Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Juozas Statkevicius (Josef Statkus) Perfume




Like many fashion designers around the world, Juozas Statkevicius from Vilnius, Lithuania, has commisioned an eponymous fragrance. Unlike 90% (or is it 99%?) of them, he actually wanted a good perfume.

My mother was born in Vilnius, and lived there until she was 18. I've never visited and my mom's stories and memories of the city end in 1965, so I picture Vlinius in black and white with a vintage atmosphere (the sound you're hearing is my Lithuanian readers roaring with laughter). Juozas Statkevicius (the perfume, that is) smells the way I've always imagined the rain falling on the city's cobblestone street, evergreen trees, old buildings and old wood. It's an ambery incense that feels more organic than any of the CDG Incense Series scents with a lightly sweetened vanilla-pine drydown.

The very first time my husband smelled Juozas Statkevicius (or Josef Statkun, as the name appear in non-Lithuanian websites) he said it reminds him of really nice (read: non musty) antique stores. A couple of years ago, when the perfume was first available in the US (it was actually launched in 2004), I sent my mom a sample. She said she couldn't place it, but it smelled familiar. To me it was like a whiff of foreign countries caught in the heavy coat of a traveler.

Looking at the pictures I've found for this review, I think one day the traveler would be me.

Juozas Statkevicius EDP ($180, 50 ml) is available from Luckyscent and Beauty Habit.

A clip from the designer's October 2008 fashion show in Vilnius:








Photos (all are from Flickr):
Autumn In Vilnius by Kritta
Gendimino Prospekt, Vilnius Lithuania by Nige820
Vilnius, 2005 by Frarock

Bespoke Chocolates NYC




The Blond and I were walking from the East Village towards Elizabeth Street when we spotted the sign directing towards Bespoke Chocolates in an alley we've never noticed before (reason 7592 why I love New York). Artisan-made chocolate is one of the things neither one of us can resist, and this kind of store is my favorite- the chocolatier, Rachel Zoe Insler (no, not that Rachel Zoe. Can you even imagine?) works right there and you can watch her make the truffles while swooning from the delicious scent.

We tried several of the chocolates and all of them were excellent. My favorite one was Chai Spice: milk chocolate, black tea blend of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. I'd wear a perfume with these notes, but eating it was just as good.


Address: 6 Extra Place, New York, NY (closed Monday). Extra Place is a tiny, sign-less alley in the East Village that runs north from East 1st Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue

Photos: bespokechocolates.com and The New York Times

Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscope Lip Kit And Creme Lip Gloss







Le Metier de Beaute lip products are exactly what you'd expect them to be- beautiful and luxurious.

The Lip Kaleidoscope Kit is a palette of four gel-like liquid lipsticks. The colors are intense and can be used separately, but like most Le Metier de Beaute products, they are meant to be mixed and customized according to your preference and mood, and the texture makes blending very easy. They apply smoothly, feel light and soft and stay on relatively well (there's still some color left after lunch). The one you see here is Red Rapture, a limited edition. Last time I was at Bergdorf they still had a couple of them stashed under the counter.




The Creme Lip Gloss is exactly what you see- shiny and shimmery. The one I have, Cocoa Creme, is a warm, light bronze. I got it as PR freebie, so I didn't get to choose the color (I'd probably get the Framboise Creme), but somehow it became my go-to gloss on many summer nights. I wore it on its own, but I've also been experimenting with it over several lipsticks and it adds a lot of depth to them.

The custard-like scent seems very attractive to cats. I've had more than one feline of unusual size get in my face and try to lick the gloss. It's quite cute, except for the tuna-breath issue.

Bottom line: Top notch quality. What's not to love (other than the price)?

Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscope Lip Kit ($95) and Creme Lip Gloss ($36) are available from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman on my side of the world, and Liberty in the UK.

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Divine L'Homme Sage


Maybe it's the weather, but I'm in a mood for wearing masculine perfumes this week. Divine is a niche brand from Dinard, on the north coast of Brittany, France. L'Homme Sage is among their masculine offerings, and one I like to borrow for myself. A spicy, woody leather? I have to, really.

