Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. I'm going to spend the holiday among family and very dear friends, and I hope you do, too. I'm thankful for all of you who visit, read, and support. It means the world to me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Serge Lutens- L'Orpheline

In order to even start wrapping my head around L'Orpheline I had to completely ignore two things: my expectation from a Serge Lutens perfume, and the story/marketing materials provided by the company. I usually do the latter anyway, but here it was especially important. Because if you think that "The Little Orphan" is an odd choice for a perfume name, reading Lutens' quotes (you can find the whole thing on Fragrantica) and fragments from his painful and lonely childhood is sends you right to Les Misrables territory, and I don't mean the musical version, but straight to Victor Hugo's written world of wretchedness and endless suffering. How does that go with a luxury perfume? It doesn't (and I don't want it to).

Serge Lutens is the grand-master of oriental perfumes, thick and rich flowers, and otherworldly incense. L'Orpheline is nothing like that. The first time I sprayed it (at a rather crowded store) I couldn't focus my nose on the actual notes or on anything wafting off my skin. The fragrance seemed to move very fast in every direction, wrapping invisible threads around air molecules. It was there but not. Upon subsequent wearings (first from samples and eventually from the bottle I bought) I managed to hold on to these wisps of not-quite incense and fly away with them into a clear blue sky.

L'Orpheline seems at first like air and whiffs of a shockingly artificial musk (we're talking about a perfume from the same man who brought us MKK and Clair de Musk). But it's not. Actually it is shockingly artificial in the same way that several Le Labo and CdG fragrances utilize imaginary wood notes. But this is Uncle Serge after all, the artist who knows skin the way few others do. The not-really-wood and not-really-musk combined create multiple special effects. From cool air to a warm and cozy shelter, tree limbs with life of their own grow and twist like menacing fingers before they form a safe haven. And skin. Creamy, soft, slightly sweetened. Man or man-made, L'Orpheline is enchanting.

The special effects continue when it comes to sillage and longevity. There's something very misleading in the way L'Orpheline wears on me. It pretends to be a skin scent that whispers softly, but this musk is devious and can suddenly project to the other side of the room with no warning (I admit that I tend to go to town with this one because it never feels quite enough at first). Longevity is an all-day affair if you pay attention. Just when I think it might be time to refresh I realize that I can still smell L'Orpheline clearly.I guess this is the one thing that never abandons the little orphan. Or something. It's a great modern perfume no matter what.

Serge Lutens- L'Orpheline ($140, 50ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, Aedes, Barneys, and the other usual suspects. My first sample came from Twisted Lily.

Fashion illustration by Rene Gruau for Madame Gres,1946, via

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Problem With Blogging- 2014 Edition

When I started this blog in early 2006 it was because I wanted to add my own voice to the beautiful chorus that has been forming in the online world by regular people who had something to say. Things seemed to have been going well in the beauty blogging arena, just as they did in other areas of the blogsphere until the backlash that happened around 2008. I admit that I was somewhat surprised. No one seemed to care that tech bloggers were regularly receiving various expensive gadgets for free, including every i-whatever. It was the objectivity of beauty bloggers over $20 mascaras that was called out and questioned in the NY Times. I wrote this response back then, and I still stand behind every word.

Unfortunately, while there's absolutely no problem with accepting samples and products for review  from brands or stores, there are more and more instances of what I call "Bloggers Behaving Badly". This covers a range of questionable actions from begging for samples on Twitter (or begging in general, really, that causes the blogger to owe the brand), to the deplorable practice of selling gratis items. A gift from a brand, a store, or a perfumer was given out of good will. Selling a palette, a dress, or a perfume bottle (even splitting the latter for profit) is as unethical as it gets. This is the kind of behavior that besmirches the name of bloggers and gets us blacklisted. I'm shocked that I even have to say this.

