If you're new to this blog, then read our guides to the basics: Skin (Part I), Skin (Part II), The Supernatural, Color Theory I, Color Theory II, Eyes, and Brushes.
Also, check out the blogsale.
Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Drivel About Frivol The Selfish Seamstress
Bois de Jasmin Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
The Natural Haven
Moving Image Source
The Emperor's Old Clothes
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne Flame Warriors Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
A Fevered Dictation
From François Nars' Makeup Your Mind, a very young Adriana Lima.
Bronze is not one of the looks I personally favor, but it has been very popular of late, approximately parallel to the rise of Gisele Bündchen who perhaps best epitomizes the modern bronzed beauty: beachy glamourous, wind tossed hair, toasty, dewy skin. It is in truth a variation on au naturel, albeit with a seasonal twist that makes the appropriate deferences to deeper, shinier complexions. Consequently, some of the elements are the same, so I will dispense with any discussion of undereye concealer and groomed brows.
If your tan is perfect and requires no enhancement, the most longlasting, fuss-free option is a multipurpose pigment like Becca Beach Tint or NARS South Beach Multiple, or even better, both. Dab the watermelon-tinted Becca on cheeks and lips, and add a veil of amber shimmer with the NARS (especially the eyes).
For an extra touch of sun, a good bronzer like Guerlain Terracotta, no shimmer, no orange, should be applied with a large, dense, flat-top brush like Trish McEvoy #5 to the parts of the face that sunlight will hit: the forehead, the tip of the nose, the chin, and the cheeks. Follow with rose-terracotta blush, such as NARS Dolce Vita, as a natural tan is not an even brown, but glows and flushes all the more. For lips, a natural tawny is a subtle complement, but why not take the opportunity to wear some bright, juicy lipgloss, such as coral or watermelon, so fresh against summer skin? Recommended products: Revlon Raisin Glaze SuperLustrous Lipgloss (a sheer rose-tawny), Fresh Desire Gloss Absolute (cherry popsicle).
A bit of gold highlight can look absolutely delicious on bronzed skin, especially on the eyes. Summer is not kind to makeup, so less is better and less is required, but if you cannot bear such nakedness before the world, a slick of black liquid liner is a simple but flattering touch. Tans will let you get away with brighter colors, so this is one of the few times that blue or mint eyeshadow or any chalky pastel will look more appropriate than bold.
Gustave Klimt, The Kiss (1907-1908). A bit of cliché, but it fits so well.
"Celebrity" is a dirty word for perfume, most of the time. Hit or miss industries, such as perfume or poetry, find themselves better served by eccentric theatrics rather than the more genial conventions of fame, fortune, and beauty. People seem to expect perfumes to lend an aura of distinction to their presence, if not an intellectual challenge outright, and perhaps a starlet of dubious talent is less than compelling. As Victoria Beckham put it, "I'm not sure anyone would want to smell like me," and yet this does not hold universally true, after all magazines can no longer sell covers without borrowing a celebrity face, and it need not be A-List. I can offer no substantive theories on why celebrity perfumes are maligned, and why obscurity only seems to fuel the furor behind rare, limited edition, vintage, and discontinued fragrances, as they are technically made by the same people (noses and houses), but here at least is one eponymous juice that has attained cult status. Certainly, it helps that public opinion of Deneuve is reverent (rather than merely entertained); known simply as "La France" by her countrymen, it is not too difficult to aspire to a YSL-clad, cold exterior of creamy skin and perfect blonde coiffure. It also helps that Deneuve has had many intimate associations with perfume: she was the face of Chanel No. 5, was the inspiration for Guerlain's Nahéma, and ecstatically recommends Frédéric Malle.
But most of all, Deneuve is just plain good—a complex succession of notes, from a heady floral top built on geranium, neroli, and ylang ylang, settling into the resinous intensity of sandalwood, galbanum, amber, and cloves, with earthy hints of patchouli and iris. And yet, it does not veer into ponderous gravitas, for all that it is so darkly ornamented, a golden sweetness illuminates its whole, as if someone has bottled up a particularly fine sunset for Ms. Deneuve.
Makeovers are very well for static editorials, but they rarely translate into real life. One cannot, after all, incorporate such things as hours of expert hair and makeup, perfect lighting, and extensive Photoshop into everyday existence. In deference of that fact, I've never really followed the exotic color stories offered bi-monthly by brands like MAC. Makeup does have transformative powers, but one does not want it to take over: most women want to look better, not unrecognizable.
In the future I'm planning to explore some bold looks on myself, but first I figure it may be best to show the constants that provide the foundation for all other looks, whether natural or dramatic.
On the right, it's a world of difference. The lighting is somewhat warmer, because it was later in the day, and I've applied makeup. None of it is "statement makeup"; I haven't even applied blush or mascara. It's all just subtle improvements that target the weakest parts of the face:
A repost for Carol...
Here is Carol, one of our most beloved readers. If you too would like to be featured, be sure to submit the following information to me for a virtual makeover.
FIRST NAME Carol
HAIR COLOR dark brown
SKIN TYPE combination with oily forehead/nose, dry & acne-prone cheeks and chin
SKIN TONE medium with lots of pink undertones
EYE COLOR hazel, a mix of brown, green, and gold.
MAKEUP STYLE natural for everyday, but I do like to experiment with color when I dress up
SPECIFIC CONCERNS I'm getting older and am noticing some changes around my eyes, but got a rollicking case of milia from using too rich of an eye cream, so I'm reeeeally hesitant to experiment any more with them. My pores seem to look gigantic these days too. Mostly, I've got hyper-uber sensitive/finicky skin that likes basic, gentle products. I'm horrible at doing eyeshadow so mainly stick to washes. My cheeks eat blush. I've yet to find something that doesn't complete vanish in a ridiculously short amount of time.
