Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Winged Eyeliner For Deep-Set Sunken Eyes

Not like this.  Just so we're clear.
Kevyn Aucoin for Vogue, model Toneya Bird.

My eye shape isn't very common. It's a result of a bone structure that has the highest point of my cheekbone (actually it's the zygomatic bone, if I'm not mistaken) sitting not at the far out perimeter of the face pointing towards the temple, but an inch and a half closer to the center of my face and protruding straight ahead, casting a pronounced shadow on the entire under-eye area, as well as the very deep crease typical to regular deep-set eyes that comes with a very visible mobile lid.

My attempt at illustrating (copy/pasting various parts and lines, that is) my general eye shape.

This is what happens when trying to do a regular flick/wing. My sharp crease breaks the line and the colors actually pools inside.


This face situation has various consequences when it comes to makeup. Contour placement is extremely tricky if not completely useless. More frustrating than that is how my eye makeup needs to account for an under-eye shadow that can be slightly brightened but not erased. Nowadays it's fairly common to use fillers under the eye to make the area flat. However, I'm utterly freaked out by procedures this close to my eyes. My sight has been going downhill at an alarming pace and I'd rather not take any unnecessary risks, even the most remote and unlikely. I already know to expect cataracts in both eyes by the time I reach 60 (genetics. Thanks, dad and grandpa). I'm not happy about it, so I'm letting my eyes be until they need real medical intervention.

More than you've bargained for. No filters and no makeup other than a hint of concealer (Etude House BB Concealer) around the nose and Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Filter across the cheeks for the sake of dimension.

Back to makeup. the only color makeup I apply under the eyes is light and bright, never a full-on grungy black smoky eye.  Also, since my mobile lid sits so low (deep) under the bone, I can't just run a line from the lashline to the brow bone. A regular wing or a cat-eye simply can't work because the start and finish points would never align. Still, I wear eyeliner, and quite a bit of it. I even like to cheat a winged look quite often. One way to do it is by placing a few clusters (or a chopped strip) of false lashes right at the outer corner of the eye and curl them up to outer space (actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler who shares a similar eye shape to mine* has worn this look on several red carpet occasions). I do that once in a very blue moon, but  can't say I enjoy messing with the glue and placement. What I do is draw the faux wing on the mobile lid itself using either a liquid or a liquid pen eyeliner (gel and an angled brush also work. It's just a matter of preference). I take advantage of the large space of my mobile lid and take the line up as far out as I can, so it's visible when the eye is open.

An action shot attempt. You can see I'm straining to control the various elements from the remote to the eyeliner wand, but the point is to show you where to take the line and how far one can go.


A key to this technique is using a magnifying mirror and turning my head slightly to the side opposite the wing while looking towards the eye I'm lining. This way I can see exactly how far I can take the wing. Once it's up I look straight ahead and fill the gap between the eyeliner and lash line as accurately as possible, then clean up mistakes where I've colored outside the line with a makeup wipe and blot it with a tissue. That's it. All done. The key, as with most things in life is not to hold one's breath while drawing your eyeliner. It's true no matter the eye shape or technique, because the second you involuntarily exhale your hand will move in the wrong direction (best case. Worst case is stabbing yourself in the eye).




In this demo I've used a bold color (Nyx Vivid Bright in Vivid Envy, $4.90 at Ulta, and now I finally know what possessed me to buy it. It definitely stands out even in bad lighting), so you can see exactly what I'm doing and where the line goes. Obviously it's the same thing with a black eyeliner, just without evoking Kermit the frog. The other eye makeup I used here and above (except in the  pre-makeup shot are a light champagne eye shadow all over the lid and a light/medium brown in the crease.  Both are from Chanel LES 9 OMBRES Multi-Effects Eyeshadow Palette in Quintessence ($70, Bloomingdale's), but obviously anything goes and this is not a full or even planned eye makeup look. I also used one coat of Lancome Monsieur Big mascara for balance and contras against the green.

That's my trick for a slightly more dramatic eyeliner application for a truly difficult eye shape. This basic line can be the finishing touch for a sophisticated eye shadow placement and go with a elongated shape created with a medium-dark eye shadow color, tightlining or a cut crease.


*Jamie-Lynn also had a similar nose to mine, but she took care of that early on, circa the second season of The Sopranos. Good for her.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Seven Perfume Cravings that Prove I’ve Lost My Mind

Photo by Beata Cervin. You can read more here.

