Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Of The Best For 2009

For the fourth consecutive year, I'm proud to join forces with a group of excellent bloggers and bring to you my favorite products, scents and little pleasure that helped make my year more beautiful. Organized by Elena from Perfume Shrine, many of the other blogs are scent-centric, while here you will also be subjected to nail polish and lipstick. Enjoy!

Skin Care
Joining my perennial favorites, this year I made two discoveries that improved both my complexion and my general outlook: Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum is a hyped product that really delivers, and might keep the Botox needle away for a while longer. At $22, this is as close to a miracle as it gets.
On the other end of the price spectrum there's Erno Laszlo. I'm on my second full jar of pHormula No. 3-9 cream, and it saves me again and again. During my house move and in this current weather I haven't seen a single flake.

Honorable mentions: Dior Hydraction Serum and anything by Kanebo Sensai.

Body Care
I have several holy grail products from L'Occitane (face cleanser, hair products, shea butter body cream). This year's limited edition Shea Butter collection in Frangipani is wonderful. I can't get enough of the foaming cleanser.
Then there's the best body cream, Kanebo Sensai Collection Premier. For the cost you can either feed a village or buy this product, but I have to mention it because it really is that good.

Nail Polish
StrangeBeautiful, a niche nail polish line with a unique concept and superb quality. The third collection by Jane Schub was launched not long ago and it's as beautiful as you'd expect it to be.If only they'd sell the bottles individually...

More than ever before, 2009 was the year limited editions and seasonal collections had sent everyone over the edge. Almost every brand came up with several products that sold out as quickly as they appeared. Of course, Bobbi Brown and Chanel have made this into an art form in previous years, making eye shadow palettes and nail polish in unorthodox shades into an eBay sensation. While this is exciting and probably drives sales even (or especially) in a crappy economy, what happened to the art of a well-thought and carefully edited makeup collection?

The answer is Edward Bess. Creative, perfectionist and talented Edward Bess has a niche makeup line (a Bergdorf Goodman exclusive) that is all about elegance, glamor and impeccable taste. While I wish there were more lipstick and lipgloss shades so I would be able to own more than one of each (minimalists don't become beauty bloggers), I adore what I have and covet each and every eye shadow.

Another company that offers both a gorgeous regular collection as well as stunning seasonal items is Le Metier de Beaute. While their eye and lip Kaleidoscopes are what grabs a makeup lover's attention, it's the face products that give a smooth, flawless look. And the miniature nail polish bottles are pure genius.

The title of Best Mascara belongs to two products: Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill and Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash.

Honorable mentions go to to Bobbi Brown for her Ivy League fall collection, Giorgio Armani for the lipsticks and Christian Dior for the new single eye shadows.

Insert heavy sigh here.
These are strange times for the art of perfumery. The writing has been on the wall since 2005 or so, but most of us have been playing ostrich to some degree, mostly because it was so hard to believe that iconic houses that existed for decades (even centuries) and have been a synonym with quality would allow a bunch of bureaucrats to mutilate their classic bestsellers. But IFRA is everywhere and Guerlain, Chanel, Annick Goutal and everyone else have been complying without a fight, thus making No. 5, No. 19, Eau d'Hadrien, Shalimar, Mitsouko and other beloved scents a sad shadow of what they used to be. There's also the issue of cost, of course. Everyone needs to make a profit, and replacing expensive raw materials with cheap ones helps the bottom line. After all, consumers don't care, right? They just want to smell like they've stepped out of the shower.

Not this consumer and not most of you reading this blog.

While even niche houses have been reformulating their perfumes (Chergui, Feminite de Bois, Fleurs d'Oranger) or discontinuing them (JAR Shadow is no more), there are still perfumers who do not create perfumes for focus groups. Mona di Orio has been consistently awesome and her perfumes take you to times and places where Calone doesn't exist. Her line is coming back to NYC (Takashimaya), which is the best news I've heard in ages.

My favorite perfume releases in 2009 come from two small houses. Anya McCoy of Anya's Garden, an all-natural, uncompromising perfumer, has already brought us Kaffir and Pan, two of the most interesting and non-traditional scents I can think of (the first is a lime and leather concoction, the second is all about goat). Her two newest perfumes, MoonDance and StarFlower and stunning in their power, magic and pure sensuality. They are a must-try for any perfume lover.

