Sunday, October 31, 2010

Harney & Sons Opening A NYC Tea Store

It's interesting but hardly surprising that many perfume lovers are also interested in high-quality tea. Let's see: bergamot, jasmine, lavender, osmanthus, smoky notes... we can drink as well as wear them, not to mention my favorite vanilla-flavored black tea.

One of my favorite fall trips is driving up north to Millerton, NY (rt. 22, right on the New York-Connecticut border) and visit Harney & Sons Tasting Room. I usually order their teas online, but it's still a fun ritual and the adjacent store has all kinds of tea paraphernalia, including home fragrances.

The nice people of Harney & Sons are about to open a tea store and tasting bar in NYC. The address is 433 Broome St. (SoHo) and the opening is mid-November according to this WSJ article.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Weekend Roundup

Halloween means it's officially the season for holiday countdowns, parties, makeup and chocolate. It's no wonder all of us bloggers have been having fun.

Charlstongirl from Best Things In Beauty brings some color to our cheeks. She has swatches of the three new colors of Tarte's Cheek Stain. I have yet to find one that's right for me, but maybe one of these could work.

Estee Lauder has been stepping up the game since Tom Pecheux started designing seasonal palettes and other items. Kari from Fab Over Forty reviewed the Pure Color Extravagant Collection for Holiday 2010. Also have a look at the rest of her reviews this week- more palettes and pretty packaging.

The steely blue color of the new  Le Gris L'Wren 021 nail polish by Lancome reminds me of the sky on a stormy fall day. Sabrina from The Beauty Look Book has photos and comparisons to other blue shades.

Jane from Daly Beauty has reviewed one of my long-time favorite perfumes: Panthere de Cartier. A lush and ornate floral that is not ashamed of its 80s roots.

For Halloween, Chelsea at BeautyXposé shares Sephora's limited edition kits.It might make your holiday a little easier.

Still in Halloween spirit, Elena from Perfume Shrine has fragrance tricks and treats. It's a brilliant list.

Do you love glitter but hate the mess that some makeup has? Kelly from Gouldylox Reviews found a glittery, holiday must-have with the LORAC All That Glitters set.

I hate shopping for concealer. It's not fun, not sexy and is all about looking carefully at flawed skin. Laurie from Product Girl reviewed MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. She may have found her perfect one.

Debbi from DivaDebbi shares a secret with us; who some of the most famous celebrities have as a makeup artist. See what Debbi had done by the Kimara beauty team to make her look red carpet ready.

Marcia from the Beauty Info Zone has created a recent top 10 list of her favorite go-to beauty products. She and I only share one- the Le Metier de Beaute eye shadow, but it's always fun to see what others have in their makeup bag.

My own week smelled especially good thanks to the limited edition Guerlain Shalimar Ode a la Vanille. I have yet to meet a Shalimar I don't like, really. Mad Men fans in withdrawal might want to read about this new tie-in book, and fans of Edward Bess and/or cats would want to see my photos of his Platinum Concealer.

Have fun this weekend and wear something fabulous, in and out of costume!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Benefit RSVP Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner

In the world of cream eye shadows, staying power is a very rare commodity. Even the best eye primers succumb to creasing, making one swear she's never buying a non-powder eye shadow again (until the next shiny thing comes along). But even in this sad state of things, there is a handful of cream products that actually perform.

I reviewed Benefit Cosmetics Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner a couple of years ago and loved them dearly. They keep every promise, stay on all day looking perfect, and are quite versatile in the way you can use them- alone, combined with other eye shadows and as an eyeliner. The thing is that after about 18 months the cream dries out and crumble. It shouldn't be a problem for those who use the same items almost every day, but if you have a large collection you'll never hit the bottom of the jar before it spoils. Which explains why I has to toss my Benefit Creaseless Creams last year.

A recent Sephora GWP reunited me with the cream shadow in RSVP. It's a light neutral with a metallic finish, very wearable, blendable and pairable. And the best part? The GWP is considerably smaller than the full size (by approx. one third). I wish Benefit would add the mini jars to their permanent line.

Benefit Cosmetics Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liners ($19) are available from Sephora, Ulta and the company's website.

All photos are mine.

