Tuesday, April 30, 2013

M.Micallef- Royal Vintage

Royal Vintage from M. Micallef takes us back to a more elegant time and place; It comes from an era of dressing up for dinner, regularly polished shoes, shaving creams applied with a brush and frequent visits to the barbershop. Micallef released Royal Vintage earlier this year, some say as their answer to Aventus by Creed. Personally I don't smell much of a connection other than the fact that both share some classic masculine elements; not to mention that Royal Vintage doesn't think he's Napoleon, so the marketing around it is far less annoying.

Royal Vintage opens zesty and crisp, like a good green aftershave of yore. The cypress note is very dominant and I adore that-- there's not enough cypress in today's perfumery, if you're asking me. The fragrance has a cool green feel to it that darkens as it develops on skin and lets in the polished wood. I feel that Royal Vintage is a bit rushed in this regard: it takes practically no time to move from the barbershop to the wood paneled club where gentlemen sit in leather armchairs smoking their pipes. Not that I'm complaining about the dry-down. It's lovely, delicious, and in the case of my own very personal skin, also very wearable. I actually think that this Micallef masculine fragrance smells more unique and interesting on my skin than on the husband's.

The very obvious high quality of Royal Vintage keeps it from smelling too generic. It's streamlined but never thin. As a lover of green and leather scents this is right up my alley, but I'm aware that most women will hesitate to try it because Royal Vintage is very traditionally masculine. As for men, they could do a lot worse. The elegance of this fragrance makes it perfect in just about every situation. While it's long lasting and can create some massive sillage, careful spraying will make it very office-friendly. Not just for the guy in the corner office at the top floor, but also for the ambitious young man who dresses for the promotion he craves.

See other opinions on Royal Vintage from  Kafkaesque and Fragrant Moments.

Notes: pink berries, bergamot, cypress, leather, patchouli and musk.

Royal Vintage by M.Micallef ($185, 100ml) is available from Luckyscent, Osswald, and Parfum1.com. The sample for this review was provided by PR.

Photo of the Duke of Windsor in 1968 via The Guardian.

Chanel Stylo Eye Shadow: Moon River, Pink Lagoon, Blue Bay Summer 2013

L'Ete Papillon de Chanel Collection for Summer 2013 features Chanel's take on the popular and growing trend of a cream eye shadows in a stick form. Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks brought them to makeup counters where soon they were joined by Bobbi Brown. Now we have a similar product from Chanel, Stylo Eye Shadow. There are six shades in this collection, all limited edition. I dearly hope that the Stylo Eye Shadow is here to stay, though, and that Chanel is planning to give us new colors every season.

Chanel Stylo Eye Shadows are very creamy, easy to blend, long lasting (not quite as eternal as the ones from Laura Mercier, but they stay put over a primer and don't melt or smear. The swatches above are two layers of each color. You can make them more sheer (down to nothing but a light shimmer veil) or build up intensity as desired. They Stylo pencils can work as a base for other eye shadows but are also beautiful on their own, combined, or as the one and only color product on the lid for a minimalist look. You can experiment creating different effects with various brushes (MAC 217 for blending and sheering, a pencil brush for a more graphic look, etc.). These eye shadows are pretty and versatile.

I'll show you two more colors in a few days (the black and the jade green one. You can see more on Best Things In Beauty), but here are the first three I got (all have a shimmery almost metallic finish): Pink Lagoon (a mauve pink), Moon River (brass), and Blue Bay (summer sky). Out of these I expect Moon River to sell out first as it's a beautiful and complex neutral. Pink Lagoon is a surprisingly wearable color. It brightens up the eye area and at least on me doesn't look like a bruise, but I do prefer it with another color for contrast. Blue Bay is what the wretched True Blue eyeliner should have been: pigmented and soft enough to create the ocean blue look of the season.

Bottom Line: More!

Chanel Stylo Eye Shadows ($34 each) are limited edition. Available at the counters and from chanel.com.