The perfume that touched my heart more than any other this year (and frankly, probably longer than that) is Andy Tauer's Un Rose Chypree. An emotional, romantic rose on a chypre base that smells of days long gone. It's a masterpiece.

Honorable mentions: L'Artisan Havana Vanille, Uncle Serge's Fille en Aiguilles and last year's Italian Cypress by Tom Ford, which is the most wonderful thing I've smelled on my husband in a while.

And Other stuff...
Green & Black's newest chocolate: Peanut. A 37% milk chocolate, crisply caramelized organic peanuts, a hint of sea salt. Godiva who?

Kajitsu, a vegan Japanese restaurant (414 East 9th Street, New York, NY). It's an amazing experience that doesn't taste like anything else you've had before. The delicate aroma of the food, unique textures and zen atmosphere make it into my favorite restaurant. Get the roasted tea to accompany your meal (and some warm sake). You can also buy it by the pound to take home.

Didier Dumas Patisserie in Nyack, NY (163 Main Street) is a little taste of Paris. Gluttony has never felt so good.

Happy New Year and please visit the other participating bloggers:

Perfume Shrine
Mossy Loomings,
Ayala Smelly Blog,
Bittergrace Notes,
Eiderdown Press Journal,
Scent Hive,
Roxana's Illuminated Journal,
A Rose Beyond the Thames,
Notes from the Ledge,
I smell therefore I am,
Under the Cupola,
All I am a Redhead,
Perfume In Progress,
Savvy Thinker

Images:, and Perfume Shrine

Best Of...- Perennial Favorites

Before starting the "Best Of 2009" post (stay tuned- it's coming later today) I thought it would be interesting to go back and examine my lists from previous years and see which products have become staples in my beauty and fragrance routine. A quick look at last year's favorites shows that nothing has changed. I love and use everything mentioned, and I definitely think that Onda by Vero Kern is one of the best perfumes on the market. It's more interesting to see the older posts. I've skipped products that were discontinued since I wrote about them, so here is what I still consider as "Best Of":

From 2006:

Lancome Secret de Vie cream- I've been going through jars upon jars of this stuff. My skin still loves it.
Urban Decay Primer Potion- While there are a lot more eye shadow primers on the market today, I still buy this one. The packaging is annoying, but it's all about performance. My eye makeup hasn't crumbled, melted or faded in years.
Lorac palettes- Back then it was the Snake Charmer palette. I still use it and have since added a couple more.
Niche perfumes- If you're a regular reader you know where I stand on this.
Tom Ford Black Orchid EDP- I still consider Black Orchid as one of the best mainstream/luxury perfume releases of the decade. I wear it, buy it as a gift and enjoy every minute of this weird black truffle-gardenia-chocolate scent.
Benefit Dallas- A summer staple. I got my mom and sister hooked on it, too.
Skin MD Shielding Lotion- I've gone through bottle of this skin saver. They sell it at my local CVS, which makes things easier than when it was only available online.

From 2007:

Zoya nail polish- Love, and not just because they named a shimmery golden white polish after me. The quality is unbeatable, and no matter how many limited edition special polish bottles I buy elsewhere, I always come back to Zoya.
Chanel hand cream- Can't live without it.
Chanel nail polish- limited edition colors. Back then it was the gorgeous Tulip Noir and I'm still a sucker for them. Jade, anyone?
Bobbi Brown metallic eye shadows- Bobbi Brown managed to make them wearable and office-friendly.
Chanel lipstick- The addiction continues. Between the limited edition colors and the regular collection, Chanel is, to me, the standard for quality.
Bobbi Brown eyeliner gel- They stay on forever and the new colors Forest Shimmer Ink and Caviar Ink are gorgeous.
Tauer Perfumes- Every new release makes me giddy. Spoiler alert: Un Rose Chypree is going to make an appearance in my next post.
The Perfumed Court and The Posh Peasant online stores offer a unique service of samples and decants. It's the only way to test many rare, vintage, discontinued and limited edition perfumes
Boots No. 7 at Target- Still far better than most drugstore brands.
Biotherm Homme Ultra Confort- My husband's favorite skin care product. I make sure he never runs out.
Gris Clair, Vetiver Oriental and the rest of the Serge Lutens line- While my husband is currently in his Tom Ford period, Uncle Serge's creations are still loved here very much. With the exception of cumin-infested Serge Noire, he really can't do wrong.

