Thursday, July 31, 2014

Comme des Garcons Zagorsk (Series 3: Incense)- Revisited

I'm still amused when I remember how much I loathed Zagorsk for the first three or four samples (yes, I went through at least 5mls of this Comme des Garcons perfume until I managed to wrap my head around it). I can't justify the dislike any more than I can explain why I kept trying it until I saw the light, but it's been years ago and I've been wearing Zagorsk happily and regularly, so I thought it's time to revisit it here.

When I wear Zagorsk nowadays I get a sense of comfort and tranquility, just as I do with some other incense perfumes. The contrasts keep it interesting: a slow burn, cool and open skies, the inside of old stone buildings, pine forests. It's all there and it's blended together in a way that sometimes feels very condensed while on other days the various notes soar up and create a sense of openness.

I remember that one of the first things I noticed in Zagorsk once my revulsion was gone was the clear and defined iris note. It felt like a bell chiming from afar and reaching you, helping you to orient yourself and find your way back into town after wondering for a while. It felt like a light in the smoky and foggy air of an early morning after a night spent by a campfire, which I think brought back some old memories from my youth. In any case, it's this iris notes that makes Zagorsk stand apart from the other perfumes in the Comme des Garcons Incense Series. It's not "just" about incense and ancient rituals; there's also a landscape here, a journey, a sense of another time and place.

The dry-down of Zagorsk is all wood: burnt as well as alive. There's a lot of cedar there in its best pencil-shavy form, freshly chopped pine, young tree bark. It's invigorating and warm at the same time, with a sense of well-being and warmth. I can't imagine not loving it nowadays. What were I thinking?

Notes: white incense, pine, pimento berries, violet, cedar, iris, hinoki wood, birch wood

Comme des Garcons Zagorsk ($95, 50ml EDT) is available from Luckyscent and Barneys.

Art: Zagorsk by Deb Hill.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NARS Night Series Eyeliner: Night Flight & Night Porter

The new NARS Night Series Eyeliner was an instant love. I was sent the green one, Night Porter, and the second it was available online I ordered Night Flight, the blue version. It was that good. I'm already a fan of NARS Larger Than Life pencils which I have in most colors, and the new eyeliners add another dimension to the intense colors and smooth gliding texture: micro-pearls.

The effect of NARS Night Series eyeliners is less dramatic on the lids/lashline. There's a light sparkle, but it's not like you're wearing glitter. I even experimented with using Night Flight on the waterline, something I'd usually not recommend doing with shimmer formulas, and had no issues (still, don't try it at home) because it's so fine and smooth. The soft and easy application is one advantage, the quick-setting and smudge-proof quality is another (you need to really rub hard to damage it). The color lasts all day (or night) and is not affected by rain or humidity. Full removal requires a dual-phase cleanser or an oil, otherwise you'll wake up with a smoky eye.

Night Flight is an off-black with cobalt blue pearl, and Night Porter in an off-black with green pearl. I took a comparison swatch of Night Flight next to NARS Larger Than Life pencil in Rue Saint-Honoré, which is a proper blue. Both are pretty, and I've actually mixed and layered them for a more dramatic effect, just because. 

Bottom Line: a subtle way to add color and shimmer to a simple eye look.

NARS Night Series Eyeliner: Night Flight & Night Porter ($24 each) are available at the counters, NARS boutiques, and One of the products for this review was sent by the company, the other one was my own purchase.

Let's Talk About It: Diana Vreeland Perfumes

You don't have to be a cranky perfume blogger to feel exasperation at the never-ending stream of new perfume brands vying for your attention. It's not necessary to get a daily stream of press releases: just visit the news pages of Fragrantica or the Recently Added list of the Basenotes directory. Fragonerds today often feel equal amounts of curiosity, skepticism, and  "whatever" when told about new brands. Did the world really need a third range from Michael Boadi (Boadicea The Victorious, Illuminum, and now Bohdidharma)? Did Sergio Momo really had to release over 60 perfumes since 2009 under the various Xerjoff offshoots?

