Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dior Diorshow Mono Eye Shadows 980 Atmosphere, 756 Front Row, 658 Cosmopolite, 554 Minimalism

Dior has recently released a new range of single eye shadows. They keep doing this annoying thing of naming all their eye shadows lines since the dawn of time "Diorshow Mono", with the exception of the long-discontinued 1-Colour line (I'll get back to that one in a bit). To make things clear, since some counter still have the previous Diorshow Mono in stock, the new ones are  narrow rectangles with an  embossed "CD".I bought  four of the eight available colors, and still have an inner debate going on about the two camel/light brown shades ( 530 Gallery and 573 Mineral). They're obviously not unique, but I'm highly impressed with the current finish and formula.

Three of the new Diorshow Mono I've got have a smooth high satin look that reminds me very much of the dearly departed 1-Colour singles. The latter have been discontinued since early 2010 or so, and for some reason Dior haven't managed to produce singles of a similar quality since. The square one with the full Dior logo were good  if uneven, and some, like the Cruise one, were shockingly sub-par. While I still like and use some of them, the new range marks a great improvement. The fourth color  of this new bunch ,658 Cosmopolite, has a different texture, it's one of those modern thicker and denser ones that are almost creamy, and has more of a shine. It was a nice surprise, and it's a great eye shadow.


980 Atmosphere is an icy purple that dwells on the furthest edge of my comfort zone. I do like it as a surprising touch in the middle of the lid with an otherwise neutral combination.
658 Cosmopolite is the one with the different texture. It's more metallic and requires more patting than blending. It's a gorgeous color and effect, and a real surprise.
756 Front Row is a complex rosy taupe, while  554 Minimalism is a silvery dove gray. Both are very Dior and will make you think of couture fabrics. They create the most sophisticated polished looks, very timeless and elegant.

Bottom Line: Four of the prettiest eye shadows currently at the counters.

Dior Diorshow Mono Eye Shadows 980 Atmosphere, 756 Front Row, 658 Cosmopolite, 554 Minimalism ($29.50 each, made in France) are available from most department stores.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day

Wishing you a peaceful and safe Memorial Day weekend.

Photo of WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII from womenmilitaryaviators.org.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

MAC Select Lipstick- So Select

A couple of months ago MAC started a Select program, similar to Sephora's VIB. I registered, because why not? It's free.  I don't buy a lot of MAC makeup, but I was going to replenish some old staples, so why not get the benefits? Of course, that's a slippery slope, because once you're in they start tempting you with members only (or Select only) stuff, like the first exclusive, So Select lipstick.  It's a dirty rose kind of color, so obviously I had to have it.

So Select is a matte lipstick, a MAC formula that's usually my sworn enemy. I have to admit that this is one of the better lipsticks in this range (hey, it doesn't make my lips burn and peel, so that's a major improvement), but nine out of ten times I will either gloss it or apply over Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm (which is a unicorn matte balm), because I'm not a fan of my lip lines.

So Select is pretty and easygoing. You can see that the color is in the same family as MAC Finally Free (the Caitlyn Jenner one. So does this make So Select a Kardashian?), but Finally Free is a Cremesheen formula, which I obviously much prefer. So Select is also more brown and naturally more flat. I wish they'd make the same color as a Cremesheen or a Huggable, but since I have been putting this lipstick to some serious use, I can't really complain (much).

Bottom Line:  Matte lipstick lovers should rejoice.

MAC Select Lipstick- So Select ($17, made in Canada) is available from maccosmetics.com and is exclusive to MAC Select members.

FotD: A Bronzed Summer Look

I'm not sure I'm crazy about this look, but I was feeling the sudden summer thing and decided to focus on a lightly bronzed skin and kind of juicy colors everywhere else. The camera prefers more defined eyes, and so do I, to be honest. My mistake was leaving my eyebrows au naturel. You live, you do your makeup, and you learn.

Laura Mercier Primer- Protect (I was already wearing an SPF50, but I like this primer in the summer and buy a new tube every year).
Edward Bess Sheer Satin Cream Compact in 03 Nude. I'm on my eleventy seventh one and still love this.
Cle de Peau concealer (Almond).
Rouge Bunny Rouge Diaphanus powder.

Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer.
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea eye shadow palette (it was a limited edition Sephora Exclusive that sold out quickly, so I never bothered reviewing it. It's nice, but not groundbreaking). I applied Sand as an all over brightener, blended Cove into the crease and mixed Starfish and Reef together to create a shape in the outer V. You can see that there's nothing too remarkable about the colors. Pretty warm taupy little things with a hint of plum.
Colourpop Call Me eyeliner pencil for tightlining and the lower waterline. It's a warm plummy brown, which I chose for a soft effect. I could have built up some intensity, but oh well.

A light all over dusting of the classic Guerlain Terracotta Blonde, including neck and décolleté, then used the classic Benefit Dallas in a ɛ3 shape around the face, and topped with a pinch of Mauveine by Make Beauty.

Laura Mercier Plumberry liner.
I mixed two shades of Neutrogena Moisture Smooth Color Stick, Berry Brown 120 and Deep Plum 180. I like these chubby crayons for the pretty colors and hydrating formula, but they tend to move around a bit, hence the careful lip lining.

