Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nettie Rosenstein- Odalisque (Vintage Perfume)

I'd love to get my hands on some vintage Nattie Rosenstein accessories and costume jewelry, especially older ones from the 1940s. They sell for small fortunes on eBay, so in the meantime I'm consoling myself with some vintage Nettie Rosenstein perfumes. The most famous of them is Odalisque (no connection to Parfums di Nicolai Odalisque), a massive green floral.

Odalisque was first released in 1946 as an elegant accompaniment to Rosenstein's perfectly tailored dresses (by the way, apparently Nettie wasn't the one who designed Mamie Eisenhower's inauguration gown. Her sister-in-law, Eva Rosencrants did). Back then a genteel perfume could (and should) have had a distinct animalic core. In the case of Odalisque it's a high dose of civet that doesn't even try to hide behind the dainty muguet and carnation that make up the fragrance's front.

My bottle of Odalisque EDT is probably from the 1970s-- it smells aged and the top notes have mostly disintegrated (there's a rumor about lavender, but if so time has done away with it). The muguet is unmistakable, though, and it smells nostalgic and very feminine in that 1950s sort of way- a hint of lipstick in a leather bag, a carefully pressed monogrammed handkerchief, clip-on earrings that smell of the lady's perfume. Civet belongs there, for sure. It's not necessarily dirty, because Nettie Rosenstein's Odalisque is decidedly not a sex bomb perfume (far too floral for that), but it is there to express the complex femininity of the era and make the fragrance more intimate.

Nettie Rosenstein 1946 Odalisque ad via

LORAC PRO Powder Cheek Stain

I mentioned recently that I'm all about cream blushes these days, but there's a new powder blush formula that has captured my attention and skin space recently: LORAC PRO Powder Cheek Stain. "Stain" usually refers to liquid or gel blushes, but Lorac Pro is a pressed powder format that doesn't appear much different in the pan than other powder blushes. It has a glowy low shimmer formula-- the kind that makes skin appear a bit healthier and happier than it normally is this time of the year. The pigment intensity is high, but nothing we haven't sen before. Lorac does deliver on the promise of longevity. Applied to normally prepped skin (over foundation or a tinted moisturizer), Lorac Pro blushes maintain their "just applied" appearance till it's time to take them off at night.

I've heard some criticism about LORAC PRO Powder Cheek Stain regarding blendability, and I'm guessing this is a result of using a brush that's too fluffy or has too long fibers for this particular blush. I've experimented with several shapes and forms from my collection and there's no doubt that to use these Lorac blushes successfully you need a firm and dense brush with a round head of relatively short hair. I use Hakuhodo 210 with perfect results (MAC 109 might do as well). FYI: The swatches were made with a Hakuhodo 212.

The colors of LORAC PRO Powder Cheek Stain I have here are:
Petal Pink- A natural sweet pink that will be too light for NC35 and over. It's the exact color of my skin when I pinch it.
Rouge Rubis- A red plum. Very beautiful when used with a light hand.
Plum Passion- Very cool toned purple. The jury is still out on this one.
Rosy Glow- A very natural and wearable rose shade (which is probably why it goes out of stock so quickly).

Bottom Line: a decent alternative to Chanel at half the price.

LORAC PRO Powder Cheek Stain ($20 each) are available at Sephora, Ulta (the only one who currently has Rosy Glow in stock), and The products in this post were sent for my consideration by the company's PR.

Want: Taratata Rings

French fashion jewelry line Taratata is known for cute enameled pieces that brighten the mood. They can sometimes be too cutesy, but I can usually find items that are pretty without taking themselves too seriously. These two, the Coeur and the Sakura rings are good examples (39 euro and 35 euro on which ships internationally).

Meeting The Perfumer

Six years ago I met my first perfumer in person. It was Andy Tauer, an artist whom I've admired for a while (I already owned four of his perfumes at that point). I was a fairly new blogger then (The Non-Blonde was barely a year old), still working on finding my voice and teaching myself how to use my words to tell the reader what a perfume is all about. Meeting a real live perfumer and hearing him talk about his art, inspiration and the process of creating a fragrance (Andy brought with him jars and vials of raw materials) was a turning point for me. Gaining that extra insight into artisan perfumery and realizing just how very  "indie" are some of those indie brands made me a devoted supporter not only of Tauer Perfumes but of the small niche segment.