TOP THREE FAVORITE PRODUCTS lipstick, in particular NARS Shanghai Express and Kevyn Aucoin Enchantaberry, mascara, and aloe vera gel.
mix well with a light oil, such as grapeseed oil
add some cooled, strong herbal tea, I like lavender and chamomile (four bags)
add a tablespoon of honey
let the mixture sit for a day before using
A bit of undereye concealer, mascara, and well groomed brows are standard, so let us consider Carol's more specific concerns.
I'm moving into a new apartment at the end of this week, in preparation for the school year. I'm preoccupied, of course, with the bare practicalities of flying myself and my stuff to the town where I go to school; I left a lot of my stuff there over the summer, but moving is always a pain. But I am starting to fuss about decorating the place as well; the previous tenant was a bit of a Hugh Hefner wannabe, and although his vintage soft-core porno ads are gone, he left behind some vaguely mod-looking furniture. (It is cheap furniture, and shipping it would have cost more than replacing it. I am tempted to slipcover it in the most obnoxious floral prints I can find, but that would annoy me too.)
I think I could spend a lot of money decorating, if I had it to spend, but it makes no sense to spend significant money on an apartment I'll only have for a school year. I am looking forward to bringing in a few things that may make the place a little more mine:
Yves Rocher Pivoine is incredibly pretty, one of the softest, cleanest floral scents I've ever smelled. I think I might be too curmudgeonly to wear such a sweet-and-innocent scent in EDT, but the soap, shower gel, etc. are charming. The hand soap is $10 CAD at regular price ($7.50 on the American site), but Yves Rocher has very frequent sales, and last week they were selling this for $4 on the Canadian website. Also, the bottle is hella girly, which will help to get rid of the aura of swingin' bachelor pad (and I can easily decant the soap and recycle the bottle if I later find myself entering an "ugh, no more girly pink crap" phase).
I'm not really big on cooking. I joke about being incompetent, but it's more that I just don't enjoy it. Coffee, on the other hand, I love; I love the whole process. Since I don't have the space or money for a good espresso machine, I use stovetop moka pots; the classic ones, made by Bialetti, are widely available (prices vary by size, but the 6-cup size -- bear in mind, by "cup" they mean espresso cup -- is currently $24.95 on Amazon).
I hope these mugs become available again, because I think they're adorable. I also collect teapots because I love the way they look, but I've decided I should stop; it's silly to have more than one teapot when you don't really like tea.
I don't really own any art and I don't like buying posters at university poster sales. I'm not really much of a photographer, but I enjoy playing with my Holga; it's terribly hipster-pretentious ("ooo, look at my 'cheap camera' that isn't actually remotely cheap, I'm so ironic"), but I do like the vignetting and the light leaks, and I occasionally get a shot I like enough to blow up and frame, at least temporarily. Aside from that, I expect I'll mostly be decorating the walls with chiyogami -- not exciting, maybe, but cheap and portable and more homey than bare walls (and hey, something has to take the place of the porno ads).
In other news, I need something to read on the plane back to school. I'm thinking I will re-read Wuthering Heights, since I am in a cynical mood and a friend's description of this book -- "a slow and steady descent into hell" -- sounds more appealing than usual right now. (Wuthering Heights is still marketed as a love story -- how many generations of readers has it disappointed? And yet it's fantastic, just not what people are led to expect.) I already own a copy of Wuthering Heights, but I'm always tempted by Norton Critical Editions; I made a crappy English major, but I still love reading litcrit.
YSL's impeccably tailored Le Smoking.
1000, pronounced in the French, "mille", famously derives its name from the number of trials that nose Jean Kérleo created before its final incarnation was deemed perfection, though such declarations are perhaps impossible in the face of the vagaries of personal opinion.
It is a floral chypre, spun into rich gold, nothing too much or too little: there's a hint of honey and powder on muffled florals, its animal urges tamed. Chypres can be downright bizarre, as oakmoss can take on qualities of bitter green or thick dust by turns, but 1000 is only tastefully offbeat, it speaks quietly and politely, accented by old-money diction. All perfumes depend on an interplay of shifting notes over time—molecules with differing evaporation rates—which the attentive nose may follow, like silent music—1000 might be akin to Mozart's Figaro. A full ten years of painstaking (re)work, the craftsmanship is evident in every exquisite, complicated facet, and though the notes are somewhat unusual, nothing jars or snags at your senses. The first generic impressions include overripe apples, vaguely indolic jasmine, and patchouli clawing its way from a mossy base, but patience will tease out 1000's meticulous, expansive complexities: the bergamot top of the classic chypre is smoothed into a gentle effervescence, punctuated by green, aromatic angelica and icy eucalyptus, while the oakmoss bottom of the classic chypre, rounded out by vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, and civet, lends an earthy, quasi-masculine foundation for the grand, mellifluous floral heart.
Here, the classic floral patterns of bright, soaring rose, violet powder, and indolic jasmine, ever so costly and rare, do make their presence known, and indeed 1000 is ultimately intended to be a floral, and yet it is without the diamond-encrusted dazzle of its elder by Jean Patou, JOY, displaying instead a sense of discretion that is truly the quintessence of good taste. The complex chypre base provides an air of sobriety, and it is osmanthus, a flower of Chinese origin that has a green, apricot-y aroma, accented by nutty, herbaceous coriander, that takes up central position within that vast but subtle network. 1000 is not a customary floral by any means, but one that is creamy-smooth, mossy-dense, and honey-golden, not dark but full of subtle shadows. It is, like Le Smoking, an alluring combination of intrigue, refinement, and smirking self-confidence.