It’s not that I’ve stopped wearing Miel de Bois, thick velvety chypres, or any old amber-vanilla-sandalwood bombs. I do it with aplomb like we all did in the  80s, with one extra spritz for good luck. Every now and then, though, say once a week, I get a craving for something very very different. Sheer florals, wet florals, light musky florals, too prim and proper perfumes, fragrance styles that don’t go with my hair... Who is this person and why is she hoarding various Bvlgari Tea perfume samples in the bottom drawer of her nightstand? I can’t even blame spring, because the madness started over a year ago and has been fairly consistent throughout two winters, especially at bedtime or as a scent for the first couple hours of the day (until I’m fully awake, I guess).
  • Last year around this time I’ve told you how I fell in love with a most unlikely perfume, Linen Rose by Aerin. If that wasn’t enough, Sephora and a few department stores were pushing samples of another Aerin, the 2015 release Mediterranean Honeysuckle, one of their regular EdPs. I’m a sucker for honeysuckle, real and in perfume, so maybe it’s not a surprise that I fell for it. Still, the honeysuckle note here is steeped in citrus juice and heavily bleached by sunshine. It could have easily been a Jo Malone perfume, but who cares? It’s pretty and have lighted up many a dreary morning over winter.
  • Speaking of Jo Malone, this one is a sad craving because I missed out on the limited edition Wisteria and Violet from their 2014 London Rain collection. I held on to samples and hesitated for too long because it wasn’t what I envisioned as "my thing". It sold out rather quickly and that was it. The wisteria in my own garden is about a week away from blooming. We planted it by the deck, right next to the picture window of the living room, so its scent will burst in for a few days. It’s a gorgeous and fleeting moment, just like visiting London, my favorite city, and taking it in, trying to mentally tattoo every sensation and memory onto my heart. A bottle of this Jo Malone would have done me a world of good.
  • In a sharp turn from these modern fresh florals, here’s a retro one with billowing sleeves and a touch of melancholy. I’ve actually loved Nocturnes de Caron for many years despite or because it was clearly a perfume for a different woman. I’m not into astrology in any form, but I’m willing to bet no one familiar with Nocturnes would ever assign it to a Scorpio. I still feel a little like a pretender when I’m wearing it, but again, whatever. I might be a pretender but I smell like a proper lady.
  • This is where I’m feeling like a hypocrite because I’m over By Kilian and the various aspirational shenanigans of this Lauder-owned brand (yes, Aerin and Jo Malone are also part of the monster), yet I’m completely and utterly in lust with their Moonlight In Heaven. Let’s blame it on my severe coconut allergy that makes me compensate for it through coconut perfumes. Moonlight is a tropical pudding served alongside peeled wedges of sweet citrus fruit, and it all comes in clear glass bowls that reflect the light of the sunset from the beach. Obviously I’m in a need of a real vacation.
  • Fleur de Peau by Diptyque is another example of a “somebody else’s perfume”. It’s an iris, I’ll give you that, but of the very soapy and musky variety that I tend to skip (think Iris Poudre without all the poudre). It’s not makeupy, not particularly sexy, has none of the shadow and light of the truly great iris perfumes, but it’s pretty and actually warms up on the skin if you manage to make it last. Goes well with a vintage dress, pearls and opal, real hardcover books read by the open window, and beautiful cursive handwriting. I want to have a day like that every once in a while. Maybe I'll even do something with my hair in its honor.
  • This is where you get to wonder whether I’ve been abducted by aliens and replaced with a pod person. Last week I received a PR package from Elizabeth Arden. It had the original 2017 White Tea and the two new flankers, Vanilla Orchid and Wild Rose. Vanilla Orchid is a quince preserve that was cooked with a bit of vanilla but the pod was removed too early and not scraped into the jelly. Wild Rose scares me enough to wait until I can test it with a couple of friends. But it’s the original one that I suddenly find compelling (Reese Witherspoon is the campaign’s face, but it feels like she’s doing it in character as Madeline from Big Little Lies. That’s a good thing). I’m pretty sure I’m anosmic to at least half the structure of this fragrance because I’m not sure that in a blind test I can tell it apart from the Bvlgari one with the same name. I get a suspiciously cheerful citrusy white musk, slightly hysterical in its over-enthusiasm. It’s what you wear after finishing to KonMarie your entire home while you can still hear Marie Kondo’s giggly “ping” of the sparking joy moment.

