Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ask The Non-Blonde: Personally Speaking (Again), Mostly About Makeup

Apparently, it's been two years since I last answered makeup-related personal questions in a dedicated post. A couple of the questions I collected here are about other things, but I included them anyway. I probably forgot some (it's easier for me to collect questions through Twitter, but you're still welcome to use any other available format), so feel free to ask here in the comment section.

1. How do you feel about Clooney's marriage?
    I'm very happy for George, and glad to see that in the end he chose a woman of substance. And, yes, I loved the Oscar de la Renta dress.

2. Will you show us your makeup setup?
     Yes. Soon. I'm still tweaking and decluttering, but it finally feels like the "work-in-progress" has progressed somewhere. I feel a bit guilty, considering the fact that for the last five years I've had a room dedicated to all things beauty,  outfitted with the ever-so-popular Ikea Alex drawers (seven of them, actually). But I'm reminding myself that this blogging thing makes me a not-so-average makeup user.

3. How is the perfume organization project going?
   It's done, finally. The husband did some serious work setting everything up and securing the cabinets to ensure safety and stability (Olivia and Sophie tend to jump on top). Everything is more accessible and nicely organized, there's a full cupboard dedicated to Guerlain, most of the box-less and super vintage rarities live  inside a dresser, and the whole thing is making me ridiculously happy.

4. Where do you keep your makeup brushes?
    For the last five years I've kept most of them inside the aforementioned Alex drawers. I moved some into various holders placed now on top of a vintage tea cart that I can move around the room as needed. It's as practical as it's pretty.

5. What were the Guerlain and Edward Bess lipsticks you finished?
    Edward Bess Night Romance ( a gorgeous all-year deep rose). I think it's not the first Night Romance I've used up. The Guerlain was Rouge Automatique in Liu.

6. Do you wear makeup at home?
    I test makeup at home, so you might catch me sporting some really odd stuff, but as a rule I'm bare-faced at home and prefer to remove my makeup almost as soon as I step inside.

7. What's on your makeup wishlist?
     The FedEx guy just delivered my first order of Gucci makeup. I have yet to even open the boxes but I already want more.

8. I've always been curious: you seem to like bold colors like green and blue. How do you wear these products (like the RBR palette)?
    The answer is "one color at a time". Generally speaking, my skin tone and face structure can take quite a bit of color. Navy and many other shades of blue look very flattering on me (or so I think), so I blend them with something neutral and pay attention to textures so things don't look too heavy or bright. Even when using a coordinated palette I usually choose one color and pair it with something low key outside the palette.

9. Do you own any MAC? You never post about the brand.
    I do have a handful of MAC posts (see this, this, and this, for example), but I have a hard time caring about the endless limited-edition collections, and not all of their permanent products were created equal. I have two custom palettes with classic colors such as Club, Patina, Satin Taupe, and others, which I use often enough. And at a reader's recommendation I recently got the Animal Instinct blush, which I absolutely adore. It's a plum with maybe a touch of brown in the base.

10. You haven't reviewed anything from Chanel in a long time. Why is that?
       That's true. I keep checking out the new collection, but generally feeling "meh" on almost everything. I'd love something new and exciting from Chanel, and hopefully a reformulation for the better of many eye products, especially eyeliners (the mascaras have vastly improved in recent years).

11. What makeup do you buy at the drugstore?
       Pixi eyeliners and various random items from Boots No.7. I really enjoyed their collaboration with Poppy King of Lipstick Queen.

Image: Make-up, by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1948

Cold Weather: One Product To Add To Every Routine

It was definitely cold when I woke up this morning. There are still roses in full bloom on the bush outside my bedroom window, but the rest of the yard is ready for a long hibernation. Frankly, so am I. But since that's not an option (and neither is wintering in Florida. I don't think Boca is ready for me just yet), I'll stick to what I know: pampering. Assuming we all have a good routine in place already, here are suggestions of one product in each category to enhance what you're already doing.

