Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Outlaw Perfume- Amazing by JoAnne Bassett

Who said chypres must be dark and brooding? Or that they have to be mysterious and film noir-ish? Chypres can also be sunny, fun and friendly, as natural perfumer and fragrance therapist JoAnne Bassett shows in her outlaw perfume, Amazing.

Amazing wasn't inspired by a tragic notorious outlaw woman but by the ingredients themselves- hence by nature and what it has to offer. And in the case of a natural perfume that doesn't bend to senseless restrictions, this is a lot. JoAnne Bassett took oakmoss, one of the most distinct and beloved notes in perfumery and blended in just about any essential oil and absolute that would play nicely with it, including 32 "outlawed" ones. The result is a playful and uplifting perfumes. The surprisingly complex citrus opening feels round and satisfying- this is not one of those fake cheap scents that use something grapefruity to claim freshness. Instead, Amazing is sunny and aromatic- it feels like a summer morning.

The citrus never disappears completely like one would expect from a lesser composition. It's still there when the heart turns floral with gentle jasmine and various roses and it's also around for the beautiful green dry-down. From bitter galbanum to velvety oakmoss- it smells natural yet very fragrant and distinct. I remember Ô de Lancome in its heyday, and even then this citrus-oakmoss blend was too harsh and lacked elegance (my mother used it as a household cleaning solution as she wouldn't have it on her body). Amazing is all the things Ô should have been but never was. It's funny now to note that I was a little worried that Amazing might be a little too hippie and more of an essential oil blend that a perfume, but this is absolutely not the case. JoAnne Bassett has created a worthy member for the Outlaw family, showing us why real oakmoss should never disappear from a perfumers palette.

This review is based on a sample sent by the perfumer (joannebassett.com).

Image from Charm Magazine, March 1959- myvintagevogue.com

Guerlain Secret de Purete Cleansing Milk

It's a good thing the GWP tube of Guerlain Secret de Purete Cleansing Milk I have is reasonably generous in size, because once I get going it's hard to stop. Very hard to stop.

This milky cleanser is of perfect consistency (I have a pet peeve about lotions that are so runny they can't stay on one's face long enough to do the job) and feels heavenly on skin. And it removes and disposes of every last drop and fleck of dirt and makeup- no matter how much I have piled on or what bizarre color experiments I've been conducting- 60 seconds of cleansing and it's all gone. The product makes the makeup removing ritual into an almost spa experience right here in front of my mirror. It has something to do with Guerlain's tendency to make wonderfully scented products- both their skin care and makeup. Of course, not everyone like it, but if you have dry skin and you're not averse to scented products, this is a great one.

Guerlain Secret de Purete Cleansing Milk ($48, 200ml) is available from most decent department stores.

Photo: Corbis

Dolce & Gabbana Stromboli 110 Eye Shadow Duo

Stromboli #110 Smooth Eye Colour Duo from Dolce & Gabbana's makeup line is an excellent option for a quick but dramatic evening look. The concept is pretty close to NARS Tzarine, but both I think the colors are better.

This Dolce & Gabbana duo offers a golden pink champagne color and a contrasting smoky black that looks more glittery in the pan and in the swatch than the way it applies on lid. It's still full of glitter, but the final result is more sophisticated than what I had initially expected, as long as used sparingly.

The light side is especially great when applied over a cream shadow that gives it the extra depth and velvety appearance. The color is a mild neutral beige, so if I'm after more drama I add a highlighter in the corner (Edward Bess highlighter or NARS chubby pencil in Goddess). Blending the dark shadow right above the lash line and in the outer corner (go lightly. It can create a charcoaly mess) completes an evening look. Even if I do some enhancing, the entire process takes only a minute and one good brush for blending.

Do take note that the dark side of Stromboli is baked (most of D&G eye shadow duo aren't), so the texture isn't the best one out there-- see the difference in the swatches. It looks better on the lid, though, and was probably born to be applied damp.

Bottom Line: Glam.

Dolce & Gabbana Stromboli #110 Smooth Eye Colour Duo ($36) is a Saks exclusive. Online and in select locations.

All photos are mine, taken with Sophie's help.

Outlaw Perfume- Belle Starr by Artemisia Perfumes

"Shed not for her the bitter tear
Nor give the heart to vain regret
'Tis but the casket that lies here
The gem that filled it sparkles yet"
Carved into the headstone of Belle Starr

The true story of Belle Starr, the Bandit Queen, has been mostly lost to time and creative interpretations. Relationships with every wrong man she has ever met, violence and a tragic end (Belle Starr was rumored to have been murdered by her own son)- not the stuff of which perfume legends are usually made. But we're talking Outlaw Perfumes here, so just like the other muses for this project, a strong and fearless woman who took lovers, toted guns and ran a crime organization (maybe) is strangely appropriate.