  • Romulo Sans, Returned Gods, 2012
  • I thought that I was done with Chanel and we were never ever getting back together (told you: abducted, replaced, mind is gone). Between the disgrace that is Gabrielle, the travesty of L’Eau, and the gut job they did on the Les Exclusifs I’ve completely lost interest in anything they have to offer other than the makeup. Oh my god, the makeup! But the perfumes I’ve loved are ruined and the one I hated are now tolerable which is weird yet not enough of  a reason to wear Jersey. Then came 1957, the most recent Les Exclusif eau de parfum and I’m a goner. It’s both very modern using layer upon layer of white musk, perhaps the most synthetic of notes, but the layers are laminated in buttery florals like the dough of a French puff pastry. The sparkling citrus wrapped around young orange blossoms tames the animalic tendencies of this note. Normally I’d object to such treatment but somehow it works here. While the composition is new and even experimental for Chanel there’s still a nostalgic hint of real Chanel DNA when I’m wearing it. The world was quite nasty in 1957 if you weren’t a white man, middle class and above; as was Mademoiselle herself, so we need to be careful with the fake nostalgia. However, the 50s aesthetics can be enjoyed at face value, ironically, or as a guilty pleasure. That’s exactly how I’m going to feel when I order a bottle along with the newest Chanel makeup collection.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Beauty Gadgets- A Quick Overview

Anne Francis and Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, 1956

I live on the intersection of high-maintenance girly-girls (at what age do you stop referring to yourself as such?) and nerdy geeks who like the little enhancement tech gizmos bring to our lives (and get surprisingly ragy when things don't work as they should. Ask our old dishwasher, R.I.P.). Somehow No surprise then that I've managed to amass a small hoard of beauty gadgets with cords, electric and USB alike, that now demand their own power strip in my beauty room. I haven't tried everything that's on the market (I'm too skeptic to shell out for a NuFace, not to mention to make the commitment to use it fully according to instructions). The stuff reviewed here is for face only and is electrically powered, just so we're clear.

Possibly the strongest statement I'll make here is that if you're going to buy just one single item ever make it a lighted magnifying mirror. It's the least sexy of all gadgets and can be downright scary. But if you're about to get close and personal with your pores (see below) or if you're an eyeliner user particularly over the age of 40 you need this thing and you'll need it more urgently with every passing year. I've had an OttLight one over a decade ago (it was a PR gift)  and when it died I replaced it with an 8" SimpleHuman that has been serving me well ever since. It's an older model, x5 magnification that I supplement with a small suction cup x10 for eyeliner. The lighting action is sensor activated and USB powered. People who complain about the light not turning on right away have probably neglected the occasional cleaning of the sensor (I use an alcohol wipe). I rely on it daily and should probably look at adding a travel version, because the one I have right now, a KEDSUM tri-fold I bought on Amazon ($26) has been unreliable at best. It looks fantastic, but mine has issues charging (USB) and sometimes refuses to turn on (it has a switch in the back, but the mirror doesn't seem to care). I've travelled with it quite a bit over the last eighteen months and I'm ready for an upgrade.

I promised some pore talk, so we're getting to it. I have one strong recommendation and two shrill warnings. Let's start with one that does good. Many facialists have started supplementing their cleansing and extracting process with a steam/water-aided electric pulsating wand that shakes the pores clean. It's a good thing if you're not the biggest fan of manual extractions (I'm not, and the husband was traumatized by his one experience of a "relaxing facial". He still loves me. I think). The salon machines are not exactly sized or priced for the average consumer, but look online and you'll find a wide range of pulsing spatulas that promise to clean out your pores as well as give you an alternate setting that actually pushes skincare into your recently purified skin. Prices vary and I've taken my time researching before deciding on the right one for me, Labelle Ultrasonic Gentle Stainless Steel Facial Skin Scrubber Spatula by Trophy Skin ($149. I'm pretty sure it was cheaper when I bought it seven months ago). It works on a well-steamed (see bellow) and damp skin by sending ultrasonic pulses into the face that serve as eviction notice for the gunk in one's pores. I can't vouch for the effectiveness on seriously congested and acneic skin and wouldn't use it without consulting a dermatologist or a serious aesthetician first. All I know is that for my normalish skin that tends to get surface and just-under-the top layer blackheads this is a working solution.

It's important to read and understand the instruction, to remember that the gadget works on ultrasonic pulses (I rarely hear them  and the cats don't seem to mind. No idea about dogs), and to avoid scraping, pushing and digging. Don't apply any pressure to the skin. Just glide it, change directions according to the face nooks and crannies and let the spatula do its work. The result is part satisfying and part horrifying as tiny sebum plugs vacate the premise.

Once done it's time for your choice of skincare, but here's where the spatula falls short. The reverse pulses feel pleasant but I don't feel they contribute anything to serum absorption. Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't purchase this if you're mainly interested in pushing products into your skin. I have something else to recommend.

But before we get to that I still have a warning: vacuum pore suction devices. No No. No. I bought a dirt cheap one a couple of years ago that did diddly squat. You'd think I've learned my lesson, but no. I had to get a more "serious" one, with adjustable suction levels, replaceable suction heads in various sizes, and broken capillaries to boot. The gunk, by the way, remained comfortable until I switched to the Trophy Skin spatula. If you ever asked yourself who's the idiot who buys this junk featured on Instagram, that would be me (though I bought it on Amazon. I'm still as dumb).