Packing is an art, it requires a fair degree of self-knowledge and prescience, a combination not too frequently seen even in the homebound. You should be able to answer the following general questions:
As for beauty products, I just bring the essentials, in mini sizes if available, and a few multi-taskers. I think palettes are smart, but I am much too particular about shades to be satisfied with any of those that are available. Everything goes inside the clutch, in transit it functions perfectly as a makeup bag.
Labels: alex monroe, becca, bumble and bumble, chanel, cle de peau, dries van noten, fendi, frederic malle, globe trotter, kevyn aucoin, lutz and patmos, manolo blahnik, marvis, shiseido, stella mccartney
I'm new to fashion and beauty blogging, and because I'm obsessive and undisciplined and almost everything I know of cosmetics is the product of my own explorations, I know a lot about the things that interest me and very little about other topics.
Red lipstick is definitely one of my obsessions. I think I might one day end up being one of those women who wear red lipstick all the time, although I'm too shy for that now. My experience supports Dain's contention that we are particularists in the shades we buy, acquiring multiple variations on the same colour. In my case it's really a spectrum, coral through warm red; I'm not nearly as interested in the nude or the tastefully understated.
My preferences are partly a function of having unusual colouring. I'll probably end up writing more about this because it's one of the major reasons for my interest in cosmetics. I don't understand the theory (or theories) of undertones all that well, but sometimes I think that's because nobody quite has it worked out. I've read that pale women of European descent invariably have cool pink undertones to their skin (um, no); I've been told my own skin is everything from "very pink" to "olive-y". It doesn't really signify, since the upshot is always the same: I can't wear most "universal" shades, they are either boring or flat-out awful on me. Blushes look sickly or too dark, lipsticks turn mauve or fuchsia, and "true, neutral reds" are not. I fairly easily found a blush that suits me (MAC Tenderling, a sort of washed-out terra cotta) and stuck with it, but I find lipsticks more interesting and more variable, and red lipsticks especially so.
I suppose I could go into detail about all the different kinds of red lipsticks I've tried, but I think that would get boring, so instead I'll just list my favourite warm reds in three categories: bright, true (but still warm), and dark.
Bright red: MAC Lady Danger ($14) is fantastically late-'40s, an uncompromisingly bright, matte orange-red that lights up pale warm-toned skin, although it can be a little overpowering -- but then, that's true to the era. The swatches on the MAC website are useless, and unfortunately I no longer own a tube, but I shall keep looking for photos. My cursory Google search turned up a good Flickr photo of a woman wearing it; her colouring is similar to mine.
Similar shades: MAC So Chaud (practically the same colour as Lady Danger, so I have no idea why they sell both), Julie Hewett Belle Noir (which is what I currently own). The brightest orange-red I've ever seen is NARS Heat Wave, but I think you need a tan and a serious attitude to pull that one off; on me it's hideous.
True-but-warm red: Ah, Guerlain. You've produced such beautiful, classic perfumes; whatever possessed you to name a line of lipsticks "KissKiss" and put them in this tastelessly bling-y packaging? (It doesn't look so bad in this photo, but bear in mind, it's large, and this is what it looks like with the cap on. Some people like it, but to me it's very LOOK AT MY EXPENSIVE MAKEUP.) Never mind. Sexy Tango ($29) is a beautiful, flattering red, not nearly as dark as it looks in the tube but not overpoweringly bright, with just enough orange, brown and rose to make it wearable for someone with warm undertones. The texture is balm-like, not dry, and the staying power is surprisingly good. I ordered mine from StrawberryNet, since Canadian retail prices are absurd.
If I had to pick one red to live with, it would be either this or MAC Chili, another matte lipstick in a beautiful bright brick red. Again, MAC's own swatches are crap, so here's a very unglamorous photo of my own tube.
Similar shades: MAC Lady Bug, NARS Manhunt and Flamenco. All three of those shades are slightly cooler than Sexy Tango; I find them slightly too cool (yes!), but most women probably won't.
Dark red: I think Julie Hewett's Noir lipsticks ($22.50) are excellent, as highly pigmented as MAC's Mattes but smoother and less drying, and the tubes are gold-tone packaging done right, not too large or heavily ornamented. Coco Noir is as close to dark, gothic red as I care to go (which is to say, not very). The website sells it as a red for women who think they can't wear red, which I don't understand, because although it's fairly neutral, it's a strong colour, even on women with darker skintones than mine (see The Non-Blonde's review). If you think you can't wear red you should probably pick a more toned-down shade, something with a lot of rose or brown in it, and apply it lightly until you get used to the strength of the colour. Dain has recommended Bésame Red Velvet, which I can't try because I refuse to pay $18-$25 in shipping charges for one tiny lipstick(!?!?!), but I'd suggest experimenting with MAC or Lipstick Queen lipsticks; each line has a great number of variations on red, including several softer, more toned-down shades.
Incidentally, Julie Hewett's lipsticks are available in Canada through Essential Day Spa, and the prices are not stupidly marked up.
Similar shades: Sue Devitt's Great Australian Bight is very similar in tone to Coco Noir, but browner and not as heavily pigmented. NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil in Forbidden Red is described as "brick red," but it's more of a ruby on me, slightly more orange than Coco Noir and not as deep.
Walk softly and carry a big bag. Or in this case, Anya Hindmarch's Shirley ($995), which is not only an objet d'art (albeit discreetly so) but actually designed for travel—it's no coincidence that the front pocket is just right for a passport. This is where you carry the essentials, which I urge you to strip to a minimum:
Summer and travel go hand in hand (with a little ice cream =P), but the last thing you want is for the stress of transit to take over the pleasures of your vacation. It's best to keep things simple, organized but simple, and not give into the urge to trail your entire closet behind you.