The story of Belle Starr by natural perfumer Lisa Fong of Artemisia Perfumes is centered around jasmine. Jasmine, as we all know, can stink to high heavens if it's too indolic, or go the other way and turn into a bathroom product if it's too synthetic and cleaned up. The success of this Artemisia creation is in the way Belle Starr retains the fleshy dirty aspects but turns them into a smooth honeyed liquid that melds into the wearer's skin the way only a herbal perfume can do.

When I first tested Belle Starr without looking at the notes I could have sworn it was all about honey- a more floral relative of Miel de Bois with a dirty earthy side. Sniffing my neck a few hours later, the husband also said "honey", though he found it a little too sweet for his taste. It's interesting how the complex and mulit-layered jasmine note goes in and out, mixes with the mushroomy earth, dances with flowers and wood and smells new and unexpected because of the thick roobios absolute used to ground it.

 I wish the longevity was better than the 6 hours I'm getting, then again it doesn't exactly go away. It leaves a trace on the body that is not really a perfume, just an elevated level of skin scent. That's a quality I often find in natural perfumes and makes me appreciate them even more.

Belle Starr is not your typical jasmine. It's not your typical anything, really, and it's not trying to be. It doesn't try too hard to be easy or pretty, but it's still very wearable and sensual- as long as one can take the heat.

This review of  Belle Starr EDP from Artemisia Perfumes is based on a sample that was sent by the perfumer.

Art: a mixed media collage of a Belle Starr scrapbook by Tristan Robin Blakeman (tristanrobinblakeman.com)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Givenchy Rouge Interdit 39 Absolutely Irresistible Red Satin Lipstick Limited Edition

Because there can never be enough perfect red lipsticks.

Givenchy makeup deserves to have brand ambassadors that are better than the average bored Sephora SA. The luxurious formulas and rich colors are lost in the general chaos and tackiness of the stores. Rouge Interdit lipsticks are especially fabulous- an almost glossy-creamy texture with a beautiful satin finish and impressive tenacity (very little if any transfers to your glass and some of the pigment is still visible after dinner). The lipstick glides on effortlessly and applies like a dream with or without a brush (do use a brush if you're getting a dark shade). It glosses over any imperfection and feels comfortable and a little moisturizing.

Absolutely Irresistible Red (#39) is as classic as they come, all Hollywood in its golden age. It has a pink(ish) base that doesn't come across in the tube but can be noticed in the swatches- both on paper and on my arm. I find it incredibly flattering and sexy. And quite irresistible.

Bottom Line: bold and beautiful.

Givenchy Rouge Interdit 39 Absolutely Irresistible Red ($28) is a limited edition and exclusive to Sephora, in store and online.

All photos are mine (and let's keep it that way).

BeautyBloggers.org For Doctors Without Borders- A Beautiful Holiday Auction

Cyber Monday, Cyber December- whatever you planned on purchasing, here's a beautiful and way to score some fabulous and/or rare (sold out, unavailable, limited edition) makeup, perfume and cosmetics items and donate money to one of the worthiest causes and organizations around, Doctors Without Borders. There are some very coveted, collectible and highly desired products on the list (brush sets, palettes, full size skin care bottles and seasonal colors, all donated by bloggers and beauty brands.

BeautyBloggers.org is the collaboration of almost 50 different beauty bloggers and brands brought together by Karla Sugar. In the spirit of the holidays, we wanted to make a meaningful contribution to charity — knowing that the most effective donation to any charity is cash.

So we’re putting our makeup on the auction block. Winning bids will be donated directly to Doctors Without Borders.

We’re raising money for Doctors Without Borders because women are always disproportionately affected in any disaster. This organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people in crisis, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. They treat rape victims in Papua New Guinea; they make sure women don’t die in childbirth in Pakistan; they helped flood victims in Mexico and earthquake victims in Haiti. They work in 65 countries around the world, and your donation will make an immediate impact. Click here to learn more.

Some simple and sensible fine print:

  • The auction is live now at BeautyBloggers.org, and will close on Monday, December 20 at 5 pm CST

  • We are asking people to register before they can bid. This is simply to try to discourage "spam" bids. Usernames will be public (because the auction shows the username of the current highest bidder), but first name, last name, and email address will be private.  They will only be used to contact the winning bidders.

  • International bidders are welcome, too!

