Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thierry Mugler- Mugler Cologne

Earlier today Chandler Burr revealed that the second installment in his Untittled series for OpenSky was Mugler Cologne. It was a good choice, I guess, for this weird and unpleasant summer as attention span and patience are at an all time low. Mugler Cologne requires very little of both.

I don't have any 4711 at hand so I can't argue the finer points of a comparison, though I seem to remember (at least for the 4711 cologne of yore from my youth) a more natural and slightly bitter aroma. Not that Thierry Mugler has ever tried or meant to create a natural impression. The alien creature and otherworldly terrain from the ad campaign point us in a very specific direction: cleaner than clean in a pure and utterly inhuman way.

How did Mugler and Alberto Morillas, his perfumer, managed to reach this level of futurism with classic and sunshiny notes such as citrus and white musk? The marketing materials claim that there's a secret ingredient, something they called "S-note". Spock? Probably not as he was half-human and Mugler Cologne is far too logical and emotionless even for a Vulcan. The husband suggest Seven-of-Nine, which kind of fits here. Borg juice, anyone?

Mugler Cologne offers a very moderate sillage and not too bad a longevity for what it is. If you use upwards of 2 ml per application it will last for several hours, making you feel nicely laundered and thoroughly scrubbed if that's what you're after. The price is certainly fair, but I admit that I much prefer the Old World charm of Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino with its Old World grime exactly because it has no traces of a laundromat.

Notes: bergamot, neroli, petit grain, white musk

Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler ($60, 3.4 oz) is available from Macy's.

Mugler Cologne 2002 ad via imagesdeparfums.fr (photographed by Thierry Mugler himself, photoshopped by who knows who).
7 of 9 via entertainment.desktopnexus.com.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge Puts Her Hair Up

I had to do something to remove the foul taste leftover from the last Kat Von D post. So let's cleanse our palate with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attending the UK's Creative Industries Reception at Royal Academy of Arts in London. Kate wore a pretty Roksanda Ilincic spring 2011 dress, but the main thing is the beautiful chignon and some extra makeup. It seems that the Duchess winged out her eyeliner and smoked it more than usual. I love this very princess-like evening look (and hope that one day we'll get a real glimpse of the royal makeup bag).

All photos from http://myroyal-myroyals.blogspot.com/

Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes E115

As a long time fan of Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes formula I shouldn't have been surprised with the awesomeness of the new shades that were released recently. I already knew that they were long-lasting, kind to my skin, easy to work with and blend (just ignore the built-in applicator. Use a brush and/or fingers). Ellis Faas has a wonderful approach to color and avoids hues that don't appear in nature. While her colors and texture can lend themselves to the most avant-garde editorial images (see the portfolio on her website), Ellis's products are meant to look as human and flattering as makeup can be.

Creamy Eyes E115 is a medium purple. But it's hard to describe this shade and the way it looks on skin, enhancing eye color and providing a focal point. As you can see in the swatches, you only need the tiniest amount of this cream shadow. The first time you use the pen it takes quite a bit of effort to get the product out and you end up with way too much of it on your hands (literally). Consequent uses are more controlled and you learn how to get just the right amount. I highly recommend thoroughly cleaning the applicator with a makeup removing wipe to avoid clogging.

Bottom Line: as always, wonderful product, annoying applicator, still worth it for the stunning results.

Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes ($36) is available from ellisfaas.com. The product was sent to me free of charge for consideration and review.

NARS Eyeliner Stylo- Redux

NARS is releasing (available starting tomorrow) a reformulated and re-engineered eyeliner stylo. I'm thrilled about this, since I love (LOVE!) felt tip pen eyeliners. The previous NARS version wasn't what I expected, but it seems like a lot of thought and effort went into making the new liquid liner pens, giving them impressive longevity and pigment intensity. The new pens are priced at $27 and come in four shades- black, brown, gray and navy. Sounds promising.

Info and image by NARS.

