Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Lips Are Sealed with Savoir Faire

All of us at one stage have seen that group of iconic posters by Rene Gruau for the French lipstick Rouge Baiser. Through the instantly recognisable Gruau style, these posters are masterpieces in graphic design. With just a few simple lines we get the impression that the lipstick was all a woman needed to make her sexy and irresistible. This is even more reinforced by the fact that Gruau covers his women’ eyes, so that the emphasis is on the lips the lips and nothing else. They stand out against the white of the background and the black lines of the drawing.

Mary Quant uses a play on her name to create a sensuous and sexy add, by calling her colour “Bloody Mary” This is playful and fun, drawing the viewers attention to the lips and colour by making them the same shade as a bloody mary.

Roger and Gallet has their model applying her lip colour in a gauntlet like gloved hand, as if she were going into battle and the final touch needed was a touch of colour to carry her through.

Helena Rubinstein ushered in the space age with ad below, with the colours imitating the cool clinical space age look of the late 1960’s. Again as in the Rouge Baiser ads the eyes are covered, so as to draw attention to the lips. Notice how the Rubinstein photographer has used the same lines as one of the Rouge Baiser ads

Just showing the lips in these ads was a very effective tool in selling the lipstick and emphasised that if you need some sort of macquillage, the lipstick was necessary. In all these ads both photography and the drawn line are equally effective, conveying the message with comparative ease
So ladies, whip out the lippy and put some savoir faire on your lips.

Stained Glass Savoir Faire

Stained glass as a form of decoration is familiar to all of us, especially in cathedrals and churches and to a lesser degree in Victorian domestic architecture in Australia and the UK. The focal points of most churches are their stained glass windows, which were invariably donated by a benefactor of the church, to pave their way to heaven. There are some incredibly beautiful and monumental examples around the world which tourists and normal worshipers are undoubtedly impressed by. To go to the other end of the scale Victorian terraces and houses abound with stained glass in doors and windows and it is a pleasure walking through suburbs at night to see these humble cousins of the church window illuminated at night.

However, stained glass seems to have fallen out of favour for major architectural projects of the last 50 years or so, only to be replaced with vast expanses of clear glass. Two exceptions where stained glass has been used are the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne from 1967 and the American Airlines terminal at JFK from the early 1960’s. Both buildings use stained glass in totally different ways, creating different effects, but no less stunning in their final appearance.

The National Gallery of Victoria was designed by Roy Grounds and is a classic example of a rather brutal approach to architecture. However this is redeemed when stepping into The Great Hall of the gallery where one looks up to see a monumental stained glass ceiling. The ceiling designed by Leonard French is one of the world’s largest examples of suspended stained glass. This is a huge space, which would lack any sort of savoir faire if it were not for that ceiling. It is awe inspiring and gives the room an almost cathedral like quality. When entering the space you cannot help but whisper in hushed tones for fear of destroying the ambience it creates.

On the other end of the spectrum stained glass was used to create a totally different effect on the American Airlines terminal at JFK completed in 1960. The terminal was designed by Kahn and Jacobs and became known for its 317 feet (97 m) stained glass facade designed by Robert Sowers, which was the largest stained glass installation in the world until 1979.

Whereas the National Gallery’s stained glass could only be viewed by the public from within in the space, the American Airlines installation could be viewed from both outside and inside. From the exterior the window swept along the gentle curve of the building and gave the effect of an abstract mural. From the interior whole walls shimmered with muted tones providing intimate lighting for the spaces within. Sadly the facade was removed in 2007 as the terminal was demolished to make room for the new Terminal 8.

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