Mar 232011

During my visit to Serge Luten’s Les Salons du Palais Royale, I was introduced to his makeup line.  The line is a highly edited collection (called “The Beauty Essentials“) that is made of products that are intended to look good on every woman, regardless of her skin tone.  The reason that one might choose one item over another is really personal preference and the look that you would like to project.

Unlike the vast counters from other lines, the depth of quality is excellent and the color selection is well-chosen and few in number.  For example, the eyeshadow range is one palette, there are two nail colors, one eyeliner (black), and ten lipsticks.

In the U.S., you can purchase these from Serge Lutens website or Barneys.  Les Salons had a display of some of the engraved compacts that are only sold in this Paris location.  There are only 15 made every year.

I was extremely tempted to try the nail polish and a few other items.  This gorgeous red nail polish (Sang Bleu/ $65) was one of the items that I wanted (but didn’t get):


Instead, I got the eyeshadow palette ($160), which has a warm ivory, a blue-based aubergine, a deep brown and a deep black, in a black compact:

Here is a close-up of the pans.  Because of the subtlety of these colors, I’m going to swatch this at home for you.  I would rather have color-accurate swatches done more carefully with lighting that I can control.

The compact is extremely well made, and of course the shadows are very luxurious.  I can see that these colors are universal enough to work for almost anyone.

Please follow us on....

Mar 232011

Continuing to innovate based on a long tradition, Guerlain is launching a new lipstick line– Rouge Automatique Hydrating Long-Lasting Lipcolor ($35 each) that looks intriguing.  I believe this is already available at some U.S. counters (the rumor I had heard was Nordstrom, but there may be others).  I haven’t seen it in Paris yet, but am set to try it when it does arrive.

Guerlain had several objectives for this line, including a very second-skin texture, which uses oils to liquefy on application and provide perfect coverage.  In addition to added comfort, the colors are said to be “luminous, clear and pure.”  I have to admit, that’s hooked me in.  As does this-> “The result is unprecedented light and luminous beiges and pinks that feature tailor-made shine with made-to-measure sheerness.”  Sounds yummy!

Here is a closer look at the slide-up packaging.  The lipstick has a little self-contained door, which opens and as the lipstick bullet is pushed up. This is accomplished as your thumb slides the square down the side of the tube.  This design is a refinement of an original Guerlain art-deco lipstick based on a similar sliding mechanism released in 1936, but remade for today.

Guerlain also promises a stay-put, long-lasting hold, with a formula that is “rich, not sticky, with high refraction power.”

Here is the color palette:



  • 104 JICKY
  • 105 VOL DE NUIT


  • 120 COQUE D’OR
  • 122 LIU
  • 124 SAMSARA
  • 125 VEGA
  • 140 MITSOUKO
  • 142 FLEUR DE FEU
  • 143 NAHEMA


  • 60 BAL DE MAI
  • 164 CHAMADE
  • 166 SHALIMAR
  • 167 GUET-APENS


I found this cute little animated video on YouTube, which shows how the one-touch applicator works.  It’s so adorable to see the Guerlain Champs-Elysee store featured:


Please follow us on....

Mar 212011

While in Paris, I had the pleasure of visiting Les Salons du Palais Royale, conceived by the creative genius Serge Lutens (website here).  Lutens is one of those rare individuals who infuses everything with an extraordinary, magical and highly original touch–a film maker, makeup artist, perfume creator, photographer and fashion designer–his creations seem to affect one at an aesthetic and emotional level.  He adds to an already long history of excellence, having worked with Dior, Shiseido and photographed for Vogue.  He has a touch that is both other-worldly and intensely human.

If you are in or near Paris, go to Les Salons du Palais Royale. This is a “must.”  Go.

Lutens founded these Salons in 1992, establishing this colorful and universal space based on Féminité du Bois, a scent still available today.  As you can see from the above image, entering this space is a transformative experience–the atmosphere is warm and quiet, comfortable, foreign yet familiar, grounded in history and completely different from the real world.  Anything seems possible.  Les Salons du Palais Royale is a testament to the fact that there are some places that are magic in this world.

Sandrine, the manager, made herself available for my visit, assisted by her very pleasant and extremely knowledgeable staff.  Their multi-lingual capability is excellent, so if you are nervous about your French, let me put you at ease. It seems customary to be offered tea when one arrives for a longer visit, which was a treat.  I also went up the magnificently detailed metalwork staircase to the Morrocan-themed meeting room above.  Unlike the mauve and purple tones below, the upstairs is paneled with warm yellows and red accents, both exotic and welcoming at the same time.  There is a long, low conference table upstairs, populated with the Serge Lutens product line and surrounded by modern, diamond-backed wooden chairs.  Large windows upstairs look out onto the pleasant trees of the Palais Royale, reminding me that I had not left Paris (although I felt completely transported).