A long cold season doesn't have to mean having scaly hooves come April. I'm keeping my regular maintenance (see here and here), but have recently added Topix Urix 40 Urea Cream (around $31 on Amazon) which I slather on at bedtime (and a quick coat of Eucerin Intensive Repair Foot Cream in the morning, as I've been doing for a very long time).

I rotate between several products: creams (Jo Malone and L'Occitane, what else?), oils (must have: Aftelier Ancient Resins), and body butters. But I've found that the key to a healthy looking skin is using a lotion that contains AHA, just as I do on my face. It's almost ridiculous what a difference the classic  AmLactin Moisturizing Lotion 12% ($19.50 on drugstore.com) makes for me.

Hands and Nails
I keep hand cream tubes everywhere around the house (favorites: L'Occitane, Gehwol), but I plan to be extra vigilant about regular use of oil. The orange blossom-scented Beauty elixir Oil from Providence Perfume Company is as good as it gets.

I'm not making any changes here and sticking to shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask from L'Occitane. I use an oil on my damp hair after every washing, so if you're not yet familiar with Aroma M Camelia Oil, I urge you to order a sample. Really, it's that good.

I've recently posted about my current skincare routine. I'm not switching a thing, yet, only upping the frequency of applying my favorite Goku-jun Hyaluronic Facial Mask (it's a Japanese sheet mask, just like the ones you'd make yourself, only pre-loaded and extremely hydrating) from Hada Labo ($14.50 for a pack of four on Amazon). It plumps the skin and shows immediate results.

Are you planning to add or change to your grooming routine? Do you have any fabulous recommendations?

Image by the one and only Rene Gruau via Hprint.com.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coty- L'Aimant

Looking at advertisement for L'Aimant, the magnet, we can see that Coty has always promoted it as a sexy and alluring perfume, one that would give the wearer an irresistible hold over the men in her life. Femininity is highlighted and celebrated, at least what passed as femininity back in the day.L'aimant was launched in 1927 after five years of tinkering by Francois Coty and legendary perfumer Vincent Roubert (Iris Gris). It's often compared to Chanel No.5 (1921), and it's easy to smell why. The burst of aldehydes (shockingly fresh even in my older bottles) places L'Aimant firmly in the classic floral-aldehydic category, But not for long.

L'Aimant develops in a way that reminds me more of chypres. An oriental chypre, perhaps, because there's a certain creamy vanilla touch somewhere in the background. But the best way I could describe this Coty classic masterpiece is as love child of Habanita and Mitsouko, that was injected with a touch of No.5 DNA, probably to make it more contemporary and appealing to the 1920s fashionistas.

There's quite  a bit going on in L'Aimant. It's a classic floral (the Husband: "smells like vintage"), which we all know used to mean that there's a touch of skank behind the delicate veil. The touch of peach and plum is fleshy and sensual, not fresh, and includes the skin and not just the pulp (it seems like a Vincent Roubert signature). But the lion part of L'Aimant is dedicated to cream and powder, a kind of boudoirish touch that takes porcelain skin, luxurious lotions and potions, the air in that velvet-lined and curtained room, and binds them together with a very light touch of naughty civet for that "come hither" effect (the skank doesn't project at all. It's only there on the most intimate level). The strong powder note ensures a level of respectability in public-- there you are all groomed, coiffed, and powdered to the nines, but there's a secret hiding under the tailored peplum jacket that's waiting to be discovered.

See more L'Aimant reviews by Angela on NST and Barbara on Yesterday's Perfume.

More vintage Coty perfume reviews are here.

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick In Carnal

I'm on a mission: to own as many Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy lipsticks as I can actually wear. Of course, this is a problem considering the Lipstick Situation I just told you about, and it also explains how it happened. But seriously, these are not just the best Estee Lauder lipsticks, but also among the best ones you can buy at any local department store.

My first Pure Color Envy was the rosy Fierce. Next I went redder with Carnal, a sexy Marilynish warm red. It's creamy, it's luscious, and longevity is pretty good. Obviously, you need primed and prepped lips to wear such a bold red, and using a brush is highly recommended. The fragrance is really faint, though if you're sensitive I urge you not to buy without testing at the counter. The lipsticks are neither vegan nor gluten-free, if that's important to you. But if you can forgive the above sins, this is one of those ultimate reds.