Chanel Pygmalion Rouge Coco Shine- Summer 2013

There are two shades of Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipstick in L'Ete Papillon de Chanel Collection. The one I chose was Pygmalion (you can see swatches of Idylle and the rest of the collection on The Raeviewer). It looks coralish in the tube but translates into a medium watermelony red on skin and lips. I love Pygmalion because it neutralizes the natural color of my lips and gives me a brighter look. It's a very flattering shade, easy to wear, can be built or layered to your heart's desire, and like all Chanel Rouge Coco Shine leaves a fairly long-lasting stain behind.

I know that some people have issues with the formula of Chanel Rouge Coco Shine and actually find it drying. I don't have this problem, but because my lips are prone to dryness I load them with moisturizers throughout the day, so maybe that's helping. I've been loving (an understatement, actually. Review coming soon) the new Hourglass  lip serum as a base for everything, and it makes the shine of Rouge Coco Shine last longer.

Bottom Line: worth getting a backup.

Chanel Pygmalion Rouge Coco Shine ($34) is a limited edition lipstick for Summer 2013. It's now on teh counters and at chanel.com.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Top 12 Gourmand Fragrances

For someone who claims she doesn't want to smell like a cupcake I certainly own and wear a staggering amount of sweet and gourmand perfumes. I do have a sweet tooth, so that may explain it. Still, I didn't consider making a list of foody perfumes because I already posted my top fig, vanilla, chocolate, citrus, and fruity ones. But a couple of readers requested a "Best Of" gourmands, and looking at my shelves I realized that there are quite of few that didn't make it into previous posts because they're not necessarily centered around any of the obvious notes I mentioned above.

I admit that all of these are sweet and sinful. Yes, there are food-related fragrances that aren't dessert-like; Christopher Brosius even offers a roast beef accord, but as you can imagine, that's not really my thing. So while avoiding straight up vanillas and such, here are my personal favorite perfumes that make me go and raid the pantry (in no particular order):
  • Honore des Pres- Sexy Angelic. Olivia Giacobetti created a natural perfume based on a traditional French confection, calisson, that sounds heavenly and obviously smells the part. Abysmal lasting power, though.
  • People Of The Labyrinths-  Luctor et Emergo. Marzipan and cherries that spell Play-Doh to many.I find it delicious and somewhat incensy in the dry-down. I especially love it on the husband.
  • Serge Lutens- Rahat Loukoum. Turkish Delight is one of my favorite things in the universe, and Uncle Serge's interpretation is musky, honeyed and luxurious. 
  • Keiko Mecheri- Loukhoum and Loukhoum Parfum du Soir. Keiko Mecheri's variation on this theme is more floral, more powdery and also woodier. It is larger than life, especially in the parfum version.
  • Guerlain- Gourmand Coquin. From the somewhat controversial Elixir Charnel range, this spicy boozy chocolate and rose creature grew on me slowly. It's delicious and very very Guerlain.
  • CB I Hate Perfume accords in My Birthday Cake, Wildflower Honey and just about everything Christopher Brosius makes. The accords are very literal, often (not always) linear and are bound to take you places.
  • Thierry Mugler- Innocent. Angel's delicate and musky sibling is soft and very praline-like. There's none of the loud and obnoxious qualities of too many Mugler perfumes, which is probably why Innocent is the wallflower of the line.
  • Kelly & Jones- #5 Notes of Chardonnay. Kelly & Jones perfumes were created to go with wine. It would have been nothing but a gimmick if the fragrances weren't so nice. Chardonnay is creme brulee in an oak barrel. Irresistible.
  • Hilde Soliani- Fraaagola Saalaaata. Italian perfumer Hilde Soliani offers several mouth-watering perfumes. This one is about salted strawberries. I can't believe how much I like it, considering I usually abhor strawberry notes in perfume, but the masterful blending and saltiness save Fraaagola Saalaaata from being as intolerable as Soliani's penchant for extra vowels.
  • L'Artisan- Traversee du Bosphore. Yes, another Turkish Delight fragrance, this one with an extra serving of every stall from the markets of Istanbul, including the leather ones.
  • Etat Libre d'Orange- Like This (Tilda Swinton). Pumpkin pie laced with ginger and maple syrup, a warm kitchen and a cat snuggled at your feet.
  • Dawn Spencer Hurwitz- Mahjoun. Fruitcake and sticky pudding, spicy and nutty. A drop before bedtime is kind of like a hot toddy for the soul.
Honorable Mention: Serge Lutens Louve (Rahat Loukoum's muskier and fluffier sibling) and Jeux de Peau (caramelized popcorn on toast),  Ava Luxe Loukhoum, Milk, and Madeline (what it says is what you get), Lostmarch Lan-Ael (Fruit Loops in milk), Montale Sweet Oriental Dream (another sweet almond with a touch of honey and a powdery rose), and Parfumerie Generale Tonkamande (almond milk and toast).

