la belle Chanel

On January 6, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve picked up a few Chanel skincare items over the past few months and have been really pleased with them. I ought to be pleased given the price tags [relatively reasonable representatives from the brand in this case, toners and cleansers being far below moisturizers and serums in the pricing heirarchy] but I am certainly not the type to convince myself that I like something because it was expensive. It is rather under that much more scrutiny. Chanel rarely disappoints, though, and the success of the skincare has made me want to reach for the other products I have from the brand. A great product is the best marketing.

Chanel skincare

I picked up the Brightening Moisture Lotion, one of the thin, slightly viscous beauty water toner-type products that are booming thanks to the Korean beauty trend. They make all manner of promises but I am particularly vulnerable to brightening formulas, weak in the face of my stubborn hyperpigmentation. If you don’t believe in toner this sort of product will have little interest for you, but I quite like this step, whether it’s a clarifying toner, an exfoliating treatment, an all-purpose skincare cocktail, or whatever.

[Ahem, I use all of these.]

These moisturizing formulas have the appeal of instantly plumping (I am seriously thinking of rehydrated raisins here) and moisturizing. I usually wait a few moments between patting these on—I only use cotton pads for the exfoliating or clarifying styles and otherwise avoid wasting product—and applying a serum or moisturizer. It can be difficult to put my finger on but I really like the effect these have. My skin seems subtly brighter and healthier, better hydrated. Better, that is, than with moisturizer alone. They often smell nice and are refreshing to apply. This Brightening Moisture lotion has a slight viscosity I like (too much like water and the product can be messy to use), and is similar to the Algenist Genius White Brightening Moisture Softener, which I also really like but the Chanel lotion smells better.

Chanel skincare

Chanel products smell uniformly excellent. Not all the same, by any means, but all excellent (Aveda also does this well, and Guerlain). Could be too floral or just too strong for some, and if you have fragrance sensitivities approach with care, but I really enjoy their style. It’s vaguely floral, even vaguely old-fashioned in some cases, or just not modern, and feels grown up and expensive. A fair bit of the price tag is the fragrance, I am sure.

I am also liking the Gommage Microperlé Eclat Maximum Radiance Exfoliator, a gentle scrub with non-threatening microbeads. Not my favorite exfoliator, a much more complicated subject I’ll go into later, but a pleasant everyday option. The beads aren’t so gentle and diluted that they feel useless and they aren’t so harsh or concentrated as to feel they could do damage to the skin. Also, it’s pink! And it smells good. I really only recommend this if you are in the mood to spend money or be…fancy.* A sentiment that applies across the board here; that’s Chanel for you.

*If you do want to be fancy, I highly recommend Chanel as a first stop. If you haven’t tried anything from the brand and want to dip your toes in, a lipstick (Rouge Coco Shine!) or nail polish is a great place to start.

The Base Lumière Illuminating Makeup Base I picked up as a primer/perfector to wear as an alternative to foundation, though it also makes a good base. So pleased with the finish on this, natural while being slightly mattifying yet also slightly illuminating. This kind of stealth skin upgrade is exactly what I want. The gel formula doesn’t always cooperate with water-based moisturizers and serums, so watch how you layer. Some trial and error needed. Same goes for the Base Lumière Universelle, a formula that couldn’t play nice with some of my must have skincare and had to go back.

Chanel skincare

Also shown, clockwise: Rouge Allure lipstick in Coromandel, Illusion D’Ombre in Rouge Noir (LE), Le Blush Crème de Chanel in Fantastic, perfume in Sycomore, Les 4 Ombres eyeshadow palette in Tissé Mademoiselle, Rouge Allure lipstick in Elegante.