  • Participating sites:

    Afrobella, A Girl's Gotta Spa!, AlyWalansky.com, Armani Beauty, Bay Area Style File, Beauté Cosmetics, Beauty Alchemist, Beauty Info Zone, The Beauty Look Book, Bobbi Brown, Cafe Makeup, Cargo, China Glaze, EnKore, Estee Lauder, Fashion. Style. Beauty., For the Love of Beauty, From Head to Toe, Givenchy, Gloss Menagerie, Gouldylox Reviews, Grace Gold for AOL StyleList, Illamasqua, JeweledThumb, KarlaSugar, KraseyBeauty, Lancome, Leonor Greyl, The Makeup Girl, Miss Whoever You Are, Musings of a Muse, My Lips But Better, Nadine Jolie, The Non-Blonde, Older Girl Beauty, OPI, Out in a Pout, Pink Sith, Prime Beauty, Product Girl, Pursebuzz, Renee Rouleau, Retrodiva's Beauty, Sasquatch Swatch, Sicka Than Average, Spoiled Pretty, Talika, Three Custom Color Specialists, and Votre Vu

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Outlaw Perfume- Mata Hari by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

    **For more about the Outlaw Perfume Project, please read this**

    When you search the Life.com website for Mata Hari photos you will find them with the tagline "Dancer, Stripper, Spy". Historical evidence shows she wasn't much of a spy, at least not a real double agent, but Mata Hari still paid with her life. Her notoriety had probably had something to do with that. She was a legend in her life and became an even bigger one when Greta Garbo put on the exotic headdress and took on the famous role.

    This was the inspiration for the Outlaw Perfume Mata Hari by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. The perfume does justice not only to the complex and mysterious women- both the spy and the actress who immortalized her, but also to the time period (the turn of the 20th century) and to the genre. Mata Hari is a fruity animalic chypre, and it doesn't get any better than that. Like many of us, I'm somewhat familiar with vintage classics. I own a few, but most of my bottles are from the early days. I have often wondered what the very first bottles of Mitsouko (1919) and other perfumes from that time were like. It seems like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has given us a very good idea.

    There's a lengthy list of notes on DSH website and on her blog, but deconstructing Mata Hari wouldn't be doing it justice, because this perfume is all skin, emotion and sensuality. There's a bitter bergamot opening, an exotic full heart of spice and pulpy fruit and a dry-down that is all leather, oakmoss and a gorgeous musk. The fact this is 100% botanical perfume is a(nother) wonderful testimony to the perfumer's talent and skill. It also proves a certain point regarding natural perfumery. The sillage is modest but the staying power quite phenomenal. I can still smell it on my skin 10-12 hours after application, and believe me- I've been using it sparingly.

    The bottom line is that Mata Hari is a rich, dark and sensual perfume. When you wear it, the last thing on your mind is eco-whatever and the crunchy granola image of natural products. This is a real perfume, evocative and sexy. It lingers on skin, warms up and envelopes you discreetly (trust me- you wouldn't want Mata Hari to announce your and her presence to the entire boardroom or teacher lounge), draws in the few deserving ones and leaves a delicious leather and peach aroma on your sweater and (his) pillow. It's eye-rolling/toe curling good. Between this lively creature and DSH's other recent brilliant creation, Cuir et Champignon (review coming very soon), I'm in very deep trouble.

    Mata Hari is a (very) limited edition (which makes me want to cry). You can read more about Dawn's inspiration for the perfume and the creative process on her blog.  A 5ml flask bottle is $85 while the beautiful antique bottle presentation (15 ml) will set you back $225 (dshperfumes.com). A sample for this review was provided by the perfumer.

    **DSH is having a holiday sale at the moment- 20% off with code holiday10 (until December 13th).  **

    Photo of Mata Hari in 1904: life.com

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Weekly Roundup For Black Friday 2010

    It's Black Friday here in the US. Some of you probably braved the malls while others preferred to hide at home and enjoy the online sales (there are some truly fabulous ones going on this weekend through Cuber Monday). Living in the malliest part on NJ, there's no way I'd leave the house on Black Friday, though I admit of one failed attempt a few years ago. For some reason I got it into my head that the DVF factory store in Woodbury Common might already have gotten some items from that year's Resort Collection (highly unlikely, by the way). That was enough for me to convince my long-suffering husband that we must get there for the 2 AM opening sale. Trouble started many miles before we reached the destination. Traffic was barely crawling until it came to a complete halt. We spent about an hour like that before reaching a point in the middle of nowhere were signs directed us to an area where we were supposed to leave the car and take a shuttle bus- apparently all the malls parking lots were completely full. The line for the bus stretched in front of us. It was raining and the temperatures outside were at freezing level (it was a particularly cold winter). There's only so much I'm willing to suffer for a discounted DVF dress. We turned around and headed home. It's been online shopping for me ever since.