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick In Carnal ($30) is available at the counters, Sephora and online.

Vincent Longo Starlette Gel Eye Stain- Chartreuse Veil & Ambrosia Mist

It's been many years since I last bought any Vincent Longo products (they used to be in Sephora and I adored the lip glosses and eyeliners). I was thrilled to hear that the line has rebounded and Vincent Longo is back with some interesting new products. I probably wouldn't have started with the Starlette Gel Eye Stains were they not sent to me, but I'm actually happy to test and wear things that are outside my comfort zone.

Vincent Longo Starlette Gel Eye Stains are sheer eye glosses with a little golden glitter suspended in the gel. The swatches above show two coats of stain, because otherwise the pigment level is not enough for my taste. You can wear them alone on a (primed) bare lid or layered over eye shadows (they give an interesting effect over dark matte colors). It's worth experimenting for the fun factor alone, and for the occasional truly stunning look you can get.

The gel dries down within a couple of minutes, and once it sets there's no budging and it will not smudge or migrate. The glossy effect is nice and not exaggerated, which makes me wonder why they had to stick the glitter in such a gorgeous product. While some of the glitter fades a bit (falls out and blows away after a couple of hours) I still would have been much happier without it. If it were just plain gel stain I would have bought each one of the other colors (they have a gorgeous navy). As it is, I'm happy to use it for an evening look.

The gel stains come in a tube with a click foam applicator (reminiscent of Ellis Faas). So far I did not have an issue with clogging or drying. You can apply straight from the tip to your lid, and work it with your fingers or a brush to create the shape you want.

Chartreuse Veil looks poisonous green at first but turns out as a bright golden green. Ambrosia Mist looks deep reddish purple on the applicator's tip, but applies mauve red and gains a brown undertone if you layer it. These are beautiful colors that brighten the eyes and give them definition. I wouldn't say that they're very office friendly, but there's only so much taupe we can have, right? (famous last words).

Bottom Line: I'd love it if it weren't for the glitter.

Vincent Longo Starlette Gel Eye Stain ($25 each) are made in the USA and can be purchased from vincentlongo.com. The line is also at Nordstrom these days.
The products for this review were press samples.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roxana Illuminated Perfume- To Bee

Many of you were curious when I counted To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume as one of my top honey perfume picks, second only to Serge Lutens Miel de Bois. Those who love MdB wanted to know if Roxana Villa's creation is as breathtakingly controversial as the one Christopher sheldrake created for Uncle Serge. Those who recoil in horror at the mere mention of Miel de Bois wanted to make sure the animalic beeswax was not going to eat them alive. The answer is "neither".

To Bee was born out of Roxana Villa's love and respect for honeybees (she's a holistic beekeeper as well as a perfumer who creates stunning all-natural fragrances). It is all about honey and the other beehive products, and you cannot escape this vibrant and raw feel of the perfume. But it's also a  real, wearable perfume, sensual, and very satisfying.

The first touch of To Bee smells boozy and dark. I've tried the solid, the liquid, and have layered them together (highly recommended). The result is always an after-dinner kind of treat, rich and ambery (the color, not the perfume accord), somewhat spicy, served in a luxurious crystal goblet that reflects the candlelight from an antique chandelier. This should give you an idea about the direction To Bee is going, though the manor house's dining hall disappears eventually and suddenly you're standing in a lavish boudoir.

The air is denser, sweet with flowers that seem to be opening right there in front of you, strewing a little pollen on the elaborately decorated dressing table (there are no allergies in this little fantasy). The air is thick with the scent warm musky skin and honey. Real, dense, unpasteurized honey, the kind you want to eat with a spoon as well as drip and slater on your skin to make it soft, supple, and sweet. To Bee develops less dark than one would expect from the opening. It melds beautifully with the skin, creating an inviting warmth without being too literal a gourmand or too skanky. I feel that it's perfectly fine to wear in public, but what do I know? I wear Absolue pour le Soir to the DMV and jury duty.

