Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Currently- September 2016

The du Mauriers by Daphne du Maurier. It's a novelized history of her fascinating family. I needed a short break from contemporary fiction, and remembered how much I loved du Maurier's book. The magic is still there, making me want to reread all my favorite classics.

First and foremost there's the new album from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree. My favorite artist processing his grief, and he's as good as when I first fell in live with his Prince of Darkness persona all those decades ago.

But I've also been having some good old earworms running through my head, the entire Simon & Garfunkel Concert in Central Park album (one of my favorite records of all time. And beyond time, really), and since it's the season, Joni Mitchell's Urge for Going has been on my mind every morning as I wake up.

(skip to the 1:04 mark)

I can't remember all the stuff we watched lately. There was a failed attempt to enjoy the second season of Kimmy Schmidt (we didn't), binged on Unreal and got depressed , watched some of Judd Apatow's Love (ditto), and Hulu's Casual (same, kind off). at least there's some good stuff waiting (Transparent. I can't wait).

I've been testing Mandy Aftel's Memento Mori, which means a review is coming. Other stuff I'm reveling in are Eau de Hongrie, Tauer's Une Rose Vermeille and Une Rose Chypree, and have been wearing Shalimar Parfum Initial more often than I should. But today I'm in Wazamba, which smells more incensy than ever.

Anything duochrome. From Butter London eye gloss to classics like Urban Decay Lounge and MAC Club.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
The season change has found me in my skinniest black jeans (J Brand). It makes everything easier.

I binged on my mom's cooking for a week. Her apple pancakes are the best in the world. The fact I can still zip up the aforementioned skinnies is nothing short o a miracle.

I'm still jet lagged, which is a record for me. Of course, I also caught the usual plane crude. Mornings aren't pretty around here. Neither is the 3 am waking up (except for a glass o chocolate milk and cuddling with Georgie).

So many. My niece and nephew are everything. Spending time with my friend designer Ella Braitman (and buying that red dress you can see in her cover photo). Searching for and connecting with my Bulgarian family branch. I have a pretty cool once-removed cousin and second cousins in Sofia. Coming home was the best, though. We had an excellent cat sitter, so house and critters were in perfect shape.
Also, the comments on my previous post. All of you have inspired me and made my way going forward that much clearer.

Quiet days and nights, getting back to work on my blog the way I believe it should be, staying true to myself and my readers.
Also, wearing that red dress on a night out.

It sounds ridiculous considering that I just got back home from a trip, but I'm craving a romantic vacation, and for some reason I'm pretty fixated on the Isle of Wight.

Random Thought
The next person comparing the Duchess of Cambridge to Sophie Trudeau, favorably or not, should get bitch-slapped from here to Price Edward's Island.

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

Art: The Broken String of Beads, Hede von Trapp, Studio International Art, 1913

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vacation And Open Thread

As you've probably figured out, I'm on vacation. In previous years I used to spend weeks of sleepless nights scheduling posts and stressing out to the point I'd get to the airport bleary eyed and half insane. As I've been reevaluating the way I blog and the focus the site needs to take, I've decided that sanity first (my cat/house  sitter might beg to differ). I'll be back by the end of next week with more beauty, perfume, and perhaps a sharper tongue. It feels like I've been holding out a bit while I actually have a lot to say.

The beauty market and beauty blogging (I include perfume) has changed in ways that I and the other old-timers have never saw coming. Some of my readers are edgy and trendy millennials with a fascinating point of view. Others are cranky old coots like me, who have even more opinions than chin hairs. I want to know what ALL of you think, so we can dissect it to the nth degree.

How do you see the current beauty market? What do you feel about the glut of products and the way they're pushed on Instagram and YouTube, usually through paid yet undisclosed content? What do you wish and hope to see online? What do you miss and don't miss from the olden days? How can I and my friends make our content better? What do you love? What do you hate? What do you wish to see on this very blog? Any thoughts are welcome and will be addressed personally or publicly.

See you soon.

Image: Model Jane Powell for Lady Blatimore, May 1959

Monday, August 29, 2016

Make Up or Ever Eye Brushes 238 & 256

I bought my Make Up For Ever medium smudger brush #238 last year out of curiosity. None of the eye shadow brushes in my collection looked anything like this flat blunt one, and I was intrigued by the idea of using this shape for smudging color under the lower lashes, where I typically use smaller, narrower brushes, from the old version of NARS #15 to various Hakuhodo favorites, or whatever is lean and within reach. The potential of creating a more graphic yet somewhat diffused line in one fell swoop seemed very attractive, and I was curious to see what other uses  can find for this brush.