The issue of disclosure is still a hot topic, considering that bloggers and vloggers from outside the US are not required to put any disclaimer in their work. YouTube especially is rife with sponsorships, paid content, promotionals, advertorials, and infomercials, all pretending to be legit user content. They're not. When you watch a makeup tutorial that was sponsored by a brush-maker you will not necessarily get the best advice. You'll only hear the info the company wants you to absorb. The use of affiliate links (everyone from Lisa Eldridge to Gwyneth Paltrow does it nowadays) adds another compromise to the already fragile fabric of trust. If the blogger in question profits from the links it's an incentive to avoid writing negative reviews (best case scenario) and even to gloss over serious issues with the products. But that's something that any intelligent reader can decipher on his/her own. It's just the way it is, and honestly, with regular advertising revenues on the decline for years now, I have a lot of sympathy for bloggers who decide to use these links. As long as they disclose it clearly in a way that makes it obvious that when they're praising a product to high heavens they're also hoping that it'll make you click on their links to make a purchase.

There are bigger issues, though. A year ago the Husband and I wrote this post about paid content/native advertisement on beauty blogs and magazines. It's become even more relevant since. I've always maintained the view that there should be a sharp distinction and separation between personal blogs and personal advertising publishers. The fact that the content of a website is written by a sweet and funny individual does not make it a blog if the purpose of said site is promoting products and companies. That person is not a blogger. He or she are marketers, publishers, promoters--- call it whatever you want, but that is not a beauty blog (nor is it a gardening/cooking/parenting/pet etc. blog). It's a commercial website. As veteran blogger Kelly Kreth had put it: "Native advertising is basically saying 'What do I have to do to put you in this car today?' "

The blurred lines between bloggers and advertorial writers have created ridiculous incidents, such as a blogger who published a sponsored review that directly contradicted a real review she wrote a month earlier. Can't we at least expect that a blogger that dislikes a product would avoid accepting money to promote it? Is it that hard? It also extends to "bloggers" charging companies for inclusion in their holiday gift guides, getting paid to run a giveaway (sometimes for products that they haven't tried, didn't like, or has absolutely nothing to do with the niche of their site). Add to that all those "10 day challenge" paid by brands, sudden appearance of posts praising everything from frozen lasagna to feminine hygiene products on a beauty blog, and you get one big confusing mess

I have to admit that in this type of environment it is sometimes hard to keep doing what I do. I know that I'm old school, which raises the question of relevancy. Some of my favorite bloggers from the mid 2000s have left the field, partly because of the changing scene. Don't get me wrong: I know who my audience is, and it's amazingly large, diverse, and wonderfully sophisticated. I keep many of you in my mind when I decide which products to buy, what to accept for review, as I choose images that hopefully will delight you. My reasons for blogging are still valid, and my readership keeps growing, which probably answers the relevancy issue. I just hope not to be swallowed whole by a new reality where I and my friends who hold the same values no longer belong.

Photo: Audrey Hepburn in the 1951 movie Laughter In Paradise via

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lindsay Lohan & Charlotte Tilbury


If I were launching my own makeup line (or anything, really), and had to make a list of celebrity I'd like to see at my event or using my products, I'm pretty sure Lindsay Lohan wouldn't be there. The other real celebrity at the launch of Charlotte Tilbury's 'Backstage Beauty Booth' counter in the Beauty Hall at Fenwick, London, was model Amber Le Bon (Simon and Yasmin's daughter), a much better fit. But really, few personalities are more off-putting than Lindsay Lohan. I'm not buying.

Cat(s) Of The Day


Philip & Kate

There's an extra photo of Bob on the Jersey Cats Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tom Ford- Velvet Orchid

Cocktail Shoes by Mary L. Parkes

Eight years later, I'm still a fan of Tom Ford's first perfume, Black Orchid. It's a big-boned floriental-gourmand with more complexity than most modern designer perfumes put together. I also liked its short-lived flanker, Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, which was basically a gardenia version of the original with the gourmand aspect toned down. But I didn't know what to think about the idea of Velvet Orchid. Is it a Tom Ford flanker? It sure sounds like that, especially considering some of the marketing babble surrounding it. The first sniff confirmed that. The large shadow of Black Orchid was hovering over my skin to such a degree that I had to wonder why they even bothered. It's that fantasy orchid accord that is oddly earthy and fruity. I like it a lot, which is why I have a 100ml bottle of the original. But a flanker?

Soon after the deja vu of the opening things take a turn, and I wasn't convinced at first that it was for the better. The perfume was still following the Black Orchid path, but in a muted fuzzy way. It's oddly combined with a strong honey-booze note that peeks from beneath every once in a while. It's not really velvet; more like mohair. Again, I wasn't completely sold, but it's the kind of stuff that grows on you.