My skincare is all over the place brandwise and pricewise, and I have favorite brands but nothing I would call outright loyalty or anything like exclusivity. Loyalty to products, yes, sometimes, but to brands not especially. I do welcome a few luxury items into my skincare routine, though. Just one can really elevate the whole ceremony. Have you tried any Chanel skincare? Any recommendations?

x

smell this: Byredo Rose Noir

On November 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I find my nose increasingly sparing with its praise. Once you smell a few hundred perfumes, you’re not so easily charmed as perhaps you once were. This is I suppose the development of some kind of discernment or taste, and I tend to think it’s for the best. It often strikes me as vulgar to like too many things [as I undoubtedly do], aside from merely liking things everybody else likes. I don’t want to eradicate vulgarity but it is something I want to display in moderation.

So, then, impressive fragrances stand out all the more. Anything that makes it into the category of beautiful stands out all the more. I was delighted to be so effortlessly pleased with Byredo’s Rose Noir.

Byredo Rose Noir parfum

If you don’t like the scent of rose, I guess forget it. The rose is a true lush damask rose, and she does not smell cheap (she is not cheap). It opens with a super ripe yet still sour grapefruit note mingled with a vague white floral (evidently freesia, a scent with little character in isolation, light and inoffensive) that remains as the rose comes gently forward. There is a poignant, woody richness that I tend to associate with oud (which I generally do not like, finding in it something sickly, rancid, like the oversweetness of rotten wood). It works for me here, providing a savory anchor that balances the full-on rose, much like black pepper does in The Different Company’s spicy Rose Poivree and Le Labo’s stunning Rose 31. I’m pretty sure I like it here because it’s not actually oud but cistus (labdanum(resin)) and musk creating that same sense of a faint neon glow. [Probably some aldehydes contributing to this as well.]

This balance is critical for me. While its boozy headiness is beautiful in its own right, damask rose isn’t a scent I want to wear. It’s too much. Though rose is by far my favorite floral, really one of the only floral notes I take much interest in (with the exception of Tiare flowers/Tahitian gardenias), I want it in combination with something. Vetiver (L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses), incense (Caron Parfum Sacre), citrus (Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose)…something.

The sour grapefruit lingers (as does its brightness) and the resin has an intrinsic sourness/savoriness that prevents the sweetness of the rose from ruining the show. This is a wonderfully sophisticated scent. It reads clearly as a floral and a luxurious one yet isn’t especially heavy or dark. Not one of those rich roses suitable only for evening. The musk is gentle and sparing, and far in the background. All other notes play a supporting role to the rose. It could be accused of being too simple, not exciting enough, especially given the pricetag and that Noir, but being solidly pleasant is success enough. If it were somehow more exciting…I imagine the balance would be off and I wouldn’t like it anymore.

The junction of floral/citrus/musk reminds me a bit of Chanel Mademoiselle, which I also like, though this feels like the older, less obvious, more mysterious sister. The one who doesn’t care whether you like her or not. Harder to make her smile, and so more satisfying.

The edp is lovely for autumn/winter but I could see wearing this anytime. I expected it to be slightly stronger (esp. with that ‘edp’) but actually I like this concentration. I don’t think I’ll be getting a full size of this, I’m still longing for Profumum’s Victrix, but I think this is beautiful, and enjoy wearing it.

If you want to investigate other rose fragrances, this L.A. Times article mentions some great ones.

luxe lip: Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick

On June 5, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

If you’re in the mood for a luxurious lipstick, you might consider the Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick from Tatcha. An ancient shade with a modern formula and beautiful presentation. This is a limited edition offering but currently available. Observe the handwritten note on my packing slip!

tatcha kyoto red silk lipstick

The color is the traditional geisha shade of shu-iro, which translates to vermilion or scarlet in English; an orange-toned red. This, though, is a red that can present as a true balanced red, a cool rosy red, or a warm red depending on the context. Quite a wily shade, and hard to pin it down. Or, easy to pin it down at any given moment but then always changing on you. It’s clearly warm toned when put against a distinctly ruby/cool shade, but has a deep rosy red color on the cotton round when I’m removing it…perhaps it is warmer on the lips than in the bullet? I don’t know. Good luck.