The precursor to pre-cleaning is steaming the face. Methods vary from the good old boiling pot and a towel over one’s head (not recommended in homes ruled by felines) to various small appliances you can buy anywhere. A few have more functions than others, but I have yet to find a reason to replace my current one which is at least six years old and was purchased for less than $30. It’s no longer in production, but its clones are many.  The rules are simple: stable surface, close your eyes, don’t shove your face deep in there, and give the cats a few other educational toys to distract them.


I mentioned above that I didn’t think that the reverse action of the ultrasonic spatula was doing much for me. Instead I’ve got addicted to the Foreo UFO device ($280 at Sephora). The price is scandalous because they’re trying to keep milking you for money with the refill masks. As much as I adore this gadget I’m still mad about it. The UFO comes with an app, which means you’re supposedly have to locate your phone and bring it to the bathroom. Thankfully the default settings are good enough unless you’re intent on a specific facial routine. Once the Foreo UFO is nicely charged (USB, what else?) you remove the outer ring, stick the round mask and fasten it back with the plastic ring. If you’re using the app this is where you use the phone camera to read the barcode of the wrapper, or just click it on and start massaging your face gently with the device, enjoy the change in temperature and the LED lights that are also supposed to be beneficial. It’s a 90 second luxurious spa treatment that I feel does wonders for my skin (I can tell when I’ve been slacking). There are several different types of masks. I buy the basic Make My Day and Call It A Night ($9.99 for a seven unit package), and keep empty wrappers of each on hand to scan as needed, because I have a little secret. Many of us have piles of sheet masks around and they’re not all made equal. A good masking session takes more time, relaxation, and a high quality mask (both the sheet and the essence). Cheap and flimsy masks do have their place since they still give a hydration and glow boost. You just need to cut them to an approximate size and stick them in the UFO under whichever setting you fancy. It’s a great solution for the more questionable filler masks in your Mask Maven subscription, various GWPs, and all the ones that are supposed to make you look like a cute animal for Instagram stories. No. I will not film myself wearing a lemur mask, but I will use it in the solitude of my dressing room with the UFO. One last piece of advice: don’t pay full price. Sephora and other retailers have sales.

Now we’re getting to some unnecessarily controversial territory. A couple of years ago Lisa Eldridge decided to pull down a video about her experience with with facial microplaning . She was slagged as anti feminist and a promoter of unnatural beauty standards because women have facial hair and peach fuzz and shouldn’t feel the need to get treatment for it. I’ve watched that video while it was still available and even if I hadn’t, being familiar with Ms. Eldridge, her work and philosophy I could tell you there was no way she’d ever shame a person for their facial features. Ever. If you want to really be horrified go search Monika Blunder channel for her (possibly sponsored) video on the topic. As a Jewish person with ancestry that engulfs the Middle East, Balkan countries, and most of Eastern Europe I can tell you that facial hair, fuzzy or not, has been the bane of my existence from age twelve onwards, including years I’ve yearned paper bags over the head would be an acceptable fashion choice. I’m laughing it off now from my chair in a well-stocked beauty room and a lifetime experience of beauty treatments, but thirteen year old me would have sold my sister for a solution that would make me feel better about my appearance, at least to a less suicidal point. Microplaning is not a simple face shaving since it takes off the outermost layer of dead skin and debris, thus revealing a healthier, less prone to clogging skin, and a better absorbent canvas for skin care. The full Monty clinical procedure is relatively expensive, and frankly, I wouldn’t trust just anyone with a #11 scalpel near my face. There are several DIY options, such as the one Wayne Goss has shown on YouTube last year but it was a manual tool and not an electrical gadget, so it’s out of today’s scope. I would say that it’s better suited for an experienced microplaner, because it’s still a razor of sort. So beware. 

The one I’m talking about today is the Dermalash 2.0 ($189 at Sephora, Ulta, and most department stores). It’s another greedy scam to sell you an expensive device and then keep you buying the much needed refills. I wouldn’t use the same blade more than three times, and again use your Ulta points and various 20% coupons to take the sting off. It’s still annoying, but it works beautifully. Two things to know: it’s better to let the peach fuzz grow almost fully back before repeating, because that’s how it takes off most of the filth that’s caught in it. The second thing is that you must carefully eject the blade from the device so you can actually recharge it. It needs to be placed (blade-free) head down into the base. The LED light will indicate that it’s charging. Too many people didn’t fully read the manual (it’s confusing) and have returned fully functional units because they couldn’t figure out this little detail. The results I’ve been seeing over the last months (since the 2.0 model was launched) have made me a believer. I wish I could show my mustachioed and side-burnt teenage self all these wonders. 

