Friday, April 29, 2016

Best Ten Perfumes You're Not Wearing- Spring Edition

Or: Beyond Diorissimo and Apres l'Ondee

We need some fun here. Between the weather that killed the magnolia and wisteria blossoms before they reached full bloom, my sprained left foot, and the purple tears we're all shedding, it's time for something that feels and smells like spring to bring us some true cheer. I chose to veer off the beaten path, even if just a little. After all, this blog has just celebrated its tenth anniversary and it feels like I've been making lists that whole time. Let's have a look at some perfume picks for the season that are worth a second or a third sniff.

  • Parfums DelRae- Mythique. Because you've got to have a soft smooth iris, and Mythique usually gets lost among the brand's more robust sparkling gems.
  • Parfumerie Generale- Ilang Ivohibe. I secretly call it "Ivanhoe", but Sir Walter Scott was probably not on Pierre Guillaume's mind when he composed this warm and lush sweet white floral.
  • Serge Lutens- Bas de Soie. Perfumes that are considered "Latter Day Serge" gets tons of scorn, sometimes for good reason. But this chilly iris-hyacinth-galbanum has just enough retro playfulness to make it interesting.
  • Annick Goutal- Passion. My bottle is old enough to be considered vintage (late 80s or very early 90s), so maybe it's a little unfair. But this glorious white floral over a pile of the mossiest oakmoss is equal parts sexy and outdoorsy.
  • Oscar de la Renta- Coralina. It's a little-known mimosa bomb, accompanied by iris and violet leaf. Kind of what spring should be all about.
  • Ego Facto- Prends Garde à Toi . This might not be my favorite of this little quirky line, but a fresh muguet and hyacinth are emblems of spring.
  • Amorvero Perfume. Because there's nothing like a grand floral that speaks of lounging on a veranda in the Italian riviera.
  • Chabaud Maison de Parfum- Nectar de Fleurs. A gorgeous floral with a naughty dirty base. It's an Osswald exclusive (both NYC and Zurich), which is why you've probably never come across. 
  • CB I Hate Perfume- To See A Flower. An ode to jonquil, its stems and leaves, as well as the damp spring soil from which it has erupted into the breezy cold spring day. Just avoid the water version and go with the absolute, otherwise it'd disappear faster than the sun on a cloudy day.
  • Monsillage-  Eau de Celeri. Because Vent Vert is not what it used to be. 

For more spring picks please visit my friends at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc,  and Now Smell This, and please share your own spring loves, popular or not.

Image: Twiggy in Giorgio di Sant'Angelo Wrap, Coat, photographed by Richard Avedon for Vogue, 1967

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick

Guess who's back?

When I bought my Tatcha Sunrise: A Plum Blossom Limited Edition 23-Karat Gold Illuminated Lipstick (that's a mouthful!) it renewed my regret about not getting Kyoto Red.  Tatcha lipsticks are seasonal limited editions, and at that point I had no idea that Kyoto Red will do a comeback, nor that I'll find it in my mailbox. Imagine my delight when both happened.

The spectacular formula of Tatcha lipsticks is a great reminder of what a luxury lipstick should be. Comfortable, nourishing, beautifully pigmented and with a timeless flattering semi-matte finish that feels weightless and looks just modern enough. It's lipsticky in the best possible way. Kyoto Red is a classic red. In the swatch above you can see that the warmer tone of my arm makes the color lean towards tomato red. My face is cooler (ashier) and my lips have a natural purple tone to them that makes many a red lipstick skew pink, but in this case it becomes a true red.

(I've had the best intentions of creating a makeup look this week featuring this Tatcha lipstick, but on Saturday I had a little accident flying down the stairs with a basket full of laundry and ended up with a sprained left foot. I'm okay, but had to spend the week planted in my seat with an elevated foot and a very cranky mood, and not in front of the mirror, as I do my makeup standing up. I'll make up for it in the next few days, so you'll get to see Kyoto Red on my face soon enough)

The packaging of Kyoto red is beautiful. The case is heavy and snaps close with a satisfying magnetic click. Red lipstick addicts will find it a must-have. It's unscented and unflavored, and the various good-for-you oils keep the lipstick hydrating and create an even coat that doesn't flake or bleed. Like all red lipsticks, Kyoto Red requires keeping your lips in top shape, and like all good red lipstick it wears out evenly, leaving the kind of stain I tried to create in the lower right corner of my swatch. Reapplying is an elegant ritual, since the faceted red bullet in its glossy black case looks gorgeous. Makes me wish Tatcha would have a matching mirror.

Bottom Line: do you even need to ask?

Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick ($55, made in Japan) is already in stock at Barneys. Tatcha's website allows you to sign up to get notified of shipping dates, if you prefer to order from them directly.
The product for this review was sent by PR.