    Hopefully, the following posts from my favorite bloggers might help you in your shopping quest:

    Kari from Fab Over Forty is giving away to one lucky reader an Estee Lauder makeup set in a holiday red Coach makeup bag. This is one of the nicest holiday items this year- highly recommended.

    Charlestongirl of Best Things in Beauty is on a mission: to own every Le Métier de Beauté True Color Eye Shadow. I'm with her on this one. Her recent post explores some beautiful neutral colors.

    Kelly from Gouldylox Reviews has been taking us along with her on her hair changing ride with amazing results. See what Peter Lamas product helped her with her new found hair style and frizz.

    Have you ever gone shopping for shoes and walk away with a beauty product you just can't resist? That's what happened to Debbi at Diva Debbi this week. See what Bobbi Brown ended up in her "getaway" bag.

    Royal fans among us might be interested in this  BeautyXposé post about getting our own replica of the gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring. Not in the market for an engagement ring, I'm more interested in some of Kate's Issa dresses. Neiman Marcus has a few.

    I don't know about makeup resort collections- do we really need them? However, Sabrina from The Beauty Look Book shows us the latest release of Chanel nail polish, a happy blue color called Riva. No matter what I think of the idea behind the collection or the fact I don't even wear these shades, it's incredibly pretty.

    Jane from Daly Beauty reviewed one of her favorite perfumes- Creed Tubereuse Indiana. I think  I'm going to give it some attention.

    Victoria of Bois de Jasmin wrote a fascinating piece about fall scents and tastes. also, you still have time until Sunday to enter her Jo Malone Pear & Freesia contest.

    London Makeup Girl reviews items from some of my favorite lines: Roxana Illuminated Perfumes- Q, Vera and Sierra, as well as a Julie Hewett lipstick.

    Here on The Non-Blonde I'm still playing with Outlaw Perfumes- Rose of Cimarron and Notoriety (the giveaway will remain open until Sunday, so don't miss your chance to win a bottle). I've been enchanted by a Guerlain limited edition lipstick, Rouge G in Bee, unimpressed by a bunch of other items on a recent shopping trip and thoroughly enjoyed Tim Gunn's Golden Rules book.

    Wishing you a warm and peaceful weekend and successful shopping if you're heading out!

    Photo: Getty Images

    Sue Devitt Victoria Falls Eye Intensifier Pencil

    The chubby Eye Intensifier pencils from Sue Devitt have been part of my makeup arsenal long before starting this blog. They are wickedly efficient multitaskers that require very little skill or effort to give one a pretty look. They work both as an eyeliner (medium to thick line) and an eye shadow, can be smudged, sheered and create the perfect smoky eye. The Eye Intensifier pencils are also my go-to item for a simple casual look (aka "just dropping at the dry cleaners/post office/corner store before getting back into jammies and slippers") that still gives my eyes depth and definition. So, yes, Sue Devitt has earned her place in my shortlist with this one.

    Victoria Falls is a gorgeous rich almost navy blue. It's one of the colors I find most flattering on me, both for my skin tone and eye color. It's not too bright and doesn't look age inappropriate (I keep everything else nude/neutral), but definitely noticeable in a very good way. I've been playing with Victoria Falls in several combinations and looks- top lashes, bottom lashes, paired with nothing but a black mascara or smoked out with some Chanel Bois Bleu eye shadow. The pencil always works and looks much more sophisticated that the 30 seconds per eye it actually takes.

    I use a primer, of course, and the Eye Intensifier stays put without creasing or fading for about 8-10 hours (depending on weather and activity). Topping the pencil with an eye shadow cements it in place until I bring on the makeup remover. The one thing I wouldn't recommend is using this product on the waterline. Not that it's meant for that in the first place- the Eye Intensifier is many things but it's not a kohl, as I've learned the hard way- it made my eyes water and sting when I tried. It was my fault, though, so I now keep it on the outer side of my lashes and all is well.

    Bottom Line: highly recommended.

    Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil ($22) is available from Barneys, Bloomigdale's and Ulta, as well as through the company's website (suedevittbeauty.com), which right now offers a 20% discount for the holiday weekend (no code needed).

    All photos are mine.

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Tim Gunn- Gunn's Golden Rules- A Book Review

    A few years ago when reviewing Tim Gunn's Guide to Quality, Taste & Style I said "The crisp suit is there, but the real man is missing". It almost feels like someone listened, because Gunn's Golden Rules ($14.39 on Amazon) definitely fills up many of the gaps and allows us a more intimate look at one of the most interesting and deserving TV personalities of the last decade.

