Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guerlain- Vol de Nuit (Vintage Perfume, Revisited)

Guerlain Vol de Nuit is one of the very first bottles of vintage perfume I acquired. It was some time prior to fully jumping into the rabbit hole of collecting vintage perfumes, but there was an opportunity, and even with very limited experience I knew it was a special little thing. The first time I wrote about Vol de Nuit was in 2007, and it might have been the first vintage review I ever posted, though back then I didn't even tag it as such (I went back years later to add the tag for the sake of search results). It was just my bottle of a precious Guerlain that I learned to love. Dearly.

Vol de Nuit is kind of a chypre, but not really. It's also a somewhat aldehydic floral, but not quite, and a cool green iris with a leathery touch. I think of Vol de Nuit as an incredibly romantic perfume. Part of it obviously has something to do with its name ("night flight" only second to Je Revien, "I will come back", in this department, though try to remind me of it next time I'm at an airport in the dead of the night ready to kill someone). But it's more than that. There's something wistful about the cool air of the night that blows through the iris, narcissus, and galbanum that hold this perfume together. The floral bouquet is tall, lean, and pale. The green stems are part of its design, but seen in the dim light of the moon they're almost ashy gray. This actually can be said about Vol de Nuit in general: I experience it as though from a distance, through a sheer veil.

I usually wear Vol de Nuit by layering the extrait with an eau de toilette, both vintage. The extrait is decidedly sweeter and thicker, though even in this concentration that has a vanillic touch in the late dry-down I find very little of Guerlain's signature base. A hint, maybe, in the progression from the powdery iris (the EDT is greener and earthier with little powder in comparison) to a slightly leathery vanilla. The leather might be a phantom note born from the remnants of the galbanum. Speaking of the way galbanum manifest in this perfume, it's also a bit blackened by the night. I think of Vol de Nuit as capturing the feeling  of staying out very late on a night in the end of summer. The sky is dark blue, the trees almost black against it, the air is chilly, and on my shoulders there's a borrowed jacket, a bit heavy with its leather and zippers, cool to the touch as are my hands that I keep inside the too-long sleeves.

The dusty, mossy green of the dry-down and the overall feel of Vol de Nuit make me thing I should have added it to my list of "feminine perfumes guys should try" from the other night. The classic propeller bottle should be an extra incentive for them to give it a try, don't you think?

Top image: Francois Flameng - Returning from a night flight on aircraft "Voisin" Bomber, circa WWI

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rosario Dawson At Sin City: A Dame To Kill Los Angeles Premiere

This is unfortunate. If you've ever seen or read an interview with Rosario Dawson you know that she's not just incredibly likable, but also easygoing and down-to-earth, never trying too hard and definitely not tacky. All things that this dress manages to miss. It's most likely her stylist's faults, since even the fit is off and unflattering on Rosario (an impressive non-achievement considering her perfect figure). The lingerie-inspired dress is a fun summer style that goes beyond fads and trends, but the right fabric is essential for its success. The lace here looks exquisite. The leather? Not so much. Rosario deserves much better.

Photos Getty via Zimbio.

Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner

The bad news is that the nice people at Hourglass have no plans for adding navy or any other colors to the new 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner. All we get is a classic black (Obsidian). The good news is that even with only one color this is a pretty awesome eyeliner. I love gel pencils for their texture and finish, and Hourglass has taken it to the next level: instead of the regular pencil offered by many brands we get a very thin and quite precise mechanical pencil that doesn't require sharpening, so there's no loss of product.

The pencil is retractable, though only forward and not back (is it so much more expensive to make pencils that retract both ways?). It's not that much of an issue, though, as I find myself using quite a bit in each application, so I always roll out more product. The thin tip draws  a very fine line, making it incredibly easy and nearly foolproof. I do have to go back and add a bit more since I usually like a thicker line in the outer corner, and it's such a smooth and simple thing to do--- the pencil glides over the skin with absolutely no tugging and pulling.

Obsidian is very very black. The almost glossy gel finish makes it even more so. A good indication to the pigment's intensity is the fact that I absolutely have to tightline and push more color into the base of my lashes, to avoid looking weird, because my lashes are dark brown and not black, and the eyeliner makes any  tiny gap between mascara and lash base stand out.

