Monday, October 31, 2011

Le Labo Rose 31

I don't know if it's surprising that Rose 31 is whispered to be Le Labo's biggest seller. I mean, this is a terrific perfume, definitely deserving of the love it gets. But Rose 31 is not only low on the rose, it also has a nice(?) serving of cumin, and last I checked, many people run for the hills at the first whiff of this spice. Even more interesting is that Rose 31 is far from being a typical Le Labo perfume (if such thing even exists. I'm probably generalizing too much). Had I tested it blind five years ago I'd probably have mistaken this as a new Lutens-light.

Not that I'm complaining.

If your idea of a rose perfume is honeyed petals and sunshine, girls in pretty dresses on a June day and a touch of green, you might be taken aback. This is not the one. Rose 31 was released in 2006 as part of Le Labo's original line. These perfumes are famous for playing tricks with the sniffer who innocently expects them to be loyal to their names. Rose 31 opens with a nice and clean burst of dry rose, but it doesn't take long for things to get interesting. The rose thins into an iris-like note (Luca Turin calls it carrot juice but I maintain it's more powdery than juicy and a little chilly, so more iris than carrot to my nose). Then comes the spice rub.

I'm married to a cumin-phobe, but he has yet to complain when I wear Rose 31, so it's not too bad (and obviously not Curry Hill enough to deter me). There's also a slew of other pleasant spices that border on sweet chai mix but never quite get there (I don't smell any cardamom). Still, the nutmeg, pepper and clove are very warm and almost foody, without being too aggressive: Le Labo keep their signature unfussy and almost sparse touch. That's what keeps Rose 31 from being truly Lutensian.

The dry-down of incense and cedar is probably my favorite part. It's sweetened by the faint hint of rose and spice-rack, but there's a lot more than that. A hint of pencil shaving, a whiff of meditative incense, an unmistakable animalic note, perhaps the offspring of skin and cumin. It's sexy in a subtle way, too pulled-together to be a hippie scent, too gossamer to be goth. Some days Rose 31 lacks an anchoring base to remain on my skin for long. Other days it stays with me until late at night. I haven't deciphered all its secrets, and that's what makes this perfume magical.

Notes: Grasse rose, cumin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, olibanum, cedar, amber, gaiac wood, oud, cistus, vetiver and animalic notes.

Le Labo Rose 31 (starting at $58 for 15 ml) is available from Le Labo boutiques around the world, Barneys, Colette in Paris and Liberty London, as well as from LuckyScent and the company's website (

Photo by Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia, September 2011

YSL Eye Shader Brush

This YSL Eye Shader is a  good pencil/detail brush that can be found at most department stores. It's a small domed natural hair brush that is shaped perfectly for smudging, highlighting the inner corner, applying a thin layer of powder eye shadow to diffuse a too thick/too dark eyeliner and do any precision work one can think of.

I like the YSL brush's firmness and density and its high quality. It's very durable, has been dipped into powders, creams and gels, washed countless of times and still looks like new. It doesn't hurt that this is a pretty and well-designed brush. As such, I don't mind much that it's decidedly more expensive than my favorite pencil brush, the B533BkSL by Hakuhodo (they're quite different, with the Hakuhodo being softer and longer). I do question the $42 price tag of the By Terry Dome 3 brush. A good replacement to the Yves Saint Laurent brush is the Space NK Dome Smudge that has similar size and proportions and performs just as well.

Bottom Line: a classic.

YSL Eye Shader Brush ($30) is available at YSL counters everywhere and from

Mirabella Blissful Blush Color Duo

I love discovering brands I've never heard about before. I love it even more when said brand turns out to be very good. I never heard of Mirabella mineral makeup until the package landed on my doorstep, so I admit to being a bit hesitant at first. Learning that Mirabella is a salon brand, supposedly conscious about ingredients was good. Noting that the products are manufactured in the US and in Canada (except for the eye pencils- those are made in Italy) was even better.

