Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Satellite Paris - Corrida

I have no idea why anyone would name a perfume after the horrible practice of bullfighting. Maybe it's the red theme (though the perfume is more orange than blood) and the overabundance of red fruit in the juice. In any case, most of Satellite perfumes have gone the way of the dodo in the last year (according to Satellite's website, only Padparadscha remains in production).

My impression of the ones I tried was that Satellite perfumes, like the jewelry from the last few seasons, are trying too hard. I love statement jewelry, ethnic baubles and funky fashion accessories, but there's something overdone and a bit cheap in what I saw recently in their Paris boutique. Satellite's Alhambra collection (above) photographs much better than it looks in person. I guess this can also be said about the list of Corrida's notes: Black currant, neroli, rose, lily of the valley, jasmine, floral accord, sandalwood.

A red fruity-floral over sandalwood is not a bad idea. Cartier So Pretty Sirop de Bois is built around the same idea and manages to be fun and, yes, pretty. We all know that fruit notes are 100% synthetic, as is the musk and most likely the sandalwood. Yet, Cartier didn't make Sirop smell cheap. Corrida, on the other hand feels like an overindulgence in something that wasn't that great to begin with. It's like a dinner of red gummy bears.

As I mentioned before, Satellite Paris discontinued most of their fragrances. Corrida still pops online from time to time, and the candle is available (on clearance) from BeautyHabit.

Images: Candy Warehouse and Satellite Paris.

Giorgio Armani Eye Brow Defining Pencil

As much as I prefer eyebrow powders (or eye shadows used with an eyebrow brush), using a pencil is quicker; it's also a better solution on the go and for travel in general. I've been a devoted user of DiorShow Brow Styler (the one that is not as universal as they claim but matches my coloring nicely), but after finishing my third one I decided to try something that doesn't get used up quite so quickly. Giorgio Armani Eye Brow Defining Pencil looked like a nice option.

The Armani is a full length pencil and holds quite a bit of product. It's harder and waxier than the Dior, making it less likely to give too sharp a look. The one I got is Giorgio Armani Eye Brow Defining Pencil in Brown No. 2 (the other option is Beige No. 3, much lighter). As you can see it's a true brown, warmer than Dior, which is  why I'm not 100% in love with it. Eyebrow pencils that lean more taupe look more natural on me, so if Armani offered one I'd buy it in a heartbeat. If Brown No. 2 is my only option, I'm going back to Dior.

Bottom Line: more color options, please.

Giorgio Armani Eye Brow Defining Pencil ($27) is available from Saks, Barneys and online at

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique

When Guerlain launched the first three perfumes in their Elixir Charnel series I had to get over over the pink juice and pinker marketing prose that accompanied them before I realized that I really liked Oriental Brulant and didn't mind the other two. Then came Boise Torride that I also enjoy. So I was willing to accept the Elixirs on their weird market positioning and see them as legitimate Guerlain perfumes.

Floral Romantique, though, is a Guerlain bastard. It's one thing to find Idylle and its endless spawn or L'Instant (ditto) in the mainstream line and price range. But a so-called exclusive Elixir Charnel needs at least to smell like an upscale Guerlain perfume. Floral Romantique smells straight out of an average department store counter. It's a musky floral, very heavy on the lily with just a hint of peppery carnation that's trying to raise its head before the lily beats it into an abstract potpourri.

We've all smelled it before and didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the dubious pleasure. I don't know what's worse: having Guerlin's in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser create something so far removed from everything that's still good at Guerlain, or have the Powers That Be slap an atrocious price tag on this creation. Both, I guess. As well as the complete lack of originality and inspiration. It's not that Floral Romantique is necessarily a horrible perfume, even if I personally find it barely tolerable. It's the pretentious label on something so banal and lacking that gets to me.

A funny thing: Last week I was planning to wear it one last time before writing this review. I accidentally sprayed it soon after applying a L'Occitane hand cream from their newish Délice des Fruits range. It's a very foody and concentrated scent, heavy on candied fruit zest. This heavier aroma actually improved Floral Romantique and gave it a more interesting base than its whatever musk. I repeated the experiment today, just to make sure, and yes. apparently this Elixir Charnel was missing not just a sense of humor but also the quality and gravitas of a L'Occitane hand cream. It made the perfume smell less cheap.

