Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Parfums Monsillage- Aviation Club


Perfumer Isabelle Michaud is a Canadian artist who after starting her career in soap-making decided to take things a step further and trained at the ISIPCA school in Versailles, France. Returning to her native Quebec, Michaud settled in Montreal and started her own perfumery business, Monsillage, in 2009. The collection today includes four perfumes in EDT concentration that are inconveniently only sold online or in person either in Quebec or in Paris.

Jane of Daly Beauty sent me a link to an article about Monsillage perfumes the weekend I was in Montreal. I owe her one, for sure, as I am now a co-owner of an Aviation Club bottle, the more masculine of the four, at least according to the SA at Jamais Assez (a fashionable housewares store on 5155 Boulevard Saint-Laurent). The display at the store is quite nice, as you get to experience at least part of the perfume's dry-down on the scented black feathers while testing the more immediate effect on the paper strips and on skin.

It was the scent of Aviation Club on the feather that won me over before I even smelled the top notes or heard any other details. Two words: leather and tobacco. I was a goner. The opening notes are a modern take on a green theme. Bittersweet and mixed with black coffee, tasting like an early gray morning in the beginning of spring. You reluctantly get up, get ready, pack an overnight bag, grab an old and weary leather jacket and glare at the rainy city through the big droplets on the window at the backseat of the cab.

A quick cup of espresso, you skip the pastry but the sweet smell lingers in the air behind you, as is a whiff of smoke and wood polish. The sliding doors of the airport are as cold and gray as the sky, but you feel a little better now, warmer and you almost smile as you catch a whiff of a light sweet and gentle scent- is it something that lingered in your scarf or was it the pretty woman in the beautifully tailored coat that just passed you by?

Aviation Club takes you on an adventure and tells a story. Tobacco and leather notes are tactile and rich, full of life and experience. I know some women might find the green streak that is woven throughout the top and heart of the perfume too masculine or barbershopy. My skin makes it considerably sweeter, so I don't actually get the aftershave vibe, and neither do I smell it on the Blond (who insists Aviation Club smells better on him. As if). It dries down into a beautiful and urbane distressed brown leather that lasts and holds its own quietly for 12-14 hours.

Aviation Club ($95 CAD, 1.7oz EDT) is available from monsillage.com (payment accepted through PayPal) and in select locations as listed on the website.

Photo of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti from myvintagevogue.com.

Louise Young LY12 Large Socket Brush




Louise Young LY12 Large Socket Brush is a good example why sometimes reviewing a makeup brush can be very hard. I already had (and loved) six or seven other Louise Young brushes in my collection when I bought LY12, so obviously expectations were high. I like using crease brushes and the shape of the LY12 caught my eye (no pun intended)- it's a domed brush, rounder than pencil brushes (Hakuhodo Kokutan T for example or Smashbox Eye Definer #15) but significantly fuller and more dense than Sephora Platinum #13, a great smudge and crease brush. All in all, this Louise Young brush with its nicely shaped handle and professional appearance seemed like a worthy addition to my arsenal of eye makeup brushes.



The problem emerged as soon as I got the brush ready for use. I noticed that a couple of hairs weren't packed correctly and even had a different texture than the rest. I tried the brush but it was scratchy and unpleasant- we're  lid and crease here, and even if my skin is not the most sensitive in the universe I still need TLC in that area. Resorting to desperate measures I performed a little surgery on the LY12 and plucked the three hairs that seemed to cause the most irritation. This helped significantly as Louise Young no longer pokes me in the eye. This is an obvious irregularity/quality control issue, so neither I nor anyone else can actually evaluate a brush based on it. The difficulty is even bigger, though, because while the worst of the fibers are no longer there I still feel my LY12 is not as soft and pleasant to used as it should be. I have several other Louise Young eye brushes that I use regularly and happily. All are soft and perform as expected, so is my LY12 a fluke or the black sheep of the family?

Had this been a brand that's readily available I'd just visit the counter and compare my brush to their stock. But Louise Young brushes are only sold online and shipped from the UK, so that's impossible. I guess I could take one for the team and order a second LY12 but you'll have to forgive me for deciding to pass. I'm not happy with this brush but other than the fact the initial problem should have been caught by Louise Young quality control before shipping it to me, I can't tell you if all LY12 are scratchy. If any of you have this brush please chime in and tell us how it feels and how you feel about it.