The blush duo in Blissful is an interesting one. It holds two full size blushes, one is a petal pink and the other side an almost wine color. It can be tricky, for sure. As soon as I touched Blissful for the first time I noticed the texture was great. The Mirabella blush is silky smooth with fine micro-shimmer. The pigment is quite intense, so an inferior texture would have made for a disastrous application. As it is, a good fluffy brush that works doesn't pick too much product is essential. I use a medium Yachio (Hakuhodo) that both applies and blends the blush.

As for the colors in Mirabella's Blissful, I prefer to blend them together than try to make each one work by itself. I start with a base of the petal pink and add just enough of the dark shade to take away the brightness and pinkness. The blended result is pleasingly glowy and natural, and it satisfies my love of mixing colors and customizing them to my taste.

Bottom Line: Nice and fun.

Mirabella Blissful Blush Color Duo ($30) is available from select salons and on The product was sent for my consideration free of charge.

Happy Halloween!

Photo: Peter Sellers as Bela Lugosi in Dracula, Playboy 1964

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bewitched: Perfumes For Halloween

Samantha, Elphaba and Professor McGonagall have very little in common, other than that little witch thing. I'm also not sure how any of them saw perfume, but I do remember that Hermione Granger wore perfume (a gift from Ron, actually), which is one more reason to love her. The weather has created a rare event: a white Halloween. It's quite bewitching, actually (and not as horrible now that our power is back after 24 hours of blackout), so I'm ready to make a list of Halloween-appropriate perfumes:

1. Eau Noire- La Collection Privée Christian Dior. Intense, thick and black as the night. For a witch with some serious sense of style.

2. Reglisse Noire- 1000 Flowers. I've mentioned this one before. Those unfamiliar with natural perfumes might be surprised with the depth and character of this black licorice concoction. I'm not sure it's the kind of treat little kids hope to get, but anise lovers will rejoice.

3. Like This- Etat Libre d'Orange. For a more wholesome approach. Like coming home from the cold into an inviting kitchen and a warm pumpkin pie.

4. Frankincense Myrrh Rose Maroc- Regina Harris. As goth as it gets.

5. Vecchi Rossetti- Hilde Soliani. Behind the scenes at the opera, just before the Phantom arrives... or maybe an old and magical costume store.

6. Black Cashmere- Donna Karan. As dark and stormy as it gets. I can almost see and smell the haunted house.

7. Cardinal- Heeley. The priest is here to perform some serious exorcism, but you feel the chilly ghost in the air.

8. Rose 31- Le Labo. Some serious wild animals lurking beneath the rose disguise. Spice, cumin and everything that's not nice. This one has fangs.

9. Nuit Noire- Mona di Orio. Another perfume in disguise, this time the outside is scary and dirty, a beast that is out to get you. It turns into a thing of beauty once skin is involved. Transformed by a kiss.

10. Black Widow by Black Widow- I recently found this sample and remembered how dark and warm and fun this gem was. Perfect for the season, the weather and atmosphere.

Friday, October 28, 2011

NARS Hanamichi Kabuki Palette- A Sneak Peek

I haven't been this excited about any NARS release in ages. NARS Hanamichi Kabuki Palette for this holiday season is even more beautiful in person. From the packaging to the excellent little brush that comes with the eye shadow palette- this is the one item from all the holiday collections I've seen so far that was a must-have. Swatches and reviews coming as soon as I give this a good test-drive. I know Nordstrom online is already out of stock, but last I checked Lord & Taylor still had the Hanamichi palette.

NARS Hanamichi Kabuki Palette ($65)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sensory Discoveries For Fall- A Joint Blogging Project

Heard in our house this evening--
Me: Tonight's post is a joint blogging project about sensory discoveries for fall.
Husband: What fall? It's going to snow on Saturday.

Yes, so much for the romance of the season. Still, fall is usually quite glorious around this parts and there's always something new to taste, hear and sniff. Especially on a weekend of bad weather.