Photo of a 1919 beachside Beauty Pageant from

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Quick Preview Of Chanel Spring 2010 Makeup Collection

Reviews, photos and swatches of Chanel Particulier nail polish, Rouge Allure Impertinente lipstick and Kaska Beige eye shadow quad are coming very soon (spoiler alert: I love all of them). In the meantime, Lizzy and I took some pictures.

Cover FX Natural FX Water Based Foundation SPF 15 (M40 Honey)

When I bought my emergency Cover FX Total Coverage foundation I also got the lighter product, Natural FX Water Based Foundation. This liquid foundation is a lot easier to use and can be applied on larger areas or the entire face (I've found that I prefer to use Total Coverage very sparingly and only on those spots where I have something to hide). It still gives very good coverage (medium+), but doesn't act as spackle and is far less drying.

I don't love it as much as my holy grail Chanel Vitalumiere, but that's simply because my preference for minimal coverage and a more dewy look. Then again, sometimes I do need a little more help, which is why I bought the Cover FX products in the first place, and for this purpose they don't disappoint. I've found that it works best over a silicone primer and a well-moisturized face. I'd still avoid using it on dry patches or on days the weather and skin feel parched.

It was harder to settle on a color for Natural FX than for Total Coverage. Once again I ended up with M40 (honey), but it took me longer to choose it, because before testing on my face I tried each foundation color on my wrist just to see the undertone, and M40 looked way too yellow. But while M30 (Cashew) was slightly a better fit on my arm, it was too pale with a pink hint when meeting my face. I suspect that if I want the best match ever I need to mix these colors. Something like two parts M40 and one part M30, but as it is I usually mix the Cover FX with my Chanel which gives me a similar result.

The main thing about this foundation is application. Sponges, wet or dry, lay it on too thick, and I've found that my fingers don't do an even enough job, which is important when you use anything that isn't of the minimal coverage family. I've been using it with several of the foundation brushes I already owned, but decided I need to do things right to get the most out of the products. I caved and ordered two Cover FX brushes: #160 Cream Foundation Brush and #170 Precision Foundation Brush (the one with the pointy tip). They only arrived today, so I have yet to test them, but I can tell you they look promising in density and weight.

Bottom line: An above average product and above average coverage. Gives picture-worthy results as long as you stay hydrated and moisturized.

Cover FX Natural FX Water Based Foundation ($40) and foundation brushes ($36-38) are available from Sephora. I bought the foundation in store and ordered the brushes online.

All photos by me.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sonia Rykiel Woman (Not For Men!)

I remember reading several reviews comparing Sonia Rykiel Woman to Barbara Bui (both were created by perfumer Anne Flipo around 2004) and not really getting it. For the longest time, Barbara Bui was mostly a powdery labdanum-incense on me, while Rykiel Woman smelled like sweet leather. But wearing both for several seasons I realized that while Rykiel's deeper and darker notes bloom dangerously in warm temperatures and more humid air, it is quite incense-y and its strong amber base has more than a touch of powder.

Rykiel Woman makes a statement, though I'm not sure it's "not for men!". It has a feminine air, like a well-cut and tailored coat or a sweater dress, but nothing girly or frilly about it, and the drydown of wood-leather-amber is dark and smooth. Men who are not scared of powder would probably enjoy it, while women who are into fresh and light scents wouldn't.

Sonia Rykiel's perfumes deserve a lot more attention than they get. It looks like a distribution issue- you rarely see them in stores and most people aren't familiar with the gem that is Le Parfum (1993). The good news is that if you search online you will find these fragrances at many online retailers for what is now considered practically a song (under $50, just make sure you get the eau de parfum, as the EDT is significantly inferior). The bad news is that the Sonia Rykiel website has changed since the last time I visited and no longer promotes or even mentions any of the perfumes, which we all know can't mean anything good.