I usually avoid L'Homme Sage during the summer. Hot weather brings out the fruit notes (lychee!) with intensity, and that's not necessarily a good thing. But any other time, it's all about delicate spice and sweet leather, and the result is a softer, more powdery version of Daim Blond. The note list doesn't mention orris, but I could swear I smell an iris accord. There's something plush and warm in the heart, with just a hint of manly raggedness. Wearing it feels like borrowing a man's leather jacket that surprisingly fits me well, and snuggling in it on a brisk day. It's quite romantic, actually.

The "sage" in the name refers to wisdom, not to the herb. This is a lovely idea- to celebrate intelligence and good judgment instead of whatever it is that makes one name a fragrance "I Am King". It's sexy in a Patrick Stewart kind of way. I wear it, the husband wears it, and I could see Captain Jean-Luc Picard wearing it. Or so I wish.

L'Homme Sage by Divine ($125, 50 ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent and the company's website, divine.fr.

Spotlight On A Blog: Inspire


This must be the coolest idea I've seen lately: A blog devoted to perfume-inspired art.

The bloggers sends the artists an anonymous perfume sample, not disclosing the brand, the name or the notes and without the original packaging. And they create... something: a photograph, an illustration, a recipe. The blog is new, but the handful of entries already there are beautiful and I can't wait to see more.

If you're creative and want to contribute to this project, send them an email.

Photograph: Osmanthus Interdite (Parfum d'Empire) by Molokostar.

Shu Uemura Primal Mix Blush- Rhythm




There is a lot to love about the new(ish. It's a fall 2009 release and has been out for a couple of months now) Shu Uemura Primal Mix Blush: The velvety texture, the ability to mix and customize the two shades in the compact, the colors themselves- vibrant and flattering. But the size and shape drive me crazy. It's a small stripe of color which limits the shape, size and movement of the brush. I like using big and fluffy brushes and lightly swirl them over the blush for natural looking application, but it's utterly impossible here. The Shu Uemura compact is only slightly bigger than your average single eye shadow, so I'm using smaller and narrow brushes, like the Sephora angled blush brush you see in the picture, and make sure to carefully blend the color with the other face products I apply to avoid that streaky 80s look.



The Shu Uemura Primal Mix Blush comes in three shades. There's a peachy option and a brownish one that I liked but found to be too dark. My color of choice was Rhythm, a warm medium pink with the golden/light bronze supplement. It adds just the right amount of perkiness to one's face, but I can't help thinking it would have served me better if it came in a round or even square compact.

Bottom line: Very pretty, flawed design.

Shu Uemura Primal Mix Blush ($24) is available from Barneys, Bergdorf and Neiman Marcus.

All photos are mine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Courvoisier L’Edition Imperiale Eau de Parfum


Look at the notes of Courvoisier L’Edition Imperiale (from Luckyscent):
Cardamom, mandarin, tagette, coriander, cedar, smoked tea, royal calla lily, violet, vetiver, fir balsam, leather and amber. This spells dark, delicious and warm, but to me that's genderless. The whole masculine image, cognac and cigars, is a marketing spin. Just as the Courvoisier cognac isn't necessarily limited to people who think they're Napoleon.


One of the nicest things about L’Edition Imperiale is the perfect balance between elements that each could have taken over the perfume. I absolutely adore the opening with its cardamom-coriander-tagette (marigold). It's spicy and different, and morphs beautifully into the honeyed spiced tea heart. I don't get any of the gentlemen’s clubs association or any traditional, Cary Grant-ish cologne. It's all in the skin and nose of the beholder, and for me this is a resinous amber with hints of leather, spice and everything nice. It's not a casual perfume and probably not the thing to wear on the subway in August. But as far as I'm concerned, it can work equally well on a date as in a board meeting. And on a guy.

