Daily Drip

From Beijing with Love: Chinese Netizens Go Nuts for Forbidden City’s New Makeup Range


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Ming Dynasty network of palaces at the heart of China’s capital? Lipstick, of course. And now, just in time to provide the perfect Christmas or Chinese New Year gift for the little emperor or empress in your life, the Forbidden City has unveiled a makeup range.

beijing forbidden city make-up

A post from the Forbidden City’s official Taobao account on Weibo

Rumors of the new product launch began over the weekend, with a slew of fake items making it to online outlets seemingly overnight. After the Palace Museum, as the complex is officially known these days, announced that all cosmetics on the market bearing its name were unofficial rip-offs, it seemed our hopes of adding a little concubine-inspired blush to our cheeks had been dashed. But then the Palace Museum’s Taobao account played its trump card: the actual product range would be released on Tuesday.

And thus, this morning they released the “Floating Heaven, Deep Sea – Forbidden Palace Red-Crowned Crane Series”. Swoon.

beijing forbidden city make-up

Forbidden lippy

The design of each product is meant to be inspired by artifacts found inside the Palace Museum, including Tibetan cultural relics and a painting named “Water Picture Scroll” (水图卷). And so we have a new line of lipstick, called 故宫口红, or Forbidden City Lipstick, which includes colors such as Red-Crowned Crane (仙鹤口红) and Lang Kiln Red (郎窑红): a vivid shade based on a red Lang Yao pottery glaze. Because you’re worth it.

Cultural institutions experimenting with merchandising isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, and indeed the Forbidden City has been slinging official phone cases and tote bags for a while now, but this new range appears to have really struck a chord in China. The Museum shifted 3,000 units of the Red-Crowned Crane lipstick in just one hour today.

forbidden city make-up

The Forbidden City’s cosmetics range, for the ancient relic in your life

Yet this isn’t the first time that a Chinese cultural institution has played with ways to present a more modern, down-with-the-youth face recently. Douyin (TikTok) helped a bunch of relics dance across phone screens earlier this year, while the Palace Museum itself has been featured on a number of TV programs, including National Treasures, which recently kicked off its second season.

CCTV’s Latest Reality Show Piques Chinese Youth’s Interest in “National Treasures” and Public Museums

So there we go — Forbidden City cosmetics. And we made it all the way through this article without making a “Maybe Xi’s born with it” joke.

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Sebastian Lau
    Sebastian Lau is an intern from Hong Kong. He’s currently studying in New York University Shanghai and trying to figure out what he’s actually going to do with his life. He came to Shanghai to learn more Chinese, but so far his Mandarin is still 很难听. When not at school, he’ll be cooking or out taking pictures.
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