Ingredients: Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Mica, Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Synthetic Wax, Hexyldecyl Isostearate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil Dimer Dilinoleate, Candelilla Wax Esters, Ethylene/propylene Copolymer, Sericin (Silk Extract), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Algae Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Glycerin, Water, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Tocopherol, Silica, Dimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol. [+/- (may contain): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891),  Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 6 (CI 15850), Yellow 5 (CI 19140)].

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Strobe Cosmetics Eye Shadows- Part 2

As promised, here's a look at the rest of the Strobe Cosmetics eye shadows I bought. I got eleven in total, and my previous post showed the first six. I've already discussed the beautiful textures and excellent performance of Strobe eye shadows (and how much I hope to see some matte options soon), so let's get into the rest of the colors. Please note that I included Timber Wolf again for comparison to the other two brown shades in this group.

All swatches were done over completely dry (parched, actually)  skin that hasn't seen a moisturizer in hours.

Timber Wolf is slightly more coppery than the other two. It also feels slightly softer/creamier to the touch, but all three apply the same. Bearded Lady is a darker and more intense version of Timber Wolf in a semi-matte finish. The best I can describe it is that it's further on the brown axis. Glen Cocoa is the cooler shade of the three, perfect for lining and intensifying the outer V, while brightening the eye with its satin shimmer finish.

Monster Among Us is a green/brown duo-chrome. I'm a sucker for this pigment but have to warn you that you absolutely must use a good tacky primer underneath. Not because of dryness: Monsters is actually very buttery, but because the color loses its intensity otherwise, and morphs into a more pronounced brown with a faint green glimmer. Applied right, by patting the color on and not over-blending, this is a stunner.

Royale is a pink sand. Depending on the light it can look slightly more brown(ish) or like a rose gold, while Checking In? is a golden olive green. I've used both as a bright spot in the middle of the lid, amd have also blended Checking In? onto a beige base to enliven an otherwise neutral look. I'm pretty sure I haven't even begun to tap into these eye shadows' potential.

Strobe Cosmetics single eye shadows are $6.50 each, made in USA in small batches, so certain colors get sold out and are out of stock until replenished again. It's for the best, I guess, giving us time to slowly collect as many of them as we wish.

Coralina by Oscar de la Renta (Essential Luxuries Line)

My first order of business was trying to find out who or what is Coralina. It's a lovely name for either a perfume or an orange tabby, but I was interested in its source and inspiration. Google was of very limited help here, though, so my best guess is that the name refers to Isla Coralina, a teeny tiny island that's part of Islas del Rosario, a small archipelago off the coast of Colombia. There's nothing much on this glorified rock other than a boutique hotel and a glitzy night club, so I can't be sure that Coralina the perfume has anything to do with that, but several other fragrances in the Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries line are named after faraway places (Granada and Sargasso), while the other ones are Mi Corazon and Oriental Lace. The names navigate the space between sentimental kitsch and the gorgeous romance  of the late de la Renta aesthetics, and the reason you haven't seen these perfumes at Macy's is that they belong to the more limited collection  that was launched in 2012 exclusively for Oscar de la Renta's boutiques (for a higher price than the main line).

Back to Coralina. The name suggested something beachy and tropical, but this couldn't be further from reality. This Oscar de la Renta perfume is a rich spring floral that offers heady fully-opened blossoms surrounded by  sharp greenery, encapsulated in a veil of sweet powder (or alternatively, a cloud of thick yellow pollen, as suggested by a dear friend). The star of this show is mimosa. Lots and lots of mimosa, and yes, it's definitely giving the impression of yellow flowers, piles of yellow taffeta, and the brilliant sunshine of the first beautiful warm day of the year.

Floating around in Coralina are various green leaves and stems: violet leaf and galbanum that's so crunchy green and sharp that at first I could have sworn I smelled tagetes. Maybe there is some marigold in the mix, or perhaps it's just a phantom note created by the bright colors and bitter galbanum. It all rests on a powder puff full of orris that dries down slightly musky and very satisfying.

I probably shouldn't, since Coralina has a good classic sillage and reasonable longevity, but I tend to spray it vigorously and then some. This is an extrovert perfumy fragrance, slightly bosomy, even.  Is it the next best thing to an Oscar de la Renta gown? Probably not, but I'll take it all the same.

 Notes: Neroli, Mandarin, Bergamot, Violet Leaf Absolute, Mimosa, Galbanum, Orris Absolute.

Coralina by Osacr de la Renta ($150, 100ml) is available from Oscar de la Renta boutiques and on the designer's website. However, it has started showing up from various online discounters, so Google is your friend.