Courvoisier L’Edition Imperiale Eau de Parfum is avaialble from Luckyscent and Bergdorf Goodman ($110 for 75ml, $165 for 125ml), but I dearly suggest that you check with the online discounters for a (much) better price. Also, at the PXA perfume expo last summer, the company's reps were showing two new versions, an EDT and an aftershave product. Both had the lighter top amplified and the good parts greatly diminished. I was not impressed.

Image: A 1972 Courvoisier ad from Found in Mom's Basement
L’edition Imperiale ad: harlingenboeit.nl

Biotherm Rides Repair Instant Polish


The Good:
As long as you make sure to use your richest moisturizer generously after exfoliating with Biotherm Rides Repair Instant Polish, this sandy paste will leave your face as smooth and soft as it can be. It's very efficient and rinses off easily.

The Bad:
The "wrinkle repair" label. This is an exfoliator, it doesn't repair or fix anything, just sloughs off flakes, dirt and debris. Yes, a clean skin absorbs creams and serums better, but since this this Instant Polish is somewhat abrasive (it feels almost like a sand paper) and can be harsh on thin and sensitive skin, maybe it shouldn't be labeled as part of the Rides Repair line. Also, the recommendation to use it 2-3 times a week? Way too much.

The Ugly:
A typo (or misspelling) on the box and on the website: "Apply 2 to 3 times a week on wet skin. Avoid eye contours. Massage and rince. Then apply your daily Rides Repair skincare products. "

Biotherm Rides Repair Instant Polish ($29, 2.5oz) is available from biotherm-usa.com. I received it as a PR freebie.

Image: Close-up at the Great Sand Dunes by Widemere on Flickr.

Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Eye Shadow





The Edward Bess lovefest continues.

It was hard to choose between the eye shadow colors, but I settles on Dusk, a grayish brown (or brownish gray, depending on the light) with a subtle khaki undertone. It's the second darkest in the line, and works beautifully in the crease, on the lid and even to lightly line the lower lashes (using Nars smudge brush). On a lighter skin, Dusk could easily be used to line the upper lashes as well.

Edward Bess' perfectionism is extremely obvious in his eye shadows. The colors are the most elegant you would find- all are neutral and subtle but with enough character, pigment and rich undertones to create beautiful effects that aren't obvious makeupy, if that makes any sense. I guess it's the total opposite approach of lines that dazzle you with trendy colors and appeal to one's experimental side. With Edward Bess' work, the makeup items are so perfect that it's no longer about the makeup, but about the wearer. Which, come to think about it, that's the way it should always be.


The texture and quality are the best. Smooth and finely milled, the eye shadows apply as lightly or as thickly as you want, and the color is buildable without caking (in the swatch pictures, no. 1 is the color applied as a light wash, no. 2 is two layers with a dense brush) . Used over a primer, the only way to get get it off is with a makeup remover. Otherwise it stays on.

Bottom line: I need at least a couple of other of these.

Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Eye Shadows ($29) are available exclusively from Bergdorf Goodman and edwardbess.com.

All photos are mine.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes- Ambre Fetiche

Perfume lovers who own a substantial number of bottles tend to reach a point in their collecting habit where considering a purchase becomes about deciding if this new (or old) perfume is worth the shelf space and its place in their rotation, since acquiring and wearing a new scent means less skin time for the other loves. In other words, we become so particular that a perfume needs to wow us if it is to join the other treasures in our cabinets. Ambre Fetiche from Annick Goutal didn't require any inner debate. It was a case of Sniff. Love. Need. Get.

For once, the list of notes (amber, frankincense, labdanum, stirax, benzoin, iris absolute, vanilla and Russian leather) actually tells the full story of the fragrance. It's a very dark amber-incense, where the expected sweetness is wonderfully balanced by a tarry, dirty black leather. Yes, it's an oriental, therefore forever doomed to be compared to various Guerlain perfumes, from the classic Shalimar to the modern Cuir Beluga and Oriental Brulant. But while I doubt someone who hates the Guerlains would find Ambre Fetiche wearable, it's different enough thanks to the impressive amounts of smoky incense and stands out among the above and other famous big ambers (Serge Lutens and Tom Ford's, for example).