L.T. Piver- Azurea (Vintage Perfume)

found the bottle of Azurea by L.T. Piver in a small store at a local antique mall. I first noticed the tall glass stopper, then the beautiful Art Nouveau label. The bottle was more than half full and a quick online search (how in the world did we survive before smartphones?) revealed Azurea was released in 1897.

Azuréa was created for L.T. Piver by chemist/perfumer Pierre Armigeant (1874-1955) in collaboration with chemist George Darzens. It was launched in 1897 and, by 1901, was firmly entrenched in "better" stores throughout France and the United States — and other countries where Piver products were marketed.

A February, 7, 1907 copy of the Atlanta Constitution indicates that Azuréa was currently being sold at Keely's department store in that great American city.

There was also a box of Azurea powder next to it with the same label, and sniffing it helped me determine the juice in the bottle was, indeed, original. I didn't buy the powder because I don't collect vintage body products or their packaging, but the delicate aroma of Azurea won me over. I'm pretty sure my bottle is from a much later date than the turn of the previous century, though it's obviously old (it's identical to the one at the top left in the above 1927 ad); the fact the perfume is alive and wearable was thrilling.

The flower on the label is a blue iris, so it's interesting to note that the very same year Piver also launched Iris Blanc (via I wish I could smell that one and compare, because Azurea smells like iris, though more like the smaller wild flower than the rooty and earthy iris butter. It's very powdery and has a hefty dose of heliotrope. It dries down to a sweet baby powder and lasts for about 2 hours on my skin.

There's something fascinating in owning and wearing something so long ago. It's pretty and it's different. I can see the clothes, hats and antique cars, Art Nouveau decorations in the boudoir, breakfast served on a silver tray and managing a huge household and its staff. Basically, I wear Azurea and become Lady Marjorie Bellamie from Upstairs, Downstairs for a couple of hours.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mad Men: The Illustrated World by Dyna Moe- Book Review

I don't know about you, but I'm already in serious Mad Men withdrawal. I want to know what happens next and just see more. More Don, more Joan, more of Pete Campbell's giraffes. The last TV series that grabbed me like this was Buffy The Vampire Slayer; I own almost every official and unofficial guide and tie-in book as well as collections of essays on cultural and philosophical issues raised in the show. Seriously.

Mad Men has been generating its own crop of related books. As far as I know, Mad Men: The Illustrated World  by Dyna Moe is the first officially licensed tie-in to the show. Dyna Moe is the artist responsible for the Mad Men Yourself cartoons that everyone and their mother used as their Facebook profile picture last year. The book is based on  illustrations she created for the first three seasons (you can view them on her Flickr account) with some added content.

The thing to remember about Mad Men: The Illustrated World is that for better and for worse, this is the cartoon version. It doesn't take itself  seriously and neither should the reader, no matter how hard are the Mad Men withdrawal pains you're experiencing. The book has chapters dedicated to office culture, fashion and beauty, food & drink (including some recipes that would have been hilarious if we didn't know that people really used to eat this stuff) and the occasional historical and biographical anecdote. There are also a couple of contributions from people who actually work on the show, especially notable is actor Rich Sommer's account of mastering the bow tie.

The book is at its best when it offers real content about people, events and trends. I wish there was a lot more of that and less tongue-in-cheek stuff like the part about office equipment and etiquette. Out of the beauty & fashion section, the bouffant how-to is quite funny while the makeup guide was obviously written by someone who is not into makeup or vintage aesthetics. The Joan paper dolls are beautiful, though, and make me want to take them to my seamstress and plead with her to make me each one of the outfits.

Bottom Line: Superficial but fun. No worse than the Mad Men Barbie dolls.

Mad Men: The Illustrated World by Dyna Moe ($15 retail, $10.20 on Amazon) is available from most booksellers. A review copy was sent to me by the publisher.

Illustrations: Dyna Moe

YSL Blue Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils

This will be the last blue mascara review for a while. I tested and loved quite a few- blue mascaras have definitely come a long way since the 80s and its pretty easy to find a good one. The general rule is that brands that make a good mascara are more likely to offer something nice in blue.