Earlier today, Elena from Perfume Shrine posted a rant about all that's wrong with perfume nowadays. You can add Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique to the list. Other reviews of this perfume can be found on Bois de Jasmin and 1000 Fragrances.

Notes: mandarin, orange, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tiaré flower, carnation, lily, cedar, chestnut, ambrette, maté.

Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique ($255, 2.5oz EDP) is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Saks 5th Avenue.


L'Occitane Délice des Fleurs Shower Jelly

The surprising thing about L'Occitane Délice des Fleurs shower gel (and the rest of the range, actually) was not the (great) texture and (comfortable) feel on the skin. It was the scent. A full-bodied, nostalgic rose and violet fragrance that smells very perfumy and ultra-feminine.  L'Occitane Délice des Fleurs smells indulgent and fun in a pink powder puff way.

The gel is gentle and easy on my dry skin. One of the reasons I love L'Occitane products is that in all the years I've been using them I never had an allergy reaction or even the mildest itch-- and I'm prone to get them from bath and body products and various soaps.  Délice des Fleurs Shower Jelly is non-soapy, barely foaming and very mild. The scent, while strong, doesn't cling and actually fades from the shower before I'm even done toweling off my hair. So unless one layers the entire range there's no need to finish it off with a spritz of Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose or YSL Paris. I simply enjoy it for what it is, and would have been even more thrilled if the bottle was prettier (or at least didn't look so cheap).

L'Occitane Délice des Fleurs Shower Jelly ($20, 8.4oz) is available from in store and online. It was sent to me free of charge for consideration and review.

Photo of Jane Russel taking a bath from

Guerlain 165 Champs-Elysees Rouge Automatique Lipstick

I predict that Guerlain Rouge Automatique lipsticks will appear in many of the year in review posts. This range is as close to lipstick perfection as we can get, from the beautiful packaging to the excellent formula and many color options. It doesn't hurt that Guerlain chose to name the shades after their perfumes, past and present.

Champs-Elysees 165 is a cool-leaning red-based pink. It's not quite fuchsia, and the somewhat sheer formula allows just enough of my natural lip color to show through, so that the bold color of the lipstick doesn't take over. It still has all the pigment one needs to make a statement, and an impressive lasting power. The texture is a wonderful as the other Guerlain Rouge Automatique lipsticks in my possession and the very fine and subtle shimmer is flattering and elegant.

Bottom Line: one is not enough.

Guerlain Rouge Automatique Lipstick ($35) in 165 Champs-Elysees and close to 30 other shades can be found at the counters and Sephora.

Monday, November 28, 2011

CB I Hate Perfumes- Burning Leaves

There's no way around it: Burning Leaves by CB I Hate Perfumes is a very literal interpretation of the subject. There's nothing elusive or abstract in it: You smell the leaves, you smell the smoke, there's a hint of cool air and I might be imagining it, but something ashy in the dry-down. That's it.

Of course, like other perfumes by Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume, Burning Leaves is a memory, an experience, a time and a place; thus, it takes you somewhere. To a campfire, most likely. The couple of hours smell like I just came back from spending a fall day by the fire.  The interesting part of the fragrance is the way it interacts with the wearer's skin. On the husband there's more give and the smell is deeper, almost woody. Things are more static when I wear Burning Leaves, or perhaps it's the perfume that's wearing me.

I like it- the holographic, true-to-life scene Burning Leaves paints. It's just that until the late dry-down when my own chemistry takes over and makes the smoke sweeter, it's not personal enough and a little too literal to be wearable in public. I'm a huge fan of smoky fragrances but they need to still have a perfumy aspect, which is missing from Burning Leaves. I do enjoy smelling this CBIHP scent on the husband. It's thick, outdoorsy and very manly.

CB I Hate Perfumes Burning Leaves ($12, 2ml perfume absolute. Larger size available) can be purchased at the CBIHP gallery on 93 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and from

Art: Burning Leaves by Ernest Lawson

Happy Birthday, Manolo Blahnik!

Happy Birthday, Maestro, from the bottom of my heart and sole!


Smashbox Smokebox Photo Op Eyeshadow Palette

It's been a while since I was fully enamored with a Smashbox product in general and an eye shadow palette in particular. The fall 2011Girls On Film collection includes several Photo Op palettes. I played with a few at the stores, but the one I was sent, Smokebox, is my favorite. Sophie seems to approve, too.

