades of aquamarine and azulene, the look is clean and deliberate, with minimal makeup on the rest of the face. Waterlines are coolly defined in cobalt, or shaded with a single swipe of lapis. Jet-black mascara is upgraded with a slick of sapphire on lashes. Nails lighten up with playful, paler tints in robin’s egg and sky blue hues.

On the runway at: Mary Katrantzou, Roksanda Ilincic, Monique Lhuillier, Missoni.

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SUMMER BERRY

Evolving from the shadowy darks of Fall/Winter 2015-16, intense berry tones ripen as the mercury rises, imbuing ethereal sundresses with an edge. Breaking with traditionally fun and flirty warm weather hues, this sultry femme-fatale style sizzles in the summer heat. A blend of burgundy, smoky purple, and a hint of brown combine to create this intoxicating and dramatic hue. Lips are deeply stained or perfectly defined in matte textures.

On the runway at: Givenchy, Burberry Prorsum, Cushnie Et Ochs, Emporio Armani.

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GROWN UP GLITTER

Glitter grows up this season, with futuristic touches of twinkling pigments and foil. While classic metallics like copper, silver, and gold are most prominent,a twinkling rainbow of shimmering hues is coveted as well. Execution is key, with carefully applied touches of the sparkly stuff on strategic areas around the eyes. A little goes a long way with this flash-forward look, ranging from a delicate row of gemstones to silvery lash tips. Nails take on a subtler effect, in whitened platinum and icy pearl polishes.

On the runway: Delpozo, Leitmotiv, John Richmond

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GLAMO-ROSA

Bringing a touch of lady-like glamour to the season, pink prevails with a sense of whimsy and fun. Women’s fashion has slowly transformed the rosy hue into a modern symbol of female empowerment, and beauty closely follows suit. Cool undertones root this season’s pink in elegance, toning down a girlish connotation. Placement remains classic on the lips, while also taking an adventurous turn, with bold washes on the eyes.

On the runway: Prabal Gurung, Cynthia Rowley, Giamba, Dolce and Gabbana

 

Written for and published by BeautyMatter

All images courtesy of Vogue Runway