Thursday, May 19, 2016

FotD: Lisa Eldridge's Bright Eyeliner/Nude Face

This is one of my favorite evening looks because I get to do a very blue eye contour with a sheer luminous everything else. It's my version of the bright eyeliner look by Lisa Eldridge, adjusted for my coloring and eye shape. Sometimes I stick closer to Lisa's version, but this is a  looser interpretation because that's what I felt like doing.

MustaeV Lustrous Cream Base
Albion Gel Mask Foundation in 060. As you can see, it flashes back quite heavily, but the purpose of that evening was to celebrate the husband's birthday and eat vegan Japanese food, so I didn't care. It looked awesome in person.
MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC30 where I needed some coverup.
YSL Touche Eclat pen under the eyes and a tiny bit on the side of the nose.
Laura Mercier Universal Loose Powder for setting.

Edward Bess Illuminating Eye Base in Dune.
Laura Mercier Caviar stick in Amethyst all over the lid. Soon I will have to buy a new one.
The "Contour" shade from Studio 10 Visible Lift I-Definer palette in the crease.
Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof in Marine Chic. This was a limited edition from Summer 2014, but you can get the same effect from Stila Smudge Stick in Cobalt (Lisa used the same pencil in Violet), Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof in Sapphire (suspiciously similar to my older one), or Lancome Drama-Liqui-Pencil in Côte d'Azur. Lisa's look is much more graphic, which I cannot pull off. Instead, I went for a slightly winged and more diffused liner, with a lighter hand on the lower lash line (mostly just the waterline).
YSL Shocking mascara.

Lisa went for a cool toned blush, but I usually prefer something warmer to balance the bright blue eye. I used Youngblood Crushed Mineral Blush in Rouge, which is a loose formula that melds beautifully with the skin and has enough natural luminosity so I could skip an extra highlighter.

Wunderbrow in Black/Brown. I've been testing it for the last few days, so you'll hear more soon.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Liner
MAC Creamsheen lipstick in Finally Free (the Caitlyn Jenner one, an online exclusive). I went back and forth about buying this one. It's a gorgeous lipstick, of course, and I support the cause wholeheartedly (100% of the selling price goes to the M·A·C AIDS Fund Transgender Initiative, to further its work in support of transgender communities). While I've had no problem overlooking Ms. Jenner's family, her political statements over the last couple of months have been making me cringe again and again, since she seems utterly clueless how damaging they are to the issue she represents. In the end the cause and the color won, and I made the purchase in the name of my beautiful friend, Trésor.

Other Stuff
Faux leather jacket by BB Dakota (from Bloomingdale's, I think). I have it in both this dove gray and a weird blush/beige color.
An older necklace by Bernardaud.
Sotd: Parfumerie Generale Iris Oriental (formerly known as Iris Taizo).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Want: BLTRX Bags

First, a disclosure: the designer of these lovely bags is distantly related to me (her oldest brother is married to the Husband's youngest sister, so we share a niece and two nephews). We don't actually know each other, since we live on different continents, but I have been following Tamar Friedman's work for a while. BLTRX spring 2016 is especially appealing, and has produced two items that are now on my Coveted List. The Tila fold-over clutch ($195) looks like the perfect thing for a summer night (and it's actually large enough to hold more than a lipstick, which is always appreciated) or any event.  Olari Big ($339) is a fun bucket bag. It caught my attention thanks to the textures and that bold orange color, which is among my favorites. There's also a clutch version of this pattern and colorway that I like very much.

BLTRX design studio is located in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The bags are hand-crafted and made in small limited edition batches. They can be purchased directly from the designer on as she ships worldwide and accepts PayPal. She also has an Etsy store under the same name, for those who prefer that route. I'm not commercially affiliated and was not asked to feature the bags or the store.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Currently- May 2016

The Name Therapist  by Duana Taha. Is having an unusual name makes you a more unusual person? What happens when your name just doesn't fit who you are? How does a name becomes a "stripper name? Are Brooklyn names really a thing? Like the author, I've always been deeply interested in names, so this is an especially fun read.