After all we do not always wear what we buy. Perhaps it appealed to us in the store, we thought we might get use from it, or we had a bad day and needed the retail therapy, whatever the reasons for our purchases, there are inevitably pieces that languish in our closet while others still become threadbare and worn. We are not usually aware of this difference, not consciously anyway, and normally it does not signify much to anyone (except your wallet), but when you are staring at a suitcase full of clothes, feeling like you've packed too much and yet have nothing to wear, it is exactly because you have not attended to this distinction, subtle but important, between admiring clothes and how to wear them. A sign of good packing is when clothes become the very last concern on your mind.
You may be surprised at how few clothes you need. Unless you are planning on an extended stay, one roomy carry-on will suffice for most trips (my eye is on this graphic T. Anthony Concorde Duffle ($395)). There's no possibility of the airline losing it, and at the end of a long flight you can just leave—have you ever been in an airport worth revisiting?
You'll need to pack more specifically in terms of where you are going and what you will be doing, but I always stick to the same formula for the transit itself:
Next time, what's inside.
I'm not sure whether I ought to continue doing these, they involve rather a lot of effort that ought to be channeled elsewhere, but they are fun to look at. For the moment, I'll put one up to fill the label. The theme this time around is dark romance, an evil grin with a fantastical lilt.
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried...
...But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty...
...Cheated of feature by dissembling nature.
–Richard, before he is king, opening Richard III
John Constable, Seascape Study with Rain Cloud (1827)
It is perhaps easy to get carried away by poetic impressions when one has assumed the task of reviewing perfumes, but this is so unusual off the bat—eschewing the feminine conventions of floral and sweet so entirely—that Richard rises unbidden in my mind, that stalking and scheming charisma of evil (though the real Richard was very likely the target of false propaganda by the Tudors) even amidst a succession of such bloodthirsty, savage nobles. It is not possible, be you audience or ancillary character, to question Richard's character, and yet the compulsion to give way to him is almost exquisite. (Watch Ian McKellen's lush performance of this speech.)
Certainly Onda isn't pretty according to any conventional definition, but what a complicated, dangerous beauty. The opening is an unsettling interplay between the aromas of rough, metallic earth and the irradiation of oil spilled on a wet road, patchouli subtly spiced by ginger and mace. The harshness dissipates into a softer, but no less daring, accord of black leather and nutty, animalic vetiver (not the opulence of Serge Lutens Vétiver Oriental but a drier darkness like pumpernickel bread) and oakmoss aplenty, with a hint of silky myrrh. Leather chypres tend to linger on the fringes of good taste, an estrangement from conventional forms of beauty, more strangely arresting than pretty: between the bergamot top and oakmoss bottom that structure almost all chypres, the leathers depend on isobutyl quinolein and smoky resins like galbanum to bridge that gap, such as the ultimate avatar of the genre, Robert Piguet Bandit, an essay on aggressions through crackling green-floral smoke. But Bandit's not enough leather for me—there's never enough leather for me—Onda is essentially what I hoped Bandit would be. It's not as prim as the aldehydic Chanel Cuir de Russie, and without the dulcet sweet overtones of Guerlain Vol de Nuit and Caron Tabac Blond, and not so filthy as Montale Oud Cuir d'Arabie. Onda, in spite of its ungainly, unpleasant opening, is that long desired wicked leather umbrage I could never find—only the expense is absurd ($145 for 7.5 mL, $235 for 15 mL, only in parfum).
Evidently, this is the closest you can come to the long discontinued Guerlain Djedi, a perfume so rare it can go for a thousand on ebay.
Grain de Musc
A Minx By Any Other Name
The first color story barely is one at all. It is a look often seen, because models are plenty beautiful (it being the job description) and require little accentuation, and mere mortals are lazy. Natural makeup is a look that should belong to every woman's arsenal, it is a philosophy that hews to making women look better than they do without makeup, and yet without giving the impression that they're wearing makeup.
What the look actually translates into is precise, targeted makeup that zones in on problem areas but refrains from too much coloration.
While foundation is not recommended for the au naturel look, tinted moisturizer may suit you if unevenness is a concern. If you are prone to shine, powder may also be necessary, and if it has a little coverage, so much the better. A bit of fleshy shimmer (ivory on the pale, champagne on the light, fawn on the medium, bronze on the deep, chocolate on the very dark) on the lid is a subtle effect that opens up the eyes.
A natural look should never take too long, between three to five minutes (depending on how meticulous you are). The trick to natural makeup is mainly in being exact, to target specific areas of the face rather than flashy pigments.
* Or one of the many copycats.
One Friday night, I was drinking wine in my friend A.'s room. She was rather melancholy because she had fallen in love with an itinerant Brazilian the weekend before. R. was making out with his then boyfriend. I felt a bit awkward, not really knowing anyone, so I reached for one of Angela's Elle. A bunch of my guy friends came by, and not knowing what to do with all these drunk women and the two gay men making out in the corner, they arrayed themselves at my feet. "Funny," I thought, "I'm like a queen sitting on a throne. Or it's storytime, at any rate." B. noticed the Elle. "What are you reading? Stop reading that."
I felt rather ashamed, so I put it down. Why? I don't know. I can't imagine anyone who could possibly be more high-maintenance, as far as such things aesthetic, personal style, and hygiene go. I just bought a black tee for the first time in my life two weeks ago. I wear heels and updos and red lipstick and parfum—if I didn't read fashion magazines, who would?