Now about the waterproof and extended wear promises: As much as I love Hourglass in general and this pencil in particular, waterproof it ain't. If the product slides from my lower waterline and smudges after about 4 hours it is not transfer resistant. I have no problem with the liner on my upper lid and lashline, though. My solution is simple: limit its use for the upper lid/lashline, but I admit that having to use another pencil (YSL or Pixi) if I want to line my waterline is annoying, especially since the Hourglass pencil gives such precision initially. But in the weeks since I've had the pencil I had several nights out that ended with raccoon eyes, and I assure you: it's not a good look for the middle-aged woman.

Bottom Line: beautiful but flawed.

Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner ($45 for a package of three pencils, $16 for a single) is made in Japan and is available from The product in this review was sent by the company for my consideration.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

14 Women's Perfume That Men Should Borrow

Last year I posted a list of masculine-labeled perfumes that I believe women should borrow and make their own. I figured it's time to do the same for men and supposedly-feminine fragrances. Personally, I don't care one bit about the pour homme/pour femme issue and don't think perfume has a gender. There's juice and skin--- if it smells good to you that's all it  matters. But people have been conditioned to make the distinction, especially on the mainstream market. Many niche/indie/artisan brands have abandoned the man/woman labels a long time ago, using neutral packaging and names (think Lutens, Malle, Parfumerie Gnerale, and many others), but even within those brands there's sometimes a bit of a bias (Geranium Pour Monsieur). So here's my list. I tried to avoid long-discontinued or impossible to find stuff. Please chime in with more ideas.

Chanel Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles. These two classics are now part of Chanel Exclusifs, a range that is a lot more guy-friendly, but in many Chanel boutiques and department stores the Exclusifs are still located too close to the makeup counter, making some men avoid them. There's also a brand image issue, especially among men of a certain generation (pre-Bleu,obviously) for whom Chanel perfume=No.5 (which I wish more men would try, but I know that many have a real issue with the aldehydic opening). I once gave my father a bottle of Chanel Antaeus. His initial reaction was "Chanel? Isn't that women's stuff?". He ended up wearing and enjoying it, of course.

Robert Piguet- Bandit. I'm pretty sure that if Bandit was released today by a major brand it would have declared a masculine. Smaller brands can go unisex, like Etat Libre d'Orange did with Bandit's modern offspring, Rien, but on the general market such a leather-galbanum-smoke composition would do better with guys. Cabochard also belongs in this category, but since reformulations have made it unrecognizable I'm not even going to bother.

Hermes Eau de Merveilles. This is a proper gender-neutral fragrance, but for some reason Hermes positioned it as the feminine answer to Terre d'Hermes and created  some limited-edition pendant presentations. To make it even more annoying, SAs at most department stores that stock it can be pretty horrible about yanking a tester from one's hand and saying "that's for women/that's for men" (my local Saks is notorious for that). Still, this salty orange and ambergris is a modern marvel.

Ormonde Jayne- Ormonde Woman. Just as I think women should give Ormonde Man a try before deciding between the two, men would do well to consider the super green sister. It's a bit more lush and thick, but not necessarile femme.

Estee Lauder classics: Azuree, Aliage, Private Collection. Yes, I know that approaching an Estee Lauder counter and asking for the stuff they usually keep hidden is not a guy's idea of a good time, but the mossy green Aliage and Private Collection are worth the trouble, and the leather-chypre Azuree is Bandit's younger sibling.

Donna Karan Collection: Black cashmere, Chaos, Donna Karan Signature. Many people still don't realize that these gorgeous re-released line is easily available from Neiman Marcus and online. The only official offering for guys is Fuel For Men (I wear the 1994 original in the gas pump bottle), but both the spice-incense-chamomile of Chaos and the almost eerie darkness of Black Cashmere (saffron, incense, pepper, among other things) can be just as easily worn by them. The same goes for the original Donna Karan Perfume (now "Signature") that was freed from its duck-shaped bottle.

Miller Harris- Figue Amere. This is a packaging issue more than anything. Figue Amere comes in a fuchsia-colored box that doesn't do justice to this salty and herbal fig perfume that's free of the coconut and creaminess of Premier Figuier (L'Artisan) or Phylosikos (Diptyque).