Photo: Abbey Lee Kershaw by Lachlan Bailey for Vogue China, May 2012

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

FOTD- April Showers

This was a look for an April showers day, kind of like today, actually, only cooler. The husband and I were visiting a classy art auction house, so I didn't bring on the blue liner or purple lipstick, but still managed to have some fun. I dug out the Bare Minerals palette from the holidays, The Regal Wardrobe. I suspect many of you bought it, either when it came out or even better, when it went on clearance soon after and provided a brilliant value for something like $28 or lower. A few of the colors were limited (or temporarily limited. Bare Minerals tend to bring colors in and out), but I noted where the colors are still readily available. Since the day was gray and uninviting, I amped up the glow again, because why not?

Burberry Fresh Glow Primer. I've been using sample after sample trying to determine if it's the blue bird of happiness for me. My primer drawer is mocking me for that.
Burberry Sheer Foundation #5.
I didn't use any concealer or setting powder, but did give my entire face a light dusting Rouge Bunny Rouge Rouge Bunny Rouge  Impalpable Finishing Powder Diaphanous with the mother of all finishing brushes.

Etude House Proof 10 eye primer. It's now part of my regular eye primer rotation and I can't say enough good things about its performance.
From the aforementioned Bare Minerals Regal Wardrobe:
Natural (available in the 8.0 Sexy Neutrals palette) all over the lid.
Namaste (available in the Enlightened duo) in the crease
Romp on the middle of the lid and 500 Thread Count in the inner corner (both are part of the Dream Sequence quad).
Lancome Artliner in an unidentifiable bronzy color (the sticker has fallen off). Any metallic non-black will do. actually, anything will do.
Ardency Inn eye pencil in Gold on the waterline.
Guerlain Maxi-Lash mascara (the one for volume and curl)

I mixed together Brilliant Sunset and The Love Letter from the Bare  Minerals palette. Both were limited edition and have yet to be rereleased and repromoted. Temptalia has some dupe suggestions, but any neutral mauve with a good glow will work.
And since apparently I wasn't glowing enough, I also mixed Bubbly and Dripping in Glow from Anastasia's That Glow palette.  As yo can see, I do have a very light hand.

MAC Spice lip liner.
Bite Beauty Cortado/Latte Luminous Creme Lipstick Duo (criminally discontinued). I mixed both colors together for this result, and I think you can get something similar by combining Chanel Rouge Coco in Mademoiselle  with a touch of the Stylo in 216 Lettre.

Other Stuff
Scarf by MIR
SotD Caron Nuit de Noel. I was aiming for Narcisse Noir, actually, but the NdN just jumped into my hand. Why not?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Quarterly Perfume Statistics- According to Basenotes

It's time for a quarterly evaluation of my "Most Worn" statistics as logged on Basenotes. Since my previous post I've been more diligent in entering my scents of the day, so I'm pretty sure I haven't missed more than one or two, which shouldn't affect the tally.

What do we have here?

As you can see, the top four spots haven't changed, even though I've tried not to overdo it with Shalimar. I'm also pretty sure that at least one of the SotD logging that I missed was, indeed, a Shalimar. so the blue stopper lady is still the queen of all things.

Classic No.5 and its offspring switched places, probably within the last couple of weeks. I've reached for vintage No.5 more since getting the body oil. I see more of this happening throughout the warm seasons. Meanwhile, Chanel No.19 has dropped two places, and apparently I haven't worn it at all since late January. Why do I feel guilty?

Three perfumes have entered the Most Worn list. My beloved cheap treat, Oro by Cavalli, which shouldn't surprise anyone. I keep the bottle at eye level in the cabinet closest to my bed. Is it because I want an easy access or do I wear it so much because it's right there? Either way, it's much loved.

Then we have the fabulous Ilang Ivohibe by Parfumerie Generale. I probably should write a fuller review revisiting this gem, since it's become my favorite PG of the moment. I should also figure out how to pronounce its name.

The last entrance into the top ten belongs to the Le Labo's Paris exclusive Vanille 44. I have  decants of this perfume stashed in various locations around the house, and have finished the one in my overnight bag. Is this my favorite Le Labo perfume? I'm not sure. It used to be Santal 33 or Labdanum 18, but somehow the fuzzy vanilla that I still think is overpriced has become a go-to perfume. Not a good financial move.

 Have you started wearing a perfume more often than you expected? Any new obsessions?

Photograph by John Paul Pennebaker for Marshall Fields, ca. 1934

Free La Prairie Skincare Spa Facial At Osswald NYC

This is something to get excited about: Osswald NYC is adding La Prairie to their already impressive selection, and to kick it off they're flying their head esthetician, Lia Kramer, from Zurich. She'll be on hand for two weeks,  offering complimentary one hour-long facials.



La Prairie



I'm not going to miss this, and if you're in NYC during the first half of May (May 2nd to May 13th), you may want to check this out for full  details.  To book your appointment, email Josie  at [email protected] or call the store at (212) 625-3111.

