Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Comfort(er) Scents


A few years ago I wrote about comfort scents, smells that you go crave when the goings get tough. This is not what we're talking about here. Or at least, not quite. It's the middle of winter and staying in bed has never felt better: pulling the comforter up to your nose while planting your feet firmly under a cat. I've looked for perfumes that give me this feeling, and are also good for long nights under the covers. They have to feel cozy, yet not overwhelm with foody/sweet notes, spice, or too much of just about anything. In no particular order, here are my white sheets and soft comforter perfumes:


  • Etat Libre d'Orange- Fils de Dieu, du Riz et des Agrumes. It's that steamed rice note. Yes, I know I just said "no food", but Fils de Dieu is not quite a gourmand perfume. It's soft and white, easy to wear and not distracting.
  • Serge Lutens- Clair de Musc. One of the sleeper perfumes in the line is delicate, clean, and moves between creamy and powdery. 
  • Ted Lapidus- Silk Way. An oriental musk-wood-incense that wears like a gauzy light blanket. 
  • Ramon Monegal- Cuirelle.  This might be pushing the boundaries a little with its sensual honeyed leather/incense. I guess that's how skin smells after staying in bed all  day with books and cats. 
  • Annick Goutal- Ninfeo Mio. This one is actually for summer. Imagine a cool white canopied bed in a room open to a Mediterranean garden. You feel the breeze and pull the crisp sheet over your shoulders. Bliss.
  • Le Labo: Vanille 44 and Labdanum 18. Two cozy cashmere-like perfumes, not very sweet or too heavy. 
  • Atelier Cologne- Vanille Insensee. A relative of the Le Labo exclusive, not foody and quite grown up. Like having a cup of Earl Grey tea in bed.
  • Frederic Mall- Dans tes Bras. Powdery and a little weird,  feels like finding an old beloved blanket that has been stored in a wooden box with violet-scented sachets.
  • Hermes- Hiris. Another combination of coolness and warmth, a crisp white scent that I adore all year round. It's calming, relaxing, and oddly fitting when the snow keeps falling.


Rose McGowan At Jean Paul Gaultier Show (Paris Fashion Week)


I haven't been following Rose McGowan lately so I had no idea she cut her hair this short. These photos were taken at the Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris (Haute Couture fashion week). She certainly has the cheekbones to carry it, but I still think it's too short (I'm biased, I know). I do love the dark lipstick and well-defined eyes. The outfit? Well, it's Gaultier and she's Rose McGowan. I like her because she's interesting and always looks imaginative, for better and for worse.

 And here are Carla Bruni-Sarkozy  and Dita Von Teese at the same event, below:


Looks like everyone was having fun.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter


My daily (and nightly) body lotion is the decidedly unglamorous Amlactin (Alpha Hydroxy Therapy in the bottle with the green pump). It has done wonders for my formerly scaly skin over the last year or so. But not molting on a daily basis is not always enough, especially in the dead of winter. So I've been adding and trying various creams, old and new, for the sake of extra hydration and nourishment. Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter is my latest discovery, and it's proven itself through thick, thin, and itchy.

This lightly scented body butter (a soapy lemon fragrance that thankfully doesn't linger much since I don't like it at all) is, indeed, as soothing as Tatcha promises. It comes ina  tub and it's a lovely shade of blue. The product is gentle, not sticky at all, and feels lighter than the average body butter (it's based on olive squalene rather than on shea, and the texture is more cream than butter). You can get dressed immediately following a good slathering (this is an advantage over the Amlactin that takes a couple of minutes to sink in). Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter seems to improve the skin on my limbs over time and frequent use, and it has helped with the occasional winter irritation.

Bottom Line: I'm going to need a bigger tub.