Bottega  Veneta by Bottega Veneta. It's one of the best mainstream perfumes from a couple of years ago. While the brand has released a pour homme version  the following year, I still think the original sueded chypre is not to be missed.

Serge Lutens- Daim Blond. Speaking of suede. While Uncle Serge doesn't use feminine/masculine labels, this iris-apricot-suede is generally more embraced by women, and usually offered to them by SAs. It's the apricot jam note, I'm sure, but it shouldn't scare away men. Daim Blond is much more complex than the sum of the official notes, and it's probably the best suede on the market.

Photo by the wonderful Leora Long who is also the photographer behind the classic Nina Ricci Farouche image.

Vero Profumo- Rozy (Voile d’Extrait & Eau de Parfum)

I'm still not sure I have the right words for Rozy. Anna, a long-time reader whose comments are always make me feel like she's my long-lost sister, had this to say:
"And Rozy - I feel like I should send Vero Kern dozens of roses or something for having created this - although, in truth, nothing I could offer would truly be sufficient to express the appreciation I feel over being able to experience this scent."
She's spot-on.

 Each one of Vero Kern's creations hits an emotional spot. They're a journey, a transformation, a mood. Everything but a literal sum of their notes. This is somewhat of a rarity in today's perfume world, where people tend to look for simplicity, a single note or a clear label that defines and frames the experience: a fruity-floral is fresh and young, incense is meditative, tuberose is sexy, amber is comforting, and so on. Vero Profumo takes a different path. The complexity is such that it really doesn't matter that Mito is a green magnolia, that Kiki is lavender,  Rubj is a white floral, and  Onda is Greta Garbo bottled. I wear any of them and I step into a world slightly different than my everyday life. Everything is more intense and also shinier.

And now we have Rozy, so far in two concentrations: voile d'extrait and eau de parfum, with an extrait de parfum coming in a few months. Rozy, in any incarnation, is not quite a rose perfume. It's not even particularly floral. An homage to Anna Magnani in the 1955 movie The Rose Tattoo (with the utterly delicious Burt Lancaster), where she played a woman who loves fiercely and lusts shamelessly. Not surprisingly, honey and animalic notes are just as important as the luscious rose.

There's a strong connection between the Voile d’Extrait of Rozy and Onda. The fiery core and animalic component from Onda are here. They're somewhat toned down, rounded and sweetened, but they speak the same sexy language. Honey is a prominent player here: warm, sensual, being poured slowly and catching the golden light. But Rozy is not a pure hot skin fest. There's an uplifting and exuberant feeling that comes from a red, yellow, orange, and white bouquet. Rose and tuberose in the height of their bloom, a gift from a devoted lover, are the heart and soul of Rozy. It's a smoldering affair, with a robust dry-down that brings the spice, wood, and creamy florals together.

In comparison, the eau de parfum concentration of Rozy creates an even more golden impression. It's more optimistic, devours life and allows a few drops of juice to linger on the chin. I know that there are fruity notes in the Voile as well, but my skin slays them mercilessly as it hangs on to the honey and styrax. The EDP is decidedly peachy- literally and metaphorically. I fully get the comparison to Nahema, which shares its orange rose, peach skin and flesh, and hyacinth. Perfumer Vero Kern likes to adapt her creations to the EDP format by using a passion fruit  (in fact, I think she's the one who taught me to appreciate this note). It works just as marvelously for Rozy. The fruit, delicate flowers (the bouquet here has more tender blossoms accenting the roses), and the hint of powder and almost makeupy notes (a vintage boudoir kind of thing)  skews Rozy EDP towards the feminine side, but not by much. Men who wear Onda or any of Vero's EDPs for that matter, should give both concentrations a try.

Rozy - Voile d’Extrait notes
melon, blackcurrant, coriander seed, nutmeg, tuberose, rose, honey, sandalwood, labdanum, vanilla, styrax

Rozy - Eau de Parfum notes
passion fruit, peach, hyacinth, lilac, tarragon, rose, honey, and powdery notes

Rozy EDP ($235, 50ml) and Voile d’Extrait ($250, 50ml) are available from Luckyscents.

