Monday, December 31, 2012

Bobbi Brown Cherry Lip Gloss- Pink & Red Collection





Bobbi Brown Cherry Lip Gloss (#6) from the new Pink & Red Collection was an instant love for me. Sheer bright red lips are among my favorite and most worn, and this one from Bobbi Brown hits all the right spots. Cherry is a pink based red  that enhances my natural lip color and makes the face brighter. The gloss itself is excellent (there's a light minty scent that goes away quickly), minimum stickiness and a comfortable feeling on the lips. The gloss is moisturizing and reminds me that I really like Bobbi Brown's lip glosses.

Bottom Line: I should probably get a backup.

Bobbi Brown Cherry Lip Gloss ($24) from the Pink & Red Collection is now at the counters and online.

Bobbi Brown Sheer Cherry Sheer Color Cheek Tint





Bobbi Brown's Pink & Red mini collection is a blast of happy colors exactly when we need them. It only includes cherry red and bright pink items: nail polish, matte lipstick, lip gloss and a stick blush, but that's more than enough to create a fresh look and perk up sallow winter face with the kind of classic effortless Bobbi Brown style. I chose to get the red blush and gloss: Sheer Cherry Sheer Color Cheek Tint (#10) and Cherry (#6) which I'll show you in the next post.

Bobbi Brown Sheer Cherry Sheer Color Cheek Tint (#10) is a stick blush with an almost gel-like texture that goes on quite sticky (I could live without that part) but dries down after 5-10 minutes. My guess is that those with oily skin will not enjoy this blush, unless they already tried Bobbi Brown's stick blushes and verified that they work for them. The texture is very light and indeed sheer (you can build it up a bit), but as long as you build your base makeup underneath it will stay put for at least 6 hours (more if you add powder blush on top).

Sheer Cherry #10 is a true red with maybe a hint of cool pink in the base. It's just bright enough without going the clown/doll route. I find it very flattering and wearable, and since the texture is so pliable it's easy to blend and make it as sheer as you need.

Bottom Line: Love. Sophie Agrees.


Bobbi Brown Sheer Cherry Sheer Color Cheek Tint ($26) is starting to arrive at the counters and online. Some department stores got the display and testers but have yet to receive this blush; other stores sell out of it quickly

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More About 2012 In Perfume


This is the sequel to my previous post 2012- A Year In Perfume. Hop over there if you want to see my top perfume picks of the year, as tonight is more about general thoughts and happenings in our fragrant bubble

1. Retail
2012 brought us (and by us I mean the spoiled American consumer, particularly here in NYC) more wonderful places to spend our money. One of my biggest wishes has finally come through: Serge Lutens exclusive bell jars are now available for purchase at Barneys and also from Uncle Serge's US website. The markup is outrageous (from €130 to $300) but it's still nice to know that I'm only a 30 minute drive and a parking situation away from my own bottle of Une Voix Noire.

Another exclusive line that has finally become more accessible is Dior La Collection Privée. It can be found at Bergdorf Goodman (and select Neiman locations), where knowledgeable SAs will let you smell some of the raw materials that are the building blocks of the collection. Dior's US website also offers the line for purchase. Who can ask for anything more?

NYC  has gained another fabulous shopping destination over the summer when Swiss retailer Osswald opened a store on 311 West Broadway in the Soho. The boutique is gorgeous, customer service is a dream, and they offer several brands that were not available in NY until now (Parfumerie Generale, Parfums MDCI, Profumum Roma, and Micallef.  No e-commerce but they take phone orders. And have I mentioned the customer service?

Speaking of e-commerce, Parfum1.com used to be a reliable perfume discounters where you could find coveted old stock, stuff from recently closed stores, and perfumes that time has forgotten. Over the last year they've transformed the business into a semi-niche store with brands from Serge Lutens and L'Artisan to Ramon Monegal, Mona di Orio and some excellent natural lines such as Providence Perfume Company and Sama Parfums. The frequent discount codes make Parfum1 an incredibly attractive option even when one really wants to support local shops.