Nowadays I rarely bother to shrug when learning about a new brand bursting into the scene with twelve fragrances. How many of them will still be around in five years? In ten years? But I have to admit that I did a double take when I saw the news about the release of a new line, Diana Vreeland Perfumes ($185-$250 at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman). The larger-than-life fashion editor died in 1989. She was a true perfume lover. In her autobiography, D.V., she wrote:
“There’s a whole school now that says that the scent must be faint.  This is ridiculous.  I’m speaking from the experience of a lifetime.
I always carry purse scent – that way I’m never without it.  Do you notice any scent on me now?  Don’t come any closer – if you have to sniff  like a hound, it’s not enough!
Perfume is an extravagance.  But it’s odd that Americans, who God knows are an extravagant people, have never used scents properly.  They buy bottles, but they don’t splash it on.  Chanel always used to say, keep a bottle in your bag, and refresh yourself with it continually.”
(and see also this post by Jessica on Tinsel Creation)

But when I see headlines in some online sites claiming "A new fragrance by the legendary editor-in-chief of Vogue US, Diana Vreeland", I cringe. And then I cringe again. Because the five new perfumes are not "by Vreeland". They were not commissioned for her, either. Her grandson, Alexander, is the entrepreneur behind this venture. Mr. Vreeland is the administrator of the Diana Vreeland Estate and the husband of filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland who directed and produced the 2012 documentary Diana Vreeland- The Eye Has To Travel. I'm guessing that the film's success and what seemed like a renewed interest in his grandmother (Atelier Swarovski already created a limited edition jewelry collection 'Diana Vreeland Legacy Collection' in 2012) made Mr. Vreeland and the estate decide there was a commercial potential behind the name. So why not release a perfume or five?

I tried to think of similar examples of posthumous use of a celebrity's name in perfume, but the only ones are a single fragrance in an existing line dedicated to the person's memory (Immortelle Marilyn by Nez à Nez, Josephine Baker by Etat Libre d'Orange), but maybe I'm forgetting something. But does it matter? I don't know.Obviously, the estate has every right to do it, but I'm still uncomfortable, especially since the late Mrs. Vreeland wasn't a label of any kind. She was an editor and a curator, but not a brand. Making her one twenty five years after her death doesn't feel right to me. If the family wanted simply to honor her memory they could have donated a wing to a hospital or to a museum. Slapping her name on perfumes she never smelled? Not that big of a tribute. I don't even want to think what will come next.

Let's talk about it: how do you feel about the concept of Diana Vreeland Perfumes? Would you be comfortable with similar endeavors?

Photo: Harry Benson: Diana Vreeland, New York, 1980

Monday, July 28, 2014

Estee Lauder Sculpting Foundation Brush #2

Estee Lauder Sculpting Foundation Brush #2 was launched recently alongside the new Perfectionist Youth-Infusing Makeup (don't get me started on that name). Lauder's description of the brush confirms that you can use it with all of their other foundations, and I will add that obviously you can use any liquid foundation or tinted moisturizers.

I got the #2 foundation brush because of its shape. It looks like an oversized version of the insanely-priced Claudio Riaz Instant Smoke eye brush, and the "sculpting" part of the name hints towards the brushes ability to create shape if that's what you're after. But most of us simply seek an even coverage, which the brush allows for very easily thanks to its width and thickness. There's no special secret for working with this brush, but I do second the instructions on the Estee Lauder website:
"Pat brush into makeup.Apply with 3 quick upward motions, working from center of face out:
1. Across cheek and up toward middle of ear. 2. Across chin and over lower jaw. 3. At center of forehead and out towards temple.
Finish with a swirling motion to blend over entire face."
The brush has a great balance in my hand. It's sturdy and thick, and looks like a professional tool. I find that it doesn't soak up too much product (the hair appears synthetic) and dispenses it evenly and comfortably-- it's a lot softer than it looks. The angled corners allow you to reach every nook and cranny, and the short bristles ensure no streaks in application.

Comparison to a standard paddle foundation brush (the current version of Chanel) and the outstanding Le Metier de Beaute angled brush gives you an idea how unique the Estee Lauder #2 is. I can't say that I have a real preference-- a great foundation brush is a great foundation brush, and most days I simply reach for whatever's clean. I do feel that this brush performs better with the thinnest and lightest formulas (as well as for applying a face primer), while thicker/creamier foundations often require a bit more flexibility from the brush. But it's a matter of personal preference and skin texture.

The brush is made in China (like the one from Chanel, by the way), and comes in a box with a plastic protector that makes for a good kitten toy (like everything else in the house these days).

Bottom Line: a great tool.