The concept is that it gives radiance to any complexion. I’m not guaranteeing it would do that but I’m pleased with its chameleon-like nature, and—however it reads—I really like the effect.

red lipstick swatches

Swatches in daylight, L to R (Kyoto Red in the center): Lancome Rouge in Love 181, Tom Ford Narcotic Rouge, Tom Ford Cherry Lush, Tatcha Kyoto Red, MAC Russian Red, MAC RiRiWoo, MAC Lady Danger

It’s not a sheer formula but it’s the sheerest of what I’ve swatched here. Lady Danger is more orange, Russian Red is darker and more blue-toned, Cherry Lush is brighter and rosier. I don’t find it as creamy as any of these formulas, actually, despite Tatcha’s silky promises, but it’s good for a matte formula (it’s more matte than the other matte formulas above, as well), and the fact that it isn’t crazy opaque makes the formula friendlier, in my opinion. I do an initial application to get a general shape, blot, and do a second application to refine the shape. Could use a lip pencil beforehand to make the edges more crisp but I tend to prefer softer edges anyway, so direct from the bullet is fine, with maybe a little help from my best friend, the cotton bud.

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Wearing it in the previous post, doesn’t really come across as orange-ey here, I wouldn’t say.

If I had to choose between these formulas I’d probably go with Tom Ford’s matte over this one…(that is, if I wanted to spend ~$50) but this is a unique color to my eye, and that is in its favor. I also really appreciate the fact that this is almost exclusively a skincare brand that released just one shade of one formula of lipstick, and this is it. Thus saying, this is the only lipstick you need.* Rather, this is the only shade of lipstick a geisha needs, and don’t we all want to channel her intrinsic elegance and impeccable taste? I like this brand.

*Though, we know that is not the case here…

tatcha kyoto red silk lipstick

[My name is Meghan. If you’re new to my blog, welcome!]

The lipstick is faceted at the tip, creating a distinctive silhouette that reminds me of Charlotte Tilbury’s lipsticks and some of Tom Ford’s new releases but which is its own creature. I wouldn’t say this makes application more precise but it looks really pretty. Also, I’m confident that this is the heaviest lipstick I own. Luxe points.

tatcha kyoto red silk lipstick

Here I’ve just drawn on the booklet that accompanies the product. Doesn’t look orange here at all to me!

xo

the dreamer

On January 14, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

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Marc Jacobs Beauty palette The Dreamer, brushes: Hakuhodo B5520BkSL, H2289, J146, MAC 217

This stunner of a palette from the Marc Jacobs Beauty Style Eye-Con line is one of my new favorite beauty toys. This is The Dreamer, essentially the neutral palette in the collection. I’ve spoken before about the siren-like allure certain color combinations can have, the power of a palette. I might not be interested in the colors individually, not enough to buy them, but combined I am drawn closer and closer to the jewel box. This one I found completely compelling from the start, and especially so once I saw it in person. I wandered into Sephora intending to look at the Night Owl palette from this same collection but it was out of stock and I met this one instead (actually I’m not uninterested in the Night Owl palette, it’s been noted). The golden goddess that occasionally runs the show here gave her immediate approval. Gold, champagne, a pale grapefruit, deep walnut, and warm neutrals… really I didn’t stand a chance against these colors.

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These shadows are what others have promised, they are so creamy as to have veered as far away from the realm of powder as possible without quite leaving it entirely. Sleek packaging. I’m pleased with this line—so anticipated—all around. I don’t like every design from Marc Jacobs by any means but I have admired him for many years now (over 10 years, I realize, since I began following him! After a friend in college with impeccable style noted him a favorite), the clarity of his style, the bold strokes and adventurous lines.

This is a bit too expensive, though, I think. $59 for this palette, and the shadows are not large. So, it is beautiful, but I would not exactly recommend it, at least not over many other excellent neutral palettes at more reasonable prices. But, it is beautiful. The quality is there. Priced similarly to luxury brands like Dior, Chanel, Guerlain, etc. If you are up for it, I think the money is not badly spent. And I don’t already have the ubiquitous Naked Palette, so I justified this effortlessly. I picked up some Hakuhodo brushes a few months ago as well, and liking. Will get into those later.

