Aug 312010
 

I’ve noticed a tradition of some beauty bloggers, who do a month-end wrap of “10 Things I’m Loving Right Now,” to let readers know which products are getting the most use.  In some ways, I find those posts the most valuable because it helps me understand which products have taken center stage, and so worth checking out for myself.  As August nears its close, I thought that I’d give this format a try:

1.   Chanel Flat Powder Brush (European)– Reviewed here. Used with Caron powder, this brush gives me a perfect airbrush finish.  Amazing, soft feel and very natural application.  A great investment.  If you can’t get this one soon, perhaps look at the MAC equivalent–which I haven’t tried but which seems to be a similar shape.

2.  Edward Bess Daydream Bronzer– Reviewed here.  I love this on a train, I love this in the rain, I love this in a boat or when wearing a coat…you get the picture.  Always looks amazingly natural and beautiful.  The Perfect Bronzer.  Times ten.

3.  Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Confidence–  Reviewed here.  Can you bottle confidence?  No, but you can put it in a heavy glass tube with a doe-foot applicator.  Always looks wonderful.  Here it is worn by January Jones at the 2010 Emmys:

4.  Burberry Foundation–  Love the finish and ease of using this foundation.  It lasts all day, although it is a very lightweight foundation.  This can be layered for extra coverage where needed.  Well worth investigating.  Swatches are here.

5. Butter London All Hail McQueen– reviewed here.  I’m the last person to ever expect to enjoy wearing a holographic polish.  But I’m going to have to buy a second one of these soon.  The color is so on-trend, it’s a very light taupe/griege.  Indoors, the holographic quality doesn’t show, it’s only when the nail is hit by light that it turns magical.  Easy, perfect application.

So tell us what you are loving right now?

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Aug 312010
 

It is one thing to say that The Allure of Chanel ($20) attributes authorship to Paul Morand, but is probably also true that is it written by Coco Chanel.  This book, deftly illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld, was the result of Coco Chanel’s invitation to  Morand to visit her in St. Moritz at the end of World War II.  He made notes of their conversation, which were brought to light only after Chanel’s death.  In this book, Chanel traces her life from her very lonely childhood, through her career and her relationships with some of the men in her life.

One of several beautiful sketches by Karl Lagerfeld

It is evident that Morand attempted to make himself invisible between the reader and Coco’s raw, sharply written accounts of her life.  Written in the first person as if transcribed from Chanel’s own words, I had a feeling that I was seeing Chanel’s world through her own eyes.

If you have read other accounts of Chanel’s life, or seen some of the films that depict it, you know that she was a woman who forged her way forward in business using talent and determination, and that her journey was not an easy one.  Rather, Chanel’s life was a process of revelation, a deep interest in uncovering the genuine, and in defining beauty as truth.  Nonetheless, Chanel seems to exhibit little patience for other woman–she had few female friends during her adult life, and some of her harshest words are reserved for her description of others of her gender.

Like many born and raised generations ago, readers are cautioned that some of Chanel’s writing evidences certain prejudices that are at times offensive.  Further, the controversial period of Chanel’s life during World War II is neither explained nor, as far as I could tell, addressed. The text is extremely well written, quite honest, and beautifully illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld.  To be completely honest, I would have bought the book for the illustrations alone.  This is not an easy read due to Chanel’s laser-beam perceptions, as some are quite scathing.  All in all, I found that most of the book provided a clear look inside the voice of Chanel from its originator, and so a worthy read for those interested in piecing together an understanding of Chanel.

 

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Aug 302010
 

In my quest for the perfect neutral palette, I investigated Giorgio Armani’s Eyes to Kill Palette in Steel Black ($59).  This palette was released some time ago, but I recently acquired it.  As we head toward Fall, I’m leaving my bronzer behind and investigating soft washes of dark eyeshadows.

This is my first (but not my last) eyeshadow palette in the concentric circle target “Eyes to Kill” format.  In fact, my last Armani eyeshadow palette purchases were an older formulation that was quite hard and required a very stiff brush to mine the pigment.

As with all Giorgio Armani powder products, Eyes to Kill in Steel Black comes in the delightfully sturdy and packable round palettes.  I’ve dropped these into every conceivable packaging situation, and they always come through perfectly.  These palettes don’t waste space on a brush that you’ll never use, instead they can be tucked virtually anywhere and withstand almost anything.

As a neutral basic for everyday (or travel), Steel Black offers the potential for a toned-downed professional look or an amped up evening look. The two outermost colors–the grey-taupe and cool cream–have shimmer bits.  The center is matte.  Unlike the old maestro quads, I was pleased to see that my standard eyeshadow brushes pulled pigment out of this palette.