One last note: Clarisonic. I still have my first generation brush I’ve written about back in the day and a stash of the old brush heads since I’ve heard they’ve changed, and not all brush types have improved. I’ll check it in due course. To the one I bought all those years ago joined a MIA Fit a few years ago ($219 wherever Clarisonic products are sold. I think this model might be in the process of phasing out in favor of a  bright and shiny new thing). It was a PR gift which has been serving well and traveled the world with me. Except that first time in Italy when I realized the PR package didn’t include a charging cable. I ordered one immediately and it was waiting for me when I got home, but the hilarity in the shower was unnecessary. In any case, I love my Clarisonic brushes and I’m secretly coveting the ultimate prize in the series, the Mia Smart Luxe Ultimate Collection ($299) that also includes a face massager and and eye awakening device (and hopefully a butler that looks and sounds like Tim Gunn to administer all these treatment).

How do you feel about beauty gadgets? Any recommendations?

Saturday, March 30, 2019

New Perfume Releases- Do We Care? Should We Care?

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, Parfum Caressant, circa 1897

There’s a YouTube genre of videos called “reactions”. People film themselves as they watch or read something semi-controversial, from the Red Wedding to celeb plastic surgeries, clips by Dr. Pimple Popper or their followers’ assumptions about their own lives behind the scenes. I was thinking about it recently while browsing lists of new perfume releases , making mental comments and the kind of facial expressions my mom has always warned me I’d be stuck with if I didn’t stop right that moment (she was kind of right).

I’m definitely not going to film myself doing it, but you may picture me trying to balance George and Lizzy, my laptop, iPad, messenger alerts on my phone, and a cup of tea. That’s the visual. My scent of the day was Chaos by Donna Karan from the original 1996 icicle bottle (“The Precious”. I also have the 2007 version in the black bottle which is just as discounted. Go figure). It may or may not influenced my attitude, but you tell me: can you avoid even a minimal snark when faced with the launch of Mademoiselle Rochas Couture, a new perfume that opens with notes of pear and pink peppercorns and dries down to a musk?

My reactions to the other perfumes went something like this (you can treat it as blind items if you wish):

Klassy.
Great. A flanker of a flanker of that thing I hated back in 2014. Can’t wait.
As opposed to “inauthentic woman”? Seriously? In 2019?
Mmmm... iris. Must. Investigate.
WHO ASKED FOR THIS?
I actually like the name. It goes with my image.
Can they just bring back two or ten of the originals?
Who let this happen?
I had no idea they still exist! Cute. 
Lord. The bottle. They can’t be serious, right?

The thing is that I’m highly unlikely to get out of my way to try any of them. For any perfume I’m going to sample one way or another there are 30 that will be completely ignored, even if they come from brands that twenty, fifteen, or ten years ago I’d bend over backward to get a sample as soon as the first testers trickled in. 

I’ve washed my hands off Serge Lutens. I no longer recognize the brand that still occupy part of my soul and a considerable shelf space in my cabinets. I’ve given up on L’Artisan three reformulations and repackaging ago, and on Malle, Kilian, and Le Labo a Lauder ago. Indie and micro-niche haven’t escaped the feeling of drowning under a tsunami of releases that feel rushed and half-baked, even from some of my favorite artisan perfumers. I feel that we as consumer and semi-industry savvy are partly to blame for that. If you’re a blogger or a mega consumer who goes to perfume events, how many times have you eagerly asked the perfumer or brand owner “so what’s next?” all while spraying yourself from the tester of the new fragrance that won’t be launched officially until next week?

If you’ve been a perfume enthusiast for decades, do you still care? Are you still excited about a Harrods exclusive you’ll need to have muled to you by your cousin’s in-laws? Do you still get butterflies at the name “Tauer”? Do you order sample packs from Luckyscent? Do you call Josie at Osswald to reserve your bottle of the latest oud? Do you still expect greatness from Guerlain and Chanel? 

Let’s talk about it. I’m genuinely struggling with the question “should I care?”. I’m beyond privileged, of course, having the depth and breadth of a perfume collection that had begun around 1989. I have a serious vintage collection as well as modern gems that delight me to no end. It’s easier for me to shrug at a new Dior exclusive called Holy Peony. I tend to dislike peony notes, so whatever. I’m also not as jaded as to lose my love for DSH who never bores me, Bruno Fazzolari who recently created the solution for all of us who were gutted by Chanel butchering Sycomore (again). Buy a bottle of his Vetiverissimo and send me chocolate and kittens as a thank you (note to self: get one for the husband ASAP). I never skip a Zoologist release, even If I end up hating it, because Victor Wong’s vision is still an adventure. 

But should I try to keep up? Do I care? Do YOU care? And if you do, about what and whom? Are you hiding behind your vintage collection or are you out there shopping like it’s 2006?