Top photo: Horst P. Horst, Birthday Gloves, 1947.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Want: Gucci Leopard Shawl

Normally I'm not the biggest fan ("and thank god for that!"-- The Husband), but right now I'm in lust with this shawl/scarf. The painted orange-red leopard pattern is kind of DVF-ish, which is probably why I like it ("so buy a DVF, please!"-- The Husband, again). It's just fabulous and I think how lovely and lively it would look with various winter coats and dresses. According to the Bergdorf Goodman website, the fabric is a modal/acrylic/silk blend, which is somewhat disappointing (I hoped for a warm silk/cashmere knit), but whatever. It's gorgeous. $695 from Bergdorf and Neiman Marcus.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Eye Shadow Palette Raw Garden In Chronos

And a giveaway!!!

The much-anticipated Rouge Bunny Rouge eye shadow palette is finally being released. You know that I've been sitting on this for a while but couldn't post the full details and swatches until now- the palette will be available on starting August 28th, and since it's a limited edition we all know what that means. One lucky reader will not have to worry about snatching this up: we're doing a giveaway draw, so see details at the end of this post.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Eye Shadow Palette Raw Garden In Chronos offers five beautiful colors. It looks very dramatic, but as you can see from the swatches, all five are very wearable. The texture is very smooth, as you'd expect from Rouge Bunny Rouge, but it's somewhat different than the satin feel of the permanent collection. The finish is high in shimmer, yet it's very refined (I did spot a couple of shiny particles in the blue and purple shades). The color themselves change a bit with the light, especially said blue and purple. Sometimes they appear more muted, but a strong light brings the unique pigment to life for a more dramatic look.

This photo and the next two show swatches done with wide lay-down brushes over primer. Only one swipe of the brush, so you can see how pigmented and intense these colors are.

These batch of swatches was done with the sponge applicators that came with the palette. The light is also different.

All the colors are new. There are similarities to existing shades, but they're not identical, so I'll post detailed comparisons later this week. For now, here are the colors in this palette:  beige champagne, a true honest-to-god taupe, golden khaki with a bit of bronze, charcoal-based purple, a blackened blue steel (that shows an almost teal cast under a certain light). Complex, obviously.

As you can see above, the palette comes with two sponge-tip applicators, but please use real brushes to get the most out of these colors. You can pat them onto the  lid with a lay-down brush, do a wash of color with an angled contour brush, blend them, smoke them out, use as a liner with a small smudge brush-- it's all good.

Now, for the giveaway:

One Rouge Bunny Rouge Eye Shadow Palette Raw Garden In Chronos will be sent to the winner. Open worldwide (!!!) to anyone over age 18 (that's the law). To participate, please tell us what's your favorite Rouge Bunny Rouge product, or: if you never had the pleasure- tell us what is your favorite makeup palette. Please make sure to leave a name and a way to reach you (email, Twitter handle, etc.). The prize will be sent by the nice people at Rouge Bunny Rouge, so by entering the draw you agree to have your details shared with them.

The product in this review was sent for my consideration by the company. I'm not affiliated with RBR and this giveaway is not monetarily sponsored in any way.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Currently- August 2014

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream. This was probably not the best time to read a book about an artist planning her suicide. Still, it's a good one, and less disturbing than The Expats by Chris Pavone, an espionage story, that I just finished.

The Magnetic Fields- All My Little Words

Fixer Upper on HGTV. Who knew Waco, Texas, was such a treasure trove of real estate?

I'm still completely mesmerized by Rozy, and still at loss of words to do it justice. Other than that I've been wearing a lot of Chanel No.5. Because it's Chanel No.5.

The new Lancome Grandiose mascara. It's the one with the bent wand. Review coming soon.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
I'm craving pink. The problem is that I have almost no pink clothes.

Tomato salad. Fresh tomatoes and banana peppers from our garden, a chunk of feta cheese, maybe half a jalapeno, olive oil and a dash of sea salt. Heaven.

Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure
Taking days off from blogging. As much pride as I take in my self-discipline, I needed some summer hours and mental-health days.
Also: I really enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy. And now I want a pet raccoon.

Doing my best to remain in Eileen's Baneless Zone.

Still these little faces:



Good hunting in Brimfield. I think I'm mostly looking for pieces to decorate the guest bedroom, but who knows?

Random Thought
How hard is it for Facebook to make it possible to set "show recent stories" as default? (Also: "block all selfies")

How are you doing? Please share your loves, banes, recommendations, and random thoughts.

Top image by Fabius Lorenzi, 1926, via