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NARS ‘Storm Bird’ Fall 2012 + fifty shades of grey … or, at least ten … (swatches, comparisons & review)
For fall 2012, NARS cosmetics has once again launched a collection full of an eclectic mix of colours, with a definitely modern autumnal vibe going on that ties everything together, as only François Nars can achieve. I’m always curious to what this creative artist will release as far as nail varnish is concerned, but ‘Storm Bird’ gave me pause; it wasn’t too long ago that the brand gave us another dark grey shade. Seems like grey is quite popular these days, which reminded me …
Ok – unless you’ve been in hibernation these past few months, you’ve surely heard of the frenzy caused by E.L. James’ trilogy of books, beginning with “fifty shades of grey” – a modern and titillatingly sexy story about a woman discovering the dark side to love. I was intrigued enough to buy the 1st book, but here’s where it goes sour for me; I was expecting some honest erotica (based on all the hype), and instead I feel that I got an updated Harlequin romance novel. Talk about a lunch-bag letdown … but the again, maybe it’s just me. After having read ‘The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy’ by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice writing under a pseudonym) several years ago – a trio of sensually gritty books, everything else pales in comparison. But don’t take my word for it …
I digress – on to the lacquer!
‘Storm Bird’ is in a word, STUNNING. I was tempted to pass it over, thinking it was not different enough from NARS’ ‘Galion’ (previously reviewed here) to warrant investing in, but after swatching it quickly at the counter, I knew that I had nothing like it. A perfectly flowing & amazing formula, with excellent opacity and colour saturation, the 100% self-levelling finish gave way to a final shine that was literally glass-like; insane, I tell you! The colour of this luxurious crème varnish falls somewhere between concrete and dove, with definite blueish undertones in its base that seem to add a milky veil in certain lights, while at other times it can appear more dense – rather like gathering storm clouds, and just as impressive. The following swatches are all with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat. Coats of lacquer applied: 2
As the title of this post suggests, I was convinced I had easily at least 50 grey shades to compare ‘Storm Bird’ to, but after rummaging through my collection, I was surprised to find only 10 that met the criteria, discarding anything metallic, or with obvious shimmer and/or glitter. The only exception was for YSL’s ‘Stormy Grey’, both for the name and for the fact that the shimmer seen in the bottle paradoxically stays muted once applied – PLUS, it was the first brand to kick-start the whole modern grey trend. For the following comparisons, I’ve chosen to show them on a nail wheel (alone first, with my nail swatches second), in order to see all the hues together against ‘Storm Bird’ – which is the center shade at the top. All swatches are with base + top coats once more, and 2 coats of lacquer, with the exception of OPI’s ‘Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees’ that needed a 3rd to achieve a deeper opacity.
*By clicking to enlarge the nail wheel photos, you’ll get a better appreciation of all the shade variances
To the left of the ‘Storm Bird’ swatch, from top to bottom:
- NARS ‘Galion’ (reviewed here)
- OPI ‘Nein, Nein,Nein … Ok Fine!’ (reviewed here)
- Essie ‘Power Clutch’ – (reviewed here)
- YSL ‘Stormy Grey’
- MAC ‘On the Prowl’ (Hello Kitty Collection)
To the right of ‘Storm Bird’, from top to bottom:
- Deborah Lippmann ‘Stormy Weather’ (reviewed here)
- Gosh ‘Miss Grey’ (reviewed here)
- China Glaze ‘Concrete Catwalk (reviewed here)
- OPI ‘Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees’ (the Spain Collection)
- Dior ‘Gris Montaigne’ (reviewed here)
As is shown, clearly nothing is even remotely close to ‘Storm Bird’; the YSL has a similar blueish base, while the other hues fall anywhere between being much darker, too light, some slightly sheerer, others too green based. Yes … this beauty is definitely unique!
nail wheel, in sunlight
nail wheel, shaded light
nail wheel, with flash
Storm Bird nail swatch & comparisons, in sunlight
Storm Bird nail swatch & comparisons, shaded light
Storm Bird nail swatch & comparisons, with flash
Final thoughts: For a colour that is as unassuming as “grey”, it’s surprising how many degrees of it there are out there and how each one offers something different, from bold & vampy, all the way to subtle and ethereal. ‘Storm Bird’ falls somewhere in the middle, bearing enough intensity to stand out on its own, but still softened somewhat by its blueish undertones, to make this a work-friendly shade – which can easily make the transition for after hours. The formula alone is worth investing in; it almost applies itself WITH the added bonus of it being completely non-staining. Available at all NARS counters right now, this is the grey shade you want to be wearing. Seriously.