Where Velvet Orchid truly shines is in the dry-down. That's where this perfume comes back to the familiar Tom Ford sexiness, offering a thick and rich facet of myrrh, suede, and even more honey. It's not quite as sweet as Black Orchid, but gets very close, and somehow that's where the impressive sillage becomes even more noticeable. There's nothing to mask it or cover the trail. It's just perfume and skin, and the result becomes magical no matter how hard I try to resist.

Who will enjoy Velvet Orchid? Fans of other Tom Ford perfumes, those who found Black Orchid a bit too much, and lovers of sillage bombs with otherworldly longevity (24 hours for one spray). Do you need it if you already have and wear Black Orchid? Probably not, but it's still worth trying.

Tom Ford- Velvet Orchid ($112, 100ml EDP) is available from Sephora and most department stores.

Vintage Hats- Part 1

Cléopatra Diane de Mérode, an actress and dancer during the Belle Epoque

I started buying and wearing hats during senior year of high school. I was growing my hair back after nearly two years of various pixie cuts, and the in-between stage was insufferable, uneven, and out of control. It was the eighties, and fashion was somewhat limited in the headgear department, but I had a bunch of poorboy caps and berets, mostly in neutral colors that could go with most outfits (it was also the era of matching everything). Today I wear hats to protect from the sun, the cold, and because they're fun. I still have one beret that I bought in London in 1989, but most of my collection is from the last 15 years, bought at Saks, vintage stores, and everything in between. Browsing through my collection of images I realized that I have so many to share that this post will have a second part next week.


Model in a Nina Ricci dress, photo by John French, 1960s

1971, Actress Jacqueline Bisset for Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Givenchy 1981 in a fashion prediction for 2001

Twiggy by Avedon, Vogue 1967

Anjelica Huston in a Fashion editorial by Richard Avedon. Vogue, 1968

A more recent Anjelica

Au bord de la mer, 1936 by Andreas Feininger

Audrey, the one and only

Ava Gardner

Street style, 1960s

I had that hat (and decorated it accordingly)

Brigitte Bardot, 1960s

Vogue UK, 1972

Charm Magazine March 1959, Model: Anne St Marie


The inimitable Dovima, 1957

Balenciaga, what else?

Dovima, 1956

Jacques Fath hat

“Two of a Kind” 1950’s - Photo by Kenneth Heilbron
Dovima, 1957

Faye Dunaway by Jerry Schatzberg

George Dambier, Girl in Red at the Concorde Place, for ELLE Winter Collection, Paris 1957

All photos via My Vintage Vogue, Top Models of the World, and Stirred, Straight Up With a Twist.

The Fountain Spa New Jersey

Like good Thai food and antique stores, I've discovered that some of the best things can be found incredibly close to home. Case in point: a luxurious spa. Late last year I started visiting The Fountain Spa (located at The Shops On Riverside mall) and have been going there ever since. I was a bit skeptical because of the whole mall thing, but The Shops (formerly known as Riverside Square Mall) is our upscale mall, with stores such as Hermes, Burberry, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton, so why not a luxurious spa?

The first surprise was the spa's size. It's huge. Hidden in the mall's ground level right across from the river, you can't tell from the outside how big it is and the amenities the place offers. There's a sprawling lounge area, a wonderful sauna, and the waiting area, aka "Tranquility Room" is pleasantly lit, spacious and very comfortable, with a nice water feature (I'm guessing that's the fountain from the spa's name). I never managed to count the exact number of treatment rooms, there are so many, all customized for the various services offered there.  Once inside you cannot tell you're at the mall with two shopping levels above your head. The place is quiet and relaxing (which has done me a world of good on several occasions).

The Fountain Spa offers a wide selection of face and body treatments. I've only had a small number of them, including massages (deep tissue and Swedish), reflexology, a basic facial, and the spa's signature mani-pedi. Everything has been very very good so far, with no upselling attempts or product pushing, and barely a mention of the med-spa services (fillers, Botox, etc.). The result is a comfortable feeling that begins as soon as one sets foot inside and receives the white robe and slippers. That's why I keep coming back. The atmosphere is exactly what you need to be able to relax.