Things I Don't Get

1. A pink puffy vest by Jil Sander? Why would anyone want it?
Yes, I understand that Jil Sander, the designer, has more or less lost the rights to her own name. She now designs for Japanese Uniqlo stores under the +J brand, which probably means she needs to come up with items that would appeal to a certain audience. But wouldn't shoppers who are looking for Jil Sander designs be fans of sleek and sophisticated urban style and not Barbie on ice?

Can anyone shed some light?

2. This Missoni ensemble. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge Missoni fan and find their clothes timeless and super versatile. I wear them year-round and pair them with just about anything and everything. But here, even the model looks miserable.

Photos and info: WWD

Christian Dior- Diorshow Extase Mascara

It's been ages since I've last worn a Diorshow mascara. I actually like it very much, but I guess it's a case of too many mascaras, too little time. So I don't have a tube of the regular Diorshow on hand to compare to the brand new Christian Dior release, Diorshow Extase, but I can still tell that the new mascara packs some serious punch in the volume department.

When applying it, Diorshow Extase feels a bit goopy and thicker than my usual fare, but it actually goes on smoothly without messy clumps (I can't yet vouch how it would act after four or five weeks of use- older tubes often get tricky this way). It fully coats the lashes and seems to contribute to curling (and it holds the curl for a full day). My lashes look significantly thicker instantly, which was a bit weird as I'm quite well-endowed in that department, but the more I looked at my eyes the more I enjoyed it. It also seems that as the mascara dries and settles on the lashes, it looks even better- glossy black, full and heavy. The lengthening is marginal, but between the volume and the curling, the mascara gives lashes a very impressive boost.

The heavy coat comes with a price- my lashes feel a lot more stiff than normal, but the upside is the wonderful hold and staying power- no smudges even after I accidentally rubbed my eyes, and no flaking. It still comes relatively easily when using Lancome Bi-Facil, so there's no tugging come cleanup time.

Bottom line: Yes, your lashes do look fat in this.

Diorshow Extase ($28) is available starting this week. At the moment, Sephora offers it for Beauty Insiders only (at least online), but soon it'd be at every Dior counter. I received it from Christian Dior PR.

All photos by me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

art: Christmas Poinsetta by Marcia Baldwin

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lorac Breakthrough Performance Lipstick (Ingenue & Leading Lady)

Lorac is one of those brands that are often unjustly overlooked. I don't know if it's because the creator, celebrity makeup artist Carol Shaw, doesn't have the knack for Bobbi Brown-like PR, or the fact the products are sold at Sephora but not at the department stores fabulousity shrines. In any case, the coordinated palettes are among the best you can find, and now there's also an excellent lipstick, Breakthrough Performance with SPF 15.

First, there's the sleek, creamy texture. It glides on like a gel, feels soft and comfortable, and even though the pigment is very rich and the coverage very close to full, it doesn't sink into the scar on my bottom lip. While the almost glossy shine doesn't survive lunch, some of the pigment stays longer. You still need to reapply for the SPF and any other antiaging benefits.

The colors I chose (for now. I see a couple more in my future) are the dramatic red Leading Lady and the dark rose Ingenue. Leading Lady is a Hollywood red, perfectly balanced in undertones- not too blue or too orange. It's a bit darker than watermelon red and is a perfect accompaniment to that little black dress. Ingenue is the kind of rose I think of as my signature lipstick color. It enhances my natural pigment, works well with my skin tone and makes a perfect everyday shade. If you're pale you can probably still pull it off- Ingenue would make a lovely evening shade for a fair complexion that looks good in rose and berry.

Lorac Breakthrough Performance Lipstick ($22) is available from Sephora. I ordered them online as my local store was (as always) out of stock.

Photos by me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Winter Delice

There are a two problems with the very delightful Winter Delice. First, the fact that it was discontinued four or five years ago. Second is that this fragrance was reissued in 2008 as part of Guerlain's ultra-exclusive and mind-blowing expensive Four Seasons set. I saw it in Paris in the summer of 2008 and was utterly annoyed by the idea that they pulled Winter Delice from the Aqua Allegoria line (at the time they were priced just under $40, which is hard to believe in today's market) so they could put it in fancy crystal bottle and sell it to heads of crime organizations looking for glitzy gifts for their mistresses.