The Scent of Departure - Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi from The Scent of Departure line (an offshoot of Histoires de Parfums) is a little like Abu Dhabi the city: a fantasy place that takes pretty things (many quite big and impressive) and puts them together against a beautiful sea and desert backdrop.

Abu Dhabi is slightly sweetened amber fragrance that starts as a citrus-floral, becomes spicy woody and dries down into a light oriental. Some of the notes in this Scent of Departure perfume stand out and poke the nose a little at various times (geranium and cedar in particular); there's also something artificial about the way all the elements are combined, but despite the synthetic aftertaste it's still very pleasant to wear and not very demanding.

Abu Dhabi has a modern lightness that can work as a gateway to serious amber and oriental perfumes. The next logical step is Histoires de Parfums's own Ambre 114 which is denser and spicier but is similar in its restraint.While this Scent of Departure fragrance is a light eau de toilette its lasting power is quite impressive and the sillage is great, especially in summer heat.

Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Thyme, Nutmeg, Rose, Geranium, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedar, Vetiver, Amber, Vanilla, Tonka beans, Benzoin, Musk, Castoreum

Scent of Departure perfumes are available at Henri Bendel in NYC as well as from IndieScents and BeautyHabit.

Photo of the fountains at the Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi by Andrew Moore, 2009.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hakuhodo G518 Foundation Brush

Hakuhodo G518 Foundation Brush is a relatively small and narrow paddle-shaped brush (Hair Length: 27.0㎜, Thickness: 6.4㎜, Width of the Ferrule Foot: 15.3㎜) for precise and delicate application of liquid products. It's excellent for patting on concealer and highlighter, directional application of foundation and even priming specific areas. Hakuhodo G518 is made of a synthetic and natural weasel hair blend. The result is sturdy, relatively thick, pleasantly soft, and very efficient for all the tasks I mentioned above.

Hakuhodo G518 is thicker and feels more luxurious than Shu Uemura #14 (synthetic). The Shu brush us flatter and has a thinner edge. It's still a good and useful one, but I prefer my Hakuhodo (I use them interchangeably and as a backup for each other).

Hakuhodo G518 is the little sister of a star foundation brush, Hakuhdo G520. The G520 is a bone fide foundation brush, one that is indispensable to me. I consider the G518 as a companion brush for smaller areas and more precise application. Sometimes I pat down the product with the G518 and blend  it into the base with the G520 that I just use for an all over application.

Bottom Line: very nice to have.

Hakuhodo G518 Foundation Brush ($54) is available from hakuhodousa.com. They ship worldwide and I highly recommend their knowledgeable customer service for any questions and advice.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Cream Eye Shadow- Mochachino (24)

Estee Lauder Double Wear Cream Eye Shadow in Mochachino (24) is a staple. The formula of Lauder's Double Wear range is hard-working, creamy, blendable and kind to my skin. It's true to the promise of lasting from morning to night, makes an excellent base for powder eye shadow and plays well with other products. I can't get enough of creamy eye makeup (liners and shadows lately), and Estee Lauder offers some beautiful wearable options with a flattering shimmer finish. The fact that they survive NYC summer humidity is another huge advantage.

Double Wear Cream Eye Shadow in Mochachino (24) is exactly as the name implies: a medium-light brown. Lauder's Mochachino is not too warm and in certain lights looks almost taupe. It's a great partner for summer teal, my favorite navy colors and rich forest green. Those of you with fair complexions and light colored eyes can take it in the other direction and pair Mocachino with champagne and gold.

While I use this cream eye shadow often and generously (and have been doing so for three months or so) I've barely made a dent in the pot, so it's not wasteful in any way.

Bottom Line: a winner (and wait till you see the other shades).