I take no responsibility to any addiction that might be formed as a result. My past reviews of La Prairie makeup are here.*

Photo by Irving Penn, Vogue, February 1999

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince (1958-2016)

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It's time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too
Prince, Purple Rain, 1984

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Princess Elizabeth and friends, 1936

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chantecaille Mermaid Eye Color- Lagoon, Seashell, Starfish, Triton

The entire story is in the pictures. These Chantecaille Mermaid Eye Color cream eye shadows first appeared as available for pre-order at Barneys last month and I bought all four, and that was based on stock photos. I just knew. A few weeks later when they arrived it was clear that I was right. Chantecaille Mermaid cream eye shadows have a dense texture (compared to whipped ones like Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford, or Vincent Longo) that's rich in pigment. They can be patted on, buffed, sheered, applied with a dense or a precision brush, used under a powder eye shadow to intensify the color, mixed, matched, or used alone. All that was clear within the first tests.

Then there's tenacity and longevity, in which they outperform many cream eye shadows (waving hi to Charlotte T.). I use a primer, just as I do with any eye color product, and the Mermaid colors retain their gleaming finish, their pigmentation, and most important: the shape and placement I create, so there's no migration or flaking. I have yet to test them under exceptionally humid conditions, so I can't guarantee how they'll behave on an August day in NYC (or for a beach wedding in Florida), but so far they've been holding like cement from morning to night on my primed normal lids.

These four colors are all that's available, at least for now. Three are classic neutrals and one, Lagoon, is a jaw-dropping dramatic color that really surprised me when I opened the lid. Lagoon is a teal green to reddish brown duo-chrome. I have a very soft spot for this kind of pigment and tend to acquire every eye shadow that offers a variation on this theme (the classic MAC Club, the ultra shiny Urban Decay Moondust Eyeshadow in Solstice, Makeup Geek Havoc, and Ellis Faas E305). It's not something I'd wear for the Passover dinner (but on second thought...), yet it can be a stunning focal point for an otherwise quick and easy makeup look that keeps everything else simple and low-key.

Then we have the glistening yellow sand of Seashell, the rich coppery brown of Starfish (is there a more classic summer color?), and the grayed wet sand (almost light taupe) of Triton, which Saks website comically mis-typed as "Trinton". Triton and Lagoon are natural bedfellows, but they work in every combination. My recommendation is to work in very thin layers if you're over age 20, because piling up shiny creams can emphasize the texture of one's eyelids. Fingers and brush work well, so it's up to your preference, but I also suggest that you try silicone applicators. They're like little spatulas that are ideal for creams, gels, and anything that isn't straight up powder. You can but them at Sally Beauty (I order online, $1.99 for a packet of six double ended applicators). I keep them in various drawers, next to lip products and cream eye shadows, and they're a good tool for patting on these Chantecaille Mermaid Eye Colors before blending.

Bottom Line: Under the sea/ When the sardine/ Begin the beguine/ It's music to me

Chantecaille Mermaid Eye Color- Lagoon, Seashell, Starfish, and Triton ($34 each, made in Italy) are available from Barneys, Saks, Nordstrom, and under select location.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Péché Cardinal by Parfums MDCI

Twenty-something years ago there would have been no chance I'd wear Péché Cardinal. I used to give my sister a serious stinkeye (pun most definitely intended) for her overindulgence in Tresor. Compositions heavy on peach and floral notes were just not my thing, and for years I used to find them suffocating and unpleasant. So how did I find myself luxuriating in the satin grip of  Péché Cardinal by Parfums MDCI ?

I have to be honest:  Péché Cardinal is so pretty it's sometimes overwhelming. I wear it and feel like I've gone through a rack of vintage designer clothes and came up with a piece that had belonged to Princess Diana. Stunning, but obviously not meant for this sharp-tongued short brunette. This is why I keep  Péché Cardinal to a couple of sprays under my clothes, like a hand-sewn peach silk camisole against my skin. It's sexy and it's secret, and just a little bit wrong, which is part of the charm.

MDCI's Péché Cardinal also boast a massive lily note that fills my nose and brain with imagined powdery pollen. It's another note that's historically difficult for me (I don't even wear Uncle Serge's Un Lys or Malle's Lys Mediterranee), but in Peche Cardinal the lily is intertwined with threads of tuberose,  sweet tropical dreamy tuberose, and you know how I feel about that. The official notes list coconut , but on my skin any of that is swallowed by powdery and extremely feminine white flowers, and the creaminess that lies in the base of the perfume is more accurately attributed to sandalwood. The fluid movement of  Péché Cardinal's development ends in a pile of powdery sweet musk. It's like jumping into a heap of fluffy white feathers and playing in them with a carefree joy. Sometimes it's just the thing.

 Péché Cardinal by Parfums MDCI  ($250, 75ml eau de parfum in the regular bottle without the resin bust. See below if you don't know what I'm talking about) are available from OsswaldNYC and Luckyscent.