I loved the black YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils from first testing. It's a great volumizer and holds a curl beautifully. It comes in several shades and Number 3, Extreme Blue is one of the options (there's also a blackened navy which I haven't tried. Yet). Obviously, on very dark lashes the color is not that bold, but it stands out a little more than the Buxom blue mascara that looks similar on the wand. This is probably due the thicker YSL formula that gives lashes a heavier coat. Still, it's very wearable and not loud at all- the blue just brightens things up a notch and looks pretty against beige and champagne eye shadows.

Volume Effet Faux Cils is quite resilient and stays on nicely, though I had one smudging occurrence (in three months of testing) after touching my eyes on a super humid and rainy day. From what I understand, the Volume Effet Faux Cils performs better when it has something unto which it can hold. It might not be the one if your lashes are very sparse, but for me it's an ideal product because it boosts the appearance while the blue shade is keeping things from looking too harsh or dramatic.

YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils mascara ($30) is available from select department stores, Sephora and the company's website.

All photos are mine.

Parfum d'Empire- Fougère Bengal

Fougère Bengal should probably come with a warning label for people who hate immortelle. The opening is very thick and sweet. It packs some heat and spice that can take away all the air in the room if not applied judiciously, and the entire first encounter is dense, exotic and very very lush. This 2007 Parfum d'Empire creation can feel like two big perfumes mixed together: a herbal fougere and a spicy oriental battling each other for attention. And, boy, do they give a good fight!

Fougères are traditionally masculine compositions. Green leaves and lavender that can be quite astringent and cool and give that vibe many women would describe as "men's cologne". Fougère Bengal is far from being the first to pair these notes with a sweet tonka bean-vanilla base- Jicky is the most classic example, of course. Parfum d'empire took this a lot farther, though, and created something that might not always be the easiest thing to wear, but is absolutely worth trying.

Once the scary sillage dies down I can relax and enjoy the ride. I always say that a good perfume is one that takes you places, and this is one great journey. Parfum d'Empire is good at this- they took the fictional romantic version of Colonial India- think A Passage to India or Far Pavillions- and forge them into a perfume. Greenery, tobacco, hey and the endless sweetness that promises all the temptations of the East. It's a beautiful fantasy that lingers on the skin for long hours, no matter how political incorrect the story behind this empire might be.

Parfum d'Empire Fougère Bengal ($75, 50ml EDP) is available from Aedes and MiN NewYork have the 100ml bottles.

Photo of a British officer in Colonial India from

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Butter London Aston Nail Polish

I'm in the mood for a somewhat neutral nail polish, but with still enough character to look interesting and fall-appropriate. Aston, has a delicate shimmer in a nice toffee (or rich leather interior?) color. It's on the warm despite some pink undertones, and on my hands looks better on gray days like today than when the sun is in full force. Two coats are enough for a perfectly polished look that goes anywhere and everywhere.

I can't find Aston on Butter London website, but other authorized retailers like Nordstrom and b-glowing have it in stock ($14).

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Au Gingembre

I wonder how things would have turned had Serge Lutens released Five O'Clock Au Gingembre in 1998 and not 2008. I have a feeling this spicy oriental tea scent (orientea?) would have been accept with a lot more enthusiasm ten years and twenty or so perfumes ago.

I think of Five O'Clock Au Gingembre as the civilized version of Arabie (which I absolutely cannot stand). In Arabie, Serge Lutens and his prophet, Christopher Sheldrake, take you by the hand touring the back alleys of an Arabian souk. You walk the narrow streets, see and touch everything- from the sublime to the grime. Your exotic tour in Gingembre is done aboard the Orient Express. You see the sights from afar and the smells get mixed with the ones of your train car. The butler brings in your tea and cookies on a silver tray, there's an endless supply of starched linens, hot water and various delicacies.

The sharp ginger note in the opening is the only part of which I'm a bit iffy. Ginger tends to do that. I love it in ELdO Like This (and in my food), but usually it's not my favorite perfumery trick. Here the top notes are quite astringent for a brief second before the familiar Lutens magic appears with its cinnamon, honey, cookies and dark chocolate. There's something reminiscent of both Rousse and Feminite de Bois, but the black smoky tea takes the perfume in a different direction and gives it its own special character.

Five O'Clock Au Gingembre has an understated elegance. It's not quite in your face as several of the classic Lutens perfumes, which might be why some were so disappointed upon its release. I'm grateful they held back the cumin and instead explored a kinder route.

