Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you a delightful and peaceful holiday, full of loved ones and delicious treats.

Image: Louis J. Rhead for Harper's Bazzar, November 1894

Brush Storage- A Snail

It's been a while since I've found an interesting vintage flower frog to hold more brushes (there are always more brushes). I fell in love with this snail right away, and was delighted that the holes are perfectly sized and spaced for these brushes- it's mostly Paula Dorf, Hakuhodo Kokutan, Chikuhodo Z 10 and a couple of MAC and Laura Mercier.

I think I should name the snail. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London Smokey Suedes Eye Palette

Left side of the palette, Butler at the top, clockwise from top left: Shaken, Verde, Cocoa, Prosecco

Right side of the palette, Butler at the bottom, clockwise from top left: Glazed, Plumberry, Machiatto, Whoopie Pie

Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London Smokey Suedes Eye Palette is the biggest makeup surprises I've had in a very long time. I knew it was pretty and well-edited and I was already impressed by the high quality of Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London lipsticks. What I didn't expect is the spectacular texture of the eye shadows in this palette. Buttery is an understatement here, and something I couldn't tell just from looking at the pans. These Ciaté London eye shadows look quite ordinary until you touch them/dip a brush/get them on your eye lids. Then they become true magic, and I'm not exaggerating. I'm reminded of the very best among MUFE Artist eye shadows with extra butter.

Olivia Palermo's elegant style is is apparent in the choice of a plum, brown, or green smoky eye. There's no black or charcoal here, yet the eye shadows are very pigmented and as you blend them you get a beautiful smoky effect. The combination of matte and shimmer is also excellent and allows you to pick an choose areas to highlight, and create several striking looks from the many possible combinations the palette offers.

Here's what you get here:
Top row-
Shaken- dark gold shimmer
Verde- dill green (shimmer)
Whoopie Pie- matte mauve
Glazed- gold-infused mauve (reddish shimmer)
Butler- matte warm ivory
Bottom Row-
Prosecco- a peachy champagne (shimmer)
Cocoa- low-shimmer dark chocolate
Macchiato- matte, brown-based dark mauve
Plumberry- matte plum

The mauve colors can be difficult for me to wear straight, but I've tried them over darker cream shadow bases and they're spectacular. Laura Mercier Caviar sticks are excellent for this, as are MAC Paint Pots. The green color is stunning over a black base, and the shimmery colors are not just for highlighting, but can be carefully applied over other eye shadows and in the middle of the lids. The basic combinations are to look at each side as a quad, the way I swatched them (plus the matte middle color as a base and under the brow bone), or to use each row as a separate quad. But everything goes, and I've added a touch of Plumberry to my favorite Burberry singles. I will have to create two different looks from this palette to show you a couple of options, including a non-smoky eye.

Bottom Line: it's taking all my willpower not to buy the other Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London eye shadow palette (a.k.a the one with the blue eye shadow). My resolve is melting as we speak.

Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London Smokey Suedes Eye Palette ($39, made in Italy) is a Sephora exclusive. The product for this review was a press sample sent by PR.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Memo- Irish Leather

I've had a soft spot for Memo perfumes ever since visiting their (now closed) standalone Paris boutique in 2008, not long after the brand launched. Memo was not available in the US until this year when several stores finally picked up the line, making things a bit easier and wishlists that much longer. Irish Leather was a "like" turned into "love" turned into a bottle, and the only surprise here is that it was the only one of Memo's Cuir Nomades series the husband and I felt compelled to have (we still need to try the newest, African Leather). The green notes are what got to us.

The opening of Irish Leather is surprisingly bright and juicy. It feels like biting into a green stem and feeling your mouth with something similar to wood sorrel (the kind with yellow flowers).  No citrus is listed among the official notes, but I get that flinty facet of grapefruit, and it adds even more bright juicy bitterness to the incandescent herbal impression. Sometimes when I wear Irish Leather I expect the top notes to be followed by an inky or swampy vetiver, along the lines of Encre Noire or Lampblack. Instead, the green of this Memo fragrance is darker and slightly peppery, evergreens and juniper berries,  that complements the dry leather note (no hint of butter).

Irish Leather is both crisp and warm, the latter impression is the result of the birchy leather that's laced with hey. I don't find it particularly barnyady or even very animalic. It's less horse and more the horse's natural habitat, an old saddle forgotten or tossed onto the grassy meadow. That grassy thing is actually very dominant, contributing to the phantom vetiver note. When The Blond got home tonight he asked which one of "his" vetivers I borrowed. It was Irish Leather, over ten hours after spritzing.Which brings us to the phenomenal longevity of this perfume. It has a strong presence and an actual sillage even after a full day. I've worn it in the dead of summer, when the green felt refreshing and the tarry leather fiery and dry (perfect on a humid NYC day). I wear it now for its warmth (Kafkaesque, on the other hand, can't stand it).

Notes: pink pepper, clary sage, juniper berry, green maté absolute, flouve, iris concrete, tonka bean absolute, leather, birch, amber accord.

Memo- Irish Leather ($250, 75 ml eau de parfum) is available from Luckyscent, Aedes, and Neiman Marcus. The latter also carries the travel size ($145, 3x10ml).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Currently- November 2015

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie. An Anglophile academic takes herself and her self pity to the UK. Exquisitely written.

I'm on a Django Django kick. Have been listening to this one every night.

We really need an option to stream all the episodes in every season of The Great British Baking Show (it's on PBS, for the uninitiated). And a delivery service of baked goods to go with it.

I'm constantly alternating between vintage Fidji and vintage Opium.