My biggest recommendation is the reflexology treatment, by itself or as a part of a two hour massage package. It's the most calming thing imagined, and I can just feel the stress melt away and leave the body (I'm pretty sure I've nodded off every single time). Followed by a pedicure, this is heaven.

The nail salon area is the one place that could probably use a bit of an updating. The layout is a bit choppy and less spacious, but the service is good. I highly recommend the long-lasting polish for your manicure. It's not gel (which the spa also offers), yet survives with no sign of wear for 7-8 days. Some of the nail services seem a bit overpriced for what they are ($55-$60 for added aromatherapy oils and such), but you just need to choose right to get the maximum value. The place seems spotless, and the whole experience is great.

Next on my list is probably an anti-aging facial. I'm curious to see what else they can do.

The Fountain Spa is easily accessible from route 4. There's a second location on rt.17 in Ramsey, but I've never been there. Parking in front of the spa's entrance can be scarce, but since we're talking a Jersey mall here you can always find a spot just further out (right next to Saks, for example). You can book the service online, and get email and text reminders.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Currently- November 2014

Mandy Aftel- Fragrant. Review coming soon. I keep meaning to read some fiction next, but there are always more books about the Royal Family.

Agnes Obel

Find Your Roots on PBS. I'm so jealous of those who can trace their ancestry further than my four generations.

I've been testing Ego Facto perfumes and liking several of them. I'm also on a vintage binge, but what else is new?

All of a sudden I've become mascara-crazy.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
Skinny black pants, flowy silk tops, high-heel boots.

Pasta. What else?

Once More With Extreme Prejudice. It's a re-watching Buffy blog. I wish I've thought about it myself.

Sophie is having some anxiety issues.

I had the loveliest birthday.

More time with friends.

The image at the top by George Barbier is taken from an old book, The romance of perfume by Richard Le Gallienne. I'd love to find a copy in a good condition that doesn't cost like a Roja Dove perfume.

Random Thought
I wonder what would happen if the Husband and I ever participate in Love It Or List It (and can Eddie do our kitchen?)

How about you? Please share your current loves and thoughts.

Vida McConaughey (and Emily Blunt) In Dolce & Gabbana

If this is not the cutest fashion face-off, I don't know what is. Little Vida McConaughey attended the ceremony honoring her father with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame yesterday. She was dressed in a tiny Dolce & Gabbana dress, the same one Emily Blunt wore back in May. The dress is gorgeous. I just hope it wasn't itchy or uncomfortable for Vida. I'd wear it in a heartbeat.

Quote Of The Day

Marigay McKee,  the new president of Saks Fifth Avenue, gave an interview to Glamour's editor-in-chief  Cindi Leive. There's quite a bit of career advice there, if you're interested, but the quote that caught my attention was this:
Saks is an iconic brand; there’s so much heritage.… I spent three days in our archives selecting photos for our offices: The Supremes shopping here, Grace Kelly trying on Dior dresses, Jackie Kennedy head to toe in Gucci buying lipsticks. That gave me the drive to bring Saks back to where it was in the fifties and sixties—the most iconic, glamorous, magnificent store.”
McKee, right, with Glamour's editor-in-chief

If you've been to the Saks flagship store (I'm not even talking about the horror shows of Saks stores at various malls) over the last ten years you know that Ms. McKee has a lot of work ahead of her before Saks returns to its former glory. Cranky, less-than-helpful sales people on the fashion level, and aggressive not-taking-no-for-an-answer ones in the fragrance and beauty counters. To add insult to injury, some of the SAs at the counters lie to your face ("this is a Saks exclusive. No one else will get it", conveniently forgetting the existence of Bergdorf Goodman just a few blocks up Fifth avenue, where one has purchased the item in question three weeks prior).

Let's hope for a resurrection of the golden age of department stores. Grace Kelly and Jackie will not be back shopping there, but you and I just might.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hermès- Bel Ami Vetiver

What is Prince Harry doing up there?

The Husband and I were discussing our love for Bel Ami Vetiver, and he said that it gives him an image of a guy playing polo. My mind went immediately to the Royal Family, and I let the Blond pick between the Duke of Cambridge and his brother. It was an easy choice for him: the more relaxed and casual Harry seemed to fit his idea better than the always proper future king, Prince William. So, why polo (and a prince)? Bel Ami Vetiver is theoretically a flanker for the classic Hermès Bel Ami. The original has been reformulated at least twice (probably more, but who knows?), but is still a lovely smooth suede/leather perfume from Hermès' masculine line. Earlier this year, Hermès released the vetiver flanker, composed by their in-house perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena. And as you may have guessed, I think it's wonderful.