Louise Young LY12 Large Socket Brush (£15.00) is available from louiseyoungcosmetics.com.

All photos are mine.

Burberry 205 Rosy Red Lip Mist Sheer Lipstick





Here's something that will help us all recover from a long weekend and from a Tuesday that feels like Monday: red lips!

Burberry Lip Mist Sheer Lipstick in Rosy Red (#205) is probably one of the most potent reds released this summer as part of the sheer lipstick trend, but it is still light enough for day wear (as long as you can wear classic reds), and take you from morning to late night. Applying one coat is more than enough, but for a night out on town you can take it to the next level with a second and still enjoy the light formula.

The finish of Burberry Rosy Red looks a little shinier than in Blueberry. It lasts a little longer than Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, but Chanel has the advantage of leaving a uniform stain on the lips once the shine wears off. Burberry Lip Mist wears off completely, color and shine, but at least on one occasion it left some unsightly debris that required a quick touch-up. Still, this is a good summer option that is easy to apply and is low maintenance for a true red lipstick.

Bottom Line: Very nice.

Burberry 205 Rosy Red Lip Mist Sheer Lipstick ($30) is a Nordstrom exclusive, online and in select locations.

All photos are mine.

DSH Perfumes- Vert Pour Madame


One of the most unfortunate directions popular perfumery has taken is stirring far far away from real green scents. Somehow bitter galbanum and hyacinth with their jonquil companion don't seem to entice the average perfume buyer. It's a real mystery to me- why are fake citrus and stomach-turning melon and aquatic notes considered "fresh and clean" while the real thing has been mostly abandoned except by those of us hoarding backup bottles of vintage Chamade, Chanel 19, Fidji and Vent Vert?

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes is one of us. She created Vert pour Madame, a take-no-prisoner classic green chypre on all its leafy glory. Vert pour Madame has it all- the flowers and roots, an uplifting opening, a crisp elegance that walks on haute couture heels, and as Donna on Perfume Smellin' Things said: timelessness.

I'm especially seduced by the opposites that rule this DSH creation: bitter herbs and sweet tonka, fresh spring flowers and bold animalic notes (oh, the civet!), airy aldehydes and grounding patchouli. It's all there as Vert pour Madame caresses the body and works with it the way only real perfumes can do: it's silk, chiffon and skin. Why did this style fall out of favor? Is it the bitterness and dirty animalics that pushed away the modern consumer? Is it the strange quality of a strong orris note that makes many feel these scents are too perfumy and dated? Obviously, my vintage loving self can't answer it, as these are exactly the fragrances that thrill me, break my heart and make it soar at their eternal beauty.  I will not wear fresh body sprays and anti-perfumes just as I wouldn't be caught dead in Crocs or Snooki-wear, so I'm not really equipped to answer these questions.

All I can tell you is that Vert pour Madame by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is poetry and high fashion in a bottle. It goes with my little collection of vintage jewelry and scarves and makes me feel more confident and true to myself.

Top notes: Aldehyde, Bergamot, Cassis Bud, Galbanum, Hyacinth, White Peach
Middle notes: Jonquil, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Muguet (Lily of the Valley), Neroli, Orris, Sambac Jasmine, Violet Leaf Absolute, Ylang-Ylang
Base notes: Atlas Cedarwood, Australian Sandalwood, Ciste Absolute, Civet, East Indian Patchouli, Moss, Musk, Tonka Bean, Virginia Cedar

Vert pour Madame by DSH Perfumes is available in Eau de Parfum ($23-100) or Parfum ($70-198). Bottles and samples can be purchased on dshperfumes.com. My sample was sent directly from the perfumer.

Photograph from Vogue, 1948.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day


Enjoy your memorial day, be joyful, be thankful.