And yet, somehow, he meant it as a compliment. It meant that even despite everything superficial I'm devoted to, I'm "cooler than that", somehow a girl who is more chill and low-maintenance rather than a screeching, overdyed harpy who talks endlessly about lip gloss. I had a similar experience when I received my monthly Vogue, and someone saw it and said, "I wouldn't have expected you to read that." At which point my girl friend chimed, "You don't know Dain very well."
Of course, B. was wrong. Fashion and makeup are just as important to me as, say, beer or Red Sox or the progression of male ego in the argument of the king in All's Well that Ends Well or the color of the sky in the evening or Jimi Hendrix. But it taught me something. Men—indeed, women, too, regarding men—don't like to see us putting effort into our looks. They don't like us to look like we haven't put any effort into our looks, either. They don't like to know that there's a backstage. They're hypocrites, of course, but... are we women so deep? Some like their men metro, but I don't, and I don't think most women do, either. Effortlessness is attractive. It approximates confidence, though confidence is only marginally involved.
Yes, it's a game. But what difference does it make?
Aromatics Elixir has what I would call, somewhat anachronistically, the Angel effect. It is a blinding epiphany on rare individuals, but many are apt to react in horror. Earth goddess patchouli in full force, quite gritty and brooding unless you've got a taste for it, like muddy, fetid leaf drift. It's only when you apply very sparingly that its other qualities shine: a dense herbal undergrowth of geranium, chamomile, and clary sage, a brightening via rose, the green light of oakmoss, black-leather vetiver, and smoky resinous sandalwood. It only goes to show how varied an olfactory family can be: Chanel Cristalle captures an intense, arid luminosity, while the elegant YSL Y is a languid green glow, but Aromatics Elixir is an essay on dirt. It's not a meaty, animalic darkness, but quite mineral, with a little vegetable accent. The result is quite stark, almost a hippie 70s cliché, which is perhaps not exactly in tune with Clinique's clinical pretensions, but it remains one of the more unusual in the battalion of commercial offerings, neither floral nor sweet, but wild, dark, and earthy.
Personally, I find Aromatics Elixir much too severe, and prefer the softer, more floral body lotion, Otherwise, it's best reserved for those whose chemistry swallows up patchouli.
Shown at left: Francisco Goya, "The Sleep of Reason Begets Monsters" (1799).
I've been mulling over clothing care for a little while now; it's not something one sees much of in fashion magazines, but it's necessary to know about it, unless you have the money to get everything dry cleaned and are busy or profligate enough to do so. I'm still figuring it out myself, since I seem to keep buying clothes too delicate to be thrown in the machine.
I use liquid detergent for machine washing; it's more expensive, but there's no risk of it failing to dissolve and winding up in a lump in one of your socks. (I also use regular detergent for light clothes and "for darks" detergent for dark clothes, which may just indicate that I'm a fool for marketing.) I'd suggest a brand, except that I haven't noticed major differences between the big brands and tend to just buy whatever's on sale at Loblaws. I almost invariably wash clothes on the cold cycle and use less detergent per wash than it says on the package directions -- partly for economy and partly out of plain old liberal guilt.
Being the clumsy type, I spill things on myself with some regularity. Liquid detergent can double as a stain treatment, but I've yet to find an all-purpose stain remover better than Cadie's Laundry Stick (about $3). This can be a bit of a pain to find sometimes; I thought it had been discontinued until I saw a display of laundry sticks in a supermarket in Fredericton, New Brunswick (I promptly bought about five). You're supposed to test stain removers on a "discreet" part of your garment before you use them. I am far too lazy to do this and have never suffered for it, but do it if you're concerned.
I hand-wash almost all my tops, save for loungewear and the odd T-shirt. It's a good way to cut back on both machine-washing (rough) and dry-cleaning (expensive). Some items marked "dry clean only" really are dry clean only (suits, coats, anything lined, really), but others, particularly knits and blouses, do fine when hand-washed in cool water. In my experience, "dry clean only" often means something like "don't put this in the washing machine, seriously, I mean it."
My favourite soap for hand-washing is Soak; it's quite gentle, reasonably priced, comes in pleasant scents that don't linger after your clothes have dried (I especially like Aquae and Sola; there's also an unscented version), and doesn't have to be rinsed out. Again, I find that I can use less of it per wash than the directions indicate. A large bottle ($16) lasts me about a year. It's available in knitting shops, but it can also be ordered online. There's a list of retailers on the Soak website. (I don't recommend ordering from Soak directly; they take forever to ship.)
I use cheap drying racks from Zellers (basically a Canadian Wal-Mart/Target), but they tend to warp. If I weren't constantly moving for school, I might invest in one of these collapsible drying racks from Stenic ($129.99). For very delicate items, a mesh sweater dryer is also nice.
A couple of the products are absolutely excellent (none of the Q10 products reviewed above have any parabens!), others need a few kinks ironed out, but overall I am pleased with the quality of these products. Though they are more expensive than offerings from the drugstore, they are better, too, and yet not so expensive that they are ludicrous. There are no promises of miracles, just sound, well made products that work.
Dorothy is a regular contributor on this blog. Again, if you too would like to be featured as she has, please drop me a line with the same information.
FIRST NAME Dorothy
HAIR COLOR medium reddish brown
SKIN TYPE combination; shiny/oily T-zone, dry elsewhere
SKIN TONE fair with freckles and warm undertones
EYE COLOR green
MAKEUP STYLE usually pretty subtle, although I like strong lips
SPECIFIC CONCERNS I have hereditary dark circles/bags under my eyes, which means I wear concealer pretty much all the time, and I worry about wearing much eye makeup lest I emphasize the circles. I describe my skin as "cranky"; it's generally pretty good, but if I skip sunscreen or moisturizer I see the results immediately, and it somehow manages to be both dry and congested (and nothing really seems to help with the clogs). I find that with this colouring and freckles it's easy to look overdone or messy. "Universal" colours seldom work on me; they are usually too cool.