I've always adored this song, but recently got it stuck in my head on repeat. The Blond and I watched the Janis Joplin documentary, Little Girl Blue. It was even more depressing than I expected.

We just binged on the recent season of Grace & Frankie. It was a bit uneven, and I hate that Bud has become such a cliche, but there were still some laugh-out-loud moments as well as good character development. I don't know which character I love most on this show. Martin Sheen has never been better, and that has to say something.

But aren't we here to talk about Game of Thrones?  The Husband read the books, I didn't (and have no intention or attention span to do so). It's interesting to see the difference it makes in our viewing experience. I knew absolutely nothing (no pun intended) about the story, the characters, or Westeros when the first season started. To be honest, I had a problem telling many of the characters apart until after the Red Wedding (maybe because it eliminated so many of them). They all had unkempt beards and kind of looked alike to me. Still, from the first few episodes I was absolutely certain that there's a big issue with Jon's parentage that didn't even occur to the book reader who was much more entangled in the history and various plotlines. It just didn't add up, or as Stannis said last season, "that wasn't Ned Stark's way". Thank you, Stannis. At least you were right about one thing.

I feel silly every time I want to say "All of them". After all these years and my weight in samples, I'm still deeply in love with perfume. Even though I think the industry is killing itself with the glut of new releases and their prices, I'm curious and excited as I'm adding to my collection, and keep going back to past loves, vintage perfumes, and amazing new launches. So, yes, it's all of them, but currently I'm deeply infatuated with Cadavre Exquis, the Brunno Fazzolari/Antonio Gardoni collaboration.

I haven't done anything as extreme as the false lashes from last month, mostly because I do my makeup standing and the  sprained foot has made lengthy sessions in front of the mirror extremely undesirable. so it's been all about efficiency lately, gel pencils, big palettes that don't send me looking for a supplemental color in another drawer, and a good powder to tie it all together.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Other than the heating pad for my foot? The weather has been fluctuating intolerably, and we're about to get more of the same. I'm really over the very necessary black, navy and gray cardigans, ao I bought a coral one. Also, I just finished a massive re-org of my closet (I put a glimpse on Instagram), so I'm looking forward to putting my light scarves to some good use.

The husband has been perfecting his tomato-infused buttery pasta sauce. The funny thing is that he'd never eat a fresh tomato and is kind of skeeved by even touching them. Yet he's learned to do wonders and grows a plethora of them every year.

Your media business will not be saved.  Media and blogging issues have been on my mind again even before I got that comment on my Artis brush post. Sometimes it feels like blogging (real blogging, not online marketing) is doomed. Then I remembers that my readers are quite amazing.

My left foot is healing when I let it, so I'm not going to complain too much.

I already told you about my closets. I did the same with my jewelry storage. It's really the opposite of the Konmari approach. I've arranged the stuff I have beautifully and get to enjoy it, maintain everything nicely, and remember why I picked it in the first place.

A facial, a weekend with my best friend, the Blond's birthday, a staycation. And that bottle of Cadavre Exquis I ordered.

I could use some help with ironing.

Random Thought
Can we please just vote for Prince Harry?

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

Image: Woman in Flowy Skirt by Helen Dryden, circa 1921.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Artis Elite Collection Oval 8 Brush

I've been using this Oval 8 face brush by Artis for three months now, but it took me ages to actually take the photos. There's this cycle: I use the brush twice, wash it, take two days for it to dry, use again twice, the brush now is dirty and soaked with foundation, wash it, repeat. This should tell you two things. First, I like this brush and find that it performs well. Second, it's not the most practical tool in the world. For many reasons.

Artis brushes and similar ones from other brands (there are some cheap ones on Amazon, as well as a small collection by MAC) have a very dense synthetic head that forms a flat surface. They cover larger areas than any other brushes, which means that you need fewer application motions. You use the brushes lightly, making broader strokes, and never ever apply pressure or buff the makeup on (it'll cause some serious exfoliation and will look uneven and patchy). The learning curve for me was not too steep, but it is a different way of makeup application, and it sometimes go completely against instinct (see buffing your foundation). Done right, your makeup will look smoother than ever and as close to flawless as possible.

