Monday, February 01, 2010

The Cranky Shopper- Part Eleventy Three

Strange things happen when you are just twenty five minutes away from Bergdorf Goodman. The place I regularly call "my local mall" isn't your average Jersey strip mall. The Shops At Riverside, formerly known as Riverside Square, is where you can find an Hermes boutique as well as a Tiffany store, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and other pretty nice options to spend a not-so-small fortune. There are also two department stores: Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Neither would be considered as slummin' it.

I went makeup shopping last week. There were a couple of items I already knew I wanted and a few others I wanted to check in person before making decision. And, of course, there's research. After all, I'm here to try stuff so you don't have to.

Online swatches, photos and reports from fellow bloggers have left me undecided about the Giorgio Armani spring collection. The palettes and most of the colors seemed several degrees too light, but I had to try them on skin first, so I headed to Saks. There were four SAs in attendance at the counter, something that rarely happens- the place is deserted more often than not, so I expected to be helped and get some good suggestions. However, all four ladies were busy doing their own makeup, often blocking my access to the products. One of them informed me that they were getting ready for a special event at the country club, which apparently required piling on the eyeliner. I finished testing and swatching, considered buying one of the palettes, but as I just couldn't catch the attention of any of the SAs, decided to move on and go to Bloomingdale's.

I wanted to decide between two colors of the new Guerlain Rouge G Le Brilliant and to have a good look at the new version of pressed Meteorite powder. I already knew I should avoid the new eye shadow quad for spring. That black violet color makes me look like I got a shiner, which the SA agreed would not be a good thing. Instead, she suggested I tried one of the regular quads, which had a gorgeous teal with some more questionable silvery shades. Since I wasn't too sure about it, I asked the SA to show me how to apply and make it work.

She was very nice and friendly, just chatty enough and a complete opposite to the four Armani ladies with the eyeliner of doom. I sat happily in the uncomfortable high chair and expected some magic. It is Guerlain, after all. Red flag number one appeared immediately, when the SA didn't bother to remove my makeup. I was wearing Chanel Black Jade eyeliner with eye shadows from the Kashka Beige spring quad mixed with a Shu Uemura something or other. It was a pretty neutral look, but you still couldn't miss the fact I was already wearing a full face of makeup.

Wielding her brushes, the SA told me enthusiastically about the training seminar she had the previous day at the Guerlain Spa, how well the company treats the employees and how lucky she felt to work there. It was nice to hear, really, and I was concentrating on the conversation more than on some strange looks I got from passers by on their way to the YSL and Laura Mercier counters. When she was done with my eyes and took a minute to help another customer and bring some blush and bronzer I looked in the mirror and was horrified.

First, there was a ton of teal and silver fallout on the apples of my cheeks. I'm quite familiar with Guerlain eye shadows and have never seen them create such a royal blue mess. My half educated guess is that the eye color was applied with the wrong brushes. I wish I paid more attention from the beginning so I could know for sure.  But that can always be cleaned up. The problem was what used to be my big brown eyes now lost in a sea of teal and blue that were smudged all over and not necessarily in the most symmetrical manner. Hideous doesn't even begin to describe it. When the SA got back to me I requested she'd clean and tone it down significantly, which she tried, but the rich pigments weren't cooperating too well. Some makeup remover and frantic smudging later I was left with a little less teal which was still way too much. She tried  to blend it with some peach toned base only to create a bigger mess before deciding the problem was lack of balance between my pale face and the dark eye. So to balance things out she fetched a blush in a scary red tone and some bronzer and proceeded to try and find my cheek bones.

Crusty the Clown was looking back at me from the mirror.

I thanked the SA for her effort, paid for the items I intended to purchase in the first place and escaped into the darkness and the snow flurries.

Then I couldn't remember where exactly I parked my car.


  1. That's terrible. I'd expect so much more from Guerlain and their 'training'.

  2. LOL! We've all been Vegas-showgirl-ed at some point. It's tricky not to be totally 'What the heck were you thinking?' rude, while trying to plan the route to the nearest bathroom to repair the damage.

    Your not-so-great-makeover does sound like a masterpiece of the art form :)

  3. Been there! I feel your pain.

    How did the Guerlain woman's own makeup look?

  4. Gah, horrors!
    And it's so hard to be blunt and say 'nope, I hate that' when the SA has been sweet.

  5. Yikes. I do find that makeup counters often pile it on way way too much. MAC people do a consistently good and flattering job but otherwise it's Russian Roulette out there

  6. That's terrible. You kind of hope that you're not going to bump into anybody on the way home. But it should be the opposite.

  7. I had to laugh, Gaia, because I had the same type of experience at Guerlain. I was looking at lipstick when the SA asked if I'd like my make-up done by Guerlain's MA. I wasn't in a hurry and so I hopped up on the chair. She didn't remove any of my make-up and just began applying things on top of it. It was terrible! London Girl's comment about Vegas showgirl wasn't the half of it. The amount of make-up this MA put on me would have made RuPaul squeemish!

  8. Eileen and everyone else- I don't know if I should be glad to know I'm not alone in this experience or very sad for high-end brands that don't know how to train their reps.

    Don't they realize that a good SA/MA would sell tons of products to women happy with what they see after the makeover? It's not rocket science, really. I would have bought a lot more than what I originally planned had she done a good job, but there wasn't even one single item she used correctly or made appealing.

  9. A., I know what you mean- the first thing I always check is the SA's own makeup. She looked alright. I thought she could use a little more mascara and a little less black eyeliner (what is it with SAs and black eyeliner lately?), but there was nothing alarming about her face.

    I suspect that other than not being as well trained as she should have been, it was my coloring confused her. I need much lighetr colors than it appears at a first glance. Olive skin isn't always an open invitation for dark colors.

  10. Yikes!

    That's too bad. They really lose sales that way. Making you look bad is bad enough, but making the product look bad (the flaking) is almost worse..

  11. Cripes! You are far braver than I, entrusting your face to a stranger! I got so fed up with other people "interpreting" my features (as if they know better than I where my lips end) that I started doing it professionally.

    Based on everyone's comments, I'm starting to fear Guerlain.

    At least you got what you came for... Right? (/silver lining)

  12. Yikes - that reminds me of the time I left a MAC makeover looking like a Ceasar's Palace statue. Yeah it's never a good sign when people do a double take at you when you are getting a makeover and there reaction is "oooh...dear god" and not "well that's a lovely looking lady..."

  13. Am I wrong for laughing? I went to a wedding years ago in Dallas and I got invited for a makeup do-over at the Clinique counter. Those Dallas ladies love their full-face makeup, but I figured, hey, Clinique, I'm safe, right? I looked like a hooker.

  14. how horrid!! this happened to me at MAC not too long ago...i relegated myself to the bathroom and bought their wipes just to remove the mess and because they pissed me off so much, promptly returned them.

  15. The problem is that most SAs only know how to do makeup for people who have the same eye/face shape as themselves.

    I'm asian and I live in the US.

    I have yet found a makeup artist who can do my eye makeup better than me. Also, all the makeup artists that I have encountered are non-asian.

    By the way, I have not seen any Asian SA working at any of the makeup counters that I've gone to.

  16. Joyce, this is really interesting as my favorite Chanel SA at my local Saks is Asian. She's very experienced and I have no problem letting her do my makeup, even though my features could not be more different than hers. Then again, she's the minority. We've all seen reps who don't have a full grasp of color and skin texture.


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