Please tell me about it.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Currently- March 2019


I had to change the title of this post from "January 2019" to "February 2019" and mow to "March 2019". I'm determined that's how it's going to be, the first post in this blog reboot. A "currently" post seems like the right idea. They're personal, which is where this blog's heading, it tells what I'm doing and loving (or not), and is not product-centric, which is what I aspire to do. I want to write. About beauty and perfume in the context of real life, the state of (my) world, age, and interests. It doesn't make one an influencer (I hope) or an online personality. Just someone who writes an old-fashioned beauty(ish) blog.



It's almost spring. There's still a layer of snow in my backyard but it's diminishing but the hour. I won't go into the cliche of spring, rebirth, renewal, etc., but it's never been so true for me. The last couple of months of 2018 and the start of this year were difficult. My mother-in-law passed away after two and half years of struggle with melanoma. Longer than that, actually, if you figure in the months of severe undiagnosed illness, the wait for an answer, and then the shock that comes along with a death verdict (hint: an advanced stage IV melanoma is still incurable). It's not my story to tell, so that's all I'll say about it. But you you can expect a mega-rant about the cavalier approach to sun protection by large parts of what's called the "beauty community" (another term that needs to go).

Find a sunscreen that works for you. Use it. Reapply. From now until the end of days.

Book
Tombland by C.J. Sansom. It's the latest in his Shardlake series of Tudor-era mysteries. It's slow-paced but after years of waiting for the book to be released I'm happy taking my time and hanging out with Matthew Shardlake. It's like a reunion with an old friend.

Music
Andrew Bird's new album, My Finest Work Yet. It might as well be. Here's the official video of Sisyphus:



TV
Last night I binged Picnic at the Hanging Rock on Amazon Prime. I'm not sure if I truly liked it, but it was beautifully filmed, I was interested in the Australian backstory, and I love Natalie Dormer.

Perfume
Parfums MDCI L'Homme aux Gants. It's like a sheer and more airy variation on the theme of Ambre Russe. It's thinner in that more contemporary way perfumery seems to be going lately with far less emphasis on a robust dry-down, but both the husband and I enjoy it very much for its smooth and cozy feel. I also love the inspiration of the Titian painting (it's even printed on the bottle).

Makeup
Green. In my defense, Ive been using reen liners or eye shadows long before it was all across YouTube. I'd say that the way to go is by buying singles and not necessarily palettes. That way one can pick the right tones.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
It's winter. I wear black boots. I'm over it.

Food
Very soft and cheesy polenta.

Bane
The master bathroom renovation is finally going to happen. I foresee chaos.

Joy
The master bathroom renovation is finally (FINALLY) going to happen. I foresee bliss. Once it's over.

Triumph
A major pantry declutter.

Not So-Guilty Pleasure
Hot chocolate and hot cider.

Anticipation
I got tickets to several shows in the coming weeks and months. This weekend we're going to see Lewis Black in his The Joke's On Us tour.

Wishlist
A long and fulfilling spa day. I'm in a dire need of a hydra-facial, among other things.

Random Thought
When and why did Moleskin stopped offering a stick-on loop pencil holder? I'm in need of a new dotted notebook so I was looking at a sapphire blue hardcover when I realized you could no longer buy the attachment that saves my pencils from George and Bingley. WHY? If I'm picking my notebook it means I need a pencil. If I need a pencil I don't want to crawl on the floor searching for the latest one stolen by a cat. My kingdom for a loop.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?


Photos by Shiri Hilton. Used with her permission because she's my sister.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Marketing of Dior Sauvage- Cultural Appropriation, Johnny Depp, And Missing Rene Gruau


Christian Dior photographed by Lord Snowdon, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, for Vogue 1957. Just a bit of a cultural and memory reboot.

This has been on my mind for more than a month now, since reading this opinion piece by Sarah Marrs about Johnny Depp and the cultural appropriation in the marketing of Dior Sauvage, the modern men's cologne. Please don't confuse it with the classic 1966 Dior Eau Sauvage. Please). I don't usually comment on cultural appropriation. I recognize it when I see it, avoid it like the plague because it's not my place, but I'm also Jewish and have the attitude that y'all are welcome to use Yiddish vocabulary and help yourself to my bagel & lox, so what do I know?

I spent too much time over the last few days watching and rewatching the various commercials and marketing clips released by Dior for their Sauvage campaigns from the  2016 launch till this year's new Sauvage Eau de Parfum. I was trying to make up my mind regarding the level of offensiveness, irrelevant drivel, and general annoyingness. The original Johnny Depp poster for Sauvage happened to be released around the time the uglier details of his marriage and separation from Amber Heard. It was pre #metoo, so one wonders if the campaign would have been toned down or binned were it to occur eighteen months later. It was hard to reconcile the photos of Amber Heard's bruised face with the multiple ring cladded hands of her ex-husband, serving us the weird combination of Captain Jack Sparrow's eyeliner in the American Southwest desert. That scandal was enough at the time to eclipse the association between "savage", Johnny's heavy silver and turquoise jewelry, and the landscape.