Estee Lauder Double Wear Cream Eye Shadow ($18.50) is available at the counters and from esteelauder.com.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The One Perfume You'd Bring Back From The Dead- Let's Talk About It

I was looking for recent price and size information for tonight's planned perfume review when I realized the fragrance in question is no longer in production. Since this is (was?) an indie and very niche perfume and apparently a limited edition (I somehow missed the memo on the last fact) I don't feel right posting about it. Yes, I write regularly about long-gone vintage perfumes that were either discontinued or reformulated; I also talk about lost niche perfumes that were at one time in regular distribution. All of the above can be sometimes found here and there, sourced online in one form or another and one can hope to get at least a few drops of the Precious (even if it means selling your firstborn to the gypsies). The gem I'm wearing today* is highly unlikely to turn up any time soon, so sadly I'm abandoning my review. But it got me thinking.

I recently talked and asked you about goners that you never smelled. Tonight I wonder about the ones you did smell and wish with all your might that were still available. I can be anything- a reformulated or abandoned classic, a bizarre little mainstream perfume that disappeared from the shelves, a celeb scent that went into oblivion... Can you choose one perfume to bring back from the dead?

I'm trying to decide on the one and have a lot of trouble with it. Of course I want all the grand chypres of yore, full of oakmoss and other impossible raw materials. I want the real Mitsouko back, as well as Parure. Also, a dirtier and civetier Jicky and Shalimar are high on my wishlist. But do they rate highre for me than the real Chanel No. 19? Can I choose? Can you? And Djedi, of course, but I'll have to let it go since we have the mighty Onda by Vero Perfumo, and it hits the same spot for me (and then some. I truly prefer Onda). There are others I adore and miss, some only from memory, others live as hoarded bottles stashed away. But The One? The perfume I most want to see brought back even with a hefty (and deserving) price tag is Iris Gris by Jacques Fath. It's a lump-in-my-throat beauty and we're nothing but deprived of its presence today. So, yes, that's my answer.

Your Turn.

*The perfume in question is Mirabella by DSH Perfumes. A classic fruity spicy chypre deserving of the  opera or the Monaco Rose Ball.

Photo: Simone van gen Hassend and Ondine Dietz in "Geisterstunde. Interviews mit Göttinnen und Demoiselles" (The Witching Hour: Interviews with goddesses and maidens) from und-1.de

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jacques Fath- Fath's Love (Vintage Perfume)

According to online databases Fath's Love came out in 1968. However, ads and various packaging of this Jacques Fath perfume suggest an earlier date, probably around 1961.

In any case, Fath's Love is a gorgeous sexy perfume and my decades old miniature bottle surprises me every time with its vitality and robust body. I don't know what the top notes may have smelled like originally, but Fath's Love opens up wonderfully spicy and potent. I smell cinnamon and maybe anise seed, but also a strong and  heady floral heart that has enough sweetness to hold its own against the spiciness. I also smell stewed plums as a prelude to the sweet wood dry-down. It reminds me a little of vintage Quadrille by Balenciaga and has a similar evening gown aesthetics, as opposed to crisp and fast-paced floral aldehydes or dirty boudoirish animalic chypres from the same era.

I get a very impressive sillage and longevity from Fath's Love. It smells aged, but not deteriorated and even the husband, who's not always the biggest vintage fan, gives his approval. I'd say that if you like Quadrille and vintage Piguet perfumes you have a good reason to try and track Fath's Love.

Rene Gruau for Jacques Fath, 1950
1961 magazine ad for Fath's Love
Both from online auctions.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

John Masters Organics- Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner

The Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner from John Masters Organics is a rich and creamy concoction that works well as an emergency treatment. I'll also guess that it might be excellent for chemically treated hair. Unfortunately, after using up a full tube of the conditioner under various hair circumstances (heat, humidity, a day in the sun) I've come to realize that as much as I like the scent and the pleasant texture, my hair disagrees with me. This John Masters Organics ends up being  too heavy for my needs.

My hair is long, extremely thick and requires a good moisturizing conditioner. However, it's a delicate balance between ample nourishment to overdoing it, and I find the John Masters Organics  Lavender & Avocado to be too much. It makes my hair feel heavy and limp, and even worse: lose its shine. The one way I made it work was as a hair mask followed by another shampooing. This way I get the conditioning treatment while getting rid of any residue that weighs my hair down. The problem is that this takes quite a bit of time for a result I can get more quickly and with less products.