Other Stuff
The dress looks vintage but it came from Nordstrom, I just don't remember what or when.
Vintage earrings.
SotD: Bruno Fazzolari Monserrat, which goes happily with this look. Later in the day I moved to some vintage Bal a Versailles, which was not weather-appropriate, but I didn't care.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Colourpop #Alchemy Jaime King x Colourpop Eye & Cheek Set

When I bought this #Alchemy Jaime King x Colourpop set a couple of months ago I thought five of the colors were eye shadows and one was a blush. I was wrong, since two of the colors I considered to be eye shadows are actually highlighters and pack some serious glow voltage. I'd still rather use them as eye shadows. but that's just me. Other than that, the versatility, colors, and textures make #Alchemy a great all-season set. I admit that I wanted it more for said versatility than for the Jaime King connection (she's very lovely, but I don't know much about her beyond the basic career milestones, her friendship with Taylor Swift, and the fun trivia fact that she was named after the Bionic Woman character).

Those of you who don't like the Colourpop Super Shock formula are not going to change your minds. It's still this bouncy cream-to-not-quite-powder formula that applies best with fingers or with a silicone applicator, blends with a fluffy 217-type brush and has a high-impact finish. I love it, so it's all good. The part that was completely new to me was the matte blush. It's a beautiful formula, similar to the matte eye shadow one in both application and intensity. The blush color in this set, Thames, is serious stuff. I've been following Colourpos's advice and blending it with a good duo-fiber brush (Hakuhodo G5552 and MAC 188), and will add my own insight: when you think you're done blending, blend some more. On my skin, Thames takes a turn towards raspberry, which is pretty bold; hence the extra blending.

The other cheek colors are Pretty Bonnes (pearlized finish), which is an ivory/pale gold highlighter, and The Golden Child (pearlized finish as well), a stunning copper. They look quite metallic on skin, which is another reason I'm not crazy about using them over the cheekbone. I'm guessing they were made for Instagram makeup more than for my middle-aged self who goes antiquing almost every weekend. I do love them as eye shadows, and find that they stand beautifully on their own with nothing but an eyeliner and a mascara. Beautiful colors, beautiful finish.

Here Knight is topped with Alchemy. I'm unconvinced.

The eye shadows are Alchemy, which has little pigment (peach, in theory) and is all about its sheer glitter finish. I'm not a fan, even when tapping  it over another color, probably because it's not even enough for my liking. I'm not opposed to glitter, I just want it to have an actual color and make an impact if I'm going for that. Alchemy is too wishy-washy to be an effective glitter, and too glittery to look good as an eye shadow for me.

Knight is a smooth velvety black in a satin finish. It's a spectacular opaque black base that requires moderation in application and a cleanser for removal. Vanity Fair is my favorite of the bunch. It's cool brown that's almost taupe with a pearlized finish. You can't go wrong with this.

Colorpop eye shadows are notorious for drying out if you don't make sure they're closed very tightly. I wish they'd come with a plastic protective cap like Lancome and L'Oreal cream shadows. I'd be willing to pay a little extra for that. Maybe I should get crafty and make an air-tight thingy for them.

Bottom Line: Pure makeup fun.

Actress Jaime King teamed with Colourpop on the #Alchemy Collection, which includes this set ($30, made in USA) of eye shadows in various finishes, a matte blush, and two highlighters. All six items can also be purchased individually purchased individually ($5-$8 each). The full #Alchemy collection also includes other items that I've chosen to skip: a couple of matte lipsticks and lip liners, a contour stick and a highlighter stick. They're available from colourpop.com (look under Collaborations).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

FotD: Lisa Eldridge's Bright Eyeliner/Nude Face

This is one of my favorite evening looks because I get to do a very blue eye contour with a sheer luminous everything else. It's my version of the bright eyeliner look by Lisa Eldridge, adjusted for my coloring and eye shape. Sometimes I stick closer to Lisa's version, but this is a  looser interpretation because that's what I felt like doing.

MustaeV Lustrous Cream Base
Albion Gel Mask Foundation in 060. As you can see, it flashes back quite heavily, but the purpose of that evening was to celebrate the husband's birthday and eat vegan Japanese food, so I didn't care. It looked awesome in person.
MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC30 where I needed some coverup.
YSL Touche Eclat pen under the eyes and a tiny bit on the side of the nose.
Laura Mercier Universal Loose Powder for setting.

Edward Bess Illuminating Eye Base in Dune.
Laura Mercier Caviar stick in Amethyst all over the lid. Soon I will have to buy a new one.
The "Contour" shade from Studio 10 Visible Lift I-Definer palette in the crease.
Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof in Marine Chic. This was a limited edition from Summer 2014, but you can get the same effect from Stila Smudge Stick in Cobalt (Lisa used the same pencil in Violet), Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof in Sapphire (suspiciously similar to my older one), or Lancome Drama-Liqui-Pencil in Côte d'Azur. Lisa's look is much more graphic, which I cannot pull off. Instead, I went for a slightly winged and more diffused liner, with a lighter hand on the lower lash line (mostly just the waterline).
YSL Shocking mascara.