Art: Lê Phổ- Young Girl with Peach Blossoms.

Viseart Theory Eye Shadow Palette- Cashmere (Plus FOTD)

I'm still amazed at the restraint I've shown when only buying one of the new Viseart Theory Eye Shadow Palettes. I pre-ordered Cashmere a couple of months ago, knowing it was a sure thing, but passed on Minx and Chroma, as one is a very classic smoky eye set of which I have multiple other options, and the other has too many warm shades for me to create flattering looks (I'd have to add colors from other palettes or various singles, which kind of beats the point of buying a pretty and well edited small palette). Then I watched this video review by the adorable Tara, and she made me want to get the other two, pop them out of the packaging and place all of them together in one pretty Z-Palette for the sake of satisfying completion. But I didn't. I really and truly can only justify having Viseart Cashmere, and I've been putting it to such good use since it arrived here that I am completely satisfied.

One last word about the packaging: unlike the larger twelve color palettes, the pans in the Theory sets can be popped out of the cardboard box and placed into any magnetic free-form palette. I haven't done it, since I do like the very compact packaging, and I know it'll make an excellent companion for travel as it's sturdy enough and has a magnetic protective flap. Quite clever, really.

But we're all gathered here to talk about color and texture, so let's get it on.

All the new Viseart Theory palettes have three matte shades and three shimmer ones. Five out of each six are new colors, while one is a repeat from one of the big palettes. so even if you have the entire collection you get brand new eye shadows you haven't used before. I own four of the big Viseart palettes:  Neutral Matte, Paris Nudes, Dark Matte, and Sultry Muse, and find the little one to be an excellent addition. Cashmere is a neutral collection that leans taupe and is slightly on the cooler side, though I can use eye shadows no. 1, 2, and 3 for a slightly brighter and warmer look. The colors are incredibly well-chosen. At first glance they appear rather standard, but then you realize they allow for some serious dramatic effects, as well as a low-key tone-on-tone conservative looks.

The textures are exactly what I've come to expect from Viseart: rich in pigment, easy to apply and blend, crisp and clean. They're very soft so you don't have to dig in with a shovel, but they don't disintegrate to the touch or kick in a cloud of taupy powder. They're more skin-smooth than butter-like, and have a very professional feel to them. They're meant to be used and worked to the pan, and that's exactly what I consider the very best of makeup.

The eye shadows themselves are (my numbering, not Viseart's):
1. matte ivory
2. bright shimmer champagne
3. classic matte medium brown
4. shimmery rosy/mauve taupe
5. matte cool dark browm, like a slightly dusty espresso
6. a classic gorgeous shimmery taupe. The stuff ballads are written about by obsessed beauty bloggers.

I use a primer underneath (always), and can tell you that the eye shadows never lose their intensity or their finish in the face of rain, shine, or sweat. They play well with others and can be the building blocks of many looks.

Bottom Line: Perfection.

Viseart Theory Eye Shadow Palette- Cashmere ($45, made in France) are available from Sephora (online) and

Now for an actual incorporating the entire palette (I know!):

The Face Shop Mango Seed Butter Glow Date-Prep. Like I've mentioned in the past, don't even think about buying it if your skin is oily. For me, it's a lovely primer that's more for texture and an overall look glow than for longevity.
Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge #2. I'll keep buying it for as long as they keep making it.
Youngblood concealer in Medium Tan anchored  with Laura Mercier setting powder.
Guerlain Wulong pressed (limited and long discontinued) for finishing.

Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer.
Viseart Theory Eye Shadow Palette Cashmere:
   #1 all over the lid from lash line to brow bone
   #3 in the crease, used sparingly
   #6 on most of the mobile lid
   #4 patted lightly in the middle of the lid
   #5 applied along the lash line with a small angled brush
   #2 in the inner corner
I used all Chikuhodo brushes from the GSN series (plain white handles) plus my old Edward Bess Luxury Eye brush for final blending.
MAC Teddy on the waterline
MAC Zoom Fast mascara (not as good as the regular Zoom Lash).

I actually used eye shadow #5 from the Cashmere palette. It's darker than what I usually go for, but I wanted to see how it holds and if it gives the palette even more versatility, and it does. The powder remained in my brows for the six hours I needed it to stay put.

Kjaer Weis cream highlighter
NARS 413 BLKR blush

Tom Ford Moroccan Rouge applied with a thin brush in three blotted layers with no lip liner.