What are your favorite gourmands?

Image: Paulette Goddard in Modern Times.

Chanel Lilis Le Vernis For Summer 2013

As promised, here are the comparison shots of the new Chanel Lilis Le Vernis For Summer 2013 (L'Ete Papillon de Chanel Collection) and NARS Vertebra (from NARS x Pierre Hardy Collection). Both are limited edition, gorgeous and obviously coral. The NARS polish is part of a duo, so you can't get it separately. Vertebra is more pink next to the vibrant Lilis, and so far it looks like it also wears better (Lilis suffers from the same tendency of early tip chipping as many Chanel  polishes), but Chanel has a more complex finish-- it's a cream but just enhanced enough to glow a little. Chanel fans have seen it before.

Do you need both? No, not really. There's a difference, obviously, but they give the same look. I got Vertebra from NARS PR and bought Lilis. I consider them interchangeable and a backup for each other as this is my absolute favorite color for this summer and plan to wear it on hands and toes. You can see more Chanel comparisons on The Beauty Look Book (Sabrina also got the other two Summer 2013 Chanel Le Vernis colors, both are metallic and blue).

Bottom Line: Delightful.

Chanel Lilis Le Vernis For Summer 2013 ($30) is available from the counters and on chanel.com.

Chanel True Blue 57 Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner- Summer 2013

Chanel True Blue 57 Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner from L'Ete Papillon de Chanel collection for Summer 2013 disappointed me badly. I had high hopes for it not just because the color is so pretty, but also because my previous purchase of a Chanel Yeux Waterproof pencil, Santal, was of great quality and color payoff. Since I decided to pass on the eye shadow quad from this collection (Metamorphose 44, comes in the baked European formula which isn't Chanel's finest) I wanted to still get a touch of the marine colors through the eyeliner.

True Blue 57 is a bright summer sky blue with a touch of shine. For the swatch I posted last week in my overview of the collection I had to apply some force and use a massive amount of product-- both things you want to avoid in an eyeliner. While the pencil skips and tugs it's also inexplicably wimpy (soft pencils usually have no problem depositing enough color) and prone to breaking.

While this Stylo Eyeliner is a complete dud, the other Stylo products from this Chanel collection, the eye shadows are a different story. I'll have swatches and a full review in the next few days, but I can tell you that they more than make up for this one.

Chanel True Blue 57 Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner- Summer 2013 ($30) ia available at the counters and from Chanel.com.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Seven Years Of Blogging- Three Points About The Writing Process

Last year as my blog anniversary approached I wrote a little post about lessons learned through perfume blogging. I focused on the sniffing and evaluating part of the process, not on writing, which I meant to discuss at another time. Somehow it never happened. There was also this post I wrote three years ago and was a little more beauty focused (and I still stand behind every word). This weekend marked the 7th year anniversary of The Non-Blonde, so I thought it's a good time to share some thoughts about my process  (sounds far too formal than what it is: me perching on the couch with my laptop while various cats are running around). I decided to stick to three topics: who I'm writing for, how I choose the images, and why I keep doing it.

