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Jul 25, 2014

L’Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d’Emotion

I attended the launch of the L’Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d’Emotions series at Tessuti a few months ago, and this post has been percolating in my brain ever since. Why has it taken so long?

Writing about fragrance is challenging. There’s no colour or texture, which means no swatching or demonstrating it on myself. As much as I like to throw around words like “sillage”, “accord”, and “animalic”, I suspect I still do a pretty poor job of actually describing a perfume. 

But hey, why not talk about $332 (NZD) perfumes anyway!

Bertrand Duchaufour is the nose behind the Explosions d’Emotions series of fragrances. The idea behind them is that they document the different stages of a relationship, from the initial excitement, to carnal knowledge, to (maybe) post-coital bliss. The collection started off with Deliria, Skin on Skin, and Amour Nocturne, which launched at Tessuti in May.

I’m really glad I went along to the evening, because I learned a lot about the brand, and about fragrance in general, from Nick and Natalie (I think) of Libertine Parfumerie/Agence de Parfums. I ordered sample vials from Luckyscent because I was intrigued by these, and wanted to do as thorough a writeup as I could.

Deliria is an odd beast, and the one I find most interesting. It includes rum, toffee apple, and candy floss — all warmth and sweetness, except for a metallic note in there, making it quite a contradiction. We were told that the idea behind it was a trip to a fun fair, capturing the dizzying mix of rollercoasters and food stalls. It has good longevity on me — I still smell it after twelve hours or so, although it does wear closely on the skin as time goes on.

Amour Nocturne (cedar, milk accord, caramel, gun powder, orchid) opened really sourly for me, and almost scared me off. It soon mellows down to a warm, powdery, food-y scent, though, and feels to me like a progression from Deliria. I don’t catch any of the gun powder until the very end, and, rather than being a harsh note, I’d liken it to adding a bit of pepper to macerated strawberries, if that makes sense. It fades quite quickly on me, within a couple of hours.

Skin on Skin (suede, saffron, whisky, lavender, rose, iris, musks, skin effects) is probably the most wearable for me out of the three. At first sniff I get the florals, along with a whiff of what smells to me like pineapple, but the fruity, almost plastic quality quickly goes away, leaving the flowers to mingle with the powdery leather notes.

Are these worth the $330? Let’s face it: when it comes to cosmetics, there is generally a huge disparity between how much the actual product costs to produce and how much it costs the consumer. Sure, eyeshadows from a mid-range brand like Urban Decay may have better pigments, less filler, and superior manufacturing processes when compared to something from ELF, but the difference in production costs is negligible by the time it gets to the consumer — in the order of dollars, if not cents.

At the launch, Nick told a story about meeting the person behind the design and marketing of a certain designer perfume (the name of which rhymes with blot) who boasted of getting the flask and collateral down to something like $1 a bottle. I also came across this article which breaks down the price of an average bottle of department store perfume into percentages of how much everything costs, including overheads, marketing, package design, and profit. How much of that is the actual juice? Two per cent. 

So what makes me buy into a particular perfume, beyond personal taste and budget? I would say the artistry that goes into the concoction, as time goes on and I learn more about the stuff. Most commercially available perfumes are made by just a handful of perfume conglomerates, and while I have a pretty average nose, I can appreciate that the more niche producers — L’Artisan Parfumeur, Byredo, Serge Lutens and the like — are more likely to design perfumes that evoke certain concepts beyond the average inoffensive floral or fruity gourmand that is so rife at the department store counter. They also don’t spend squillions on celebrity endorsements or magazine campaigns.

This is perfume as art foremost, consumer product second.

Of course, that’s not to say that all the perfumes at Farmers aren’t worth what you pay for them. I have more than my fair share of those in my “fragrance wardrobe”, and most would argue that fragrance is such a personal thing anyway, so who cares who made them or what goes in them. If you love it, who’s to judge?

Tessuti now also stock the second half of the series: Haute Voltige, Onde Sensuelle, and Rappelle-Toi, none of which I’ve tried yet. Funnily enough, these are selling for $282, so I’m guessing the exchange rate took a dive when they launched. I’m looking forward to seeing how L’Artisan Parfumeur have continued the love story.

Jul 18, 2014

Champagne taste, beer budget #3: Chichi Nudes Palette

I’ve always been curious about the Urban Decay Naked palettes. The texture! The pigmentation! Much buttery, so colour! I haven’t been curious enough to shell out for them, though, especially since UD aren’t sold in NZ, so I’d have to buy online and use Youshop or similar.

Luckily for me, I’d come across various blog posts about the Chichi Glam Eyes Nudes Palette being a dupe for Naked 1.

I don’t own the Naked 1 Palette, so can only judge the Chichi on its own merits. I’d always turned up my nose at Chichi as a brand due to the cheap looking packaging and branding, but have read and seen enough over the past year or so to realise that a lot of their products are really great — not to mention affordable.

The palette contains a mix of matte and shimmery shades. Some of the shades are slightly powdery, particularly the mattes, but not enough to write the palette off. The shimmery shades are smooth and buttery — the lighter ones in the left half of the palette are great for an inner corner or brow bone highlight, or pressed onto the centre of the lid, while the darker shades are useful for smoking things out or adding a little emphasis to the outer corners. It’s been a couple of months since I got the palette and took these photos, and I’ve experienced no fall out while using the shimmers.