Joe Henry, Tomorrow is October

My recent chocolate discovery is Chip'n Dipped Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bar. It's a 63 percent dark chocolate bar with salted pretzel pieces; as good as it sounds. I suspect that this is a very American idea, akin to the Jimmy Fallon Ben & Jerry's ice cream in all its a vanilla with a salty caramel swirl and crunchy fudge-covered potato chip clusters glory.

Since even I can't live on chocolate alone, here's another little thing that's perfect for fall's soups. Melissa's Steamed Lentils are vacuum sealed and ready to use in any recipe. We're partial to a rice and lentil stew seasoned with cumin and Ras el Hanout spice blend. Available at Whole Foods.

Old Movies:
A blanket, a kitten (or two) and Cary Grant. Arsenic And Old Lace is a classic Halloween movie, but a Cary Grant marathon is even better. Bringing Up Baby (above) features Katharine Hepburn and a big cat.

Red coat, red lipstick, red accessories. The coat is DVF, the ring by Cecile & Jeanne, boots by Christian Louboutin and lipstick by Guerlain.

Reglisse Noire by 1000 Flowers. Black licorice, vanilla, cocoa and a lot more black licorice.
Serge Lutens De Profunis and Boxeuses.
Vintage Bandit.

Please visit the other participants in the project:
Katie Puckrik Smells
Perfume Shrine
Smelly Blog
Scent Hive

Artwork by George Barbier, 1914

Caldrea Mandarin-Vetiver Cleaning And Laundry Products

As a vetiver freak I was thrilled when Caldrea added the Mandarin-Vetiver range to their line of cleaning/laundry products and home fragrance. It's not every day that I can find one of my favorite perfume notes in household cleansers, and the idea of having my laundry smell like vetiver is beyond appealing. I don't know why no one thought of it before. Vetiver, on its sharp astringent edge has clean and green facets, making it popular in men's cologne, especially when paired with citrus notes.

Caldrea Mandarin-Vetiver countertop spray has become a staple in our house. Let's face it: the place is run by cats. Hence the need to clean and wipe various surfaces on a very frequent base. Caldrea cleansers are pretty mild and never made me cough or choke, yet they're effective for just about any spillage, paw prints and other normal household messes. It gives the kitchen a wonderful smell that is not too citrusy- it's grassy, herbal and somehow very natural.

I added the regular laundry detergent and fabric softener to my arsenal back when they were first released. The scent is very soft and doesn't linger much beyond folding, but leaves clothes and sheets simply smelling clean. I like the high concentration of the detergent and softener- perhaps it's all in my head but I prefer not to pour huge amounts of product in each load of laundry. The detergent removes normal grime. We don't have kids, so I can't testify about juice, ketchup and other substances children tend to get all over their clothes, but if you've used Caldrea laundry products in the past, Mandarin-Vetiver performs in a similar way. I can tell you that it removes makeup stains from white t-shirts (another beauty blogger professional hazard).

The last item I tried was the new dark wash detergent. I guess it was needed because of the borax in the regular detergent. The dark wash liquid is enzyme-based and I've used it on some new dark towels and black yoga pants. I haven't seen much (or any, really) color bleeding, so it's a nice and useful thing to have.

Bottom Line: Love. Now, can Caldrea please bring back the Fig & Fir Balsam scent from last year's holiday season?

Caldrea Mandarin-Vetiver cleaning and laundry products ($9-$16) are available from specialty stores and The dark wash detergent was sent for my consideration by the company's PR, everything else was purchased by me.

Photo: Ruby Aldridge by Miles Aldridge for Vogue Italia, October 2011.

Kevyn Aucoin Alurabliss Liquid Cyber Lip Gloss

I'm not a fan of gimmicky products. A light blue lip gloss definitely looks like more of a novelty item than a serious beauty tool, but earlier this year I decided to give Alurabliss from Kevyn Aucoin a try because I really love the Liquid Cyber Lip products with their superb texture and healthy boost they give my lips. I also liked the idea of a clear gloss with just a hint of cool cast that can subtly adjust the color underneath.

