Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nails: Deborah Lippmann Sarah Smile

I could care less about Sarah Jessica Parker as a celebrity, but her nail polish for Deborah Lippmann is quite likable.

Deborah Lippmann Sarah Smile is a pale and sheer yet creamy pink. There's just enough white so that the effect is somewhat modish. It's a very clean look. With two coats, there is slight VNL. A VNL-less look can be found on Kellie Gonzo, while Be Annabell has a beautiful soft French manicure look.

Sarah Smile is innocent but not girly. It's a great complement to tailored clothing, and I like to wear it with black. I had it on for my Chanel makeover. This is a darling polish that hits the sweet spot between pink and white.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lips: NARS All Night Long

NARS All Night Long is one of my favorite lip glosses. Part of the 2008 holiday collection, it seems to be still available only on the NARS website. It's worth ordering.

When I first saw the color on my lips, the word that came to my mind was "pomegranate." The official description is "dusty raspberry," which fits. A hint of plum tones down the berry and gives it some depth.

The formula is excellent: shiny, long-lasting, and not sticky at all. While it's one of those "liquid" glosses, application is very precise. It also doesn't evaporate to leave behind parched lips: after eating a meal, I looked in the mirror and saw a shimmery pink-lilac stain. I want a lip gloss in that color now. While we're at it, I would love a satin lipstick in the original shade as well.

This is a shinier, bolder version of NARS' popular Stella lip gloss. Appropriately enough, I would wear the latter during the day and the former at nighttime.

NARS All Night Long is a dramatic but effortless lip gloss. It deserves more attention from NARS fans.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday Debriefing

Two or three decades from now, Black Friday is going to be enshrined as a federal holiday and recorded on calendars. Like any good American consumer, I celebrated yesterday by shopping incredible deals. My purchases were limited to online, however: why put up with lines and shoving people?

From Shopbop's BIGEVENT discount, I picked up several major pieces that I've had my eye on for a while:

Proquo Felora Pants by Theyskens' Theory - High-waisted, wide-leg pleated tweed pants in dark green.

A Line Maxi Skirt by L.A.M.B. - Long wool twill skirt in camel.

Theodora Necklace by DANNIJO - Brass curb-chain necklace made with beads and natural stones.

Hollei Pendant Necklace by DANNIJO - Brass snake-chain necklace with Swarovski crystals and a pendant locket.

I've also been patiently counting down the days to Net-a-Porter's annual massive designer sale. As soon as it rolled online yesterday, I jumped on the site and scooped up two fabulous pairs of shoes:

Studded calf hair kitten-heel sandals by Valentino. For a long time I've wanted to acquire a pair in this popular style, and the calf hair pattern is a gorgeous textural contrast to the taupe leather straps and brass studs. I can't wait to wear these with dark ankle jeans.

Then I also got cutout suede and leather sandals by Burak Uyan. I've already featured this new shoe designer, and I'm excited to add a second pair to my collection.

In addition to the distinctive design, what appealed to me was how they look on the model. There's something about the ankle area that I'm just crazy about.

Shoe Porn posts coming! Both styles have sold out entirely already, so I'm glad I struck while the iron was hot. Shoes sell out fast in Net-a-Porter's sales. So do bags, and I had to leave behind this striped python and velvet wallet by Bottega Veneta.

I would've loved to carry it around as a clutch, but I had to make choices. I do still have my eye on the Lislia oxidized multi-strand brass necklace by DANNIJO.

For this Black Friday, I went big. Finally, and this does not qualify as a Black Friday deal, but I just found out about it yesterday and had to immediately order it.

Deborah Lippmann Edge of Glory 3D Holographic Nail Lacquer, made for Gaga's Workshop. Aaah!

Available exclusively at Barneys, this kit creates an absolutely phenomenal look. Valentine Kisses has a whole series of amazing swatches. On the nails, the polish appears black with flecks of intense blue, amber, and green: it evokes the stained glass I have seen in European cathedrals. I ordered the complimentary gift wrap, and actually am thinking about simply waiting until Christmas to open it.

Goodness. Now I need a shopping detox. The Antiquite Poupee Kaleidoscope Eye Kit by Dustin for Le Metier de Beaute is also on its way in the mail. Too damn many boxes.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nails: Chanel Rose Cache

Chanel Rose Cache is an elegant rose-pink that works beautifully as a neutral.

In the bottle Rose Cache is a dusty mauvish pink shot through with soft iridescence. Beauty Look Book has very nice shots. On the nails the mauve picks up flesh tones so that the overall effect is a chic variation on the mannequin hands look.

The iridescence doesn't translate from the bottle to the nails, though if you look closely at your painted nails you'll see tiny flecks of ruby shimmer. Personally, I love the color. It's been inducted into my Neutrals Hall of Fame. The eyes perceive Rose Cache as dusty pink, but the brain keeps categorizing it as nude. It's like an optical illusion. Under certain indoor lighting the color can even appear slightly muddy, which is attractive in its own way, but outdoors it is a beautiful subdued rose. If it were any pinker, it would lose its understated sophistication.