The other issue with Winter Delice is that it smells so much like an environmental scent- a very posh reed diffuser, maybe- that it hangs around me in a lovely aura but never actually melds with my skin. It's a little hard to explain. After all, it smells so nice, but it just a bit cold and impersonal in a way I never experience with other Guerlain perfumes. It might be the delicate pine-incense note. It makes me think of spa products and atmosphere more than of the actual snow covered evergreens. The spicy gingerbread notes suffer from a similar problem. It's not the real cozy kitchen where cookies are baked and rosy cheeked children lick the bowls, only an impression of it, like lighting a scented candle to instantly create an ambiance.

I still like Winter Delice. It smells good and is fun to wear this time of the year, like a red cashmere sweater.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Winter Delice can sometimes be found on eBay. Several online retailers still have the mini bottles priced around $15.

Photo of Rita Hayworth from

Cover FX Total Coverage Cream Foundation (M40 Honey)

I'm a light coverage person. My thing is sheer,dewy foundation or tinted moisturizers that let skin breath and look natural. But a couple of months ago I decided I needed a higher performance emergency foundation. That's how I found myself at Sephora Union Square testing, swatching on my cheeks, running to the front of the store where there's more natural light, examining my skin from all direction, wiping it off and repeating the process...

Choosing a foundation is tedious, especially when you're trying a new-to-you brand. It's not glamorous, not really fun and you're always aware that the wrong shade would make your face look ridiculous. I spent nearly half an hour on this, which didn't make me happy. I regard Sephora as a necessary evil, not really a fun place. I'm more of a Bergdorf shopper, but Sephora has some exclusive brands and the option to try, test and play with products without a commission-hungry SA breathing down your neck is a huge advantage and help me tolerate the music and general atmosphere.

I settled on M40 Honey after also trying M30 and M50, to be sure I got it right. It's a great match and the color looks natural. The part that is more difficult for me and keeps the Total Coverage Cream Foundation as an emergency-only product is the texture. This is a real, grown-up, heavy duty foundation. It's very thick and if not applied carefully can go pancake-like. The compact comes with a sponge, but it's much better to use a foundation brush and stipple the cream where needed. The foundation is also quite dry. It means that it doesn't move or budge, but you also need to completely avoid the eye area (or you'd discover lines you have no idea you had) and not apply it anywhere you tend to get dry patches.

When I tried to use the Total Coverage to conceal redness around my nose, it got dry, flaky and made the situation ten times worse, even though I was using a silicone primer. But when brushed judiciously where needed, the result is as close to airbrushed as it gets. Sometimes that's exactly what one needs.

Bottom line: Not fun, but it works.

Cover FX Total Coverage Cream Foundation ($42) is available from Sephora, on line and in store.

Photos by me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guerlain Elixirs Charnels- Oriental Brulant

I'll start with the bottom line: Oriental Brulant, part of Guerlain's Elixirs Charnels (Carnal Elixirs) line, smells like a guilty pleasure. Just like a not so good for you but oh so tasty sweet treat. Or a a frothy chick lit book that wouldn't expand your horizons but is still well written enough as to not completely rot your brain.

I wanted to hate the Elixirs Charnels. I don't like what's been happening to Guerlain in recent years and everything about this range (the original trio of scents and the fourth recent addition) reeks of LVMH. The marketing materials that were released with the perfumes read like a trashy romance novel (see this Perfume Posse post from last year). The pink juice in the too big bottles (2.5 oz) priced at $250, and the fact that once again, Guerlain was trying to sell us a series of super sweet and not very sophisticated juice.

The first time I sniffed the three scents I knew that neither Chypre Fatale nor Gourmand Coquin were my thing. But I liked Oriental Brulant because I'm a sucker for vanilla-tonka bean scents, and the caramelized almond pudding touch was too tempting. It reminded me of Shalimar Light, just with a sweeter opening- a juicier orange instead of the lemon meringue. Since I own a lifetime supply of Shalimar Light, I felt Oriental Brulant, while different enough, could be redundant. But I couldn't stop testing it every time I stopped at Bergdorf or Saks in NYC, and eventually started to find the more interesting facets of this odd pink creature.