Bottom Line: your mileage may vary.

John Masters Organics- Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner ($22) is available from select salons and from beauty.com.

Art by Craig Stephens.

Le Metier de Beaute Tuscan Sunset Eye Shadow

Taking a quick break from fall items and new collection to look at a very summery (and permanent) eye single eye shadow by Le Metier de Beaute. I thank NARS Ramatuelle trio from spring for pushing me towards different shades and color combinations. That's what led me to try Le Metier de Beaute's Tuscan Sunset, a warm apricot color that leans more pink than the peach part of Ramatuelle.

The texture of Tuscan Sunset is among the best in the LMdB line: soft, rich and almost creamy. The pigment intensity is wonderful- I swatched lightly (I swear), and you can see how bright and strong Tuscan Sunset looks. The eye shadow has a satin finish with quite a bit of sheen. It can be toned down and sheered (my favorite way of application) as needed. My preference for pairing Tuscan Sunset is with soft matte neutrals (Le Metier de Beaute Clay or Canvas as well as some Rouge Bunny Rouge shades). Of course, if you're more adventurous there are summer colors like aqua and turquoise that will get heads turning. 

Bottom Line: bright and happy.

Le Metier de Beaute single eye shadows ($30) are available from select department stores (Neiman, Bergdorf, Saks), as well as online.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Arquiste- Fleur de Louis

In 1660, long before he became the Sun King, twenty one year old Louis XIV of France was eager to meet his new bride, Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. Young Louis still sported his own hair (the famous wigs only appeared when he started going bald in middle age) and spent a lot of his free time practicing and performing ballet. At the time of Louis's marriage he was still not the one at the helm; King since he was five year old, but his real reign didn't start until 1661 with the death of Cardinal Mazarin who held the real power throughout Louis XIV's minority years.

I tend to be leery of perfumes that claim to be based or inspired by historic figures and events, but one cannot deny that Fleur de Louis by Arquiste smells both very French and very innocent. It's the accompanying perfume to Arquiste's Infanta en Flor, the scented tribute to the shy Spanish princess and is supposed to represent the groom. Back in Louis's time men did wear natural floral scents. Today, though, from the very first sniff Fleur de Louis appears as a delicate feminine fragrance.

There's no hyacinth or linden listed in the official notes, but I swear that's the first thing I smell every time I apply Fleur de Louis. It's a sweet and charming flowery sensation that smells like a bright summer day. Then come that traditional French orris-rose-jasmine composition, but again, it doesn't feel overworked or over-perfumed because there are no aldehydes and the powderiness is more natural than an actual dressing-room powder. Maybe that's the element that connects this Arquiste perfume to the 17th century: the delicate floral waters that were used as perfume.

Fleur de Louis is a real perfume, though, and while not particularly complex beyond the beautiful facets of orris, it has depth, sillage and longevity (six hours even with moderate application). Its charm will appeal to those who enjoy floral-iris compositions (more Bas de Soie than Chanel No. 19), as long as they're happy with young Louis and don't expect to smell the Sun King at the height of his glory.

Notes: orange blossom, rose, Florentine orris, jasmine, cedarwood.

 Arquiste- Fleur de Louis ($175, 55ml EDP) is available from Aedes and Barneys. Some of the samples I had were supplied by PR.

Art: Young Louis XIV in the main role of Apollo in the Ballet royal de la nuit, 1653.

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RD501 (Drama) & RD305 (Nymph)- A Quick Look

This is just a preliminary look at two colors from Shiseido's new Lacquer Rouge line of glossy liquid lipsticks. I need to spend more quality time with them before reviewing, but I can tel you that RD501 (Drama) and RD305 (Nymph) are lovely and leave quite a bit of a stain behind (I have yet to fully get rid of the swatching residue).

NARS Undress Me- The Multiple for Fall 2012

The new NARS Multiple stick in Undress Me is probably the most debated item in the fall 2012 collection. In theory a flash tone pink highlighter sounds like a brilliant choice for fall, and indeed, the color of Undress Me is one of the most attractive and wearable in the Multiple range. The issue is that instead of a highlighting shimmer, François Nars chose to infuse Undress Me with silver glitter.