I must reiterate: Rose Cache is lovely. It is the ultimate dusty rose-pink. There is an old-fashioned depth to it. Most pink polishes are too obvious and shallow for my tastes. Nudes also are tricky, as you have to find one that isn't too warm, too cool, too yellow, etc., for your skin tone. Rose Cache is perfection.

Application leaves something to be desired. Rose Cache goes on extremely thin, although not streaky, and bubbles easily; you should do three thin coats, and not two thick coats like I did. It wears well, however, reaching the fourth day without any tip wear.

Chanel Rose Cache is what you wear when you want to look simultaneously refined and modern.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lips: NARS Downtown

It's not a color I would normally wear. Metallic mauve? No, thank you. Yet I couldn't stop thinking about NARS Downtown Lipgloss. It was something about the way it appeared in the tube. Inevitably, I gave in and purchased it.

On my lips, Downtown turns into an incredible combination of edgy and flattering. It's a color I could easily wear out to a nightclub or incorporate into a winter daytime look.

At a distance, Downtown is subtle but interesting. Close up, you see why. The base is a mauvish plum with a cool overlayer of pink iridescence. The pink warms up the purple and prevents it from looking like one of those shades that escaped from the 80s.

Warm indoor light.

Indirect outdoor light.
This duality of color can also be seen in swatches by Temptalia and Lady of the Lane. As for performance, Downtown is thicker and stickier than most NARS lipglosses, but it doesn't bother me.

NARS Downtown Lipgloss walks the fine line between natural and unnatural, and for that reason turns heads.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nails: Dior Camel

Peek at my nails on any given day, and odds are you'll find me sporting either a metallic gunmetal (such as Dior NY 57th) or a funky neutral (like Rescue Beauty Lounge Grunge). Dior Camel sits squarely in the latter category.

Indirect sunlight.

The color is, appropriately enough, a dead match for camel. Getting dressed that morning, I had slipped on a favorite pair of leather flats from L.L. Bean. Then it occurred to me that I had unwittingly matched my shoes to my nails.

I could have done this all afternoon, with my leather jacket, wool peacoat, several other pairs of shoes, and half a dozen sweaters . . . I hadn't realized I like camel so much. Well, it's a great color. Neutral, but with enough oomph to avoid washing you out.

On the nails, camel takes some getting used to. Have you ever put a new color on your nails, looked at the result, and immediately gone, "Good grief, what was I thinking?" That happens to me all the time. By the next day, though, I have gone through the acclimation process and love the color. In Dior Camel's case, I think it works best on cool-toned girls like myself. It also looks great with white shirts, blue jeans, or especially a crisp oxford shirt in French blue.

After one week: my nails grow quickly.

Dior Camel is a hardy nail polish, standing up after one week with some tip wear. The only issue I have is with how thin the polish is: in the first close-up above, you can see some translucence. I did two coats, and three probably would have made the nails completely opaque, but the difference really isn't noticeable at an arm's length.

Direct sunlight.

Dior Camel is a weird, but surprisingly workable, neutral.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lips: NARS Joyous Red

I've been stuck at home with a cold, so I thought I'd go into my photo archives and bring out a lip color that cheers me up.

NARS Joyous Red fits the bill with its warm amber-red luminosity.

As soon as I swiped this lipstick on, I knew I had found that rara avis: a warm-toned lip color that works with my cool tones. Normally I can wear only blue-based reds, and anything with orange or brown in it makes me look completely hideous. Wearing Joyous Red is almost like cheating.

Joyous Red does so many things on so many levels, it's a difficult lipstick to pin down. Each application is a surprise: sometimes it pulls coral, sometimes it pulls red. (Temptalia shows it as more coral, while on Blushing Noir it's more red.) In any case, the color always brightens up my face. It's a very wearable everyday red that would look appropriate year-round. NARS classifies Joyous Red as semi-matte, but it applies as easily as a sheer. There is gold micro-shimmer in the tube that isn't visible on the lips, but still lends a warm sheen.

I understand that some people are annoyed with Joyous Red because it's not a true red. Fine, there are many reds out there already. But an amber-red that works as beautifully as this one does? Now surely that's something to celebrate.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nails: Dior Exquis

I can't stop looking at my nails. I keep flexing my fingers under any light source to see how the colors shift, and bringing them up to my face to examine once again the micro-shimmer. I have to be careful not to do it in public. The temptation is strong, believe me. This is Dior Exquis.

Is it chocolate? Gray? Taupe? Gold? It all depends on the light and the angle.

Indirect sunlight.

In the bottle it is a shimmering coppery-fawn color. It looks intriguing, but a bit plain. It's only when you pour (the formula goes on so smoothly that I can't bring myself to say "paint") it onto your nails that you start to see its enduring beauty. Dior Exquis is a subtle and sophisticated shade with a twist: it constantly mutates, but never loses its refinement.

In the shade, Exquis becomes quite subdued. It is a lovely chocolate-taupe.