Lisa went for a cool toned blush, but I usually prefer something warmer to balance the bright blue eye. I used Youngblood Crushed Mineral Blush in Rouge, which is a loose formula that melds beautifully with the skin and has enough natural luminosity so I could skip an extra highlighter.

Wunderbrow in Black/Brown. I've been testing it for the last few days, so you'll hear more soon.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Liner
MAC Creamsheen lipstick in Finally Free (the Caitlyn Jenner one, an online exclusive). I went back and forth about buying this one. It's a gorgeous lipstick, of course, and I support the cause wholeheartedly (100% of the selling price goes to the M·A·C AIDS Fund Transgender Initiative, to further its work in support of transgender communities). While I've had no problem overlooking Ms. Jenner's family, her political statements over the last couple of months have been making me cringe again and again, since she seems utterly clueless how damaging they are to the issue she represents. In the end the cause and the color won, and I made the purchase in the name of my beautiful friend, Trésor.

Other Stuff
Faux leather jacket by BB Dakota (from Bloomingdale's, I think). I have it in both this dove gray and a weird blush/beige color.
An older necklace by Bernardaud.
Sotd: Parfumerie Generale Iris Oriental (formerly known as Iris Taizo).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Want: BLTRX Bags

First, a disclosure: the designer of these lovely bags is distantly related to me (her oldest brother is married to the Husband's youngest sister, so we share a niece and two nephews). We don't actually know each other, since we live on different continents, but I have been following Tamar Friedman's work for a while. BLTRX spring 2016 is especially appealing, and has produced two items that are now on my Coveted List. The Tila fold-over clutch ($195) looks like the perfect thing for a summer night (and it's actually large enough to hold more than a lipstick, which is always appreciated) or any event.  Olari Big ($339) is a fun bucket bag. It caught my attention thanks to the textures and that bold orange color, which is among my favorites. There's also a clutch version of this pattern and colorway that I like very much.

BLTRX design studio is located in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The bags are hand-crafted and made in small limited edition batches. They can be purchased directly from the designer on BLTRX.com as she ships worldwide and accepts PayPal. She also has an Etsy store under the same name, for those who prefer that route. I'm not commercially affiliated and was not asked to feature the bags or the store.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Currently- May 2016

The Name Therapist  by Duana Taha. Is having an unusual name makes you a more unusual person? What happens when your name just doesn't fit who you are? How does a name becomes a "stripper name? Are Brooklyn names really a thing? Like the author, I've always been deeply interested in names, so this is an especially fun read.

I've always adored this song, but recently got it stuck in my head on repeat. The Blond and I watched the Janis Joplin documentary, Little Girl Blue. It was even more depressing than I expected.

We just binged on the recent season of Grace & Frankie. It was a bit uneven, and I hate that Bud has become such a cliche, but there were still some laugh-out-loud moments as well as good character development. I don't know which character I love most on this show. Martin Sheen has never been better, and that has to say something.

But aren't we here to talk about Game of Thrones?  The Husband read the books, I didn't (and have no intention or attention span to do so). It's interesting to see the difference it makes in our viewing experience. I knew absolutely nothing (no pun intended) about the story, the characters, or Westeros when the first season started. To be honest, I had a problem telling many of the characters apart until after the Red Wedding (maybe because it eliminated so many of them). They all had unkempt beards and kind of looked alike to me. Still, from the first few episodes I was absolutely certain that there's a big issue with Jon's parentage that didn't even occur to the book reader who was much more entangled in the history and various plotlines. It just didn't add up, or as Stannis said last season, "that wasn't Ned Stark's way". Thank you, Stannis. At least you were right about one thing.

I feel silly every time I want to say "All of them". After all these years and my weight in samples, I'm still deeply in love with perfume. Even though I think the industry is killing itself with the glut of new releases and their prices, I'm curious and excited as I'm adding to my collection, and keep going back to past loves, vintage perfumes, and amazing new launches. So, yes, it's all of them, but currently I'm deeply infatuated with Cadavre Exquis, the Brunno Fazzolari/Antonio Gardoni collaboration.

I haven't done anything as extreme as the false lashes from last month, mostly because I do my makeup standing and the  sprained foot has made lengthy sessions in front of the mirror extremely undesirable. so it's been all about efficiency lately, gel pencils, big palettes that don't send me looking for a supplemental color in another drawer, and a good powder to tie it all together.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Other than the heating pad for my foot? The weather has been fluctuating intolerably, and we're about to get more of the same. I'm really over the very necessary black, navy and gray cardigans, ao I bought a coral one. Also, I just finished a massive re-org of my closet (I put a glimpse on Instagram), so I'm looking forward to putting my light scarves to some good use.

The husband has been perfecting his tomato-infused buttery pasta sauce. The funny thing is that he'd never eat a fresh tomato and is kind of skeeved by even touching them. Yet he's learned to do wonders and grows a plethora of them every year.

Your media business will not be saved.  Media and blogging issues have been on my mind again even before I got that comment on my Artis brush post. Sometimes it feels like blogging (real blogging, not online marketing) is doomed. Then I remembers that my readers are quite amazing.