Five O'Clock Au Gingembre ($120, 50ml EDP) is available everywhere they sell the Serge Lutens export line- Bergdorf, Barneys, Aedes,Luckyscent and others.

I Don't Want To Talk About This...

  • LVMH purchasing a substantial part of Hermès.

  • Justin Bieber perfume.

  • Abe's spot-on observations.

  • Why anyone at Missoni thinks this is a good idea:

  • Top image butchered by me.
    M Missoni RTW for Spring 2011 from

    Dolce & Gabbana Dahlia (150) Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss

    Dolce & Gabbana Dahlia lipstick has been a favorite of mine for more than a year now. It's a great color that walk the line between nighttime and elegant days very successfully. I hoped the matching lip gloss, Dahlia #150, will have a similar quality, but surprisingly it is a lot more dramatic than I expected.

    One of the nice things about Dolce & Gabbana lip glosses (other than the excellent non-stick texture and an impressive lasting power) is their rich pigments. They are high-quality and elegant, a delight for serious makeup lovers. Dahlia lip gloss looks almost like a liquid lipstick and coats the lips in a shiny dark wine color. As you can see, in full sun the red undertones are more visible. When worn indoors, though, it's a lot more purple, almost grape-like. It's very dramatic and I feel more comfortable toning the color down by mixing it with a nude or a pink lipstick.

    Dolce & Gabbana Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss ($29) is exclusive to Saks 5th Avenue. Available at select locations and online.

    All photos are mine.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Paco Rabanne Lady Million

    As someone who loves many of the classic Paco Rabanne perfumes, I was cautiously optimistic about Lady Million, the new release under Rabanne's name. According to press releases, several serious perfumers were involved in Lady Million's creation- from legendary Dominque Ropion to Anne Flipo and Beatrice Piquet. Smelling the fruits of their labor reminds me of the old adage that a donkey (or a camel, according to some sources) is a horse designed by a committee. I like donkeys and camels well enough, and this new Paco Rabanne perfume is as pleasant as a synthetic fruitchouli can get, but this is no horse.

    The raspberry note in the opening is what kills Lady Million for me. It drowns everything else- citrus and flowers- that might be there in its sticky sweetness. When eventually things calm down a little I recognize a rather generic honey-patchouli dry-down. This perfume could have easily be the latest Juicy Couture, DKNY's Delicious-whatever or a Calvin Klein Euphoria flanker. I guess some consider this style to be sexy and alluring, but to me this is something to pour over my pancakes only if for some reason I'm desperate and out of real Canadian maple syrup.

    There's something quite vulgar in both the name, the bottle and the ad campaign. It makes me wonder who exactly is the target consumer of Lady Million. Obviously, not those of us who hoard vintage bottles of Calandre, La Nuit and Metal.

    Lady Million by Paco Rabanne ($65, 1.7oz EDP) is available from Sephora. Samples are handed there like candy on Halloween.

    Lady Million ad (model is Dree Hemingway) from

    Edward Bess Platinum Concealer (Soft Beige)

    I'm very much a liquid/cream concealer fan. My skin can get very dry very fast, so I'm wary of textures that might cake, flake or look scaly, especially if I'm already trying to hide something. But I trust Edward Bess with my face and was happy to discover his Platinum Concealer that only comes in a solid stick formula is actually creamy, easy to blend and very dry skin-friendly.

    I apply Platinum Concealer with various brushes- from a precision point concealer brush to flat ones for wider areas and even a foundation brush when using it under my eyes. The Edward Bess formula gives excellent coverage while melting seamlessly into any foundation or tinted moisturizer and allowing for easy blending. It never makes my skin look dry and doesn't flake.

    Soft Beige is one of four available colors. It was easy to pick it as the right shade for me- it has just enough yellow and no muddy or ruddy tones. I used quite a bit of product for the photos, but in normal use you only need a tiny amount-it gives an excellent coverage with a very natural look, so that's another huge advantage of this Edward Bess concealer.

    Note to self: Venture out of your comfort zone more often.