This boutique sells both Serge Lutens perfume and makeup. Because of the wide range of products, I’ll discuss perfume today and makeup tomorrow.

If you have not visited this location before, you should know that there are two series of perfumes offered here.

First, the Exclusives are sold only in this boutique and to a limited number of locations within Europe online.  Period.  There are currently 28 or so perfumes in this series, sold in this beautiful bell jar.  If your time allows, you will be able to have the jar personally engraved (if you go early during your stay, it may give you enough time to have the engraving done).  The range is deep, gorgeous and every one more life-changing than the last.

There are paper swatches of the scents out for you to review, which I suggest you use to narrow your choices.  As you become interested in a certain scents, then apply them.  I suppose if you have enough skin area you can try them all.  You can also ask to be directed to particular kinds of scent (I was interested in leather and smoke, for example).  Prepare to spend some time, the range is vast and each scent is complex and gorgeous in its own way.

A word about the beautiful bell-jar-A few years ago, I bought Fumerie turque and hand-carried it home at the time before airline liquid restrictions began.  Today, of course, the world has changed.  The boutique cannot assure you that these bell jars travel perfectly well in packed luggage because the bell jar is closed with a glass stopper only.  (you didn’t hear it from me, there are some places on the Internet which can give you a few pointers about how to get a bell jar home in packed luggage). Right now, I’m very tempted to go back for Boxeuses (referring to a female boxers), it’s gorgeous and I’m finding it difficult to put out of my mind.

The boutique also displays one of the custom bottles created every year around the holidays.  Each is thematically engraved to coordinate with an Exclusive fragrance chosen for the series, and only thirty are made each year.  As one example, the year that Fumerie turque was featured, the bottle was engraved with swirling smoke shapes.  There are several of them featured on Serge Lutens Facebook pages.

Here is the most recent bottle, for Boxeuses:

I love how it reminds me of both stars, and boxer punches at the same time.  Serge Lutens plays the edges of light and dark beautifully.

Second, are the Serge Lutens spray bottles are sold here and are also carried elsewhere in Paris and throughout the world (sometimes referred to as the “export line”).  You can buy these in the U.S. at Barney’s, and I’ve noticed them on Beauty Habit and Luckyscent as well.

I fell head over heels for Jeux de Peau (‘skin game’), a scent inspired by Serge Lutens childhood memories of visiting a bakery in his childhood.  From an interview (from the Serge Lutens Facebook page):

I was often distracted: “Don’t forget to get the bread!”

If I described the bakery as a “golden place”, it’s because that’s how I saw it. Part of its bright aura was due to the amber loaves of French bread – bâtards, ficelles and baguettes – waiting in fragrant rows.

When I got to the bakery, I woke up from my day-dreaming to enjoy the sight of the bread. “Bread opens your eyes” just as surely as it whets your appetite. The crowning touch was the whiff of freshly baked bread, still warm, coming through the basement window.

At first glance, there was nothing but good humour on the face of the lady at the bakery. Her make- up gave her face a jolly look, yet one suspected that it was a mask concealing bitterness.

What could she have been suffering from that would, at busy times of day, make her purse her lips sharply and suddenly? The fact that it was barely perceptible made it even more obvious. Obeying a suspicious mind, her mouth, like the seal affixed to a judicial document, passed judgment on all comers. The smile that she gave when returning change had infinite variations: it could be suspicious, jaded, resigned, disdainful, stiff or disillusioned….

Something about Serge Lutens fragrances are so honest and centering–the impact on me is hard to describe.  Jeux de Peau has a bready, milky sweetness, but there is also a sandalwood, as well as some deeper incense notes that Lutens seems to love.  It’s insanely beautiful, and I’m sure that my description is not doing it justice.  It’s comforting and edgy, and has an undeniable ability to affect my metabolism.

I purchased a full sized bottle (and may return to the boutique to get Daim Blonde as well).  The lovely boutique gave me a sample Jeux de Peau which I’ve been using up since the day I obtained it, together with a much lighter sample L’Eau Serge Lutens, which I haven’t yet opened (but hope to as the weather warms).