Photo of WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII from theluxechronicles.com.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Beauty Roundup For Memorial Day Weekend


Summer is officially starting this weekend and not a moment too soon.  Do you have any special plans for the long weekend? The Blond and I actually did our travel last weekend as we spent a few days in Montreal. It was fun and high in calories, as not only did we find several excellent vegetarian-friendly restaurants, but also several excellent places to satisfy our cravings for French pastries. I did a little shopping, including an interesting new perfume (thanks to Jane from Daly Beauty). You'll hear all about it soon.

 Our hotel was across the street from Ogilvy and Holt Renfew. Both stores are lovely, of course, though they have little to offer for the American shopper that you don't already have at your local Neiman Marcus, Saks or Nordstrom, with two exceptions: the Canadian stores seem to still have in stock limited edition items long after they're sold out around here. I came across several items such as Estee Lauder Sea Star bronzer and Guerlain summer cream eye shadows. I'm probably forgetting a few. One must-stop counter is Shu Uemura at Holt Renfew. Right now they're still waiting for the new items and new packaging, so many products are not available, but the exceptionally knowledgeable SA gave me a sneak peek of the new catalog and I'm green with envy. I feel like starting a big campaign to get L'Oreal to bring back Shu Uemura to the States.

In the meantime, there's plenty of pretty stuff to keep us busy:


  • Café Makeup has the info on Chanel's Fall 2011 Collection. Wallets will weep.
  • Best Things in Beauty gave us a first look at Giorgio Armani Beauty's new Gloss d'Armani. See above.
  • DivaDebbi tried the infamous Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara after all these years. Is it still controversial?
  • Product Girl got a peek at Joelle Russo's makeup bag. See what a Nordstrom Regional Beauty Director loves.
  • Gina Brooke, Artistic Director for Hourglass Cosmetics and celebrity makeup artist, shared her beauty secrets with Fab over Forty.
  • The Beauty Look Book put a spotlight on Chanel's divine Rouge Coco Shine.
  • Check out BeautyXposé for the Spring/Summer nail color collection from Anise.
  • Daly Beauty featured Deborah Lippmann's nude nail look. Fashion might be my all time favorite nail color. I'm on my second bottle, something that rarely happens.
  • Gouldylox Reviews showed us how to attach feather extensions to our hair. Seriously.


And even more:

  • Zuzu's Petals helps us choose between Becca Beach Tints and cream blushes on Everyday Beauty.
  • The Product Doctor has swatches of Tom Ford lipsticks in really light shades. Utterly not my colors but interesting nonetheless.
  • The book The scent Trail has been on my to-read list for awhile. Olfactorama's review pushes me to start reading it.


Have a beautiful weekend, stay safe and sun-protected!

Image: cover of Harper's Bazaar May 1955 from myvintagevogue.com.

Le Metier de Beaute Large Concealer Brush



The "Large" in the name of Le Metier de Beaute's Large Concealer Brush refers to the brush head and not its handle, which as you can see is actually quite short. But it's the wide and full head of synthetic bristles that makes this Le Metier brush such a high performance makeup tool. I've told you before that I prefer to work with larger concealer brushes (unless I'm trying to cover a teeny tiny blemish and not actually blend anything). That's why I often reach for the paddle shaped foundation brushes (such as the Smashbox #13 you see below, which is in the photo for size comparison and because it lives in the concealer drawer).





Le Metier de Beaute Large Concealer Brush makes the task easier because it was actually designed for concealer (duh) and because it's so well-made. The bristles are kind to my skin, have the perfect amount of give without losing firmness. They pick the right amount of concealer no matter what formula I'm using, making this brush a lifesaver when in a hurry or for travel. I've used the Le Metier brush with stick concealers, creams and liquids, always with perfect results and minimal need for any extra buffing.

The closest concealer brush I have right now to this Le Metier is the one from Alison Raffaele (it was part of a duo brush set but I lost its partner years ago). I like the Alison Raffaele well enough, but  the Le Metier de Beaute one is a better choice. There are more bristles and they're packed more densely, which means an airbrushed look. Performance-wise I'd compare the LMdB brush to Bobbi Brown's Touch-Up brush, but the latter is made of natural hair and the bristles are shorter, making it less ideal for some formulas (I don't always like the Bobbi Brown with stick concealers, mostly dependent on the part of my face I'm concealing).

Bottom Line: a staple.

