Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 Mini-Manifesto On Design and Voice

Design sketch by Burak Uyan.

As a rule, I don't do retrospectives. I'm always afraid of becoming maudlin. That said, there's some truth to the title of this short story by Joyce Carol Oates, "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?"

Titles are important. The title of my blog is "creature of design." The key word is design. That word can mean a lot of things, which is why I chose it. My interests and tastes are omnivorous: I see design in everything, and good design brings me a sense of completion while bad design is a tragedy.

I started this blog two years ago because I wanted to share my outfits. I'm continuing this blog because I want to locate my voice and refine it into a product worthy of disseminating to society. Product in this case means something purposeful, well-made, and transactional.

Let's go on: transactional in this case means not necessarily something monetary or even something tangible, but something that can be transferred from one pair of hands to another while retaining my identity, that indefinable nimbus of consciousness which is called voice. You could call it brand.

Brand has evolved a long way from the Nike swoosh and the book No Logo by Naomi Klein. Brand has been refined and humanized even as it has become ubiquitous. Chanel is a brand; so is Karl Lagerfield. His cat Choupette is a rising brand. Also a brand is that little cellar shop two streets over which sells the best handmade soaps.

Let's go back: the original usage of brand is an initial or symbol burned onto cattle's skin to denote ownership. Brand simply means the burning of one's voice or vision onto a product so that its ownership is clear to anyone who beholds it.

What is my voice? What is "creature of design"? My intention for this year is to find out.

See, I got maudlin. Here's another picture of a shoe.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Eve Face with Le Metier de Beaute Bauhaus Kaleidoscope

It's not New Year's Eve makeup unless it's shiny and metallic. Le Metier de Beaute Bauhaus Kaleidoscope might be the kit for the ultimate metallic smoky eye.

All four shades in this limited-edition palette are intensely pigmented with a beautiful burnished finish. The Beauty Look Book has spectacular swatches alongside comparisons. Here I'm going to focus on my replication/interpretation of the video tutorial by Mikey Castillo on Zuneta. Pulling the look into a more dramatic direction ended in a captivating face perfect for evening parties where you want to outshine everyone in the dim, crowded room.

I followed most of the video tutorial's steps, tweaking a couple of them. First I drew Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Eye Pencil in Noir along the waterline and the upper lash line, then used a fingertip to smear the black over the lower half of the eyelid. From that point on, it was simply a matter of layering all four shades, top to bottom, onto the eyelid. I was careful not to go beyond the crease since these colors really are pigmented. Layered, they morph into a refined, grown-up metallic brown.

The video tutorial suggested softening the black-lined waterline by also applying some shades along the bottom lash line. I applied all four, and the compression meant a darker color. So I went back and added more of the final shade, a deep gunmetal color, along the outer edge of the eye. I was pleased by the resulting gradient. In doing the eyes, my goal was to keep everything close to the lash lines and not to let anything migrate upward. In other words, stay horizontal: there's enough drama going on already with the metallics.

My upper lashes received definition from Le Metier de Beaute Anamorphic Lash Mascara in Black, then I moved on to the rest of the face. I tried out RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Promise along the cheekbones, and instantly fell in love with the shimmering salmon shade. It brings so much light and warmth, it's positively luminous.

My lips turned out unnecessarily complicated, for I lacked the medium rose shade shown in the video tutorial. I did have NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Transeurope Express, though, which is a deep almost-red rose. I applied a couple of layers, blotted, and then layered on top Le Metier de Beaute Lip Creme in Creme Caramel. The latter's frosty finish was too metallic, so I had to throw on a third layer: Le Metier de Beaute Sheer Brilliance Lip Gloss in Cannes. Phew.


This look can easily be turned up or down by intensifying or de-intensifying the Bauhaus eye shades, and by switching around lip and cheek colors. My own interpretation is admittedly over the top, but I figure I have the bone structure to pull it off. And the little black dress, and the heels . . .

Have a wonderful Happy New Year's Eve, everyone.


Sunday's Mask: Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Deep Moisture Mask

Half the fun of New Year's Eve is prepping for it. Start the night of the 30th, and apply Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Deep Moisture Mask at bedtime. Your face will still be thanking you when the big shiny ball drops.

This mask is a serious indulgence. The directions assure you that you're supposed to use this at the end of your usual nighttime skincare regimen, and then to leave it overnight; you don't need to swap anything out or rinse anything off. It's an additional luxurious layer for you to swaddle your skin in while you sleep. The ingredients are a cornucopia of botanical ingredients based on the five elemental palettes of the Tao Wheel with the purpose of "resetting" your skin. Naturally, I fell madly in love with the concept. Fortunately, the action is superb too.