Other Stuff
Silk blouse by J Crew (from last year, I think)
Scarf by Paul Smith
SotD Parfums MDCI Peche Cardinal.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Montale- Honey Aoud

The first couple of minutes wearing Montale Honey Aoud smell quite scary. There's a resemblance to the apple turnover aroma of Ambre Narguile and I'm really not a fan of the gourmand Hermessence. It's the too syrupy honeyed cinnamon and the apple phantom note (I tend to smell apples whenever sweet cinnamon is present). Things get much more fun when the typical Montale accord of bitter medicinal fake oud arrives on the scene and sends its sharp claws into the jar of fruit preserved in treacly syrup.

all that might give you the false impression that I'm not so fond of Honey Aoud. You're wrong. While I might not take Montale as seriously as they would have liked (there's no actual person named "Pierre Montale", to begin with), and have no illusions regarding the quality and content of their oud accord, I love and own a few bottles (Ambre Oud, Boise Vanille, and Chypre Vanille). When that thing works it hits the right spot of sooty, ashy, bitter aroma that elevates an oriental fruity perfume into a heady pleasure. It's also extremely sexy, playing the dirty and forbidden against the wholesomeness of a a five o'clock tea where little fruit tarts are served on delicate porcelain plates.

Longevity, sillage, and projection are the stuff of legends and warning labels. I used no more than a couple of drops today, which I applied in my dressing room, across the hall and two doors down from my bedroom. By the time the husband came in he was sure I sprayed the entire room with Honey Aoud (for a second he thought it was Soleil de Jeddah, because it has a similar scent profile, though Soleil is richer, brighter and more mouthwatering). No, it was just that drop I applied under my t-shirt that kept simmering on my skin and radiating throughout the house.  You need to like this kind of massive Arab-style orientals to enjoy it, and I usually do. If I could change one thing I's make the honey more of a stand alone note with its notorious animalic facets more pronounced (think Miel de Bois). But this is a Montale, not an Uncle Serge perfume, and I'm perfectly happy with the pleasures it has to offer.

Honey Aoud by Montale ($120, 50ml) is available from Luckyscent. OsswaldNYC, and Aedes have the 100ml bottles ($170).

Image: F.C. Gundlach, Untitled, Lebanon, 1963.

Lipstick Queen- Eden (New)

When Eden by Lipstick Queen appeared at Barneys several weeks ago as a new item it sounded vaguely familiar. And, indeed, a quick search revealed that creator Poppy King had used the name previously for one of her "Saints" lipstick (I've always been more of a Sinner). The new Eden comes in a different tube (red rather than gold), and is not as sheer as the Saint lipsticks. Eden is an exuberant apple red with what Lipstick Queen calls a "holographic shimmer", that's actually rather subtle on the lips and add life and fullness. I find it cheerful and a great pick-me-up color, especially on days one looks in the mirror asking "...and I got up for this?".

Even the newsletter looked tempting.

The formula is one of Lipstick Queen's better ones. It's rich with nourishing butters and does not contain fragrance or other infamous irritants. Longevity is medium (tea=yes, though some transferring might occur, burger=no), and since the color is intense and bright there is some stain left behind. Eden is luxurious and pampering, and it's one of those not so guilty pleasures. It's good basic red that feels like a high-end balm yet gives an intense color. The shimmer doesn't translate into visible particles at all. Instead, it gives a shine (obviously) and a plump dimensional appearance.

Bottom Line: Very flattering, and a good starter red.

Ingredients: Castor Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Vegetable Oil,  Candelilla Wax,  Beeswax, Ozokerite, Shea Butter, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Mango Seed Butter, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Limnanthes Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, , Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Carmine (CI 75470), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 28 lake (CI 45410).

Lipstick Queen- Eden ($24, made in Canada) is available from Barneys.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Currently- April 2016

Career of evil by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K.Rowling), It's the third book in the Cormoran strike series. Quite brutal, but the characters keep developing from book to book, and the lady can write.

The new Andrew Bird album, Are you Serious. I can pretty much pre-order his music without a preview. He's so good.

A bit late to the game, the husband and I finally binged on all four seasons of House of Cards. I get why people love it, and we'll probably keep watching when it comes back, but I don't love it. The current elections aren't helping, but it's not just that. The dialogues and too many of the storylines often feel contrived, and right now I'd just rather have a president written by Aaron Sorkin.

Lots of vintage Caron and vintage Nina Ricci. I've never been this lady-like.

I wore half stripes of false lashes to an event tonight. Pigs are carousing the night skies.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
I'm kind of ignoring the temperatures and breaking out spring dresses. Cropped jackets and long scarves make them wearable.

I can live on chocolate milk.

Beauty and Mental Health. So very true.

I'll be baneless after tomorrow's visit to the DMV.

A surge of creativity.

Funky vintage accessories. I've lost a couple of interesting auctions and it made me cranky.

Random Thought
As addicted as I am to HGTV, I can live the rest of my life happily without looking at another gray shaker cabinet door and Wayfair decor.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?