Alurabliss is a very shimmery sky blue in the tube but it's actually a clear gloss. The blue pigment is not noticeable other than in the way it lends a slightly cool tint to the color underneath, be it your natural lip color or a lipstick. I find the shimmer particles o Alurabliss less intense than in my Kevyn Aucoin Galaxine Liquid Cyber Lip, so I reach for it often either to give my lips a finishing touch or to customize and adjust other colors.

Bottom Line: more than a gimmick.

Kevyn Aucoin Alurabliss Liquid Cyber Lip Gloss ($27) is available from Bergdorf Goodman (in-store only), Barneys (also online) and Dermstore.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tom Ford- Violet Blonde

The husband was not aware of the marketing and ad campaign of Tom Ford Violet Blonde. I'm not even sure he knew exactly which one of the three Tom Ford perfumes that launched this fall belong to the Private Blend range and which one is from the semi-mainstream Signature Collection, though he smelled all of them. As he tested Violet Blonde and spent some quality time with it, his observation was that while the name is most likely to keep many men from even trying, Violet Blonde is a very good gender-neutral fragrance.

That's not what the the ad is trying to say:

But my husband is right. Violet Blonde is perhaps a little more introverted than many of the assertive Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes (I do love most of them), but it's an elegant ambery woody floral with several facets and a soft development on the skin. It opens up with the flashier violet and powder impression, the part that's meant to hook the perfume shopper at the counter, but the powdery floral notes make way to a surprisingly warm and slightly dirty facet. The husband suspected cumin, but there's none on my skin. Most likely it's the way cedar reacts with his chemistry, but I do know what he means. This is not an innocent and clean wood.

There's a lot more going on there: the husband says leather, I smell a more powdery suede. And a surprisingly tasteful dry-down that's just sweet enough to feel satisfying. On me Violet Blonde is prettier, on him it's a perfect woody fall scent. It goes well with a leather jacket and a soft cashmere scarf, no matter who wears it. My recommendation is to ignore all the noise surrounding the line and Tom Ford himself and just smell Violet Blonde for what it is, especially if you're a guy. The bottle and box will not betray any secrets.

Notes: violet leaf, Italian mandarin, pink pepper, Tuscan iris absolute, Tuscan orris butter, Sambac jasmine, sampaquita, musk, suede, cedar, vetiver and benzoin.

Tom Ford Violet Blonde ($100, 50ml EDP) is available from top department stores. A press sample was sent to me by the brand's PR team.

Top image: Violet Wood Sorrel by John P Sercel, Tennessee, 2010.

The Jersey Cow Company - Uplift Body Wash

You know I bought this body wash because of the name. The Jersey Cow Company. How cute is that? Visiting the Island of Jersey is on my list of things to do one day (I have  a feeling it's going to be very different than my home state, its namesake). I also have a thing for Jersey cows, just because. The Uplift body wash has nothing to do with dairy, but the company is, indeed, from the Island and that's where their products are made of locally grown and distilled raw materials.

Uplift body wash is based on the invigorating aroma of lime, eucalyptus and lavender. The scent is very herbal and natural, which makes sense considering the light and not particularly sudsy texture of the product (always a good sign when dealing with my ultra-dry skin. Showering with this cow is a wonderful pleasure. The scent fills my bathroom, clears my sinuses but magically never clings to either my skin or my towels. It doesn't leave any tightness or dryness behind and my very sensitive skin feels perfectly fine after the shower and not screaming to be buttered.

Here are the ingredients:
Aqua (Water), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, *Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, *Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Triethylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Nitrate, Magnesium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellol, Limonene.

Bottom Line: The rest of the bovines from this line (hair products and lotions) are in my very near future.

Uplift Body Wash by The Jersey Cow Company ($26, 10 oz) is available from

Art: My Jersey Cow by Marcia Baldwin, 2006.