2. Books About Perfume
Our bookshelf has gained several new titles this year. There are still not enough of them, of course (compare to any other art or hobby), but it's encouraging to see new or newly-translated perfume books being offered (and some older titles are now on Kindle, such as Mandy Aftel's Essence And Alchemy or Turin-Sanchez's The Guide). This year's notable releases are Jean-Claude Ellena's Diary Of A Nose, Denyse Beaulieau's The Perfume Lover, Alyssa Harad's Coming To My Senses, and Darisuh Alavi's Le Snob: Perfume (review coming soon as the book is currently making its way to me).

3. The Art Of Scent 1889-2012 Exhibition
Bloggers and other perfume fanatics were thrilled about the opening of an olfactory department at the Museum Of Art And Design in NYC. The more people exposed to the idea of perfume as an art form the better off we all will be. There's a lot to delight us about the museum, like the cooperation with perfumer Ralf Schwieger and the fact that perfumers are getting the credit they deserve as artists. However, some questionable curating decisions and the incredibly heavy involvement of sponsors with a direct commercial interest tainted the experience for many (read the review of this exhibition here and some of my own thoughts and questions).

4. Scandal In A Perfume Bottle
A big topic of perfume conversation in our little community involved master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour and one of his most questionable clients, Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the ruling dictator from Uzbekistan. There's no doubt that Duchaufour is one of the greatest living perfumers (and probably of all times); also, the question of separating the artist and his art is an old and complicated one. It's just that fragonerds hate seeing the ugly and smelly world outside on its politics and violence entering and tainting our scented bubble. Not to mention the way we see ourselves as worldly, caring and aware.



5. Brad Pitt For Chanel No.5
It sure got everyone talking.
While personally I can instantly think of ten better candidates for this campaign, from Ryan Gosling to Sir Patrick Stewart, it was fascinating to see everyone and their grandma talking about Chanel No. 5 for weeks. All of a sudden this perfume is more relevant than ever, and the general population developed opinions about perfume marketing. While creepy Pitt is famous for bad personal hygiene and Angie is known to favor men's cologne, these ads and video commercials are still better than a fatally photoshopped Julia Roberts in her Lancome ads.

Images:
Andy Warhol Still Life Polaroids, 1979.
Brad Pitt Chanel billboard via dailybillboard.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012- A Year In Perfume

This isn't a "Best Perfumes Of 2012" list because that's impossible for me to attempt. The database at Basenotes lists 1366 new perfume launches for 2012 and I haven't smelled them all. I can pretty much guarantee that I never will. I have yet to test all the new perfumes I really want to try, and I already spent time, energy, and skin space on more dreck than I care to remember. Speaking of which, those of us who thought last year that there's still some hope for the mainstream market were proven wrong. Department store counters were never a more depressing place.

It's not just the big household names (Chanel, Lancome) that disappointed. Even that category of luxury-pretending to be niche looked dire. Overpriced juice from Tom Ford (the Jardin Noir series) and By Kilian (Asian Tales and In The Garden of Good and Evil) was lacking in both inspiration and respect for the customer. We can tell when we're being served thin regurgitated synthetic crap and when the professional noses working on the formula were silently weeping into their notebooks and asking why they didn't choose a safe career such circus life.

That said, I still found more than enough to love and wear this year. The vast majority comes from small and independent perfumers and lines, where there's still more artistry, vision, and integrity than accounting. Imagine that. This is my very personal list of the perfumes that made my year. As usual, in no particular order (because I'll cry if you try to make me choose):



What were your favorite 2012 discoveries? What am I missing?

Best Wishes for 2013. May it be a good, peaceful, and fragrant one.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Top Twelve Vanilla Perfumes


When it comes to vanilla perfumes I almost want to say that I'll have one of each and be done with it, but it's never that simple even for a vanilla lover. This magic pod has different facets that can be enhanced and used in various ways, from the more floral through booze to pudding. Add its cousin and companion, tonka bean, and you get some serious complexity. As it happens, I'm a bit low brow about my vanilla fragrances. The sophisticated ones that lean on orchid and lily and make the vanilla float in a sheer floral cloud are completely unwearable for me. I can't deal with Vanille Galante (Hermes Hermessence) nor with the discontinued classic L'Artisan Vanilia. Just give me the dessert spoon and step back slowly.