Ingredients:
Water, Glycerin, Squalane (Olive Origin), Cyclopentasiloxane, Propanediol, Diisostearyl Malate, Myristyl Myristate, Xylitol, Dipentaerythrityl Hexahydroxystearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Fragrance (Natural), Sorbitan Tristearate, Beheneth-20, Sodium Acrylate/Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Dimethylacrylamide Crosspolymer, Microcrystalline Wax, Dimethicone, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Inositol (Rice Extract), Sodium Polyacrylate Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Disodium Edta, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Sericin (Silk Extract), Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (Licorice Extract), Hydrogenated Lecithin (Soy Origin), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Polygonum Tinctorum (Japanese Indigo Extract) Leaf/Stem Extract, Alcohol, Algae Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, and Phenoxyethanol.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter ($48, 6.8 oz) is available from tatcha.com. A deluxe sample was supplied by the company.

Image: Rene Gruau for Jacques Fath via hprints.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ralph Lauren- Tuxedo (Vintage Perfume)


Ralph Lauren Holiday, 2005

When I started writing about vintage perfumes here I called it "The Lost Perfume Series". I felt that some these treasures from our perfume past were not only gone, but close to being forgotten. Or in the case of bad reformulations, their true nature was being forgotten. Then there are the ones that truly slipped through the cracks of time, and most people don't even know they existed.

Case in point: Tuxedo by Ralph Lauren. The 1979 follow up to Lauren's classic (now badly reformulated) Lauren, meant as its evening counterpart. It didn't live to see much of the 80s.  Amelia on The Vintage Perfume Vault shares her thoughts about why Tuxedo was a flop. I agree with her about the gender confusion, to a degree. But I think it's also an issue of brand identity. Back in the 1970s and even today to a degree, despite Lauren's Black Label line and evening wear, the designer's image is horsey and outdoorsy. Is the woman who aspires for the life depicted in the original Lauren ads the same as the one who buys a leather-floriental named Tuxedo? A woman in a tuxedo is very YSL, not necessarily Ralph Lauren's customer.

Which brings us to the perfume itself, the lost Tuxedo. The bottle is a black version of the classic preppy Lauren, with a red logo. It's the only color combination possible for this dark and sexy beauty. It hits you from the very first whiff with a vintage vibe that was probably already considered dated by 1979 (the seventies seem to have been more about green chypres than about smoky leather ones). I smell the oak moss right away, a leathery moss or a mossy leather. It's probably due to the perfume's aging that it takes a bit for the floral bouquet to unfold and show its grandness. The blend is smooth and quite seamless, an animalic floral fortified by wood and a sweet thick ambery base. It hints towards the big-boned florientals of the approaching decade, but in my opinion Tuxedo is superior.

There's certainly a gender-bending element here. The aged leather, hints of a smoky library with its worn Chesterfield couch and a glass of aged cognac are not necessarily a typical seventies or eighties perfume, which is another reason to love and appreciate Tuxedo. It was unique back when it was created and it's even more special now. I think of it as an incredibly romantic perfume. How ironic it is that Ralph Lauren's anemic, scrubbed-clean Romance is the one that people know and recognize everywhere, while Tuxedo is lost forever.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush




You'll have to excuse the Hakuhodo's (right) appearance: I had to retake the photos on a day the brush was dirty, so I quickly washed it but had no time to let it dry, so what you see is a very damp G534.

Ever since reviewing the magnificent Hakuhodo G543 brush back in 2011 I've been getting request to find a synthetic equivalent. It took a while, but here it is:  Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush. Like the Hakuhodo brush, it's kabuki sized, with very short bristles (shorter than the Hakuhodo, actually), and a completely flat head. Both are designated for buffing powder, especially powder foundation, onto the skin, and both do an awesome job.

The synthetic hairs of Tarte Airbuki (was this name really necessary?) are soft, densely packed and firm enough for a  perfect buffed full coverage. They might lack the extra puff-like plushness and luxurious feel of the Hakuhodo, but even I have to admit that only marginally so. Cleaning them is about the same- the Hakuhodo hair is white, so returning it to its full glory takes a bit of a time and a good face cleanser, and the same goes for the synthetic bristles, so no real difference here, though if you never use the Tarte brush with any liquid product it should be easier.

I've tested the brush with a bunch of powder foundations (Laura Mercier, Youngblood, and Dior), all with perfect results. Do note that on dry and flaky days (or after using a chemical exfoliant) it might add to the situation, but that's a given.

Bottom Line: probably the best brush Tarte ever produced.

Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush ($26) is available from Ulta, Sephora, and tartecosmetics.com.

