Nov 092011

NARS gift sets are now online at on the theme of Modern Kabuki Holiday. These are high end gift sets packaged to impress. Above is the Nars Hanamichi Palette ($65) that is detailed here and here applied on Messy Wands. The Nonblonde’s recent review is here.

The set of four colors comes in a modern design that is beautifully executed. The palette comes with a small brush and velveteen case and is much larger than a typical Nars blush or eyeshadow duo–the compact size is just over 2 x 3 inches.

The set comes is beautifully red-ribboned box that’s very Nars-inspired. This will sell out quickly, and may have already at some locations. I know that I’m not supposed to compare the two products (they are so different, seriously), but the NARS Hanamichi is more “my style” compared to the Guerlain peacock-themed Parure de Nuit highlighter (reviewed here).

Unlike some Holiday palettes, I believe that this would make a beautiful gift for women of a very wide age range–from someone in their 20’s all the way through her 60’s. Because mine has arrived (although I haven’t played with it yet), I thought I’d use my own image for this palette rather than the NARS stock photo.

On to the rest of the sets:

NARS is also offering NARS Mie Kabuki Mini Soft Touch Shadow Pencil Coffret ($55). I played with these at a counter, and found the quality excellent. The small size of the pencil is just right for these bold colors. The colors are Tall Tale (deep metallic purple), Magic Moon (deep metallic navy blue), Ballets Russes (silver), Aigle Noir (black infused with gold shimmer), Palladium (turquoise with silver glitter) and Skorpios (copper). Why are mini’s so cute?

The Kadoki Kabuki Lip Coffret ($125) is a luxurious set of three lip colors (Takebue, Ougi, and Botan) packaged with a lip brush. If my life were less active, this might be seriously tempting. It seems very elegant. The colors–a deep red, a deep pink and a nude–seem well selected for a range of beautiful shades.

One item is I may cave on is the Nagauta Kabuki Brush Set ($225). I’ve purchased the Nars Yachiyo brush and found it very impressive–this wooden bento box with a red lacquered interior holds five similarly styled brushes, including two new brushes exclusive to the set. This includes the Kabuki Eye Brush (exclusive to the set), the Botan Brush, the Ita Brush, the Yachiyo Brush, and the Kabuki Lip brush (exclusive to the set).

I believe that high quality brushes are an excellent investment-no matter what type of makeup you wear, it’s going to look better applied with a good brush. A woman needs her tools, yes?

Finally, there is the Kuroko Kabuki Mini Nail Polish Coffret ($35). This set holds four kabuki-themed colors.

These include Yoshiwara (red), Shiro-Nuri (white), Kata (black) and Senryou (gold). The polish bottles are mini-sized.

The additional NARS news is that the the NARS Larger than Life lipglosses ($24) have started to arrive at Sephora stores. The texture and tone remind me of the Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss–they have an opacity and shine that’s very pleasant and wearable. Although I didn’t have time to go through with a purchase, my favorite shades so far are Tiber (a deep nude), Como (a pink-mauve) and Gold Digger (a shimmery nude).

It seems I’m going through a NARS phase lately. I think every one does from time to time. Obviously, the Holiday Kabuki gifts are limited edition. Thankfully for me, most of the rest of the is permanent, including the Larger than Life lipglosses.

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Nov 082011

Chanel Holiday 2011 presented a mixed collection.  At first I was a little struck by the absence of an eyeshadow quad or a new Joues Contraste blush. Unlike Fall 2011 which presented the innovative Illusion D’Ombre eyeshadow line, Chanel Holiday largely provided variations of items in their standard line that added a touch more for the holiday season.  This exercised restraint may have yielded some crowd-pleasers, and a few standouts where things came together beautifully.  The Tweed Brun Rose Blush, Rouge Extrait de Gloss in Triomphal and Natural Loose Powder in Feerie seemed to me to be the most successful in this line. In its own quiet way, Beige Lame eyeshadow won my heart.  The lip products are well worth a look on an individual basis. But perhaps because their star highlighter was a disappointment to me personally, I found that the collection did not have the breathtaking quality of collections past.  The Lumiere Sculptee highlighter, the Liquid Eyes Or eyeliner (both the utility/look of the packaging and the shade) and the Rose Cache nail color did not seem to keep up with the upward trajectory that we’ve seen from Chanel over the past few seasons.  But, I may be a tough grader and so much of makeup is personal.  Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

A short review of the products reviewed here on the site.