One of the things I've discovered since I started using this brush is that my lower lashes are so thick that there's very little space for a brush to move under them. It's never been a problem before, because I've always used smaller thinner brushes. Make Up For Ever 238 is massive in comparison, and is definitely thicker. I can do the lash work with it, but I can't say I enjoy it, especially since I've been spoiled by various squirrel hair brushes, and MUFE #238 is much rougher on the under-eye area. In my opinion, this brush is much more suitable when you want to apply a very even coat of eye shadow on a relatively large lid area with minimum strokes. That's where the width and flat shape come in handy, and using feather-light strokes eliminates scratchiness.

Speaking of the brush's fibers, I can tell you that squirrel it ain't, but that's about it. The MUFE site doesn't give any details. My initial thought was  that it's too rough to be synthetic, but this blurb on Sephora's site claims otherwise:

"The 100-percent fiber brushes are available in a range of 76 handcrafted styles, each with the perfect balance of straight and wavy fibers that replicate natural hairs."

Also, it seems like MUFE has changed the brush slightly since I purchased mine. The info on the Make Up For Ever website says that the hair of the 238 is straight, while my brush clearly declares itself wavy, and it is, hence the increased volume and thickness (basically, it's like the stuff on my head).  I wonder if the same brush with straighter hairs could be more suitable for my lower lashes. In any case, to give you an idea about the size of the 238 I compared it below to a classic Paula Dorf Glimmer Eye brush (the widest in the range) and to a modern favorite, the thick and soft Marc Jacobs concealer brush (I usually use it for cream eye shadow):

See? That's one big brush.

Eventually, I decided I wanted a similar yet smaller Make Up For Ever brush to fulfill the smudging promise. I checked one of the local Sephora locations, but they didn't have #256 in stock, so I ordered it online. This brush is actually an eyeliner brush, and has short stiff bristles. I like this type of brushes for tightlining and pushing color into the base of the lashes, and the particular shape of this brush (see how much shorter the bristles are compared to my ancient Sephora brush, and how wider it is next to the classic Smashbox one) makes it pretty efficient for smudging a gel pencil under the lower lashes. It's less effective with powder eye shadow (creams work better), but Make Up For ever offers several small precision brushes (216, 204, 210, 220, 212, 208, 202, 206) that would probably do the work beautifully.

Bottom Line: good brushes, but neither is an essential if you already have good alternatives. My shopping list, however, has grown.

Make Up or Ever Medium Smudger Brush 238 ($31) and Definer Eyeliner Brush 256 ($24) are made in Mauritius (that's interesting!). They're available from Sephora, makeupforever.com, and the brand's free-standing stores.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sonia Rykiel (1930-2016)

Sonia Rykiel quotes:
"Clothes have become ornaments again. Catalysts. It's up to each woman to protect herself."
"Being one step ahead of a fashion trend is not so important to me. What matters is to always forge ahead. " 
"First I made a dress because I was pregnant and I wanted to be the most beautiful pregnant woman. Then I made a sweater because I wanted to have one that wasn't like anyone else's. "
"People said making clothes inside out was not proper. I disagreed, because clothes that are inside out are as beautiful as a cathedral. "
"Perfume is like a parenthesis, a moment of freedom, peace, love and sensuality in between the disturbances of modern living."
"My clothes are put together out of different basic elements so that a woman can express the way she wants to look, transform, metamorphosize herself not as the woman I decided but as she herself wants to be."
"Your body can be very female, which is something you can do nothing about, but then you can have the soul, the mind and the spirit of both male and female. The women friends I am closest to somehow have this masculine side to them, they shove their hands in their pockets when they walk: I love that side." 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guerlain- Eau de Fleur de Cedrat (Vintage Perfume)

Here's something for the dog days of summer: a classic Guerlain eau. Eau de Fleur de Cedrat was originally launched in 1920, a year after Mitsouko and five years before Shalimar. I wish I knew what it smelled like back then. Guerlain already had a "proper" eau de cologne on their shelves, Eau de Cologne Imperiale (1853), so I'm curious to know what exactly was in Jacques Guerlain's composition. My own bottle of Eau de Fleur de Cedrat is an eau de toilette and dates from 1997. That's post-LVMH but pre-IFRA and all the shenanigans of the last decade, which is why I labeled this review as "vintage perfume"

Cedrat means citron (Citrus Medica), the rather elusive relative of lemon that us Jews know as "etrog", the fruit used in the Sukkot holiday ritual. I have no idea if and how citron blossom differs from lemon or lime flower. I assume Jacques Guerlain knew what he was doing, and perhaps in  his days this perfume was more floral. what I smell is a high quality sharp citrus. It's very rindy and lemony, slightly laced with abstract green leaves that just barely soften the punch. The opening of Eau de Fleur de Cedrat is what perfume bloggers like to call "bracing", and this is exactly what one needs this time of the year.

