the verdigris mani

On April 24, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

verdigris, n. a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate.

I’ve been wanting to collaborate with indie Cambridge nail salon Wet Paint Nail Spa for a while. Michelle, the owner, is a seriously talented nail technician, with the curiosity and creativity displayed by the best artists in every medium. I’ll definitely be featuring more of her work in the future. If you are in the Boston area I cannot recommend this salon highly enough, the other technicians are wonderful as well.

verdigris manicure theseventhsphinx

I asked her to create a look inspired by my snakeskin clutch and makeup bag and she designed this incredible verdigris manicure, mimicking oxidized copper and at the same time reminding me of gorgeous reptilian eyes. I love every shade of copper…really all warm metallics (as evidenced by my recent eyeshadow post), and could not be more pleased with how it turned out.

verdigris manicure theseventhsphinx

verdigris manicure theseventhsphinx

This is two coats of acrylic paint (paint! Not nail polish, painted on with a paint brush! Which I will not be trying at home.) dusted with a glittery green pigment from CND. Topcoat and basecoat from DazzleDry, both of which I am so impressed with (really quick drying) and plan to pick up immediately.

verdigris manicure theseventhsphinx

Longtime readers will remember my beloved python clutch. The teal one above is from the same Etsy shop, linmade.

verdigris manicure theseventhsphinx

Like the tarnished silver of the amber ring with this tarnished copper manicure. I’d been wanting my nails painted for weeks (they are often bare but I crave the decoration once in a while) and now it’s a constant, beautiful distraction.

Freshwater pearl ring from Pearl Paradise, which is having their Mother’s Day sale at the moment…

x

moodboard: warm neutrals

On April 17, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Last week I was shopping for a few shades to customize a large Z-palette (top right palette below), occasioned by MAC’s $6 pro pan sale. How do you build a palette? That is, how do you build your ideal palette? I pulled out some of my favorite palettes to study, determine what I like about them. See how they tick.

They display a distinct trend…

warm neutrals - theseventhsphinx

L-R, as if reading: Kat Von D Monarch palette, Z palette (ft. Mac and Makeup Geek shadows), MAC shadows in custom Japonesque palette, Viseart 01 Neutral Matte, Louise Young Essential Eye Palette, Makuep Geek shadows in custom Japonesque palette, Viseart 05 Sultry Muse, Colourpop shadows, Tom Ford cream shadow, MAC singles, NARS single, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Marc Jacobs 212 The Dreamer, Clinique 03 Morning Java

It’s not so easy, in a sea of shades, to create a compelling combination. Easy to make something nice, hard to make something I like even more than my favorites. I’m not finished, actually, though the Z-palette (the blush there is MAC Peaches, if you’re wondering) is full for now. Need to pull in a few more matte shades, something very dark and something to be a great transition shade for my skin tone (read: a tiny bit darker without being too dark). It’s an engrossing color exercise, feels much like a puzzle. I keep shuffling the shades around, deciding not only what shades to include but in what arrangement. Feeling satisfyingly territorial about it.

It seems revealing, to see what colors a person would choose, like it would reinforce something you already knew, or show you something you hadn’t realized about them (about yourself).

[I’m working on the 2 little 4-pan Japonesque (Japonesque makes the shell) palettes as well, simultaneously, as related but independent puzzles.]

I want something that is effectively a Viseart Neutral Matte palette that incorporates shimmers and metallics. Once I’ve added a few things and rearranged to my heart’s content I’ll let you know which shadows made the cut. Have you ever built a custom palette? How did it go? Favorite shades?

x

smell this: Guerlain Shalimar

On April 8, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Shalimar is an established classic, designed in 1921 by Jacques Guerlain and still on the shelves. This fragrance has been reformulated at least once but the essential notes remain the same; bergamot, jasmine, rose, iris, opoponax, vanilla. This is a complicated fragrance with a lot of powerful ingredients, and not only a lot on paper – a lot in the nose as well. Smelling iconic perfumes is such a good exercise.  I think anyone who gets sufficiently curious about perfume will want to experience the old classics sooner or later, certain of them anyway, whether a true vintage sample or the nearest one can get.

Shalimar EDC

I have yet to have an opportunity to smell the original formulation and can’t speak to whatever butchery the reformulation represents, but to me the current interpretation has a lot to appreciate. Anecdotally (Wikipedia on perfume histories is an interesting rabbit hole) it’s the result of an entire bottle of the latest synthetic vanillin being experimentally poured into a bottle of Guerlain’s Jicky, and was launched as Guerlain’s showpiece for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, an art exhibit designed to show the pre-eminence of French taste and style that was the highlight of the early Art Deco period. There is a great history of Shalimar on The Perfume Shrine.