Paul & Joe Spring 2015


I admit that there's nothing about these Paul & Joe Spring 2015 palettes that's age-appropriate. But I don't care. The only thing stopping me from ordering one or three is the fact that these are eye and face palettes, so the eye shadows and blush live in the same pan and touch each other, which is a recipe for a big ugly mess (what's with the combination palettes this season?). Of course, there's that all brown palette in the tiger box, but I'd never use the yellow eye shadow. Or would I?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recently Tested: Assorted Skincare Products


I've already told you how I simplified my skincare routine for the sake of of my complexion and sanity. This means that I rarely test anything new. Because the consequences are rarely pretty. But I'm still curious enough to try things here and there, so these are my impressions of stuff I've let in during the last six months:

DHC CoQ10 Lotion & Resveratrol Lotion. I'm more open to trying Japanese toner/lotions than I am to any other skincare products. Most of them are mild, hydrating, and make the skin happy and eager to absorb the next step in pampering. These two are no diiferent. They're pretty similar to each other, except that the more "advanced" Resveratrol has some more plant extracts and whatnots. Is it more effective? I doubt it. These two DHC lotions are competent, but I admit that my heart belongs to the simple Hada Labo products that feel gentler even when my skin is raw from allergies and other winter troubles. ($37 & $61, respectively, on dhccare.com. Press Samples).

Lumene BB Serum. Ignore the stupid BB name because it has nothing to do with popular BB creams (is this still a thing? Lauder has moved on to an EE). This is a light vitamin C serum that is supposed to be an anti-aging product. It might be a brightening serum if you don't use anything else for this purpose, but for someone who does chemical exfoliation on a regular basis and uses a heavy duty vitamin C serum daily, this Lumene serum is a lightweight in every sense of the word. I sometimes use it under makeup, just because, but I can't say I see any real benefit.  ($21.99 at Ulta, Dermstore, and most drugstores. Press Sample)

Fresh Seaberry Face Oil. I like face oils and use them all the time. This one from Fresh is a reasonable one, though you can't use it in the morning under a sun block, because it causes the white stuff to ball and look so horrendous you need to clean up and start all over with a different moisturizer, as I've learned the hard way. The ingredient list (Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Fragrance, BHT, Linalool, Limonene, Citral, Coumarin, Geraniol) includes several items that are heavily restricted in perfume use because they're known irritants and allergens (linalool, limonene, coumarine), so it makes me laugh bitterly to see them in a skincare product that goes all over one's face. Where's IFRA when you really need them? ($50, 1.6oz at Sephora. GWP).

Auriga Flavo-C Forte. I think I forgot to mention vitamin C serums in my routine post (linked above). At the time I was using the one from Paula's Choice, which is an excellent product, except for its size. Vitamin C serums are highly unstable and lose effectiveness once unsealed. You're supposed to chuck them after three months, and I've found myself disposing of half full bottles of serum. Enter this little bottle of 15% l-ascorbic acid, just like Paula's, only smaller (15ml compared to 20ml). Now, it's more expensive, so you don't save anything, but you don't throw away stuff, either, and the smell is a little less offensive, which is the real winner in my case. ($52.99 on Amazon).

Hakuhodo Brush Soap



Brush geeks take brush washing pretty seriously. I usually devote an afternoon for that, making sure my brushes are well-pampered as well as clean. As I've mentioned in the post linked above, I'm not particularly fussy about the detergents I use, as long as they're mild enough. But now Hakuhodo has their own brush soap (orange, of course), which is supposed to be the best way to wash their brushes. Basically, it's a gentle glycerin soap (ingredients: water, sucrose, glycerin, ethanol, sorbitol, HEDTS-3Na, Etidronic acid, BHT, pecan shell extract, paprika pigment), which should tell you what we've known all along: a gentle soap is the best way to wash makeup brushes.

