Last summer, I visited the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. If you’ve been there, you’ll know that some of the finest designers have a boutique there such as Louis Vuitton, Paul & Joe, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. It is not the only boutique-lined street in Paris, but it is certainly a lovely one. The Champs Elysees is at one end and an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower over the Seine is at the other.
I went into the Caron boutique, which sits on a corner across from Dior. Reader, I had done my homework. I had scoured the almost-breathless blog postings that described their incomparably fine finishing powders, glamorous sparkling evening powders, perfumes and powder puffs made of swan’s down and satin ribbon. I searched Make Up Alley for both fragrance and makeup. The fact is, the brand is very difficult to find in the United States. Given that I had never touched their product, and my French can charitably be described as “very rough,” I wanted to stumble through without too much embarrassment.
My research disclosed that everything about their products was excellent. I immediately rejected attempting to purchase perfumes, as traveling home by plane made packing liquids challenging. But the powders….the powders!!!! From my research, it appeared that they were made by faeries from the wing dust of angels, mixed via a stir of Tinkerbell’s wand. I prepared my shopping list, my budget and set out to tackle the boutique.
If you get to Paris, treat yourself to a stop in the Avenue Montaigne Caron boutique. It’s lined with very large, gilded Baccarat crystal perfume dispensers, from which one is supposed to fill the bottle of their choosing. The amount of marble, gold and crystal inside, together with the multi-colored swan’s down puffs scattered everywhere , was as close to the inside of a jewel box as I’m ever likely to get. Luckily, the boutique was empty except for a rather formal woman there to assist. To my relief, she spoke English.
And here is the thing about the woman in the Caron boutique on the Avenue Montagne in Paris. She did not want me to buy anything that I wouldn’t use properly. She cautioned me not to use the sparkle powders during the day (“For the night only.“). I asked whether I should get more than one color daytime powder? No, she replied, you get one color that looks good on you. I wondered whether I should get a swan’s down puff. Looking at me with a squint, she asked, Didn’t I own a brush? The loose powder can be applied with a small puff (included, made of cotton), and that I should then knock off excess off the skin with my brush. She suggested that I buy a compact with a pressed version, but I thought it best to try the loose powder first before investing further.
I left spending about only 1/2 of my budgeted amount, with a loose powder and one refill. So, how is the powder? It’s a really finely milled, high end powder. Converted to U.S., a loose powder runs about $60, which comes in a polished metal container with a tight-fitting lid (but not too tight-fitting) that keeps the powder very dry even on messy countertops. There’s a plastic screw-top inside to avoid disasters. The refill runs roughly $30. The quality is on par with La Mer, Chanel, Laura Mercier. I typically use it over foundation, although sometimes I use it completely alone when I’m not worried about coverage. The powder doesn’t last any longer (or shorter) during the day than other high end brands, and it does look quite natural. It mattes the skin down, but still leaves a barely perceptible glow that looks very polished.
I’m not 100% convinced it’s made with fairy dust. Ultimately, and with the Caron staff’s help, I made good practical choices that I’ll use until they’re all gone. Rather than using a puff, I’ve been applying it with Lancome’s Mineral Powder Foundation Brush, which is well-priced and works beautifully.