    Edward Bess Platinum Concealer ($38) is available at Bergdorf Goodman, select Neiman Marcus location (as well as online) and

    All photos are mine. Models: Buffy, Giselle and Josephine.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Guerlain Shalimar Ode à la Vanille

    Opinions on the new Guerlain Shalimar Ode à la Vanille vary greatly. Some say it's a return to Shalimar of yore, or at least to some past version. Other say it's closer to the dearly departed Shalimar Light/Eau Legere or its recent incarnation as the somewhat wimpy Eau de Shalimar. Then there are those who claim it's more powdery/less powdery or whatever. But I doubt anyone would dispute the fact Ode à la Vanille is a legitimate member of the Guerlain family. It is definitely a Shalimar.

    I usually prefer to spend more than two days and one night with a perfume before attempting to review it, but considering Guerlain released Shalimar Ode à la Vanille as a limited edition I figured it would be a good idea to hurry up a little. I did test it outside in the crisp(ish) fall air and indoors, slept in it and indulged as much as I could. So, yes, I really really like it.

    The name Ode à la Vanille is misleading. It is definitely a vanilla scent, but what Shalimar isn't? Thierry Wasser, Guerlain's in-house perfumer, didn't turn Shalimar into a scary gourmand version of itself and I don't find the famous patisserie accord to be amplified in Ode à la Vanille. I also don't find it especially related to the boozy syrup of Spiritueuse Double Vanille other than in that general Guerlain family resemblance. Now that we established what this new perfume is not, let's see what I can actually make of it.

    The biggest difference I find between Ode à la Vanille and several of the Shalimar versions I own is in its relative dryness. Despite the variety of citrus fruit (bergamot, lemon, mandarin orange) used in the opening of Shalimar it is anything but light or sporty. Shalimar is all drama and feels perfectly at home in a red carpet gown and other formal attire. While the vanilla note of Ode à la Vanille is deeper and more complex than what we've gotten from past versions (according to Guerlain it was achieved by using different types of vanilla from various sources), there is a mellowness here that starts at the top notes and makes Ode à la Vanille more laid back scent.

    The late dry-down seems to share some of the complexity I find in Bois Torride. They don't smell anything alike, but there's an impression of a dusty bitter dark chocolate in both, and I love it. It's just interesting and quirky enough without compromising wearability or beauty. I find Ode à la Vanille less baroque but very elegant. It holds back a lot more than the original but it's still quite plush- not like the aforementioned evening gown, more like a finely-cut blazer that is made of the best possible materials and you can wear it with just about anything and go stroll the Upper East Side and feel like you belong there.

    Is Ode à la Vanille to Shalimar the same as Eau Premier is to Chanel No. 5?
    Not really, if you ask me. Eau Premier has done away with the more questionable part of No. 5, the perfumy aldehyde opening, that tends to bother many a modern nose. While the relationship between the two Chanels is obvious, one can easily dislike one and adore the other. It's not that simple in the case of this Guerlain. Ode à la Vanille might be easier to wear for some (men, especially), but it's still very much a Shalimar and those who smell it and run for their life or just object to this style of oriental perfumes would not change their minds all of a sudden. I doubt I'd be able to convince even my own mother to wear Ode à la Vanille for a full hour, but then again she has never met a semi-gourmand perfume she liked.

    Guerlain Shalimar Ode à la Vanille ($110,50ml EDP) was released in the new Shalimar EDP bottle (the Jade Jagger design). It's a limited edition and bottles seem to be selling quickly but still available from most Guerlain boutiques around the world (Bergdorf might have run out at this point, but the Vegas boutique should still have it). I don't recommend buying unsniffed, especially if one is a bit iffy about Shalimar. It's a great perfume but hardly likely to rock your socks off if you're not already a fan of Guerlain in general and Shalimar in particular.

    Photo of Christy Turlington and Louise Vynet by Gilles Bensimon, 1987

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Weekly Roundup

    I hope everyone's in the mood for more holiday items, because we've got some stunners in this roundup. But that's just a small part of what my friends and I have been testing lately. Here's this week's crop:

    Charlstongirl and I have very different skin tones and eye colors (she's a fabulous cool blonde), but we share a love for khaki eye shadows. Check out her newest discovery from Bare Minerals, of all brands, at Best Things In Beauty.

    I'll be turning 40 in three weeks, but Kari's blog has been a favorite for the last couple of years. She posted an interview with Sandy Linter on Fab Over Forty. The celebrity makeup artist shared her fall must-have beauty products for women over 40, but her recommendations are interesting for everyone.