Notes: honey, spice, amber, mimosa, sweet clover, beeswax, resins

To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume is available from the perfumer's Etsy store (completely and utterly unaffiliated). You can get a sample set of both the solid and the liquid perfume for $17. At the time of this review only the solid is available in full size. The samples for this review were sent for my consideration by the perfumer.

Image: French children's book illustration, honey bees in skep, 1868

The Lipstick Situation

I love lipstick. I really love lipstick. I consume a lot of it and always did, since the first Revlon lipstick I bought with my own money all those decades ago. Lipsticks are among the few products I actually use up (I can't remember the last time I hit pan on an eye shadow, but I have reached the bottom of two lipsticks, an Edward Bess and a Guerlain Rouge Automatique, within the last month). Still, you and I know that if I weren't a blogger I wouldn't have five full drawers of lip products at my disposal.

It's got to a ridiculous point. The issue was the red lipstick drawer. I adore my red lipsticks, but having to rummage and choose among so many every time I want to go glam, has stopped being fun. I want to wear all of them. I want to use them up. But I need to do it if not one by one, then five by five. Or ten by ten. So I opened the drawers and choose a handful of lipsticks from each color, texture, and finish category. Glossy red, matte red, dusty rose, luscious berry...  everything else was packed more or less by color and put away  right next to the storage bins that hold my perfume backups. I don't buy backups for makeup or skincare, but I am going to start treating the excess as backup. Finishing one plum lipstick will mean fishing out another plum lipstick from the vault to replace it.

It's not a perfect solution, of course, and it's not that I'm going to stop buying lipsticks or accept press samples for review, but I'm going to try and keep the number in the immediate rotation more manageable, and having one drawer of lipsticks and one for glosses and balms makes a lot more sense. For now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Eye Palette- Green

I was worried I got the pink palette by mistake, but this is actually the artwork on the green one

It's been a while since I last bought Shu Uemura eye shadows. Too many changes in formula and concept, too many questionable textures; it made me kind of iffy on one of my former favorite brands. But the new Brave Beauty eye palettes for fall 2014 looked too tempting to ignore, so I picked the green one(there's also a pink version).

Both Shu Uemura Brave palettes include six eye shadows. The green one features eye shadows numbered GR1-GR6, placed from left to right.
GR1 - matte sea green. Perhaps the reason I had to have the palette.
GR2 - metallic brassy khaki. I'm pretty sure I have a couple of similar colors.
GR3- metallic but delicate golden khaki
GR4- a very shiny off-white. Probably the weakest link in this palette. They should have gone with a matte.
GR5- a stunning satin kelly green with chartreuse leanings.
GR6- satin forest green.

All the eye shadows in this Shu Uemura palette are wonderfully soft. The differences are in the finish and blendability. As a rule, all of them benefit from patting with a lay-down brush (Hakuhodo G5523) and very careful blending, otherwise they become too sheer and/or muddy. GR4, the pearly off-white is completely unnecessary. But the other five are stars in their own right. GR2 and GR3 are excellent everyday colors, while the other three provide a colorful accent, rich in pigment and fun.

Bottom Line: worth it.

Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Eye Palette- Green ($65) is available from shuuemura-usa.com, and at the counters if you live outside the US.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Scents Of An Italian Honeymoon

It was exactly eighteen years ago that I visited Italy for the first time. The Blond and I got married in early September, and a few days later landed in Rome for our three-week honeymoon.We rented a car and started driving north, mostly stopping in small towns and villages off the beaten path, but also doing the touristy thing, visiting museums, famous piazzas and fountains (Fonte Gaia in Siena!). Oh, and eating. There was lots and lots of eating. Our honeymoon scrapbook (you can see bits and pieces above) is full of postcards, photos we took, cards with names of restaurants we loved, and cats. We missed our cat very much (we only had one back then, the unforgettable Bella, whom my sister was babysitting while we were gone), and apparently lavished affection on every random cat (and dog) we happened to see. Some things never change.