My left foot is healing when I let it, so I'm not going to complain too much.

I already told you about my closets. I did the same with my jewelry storage. It's really the opposite of the Konmari approach. I've arranged the stuff I have beautifully and get to enjoy it, maintain everything nicely, and remember why I picked it in the first place.

A facial, a weekend with my best friend, the Blond's birthday, a staycation. And that bottle of Cadavre Exquis I ordered.

I could use some help with ironing.

Random Thought
Can we please just elect Prince Harry?

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

Image: Woman in Flowy Skirt by Helen Dryden, circa 1921.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Artis Elite Collection Oval 8 Brush

I've been using this Oval 8 face brush by Artis for three months now, but it took me ages to actually take the photos. There's this cycle: I use the brush twice, wash it, take two days for it to dry, use again twice, the brush now is dirty and soaked with foundation, wash it, repeat. This should tell you two things. First, I like this brush and find that it performs well. Second, it's not the most practical tool in the world. For many reasons.

Artis brushes and similar ones from other brands (there are some cheap ones on Amazon, as well as a small collection by MAC) have a very dense synthetic head that forms a flat surface. They cover larger areas than any other brushes, which means that you need fewer application motions. You use the brushes lightly, making broader strokes, and never ever apply pressure or buff the makeup on (it'll cause some serious exfoliation and will look uneven and patchy). The learning curve for me was not too steep, but it is a different way of makeup application, and it sometimes go completely against instinct (see buffing your foundation). Done right, your makeup will look smoother than ever and as close to flawless as possible.

The problems start with the fact that not every foundation is suitable for use with this brush. I've tried almost every single one in my arsenal and only the thinnest liquid ones worked for me. Not even  silicone/gels looked right. That means that Artis Oval 8 performed well with all the foundations that come in a dropper bottle, as well as other light-as-air formulas like YSL Touche Eclat. sliding the brush over my skin with these foundation (over a primer. always over a primer) created a beautiful even surface. Of course, we're talking about a light coverage foundation, so take this into account.

Another issue: , you know how regular foundation brushes soak up runny liquids? Multiply this by five or more for Artis. The brush is dense like a sponge and acts like one, only more porous. This means that a staggering amount of product is wasted and eventually is washed down the drain. Speaking of washing, Artis offers a brush cleaning pad that uses a special microfiber cloth and their own foam detergent. I haven't tried them, so maybe that's the way to go if you decide to invest in these brushes. I've been washing my Oval 8 with the same cleansers as other brushes: Dr. Bronner, Shea Moisture Black Soap, Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils, and using my trusty Sigma cleansing mat (the one with the suction cups that attaches to the sink). No matter what I do, it takes forever before the brush finally rinses clean, and I always worry that all this washing will result in loosening the glue and the hair.

I have to say that so far my brush hasn't lost a single fiber. It's obviously very well-made and matches the elegance of the design (and of the end result).  The box suggest using it powder as well, but there's no way I'm doing that as I prefer the lightest and sheerest touch I get from fluffy powder brushes. I enjoy using Oval 8, since the combination of performance and luxury speaks to me, I just don't think it's the a very practical tool, and that's the bottom line.

The brush I was sent free of charge by Artis is part of the Elite Collection and comes in the smoke finish (Artis just released a 24k Gold range, and there's a different line, the straight-handle Fluenta, that also has an Oval 8 and is more expensive, which is sold at Neiman Marcus. Artis Elite Collection Oval 8 Brush ($65, made in China) is available from Saks, Net-a-Porter, and Anthropologie (what?).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Parfumerie Generale- Ilang Ivohibé (Revisited)

The first time I wrote about Ilang Ivohibé by Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale was just before I got my first bottle of this perfume, as I drained a sample or two during a massive Nor'Easter storm back in 2007. It has served as a spot of sunshine, a mood booster, and a source of true pleasure ever since. I also included Ilang Ivohibé in my most recent list of "best perfumes you're not wearing (spring edition)" because I've always felt that this fragrance tends to get lost among Guillaume's high-profile creations. 

Ilang Ivohibe has been around for quite a while (since 2005, an eternity in today's market standards). It's considered "nice and pretty", or as in Luca Turin's one line review in the Guide: "Straightforward jasmine floral with a vanillic drydown". Well, yes. That's the whole point. The reason I enjoy this perfume so much is the way it takes the yellowest, most sunshiny aspects of jasmine and ylang-ylang and amplifies them to an extreme. The effect is of a happy cat lounging in the sunniest spot in the house, lazily stretching to expose a spotted belly*. You can't beat that kind of well-being.

But there's more to that. The floral bouquet of Ilang Ivohibé progresses all the way from brisk and soapy (I'm in full agreement with my 2007 self) to a slightly whimsical yet elegant white fabric, maybe something like Swiss dot. It's comfortable to wear and not formal in any way, but still feels "dressed" and very satisfying. Part of it is the soft creamy flow from ylang-ylang to a very soft wood, kind of a sandalwood note yet not quite that. Parfumerie Generale's website lists orris as a note, so maybe that's behind that tranquil dry-down with a pinch of earthiness.

