Saturday, October 31, 2009

Laura Geller Baked Marble Eyeshadow (Mint Licorice)

I fell in love with the color: the mint green, forest green and blackened green, all swirling and sparkling in the pan. I have the weirdest skin undertone known to men, and have caused confusion to makeup artists and SAs in three continents, but my reward is the ability to wear and rock green eye shadows. Which is how I ended up with Laura Geller's Baked Marble shadow in Mint Licorice among my possessions.

It's beautiful. I tend to swirl my brush over the pan and collect a little of each shade when applying to the lid, or using a thin damp brush over the darkest part for lining. The eye shadow stays put no matter what, doesn't crease, bleed or smudge (I always use a primer and never tested it without one. You should, too).

One word of caution: Mint Licorice is extremely pigmented. And then some. Unless I'm using it for lining, I'm blending it within an inch of its life with nude and taupe. The shimmer is a lot more obvious when wet, as you can see in the swatch.

Laura Geller Baked Marble Eyeshadow ($23) is available from Sephora, which is where I bought mine.

Photos by me.

More Halloween- Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton, the wickedest of them all.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tsumori Chisato For Shu Uemura Mini Brush Set

I told you my favorite item from the Tsumori Chisato for Shu Uemura Holiday 2009 collection was the mini brush set. As you can see, it really is small enough to fit inside almost anything. The bag has enough room inside to store a makeup palette, thus saving space. I need to try and see if Bobbi Brown Mauve Palette fits inside, as it includes everything but brushes. Trish McEvoy's Beauty Emergency Card is another prime candidate for use with this set.

The brushes (face, concealer, eye shadow and lip/eyeliner), while small, feel sturdy and balanced in the hand, and they are thick enough. I have to complaints, though: the pockets aren't snug enough, so the brushes don't stay in place. Also, one cannot use the same brush for both eye lining and lip color. A fifth brush would have made this set much closer to perfection.

Tsumori Chisato for Shu Uemura mini brush set ($69) is available from Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom, which is where I got mine.

Photos by me with the help of Lizzy (for those who asked about the spelling of her name, she's named after Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, and that's the spelling Jane Austen used in the book).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Balenciaga Quadrille- Vintage Perfume

Finding this bottle of Balenciaga Quadrille parfum was another step in my vintage perfume quest. I wasn't familiar with the scent at first, yet lusted after it for a while, just because. A 1955 Balenciaga creation- if I couldn't have a hat or a dress, at least I should be able to get a bottle. Later I obtained a sample, which fed the obsession even more. I stalked eBay and several other sites, watched the auction, placed some bids, sniped but since I refused to engaged in bidding wars or go over a certain limit, it was nearly two years before the sealed pristine bottle arrived at my door.

Quadrille is everything you'd expect from a vintage Balenciaga. it's elegant and mysterious, dark but not weird. It smells like a spiced plum liqueur, rich and smooth, but not foody or too sweet. After all, this it was created before the yummy school of perfumery took over (compare to the fig-vanilla pudding of Cristobal). Instead, it's beautifully balanced, velvet-like, with a well-dressed floral heart and a somewhat dirty musk drydown that sits close to the skin and lingers between one and her cashmere sweater. It's a great scent for daydreaming about different times and places, picturing yourself wearing a Balenciaga hat and coat to a Paris cafe.

I'm not sure how old my bottle actually is. Quadrille has been around until a few years ago, though the parfum extrait was discontinued for ages. By the deterioration of the citrus top note I can tell it's quite old. There's also that seamless smoothness you find in well-kept vintage perfumes. In any case, I love it and have been savoring the perfume. Surprisingly, it doesn't last very long on my skin. I get about 2-3 hours of bliss before it fades to whisper.

Vintage Quadrille ads:
Balenciaga fashion photos by Richard Avedon- model with the dog is Dovima (1955), the other one is Elise Daniels (1948). Both from
Balenciaga Quadrille vintage bottle picture by me.

Get Nina Garcia- For Free

Her latest book, that is.

Whenever someone gives away piles of free books it's usually a sign the book isn't doing too well on its own. In the case of Nina Garcia's latest book, The Style Strategy, I'm not surprised. The book was redundant and gave the feeling it was compiled from scraps and drafts for the previous two books (both were quite good), and it looks like people shopped smart and avoided buying it.

Now Nina Garcia (and her employer, Marie Claire magazine) has teamed up with Lancome for a joint promotional event at Saks 5th Avenue in NYC. If you RSVP to this event (November 12th at 5 PM) you will get The Style Strategy for free, as well as the latest Marie Claire issue and a couple of Lancome skin care samples. Ms. Garcia will be on hand to talk about whatever.

Maybe someone can ask her about the incestuous relationships between magazines and their advertisers and when if ever we'd get to see an honest review of beauty products in her magazine.