Estee Lauder Sculpting Foundation Brush #2 ($45) is available from most department stores as well as online (

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bruno Acampora Profumi- Perfume Shopping In Naples, Italy

This is a bit overdue since it's been nearly four months since my Italian vacation where the husband and I sniffed our way through Naples and the area around it equipped with a Google map dotted with various perfume destinations. The Bruno Acampora showroom was one of the most anticipated ones. True, we can get all of Bruno Acampora fragrances here in the US, but there's nothing like visiting the source. Once we actually found it, that is. The location is quite central (Via Filangieri 72, Naples), but there's no sign outside the building and the boutique is on the second floor which you access through a staircase in a semi-inner courtyard. Thankfully, there was a doorman who pointed us in the right direction.

Bruno Aacampora was a Capri-based jetsetter with a passion for his native area and the scents that defined it, as well as luxury and travel (his son, Brunello, is a yacht designer). The perfumes that carry his name are, indeed, luxurious. They come in two formulations: spray and oil, and I much prefer the latter. Bruno Acampora's oils are heavier and have an unmistakable high percentage of natural ingredients. The alcohol-based sprays (unfortnately named "Eau de Bruno") are still extrait de parfum concentration but feel more perfumy, for better and for worse. The boutique carries everything in several sizes, including travel sprays, and  also offers body products (I'm kicking myself for not buying any), candles, and gift-sets, including one of the entire oil range that costs like a small Italian car.

Smelling everything on the spot can be a bit overwhelming. I was only familiar with Musc, which I've smelled a couple of times, including on my friend Lucy (see her post on Indie Perfumes). Thankfully, the people at the showroom were wonderfully generous with samples, which allowed me to spend some quality time with these gems and conclude that I like them quite a bit. Really like them, even. The only one I somehow didn't get to sample and can't even remember is Seplasia. If you're familiar with it please chime in.

Bruno Acampora Private Collection includes two perfumes: Bianco and Nero. I expected to fall for Nero, a dark spicy amber, but instead found myself coveting Bianco. Nero is a saffron and chocolate affair, ambery and woody, heavy on patchouli with a somewhat smoky dry-down. It's a great one, for sure, but it's Bianco that captivated me with its complexity: a musky white floral with a surprise sparkle, like tiny crystals on a silk chiffon dress. There's jasmine and spice, white roses over smooth wood, and a creamy dry-down.

Nero: citrus, saffron, cedar, patchouli, sandalwood, amber, musk.
Bianco: lemon, orange, bergamot, coriander, rose, ylang-ylang, clove, pepper, jasmine, lily of the valley, musk, tonka bean, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, raspberries.

The other perfume oils I've tested-

Musc. This one smells shockingly different on everyone, to the point it's hard to believe it's the same perfume. The animal here is lurking in a  very French lavender field and is semi-concealed by powder. I like it, but it's not true love. I guess I'm spoiled by MKK. Notes: musk, rose, violet, vanilla, cloves, amber, sandalwood.

Sballo. La Primavera. The essence spring. Call it whatever you want, it's an intoxicating and beautiful green floral with a hay dry-down that is far less feminine than the opening suggests.
Notes: rose, geranium, violet, orange blossom, musk, resins, sandalwood, vetiver, hay, sage.

Prima T. My first impression was soap. An expensive galbanum soap. Upon further testing the true chyper-like nature of Prima T becomes more apparent. There's a hint of vintage there; a vintage Chanel No.19, to be precise.
Notes: narcissus, violet, jasmine, rose, galbanum, mandarine, muguet, lily, musk, patchouly.

Volubilis. What an interesting creature! A bright and minty rose that reminded me instantly of Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsingeur, only deeper (and perhaps better).
Notes: pink pepper, bergamot, peppermint, rose, iris, patchouli, vanilla, amber, musk.

Blu. Tuberose, tuberose, and more tuberose. I love this narcotic yet beachy flower, so this was a no-brainer, but I can't say that Blu adds a lot to the already-crowded white floral shelf, except for being truly beautiful.
Notes: tuberose, orange, sandalwood, ylang-ylang.

Ignore the feminine label on Luckyscent. This is an outstanding and unique masculine. Opens as fresh-cut grass and damp earth, and becomes dirtier, somewhat fatty, with a hint of cuminy curry and a herb garden after the rain.
Notes: musk, sandalwood, jasmine, rose, amber, galbanum, patchouly, vanilla

Jasmine T. Bruno Acampora had a thing for jasmine (it's also his daughter's name), and this is his ultimate interpretation of the flower. Jasmine T really needs heat to develop and I like it much more now in mid-summer than I did back in the cool and rainy days of early spring. It's truly golden, with a heavy dose of mimosa and ylang-ylang.
Notes: jasmine, cyclamen, cloves, ylang-ylang.