How could I even start the selection? This list is first and foremost personal, based on my preferences and how often I wear these vanilla fragrances. If they make me happy they're on the list. Then there's the issue of this note's ubiquity. Vanilla is in a huge number of fragrances, but it doesn't make them vanilla perfumes. With the exception of Shalimar, these are all truly about vanilla. Shalimar is obviously more than that, but this grand dame of oriental perfumes is also more or less centered around this note, so it had to have a place here.



In no particular order:

CB I Hate Perfumes-7 Billion Hearts. Dark and smoky. Perhaps Christpher Brosius' finest work to date.

Serge Lutens- Un Bois Vanille. Dulce de leche, anise, and coconut. Often a getaway to Lutens' work and still my happy place after all these years.

Guerlain- Shalimar (vintage) and Shalimar Light (discontinued). The former is sultry, the latter is a lemon meringue pie, both are true love.

Fragonard- Vanille (discontinued). The simplest and purest little thing, like high quality vanilla extract. No idea why it was offed and replaced with the more floral version currently on the market (Fleur de Vanille).

DSH Perfumes- Vanille Botanique. Probably the best answer to anyone who thinks the use of synthetics has improved the perfume industry.

Parfums de Nicolai- Tonka Vanille. Not a hint of cupcake. Spicy and incensy, a vanilla perfume for people who think they dislike this note.

L'Artisan- Havana Vanille/Vanille Absolument. Dry and smoky, yet with just enough booze to make it wicked.

Tom Ford Private Blend- Tobacco Vanille. There's nothing subtle about this one with its bold and sweet big honey-vanilla-tobacco. Dangerously addictive all the same.

Van Cleef & Arpels- Orchidee Vanille. Could easily be mistaken for a Guerlain, and I mean it in the best possible way.

Parfumerie Generale- Felanilla. Deserves an award for the name alone, but it's also a spectacular fragrance.

Le Labo- Vanille 44. This one grew on me slowly and stealthily  I still think it's overpriced, but I adore this fuzzy and fizzy incense-vanilla combo.

Mona di Orio Les Nombres d'Or- Vanille. Some people believe this is the best vanilla perfume in the universe. I'm not going to argue.



Honorable Mention: Guerlain Angelique Noire (not technically about vanilla but chock full of it), Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (doesn't work on my skin but smells wonderful on just about everyone else. Highly recommended for men), Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Ylang-Vanille (discontinued and somewhat simplistic, but satisfying as a snuggly bedtime scent), By Kilian Love (pink marshmallow and a bubbly personality), Jo Malone Vanilla Anise (clean musk and sunshine, perfect for a summer day), Montale Chypre Vanille and Boise Vanille (highly satisfying).

Chanel Santal (#100) Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner




Santal (#100) Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner is part of Chanel Spring 2013 collection and joins the permanent line. It's such a deceivingly simple brown that one wonders how is it even possible that Santal is new shade. But this dark neutral-cool brown with the finest shimmer is proving to be unique and earn its place both among Chanel other pencil liners and in my own eyeliner drawer.

The texture of Chanel Stylo Yeux is nicer than I remembered. It's not quite as creamy as their Le Crayon Khol, but it's fairly pliable and easy to apply and it's a long-wearing waterproof(ish) formula (definitely requires a 2 phase cleanser). The comparison below shows Chanel Santal next to two other waterproof pencil liners- from YSL and the limited edition Armani. Both are gel formulas that glide extremely smooth, and both are thick with heads that get dull upon contact with the skin so it's much harder to draw a thin line with them (wonderful for tightlining and for the inner rim, though). The swatch of Youngblood's pencil is mostly to show you just how cool toned or neutral the other browns look (and because these are the only brown pencils in my collection).


Bottom Line: Highly recommended.

Chanel Santal (#100) Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner ($30) is available at the counters and from Chanel.com.

Chanel Raffinement 39 Eye Shadow Quad Spring 2013





There are no sweet pink pastels in Chanel Spring 2013 collection and I couldn't be happier. Instead, we're offered Raffinement (#39), a classic neutral/cool brown quad with a slight taupe-plum leaning. Raffinement replaces the recently discontinued Kaska Beige (see comparison on The Beauty Look Book).

