Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sneak Peek: Giorgio Armani Fall Color 2010 Night Viper

Here's a quick look at some of the items from Night Viper collection, Giorgio Armani 2010 fall collection. What you see here is the Maestro eye Shadow Quad which includes a deep navy blue (I'll have to do a comparison to the blue from Guerlain's 2 Place Vendome) and three neutrals- taupe, silver and dark chocolate brown. There are three lipsticks from the Rouge d'Armani series: 602 (Soft Pink), 603 (Black Purple) and 604 (Deep Ruby). I haven't swatched or tested yet, so I can't tell you how dark they show when applied. We'll see. All three of them are in the "plum" range, according to their boxes and Armani's numbering system (100s are beige/nude, 200s are brown, 400s are red, 500s are pink and 600s are plum. And now, there's no 300s. I wonder why).

I couldn't skip one of my holy grail mascaras, Eyes To Kill, in a gorgeous blue gray (it looks similar to the blue Givenchy Phenome'Eyes). I passed on the blush duo because I'm all blushed out at the moment and the other eye palette, the purple Eyes To Kill. It's gorgeous, but way too purple for me.

Details, swatches and reviews coming soon.

All photos are mine.

Weekly Roundup- Last One For July

Can you believe July is over? What have we been up to? Testing beauty products, apparently. Here's what my friends have discovered:

Charlestongirl has been sharing with us her love affair of the Guerlain Champs-Élysées eye shadow palettes from the Fall 2010 Collection. Check out Best Things in Beauty this week for her latest swatching and swooning over these palettes. Yes, we're all obsessed with them. I hope you didn't miss my own swatches of 93 Rue de Passy and don't forget to come back here to see 2 Place Vendome.

Kari from Fab Over Forty has renewed her love of makeup with a brand that's an old favorite. This week she shares with us some of the newest products to the line and how she's back to using Elizabeth Arden. It's been years since I've last paid attention to any Arden product. Do you have a favorite? Is there anything you think I need to try?

Cindy at Prime Beautyhad the opportunity to interview makeup artist Lori Taylor from Smashbox Cosmetics, see what tips and tricks she learned.

Growing your hair out can be a daunting experience. I still remember the months of fighting with my unruly locks during senior year of high school when I went from spiky 80s Duran Duran inspired (or so I hoped. It was a major fail) do to what is recognized today as my crown and glory. I wore hats everywhere until I felt I could show my head in public. Kelly from Gouldylox Reviews has been sharing with us her hair-growing experience and she has a giveaway of 5 of her favorite Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs hair products that have helped her along the way. Be sure to enter.

And while we're on the subject of hair, would you rather be blonde or brunette, how about highlights? Anne from Beauty Xpose shows us a virtual site that we can test drive a new hair color without opening a box or stepping foot in a salon. See Anne's results. Me? I'm staying a non-blonde.

Karla Sugar is sharing with us her swatches of the latest Lancome Fall Collection called French Coquettes. Take a peek at these shades at The Next Best Thing to Going Shopping Yourself. I'm fascinated by that gorgeous rose blush, but do I need it? And would I dare mess the beautiful pattern? I do see some (all?) of the lipsticks in my future, as well as the Artliners. You can't go wrong with them.

And one last thing: Kristen the Beauty Addict has been on a blogging hiatus for months, but she's back now. She's one of my favorite blondes and was among the very first beauty blogs I read even before I launched mine. I'm thrilled to see her writing again.

Photo of Atlantic City circa 1948

Friday, July 30, 2010

Guerlain 93 Rue de Passy Fall 2010 Eye Shadow Palette

Someone at Guerlain really knows us. Naming the new eye shadow palettes from the fall 2010 Champs-Elysees collection after the most fabulous shopping destinations in Paris could not be more perfect. 93 Rue de Passy is also home of a Lancel boutique, where you can find this little beauty (€ 599.00) and other leather goods:

93 Rue de Passy is also the name of this 6 color eye palette (five shadows, one powder liner). The colors are on the warm side, from shimmery pink quartz to sandy brown. The eyeliner is charcoal and might be the least convincing item in the otherwise wonderful palette. The eye shadows come in various textures from matte to high shimmer, they blend well together and allow for creating different looks. Playing and combining these colors has kept me amused for the last couple of weeks and I've been wearing this palette everywhere- from the pet store to the comedy club to see Jeniffer Coolidge (so much fun).

Bottom Line: It's a gem.

Next week: the other Guerlain palette I picked, 2 Place Vendome.

Guerlain 93 Rue de Passy Fall 2010 Eye Shadow Palette ($84) is available from Guerlain counters everywhere.

All makeup and swatch photos are mine, Lancel bag, orange tabby is Kosh.