Now, Mr. Depp has been claiming an affinity to Native American culture and tribes for many years. He's gone along with the story that he was of Native blood, and has done charity and awareness work for the Native cause, which can definitely use all the support it can get. Johnny has donated money to the Navajo nation and has always seems to lean towards their particular aesthetic and style. That's not any more cultural appropriation than any of us buying and wearing a squash blossom necklace with a black turtleneck sweater and a pair of denim. That's a look, not a costume. It was also quite nice when the Comanche Nation adopted Johnny Depp  in 2012 for his contribution to their image. His own heritage claim was actually neither Comanche nor Navajo, but either Cherokee or Creek, but it could have probably be given a pass had it not occur during the pre-campaign for Lone Ranger. Good intentions or cultural appropriation? Depp got the benefit of doubt from most people at the time, but not all.

Next came Ancestry.com's research into Depp's heritage. Their findings were fascinating, showing that while there's no base to the claim Johnny's maternal grandmother was all or mostly Cherokee, he was actually a direct descendant (eighth great-grandmother) of Elizabeth Key, the first African American female slave who sued and won her freedom in 1656. That's quite amazing, but apparently you can't use that to sell perfume.

Here's when things have gotten past the point of insufferable. A few months ago Dior has released  Sauvage Eau de Parfum and with it an onslaught of an a very expensive campaign capitalizing on what they claim is Navajo culture, but without any prominent Navajo people in the cast or crew (I've watched the credits for the commercial to many times). The whole thing is bizarre in itself as a standalone project, but as an actual commercial for a perfume from a French brand controlled by a French conglomerate it crosses the cultural appropriation line.



Does it make you want to buy Sauvage?

In my opinion, by the way, both Sauvage iterations (edt and edp) are incompatible with my personal space. I never wanted to review either one, because doing so meant I had had to spend several days of my life wearing it. Careful sampling was more than enough (and the thing is unscrubbable). The best review I've read of Sauvage is in the article that has started me on this path, the one by Sarah Marrs on Lainie Gossip. It's the best fragrance review I've come across on a non-perfume site, and I have a strong suspicion that Sarah is one of us. I want to send her a box of assorted samples just to read her reaction.

Let's get back to perfume marketing. I'm still trying to figure out what the bison and the coyote were trying to tell me about a Dior perfume. There's also a blonde woman, which is more on brand, even if she's depicted in the throes of finding her spirit animal or something. But what makes Sauvage so "sauvage"? Why was this the branding angle chosen for the scent? Am I overthinking it?




The original Dior Eau Sauvage campaign relied on illustrations by Rene Gruau. Gruau's work is classic, immediately recognizable, and quite sexy. In his later ads for Eau Sauvage there's also humor, and even a man who may not be white. It's fun. They make me smile, which I suspect was the main intention of the Dior people behind the campaign. Maybe we can go back to advertising perfume this way.


Friday, June 08, 2018

Summer Top Picks: Scented Body Powders


Summer is the season for perfumed body powders. Sometimes it's for physical comfort, for other people it's the preference to go with something lighter than an actual perfume (don't ask me. I use them together). I love a good lashing of fluffy puffy powder before bed. The problem is that there are fewer and fewer of these little luxuries. Once upon a time most perfume lines had a range of body products that included a body (or an "after bath") powder. It's a rarity nowadays, and I can't even blame millenials. I'm pretty sure it was gen X that killed this category, rejecting our mothers' powder puffs.

There are still good ones to be found at just about every price range. Here are my top picks for summer:

Acqua di Parma Colonia Talcum Powder Shaker ($56, at Barneys and Bloomingdale's). It's the obvious partner to their Acqua Colonia eau de cologne.

Maja. Lovers of this classic Spanish perfume probably don't need me to tell them. The bars of soaps still live in my drawers and perfume my loungewear (I'm a shower gel person), but the powder is out on top the dresser for frequent use. Available from various online retailers and local stores, usually for under $15.

Shalimar. You knew it was coming. One of the most consistent products by Guerlain where reformulations, civet level, and packaging don't really matter. The body powder ($72) can be picked everywhere from Ulta to Saks.

Let's stay with the biggest classics for a second. Chanel body products go in and out of production, but the No.5 body powder (not to be confused with the bath powder) is alive and well. The most current version is even more finely milled than ever and comes with a powder puff ($72, Nordstrom, Macy's, and Chanel.com).

Thymes Goldleaf Dusting Powder. This is a heady scent, lush and floral in a style we know (and either love or hate) from the 80s. More Krystle Carrington than Alexis, perhaps, yet utterly fabulous, and in my case addictive ($45, thymes.com).