Le Metier de Beaute Large Concealer Brush ($50) is available from Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcuss and also online on nordstrom.com.

All photos are mine, the group shots are part of an upcoming brush guide series.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine 61 Bonheur







Bonheur (#61) is the last lipstick (for now) I'll be reviewing from Chanel Rouge Coco Shine range. Right now Bonheur is my favorite of the six I  chose, because this red raspberry shade is vibrant, flattering and very wearable. The formula of Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks is summery and fun, though Bonheur suffers from the same issue is the entire range: it's actually a lovely medium-pigmented stain with a fleeting shiny finish.

Once the shine disappears, I top Bonheur with my Chanel Glossimer in Myriade. It's a great color combination and an easy summer red, especially for those of us with naturally dark lips.

Bottom Line: Easy Love.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks ($32) are available at the counters and chanel.com.

All photos are mine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rochas Byzance (Vintage EDT)


I wear my vintage Byzance EDT by Rochas and it's 1987 all over again, in the best possible way. Big, bold ambery floriental perfumes wafting in the air combating each other in elevators all over the western world. The age of the supermodels, dramatic silhouettes, hair and makeup, everything bordering on tasteless but so much fun!

I don't really miss the 80s or my teenage years. Just the perfumes and perhaps more importantly, the attitude about perfume. People actually left the house wearing Giorgio, can you believe it? Byzance, the 1987 Rochas perfume is like me, a child of that era. It starts very floral. So much so that between the aldehydic opening (the Blond always asks "what vintage is this?" if he smells me when Byzance is freshly applied) and the almost soapy rose-muguet-carnation blend, I'm not always certain at first I've chosen the right scent-of-the-day. Soon enough, though, Byzance puts on its creamy oriental face, complete with smooth sandalwood and deep ambery overtones.

I wear heavy perfumes quite well and this is no exception. All that vanilla and musk in the dry-down take on an animalic sultry attitude. Byzance is rich, elaborate and unapologetic. I don't think it's too sweet or too anything, really. It may have large shoulder pads, but I find that the green notes of the opening and the balsamic spices and resins create a nice balance. This Rochas perfume is fit for an evening gown (or something black, silky and boudoirish). It looks at you through heavy lids and gives a knowing and sophisticated aura. I doubt many men would be brave enough to wear it, but I have a feeling those who dare might be surprised.

Notes: aldehydes, spices, carnation, green notes, mandarin orange, basil, cardamom, lemon, tuberose, orris root, jasmine, turkish rose, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley,anise, sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, the kitchen sink and cedar.

Byzance by Rochas can be easily found online. Rumor has it, though, that newer juice smells a lot more soapy and less complex. I tend to believe that.

1989 Byzance ad featuring the stunning Tatjana Patitz from couleurparfum.com.

Dita Von Teese And Her Travel Companion



Just another reason to love Dita Von Teese: she has a beautiful travel companion. Dita and her cat were photographed in LAX earlier today. As you can see, Kitty Von Tease travels in style. Anyone knows if the cat's a male or a female and what's its name?

Photos by by FlynetPictures.com

Want: Pixelfolk By The Beta Version


This perfect summer tote is handmade in Hungary by designers Zsófi Rainer and Cili Varga of The Beta Version, a brand that was launched in 2010. Bellow you see a couple of their first bags from fall/winter 2010 collection which also includes colorful little shoulder bags. I love the details and everything about what I saw in their photos.



The catch? Their website is under construction and doesn't offer any info or e-commerce at the moment. You can catch up with them on Facebook and I just emailed The Beta Version directly to inquire about prices and international shipping (I must have the Pixelfolk tote). I'll keep you posted on any progress and any info I receive.

Photos from The Beat Version Facebook albums.

Addiction Blush Rose Bar 14







Addiction is right. This Asian makeup brand continues to lure me in, this time with Rose Bar (#14), a gorgeous spring-appropriate blush. You can see that this is a medium warm rose shade with a brown base andvery good pigmentation (I swatched quite lightly). The texture is smooth and beautiful and the quality is superb- this Addiction blush stays put, doesn't oxidize and plays well with all the other face products I throw its way.