*Disclaimer: Some products provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration
I have a confession to make: I don’t really know all that much about Sephora’s 2nd collaboration with Pantone, and I only picked up one item from the previous collection (which I STILL haven’t reviewed), but as soon as my eyes landed on ‘Reflecting Pond’, I was captivated. Something about murky, aquatically-themed hues just get to me every single time. Probably has something to do with the fact that I’m a water sign … or it could be the storm-tossed allure of this lacquer …
Sephora + Pantone Universe ‘Reflecting Pond’
Sephora + Pantone Universe ‘Reflecting Pond’
the beautiful opalescent box
‘Reflecting Pond’ is a jewel, and just as luxurious colour-wise. Starting with the opalescent box it comes in – which is pretty enough in its own right, the densely pigmented, medium-thick formula makes application almost effortless. The charcoal infused teal of the base colour is filled to the brim with ultra fine brilliant teal shimmer “dust”, along with some deep blue, scattered green & lavender/pink specks throughout, which lend some elusive indigo flashes to this shade (seen clearer in direct sunlight) and a complex depth of tone. Indoors turns ‘Reflecting Pond’ into a murky & blackened teal, leaving behind an almost metallic after-image (really weird and cool effect, actually), but I love how the sides of the nail look like a frame for the gorgeous center teal colour. Brush stroke-free and self-levelling, the final finish is somewhat dull; addition of top coat is an absolute must, as it literally brings this beauty to life.
The square bottle shape is a nice touch as well, made with heavy, sturdy glass and while the wand may seem a little long, I found the brush to be well formed, with just the right amount of length & flexibility to allow for a fuss-free application. Bonus: absolutely no staining upon removal. Coats applied: 2
Unique touch: on the back label of the box you’ll find a box with a colour swatch and a corresponding number, in case you want to paint your walls the same shade! According to Sephora:
What it is:
A thrilling collection of nail lacquers inspired by exotic gems, precious jewels, and vivid natural beauty.
What it does:
Fall under the spell of the Alchemy of Color Collection, an enchanting collaboration between Pantone Universe and Sephora that marries the hottest shades of the season with exclusive formulation and finish. The collection includes a kaleidoscope of colors and each of the multi-dimensional lacquers feature an innovative texture and futuristic finish, from metallic, to sparkle, iridescent, and never-seen-before metallic matte. The formulas are long-wearing, chip-resistant, and promise full-color payoff. Bring the brilliant hues to life as you mix and match to create your own magic.
What else you need to know:
This collection takes inspiration from Pantone’s View Colour Planner Autumn/ Winter 12-13 Book, predicting a radiant color breakthrough in fall 2012 and a leap into bright reds, energizing oranges, and sumptuous purples. Each formula is formaldehyde-free and dibutyl phthalate (DBP)-free.
*All swatches are with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat, but I did notice some shrinking away from the nail edges after this step – an obvious sign of incompatibility.
Going through my collection of polishes, I came across several that are in the same colour family as ‘Reflecting Pond’, but I narrowed things down to Deborah Lippmann’s ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ – for being the closest in base tone, and Nailtini’s ‘Stinger’ (previous reviewed here) – for having a similar duo coloured effect. All swatches are with 2 coats of lacquer, as well as base & top coats. How they compared:
- index finger: Deborah Lippmann ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ – the thinnest flowing formula, almost identical blackened teal base with a pine green ultra fine shimmer – no other colour flashes, the darkest in overall tone, very glossy natural finish
- middle & pinkie fingers: Sephora + Pantone Universe™ ‘Reflecting Pond’
- ring finger: Nailtini ‘Stinger’ – formula, flow & opacity similar to ‘Reflecting Pond’, underlying base shows more of a prune hue (1st coat), visible purple overtones (naked eye), much more prominent cobalt flash with shimmer leaning more towards emerald, superb glossy finish
Final thoughts: I am a total sucker for these types of shades; apart from its obvious brooding qualities, I love all the complexities of colour and tone that go into ‘Reflecting Pond’. The formula was unexpectedly thick, but very easy to work with nonetheless and even though you can almost get away with one coat, I highly recommend a second as it enhances the vivid colour of this beauty. I passed on the other 4 shades released – pretty hues, but nowhere near as eye-catching; I’m not sure at this point if they’re limited edition, but the collection is definitely a Sephora exclusive. The price seems to be quite fair as well, coming at CDN $11.00 for 11 ml/.37 fl oz, slightly more than an OPI but definitely less than a CHANEL. Definitely worth seeing with your own eyes – but be forewarned of its mesmerizing effect!