The colors in Chanel Raffinement lean cooler and I find them wonderfully flattering on my odd olive green toned skin. I suspect these low key browns will work for many, even more so than the warmer Kaska Beige. But the bigger story here is the texture: someone at Chanel has been listening and made the eye shadows smoother and creamier than they ever were (some quads from the past couple of years were gritty and messy). While I swatched here with the silly sponge applicators that come in the compact, I've found that Raffinement is quite saturated and can be easily packed on with a standard brush.

Three of the shades in Chanel Raffinement are shimmery while the darkest brown has a semi-matte finish. I haven't experienced any fallout and even the compact remains relatively clean. Raffinement is an instant classic as it offers an easy no fuss eye look. It's the kind of thing you may want to keep in your bag or even in the office and has its place even in a color wardrobe that's already full f neutral eye shadows. I guess it's the particular combination combined with the great texture.

Since Sabrina already did the comparison to Kaska Beige (see link above), I chose to show Raffinement next to Les Regardes de Chanel Les Bruns (also from three years ago). Do note that the two matte shades on the far left are brow powder, so they don't really count. Obviously the palettes are related, but the texture of Chanel Raffinement is far superior.



Chanel Raffinement 39 Eye Shadow Quad ($58) is available at the counters and from chanel.com.

DSH Perfumes- Mirabella


Dawn Spencer Hurwitz calls her Mirabella a grand floral chypre and she's not exaggerating even a little. Mirabella is a dramatic perfume, dense and unapologetic. It's here to be savored and adored, as it deserves. The premise for this fragrance is set as the perfumer says: "Mirabella perfume the energy of a mature, sophisticated woman. ...This is not a perfume for a young girl". You get a general idea of  what to expect, yet it still catches me by surprise, and I've had my bottle for a year now.

Mirabella opens with spice, plum, and a hint of expensive booze: something aged and smooth served in crystal tumblers that reflect the light from a magnificent chandelier hanging overhead. You get a glimpse of grand rooms, beautifully dressed people engaged in a witty conversation. The space, the light, expensive flower arrangements that give intoxicating scents-- when you're the one wearing Mirabella you belong there, you're part of that scene and you smell better than the flowers in the huge antique vase because you radiate warmth, passion and a promise for the way the night will end.

There's a moment in Mirabella's development that reminds me of vintage Tabu. The spice-to-civet and oakmoss is assertive and sexy in a similar way. Mirabella is as shockingly animalic, sweet, and dark as the old "parfum de puta", and that's a very good thing. She might be slightly more refined, better dressed and made up, but the bold sensuality is unmistakable. She's up to no good in the best possible way.

DSH Perfumes are usually very high on natural ingredients. Mirabella is no different: it's a 90% botanical fragrance, and it shows. The depth and density of the honeyed floral notes creates that intoxicating sensation that goes up to your head and almost gives you a light buzz. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is a sorceress when it comes to chypre accords. They send you down that old rabbit hole into a wonderland of smells and sensations long gone from modern perfume counters. If you've been lamenting the disappearance of the grand dames of perfumery you'll do wisely to try Mirabella. It's a limited edition (as far as I know sourcing the raw ingredients is quite a task) and a real treasure.

Notes: Bergamot, Broom, Orange Flower, Spiced Plum, Centifolia Rose, Damask Rose, French Beeswax, Grandiflorum Jasmine, Juhi Jasmine, Osmanthus, Sandalwood, Castoreum, Civet, Patchouli, Green Oakmoss, Labdanum, Leather, Orris, Siam Benzoin, Vanilla.

DSH Perfumes Mirabella is avaialble in various sizes and concentrations including samples ($4-$225) from dshperfumes.com.

Photo: Lillian Bassman for Harper's Bazaar, November 1968, via myvintagevogue.com.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge Asia Exclusive RS312 Sunstone





I'm not entirely sure why the good people at Shiseido decided to keep some of the Lacquer Rouge shades as Asia exclusive (other than to send us, makeup addicts, on a quest to find them). The moment I saw photos of these elusive Shiseido Lacquer Rouge colors I was set on finding and obtaining RS 312 Sunstone. Thankfully, StrawberryNet had it for sale, so here it is.