Ambre Fetiche is not for the demure. Anyone expecting the typical floral Goutal would be surprised and not necessarily in a good way. It's strong and thick, uncompromising in its sexuality and would make one think of ancient perfumery traditions from the days it was all about frankincense, myrrh and lebonah than anything dainty and/or French. It easily stays on for 24 hours or more (after only two sprays) and you'll catch a whiff of yourself at every turn. In the late drydown, when most of what's left is a smoky vanilla, you might feel the urge to try licking yourself. Try to resist.

The four Les Orientalistes perfumes (Ambre Fetiche, Encens Flamboyant,Myrrhe Ardente and Musc Nomade) are available in 50 ml, 100 ml and also in the rectangular masculine bottles at the usual department stores, from Bloomingdale's and up, but also for a considerably better price from several online retailers. I'm starting to realize that Ambre Fetiche is one of those very rare perfumes I actually should have bought in the bigger bottle.

The bottle in the Goutal ad at the top is the limited edition butterfly bottle.

Photo: Black Corset by Horst P. Horst, 1948

Three Things That Made My Weekend

1. Just looking at Dita Von Teese. This photo is from a Milan Fashion Week event, where Dita launched he new lingerie line. Personally, I'm not sure I'm into celebrity unmentionables, but then again, I do like Elle Macpherson's stuff, so I might have to give this a chance. In any case, nobody wears a red lipstick like Dita.



2. Rihanna and what looks suspiciously like a Franciscan monk. I can't stand her hair, but at least she cleaned up nicely after last week's airport style fiasco. Rihanna was in Venice this weekend for her manager's wedding, where apparently the locals don't care that the fashion police has been after her lately. Bonus picture: rocking the purple lipstick.




3. My favorite Mad Men lovelies January Jones and Elisabeth Moss. We're seeing them around more and more, and it delights my nerdy fan soul. January Jones attended Variety’s 1st Annual ‘Power of Women’ Luncheon with the likes of Anne Hathaway and Christina Applegate. Elisabeth Moss was featured on the cover of Venice magazine. Talent is a beautiful thing.

Bonus guilty pleasure item: The next Real Housewives show will be The Gay Housewives of NYC. This can't be anything but pure fun to watch. Definitely more interesting than the other reported new reality show about Tinsley Mortimer's life (and divorce). Not that there's any force in the universe that would prevent me from DVRing this crap to watch while working out. For motivation, you see.

Photos and information: Just Jared

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pantone Fashion Color Report- Spring 2010

...and some musings about the way the world has changed since the 80s.

It is easy to get overwhelmed (and more than a little bored) with the constant coverage and unprocessable amount of information from the various Fashion Week events all over the world. As a blogger, I also receive countless press releases informing me exactly who did what and what hair spray they used to achieve that space age seductress-vampire-with a hint of Queen of Sheba look everyone(?) was talking about. And I look through them, watch the clips, read the interviews, take notes, take Advil.


I look at this stuff for inspiration, trying to recognize emerging patterns and trends through my own perspective, not what someone's PR is pushing. Like most of my readers, I want to know how all this affects me. What DVF dresses and Neiman Marcus cashmere sweaters will I buy next season? Am I going to like the new lip colors? What colors are on the fingernails of the Chanel models?

And I'm thankful for all the photos and neverending fashion stories. Beyond words.

Growing up in a small suburban town during the 80s, my access to this kind of information was so limited I might as well have lived on the moon. Some dry reports with a couple of black and white photos in the paper, a 30 second clip from a fashion show in the evening news and the elation of getting my sweaty palms on the new issue of Vogue. And, of course, it was so hard to relate and apply those faraway images to my life and wardrobe. I couldn't even dream about sitting on my bed one evening with my cute little computer on my lap, connected to the entire world through it and leafing through the Pantone Fashion Color Report for the next season. What a concept!