Woods of Windsor Lavender Dusting Powder. A classic cheap thrill that cost £6.66 in the UK and usually under $15 here. The powder also comes in other scents such as rose and jasmine, but for the Englishness of it and because I love lavender this is my favorite. Available on Amazon, from CVS stores, and other retailers. 

Estee Lauder offers body powders for a few of the brad's perfumes, including Youth Dew and White Linen. But my personal pick is Beautiful ($55, at Ulta, Macy's, esteelauder.com and other authorised sellers). It's another grand floral straight out of my youth, and I find that it gains a softer and cozier quality when worn as a powder.

I admit that Houbigant Quelques Fleurs was an acquired taste for me. It used to overwhelm me, but nowadays I keep a couple of vintage bottles stashed away. The current version, Quelques Fleurs L'Original is nice and comes in a couple of body products, including a stroke-inducing $300 Perfumed Body Powder. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both offer a $100 refill (5.2oz) that comes in a sachet. I'd find a gorgeous vintage container on eBay and dump it inside.

Lush Cosmetics really messed up the packaging of their powders. They're now sold in little bottles, like shampoo. At least they don't leak like earlier versions, but it looks... undignified. Still, Silky Underwear is kind of a modern classic by now with its brilliant jasmine-vetiver combination. The powder itself has the best feeling on skin (it somehow contains cocoa butter), and I use it all year ($10.95 fromlushusa.com).

I have a soft spot for Santa Maria Novella's Rose fragrance. It speaks of secret gardens behind ancient stone walls, and narrow path among fragrant bushes. Obviously I'm dreaming of Italy again. SNM currently offers their soliflores in dusting talc form ($45 from aedes.com and at Aedes Perfumery on Greenwich Avenue in NYC. Maybe I should try the one in Iris next. Have you?

For more fragrance picks for summer please visit Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, and Now Smell This

Monday, June 04, 2018

Chanel Première Eclosion 302 Eye Shadow Quad & Ombre Première 824 Verderame




This season has brought several Chanel eye shadow items that I've found irresistible. It doesn't always happen with their spring and summer collections, but these combinations of neutrals and rich greens are among the things they do best, and I'm all about the green lately.  First there's the Spring/Summer quad (not to be confused with Cruise Collection quad which we'll talk about in a few days and also look at alternatives), Première Eclosion 302.  It's a limited edition item (Chanel.com has sold out weeks ago but most department stores have it in stock right now). It's a classic Chanel combination of colors where you can almost see the tweed jacket with golden buttons emerging from the compact.

swatches done with a flat brush, one sheer coat over Lorac eye primer

Première Eclosion is the baked formula and offers the usual mid-level pigment saturation. The colors are semi sheer and can only be built u to a certain point. It's not Instagram makeup and isn't meant to be. I'm fine with that, since it works beautifully for a daytime real people look. The texture is pliable and blendable, and all the colors in the quad can be layered over a cream eye shadow base, either from Chane (see below) or from other brands, upscale or drugstore.

The colors in Première Eclosion are a pale mint green (applies best with a dense flat brush over a creamy base, needs little to no blending, a peach with a light sheen and more robust pigmentation, a light taupe with a silky sheen, and an almost matte dark chocolate brown. The texture of all four is smoother than I remember from other baked quads, and they can all be applied with fingers in a hurry. I've done the 30 seconds per eye with two colors in several combinations and they look just as sophisticated as a more elaborate placement, though the latter is of course more fun to create.

Bottom Line: mostly for Chanel fans, but not a bad place to start a habit. It's like a summertime version of Tisse Venitien.

Chanel Première Eclosion 302 Eye Shadow Quad ($61, limited edition, made in Italy) is in stock right now at Saks, Macy's, Bloomingdale's and probably other stores as well.



one swipe with the included brush, no primer.

Chanel Ombre Première 824 Verderame came out at the same time as Première Eclosion, the gorgeous Premiers Fleurs face palette, and a couple of lip colors. It's a permanent shade, though, which joins the improved cream shadow range, Ombre Première. Verderame is a stunning black-based cypress green right out of a Van Gogh painting. The soft texture is tempting to get one's fingers right in there and start painting. Brushes are optional and the one that comes in the box is quite adequate in laying down the color before diffusing the edges with your finger or with an old 217.

This cream shadow can also become a base for the mint green or the taupe from the Première Eclosion quad, or any trendy liquid glitter or sheer duochrome product you feel like layering on top. I've tried stuff from J Cat to Pat McGrath Astral White. It's all good.

Bottom Line: I can't keep my hands off this eye shadow.

Ombre Première 824 Verderame ($36, made in Italy) is available from Chanel.com and most department stores.