The problems start with the fact that not every foundation is suitable for use with this brush. I've tried almost every single one in my arsenal and only the thinnest liquid ones worked for me. Not even  silicone/gels looked right. That means that Artis Oval 8 performed well with all the foundations that come in a dropper bottle, as well as other light-as-air formulas like YSL Touche Eclat. sliding the brush over my skin with these foundation (over a primer. always over a primer) created a beautiful even surface. Of course, we're talking about a light coverage foundation, so take this into account.

Another issue: , you know how regular foundation brushes soak up runny liquids? Multiply this by five or more for Artis. The brush is dense like a sponge and acts like one, only more porous. This means that a staggering amount of product is wasted and eventually is washed down the drain. Speaking of washing, Artis offers a brush cleaning pad that uses a special microfiber cloth and their own foam detergent. I haven't tried them, so maybe that's the way to go if you decide to invest in these brushes. I've been washing my Oval 8 with the same cleansers as other brushes: Dr. Bronner, Shea Moisture Black Soap, Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils, and using my trusty Sigma cleansing mat (the one with the suction cups that attaches to the sink). No matter what I do, it takes forever before the brush finally rinses clean, and I always worry that all this washing will result in loosening the glue and the hair.

I have to say that so far my brush hasn't lost a single fiber. It's obviously very well-made and matches the elegance of the design (and of the end result).  The box suggest using it powder as well, but there's no way I'm doing that as I prefer the lightest and sheerest touch I get from fluffy powder brushes. I enjoy using Oval 8, since the combination of performance and luxury speaks to me, I just don't think it's the a very practical tool, and that's the bottom line.

The brush I was sent free of charge by Artis is part of the Elite Collection and comes in the smoke finish (Artis just released a 24k Gold range, and there's a different line, the straight-handle Fluenta, that also has an Oval 8 and is more expensive, which is sold at Neiman Marcus. Artis Elite Collection Oval 8 Brush ($65, made in China) is available from Saks, Net-a-Porter, and Anthropologie (what?).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Parfumerie Generale- Ilang Ivohibé (Revisited)

The first time I wrote about Ilang Ivohibé by Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale was just before I got my first bottle of this perfume, as I drained a sample or two during a massive Nor'Easter storm back in 2007. It has served as a spot of sunshine, a mood booster, and a source of true pleasure ever since. I also included Ilang Ivohibé in my most recent list of "best perfumes you're not wearing (spring edition)" because I've always felt that this fragrance tends to get lost among Guillaume's high-profile creations. 

Ilang Ivohibe has been around for quite a while (since 2005, an eternity in today's market standards). It's considered "nice and pretty", or as in Luca Turin's one line review in the Guide: "Straightforward jasmine floral with a vanillic drydown". Well, yes. That's the whole point. The reason I enjoy this perfume so much is the way it takes the yellowest, most sunshiny aspects of jasmine and ylang-ylang and amplifies them to an extreme. The effect is of a happy cat lounging in the sunniest spot in the house, lazily stretching to expose a spotted belly*. You can't beat that kind of well-being.

But there's more to that. The floral bouquet of Ilang Ivohibé progresses all the way from brisk and soapy (I'm in full agreement with my 2007 self) to a slightly whimsical yet elegant white fabric, maybe something like Swiss dot. It's comfortable to wear and not formal in any way, but still feels "dressed" and very satisfying. Part of it is the soft creamy flow from ylang-ylang to a very soft wood, kind of a sandalwood note yet not quite that. Parfumerie Generale's website lists orris as a note, so maybe that's behind that tranquil dry-down with a pinch of earthiness.

Various sites have different and contradicting note lists for this perfume. Pierre Guillaume's own seems incomplete  (Lavander, Vanilla, Ylang-ylang, Orris, Patchouli),and I'm with Luca Turin on the jasmine. If you're an Ilang Ivohibe fan I'd like to hear what you smell there. It's a fun game.

Parfumerie Generale- Ilang Ivohibé eau de toilette comes in three sizes but not all are available from every retailer. OsswaldNYC has the 100ml ($179), Luckyscent offers the 50ml ($125), and if you order directly from you can get the 30ml for 65 €. Osswald and Luckyscent also sell samples, of course.

*As you may remember, our house is blessed with an abundance of tabbies.

Art: An Oriental Beauty by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, c.1888

12 Signs You're Married to a Beauty & Perfume Blogger

We all know that my long-suffering husband has come a very long way. Most spouses of beauty and/or perfume lovers learn to recognize colors like taupe or mauve, gain new relatives like Uncle Serge, and are sometimes go on a hunt for a much-coveted yet elusive palette or highlighter that is rumored to still be available at a distant Sephora. When said obsessive person also blogs about beauty and perfume every day things get slightly more insane. Here's a selection of signs one is married to a beauty blogger:

1. You start using words like "swampy" to describe scents.
2. You can detect a shoddy blending job.
3. At some point you've had a brow product tested on your face.
4. You find yourself at a beauty industry party discussing product packaging. And you actually have an opinion.
5. You can date a sealed vintage Lanvin by the wrapping paper. It's a skill that comes in handy at estate sales.
6. You know that Hada Labo and Chikuhodo are not types of sushi.
7. You recognize Lisa Eldridge's face. And voice.
8. You've been to the upper level at the Serge Lutens Salon in Paris.
9. You know what "Instagram brows" are, and you're thankful your wife doesn't sport them.
10. You may be holding the world record for assembling an Alex dresser.
11. You know the difference between AHA and BHA. You may or may not have a product that contains them. Sometimes you even use it.
12. You once explained what's natural ambergris to your mother. You regretted it.

Image: Andy Warhol: Beauty In the Box for Harper’s Bazaar, July 1962

Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari & Antonio Gardoni

Art by Chris Buzelli

Many things went through my head over the course of wearing Cadavre Exquis, the new limited edition perfume by Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni. The one thought to which I've kept coming back was irony. There I was geeking out on the artistic collaboration between two of the most interesting and creative contemporary perfumers, immersing myself in the sensual pleasure of wearing Cadavre Exquis, savoring every facet and twist, yet I couldn't shake the notion that this marvelous creature was somehow related to one of very few perfumes I thoroughly loath.


Yes, that one.

Deconstructed then grotesquely reconstructed piece by piece into a chimera, a Cadavre Exquis, a glorious beast that smells sensual, intoxicating, and naughtily edible. A quick look at the list of notes Fazzolari and Gardoni used kind of explains it:  blood orange, camphor, ylang-ylang, tagetes, dried fruit, star anise, chocolate, cypress, benzoin, vanilla, and civet. Of course, Cadavre Exquis smells nothing like the actual Mugler perfume, but the idea and the irony are still there.

The chocolate in Cadavre Exquis is infused with camphor. It's not the first time we smell such a concoction. Christopher Shledrake composed a similar accord for Serge Lutens' Borneo 1834, but where Uncle Serge took it to a dusty and woody dark corner inside an old steamer trunk that has seen the world, Cadavre Exquis is more perverse. It takes us to Miss Havisham's wedding banquet, where a silver charger piled with civet truffles is sitting under a veil of cobwebs. And guess what? They tasted and smelled this way back when the sun was still permitted in the room and Miss Havisham herself had a spring in her step. Maybe she ordered the truffles for her future husband. One can never know.

