Apr 262010

Chanel seems to have a tradition of micro-releases that are regional, edgy and sometimes ground-breaking.  Chanel’s Black Velvet nail polish ($25) (Le Vernis Nail Color Black Velvet 430) is part of Chanel Orient Extrême, an exploration of new textures.  I must admit that I have a high tolerance for just such experiments– for me, tried and true formulations evoke yawns and “I’ll catch it some other time.”  Makeup is all about play, excitement and trying something new.

Black Velvet is an unusual texture–not matte and certainly not  shine or shimmer.  To warn you (and to separate Black Velvet from the others Chanel’s in your stash), the bottle is a matte texture and uses a stick-on label with gold lettering, rather than the traditional painted-on white lettering.  All other aspects of the bottle are familiar–the same square shape and brush are the same as the rest.

The nail polish is  a black with soft, near-matte texture that evokes the same look at a soft leather or lambskin.  It’s going to look amazing with layers of textured blacks–perhaps a mix of patent black leather, wools or silks.  It looks both new, and soft, yet dramatic.  Is this appropriate for Spring?  Chanel doesn’t seem to care–those who are looking for something different will wear it anyway, because it’s all about making your own rules at this point.  Certainly, the color can wait for fall and winter for everyone else (although, unless its re-released, it will likely be sold out by then).

Comparison, with Chanel’s shinier Black Satin (U.S. version) and OPI for Sephora’s Where’s the Tire, Jack? (matte):

A few practical considerations:

  • This polish exhibits tipwear typical of black polishes.  Using a topcoat destroys the central value of the polish–the texture.  It does not seem more fragile (or more robust) than other black polishes, but unlike a sheer this black will not look pristine after three days of typing.
  • This polish did not apply well on a sticky basecoat (in my case, CND Stickey).  A smoother basecoat will be your best option.
  • This might be fun to try as a reverse french manicure with a gold tip.
  • Available now on Chanel.com and at Chanel Boutiques.  As with other Chanel highly limited edition releases, these are not currently available at department store counters.  (But I have to wonder, will these be back next Fall?)

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