Here's something else that has stayed the same: the love of scent. Perfume and other smells. Italy is full of delectable scents (I'm not talking about the consequences of the sanitary workers strike in Rome that coincided with the last three days of our honeymoon), something we've experienced in every subsequent visit. These memories are as strong today as they were back in 1996.

I packed two bottles with me. One was Panthere de Cartier, which I also wore on my wedding day. The big floriental bloomed around me wherever we went. I'm not sure I even bothered with the other one, a mini of Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien. I love Hadrien, and in theory it's perfect for Italy, I just wan't feeling it. The husband traveled a lot lighter, and had yet to discover his passion for scent. But he did pack a mini bottle of the original Lacoste, and applied some every evening before we went out for dinner.

Dinners were fun. We were still five years away from becoming vegetarians, but most of what we ate was fresh pasta and veggies. The smells of just-grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Toscano were everywhere. Smoky eggplants, fried seafood, crusty bread dipped in divine olive oil, many versions of torta della nonna made by various hosts at the B&Bs where we stayed, and coffee. Black and Bitter espresso, milky latte served in bowls, almond biscotti, and wine. Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba, Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon, and Gloria by Cacharel bring on the cookies and booze memories.

Neither the Blond nor I are big drinkers. But we made an exception that trip, curious to taste, smell, and try everything (except for tripe. Never tripe). We drove the country roads of Tuscany, stopped at monasteries and wineries (and monasteries that are wineries). We drank Barolo, Brunello, and enough Chianti to pickle our brains. There were house reds and house whites at every restaurant, many of the hosts in the Agriturismi we visited made their own and used it for cooking, baking, and drinking. We rarely (hardly ever, really) buy Chianti these days, but I always look at the labels and get excited to see familiar names: Greve, Mercantele in val di Pesa (a one piazza town with one alberghino and one pastry shop that made brilliant "lobster tails" filled with vanilla cream), and Rada in Chianti.

There were cherry trees laden with fruit at the entrance of the decrepit hotel where we spent our first night on the shore of Lago di Vico (near Viterbo); I'm always reminded of eating those cherries right from the tree whenever I indulge in Guerlain LPRN2 on all its juicy cherriness. But the other fruit that marked that trip was fig. Fresh, ripe, and wonderfully sweet figs from the market every morning, the basket of just picked figs a hotel gardener in Castel Gandolfo brought to me as I was sitting there in the sun, figs in boozy syrup, with a side of honeyed mascarpone... I can't get enough to this day (see my list of favorite fig perfumes and add the very Italian Acqua di Parma Fico di Amalfi).

It rained while we were in Florence and we spent a lot of time in museums and cathedrals. Somehow we skipped Santa Maria Novella, even though we were right there in the piazza. Yes, I am kicking myself for all the loves I could have discovered back then. What we didn't miss was the leather market, where I picked two handbags (after trying dozens). Nothing brings me back there as quickly as Tom Ford Tuscan Leather and my recent love: Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather (review coming very soon). That and my rain-soaked hair.

The last three days of our honeymoon were spent in Rome. I mentioned above the strike that left the streets bursting with garbage, but we were barely bothered by it. Not even the truly crappy hotel room where I didn't dare step barefoot. The day we arrived there both the Husband and I ran out of reading material (a true horror), so we walked around in the rain to find a bookstore that carried English paperbacks. We bought a copy of Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major which we read every night together in bed until we fell asleep from exhaustion and achy feet. The smell of a slightly damp paperback will always accompany Adrian Mole (and Rome) for me. Maybe Christopher Brosius should get onto it.

It was a wonderful trip and the start of a life-long love affair with Italy. The second visit is mostly shrouded in the scent of chestnuts: roasted, in cakes, and as chestnut honey. Our most recent Italian adventure was to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. The plan for next time is to go back to Florence, now able more than ever to appreciate all the fine perfume and artisan wares the city has to offer.