As Amy from Cafe Makeup notes, this is an artistic concept that relates to the use of textures in high fashion. Similarly, the way Nars chose to apply this Multiple to the face of model Kristen McMenamy for the fall campaign is not exactly how most of us use a highlighter:
"To achieve the makeup look featured in the campaign image, Kristen’s skin was perfected with Siberia Sheer Matte Foundation and set with Snow Loose Powder to create an immaculate complexion. Next, the Undress Me Multiple was applied to the hollows of the cheeks and blended toward the temples with fingertips."

The result is obviously stunning, but how can we, mere mortals, relate to it? According to Mr. Nars:
"All our Multiples can be worn on eyes, cheeks, and lips, under and over foundation, and pretty much any other way you can imagine. Undress Me, in particular, is beautiful in the hollow of the cheeks. It also makes a wonderful highlight for brow and cheekbones, as well as a glowing base for eyes and lip color."
I tried. I really really tried. But I can't do glitter in the hollow of the cheeks. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I can't do glitter at all. I tested Undress Me as a base for cream and powder products and the textured surface just doesn't look right. I'd say that this Multiple stick is more suitable for the stage than for everyday (and everynight) life. You can see how the glitter catches and reflects the light (click on the photos to enlarge). It just does not agree with my 41 year old face (yes, I know that Kristen McMenamy is 45).

NARS Undress Me- The Multiple for Fall 2012 ($39) is available from narscosmetics.com. The product for this review was sent to me by the company for consideration and review.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Creed- Aventus

Someone who has never visited certain online forums is highly unlikely to guess that Aventus, a 2010 fragrance by Creed is a controversial subject that makes emotions run high and tempers flare. If the same someone never read Creed's marketing materials and press release he or she is also not going to think of this soft and friendly unisex-to-masculine cologne as very Napoleonic --
"inspired by the dramatic life of an historic emperor who waged war, peace and romance on terms he set, riding on horseback to victory."
Aventus is a fruity woody perfume if you go by its notes or  a fresh aromatic/fougere according to Michael Edwards. The opening has two parallel threads. One is a fairly nice tart fruit that's a bit surprising for the dramatic masculine it's supposed to be, but almost immediately you can also smell a very standard aromatic dry bergamot that is not just tiresomely familiar, but also more fitting for a ubiquitous department store than for a Creed boutique. Yes, there's a hint of the promised pineapple but it won't make anyone stop in their tracks and reconsider what a masculine perfume is all about.

As Aventus develops it softens quite a bit and lets in some smoky wood that lingers nicely on clothes (better than on my skin, actually)  and can account for a lot of the love this fragrance gets. The sillage seems very limited, but after several testings I realized that Aventus actually hangs around me in a free-form bubble that is not very obvious but feels quite pleasant. It's soft and not too distinct but it's still there for a few hours after spraying. While I can't say that Aventus is unique in any way, it is a very nice fragrance, undemanding and it satisfies my fondness of masculine scents as a nostalgic treat.

 Notes: blackcurrant, Italian bergamot, French apples, pineapple, rose, birch, Moroccan jasmine, patchouli, musk, oak moss, ambergris and vanilla.

Aventus by Creed ($140, 30ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Creed boutiques around the world.

Art: Napoleon and son by Charles Steuben.

YSL Cherry Black Effet Faux Cils Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner

The photos tell most of the story. Of course, I added this YSL Effet Faux Cils Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner cream eyeliner in Cherry Black (05) to my arsenal after the black one and the gorgeous Sea Black have become favorites, so it was a sure thing. Cherry Black is a complex black-red-purple with shimmer. The photos were taken in full afternoon sun under a skylight, so you can see every color nuance. When light is not as strong the eyeliner is mostly a black-based aubergine and the micro shimmer is even more subtle.