The product itself is a clear gel within which tiny white spheres are suspended. These emollient capsules break apart upon rubbing to release fresh ingredients into the skin. A little goes a long way, which is a good thing since the tube is smaller than my hand. The gel glides across my skin, only to immediately melt into it without disturbing my thick night cream. My face feels cooled and refreshed, and there is a luminous glow to my skin. The whole effect is subtle yet penetrative.

In the morning I wake up with soft, smooth, healthy-looking skin. I also always rub a generous amount into my neck and decolletage. Every use of this mask is a special occasion: I've found that I like to pull this out on nights that I use one of my rinse-off clay-based masks, such as Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant.

Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Deep Moisture Mask is effective skincare, but more importantly to me, it imparts a sense of true well-being that makes it worth the $90 price tag. The Koh Gen Do product page has a wealth of further information on this mask, including the full ingredient list. Whether or not the Tao Wheel is a valid skincare principle, this mask works and I adore it.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Face with Guerlain Liu Palette

The Guerlain Liu Eye & Lip Calligraphy Palette is rich and sumptuous, like the opera it is named after. With this, you can create an elegant, dramatic look for any party.

Guerlain Liu comes in a sleek palette within a velvet pouch. Lenallure has dreamy shots and swatches. Clearly, this palette would make a wonderful gift for the holidays.

I followed the "Calligraphy" look laid out in the enclosed little booklet. (Only now do I realize that I missed the "beauty mark" at the end of the cat-eye tip.) The top shade is so light that it barely showed up as a brow bone highlighter. The second shade is my favorite, with its rich gold-orange effects. The third shade is a subtle shimmery gray-taupe, while the black shade works as a smooth eyeliner. I used my own brushes to apply the shades, and added the first shade as a highlighter to the inner corners of my eyes. Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Eye Pencil in Noir was used to line my inner rim, and a couple of swipes of Dior DiorShow Mascara in Mitzah filled out my lashes with sparkling brown. 


The final look was surprisingly understated. The colors are luxurious, but semi-sheer. You look like you're going to the opera, and not performing in one! What I love about the "Calligraphy" look is that you are at your most stunning whenever you blink, and the people around you will appreciate the unexpected flash of beauty.


The palette contains two creamy reds for a bold lip, one leaning cool pink and the other leaning warm orange. I chose the latter, of course. The enclosed lip brush is serviceable and allows you to apply with precision. On the lips, the warm red turns out to have quite a bit of pink which makes it very wearable. It wears well into the night, too, with a moisturizing formula that fades evenly.

I applied Rouge Bunny Rouge Cheeks in Bloom Blush Wand in Rubens along my cheekbones for a baroque sangria-tinged flush, and this completed the look.

The Guerlain Liu Palette is a beautiful, tightly curated collection of colors that gives you a classic party look with an Asian flair. Get this one before it's too late.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Gloss d'Armani in #405 (Wild Rose) and Pink #508 (Blush) from Spring 2012

I procrastinate so much on swatches sometimes. Case in point: these Armani lip glosses came out for spring 2012 and I tried them on last winter, fully a year ago. The sweater I'm wearing in these photos look so cozy, I felt like I ought to bring this series out just before Christmas.

Gloss d'Armani Rouge #405 (Wild Rose) is a stunning rosewood. The rose color is just this side of rusty, which actually makes this gloss more appropriate for autumn than spring. It reminds me of Chanel Troublant from fall 2012, though Armani's gloss has more sparkle.

Then there is Gloss d'Armani Pink #508 (Blush) which is perhaps the prettiest, barest pink I can get away with wearing. The pastel pink is blue-leaning, and I really like how on me it turns into a twist on the nude lip. This shade would look amazing on truly fair-skinned women (I have olive undertones, and don't tan only because I stay out of the sun).

The Gloss d'Armani formula is my favorite. It is slightly sticky, as opposed to slick, and plumps up your lips beautifully. The subtle sparkle and shine make it clear that this is a lady's gloss, not a teenybopper's gloss. How wrong is it that these are the only two glosses I own from the line? Must rectify this soon.


Monday, December 17, 2012

P.S. Chocolate Sheepskin

Allow me to make an addendum to my Animal Luxury post. This is the only bag I can possibly want this winter. Sheepskin and glazed chocolate leather? And in beautifully proportioned "uptown ladylike handheld or downtown hip crossbody"? Yes please, very much. The Dean satchel by EAYRSLEE satisfies both my wool and leather cravings simultaneously in a traditional yet edgy package.

Surely, what could be more perfect to wear with my infallible white sweaters?

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