I was trying to think if any of the leather perfumes I know also has a dominant vetiver note. I can't think of any in my collection, and indeed, Bel Ami Vetiver is not just delightful but also quite original. There's a very pleasant balance between the  vetiver on all its facets (green, fresh, dry and crisp) and the smooth well-oiled leather that leans a bit sweet. There's also a surprising vinatge-like richness to this fragrance, not very Ellena-ish (not complaining here). Other things I smell are a light sprinkling of spice, and a round mouth-watering fruit note (peachy-plummy) underneath the more ubiquitous citrus.

Bel Ami Vetiver has become one of the Husband's go-to perfumes, something he wears when he travels to see clients or just as an easy to wear, easy to be around, and thoroughly enjoyable. It doesn't hurt that longevity is excellent and projection is a civilized affair. As for me, I spray myself silly with this one, enjoying every minute of every hour. The masculine label doesn't scare me. I think it's an excellent choice for any woman who enjoys beautiful leather fragrances (and also loves vetiver).

Hermès- Bel Ami Vetiver ($125, 3.3 oz) is available at select department stores, Hermes boutiques and online.

Want Need: The Beta Version Vilma Wallet

My beloved red wallet is showing its age (older than this blog), and not in a particular good way, despite my loving care. I've been carrying red wallets for most of my life, so I have every intention to keep doing that (I also drive red cars exclusively. It's my thing). Imagine my delight to see that The Beta Version, a Hungarian artisan brand which I've adored since they first came onto the scene, has the perfect wallet.

Vilma wallet has Beta's signature perforated leather exterior, and features one large coin pocket with zip closure, two large cash compartments, two large pockets, two small pockets, and eight card holder slots. Size is 19x10 cm (about 7.5"x4"), so it's pretty standard. Since I'm already familiar with the uncompromising quality of The Beta Version products, I'm in deep lust with Vilma (and I wish for a matching red iPad case).

100 euros from, where I could go on a dangerous shopping spree.

Aftelier Organic Honeysuckle Face Elixir

Face products and aromatherapy are not an obvious pairing. Normally I'm in agreement with Paula Begoun's approach that perfume is not skincare. After all, many classic perfume ingredients (natural as well as synthetic) can be serious irritants and even damage the skin. There are no absolute truths, though. I've developed a major allergy to coconut oil and its derivatives (and we're talking everything from breakouts as a result of eating it to an itchy rash and painful welts upon contact). The bottom line is that you need to read labels, pay attention, make smart decisions and hope for the best.

A good option for natural/organic skincare that seems to be free of irritants and works for me as a balancing serum are Aftelier's Face Elixirs. I've gone through a full bottle of the gorgeous and elegant Ylang Elixir, and I was thrilled to receive the newest one, Honeysuckle.all face elixirs share a base of organic oils: rice bran, sweet almond, apricot kernel, camellia, grapeseed, squalene, and rose hip seed. None of these breaks me out, so the fast absorbing formula works perfectly for me and my skin, which these days is on a range between normal/dry and kind of dry.

The creative force behind Aftelier is Mandy Aftel. She's a natural perfumer (THE natural perfumer, actually) and have been formulating scented products for nearly twenty years. In creating her face elixirs, Mandy has been concentrating on scenting them with calming and restorative all-natural essences. If you know a thing or two about essential oils and the like, you're probably aware that honeysuckle is extremely rare as a natural raw ingredient and costs a fortune. The honeysuckle absolute used for this face elixir is all-natural, organic, and smells like nothing else. The depth of the scent is mind-blowing, since this is skincare, not a perfume. There are creamy and fruity facets: first I get the juiciest honeydew melon (in the best possible way), and later a honey-drenched banana, both very realistic without the plastic aftertaste of synthetic Bath &Body-type products. It's a comforting scent, delicate and relaxing.

Performance is just as important, and Aftelier face elixirs have been consistntly delivering softer, well-nourished skin. There's no greasiness, just a supple feeling that lingers to the next morning (I use the elixir right before bed, about 15-20 minutes after applying various acids and retnoids.