Eau de Fleur de Cedrat might not have much of an emotional depth, at least in the 1997 and later versions I've smelled, but it's not flat or boring. The hint of dusty rough wood that holds the base together is bordering on cuminy. It's not as marvelously animalic as Eau de Cologne du Coq (1894), but just subversive enough to keep things fun if you spray heavily enough (you really should), and pay attention to things that happen on skin level. While I can't say that there is  a late dry-down, two hours after application you can still smell the relative complexity of what at first sniff seemed like nothing more than a fresh and pointy bright lemon. Then it's time to spritz again and complain about the weather.

Guerlain- Eau de Fleur de Cedrat ($104, 100ml eau de toilette) is available from major Guelain counters and online.

Image:  Maria Sibylla Merian, Citron with a Moth and a Harlequin Beetle c. 1701-2, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Killer Packaging: Estée Lauder Limited Edition Graceful Seahorses Powder Compact & Givenchy Magnolia Couture Edition Le Rouge Lipstick 306 Carmin Escarpin

Sometimes it's the packaging that reels me in and gives me that MUST HAVE NOW twitch. Of course, the makeup product has to be really really good, because I'm not a collector.  I buy stuff that I'm going to use or I leave it at the counter. I don't have the storage space for dead weight, and I already have a makeup collection that makes civilians question my sanity. However, the siren song of these two limited edition items was impossible to resist. And they made sense, each one in their own way.

Givenchy  Le Rouge Lipstck in 306 Carmin Escarpin is not a limited edition. It's part of the regular Givenchy makeup line, and I even had it in the regular bullet (click the link to see swatches)for over three years. It was one of my fail-safe red lipsticks, and the sturdy case made it an ideal makeup bag and purse resident, because it never opened accidentally. My Le Rouge Carmin Escarpin has traveled, went to events, and  dined out. I've managed to use up so much of it that I did't even flinch when it started to go off and emit a rancid smell. I got my use out of it. And I already had a replacement lying in wait: the same lipstick in Givenchy's Magnolia Couture Edition packaging.

Th lipstick is the same great satin finish poppy red. It has a makeupy scent that I'm not loving, but goes away quickly, and that's the only complaint I can think of when it comes to this favorite color and excellent lightweight and long-lasting formula. The magnolia print part of the case can be transferred to any other Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick, which I most definitely do at some point. For now, order has been restored to my universe and I have my Carmin Escarpin back in rotation.

I only have one other limited edition Estée Lauder compact, and it's the Zodiac Scorpio one from 2012 that holds the smaller Lucidity pan (I've refilled it once since buying). Lucidity is a great powder in a slightly luminous finish. I like it a lot, but have always wished for the larger pan (2" compared to the 1.5". I was surprised to see that the powder in the new and stunning Graceful Seahorses compact is a pressed version of Lauder's Perfecting Powder, a more mattifying product with a sheer finish. I don't mind, since right now I actually need a powder like that for upcoming travel, and I can refill the compact at any point with the large size Lucidity ($12, by the way, wherever Lauder products are sold).

The somewhat eyebrow-raising thing is that at this time there's no refill option if you want to stick with the Perfecting Powder. As a matter of fact, Estée Lauder doesn't offer a regular version of the pressed Perfecting at all. Also, the box says that the color of the powder in the Seahorses compact is "01 Translucent". As far as I could find out, Lauder's loose Perfecting powder comes in four shades, labeled "light", "light medium", "medium", and "deep". I have no idea if the powder in my new compact is a limited edition seasonal item or something that will be available in the future. In any case (pun not quite intended), I bought this for the seahorses and to use for many years to come, with any of Lauder's 2" powder pans that I feel like putting inside. It comes in a velveteen pouch for protection, which is a good idea. I'd hate or this beauty to scratch or lose a crystal.

Both items are obviously a limited edition products. Estée Lauder Graceful Seahorses Powder Compact ($175, made in Italy, though the box doesn't specify if the entire thing was manufactured there or just the powder) is exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, in store and online.
Givenchy Magnolia Couture Edition Le Rouge Lipstick in 306 Carmin Escarpin ($38, made in France, and ditto on manufacturing/assembling) is available from Sephora and Barneys. The regular Le Rouge lipsticks, including Carmin Escarpin, are $36 at Sephora, Barneys, Saks, and Neiman Marcus, as well as on net-a-porter.com, where they may be also selling the Magnolia version at regular price (or perhaps they just haven't updated the stock photo).

Background used for the photo is the book Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The famous photo of model Jean Patchett is by Irving Penn, 1950.

Currently- August 2016

Just finished my yearly not-so-guilty pleasure, the new Liane Moriarty novel, Truly Madly Guilty. It was a bit gut-wrenching in a way that felt like an emotional manipulation, but I enjoy Moriarty's writing and the annual visit to Sydney and its suburbs.

As predicted last month, we binged on Orphan Black season 4 in one weekend. And can I just say how happy I am that the Olympics are over?

The acoustic version of Melt by Jones.