Luckyscent carries all Bruno Acampora perfumes, both in spray and in oil, the latter is around $200 for 10ml. I wish they also stocked the 5ml size that's offered in Italy (I'm pretty sure you can call them and ask for a special order, though). Nero and Bianco, unfortunately, are only offered in 10ml and 20ml

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Laura Mercier Peacock & Gilded Gold Caviar Stick Eye Colour

Laura Mercier just released six more colors in the phenomenal Caviar Stick range. Regular readers know that I'm a huge fan of these cream-in-a-stick eye shadows because the smooth formulas are incredibly easy to work with and offer an all-day longevity once the color sets. Laura Mercier has made it easy to achieve a very sophisticated look with absolutely no effort with these Caviar Sticks-you paint the lid, smudge as much or as little as you want (just do it quickly, before the color is dry), and that's it. Just add mascara.

Out of the six new colors I got Peacock, a rich turquoise, and Gilded Gold, a light antique gold. Peacock is a very bold choice, but I can pull it off and even do a smoky eye when applied judiciously (my mother would rather I don't, though). Gilded Gold is a classic fall (or transition to fall color), that goes well with an espresso brown eyeliner (which incidentally, Laura Mercier offers in the Creme Eyeliner formula).

Bottom Line: I also want the one in Moonlight, a pewter shade.

Laura Mercier Peacock & Gilded Gold Caviar Stick Eye Colour ($28 each) are arriving at the counters (most department stores already have them online) and from The products in this review were sent by PR for my consideration.

NARS Dione & Himalia Dual-Intensity Eye Shadows

As I told you, the first taste I got of NARS Dual-Intensity Eye Shadow (see here: Giove and Callisto) sent me right to the NARS counter to get more of them. I've already shown you the stunning Subra and Desdemona, and here are the last two I bought: Dione, a beige champagne and Himalia, a warmer metallic camel . The wonderful texture is the same molten metal which you can apply dry or wet. I've come to really enjoy working with a damp brush to get the most out of them. My favorite way to wear these are using one of the dark colors (Giove, Subra, or Desdemona) to create the shape on the lid, and then patting a dot of a light color in the middle. For me this is an evening look, but not all of us are middle-aged, so go wild.

 I added a comparison swatch next to Callisto to show the differences between the shades of these Dual-Intensity Eye Shadows. As you can see, Callisto has a lilac/pink cast next to Dione and Himalia.

Bottom Line: I showed a great restraint by only buying four colors.

NARS Dione & Himalia Dual-Intensity Eye Shadows ($29 each) are available at most department stores, Sephora, and from

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta

Bertrand Duchaufour and Jean-Claude Ellena walk into a lab...

Sounds like the start of a good fragonerd joke (and you're more than welcome to fill in the blank), but it actually happened back in 2003 when the two superstar perfumers composed Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta, which is not to be confused with Acqua di Parma's Colonia or Colonia Intensa, each a completely different perfume.

I think that Colonia Assoluta was labeled a masculine fragrance. The press release for the 10th anniversary edition (same juice, but a gorgeous refillable bottle with an engraved bicycle motif ) certainly talks about
"... the man who lives deep in the surrounding world, ready to capture all stimulation....... He has a unique sense of style, matching garments and accessories with carefree elegance to combine tradition with modernity, Urban contemporary icons. The elegance of a man riding a bicycle in the city streets."
Whatever. Bicycle riders you see around here are more about  neon-colored spandex than elegance (if you've ever been to Nyack, NY on a weekend you know exactly what I mean), and I never learned to ride a bike, anyway. But none of this changes the fact that Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta is a modern take on the classic eau de cologne theme, with some interesting contradictions within the typical citrus and herbs composition.

There's something very stark, blanched, and almost overexposed in the first few minutes of Colonia Assoluta. Think of the blinding light of a summer midday in a small town as the heat drives everyone away from the emptying streets. This is where I also smell a bit too much white musk on its synthetic facet, but I have to admit that it enhances that 'blanched" effect. The citrus, flowers, herbs, and wood elements are blended seamlessly. None of them is too obvious, but there is an undercurrent of spice that keeps Colonia Assoluta from smelling too light and fresh/clean.  Back in her 2005 review on NST, Robin identified a shade of cumin in this Acqua di Parma perfume, and I get it. It might be a phantom note that trails the cardamom and various peppers used by Duchaufour and Ellena, but it's there and I actually like it. It keeps things fun.

Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta requires a heavy hand if you want things to last a while. It dries down into a warmer resins and roots than you'd expect from a summer cologne, and I'd personally layer it with some dry and bitter vetiver to enhance the effect.

Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta ($96, 1.7oz) is available at Sephora and select department stores. This review is based on a bottle of last year's anniversary  edition that was sent to me by the company's PR. To my nose it's identical to the regular juice (hence the refillable option).

Photo: an outtake from a famous John Rawlings beach shot for Vogue, June 1947.

Coming Soon From Hourglass: 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eye Liner

Fall 2014 is shaping up to be a great season for eyeliners ( I already bought some from Lancome, NARS, and Laura Mercier. Reviews soon). Now Hourglass is joining the fun with a gel formula in a mechanical pencil. A very very thin mechanical pencil (hence the 1.5mm). From the press release the new Hourglass liner seems to be a true hybrid: not a gel-like pencil, but a real gel inside a pencil-like applicator that holds enough product for a 17 to 20 uses. This is not a lot, which I guess is why the mechanical eyeliner will also be offered in packages of three units ($45) as well as a single ($16. The latter only at Sephora and Right now the only shade will be Obsidian (black). I'll sacrifice a virgin for a navy version.

Release date: Today on It will launch on on July 29 and in all stores on August 15.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jury Duty

It doesn't get more Mondayish than this, if you ask me.
Scent of the day: After considering Fracas, Miel de Bois and Absolue Pour Le Soir, I decided to play nice(r) and settled on Tauer Le Maroc pour Elle. Quite a bit of sillage, which is much needed around here.

Photo via Time Magazine

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Currently- July 2014

I finished two this week: The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith which I started and abandoned when it first came out, only to come back to it now before reading the sequel. It's a well-written mystery with some noir overtones. The other one was The Book Of Life by Deborah Harkness, the conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy. I won't get into it other than to say I was disappointed. Maybe that's what I deserve for reading a vampire story.

We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea by Declan O'Rourke

Something To Believe by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan

There's absolutely nothing to watch on TV.

Rozy by Vero Profumo. It's beautiful, magical, and puts to shame most other new releases.

NARS Subra Dual Intensity eye shadow.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
Little cotton cardigans over just about everything.

Bobby Flay's roasted cauliflower dish that's served at his restaurant Gato. It comes in a peppery sweet and sour marinade, and is probably the best cauliflower I've ever had. We keep ordering it hoping to figure out the secret, but no luck this far.

Shame Inducing Guilty Pleasure
Skipping lunch in favor of consuming scary amounts of watermelon.

The side effects of Benadryl.

Happy, healthy kittens. Kate and Philip are doing wonderfully.

Nick Cave concert next weekend. Mark Lanegan is the opening act.

I could use more maxi dresses.

Random Thought
(For those who read or intending to read the Book of Life) Still better than Renesmee.

How are you doing? Please share your loves, banes, recommendations or random thoughts.

Art: July Night by Frederick Childe Hassam (1898)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

One Thousand Julys- A Look Through The Archive

Ok, this is only the ninth July since I started blogging, but I like that line. I was digging for something in the blog's archives and as usual got distracted. It was fun to look and see what I was up to around this time in previous years. Up to my eyeballs in fall collections, obviously, but there were also perfumes, funny stories, and a premonition about Henri Bendel.

July 2006
I finally embraced my gourmand fetish and bought bottles of Lea St. Barth and Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum. I still adore them. In fact, I think I know what I'm wearing to bed tonight.
I was part of the Great Eyeliner Hunt, a joint blogging project that involved several bloggers who've since quit the scene. I think that in the end I remained loyal to Lancome's Artliner, a staple then and now.

July 2007
Spent many a hot summer night in Goutal's Les Nuits d'Hadrien (where is my bottle, actually?), gave a few suggestions about beating the heat, and felt utterly unimpressed with a Benefit mascara (what else is new?).

July 2008
Considering the recent going ons at Henri Bendel, I can't keep from saying: I told you so.
I was back from Paris with many stories to tell, like my first visit to Serge Luten's mothership. My mother shared a stinky DIY beauty story, and I had an eBay fiasco.

