Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Currently


Book

I should better grab something for the flights as I doubt I can talk the Blond into giving me his iPad. Any recommendations?

Music
Liam Finn


Perfume
Space NK are clearancing out the Honore des Pres line, so last month I picked a bottle of Sexy Angelic for the princely sum of $36.25. It has no staying power and I would have never bought it at full price, but 75% off? I'm spraying myself silly.

Makeup
A quick navy smoky eye. I think it's my signature look.

Frequently worn outfit / item
A linen scarf in bright orange and yellow my mom sent me.

Food
Give me the cheese and no one gets hurt.

Bane of my existence
Mosquito bites and my inability not to scratch them.

Joy
Watching old movies. TCM Channel had a tribute to Howard Keel this week. I forgot how much I love Kiss Me Kate.

Anticipation
Other than Paris?

Wish List
Good weather in Paris, a couple of bell jars and those Dior flats I showed you the other day. A bottle of Golconda wouldn't hurt, either. I've been craving it lately.

Random Thoughts
My best random thoughts get tweeted these days. There must be a good quip somewhere in this very statement, but then I'll have to tweet it first.


Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Hakuhodo Concealer Brushes G538 G542



Hakuhodo G series includes some of my favorite makeup tools, including these two concealer brushes- the long and narrow G538 and the the plump G542. Both brushes are made of synthetic fibers, a black wood handle (like most G series brushes) and a black metal ferrule that stands out among the silvery ones of the series.


G538 is very narrow and applies your concealer with precision to small areas, nooks and crannies. The hair is very flexible and allow you to maneuver and manipulate the brush as needed. You can use the very narrow side or the tip of the brush for minute and accurate details. G538 feels denser than other small flat concealer brushes and holds quite a bit of product, while maintaining its softness and characteristic pliability.




G542 is the closest brush I could find to Le Metier de Beaute's concealer brush, which is among the stars of my collection. Hakuhodo G542 is of similar dimensions, proportions and amazing hair quality. It's a little less thick than the LMdB  and has a narrower edge. While I prefer the more luxurious touch of my Le Metier de Beaute brush under my eyes, the Hakuhodo is a great backup tool for it (not to mention much better priced).

Bottom Line: go get the.

Hakuhodo Concealer Brushes G538  ($11) and  G542 ($18) are available from hakuhodousa.com. They ship worldwide.

Burberry Blossom 05 Light Glow Blush






Blossom 05 is not a new blush in Burberry Beauty's lineup. It was one of the original colored released and is part of the permanent collection, which is a very good thing since the color is gorgeous and versatile. I picked it up when I needed a warmer blush than my usual fare- something borderline coral but not quite, without an obvious orange cast. The mission was more difficult than one would think, probably because of my olive green skin tone more than any product's fault. This Burberry blush fit the bill with the added bonus of its very fine texture, subtle glowing finish and overall quality.

The best way I can describe Blossom (#05) is as a pink peach. Sabrina of the Beauty Look Book has great comparison photos of three Burberry blushes and you can see that next to Russet, Blossom is lighter and brighter. It's one of the most wearable warm cheek colors I've ever come across and as I use it lightly (my swatch is quite heavy), I can blend it into a natural healthy glow to go with certain makeup looks.

The packaging of Burberry products is legendary: a heavy compact embossed with the famous pattern, a black velvet protective pouch and even the outer box looks and feels luxurious. The line has been growing and offering more shades with every season and is definitely a favorite.

Bottom Line: hits the sweet spot.

Burberry Light Glow blushes ($42) are available from Nordstrom, online and in select locations. Soon the line will also be available at Saks NYC flagship store.

Frederic Malle- Iris Poudre


Last week as I was spending some miserable time with Chanel No. 19 Poudre I remembered the other powdery iris, Iris Poudre, Pierre Bourdon's composition for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums from 2000. My scent twin declared Iris Poudre a modern "great heaving corseted busom of a fragrance" and while he would never wear it, his recommendation to us ladies is that we do.



The thing is, Tom and I were cut from the same quirky cloth (or hide). He doesn't do pink and pretty and neither do I. And Iris Poudre is as pretty as they come, all fluffy and puffy in its marabou slippers and aldehydic flowers. The rose petals are soft and pink, the violet is soft and pink, the carnation is soft and pink... you get the picture. I adore Frederic Malle's vision for Iris Poudre but get completely lost wearing it. Even the fluffy musky dry-down is pink, and I'm an MKK and Musc Ravageur girl through and through.


