This Collection Is Absolutely Divine

Published on February 25, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

Divine HeavenSo I’m no stranger to retail therapy, and I love buying and playing with makeup.  Experimenting with new products and enjoying the look of new packaging gives me a little glow.  I love to swatch and write reviews, thinking about how I might dupe a product or how I can combine it with other items in my collection.  I love makeup shopping, and I love makeup reviewing.

But rarely does the simple existence of a makeup product, in and of itself, make me happy.

The Divine Collection from Kat Von D Beauty is one of those times.  Divine is such an inspiration to me: as a drag queen an performer, as a content creator, and as a human being.  He was fearless and maybe even a little crazy in how he lived and how he created art, and I’m amazed by the raw energy of his performances.  His work with John Waters on the early Dreamland Pictures films was stunning and shocking; he was willing to do pretty much anything to help John Waters build his aesthetic of filth.  I mean, he ate dog shit.  And that’s not a metaphor.

In a time where the drag “scene” was all about looking fish and winning pageants (in a strange mirror of our current drag culture that celebrates competition, whether it be Drag Race or big money pageants, over artistic expression), Divine wanted nothing to do with that sort of look.  Working with makeup legend Van Johnson, they created Divine’s stunningly over-the-top look that fucked with all expectations of gender, face down with no lube.  Divine wasn’t a man trying to look like a woman, he was a constantly shifting creation that pushed expectations and understandings about how these bodies we’re born with could or should look and behave.

I am thrilled to see that a mainstream brand like Kat Von D is willing to champion the image of a performer like Divine.  Sure, Kat Von D is sort of known for being wild and rebellious, but her brand is still an anchor of Sephora stores across the country, so this collection is really a wonderful moment.  It makes me proud to be a drag performer and a makeup enthusiast

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Divine PFIt’s not perfect, by any means.  Let’s get that out of the way right away.  Just because I am totally enamored of the subject of the collection, doesn’t mean I don’t have some shit to say.  I was going to buy it no matter what, but that doesn’t automatically mean I’m going to love it.  They could have filled this palette with 8 shades of basic bitch beige, and I would have bought it, to support the memory and the image and the legacy of Divine.  The fact that the collection is also pretty freakin’ good is just a bonus.

Let’s start with the packaging.  I love this palette – it’s the same size as the Pastel Goth, so it’s a nice slimline palette with 8 pans.  This will store easily for most people (a detail that KVD often completely ignores with their palettes – I’m looking at you Serpentina and Saint & Sinner palettes!) and the packaging has a great closeup shot of Divine’s striking blue eyes and signature makeup look.  I would have loved to have seen the extreme makeup from Pink Flamingos, but this fits better on this size palette.  That liner on his eyes is bananas, and it’s a bit of a missed opportunity that they didn’t include at least one eyeliner product in this launch.

Shall we get the negative out of the way right away?  Some of these shades are basic as fuck and have no business in this collection.  Hard Magic – who the fuck needs yet ANOTHER matte black in their collection?  Abso-fucking-lutely no one, that’s who.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a good matte black, and it blends out really nicely, but it’s just so overdone and everyone has a million matte blacks already.

Same with Female Trouble – why the hell do we need a matte white in this collection?  If you’re only going to do 8 shadows, do 8 crazy, boundary-pushing shades in weird colorful combinations like Divine himself.  I would have actually liked the green shade here (which is stunning, by the way) to be named Female Trouble and have a bright neon pink called Pink Flamingos, and put them right next to each other.  That sort of dissonance is exactly the kind of thing Divine would have been all over.

I also originally thought that Babs and Baltimore needed to get the boot, but that changed when I swatched them – they have so much more personality on the skin than they do in the pan!

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Babs is a really pretty yellow gold.  I thought it was going to just be a boring champagne color, but it really exploded when I swatched it, and even though you can’t really see it in the images it has a sort of turquoise micro-glitter.  It’s a subtle touch, and probably won’t make a big impression from far away, but up close I really love the look of this shadow.

Hard Magic is a matte black, and boring.  The only real saving grace of this shadow is the name.  I wasn’t familiar with this song from Divine before I got this palette; I had to google this shade name to figure out what the hell it was even about!  What I found was a music video that is so 80s it hurts that features divine as a cannibalistic witch doctor and his own victim.  This is actually a great representation of Divine; early on in his career with John Waters, he insisted on playing both a male and female role in Waters’ films.  In Female Trouble, he played Dawn Davenport and the man who rapes her and gets her pregnant.  So much of John Waters’ film work is meant to be shocking and exploitative, but it’s interesting to me that in that film and in this music video, Divine plays both a female character and the man who victimizes her.