Hakuhodo Brush Soap does a good and effective job on natural hair brushes that have been used with powder products, and to a certain extent also with synthetic brushes and light liquid makeup. I still find that I need a stronger product (such as an oil face cleanser) to break down cream foundation or pigmented cream blush from synthetic and even white goat hair brushes. The soap dissolves slowly and doesn't fall apart. It holds well for reusing again and again. While I tend to prefer liquid soaps in pump bottles for germy reasons, I have to admit that this one looks and feels perfectly clean. I pat it dry, make sure there's no more moisture on the surface and put it back in the resealable plastic baggie, and store until the next time.

Bottom Line: why not?

Hakuhodo Brush Soap ($8, 30g) is available from hakuhodousa.com. The product in this review was sent by PR.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Vagabond Prince: Land of Warriors & Swan Princess


Two years ago the owners of Fragrantica launched their own perfume brand, The Vagabond Prince, and released their first collaboration with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Enchanted Forest. It didn't rock my socks. I got the idea behind it, could appreciate the vision, work and effort, but in the end of the day, once I was finally done testing it and the review was written, I packed the remaining samples and sent them far far away, happy not having to wear this perfume ever again. You can't blame me, then, for feeling a bit apprehensive when I got the samples of the two new fragrances in the line, Swan Princess and Land of Warriors.

Thankfully things have improved for the Prince.

Swan Princess suffers from a silly name and an eighties aesthetics. It's a very assertive floral that almost made me dig out my tiny reference bottle of vintage Giorgio extrait so I could do some comparisons (but my sanity won. I can't deal with Giorgio). Swan Princess has a promising start, where bright light and iris petals seem to burst and unfold right before our eyes and noses. The problem is that the beautiful powdery iris is soon squashed under the weight of mimosa and muguet that are served with such generosity they take over every air molecule in the room. The fatal blow to the poor iris is served by what the Fragrantica people call "a touch of gardenia", which fades quickly after doing its thing, leaving again the mimosa and mutant muguet to dance on a superhero musk base. Eventually things become smoother and quite pretty in that 1980s kind of way. It doesn't suit me at all, but I kind of like it in theory and know without a doubt that those who wear muguet well will, indeed, smell like princesses in it.

Notes: pink pepper, aldehydes, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, lily of the valley, mimosa, iris, rose, peony, various musks, sandalwood, vetiver.

Land of Warriors is a true leather scent and labeled as a masculine (when did that ever stop me?). Unlike the Princess above, where just about every note gets its 15 minutes of screaming in the spotlight, here the blending is more careful and rounded. It's unapologetic in  its animalic leanings, which endeared it to me upon first contact. I wear leather perfumes extremely well (my top compliment-getters), and this is one that takes everything I love about this note and cooks it in a big black cauldron to its essence. The skin, the sweat, the outdoorsy aspect, the opposite of shower-fresh... it's all there. There's a gasoline-like note that keeps things interesting, a leafy green surprise, a sweetness that caresses the human skin (I tend to amplify this aspect in leathers),  Land of Warriors is warm and inviting, just dangerous enough to suggest an adventure, and if a bottle were to mysteriously land on my dresser I'd wear it happily. Do I need it considering all the other fabulous leathers in my collection? Probably not, but I do find it unique enough to entertain the thought for more than a second.

angelique seed, violet leaf, cucumber, tomato leaf, blackcurrant leaf, oakwood, frankincense, davana, cistus absolute, saffron, nutmeg, oregano, castoreum, ambergris, styrax, birch tar.

Swan Princess and Land of Warriors ($200/100ml each) are available from Twisted Lily and Luckyscent. The latter supplied the samples for this review.

Art: Juan Giménez Martín, Visit to the Harem, 1901

Kevyn Aucoin Eye Pigment Primatif in Mistress





When talking about pigment as a makeup product most of us immediately think about the classic MAC pigments (and, yes, I still have a couple. Vanilla and that Blue/Brown thing are iconic). This is why I wasn't too enthusiastic when I spotted Pigment Primatif among the new offering from Kevyn Aucoin. Been there, done that, cleaned the fallout of my cheeks. But doing a little reading on the actual Kevyn Aucoin site has revealed that Primatif is not what I thought. Closer in appearance and nature to a cream eye shadow:
"An elastomeric gel (aka putty) that delivers non-tacky, non-sticky, non-oily and silky feel to the skin."
At first touche this Kevyn Aucoin product has the cushy plump feel of Chanel Illusion d'Ombre, but there's no shiny shimmery particles that get all over the place, and when you actually apply it the "putty" thing starts to make sense. It's extremely elastic, so you can apply it thinly and lightly as I've done above in the swatch: it's a minute amount of product, stretched not even to the max. But the putty is so thin that you can build it up almost to the intensity you see in the jar without caking or clumping.