    It's a little irritating that once again the publisher is trying to package Tim Gunn's message as a guide or a book of rules, and that the book has a co-author (this time Ada Calhoun).  I'm somewhat of a groupie and would have preferred to get Mr. Gunn's story unfiltered and in a pure autobiography format. Don't be misleaded by the "Rules" thing- this is a very personal book of stories and anecdotes about the author's life, family and career. Tim Gunn shares with us his philosophy, spirituality, encounters with luminaries such as André Leon Talley and views on human sexuality. He's a big advocate of etiquette and kindness but doesn't confuse manners with owning fish forks (he doesn't). He talks about his own gaffs (regifting!) with the same humor he uses when telling a hilarious story about Diane von Furstenberg and a hotdog.

    It's interesting to note how even when telling gossipy stories, Mr. Gunn doesn't crosses the lines into malice territory. That includes the now infamous Anna Wintour anecdote (she was carried by her her bodyguards down five flights of stairs and tried to get Tim Gunn to retract the story until other witnesses came forth), or when criticizing the people who make the wardrobe choices for Suri Cruise. There are some fun Project Runway behind-the-scenes stories (he disliked Kenley just as much as we all did), but it's far less about the dirt and more about the lessons one can learn from it.

    The best parts, though, are the more personal tales from Tim's childhood, painful adolescence and career as a teacher. It's fascinating to read about the evolution of the shy and stuttering boy from Washington DC into a worldly fashion authority. The book, like its author, is inspiring in a feel-good way. It's a little flawed (a couple of typos and maybe not enough Project Runway stories) but very human.  Fans of Tim Gunn will find it quite satisfying, at least until he takes the next step and releases a real memoir.

    Photo of Tim Gunn signing his own bobbleheads by Gothamist LLC, 2006.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Photo: NY Daily News

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Lancome Erika F Ombre Absolue Eyeshadow G40

    Or: In Which I Tackle A Legend

    I was never sure how much of the Erika F hype was because this specific Lancome formula is not available in the US (due to an ingredient that wasn't approved for use here), and how much was the product itself. A few months ago my beautiful sister got me the real thing overseas and I've been playing with it since.

    My sister, by the way, was quite indifferent when she saw it. In her opinion this line doesn't compare to Chanel Ombres Contraste Duo, and I guess she's right. Quality-wise there are many better eye shadows out there. From texture to tenacity (and pigment integrity), Lancome Ombre Absolue is nice but far from perfect. Still, there is something about Erika F that makes it, indeed, very special.

    Many a blogger has written about Erika F and found the color hard to describe. It tends to look a bit different in almost every picture and the swatches vary greatly between skin tones and the lights used. I also find a difference between the way it appears on my lids and the swatch. The skin in my area is darker, making Erika F appear somewhat sheer, depending on the brush I use. My perception is that the color is a khaki-based silver with just a little taupe that prevents it from being too cool/silvery. I'm very careful with silver eye shadows, but I find this one very wearable. As long as we're talking evening and night out makeup, that is.

    I apologize to everyone who wears Erika F to the office/PTA meetings/vet appointments, but I don't know how you do it. It's so shimmery with visible glitter particles and attracts so much attention, I just can't see myself wearing it before sunset and without being dressed to kill. It's gorgeous, it catches the light and makes brown eyes really stand out, it can be applied on the lid and in the crease or even just along the lash line above a jet black eyeliner. It just isn't an everyday item.

    Then there's also the issue of shimmer fallout and it drives me crazy. Using the best primer money can buy (Kanebo Sensai) helps a little, but I still end up the night with glittery cheeks. Then again, if one expects a flawless application it's better to stick out with Le Metier de Beaute and Edward Bess.

    To read more and see pictures, swatches and comparisons to other sort-of-similar colors, please check these posts from The Beauty Look Book,  Pink Sith, Cafe Makeup and Blogdorf Goodman.

    Lancome Erika F (#133) Ombre Absolue Eye Shadow G40 is available in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  Prices vary by location and this is such a bestseller counters tend to sell out more quickly then they can restock, some patience and legwork might be needed if you or your loved ones are on a quest to find it.

    All photos are mine.

    Kenzo Amour (EDP)

    Reason eleventy seven why Sephora isn't doing a great service even for the brands sold there: I've tried Kenzo Amour countless of times at the store and all I got was cherry syrup. All the more subtle notes and nuances got lost in the Pink Sugar-Kim Kardashian saturated air.

    The opening of Kenzo Amour is, indeed, very sweet (and that's coming from me, wearer of vanilla, immortelle and most honey perfumes known to men), but doesn't stay this way for too long, and things improve considerably, especially if one bothers giving it a generous spritz on actual skin and lives with it for a while. It becomes clear that there's a mellow wood note there, some delicate and quite sheer flowers- cherry blossom and frangipani, which aren't always my thing but in this case they're really appropriate and never become carnivorous (am I showing my pretty-flower phobia yet?).