Art: John French Sloan, The City from Greenwich Village, 1922.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

FOTD: Doing Your Makeup When Barely Awake

I have some words for whoever came up with the idea of breakfast events. Being social early in the morning is a special kind of torture, even if I get to release some aggression while driving in Manhattan during rush hour (required: nerves of steelsteel chutzpah, and an extensive vocabulary of curse words in at least four languages). I also needed to look presentable and not homicidal, and accomplish that before I could fully open my eyes, not to mention focus them. The occasion was The Fragrance Foundation's Finalist Breakfast (I was a finalist for an editorial award for my Early Scent Memories article, and no, I didn't win). Hanging out with good friends and fresh orange juice kept me upright, and a streamlined makeup using infallible staples kept me looking sane.

Smashbox Oil Primer. I was less concerned with longevity and more with keeping my skin supple and smooth. It's a favorite.
YSL Touche Eclat Foundation (B50 Honey). You could have guessed it.
Cle de Peau concealer (Almond), mostly around the nose and a small area on the chin, set lightly with Shiseido loose powder.
Laura Mercier pressed powder- Universal. It's the very fine light-diffusing one that doesn't add color or coverage.

Etude House Primer  Proof 10 (a Korean product, as good as they come).
Le Metier de Beaute single eye shadow in Naked. It might me my favorite base eye shadow. Something about this particular beige is perfect.
MAC Copperplate in the crease and Satin Taupe on the lid. It doesn't get any more classic than this.
smashbox Limitless liquid liner pen, because I can apply this one even when my vision is blurry.
Hourglass Film Noir mascara.

NARS Illuminator 413 BLKR. My tube is getting lighter. I'll need to repurchase soon, and that's quite a feat for a highlighter.
Paul & Joe Cinnamon Roast 001 blush (Fall 2015). I used both colors swirled together.

Charlotte Tilbury lip liner in Pink Venus.
D&G Sophia Loren No.1 lipstick.

Other Stuff
Dress: Candice by Tart (I think it's on sale now on Joyus).
Earrings: an older pair by Cecile & Jeanne
SotD: Musc Tonkin, applied liberally. I questioned the prudence of this choice when I was trapped in the car with my spectacularly stinking self for an hour, but I just had to. Just as tomorrow I'm going to follow my little tradition and wear Absolue por le Soir to the DMV.

One Last Thing
Another proof that my brain does not work before 10 am, the first couple of photos I took were not really pictures but videos. I guess I couldn't see the camera settings clearly.

Aedes de Venustas- Cierge de Lune

The newest perfume from Aedes de Venustas is perhaps the most abstract in the line. It might also be my favorite, and that's not even because it's technically centered around vanilla. I don't think of Cierge de Lune as a vanilla concoction at all, but as a representation of light and its absence, and as a quest to find the light during a long pitch-dark night.

Nighttime in the desert has inspired more than one perfumer and creative director (how many can you think of?), and my enjoyment of these dry amber-incense perfumes is second only my general dislike of actual desert landscapes, especially if I have to deal with them in person. Nevertheless, I fall again and again for the sensation of an infinite black sky over a land that stretches endlessly. Midnight in the desert is very cold. The sand dunes have long let go of the last bit of warmth they'd absorbed during the day and are now standing stark and eerie in the clear white moonlight. That's the first impression Cierge de Lune gives: a piercing almost unnatural light. It's not exactly a classic aldehydic floral, yet there's a similar effect. The press release and Karl Bradl of Aedes who created the concept of this perfume both say that perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin had used hedione, a radiant molecule that  conjures the image of white flowers and cold transparent air (I highly recommend reading more about hedione in perfumery on Perfume Shrine).

As the night grows darker other scents invade the air around you. You keep walking as if summoned, noticing whiffs from a faraway campsite, light barely-there incense, a fata morgana of a shelter where soft smoky and warm air is ready to welcome you. On my skin this stage is sweeter and smells surprisingly like  pipe tobacco before mellowing down back into a soft suede-colored sand that blows in the wind like ambery dust.

Just then when the starless night seems the most impenetrable a faraway light starts to glimmer. Is it another illusion caused by fatigue? Has the pale moon finally emerged to guide you the rest of the way? You keep walking, sweet hope taking over, warmth spreading to your tired  limbs. There is something there, the reason you started this journey. The you see it: a beautiful and rare flower blooms on the vicious thorny cactus. It seems to give its own milky light, eclipsing the moon itself. You stand there mesmerized, taking it in, smelling the sweet creamy and slightly intoxicating aroma, the dessert is now your friend, comforting and safe.

In your little tent you pull the covers tightly. It's warm inside, and you can smell the clean desert air on your skin, sweet and slightly musky. You take one last look at the magical flower outside. You can finally get some rest.

Notes: crystalline accord, vanilla, pink pepper, black pepper, ylang ylang, suede accord, incense, amber, musk.

Aedes de Venustas- Cierge de Lune ($245, 100ml eau de parfum) is available directly from It will eventually arrive at the the other stockists around the world (it's already in Jovoy Paris), and a travel spray version will also be released in a month or so. The sample for this review was supplied by Aedes.