I've played with Pigment Primatif with various brushes, but the truth is that although they work and work well, the best application method is with one's fingers. To keep things as clean as possible, I'd recommend scooping a tint bit of pigment to the back of your hand with a small brush, and use your finger to collect, apply, and blend to your heart's desire.

Kevyn Aucoin Eye Pigment Primatif comes in four shades right now. I chose Mistress, a complex taupe that blends gray, brown, and mauve. While the putty is oil absorbent and doesn't necessarily require a primer, if your coloring leans warm and you want it to look cooler (and more true to the jar), I do recommend a white primer (as long as it's not of the drying kind). Mistress changes a bit depending on the light, and by varying the amount you use and careful blending, you can get a full gradient eye look with only this one color and no brushes. That's pretty amazing.

Longevity is spectacular. Of course, mileage varies depending on weather, eyelids shape, and oiliness. In any case, this is one of the most fun and unique makeup products I've come across in a very long time.

Bottom Line: a game-changer (more colors, please).

Kevyn Aucoin Eye Pigment Primatif in Mistress ($48) is available at select department stores, such as Neiman and Nordstrom.

CDJapan Makeup Brushes- CB100 Powder Angled Brush & CB101 Gray Squirrel Powder Brush



You know that Japanese makeup brushes are my catnip. I always want more and have a weird desire to roll in them. It's all that soft hair, I think. So far I've tried several of the big names in the field (Shu Uemura, Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, Suqqu, and RMK), but wasn't aware that Japanese e-retailer CDJapan has launched their own beauty line. It's a smart move on their side: more and more beauty connoisseurs started ordering Japanese cosmetics and brushes through them, so why not offer a private label of classic hand-crafted brushes, made in Japan, beautifully packaged (they come in a sturdy and heavy black box), and elegant?





I was sent these two beauties by the company's PR, and they thoughtfully added the two brush caps/protectors (similar idea to the popular Brush Guards, only made of black lace!) that you see in the top photo. I have yet to try those Madonna-esques devices, as I've used the regular Brush Guards when I first washed these brushes), but I was highly amused by them.

But we're here to talk brushes.
CB100 is an angled face brush made of white goat hair, Hakutosuho, that feels similar to the ultra- soft Saikoho of my favorite Hakuhodo J104 (I need to catch it on a rare clean day to take photos for a much belated review). CB100 is a relatively small/medium powder brush, too large for blushes, but I also tested it with a bronzer because of its directional shape. It's soft, fluffy, but firm enough to do its business accurately (see hoe much smaller and purposeful it is next to the Hakuhodo Kokutan large finishing brush). Dimensions: Full: approx.15.5cm / Handle: 7cm / Hair: L3.5-4.5cm W2.6-3.8cm / Ferrule: L4.5cm W1.7-2.6cm




CB101 is the stuff dreams are made of, as long as your dreams are lined with squirrel hair. It's equal in softness to the best out there (various Suqqu and Kokutan brushes). It's also a powder/finishing brush, too soft (and large) for most blushes-- see comparison to Hakuhodo B507 (a squirrel and goat blend), which in itself is rather large and fluffy for a blush brush. This is an ideal brush for a luxurious face finishing powder such as Guerlain Meteorites, and a good tool for a final blending in a soft touch that will not move other products you've already applied.
Dimensions: full: 16.5cm / hair: 5cm thickness: approx. 2.5cm / ferrule: L 4.5cm W 1.6-3.1cm



Bottom Line: a true luxury

CDJapan Makeup Brushes- CB100 Powder Angled Brush-- 4000 Yen (around $34) and CB101 Gray Squirrel Powder Brush- 9500 Yen (about $82) are available from cdjapan.co.jp. Choose "Japanese Crafts" from the left side navigation and go to "Beauty & Cosmetics" to browse the full range of available brushes. I was told the CDJapan Beauty line will expand soon, and I can't wait. The products for this review were sent by PR.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Currently- January 2015


