Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moschino- Moschino (1987)

I first smelled Moschino a couple of years after its 1987 launch and promptly fell in love. It was everything I loved in perfume (and, truthfully, still love): a big spicy oriental with a little green edge and a sweet dry-down. A lifetime and a scary perfume collection later, and I still think it's fabulous.

Moschino opens and ends on an opulent tone. The beginning is sunset-colored and shifts from ripe plums to delicate bitterness. Tagetes, a note I loved long before I recognized it, are making things both warm and sharp with that dry and sunny quality of the flower. It took me years after I stopped wearing Calvin Klein's Obsession to realize that marigolds were one of the biggest attraction this perfume held for me. Moschino is more interesting and definitely superior to the current watered-down version of obsession.

Moschino's heart is more spicy than floral on my skin. From the note list one would think it's all gardens and femininity, but I actually think Moschino, on its supposed rose, gardenia and co. would wear beautifully on a man who enjoys big 80s-style perfumes. There's nothing dainty or pink about it, and the transition from spice cake to a thick and ambery dry-down is smoother and darker than Obsession (both masculine and feminine) ever was. Those who found Calvin Klein's iconic bomb too disgusting for words would probably not see Moschino as a major improvement, but if you wished for something a little more complex that will not get people standing behind you in line to say knowingly "Obsession, right?", this is worth a try (as long as you can deal with its tenacity).

Moschino in EDT concentration is still in production (always check the company's official website for this information). While I haven't seen it on a department store counter in many years, it can be found online for scary low prices.

Notes (from Moschino website):
marigold, freesia, honeysuckle, plum, galbanum
gardenia, rose, ylang-ylang, carnation, nutmeg, pepper
sandalwood, patchouli, amber, musk, vanilla

Top image is a 1980s Moschino fashion ad from And just for fun, the handbag below, a vintage Moschino is currently up on eBay:

Laura Mercier Canyon Collection Fall 2011 Sneak Peek

While it looks like I'll be doing some intense Chanel blogging over the long weekend (who's brilliant idea was it to come up with two collections almost at the same time?), here's a sneak peek of a few items from Laura Mercier's Canyon Collection for fall 2011. The Canyon items are already available from Laura Mercier's website and Henri Bendel in NYC (possible other counters, too). In promotion photos the star of the collection is the Cheek Mélange bronzer/blush in Canyon Sunset ($40). It's really beautiful, but as I swatched it and had the Laura Mercier makeup artist apply it on my face I wasn't sold. The shimmer was too uneven and I couldn't say the color itself was all that special. Not compared to the new Chanel ones (foreshadowing...). I passed on the blush.

My pick after having my face done were three of the 6 eye shadows (Chocolate, Canyon Clay and Pine Bronze) and the lip gloss in the original name Plum Mauve. More photos, swatches and full reviews coming next week.

Le Metier de Beaute Eye Shadow and Eye Crease Brushes

Le Metier de Beaute eye brushes challenged and conquered my usual preference for hefty makeup brushes. The eye shadow and eye crease brushes are full size yet the handles are really short: shorter than brush lines by Paula Dorf, Hakuhodo Kokutan, RMK and Giorgio Armani, yet the heads are full size, densely packed and as well-crafted as one would expect from this luxury brand.

The Le Metier de Beaute Eye Shadow #1 brush is excellent for most shading tasks. If you have smaller lids this is all you need for a full wash of color, and even I, with my parking lot size eyes, lids and crease have no problem using it all over. It packs on color as needed and deposits it evenly for the best possible finish. Short handles are easy to control and I've come to appreciate the sophistication of this little brush. This eye shadow brush is all natural goat hair and very soft.

Le Metier de Beaute Crease Brush #1 is shaped between a blending and a pencil brush, round, domed and fully packed with soft goat and pony hair that's soft enough to be very comfortable in the crease while picking up color, applying it and blending gently. The MAC 217 is here only for size comparison because just about everyone owns a couple of them. However, the Le Metier de Beaute brush exposes the 217's main flaw: its scratchiness. Crease Brush #1 doesn't mess or erase other colors previously applied and like its sibling, Eye Shadow Brush #1, it performs well with a variety of textures, not just Le Metier's superior ones.

The LMdB crease brush is better than the Paula Dorf for a precise/cut crease. Paula's Sheer Crease brush is more of a blending brush and has an advantage in blending and sheering out because of the head's size- it creates a gradiant and I prefer it for blending upwards while the LMdB is a perfect tool for blending from the crease down and softening the outer V.