It's been years since that spring day in Brooklyn. I never miss an opportunity to meet a perfumer, and not just for the photo-op. The perfumers I've gotten to know are very different from each other. Some only use natural ingredients, others work in mixed media. Several of them are only known among hardcore fragonerds  while others have beautiful boutiques and/or get lucrative deals from world famous companies. They have a few things in common: passion for perfume, an infectious enthusiasm for creating something new that will be worn and loved by real people, and very often a deep appreciation of the customers who seek them out (and  for the bloggers who give them an exposure far beyond what they would have gotten otherwise).

While we must be able to completely separate the artist from his or her work and evaluate them for their merit, as a perfume enthusiast, an avid consumer, and-- yes-- as a blogger, these meetings  do add another dimension to this very subjective and highly emotional art form. It's pretty wonderful and amazing to realize how the perfumer's personality ends up reflected in some way in the final product. Vero Kern's legendary elegance is there in everything she does just as much as it exists in this poised lady. Mandy Aftel's warmth and emotional depth brings life and love even to notes I usually eye suspiciously. The sparkling personality, modern point of view and well-justified confidence of Francis Kurkdjian are what make both his Oud and his work for Ellie Saab possible.

I'm leaving out too many of my beloved artists, but I don't want this to become a laundry list of perfumers who've visited NYC in the last seven years. I will tell you about meeting one of my biggest perfume crushes yesterday: Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale attended a party in his honor at Osswald. I admit that I was a little shy at first-- here was a celebrated French perfumer whom I've followed for years  (and have a shelf full of PG bottles to show for it); tall, glamorous, and brilliant, Guillaume is also incredibly accessible, enthusiastic and eager to share his passion with his fans. He's certain that his skill can survive and beat IFRA, committed to providing us quality perfume at a reasonable price, and is extremely attentive to public wishes, which is why he's brought back previous creations that were limited edition or briefly discontinued.

Oh, yes, he's working and finalizing something new and beautiful.

You can see photos from this event on Parfumerie Generale's Facebook page (where you can try to spot my hair in random pictures), and I posted a picture taken by The Blond in my own FB group (please join and say hello).

Have you met any of your perfume idols? Whom would you like to meet? The photo at the top is of someone I obviously never met: Jacques Guerlain.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Christina Ricci's Make Up For Ever Bag And Other Options

What you see above is the limited edition makeup bag Christina Ricci designed for Make Up For Ever. It's made of black faux leather and decorated with metal studs and a metallic silkscreen print. It's nice, for sure, and will be available starting February 1st ($30 at Sephora). Since I'm still in the market for a grownup makeup bag that didn't come as a GWP from a beauty event I've been browsing Etsy and found some truly gorgeous items:

This retro looking bag is 5"x6.1"x4", so it can fit quite a bit inside. Made by Jurga Peterson of Jurga Bespoke from the UK it comes in several other colors. There are more beautiful items in the store (I'm seriously tempted by her clutches). $35.

Then there's this KrankLondon one (yes, also from the UK), by Eira Morris. Also available in black or brown. Size: 3"x4.5"x2.5".   £20.00 GBP.

Then there are the brush rolls...

Copper Charm Makeup Brush Roll by Tabitha of OnAnotherLevel, Williamsburg VA ($27.99).

This very unique leather one from Jemariku, Amsterdam ($26).

And last--from OrigamiLeather in Hong Kong comes this handstitched leather brush roll and makeup case ($129).

Honestly? I want all of them. How about you?

As always, I'm not affiliated with any of these stores. Links provided for your convenience.

Review: NARS The Happening Eye & Cheek Palette

NARS Spring 2013 collection includes two limited edition palettes. One is called And God Created The Woman, contains six eye shadows and comes with an eye brush and a mini NARS eye primer. The second palette which you see here is called The Happening and offers four eye shadows (one an exclusive limited edition), a blush, and a bronzer.

I chose The Happening because some of the eye shadows have been on my wish list for a while and I just finished a mini of NARS Laguna bronzer, so I wanted to replenish. But let's get one thing out of the way: I wish NARS had included just about any other blush in this palette instead of the ubiquitous Orgasm. I know that this blush is a NARS bestseller and it has countless of fans. I can't wear this high shimmer salmon color and can usually spot it from afar on other people's faces. In case you wondered, that's not a good thing.