1. My Imaginary Reader
When I first started blogging it was just me writing a blog I wanted to read. I couldn't be sure anyone else would ever be interested, so I just stuck to whatever I thought was interesting and fun. I still do. It doesn't matter if I'm covering perfume, makeup, pop-culture or the Royal Family, if I write something it's because I want to see it here. But I'm no longer alone and I am very much aware of having readers, regular and new ones. Are they new to perfume or season fragonerds? Makeup beginners or sophisticated aficionados? People I know in person? Does their virtual presence affects how I write here? Do I focus on someone specific as I type away? It varies.

For the most part I don't have anyone in mind when I blog. I know some of the people who read, but I don't write for them. I write for an abstract reader who I see as witty and sophisticated, curious and enjoys the little things. I'm vaguely aware as I blog about certain things that some people I know are likely to enjoy them-- Chanel lipstick fans vs. Armani devotees, cat lovers, a friend in Ohio who loves green perfume, those curious about the latest from Andy Tauer, my mom who loves purple eyeliner, vintage collectors, Kate Middleton fans, my scent twin... the list goes on. But there are also readers looking for answers, people who are new to this blog and still trying to figure out what all this stuff is about. I'm a teacher at heart; I need to share my knowledge. While I rarely (never? I'll need to check) write a truly beginner's guide to makeup, perfume or Kim Kardashian, I do try to be thorough and not to assume too much prior knowledge beyond basic Google skills.

I like my imaginary reader. She or he are someone whose company I'd probably enjoy. I talk to you fondly even when I'm cranky, and I always hope you'll come back the next day.

2. Blog Decor
One of my most favorite parts of blogging is the editor's role of choosing images. Obviously, makeup reviews require taking my own photos, but with almost everything else there's the freedom and responsibility for finding the right visuals for what I'm trying to say. Doing it right means enhancing the words and letting you a glimpse into the way I feel about the topic at hand. There's a magical moment when I find the perfect artwork or vintage photo that brings everything together for me. The synergy of verbiage and imagery is incredibly satisfying. More than that: I absolutely need it.

In order to reach this point I constantly collect pictures and research them. I have dozens of bookmarked sites for artists from days gone by as well as contemporary, collections of photos from different decades, old magazine covers, subscriptions to various newsletters-- anything that I find interesting and inspiring. It's like the scrapbooks I kept as a teenager, full of magazine clippings, postcards, song lyrics and occasionally my own illustrations. The two main differences are that said scrapbooks are now buried in a box in my basement while this blog is public, and there's a lot less George Michael or Robert Smith around here.

3. Discipline
You may have noticed that I write a lot. I post on Sunday night as well as three posts a day Monday-Thursday and occasionally on Fridays. I schedule articles in advance when I know I'm going to be away, and  barring a hurricane that makes everyone lose power there are no exceptions. And that's the way I want it to be. Blogging has become my happy place, a confidence booster, a distraction when I need it, and the source of enduring friendships. But more than anything I simply love doing this.

I also find that the longer I've been blogging the more disciplined about it I've become. Reviews, opinions, sharing my thoughts and stories- it flows more easily (that is, I only delete every other sentence). This is the advice I give to others. Blog and then blog some more. Don't let distractions get in the way (I mean that in a mostly-sane way. Or at least I hope I do), don't give up on yourself. I refuse to allow jet-lag, oral surgery or a pity party take away  the joy I get from The Non-Blonde, its readers and the pretty, shiny, and smelly things we share.

As always, thank you for being here, my real and imaginary friends.

Photos via Stirred, Straight Up With A Twist; Dr. Macro.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Alber Elbaz For Lancome- More Info

Early this year we heard about an upcoming collaboration between Lancome and fashion designer Alber Elbaz (Lanvin). WWD has more details today, including the photo of the packaging Elbaz designed for Lancome mascaras. The limited edition collection will focus on eye makeup, which makes me happy because some of my all time eyeliner and mascara favorites come from Lancome.