Paul & Joe For The Cat Ladies

I have no idea how I managed to miss these items when they were released over the summer, but Paul & Joe's Fall 2009 Collection had the cutest packaging, including these two items. Now, neither the lipstick (too light and sheer) nor the eye shadows (way too glittery) are something I need or would even use, so it doesn't really matter. But, oh my, aren't they lovely? Both are available from Beauty Habit (, and if these colors are your thing, use code INSTYLE for a 20% discount. The newly released Winter Collection is also available, in purple and gold packaging. I'm not too excited about any of the items.

Plaid- Now and Then

I was looking at the William Rast website (Justin Timberlake's fashion line. Yes, I know I'm not the target customer) and thinking there was not enough money in the world anyone could pay to make me leave the house dressed like that. I had a similar top to the black/red one in 1985, only in blue and probably better cut. Then I started browsing and found the other side of plaid. From 1943:

William Rast tops $165-$185,
Vintage photos from Montgomery Ward spring/summer 1943 collection:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HM by Hanae Mori For Men (Eau de Parfum)

HM by Hanae Mori is a fruity floral for men. There, I said it. The amusing part is that I'm quite fond of it. I bought the bottle for my husband six or seven years ago, before the long line of Lutens and Malle bottles on the top shelf of our perfume cabinet. I think I was trying to wean him off his Givenchy Pi and looked for something just a little less sweet, but full-bodied and more interesting than traditional men's cologne or Polo.

While I could never stand the original Hanae Mori for women in all its strawberry-vanilla glory, something in HM For Men won me over instantly. It was quite complex and I really liked that it was an EDP and not an eau de toilette. I never subscribed to the idea men's scents should be lighter or not as long lasting as women's. There was a neverending note list which the SA recited to me, most of them easily detectable on skin.

Other than the bracing lemon-lavender opening (which lasts on my own skin surprisingly well), nothing in HM is particularly masculine. There's an abstract ripe fruit in the heart that morphs into a unisex woody iris but not as gracefully as Daim Blond- HM tends to take some sharp turns. Jasmine, rose and lily of the valley aren't exactly pillars of masculinity, but they stay surprisingly close to the skin and blend with the rest of this extravaganza. Then come the part that identifies this fragrance as an Angel (the feminine classic, not A*Men) offspring- a chocolate-vanilla drydown of the yummy variety. However, HM is much better behaved than Angel. Maybe it's the lack of the infamous caramel note, or the fruit is better done. In any case, while Mugler's beast tends to turn my stomach, Hanae Mori feels pleasant and friendly.

I still have that bottle. The husband has moved on to bigger and better things, as did I. But once in a blue moon (and cooler weather) I like to wear a couple of sprays of it, just because. It's a fun little thing, not very demanding and has a cheery, uplifting quality.

HM by Hanae Mori EDP for men is available from most department stores for about $70 and about half this price from several online discounters. I bought the bottle at our local Bloomingdale's.

Photo of the Hanae Mori Barbie doll:

Dior Vernis Nail Polish Silver Purple (782)

The most intriguing item in Dior Holiday 2009 collection is the nail polish, Silver Purple (782). It's maddening to look at the swatches on the retail websites (from Sephora to department stores) because they're way off in showing the true color. Sephora is especially bad, making the polish look a lot more purple than it actually is. My photos are not 100%, either, but they are much closer.

Purple Silver is a purple-gray-taupe with a metallic finish. It looks very dark indoors and in low light, while sunshine brings out more silver. I think it's stunning in a low key way and can even be office appropriate in certain workplaces.

The first time I tried it with Essie 3-Way Glaze, and it was an utter disaster- chips, cracks and peeling within a day. The second time I applied five different bases1 and a Nail Aid top coat which gave me much better results, though like most Dior Vernis, Silver Purple tends to chip unless you apply and renew the top coat religiously (as in every day). It's worth it, tough. The color is unique and very beautiful, and as long you do the maintenance, you can get about 5 days of a flawless look.

Dior Vernis nail polish in Silver Purple ($20) is a limited edition for Holiday 2009. Available from all Dior counters and Sephora, which is where I bought it.

All photos taken today by me, color is three day old, new top coat. Yes, it was raining. Heavily2. Now excuse me as I go and take a very hot shower and try to warm up.
1 proof that beauty bloggers are weird
2 proof that beauty bloggers are insane

Skin by Alison Raffaele Soft Shadow (Taupe)

I've been an Alison Raffaele fan for years, ever since discovering her soft lip glosses when the line made a very brief appearance at Sephora. The Soft Eye shadows are just as good, and like all Alison Raffaele products, deserve a lot more love and recognition for the excellent quality and sophisticated aesthetics.

Taupe is the perfect eye shadow for a natural look. It shades the lid and the crease just enough to give depth and a silky smooth appearance, without drawing attention to the makeup. If you like the French 'Le No Makeup' look, this would be a perfect way to achieve it: Taupe eye shadow, a touch of black mascara and a reddish lipstick- you're ready to take Paris.

The Soft Shadow is very easy to blend and would work with just about any color you use as a liner. It stays put over a primer without creasing or fading, keeping one's look chic throughout the day and evening.

Bottom line: Deserves more hype.

Alison Raffaele Skin Soft Eye Shadows ($19.50) and the rest of her line are available on and several online retailers. I got this one as a gift with purchase.

Photos by me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mona di Orio- Carnation

You came to me to open my eyes
your body- to me- a window, a mirror, a glance
you came as the night approaches an owl
to show it at night, to show it all.

And I've learned: There's a name for every crease and eyelash,
for every hair on my exposed flesh,
and the scent of childhood, of glue and pine,
is the fragrance of bodies at night.

If there were any torments- they sailed towards you.
My white sail to your darkness.
Please let me go now, allow me to leave
and kneel on the shore of forgiveness.

from "Prayers of Atonement" by Leah Goldberg. Crudely translated from Hebrew by me.

Carnation by Mona di Orio is not about the flower. The website talks about "the carnation that blooms on a woman's cheek", which makes perfect sense as soon as you actually smell it. It's all about skin, and not necessarily of the freshly showered variety.

There's the scent of a warm skin after a day in the sun. There's the smell of clean bodies under a freshly laundered blanket. Mona di Orio's musky Carnation is both, and it's stunning and addictive, as long as you're ready to deal with a perfume that doesn't smell like anything out of a modern department store. I suspect that once upon a time more perfumes had such elements in them (think of the original, civet-rich, Guerlains), but finding such sensuality in perfume today is very rare.

It might be surprising, but Carnation doesn't really feel raw or wild. It's actually intimate, introspective and somewhat of an introvert. This is what a "skin scent" is all about- it feels soft and tactile, blooms in warmth and while strong and long lasting, it wouldn't announce your comings and goings.

The official notes are bergamot, clove, geranium, ylang ylang, violet, jasmine, precious woods, musk, amber and styrax. But this list doesn't tell much about the way Carnation feels, and it is worlds apart from any other amber-musk scent I can think of. Like each and every Mona di Orio perfume, Carnation must be tested on skin and allowed some time to develop. It doesn't reach the irresistible stage until about an hour into wearing it, which explains why it's such a hard sale.

Mona di Orio fragrances are currently in a very limited distribution, Les Senteurs in London being the only place that ships them. The good news is that according to the MdO website, the perfumes are coming back to New York and will soon be sold at Takashimaya. I can't wait. For now, samples can be obtained through The Perfumed Court. I bought my bottle when it was still available at Bergdorf Goodman.

Here's a wonderful review of Carnation on Perfume Shrine.

Photograph by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1952

29 Cosmetics Concealor-Corrector Palette

There's something about concealer palettes that looks very professional and gives the impression one really knows what she's doing. It might have something to do with blending several colors together or with the confidence of applying a green paste to your face and actually making everything look nice and smooth. That's what made the Concealor-Corrector palette from 29 Cosmetics so appealing (the elegant packaging didn't hurt, either).

The palette offers three natural concealer shades and a green one that evens out redness. The concealers allow for blending and creating the exact color needed for every part of the face that requires coverage. It takes some work, but it's not rocket science- one color has a yellow base, one is more pink, so it's easy to figure out how much of each would look best. It's great to have all the options in one palette, so you don't need to spread several pots and pans over your vanity. The darkest concealer is too dark for me in this pale phase of my life, so I don't really use it. But the green shade is great. It really helps with redness around the nose and anywhere else.

The texture and consistency of the concealers is quite thick, so I don't use it under my eyes, where I prefer light, illuminating liquid concealers. I regard this 29 Cosmetics product as a spackle for unsightly imperfections anywhere else on the face, where it does a great job. I skip the applicators that come with the compact and use good concealer brushes that make it easier to blend.

Bottom line: Great. More brands should offer such palletes.

29 Cosmetics Concealor-Corrector Palette ($36) is available from Neiman Marcus and I bought it online.

Photos by me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amouage- Lyric Woman

Amouage Lyric Woman is a black tie scent. It has the presence of a magnificent ball gown- well cut and draped from a luxurious fabric, tailored and accessorized to perfection. It's big, elegant but also has more than a touch of romance to it, making me think more about an unforgettable night than one's company Holiday party.

It's the rose, you see. A very dark, opulent rose. It's red but with an almost black undertone, and not fully open yet. It's somewhat fruity at first, but not fresh- more like an exquisite fruit liqueur that has been kept in the basement for a very special occasion. The spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger) never let the rose become light or floral, and ease the scent into an even darker phase of wood and patchouli.

