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Cosmetics are supposed to make one more attractive and more seductive - to make one positively irresistible, in fact. Cosmetics hold out the prospect of sexiness to women and menalike. All that one has to do is to acquire the right creams and lotions, the right palette of powders and rouges, of lipsticks and mascara, and one has a form of beauty that can be bought!
Cosmetically-enhanced beauty is something that has existed for decades. Over the course of the last century, however, a cosmetics industry has arisen that is worth millions. Its products claim to optimize visual appearance, to bestow inner and outer health and to delay aging, under a veneer of medical credibility and reliable results. Cosmetics deals in alleged "deep-acting" substances, which are supposed to detoxify and to purify the body from within. However, the whole arsenal of cosmetic ingredients is founded more on persuasion than conviction. Cosmetics is always a matter of mimicking an ideal. To this extent, cosmetic discourse deals in what might be described as an iconography of hunger - it requires and is predicated upon a feeling of lack. At the same time, it promises to remedy that lack. The referential frame for cosmetics is constituted by cultural history and iconology, by semioticsand sociology, by psychology and rhetoric. Like fashion, it has called into being a linguistic system of considerable depth and complexity; one that draws its subtexts from futurology andhistory, from medicine and alchemy, from nostalgia and from heritage preservation. Cosmetics are supposed to make one more attractive and more seductive - to make one positively irresistible, in fact. Cosmetics hold out the prospect of sexiness to women and men alike. All that one has to do is to acquire the right creams and lotions, the right palette of powdersand rouges, of lipsticks and mascara, and one has a form of beauty that can be bought! The persuasive power of cosmetics is as dominant as it is irresistible. All of us could resist it ifwe wished to. And yet we dont wish to. This book exposes the rhetorical system behind the promises of cosmetics in terms of the histories of cultures and of mentalities, analysing the verbal/visual messages of selected examples.
Volker Fischer war mehr als zehn Jahre lang stellvertretender irektor des Deutschen Architekturmuseums in Frankfurt am Main. on 1994 bis 2012 baute er im Museum für Angewandte Kunst Fankfurt eine neue Designabteilung auf. Parallel dazu lehrte er an er Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach Architektur- und Designgeschichte.