July 2009
Chanel fall collection got the better of my credit card, I wore a yellow nail polish, and got seriously cranky with Chanel's perfume creative minds.

July 2010
Guerlain released their most beautiful palettes ever, I got a gorgeous new purse, felt nostalgic for Safari perfume, and  Rihanna looked like a clown (some things never change).

July 2011
Laura Mercier released the now-classic Caviar Sticks, I started buying them like it's my job (well, it kind of is), Fan di Fendi failed to impress, and Carine Roitfeld amused me more than usual.

July 2012
I lamented all the perfumes I've never smelled, discovered what I still consider my best skincare asset, and bought yet another red lipstick. YSL kept releasing these gorgeous eyeliners, and the Duchess of Cambridge put her hair up. Both are still on my favorite list.

July 2013
Kate Walsh annoyed the snot out of me, I fell head over hills for Sideris (finally got a bottle during the Bendel clearance), the husband and I were interviewed, and used lots of body powders. Oh, and added the second most beautiful palette in the universe to my collection.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

YSL Fétiches Palette Yeux Collector Fall 2014

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014 was a roaring success as far as I'm concerned. I found myself wearing the colors in interesting combinations and creating various looks. The upgraded texture and formula of YSL eye shadows has made them a great pleasure to use, as also reported by those who bought the palettes from the permanent line. I could not wait to get my hands on the fall palette, Fétiches .

The inspiration for YSL Fétiches Palette Yeux Collector Fall 2014 are leather and suede clothes, biker jackets, and a bit of tough girl chic. It starts with the compact itself, with its black leather cover embossed with the YSL logo. Definitely a nice touch. The eye shadows can be used with a damp brush, but I'd say that other than the matte black liner, all of the colors have enough pigment intensity even when used dry. I swatched using the sponge applicators that came with the palette, and only dampened the brush for the black color-- it is an eyeliner, after all.

Other than the matte black there's a gorgeous blue with the slightest hint of green (satin finish), a rich very dark brown with copper micro-sparkle, and two bright shimmers: one in camel that reminds me of the most luxurious suede and gold lamé. These are classic color, all the their very best- the prettiest blue, the richest brown. They work beautifully together in any number of combinations. It's not the most original palette, obviously, but the quality and style make up for it. 

Bottom Line: a good fall look is the next best thing to Paris in the fall. Kind of.

YSL Fétiches Palette Yeux Collector Fall 2014 ($60) is available at the counters.

Inglot Lion King Collection

I'm not quite sure how to take this new partnership between Disney's Lion King musical and Inglot Cosmetics. I'm getting a flashback to the mid 1990s, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. And I feel like wisecracking other possible collaborations: MAC Oaklahoma collection, NARS and South Pacific, Estee Lauder for Cats...

I do like the colors in Inglot's Lion King/Savanna Sunset. They're classic summer-to-fall transition. I just wonder why Lion King or why now, as well as who exactly is the target consumer. Maybe the clue is in the press release :
"Audience members who bring their ticket to INGLOT Times Square and like INGLOT fanpage on Facebook will receive a 20% discount on their purchase or receive a free makeover from INGLOT."
Tourists who haven't seen the show yet? Or maybe Auntie Gaia who can't wait to take her niece and nephew to see Simba and friends. Which reminds me: How gorgeous was Heather Headley as the original Nala (top photo)? I actually saw her on stage in Aida twice during the summer of 2000 and she was mesmerizing. I wonder what she's up to these days.

Publicity photo of Heather Headley by Joan Marcus for Disney. Other images courtesy of Inglot.

Salvatore Ferragamo- Signorina (EDP 2012)

My sister called me the other day to ask me what I know about Salvatore Ferragamo perfume Signorina. It took me a a minute to verify that she meant the 2012 original and not the newest flanker Signorina Eleganza that was released this year. Apparently she got a bottle after falling for it at first or second sniff. I unearthed a sample and went to see what it was all about.

I could see why my sister wanted it. While over the last few years she's been mostly loyal to Kenzo Flower, she's also gone through a couple of Eclat d'Arpege bottles as well as Lancome Tresor In Love (the 2010 flanker, as her husband cannot abide the original). In the world of musky gourmands with a sizable helping of fresh fruity notes and hearty pink floral core, Ferragamo's Signorina is kind of an extreme example of a perfume that was created to make you smile no matter what. It's just so... perky. Like a morning person who insists on making you rise and shine, but you cannot get too mad because he or she already made you pancakes and tea which they've arranged beautifully on a small table decorated with fresh flowers and your best linens. What's not to like?