The base is velvety and mildly sweet. Official notes list vanilla and tonka bean, but Lyric is not about satisfying the vanilla craving or the comforts of a robe, slippers and hot chocolate. It just refuses to stay home and cuddle. It wants to go out and take Manhattan by storm, and you'd better put your hair up and do your makeup if you're along for the ride. It's that kind of a scent.

A couple of hours into wearing Lyric, my skin often strips it from everything but a rosy frankincense, especially when I'm only wearing one or two sprays. It's still beautiful, but not always what I want for a 10 hour day (or night). That's the only thing stopping me from graduating from a decant to a full bottle, though I know that eventually I'll succumb. We all need a little glamor here and there.

Lyric Woman ($265 for 50 ml) and the rest of the Amouage line are available from Luckyscent and Aedes. Samples are available from these stores, as well as from The Perfumed Court.

Photo by Nina Leen, 1950-something.

Sephora Brand Complete Lip Balm

There are a handful of gems hiding in the otherwise not impressing line of Sephora Brand products. One of them is their Complete Lip Balm. I'm usually not a fan of petroleum-based lip products because they feel heavy and tend to just sit there on the lips, not doing much other than providing a barrier (which sometimes, I admit, you need). But this tiny pot seems to also have a few more active ingredients, such as mango butter and vitamin E, both actually making my lips feel good.

The balm is not sticky at all and works well under many lipsticks. It seems to provide quite a bit of moisture and relief, and has just enough menthol to give a cooling effect (and supposedly some plumping, but I think that well-hydrated lips tend to naturally fill up).

Since it's one of those "dip your finger" packaging, I prefer to keep it at home for use with just-washed hands. These days you can't be overly germaphobe. I'd be very happy if Sephora would release a stick version.

Sephora Brand Complete Lip Balm ($8) is available in store and online. I got it as a gift with purchase.

Image: August 1940 cover of Harper's Bazaar

Christian Dior- Diorliner (Plum)

Dior look for Fall 2009 was very purple centric (the theme continues to the Holiday collection, only this time as a silvery lavender. Review of the nail polish coming later this week). The plum eyeliner caught my eye in the display, and since the format of Diorliner is different than any of the eyeliners in my current rotation, it was the perfect time to bring it home with me.

Diorliner is a liquid liner in what looks like a pen, but instead of a felt tip it actually has a real brush. I'm usually scared of eyeliner brushes, but quickly discovered that Dior made it wonderfully easy to control, so with just a little practice I can draw as thick or as thin a line as I wish.

Plum (no. 888) is a warm purple with a metallic finish and subtle reddish shimmer. Since it's a much softer color than black, If you make the line thin enough, it's easy to wear during the day. A thicker line that shows off the shine would make a very pretty evening/holiday look. It goes beautifully with fall colors and gold-based eye shadows, and I've been wearing it successfully with Bobbi Brown's Metallic Plum palette from a couple of years ago.

I use the liner with a lid primer, and it's been staying on without creasing or flaking until I remove my makeup at night. Since the texture starts out very wet, you need to wait a few seconds until it's fully dry, but once it is, there's no smudging.

Diorliner has one design flaw- the dispensing mechanism. You need to twist the bottom to release the color into the brush, but it takes some trial and error to figure out just how much to twist to avoid an overflow, and even then it's always just a bit too much, so some of the product ends up going to waste and is constantly dripping on the pen, as you can see in the photo.

Bottom line: Almost perfect.

Diorliner ($31) is available from every decent department store and Sephora. I bought mine at my local Bloomingdale's.

Photos by me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Not To Wear To The Theater

Clinton Kelly's first of Seven Cardinal Rules for Broadway, Off-Broadway, the opera, the ballet, and touring groups:

"Wear something nice. Your fellow theatergoers are paying for the entire experience, which includes being surrounded by fabulous people "

Clinton Kelly, Freakin' Fabulous, page 103

Dedicated to the two otherwise nice ladies in ratty pink and purple velour sweats who sat two rows to the left of me this afternoon at the Bye Bye Birdie show.
John Stamos was awesome.

Image by Elaine Anagnos, Painter of Cats and People.

Tsumori Chisato For Shu Uemura- The Cat Collection

Shu Uemura might have the cutest holiday collection this year. Fashion designer Tsumori Chisato created several compacts and a makeup brush set with several motives- ribbons, stars and my favorite- a cat. This isn't exactly Hello Kitty and the result managed to avoid the over precious cliche. All the items and palettes are interesting and as grown up as something that has a cat on it can be.

While the makeup colors aren't exactly what I'm looking for, my pick is the mini makeup brush set.

The Tsumori Chisato For Shu Uemura Holiday 2009 collection is available from Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Photos of the collection:, Tsumori Chisato dress from the Spring 2009 RTW: WWD