So, the Spring 2010 Pantone Fashion Color Report...
There are some cute and optimistic colors (bright yellow, blue, coral and tomato red) and a few sombre neutral that seem to always be part of the summer palette like shades of khaki (dried herb and eucalyptus, this year). Of course, I immediately start to envision the way they'd be interpreted in the J. Crew catalog, Armani eye shadow palettes and YSL lipsticks...



These are some of my favorites (from the report) as seen in NYC Fashion Week, and you can download and read the whole thing (including quotes and advice from the usual luminaries such as Ken Downing, Nina Garcia, India Hicks and Clinton Kelly here.

What are your favorite colors and ideas? What would you like to see?

Fashion drawings from the Pantone report.
Photos from Diane von Furstenberg's fashion show: New York Magazine.

Chanel Jade & Jade Rose Le Vernis Nail Polish





The more I look at Jade and Jade Rose, the new limited edition nail polish colors from Chanel, the more I wonder why they were released now, with all the other Fall 2009 items. Yes, I know that they were inspired by the tweed fabrics and jewelery for fall/winter shown on the runway, but still- we're talking light rose and mint green, both with very delicate shimmer. They look quite springy, if you ask me.

Today I'm wearing Jade Rose, and it's a pretty, happy color. When staying indoors, the shimmer is all but invisible and the shade looks a lot warmer than in full daylight. It has an almost peach undertone, especially when you put on three coats (quite necessary, as the polish is sheer). As noted by Melanie Parker on Blogdorf Goodman, application can be tricky. I've experimented a little and found out that Jade Rose works best over an Essie glaze base coat. It kept streaks to a minimum and the results are good. So far, I only had one small chip in three days when I banged my hand on a dresser in an odd angle (don't ask).

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Polish in Jade And Jade Rose ($25 each) is exclusive to Chanel boutiques and chanel.com.

All photos are mine.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier- Iris Bleu Gris


If I could list only one reason why MPG, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, should continue making perfume, it would be Iris Bleu Gris.

Iris Bleu Gris is part of the masculine line, but I've always liked it better than its feminine sibling, Fleur d'Iris, because it's far more interesting and original. While Fleur d'Iris is cute, sweet and smells like someone's idea of what a feminine iris should be, Iris Bleu Gris is the real thing- complex, dark and dry. Instead of a powdery feeling, it is dusty and leathery, and dries down into an almost sweet musk. It doesn't have the famous earthy carrot note of Iris Silver Mist (Lutens) or the woody backbone of Infusion d'Iris (Prada). Instead there's something mossy and maybe some hay in the background.

The opening is almost bitter, which I love. It makes you pay attention and stand up straight. It becomes a bit less formal and stiff afterwards, without losing the edge. I don't think I could wear it with a pink cashmere sweater, but a belted trench coat and an Hermes scarf are a perfect match.

There's a lot of uncertainty about the future of Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. I can't find much definite information, but it looks like their website hasn't been updated in ages, and all their listed NYC retailers are no longer getting new stock.The entire Maître Parfumeur et Gantier line is now back in stock at Henri Bendel and Luckyscent.

Art: Gray Iris by Christopher Redwine

Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card Pink Innocent Makeup Kit





Trish McEvoy took the idea of an ultra portable palette to the most charming extreme. The Beauty Emergency Card is so small and slim it could fit in your pocket (If you insist. I'd suggest putting it in the zippered pocket of your handbag) or in the smallest of evening clutches. Yet, it holds most of what one needs for an almost complete makeup look.

There's a medium tone yellow based concealer (excellent color and good coverage, though I find it too thick for use under my eyes), four eye shadows (two of which are dark enough to be used as an eyeliner) and three lip colors- one deep, two sheer (that would work as a cheek stain, if you must). The kit is super slim and small. The name Emergency Card really fits it, so don't expect a large amount of each product, but it's more than enough as an on the go solution, especially if you're like me and hate to tote numerous compacts and pots (or transfer them from bag to bag).