Sample Jeux de Peau

L’eau Serge Lutens:

Sample L’Eau Serge Lutens

The boutique provided me with a book of perfume samples of the Serge Lutens range:

According to Sandrine, Serge Lutens has never discontinued a fragrance, and has no current plans to do so.  Although different fragrances float in and out of the export line, they all appear to be here to stay.

I cannot imagine going to Paris without visiting this treasure.  Les Salons du Palais Royale is a one-of-kind experience that evokes history, the senses, imagination and a full range of emotion.  You. Must. Go.

Note:  One of the best ways to keep up with Serge Lutens is to “like” them on Facebook, and follow them in English on Twitter.

Tomorrow’s post:  Serge Lutens makeup at Les Salons du Palais Royale.  Non-watermarked images are from Serge Lutens.  Any typos are mine (let me know if you see any in the comments, pls!)

Please follow us on....

Mar 182011

The Place Vendome is an octagonal square in the center of Paris, an elegant and historic area surrounded by beautiful stone buildings.

One of the most famous buildings is the Ritz Hotel, once frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and of course Coco Chanel (readers will recall that one of Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick’s is called Vendome):

The most striking part of the Place Vendome is the proliferation of high end jewelry boutiques.  For fun, I took a pictures of a few of their windows for your enjoyment.

Dior has a vibrant, colorful tropical collection shown:

Buccellati, an Italian jeweler, had this gorgeous brushed metal clutch with a tiny watch at the clasp:

Chanel has a beautiful collection of diamond jewelry:

I love that Chanel used the handbag chain-and-leather strap to hold the delicate little swing:

Please follow us on....

Mar 172011

In the past, I’ve donated gently used clothing to Dress for Success (perhaps you have too?), the organization that helps women become economically empowered by giving access to support, career development and clothing for their transition into the work force.

During March 2011, Bobbi Brown is selling this Dress for Success kit at Macy’s for $60 and donating the entire purchase price to Dress for Success. So yes, you can feel good about getting this set.


  • A new Limited Edition Eye Palette featuring:
    • Bone Eye Shadow
    • Beige Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow
    • Taupe Eye Shadow
    • Espresso Eye Shadow
    • Navy Eye Shadow
  • Brownie Lip Color
  • Petal Lip Gloss
  • Extreme Party Mascara
  • Crystal Lip Gloss

“Dress for Success is an amazing organization because it gives women the tools and knowledge they need to look like and eventually become the person they hope to be,” says Bobbi.

For over 10 years, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics has donated over $1 million in makeup and monetary funds to this amazing organization. Personally, Bobbi herself has gone above and beyond by hiring women who have completed the Dress for Success program in an effort to empower them and give them a second chance at making a life for themselves.  She also participates in makeup lessons with the women teaching them how to create work-appropriate makeup looks, and, has one of her Beauty Team members working with the affiliates on a monthly basis to teach women how to apply makeup for interviews.

This spring, Bobbi is taking her partnership a step further and has created a Dress for Success Makeup Collection of which all proceeds from every sale will go directly to the organization.

Please follow us on....

Mar 172011

Yes, if you go to Paris you want to see the Louvre Museum, of course.  But just up the street, please don’t miss out on Les Arts Decoratifs, which has rotating curated shows examining fashion.  There is a beautiful and interesting permanent jewelry collection, as well, and as complete a fashion bookstore as I have ever seen.

In the past, this museum has had gorgeous shows featuring the works of individual designers, such as Valentino.  Last year, Les Arts Decoratifs had a show documenting significant pieces from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Currently, this museum continues the story with an examination of various works from the 1990’s and 2000’s.  Here are just a few pieces so you can see how beautifully done this is.

Claude Montana:

Vivienne Westwood:

Dolce and Gabanna (this piece is metal and the writing on the box says “Handle with Gloves”):

John Galliano for Dior (despite the controversy, his pieces remain here):

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel (this piece must be seen in person, the couture detailing, and the sensitive use of color, are just unbelievable):

Les Arts Decoratifs only takes a few hours to go through, and well worth the time to visit for fashion-lovers worldwide.






Please follow us on....

Mar 162011

One of the most enjoyable parts of makeup shopping abroad is the ability to discover products that are not sold in the U.S. Chanel Vitalumiere Eclat Comfort Radiance Compact Makeup Foundation SPF 10 (56 euros) is a powder foundation that can be used either alone, or brushed on as a finishing powder.

The large Chanel-embossed compact is packed in a luxurious velvet pouch, slight thicker and plusher than the thin ones that come on most U.S. products.  Inside, there is both a brush (for lighter application) and sponge (for heavy application) included.