TOP THREE FAVORITE PRODUCTS lipstick; MAC blush in Tenderling; powder.
As always, we begin with the skin. Since Dorothy's skin is imbalanced and prone to congestion, she should invest in a good exfoliant first and foremost, such as the lactic acid and witch hazel combination found in Biologique Recherche P50 Lotion ($45). It is rather harsh and stinky, so I recommend using only a drop or two on a damp cotton, rinsing it off after a few minutes, and only at night. Yet another possibility is MD Skincare's Alpha Beta Face Peel ($125), gentler than the name "peel" implies, but rather pricey. Detoxifying the skin is a delicate process that demands patience, and one must be careful not to overload the skin whilst it purges, so I'd keep the rest of the skincare as gentle as possible with a no-frills cleanser and moisturizer. During a rigorous exfoliation period, especially if you are pale as Dorothy, a good sun block like Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Lotion SPF 33 PA++ ($28) is crucial, but otherwise simplicity should hold sway.
When it comes to makeup, a pale redhead must strike a careful balance. It is easy to overwhelm such colorful features, and yet without any makeup one runs the danger of looking drawn. A pigmented concealer applied selectively and topped off with some translucent powder, as well as groomed brows provides a simple foundation. For a natural, effortless look, the peach-rose amber of NARS South Beach ($37) provides an allover warmth to soften the severity of pale skin. A dab of coralline pigment on the lips and a swipe of plum mascara (softer than black, more green-friendly than brown) adds the final polish.
Since Dorothy is hesitant to use too much eye makeup, I've rounded up a few options that might flatter rather than overwhelm her coloring. A warm white with gold sparkles, like Urban Decay Polyester Bride ($16), poses no danger, because it adds nothing but light. Alternatively, a soft but rich graphite shimmer adds just a hint of definition when tempered by brown and lavender, such as Bobbi Brown Black Mauve Shimmer Ink ($21). For just a little adventure, there's always NARS Rebecca Duo ($32): a shimmering amber rose and a soft veil of spring green that looks smashing on pale redheads, one is an easy flatterer of green eyes and the other provides a delicate contrast to the rich tones of the hair. Initially, Dorothy can use just one shade at a time to keep the look clean, but they will also layer excellently with each other when she feels more comfortable with eye makeup. For a real graphic statement, I think a shot of sapphire liner is particularly exquisite on redheads.
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TOP THREE FAVORITE PRODUCTS
We will also need a close faceshot, preferably one without makeup. If that makes you uneasy, send us a favorite look instead, but one that is minimal on the makeup. I will probably be in contact with you, to ask you questions about your preferences and habits—as a rule I attempt to hit a sensitive balance between what already works and what might be improved.
A legal note: all of this information will be published (as coloring is quite the point). You are welcome to send us an alias, and your email will remain entirely private.
Long before the flame-colored sole of the "Loub" was the obligatory status symbol for every starlet and wannabe starlet, there was Roger Vivier, who in 1954 collaborated with the ultimate master of fantasy, Christian Dior, in creating the stiletto heel. Nowadays, the label is under the helm of Bruno Frisoni, whose idiom is somewhat more avant garde, but he is no less devoted to the upper echelon of artisanal luxury: bags made of posh fur or Indian tribal beads, ultraviolet crocodile, sandals that froth with handmade lace or silk rosettes, heels that resemble vines with thorns or meticulously covered in feathers. It's stuff so fantastical that one wonders if they are intended for wear at all. Below is an example of Frisoni's work for the house, based on some vintage Dior prints:
Somewhat to my delight, Frisoni has been interviewed in the March Allure, and he is a minimalist! And I quote:
Indispensable Shoe: Glamour Pumps Look for "pumps with a nice décolleté" (meaning toe cleavage) and a ten-centimeter (approximately four-inch) stiletto heel. "Those are killer shoes for allure and sexiness," Frisoni says.
Indispensable Shoe: Ballerina Flats They're "cool and young" and can be worn for everyday with short skirts or trousers. These, with the pumps, "are the two extremes that always work."
Optional Shoe: Boots Or booties with a substantial heel. These are "for walking in a skirt or trousers."
Optional Shoe: "Very sexy sandals" In other words, sandals with a very high heel. Frisoni's prescription for wearing them: parties, dinners, and the theater.
Much thanks to beautiful, gracious Elena for providing me with a sample. If you love chypres, you should try this, and if you're new to them, you should try this.
Samuel Palmer, Garden in Shoeham (1820s-1830s).
Y is oakmoss, in full and only slightly ornamented, it rides on your skin like a delicate emerald necklace. Oakmoss is like that, verdant as a forest, as tranquil and dusky, but quietly magnificent, and it does not make apologies for itself. There are more famous YSL perfumes—Paris, Opium, Rive Gauche, In Love Again—but this was the first, and it is as strange, reticent, gentle, elegant, and intelligent as Saint Laurent himself (the name is of course a play on his name, as well as the indefinite French pronoun). Y is a far cry from the usual fruity-floral fare, and though its verdant deeps are brightened by peachy aldehydes and "the twilight-colored smell of honeysuckle", its chypre character is highlighted, rather than obscured, with galbanum, hyacinth, narcissus, rose, vetiver, and patchouli, and the drydown is quite silky. Y strikes a gracious balance: its presence is quite distinctive, very much the chypre, but it remains very discrete and smooth, not even a hint of harshness, enough for the proverbial trapped-in-an-elevator-in-high-summer scenario. Its dignity seems to effect a outward froideur, but there's a Belle du Jour sense of inner life that makes it a far more sensuous fragrance than, say, No. 19, another green chypre.
