Guerlain’s Fall 2010 introduction of beautifully detailed 6-eyeshadow palettes includes 10 Rue des Francs-Bourgeouis ($84 Ecrin 6 Couleurs). This series, each one named after a Guerlain boutique in Paris, includes several neutral shades that are intended to be used in a tone-on-tone manner that can be built to smoke the eye, with a centerpiece color intended to add some spark.
The palette is a sleek magnet closure, which opens at a deliberate but gentle touch. The mirror escalates open to one side, leaving the eyeshadow area conveniently uninhibited by the lid. The outer silver-toned filigree lid is beautiful, and is nicely made and without rough edges. According to a Guerlain representative that I spoke to, the inner lid sits flat against the inner dividers–this means that if an eyeshadow should shatter, the powder will stay in its pan, maintaining the overall integrity of the palette.
The two-sized brush is hair (not sponge). One side is soft for sweeping on color and blending. It’s fine in a pinch, although I prefer to use a full size brush any time one is available.
The other side is a very stiff brush for eyeliner or brows. Keep in mind that a stiff brush is very handy for brows and eye liner. I’ve used this side a few times, as well as my full-size liner and brow brushes:
This palette is a highly useable for a tone-on-tone look. Except for the center shade, the colors are near-matte. If I use just the light shadows, it looks like I’m not wearing any eyeshadow at all. This can be useful on some occasions, when I want to look polished but not made-up.
As these shades are close to matte, shades #1 and #2 barely show on my MAC NC15/Chanel Intensity 1.0 (Cameo/Ivoire) face. This is not because the shades are sheer. Rather it is because they nearly match the skin tone. Unlike NARS All About Eve, this palette does not have a neutral shimmer shade. Notice that Shade 1, the highlighter shade, is similar in texture and color to my arm. Shade #1 sort of melts into my skintone and almost disappears on my browbone.
If you use mostly the lighter shades with this with this palette (#1, #2 and a dab of #3), you may wonder why you paid $84 for it–really, it’s very subtle. That’s true for me too, but allow me tell you that there are (many) social and business situations in my own life when adding just a little subtle shadow is the right thing to do.
This palette really starts to show its excellence when you add shades #4 and #6, and starts to sing like a chorus when you add the gold #5. It was sitting with a Guerlain Artist for twenty minutes and this palette that finally taught me that pale women look awesome with a smokey eye using a high-quality eyeshadow. Here’s what we did:
- Shade 1 all over (soft brush)
- Shade 2 on the lid (soft brush)
- Shade 3 on the most of the lid except for the very inner corner (soft brush); undereye (smudge)
- Shade 4 in the crease (soft brush) and brows (stiff brush)
- Shade 6 as a liner (stiff brush), and in the very outer crease (soft brush). Blend up and out the liner at the corner for more serious smoke
I find myself using 10 Francs Bourgeois more often than I imagined, particularly because I know that it can give me a dusky eye that I can comfortably and believably pull off. Although they are both neutral palettes, the Guerlain is the opposite of Urban Decay’s Naked Palette in some ways:
- Naked’s texture is softer. Guerlain’s is more trouble-free. I find using normal pressure, I get just the right amount of shadow using Guerlain’s. I have to be more careful of over-doing it with Urban Decay’s, which is also prone to fallout.
- Some of Naked’s shades have sparkle, or an overall metallic look. It’s pretty for what it does, but the Guerlain is far more natural. For example, Liz and I had lunch in the San Francisco Neiman’s stained-glass-roof restaurant after this makeover (white tablecloths, quite nice if you haven’t been), and we both felt quite elegant and appropriate there. The Naked colors give an edgier, stronger, metal impression.
Having said all this, I want to talk about the center gold shade of 10 Francs Bourgeois. If you are not using the smokey tones in the palette (and even if you are) it does really give a beautiful drama to the lid. A wash of this shadow, which comes across as this gorgeous bronze-copper-gold glow, makes this palette works so well for me. This is work-appropriate drama, drama that doesn’t look like its trying too hard. Like a good perfume, the look is not overwhelming but distinctly present.
I’ve also used this gold shade #5 under my eye with a smudged darker shade as an under eye liner; the texture is finely milled enough so that it blends smoothly into the skin. I would have trouble doing this with Naked, as the colors are quite a bit stronger and the texture is not as fine.
Of course, this means that 10 Francs Bourgeois works beautifully as a canvas for any other dramatic shades in your collection, particularly if they are warm-toned. Overall, I find myself using this palette about once a week. I’ve been impressed with its practicality, as well as its beauty.