It's sweet, alright, and at times fluffy. But there's that unmistakable Guerlain touch, that while isn't exactly vintage Shalimar extrait, is still intoxicating. There are hints pointing to a much darker soul, with just enough incense and wood to rescue Oriental Brulant from being utterly pastry shop fare. Despite the pink packaging it's not fruity or juvenile, and is actually quite friendly and easy to wear. If you're a fan of sweet vanilla scents that don't smell like cheap mall crap, it might be worth your time to ignore the marketing, the company and all the surrounding noise and just give the scent a chance to do its magic. Of course, then you'd risk falling in love with it, the way I did. I'm about to finish a large decant, which makes it time for a full bottle. I find myself craving Oriental Brulant quite often, which is a lot more than I can say for many releases from the last couple of years.

Oriental Brulant and the other Elixirs Charnels ($250) are in limited distribution and available from Guerlain boutiques around the world and select department stores. In NYC they can be found at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks 5th Avenue (the flagship store). Samples and decants can be purchased from The Posh Peasant and The Perfumed Court.

Photo of Rita Hayworth as Salome (1953), performing the Dance Of Seven Veils from

Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lip Gloss (809 Rubis Rose)

Guerlain Kiss Kiss lip gloss in Rubis Rose might be my favorite item from all of this year's holiday collection. Between the pretty tube with the black lace design and the absolutely perfect dark rose color, it was one of the best impulse purchases.

Rubis Rose is shimmery and very pigmented- what you see in the photo is what you get on your lips. It's a rose with a brown-mauve depth. The texture is smooth, not sticky and feels very moisturizing on the lips- it's the kind of gloss that makes your lips look and feel good- healthy and plump. It's a great after dark shade, but I admit to wearing it during the day lately. It's not over-the-top and is just so pretty against winter paleness.

Bottom line: Big, fat love.

Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lip Gloss in Rubis Rose ($29) is one of three limited edition items for Holiday 2010. It's available from top department stores and also online. I bought it at Bergdorf Goodman.

All photos are mine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Perfume Storage

A few years ago there was an article in Allure about Donatella Versace and her perfume collection. It has been haunting perfume nuts ever since, and even more so after Vogue published a photo of (what I assume to be) part of this collection, which you can see in this Blogdorf Goodman post. For many of us it's not so much about the bottles as it is about the display.

Perfume storage has always been a popular topic on the discussion boards. Do you keep the boxes? How do you control the temperature in the room? How do you protect the precious ones from light? Bottles and boxes come in so many sizes it's hard to find a good storage system that accommodates them all. And as I've long discovered, a deep cabinet swallows the bottles up and makes it hard to find what you're looking for at a given moment without accidents.

Donatella would never approve of my recent discovery. I can't even say I approve of these Ikea cabinets, which aren't exactly an example of the highest craftsmanship or quality material (that was my way of saying they are pretty crappily made, and my husband wants to add: a pain to assemble and mount to the wall). But for what they are and for what they cost, the Bertby cabinets do a good job of housing most of my perfumes and not looking half bad. I still use my old unit to store many of the vintage bottles, minis, odds and ends (and the entire stash of backups), but most of my perfumes live happily on these shelves, originally meant for media storage. The shelves' height is adjustable, so you can customize the display as needed. Even when storing the tallest bottles (I think the Ormonde Jayne boxes hold the record), I could still fit all nine glass shelves in the cabinet and get the most out of it.

While I still hope to either get a custom-made furniture at some point or find a fabulous antique (I've been searching high and low for the last couple of years), I have to admit I already bought a backup Bertby, planning for a future expansion of the collection. Uncle Serge is still churning the juice, after all.

How do you store your perfumes?

Bertby glass door cabinets ($99.99) are available from Ikea stores (can't be purchased online, though).

Photos by me.

Dior 1 Colour Eye Shadow

I was a bit iffy about the new Dior eye shadows, the 1 Colour (1 Couleur) line. Stock photos looked too metalic and shiny, and I wasn't thrilled that the previous single eye shadows were being phased out. But it changed as soon as I got to the Dior counter and started playing with them. It became all about "which ones of you, beauties, are going home with me?".

The answer was 626 Beige Print and 566 Brown Fever.

