There were palettes before Bobbi Brown launched her original Fall 2006 Chocolate collection with the sensational palette. Chantecaille's butterflies were the most beautiful makeup items around since the early 2000s, and I had bought countless Dior quints, Chanel sets (remember the Jeans collection? I still have that eye palette from 2003), and Lorac made a nice splash with the Snake Charmer and the Croc palettes in 2006. But everyone went nuts for Bobbi's deceivingly unassuming Chocolate palette. The face of the campaign was the stunning Shirley Bouganim, and the items went out of stock in an unprecedented rate, some to reappear at scalper prices on eBay, other simply hoarded by makeup collectors. Bobbi Brown tried but never quite recaptured that level of hype and success with sets like the Mauve palette or the Rose & Denim collection. There was even a QVC relaunch of the Chocolate line around 2010 that went mostly unnoticed, ad the Rich Chocolate palette of 2013 that had the same format. But other brands paid attention, and large eye shadow palettes have become increasingly popular. Lorac rebranded and rebuilt the brand around them, Anastasia Beverly Hills nearly made everyone forget that it started as an eyebrow-centric brand, Tarte has been pushing more palettes than anyone can ever use, and there are countless of others at Sephora,Ulta, and the drugstores, dazzling us with colors and patterns. There's something about full sets than many makeup enthusiasts find hard to resist. Just one more palette and my collection is complete, right?
I bought the brand new Bobbi Brown Chocolate eye palette (fall 2016? pre-holiday 2016? Whatever) because this time I was genuinely curious. Some Bobbi eye shadows from recent years were sub-par, but I've felt a shift lately, both in their offering and at the actual counters. I've also noticed that the new palette includes a powder eyeliner trio similar to last year's Intense Pigment Liner, and I wanted these particular colors. So, why not?
The four eye shadow colors in this palette are Ivory (basically, a finely milled translucent powder, even less pigmented than the classic Bone or Navajo). I can only employ it to set my primer and create the smoothest canvas. It does not conceal veins or hyper pigmentation. Then we have Woodrose, a crease color if there ever was one. It works for me, and can also be used to slightly deepen the lower lash line. However, I'm not sure what anyone darker than NC42 would see in it. Milk Chocolate is exactly what it says. It's probably not the first time Bobbi Brown uses this name or shade, and it's a good and effective one. All three color mentioned above are matte, cool-toned, and smooth, and a vast improvement over some Bobbi shadows I've come across in the last five years. The last eye shadow, Velvet Bronze, is in the metallic formula, which is more fine satin shimmer than full-on metal. It's that ray of light that we like in the center of our lids these days, warm toned (see:bronze) and blends well with the mattes. How fun and useful is that?
Then there's the eyeliner portion, and if you've red my last year review you know I'm a fan. It's a tight (no debris) formula, pigmented and pliable that doesn't require a damp brush to perform and stay put. The colors are very dark and sooty, so even the navy doesn't scream "blue". Cocoa Mauve is ore of an elephant color, and I adore it to pieces. Navy is a blackened, well, navy, and Black Chocolate is the darkest brown I have. I've attempted to show that you can get a very fine line out of them, depending on the brush you use. I prefer a very thin angled brush (I have a couple of ancient MAC ones). The eyeliners are of the same quality of last year's, and that's a very good thing.
Now let's also see if we find any similarities to my original Chocolate palette (made in Canada), just for the sake of research. The colors are completely different even if in the same ballpark. While the new palette offers smoother texture, I can't help but think that the 2006 version was more pigmented, even if slightly less luxurious. I don't know if I care, since the new formula is pretty close to that of Tom Ford quads (maybe the packaging is making me biased), and I might have to actually swatch it next to the modern classic Coco Mirage. That's not a bad thing, either.
Bottom Line: Good Bobbi is back. At least for now.
Bobbi Brown Chocolate Eye Palette ($60, made in the USA) is available at counters everywhere and online.