Despite its name and the inclusion of a few classic heavily smoky eye shadows, Smashbox managed to put together a set that can be worn lightly on a work day, and the inclusion of a fabulous taupe makes it a very easy to wear palette, as mixing and blending with taupe makes everything prettier.

Smashbox Smokebox Photo Op Eyeshadow Palette includes: Bliss (matte beige), Putty (shimmery taupe), Blacktop (sparkle-infused black), Mist (shimmery silvery lilac gray) , Royal (almost matte dark purple with brown leanings) and Nocturnal (very shimmery royal blue). I have to tell you that the unassuming Bliss on all its yawn-inducing beigeness is a great color. It's a perfect base/matte brow bone enhancing color, not too warm, not chalky-- everything I never found in Bobbi Brown's similar powder eye shadows. The rest of the colors speak for themselves- the taupe is, of course, wonderful. I mix the darker color into it for a wearable smoky effect and use it to adjust the look if I happen to go overboard. Royal and Nocturnal are very intense and need to be applied with a soft but firm brush. The purple Royal is easier to wear than many colors in this family thanks to its brown base. Nocturnal looks far less sparkly on the eye lid than it's in the pan, which is perfectly fine with me.

The weakest link in Smashbox Smokebox Photo Op Eyeshadow Palette is Blacktop. It has the least smooth texture in the set and I can't help feeling most of us will find it redundant. How many black eye shadows, with or without sparkly particles do we need? And speaking of the level of shimmer and glitter, the ultimate black eye shadow in this category comes from Hourglass (review soon). Anything else is a huge disappointment next to it. However, I have to give Smashbox's Blacktop this: applied with a damp pencil/smoky eye brush, the results are pretty and resilient.

Bottom Line: a very pretty workhorse.

Smashbox Smokebox Photo Op Eyeshadow Palette ($42) is available at Nordstrom, in-store and online. This item was sent to me by the company free of charge for consideration and review.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Miller Harris La Fumee

La Fumée and La Pluie are the two new Miller Harris perfumes that were released earlier thus fall. I first smelled them in Paris and immediately zeroed in on La Fumée (La Pluie is a light and wet airy floral. Utterly not me). The wafts of smoke from the perfume and matching candle somehow seemed out of place in the shiny and glamorous perfume department of La Bon Marche, like a portal to another dimension. Of course, an enchanted transformation is not a new idea in Miller Harris perfumes. Both L'air de Rien and Fleurs de Sel possess a similar quality.

Miller Harris La Fumée is an elegant incense perfume. It hits me right from the start with lightly sweet cistus labdanum and grows smokier and just a bit darker, though La Fumee never goes all CdG on me, as it feels like there's always an open window in the room where the incense has been burning. I will guess that even those wary of smoky perfumes might enjoy La Fumée, because it doesn't have a fully burnt or bitter after-taste. It is meditative and calming without the distractions one might find in a strong statement perfumes such as CdG Zagorsk, Tauer Incense Extreme or L'artisan Passage d'Enfer. La Fumée remains sweet and smoky throughout its entire run and doesn't take the soapy detour I find in some incense fragrances (Passage d'Enfer being a prime example).

There's something incredibly relaxing and joyful in wearing La Fumée on a rainy afternoon while you're safely ensconced in a comfy chair, surrounded by kittens, good reading material and hot chocolate. The quiet beauty of the perfume enhances the feeling of well-being and makes me think good thoughts, just because. The one weakness of La Fumée is its longevity. I've tried everything but I'm lucky to get a three hour wear of it, so I re-spray with abandon, making any room smell delicious around me. It's the first Miller Harris perfume that behaves this way on my skin, forcing me to only wear it when staying home (or going  on very brief outings). Not that it doesn't make sense to reserve this contemplative and introverted perfume for such occasions, but I doubt this concept would fly with most of us.

Notes: cistus absolute, cardamom, coriander seed, cumin, elemi, incense, cedar, sandalwood, cade, birch tar, smoke, wood and amber.

La Fumee by Miller Harris ($130, 50 ml EDP) is sold at Min NY, online and in store. At the moment they seem to be out of stock, but hopefully they'll be getting more soon. There's also a candle in this scent.