When I think of fall colours, usually deeper hues come to mind; Deborah Lippmann decided to go in another direction and take things down a notch. ‘Modern Love’, one of 2 new shades released for fall 2012 (the other is ‘Let’s Go Crazy’), is an utterly creamy neutral hue, but make no mistake: what might seem like a run-of-the-mill nude colour may just surprise you. Sometimes, a whisper draws more attention than a shout …
‘Modern Love’ is a surprisingly complex crème shade with a mix of dusky rose and earthy mauve, with some grey tints thrown in as well. With a formula that flows somewhat on the thin side, it stops just short of being runny and manages to bear an easy mess-proof consistency. The first coat gave quite decent coverage for a shade this light, applying in a relatively non-streaking manner and laying down quite smoothly, with the second coat displaying more of its mauve leanings. As seen in the swatches below, some lights bring out a more tan side, while others highlight an antique rose hue … very multi-faceted for a neutral. The natural gloss at the finish was quite good, although I prefer how a layer of top coat enhances all of its subtleties. The following swatches are with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat. Coats applied: 3 (for photographic purposes – otherwise 2 would be more than sufficient)
Naked (left), Modern Love (center), & Fashion (right) – in natural light
Naked, Modern Love, & Fashion
I resisted picking up ‘Modern Love’ at first, convinced that it was already too close to the 2 other Deborah Lippmann neutrals in my collection, ‘Naked’ (previously reviewed here) and ‘Fashion’. Naturally, my curiosity won out and upon swatching the 3 together, I’m glad I caved – happy to admit I was wrong and that I really don’t have anything exactly like it! Here’s how they all compared: (all are with 3 coats for consistency, as well as base & top coats)
- index finger: ‘Naked’ – palest of the three, leaning more peach, similar formula
- middle & pinkie fingers: ‘Modern Love’
- ring finger: ‘Fashion’ – the most neutral, beige-toned, the smoothest & best application of the three
Final thoughts: Finding the right neutral/nude hue to work with your skin tone, is not as easy as you’d think; too yellow-toned and your hands wind up looking sallow, too grey-toned and you run the risk of appearing corpse-like, too pink-toned and “mannequin hands” rule … but ‘Modern Love’ somehow manages to combine just enough of all these tones to compliment instead of clash. Against my still summer-tanned skin, the colour appears a lot more rosy and delicate; I’m thinking that once my tan fades, the colour will then appear much more urban and sophisticated, but either way, I’m totally loving its unexpectedly composed look – a refreshing, almost “non-colour” to kick some “vampy” butt!
*Disclaimer: some products provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration
Illamasqua – Generation Q Collection AW/12 ‘Charisma’ and ‘Creator’ Nail Varnish (swatches, comparisons, & review)
Leave it to the razor-sharp creative minds at Illamasqua, to create a collection that almost takes a 360° from what they’ve been showing us lately. A far cry from the exotic, the eccentric, and the alluringly bizarre past Illamasqua incarnations, the ‘Generation Q’ collection of products for Autumn/Winter 2012 is actually rather, well … universally wearable. Could it be that “normal” is the new “weird”?!