The subdued good taste of the French, to put it plainly. Y is a highly underappreciated gem, even by its own company, and at least in the United States, is easiest to find online. For such a chic, beautiful, interesting, yet easy to wear fragrance, the prices are very palatable (I've seen it for $19.99). Though this is delicate enough for summer wear, it's got quite enough gravitas to layer beneath citruses and light florals, say, if you've got an orange blossom soliflore that is just too clean and fleeting, Y provides a gorgeous anchor.
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All things considered, my eye is better trained than my nose.
NARS is my favorite line, so I am very loyal and quick to sense any and all subtleties within the brand. The lipsticks and foundations could do with reformulation, and I'd love a vivid cool pink multiple (they're all so warm), but the powder products simply reign supreme. I was browsing the fall 2008 collection, and was disappointed by how bland and uninspired it was: revisitations and too many rich browns. I can hardly blame François Nars for this outcome, for he is lounging about on his private island and allowing celebrated makeup designer Ayako to take over the reins of creative development. But may I be frank? NARS has lost its luster. Even the most basic shades have unique brilliance, which makes them stand out from the crowd—to whit, All About Eve (I also kind of love how so many classic NARS are named after great films).
As you can see, both are beiges, shimmery, so therefore, more specifically, champagnes. It is easy to make the assumption that they are boring; I assure you, they are not. The left is milky, somewhat peachier with a very subtle satin finish. As for the right... The best fleshtone highlight in all of existence. PERIOD. There are positively dozens of champagnes on the market, but not a single one has the multidimensional shimmer of All About Eve. Not only are the shimmers themselves of different size, which imparts a diffused, candlelit glow without resorting to overfrostiness, they are also several different colors, mostly beige, silvery, pink, lilac, gold, and even green. The finest shimmer, as even as fine satin, is a pearly beige, and it provides the base. A little more sparse are ever-so-slightly larger flecks of the more exotic colors mentioned above. None of this is obvious, it is purely my own observation, but this is what makes such a soft color so remarkable. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of optics may remember that white light, in fact, is composed of many colors. That is exactly what All About Eve imitates: light itself.
Sole caveat: I do not know of anything comparable for deeper skintones. Maybe the famous Shu.
Much ink has been spilled on this topic, but it strikes me as one of those things that are easy to denounce, but harder to address. I have nothing new to add to the debate, just my humble opinions.
Now, modern fashion has ever favored the thin, and since definitions of modernity vary widely, I mean post-1920s, the beginning of consumer culture as we know it and America's ascendance to the international stage. Fashion favors the thin, because they look better in clothes, and it is better that representations are out of reach of the general public, because aspiration is 90% consumer desire. This is just smart business, and business is not particularly concerned with the health and mental well-being of others if it reaps no profit. I do not think this is so much evil as it is objective. It is far more lucrative to exploit human weaknesses, and that is an objective truth. Activists can rant, but... it is ultimately peripheral. Who really wants to look at fat people anyway? People are drawn to beauty, and the standard of beauty these days is without a doubt, thin. Too thin.
I take it as an aesthetic problem, which sounds pretentious but it is not. Art is important, whether it is fashion or painting or music videos. The images we see affect us, for better or worse. Americans are careless about this, because it owes much to Puritan culture, and Puritanism is equally concerned with money (because industry is pleasing to God as well as an affront to the monarchism) and art is a temptation sent from the devil. Most Americans don't believe in these things, but they live in a country for which the parameters were established by people who did, or in the case of the Southerners, were educated in an atmosphere strongly influenced by Puritan intellectuals (Newton, Milton, and so forth), so we live and thrive without really comprehending the implications.
Women, I think, are more vulnerable because they have traditionally been treated as objects, and consumer culture is driven by objectives. This is the problem with art, as ever a male-dominated discipline: women are objective, not subjective. There lacks a language for female subjectivity that isn't obliquely or obviously pejorative: bitch, slut, cunt, whore, feminist, lesbo, dyke, ditz (there are many). Objectifying those who would insist on their own subjectivity. Because so many positive labels are for women are for those who acquiesce to objectivity, such as "princess" (she who must be rescued), "lady" (the word originally means, "she who is charge of the household", literally, "bread-kneader"), or "star" (if celebrities are not objectified, I don't know who is), rather than risk being labeled as a "bad one", it is little wonder that women submit to the pressure. Many of us are driven by a need to please, perhaps it is cultural, perhaps it is biological, but whatever it is, most of us would rather be popular than be identified as aggressive. While I admit this is perhaps too etymological an analysis, it is nevertheless very significant: a false, weighted choice. It certainly makes things easier for men, and for women, too. On the whole. There are many different kinds of men, and there are many different kinds of women, and fashion appeals only to a small number of (mostly young) women, but even if you are not directly affected by a cultural influence, it is still a contaminated atmosphere that you must breathe in.
But it is far easier to accept traditional roles than to think one's role in society for oneself—this is traditionally what men have been allowed to do—much less challenge them, so women... tweeze their eyebrows, wear torturous heels, get facials, buy obscenely expensive bags, fritter about lipstick shades, starve themselves, shake their asses on national television, blah blah blah...
I can't explain it better than John Lennon:
If you think we've really progressed so much, here is a contemporary example of evidence to the contrary:
If we are really concerned with how thin celebrities are getting, and the impact it will have on our daughters, then we must teach them that dignity is the greatest attribute they possess. It is its own fulfillment, but it affects how others see us, too. A women with self-possession is so rare, especially in the public eye, but when she has it, is she not the more compelling for it?