Rose Bar looks and feels like the love child of two Edward Bess blushes, Moroccan Rose and Desert Blossom. I've wanted a color that's exactly in between, and Addiction provided just that. The compact is not as sleek as the Edward Bess one and doesn't have a mirror for some reason, so you can't just shove it in your makeup bag without making sure you have a mirror with you. It holds a little more product than the EB, though (3.9gr compared to 3.5 gr), so that's a plus.

Bottom Line: For Japanese cosmetics addicts.

Addiction Blush in Rose Bar (¥4,050 JPY, about $49)) on ichibankao.com.

All photos are mine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guerlain-Idylle (EDP)


The first eleventy seven times I sniffed and tested Idylle all I could think was "whatever". It's not like we didn't smell this one before, and frankly, I was annoyed with the fact someone at Guerlain/LVMH felt the need to play the same game as Narciso Rodriguez and SJP's Lovely. Why bother, really? Then I had a chance to smell it on someone else and was surprised at the nuances and delicate harmony Idylle formed on her skin. This pushed me to work on my relationship with this 2009 Guerlain mainstream release, and after about 5-6 ml of spray samples I can say I don't hate it.

Don't get me wrong. I still think that Idylle is a redundant fragrance that's mostly geared towards an audience who doesn't actually like perfume in general and the Guerlain classics in particular. But if I absolutely had to pick and wear one scent of the synthetic floral and musk genre I'd go with Idylle because it's less offensive, less screechy and far better made than the competition.

They say Idylle has notes (see below). I can identify something that pretends to be freesia and that generic white musk. They also say Idylle is a chypre. It makes me want to cry and bathe in vintage Mitsouko and Parure. Yes, there's that cleaned up and castrated patchouli note we find in many a department store perfume nowadays, but chypre? Really? The funny thing is that I doubt anyone who actually buys Idylle would mind.

On my skin, Idylle is the ghost of a fruity-floral, which is probably the best part of it. Thierry Wasser created for Guerlain a well-behaved, kind of preppy perfume that's easy on one's coworkers or classmates. I've been wearing Idylle on some muggy days recently and while the dry-down bored me out of my skull I won't deny it's warm and pleasant and can work as a nice summer scent. I just don't do that kind of nice.

Notes: Bulgarian roses, raspberry, litchee, lily-of-the-valley, lilac, peony, freesia, jasmine, musk, patchouli.

Guerlain Idylle ($130, 100 ml) is available from most department stores.

Photo: Ladies Home Journal 1960 from myvintagevogue.com

Angelina Jolie In Color




Announcing that Angelia Jolie is wearing color sounds a bit like the promos of yore "Garbo Laughs!". Except that, well, Angelina is no Greta Garbo. Still, she's looking as glamorous and beautiful as ever, if not more in the Tree Of Life Los Angeles Premier. I love this tomato red Jenny Peckham dress and elegant makeup. Brad Pitt also shaved his infamous beard (and 15 years) off his face. I still dislike him, though.

Photo: Getty Images

YSL Pure Chromatics 4 Wet & Dry Eyeshadows No. 3







I bought a couple of the new YSL Pure Chromatics 4 Wet Dry Eyeshadows when they first came out a couple of months ago, but it took me a while to fully figure them out and start enjoying them. While wet/dry eye shadows are not exactly a new concept, in Pure Chromatics Yves Saint Laurent is offering a different texture, formula and applicator to get the most of the colors in these quads.

The basic idea is this: each set holds four shimmery eye shadows (the color combinations in some of the quads is more than a little questionable, but I just regard them as random shades not to be worn together). The shimmer and pigment varies in intensity, as you can see in No. 3. The light silvery blue is a pale wash of color when applied dry, and the brown ones are quite tame. Applied dry, all the shadows in this quad (and in #6, which I'll feature soon) are better off with a primer and give several options for flattering looks, alone or combined.

