The Future Of Cosmetics Is A Brave New World

Self-adjusting skin cream. Intelligent foundation. Prosthetic cheek pads. All these and more are the future of cosmetics, if companies like Lancôme and Clarins are to be believed — and what a weird, Technicolor future it is.

For its 90th anniversary issue, Vogue Paris asked various cosmetics giants to predict future developments in their field. The magazine's creative team then set about representing these auguries in print; the resulting images, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Hungarian model Eniko Mihalik, are creepy and also hard to put down.

The caption here, from Clarins' proposal, reads, "A scanning skin cream that will detect the skin's needs in terms of nutrients, hydration, and vitamins, and will adjust the release of its active ingredients accordingly."

The Future Of Cosmetics Is A Brave New World

Dior: "Cosmetics will become as efficient as medicines, and generate never-before-seen results for users' skin."

The Future Of Cosmetics Is A Brave New World

Chanel: "An intelligent foundation that will brighten areas of shadow, calibrate the skin's moisture, and even bring down a temperature."

The Future Of Cosmetics Is A Brave New World

Yves Saint Laurent: "A nail polish that'll go 15 days without a scratch, like something out of an auto body shop."

The Future Of Cosmetics Is A Brave New World

Givenchy: "Styluses that, once activated by light or heat, will activate their ingredients and deliver them to the skin."

The Future Of Cosmetics Is A Brave New World

Lancôme: "Stick-on patches that will be like second skins, and which will, in addition to bringing color, give the illusion of less-droopy eyelids, fuller lips, and apple cheeks."

Like most fashion magazines, Vogue Paris devotes a lot of its page space to hawking whatever new creams and potions the cosmetics industry develops, all of which claim to bring about miracle results, and many of which cost hundreds of dollars an ounce. It's also chock full of cosmetics ads, and under normal circumstances my hopes for an editorial pegged to prominent advertisers' products under development would not be high.

So it's kind of funny that, in this spread, Vogue managed to make these potential future cosmetic technologies look freakish, unsettling, and unsafe. (At least, I can't imagine Dior being terribly happy that Carine Roitfeld represented its makeup-as-medicine idea as a woman whose mouth is stuffed with pills, or Lancôme liking that its skin patches look like dressings for a wound.) It's almost like Vogue Paris used a beauty spread to advance a very subtle, highly aestheticized, critique of the beauty industry.