Chanel Rouge Extrait de Gloss in Triomphal (reviewed here) is stunning.  It’s a gorgeous red that complicated yet classic.  I love everything that Chanel has done with this formula.

Chanel Rouge Allure Laque in Empire (reviewed here) is a highly versatile, well executed light peachy pink:

Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Famous (reviewed here) is a standout red in the same color family as this year’s Chanel Rouge Allure in Rouge Byzantin (reviewed here):

Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Enivree (reviewed here) is an easy to wear soft pink:

Chanel Natural Loose Powder in Feerie (reviewed here) is a beautiful rose tone with sparkle.  Many readers are reporting that the sparkle is too noticeable for day, so for many this may be an evening-only product.  I think it’s gorgeous, and one of the highlights of the collection–it’s a very luxurious soft, finely milled powder:

Chanel Lumiere Scupltee Highlighter (reviewed here) acts to my mind more as a setting powder. Although the presentation is beautiful, I would opt to buy a finishing powder in Chanel’s Poudre Douce line instead (and trust me, I almost never buy the lower priced spread):

Chanel Le Vernis Rouge Carat (reviewed here) is a beautifully formulated red with fuchsia sparkle.  One of Chanel’s “one coat wonders,” this color is beautiful:

Chanel Blush Duo in Tweed Brun Rose is extremely well done.  The color is a soft nude-rose-gold that is extremely finely milled and looks very natural. It’s going to be very difficult to find a duplicate for this very complex and beautiful color, particularly one that is as well-executed as this:

Chanel Liquid Eyelines in Or (reviewed here) is a color that didn’t work for either Liz or I.  The brush-pen design is in the classic Chanel black packaging, but I find it neither pretty nor especially helpful.  The formula seemed fine, but the color leans far more yellow than gold.  This one’s a challenge for me to love, and in the end I didn’t:

Chanel Beige Lame eyeshadow (reviewed here) is a beautiful, softly-toned classic. This color is one of the easiest lidwash colors for me to wear. The slightest hint of teal sparkle adds a touch of pretty, pretty, pretty…without going over the top:

Chanel Blazing Gold (reviewed here) was not successful for me. The formula was chunky and the bright yellow color was not flattering on my pale warm skin tone.  Also, the color is very close to Chanel Gold, previously released in the same line:

Chanel Eyeshadow Duo in Noir Ivoire (reviewed here) does more than a capable job of a quick and easy eye for day or evening, depending on the amount of drama that you wish to add using the black shade.  I find the shimmery shade flattering on my lids–the sheen adds a touch of glow. The black is a good liner, and can also be added to the crease.

On a personal note, if you’ve been following along, thank you for your patience. Although I typically try to get Chanel reviews up quickly, this one has been a challenge.  Both Liz and I are going through a number of things in our non-blogging life right now, and things are likely to be spotty for the next month or so.  We appreciate your support reading the site and all of the great comments that you’ve left (even if we don’t have time to respond).

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Nov 072011

Chanel Eyeshadow Duo in Noir-Ivoire ($42/ Ombre Contraste Duo #27) is a new permanent shade released with Holiday 2011. Chanel’s duo series offers a range of nice basics–typically a matte paired with a very softly sheeny shimmer light yellow-ivory shade.  This lighter shade is far more wearable than Chanel Blazing Gold (reviewed here) which was released at the same time.

 As you would expect from this series, the shades are rich, pigmented and are appropriate for day or night. Everyone needs a nice black eyeshadow or two, this one is excellent quality.  The ivory shade has a slight yellow cast, which is light enough to work as a versatile neutral.  The combination comes with two very small brushes–one bristled, the other sponge.

The easiest way to wear the combination is to use the black as a liner, and the yellow-beige as an overall lid wash.  


 Here, Liz did her variation by wearing the ivory-shade as a lid wash, and then used the black in the crease to add depth:

Overall, Chanel Eyeshadow in Noir Ivoire is a beautiful basic neutral palette.  It’s foolproof, formulated to look beautiful and is very high quality. Recommended.

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Nov 062011

Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre / Natural Finish Loose Powder in Féérie ($52/ #47 1.0 oz.) is a finely milled loose powder released for Holiday 2011.  The powder has a soft pink cast and is interspersed with very subtle sparkle that are not obvious on the face once applied.