Things get tricky when you want to get the full effect of the chromatic formula and apply these YSL colors wet. A damp dense pencil brush sort of works for some of the colors and less so for others.  The rubber applicator YSL provided is here for a reason. It's not just about using the shadows damp/wet. You want to bring the eye shadow to a paste-like consistency and then pack it on or contour the lid with it. There's a learning curve there, but when you get the texture exactly right the result is very impressive. Obviously, YSL Pure Chromatics 4 Wet Dry Eyeshadows can create editorial-worthy looks, but even those of us who need to leave the house and not scare small children can get a lot of use out No. 3, because applied responsibly, these colors are flattering (the blue ones are pretty on olive skin and brown eyes) and can give just the right amount of color/shine.

No. 3 is by far my favorite, but I'll also review No. 6 soon. Also, check out Best Things In Beauty for a review of the new summer colors.

Bottom Line: Not for newbies.

YSL Pure Chromatics 4 Wet & Dry Eyeshadows No. 3 ($48) is available from Yves Saint Laurent counters and yslbeautyus.com.

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ginestet Botrytis



If we're going to go all gourmand, Ginestet Botrytis, is the way to go. Gingerbread, generous dollops of honey, candied and fresh fruit make a rich and delicious compote. It's probably utterly wrong for this muggy weather, yet being of sound mind and body (just humor me) I got a craving for it lately and fished it out of a drawer.

Yes, Ginestet Botrytis is as impossible and irresistible as I remembered. It's voluptuous to the point of spilling over- sort of like the feeling you get from watching Jessica Rabbit sashaying in that dress. Ginestet Botrytis walks the line of being treacly, and at least as far as I'm concerned doesn't cross it. I'm not sure what makes the huge amount of juicy ripe fruit bearable to me; probably a combination of no patchouli but generous use of honey, which smells very dark and complex here.

Ginestet Botrytis isn't your little sister's fruity-floral. It's a rich burgundy damask and velvet from an era everything was hand-embroidered in gold silk thread. It's considered a fall perfume and I definitely understand why, but I doubt it blooms to its full size and effect unless one's skin is hot. It's not that I recommend wearing Ginestet Botrytis to the gym (you're most likely to lose your membership if you do), but perhaps give it a try on an 80 degree day and see what happens.

Notes: honey, candied fruits, quince, pain d’epice, white flowers.

Ginestet Botrytis ($110, 100 ml) is available from Luckyscent and Beauty Habit.

Art: Still Life of Fruit and Musical Instruments by Antonio Pereda y Salgado

The 'William And Catherine' Musk Rose And Other Floral Namesakes


A musky rose! I'm very curious to smell this one, the 'William And Catherine' Musk Rose that was displayed yesterday at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. I wonder if it's fragrant enough for perfume-making; does anyone know?


William and Kate weren't the only ones honored with a namesake flower. There was a bittersweet moment when Vanessa Redgrave was presented with a rose named in the memory of her daughter, the Natasha Richardson Rose. Then came Dame Helen Mirren for the launch of a new carnivorous flower, a cultivar nepenthes named 'Helen' . I don't know what this one smells like, but I'm thinking fierce.

Sisley Ebony (19) Phyto-Ombre Eye Shadow







This Sisley eye shadow in Ebony (no. 19) is my little secret for the quickest defined eye looks, both dramatic and casual. Ebony is a dark cool brown that doesn't go all the way towards taupe, but is taupe-friendly. The color and pigmentation are very saturated, so Ebony is a lining and contouring shade for me. I start with a simple nude base, cream or powder all over the lid and under the brow (I'm loving Bobbi Brown cream eye shadows at the moment and pair them with just about anything, including powder formulas), then apply Sisley Ebony carefully with brushes such as Laura Mercier Smoky Eye or Chantecaille Eye Perfector and Eye Emphasizer (most smudge and smoky eye brush work well here). I blend and diffuse as needed- sometimes smoking it out, other times going for a more precise look, and that's it.

I've already surrendered to Sisley Phyto-Ombre Eye Shadow exquisite formula. It's luxurious both in appearance and the way it blends, and stays on without crumbling or budging for 18 hours easily, including a walk in the rain (I wish I could say the same about my hair. I've had some horror days lately). I find this one so fool-proof it's often my half-asleep choice and makeup bag staple when packing.

Bottom Line: now I really want even more color choices from Sisley.

Sisley Phyto-Ombre Eye Shadow ($46) is available from Saks and other top department stores.

All photos are mine.

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