Kjaer Weis Lover's Choice Lip Tint (New For Fall 2014)

It looks like I got one of my biggest makeup wishes. A redder, more intense color of Kjaer Weis lip tint. I've already finished two pans of Passionate (the sheer berry red), so Lover's Choice  (Fall 2014 release that joins the permanent line) comes at the perfect time. It's closer to a classic red and responds well to your natural lip color, so it works as an everyday red. I find it very flattering on me (pigmented lips, NC 30-35ish skin with a distinct green undertone, very brown hair), but think that even the fair ones can pull it off with aplomb.

I love the formula of Kjaer Weis Lip Tint. It's balmy and pampering, never goopy, and looks polished and lovely. Coverage is usually sheer, though  Lover's choice is at least one level more opaque, and pigment intensity is buildable. The swatch you see above shows two coats of Lover's Choice. It looks like any good liquid lipstick, I think. I use a lip brush, and recommend that you do the same (Kjaer Weis has a well-designed lip brush). As with any other products from this brand, you can purchase the pan with the sleek compact (a Marc Atlan design), or just the refill and stick it in a Z-Palette or something similar).

Longevity is pretty basic, though Lover's Choice does leave some stain behind. The lip tint doesn't feather or migrate, just sinks into the lips or transfers a bit when you eat. Take into account the need to reapply a couple of times throughout the day (a good enough reason to get the compact and carry it in your purse).

Bottom Line: Love.

Kjaer Weis Lover's Choice Lip Tint ($49 or $29 for the refill) is available from OsswaldNYC.com or directly from kjaerweis.com. If you need help with choosing colors or application advice, I highly recommend calling Osswald (212-625-3111), where Dustin and Josie can answer all your questions (and then some).
The product for this review was sent for my consideration by the company.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Polly Bergen (1930-2014)

Polly Bergen quotes:
"When you feel what you've done fulfills yourself, makes you happy and makes people around you happy."
"The thing is, when you see your old friends, you come face to face with yourself. I run into someone I've known for 40 or 50 years, and they're old. And I suddenly realize I'm old. It comes as an enormous shock to me."
"You look at the road you could have taken, you know, I just think that's interesting... I've been on a lot of roads and I had to hitchhike on a couple of 'em... I have to be very honest: There's not an awful lot of regret in my life. I think that, you know, you learn from everything, and then, sometimes, you don't."
" have no idea about digital or celluloid or any of that. All I know is that movie is a movie. Whatever happens, I don’t think the public cares. All the public wants is they want that product that means something to them and that they can connect to. I think that content is what matters and that you care about to content and it affects your life or it doesn't." 
 “You know, I’ve been discovered so many times. I just do what I do. This is not an effort to become a star again. I’ve done that already. This is an opportunity to do what I love… What could be better than spending the latter part of your years doing something that gives you joy?” 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quote Of The Day: Aerin Lauder On Casual Fridays

Aerin Lauder on what her grandmother would be horrified to see in today’s workplace…
Probably casual Fridays for men. She would not like Lacoste [shirts] at the office. I come from an environment where the men actually say, ‘Is it OK if I take off my jacket?’ in a meeting. Everyone wears suits; it is a very dressed-up world. Even if I wear jeans, I still wear a blazer and jewelry. I think there is something nice about coming to work and dressing nicely.”

Photo and quote from Glamour Magazine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Currently- September 2014

The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard. I think it was a recommendation of a reader here, but I'm not sure. Early 1800s, Edgar Allan Poe at West Point, a murder mystery. It drags a little and at times I wish to bitch-slap Mr. Poe, but there's something about this book and its atmosphere.

Gemma Ray- Desoto

In an act of desperation the Husband and I started watching Flip or Flop on HGTV. It's not as bad as I've feared, but I can't wait till Nicole Curtis returns with her loving and history-conscious remodeling projects.

Habanita extrait de parfum. I love the EDT (and should really get the EDP), but the velvet smooth parfum is very satisfying.