Art: Fumerie by George Barbier, from Fantasio magazine, 1915.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dior Bois d'Argent (La Collection Privée)

My friends in scent and I have been doing a lot of kvetching lately about Dior. We keep asking ourselves and each other: "what's wrong with the current Dior perfumes?". The answer is everything. So this is a way to comfort myself and others by going back to one of few modern perfumes Dior has got perfectly right: Bois d'Argent from La Collection Privée.

Bois d'Argent came out in 2004, composed by Annick Menardo under the creative direction of Hedi Slimane. In the early days Dior's exclusive collection offered only three fragrances (Bois d'Argent as well as Eau Noire and Cologne Blanche), was called La Collection Couturier and was marketed as masculine fragrances, hence the title Cologne on the bottles (regardless of the perfumes' actual concentrations). Back then you could buy these at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Dior Homme boutiques and the dearly departed eLuxury website. The turn into an ultra-exclusive, excruciating to find unisex line happened later, as more scents were added.

Bois d'Argent is a beautiful juxtaposition of warm and cold notes played against each other. Iris and cypress confronting wood, ambery vanilla and leather, with the incense and myrrh negotiating the space in between. It's the kind of subtle elegance, creativity and quality that have been sorely missing from Dior's mainstream market offerings. That, and some respect for their longtime customers.

Bois d'Argent is fully wearable by both men and women. It doesn't have the dreaded thin harshness that often occurs when a masculine cologne is sprayed on a woman's skin, and it's not too sweet or candied that a man would raise an eyebrow when sampling. Unless they're my husband whose skin brings out ample amounts of honeyed and vanillic woods which he prefers to smell on me than on himself.

Bois d'Argent is light but not sheer in that modern minimalist Ellenistic way. Instead it has all these silver-toned facets that mirror each other, and the main attraction (for me)-- the iris note on its tailored and quiet elegance. It's just a little honeyed, a bit richer than my go-to masculine iris, MPG Iris Bleu Gris, and since the husband shows no interest in sharing the bottle I get it all to myself.

Notes: juniper berries, cypress, iris, incense, myrrh, patchouli ,vanilla, musk, amber, woody notes, honey and leather.

See other reviews of Dior Bois d'Argent on Pere de Pierre and Olfactoria's Travels.

Dior Bois d'Argent  and the rest of La Collection Privée are exclusive to very few Dior boutiques (the one in Vegas has them) and upscale department stores. They can be found in Paris at both Printemps and Le Bon Marche.

Dior photo fashions: Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1940, top) and Richard Avedon (1957).

New From Ellis Faas

The conceptual and carefully edited collection of Ellis Faas has been a favorite of mine since Ellis Faas made her US debut a couple of years ago. The items are now in much wider distribution (including Sephora online and in the new Meatpacking District store, as well as from Space NK). There are also a few new little surprises (and as I mentioned before, lots more to come):

First, since as much as I'm in denial about it, the holidays are, indeed, coming. What you see above is this year's gift set. It contains ELLIS RED Milky Lips L201 for gorgeously blood-red lips; black Creamy Eyes E103 for an easy smoky eye and/or to be used as a black liner; and the light Milky Eyes E209 for fresh accents. Priced at $85, this should thrill any true makeup lover who takes pleasure in playing with colors and textures. I plan to post an extensive how-to for Ellis Faas pens to help you get the most of this unique products. Notice that Ellis uses her fingers when she's doing her own makeup. Finger painting at its most luxurious.

Then we have these Ellis Clips. These organic shaped links hold one Ellis Faas pen each. You connect the clips to each other and slide in the pens. You can take out the pen you want to use without disconnecting the chain. And it's even possible to roll up the chain, which is exactly what I do: It saves lots of drawer space as I keep all my Ellis pens bundled together, then take it out and unfold on the dresser. If I didn't have all these cats running around I might have tried to hang it on the wall for super easy access. The clips are $2 each and you can buy as many as you need. Mine were provided free of charge.

Cle de Peau Cream Eye Shadow (No.1)

As much as I adore Cle de Peau for their skin care and makeup for lips and face (amazing powders, among other things), I've come to realize they're lacking in the eye makeup department. The powder eye shadows are high maintenance but workable if you have the softest Hakuhodo brushes. But the cream liner, mascara and now the limited edition cream eye shadow has left me bitterly disappointed.