Bottom Line: a gift to the senses.  

Aftelier Organic Honeysuckle Face Elixir ($65) can be purchased from (samples also available). The product for this review was sent for my consideration free of charge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mindy Kaling In NYC

Mindy Kaling was perfection in icy blue at the Glamour 2014 Women Of The Year Awards in NYC.. Her Salvador Perez dress (info via Red Carpet Fashion Award) has a retro vibe that I adore, and the added sparkle of her earrings is just right. Then there's the makeup: natural spice color lips and more icy/silvery blue in the form of eye shadows. I've rummaged through my makeup collection and I suspect most of us have several options for creating a similar look. From Hourglass Prism to several Dior quints (Bleu de Paris, Carre Bleu, or even Gris Gris), as long as you have charcoal, frost blue and/or silver you're set. Since most of us don't have Mindy's rich skin tone I'd take it down a notch, but that's just me. I'm bookmarking this for a Holiday party look.

Clé de Peau Collection Beauté Céleste Powder Compact

I'm trying to jog my memory but I can't seem to recall a face powder selling out as quickly as did Clé de Peau Collection Beauté Céleste Powder Compact for Holiday 2014. This powder compact is  out of stock everywhere online, and only few Clé de Peau counters still have a unit or two for sale. It's the packaging, obviously, as the compact and the embossed products are absolutely gorgeous. The fact that the powder itself is also made of awesome doesn't hurt, either.

Clé de Peau  Beauté Céleste Powder Compact is a light-reflecting powder is an incredibly soft texture and a beautiful matte(ish) finish. There's no visible shimmer or glow of any kind, and yet the final result is anything but flat. The powder has a winter white hue, as you can see on my finger, but it's transparent when applied to the face. I started my testing with various brushes, both fluffy and dense, but for one I find that using the ultra plush puff that came with the compact is actually the best application method, at lest for the center of the face. I then use a fluffy brush to add just a touch to the outer areas.

The result is a polished, well-put-together finish that might not be quite as airbrushed as NARS LRP or as glowing as Hourglass Ambient Lighting, but it has its own advantage. The powder does double duty as setting the rest of the makeup and as a strikingly beautiful and sophisticated finishing powder.

Going back to the packaging, this is one instance when having a velveteen pouch would have been a good idea, not just to protect the lovely compact, but also to give an extra cushioning for the delicate and soft powder. Be careful not to bang it, as it's so soft that breakage can happen easily.

Bottom Line: worth the hassle of trying to find it.

Clé de Peau Collection Beauté Céleste Powder Compact for Holiday 2014 ($70) is a limited edition product. Call your local Clé de Peau counters (Saks, Neiman, etc.) before branching out to customer service lines where they can help locate a compact at other stores.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Visual Art & Perfume- A Personal Connection

For my recent draw I asked you to tell me about a favorite work of art and the perfume/scent you connect to it. This is a hard one, I know, as not everyone tends to link images or sounds with scents. I don't have synesthesia, but I tend to think of sensations in visual terms: colors, textures, amount of light. I also connect scenes, music, and smells and tell myself stories about them (no matter how far-fetched they might be). Which brings us to my own favorite paintings and perfumes that I associate with them.

I'm not going to reveal anything earth-shattering or even original by telling you that my favorite painter is Edward Hopper (1882-1967). His city interiors, rural snapshots, and lonesome figures hit a chord for me the very first time I was old enough to pay attention and understand years ago. I always feel like I'm right there, seeing, hearing, and yes--- smelling. Take for example the painting above, New York Interior (1921). The women in that small room is sewing or mending fervently. The space is tight and feels stuffy, the open window suggest warm weather, the women's hair is down and almost seems to be mid-hair -doing, like she'll soon be styling it and putting the hair back up. She probably feels a bit hot, maybe sweating lightly. And what is it that she's sewing? Is she putting the last stitches on the new dress she'll be wearing tonight? Or is she mending a hemline that got frayed the last time she was out on a date? In any case, while the current scene seems somewhat uncomfortable, there's a sense of anticipation. Something exciting will happen when she puts on the dress and finishes getting ready. Soon someone will be at her door and she will leave the small room for a night out on the town. Maybe she'll wear Mitsouko.