Notes: Bergamot, Orange, Rosewood, Ylang-Ylang, Carnation, Magnolia, Jasmine, Muguet, Violetta-Rose, Aldehydes, Iris, Musk, Amber, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Ebony.

Iris Poudre by Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums ($170, 50ml or $110 for a 3x10ml refill) is available from Frédéric Malle boutiques and Barneys.

Images, in order of appearance:
Shirley MacLaine in What A Way To Go, 1964, from IMDB.com
Dorian Leigh photographed by Louise Dahl-Wolf, June 1944, Harper's Bazaar
Model Nena von Schlebrügge (Uma Thurman's mother, by the way) in a 1950s editorial from The Nifty Fifties Tumblr.
A vintage ad for Charles Of The Ritz powder from myvintagevogue.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Paula Dorf Blender Brush



Most blending brushes are narrower and elongated, making them more directional than Paula Dorf's Blender Brush. This Paula Dorf tool is fairly large- you can see that it's even wider than Bobbi Brown's Eye Sweep that was designed to apply base color all over the lid and crease. As a result, unlike many blending brushes, this one will definitely not fit in the crease and is probably not suited for those with limited lid space.



However, if you're looking for a brush that can diffuse color in one stroke, not push color around and will not mess whatever you did prior to blending, the Paula Dorf Blender is an excellent option. I also use it to add a light color all over and sheer out my application if I think I overdid it. The brush's size and fluffiness also allows for cleanup under the eye and highlighting (though I admit I haven't been using it for this purpose since Hakuhodo brush appeared in my life).

Paula Dorf Blender brush is made of natural hair (I'd guess goat), it's soft and just dense enough to hold its shape and perform relentlessly.

Bottom Line: An old reliable.

Paula Dorf Blender Brush ($30) is available at Henri Bendel in NYC and dermstore.com.

Want: Dior Caprice Perforated Ballerina


It doesn't matter that on my arch-less clown feet these Dior Caprice perforated ballerina flats would be murderous (I do much better with platforms and other high heels that give me at least some insulation). I'm still in love with these Dior shoes: the details, the lace cutout pattern, the versatility... they're gorgeous. Want!


 Dior Caprice Perforated Ballerina ($690 at Bergdorf Goodman).

Guerlain KissKiss Gloss 820 Cherry Fizz





The Guerlain makeup artist who did my makeup was a bit tentative as she asked me to try KissKiss Gloss in 820 Cherry Fizz. She said she's understand if I thought this color was too much and many people shy away from Cherry Fizz's brightness. I gave her the go-ahead. Why not? If it doesn't work we could always wipe it away and try something else. The rest of my makeup was understated nudes, mostly Guerlain Les Perles 08 quad and a low key blush, so a perky but sheer lip gloss was the way to go.

It was love at first sight. Yes, Guerlain KissKiss Gloss 820 Cherry Fizz is a bright fuchsia in the tube, and it has some golden sparkles to make it even shinier. Cherry Fizz is a gloss, but has enough color intensity to make it hold its own without a lipstick underneath. Since my lips have a very dark rosy color that shows through any lip gloss, including this one, the effect is much tamer and not as bright. The result is a wearable deep reddish pink that brings life to the face without trying too much.

Guerlain KissKiss glosses last nicely on the lips, are moisturizing, comfortable and don't feel sticky. They do have some "weight"- almost like a liquid lipstick. KissKiss glosses are scented, like all Guerlain products, with their violet-makeup perfume that I personally adore.

Bottom Line: like other Guerlain glosses, this will be one I repurchase multiple times.

Guerlain KissKiss Gloss ($30.50) is available at the counters and from Sephora.

DSH Perfumes- Seven


Seven is not just the Seinfeldian middle name of David and Victoria Beckham's baby daughter. It's also a masculine perfume by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes. Seven was labeled by the perfumer as "Soulful. Meditative. Seductive". I'll take that and add: smells like a million dollar.

One must love bay leaf in order to enjoy Seven's opening. It's intensely spicy before things settle into a dry and quiet dark green: herbal and tinged with tree bark. Seven has a dream-like quality, it's calm, flawing and doesn't make sudden moves. I enjoy both the cool and zingy aroma of fresh herbs and the deeper warm dry-down. Interestingly, despite all the outdoorsy imagery I often feel that Seven has a tweed-like character. Or maybe a gentleman in tweed goes walking in a dark wood...