The items I bought from Guerlain Holiday collection have been seeing a lot of use. Also eyeliner. Lots of eyeliner in every form.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
A silk chiffon DVF top in a floral print with jeans. Add flats during the day and my most outrageous boots for night.

The panda cam at the National Zoo. You'll never get anything done, but you'll be very very happy.

Guilty Pleasure
Today I refuse to feel even an ounce of guilt. Besides, today's pleasure was installing a storage system and organizing the vanities in both bathrooms. It doesn't get more wholesome than this.

Fresh baked good from Balthazar. Another perk of living in North Jersey.

Can't have any banes when I feel so lucky living my little life among people and cats I love.

My sister is coming tomorrow for a quick visit.

Thanksgiving with friends.

To get every corner in every cabinet in the house efficient and organized. I might have been pursuing Pinterest a bit more than what's good for me.

Random Thought
During a week of extra obnoxious social media activity I felt very pleased for not having to unfriend or block a single person. My friends are awesome.

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

Art: Paris at Night by Michael Flohr via Vinings Gallery

Cat(s) Of The Day




You might have seen Philip's photo on the cats' Facebook page, but the rest are brand new. I don't think Giselle was all that willing to pose; she was just looking for a warm spot, while Lizzy was deliberately taking a nap. Josephine was just waiting for tuna time.

And a bonus: This was happening in our back yard this morning between rain showers. The cats and us were fascinated.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Replica Collection by Maison Martin Margiela

I first came a cross the Replica Collection by Maison Martin Margiela when it appeared at Barneys. I think there were only five perfumes in the series at that point, and the SA was pushing them so aggressively I was instantly put off. I wasn't too impressed and later agreed wholeheartedly with my friend Jessica of Tinsel Creations when she raised an eyebrow at the entire concept and suspicious lack of originality. Considering the cerebral nature of Margiela's fashion line and the brilliance of the very first perfume from the brand, Untitled, a modern wicked green, I expected so much more. Then I promptly forgot about the whole thing, until the line was picked by Sephora and a couple of department stores, and samples started accumulating and multiplying. It was time to give them another go.

Beach Walk
I don't like it. I really really don't like it. I think it's supposed to be a tropical kind of thing, and I wish it were, but I get no gardenia, creamy coconut or sandy beaches. It's more like coconut water, with an emphasis on the watery aspect. Beach Walk feels very sterile, diluted, and extremely dull. I know taht it's often compared to Bobbi Brown Beach, but as someone who's gone through a bottle of Beach body oil despite an initial dislike I see no comparison (though I suspect the Bobbi has been reformulated and not for the best).

Flower Market
I tossed the sample after the second testing. It smelled more like the stale water left in the buckets after the flowers were sold. I can't deal, sorry.

Lazy Sunday Morning
This one is so shockingly generic I have to laugh. All I get is a cheap laundry musk at its very worst. There's a hint of rose in the very late dry-down, which I had to bring myself to sit through. I wouldn't tolerate it from my laundry detergent, let alone a luxury perfume.

Jazz Club
I really like this one. A boozy leather and tobacco that's less sweet than Tobacco Vanille and less honeyed than Back to Black. It's also more linear than both, mellower, and probably very office-friendly. The dry-down has an attractive dirty musk-wood thing that is a bit masculine in a somewhat naughty way. It's miles above the other MMM Replicas I tried in this batch and comes from the perfumer behind the entire Memo line.

Maison Martin Margiela Replica Collection  ($125, 100ml each) is available at Barneys, Saks, Nordstrom, and Sephora. There are six more perfumes in the series (not including Untitled and Untitled L'Eau), but I think I'm done for a while.

Image: Maison Martin Margiela masks from its Fall 2012 haute couture collection via Bare Magazine.

Becca Mineral Blush- Nightingale

I'm finally ready to forgive Becca for discontinuing their old range of cream blushes. Almost. I still miss Turkish Rose, but let's face it: there's so much good blush in the world these days that it's pointless to focus on a long-gone color, as great as it was. I moved on, Becca has moved on, and today it's a much bigger brand and it's considerably easier to find. That's a good thing, as is the blush we're looking at today.

Nightingale couldn't be further removed from Turkish Rose. Obviously it's a powder product, a mineral pressed blush. It's also the most intensely pigmented blush I own. I was quite shocked the first time I encountered it. Holy Batman Color! Applying it requires a small soft brush and a light hand. I don't use it with anything other than Hakuhodo small round "purple" Yachiyo (the pointed one can deposit too much color at one spot) or even the fluffier G5540. A harder brush kicks up a storm of product that clings to cats and their whiskers (there's nothing like chasing Lizzy around the house with makeup wipes).

All swatched with the same brush, Kevyn Aucoin contour, which is far too stiff for such a heavily pigmented brush but was a good size for the photographing

To show you how concentrated Becca Nightingale is I rounded up a bunch of its reddish plummish peers. Few products are more intense than a NARS blush, but you can see how Becca is is deeper, darker and more opaque than the Holiday 2014 Almería. Nightingale isn't completely matte, by the way, but the light shimmer you see in the pan barely translates on skin, and ends up as the lightest glow when the blush is well blended. The other two deep plum colors I have are left far behind (I didn't include Lancome Aplum because it's much lighter and more pink than the ones above) . Chanel Plum Attraction has a finer texture and less red tone, while Urban Decay Rupture is more mauve and has a lot more micro shimmer. Nightingale is an equal to all these blushes in terms of longevity. It's a terrific color, and just like the others will probably last you a lifetime because so little is needed.

Bottom Line: for the brave.

Becca Mineral Blush- Nightingale ($32, made in the USA) is available at Ulta, Sephora, and Beautylish.

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