In direct sunlight, Exquis fairly flares with gold micro-shimmer.

Direct late afternoon sunlight.
The key word is refinement: the micro-shimmer is visible only close up, but at a distance it still lends the nails luster and depth. Messy Wands and Beauty Look Book do a better job of capturing the gold flecks than my iPhone 3G can.

Under warm lighting, Exquis becomes chocolate-gold. Under cool lighting, Exquis looks like an entirely different animal, leaning toward a muted gray-taupe.

Warm indoor lighting.

Cool indoor lighting.
Either way, the micro-shimmer in Exquis still catches the light and throws it back in liquid rays. Now can you blame me for constantly checking out my nails?

Such beauty is allowed to be exempt from practical considerations, but Dior Exquis performs well too. This particular polish requires two coats to achieve opacity. So far the formula is standing up: on the fourth day, there is only the most minimal tip wear from typing on a keyboard.

I am in love with Dior Exquis. If I could keep only one nail polish from all the holiday collections this season, this unique shade would be it. Exquis makes me feel like my fingertips are made out of the most delicious toffee.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Indecent Top Shelf, with Exposure of Exclusive Le Metier de Beaute Nordstrom Montgomery Kaleidoscope

You know you're a beauty junkie when . . .

. . . you spend the extra hour today reorganizing your top shelf. Ha!

Lipsticks and glosses on the left; foundation, blush, and highlighters on the right;
with eye shadows and tools in the back.
The medicine cabinet over my sink.

I did so much damage with the holiday collections that all the new acquisitions simply outstripped my old system. As you can see, I am quite fond of right angles and parallel lines. Makeup and skincare reviews and features forthcoming.

For now, here's a brief glimpse of my latest addition:

Taken in late afternoon sunlight.

Charlestongirl of Best Things In Beauty caused a blogger stampede yesterday when she profiled Le Metier de Beaute Come One, Come All Eye Kaleidoscope, available only in 75 units at Nordstrom Montgomery Mall. Of course I had to have it. Last evening, I practically parachuted into their beauty department. It was a straight-up extraction: direct frontal attack on the tiny LMdB counter, retrieve kaleidoscope, and get the hell out of there.

Isn't it gorgeous?


Shoe Porn: Burak Uyan Calf Hair and Leather Platform Pumps

I love discovering new designers. The moment I saw Burak Uyan's calf hair and leather platform pumps on Net-a-Porter, I was smitten. The curves! The textures! The stitching down the back!

I was happy to find that these pumps are well constructed, and comfortable at 5.5 inches of height with a 1.5 inch hidden platform. I'd wear them with cigarette ankle jeans and a fitted black turtleneck or a crisp white Oxford shirt.

I suspect more pairs by Burak Uyan will find their way into my wardrobe.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sanguine Collar from Una Burke

Yesterday was Halloween, so it would be apropos to feature some extreme jewelry.

Browsing Farfetch, I found my attention caught by this "posture collar" by Una Burke. The name was unknown to me, so I did some research. What I uncovered was a constellation of unearthly bondage images and a cruel, intriguing premise.

From her capsule site on Not Just a Label: Una Burke is a luxury leather accessories designer who uses traditional leather-working methods and vegetable tanned hides. With her distinct construction technique of leather strips and brass fittings, Una develops sculptural belt forms, jewellery, handbags and abstract body pieces. Her work is quite often concept based, with influence commonly taken from military sources and other physical and metaphorical methods of protection.

I had to own a piece, almost more as an addition to my tiny art collection than an actual accessory to wear out. I ordered mine on sale from Curve Boutique, which carries several of her pieces. The collar arrived, and I was not disappointed. Una Burke's workmanship is incredible. The leather is soft and supple, and beautifully dyed.

Please forgive the lack of dramatic lighting.

Looking at pictures online, I had wondered how exactly the fastenings would work. I worried that I might not be able to put the collar back together once I had opened it up. Actually, the mechanism is quite simple: leather strips line up with metal rivets, and the structured nature of the collar makes working it blessedly simple.

I can only imagine the work that goes into the more intricate pieces. As Una Burke explains on her own siteThis is a conceptual collection of wearable art pieces, depicting a series of eight human gestures associated with the cause, the physical and psychological effect and the healing stages of human trauma. Sculptural forms are created around the shape of the contorted female body. A number of pieces are reminiscent of prosthetics and medical braces. This signifies the potential for healing within the boundaries of something which inhibits the body. Carcass-like in form, each piece is hand crafted from vegetable tanned leather, resulting in a colour indicative of human flesh. 

Jewelry? Accessory? Fashion? Art? Can this be categorized at all? Una Burke also makes handbags.

In addition to a handbag, I would love to acquire this "shoulder holster" in ivory.

Again, never mind exactly where I would wear this. Perhaps to a severely fashionable nightclub. Una Burke is someone I'm going to keep an eye on for aesthetics' sake.

Images from Not Just a Label, una burke, and JOYCE.

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