The collection will include some tried and true shades from the existing range and a few new or reworked ones, such as a black mascara enriched with a black-blue pigment. I do hope that enough attention and thought went into the products themselves to make them more than just about Alber Elbaz's packaging , but as long as the quality is consistent I'm happy with an Elbazified Hypnose Drama.

The collection will hit the counters and lancome.com on June 15th and will include madcaras: Hypnose Doll, Drama, and Star, as well as Définicils($29 each). There will be four eye palettes($51 each), and a set of false lashes, $35 that will be a Nordstrom exclusive.

Anything on your shopping list?

Photos and info: WWD, Elle UK.

Kenzo- King Kong (Vintage Perfume)

Like many of us, I never heard about King Kong, the first perfume from Kenzo, until I read this 2007 post on Perfume Posse. Between the notes (banana, spices, clove, mint, green notes, rose, amber, resins, oakmoss) and the name, King Kong sounds so wonderfully outrageous I had to get a bottle; and I did. Which turned out to be a very good thing because I absolutely love it.

 Kenzo King Kong was released sometime between 1978 and 1980. It was gone from the market in the mid 1980s and obviously forgotten by the time Kenzo sold the perfume license and launched the eponymous fragrance in 1988, which is what most of us thought as the first Kenzo perfume. But King Kong wasn't part of that commercialized  let's-bank-on-the-designer's-name LVMH-ization process. It came to the world as  part of the quirky fashion and design concept of Kenzo, yet like the clothes, it's delightful and wearable.

Kenzo King Kong is basically an oriental fragrance with a bright green opening that becomes sweeter and thicker as the banana note takes hold. It's a green(ish) banana, not mushy at all, and it plays well with the exotic jungle theme. I love and wear another banana fragrance, Jean Patou Sira des Indes, but I admit that tropical fruity floral is not exactly a genius composition. It's pretty and it's fun, but it doesn't stir the soul, while King Kong's greenery and thick rainforest have a certain romance and longing to them. The green banana is the hook that pulls me in, then I get ginger and an almost chypre-like rose action; the spices and the resins become warm and thick, lovingly caressing the skin. I think I smell sandalwood and smoky tree sap that makes me think of pollution that entered the forest. It's a bit melancholy.

As King Kong dries down it becomes slightly sweeter but not necessarily too femme. I think this stuff is wearable to all, as long as one can deal with a banana and the wide lush leaves that rot a little as they fall on the forest floor. Kenzo King Kong is a great reminder of a time when "designer fragrance" meant a connection to the fashion designer's work, as well as a certain prestige and quality that came from the artist's willingness to have his or her name on a bottle.

Jessica Lange in King Kong, 1976, via IMDB.
1980s Kenzo lookbook images from around the web.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chanel SUMMER 2013 COLLECTION -Swatches (True Blue Stylo, Rouge Coco Shine Pygmalion, Le Vernis Lilis)

Here's a quick look and some swatches of a few items from  L’ÉTÉ PAPILLON DE CHANEL-- Summer 2013 collection. I chose the Lilis nail polish- a gorgeous coral (I'll do a full review with comparison to the coral shade from NARS Pierre Hardy Vertebra), and also Chanel Rouge Coco Shine 467 Pygmalion and the waterproof Stylo pencil in True Blue. I've already worn the latter a couple of times and so far I'm not impressed despite the pretty color. The color payoff is mediocre at best and the pencil is prone to breaking at every use.

I also picked three shades of the brand new Chanel Stylo Eyeshadow. I hope to have them tomorrow and play over the weekend so I can give you a full review of everything next week. Do take note that all Chanel Summer 2013 items are limited edition.

Ellis Faas- Swatches Of New Creamy Eyes Shades E123, E124, E127, E129

The new Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes colors are even more beautiful than I expected. I was sent four of them- two bold shades and two neutrals, and I'm delighted that I took the time over the years to learn how to work with Ellis Faas cream shadows- annoying squirty applicator and all, because there's nothing that looks and performs quite like them.