Well, the generic simplicity, for one. I wonder how I would have felt had Ferragamo's Signorina been the first of its kind. Would I have reveled in its realistic and incredibly mouth watering pannacotta accord? Would I have marveled at the way the light and fresh green leaves, sparkling pink pepper, and juicy red currants keep the creamy dessert fresh and vibrant? I keep thinking about it, and the answer is "probably". I do love me a good gourmand, from Olivia Giacobetti's Sexy Angelic to the wonderfully weird Kelly & Jones #5 Notes Of Chardonnay that lets you have your creme brulee with a side of cheap wine and a slice of the oak barrel. A milky dessert in perfume is an excellent idea if you ask me, but I wish it was done a bit more dramatically and with less of the usual pink suspects.

Signorina is cute and I kind of liked it for a while (see above: what's not to like?). I admit that after a couple of hoursof wearing it I get bored out of my skull. Soft and sweet smelling, but ready to snap. I'd rather smell Signorina on my sister, and that's how it should be.

I've heard that there was some kind of raucous over the name "Signorina" and the strong push towards very young audience. I sometimes find certain perfumes juvenile, but usually it's because I feel that the Powers That Be were cutting corners on quality and aiming extra low in their marketing campaigns. This isn't the case here. A sunny disposition is not exclusive to the young, and while my little sister is weeks away from turning 40, in my mind she's perpetually nineteen. She's happy to wear Signorina, I'm happy not to test it again, and our mother will keep on spraying Chloe and Fracas all around her. It's all in the family.

Notes: red currant, pink pepper, green notes, jasmine, peony, rose, patchouli, musk, pannacotta accord.

Salvatore Ferragamo- Signorina ($79, 50 ml EDP) is available at select department stores.

Top image by Zalita on Flickr.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cats Of The Day: Introducing Kate & Philip

Our intention was to only adopt one kitten, preferably a female. Last month we lost our oldest cat, Kosh, the Orange Menace, the Dread of NJ Vets. He was 17 and had a long and happy life. It was hard to let go of someone who was the heart and (somewhat disturbed) soul of our family.

The answer is always kittens. After four weeks we felt ready to face the adoption event at our local Petco and bring home a bundle of joy and whiskers. Then we met these two. Philip chose me on the spot, while the Husband was cooing at his adorable and tiny sister. Both purred at us still in the display cage. We couldn't choose, and more important: it was obvious we couldn't separate them. They appeared devoted to each other as much as to the idea of finding a forever home.

We took them both.

As for the names, the Husband had pre-chosen the name Kate. After Katharine Hepburn, not the Duchess of Cambridge. Philip is a name I've loved forever; once upon a time I hoped to adopt a doberman pinscher and name him Philip, but obviously that's not happening. So instead, I have a teeny tiny all black kitten who will eventually answer to this name. Kate is obviously a classic tabby. Yes, she's kind of similar to the triple threat (Marigold, Gemma, and Pippa), except for an all white chest and adorable white paws. They have already started to take over the house. Bob's response is to take a nap.

NARS Subra & Desdemona Dual-Intensity Eye Shadows

I told you that Giove and Callisto were only the beginning. The texture, finish and performance of the new Dual Intensity eye shadows by NARS completely won me over, so I had to add several more to my collection. Today we're looking at Subra and Desdemona, and some time next week I'll feature two others (there will also be several new items from NARS fall collection, which is even more stunning in person than the campaign photos hinted, not to mention easy to wear and incorporated into day-to-day looks).

Subra and Desdemona are probably the most stunning of the Dual-Intensity line. The colors are unique and the finish, especially in Desdemona, is a beautiful duo-chrome. They can be applied dry or damp for extra impact, but the level of pigment and color intensity is impressive enough even as a wash of color. Of course, you can really go to town with a fine damp brush and create a graphic liner. In any case, these colors are the focal point of any makeup look.

Desdemona is a burgundy with an orchid duo-chrome cast visible under certain light. It requires some planning and a careful execution to avoid a bruised look (which is actually quite in for this coming fall). I can't stop looking at the effect it creates; the superb finish in this new NARS formula  is breathtaking. It's incredibly smooth and easy to work with. I never felt more like apro than when playing with these eye shadows.