I've had these brushes for three weeks or so, so I can't comment on aging, but I can tell you that neither one has shed even one single hair so far.

Bottom Line: the more I use them, the bigger the love.

Le Metier de Beaute Eye Shadow Brush #1 ($40) and Eye Crease Brush #1 ($45) are available from Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Mine were sent  by the company for my consideration.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guerlain Eau de Cologne du Coq

While waiting for the FedEx guy to bring me the bottle of Shalimar Parfum Initial (tomorrow before 4:30 PM), I thought we could all revisit a classic Guerlain, Eau de Cologne du Coq. Guerlain's masculine offering includes several light and citrusy colognish type fragrances, and I admit I'm having a hard time keeping them all straight. There's tonight's Eau de Cologne du Coq and also Eau de Cologne Imperiale, Eau de Guerlain, Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat and I'm probably forgetting a couple. There's not a dud in this list.

Eau de Cologne du Coq is probably my favorite of the Guerlain colognes. It has an edge you rarely find in such "clean" and light perfumes. It's... not as clean.

The notes, according to are orange, neroli, bergamot, lemon, patchouli, lavender, jasmine, sandalwood and oakmoss. My bottle is older (batch code number dates it to the year 2000, pre-IFRA) and obviously has the good stuff in it, but various spraying from the current testers at Saks and Bergdorf smelled really good. I guess that as an eau de cologne the concentration was too low from the start and didn't require too serious a tinkering.

The thing that gets me about Eau de Cologne du Coq is an unmistakable animalic honey note. There's none of that listed and I need to really douse myself with the fragrance (which you're supposed to do anyway, this being a cologne and all), but it's there, it even lingers in the room after I leave it, and it's so sexy and beautiful and ferocious I want to bathe in it.

Longevity is meh. I see no point in wearing this Guerlain as my scent of the day because it's more like a three hour thrill, not ideal when you're out and about and doing your thing all day long. That's why they invented Shalimar Light, the 20 hour wonder. I wear Eau de Cologne du Coq to bed on a summer night. I have the best smelling pillows in the universe.

Guerlain Eau de Cologne du Coq ($98, 3.4 oz) is available from select Guerlain counters and boutiques around the world, and sometimes online.

Photo from

Trish McEvoy 2B Sheer Blush Brush

The Trish McEvoy 2B Sheer Blush Brush is a classic. It's small(ish) and round (see comparison to Louise Young LY06 Super Blush Brush), of medium+ density and firmness while the hair itself is quite soft. The size and shape make the Trish McEvoy 2B Sheer blush brush good for directional application, while the tapered cut and the hair give a nice and delicate wash of color and never pick up too much product.

Like most Trish McEvoy brushes, the blush brush was redesigned (they also changed the handles from gold to clear). I used to have an older version that died in a freak accident involving a cat and a hamper (don't ask). You can see a couple of older Trish McEvoy face brushes in this post on the Beauty Look Book. I think I prefer the newer version- it's better shaped and doesn't get the blush all over the face.

I like having brushes of different shapes and sizes. I can't  choose between them. What you see here is a bunch of really good-to-excellent brushes. My Chanel #7 is not as soft as one would expect, though, so for this shape the Sue Devitt is superior. But all these brushes are great and have unique features- notice the LMdB flatish top (review coming soon). If you're into contouring, the small round head of the Trish 2B makes it a good option (I prefer even smaller and denser brushes that are more forgiving for my pathetic skills). I just use it for most blushes I own, from nude colors to brights, and if there's a need for extra blending it also does the job beautifully.

Bottom Line: you can't go wrong with this one.

Trish McEvoy 2B Sheer Blush Brush ($48) is available at the counters and from

All photos are mine.

Josie Maran Eye Love You Too Palette

Here's a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the way I shop and: blog: I plan my reviews weeks ahead, keep a file to track brands and collections and even my wishlist is a spreadsheet. All this means little glamour and very few spontaneous shopping sprees. Josie Maran Eye Love You Too Palette was a rare spur of the moment purchase. I was at Sephora and just as I was picking more Josie Maran makeup removing wipes (yes, I still do it for the bears) this low-key neutral palette caught my eye. I swatched and fell in love.