E123 is a dark and deep violet. It appears to have some shimmer in it, but I don't see any particles when I blend the eye shadow on my lid.
E124 is a stunning green teal(ish) peacock color. It has a serious wow effect and will make a magnificent smoky eye (remember this one on Emmy Rossum?).
E127 is a very warm medium brown (Ellis Faas called it" Ginger Freckle"). It has a sunset effect and I've used it as a lid and crease color by itself as part of a light bronzed look (with a black dress and tiger's eye jewelry).
E129 is a basic goes-with-everything light peach. It blends with other cream shadows, works as a base for whatever you want to put on top and like all of the above and Ellis Faas eye shadows in general-- it stays on forever and ever (and ever).

Bottom Line: I can't get enough.

Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes Pens($36 each) are available from ellisfaas.com. The products for this review were sent to me free of charge.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Montale- Blue Amber

It took me quite a while to come around and love Blue Amber by Montale. Six years, to be accurate. It's the weirdest thing and had I not tested Blue Amber from several sources, including at Montale's Paris boutique, I would have thought it was a matter of a faulty sample. But despite my general love for amber perfumes and dark vanilla there was a facet of Blue Amber that kept smelling to me as stale as when I first tried it in late 2006.

Lots of ambers (and Montale perfumes) have graced my skin since then. A new sample appeared here recently (from Luckyscent, I think) and I felt adventurous enough to give it some wrist time. And then neck time. And cleavage. You get the picture. All of a sudden this sweet amber with its slightly spicy and grownup opening has become part of my happy place. Blue Amber is a sibling to MPG Ambre Preciux and Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114, only perhaps creamier and smoother.

There aren't many twists and turns in Montale Blue Amber. It's a little crisper in the top notes and more pillowy as body heat works on it, but essentially this is a polished vanillic amber, sweet but not foody (amber-loving guys are likely to enjoy it), marginally powdery and most of all: charming and a little bewitching. The biggest magic, though, are the longevity (basically, Blue Amber is eternal), projection (you will be noticed), and sillage (you will be remembered). It can be a bit much, though, so judicious spraying is highly encouraged.

Montale Blue Amber ($110, 50ml) is available from Luckyscent, MiN NY and in a larger bottle also from Parfum1.com.

Image: Alec Shanks, Folies Bergère, 1932

Dior Summer 2013 Nude Tan Paradise Blush- Pink Glow, Coral Glow

Nude Tan Paradise Blush in Pink Glow and Coral Glow are the two limited edition bronzer/blush duos from Dior Bird Of Paradise Summer 2013 collection. They come in a luxurious packaging- beautiful compacts with a mini kabuki brush that's actually usable (not the softest one ever, but it works) and has its own velveteen pouch. The compacts sport the Dior quilted pattern that also repeats inside.

The elegance continues in the actual products. Pink Glow is the cooler tone version while Coral Glow is obviously warmer. But they don't go to extremes- there's neither a true orange nor Barbie pink, making the blushes/bronzer wearable for a broad range of skin tones. I can wear both since I'm more neutral (green) than warm. The light bronzer of Pink Glow is especially appealing as I don't want to look too Jersey Shore. The Coral Glow bronzer is decidedly yellow and I find that I like it more swirled and mixed with the blush for a more believable shade.

Bot Dior Nude Tan duos are soft, smooth and very finely milled. They obviously impart a glow with no shimmer particles and can be applied as sheer or as dramatic as you wish. I actually really like swirling a larger fluffy brush (Dior Summer Blush Brush that came as part of the Bird Of Paradise Collection is a good fit) over both colors and applying it as an (almost) all-over color. For a more bronzed look you'll need a smaller dense brush (Edward Bess Face Brush works well, as do Hakuhodo kabuki brushes). If you're very very pale I recommend a fan brush. For blush-only application just about any small/medium blush brush will do (Hakuhodo 103-type, Hakuhodo 201, Shu Uemura 20 or a medium Yachiyo).