    Sabrina has the Holiday kits from Dior on the Beauty Look Book. It's impolite to drool so I need to have a word with the Jewish Santa.

    Jane from Daly Beauty brings us The Dark Side Of The Moon, a vampy nail polish by Deborah Lippmann. I'm a huge fan of Ms. Lippmann's work and Jane's review makes me reconsider the exact number of dark purple nail polish bottles one really needs. Maybe one more...

    Beginners and those who have yet to play with bold colors would appreciate Kelly's swatches and post about Stilla's Color Wheel on Gouldylox Reviews.

    At BeautyXposé, Chelsea showed us how to stay within TSA's rules about carry-on liquids and keep our hair looking great at the same time.

    Check out what the dueling bloggers have to say about LORAC this week at Beauty Info Zone Blog. Marcia and Lisa debated their favorite LORAC products. Personally, I love the original Croc and Snake Palettes.

    For the love of shoes, DivaDebbi talks about Foot Petals. They are life savers.

    Carla showed us a Beauty VIP of the Week: Sue Devitt's Lip Intensifier Pencil at Product Girl. I'm a fan of the Eye Intensifiers (watch this space for a review of an incredibly pretty one soon), so this was interesting.

    Friends & Family sales are sort of a national holiday for some of us. Get the scoop on Sephora's from Elvira at Pink Sith. Saks is still having theirs, by the way. Use code Friend7 at checkout.

    And what did I do this passing week? I saved a Nars brush from the cute paws of Sophie and Giselle, reviewed the newest L'Artisan vetiver perfume, felt disappointed with Cle de Peau's Malachite eye quad, opened my eyes with Le Metier de Beaute's eyelash curler and was surprised to see how few of my readers use primers.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay beautiful!

    Image from Mademoiselle magazine, February 1967

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Rosie Jane Cosmetics Eye Definer Beech Tree

    Rosie Jane Johnston is an Australian makeup artist with a small line of products based around the idea of an effortless, beachy glowing look. I like the idea in theory, even if my twisted brain connects it to Australian surfing soaps such as Home and Away and everything blonde.

    Rosie Jane's Eye Definer in Beech Tree was part of a previous BeautyFix kit. I liked the faceted rectangular shape of the pencil and the fact it allows for drawing a thin or a thick line. I admit I have yet to figure out how to get it close enough to the lash line- even using the thin edge is still not as efficient as a thin brush or pointy pencil, so this is a major issue. However Beech Tree is a medium bronzed brown that's too light for me to use as a liner anyway, so I have to supplement with black or espresso brown at the lash line.

    The texture of Rosie Jane's liner is soft and pliable. If you're pale/blonde/blue eyed it would make a very flattering bronze smoky eye. It requires serious cementing with a primer underneath and a powder eye shadow over it, because it's almost as soft as a cream eye shadow, so while the look might be effortless it doesn't cut corners in application.

    Bottom Line: Not my color, but has potential.

    Rosie Jane Cosmetics Eye Definer ($15) is available from beautyhabit, b-glowing and Mine came with a free BeautyFix press kit.

    All photos are mine

    Dolce & Gabbana by Dolce & Gabbana (1992, aka Red Cap)

    I went through a couple of bottles of Dolce & Gabbana and at least one body lotion during the late nineties, which was not a small achievement considering a) I already had a reasonable collection at the time, and b) it was the parfum de toilette concentration, which packed quite a punch. If you happened to share an elevator with me back then, please accept my apology.

    Dolce & Gabbana doesn't smell like a creature of the early nineties. It's big, very perfumy, floral, has a massive aldehydic opening and smells larger than life. Like the designing duo's fashion creations it is meant to be noticed and is not meant for the timid. Think of Dolce & Gabbana's use of floral prints, especially romantic roses,  in ultra-sexy dresses. Basically, that's what Dolce & Gabbana perfume smells like.

    It's also powdery, musky and has a huge bouquet of creamy carnations somewhere in the middle. Even the green tendrils hanging of it for dear life and the more intellectual marigold can't stop Dolce & Gabbana from feeling like the reputation tarnished sister of Caron. And you know she's having fun every step of the way, as would you, if you dare to wear it.