This is Cle de Peau cream eye shadow no. 1, a beautiful shimmery ivory shade that could have been a perfect highlighter under the brow and inner corner. However, the texture is stiff and almost waxy, ending in an uneven application. even worse: the "shadow" is almost completely sheer. The little pigment available is only in the tiny glitter particles. And, yes, let's call it by the right name: glitter. Overpriced and unimpressive glitter.

Now, I'm not averse to adding a fine layer of killer sparkle for eye makeup for the right occasion. Sue Devitt makes an excellent product for this very purpose- her E-Z Eye roller ball is excellent for taking an evening look to the next level if that's your thing, the quality is superb and the price tag is reasonable- $18 for a product that will last you till the end of your clubbing days (and then some). A cream eye shadow from a top-tier brand such as Cle de Peau should be made of awesome and make you look like a princess.

Bottom Line: Fail.

Cle de Peau Cream Eye Shadow ($45) is available at the counters.

Perfumes To Celebrate And Commemorate

There's a common practice among the perfumerati to ask, announce and discuss the scents we choose for special occasions. We talk to our friends about our fragrance choice for birthdays and weddings, request ideas and compare. It's fun. I'm always thrilled to discover others who chose Panthere de Cartier for their nuptials and/or honeymoon; I got plenty of "likes" last week on Facebook when I told my friends that I was wearing Jil Sander No. 4 on my birthday.

I had an important milestone-ish event today. Like a true perfume-obsessed I spent some time the night before trying to decide what to wear. A classic icon such as Chanel No. 5 or its spawn Eau Premier? My almost-signature Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain? Maybe something festive and high-spirited (Mona di Orio Jabu), season appropriate (ELdO Like This, Guerlain Winter Delice) or just go with vintage Mitsouko because there's nothing better?

In the end I wore a very modern favorite, Le Labo Santal 33. It's beautiful, wears effortlessly on my skin and ha been one of my biggest crowd-pleasers over the last year. all was good and well, but eventually when I got home I was crying "Uncle!". As in Uncle Serge. I changed into comfies, put my hair up in a bun and sprayed myself silly with Santal Blanc. Because I can. Because it makes me happy.

Do you have a celebratory perfume? What do you wear on special events? Any good stories to share?

Photo: a 1970 ad from Vogue UK.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beauty Bloggers Charity Auction

Next Monday will see the launch of the second annual charity auction, an event that was started last year by KarlaSugar.  Cosmetics brands and bloggers come together and donate products, plus the cost of shipping, for the auction. All the proceeds will go again to Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France, and provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people suffering the consequences of violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

The cause is wonderful, and the auction this year is nothing short of amazing. Our group this year includes not just the best beauty bloggers but also your (and mine) favorite perfume bloggers who donated some highly-coveted products. There are limited-edition items, cult favorites, niche perfumes and even a sealed, pre-reformulated bottle of a Christian Dior perfume. Just look at the bottle of Tour d'Ivoire by Strange Invisible Perfumes, donated by Scent Hive.

My own contribution  is an edited selection of eye makeup and tools. It includes:

Chanel Ombre Essentielle single eye shadow in #86 Trace, a classic, rich brown with bronze shimmer
Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil in Surat, a shimmering taupe
Paula Dorf Smokie Eyeliner brush (second edition; newer and rounder than the first version). This is a now-discontinued and sought-after brush that appeared on Lisa Eldridge's Favorite Brushes list. It's impossible to find, especially unused in its original packaging.
Burberry Eye Shaper Brush No. 11, an angled eye contour brush made of super soft natural goat hair.

It all adds up to a retail value of $120 and I will love seeing one of my own readers go after this set. Well, I will be delighted to see all of you bid and win as many of the available treasures. As mentioned above, the auction starts on Monday, November 28, at 8:00 am CST and ends on December 12 at 5:00 pm CST. Please have a good look at take note of all the items you might want to bid and purchase.

More details soon!

Mirabella Vibrant and Pink Tangerine Lip Gloss (Colour Shine & Outshine)

Mirabella lip glosses in Vibrant (Colour Shine formula) and Pink Tangerine (Outshine formula) look a bit scary in the tube-- at least for someone like me who doesn't do orange and peach colors. But these are glosses, after all, and as a woman with dark and pigmented lips I actually like and appreciate glosses that give that lively punchy look. Sheer warm colors are good for balancing my natural color and give it extra vibrancy.