Minimal foundation/tinted moisturizer in celebration of the resurrection of my skin.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
A printed DVF scarf in pink/green/black/white. It enlivens the most tired dresses and navy cardigans.

Shame-Inducing Guilty-Pleasure
Staying up reading until 2 or 3 am, knowing that I won't be able to wake up before nine or ten..

Miss Olivia

Yesterday Olivia decided that my favorite comforter needed to be torn to shreds. She went digging in the filling and made a big mess, transferring our bedroom into a hen house after a visit from a fox. It's the first incident like this in a lifetime of living with cats. Critter is lucky she's so cute.

On top of a major overhaul of the perfume storage, I also spent the last day and a half going over the makeup cabinets in my dressing room, de-cluttering and rearranging. I have more plans for that room.I'm a freak.

A further expansion of the perfume cabinets. I have yet more plans.

I'm a major fan of Hungarian brand TheBétaVersion. I aready have their Frida bag, but now I absolutely must have the Flora. It's larger and will hold all the stuff I tend to carry at fall/winter.

Random Thought
I dearly wish to never have heard of the Duggars.

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

Art: Deborah Klein- Woman on the Beach.

Cats Of The Day



Gray is a pretty dominant color in our home, and tabbies ran rampant. Marigold and Gemma (as well as Pippa, who evaded the camera today) are littermates and about 18 month old. Giselle, who just turned six, is truly one of a kind. And she knows it.

Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 Eye Shadow Palette

This was a rare impulse buy. Normally I plan my makeup purchases carefully, keeping lists and spreadsheets that help me decide if a certain item has its place in my collection or at least is important enough for the blog. I didn't give much thought to the recently-launched Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 Eye Shadow Palette because the first Naked Basics was not right for my coloring and failed to impress me. But with Basics 2 Urban Decay hit it out of the park. It's beyond perfect.

Urban Decay N. Basics 2 is rather moderate in size for a six-pan palette and can fit into a clutch or a large makeup bag. But that's really the least important part about it. The story, beyond the attractive and wearable neutral colors, is the texture. All six colors are verging on creamy-smooth. They look and feel much more luxurious than the palette's price tag, apply and blend beautifully, and give the appearance of professionally-applied makeup (good brushes help, too. The swatches were done with a couple of Hakuhodo S100 brushes--- S121G, S133, and that's what I use to apply these eye shadows).

The colors in the Urban Decay N. Basics 2 palette:
Skimp- the only non-matte color. An ivory gleaming satin for highlighting without any actual shimmer.
Stark- Nothing to do with Game of Thrones. Basically it's my natural skin color, matte,  has a pinkish leaning on my eyelids and works to even them out and cancel the natural green skin.
Frisk- a slightly darker and perhaps more gray version of Stark. Matte and perfect for a No Makeup look.
Cover- Matte, slightly warmer mauve brown.
Primal- A matte taupish  thing that creats amazing depth, incredibly pigmented.
Undone- Smoky brown, matte, the ideal lining and contouring color for this group of hues.

Bottom Line: The best $29 I've spent in ages.

Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 Eye Shadow Palette ($29) is available from urbandecay.com, Sephora, and Ulta.

Monday, September 15, 2014

DSH Perfumes- Metropolis

I've spent several days over the summer happily wearing Metropolis by DSH Perfumes before checking the notes and other information about this perfume. Once I did, I realized that perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz had created Metropolis as a masculine fragrance with the intention of evoking "Modernism. Minimalism. Urban chic. An abstract masculine design with notes of brushed steel, glass, concrete and motor oil". I had no idea. One might think that once I read that on DSH's website I passed what was left of the sample to the Blond so he can partake in the fun. I didn't *. I love my husband, but that was a Not Sharing moment. I wanted Metropolis all for myself. Besides, I needed more quality time to try and figure it out.