The finish is creamy and slight luminious, unlike the matte Double Perfection Compact sold in the U.S.  Although I am an NC15/Chanel Cameo, I was matched to B30 Beige Sable.  The instruction booklet that comes with the product indicates that the compact is refillable (approximate 40 euros), I will probably pick up a few more shades in the refill version while I am here to try out the different color range.

I wore this yesterday as a finishing powder over Chanel Vitalumiere foundation in B20, which was applied over the Le Blanc de Chanel finishing base.  I thought it looked fabulous, but it’s hard to be objective just after a lovely makeover in such pleasant surroundings.   I’ll do my best to update after more road tests.

Please follow us on....

Mar 152011

Since I began using Le Metier de Beaute’s Peau Vierge foundation last fall (reviewed here), I became interested in the other Peau Vierge series of products, including the Peau Vierge Correcteur Concealer ($95).  Here’s the pitch, according to Le Metier de Beaute (from Neiman Marcus’ website):

–Retinol is delivered through a patented and proprietary delivery technology called Syntoc Actif which encapsulates the Retinol and allows it to safely and effectively penetrate the skin.

—Traditional over-the-counter products have very poor penetration—less than 2% of active ingredients are actually absorbed. In comparison, with Syntoc Actif, 20 times more Retinoic Acid is absorbed into the deeper skin layers, making it the most effective cosmetic Retinoid treatment on the market.

— Paraben, Talc, Fragrance, and Dye-Free.

First up, let me get a few of my thoughts out there:

  • At $95, this is one of the most expensive concealers on the market.  Yes, I know, it’s because it is infused with active skin care ingredients and the performance is superior.  Still, get it during a Bergdorf or Neiman beauty card event if you can, it can knock almost $25 off the original price.
  • This can be used to cover either the under-eye area or spots.  After all, both benefit from Retinol so it makes perfect sense.
  • The tube is small — I believe that there is roughly half the amount of product as the Cle de Peau concealer (which sells for $70 but does not promise skin care improvement).
  • Le Metier de Beaute’s Correcteur Concealer has superior pigmentation to any concealer that I have ever tried.  You do not need much.  A very thin layer does the work.
  • I apply this on my finger first to warm the product, then apply onto the eye.  This seems to spread the product to look quite natural.
  • The cream is very finely milled–it looks like skin, not like concealer.
  • Color choices are limited to two, I use Fraise.
  • There is a slight moisturizing property to it that keeps it from creasing easily.  It includes skin care ingredients that promises to improve your undereye texture in five days.  In my experience, it works.  My undereye area does look better in five days–fine lines are softer, the area seems more moisturized.  You get what you pay for.
  • This raises the question–should you still use your traditional under eye moisturizer?  My quick answer is yes, if you need more moisture then use it under Le Metier’s concealer.   I’ve confirmed with Dustin Lujan/ Le Metier genius, that this is appropriate.

Overall, I’ll re-buy Le Metier’s Peau Vierge Correcteur Concealer when it runs out (during a gift card event if at all possible).  If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’ll spare no expense to get high quality products that deliver.  Looks, it’s my eyes. There are few areas of your body that are more examined, assessed and (hopefully) admired.  I’ll put down serious coin to preserve them as long as possible.

Speaking of concealers with benefits, I picked up a few samples of a new concealer/corrector from Lancome at a local Paris counter recently.  Unlike Le Metier’s Le Peau Vierge which uses a single tube for delivery of both concealer and skin care ingredients, Lancome’s Regengie Yeux (Mulitple Lift) is a two-part product.  One is the eye cream that is applied first.  The other is a very creamy, concentrated concealer for the undereye area.  Unlike Le Metier, I suspect based on the name and packaging that Lancome’s will not work well on spots–the use is really intended for under-eye only.

Peeled back, you can see the skin care moisturizer (bottom) and concealer (top) combination:

The back of the sample card:

I used Lancome’s for three days and enjoyed it.  In passing, I wondered whether there was a significant difference between buying two products–concealer and eye cream–rather than this two-part product.  Still, I found the combination looked very natural on my skin and had good coverage.  Between Le Metier Peau Vierge Correcteur Concealer and Lancome’s Renergie Yeux, well of course I prefered Le Metier’s (except for the price, as I suspect Lancome’s will be lower).  I found the coverage of Let Metier’s superior, and I’ll take a product with retinol over one without any day of the week.

Please follow us on....