I'm very fond of the texture and finish of these liquid lipsticks from Shisedo. There are several other similar products in the market these days, but I think I can finally say that the formula of Lacquer Rouge is the most gentle on the lips, long lasting, fades evenly and doesn't leave me with a parched feeling. RS312 Sunstone is a rich medium rose, perhaps my preferred lip color of all times for its versatility and easy to wear elegance.

The other colors you see above in the swatch photos are NOT Asia exclusive and can be found anywhere Shiseido Lacquer Rouge lipsticks are sold. I'll have more photos and a full review of them soon.

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge Asia Exclusive RS312 Sunstone can be purchased from strawberrynet.com. The price is $28.50 (do note that the regular price of this product at the counter is $25).

Lorac Pro Cream Eyeliner





I planned on showing you yet another YSL gel eyeliner, but the new(ish) Lorac Pro Cream Eyeliner arrived here a couple of weeks ago and  I've been wearing it a lot, so I figured I'd better talk about it first. Lorac Pro Cream Eyeliner is a very long-wearing product. The texture is creamy and pliable, though a bit dryer than the YSL and less bouncy (it's not a gel, after all). Lorac's version reminds me more of Bobbi Brown's classic, if we're doing a comparison. But the finish is more muted and almost matte, making it a very elegant daytime choice.

This Lorac liner dries down quickly, and once it's set there's no smudging or migrating. The eyeliner stays put without fading for the entire day, doesn't bleed after a quick walk in the rain and requires meticulous cleansing come bedtime. The little jar is very travel-friendly, as the lid hosts a little brush (rather good one, though it has perhaps a little more give than I usually prefer). It folds and unfolds easily, and since you place the brush head first for storage in the lid, there's no messy residue to clean off your makeup bag.

Bottom Line: another excellent option.

Lorac Pro Cream Eyeliner ($19) is available from Ulta, Sephora, and loraccosmetics.com. The products was sent free of charge by the company's PR.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas And Advent Calendar Giveaway Winner!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!
The winner of Andy Tauer's Advent Calendar Giveaway  is Moondoggie. Please email me so we can proceed.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas On The Beach


It's supposed to snow tonight.

A Christmas Fantasy


Photo from an Hermès look book from a couple of years ago.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Diary of a Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena: A Book Review By The Husband


Before we get to the husband's review of The Diary of a Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena (the book came out in French two years ago; the English translation of the American edition will be released on January 22nd), you can still enter the Andy Tauer Advent Calendar giveaway for a full bottle. Now, on with The Blond's review:

Jean-Claude Ellena, the exclusive perfumer for Hermes, tells us in this personal, engaging, and intellectual diary that he is lucky to have complete creative control over the scents he composes. That does not mean he has control over the packaging and marketing of his creation.

I’m pretty sure he did not have control over the cover and inside flap or of the promotional text that accompanies this book. They are as bad as they come and I had to force myself to start reading. More on that later. [editor's note: I  had to force him]

If you get past the aforementioned bombastic statements, the book itself is a candid window into the way Jean-Claude Ellena works. As one of the best known perfumers in the world, he offers a glimpse into this unique world. Ellena tells us about his Grasse upbringing, the shaping influence Edmond Roudnitska had on him, the creative process and where he finds inspiration and other activities from his busy commercial and artistic calendar. As a perfumer best known for his minimalistic style, JCE lays out his philosophy but more interestingly, some of his challenges and doubts: Is he an artist or a craftsman?  the intersection and influence between art and commerce, is perfume related to fashion and should change with the seasons or should aim to be a classic that stands the test of time?



Ellena expands on some of the core elements of the composing process and philosophy: his preference for synthetics over natural ingredients for their consistency, the aspiration for simplicity through use of a small pallet and achieving complexity through juxtaposition of elements. JCE prefers abstract to literal and does not equate quality with depth, complexity concentration and (unfortunately) staying power. I was surprised to learn that  he is concerned about being too pigeonholed in this style, so that his new creations are not eagerly anticipated (he may already be there, in my opinion). The perfumer also laments the arbitrary restrictions on raw materials (IFRA) and admits to panic attacks and bouts of indecision like all of us. And yes, he even reads perfume blogs!