Orgasm aside, the other face product in The Happening palette is Laguna, a classic matte bronzer. Some people use it for face contouring but I find it too yellow for this purpose. I do like it, though, for adding a light tan where and when needed, and I can use it for subtle sculpting that doesn't include my cheeks (eye socket, nose).

The main thing in NARS The Happening palette is the gorgeous eye shadows. They include:
Night Star- a beige peach with lots of chunky microshimmer (it's part of NARS Night Series). It can create lots of fallout, so use a sticky primer, a creamy base or even a mixing medium that makes the powder into a cream shadow (I use LMdB Magic).
Gstaad- This shimmery taupe is new, exclusive to this palette, thus a limited edition. It's gorgeous, flattering and goes with everything.
Kuala Lumpur- The shimmer berry right side of the Kuala Lumpur duo. A purple for people who hate purple (ie: me).
Coconut Grove- a deep dark matte brown that's supposed to be infused with gold but at least in the case of the item I got the shimmer is barely there, which is a good thing. The texture is creamy and blendable, making this eye shadow a serious workhorse.

There you have it. Despite the sub-par blush, The Happening is still a very good palette that has already started being put to good use here.

 NARS The Happening Eye & Cheek Palette ($65) is already available from and will arrive at other department stores and Nars counters at various stores in a cople of days. It's a limited edition, so if you're in lust with Gstaad don't put it off for too long.

Parfumerie Generale- Tonkamande

Something important to remember before trying Tonkamande from Parfumerie Generale is to take a step back from the name (tonka bean+almond) and concentrate on the scent itself and the way it feels on skin. Tonkamande is sort of a gourmand, but only up to a certain point. It has a certain lightness, a whiff of smooth cool air that flows through the open window into the bakery and lets in the first whiff of spring.

In Tonkamande perfumer Pierre Guillaume created a skin scent that takes the best of all worlds: the Parisian patisserie, a sexy oriental, and a satisfying cozy comfort fragrance. It's not quite a croissants aux amandes-- the almond note is about almond milk, not marzipan, and it's far less sugary or buttery than you might expect. Instead, you get the creaminess of sandalwood, a warm fresh bread that satisfies one's heart, and a floral vanilla that ties everything together. There's a longing in Tonkamande-- for spring, for beauty, for grace and solace; you pull it around you and feel better instantly.

Tonkamande is subtle and more perfumy than  my other  favorite gourmand(ish) Parfumerie Generale fragrances, which makes me appreciate the artistry behind it even more- Pierre Guillaume doesn't repeat himself- he uses various facets of vanilla, different ideas of sensuality and skin; this results in a fragrance that's the complete opposite of Felanilla but just as emotionally moving.

Notes: Almond milk, aldehydes, tonka bean, wheat, sandalwood, vanilla, amber.

Parfumerie Generale- Tonkamande ($100, 50ml) is available from Osswald in NYC (only bigger bottles, though) and Luckyscent.

Image: Iris Egbers for The Sunday Times, May 2011

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

NARS The Happening Eye & Cheek Palette- A Quick Look

This is just the quickest sneak peek at the new NARS palette, The Happening. I'll post swatches and a full review in a couple of days. Yes, that's Orgasm blush on the left; and, no, I still don't like it, but the rest of this NARS palette looks and feels pretty awesome. Just give me a few more days to wear it and form an opinion.

NARS The Happening Eye & Cheek Palette is available right now from Nordstrom.

Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer Lipstick- BR503 Society, RD506 Foxy

The new colors from Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer Lipstick are incredibly pretty. I chose two: BR503 Society and RD506 Foxy, and even considering the number of lipsticks I have on rotation at any given moment, I predict these two will be worn and used to their base by the time summer is over. It's the combination of Shiseido's Tender Sheer formula that feels like a luxurious balm and these shades that are easy to wear and go with everything.

Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer lipsticks have a semi glossy finish with no actual shimmer particles. Their pigment intensity is very high for a sheer formula (on par with Burberry and Laura Mercier dark colors in similar formulas, better than Chanel and Dior). The lasting power is around 2-3 hours, leaving behind a light but even stain. The hyaluronic acid in the formula helps lips retain moisture and gives them a healthy look. The lipsticks are fragrance-free and only have the faintest waxy taste.