From the crowded New York apartments we're moving out of town, to the rented summer home of Second Story Sunlight (1960). The two women (mother/daughter? great aunt/niece?) are together yet separated by more than a generational gap. The older woman, fully dressed, prim and proper, is trying to read but her attention drifts off to some point outside the canvas, unknown to the viewer. What does she see? Is it the coastline? the mailman's arrival with news from the city? a bird? And does she disapproves of the younger woman's two-piece bathing suit? And what about the young woman's gaze? She's sunbathing, her posture and choice of seat revealing a certain pride in her beautiful figure. She's flaunting her bosom, her smooth skin (I want to hand her a bottle of SPF 60), and her blond hair, hoping to be noticed... by whom?  Is she taking it the lovely scene? Does she notice the pine trees? Can she smell the ocean?

I think she's wearing something transforming and tropical, perhaps evocative of the vacation of her dreams. A true-to-the-era perfume would be Jungle Gardenia bu Tuvache, but I actually smell Moonstone by Sage Machado when I look at her. And her aunt? I see her in Lucien Lelong. Probably the 1940 Tailspin from her youth.

We're back in the city. A Room In New York (1932) is probably my favorite Hopper painting because it tugs at my heartstrings so much. Such a beautiful couple in what looks like a beautiful NYC apartment. The room is finely decorated, the man and woman are well-dressed. But it's just appearances. The tension and isolation are palpable.  She's bored. Playing a few notes on the piano but with no intention to find solace in music. He's ignoring her, concentrating on stock market news in the paper. They're sitting so close to each other, within an arm's reach, really. Yet separated and alienated, and no one is reaching his arm. Maybe in a second she'll close the piano with a bang that will grab his attention. She'll say: "Damn it, John!" and he'll pull her towards him to the plush armchair and hold her close, as though apologizing. He'll inhale her Joy deeply as she presses her cheek to his hair, smelling the brilliantine as well as the room's odor of furniture polish and slightly dusty velvet. She'll re-apply her Joy and they'll finally go out for dinner and dancing in a swanky club.

Winner Of Bruno Fazzolari Art & Scent Draw

Photo by Bruno Fazzolari via his blog

We have a winner:

Nancy Glazer

Please contact me with your shipping address!

Thank you to everyone who participated and to Bruno Fazzolari for his generosity.

Estee Lauder Untamed Teal Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette

We're taking a tiny break from Holiday collections to look at a permanent item: Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette in Untamed Teal. The Pure Color envy palettes replace Lauder's Pure Color range, which was actually quite fabulous. Like the previous incarnation, these are multi-finish quints with a strong emphasis on neutrals. Several of the palettes also offer a little kick in the form of one or two bolder colors. Untamed Teal is one of them, and obviously I had to had it. Because teal.

All Pure Color Envy palettes include a nude base color in a matte finish and a soft, almost creamy texture. The exact shade varies slightly from one Lauder palette to the other, but they're all variations on beige/cream and should be applied all over the lid to even out the color and make the other eye shadows appear brighter. In Untamed Teal the base is a winter white (I swatched it much more heavily than I'd apply on skin just to show the color. Normal application is sheer and lets the natural skin tone show throw, only brighter and more even). The four other colors are matte chocolate brown, matte true teal, shimmer champagne, and shimmer medium taupe. Obviously the eye shadows can be used in many combinations and go from the most basic neutral day look with just a hint of shimmer where you need it, to high drama, dark smoky eye, bold colorful liner, a hint of bright teal... the possibilities are many. The new Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy formula also allows for wet/dry application. I've taken advantage of it using the teal as I would a liquid liner, with nothing but a wash of shimmery taupe on the lid. It looked much more complex than it really was.

I already mentioned the creaminess of these eye shadows. I absolutely love the texture and the way they blend together. Like the rest of the Pure Color  Envy range, this is a very high-quality palette, a luxurious product that gives excellent results. If I didn't already have a somewhat overwhelming number of neutral palettes at my disposal I'd probably run out and buy at least two more of these. As it is, I'm curious to see how it goes as  more colors added to the line.

Bottom Line: one of the most useful palettes you can buy.

Estee Lauder Untamed Teal Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette ($50) is available just about everywhere, including