Various sites have different and contradicting note lists for this perfume. Pierre Guillaume's own seems incomplete  (Lavander, Vanilla, Ylang-ylang, Orris, Patchouli),and I'm with Luca Turin on the jasmine. If you're an Ilang Ivohibe fan I'd like to hear what you smell there. It's a fun game.

Parfumerie Generale- Ilang Ivohibé eau de toilette comes in three sizes but not all are available from every retailer. OsswaldNYC has the 100ml ($179), Luckyscent offers the 50ml ($125), and if you order directly from parfumerie-generale.com you can get the 30ml for 65 €. Osswald and Luckyscent also sell samples, of course.

*As you may remember, our house is blessed with an abundance of tabbies.

Art: An Oriental Beauty by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, c.1888

12 Signs You're Married to a Beauty & Perfume Blogger

We all know that my long-suffering husband has come a very long way. Most spouses of beauty and/or perfume lovers learn to recognize colors like taupe or mauve, gain new relatives like Uncle Serge, and are sometimes go on a hunt for a much-coveted yet elusive palette or highlighter that is rumored to still be available at a distant Sephora. When said obsessive person also blogs about beauty and perfume every day things get slightly more insane. Here's a selection of signs one is married to a beauty blogger:

1. You start using words like "swampy" to describe scents.
2. You can detect a shoddy blending job.
3. At some point you've had a brow product tested on your face.
4. You find yourself at a beauty industry party discussing product packaging. And you actually have an opinion.
5. You can date a sealed vintage Lanvin by the wrapping paper. It's a skill that comes in handy at estate sales.
6. You know that Hada Labo and Chikuhodo are not types of sushi.
7. You recognize Lisa Eldridge's face. And voice.
8. You've been to the upper level at the Serge Lutens Salon in Paris.
9. You know what "Instagram brows" are, and you're thankful your wife doesn't sport them.
10. You may be holding the world record for assembling an Alex dresser.
11. You know the difference between AHA and BHA. You may or may not have a product that contains them. Sometimes you even use it.
12. You once explained what's natural ambergris to your mother. You regretted it.

Image: Andy Warhol: Beauty In the Box for Harper’s Bazaar, July 1962

Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari & Antonio Gardoni

Art by Chris Buzelli

Many things went through my head over the course of wearing Cadavre Exquis, the new limited edition perfume by Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni. The one thought to which I've kept coming back was irony. There I was geeking out on the artistic collaboration between two of the most interesting and creative contemporary perfumers, immersing myself in the sensual pleasure of wearing Cadavre Exquis, savoring every facet and twist, yet I couldn't shake the notion that this marvelous creature was somehow related to one of very few perfumes I thoroughly loath.


Yes, that one.

Deconstructed then grotesquely reconstructed piece by piece into a chimera, a Cadavre Exquis, a glorious beast that smells sensual, intoxicating, and naughtily edible. A quick look at the list of notes Fazzolari and Gardoni used kind of explains it:  blood orange, camphor, ylang-ylang, tagetes, dried fruit, star anise, chocolate, cypress, benzoin, vanilla, and civet. Of course, Cadavre Exquis smells nothing like the actual Mugler perfume, but the idea and the irony are still there.

The chocolate in Cadavre Exquis is infused with camphor. It's not the first time we smell such a concoction. Christopher Shledrake composed a similar accord for Serge Lutens' Borneo 1834, but where Uncle Serge took it to a dusty and woody dark corner inside an old steamer trunk that has seen the world, Cadavre Exquis is more perverse. It takes us to Miss Havisham's wedding banquet, where a silver charger piled with civet truffles is sitting under a veil of cobwebs. And guess what? They tasted and smelled this way back when the sun was still permitted in the room and Miss Havisham herself had a spring in her step. Maybe she ordered the truffles for her future husband. One can never know.

There are other elements at work in Cadavre Exquis. Bruno Fazzolari has a way with floral notes that make me dissolve with pleasure. Here he and vintage-inspired Antonio Gardoni (one word: Maai) married two unlikely bedfellows: Ylang-ylag and tagetes (marigold). The complex ylang-ylang can take on a sweet banana facet as well as the more familiar aspects of heady white flowers, and tagetes is a slightly bitter aromatic flower that can go anywhere from green to a musky tobacco. I get much more ylang than marigold, both on my skin and on the husband's, but I have a feeling that this note has a major role in keeping the "dried fruit" as dry as it is (and the complete opposite of the overripe garbage water in Angel). When I pay close attention to the going-ons on my skin I do catch a whiff of nearly dried-out end-of-summer tagetes. It's a different way of approaching decay and mortality in perfume (more common examples use gardenia to convey this idea, as the flower in the height of its bloom already smells slightly past its prime. That's the main concept behind JAR's Jardenia, for example).