Coty La Rose Jacqueminot- Vintage Perfume

The danger in getting into vintage perfumes is that sooner or later one of them will break your heart. The one that did it to me is La Rose Jacqueminot by Coty. It was one of Francois Coty's first creations, originally released in 1905 (according to Roja Dove. Other sources point to 1906). My bottle is the 1980s reissue of the eau de perfume, so it's not that I'm even yearning for something all that old and unattainable, but knowing that this beauty is gone and would probably not be seen again is painful.

I'm not even a rose person, but this is a very dark and thick rose. I don't know if it ever had lighter top notes that my bottle has lost or if it always been about red wine and roses right from the start. It's a date night perfume, low lights, silk and velvet, black eyeliner and hushed tones. There's quite a bit of spice in its heart which makes me think of faraway places.  I smell cardamom, nutmeg and a dirty wood base, a touch of oud, maybe, sandalwood and tobacco. It's rich, romantic, completely devoid of sunshine and so beautiful it makes me dress up to deserve it. La Rose Jacqueminot makes you realize just how much we've lost when Coty turned into a dreck for the masses company it is today, and that's a big part of the heartbreak involved.

Coty's La Rose Jacqueminot was discontinued long ago. Bottles of the later reissue pop up online here and there (there's one right now on eBay, but it's the EDT, so I don't know how it compares to the one I have).

Have you had your heart broken by a vintage perfume? Let's commiserate.

1939 fashion photo
La Rose Jacqueminot ad from
Coty ad from 1943 by Carl Erickson

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Hydrachange Essence

My favorite part about modern skin care is its effectiveness. Good products deliver visible results within weeks or even days, and while they won't give you a face lift or a nose job, they make one's skin look as good as possible without having to use methods like the one you see above. Other than sun protection (and correcting past sun damage), my main focus is keeping my skin looking alive. It's all quite Harry Potter-like: Potions, Defence Against The Dark Arts and a touch of Herbology, so I like that Kanebo Sensai's nearly magical serum is called an "Essence".

Cellular Performance Hydrachange Essence looks like a runny lotion but you can tell as soon as you apply it that there's some heavy duty concentrated moisturizing there. The "magic" is in the contrast between the lightness of the texture (and the absolute lack of any grease) and the instant plumping and suppleness it gives the face. And these results don't vanish. My skin remains happy for long hours, and I can also tell now, after over a month of daily use, that I've achieved a new and better balance.

Granted, the real test of a superpower hydrating product is during the winter, when freezing temperatures and overheated spaces conspire to age us all, but from what I'm seeing now I have high hopes for the Sensai Hydrachange Essence (and also for the cream from this series which I will start testing as soon as the weather changes). As for integrating this product into my existing routine, I use it every morning after moisturizing and once again in the afternoon or evening once I've taken off my makeup. I still use the brightening Cle de Peau serum right before bed and the results are great, so there's no conflict between the two products.

Bottom Line: Fabulous.

Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Hydrachange Essence ($150, 1.35oz) is available at  Bergdorf Goodman and also online from A press sample was provided by the company's PR team.


Le Metier de Beaute Bella Bronzer Liquid Illuminator for Face & Body

I'm taking a short break from talking about fall collections in favor of a very summery product, Le Metier de Beaute Bella Bronzer Liquid Illuminator for Face & Body. It's a sheer bronzer in liquid form that adds both color and a shimmery glow, making Bella great choice for evening.

The bottle resided in my bronzer drawer for several weeks, mocking me and my fear of orange every time I reached for my safe comfort zone products. As you can see in the photos, it looks scarily dark until you actually spread the liquid and blend it into your skin and base makeup. It's a lot easier to control than I thought it would be and even the shimmer is not over the top, though I still consider it a night on the town look. The best thing: not a hint of orange. Le Metier de Beaute really knows skin and this bronzer works with my natural tone and enhances it. I look like I just got back from the most fabulous vacation, not as though I'm possessed by Dina Lohan.

The texture of Bella Bronzer is light and moisturizing. It has no greasiness and doesn't give me an oily shine. It contains coconut oil and definitely smells of it, so you need to take that into account if it can be an issue for you. I've found that the level of color can be built and also diluted if I mix it with a liquid moisturizer (so if you're very fair this might be something you'll need to do- Bella might be too brown for you right out of the bottle). I've experienced no skin issues, but I've only been using it two to three times a week, so I can't comment on the effects of constant heavy application.