    The dry-down is all rice pudding. It's not as far out there as Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant, which explains why Amour eau de parfum is a popular fragrance while the poor Elephant has only a cult of rabid fans. On the plus side, Amour is hardly ever inappropriate and doesn't require planning ahead to wearing it. Yes, it's a gourmand, a comfort scent (the rice steam note is gorgeous) and vanilla-haters will not change teams upon testing this perfume. But it's not as low-brow as so many others in this genre and price level and above all, Kenzo Amour is pretty and friendly, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    The success of the original  spawned a sequel, Kenzo Amour Indian Holi, an extrait version- Kenzo Amour Le Parfum and a flanker, Kenzo Amour Florale. I haven't tried any of them, but now I sort of suspect I should give the first two a fair chance.

    Kenzo Amour ($56, 1oz EDP) is available from Sephora and many department stores.

    2006 ad: masalachai.web.surftown.se

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Dear You- Message In (and about) A Bottle-November 2010

    Dear Frederic Malle and Dominique Ropion,
    Seriously? A hyper-tenacious rose-fruitchouli? Because, obviously, there are not enough of those around.
    A Maurice Roucel fan.

    Dear Etat Libre d'Orange,
    You're getting better and better. Jospehine Baker is another hit.
    Secretion Magnifique is (almost) forgiven.

    Dear Thierry Wasser and the Guerlain team,
    I wish the limited edition perfumes weren't so gorgeous.
    Devoted to Dandy

    Dear Tom Ford,
    Can you please release the Black Orchid nail polish as a standalone? I already have the perfume and the lipstick.
    A Reluctant Fan

    Dear Bobbi Brown,
    It's just too much. Too many palettes, not enough editing. It makes no sense and all that shimmer is not doing either one of us- your brand and my face- any favors.
    Not Buying It.

    Dear Powers-That-Be At Henri Bendel,
    You have such a wonderful selection of cosmetics and fragrance brands, but hiding all that behind cheap-looking baubles, bling and souvenirs for tourists is not what this store needs. Also, lose the house brand fragrances. They're crap.
    A (still) loyal customer.

    Photo: The Nifty Fifties

    Dolce & Gabbana Ruby (#110) Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss

    I have a thing for bright red lip glosses, often in particular shades of red I wouldn't dare wear as a lipstick. The sheerness of most glosses allows my natural lip color balance the red, so the result is quite fetching (and easier than a true red lipstick). Ruby (#110) by Dolce & Gabbana is almost too much of this good thing. Like all other D&G glosses I've tried so far, it's very pigment, almost like a liquid lipstick.

    Ruby isn't shimmery, which makes it even more lipstick-like. I use it sparingly, keeping it as sheer as possible- it has more than enough coverage even in small servings. It can also be built for a gorgeous dramatic look, but I'd suggest priming the lips and using a sheer/nude liner, since one testing found me with quite a bit of this lip gloss on my teeth.

    Dolce & Gabbana Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss ($29) is a Saks exclusive. Available online and in select locations.

    All photos are mine.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Outlaw Perfume- Notoriety by A Wing And A Prayer Perfumes- Giveaway

    Jane Cate, the nose behind A Wing And A Prayer Perfumes, is responsible to one of my most favorites Mystery Of Musk perfumes, Tallulah B2. It's no wonder her newest creation for the Outlaw Perfume Project, Notoriety, is a standout. A stunning full bodied floral chypre, perhaps the most amazing thing about Notoriety is not how good it is, but the fact that every last essential oil and absolute used in its creation is now on IFRA's  restricted and prohibited list. This beauty, along with so many others, is what we're about to lose if nothing is done to stop the madness. What are these dangerous and notorious natural raw materials? Bergamot, rosewood, rose, wild rose, lavender, violet leaf, carnation, geranium, oakmoss and amber. Seriously.

    Jane's muses for the perfume were three free-spirit women from days gone by who achieved notoriety. Etta Place, Isadora Duncan and Lillie Langtry. It is the latter who captures my imagination and connects me to this perfume. There's something about the distinct Victorian scandalous story and the royal romance. And Lillie  Langtry's friendship with Oscar Wilde. Who wouldn't want him as a BFF and mentor?

