Mac Fafi Collection: Lips & A Bit of Cheek, The Reviews Part 1 {Beauty Notes & Reviews}


The new Fafi collection by Mac Cosmetics, which we made an announcement about earlier (see picture of collection), is loaded with popular culture references and as usual is chock-full of colors. The tints in fact are much more vivid than appear on the pictures and then again some of them, like the fluo pink color in the tube Totally It, look all reasonable once applied.

Cultural Notes: Origins of the Fafinettes

The universe of the collection is that of Fafi, a French artist and cartoonist who draws her initial inspiration from intersecting cultural traditions where characters present a mix of  traits usually found separately as characteristic of babies, little kids or gamins in the French tradition, and sexually mature adults. She herself simply likes to stress that she draws her inspiration from her friends and girls she observes on the street. It was her dream to have her drawings on makeup packaging and they look great on the Mac line. One would have just wished that there were more of them on the lipstick cases for example instead of the same character being repeated over and over.

 Soonie's Rose by Margaret Keane

One can identify in her universe a trend deriving from the prevalent Kawaisa (cuteness) culture in Japan with its references to the Anime and Manga aesthetics but also closer to home for Fafi, the Poulbot sub-culture in France. Finally coming full circle one discovers the influence of the Big-Eye Movement born in the USA, an expression made popular by Wayne Hemingway in his book Just Above The Mantelpiece: Mass-Market Masterpieces. In it he attributes the birth of this inspiration to Margaret (and Walter as a pseudo) Keane in North Beach San Francisco California at the end of the 1950s. However, it must be stressed that Poulbot already drew gamins with oversized eyes. Keane's "large-eyed waif" paintings were beloved by actress Joan Crawford who collected them and had one made of her for decorating her home. Big eyes are typical of this cultural sensitivity, so much so that in Japan young women try to imitate the enormous eyes of Animes by wearing lenses that dilate the pupils and make the eyes seem more like tea saucers, an ideal of beauty that can be more easily achieved with a white pencil liner (see Fafi: Fascinating: Snake-eyes Matte White Eye Khol cf. press release)....

Fafi street art


The Parisian Poulbot pictorial tradition in France admittedly closer to Fafi (I personally remember seeing poulbot (it has become a common household name) images sold by book-sellers or bouquinistes all along the Seine quays in my childhood) was founded by Francisque Poulbot (1879-1946) with his gamins des rues of Montmartre, and continued by Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) with her own gamins or gosses (same semantic field) and then Michel Thomas with his Parisian titis since the end of the 1960s. Victor Hugo was instrumental in popularizing such titis parisiens, street-smart kids from the popular classes who had to grow too fast given their circumstances with his characters Gavroche and Cosette in Les Misérables (1896). The complex archetype of the woman as gamine today is also derived from this tradition.


Fafi's trio of characters for Mac Cosmetics, interestingly each represent one of the countries cited above: Eriko is a fan of Paris, Monoka is all about New York, and Ermine is crazy about Tokyo. They all have these big not-so-innocent eyes that mimic the disarming gaze of babies (a biological adaptive trait) but their bodies are much more curvaceous than those of Mangas. Their color patterns are also much simplified, more primary and stronger. The Fafinettes are sexy, girly, a bit eccentric, a bit tomboyish, and fun.


Michel Thomas gamins courtesy of Gilles Raymond 

The Reviews 

Fafi Lip Glasses:

They have a very high-shine lacquered look made more subtle by the addition of some cream in them. They are more or less obviously shimmery. Very good coverage in general.

Cult Fave: what I like about it is that it is both creamy and pearly. Pearly on its own is more difficult to wear I find and can make you look like you forgot to update your sense of fashion since the 1980s. It is a light pink with some mauve in it. The look screams summer since it makes you think mother of pearl somewhere on the beach. Wear it with tee-shirts, shell jewelry, sandals, and a good tan.

Sugar Trance: although the sheerer of the bunch with a see-through effect, it ends up creating a more dressed-up, evening look with its very lacquered shiny texture. I find that the product ripples a bit on the lips and differentiated layers of skin color versus product color are perceptible to the eye, but this would be less the case in the evening (tests conducted in direct sunlight).

Squeeze It: I really like this color. It is great for brunettes. It is a discreetly shimmery red copper tint with some pink in it. Good coverage. A good mix of cream and lacquer and although rather striking a tint, seems to work for daytime; it does not make you look like you don't know what's for day and night. In this case I find that the lip glass even gives you a lip lined look as it is slightly darker (bunches up) around the edges of the lips.

Totally It: Love it. In the tube, it looks like a blinding fluorescent pink but it turns out to be very wearable on the lips. It turns into a moiré (2 color) texture with red and pink and even manages to evoke an antique rose. For me, it is the surprise of the lot. Other descriptives for the color that come to mind: light raspberry and burnt pink.

Fafi: Lustre Lipsticks

These are generally sheerer, more transparent than the lip glasses and less abundantly moistening. Not So Innocent seemed to be the drier of the bunch. The color tends to sink into the skin and become more transparent after a few hours.

Not So Innocent: This is a sheer color with medium coverage and a barely-there effect as if you had just sprinkled some iridescent powder on your lips. A difficult color in my opinion, that can give you a bit the look of someone who is wearing some serious ski lip balm.

Strawbaby: I love this color. It looks like crushed strawberries on lips with some caramel in it. Shimmer is understated. It's a red with a lot of pink in it, which looks almost a coral color but not quite, managing to stay in the red zone. Here I thought that the color tended to aggregate in the center of the mouth instead of the outer edges. 

High Top: Love that color too. It is a purple plum with icy blue shimmer in it. It works well with a creative, artsy look during the day and a dressed-up look in the evening. Other descriptives: a tender mauve with very fresh mountain glacier sparkles.

Flash-n'-Dash: A medium to light red red with quite a bit of pink and white thrown in plus silvery glitter. It is a very nice color and cool contrast. It is less striking at first than some of the other tints but it grows on you precisely because of its understated and restrained effect. It is a winning mix of paleness and vividness.

Fun-n'-Sexy: It is a great real fuschia color with some purple depth. Striking yet classic. It makes me think of India and the pink fortress in Delhi.

The Lustre Lipsticks are precise and define your mouth with a certain "finesse". It will help show the real shape of your mouth. The Lip Glasses on the other hand can make your mouth look bigger through light reflection effect and the generous flow of their texture which stays put nevertheless around your mouth or just a bit over the edges. The Lustre Lispticks' pigments tend to congregate towards the middle of the mouth after a while and the Lip Glasses are the reverse.

Fafi: Pressed Iridescent powder 

Belightful: I love the way the color looks at once red, bronze, gold, and pink. The gold sparkle needs to be dusted off some during the day unless you want to offer your best disco look far away from the disco ball. It gives a real tanned glow to your cheeks.

More information available on the Mac Fafi site. Stay tuned for the Fafi Report Part 2: Eyes, Cheeks, and Nails



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