BR503 (Society) is a mauve brown that looks much more appealing on pigmented lips than on my arm. The sheer formula allows just enough of my natural dark rose lip color to show through, making this Shiseido lipstick a lovely and very flattering neutral(ish) shade. RD506 (Foxy) is a pink-based red that looks very cheerful yet chic. I don't know which one is my favorite. They're simply great colors and high quality.

Bottom Line: who could ask for more?

Shiseido Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer Lipstick ($25 each) are available at the counters and from

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (Radiant Light) And Brush

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder is one of the most talked about makeup releases of the new year. It's a light diffusing finishing powder in six shades that create various effects, from icy to tan. I've been wearing it daily since the compact of Radiant Light arrived here with its matching Ambient Powder brush, wearing it either as a sheer all-over veil and as a cheekbone enhancement.

The texture of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder is cashmere-like. There's some debris in the compact when you pick up the product with your brush, but you can just sweep it and use it- the powder is extremely fine and non streaky. The light reflecting is as subtle as that of the very best powder highlighters (superior to most Chanel ones), with no particles sitting on the skin unless you really pack it on (which you shouldn't do. It's a finishing powder, not a blush). Photographing Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in a way that fully shows it was a big challenge. I played with the light- what little natural light I could get plus various add-ons.

Radiant Light is a golden beige shade. The top stripe in the swatch photos was done with a finger for the sole purpose of showing you the core color. Then I took the Ambient Powder brush and applied normally just I do on my face. The powder can be further sheered if you use a round fluffy brush (a large Yachiyo is perfect for this- either NARS or Hakuhodo).

The last photo shows the difference between Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder (review coming soon). The NARS Powder is stark white; it doesn't give you a Cullen face when applied right, but you can see how pale it is (click on the photo to enlarge), while the Hourglass powder adds quite a bit of color to the skin.

The Ambient Powder brush was a huge surprise. I liked every Hourglass brush I ever tried-- they're as good  as synthetic brushes go, meticulously made and densely packed. Press release photos didn't do this Ambient brush justice-- it's a thick and sturdy tool, incredibly soft and has the ability to multitask. It's great for the Ambient Powder, of course, though I also use other brushes for this task. I know I'll be putting it to good use (still need to try it for foundation).

Bottom Line: Love. LOVE!

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder ($45) And Brush ($35) is available from Sephora, Bergdorf, and Barneys. The products in this review were sent for my consideration by the company.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Elements Showcase- January 2013

The bi-annual Elements Showcase brings to NYC people from all over the world who have at least one thing in common: passion for perfume. This year saw arrivals from as far as Australia (Tommi Sooni ), right along with the usual and unusual American and European suspects. The Elements is a great opportunity to mingle with artists, industry insiders, and other bloggers. Today was the first day of the 2013 show (it continues tomorrow). I came home smelling fabulous.

I always love seeing natural perfumers take their rightful place among their peers. There were quite a few of them today, familiar faces such as Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Company; familiar names like Tanja Bochnig from April Aromatics and Maria Candida Gentile, as well as new ones such as Purusa that uses a balm base to mix with the natural essence and anchor it.

As always, luxury lines with their gorgeous bottles had a massive presence: Arquiste, Jovoy, Micallef (there are several new perfumes coming out soon), Carner Barcelona, Humiecki & Graef (one day I'll learn how to pronounce this name), Illuminum, and many others.

You probably heard some of the buzz around Enchanted Forest, the new fragrance (created by Bertrand Duchaufour) from Fragrantica owners. It's a unique one that's worth the skin space and nose time, and I say it as someone who doesn't necessarily like berry-heavy perfumes.

I came across several interesting micro-niche lines in search of a US distributor. The stunning bottles of Marc Henri were impossible to ignore, as was the lace and pearl presentation of Simone Cosaci Profumi from Florence. All these fragrances have a story and that's a big part of the discovery fun.

As in previous Elements shows there was more than just perfume to explore. Nail polish, organic skin care, men's products, and makeup. I always enjoy seeing Kjaer Weis color cosmetics and hearing what's new. There's a mascara coming out soon and a compact foundation is also in the works.

As you can imagine, there'll be quite a few reviews in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!