    Rose, violet, carnation and lavender could  often be found at 19th century perfumed products. They can all be distinctly smelled in Notoriety, feeling feminine and a touch powdery. But the main story here is the rose on its many complex facets. It is very far from the various modern and synthetic interpretations of rose perfumes (sharing this quality with another Outlaw Perfume, Rose Of Cimarron)  and far more interesting. At first I thought about Notoriety as a warm and cozy rose, but venturing outside on a cold(ish) day had awakened the oakmoss and the unique smoky amber (I'm assuming ambrette seed) and exposed the full range of the perfume. It is, indeed, a chypre, tinged with something green (probably from the lavender), velvety and deep.

    Now for the giveaway- a 1.7oz bottle of Notoriety EDP by A Wing And A Prayer Perfumes (wingandprayerperfume.com). One lucky winner will be chosen among those who comment on this post to answer this question:

    What perfume ruined or discontinued due to IFRA regulation do you miss the most?

    Photo of Lillie Langtry on stage as Cleopatra, 1891, from vintageephemera.blogspot.com

    Guerlain B64 Bee Limited Edition Rouge G Le Brilliant

    I honestly thought that I was done with the 2010 Holiday collections on all their sparkle. Then last month I took a young cousin to Bloomie's and somehow we found ourselves at the Guerlain Counter. I already had a couple of Guerlain's holiday items and loved them, but then I came face to face with the limited edition Rouge G Le Brilliant in B64, Bee. It had to come home with me.

    Rouge G lipsticks are fabulous from their beautiful packaging to the way they wear- the right balance of shine and color. In Le Brilliant Bee everything got kicked up a notch (now try to erase the mental image of Emeril Lagasse in a purple lipstick). There's more pigment, more golden shimmer and it stays on longer than the other Rouge G lipsticks I own, which are already pretty tenacious for such a moisturizing lip color.

    The color is rich purple. It looks more violet in certain lights but reflects some red undertones in others. It's quite complex, thus looks very rich and pretty on the lips and I find that it has quickly become a favorite evening lipstick. The texture and luminosity make this Rouge G pretty low maintenance- I can get away with quick touch ups that don't include a liner and a brush.

    Botton line:  There's a very cute bee embossed on the inside mirror. Who could ask for anything more?

    Guerlain B64 Bee Limited Edition Rouge G Le Brilliant ($46) is available from decent department stores.

    All photos are mine.



    Joyce Maynard- At Home In The World. The writer's memoir, juicy because of her relationship with J.D. Salinger.

    An album, actually. Elton John and Leon Russel- The Union.

    Today was the first one in a while I wasn't testing/wearing one of the Outlaw Perfumes. Wore Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Vanille.

    Blush. I'm on a serious pink cheek kick.

    Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
    Long DVF ruffled cashmere cardigan. Black.

    tea, pasta, grilled cheese... the usual.

    Guilty Pleasure
    Admiring some of my makeup brushes. Profound, I know.

    A new camera.

    Bane Of My Existence
    My Droid is having charging issues and I'm not due for an upgrade yet. I've been pursuing the Verizon Wireless site, looking at the new(er) models and telling myself  "These are not the droids you are looking for". Yes, geek humor.

    Oddly enough, the holidays.

    A pair of ultra-fabulous flat black boots that are knee-high but designed with short women in mind. The Alexander McQueen pair, once I found them in my size turned out to be an inch too tall. They are still the most gorgeous thing.

    Random Thought
    I have quite a few, actually. Enough for a separate post. For now, I'll just say that the Outlaw Perfume Project has been quite mind-blowing. I don't want to ever forget what a real perfume smells like.

    What are your current loves, recommendation and banes? Please share.

    Photo by me, November 2010.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Outlaw Perfume- Rose Of Cimarron by Bellyflowers

    *If you're new to the Outlaw Perfume Project, please read this first*

    Long before Bonnie Parker fell in love with Clyde Barrow and joined his outlaw life, there was Rose Dunn in the Wild West. Fifteen year old Rose met professional outlaw George "Bittercreek" Newcomb and fell in love. Rose already knew how to ride, rope and shoot, but was more famous around those parts for her beauty and gentleness and was nicknamed "Rose of Cimarron". Her lover and his gang were busy robbing banks and stagecoaches and Rose got them supplies and tended their frequent gun wounds. Rose of Cimarron fared much better than Bonnie. Two years late, her older brothers had enough of their own outlawish ways, became bounty hunters and turned George & co. in when they stopped by to visit Rose. Lawmen killed the gang and Rose was an honest woman again and lived to old age as a politician's wife.