The palette offers eight colors in matte and shimmer textures. It can be described as dusty earth tones with olive leanings; on my skin these are easy everyday shades. Josie Maran included a "serving suggestion" card with simple day and night looks. It can definitely be a starting point but my preference is to mix the colors myself and blend them, taking advantage of the soft texture.

Speaking of the texture of these Josie Maran eye shadows,  I noticed from the very first swatching at Sephora that they vary greatly. I was even a little hesitant about a couple of them so I tested at the store applying them on my lid. They all require a good primer (seriously, get the Paula Dorf one as it cements everything in place), but once you have one on, the eye shadows go on smoothly and look a lot more appealing than on the arm. Without a primer the texture tends to crumble and/or fade, so this is not the right product for a 5 minute makeup look. But it's absolutely worth it to take your time and apply the colors carefully and properly. It can be your one go-to palette this summer.

The shades included in the  Josie Maran Eye Love You Too Palette:
Bottom row, left to right-
1) matte buttery vanilla, 2) light pink copper (metallic), 3) matte palest lime chiffon, 4) dry brown earth with barely-there gold shimmer.
Top row, right to left-
5) bronze, 6) a very complex almost duo-chrome but incredibly subtle taupe/teal 7) shimmery golden olive 8) medium brown(matte)

You don't need me to tell you that the star of this Josie Maran palette is 6, the taupe/teal shade, aptly named Dragonfly. If you were looking for a grownup alternative to MAC Club, for example, this is the one. It's sophisticated and doesn't look experimental at all, while still maintaining that unusual edge. The matte lime chiffon (I think it's called Meadow) is a lot more wearable than one would think. I use it as a non-shimmery highlight in the inner corner or mix it with other colors. It's worth trying even if this kind of shade usually scares you.

Bottom Line: one of the nicest surprises I had lately.

Josie Maran Eye Love You Too Palette ($42) is limited edition. Available from Sephora, online and in store.

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DSH Perfumes- Vetyver

I'm still in a vetiver and gender-bending moon, hence tonight's review of Vetyver by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes. This one is a natural perfume, labeled as a masculine (like most vetiver scents) and has both suave and urban facets as well as a hint of the wild.

Don't let the long list of notes deceive you. DSH Vetyver is focused on vetiver, complementing its dry and grassy nature with incense and smoke and creating a sweet background for it that includes an almost gasoline-like note. I'm not sure if it's a light or dark perfume, weird or friendly. It just... is. The opening is a bit airier than the dry-down, maybe a little misleading- you might think you've smelled all that vetiver perfumes have to offer and know the drill- green grass, baked in the heat grass, a little citrus and a touch of swamp. But Dawn Spencer Hurwitz takes you further, into luxurious hotel rooms in exotic locations, expensive vintage luggage, lacquered boxes holding incense and trinkets and custom made shoes.

It's the combination of incense and vetiver standing up to each other that wins my heart completely. There's an incredible warmth when they develop on skin, and while I have no doubt a man would smell irresistible in DSH's Vetyver, it has none of the men's cologne or aftershave vibes that might keep vetiver-loving women from wearing it and reveling in the power and comfort of this beauty.

Top notes: mugwart, bergamot, bitter orange, lime, mandarin and petit grain. Heart: geranium, clary sage, patchouli and rosewood. Base: amber, vetiver, leather, myrrh, Mysore sandalwood, olibanum, peru balm, styrax, tobacco and treemoss.

Vetyver by Dawn Spencer Hurvitz ($27 for 0.25 oz refillable purse spray, currently on sale for $21, samples and other sizes also available) can be purchased from

With apologies to the husband who never got to actually try Vetiver on his own skin.

Photo of Cary Grant from

Burberry No. 11 Eye Shaper Brush

Burberry is finally launching the much-anticipated brush collection. Three eye brushes were released last month and I've been using them as much as possible to see how they perform.

I love angled contour brushes and use them for various tasks, depending on their size and density. A good angled brush can do  precise work and contouring but also an all-over color  using windshield wiper strokes. You can use the angle, the edges or the sides for various effects, as long as the brush is not too large for your eye shape.

Burberry No. 11 Eye Shaper Brush is on the larger side, almost as big as NARS #16, but it's better shaped- the angle is more comfortable and creates a slightly narrower surface so it contours more precisely. The goat hair is soft (not Hakuhodo sable-soft, but still really nice) but firm enough to pick enough product and spread it evenly. Burberry No. 11 Eye Shaper Brush is very nice, but I do prefer the ones from By Terry and Paula Dorf. By Terry Eye Sculpting brush is packed more tightly and requires less product for good results. It's also better at creating depth. Paula Dorf Contour Brush is significantly smaller and more precise. It's a true contour brush and I've come to realize that the only reason I don't worship it is the overall length. I can't help it: I prefer longer and heavier brushes.

