May 282010
 

On the Champs-Élysées in Paris, right next to the Sephora, is the Guerlain flagship store.  Although this is not the company’s first location, it has been there since 1914 and is its most iconic.  It holds not only a unique architectural style, but incredibly informed staff and is a tribute to the company’s history.

I have previously done a shopping report for this store at this link, although after reflecting on my previous experience I was better prepared for the boutique during this summer’s visit.  I read other internet reviews of the store, and spent some time on Guerlain’s website learning more about the company’s history.  If you have not done so and like the line, I encourage you to look at the Guided Tour.

The store is the very definition of elegance.  It is an incredible treat for the senses.  If you ever get to Paris, you must go.

This time, I bypassed the first floor displays of perfumes and headed up the stairs at the back to the second floor.  As I previously described, the upstairs foyer is covered in yellow-gold shimmery tiles, and the walls have organic, flowing shapes.  The clientele tends to be well dressed, and everyone seems to be well treated regardless of their dress.  There were only four or so staff visible; I was immediately greeted by a friendly woman about my own age who gave me the typical “Bonjour madame!” in her lyrical French.

I can get excited about some Guerlain products, although others leave me a bit cold.  I have never loved Meteorites, the round powder complexion enhancers.  I reasoned that if I were to ever love them, this would be the place to fall in love.  So I asked to see them first, remembering from my last visit to pronounce the product with the French style (Meet-ee-or-eets), rather than the U.S. which sounds more like a celestial object.

“Aah!” my assistant led me to the large makeup area.  I should note that this boutique does not seem to have any makeup products that are exclusive to that location, although there are some special perfumes.  After examining the Meteorites display, I could not conjure up any more love for them than I already had.  I wish I did.  This boutique is the perfect place to finally get that gorgeous compact.

I did ask about the new Guerlain bronzers for Summer 2010, which I had not seen before in person.  There are two series–first, the Four Seasons ($74) in two shades:

Both of these swatched very dark, and a bit orange, for my NC15/Chanel Cameo skintone.  Second, the Terracotta Light Collector ($50/ 46 euros) which looks very much like the sheer bronzing powder with the mosaic of five different colors:

I already own a similar looking product, called the Terracotta Sheer Bronzing powder in Blondes, which has good reviews but which I rarely use.  It’s another product that I wanted to love, but it seemed to lack…something.

I told my sales associate that I already owned Blondes, pointing to the prior version in the display.  “Ah,” she said, “that one is too beige for you.”

And just like that, she won me over.  She was right.  The prior Blondes was too beige for me.  The new one has more intense color, we tried it on and indeed it was gorgeous.  She then explained that the new Terracotta glosses had been reformulated this season.  She pulled out a beautiful bronzed pink-rose one (#4 Amber) that looked amazing with my skin tone.  Because I was buying two items from the Terracotta collection, I got the boutique’s gift with purchase– a rather large soft makeup bag with a mini-Terracotta bronzer #1 and a mini-kabuki brush.

After paying, I wandered around the perfume area, which is a large room with an incredible display and adorned with glass bead curtains.  I was drawn to a large display featuring the L’Art et la Matiere series (168 euros each).  These were accompanied by little still-lifes of the notes featured in the accompanying bottles, bi-lingual descriptions and antique versions of the fragrances that appeared to be a century old with reductions of the scents lining the bottom.  I fell in love with each one, each one as life-changing as the last.  I particularly loved the white chocolate of Iris Ganache and the incense of Bois d’Armenie.  I had seen a display at the register which indicated that Guerlain would engrave the bottle with your name if you had a few days before pick-up.  Although very tempted, I decided to think about it before plunging ahead.

I wondered about all of the women who have experienced this store over the last century, all of the occasions celebrated with a gift of one of these perfumes, and the hours spent enjoying the scent.  I suspected that some of these perfumes were still being sold today, although perhaps their notes had been subtly refined through the years.  The atmosphere was quiet and polite, allowing me to experience each of them, including the new additions, for myself.

This location also has a luxurious spa, which I did not visit.  I’ve been very impressed with the few Guerlain skincare products that I’ve sampled, so I’m certain that such an experience would be lovely.

If you are interested in the history of Guerlain, this website (Monsieur Guerlain.com) is an incredibly rich source of information.

As you can probably tell, I have the view that one does not need to go to a museum to experience history.  If you are of the mind, or simply enjoy experiences rich in culture, I would put La Maison Guerlain on your list if you get to Paris.