The result of all these notes cooked together in an unholy cauldron is a fascinating and very adult gourmand. Chocolate and fruit macerated in expensive liqueurs are mouth-watering, but I'm not sure the average sweet-toothed perfume consumer will find it easy to digest. This beauty is almost sinister in its temptation. Stylistically, Cadavre Exquis belongs on the same shelf I keep the work of Alexis Karl (Body Made Luminous, The Poetry of Longing, and Requiem for the Immortal). There's a similar sense of  jubilant experimenting and artistic integrity in these perfumers' work. Incidentally, some of Alexis Karl's art (her Mythological Evolution series) depicts half beast-half human creatures fused together, as do her Hybridas Morte skull sculptures. So far, this Gardoni/Fazzolari collaboration is far less goth and morbid than Ms. Karl's work  (cadaver associations aside).

Some of you may be wondering by now if Cadavre Exquis is actually wearable. The answer is yes. YES. It's thick, rather sweet, nuanced and complex, but the bottom line is that this perfume can give immense pleasure to those who enjoy civet, chocolate, and some on their skin.

Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari & Antonio Gardoni  ($245, 50ml eau de parfum) is a limited edition of 99 bottles (I can tell you that I ordered my bottle the day I got the sample, so we're starting at 98...). It's available on brunofazzolari.com as well as from Luckyscent. The sample for this review was sent to me by the perfumers.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Tom Ford Lipsticks: Ultra-Rich Purple Noon & MoistureCore Pipa

As my friend Josie was going through my box of "new stuff to photograph" she picked the box of new Tom Ford Moisturecore lipstick and game me a look. "You bought it because it's named 'Pipa'. Well, I sort of did, even though they spelled it wrong. And I was intrigued by the summery color. It's hard for me to find non-red warm lipstick colors that don't look ridiculous against my skin. I'm not entirely sure that Tom Ford's Pipa is the most flattering color I've ever worn, but it's nice, and it goes well with more summery makeup (what summer?). And, well, it is called Pipa.

Pipa is a sheer coral with a pink core. The result on the lips is kind of a melon color that doesn't take over and feel exactly like a very luxurious lip balm, but with a good punch of color, so it's makeupy enough. I usually consider the core thing as a gimmick (Tom ford is most certainly not the first one to do this. I uses to have a similar  D&G product, and I'm pretty sure they haven't invented this technology, either). Still, it doesn't take away from neither the color nor the quality of this lipstick. I'd easily get more had there been a better selection of color (there are only six shades offered in the Moisturecore range).

My other Tom Ford pick was the Ultra-Rich lipstick formula in Purple Noon. Looking at the never-ending ingredient list on the boxes (perhaps the longest I've ever seen) proves that these are decidedly different formulas, but the Ultra-Rich lipstick is true to its name and feels incredibly moisturizing and comfortable. It's not completely full-coverage (the swatches are both a single swipe!), but the high impact pigment saturation is very satisfying and effective.

Both lipsticks are flavored with a touch of Vanillin. It doesn't bother me, and neither is the extra scent in the Ultra-Rich lipstick. The latter is also clearly not vegan (lanolin and beeswax), and also contains wheat. The Moisturecore seems to be free of the above, but it does contain carmine. I apologize for being unable to take a photo of the ingredients. The bleary white print over the shiny gold box was beyond my skills.

Bottom Line: Very very good.

Tom Ford Lipsticks: Ultra-Rich Purple Noon ($52, made in Belgium) & MoistureCore Pipa ($55, made in Italy) are available from select department stores as well as from Sephora.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Nina Ricci Fleur de Fleurs (Vintage Perfume)

I had no idea I wanted (needed!) a bottle of Fleur de Fleurs, a Nina Ricci perfume from 1980 (via Nigel Groom, second edition) until I actually had one. How did I miss this beauty? Fleur de Fleurs is a classic floral that would have fitted in decades earlier: an aldehydic blast that opens the doors and windows to a rolling hills of spring flowers: hyacinth, lilac, iris, and muguet, before it settles into the sexy lady who wears civet and wants you to know that. Not exactly the shoulder pads and excess of the 80s, which is perhaps why it's one of those forgotten gems.

Is Fleur de Fleurs original? No, not even within the classic Nina Ricci collection (that's where Germaine Cellier's creations, Fille d'Eve  and  Coeur Joie come in). But it's incredibly beautiful. I'm a sucker for hyacinth, and when it's accompanied by iris I'm a goner. Here the floral heart is even fuller with a cascading bouquet of white flowers (think of Princess Diana's wedding flowers) that seem to flow and trail. I smell a fantasy of a cottage garden hidden behind a small house in the middle of a bustling city.

I'm extremely lucky to have a giant bottle of Fleur de Fleur in extrait. It's so big that I can practically soak myself in it and savor every nuance. It keeps coming back to the relationship between the cool and crisp hyacinth and the creamy yellow of jasmine and ylang-ylang. Together they fill the air and give the impression of a flower field that stretches endlessly, as far as the eye and nose can see them. The abundance is nostalgic and romantic, making me think of all the places I have yet to visit and the summer days awaiting in the future.  And they're all here, captured within the beautiful bottle.

Some days this is all I could ever ask for.

