NARS Hanamichi Kabuki Palette is the prettiest single item for Holiday 2011 in my opinion. It's a perfect representation of what made NARS, the man and the brand, so admired among makeup aficionados: quality, pigment, originality and Japanese aesthetics.
Before buying this Hanamichi palette I had to promise myself that I was, indeed, buying it for actual use, not just to stare at the embossed mums lovingly. It's too easy to slip into a collector's frame of mind and before you know it you're the star of a Hoarders episode. As much as I love makeup, I refuse to go that route. If I have it- I use it. So, yes, NARS Hanamichi is usable. And not only that, you won't mess it up at first or second touch. There's no overspray and the embossed flowers are solid, so you'll get a lot of enjoyment every time you open it.
Other things going for NARS Hanamichi are the beautiful packaging and the accompanying Kabuki brush. The latter is a small eye crease/blending brush that's very soft and effective. The handle is wrapped with black wisteria twigs, just like NARS Yachio brush. I foresee myself getting years of use out of this brush, making it a standout among brushes that usually come in kits and sets.
The quality of the eye shadows is excellent. They're among the smoother ones produced by NARS, making them easy to apply and blend. This is also true for the matte off-black color. All colors have strong and assertive pigment, dense enough to use along the lash line. There's quite a bit of shimmer and glow in the other shades and the contrasts between the colors make for a dramatic effect (it is a Kabuki-inspired palette, after all). I'd suggest keeping it for evening use, be it holiday parties or a special date. Unless you really like to sport gold during the day, that is.
The colors are a glowing off-white highlighter that leans warm, a high-shimmer true gold, a rich red with a satin texture and an almost matte off-black. The red is the scary part, of course, but I found that at least on olive skin and with some of the white and black blended in for balance, this is actually a sane and wearable lid color. I also like it as a blush (taking a lesson from Chanel Rouge-- these colors are quite similar). The red flower in the palette is wide enough for dipping a small and delicate blush brush-- Hakuhodo small Yachio is ideal, as it'll not pick up too much product and will allow you to blend the color into a natural flushed cheek look.
Bottom Line: Best of NARS.
NARS Hanamichi Kabuki Palette ($65) for Holiday 2011 Season is available at select department stores.