Subra is more muted, but don't let first impression of "brown" fool you. NARS describes Subra as a "black orchid"; I see a very dark earthy brown that flashes lilac. The duo-chrome effect is not quite as bold as in Desdemona, but it;s there, it's beautiful, and it's wonderfully wearable.

Bottom Line: jaw-dropping gorgeous.

NARS Subra & Desdemona Dual-Intensity Eye Shadows ($29 each) are available at the counters and from

Monday, July 14, 2014

L'Artisan Parfumeur- Bois Farine

When I first blogged about my relationship with Bois Farine, Jean-Claude Ellena's 2003 creation for L'Artisan, it was after a couple of years of continuous sampling and testing. I was mesmerized by this perfume, just couldn't decide if my fascination was a good or a bad thing. Did I actually want to smell as though I've been rolling in pastry dough and stuffing myself silly with peanut butter cookies? Apparently I did, because a couple of years later I finally bought a bottle and haven't looked back ever since.

Back when I first smelled Bois Farine I was bothered by a supposed floral note. I still remember the way I perceived the development of the fragrance on my skin: I felt that the funky dough boy has turned into something pink and more conventional. Years later, I have no idea what I thought I was smelling back then. Bois Farine has a massive iris core, but that's not exactly flowery and most definitely not pink. This is a dry iris, with a powdery facet that feels utterly natural after the flour sack explosion of the opening. If you think about the very chilly yet powdery orris in Olivia Giacobetti's Hiris (Hermes, but almost has L'Artisan DNA) as one end of the spectrum, the inside of an old-fashioned bakery in Bois Farine is the opposite.

Bois Farine walks the perimeter of sweet and gourmand without actually crossing the threshold. Yes, there is a peanut butter sandwich somewhere (especially if you're familiar with the fresh stuff you grind on the spot at Whole Foods. Pure heaven), but the sandalwood and cedar that hold the perfume together keep it from going there. Instead, if you spray enough to last you the entire day, you will find yourself relishing the delicate skin scent with its milky wood and inviting warmth. Yes, it's still kind of weird, and you can't miss the fact that there is a flour note in there, but so what? It smells utterly fabulous.

Notes: white cedar, gaiacwood and sandalwood, white iris, farine flower, fennel seed.

L'Artisan Parfumeur- Bois Farine ($145, 100ml EDT) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, Aedes, and Barneys. If you do some dedicated googling you may be able to find the now discontinued 50ml bottles at a much more appealing prices.

Photo: The Art of Dance Series by Ron Brewer, 2012

Pixi Beauty Mocha Mauve & Graphite Glint Lid Last Shadow Pen

I picked these two Pixi Beauty Lid Last Shadow Pens in Mocha Mauve and Graphite Glint almost as an afterthought when I bought the latest Endless Silky Eye Pen and restocked on Black Noir and Black Blue (I use them all the time). Eye shadow in a stick or a chubby pencil form is one of the quickest, easiest and most portable way to get a great eye look with minimal fuss. I've already reviewed Pixi's version, the Lid Last Shadow Pen (in Gilded Mink and Brun Beam) and explained how to work with this quick-setting texture, so I won't repeat it here other than to say that it's become one of my foolproof/I'm not really awake staples.

Graphite Glint is a medium gray, not quite as charcoaly as it appears in the pencil, which makes it a very easy daytime color. Mocha Mauve is a beige taupe, several degrees lighter and slightly warmer (hence "mauve") than Gilded Mink (which is back in stock and everyone needs it). Both have an understated sheen with no glitter particles, with Mocha Mauve looking slightly more metallic. They set quickly and do not budge. Ever. Removal requires a dual phase product or a good soak in micellar water. If your lids are very dry do use a creamy primer, as these pencils add no hydration whatsoever.

Pixi Lid Last pencils require sharpening (unlike the creamier sticks from Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown). I'm using my NARS sharpener and an ancient Sue Devitt one. I've found that the legendary Urban Decay sharpener doesn't play well with Pixi pencils.

Pixi Beauty Lid Last Shadow Pens ($18 each) are available from I highly suggest googling for discount coupons as there's always a 20-25% off somewhere ( don't think I've ever paid full retail price). Pixi Beauty products are also available at Target, but touching that grimy display and rummaging for testers is at your own risk.