Art: George Hitchcock, Dutch Girl, 1904.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Bright red Lipsticks Two Ways (FotD), Including Kyoto Red

Bright red lips are my go-to these days. Probably because I have so many options and variations tempting me every time I look through my drawers, making me want to put everything on. We all should have more than one face so we can wear all the makeup. The two looks I'm showing here are ones I've worn to recent industry event. The first was a masquerade-inspired party, so I also had a mask on for half of the evening. I don't have a good photo of that, other than a silly selfie I took in the car and posted on my Instagram. I copied this look by Lisa Eldridge, because she created it for a high-fashion event that included a lace mask. All blunders are, obviously, mine.

The Face Shop Glow Date Prep Butter
YSL Touce Eclat foundation in B50 Honey
Clinique Airbrush concealer in 02 around the nose and wherever I tend to get a bit red, because a red lip enhances every imperfection.
NARS Light Reflecting Powder (loose).


  • Good old Fergie primer.
  • MAC Paint Pot in Soft Ochre as a base color. I did it because it was Lisa's choice, but must admit that out of all the Paint Pots I have I find Soft Ochre to be the driest and least effective. I should have gone with a Bobbi Brown cream shadow, something like Bone or Shore.
  • A very old Dior single 1-Couleur eye shadow in Beige Imprint. It's long discontinued and I've forgotten how wonderful the formula and the finish used to be. It made me go and buy some of the newest Dior singles that I'll show you next week. In any case, I applied it exactly the way Lisa did with her Pale Barley (don't ask why I don't have that one): in the crease and along the bottom lashes.
  • I also followed Lisa's method of tracing the top eyeliner with a pen, Hourglass Script (discontinued), and followed with a cream-gel formula, NARS Black Valley. I didn't extend the liner as far high and out as Lisa had, because my features can't support the drama.

The pigs you saw crossing the New Jersey sky that day were the result of me wearing false eyelashes. Again, I did as Lisa advised and used a shorter strip, Ardell Accents in 301. I applied them using Revlon Lash Glue (Duo tends to get messy in my hands) and the Japonesque lash applicator.
Buxom Lash mascara gave the finishing touch.

Becca Moonstone Liquid.
Chanel Rose Temptation blush (discontinued. Rose Ecrin will do just as well).
Anastasia Beverly Hills Starlight Highlighter, because why not?

I started my prepping along with my skincare using my beloved Bite Agave mask.
Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic lip liner in Rose
Bobbi Brown lipstick in Sultry Red (limited. Bobbi's Luxe Lip Color in Retro Red might be close).

Other Stuff
I bought the mask on amazon as a pack of four different shapes and chose the one that looked best. I couldn't make the husband wear one, though.
Dress by DVF.
Antique earrings.
SotN was Mona di Orio Musc, which for some reason didn't work that evening. It was annoyingly powdery and the husband was not a fan at all.

A couple of weeks later I attended a beauty event that practically screamed for a red lipstick. I was happy to oblige.The problem was that it was a few days after I hurt my foot. I thought I'd be alright, but the pain made standing in front of the mirror and doing my makeup a kind of torture instead of the relaxing ritual it usually is. I was over the whole thing before I even started on my base, and the whole experience is filed under "No Fun" in my memory.

The Face Shop Glow Date Prep Butter
Albion Gel Mask foundation in 060
Cle de Peau concealer (almond)
By Terry Touche Velouette #3 Beige
I was reaching for my Shiseido loose powder to set things, by instead grabbed Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. To add insanity, I finished my face with Hourglass Ambient powder (all three colors from the palette swirled together). I think a disturbance in the Force occurred that night.

NARS primer
Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage quad, plus Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy in Insolent Ivory.
Tony Moly black gel eyeliner along the lash line as well as for tightlining.
Essence Gel Waterproof Pencil in 04 Blue Lagoon on the lower waterline, because I felt a need for something bright. I love everything about this pencil: the teal color and the formula (made in Italy). A good spontaneous pick from Ulta.
Buxom Lash mascara. The samples keep procreating.

At that point I just needed to be done, so I grabbed the NARSissist Cheek Studio Palette and used stuff from there: the highlighter, Goulue blush, and blush #1 on top of Goulue to add some shimmer.

Rimmel Exaggerate lip liner in Red Diva
Tatcha Kyoto Red lipstick.

Other Stuff

Eris Parfums- Belle de Jour, Night Flower, Ma Bête

Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord. Described by Homer in the Iliad:
"Strife whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men's pain heavier." 
Eris played an enormous role in the start of the Trojan war: It was her who brought Paris the golden Apple of Discord to give to the fairest of the goddesses. We all know how that worked for him.

Barbara Herman, the force and creative director behind Eris Parfums is no stranger to controversy. Her book Scent & Subversion took the perfume industry to task over what it has done to its own legacy, artistry, and public tastes. She has reminded us that for nearly a hundred years perfume was there to expressed ideas, desires, cultural shifts, but never to cover-up of our humanity in a generic way. It is not a surprise then that Barbara's next step was to team up with perfumer Antoine Lie (two words: Sécrétions Magnifiques) to create a new perfume, then known as "Perfume X". That one perfume ended up evolving into three that make Herman's own perfume label, Eris Parfums.

There are three perfumes in the current lineup. They managed to surprise me somewhat in the fact that they "don't smell like vintage" (the husband's favorite way of describing a certain genre). These are modern perfumes that are grounded in tradition and display the artistic integrity we usually search for in vain.