Art: Cactus Grandiflorus or Night-Blowing Cereus by Robert John Thornton, The Temple of Flora, 1807 (I'd love to get my paws on a copy of this magnificent book of poetry and flowers).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Blush Tag

No, nobody tagged me, but I've seen this poll all over creation in various versions, and it looked like fun. Besides, it's about blush. We love blush.  We really really love blush, even if I suffer from a permanent fear of over-blushing and use a moderate hand. Surprisingly, the questions weren't as easy as they look, mostly because I have a very large collection of well-loved blushes. How can I choose a favorite brand or the prettiest color? It required some good and hard rummaging about the drawers (I have one for powder blushes and one for creams) to figure it out. Also,  I did some digging and also edited the questions a bit to make for a more meaningful list

1. Best Packaging

    Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson. Nothing is better than Norman Parkinson photos on your beauty products. NOTHING. That was easy.

2. Prettiest Color

    Kevyn Aucoin- Helena. A glowing medium pink that's both warm and a bit plummy.

3. Most Pigmented

    Becca Nightingale. I never had anything like it.

4. Everyday Blush/Most Used/Most Practical

   Youngblood Blossom, Lancome Aplum, Benefit Dallas. This question appeared in several variations and I have several contenders. Blossom is a wearable cheerful warm juicy pink peach, Aplum is a muted mauve thing that appears very neutral and casual on my green undertones, and Dallas is a magical bronze plum, an American classic in more ways than one, and between my mom and me several boxes are consumed each year, so I always have a fresh backup waiting.

5. Best Blush Palette

    Laura Mercier Bonne Mine. It's a limited edition cream palette that is usually being released every couple of years or so, with all profits going to charity. But what makes Laura Mercier's Bonne Mine so awesome are the wearable and blendable looks I can create from the five colors it includes. You don't need to do the bronze/contour/blush/highlight thing. Instead, mix the highlighter with the blush to get a glow effect, or deepen the coral with some bronze to create drama. It's kind of brilliant.

6. Regret Purchasing/Least Used

   Chanel Alezane (Fall 2015). The color was fantastic, but the glitter bomb texture was shockingly horrendous. I re-homed it before that week was over.

7.Worst Packaging

    Ellis Faas. Beautiful colors, excellent textures, and perfect finish, but the pen applicator, as cool idea as it looks, ruins the experience. While the pens have been reworked and improved, like all Ellis Faas pens, if you don't use them at least a couple of times a week each, the part closest to the opening will still dry out, and the pressure of the liquid will make the pens burst open all over your hands, your clothes, and working surface. It will also be ruined for good, unless you scoop out all the remaining cream product into small jars with a tight lid. More trouble than it's worth.

8. Favorite Blush Brand
    If I really have to choose (and I don't want to) it comes down to NARS and Lancome. NARS has an amazing range of colors with different finishes, including some of the best mattes around. Lancome makes the most wearable and reliable blushes season after season, and I've been using Lancome blushes consistently since my late teens.

10. Least Practical

      Youngblood Loose Mineral. Funny how that goes. Youngblood's pressed mineral blush is among my most practical, but their crushed pigment version, as beautiful as it looks (and applies) is incredibly messy and gets everywhere and on everything, cats included.

11. Most Expensive

     La Prairie Cellular Radiance Cream Blush ($70). I have it in Plum Glow and would love to get Rose Glow and Berry Glow. The price is insane, but this is so beautiful and luxurious, so no regrets.

12. Least Expensive
     I have four Milani blushes. I'm not crazy about the shimmery baked ones ($7.29 at Target), but the matte rose blushes ($7.99 at Target) are very pretty and easy to wear. I have Tea Rose and Romantic Rose, both on the neutral mauve side of things. They're made in Italy, and I'm curious to know what high-end brands are manufactured at the same facility (and in the same high-quality formula).

13. Special Occasion

     NARS Dual-Intensity blush. The pigmentation intensity, bright colors, and metallic formula require a careful application and some thought before dipping the brush, damp or dry. It's a high impact look that isn't for every day as far as I'm concerned. But on a perfect night where I want to shine nothing is quite like this.

14. Best Blush Brush

      Hakuhodo 210. I have so many blush brushes it's not even funny. I adore my various Yachiyo brushes, my Suqqu cheek brush, the Tom Ford one. They're all amazing. But this one is perfect: the perfect size, the perfect density, the perfect shape for buffing and blending. Hakuhodo 210 works for most blushes, including the insanely pigmented, because you can pick a tiny amount and then diffuse it evenly on the cheek. It's also magical for soft colors making them appear flushed and pretty. I have three of these brushes in constant rotation.

I'd love to hear your answers to the questions you like best, so consider yourself tagged if you feel like it, or comment here.