We are discussing the EdC here, as that happens to be what I was gifted recently. It’s strange, I have hardly ever been given perfume. My mom gave me a much loved bottle of Jovan White Musk when I was 13 or so, and my aunt gave me a not especially loved bottle of…what was it? Lady Stetson? (miles away from the awful tropico-chemical aerosol body sprays in vogue in rural Maine in the 90s, which I largely shunned for Vanilla Fields), and I’ve had a few lovely fragrances passed on to me, but I haven’t had that feeling of having a new bottle of perfume in a couple of years. I am so used to being the one who gifts fragrance, I forget it can be given to me, too. How nice it is!*

*Potentially…

I was delighted to receive Shalimar, not because I like it [I’d only smelled it academically in passing years ago, and had only thought about it as a forerunner, a foremother] but because it is iconic, a sound addition to any fragrance library. It’s clearly echoed in later orientals, later leathers, in powdery and floral scents, in ambers and vanillas and incense fragrances…so many of these it seems could not exist without Shalimar.  That said, I do like it, though perhaps this does not translate to wanting to wear it often.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Shalimar EDC

Shalimar EdC opens with a zingy lemon and bergamot (think earl grey tea) accord, really bright, with an insistent sour note like cedar and civet (think animal musk/sweat and cat pee). The animality is strong for me, though for some it takes a back seat to the bergamot and soapy powder (highly recommend browsing the basenotes reviews of Shalimar). This moves promptly -within a few minutes – into the soapy floral heart of iris (for me dominant) and rose, which rose is never fully extricated from that original citrus. There is jasmine as well but for me it is more ‘complex heady floral that you know cannot be only rose or only jasmine’. It’s so over the top to have jasmine and rose, basically the two most expensive floral extracts and Guerlain famous for using the best. Either alone is enough to carry the day, and iris too can hold its own*, so it’s already a busy concoction, and THEN.

*Guerlain’s Apree L’Ondee, Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, The Different Company Bois d’Iris – I find iris soliflore fragrances are the best way to teach your nose the iris note, irises themselves are not so helpful, the root being the relevant thing.

On the coattails of the iris is an equally prominent note of leather, with vanilla and tonka bean creeping steadily in. For me the leather is unmistakable, though some seem to read it only as a smoky vanilla, or more like incense. Some people don’t seem to read leather at all, which to me is baffling, but the leather is the illusion, a mirage made of musk, amber, incense, and powder. The resinous note is evidently the opoponax – a note I don’t really have clear in my brain yet but which is a gum resin like frankincense or myrrh (opoponax is also called sweet myrrh) that smells luxuriously of balsamic and honey. Supposedly. I get what I would call sweet (amber, vanilla) and sour (civet, cedar) leather with a backdrop of powdery iris and incense. As time goes by, and this is a defiant fragrance that hangs around for many hours, this cocktail softens more and more, with leather, amber and vanilla waxing as the sourness and florals wane.

Shalimar will smell naggingly familiar to most, as it is still selling and still being worn, for many it is the scent worn by their mother or grandmother. Then, too, it is the ur-oriental, and all orientals are reminiscent of it. It’s had a cult following for nearly a century, the house’s flagship fragrance; innovatively sweet and exotic for the daring 20s. In addition to selling steadily in the main formulation, has spawned several offshoots or flankers, which surely sell in no small part due to the gorgeous bottle they keep re-releasing with slight variations on the original Baccarat design.

SHALIMAR08010 BASEA

Make no mistake, to my nose Shalimar is old-fashioned. It should smell old fashioned, formulated some 90 years ago and, from my point of view, worn by people much older than myself. Then, powder to me nearly always smells old-fashioned, as do basically all orientals, orientals being amber dominant scents with rich ingredients like musks and resins along with (often eastern) spices and florals. It’s strong! Not in the brassy 70s way or the cloying 80s way, and not in the modern Tom Ford way, but in a complex everything-but-the-kitchen-sink way that a number of iconic fragrances from the 1910s and 1920s demonstrate for us (ahem, Chanel No. 5 (1919)).

The beauty of Shalimar today is that it’s at a point where it’s so old it can be new again. It’s a potent, grown-up fragrance, even in the relatively sheer EdC formulation, and I can see it reading fresh and interesting on a younger woman, say under 40. Not that age matters, but youth provides a great contrast with these notes. Worn with complete at-homeness as a signature fragrance by someone older is a great look for Shalimar as well.

It appeals to me especially in the rain (that’s the iris), and it smells about a billion times better on skin than it does on fabric. No spritzing the scarf with this one for me. I need to power through the civet-heavy opening to get to the leather/iris bit, which is the part I can appreciate. I encourage anyone smelling Shalimar to spray it on and give it an hour. I can see myself more realistically layering this with a musk I actually like to add interest (say the Kiehl’s musk oil, or this one I like that I found on Amazon), or with a straight rose (say Tea Rose, or another straight floral maybe) to add interest, such that the layering fragrance provides a new driving force and Shalimar a soft ambiance. A dominant leather could be a nice pairing as well. Hm. Let’s talk about Tom Ford Tuscan Leather later, which is perfection all on its own.

x

bottle image via pinterest