Becca Eye Tint In Gilt

It was Becca makeup artist at Henri Bendel in NYC who sold me on the Eye Tint in Gilt. I was there to buy a couple of Becca powder eye shadows  and had no interest in anything else. After all, my experience with the brand's cream shadows was that they're among the most beautiful I've seen but crease to the point of being unusable. But as he was doing my makeup he used Becca Eye Tint in Gilt as the first layer for an eye look that included Suede and Lamé (review coming soon) and I loved the effect and the color.

Becca Eye Tint is a high shimmer liquid eye shadow in a tube that dries down to an almost powdery finish. The texture is light and the consistency is such that it never creases. The Eye Tint is semi-sheer but still holds enough pigment to work nicely on its own. Layered with other eye shadows from Becca or other brands, the tint creates extra depth. You can apply it with your fingers, but I prefer the control and precision of brushes- either a flat wide one for a wash of color or a small brush to keep the tint close to the lash line.

Gilt is a medium brown with bronze shimmer. It's on the warm side but doesn't lean orange or yellow, so it's a great companion for various taupe shades. This Eye Tint also looks great with navy or emerald green eyeliners.

This is all good, but Becca Eye Tint has one serious problem that prevents me from declaring it a success. The product separates within a couple of weeks. Now, remember, my tube was brand new and I bought it from the Becca counter at Henri Bendel, so it's definitely not some leftover old stock from a questionable online seller. The tint didn't go rancid and once mixed back together it apples and performs well, but there's some serious product loss every time I have to squirt a larger amount to the back of my hand and then mix to achieve the original consistency.

The solution I found is to transfer the entire content of the tube into a little jar with a screw-on lid. This way I can mix the whole thing together before each use and not lose any product. It's a great fix, but I won't be buying any other Becca Eye Tints because it's too high maintenance. There are enough gorgeous eye shadows out there that don't require extra equipment.

Bottom Line: sadly, I'd say skip.

Becca Eye Tint ($24) is available from Henri Bendel, Dermstore and, or Zuneta if you're in the UK.

Serge Lutens- Vitriol d'Oeillet

Vitriol d'Oeillet, Serge Lutens' 'angry carnation' from his regular export line was released around the same time as the exclusive De Profundis with a similar morbid theme. It was received with a similar lack of enthusiasm, including the usual kvetching about the decline of House Lutens. It happens with nearly every perfume release in the last few years, but eventually people get over themselves.  I actually love De Profundis and felt it was very me from the very first encounter, but I admit to thinking Vitriol d'Oeillet was too pale for my taste when I tried it on.

Years ago, Clair de Musc made me think of a hand cream. Eventually it became one of my staples, worn on its own or layered with other Lutens perfumes. Vitriol d'Oeillet has also been growing on me from that first impression of a pearl-clutching schoolmarm. It's not the carnation note. I love it on its peppery and spicy aspects and the way it complements floral and musk notes, here and in other classic perfumes. My issue with Vitriol d'Oeillet was mellowness at first, and then a certain soapy aspect that annoyed me about an hour into the perfume's development (Denyse of Grain de Musc makes a comparison to a similar soap vibe in Bas de Soie, but I never had a problem there).

After wearing Vitriol d'Oeillet nights and days I finally succumbed. Gone are the schoolmarm and  her crocheted doilies. What I get is a musky-powdery veil that uses the wood and pale flowers as a pretty opening act before it becomes all about skin. I could have sworn there's some burnt incense in the base, but it's not listed among the official notes (pepper, clove, carnation, amber). Vitriol d'Oeillet is a bit too refined to be called meditative, but it offers an inner peace that reconciles one's inner turmoil with the face we put on for the sake of propriety.

Is this carnation angry? I think it's just waiting for her chance to misbehave.

Vitriol d'Oeillet ($140, 1.69 oz EDP) is available from all the usual suspects that carry Serge Lutens perfumes:  Aedes, Luckyscent, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, etc.