Architectural detail above Guerlain's door

And so, readers, if we were to go back to this store together this weekend, what would you look at?  What would you get?

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May 112010
 

For Summer 2010, Guerlain has produced another beautiful collection –the Meteorites Collection–which includes an eyeshadow palette, Ombres Perlées (Fard a Paupières Eyeshadow 409)($59).  These are very soft summer colors are extremely easy and pretty eyeshadow tones.  As usual, Guerlain’s summer eyeshadow palette has been released in special edition packaging, this year in a matte-silver with slight undulating dips and dents that make the product a pleasure to hold like a large beautiful shell.

The eyeshadows are imprinted with a large flower design that is not an overspray–the white shimmer eyeshadow powder that forms the petals of the flower are permanent.  However, the ridges that look likes rays of light that come out from the flower across the four powder pans do wear down rather quickly.

There is a soft white, a malt-lavender-gray, a soft peach and a medium grey-brown shimmer.  Although you can see some micro-sparkles in the pan and in some kinds of light, generally the four main pans apply with a matte look.  Yes, in certain light the swatch can catch a tiny bit of the sparkle from these four shades.  However, with a full eye the tiny bit of sparkle seems all but impossible to detect unless you add some eyeshadow from the flower petals that contain the white shimmer shade.  Although these are matte, they are so finely milled that there was not a trace of chalkiness.

This palette is clearly designed for a soft summer eye.  It is extraordinarily easy to use–really, it’s hard to go wrong.  I put the peach shade on my lid, used the brown-gray in my socket, and the highlighter on my browbone.  This gave me a very natural daytime eye that is very easy for anyone to do.  For your reference, here’s a quick look at the back label of the palette.

Swatches:

Can this palette be duped?  The colors can of course–but what I find difficult to locate in other brands is the finely milled powder that give a natural (but more beautiful) look to the lid.  Mattes can be tricky–there are many out there but so many disappoint.  The Guerlain is a sure thing–it’s going to meld with the skin.  It gives a soft glow that doesn’t give an obvious “I’m wearing eyeshadow” look.

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Apr 162010
 

I’ve been testing Guerlain Terracotta Teint D´Ailleurs Tinted Moisturizer ($46) in Blondes, part of the line’s Summer 2010 Terracotta collection.  I was originally skeptical of the product–one might look like one is wearing the wrong color foundation or went over-the-top with a spray tan.

I am a passionate believer in sunscreen.  I don’t use self-tanners, because my skin care regimen would exfoliate off the effect almost overnight. Instead, I’ve gone with powder or liquids applied in selected areas for a more natural look.  Still, I often envy the overall softly tanned look on some that I see.  Also, I thought that if anyone can make bronzer look good (or, at least, natural), it’s Guerlain.  So I ordered the lighter Blondes from Nordstrom.com to give it a try.

The tinted moisturizer comes in a luxe glass bottle with a gold-colored pump, and a simulated wood-textured plastic cap.  The application is somewhat sheer– I would say about one-half the coverage of a light foundation such as Chanel Tient Innocence Fluid.  This allows a bit of your natural skin to peek through.  As an aside, I used this with my physical sunscreen (Elta MD Physical 41), so combined I had sufficient coverage.

The texture is glowy, allowing the surface of the skin to have a bit of sheen.  Guerlain took the “moisturizer” in the product name seriously, it feels very luxurious, nourishing and moisturizing.  It lasted well through a ten-hour day on my combination skin.

As far as the color, it took my MAC NC15/Chanel Cameo Intensity 1.0 down a good two to three shades.  I got a few questions about whether I had spent some time in the sun from others, and I looked like I had.  I added a bit of darker powder bronzer on the cheeks to break up the “all one color” look, and of course a pink blush.  There were no orange tones on my warm skin, and no shimmer bits either.  It was sort of a sheer wash of color that looked liked I had acquired a light tan.

I know that some “embrace the pale,” but sometimes I enjoy adding some tan look to my skin.  I know that I’ll continue to use the Guerlain Tinted Moisturizer over the summer.  My sense is that it looks about as natural as a good self-tanner (again, the color looked natural not orange or brassy).  I’m going to give this a cautious positive recommendation, but this is very much a Your Mileage May Vary product, depending on your skin tone.  It’s worth looking at if you’d like a bit of a natural glow with a nice, moisturizing feel.  If at all possible, try before you buy so that you can tell whether you’ll like the effect on your skintone.

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