I’ve long loved Chanel’s Universelle Libre powders.  I’ve used up two in in their standard line, and Liz has finished some as well.  Although these days I’ve been working on a tub of Caron’s legendary Translucent loose powder (reviewed here) for a few years, I find them to be quite comparable.  When (if?) I ever run out of the Caron tub, I’ll go back to Chanel’s Clair because it’s much more accessible in the U.S. to purchase.

Chanel Loose Powder is Féérie is a absolutely beautiful glowing powder with a slight shell pink cast.  It adds a slight glow that is absolutely beautiful.  The sparkle which is noticeable in the container does not seem to be apparent when applied.  I believe that Féérie is the most beautiful item in the Chanel Holiday 2011 Collection.  Get one while you can.

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Nov 062011

Chanel Holiday 2011 includes a limited edition Liquid Eyelines in Or ($32 / Ligne Extreme Or).  The packaging and formula are very similar to the liquid liner released earlier this year in Onyx (reviewed here).  The packaging is classic Chanel, and the brush pen is fine-tipped.  The formula is sufficiently pigmented to give an opaque finish in a single coat.  If you use this type of pen, you know you need to go in confident.  Little mis-steps show and require correction (a Q-Tip touched in Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover does the trick).

The color does not work for everyone, and certainly doesn’t work for me.  Although called “Or,” (which translates to “gold” in French), the color delivers an intense shimmery deep yellow.  My sense is that this color may work for light carmel-toned skins, and will look magnificent on deep skin tones.  There may be lighter toned skin tones that prefer a dramatic flash.  But Liz and I couldn’t handle this color in any way, shape or form.  Although my returns every year are typically fewer than the number of fingers on one hand, Liquid Eyeliner in Or was returned yesterday.

Great formula.  Great execution.  Like Chanel Eyeshadow in Blazing Gold (reviewed here), Chanel Liquid Eyelines in Or was far too yellow to warrant the label “gold.” The color just does not work for me.

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Nov 012011

The Holiday 2011 Holiday Sculptee de Chanel Highlighting Powder ($72/ .46 oz.) has a gorgeously textured, glazed finished.  The compact is the large Chanel version that matches the size of Chanel’s powder foundations and bronzers and comes with a well-designed, usable brush.  The compact and velveteen sleeve:

Designed as an elegant gift, the glazing on the highlighter looks beautiful and brushes off easily with a few brush swipes:

 The powder is soft and the pattern wears down quite easily.  Here is the same compact with the glazing removed and after the highlighter was used once on Liz:

This highlighter did not live up to my expectations.  I found that the texture was not as finely milled as Chanel’s Pearl Glow, and the highlighting was so subtle that the product acts more as a very slightly glowy finishing powder.  Here is the powder applied heavily on Liz’s cheek over Chanel’s Tweed Brun Rose blush (reviewed here) in sun:

Typically, this type of lighting maximizes the highlighting properties of any powder product (compare Guerlain’s Parure de Nuit here).  Neither Liz or I found that Lumiere Sculptee de Chanel had reflectivity.  Here is a comparison between Chanel’s Lumiere Sculptee, MAC Lightscapade, Chanel Pearl Glow (reviewed here) and Guerlain Parure de Nuit (which picked up some color from the peacock color shapes):

To be honest, I was disappointed (and a bit surprised) with Chanel Lumiere Sculptee. As beautiful as the product looked in the promotional pictures (really, it absolutely glowed with the pretty glazing), I found the product delivers a finishing powder-type look. Worse, I didn’t find the powder very finely milled.  I’d give this a “pass,” even for collectors.  Particularly at this price point, this did not work for me.

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Nov 012011

 Chanel Les Tissages de Chanel Blush in Tweed Brun Rose ($45 / #70) is a finely-milled, complex blush with subtle shimmer.  The color is a mix of brown, rose, gold and peach.  Here is the pan as it arrives from Chanel, with a light dusting of gold overspray.  A quick sweep removes most of the gold shimmer.

The color virtually melts into the skin, the quality is really excellent.  I’ve worn this over Ko Gen Do Foundation, and thought that the effect was extremely natural.  Although pictured here on Liz wearing a light pink lipstick (Chanel Crystal, which is no longer made), Tweed Brun Rose will look lovely with red, beiges, peaches and nude lip colors as well.