Judging from the mystical number in the name and the way Seven aims towards treetops, this is just as much an incense-in-a-temple kind of perfume. But those who lean more urban and dressy shouldn't hesitate to try this DSH perfume. It's as civilized and polished as one could want and has no raw or jagged edges to suggest you're wearing anything other than a well-crafted scent.

I understand why this blend is considered manly and would adore a man who wears it, be it to the office or on a date; however, I love the way it smells on my own skin just as much. DSH created it as a meditative perfume, and I agree- it is centering and helps me take the day away and fall asleep with better, nicer thoughts. I think Seven would also make for a dreamy bubble bath- just imagine the relaxation!


Top notes: bergamot, basil, laurel leaf, lime peel, petit grain and pink grapefruit. Heart: geranium, marjoram, sage, sandalwood and spruce. Base: vetiver, patchouli, incense, musk and treemoss.

Seven by DSH Perfumes ($80, 1 oz EDP, other sizes and samples also available) can be purchased from dshperfumes.com.

Fashion photograph by Tejal Patni, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler



Not all eyelash curlers were created equal, but it's more a matter of how the curler fits one's eye shape than about quality of the tool itself. My first curler was the legendary Shu Uemura and when I started using it after a lifetime of resistance it was a revelation. Eventually, though, I realized that other curlers might be better for my eye shape (round and sunken) and lashline (very full and requires more curl in the outer corner.

My two favorite curlers right now are the Le Metier de Beaute ($18, at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and select Nordstrom locations) and this one from Kevyn Aucoin. I use them interchangeably and can't feel any difference in performance, thought it seems the rubber pad on the Kevyn Aucoin is firmer and  lasts longer before it needs the replacement pad that comes in the box.

Which brings us to my one big issue with eyelash curlers in general (not just the Kevyn Aucoin). I would have been happy to pay significantly more for a sturdy well-made curler that is supposed to last for years upon years (just like makeup brushes, a pair of good tweezers or a crystal nail file). I wouldn't mind buying rubber pad replacements regularly had they been available for said mega-curler. However, even the best companies only offer these flimsyish contraptions that come with one set of extra pads and tend to lose their springiness or get mangled pretty easily. Still, even with their tendency to not last a lifetime, most curlers still outlive their pads by a couple of years, so replacing them is way too wasteful.

I do love the Kevyn Aucoin lash curler and have every intention to keep one in my possession in rotation with the LMdB. It's a great tool and a good value for the money.

Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler ($20) is available from Bergdorf Goodman (in store only), Barneys, beauty.com and dermstore.com.

Illamasqua Disobey Blush





I picked Illamasqua Disobey blush about six months ago as I was experimenting with face contouring. The matte and somewhat natural color seems like a good fit for the task. I realized quickly that Disobey was a bit too warm and bronze for shading- it actually enhances more than hides. While I tend to dislike many of Illamasqua's other blushes (too chalky), I've found that Disobey makes for a lovely bronzer.

The color of Illamasqua Disobey looks like a natural tan after a day in the sun- not too red and not too brown. There's no shimmer and the texture is very smooth and easy to apply and blend. My swatch looks very intense. I used my finger and didn't blend, but a good brush and light application are all that's needed for a summery glow. I use it when I want some color while not competing with a strong eye look. My only gripe is Illamasqua's cheap-looking packaging. The shiny plastic has a drugstore vibe.

Bottom Line: a very nice surprise.

Illamasqua blushes ($24) are exclusive to Sephora. Available online and in select locations.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elie Saab Le Parfum


I had no idea I was going to like Le Parfum, the new perfume from fashion designer Elie Saab. As a matter of fact, I thought Elie Saab would provide me with some good fodder for what I call "Dreck Wednesday". You know the type of perfumes: they first appear as an exclusive at Saks or Neiman's, highly overpriced and pushed aggressively by SAs who try to ignore the fact you just asked for an eye cream and a new bottle of L'Heure Bleue. They spray you enthusiastically, nearly miss your left eye and give you attitude when you insists on your classic Guerlain ("but our new perfume is so much more modern and fresh!"). Six weeks later the perfume in question can be found on all the discounter websites, price reduced by 40%.


Elie Saab commissioned rockstar perfumer Francis Kurkdjian to create Le Parfum. Knowing Francis Kurkdjian's work this shouldn't really surprise us: he's a master of orange blossom, neroli and jasmine absolute, all are materials that go well with Elie Saab's exquisite couture gowns on all their delicate lace and sophisticated details.