I've spent the last couple of days marinating in Arquiste's Fleur de Louis.

Mascara primers. All of a sudden I want lashes that touch my eyebrows. Also: powder foundations.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Maxi dresses, long necklaces, wedge heels, one last hurrah of summer colors.

Brie. I love that Whole Foods specify which cheeses are made with a vegetarian rennet.

Petco's shipping. Slow and unreliable at best.

It's the little things. Laughing with my best friend until we're both breathless, kitten kisses, rediscovering an old gem in my perfume collection, my new favorite makeup brush (Koyudo Fu Pa #14), oh, and a husband who's unfazed by things beauty bloggers do.

My 20th wedding anniversary.

ACNE Studios Jensen booties in black grainy leather. If I only buy one item this fall/winter this should be it.

Random Thought
I'm actually sad about Gawker going away. While sometimes the site appeared to be all that's grating and aggravating in today's online media, it had its place. Gawker offered some good writing and clever snark, but the important thing is the way things came crashing down is simply wrong.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?
Art: William Merritt Chase, First Touch of Autumn, 1898

Monday, August 22, 2016

FotD Featuring Chanel Fall 2016 Le Rouge Collection

Or: My mom said I'm too pale, so I've put on a red blush.

As promised, here's a serving suggestion for a daytime look that includes the reds from Chanel Fall 2016 Le Rouge Collection No.1. I went with as many Chanel products as looked reasonable, and also gave their Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation another chance, this time loading up on skin enriching The Face Shop Mango Seed Butter Glow Date-Prep, to make sure my skin texture is at its very best. Les Beiges still sucked the life out of it for the first hour of wear, before settling into a powdery matte finish. I can't see myself wearing it unless I'm going to be outside in a super humid weather. And even then I'm not sure that's the best option. My shade match, after also testing the yellower No. 21 and the darker No.40, turned to be No.30, which was not a big surprise. Out of the bottle and unblended the color looked Trumpily orange (see below), but apparently my arm has a lot more green than my face these days, so it was the better option color-wise. I did use quite a bit of Chanel Tan de Soleil  (see: my mother's comment on my lack of color).

The Face Shop Mango Seed Butter Glow Date-Prep
Le Blanc de Chanel Illuminating Base 
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation No.30
Chanel Tan de Soleil Bronzing Makeup Base
Chanel Eclat Lumiere Face Pen under the eyes and around my nose to cancel the redness and brighten up. I skipped precision concealer as there was nothing particularly glaring otherwise, and  already had on more than enough base products.
I also avoided powdering, which I never do, because Holy Mother of Matte Faces.

Wet'n'Wild primer.
Chanel Fall 2016 eye shadow quad Candeur et Experience. I used all four colors, starting with the lightest brown from the lash line up to just above the crease, then added the second-lightest on the outer two thirds of the mobile lid. Nest step was mixing the red and darkest brown into the outer V, creating a shape that I topped with a lot more of the red. I've already experimented enough with it that my lids can take an abnormal amount of this color because they're that much darker than any other part of my skin. So I was not scared to pat one last coat of red before blending it carefully.
Chanel Stylo Waterproof eyeliner in Santal, which is probably the best eye pencil they ever created. Some of the Stylo pencils have a horrible texture or a miserable pigment, but Santal is excellent (and thankfully permanent). I used it on the upper lid, waterline, and lower lash line, where it stayed all afternoon and into the evening.
Le Volume de Chanel mascara in Noir. I keep acquiring samples of this mascara, and once even bought a tube, but I still don't think it's all that.

I added even more Soleil Tan de Chanel  and topped it all with the new Chanel Rouge Profond Joues Contraste Blush. After I took the photos I decided to add a touch more blush (but my camera's battery was dead by then), because I felt I could get away with it. I was wearing a maxi dress in a pale blush color. It's an unusual choice for me, and the color had the potential to wash me out (hence all that Soleil), so I made sure it didn't.

MAC Prep & Prime lip primer (because I recently repurchased for the eleventy seventh time and it was sitting there).
Chanel Precision Lip Liner in 05 Mordoré. The name means "bronze", the color is actually nude (even according to Chanel), and I'm still trying to come up with a good Sean Bean-as-Boromir "One just not simply walk into Mordoré" meme after all these years. I'm a nerd in every possible way.
Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in the new Rouge Tentation fall shade, applied with a brush and slightly blotted.

That was it. No powder, concealer, brows or gloss. The day was oppressively hot and humid, and I was already cranky about the stupid foundation. I wore my glasses later that afternoon while driving, and when I checked I saw that my eye  makeup appeared very subtle. probably because my frame is burgundy. Maybe I should have put on more red eye shadow.

Other Stuff
SotD Chanel No.19 (it was an obvious choice)
Aforementioned dress from ASOS.
Vintage necklace.

See Also

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