Book
A couple of weeks ago while browsing through a vintage/antique store I spotted a familiar name on a book that was used as a staging prop: Mistral's Daughter by Judith Krantz. That brought back some memories, though not exactly of the 1982 book or the 1984 mini series, as I was not allowed to read or watch them. My old curiosity got the better of me and I bought the Kindle version right away. I'm kind of enjoying it, trying not to be too ironic about any of it, as I don't think it ever pretended to be anything other than a steamy romance novel.

Music
Gutter by Lunatic Soul



TV
The Blond and I watched a couple of Amazon pilots. I really hope that The Man In The High Castle gets a full season. It's been decades since I read the Philip K. Dick book, but the atmosphere seems accurate.
Also: #FreeMonroe

Perfume
Balenciaga pour Homme. A cheap vintage thrill.

Makeup
Neutral eye shadows, a hint of cream blush, red(dish) lips

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
A winter coat. What else?

Food 
Miniature sweet red and orange peppers. Such a great snack.

Bane
I might be allergic to Lush Rose Jam shower gel.

Joy
If you follow my Jersey Cats page on Facebook you already know that we had a big health scare with Peter, who now at nearly 14 is our oldest cat. I'm so thankful that he's alright and gaining back some weight. He's a wonderful weird little hairball.

Anticipation
Valentine's Day

Wishlist
A king size bed. Bob is a serious bed hog.

Random Thought
Why are there gummy bears in the soda of Candy Crush soda?

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

Art: Will Barnet, Woman Reading, 1970

Tom Ford 'Lips & Boys' Lip Color: Francesco, Giacomo, Luciano



Tom Ford first released the 'Lips & Boys' colors in limited edition lipstick trios, with the questionable nationality theme. I bought the Italian Boys trio weeks ago, but now the same lipsticks are offered individually, which is fantastic if you only want one or two. As with the earlier edition, these are a bit smaller than the regular lipsticks (70% of the full size), so not quite mini, just a little more compact, which is fine with me considering my Lipstick Situation. Fans of Tom Ford lipsticks will be happy to hear that Lips & Boys are of the regular formula that's creamy and nurturing while giving a full blast of long-lasting pigments. I adore them, and I absolutely love that these smaller lipstick come with a reasonable price tag that's easier to justify.







The colors I have are Francesco, Giacomo, and Luciano:

Luciano is a light-to-medium red with cool undertones that leans berry, Francesco is a rich fuschia with a mild red base that makes it very wearable for me, while Giacomo is the warmest of the three, rosy with coral tendencies (more on skin and pale lips than in the tube or on darker lips like mine). I like all three, with Luciano being in a similar ballpark to some lipsticks I already have as it's my natural choice. Giacomo brightens the face in a subtle way, and Francesco is a classic pretty color.

Bottom Line: now that you can get these outside of the sets I see myself adding another one or two.

Tom Ford 'Lips & Boys' Lip Color: Francesco, Giacomo, Luciano ($32 each) are available from Neiman Marcus and select other department stores.

Sienna Miller In Altuzarra


I'm completely taken with this Altuzzara ensemble (shirt: $990, skirt: $1,150 at Neiman Marcus). Sienna Miller wore it last week, with a slightly different styling than we see here (identical to the Altuzarra runway), and I find it (and her) absolutely stunning. Of course, we can cheat a little with a similar shirt from somewhere like Brooks Brothers and such, as long as the fit is good (not the easiest thing for the busty), but the skirt! The stripes and bias cut are perfect, and obviously would look amazing with any simple black or red top. I'm in love.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Anita Ekberg (1931-2015)








Anita Ekberg quotes:
"The most important thing for a good marriage is to learn how to argue peaceably."
"I`m very much bigger than I was, so what? It`s not really fatness, it`s development.:

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Balmain- Monsieur Balmain (Vintage Perfume)


Do not stand between two fragonerds and their vintage loot.

