a-england: Tristam, Elaine & Camelot (swatches/review)
With a triumphant fanfare, I bring you the last three ‘Mythicals’ from a-england’s maiden collection:’ Tristam’ – an intriguing blue holographic, ‘Elaine’ – the deepest amethyst and ‘Camelot’ – an intense ebony. To round off this entire collection, there are the backbones of any good mani/pedi as in a base and top coat, or in this case, ‘The Knight’ and ‘The Shield’ respectively. While a relative newcomer in the nail varnish playing field, a-england has quickly and well-deservedly, garnered a reputation as being a collection not only worthy of cult status, but a line of products to which all other brands will be compared to. All swatches are with ‘The Knight’ base coat, two coats of lacquer (except where stated otherwise) and ‘The Shield’ top coat.
Much like the honourable and love-lorn knight of the Round Table, ‘Tristam’ – the varnish – is a complex yet mesmerizing vortex of colour. A deep blue denim coloured base holds masses of tiny holographic particles that not only captivate the eyes, but add such an interesting depth to this shade. As with basically all of a-england’s polishes, this was highly saturated in colour and one coat was almost more than enough. Note how in full sun (2nd photo) as well as how a flash image (3rd photo) displays this prismatic effect in such spectacular glory! A shade truly worthy of the gallant knight who joined the quest for the Holy Grail, this will add an intriguing mix of elegance and daring chicness to your tips. A stunner!
‘Elaine’ is so richly pigmented and the creamiest deep mauve shade I have ever come across. Exhibiting a brooding depth in keeping with the tragic lady’s unrequited love of Sir Lancelot, this lacquer has a curious duality to it, made even more unique as it is a crème shade. When viewed in full sun but depending on the angle with which light hits it, it can appear either carefree (top photo) or seriously intense (middle photo), while shaded light (bottom photo) lends it a more calming coolness. The self levelling formula combined with its über-glossy finish elevates this polish far above other similar hues.
‘Camelot’. A legend out of time and mind. While one might not expect black to represent that historic name, it is nonetheless quite fitting. This is a shade of not only the deepest ebon, but as light absorbing as the midnight sky. The most highly pigmented lacquer I have ever come across, it is completely opaque in one coat, although I chose to do two here for my review. A top coat is almost superfluous, as its mirror like finish is almost astonishing to behold, while the formula flows like night effortlessly off the brush. Encompassing Camelot’s nobleness as well as its doomed history, this shade is at once regal and gothic, but with a fresh and modern vibe. I am beyond infatuated with the mystery of this ‘Camelot’!
To add a unique and interesting element to ‘Elaine’, I experimented with layering ‘Morgan Le Fay’ (reviewed here) on top, and was completely blown away by the results. ‘Elaine’s’ deep amethyst base lends an interesting undercurrent to the scintillating sparkle of ‘Morgan Le Fay’, yet the two combined become a deep almost gunmetal-like hue. The top two photos taken in full sun, show how shimmery or intense this combo can look, once again depending on the light, yet shaded light lends it a much cooler, silvery cast. The closeup shot (3rd photo) gives you a view of the myriad sparkling hues found deep inside!
Not wanting to disturb the grandeur that is ‘Camelot ‘, but wanting to change it up a bit just the same, I layered a coat of essie’s ‘matte about you’ and held my breath; ‘Camelot’ reinvented! While not a full matte finish, I am absolutely in love with the almost rubberized yet sleekly modern feel of this look. Another unique aspect of this combination is that its dulled finish will perfectly offset whatever you’re wearing, and instead of competing with your final look, will only add that much more visual interest overall. There is no doubt that this combination will guarantee you will be stopped and asked about it…as I was!
Anyone who has a love of nail lacquers, be they amateur dabblers or professional technicians, all have one underlying pursuit: to find that elusive perfect top and base coat. Well, you need look no further than ‘The Knight’ base coat and ‘The Shield’ top coat. I have tried many products and while some have impressed me greatly, others have failed me miserably. ‘The Knight’ goes on easily, in a formula that is not too thin, but has an easy fluidity, and dries reasonably quickly to a soft shiny finish. ‘The Shield’ has an excellent viscosity and flows so well across your nails, perhaps not drying as rapidly as Sèche Vite, but the payoff is twofold: high, high gloss and absolutely no shrinkage or pulling of your lacquer. There is no doubt that this base and top coat work incredibly synergistically with all of a-england’s varnishes, but having tried them with many other brands as well, I now know that I have found my “holy grails” (pun intended!).
Final thoughts: I am almost sad that my saga of a-england’s ‘Mythicals’ has come to a close, but like all good stories, it is the telling of it that counts! These are not only lacquers that are free from all harmful toxins and never tested on animals, but of such a high calibre that is highly appreciated from any and all who try them. I cannot say enough about the saturation of pigments and while the hues themselves may not be the most eccentric we’ve seen, they all nonetheless possess that certain something extra which makes them vibrant and fresh. If you haven’t already tried this brand, then I urge you to go over to the company’s website and view them…perchance to dream, or to buy! Please note that until July 1st, a-england also offers free postage & packaging worldwide.
*Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration