Sunday, July 30, 2006

New for Fall: Fins

The other day I was shopping in the city, full of good intention to get a head start on my fall wardrobe. I went into the Anthropologie store on 5th Avenue, where I frequently find interesting pieces. I never wear Anthropologie from head to toe, because it can give one the unfortunate look of an art teacher on crack. But I love pairing their skirts with a simple J. Crew white t-shirt or a frilly, lacy top with skinny jeans, under a well-cut Tahari jacket.

One of the first items I spotted that day was a denim pencil skirt. I had this vision of wearing this skirt with a snug red or white cashmere sweater and a pair of red Manolos. I grabbed the skirt and a few other items and headed downstairs to the (perpetually poorly lit) fitting rooms.

The picture doesn't show the really nice, feminine cut of the skirt or the beautiful, modern denim wash. You can't see all the details that make it pretty, but notice that unlike most other denim skirts it doesn't have a fly-front or the common 5-pocket cut. Instead, it has an a-symmetric button placket (not very convenient, but forgivable) and adjustable D-rings tightening the waist (very cute).

The only problem: the side pockets have ruffles sticking from them. You can't see it in the picture and it isn't noticeable until you put the skirt on. But the second you finish re-buttoning the front you realize that your hips are sprouting something that looks exactly like fins.

Now, I'm a size zero and even then I often have to get skirts taken in, because they're too roomy at the hip. Still, I have no wish to draw any special attention to that area. I don't even want to think how grotesque these fins look on someone a bit wider than me. Who is the designer responsible for this monstrosity and what was he/she thinking?

As far as I'm concerned, this skirt is unwearable. So I'm still searching for the perfect little denim skirt, with a lady-like cut and button front. Any tips to where I can get it would be highly appreciated.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum and Jasmine

Two of the fragrance I've been tested lately are creations of Keiko Mecheri. The first, Loukhoum, was a love at first sniff which resulted in a full bottle. A few months ago I might not have been swept off my feet so completely, but things have changed since my love affair with almond and vanilla has begun. Loukhum is a more complex gourmand in the same category as Lea Extreme. It feels more layered, less linear, but the vanilla-almond-musk base is similar- beautiful, warm and comforting. It has a very good staying power and is highly recommended to anyone who is a Lea fan or has a sweet tooth in general.

My love for Loukhoum made my disappointment with Keiko's Jasmine very bitter. Jasmine can be a problem for me, especially if it's sharp or too much on the green side. It's probably a matter of wonky skin chemistry, but I haven't worn anything that smelled so cheap in many, many years. I felt like a freak. Here's a much revered fragrance by a skilled perfumer whom I've learned to really really like, but my body has turned the noble jasmine into something that might have been manufactured by Glade. What's wrong with me?

Fashion Notes

Last Tuesday I attended two fashion trade shows in Manhattan. The first one was all about menswear, the second was mostly denim. Both were interesting. I can't say that I spotted any revolutinary trend or have a big scoop, but clothes are always fun. Two things of note: I was happy to see that color is continuing to be big in men's clothes. I've always loved Paul Smith's designs, and the last couple of years have seen colorful stripes everywhere. It looks like more and more designers are offering their take on this look.

When it comes to denim, skinny jeans are here to stay. I'm happy about this this, as I wouldn't want to retire my Harlans any time soon. Fortunately for skinny haters, this is not the only option available. There are still enough bootcuts and I even spotted a flare or two.

(Photo is of a Paul Smith designed mini from 1998)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I spotted this book from afar at my local B&N store. The photo cover is instantly recognizable and embodies so much beauty, nostalgia and sadness that it fills you with all those memories of the prettiest princess and her tragic fairytale.

I was 10 years old when I sat at my neighbor's living room watching the wedding. That was when my royal obsession began. Twenty five years later, I'm still excited to see the photographs and to read the stories.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More Eye Liners

My quest for not-black liners continues. I got to test two MAXeye liners from Max Factor. One of them was a winner, the other-not so much. MAXeye is a self-sharpening pencil and it comes both in classic and metallic shades. The ones I tried on were Gilt Complex (metallic bronze) and Smoke Alarm (dark charcoal).

Gilt Complex was a dud as far as I'm concerned. The color was way too light for me and didn't glide on too well. I could barely see it on my lid, and what I did see wasn't impressive. It might work for someone with very fare skin and light lashes, who wouldn't need more than a light touch of the pencil to see results.

On the other hand, Smoke Alarm was great. It might be one of my favorite colors. It's a very dark charcoal, almost a light black. It's pigmented enough to show up nicely and not require heavy application, so even though it's less creamy than the L'Oreal equivalent it did glide on smoothly and did the work.

The line was easy to draw, looked precise and didn't smudge. It has a good staying power (less than Lancome, but still held on nicely for many hours) and was easy to remove with my regular Lancome Bi-Facil.

It might not be my Holy Grail when it comes to replace my beloved charcoal brown, but it's a good addition to my collection, nonetheless.


Looks like the good people at Lancôme have read last month's NY Times article about American women and our overuse of makeup (which personally I think was BS, but that's not the point), and decided to turn it into a marketing strategy. If you look at the actual products, most of them are lovely and look like things I'd like to try. Especially the new Artliner in Starshower- a color that looks like it was made for me, and the Juicy Tube in Ablaze. But not all of that stuff together. It can't fit on one face without appearing suspiciously 80s. Who wants to look like that?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Two Classics

I haven't used black eye liner in ages, though at any given time I can find several of those in my makeup collection. Just in case. So in honor of the Great Eye Liner Hunt, I decided to get back to two of the classics, both made by Lancôme.

Artliner is the closest I get to using a liquid liner. It's a liquid pen with a felt tip that lets even someone with my questionable skills to draw a precise, thin line. It requires just a little practice before getting the desired result of a very thin and even line, as close to my upper lashes as one could hope for.

Application is relatively a breeze, resulting in a look that doesn't fade or smudge and keeps all day. The color is very black, which for me requires a swipe of a dark brown or charcoal shadowover it for a daytime look. At night I'm willing to let it be, but a touch of Smasbox Eye Illusion can make things very interesting. Since even with a black liner, which is normally not my favorite, the look is very pretty, I think I'll have to try Artliner in brown and in Smoke, especially with the big comeback that the liquid liner look is making, according to pictures from the runways.

The blackness is the only thing standing in my way to falling completely in love with Lancôme's other classic, Le Crayon Kôhl. It's a great pencil, very creamy and easy to glide on the lid, doesn't smudge unless you really want it to, stays put all day and all night without fading or creasing (and would probably last through the night if you don't take careful care while cleaning your face. Lancôme's Bi-Facil is good for this task). This pencil is so high quality that I'm curious to try it in almost every other color (I'd skip the aqua, though). I wish they had an adequate substitution to the dearly departed Clinique charcoal brown.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

To the Max

Long wearing lip color is a very nice idea. The problem with most formulas I've tried so far is that they tend to make my lips feel very dry. Also, there's something about the pigment in many lip stains that doesn't work for me. I remember trying on several high-end ones at Sephora, only to end up looking like the victim of a very violent beet.

These colors always remind me the special lipstick that my best friend from high school bought when we were in our junior year. It was green in the tube and when applied it reacted with your lips to create the color. It had something to do with skin pH level. The problem was that when it touched my friends' lips it became a really ugly and unflattering beet color, and it was so long-wearing that it didn't fade or go away for days. It's no surprise that this beauty wonder never became a huge hit.

When I received samples of the new Max Factor MAXwear lipcolor I didn't have high hopes. I usually stay away from drugstore lip products, and the lip color layer of this two-step product seemed suspiciously like those ultra-dry tints and stains. But I was in for a very nice surprise.

First you apply the lipcolor and wait for it to dry (about 30 seconds). Then you apply the gloss that's on the other end. Both have a standard sponge applicator. Once the color part is set, it stays on for hours. It didn't fade much through eating a meal and didn't transfer to my cats' fur after I kissed them (I'm guilty of often making them sport lipstick on their fuzzy foreheads).

The dry feeling was pretty minimal. It's not uncomfortable, though it definitely doesn't feel rich or luxurious. Applying a rich cream a few minutes before putting this on made a huge difference in the way my lips felt, and I would recommend doing so if you are prone to dryness.

The gloss part was somewhat disappointing. I didn't like the cheap vanilla smell and overall it's not the best quality. The texture is thin, the pigment almost non existent and it has no staying power whatsoever. Had I liked the gloss, I'd be unhappy with the fact that there's actually very little of it in the tube. And since you need to re-apply it frequently, it'd be gone long before you used half of the lip color. I wouldn't recommend not using a gloss over the tint, because of the dryness and the look. But I'd combine it with any clear or semi-clear Lancome Juicy Tubes.

As for the colors, here's where I had my most pleasant surprise. Two of the colors I tried were absolutely perfect. Split Personality is exactly one shade darker than my natural lip color, so it is very wearable and I enjoyed pairing it with some of my favorite glosses. I also loved Grape Ape (though whoever came up with this awful name should be severely punished. Maybe by being sprayed with Zagorsk every day. You should never put the word 'ape' when trying to sell a beauty product. Ever). It perfectly matches my beloved Chanel Summer Plum glossimer- it's practically the same color, and the combination of them together was pretty enough to make my husband comment on it. He usually doesn't really notice lipcolor.

There's quite a selection of colors, though some of them are really not my thing and anyone with my coloring would do best to stay away from Red & White Zin or Midori Glam. But if you manage to find a color or two that you really like (ignore the gloss part when testing), this is a very good product to have on hand.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wear Your Bottle

The multi-talented Kelly Kreth is making cute jewelry from vintage trinkets. Given my well-documented addiction, I couldn't resist this mini perfume bottle necklace. Kelly offers other cool things, like vintage monocle keychains and all kinds of vintage brass jewelry- cowtags, safety pins, puzzle pieces and I think she might still have a few mini envelope pendants. You can contact her for more details and pictures of her creations.

Lea Revisited

Ever since the Zagorsk fiasco, I've been on a sweet kick. That's an understatement, actually. I've been craving sweet, soft vanillas. The kind that envelopes you with warmth and richness. Not very summery of me, but some things can't be rationalized. It feels like the stomach reaction I had after testing Zagorsk has turned on a switch in that part of my brain that responds to fragrance and all of a sudden I can't get enough of certain perfumes. Like, surprisingly, Lea Extreme.

After using every drop of my sample, I broke down and bought the full size bottle. I'm trying not to wear it every day, so I can try on other vanilla based scents, but all of a sudden I'm very in love with this strange concoction.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Good Read

Anyone who is interested in the beauty industry and in magazines would enjoy this book. The tips, stories and secrets from behind the scenes all make it worth reading. And it's fun.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Great Eyeliner Hunt III- The Cheapies

A few months ago I saw a L'Oreal ad featuring Milla Jovovich in several magazines. I can't remember if it was advertising lipcolor or hair products, because what stood out about it was Milla's sea-green eye liner. I haven't seen this color since the 80s, but there was already a blurb in Vogue about a bright teal colored Nars pencil, so it seemed that these hues are no longer part of the 'stuck in 1985' look.

I was still hesitant about running to Sephora and getting it, though. I mean, color is good and I'm not afraid of green, but there is nothing subtle about something so bright that is almost turquoise. But Milla wan't wearing Nars. Her liner was L'Oreal, so the next time I was in Target I checked out their offering.

What I found was Wear Infinite in Emerald. I don't know for sure, but it's probably what Milla was wearing in that ad- very bright, very green. I put it on as soon as I got home and fell instantly in love. The pencil glides on smoothly and is very creamy. Once on my lids, it was more powdery and settled nicely. The color stays true to its promise, and despite the softness (which I love, it's a major factor for me in evaluating a pencil) doesn't bleed. It's easy to smudge and blend into my other eye makeup, yet it holds throughout the day with only minor fading.

As for the color, I'm happy to say that it works. I line my upper lids and combine it with bronze eye shadow for a classic summer look. A nude lip color and bronzed face is all that's needed. The green makes my very dark eyes stand out, it's surprising, but with careful application it's flattering and not over-the-top.

Since I was so happy with this one and actually needed to restock on eye pencils in more conventional colors, I decided to get other L'Oreal pencils the next time I was in Target. I bought another Wear Infinite, this time in Brown Suede, a pretty neutral brown that goes well in just about everything. I also got Le Kohl Pencil in smoke, which is a taupish charcoal. Another winner- it's creamy but less powdery than the Wear Infinite, with an even better staying power. It gives great results and the color is great. It'll probably become my favorite when the weather cools down and makeup colors become less bright and more smoky.

But my favorite of all is the Pencil Perfect in Sage. It's a retractable, self sharpening eye liner. The texture is good, it glides on effortlessly, blends well and stays put like all the other L'Oreals. The reason I love it so much is the color. Sage is a dark khaki, the perfect blend of green and grey. This is one of the best colors I've ever had and complements my skin tone like nothing else. I can tone it down with neutral browns or bring it out with my favorite Bourjois shadow. This is one color that I hope they never discontinue. It's that perfect.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Back from Vacation

I was away for family wedding in Toronto. Not much beauty insight from the trip, but I'm back and will start posting again tomorrow.