Now, Elie Saab Le Parfum is not an esoteric hipster boutique fragrance. This is a department store product that's meant to give us mortals who will most likely never own an Elie Saab evening gown a taste of his red carpet glamour. This means a wearable perfume that will be enjoyed by many, smells like a million dollars and won't make one's elevator mates wonder if someone is hiding a ferret in their pocket.


The first time I tried Le Parfum I was instantly reminded of Thierry Mugler's Alien (a Dominique Ropion creation). Alien is a big (huge, actually) and quite aggressive jasmine oriental. I had a very short-lived infatuation with it that ended up with me selling my bottle a few months later. Elie Saab Le Parfum is a refined alternative, perhaps made with better quality ingredients and a more discerning judgement.

I smell mostly jasmine and sweet orange blossom swirling in honey. There's of course more to it and the scent darkens a little and becomes a smooth nectarish thing on the skin. I wear honey notes very well, enjoying both their floral component (like the aroma of Mediterranean orange blossom honey) and the grainy wood in their base. There's a light cheerfulness to Elie Saab Le Parfum, something very sunshiny and optimistic in the way it wafts around me (for hours. Longevity is excellent). It makes me wonder what would happen if I layered this pretty maiden with Miel de Bois. I think I'm going to find out very soon.

I don't know if I should be surprised or not to see my friend CharlstonGirl from Best Things In Beauty enjoying this perfume just as much as I do. Our reaction to fragrance can often be quite opposite, but I guess pretty is pretty, and her point of view is similar to mine.

Top notes: orange blossom
Heart: Sambac jasmine, jasmine grandiflorum
Base: cedar, patchouli, rose honey

Elie Saab Le Parfum ($90, 1.6 oz) is available from top department stores (in the UK it was launched at Harrods). My sample came with a Neiman Marcus purchase.

Images: brautmode-erfurt.de, eliesaab.com and harrods.com

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gorgeous!




Happy Birthday to Tuesday Weld, Barbara Bach and Tom Ford.

Photo of Tom Ford: WireImage, other photos from IMDB.

Princess Stephanie Of Monaco- Ouragan (Hurricane)



Yesterday it was impossible to escape Neil Young's Like A Hurricane on most radio stations. I love Neil, of course, but a point was made when the CD ended up with a scratch on WFUV.  This song,Ouragan (=Hurricane), by Princess Stephanie of Monaco (1986) is not nearly as tasteful but guaranteed to make us laugh (and lost in 80s fashion).

Stay safe!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shu Uemura Natural 10, Natural 13G, Synthetic 10 Eye Brushes




These three Shu Uemura brushes are a great example for basic tools that work hard and can serve you for many years. None of them has a unique shape or offers any innovation, but the meticulous quality and flawless design made them quite essential in my collection. Until I met Hakuhodo, that is.





Shu Uemura Natural 10 is a medium size kolinsky/sable brush that can lay down any eye shadow- cream or powder- pack it on, blend a little, cover the lid and even do an all-over color wash if your lids are small enough. It's not as tapered and precise as the Hakuhodo S133 (and not as soft, either), so have I not had it for so long I would have probably not bothered, considering it's exactly twice as expensive as the Hakuhodo brush. Yet I know that some might prefer the extra fluff of Shu Natural 10.

Bottom Line: get Hakuhodo.



Shu Uemura Synthetic 10 is its sibling, a cream shadow, concealer and primer classic brush. It's very dense and firm, gives excellent coverage and cleanse up easily. It's closest in size, shape and proportions to the Sephora #46 and Shiseido concealer brushes, but is packed more heavily and holds more product at a time, making for smoother application.

Bottom Line: best in class.





Shu Uemura Natural 13G is a super fluffy sable/squirrel brush that works great for an all-over application and rough blending, the kind done with Paula Dorf's Blender brush. The Natura 13G is softer than the Sue Devitt Kolinsky Eye Base, smaller than the Bobbi Brown and fluffier than Hakuhodo 121G, though I more or less use all of them interchangeably. It's a wonderful brush and you shouldn't be afraid to use it with cream and even liquid formulas (works beautifully with Becca Eye Tint).

Bottom Line: a staple.

Shu Uemura Natural 10 ($68), Natural 13G ($46) and Synthetic 10 ($36.50) Eye Brushes are available from shuuemura-usa.com or, if you're in Canada, Asia and many European countries, at your local top department stores.

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