The formula of YSL Effet Faux Cils Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner is smooth, soft and foolproof. It works with any eyeliner brush type, from thin and fine to angled. And YSL was not kidding about the long-wear thing. Nothing short of a heavy duty eye makeup remover can make it budge.

Bottom Line: a winner.

YSL Effet Faux Cils Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner ($25) is available at the counters and from yslbeautyus.com.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jo Malone- Grapefruit

My favorite Jo Malone perfumes are the most simple ones, especially those that center on notes that I usually find questionable (nectarine, citrus). Jo Malone Grapefruit is another such creature and I like it enough to consider getting the 1 oz bottle and just bathe in it for the rest of the summer. Or maybe I should just go with the shower gel and take residence in my bathroom until there's a significant change in the weather.

Jo Malone Grapefruit is a herbal grapefruit fragrance. It's tinged with green and bitterness, has a slight peppery-soapy feel and a unisex woody aroma. There's no complexity, depth or any interesting twists, it just smells good and uplifting, with the bonus of having a reasonable longevity for a citrus cologne type (I get 3-4 hours with moderate spraying).  Is it the best interpretation of grapefruit in perfumery? No, not at all (my vote goes for Guerlain). What makes Jo Malone a winner in my opinion is the lighthearted and positive mood that surrounds Grapefruit. There's something about this specific combination and the fact that grapefruit is so sunny that makes it irresistible even on the crankiest Monday morning.

Notes: grapefruit, tangerine, rosemary, mint, pimento, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli, tree moss.

Jo Malone Grapefruit ($55, 1 oz) is available from select department stores and jomalone.com.

Image: Crate label art for Victoria Brand grapefruits (from an online auction).

Morphé IB103 Flat Bronzer Brush

I love flat-top face brushes, especially those made of natural hair. I use them for many tasks from buffing and stippling foundation, applying color products to pushing powder onto the face. These uses mean a lot of contact with my skin, which means that a flat-top brush must be made of very soft hair (it also requires high density and firmness, of course, making the need of quality hair and softness even more acute).  Morphé IB103 Flat Bronzer Brush from their Italian Badger series is not good enough.

Morphé IB103 Flat Bronzer Brush appears nice at first glance until you look closely at the hair. The Italian badger fibers are coarse, rough on the skin and somehow manage to apply products quite patchily. I know one shouldn't expect too much from a brush that retails just under $11, but still. The hair quality wouldn't suffice for a shaving brush, let alone one for makeup application.

As you can see, Morphé IB103 doesn't look too suspicious even among some really good flat-top brushes. I remember complaining a little about the Kevyn Aucoin Buff Powder, but it's world apart from this Morphe brush and still sees a lot of use. My favorite among these brushes is the gorgeous Hakuhodo G527M (also available in a regular black handle version) but I heeded the advice of Hakuhodo's people and never used it with cream or liquid products. It's simply the best powder brush I know. I also have several Stila 21 brushes in regular use with just about every kind of product. They've paid their keep ages ago. All of them are much more expensive than Morphe IB103, but it's the latter that isn't worth the price, not even with the IMATS discount I had.

Bottom Line: Skip.

Morphé IB103 Flat Bronzer Brush ($10.95) is available from morphebrushes.com.

NARS Outlaw Blush Fall 2012

My favorite item from NARS Fall 2012 collection might be Vent Glace eye shadow duo but the golden rose blush, Outlaw, gives it some serious competition. The color is lively and easy to wear: Outlaw is warm, rosy with a slight red leaning and a very fine gold shimmer (ignore the glitter on my other fingers in the third photo. It's from something else). This NARS fall blush gives a very desirable apple-picking glowy flush with just one swipe of the brush.

NARS Outlaw has good pigmentation but can be still applied lightly to look natural even if you're fair. It takes a good blending brush to work it properly because the texture is not sheer; I'm guessing that the blush can also be built into a gorgeous look if you're a woman of color.

Bottom Line: very flattering.

NARS Outlaw Blush Fall 2012 ($28) is available from narscosmetics.com. The product for this review was sent for my consideration by the comapny.