The colors are as usable and flattering as they get. That is, as far as I'm concerned. They are classic and neutral, the shimmery ones are subtle enough to use during the day, and the dark ones can be used to create an evening look. Even the lightest color eye shadow, Delicate Pink, is pigmented enough to provide real highlighting, and the texture is very blendable. The lip colors are pretty basic, and again- blend beautifully, so you can adjust the shade the way you want it.

The kit doesn't include brushes. While in theory you can use your fingers, I really don't recommend that for reasons starting in hygiene and ending with precise application. Since I experienced quite a bit of fallout from the eye shadows when I tested them emergency-style over a naked eye, I highly suggest you apply a primer or some kind of eye shadow base, but that's always true. Seriously, use primers! They make all the difference.

Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card Pink Innocent Makeup Kit ($28) is available from most decent department stores.

All photos are mine.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jacques Fath: Fath de Fath (Vintage Perfume)





Sometimes I wonder what it would be like in fifty years, when perfume enthusiasts will amuse themselves trying to locate vintage bottles of discontinued and forgotten perfumes. Would Paris Hilton become a legend? Would fruity florals be revered as a timeless classic? Can you see crazy bidding wars over some bottled dreck by Michael Kors? What would be the next Djedi or Iris Gris?

I'm fascinated by 50s fashion and design aesthetics. And, of course, perfume from that era. In his short career (and life. He died in 1954 at age 42), Jacques Fath has managed to create some iconic looks in the Post War world, hire Hubert de Givenchy, Guy Laroche, and Valentino Garavani as apprentices and launch a perfume legend or two.



Fath de Fath in its original 1953 form is not as mythical as its older sibling Iris Gris. I didn't have to sell a kidney for the sealed bottle I found, I was just very very lucky. While Fath de Fath is beautiful, elegant and as evocative of its time as one would hope, smelling it doesn't change your life or understanding of perfume. I've seen it labeled as an oriental, but I smell enough oakmoss to assume it's a chypre.

The opening is a bit murky with some spicy citrus that when sprayed (I decanted some) smells green and a bit more airy. As it develops, Fath de Fath becomes elegant and very French. The heart is floral and I'm pretty sure I smell a violet-iris note and maybe some lily. It glides like a model in some of these fashion show clips and is unapologetic feminine.

The base isn't just dark and full of oakmoss, but also quite animalic. There's some serious lingerie under these dresses, and Fath de Fath is not shy about making it known. The drydown is my favorite part of this scent. I wonder if any of the fashion houses today would dare release such a thing. Considering the latest offering from Marc Jacobs, Gucci and Dior, my money is on "no".







Photos of the actual vintage bottle are mine. Model: Giselle.
Fath de Fath original ad: okadi.com
Jacques Fath dresses and hats photos: myvintagevogue.com

Rihanna. No Words.




I was willing to give Rihanna the benefit of the doubt and make allowance for her age, too much time spent in airports and a funky personality. But this is not even a case of fashion crisis. I think it's a taste problem, and that's very very hard to fix.

Opinions?

Photos: Just Jared

Shiseido Eye Shadow Luminizing Satin Eye Color






The new Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color, single eye shadows, have a wonderful silky texture and a satin finish. They feel luxurious and the colors have a distinct modern appeal, which isn't surprising- they were designed by Shiseido creative director and makeup guru Dick Page.

I chose two colors that I thought would round my collection a bit: GD810 Bullion, a dirty gold, and VI704 Provence, a lavender. The latter is the color you see on most web site selling this range, as it's bright and dramatic in the pan. The surprise came when I started wearing Provence and discovered it looks much lighter on the lid and needs to be piled up to really show (I had to work it hard for the swatches, which is why they look a bit weird and dry- it's about five or six coats). It actually has a brightening, eye-opening effect on my skin, so I blend it with mauve or gray.

Bullion is very warm, just as you'd expect from a gold eye shadow. I blend it with bronze and browns and it's nice, even if I'm not utterly in love with it.

Bottom line: great texture, beautiful colors. I should have gotten it in taupe.

Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color ($25 each) is available from Sephora and any decent department store.

All photos are mine.

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