Baltimore, where Divine grew up, is a metallic blue shade that actually looks much better on the skin than in the pan.  I was worried that it was going to be boring, but I actually reallylike it next to Waters, the matte bright blue shade.  I think you could create some really interesting eye looks with this!  Usually I would expect the darker blue to be the matte with a shimmery light blue on the lid, but this would subvert your expectations.  Waters is a little inconsistent, and I wish the formula were a little more like the gorgeous mattes in the Pastel Goth palette, but it’s not a bad shade and the color is pretty gorge.

Filthy is everything!  It’s brown-based with a sort of green hue and a silvery sheen to it.  You really do need to see it in person to understand this color.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it!  This would look so gorgeous mixed with Pink Flamingos!

Speaking of, this is a gorgeous light neon lime shimmer, and why they gave it this name I will never understand.  I get that it defies expectations, and it would be real stupid to do a Divine palette and NOT have a shade called Pink Flamingos, but green?  I’m still trying to figure this out.  Maybe because red and green are opposites on the color wheel, so this color would roughly be opposite of the color of actual pink flamingos?  It inverts the color the way Divine inverted gender roles and expectations?  My queer-theory-lovin’ little heart really wants to believe that…but does eyeshadow really go that deep?

Female Trouble is my favorite John Waters movie, and my least favorite shade in this palette.  I have SugarPill’s Tako ready to go for my matte white needs, thank you very much.  This is Divine – give me some muthafuckin’ color!

Hairspray is a really beautiful taupe-y metallic.  I love it, and I love the way that the shimmer straddles silver and gold.  I want to make a crazy, sexy eye look using this shade, Pink Flamingos, Filthy, and Babs!  I think that would be fire!

With the exception of Waters, which I found to be a little bit fussy, these are all really blendable and colorful and wonderful shadows, so my gripes aren’t with the formula.  I love this collection of shades by themselves, but I feel like they don’t all embody the largesse of Divine, know what I mean?

Now let’s tackle that lipstick…

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Ummmm, what the fuck is happening right here?  I mean I know what’s really happening: Kat Von D already has a million different red and bright pink shades in her line, so it made more sense to do a pale nude with maybe a hint of pink.  But seriously, what the actual fuck does this color have to do with Divine?!  Divine was known for bright, powerful lip statements; in fact, if you look at the original version of the image used for the packaging, his lips are bright red:

Divine OG
They photoshopped that basic bitch beige over top of the red shade, and I’m not ok that.  Again, it’s not that the color isn’t lovely by itself; I don’t use a lot of nude lipsticks, but this is one I could see myself reaching for.  But it’s so not Divine.  I’m probably thinking way too deeply about this, but Divine is important to me.  Divine influenced much of the development of my persona, the content and the performances I create, and even my life in a larger sense.  The way that my performance persona and my personal life blend together reminds me a lot of Divine and the way that he managed his competing personalities.  I want to see a collection that does him justice, and this lipstick just isn’t it.

As for the formula, it’s ok.  I actually prefer the Studded Kiss formula from before this newest formulation, so it’s a little too creamy for me and I didn’t really love the feel on my lips.  I love, love, love the neon green packaging and I think it’s perfection and matches that green shade in the palette perfectly!  That part she definitely got right!  Again, I would have loved a bright neon pink here, so that the lipstick and the palette would have the same strange pink and green combo.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  At the end of the day, I really love these shades and the lipstick looks bomb with the shadows, and if this weren’t a Divine collection I think I would be 100% here for it.  But it is, Blanche.  It is a Divine collection.  And there was a lot of the star’s personality and signature style that got lost in creating this collection.  I want to see more color, I want to see strange combinations that almost hurt the eyes.  Kat Von D tried to take a persona that was dangerous, and make it safe.

What do you think?  Is this collection stunning, or are you letting it slip away without an ounce of FOMO?  Do you love the shade selection, or do you think it needs something more?  What shades would YOU add if you were re-designing this palette?

If nothing else, Divine was a creative and troubled person who wanted to make an impression.  He wanted to make you feel something.  And this makeup collection makes me feel something (or rather, many somethings).  I feel frustrated because of how it doesn’t really seem to fit with Divine’s look and persona.  I feel overjoyed that so many young people will get some exposure to the legacy of Divine because of this collection.  And I feel happy to see that a drag icon like Divine, who wasn’t all about fitting in or about winning whatever contest was popular at the time, is getting the recognition he so rightly deserves.

That conflict is what Divine was all about.  And I think it’s beautiful.

Now Go Forth & Get Painted!

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