The glosses I was sent by Mirabella come from two ranges. The Colour Shine glosses are clear while the Outshine ones have delicate shimmer. You can see that Vibrant (Colour Shine) is an almost creamy peach when applied (nowhere as neon-like as the tube appears), while Pink Tangerine is a pretty and shimmery warm pink that's even easier to wear on most skin tones.

The formula of both Mirabella glosses is nice and smooth. They feel moisturizing and pampering, tackiness is as low as they come and the way they feel is very pleasant for gloss lovers. If you're anti-gloss, Mirabella will probably not change your mind, but since I like and wear glosses over lipsticks and often by themselves it's all good. I added an extra swatch of both glosses over a pink lipstick (Mirabella Daydream. I'll feature it next week) to show the effect. You can see there's a completeness of the color and nothing over the top or too bright.

Bottom Line: Happy to make this acquaintance.

Mirabella Vibrant ($20) and Pink Tangerine ($19) lip glosses are available from They were sent to me free of charge for consideration and review.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Esteban Paris- Cuir

Esteban Paris is a low-profile brand, at least here in the US, especially since Takashimaya NYC closed its doors. Their Paris boutique in the Marais is lovely but seriously under-ventilated, which makes testing and sniffing the various home and personal products a difficult task. Still, at least in Paris you can actually find the entire Esteban range in one location and play with it to your heart's desire. I dearly wish someone local will pick up the line and make it more accessible.

I first tried Esteban's Cuir at Takashimaya a couple of years ago. I ended up with a bottle of Ambre, but Cuir was a strong contender. It's an easy to love and wear leather scent that's more of an oriental than an animalic or an avant-garde scent. This particular cuir opens up herbal and light with unisex-to-masculine leanings (it's the whiff of cool lavender, I think). It sweetens up considerably, becoming a warm and spicy leather-amber concoction that is irresistible to someone like me who can't get enough leather in all its shapes and forms.

I don't know if I'd declare  Esteban's Cuir is particularly feminine, but the amber and sweet chai make it softer and cuddlier, so it has a good chance of appealing to feminine sensibilities who find Tom Ford Tuscan Leather or Etro Gomma a bit too butch. Since it's not really floral (the violet here is barely noticeable if at all-- this is no Cuir Amethyste or Jolie Madame), men and women who have issues with Cuir de Russie or Cuir de Lancome will find none of that in this Esteban creation. It may be a simple perfume and almost linear, but Cuir feels luxurious, sumptuous and very well dressed. Kind of like an autumn in Paris perfume. Who can resist that?

Notes: cardamom, lavender, fresh mint, violet, pink peppercorns, clove, patchouli, vetiver, leather, amber.

Esteban Paris- Cuir ($95) is available from

Image: fashion illustration by Sophie Griotto.

Edward Bess Soft Smoke Eyeshadow Trio

Edward Bess makes Mondays better. His Soft Smoke Eyeshadow Trio is not new. It's one of his two neutral palettes, together with Island Escape that I've reviewed in the past. This is one of these products that photos can barely convey their awesomeness. Really, haven't we seen dozens of similar "smoky eye palettes" from just about every brand out there. But then again, Edward Bess is not just any brand.

I'm not the first blogger to observe that Soft Smoke is different than other supposedly similar items. Sabrina says that Edward Bess created exactly what she wanted Chanel's Smoky Eye quad to be. She's exactly right, and it's not just the superior texture (seriously, that particular Chanel quad was one of the worst I've seen in recent years). "Smoky" colors can often be too gray, too silvery and/or too blackened for me, thus giving me a harsh appearance. If you know one thing about Edward Bess and his beauty philosophy is that he doesn't do harsh and exaggerated  looks. Soft Smoke is flattering, and, yes-- soft. The matte dark charcoal is ever-so-lightly tinged with warmth, so it possesses the Bess Magic that makes it work for every skin tone. Over the last couple of years I've seen Edward apply this trio on many women, friends and strangers, whose appearance and ethnicity were as diverse as you can find in NYC. It always works.

Other than the dark charcoal, Soft smoke also includes a parchment shade that's not stark white but not too ivory, either. Then there's the magnificent taupe in the middle that brings everything together, brightens and enhances every eye color and makes every taupe-crazed makeup nerd go mad with lust. All three colors are smooth, blendable and apply perfectly with minimal effort. Edward only uses his one eye brush to create a full look. I prefer to employ at least one more, a small smudge/pencil brush with a pointy head along the lash-line (try Hakuhodo B533BkSL).