Bottom Line: nice, well-made but not best in show.

Burberry No. 11 Eye Shaper Brush ($38) is exclusive to Nordstrom, online and in store.

All photos are mine.

Guerlain Rouge Automatique Lipstick: 160 Bal de Mai 163 Rose Bengale

I knew I was in trouble a couple of months ago when Guerlain released their Rouge Automatique lipsticks. The colors, the formula and the packaging were conspiring to make me want far too many of these little works of art. Eventually I managed to narrow it down a little, but there is more Rouge Automatique in my future. I chose two shades that are on the medium pink side and two brighter ones. Today we're talking about the more delicate colors: 160 Bal de Mai and 163 Rose Bengale.

160 Bal de Mai is the warmer of the two while 163 Rose Bengale is neutral-to-cool. Both are easy to wear and not overpowering while still giving the face a serious boost of color. Bal de Mai is supposed to have some kind of shimmer, but the formula of Rouge Automatique is so smooth and elegant that other than a slight sheen you don't see any particles in either one of the lipsticks.

These Guerlain lipsticks are smooth, creamy, give a full and long lasting coverage while being soft, comfortable and moisturizing. Rouge Automatique brings a much sought-after balance to the lipstick game: longevity and comfort are often at odds, but not in this case. Add to that the elegance of the art deco packaging: a cap-less case with a trap door that opens by sliding the square latch thing down. The result is a beautiful and luxurious product.

Bottom Line: a rock star among lipsticks.

Guerlain Rouge Automatique Lipsticks ($35 each) are available at the counters and from Sephora (not all shades are stocked everywhere, but 160 and 163 seem to be easy to find).

All photos are mine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Le Labo Vetiver 46

The main problem with reviewing a perfume from a talked-about brand several years after its release is that everyone else has already quipped the best lines (or at least made the most important observations). On the other hand, having been familiar with Le Labo's Vetiver 46  for nearly four years might give me a little extra insight into the way it wears. Or maybe not. The two main observations about Vetiver 46 is that it's the poster child for Le Labo's tendency to misname their perfumes, and also that Vetiver's pronounced masculinity has been greatly exaggerated. Obviously, the past four years didn't change a thing and this review on perfumer Ayala Sender's Smelly Blog sums it up nicely.

I did, however, learn to detect and identify the vetiver in the super dry composition of Vetiver 46. It reminds me of the fiery component in Vero Profumo's Onda. Le Labo's flame is lighter, cleaner and free of the animalic parts, but still burning. The interesting thing is the way the dry-down settles under the prairie fire and smoky incense. My sillage might spell Danger! but on skin level I can actually smell a delicate woody sweetness, that among other things is also husband-approved.

Notes (via Luckyscent): bergamot, black pepper, clove, cedar, vetiver, labdanum, olibanum, gaiac wood, amber and vanilla

Vetiver 46 (starting at $58 for 15ml)  is available from Le Labo stores worldwide, Barneys, Colette Paris, Luckyscent and

Art: Prairie Fire I by Elinor Tourtello

Paula Dorf Smudge Brush

This is another little but mighty brush from Paula Dorf. The standard in smudge brushes is probably NARS #15 (before that one I was actually loyal to Sephora Platinum #13, which I still love for certain tasks), but it's quite big and not very precise when it comes to detailed work. Of course, smudging and smoking eye shadow is not exactly about crispness, but there's something to be said for keeping the look clean.

Paula Dorf Smudge Brush is an excellent tool. It softens pencil, powder or cream lines without smearing them all over the lid. The shape and density give incredible control so you don't feel like you're smudging in the dark. I manage to surprise myself with the results I get every time.

Paula Dorf's brush is somewhat similar size and shape to the Hakuhodo brushes I use for tighlining (Kokutan SL E1089 and K005). Tthe hair of the Hakuhodo ones tapers ever so lightly at the edge, making them liner brushes, while the Paula Dorf is more blunt and works better on the lid itself.

Bottom Line: an essential.

Paula Dorf Smudge Brush ($20) is available from Henri Bndel in NYC, Dermstore, and

All photos are mine.