There are other elements at work in Cadavre Exquis. Bruno Fazzolari has a way with floral notes that make me dissolve with pleasure. Here he and vintage-inspired Antonio Gardoni (one word: Maai) married two unlikely bedfellows: Ylang-ylag and tagetes (marigold). The complex ylang-ylang can take on a sweet banana facet as well as the more familiar aspects of heady white flowers, and tagetes is a slightly bitter aromatic flower that can go anywhere from green to a musky tobacco. I get much more ylang than marigold, both on my skin and on the husband's, but I have a feeling that this note has a major role in keeping the "dried fruit" as dry as it is (and the complete opposite of the overripe garbage water in Angel). When I pay close attention to the going-ons on my skin I do catch a whiff of nearly dried-out end-of-summer tagetes. It's a different way of approaching decay and mortality in perfume (more common examples use gardenia to convey this idea, as the flower in the height of its bloom already smells slightly past its prime. That's the main concept behind JAR's Jardenia, for example).

The result of all these notes cooked together in an unholy cauldron is a fascinating and very adult gourmand. Chocolate and fruit macerated in expensive liqueurs are mouth-watering, but I'm not sure the average sweet-toothed perfume consumer will find it easy to digest. This beauty is almost sinister in its temptation. Stylistically, Cadavre Exquis belongs on the same shelf I keep the work of Alexis Karl (Body Made Luminous, The Poetry of Longing, and Requiem for the Immortal). There's a similar sense of  jubilant experimenting and artistic integrity in these perfumers' work. Incidentally, some of Alexis Karl's art (her Mythological Evolution series) depicts half beast-half human creatures fused together, as do her Hybridas Morte skull sculptures. So far, this Gardoni/Fazzolari collaboration is far less goth and morbid than Ms. Karl's work  (cadaver associations aside).

Some of you may be wondering by now if Cadavre Exquis is actually wearable. The answer is yes. YES. It's thick, rather sweet, nuanced and complex, but the bottom line is that this perfume can give immense pleasure to those who enjoy civet, chocolate, and some on their skin.

Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari & Antonio Gardoni  ($245, 50ml eau de parfum) is a limited edition of 99 bottles (I can tell you that I ordered my bottle the day I got the sample, so we're starting at 98...). It's available on as well as from Luckyscent. The sample for this review was sent to me by the perfumers.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Tom Ford Lipsticks: Ultra-Rich Purple Noon & MoistureCore Pipa

As my friend Josie was going through my box of "new stuff to photograph" she picked the box of new Tom Ford Moisturecore lipstick and game me a look. "You bought it because it's named 'Pipa'. Well, I sort of did, even though they spelled it wrong. And I was intrigued by the summery color. It's hard for me to find non-red warm lipstick colors that don't look ridiculous against my skin. I'm not entirely sure that Tom Ford's Pipa is the most flattering color I've ever worn, but it's nice, and it goes well with more summery makeup (what summer?). And, well, it is called Pipa.

Pipa is a sheer coral with a pink core. The result on the lips is kind of a melon color that doesn't take over and feel exactly like a very luxurious lip balm, but with a good punch of color, so it's makeupy enough. I usually consider the core thing as a gimmick (Tom ford is most certainly not the first one to do this. I uses to have a similar  D&G product, and I'm pretty sure they haven't invented this technology, either). Still, it doesn't take away from neither the color nor the quality of this lipstick. I'd easily get more had there been a better selection of color (there are only six shades offered in the Moisturecore range).

My other Tom Ford pick was the Ultra-Rich lipstick formula in Purple Noon. Looking at the never-ending ingredient list on the boxes (perhaps the longest I've ever seen) proves that these are decidedly different formulas, but the Ultra-Rich lipstick is true to its name and feels incredibly moisturizing and comfortable. It's not completely full-coverage (the swatches are both a single swipe!), but the high impact pigment saturation is very satisfying and effective.

Both lipsticks are flavored with a touch of Vanillin. It doesn't bother me, and neither is the extra scent in the Ultra-Rich lipstick. The latter is also clearly not vegan (lanolin and beeswax), and also contains wheat. The Moisturecore seems to be free of the above, but it does contain carmine. I apologize for being unable to take a photo of the ingredients. The bleary white print over the shiny gold box was beyond my skills.

Bottom Line: Very very good.

Tom Ford Lipsticks: Ultra-Rich Purple Noon ($52, made in Belgium) & MoistureCore Pipa ($55, made in Italy) are available from select department stores as well as from Sephora.

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