Essie ‘French Affair’ Spring 2011 – swatches & review
Essie comes to us this spring, like a breath of fresh air, with four pastel hues, one sheer opalescent and one vibrant shade. Welcome to Essie’s ‘French Affair’ collection, inspired by 1960’s romance and glamour and a retro take on fun Springtime hues. What’s nice to note, is that while these are mostly light shades, they are all streak free, rather opaque (with one obvious exception) and all incredibly glossy. Going the traditional colour route can be a risk these days, but somehow Essie pulls it off with élan & panache, all the while keeping it modern as well. While all polishes, with the exception of ‘Kisses & Bisses’ can easily be worn as two-coaters, I opted for three coats for swatching purposes, and to make them fully opaque.
To give you a proper detailed review, I have broken this collection up into two parts, beginning with ‘Kisses & Bisses’, ‘French Affair’ and ‘Sand Tropez’. All swatches are with Sèche Natural base coat and three coats of lacquer, no top coat. Note that the second swatch photos are with one coat of ‘Kisses & Bisses’ worn over the base colour.
‘Kisses & Bisses’ is a sheer & pearly iridescent shade, with pink and red flashes, and the barest glimmer of green in its depths as well. The formula was slightly thick but not gloppy, and what I love about this is how forgiving it is to apply; you would be hard pressed to make a mistake! Even with three coats, it never reaches opacity but gives your nails an opalescent diffused appearance. Super romantic when worn alone, it also has the benefit of adding a unique appearance to whatever other shade it’s layered over, making this, for me, the standout lacquer of this collection.
‘French Affair’ is an opaque pepto pink with subtle blue undertones. Probably the most retro looking shade of the entire collection, this is a saturated creme polish and a throwback to those bright 60’s hues. The formula was easy, self levelling and dried rather quickly to a high shine. With ‘Kisses & Bisses’ layered over, it seems to tone down its vibrancy and gives it a delicate prettiness, which I find makes it so much more wearable as well.
‘Sand Tropez’ is a creamy light taupe/tan shade, with just a hint of grey in its base. I found the formula on this shade, the easiest to apply of the entire collection, and it was streak free almost from the start. The perfect mushroom-y, sun-kissed shade on its own, it becomes radiant with ‘Kisses & Bisses’ layered on top. Love, love, love this combo!
The last three polishes in this collection, consist of ‘Nice is Nice’, ‘Topless & Barefoot’ and ‘Coat Azure’. Once again, all swatches are with Sèche Natural base coat and three coats of lacquer, no top coat. Please note that the second swatch photos are with once coat of ‘Kisses & Bisses’ worn over the base colour.
‘Nice is Nice’ is another cool toned lavender creme shade, with a slight glimmer of blue in its base. An outwardly cool hue, this shade has a high level of colour saturation and applied like a dream. In my opinion, this looks like the most Springlike of the entire collection, as the colour reminds me of lilacs coming into bloom! Don’t you just love the iridescent pink glimmer it takes on when ‘Kisses & Bisses’ is layered on top? Both ultra-feminine and ultra-modern at the same time.
‘Topless and Barefoot’ is the second neutral/nude shade of this collection, but what makes it stand out from ‘Sand Tropez’ is the peach undertone in its base. Usually this type of colour can be finicky to wear, but I find that the warmth in its base makes it wearable by a variety of skin tones. With a coat of ‘Kisses & Bisses’ on top, the base shade becomes both a touch lighter and somewhat softer, lending it a shimmery pink kissed touch.
The perfect Springtime sky floating above the Mediterranean, ‘Coat Azure’ is cross between azure and periwinkle, with subtle silver ribbons of shimmer throughout, lending it a richness and incredible depth. This was the thickest as far as formula and two coats are sufficient for full opacity, but I wanted to keep things consistent by adding a third coat. While the inner pearly glimmer is not readily apparent in indoor lighting, when seen in the sun, this shade takes on a life of its own. I love how ‘Kisses & Bisses’ layered on top adds a lovely purpley-pink shimmer to change things up. I can totally see this lacquer becoming the most intriguing Springtime pedicure shade!
Final thoughts: I have to say that while it has become ‘de rigeur’ to bring out more and more exotic hued shades lately, I love the romantic and nostalgic feel of this entire collection. The formula seems to have been tweaked as well, and while historically pastel shades have been notoriously streaky in application, all of these hues went on smoothly and evenly, dried quickly and left behind the glossiest shine. As an added bonus, ‘Kisses & Bisses’ does double duty, both as a polish and as a top coat, to add a new and fun dimension to whatever it’s layered over. There’s something comforting about Spring shades actually looking like Spring shades, and apart from making me think of a basket of pastel Easter eggs (hence the last photo!), I love how these polishes were all fabulous to apply and just so incredibly romantic looking.
*Disclaimer: product samples were provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration
*Easter egg photo courtesy of Superior Studio