smell this: Lalique Encre Noir

On January 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Lalique’s Encre Noir is aptly named. It does indeed smell like black ink, specifically like the black ink I have from the calligraphy shop in Chinatown (different inks can have quite different odors, depending on their origins and ingredients). Put any ideas of unpleasantly chemical toner cartridges out of your mind, proper black ink smells incredible. There is something dark and earthy, like rich, freshly unearthed soil, as well as a slight saltiness combined with a metallic tang that I find reminiscent of both blood and the more enticing of of the various darkroom chemicals. A certain mustiness might creep in, yet it is not unappealing. Rather like the smell of only just moldy bread, the richness of yeast with the touch of mold adding a bit of depth and interest.

Ink smells like… ink, OK?

So to this concept of dark, earthy black ink is added an equally dark and earthy vetiver. This is neither the bright, sparkling vetiver of Guerlain Vetiver nor the rich creamy vetiver of L’Occitane Eau de Vetyver, and it is worlds away from the sweet sophistication of Vetiver Tonka. This is the darkest of my vetivers, and it has the kind of powerful, distinct personality you would remember. It is closer to the raw scent of vetiver oil, which is, undiluted, basically unpleasant. Imagine the root of a bitter grass any human would know instinctively not to eat, and imagine it is still covered in loamy earth, and imagine there are cuts in the root emitting a bizarrely fresh scent, almost minty (in countries where vetiver is harvested people will scrub the roots clean and put sections in a pitcher of water to add a bit of zest, as one might do with mint or lemon). Then you add a bit of smoke, a bit of bourbon, a bit of cedar, a teeny bit of musk (this comes forward later in the day), and goodness knows what else.

This is unapologetically dark. An obvious masculine, which means, of course, that it is fabulous on a woman who loves it*. So obvious a masculine, though, that I think a lot of men wouldn’t touch it, either. It’s not for the faint of heart, and watch out if you do touch it. Vetiver is a common base because of it’s excellent lasting power on the skin, and the smallest drop of Encre Noir lingers for hours on skin and for days or weeks on the inanimate (coats, scarves, sweaters, watch bands, pajamas, etc). For some people the booze is too prominent, for some the smoke, for some it is just too much vetiver (depends on your nose and your taste). That said, for me, this smells goood. This smells alluring. Dare I say it, sexy. It’s dark, rich, intriguing, unforgettable. I apply with a light hand and only when I’m in the right mood (usually when it’s cold out, it can be too much for me in the warm weather). Sometimes I’ll just spray it on a coat or a scarf at a distance to get a gentle cloud of it that isn’t too much a part of me. Great bottle (though the pump sprays copiously, which I find not ideal). Not difficult to find it at a great price, either.

*There is an Encre Noir pour Elle but I haven’t had a chance to smell it yet. Curious, though.

the winter cloak

On January 27, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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I think this speaks for itself.

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 In the midst of a snowstorm, no less. Cloaks, people! Wear cloaks!

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So glam, and seemingly the only outerwear own that has a hood. How can this be? [That can’t be right.] And how is eyeliner so dramatic?  Eight seconds of metallic plum eyeliner later I look suddenly intense and vixen-like and a little overdressed.

Wool fur trimmed cloak (eBay), Pratt and Hart leather mittens, Old Navy sweater, Express jeans (thrifted), Sorel boots, vintage Timex watch, Pearl Paradise necklace, Roxanne Mulberry bag (thrifted). On the lips, MAC RiRiWoo layered (darkened) with Japonesque Color lipstick in shade 7 (liking the bold lip generally). This is the NARS Exhibit A blush again. So good.IMG_0632x

 

on the menu: deluxe ramen

On January 26, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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 Ramen is so ripe for improvement, the brands you can find at Asian markets especially so. I add all manner of enhancements and it seems I cannot go wrong. The most flexible dishes are often the most reliable, too, I think.

Prime candidates include: egg, cabbage (a lot), scallions, ginger (a lot), garlic, lemongrass, sesame seeds, sesame oil (a lot), bouillon, miso paste, mirin, hot pepper (whole or flakes), soy sauce (a little, maybe), carrots, celery (a lot), any other vegetables that seem amenable…

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monochrome: stone

On January 24, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_0696I like all sorts of taupe shades, and especially wearing them together. Throw some olive and chocolate in the mix and I have all of my favorite colors in one place.

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These boots are still going strong in their second (or third? Why can’t I tell time?) year. 

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The wind is not our friend.

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Really liking these new corduroys, which have a nice skinny fit and large back pockets. I like large back pockets. They seem to make my bum look bigger and more generous, somehow, which I like. Friendlier? More approachable? I don’t know. Tiny, miserly (or even just small) back pockets look so unflattering to me (adolescent, too), and they are useless in the bargain.

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Free People corduroys, Sorel Tofino boots, Jean Pierre cable sweater (via Marshall’s), Thinsulate gloves, Old Navy vest, Muk Luks hat, heart pendant from Etsy. The wooden earrings were a gift, long ago. Favorites. On the lips: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Esprit (mostly blotted off to give the tiniest hint of color). On the cheeks: Chanel cream blush in Fantastic, a beautiful deep berry color that looks entirely natural.

I am wearing so much more makeup than it looks like I am wearing here. [This Lisa Eldridge tutorial has the best advice regarding no makeup makeup I’ve seen thus far.] I see charm in both ends of the spectrum (the conspicuous as well as the inconspicuous makeup), as well as in the very reasonable act of actually wearing no makeup, which is closer to my usual approach.  Maybe a little something on my cheeks. Maybe mascara. Maybe. If I was in the right kind of mood that morning. The world of the blog is only fractionally indicative of life (and it is—for now—the world of photos, a world with slightly different laws and prescriptions). That said, a little bit can go a long way. I’m curious to experiment with wearing more both for the sake of testing products and to see…what it’s like. Just what is it like to be transparently made up on a semi-regular basis? What would it be like for me (other than time-consuming)? What can it do?

Anyhow, this kind of dark berry color is another winter blush I was craving, and I wanted this cream blush particularly, a relatively new and rightly much-lauded formula. Chanel’s beauty products are so, so nice. Not cheap, but not disappointing, either.

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Exhibit A

On January 22, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Behold NARS Exhibit A, a vivid red blush with burnt sienna tones. The first time I saw this in person was a few years ago now and it was a total coup de foudre. Instant affinity. It’s scary in the pan but is to be applied in sheer layers with a light hand, to which task the NARS yachiyo brush (still loving it) is well suited. NARS is known for their uniformly beautiful blushes*. Excellent pigmentation, fine, high quality powders. I cannot imagine that I will ever use it all, so fractional is the amount needed. This is the blush that, for me, follows (more or less) the prescription to wear a color that matches the color you naturally blush. Goes wonderfully with red lipsticks, too.

*Their eyeshadows (and their eye primer) and certain of their lipsticks are supposed to be good, too, though I confess they do not tempt me, velvet matte lip pencils aside.

I am wearing this blush in the previous post and think it does look fairly realistic, especially as I am outside in the snow.

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It does look like I’m wearing blush (though maybe it wouldn’t if I weren’t wearing lipstick…) but I don’t mind that effect (the conspicuously made-up effect) in moderate doses, or even in immodest doses, if the context is right. The existence and use of makeup is no secret.

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