  • The star of this show is the shimmery grey-taupe in the outer ring.  This works really beautifully as a lid wash.  Because this is my favorite of the three colors, I was happy that the palette includes the greatest amount of this color.
  • The cream color is a low-toned highlighter.  Unlike a bright white that might be found in many palettes, this highlighter is a deeper tone.  Although not as dark as a mid-toned highlighter, it applies deeper (and more golden) than Nars Abyssina.  Steel Gray’s highlighter has small glimmery-shimmery bits.  This cream shade was not as pigmented as the grey-taupe, application was sheer-to-medium.  A tapered blending brush (MAC 226 or equivalent) worked fine to cover my brownbone and inner corner.  This lighter tone applied far more smoothly on my eye than it did on an arm-swatch, so if you are looking at this at a counter, ask for a brush and a demo.
  • The center black is best used to smoke out the crease, or smudge into a liner or under-eye.  This black is not deep enough to wear alone as a liner color, even wet, so if you like a very black liner (like I do!), supplement this with a pencil, gel or liquid.

Here is a comparison of the Eyes to Kill Steel Black taupe, compared to MAC Satin Taupe, Shu Uemura Silver 945, Addiction Flashback and Chanel Safari.

Overall, I found Giorgio Armani’s taupe to be more glimmery, on the warm side and less plum than others in my collection. I am glad that I tried Steel Black.  I place a heavy emphasis on the quality of any line’s eyeshadows, and Armani’s eyeshadow line is certainly extensive.  I was impressed with the complexity and quality of Steel Black, which I’m sure that I’ll use extensively.  At the same time, Steel Black made me more interested in looking at the other eyeshadows in Giorgio Armani’s collection.

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Aug 272010
 

Was I the only one who ordered Deborah Lippmann’s Waking Up in Vegas ($16) after All Lacquered Up reported that this polish was used on Lady Gaga on September’s Vanity Fair cover?  Or that wondered whether “Greige”–the name used to described this color was “The New Taupe”?

Waking Up in Vegas–like the song that becomes an earworm stuck in my mind–is an easy, edgy, so-this-season polish that I’ll reach for again and again.  Application was very easy, coverage was nearly opaque in one coat and completely covered in two.  The color attracts enough attention, and is deliberately different enough from last winter’s taupes, to look fresh for Fall.  If you wear neutral grays, blacks and whites, it’s the easiest color in the world to integrate into your wardrobe.  Pair this with a nude (or a deep red) lip and you’ll be ready.

I’ve been wearing this over Creative Nail Design’s Stickey basecoat, topped with Poshe’s topcoat successfully.  I’m sure other base and topcoat (taupe-coat?) combinations would work equally well–this nail polish has a good formula with a medium-to-fast dry time.

Out of the bottle, Waking Up in Vegas is a gray with a touch of warm beige.  It’s light without being delicate and applies like a true creme in texture.  There is no shimmer, no frost, no fleck, no jelly.  Just straight, uncompromising color (which may be what gives the polish its edge).

The warmth of Lippmann’s Waking Up in Vegas is readily apparent after comparing it to a true gray, here Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Concrete Jungle.  Of course, Waking Up if Vegas is much lighter and softer than the comparatively brown Chanel Particuliere.

I looked for close duplicates in my stash, and the nearest shades were Essie’s Body Language (which is more pink) and Essie’s Playa de Platinum which is a bit lighter.  Because of its lightness, Playa de Platinum feels more summery to me, and it may be a little harder to integrate Playa de Platinum with Fall’s deeper colored clothing.

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Aug 272010
 

Deborah Lippmann has released Bring on the Bling ($20), a clear polish infused with “virgin diamond powder.”  So, when Rachel Zoe featured this as part of her “Right Now Nails” series, I wanted to give it a try.

When I opened the box from Lippmann, I put on my great big Rachel-Zoe-type sunglasses, because I was expecting out-of-control, over-the-top, blind-all-in-the-vicinity type of sparkle, sort of like this:

Yes, that is the cheesiest sparkly graphic I could come up with on short notice.  Anyway, what I found is that Lippmann’s Bring on the Bling is a clear nail polish embedded with small sparkle bits (presumably, the virgin diamond powder).

This is four coats, together with my attempt to use it over Chanel’s Jade Rose (which is so neutral it needs a little something to wake it up occassionally).    In real life with a single coat, it looks pretty close to a clear polish with the faintest touch of shimmer.

In all honesty, now that I own it I’ll probably use up Lippmann’s Bring on the Bling as a substitute for a clear polish using a single coat.  It’s not so obvious that way and it adds a little fun touch.  I would not leave the house with four coats unless going out for an evening, in which case it would be perfect.

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