Belle de Jour
The name is somewhat of a cliche (didn't Le Labo use it for their short-lived recreation of the classic Deneuve for Anthroplogie?), but this perfume is anything but. It's the most modern fragrance of the three and would have felt right at home as an Etat Libre d'Orange perfume (could have been one of the jewels in their crown). It starts very green, soapy, and precise as a well-coiffed Parisienne clicking her hills on rain-soaked pavements, but dries down to a very familiar steam and laundry musk that  is not my personal favorite.
Notes: coriander, pink peppercorn, orange flower, ciste, jasmine, pimento berries, cedarwood, musk, seaweed absolute.

Night Flower
Picture a walk-of-shame (not the Cersei one) in Paris. remnants of the previous night, personal belongings haphazardly shoved into an expensive purse, a crumpled yet heady one blossom of tuberose that was collected from a nightclub table, a quick soaping up before heading into the chilly morning, and a little smile. I was sure this was going to be my most favorite of the three Eris Parfums, but wait.
Notes: bergamot, birch tar, cardamom, suede accord, tuberose, cinnamon, patchouli, tonka bean, musk.

Ma Bête
My beast. My dearest darling beast. It's sexy and animalic from the very first whiff. It starts with a beautiful neroli that manages to be both soapy and dirty by association to an indolic jasmine. It's also dripping with honey and with  an enthusiasm for life and adventure. It's the one bottle I'd take with me on a one way trip to Paris, not knowing what awaits me there.
Notes: neroli, aldehydes, nutmeg, cypriol, styrax, Jasmin sambac, cedarwood, patchouli, animalic accord.

Eris Parfums- Belle de Jour, Night Flower, and Ma Bête ($150, 50ml eau de parfum each) are available from Luckyscent as well as directly from ErisParfums.com.

Photo of model Donna Mitchell by Helmut Newton for Vogue UK, September 1966.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Giorgio Armani S/S Runway Palette and Runway Eye Tint

It was the packaging that reeled me in. It's a tie-in with Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-to-Wear collection that was shown in Milan last September,  a love at first sight for me. I could picture myself right there on the front row next to Cate Blanchett taking notes and then announcing : "I'll have one of each, please". Maybe they'd through in the limited edition Armani Prive Fil Rouge perfume that comes in a matching bottle as a gift with purchase.  Well, it doesn't work quite this way, but I could get the makeup: Armani S/S Runway Palette and Runway Eye Tint.

You can see the packaging in the photos, with the gauzy tulle pouches printed in patches of red, blue, and off-black. The same extends to the top of the palette itself, which is a nice touch. But we're here for the actual makeup, and the colors looked very very enticing.

The blush formula is Armani's much beloved Sheer Blush. It's wonderfully soft and smooth, but the pigmentation is deceiving. You can built it to the intensity you see in the pan, but you have to use your densest blush brush. The effect is gorgeous. It's one of the most natural and healthy looking blush looks and I love it very much, since I dread over-blushing. However, if your skin tone is richer than mine, not to mention darker (I;m a very wan and gray NC30-35 without a hint of yellow on my face), this might frustrate you to no end.

The beautiful eye shadows are in the same ballpark. They require a good base (more on that below), and are not the stuff Instagram Queens choose for their typical looks. I'm more than fine with that. The pearly beige is a beautiful highlighter (that's the one that barely shows up on my arm, but looks magical in my inner corner or over a bronze cream base. The middle color is a complex lavender gray that's  kind of a color shifter. It's the star of the trio and I can imagine it looking great against blue or green eyes as much as it enhances brown. Then there's a silvery copper that also changes with the light and is a perfect everyday color on its own. The problem is that wearing all three together is kind of overdoing it, unles you bring in a couple of good matte eye shadows for blending and anchoring it into a modern look.

Enter the Giorgio Armani S/S Runway Eye Tint. Unlike other Eye Tints from the line that's tried, S/S 2016 has a semi-matte finish (the Armani website claims it's iridescent, but I beg to differ). The color is a sooty charcoal, and pigment intensity is at the top of the scale. The first swatch above is a one swipe of color that's enough for at least two sets of eyes, as proven in the following photo shows how a quick blending of this amount can be sheered or not, depending on your tools and intentions. I highly suggest working with as little product as possible (use a brush to pick it up from the applicator), and then patting down or buffing gently, according to the desired effect. You can always build some drama, and the doing it carefully allows the color to dry so it doesn't smear and gets everywhere.

My original idea was to use the Runway Eye Tint as the base for the more delicate eye shadow colors of the palette. I'd say that it's completely foolish when it comes to the highlighter that only looks good over a white, cream, or champagne base. The silvery copper (far right) doesn't need any enhancement and is great independently from this collection. The gorgeous middle color does look richer, sexier, and more interesting over the tint, so I'm feeling somewhat vindicated. Again, do everything using small brushes and a light hand before going for a "more is more" look.

Bottom Line: Mostly for collectors.

Giorgio Armani S/S Runway Palette  ($120, made in France) and Runway Eye Tint ($42, made in France) are available at select Armani counters and directly from giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com.