Photos of Marilyn Monroe by Cecil Beaton, 1956.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Six Top Lipstick Picks For Fall

It happens every year. Just as I start looking at new boots and considering new addition to my fall/winter wardrobe, I also start reaching for darker reds and sultry berry lipstick shades. These lipsticks are the perfect finishing touch for a pale face and a charcoal gray sweater dress, and there are always new options available. Here are my top 5 lipsticks for the season, some brand new, others have been here for a while. In no particular order:

1. Exude Lipstick in Cranberry. You don't need to be a Rachel Zoe fan to appreciate this color and unique format. The shade is very wearable with just enough drama for the season ($29,

2. Le Metier de Beaute Lip Creme In The Know Bordeaux. This liquid lipstick is part of the Neiman Marcus exclusive Ken Downing Bordeaux collection for fall. A luxurious formula, a beautiful finish and the color is stunning ($36, Neiman Marcus).

3. Edward Bess Midnight Bloom lipstick. This is one of Edward Bess original colors and has been around for a couple of years. It's still one of my go-to evening colors year round. I'm on my second tube ($32, Bergdorf Goodman, select Neiman Marcus locations and

4. Kanebo Sensai No. 19 (Sawarabi) is one of the Japanese brand's new colors for fall 2011. Kisses are, indeed, sweeter than wine  ($55, Bergdorf Goodmn and Neiman Marcus online).

5. Ellis Faas Creamy Lips L101 Ellis Red. Sometimes red is the only answer, and Ellis Faas' signature shade is incredibly flattering and surprisingly easy to wear ($35 at and SpaceNK).

6. Hourglass Nocturnal lipstick. One of the prettiest colors I know, a full-coverage formula that feels like an evening gown ($30 at Barneys and Sephora).

The LMdB, Kanebo Sensai and Ellis Faas products were press samples that were sent to me free of charge. The Edward Bess, Hourglass and Exude lipsticks were purchased at full price by me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giorgio Armani La Femme Bleue (Armani Prive)

Just like other bloggers who reviewed Armani Prive La Femme Bleue I wanted to dislike and dismiss it as all hype and no substance. Or to least to not like this exclusive limited edition perfume, but I guess I'm not going to be very original here. I like it. A lot.

I first smelled this limited edition in Paris (at Le Bon Marche). The bottle was stunning even in Armani Privé standards and I made good use of the tester, expecting to prove that once you own a few iconic iris perfumes you don't need this showy and exclusi...

Oh, dear!

It was love that first day and it's love now that I'm quickly draining my small decant. Look at the notes: black iris, chocolate, incense and vanilla. Armani might as well named it Gaia Bleue. I prefer to ignore the background marketing spiel about being inspired by the Tuareg people from the Sahara. No iris, black or other, grows in that desert, and I doubt vanilla is part of the nomadic palate. Incense? Maybe, but I won't hold my breath. But you can judge the marketing fluff for yourself:

"Envisaging a journey through the desert, following a Tuareg caravan, the nomad people who have become the aesthetic reference for my new couture collection", replies Giorgio Armani while he explains La Femme Bleue, the new cult fragrance by Armani/Privé.

"Only when your are working with a color, you manipulate it, you learn about all its countless variations. Indigo, matte, charcoal, kohl power, dark, glossy...". What is blue for Giorgio Armani? "Mystery, shadow, but also depth".

The following step: turning the chromatic and stylistic suggestion into a very exclusive fragrance. Only a thousand pieces in the world, 112 in Italy. A color that becomes perfume: "True, I wanted to express this idea of elegance also in other contexts. A unique and exclusive fragrance, realized with rare and precious ingredients". Haute parfumerie, of course, as explained by Monsieur Serge Majoullier, the nose behind the scent.