Bella Bronzer looks very nice when used on the body. I like it on my décolleté but I'm always worried about staining my clothes, so my favorite use for Bella is on my pale green legs. Bronzed legs make cute little dresses that much cuter, so Bella has been earning its keep in that department. The moisturizing qualities (it also contains aloe vera and wild carrot extract) helped me go light with the lotion on some muggy nights, so that's a great bonus.  I wish the scent was lighter, though. I love coconut (as does my cat Peter who insists on trying to lick the bronzer), but it doesn't mix well with some of my favorite perfumes.

Bottom Line: Nice to have.

Le Metier de Beaute Bella Bronzer Liquid Illuminator for Face & Body ($85) is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus in store and online. I received a press sample from the PR team.

All photos are mine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

By Kilian Prelude To Love

The thing about iris scents is that it's too easy to make them pale and boring. Unless the perfumer goes all the way with the weirder facets of iris and pairs it with elements that let it fully shine, what you get is too soapy and washed out. Prelude To Love, a Calice Becker composition for By Kilian, barely escapes this fate. It took me a while before I got more than soap and musk out of it, and I still don't feel a need for more than a decant, but there is enough Prelude To Love to make me enjoy the ride.

From the list of notes you'd expect this perfume to be a citrus bomb. The opening is actually a lot more subtle than that and doesn't choke you on vitamin C. I smell a dried rind of grapefruit and lemon, slightly bitter, and also a hint of bergamot. There's no juice and pulp here and very little direct sunlight. It's more like a reflection of light from a whitewashed wall. Then there's the iris, clean and well laundered of any earthiness. I usually prefer my iris to bite a little and have a well-worn leather jacket over its crisp white shirt. But eventually I've started to enjoy Prelude To Love on all its steam ironed cotton and semi-innocence.

There is actually a soft leather note in the dry-down. You need to pay attention and reach under the clean musk and washed skin, but it's there. There's something that feels very French countryside in the summer about Prelude To Love, or at least my imagined French movie scenery, considering all know of France is Paris. But it's a nice fantasy and a nice perfume, easy enough to wear and with just enough character as to not bore me out of my skull, at least on a hot July day.

Bottom Line: For those who felt cheated by Prada Infusion d'Iris.

Prelude To Love and the rest of the regular By Kilian perfumes can be purchased in either their full glory black boxes for the hard to swallow $225 (50ml) or as a $70 1oz/30ml travel refill set (4x0.25oz). Available at small boutiques such as Luckyscent and Aedes as well as from Saks and Bergdorf.

Art: Early Morning by Pino

Nars Douceurs De Paris Palette Saks Exclusive

I stumbled across Nars Douceurs De Paris (Pleasures of Paris) eye shadow palette around the same time I was contemplating Chanel's fall 2010 collection. It was actually this Nars palette that helped me decide to pass on the  Enigma quad. While the colors are not similar except in a general fall atmosphere, it's the incredible versatility of the Nars palette that won me over. All six shades are wearable and blend together perfectly. The textures go from matte to satin with shimmer, so there are daytime options as well as evening looks.

I've been having a lot of fun playing with different combinations of the eye shadows, pairing and blending. The one color I wasn't too sure about when looking at it in the pan was Violetta. I was worried it would be a bit too cool and lavender, but as you can see from the swatch that's not the case at all. Since my eyelids are actually darker than my wrist, Violetta works as a smoky nude, and when combined with the highlighter, Abyssinia, I get a subtle no-makeup look. Just add the thinnest possible line of black eyeliner, black mascara and a bold lipstick and the result is, indeed, very classic French.

All shadows in this palette are very soft and silky, even Cordura, the dark brown. Pigmentation is very good, blending is easy and you can build up the color if you so desire. An eye primer keeps the colors in place for 12 hours or longer with no need for touch ups.

Bottom Line: excellent and fun.

Nars Douceurs De Paris Palette ($55) is exclusive to Saks and available online.

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guerlain Mitsouko

Heard in our house:
The Blond: What are you writing about?
Me: Mitsouko
The Blond: Oooh, ambitious! What are you going to say about it?
Me: That it's really really good.
The Blond: What are you going to say that hasn't been written 10000 times before?
Me: Absolutely nothing.
So there you have it. I was thinking about Mitsouko a lot lately because I was reading a book about the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor and I remembered an old unconfirmed story that the former Mrs. Simpson used to layer Mitsouko with L'Heure Bleue, both in extrait. I always thought it's a crazy idea. Can these two Guerlain classics coexist on the same body at the same time? I could never see it and didn't even dare try until this week. After all, I've been wearing two or three Lutens perfumes at the same time for years now, so why would I be scared of experiment with Guerlain?

I own both Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleu in several concentrations and vintages, so I decided to go with two that are approximately from the same era, the parfum de toilette version. The result wasn't hideous but it wasn't good, either. Mitsouko's peach and peach kernel plays well with the almondy heliotrope of LHB and they make each other smell more gourmand. But augmenting this particular facet also makes both perfumes lose a lot of their unique charm and depth. It somehow flattens both of them, which didn't make me feel more Duchess-like.