Bottom Line: a must-have classic.

Edward Bess Soft Smoke Eyeshadow Trio ($60) is available from Bergdorf Goodman, select Neiman Marcus location and online from Zuneta (if you're in Europe) and I just checked and the 20% off code OPRAH is still working on Edward Bess' website.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AmBrosius - CB I Hate Perfume

Christopher Brosius didn't invent the genre of ambery incense perfumes, but his AmBorosius, a 2009 release from his Reinvention series, is his own very personal take on the subject. AmBrosius is not just a word play on his last name, but also a version of a personal favorite. Here's what the perfumer tells us on his website:
I've always loved this particular incense and have used various ambers a lot over the years. And bizarrely, my own last name is derived from the ancient Latin word for "amber" although at some point through the centuries, we managed to lose the "am"...

Recently, I decided to rework a version of an amber scent that I'd been wearing myself for a while.
Incense and amber can go anywhere- from the most meditative and ritualistic (OmBrosius?), to the extremely cozy and snugly cashmere blanket in front of the fireplace. The former can be almost cold, ashy and stony; the latter tend to run sweet. But this is a CB I Hate Perfume creation, so one should expect not just a very personal fragrance, but also some twists and turns that make it interesting and emotional.

Brosius said he was going for a smolder and crackle effect. He certainly achieved that. But AmBrosius opens up a little more round and plump than that description. The resins are almost sweet and have a touch of supreme quality cognac as they unfold. But just as you think AmBrosius is your typical winter night in a cozy room during the holiday season fragrance it introduces incense and smoke. Yes, some of it is still indoors and opulent, the beautifully decorated room that hosts the gathering is lightly perfumed with high quality incense someone brought from a recent trip to the Far East. But all of a sudden you find yourself out in the cold, walking down an urban street late at night, smelling whiffs of smoke wafting from chimneys, sneaking glances into the well-lit rooms full of happy celebrations.

There's a touch of melancholia there, maybe the stranger walking at night wrapped in a heavy winter coat is hurrying to one of those parties, take off the coat and scarf, accept a glass of brandy and join the laughter. Or perhaps he's on his way back home, to a small city apartment, where he'll light a candle, burn some expensive incense and sit by the window, reading a book but getting easily distracted by thoughts and memories and the view of the bridge over the dark river.

Notes: Amber Resins, Labdanum Absolute, Cistus Resin, Benzoin, Black Pepper and Spices.

AmBrosius by CB I Hate Perfume ($19, 2ml perfume absolute or $125 for the full size 15ml that will last you until the end of the days) is available at the CBIHP gallery on 93 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and from

Photo: Brooklyn Bridge by Edward Steichen, 1903

Friday, November 18, 2011

Le Metier de Beaute Fall/Winter 2011 Mini Nail Lacquer Collection

I know we're already all about the Holiday collections and Le Metier de Beaute has released a highly-coveted and gift -worthy nail polish sets (see them on the Beauty Look Book and Best Things In Beauty). But I'm a) in denial about the holidays, and b) have been completely enamored with Le Metier de Beaute Fall/Winter 2011 Mini Nail Lacquer Collection for a while now, so it's high time I post about it.

I already gave you a glimpse of Urban Dweller, the darkest color in the bunch, a shimmery rich brown. The other ones are Anatolia, a red-based shimmery plum, Dynasty, a holiday red with a metallic finish, and Silk Road, a similarly textured bronze.

These colors come in Le Metier's famous mini bottles, which I love (love love!). I know that those who wear the same color week after week prefer larger and more economical sizes, but if you change nail polish at least every week and keep a collection, the little bottles not only take up less space, but also allow you to actually use them up and move on.

I find Le Metier de Beaute's nail polish to be of excellent quality. Once you get the hang of the mini brush (not so easy for me with my big hands) you get a flawless application by the second coat. I'm known for cruelly abusing my nails but still only get minor tip-wear after three-four days.

Bottom Line: get them while you can.

Le Metier de Beaute Fall/Winter 2011 Mini Nail Lacquer Collection ($10 each bottle) is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, including online. The products for this review were sent to me free of charge by the company.