Ellena is almost humble when in response to a question as to if he has a gift, he answers that he does not. He grew up into perfume, discovered in himself a passion for it and was encouraged to go in that direction. Which brings us back to the infamous cover and flap. To quote: “Jean-Claude Ellena has a sublime gift... He elevates fragrances to an art form... his concoctions are as finely composed as a haiku.” And there’s more, which is really not necessary. JCE is already famous and established enough (not to mention has a certain reputation for his ego), thus, the marketing blurb makes you question your desire (and stomach) for a full book of this stuff. The hype does a great disservice to this simple, insightful, and nearly ego-free book that would appeal to anyone passionate about perfume.

 And now you can earn a gold star from Gaia and from me for finding the blatant problem with the cover itself:


The Diary of a Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena (Rizzoli), $14.71 on Amazon (list price is $24.95) was sent for our consideration and review by the publisher.

Photo credit: Richard Schroeder.

Andy Tauer's Advent Calendar Giveaway (And A Cake!)


It's the most wonderful time of the year: Andy Tauer's Advent Calendar giveaway. This holiday season the prize is even more special, since the winner of today's giveaway will get to first chose a 5 piece sample set from Andy's two lines: Tauer Perfumes and Tableau de Parfums (any five he or she wants to try) and then select a FULL BOTTLE of his or her choice. The samples and the bottle will be sent directly from the perfumer's studio in Switzerland, and the draw is open to everyone worldwide. All you need to do is leave a comment telling us what's your favorite chocolate cake or treat.

My gift to you is one of my favorite cake recipes that once again comes from my mom, Nina. It's a delicate and fragrant chocolate and poppy seed torte. Now, poppy seeds are not the most common ingredient in North America. If we see them at the supermarket it's in those little McCormick bottles made for sprinkling on bagels or something. Don't buy that, please (I can hear my friends and readers in Eastern Europe howling with laughter as we speak) . To make this cake you'll need to buy the seeds in bulk from a spice market or a natural food store (or even order online). Make sure to buy whole seeds and grind them yourself in a spice grinder/coffee grinder. It takes less than five minutes to process the whole 7 oz in a couple of batches and ensures your seeds are not rancid (ground poppy seeds go stale incredibly fast). Whole poppy seeds keep nearly indefinitely in the freezer, so you can buy more and keep frozen (that's what I do).


Nina and Gaia's Chocolate and Poppy Seed Torte

Ingredients:
7 oz (200 gr) freshly ground poppy seeds
5.5 oz (150 gr) dark chocolate
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter (200 gr)
3 tbs brandy/cognac or any favorite liquor (even a sweet red wine will do)
1 1/4 cup sugar (I tend to reduce it to 1 cup, but it's a matter of taste)
3 tbs fine breadcrumbs
6 eggs in room temperature

How to:
Heat oven to 325 degrees (F). Grease and flour a  round 10" baking pan (I've used various pans, round and square, as well as played with depths. The only thing that changes is baking time and your need to babysit it).

1. Separate the yolks from the whites. Beat the whites with the sugar until nicely stiff.
2. Melt chocolate and butter (I use the microwave, my mom doesn't), add brandy, poppy seeds, breadcrumbs and egg yolks, mix well, then add the beaten whites.
3. Pour into your prepped pan and bake at 325F for about an hour (a bit less if using a square pan). The cake is delicate and should remain rather moist.
Optional: glaze with melted chocolate (I rarely bother).

Let me know if and when you make this cake and don't forget to leave a comment telling us about your favorite chocolate cake.

Happy Holidays!

Images from artdecoblog.tumblr.com and pastrysampler.com.




Thursday, December 20, 2012

Caron- Narcisse Noir (Vintage Perfume)


Caron Narcisse Noir was created in 1911 making this a 101 year old beauty from the tail end of the Belle Epoque. Like every era it had many facets, icons, and symbols. Paris of the Belle Epoque was different than Edwardian London (or Downton Abbey). Narcisse Noir, in case you were wondering, is straight from the cabarets and the boudoirs of the infamous courtesans.



My bottle is vintage but not quite that old (it's a Caron lay-down style encased in leather, not the famous art deco one with the flower stopper). The juice inside is wonderfully potent, lively and unbelievably raunchy. Caron perfumes are not necessarily known for sexiness (remember that old adage about Caron for the wife and Guerlain for the mistress), but Narcisse Noir with its liberal use of civet makes vintage Jicky and Shalimar seem virginal. Between the hot breath of civet on the skin and the indolic jasmine and orange blossom there's no doubt where and when one would wear Narcisse Noir.