Beige Print is definitely shimmery, but it's soft enough to be softly luminous, not Vegas-wear. It's a neutral color, with more than enough pigment to be worn alone. Paired with streamlined makeup in soft colors, this eye shadow can be worn easily during the day. Of course, you can also play it up for night. Brown Fever has a satin finish and no obvious shimmer. It's already a staple in my arsenal of easy to wear, no thinking required eye shadows.

Both colors are silky smooth and I fully understand why Dior chose to discontinue the previous formula. The texture of 1 Colour is superior and is worthy of any high-end makeup collection. There's absolutley no flaking, crumbling or creasing and the staying power over a primer is as good as can be- it's there until you remove it.

Bottom line: Which color should I buy next?

Dior 1-Colour Eye Shadows ($27.50) are availabl from Dior counters at most decent department stores and Sephora (some colors are online only). I've noticed there's limited stock and the stores run out quickly. I bought one at my local Bloomingdale's and ordered the other one online after testing in-store. Sephora seems to have the largest selection.

Photos by me.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Image from

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The books are finally unpacked and sort of arranged in a meaningful order. I was in the mood for some mind-numbing chick-lit, but after buying a Christmas present for a friend, I think I'd go with some vintage sci-fi instead. I also have a beauty post planned that combines my love of makeup and sci-fi. I'm serious.

The entire Strict Joy album by The Swell Season.

Frequently worn outfit/item
Anything cashmere.

Vintage chypres. The more oakmoss the better.

Just bought several items from Chanel's spring collection. Gorgeous.

Rose-scented Turkish delight from a local Middle Eastern deli. I don't blame Edmund for selling out to the White Witch.

Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. I had some the other day at Whole Foods and wanted to hug the girl who was making it.

Guilty Pleasure
Those stupid games on Facebook. I need to get rid of the farm.

Bane of my existence
Knowing with absolute certainty that there's another visit to Ikea in my near future.

Sitting in the cozy house and looking at the snow.

Putting the finishing touches on some rooms.

Wish List
Health for some very loved ones.

There are those moments that make the house your home for real: putting some old fridge magnets on the new fridge, dropping those blue Vanish tablets in the toilet's tank, cleaning the first hairball from the floor...

What are your recommendations, thoughts, joys and banes? Please share.

Image: Spring Hats by Yale Joel, 1950. From

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jean Patou- Chaldée (Vintage EDT)

George Hamilton and his friends in the leathery orange face cult didn't create anything new. As a matter of fact, you can blame Jean Patou, Coco Chanel and the rest of the 1920s high society and trendsetters. Having a tan was no longer limited to those working in the fields, and instead the evidence of a leisurely lifestyle: vacationing in the Riviera, yachting and playing tennis. The bronzed look became desired and fashionable women started using lotions and potions to help them achieve it.

Jean Patou, whose casual sportswear designs (try not to think about sweats with the word "Juicy" printed on one's butt) were all the rage, offered his clients what is now considered the first suntan lotion, Huile de Chaldée. The product gained popularity, and just like today, when tanning oil-inspired perfumes are quite popular (Beach by Bobbi Brown, At The Beach 1966 from CB I Hate Perfume, just to name a couple), a matching perfume called Chaldée followed in 1927.

Modern beach scents have something tropical going on, usually coconut, and lots of musk. Apparently, in Patou's days, the glitterati vacationed amidst hyacinth, orange blossom, jasmine and lots and lots of powder.

To the 21st century nose, Chaldée smells less like the beach and a lot more like an old-fashioned powdery-floarl perfume. I love hyacinth and an ambery drydown is usually right up my alley, but Chaldée can be trying at times. It might be the lilac, a note which can be difficult for me to pull off, or maybe something fussy in the composition as a whole. I have two bottles of the EDT from the 80s, one clearly in better shape than the other. Both have some pretty moments and I like putting some on and thinking of faraway times and places, but generally speaking, Chaldée is not my favorite from the Patou archives.

Chaldée, like the rest of the Ma Collection, has been discontinued and is getting increasingly harder to find, especially at a decent price.

Poster of the Huile de Chaldée ad from 1929: (priced at $1200, if you're interested).
Artwork from the 1920s by Romoli Filippo and Edgar Franklin.