"It’s not easy to translate the idea of deep blue, I found the way by blending oriental and vanilla notes, perfect to evoke a hot starry night; so I added to black iris, which is dark blue in nature and whose scent at times verges on chocolate, a woody background. This way the fragrance is not just floral". (from Vogue Italy)

What I get from La Femme Bleue is incredible softness. Many iris perfumes are built on the cold and even chilly facet of the rhizome. They can be carroty, earthy and even ghostly. Guerlain took the buttery aspect and combined it with their signature pastry note in the cuddly Iris Ganache. But this is neither Iris Silver Mist nor Guerlain. Perfumer Serge Majoullier created a warm and incredibly soft and skin-like representation of this highly-coveted note. The chocolate is barely sweet and smells more raw than the French bakery of Iris Ganache (which I adore, nothing wrong with a good dessert in perfume). It draws you in and invites you to get closer and touch. There's something very tactile in La Femme Bleue, but again, it's the silk chiffon of Armani fashion and not the raw and coarse fabric of the nomad desert attire

The bottom line is that this Armani Privé perfume is an addictive and sensual interpretation of a haute couture concept and smells as luxurious and expensive as it really is. I don't know how much if any real orris butter was put into the 1000 bottles that were made of La Femme Bleue. Maybe it's another clever use of some new manufactured materials, but I doubt it. It smells exquisite.

Armani Privé La Femme Bleue is a limited edition available at very few location around the world (Selfridges London and Bergdorf Goodman in NYC are among the lucky ones). The price for 100 ml Eau de Parfum is £375. The Perfumed Court sells samples and decants.

Top image: model Karen Elson (at least Armani didn't use the cheap and tacky Megan Fox who is the face of the makeup line) in the La Femme Bleue campaign (also in the video above).
La Femme Bleue bottle from Armani's Facebook page and the backstage photo of the La Femme Bleue fashion show from

Lace Necklace by Dancing Leaf Design

My pictures don't do any justice to the beautiful silver lace necklace from Vancouver-based studio Dancing Leaf Design. It was another discovery I owe to Ayala of Ayala Moriel Perfumes who continuously makes me realize I must get myself to Vancouver one of this days and check out the various indie artists and designers who work there. It seems like a paradise for those of us who cherish real luxury: handmade work by original artists. For now I console myself with online shopping.

You can see more of Dancing Leaf Design work on the artist's blog and in her Etsy store. As always, I'm just a happy customer and in no way affiliated with anyone.

Le Metier de Beaute Coral Nymph and Mystique Creme Fresh Tint

Coral Nymph and Mystique were the scarier colors from Le Metier de Beaute Creme Fresh Tint cream blush range. Of course, as a devoted user of Poppy I should have known there's nothing to worry about, neither from the very peachy Coral Nymph not from the cool pink of Mystique. But I did approach them carefully. The secret of Le Metier de Beaute blushes, cream or powder, is the color complexity. No matter how intimidating they looks in the pan, these blushes were meant to live on skin and blend with it, so they enhance your natural coloring.

The striped swatch is very heavy. I used enough product for three or four faces in each. just so you can see the raw shades as accurately as possible. The second swatch is a saner version, though on my face I'd blend and sheer them even more. The center of the two-toned heart shows you both colors, Coral Nymph and Mystique, when blended together. This is my favorite way to wear them, actually. Mixing the warm and cool shades in various ratios has been a secret weapon lately in adjusting my cheek color for various eyes or lip looks.

Bottom Line: really nice to have.

You can see photos of Mystique, including a lovely application, on Cafe Makeup.

Le Metier de Beaute Coral Nymph and Mystique Creme Fresh Tint ($28 each) are available from Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, online and in store. Press samples were provided by the company's PR free of charge.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Le Labo Tubereuse 40 (New York Exclusive)

Le Labo Tubereuse 40 is a very unusual tuberose perfume. If your idea of tuberose is a Fracas diva or a heavy tuberose-gardenia bomb, you're going to be surprised and even disappointed. Men who usually don't entertain the idea of wearing white floral perfumes will find Le Labo Tubereuse 40 quite enjoyable and wearable without raising any eyebrows around. As a matter of fact, from the very first time I encountered Tubereuse 40 I noticed it smells better and more interesting on the husband.

After wearing Le Labo Tubereuse 40 frequently in the last couple of months I think I know why.