    Dolce & Gabbana is still widely available, though I've only come across it in the EDT concentration which is too shrilly for my taste. Older bottle of the PDT and even the extrait de parfum (my favorite) still pop up here and there.

    Dolce & Gabbana perfume ad from 1999, featuring a 19 year old Gisele Bundchen butchering a tomato (what in the world?) from
    Model Elsa Benitez in a 1996 Dolce & Gabbana fashion ad

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Nars Small Domed Eye Brush #12

    As someone with large lids and a deep crease, my favorite eye brushes are quite big and wide as to not create harsh lines and edges. But sometimes there's a need for a more precision in the crease or lid, especially when applying very pigmented dark colors to the outer corner. This is where Nars #12 Small Domed brush comes into play.

    The unique thing about Nars #12 is that unlike many small brushes for detailed work it is fluffy and not very dense, so it won't pick too much color. The small dome fits into small spaces (which is why this brush is usually a top pick for Asian eyes) and deposits the right amount of dark color where you need it. The fluffiness makes it ideal for blending, and since it's small enough, the color will stay in the right place and won't spread too far.

    Less pigmented colors and dramatic contrasts require a denser brush, but for certain colors and looks this is the best brush I've come across.

    Nars Small Domed Eye Brush #12 ($27) is available from

    All photos by me with the help of Sophie and Giselle.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Chanel Allure Homme

    Both versions of Chanel Allure, the masculine and the feminine, were launched in 1990s and have been around for a while. If I were forced to choose one for my personal use I wouldn't hesitate for a second and reach for the men's version any time. It's not that I'm that big of a fan, but the women's Allure hates my skin and turns into a screechy synthetic fruity mess upon contact. A mediocre oriental men's cologne is a huge improvement.

    The zesty sharp citrus opening wasn't new and unique in 1999 and it certainly isn't now. Chanel simply went with the safest, easiest top note composition a department store shopper would never find objectionable while still detecting it clearly above the general smell of the place. This stage is so generic I'd have the hardest time picking Allure Homme in a blind lineup unless I spent a lot more time wearing it exclusively. But things get considerably better if not more special. The peppery wood, patchouli and a light ambery dry-down make it pleasant to wear and warm enough to enjoy. A man wearing this Chanel cologne to the office would get a reputation of smelling nice and it would probably work just as well on a date. It's a friendly scent with no jagged edges- it remains clean and crisp for a full day.

    It's also boring, safe and lacks any individuality. Just look at the original 1999 ad campaign. Chanel took successful and accomplished men and posed them in a series of black and white shots without their names or anything to actually make them stand out. They sort of blend in with the brand and the others participants. From the New York Times:
    The print ads are black and white, except for the enlarged Allure bottle, which is in color. The ads for both the men's and women's lines feature attractive people who are identified only by their professions, pursuits and residences, not by name, in an effort to add an element of mystery.

    The Allure Homme ads, which carry the headline, ''Real men. Real Allure,'' feature a writer in New York City, a professional golfer in New York, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Calif., an architect in New York and an around-the-world solo sailor from France.

    By Courtney Kane, Published: December 21, 2000
    Bottom Line: The last time a bought a Chanel men's cologne for my father, I chose Antaeus. Make your own conclusion.

    Chanel Allure Homme ($72, 3.4oz EDT) is available from most department stores and

    All images from Chanel 1999 Allure Homme ad campaign:

    Burberry Taupe Brown (07) Sheer Eyeshadow

    Somehow the makeup posts this week seem to be all about eyes. Maybe I'll keep it up with an eye makeup brush tomorrow. We'll see. In the meantime, here is Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Taupe Brown, which is quite dark and very pigmented for a "sheer" eye shadow. I use it along the lash line and in the outer corner before blending upward, and it works very well with Porcelain as a base/under the brow color. I find that I like to also have a medium shade for blending in the crease- those of you who bought Rosewood can try that. I've been using several matte Bobbi Brown colors like Grey and Stone. They work beautifully together.

    Just like the other Burberry eye shadow, Taupe Brown has a luxurious texture, making it a joy to apply, blend and wear. Those of you who are pale and blonde can also try it as a liner- it's dark enough to give a soft smoky look.

    Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Taupe Brown and other colors ($29 each) is a Nordstrom exclusive- in store and online.

    All photos are mine.