I would say the left half of the palette leans neutral-to-warm, while the right half leans neutral-to-cool. I’ve swatched it below, with the Art Deco Eyeshadow Base under the top row of swatches. The primer definitely brings out the shimmer, but not as much as my photo would suggest — I think it’s just the angle of the light (my bad).

I’m kind of an eyeshadow novice, but here are some ways of how I like to use the various shades in the palette:

  • #2 for an inner corner and brow bone highlight
  • #3 and #5 for blending things out
  • #4 and #7 for a bit of an all-over wash
  • #9 as a smoky liner

Here’s a really basic look — I told you I was an eyeshadow dunce! I used #5 all over the lid, #9 on the outer third, and #4 on the inner third, then #3 to blend things out.

The Chichi Glamorous Eye palettes, including the Nudes, retail for $31.49 at Farmers here in NZ. It’s also available online for $22.95 AUD. Right now Farmers are doing 3 for 2 on Chichi products too, so get in there — I can totally recommend their Lip Stains and single baked eyeshadows.

Jun 25, 2014

Are we Instagram friends?

I feel like most makeup enthusiasts are probably visual junkies. No surprise, then, that Instagram is one of my favourite things on the internet. I’m probably friends with a lot of you on it already, but in case we’re not, you can find me @brushandbullet

Fair warning:  I take pictures of a lot of random crap.

Jun 16, 2014 / 1 note
Jun 13, 2014

Peel and stick: OPI Pure Lacquer Nail Apps in Reptile

I’ve been a little obsessed with this particular set of OPI Pure Lacquer Nail Apps since Elizabeth Monson’s Proenza Schouler-inspired nails appeared on Into The Gloss two years ago. Drawing tiny phoenixes isn’t quite in my skillset, but I can just about handle peeling these and sticking them on my nails.

This is the Reptile pattern which have been around for several years now. OPI don’t seem to update the patterns on these, so they’re still fairly widely available, retailing at around $24 NZD. I found two packets of these separately on clearance, though, for $15 and $5.

Each pack comes with sixteen pre-cut stickers of different sizes. I managed to do both of my hands with fewer than half of the stickers, so depending on the length and size of your nails, you could possibly get up to three manicures out of these. I’ve noticed that other nail sticker type products come with a cuticle stick and mini file, but these don’t, so take note if you don’t have those lying around (you’ll find at least a file helpful). The stickers are pretty thin and slightly stretchy, so be careful not to stretch them out too much when you’re handling them or it can all go a bit tits-up.

They’ve lasted me almost a week; I’m only starting to get some tip wear now, but you’ll notice that my nails are pretty short. No peeling so far with a top coat (Sally Hansen Hard as Nails).

Jun 11, 2014

A Red Lip #2: Ellis Faas Milky Lips L201

I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time last weekend. An acquaintance was in the shadow cast — a thing I didn’t know was a thing — and a friend and I went along. 

Thoughts I had during the night:

  • Should I get the props pack? Nah, I want popcorn.
  • We’re going to regret sitting in the front row, aren’t we.
  • They only have packaged popcorn. Ice cream it is.
  • Oh my god this ice cream is amazing. Worth the lactose intolerant aftermath.
  • Why is this guy wearing an Elvis costume?
  • It’s really cold in here.
  • Boobs! So much boob! And butts.
  • Do high schools really put the play on? Holy crap.
  • Nice legs. 
  • Free condoms!
  • That is some intense contouring.
  • What is happening. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

It was completely unhinged, but really cool to see a bunch of people with so much enthusiasm and just not giving a shit. Also, worth it alone just to see our friend Colin (who played The Criminologist) in a corset. 

If we’re friends on Instagram you may have seen a shot of the makeup I wore. Here’s another shot: 

I think I first fell in product design love when I went to Mecca Cosmetica a few years ago for a browse, had the Ellis Faas foundation and concealer put on me… and then choked at the pricing. Luckily, the Ellis Faas site ships worldwide, and the prices are much more reasonable (relatively). Plus they have free shipping if you spend over $50 USD/35 Euro/30 GBP (which is basically taken care of if you order two products, or one VERY EXPENSIVE FOUNDATION).

One of the tenets behind the Ellis Faas concept is that of using “human colours”. L201, for example, is based on the colour of blood — pretty true to life, don’t you think?

I really don’t want to think about where some of their puce-ier colours come from.

The Milky Lips formula is not a long-wearing one at all, unfortunately, and doesn’t even leave a stain behind on me; it was completely gone after I mauled my ice cream. Definitely one to wear over a layer of lip liner. 

I’ve seen a lot of criticism about the applicators online, which is fair enough — the click-pen design is notorious for being finicky. The metallic casing also gets dinged up pretty easily if you have it rolling around in a makeup bag a lot. I’ve been lucky enough to not have had many issues with the products I’ve tried, apart from one of the eyeshadows which completely hardened inside the applicator and the whole bullet just broke apart. Bizarre, but their customer service was quick to respond and send a replacement. Also, by most accounts they’ve improved the click pen design, so fingers crossed.

In an ideal world I would have a perfectly edited Ellis Faas Holder full of products, which I’ve posted about in the past when this blog was only on tumblr. Their concealer remains one of my favourites, ever, but at 22GBP for 2.5mls it’s not exactly a bargain. Still, it’s going to be the first thing I repurchase when I am gainfully employed and no longer a student!

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