Bottom Line: so pretty.

Dior Summer 2013 Nude Tan Paradise Blush- Pink Glow, Coral Glow ($56 each) are available at the counters and online.

Amouage Gold Woman

Amouage Gold- both Man and Woman- was created in 1983 by Guy Robert as the first perfume for this Oman-based house (founded by the Sultan of Oman, no less). It was obviously meant to make a statement of opulence and royalty. Also, it smells very French: an aldehydic floral with a generous and rich base. If that makes you think of Chanel No. 5 you're not wrong. At least the way Chanel No. 5 used to be.

Amouage Gold Woman has that carefully blended abstract floral core. The husband says it's rosy, but to me Gold is just as much about delicate jasmine and muguet as it is about rose.The fragrance feels ornamental and gilded, yet very balanced. The aldehydes send the first round of fireworks into the stratosphere, and they form elaborate designs in the air and on skin. Gold feel celebratory- there's something about most Amouage perfumes that make them perfect for black tie events- and fit for a queen. As long as the queen is a fan of ambery sandalwood bases that are laced with civet, that is (but who isn't?).

Amouage Gold Woman feels out of time, which also probably means not of this time. I don't know how well Hermes Caleche is doing these days, but a perfume that feels and smells like its haughty and more expensive sibling might be somewhat challenging for a modern perfume shopper. Then again, if you're perfume shopping at Amouage most chances are that you've smelled a thing or two in your life and you're not expecting a L'Eau d'Issey experience. As long as you're ready for an olfactory rococo and have the willingness to go with it, you're golden.

Notes: Frankincense, Rock Rose, Lily of the Valley, Orris, Jasmine, Myrrh, Musk, Cedarwood, and Sandalwood.

Amouage Gold Woman ($285, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, MiN NY, Osswald, Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus locations.

Top photo: Marie Antoinette's bedroom in Versailles.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dior Summer Blush Brush

 The new red Dior blush brush is a limited edition item that was just released as part of Dior Bird Of Paradise Summer 2013 Collection. The brush accompanies the two 'Nude Tan Paradise' Blush & Bronzer Duo by Dior (also from the summer collection), although each one comes with its own mini kabuki brush. I haven't tested the revamped Dior brushes (was never impressed with the previous incarnation with the silver-colored handles), so I figured this was a good opportunity. Also, it's RED!

Let's start with the most obvious fact: this is not really a blush brush. The red Dior brush is big, wide and very very  fluffy. It covers a large surface and is not directional . When applying blush one should aim for more precision, so the color doesn't get where it shouldn't, and you also want the ability to blend without diluting too much or moving the product too far. The red Dior blush is far too floppy to provide that.

What is it good for? Powder (both loose and pressed) and light all-over bronzing.

Dior Summer Brush is the size of a large powder brush (see comparison to the wonderful Louise Young LY07 Super Powder Brush). It's loosely packed, though, so you get a light and airy application. This works well when you want to impart a sheer veil of color to large areas of the face. I tried it with the new Dior  Paradise duos (review and photos tomorrow) and got a very pretty light tan glow. It also works with any other bronzer.

The brush is made in France. It looks very pretty, not just because of the red head but the handle is also elegant and textured. The hair is natural- probably goat. It's reasonably soft but not exquisitely so-- if you press the tip against the skin it can feel prickly, but there's no scratchiness if you brush it lightly and use it in swiping motions.

Dior Summer Brush is actually quite comparable to the other red brush, Shu Uemura 18R. While the Dior one is obviously larger, they function in a very similar way and also feel the same against the skin. Since the Shu brush has a somewhat more directional shape it's better for blending, but that's the only important difference. I'd say you don't need both.

Bottom Line: Only if you you don't have other and better powder/bronzer brushes in your collection.

Dior Summer Blush Brush ($55) is available at the counters.