So let's allow Mitsouko to remain the star tonight. It definitely deserves it.

It's not hard to believe this perfume comes to us all the way back from 1919. It has an incredible depth and richness that grabs your attention and tells you stories from the Jazz Era. This fragrance, five years older than my grandmother, has seen it all. It's a femme fatale like most true chypres- bold and experienced, round and volutipous thanks to a rich rose and peach heart. The peach is a big part  of the story here. One doesn't need to be a fan of fruit in perfume to enjoy it because nothing about Mitsouko smells like a Bath & Body Works refugee. The peach note is very complex- you can smell everything from the flower that flirts with the rose to  the woody and astringent kernel. It blossoms and ripens throughout the scent's development on the skin, adding to the sexiness aspect.

Then there's the oakmoss.


If you've been around the perfume scene during the last five years you know the story. In the process of protecting us from ourselves and by assuming people who wear perfume are more stupid than those who consume food and can't read labels, IFRA has forced perfumers to remove most of the oakmoss from the formulas. When you smell vintage Mitsouko you get loads of this thick and dark mossy base, all velvet and brocade. Even the sharp and slightly disharmonious EDT from the 1980s and 1990s is loaded with it, making Mitsouko a love-or-hate kind of scent. I have a fairly recent bottle (from two or three years ago) of the modern extrait, and while it feels a little dry cleaned it's still recognizable and very full bodied, even if there's a certain booziness that I'm not sure belongs there. I've smelled the current(ish. Sometimes it's hard to know for sure with testers in department stores that don't have a high classic Guerlain turnover) EDP and it's reasonably nice. Something is missing, but I doubt a casual Guerlain fan who isn't a vintage fiend would care too much. The new EDT isn't worth the energy it takes to spray it, though. The base feels off, the heart is gone and so is the staying power.

The Bottom line, I guess, is that despite everything, Mitsouko is still quite marvelous if you like this heavy and ornate chypre style. It's breathtakingly beautiful, like a set of royalty-worthy antique jewelry, all diamonds and huge emeralds.  I admit I enjoy wearing it casually, with a printed wrap dress and boots just as much as for a night out in a swanky NYC restaurant. Mitsouko can sometimes surprise you with its warm embrace despite the spiky heels, making it a wonderful candidate for a signature scent if I were interested in having one.

Mitsouko can be found at Guerlain boutiques around the world and select department store counters. Bergdorf Goodman has it in every concentration, of course, but even my local Bloomingdale's carries the extrait ($316, 1 oz). Rumor has it that there's been another more recent reformulation, but I haven't sniffed a bottle that was sealed in the last 6 months, so I cannot comment on this.

All photos:

Chanel Taupe Grise 87 Vert Khaki 88 Fall 2010 Ombre Essentielle Eye Shadow

Chanel single Ombre Essentielle eye shadows are often overlooked in favor of the glitzy quads, but the truth is the singles have proven to be a better buy for me- they have richer and deeper pigments than several of the quads, less shimmer and often a smoother texture. The Ombre Essentielle shadows blend perfectly and I often reach for them when I'm in a hurry and need a fool-proof, quick and easy look.

The fall 2010 collection, Les Contrastes de Chanel, offers Enigma, a very nice quad which I liked in theory but when tested at Saks it just wasn't all that exciting and the light pink shade looked all kinds of wrong on me. So I passed on it and picked instead the two gorgeous singles, 87 Taupe Grise and 88 Vert Khaki, both embody the look and spirit of the dramatic fall collection while still easy to wear and combine with nudes and neutrals. These two colors have depth, subtle shimmer and look like a million dollar even with minimal effort and work.

Vert Khaki is a dark golden olive. It's very close to Bobbi Brown's Golden Leaf from last year's Ivy League collection, just less shimmery and a little more brown-based. Taupe Grise is a complex taupe (thank you, Ms. Obvious) that looks like a gray smoke over a chocolate base. If you saw Christine's photos and swatches on Temptalia, hers seem to be much more cooler toned. I double and triple checked mine to make sure I didn't pick and photograph the wrong color and it's a warm taupe both in the pan and on skin. Please also take note  I swatched with a sponge applicator to show the colors' full intensity. When using a good brush the shades are more muted and can be softened and toned down for an elegant daytime look.

Bottom Line: I'm wearing these eye shadows right now. Not waiting for fall.

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Eye Shadows in Taupe Grise 87 Vert Khaki 88 are a limited edition  for Fall 2010. Both colors ($28.50 each) can be found at every Chanel counter and on

All photos are mine.