    Perfumer Elise Pearlstine of Bellyflowers Perfumes created Rose of Cimarron as an homage to the woman who put her love before danger. The perfume starts sharp, peppery and a little menacing before the heart unfolds and it's all rose and jasmine, a little green and crisp but also as round and floral as they come. Wearing Rose of Cimarron for a couple of days made me realize that I've nearly forgotten what a true rose and jasmine perfume smells like. We've become too used to those synthetic department store variations, either a laundered rose in a dryer sheet musk or sticky rose over a too sweet plastic amber. The real thing is raw and foreign at first, before smells and mementos from long gone days start flooding one's memories. A precious vial of rose oil hidden in a drawer, sachets of rose petals, crisp white sheets with handmade embroidery and lace laundered and starched in the closet.

    Isn't it astonishing that these very ingredients- rose absolute, jasmine absolute and ylang-ylang, materials that once perfumed just about everything, are now heavily restricted and regulated by IFRA, to the point that a scent such as this is an "outlaw"?

    Rose of Cimarron's full and complex base (labdanum, patchouli, angelica root, ambrette seed, blond tobacco and amyris) is spicy and has a chypre air. I was actually surprised not to see oakmoss listed as a note because it seems like it's there, especially with the hint of soapiness I get here and there. In any case, once the abundance of pepper dries down, this Bellyflower creation becomes almost familiar and quite  easy to wear. Longevity is excellent and there's quite a lot of sillage for the first three or four hours.

    Rose Of Cimarron by Bellyflowers ($40, 10ml) is available from the perfumer's website, tambela.com.

    Photos of Rose Dunn from legendsofamerica.com

    Weekly Roundup November 20th

    Flawless skin is the most important aspect of a good makeup look and the hardest one to achieve. Many are curious about  the Luminess Air system. Kari at Fab over Forty has some answers.

    Mineral pigments scare me- klutzy tendencies, colorful loose powder that gets everywhere and a bunch of cats who gets into everything- just think of the purple paw prints! But Alima Pure made Charlestongirl feel like a princess. Check out Best Things in Beauty to find out how well she fared using Once Upon a Time, the Holiday 2010 collection.

    I know many are wary of silicone-based primers and avoid them altogether. Jane found a new primer she loves: Exuberance Silicone-Free Primer. You have to read more at Daly Beauty. It sounds fabulous and might save your makeup.

    At BeautyXposé, Anne was smitten with holiday collections of mineral shadows, liners, and glosses. Bare Escentuals may have created the perfect gift sets - if you can bear to give them away.

    Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book is golden. YSL's Touche d'Or Highlighter and Colorama Palette gave her a glow for the holidays and made her reconsider her stance on YSL.

    Kelly added some glitz to her life with a little sparkle on her lashes! Pop over to Gouldylox Reviews to find out how Hard Candy's Lash Tinsel could light up your eyes for a special event.

    Debbi at DivaDebbi has a  love affair with Giorgio Armani Beauty's Luminous Silk Foundation and I can't blame her. She's also considering the Armani's blender brush which I have just started testing. Read her review and stay tuned to mine.

    Smoky eyes are a staple for of holiday parties. Carla at Product Girl  is loving the newest kit from Smashbox. Kits are making everything easier.

    Dane at Pere de Pierre is exploring a perfume classic: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. It makes me nostalgic.

    On Ars Aromatica, Dain gives as a thorough lesson in highlighting and contouring. It's a must-read as she explains the technique and products as well as the theory behind it.

    The biggest news of the week was the royal engagement. This article on CNN's Opinion section, is optimistic about William and Kate's chances to make it work.

    Have a beautiful weekend!

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Outlaw Perfume: Daphne by Lord's Jester

    *If you're new to the Outlaw Perfume Project, please read this first*

    The first time I've smelled Daphne, the Outlaw creation of natural perfumer Adam Gottschalk of Lord's Jester, the lights dimmed and the room darkened. The intensity of this scent stunned me and for a brief second I wasn't sure if it was a good thing or not. But it is good. Most definitely.

    Daphne, the perfume, was inspired by the story of Apollo and the nymph Daphne, but the first image my mind conjured was an old illustration  for Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Here was the Black Forest of centuries ago, looming and menacing, full of unspeakable evil and nameless creatures. Winnie the Pooh doesn't live here, for sure.

    But this fairy tale by Lord's Jester has a happy ending. As the scent develops on skin it softens, opens up and sweetens considerably. The heavy branches move let some light in and you can see the velvet mossy forest floor under your feet. Soon enough Prince Charming will see the walls of the castle's gardens and smell the roses that grew wild and entangled for 100 years. And there inside there is a beautiful princess waiting, asleep, in all her sweetness. Daphne becomes honeyed and smooth, a rich oriental chypre that is a joy to wear.

    Daphne by Lord's Jester Perfumes ($65, 10ml EDT) is available from lordjesters.com. The sample for this review was provided by the perfumer.

    Art: Illustration for The Sleeping Beauty by Gustave Dore, 1867