 Chanel Tweed Brun Rose applies as a pink-peach-nude. It has more color than most other nude blushes, here pictured with Nars Madly, Nars Loveljoy, and Chanel Fandango.  Tweed Brun Rose is much more nude/bronze compared with last year’s Chanel Espiegle:

 I didn’t expect to like Chanel Tweed Brun Rose, but after playing with the color for several days it won me over completely. The color is tenacious–it doesn’t fade.  The texture is beautiful in that it does become part of the skin without looking powdery.  The texture is not as “glowy” as blushes from Chanel’s Joues Contraste collection, the overall impression is slightly more matte with a tiniest bit of shimmer.  The color is gorgeous–a beautiful, natural, year-round shade.

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Oct 302011

Chanel Le Vernis nail polish in Rouge Carat ($25 /#587) released for Holiday 2011 is a festive rich red infused with fuchsia sparkle.

As Chanel polishes go, Rouge Carat is one of the “good” formulations (meaning superb).  It gives a smooth, even, completely opaque coat of color with a single coat, although I prefer to give two coats just to spread the gorgeous texture and give a completely smooth appearance.

Chanel Rouge Carat is a beautiful classic color, although perhaps not one that is entirely unique.  Unlike some of the taupe, greens and blues that we’ve seen from Chanel lately, Rouge Carat is a rich, traditional color that is Holiday appropriate.

The sparkle is noticeable at close inspection in sunlight, although the color is entirely work (and party) appropriate:

Here is a comparison with numerous other reds in my collection, showing that Chanel Rouge Carat bears some resemblance to Chanel Shanghai Red and OPI Thanks So Muchness (click to enlarge):

Also pictured here are OPI Big Apple Red, Rescue Beauty Lounge Chinoise, Dior Trafalgar, Chanel Dragon, Chanel Rouge Fatale, and Dior Gruau.

Overall, the formula of Rouge Carat makes it worth the price to me.  Although not a terribly unique color, I love a polish that gives a gorgeous glossy, pigmented color in a single coat.  Having said that, I don’t think that Chanel Rouge Carat is a ‘back-up worthy’ color.  Although it’s a beautiful color, I’m more likely to reach for the classic Chanel Dragon (which long ago stole my heart as my favorite Chanel red).

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Oct 292011

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Blazing Gold ($28.50/#407) is a medium yellow eyeshadow with large shimmer particles.

I feel the same way about Chanel Blazing Gold as I do about many of the items in Chanel Holiday 2011.  That is, these Holiday items are amped up, or glitzed-up, versions of other items that Chanel has done before. I’m not criticizing–Holiday is not the time for fashion-forward, necessarily.  Niche collections like Fashion’s Night Out or mini-collections for boutique-only release are for pushing the envelope.  Holiday can be for making the beautified version of the familiar, a classic with a little more, I suppose.  Sometimes I wonder if Holiday collections are for women who buy makeup once a year.  We see the large, blockbuster palettes (Bobbi Brown), the well-priced sets (everyone), another highlighter with a twist (everyone) and the metallic infused color versions of the permanent line (Dior, perhaps?).  Those with more extensive collections should be selective.

Here is a comparison swatch of Chanel Blazing Gold next to Chanel Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Gold–as you can see, the colors are very, very similar.  The difference is that Blazing Gold has larger shimmer pieces for evening wear and the texture is not as smooth.

For context, I included a soft yellow Lancome Moonlight which is only sold in Europe (reviewed here).  Also, I’ve included  a metallic gold (Bare Escentuals True Gold) to show that Blazing Gold is far more in the “yellow” category rather than a gold metal.

Someone’s going to look amazing in Chanel Soft Touch in Blazing Gold.  Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.  I can make it work (sort of), if I confine its use to a very small lid area or inner corner highlighter.  But in general yellows don’t favor my fair, warm toned skin.  Those who already own Chanel Gold should evaluate whether Blazing Gold makes sense given their similarity.

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Oct 282011

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshdow in Beige Lamé ($ 28.50/ #417) is a very subtle, sophisticated eyeshadow.

 As many readers know, Cafe Makeup has a soft spot for beautiful neutrals with a kick.  In the case of Chanel Beige Lamé, the color is a soft neutral beige embedded with barely visible pink, teal and clear microsparkle adds a little depth.  Never over the top, Beige Lamé is a soft spoken shade.

 Here is Chanel Beige Lamé on Liz’s lid:

 Chanel Beige Lamé is a Chanel version of MAC Naked Pigment.  It’s a very neutral medium beige with a hint of shimmer. The texture is lovely, it goes on easily with one swipe.  Its a very easy sweep of color for a pretty, neutral lid.

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