Tubereuse 40 has a very long-lasting, crisp and assertive opening that is all neroli. It remains very classic cologne for at least half an hour, teasing one's nose with some lemony whiffs before it softens a little into a more visible orange blossom absolute (the difference between neroli and the absolute is the method of production that creates the distinct scent of each. The original raw material is the same).

The perfume develops into a curious green thing. The floral part makes me think of tiny little blossoms, not the raw sexuality of tuberose, gardenia and their likes. There's a leafy, mossy thing going on in the background and the citrus facet hangs around and makes guest appearances here and there, especially if I wear Tubereuse 40 on hot days. I sprayed it lavishly last month just before going out to the antique market in Paris on a very hot day (temperatures were in the 90s). It was a wise decision as the scent not only lingered through the heat, stinky food stands and general flea market questionable moments, but was quite reviving and clean. There's something musky in the dry-down, similar to what you get in several Le Labo perfumes, and that keeps things smooth and clean as well, without going the cheap laundromat way.

The bottom line is that I smell all the components that make Le Labo Tubereuse 40 an enjoyable perfume. Some people have the right skin chemistry for it: the synergy that makes it an extraordinary orange blossom-tuberose perfume (see this review on Best Things In Beauty). I don't, which is why it never develops beyond the clean and green zesty spurts on me. Too bad, really, considering it's the one Le Labo exclusive I can buy in person anytime.

Notes: Ambrette absolute, bergamote, cedar, jasmin absolute, orange blossom absolute, mimosa absolute, oak moss absolute, petit grain, centifolis rose, absolute tuberose .

This concludes my series about Le Labo city exclusive perfumes. You can read the rest here:
Vanille 44 (Paris)
Musc 25 (Los Angeles)
Poivre 23 (London)
Gaiac 10(Tokyo)
Baie Rose 26 (Chicago)
Aldehyde 44 (Dallas)

Le Labo Tubereuse 40 will be available for the month of November through the house's website ( and Luckyscent (samples are already on sale at $10 per 1.5 ml). A press sample for consideration and review was sent to me by Le Labo.

Photo of model Benedetta Barzini by Irving Penn, 1967, from

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eyebrow Brushes: Hakuhodo, Paula Dorf, Shu Uemura, MAC, Sephora

My favorite eyebrow brush in the last 6 months or so is RMK eyebrow brush with its delicate rounded edge of uncut hair. It gives me maximum control and very natural looking results. I do wish the handle was a little longer, but that's a minor complaint. I still think it's not a must have if you already have a couple of other good eyebrow brushes, but I can't deny it's the one I grab consistently.

However, there are several other good brushes for filling eyebrows. I've had some of these for years and have an idea why a couple of them are better than others. Do take note that my tortured and abused Sephora brush is a much older version of today's No. 15. It's from before they stamped the numbers on the handles and I'm guessing it's the #15 equivalent. It survived after all these years, but just like MAC 208, I find the hair to be too long for the purpose at hand and the edge is too blunt.

Paula Dorf eyebrow brush is another oldie, but a much better one. It's very balanced and the head's width and shape allows for even brush strokes that are less visible and more natural looking.

Shu Uemura 6 ob brush is very narrow. It's the one to use for tiny gaps and minute eyebrow corrections. The Shu Uemura brush feels very balanced in my hand (extremely important when dealing with eyebrows as everything you do can change your facial expression). It's probably a result of head/handle ratio.

My favorite in this bunch is Hakuhodo S163 (S100 series). The short hair ensures precision and since the head is densely packed with water badger hair that seem perfect for the task. Hakuhodo also offers other interesting looking eyebrow brushes, especially in the G series, but honestly, I don't see a reason to add another tool any time soon. Between the ones here and my RMK brush I feel like I'm all set in this department for the foreseeable future.

Featured brushes:
Sephora #15 ($14, in store and
MAC 208 ($19.50, and at the counters)
Paula Dorf eyebrow brush  ($24, at Henri Bendel and
Shu Uemura 6 ob ($29,
Hakuhodo S163 ($28,