I don't know about metal and oil. To me, Metropolis is a very sleek oakmoss and animalics perfume. I get the minimalism, though. If you think about perfume classics that open with an aldehydic burst and develop into a leather chypre, they tend to be very elaborate, thick and dense. These perfumes were often incredibly ornate with the like of orange blossom and other floral notes, tobacco paired with leather, identifiable civet and castoreum--- you know the style. In Metropolis, DSH has stripped away some of these layers, making the perfume rather abstract. Yet the complexity is there. This is not a "simple" perfume, it's not a soliflore and it definitely doesn't lie flat. How can it, with all that oakmoss?

A quick detour: As a teenager in the mid 1980s I got to watch Giorgio Moroder's reconstruction of the 1927 Fritz Lang movie,  Metropolis. Even if you didn't see the full thing, you're probably familiar with the video for Freddie Mercury's Love Kills (co-written by Moroder for the modern soundtrack), which uses many clips from the film. While I can't say that much of the convoluted plot stayed with me, it's the aesthetic and imagery that produced the lasting impression and made me an Art Deco fan for life.

Art Deco is pretty amazing. The minimalism of the geometric shapes, just abstract enough to feel very modern, yet obviously vintage (antique, if you ask most dealers). To me it's also very NYC, even though I've been to the historic district of Miami Beach and enjoyed it immensely. This is where I feel the connection to the glass, concrete, and steel that Dawn Spenser Hurwitz mentions.

Metropolis (the perfume) opens chilly and crisp with a unique take on aldehydes. There's some bitterness (these are not your mother's fizzy aldehyde notes) and a glossy reflection on a green glass wall. But underneath the big and cold city, right in the machine's core, there's a warm heart, beating steadily. It's pumping blood, producing energy and sweat, asserting its humanity. But none of this explains adequately how gorgeous Metropolis is. I often  perceive perfume as color and texture. In this case it's the aforementioned dark and shiny green with gritty matte gray accents. Or maybe it's the opposite: green respites in a dark gray city. Whatever it is, the precision of DSH's brushstrokes combined with the sexy animalic dry-down is irresistible to me. Masculine? Perhaps. But I maintain that brilliant perfumes are completely free of gender.

Notes: bergamot, aldehydes, geranium, rose, petitgrain, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, castoreum, patchouli, leather, and musk.

* I did finally order a bottle for us to share.

DSH Perfumes- Metropolis ($40, 10ml EDP, other sizes and samples can also be purchased) is available from dshperfumes.com. The original sample for this review was sent by the perfumer.

Hakuhodo Maple Kinoko Brush (Small)

compare the size of the small Kinoko to classics such as Edward Bess Luxury Face Brush and Hakuhodo Vermilion Kinoko

I had to have this brush. HAD TO. I first fell in love with the tiny Hakuhodo Kinoko brush and its maple handle a couple of years ago at IMATS. The entire maple range is gorgeous, but I already have more than enough regular and oversized Kabuki brushes, so I couldn't justify another one (kicking myself, because: maple!). But a super-compact directional goat hair Kinoko is versatile and travel friendly. It's completely round but incredibly small for a face brush (the hair is 30mm x 19mm), very (very!) soft, yet dense enough for blush or powder application, and can even do a little buffing.

At first I was hesitant to use this brush with blushes, worried that I'd never be able to wash the pigment completely and maintain the white hair, but eventually reminded myself that all my Hakuhodo Yachiyo brushes wash easily and are still white after all these years (well, when not in use, which they usually are. I need several backups).

The obvious question is which one I prefer: a Yachiyo brush or a Kinoko. It's a hard one and I'm glad I don't need to choose. Yachiyo brushes are amazing for blending. Truly, there's nothing better, and I consider the Hakuhodo ones necessary staples (at least the medium and small pointed ones, but I also love the largest brush). I also think that it's a good idea to have free-standing Kabuki brushes in various sizes for powder, contour, highlighting, blushes... just about any face task. The small Hakuhodo Maple Kinoko Brush is a luxury, but it's a great and useful luxury, so it's worth considering even if you're not a brush collector.

Bonus photo: Sophie (whose hair is softer than any brush):

Hakuhodo Maple Kinoko Brush Small ($75) is available from hakuhodousa.com. They ship worldwide.