I never got to finish my series on chypres! The following are all representations from this venerable but now fading olfactory family, in part because of shifting tastes and in part because of the restrictions on oakmoss. This is very unfortunate, because they constitute some of the very best perfumes, an odd and curmudgeonly group that can range from the most ethereal to the most sinister, chained together by a common dusky thread of oakmoss along the bottom.
Hesperides are fantastic team players, with a natural tartness that plays flawlessly to both genders. Aldehydes may sparkle and spices may add fire, but citruses are a distillation of pure sunshine, and on their own, within the antique tradition of kölnish wasser, they are summer's classic paradigm: sturdy enough not to wilt in the heat, and yet so fresh, crisp, and invigorating there is no danger that they might overwhelm the senses. The downside is, of course, that they have no longevity whatsoever—the molecules are simply too volatile. Most better houses do offer giant bottles, so that one may splash at will. This may be provisional reasoning, but if hesperides were stronger, they might not cut through a gelled, oppressive atmosphere quite so well.
The other negative to such extreme transparency is the lack of substance; the notes can be too fleeting to allow for much structural interplay. This is certainly not the case with Cristalle. It may be deceptively simple at first—a crisp, luminous citrus formed through bergamot and lemon—but closer examination reveals complexities in its character. Aldehydes power its diffusion, giving it a certain shimmer and movement, like a billow of chiffon. There's a brittle green twist from oakmoss, the graceful flirtation of a few stray jasmine petals, and just a hint of warmth from cooled melon slices and a rigid raspberry note. All of these accents are very subtle, but balanced so well that the hesperidic core never feels soured or simplified. I also find that these elements make the scent last longer; the initial lemony flash dissipates very quickly, but there is still more to enjoy for even an hour afterward.
Natalie Babbitt once wrote a book called The Search For Delicious, a modern fairytale about an entire kingdom that falls apart over the dissension over what is the most delicious of things, consequently the land is ruined of all food and drink. When their thirst is quenched by a cool stream (thanks to the hero's intervention), they all decide that ice cold water on a parched throat is the most delicious thing of all. That, in short, is Cristalle, something cool and refreshing in a desert seemingly without salvation.
Now Smell This
Bois de Jasmin
email: teasepickles at gmail dot com (if you get the reference, congratulations; we are both huge nerds)
age & location: 26, the Maritimes
affiliations: Born and raised in Toronto, Upper Canadian Scots-Irish/WASP by heritage, secular, politically left-leaning
education: Pieces of an undergraduate degree from the University of King's College and the University of Toronto; currently in law school
skin type: pretty much your classic "combination", increasingly leaning towards dry
coloring: reddish brown hair, green eyes, pale skin with freckles; I wear brown all the time.
books: Forster, Austen, Orwell, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro
music: A lot of classical; The Smiths and their various imitators; deeply earnest Canadian folk music; much of the Great American Songbook; opera, which I often find more fun to listen to than to watch
films & tv: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Manhattan, Jesus of Montreal, Swing Time, The Wizard of Oz, From Here To Eternity, All About Eve, The Graduate, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Vertigo; most of my favourite TV series (Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Trailer Park Boys) seem to have ended, although I still love The Office and 30 Rock
brands: very much undecided
What are three things you'd like to do before you die? Graduate from effing law school. I actually cannot see beyond that. It's kind of a problem.
How did you get into beauty and fashion? By accident, really. I had a fascination with costume history when I was a child, my mother sews and knits a lot, and I was a freckle-faced, wavy-haired, flat-chested teenage girl at a time when the fashionable teenage girl was none of those things, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work with what I had. I used to lurk on alt.fashion looking for tips.
Which ten products would you bring a desert island? A desert island already equipped with the necessities of life? (I'm pedantic, I know.)
1) Sunscreen; I haven't settled on a brand yet, but I burn so easily that it's a necessity
2) Anastasia Brow Pencil in Ash Blonde; there are probably cheaper pencils I could use, but this is the one I have, and the little brush is useful
3) MAC Select Cover-Up (hereditary dark circles)
4) MAC Tenderling blush
5) pressed powder (again, don't know what kind yet)
6) Lancôme Definicils, one of the rare mascaras that don't smudge on me
7) Guerlain lipstick in Sexy Tango, a really lovely, complex warm red with a balm-like texture
8) cleanser (haven't settled on one yet, currently using DHC Deep Cleansing Oil)
9) Kiehl's Creme with Silk Groom, a tiny amount of which takes my hair from "cowlicky mess" to "well, maybe she forgot to brush her hair"
10) A decent flat-iron; mine is from Hot Styler. (I have decided my desert island also has electricity.)
What were you in another life? Probably a very discontented serf.
How do you take your coffee? As close to espresso-strength as I can get, with 18% cream.
What is your biggest pet peeve? Really fatuous writing. Also, Dov Charney and his brand of pseudo-liberal sexist hipster sleaze. Yuck.
What do you admire the most? Kindness and a sharp tongue, ideally in the same person.
You are a Helper Who Finds Missing Children Over The Internet! (Submissive Introverted Concrete Feeler)
You are a HELPER WHO FINDS MISSING CHILDREN OVER THE INTERNET (SICF). You are very tentative in the world and introverted with people— which means you are the shy and silent type (hence the Internet.) But behind your reserved exterior lies a dedicated person with a passion for the concrete truth who wants to, in his heart of hearts, help find missing children. God bless you.
If you replace "missing children" with "new ways to procrastinate," it's dead-on.
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