This is a classic Caron perfume, though, created by Ernest Daltroff, so there's quite a bit more to Narcisse Noir than first hits the nose. The grassy green of the real flower is still there somehow. While the virginal jonquil is seen through a sheer black smoke screen, it is alive and serves as a contrast to the sultry orange blossom. Then there's a hint of incense and a touch of oriental sweetness. Narcisse Noir has a heady and addictive quality even in my ripe vintage version. But don't even get near it if you're not a hardcore civet fans. This juice is potent and long lasting and you won't be able to get rid of the beast for long hours.

Notes: orange blossom, lemon, bergamot, petitgrain, rose, jasmine, jonquil, Persian black narcissus, musk, civet and sandalwood.

Images:
Ginette Lantelme by Giovanni Boldini, 1908
Lantelme in “Les Modes”, December 1909
1950s Parfums Caron ad (Narcisse Noir is on the far right) via Hprints.com.

Three Tips For Holiday Travel


While the husband and I are eagerly awaiting our annual winter staycation, I know many of you will be traveling to spend the holiday with more-or-less loved ones, cabana boys, or the Ghost of Christmas Past. Here are my three tried and true travel tips to help you survive your journey in top form:

1. Make sure you have a pair of socks in your carry-on and pack one more for the trip back. I also highly recommend having one extra pair just in case you step into something nasty on the floor of the plane. People do travel with their kids, you know. As for a nice big scarf, despite the temptation of cashmere to keep you warm during the flight, I'd suggest a washable material. I have an uncontrollable desire to boil and disinfect everything after a plane ride.

2. Speaking of germs, don't forget a mini hand sanitizer in your travel baggy, right next to a pack of wet wipes. Keep it out, use it as needed, and try to avoid rubbing your eyes (or touching your face in general). We don't like to think of it, but germy hands+ eyes= spreading infection.

3. Frequent sanitizing also means you need to remember a travel size hand cream. Also make sure you have a lip balm and a good moisturizer you can apply as frequently as you want. Do remember that this is the worst time to try on new products, even if you just got the most darling gift set. Stick to the tried and true so you don't find yourself with a skin emergency while away.

Have a safe trip and a joyous holiday!

Photo by Francesco Scavullo for Harper’s Bazaar, February 1956 via myvintagevogue.com.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Eye Shadows: Trumpeter Koel, Solstice Halcyon, Olive Violetear









The matte eye shadows I have from Rouge Bunny Rouge see a lot of use here. It was time to shift attention to the ones with the satin finish (I already have and love Periwinkle Cardinal, which I think might be discontinued). I chose to focus on some hazy neutral eye shadow colors: Trumpeter Koel, Solstice Halcyon, Olive Violetear.

Trumpeter Koel is a dark charcoal infused with lavender blue iridescence. The blue is more noticeable from certain angles and lends itself to a stunning smoky eye.
Solstice Halcyon is a hard to define brownish mauvish beige. It's a low key but very complex color that can live in the crease or on the lid and requires little more than an ivory base and a dark eyeliner for a complete look.
Olive Violetear is the murkiest dirtiest olive. It's a very sophisticated way to wear khaki and olive colors, makes an interesting eyeliner and is brought to full life with a glossy black eyeliner and mascara.

The texture of Rouge Bunny Rouge eye shadows is what I call "skin loving". They're smooth, spreadable and blendable. The subtle light reflecting finish is very elegant and grownup even when you use the boldest colors. It's never too much. I always use a primer and I find that it preserves both the intensity and the finish of the eye shadow all day long.

Bottom Line: Love.

Some Rouge Bunny Rouge eye shadow colors come only as full size stand-alone pan (like the ones I previously reviewed). Others, such as the three featured here are also available in smaller refill pans ($19 each)  that can fit in a 2 or three pan palette ("Keeper", $16 and $18 respectively). They can be purchased from beautyhabit.com, zuneta.com (worldwide shipping), and directly from the company's newly revamped website, rougebunnyrouge.com. The products for these review were sent free of charge by the company.

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