The lure of this palette made me realize how predictable I am in such cases. Chuck certain colors together and I’m sure to take a second look. Why? Why is this? Why these colors? Golds, caramels, creams…but others, too, which is why, for different but equally compelling reasons, I am drawn to the Night Owl palette as well.

Though, I suppose, why anything? Why do I like Brussels sprouts and ginger so much? Why the smell of vetiver?

Who can say. It seems one might be able to know, if only the data were accessible…but probably this is an illusion.

What are your colors?

x

earth tones

On July 21, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

“Luxury is aggression dressed as fashion.”

                                — Handbags, Anna Johnson

Here’s one of my ideas of an ideal summer ensemble. Loose and light, ultra comfortable (as in the photo I was recently distracted by).

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I could wear earth tones every day.

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So, this is a (pretty good) replica of Vuitton’s Sofia Coppola bag.

It doesn’t often happen that I am interested in a high-end designer item, not in the ‘willing to fork over my money’ kind of way, anyway (just in a ‘how inspiring’ way). Usually it’s moot because I don’t remotely have enough money to consider it. I liked the design of this bag so much, however (and for so long. I rarely like bags, only very recently do I even own multiple bags), that I was open to that shady category, the replica. I feel no disloyalty to Luis Vuitton, as they have not lost a sale…I was never going to spend $7,000 on this bag, so this is all happening a little outside their reality (intellectual copyright is still very slippery in fashion, a difficult topic, but the pricing of luxury brands is also a difficult topic). I did look around for something similar, actually, but none of them were as nice as this replica, which is, in fact, quite nice. It is, satisfyingly, about exactly as nice as it should be.

The cachet of luxury items is by turns interesting and troubling to me. They are, to the cognoscenti, walking price tags; subtle or perhaps not so subtle announcements of superfluous wealth. There is something aggressive and potentially gauche (if not outright tacky) about this. Especially when the items are being worn not because they are loved for themselves, but because they are on trend.

In the best cases, though, they are truly sublime objects, beautifully constructed out of impeccable materials. So there is something aggressive about them either way, but there can also be about them something ultimately tasteful, reflective of excellent taste.

Even what is now a kind of middle market, the $50-80 pair of pants, say (even given that a savvy shopper would almost never pay the full price), I would not call inexpensive. That is not inexpensive to me, anyhow. It is difficult to be stylish on a true budget (remembering that this book had a lot of great ideas about it, though). Or, it is not difficult to be stylish (given a bit of time to slowly accumulate good pieces), but it is difficult to be stylish in a variegated way, to have many solid style options. One must be very resourceful and invest a lot of time to find pieces made of good material that have been treated well, designed well, cut well, which, in many cases, at least at some point in their existence, were relatively expensive. Good clothes shouldn’t be inexpensive (someone somewhere was woefully underpaid, if they are…and likely even if they are expensive this is still the case…), they should be an investment.

I do like the French (at least, most famously French) concept of a minimal, versatile closet, some 10-15 carefully curated pieces that can be mixed and matched endlessly with different accessories to provide variation….but I like too many things. I want to look like too many kinds of people. I completely agree with the virtues of this concept but I cannot fully embrace it with my style so in flux. Maybe one day. My closet does need culling.

Ahhh. This is why I have no money left.

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This is Nars Taj Mahal blush again. So good.

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The necklace is various incarnations of jasper, which is quite a chameleon and has long been a favorite stone of mine.

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Camisole from asos, lounge pants from hush, Anthropologie Amentum sandals, obi belt from Viktor Sabo, Breil Milano watch, bag, bracelet and necklace from eBay. On the lips: Lipstick Queen in Jungle Queen, a beautiful, sheer poppy orange-red. [The packaging is a stunning dragonfly green and it’s beautifully done all around.]

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