The story of how the Blond and I acquired our bottle of vintage Monsieur Balmain is almost more interesting than the perfume itself. It involved a long drive at inhuman o'clock to an estate sale at some remote corner of the Tri-State area. We had a plan, based on photos we had seen of the house and the estimated location of the pile of perfumes, and it involved not taking any prisoners. Apparently, we weren't the only ones with the same idea.

There were elbows involved, and some growling. Someone might have tripped down the old carpet on the staircase (I deny any involvement), and I know I gave a death stare (my specialty as a former teacher) to a man that was standing in my way. My big advantage (other than a tall and determined husband) was being able to identify bottles at barely a glance. I didn't have to stop and check if it's Avon or a rare Guerlain (it was a beautiful vintage Shalimar). One of the other pickers who grabbed a bunch of stuff I couldn't reach for started sorting the stuff out and actually returning most of it, to my delight. And there it was, an old bottle of Monsieur Balmain.



So what does this 1960s classic smell like? It's cleaner and fresher than another beloved masculine from the same year, 1964, Monsieur Lanvin. But it does share a blast of citrus in the opening. A really big blast. What makes Monsieur Balmain stand out are the green  aromatic, mainly lavender and lemon verbena. They're more refined than sharp, but feel like you're putting your face in a giant bouquet of just-picked herbs. It's fresh yet very satisfying, and like many lavender-rich fragrances, it also has an old-world refinement.

The dry down is smooth and musky, with a touch of what I'm willing to bet is good old  oakmoss. If that reminds you of  Eau Sauvage you're not mistaken, though I find the Dior both airier and somehow edgier, while Monsieur Balmain has kind of an old school country club feel (Dictionnaire des Parfums de France recommends it for use "après le sport"). In any case, it's a delightful fragrance (and not just for men, obviously) and worth seeking in vintage formulation, even if it takes some pushing and shoving to reach.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Vincent Longo Crème Gel Eyeliner- Blu Raven & Felis Brown





I'm already a convert to Vincent Longo's wonderful Crème Gel Eyeliner, a versatile gel eyeliner (thank you, Lady Obvious) that can be smudged as an eye shadow and when set does not budge no matter what you throw at it (other than an oil-based or a dual-phase eye makeup remover). The two next colors I was sent are more traditional eyelinery: Felis Brown is a dark chocolate brown, while Blu Raven is a glossy blue-black kind of thing. It's so black, actually, that I don't think it fits into my favorite category of "not-quite-black", but it does have a blue tinge in a certain light (I did my best to capture it), so I guess that's what counts.

Like the other Vincent Longo Crème Gel Eyeliner I've tried, the texture of this product is almost fluffy, perfectly consistent and very easy to work with. You can get as thin a line as you want, or apply it like an eye shadow (seen above is Vincent Longo Small Eye Shadow #18 which I used for the swatches). Longevity and performance are a perfect 10 in my book, so once again I'm hoping for a true blue (and dark teal, and gray, and...).

Bottom Line: Highly recommended.

Vincent Longo Crème Gel Eyeliner in Blu Raven & Felis Brown ($25 each) are available from Nordstrom and vincentlongo.com. The products in this review were sent by PR.

Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl In Nude




I was so unimpressed with the performance of the other Smashbox Always Sharp pencil I tested that I put this one aside for weeks, not realizing that Nude is of a different formula, Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl, hence a completely different product.

I like nude/flesh tone eye pencils for the waterline because of the brightening yet non-weird effect they create (the opposite of a stark white liner). They reduce the potential for bunny eyes, and often photograph very well. While not a necessary step when one is in a hurry on a cold Monday morning that has already started with stepping into a wet hairball (or the equivalent for people with kids and/or dogs), this can be worth the few extra seconds lining the waterline takes.

A "waterproof kohl" sounds like somewhat of an oxymoron, considering (real) kohl's inherent smudginess, but it's true in this case: the pencil is soft and smooth to work with (important when we talk about sensitive areas of the eye), while it wears like iron for about six hours. I haven't tried the other colors in the range, but now I'm quite curious to see what they can do.

Bottom Line: that's more like it.

Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl In Nude ($20) is available from smashbox.com. The product for this review was sent by PR.

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