From Illamasqua’s press release:
Where beauty has no age limits
I. Absolutely. LOVE. That. Frequently, I’ll see an ad for a beauty collection, and then realize how totally unwearable that look may be for me — highly frustrating, especially when the models in the ad just look so darn good …
What Illamasqua wishes to achieve with this collection, is to dispel the myth that beauty is highly exclusive – all by creating products that are highly inclusive, regardless of one’s gender, skin colour, or age. To that end, not only has the brand reached their goals on every level, but exceeded them as well. Take for instance these 2 limited edition varnishes; a ruby so richly saturated with colour, that it can’t help but empower its wearer, and a shimmering black that takes you to the very edge of modernism, and back again, both in Illamasqua’s ridiculously stellar formula. All swatches are with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat.
‘Charisma’ is like applying liquified rubies along your nails. Seriously. A superbly flowing formula & application: this rich garnet base is completely self-levelling, with no visible brush strokes and filled with ultra finely ground magenta and burgundy shimmer. Applying with an intense pigmentation of colour even by the 1st coat, a second layer provides a more jewel-like tone and intensifies its plummy undertones. A medium-thick viscosity that allows no running or pooling into the cuticle area, the shine at the finish was an extra high gloss. BONUS: No staining upon removal. Coats applied: 2
in shaded light
Finding a ‘Charisma’ clone in my collection wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be; it came as something of a surprise when I stumbled across Essie’s ‘Swing Velvet’ (I believe this is a 2009 release and may not be available anymore) and then did a further double-take when I swatched the two together. How it compared:
index & pinkie fingers: Essie’s ‘Swing Velvet’ (2 coats) – a significantly thinner formula, but nonetheless still quite colour-saturated by the 1st coat as well. Applying smoothly and quite glossy at the finish, this is literally a degree or 2 deeper in tone when seen with the naked eye against ‘Charisma’, but other than its shimmer being a touch coarser-looking, the two are almost identical. Coats applied: 2
in sunlight/alternate lighting
in shaded light
‘Creator’ (I LOVE this name!) bears a slightly sheer black base, redolent with ultra fine square and rectangularly shaped silver glitter. An excellently flowing formula that applies very smoothly despite the glitter, this became 100% opaque by the second coat, although the finish was definitely not as glossy – imparting a gentle sheen instead. One layer of top coat is all that’s needed to really enhance this beauty and to keep it smooth to the touch. While removal does require a bit of elbow grease, it wasn’t too difficult – just bear in mind that the glitter will travel somewhat. Completely non-staining upon removal, another plus. Coats applied: 2
in shaded light
Looking for a comparison shade, the first lacquer that came to mind was NARS’ ‘Night Breed’ (previously reviewed here) from their ‘Night Series’ release. Yes, they are quite close. No, they’re not identical. If you missed out on the NARS, as it had been a limited edition item, here’s your chance at redemption — not that Illamasqua comes second to any other brand, mind you. How it compared:
index & pinkie fingers: NARS ‘Night Breed’ – a similar flow and application, but the black base is slightly more opaque, with its glitter bearing some tiny round shapes and being less densely packed than ‘Creator’. There appears to be a blueish tinge to this hue overall, although it winds up with the same dulled finish and has a similar level of grit to its glitter as the Illamasqua. Coats applied: 2
in sunlight/alternate lighting
in shaded light
Final thoughts: One thing I really admire about Illamasqua’s varnishes, is their consistency: the all maintain the same excellent level of quality in their flow, spread, pigmentation and wear – even the brush holds the right amount of rigidity/flexibility for a superior application. Neither ‘Charisma’ or ‘Creator’ are outrageous shades in and of themselves; what makes them stand out is their almost jewel-like intensity, as well as how well these shades translate from day to night – eminently suitable for all skin types across the spectrum, much like Illamasqua intended them to be.
The ‘Generation Q’ collection is set to launch on September the 6th, but you can see the entire range on Illamasqua’s website live now.
*Disclaimer: Product samples provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration
CHANEL – Les Essentiels de CHANEL Fall 2012 Le Vernis #559 Frenzy, #561 Suspicious and #563 Vertigo & Comparisons
Before I even began swatching the new trio of nail varnishes from CHANEL’s fall 2012 ‘Les Essentiels de CHANEL’ collection (reviewed in my previous post here), I had already started thinking of possible look-a-like contenders; naturally, I wanted the duplicates to be as identical as I could find them and since these particular shades aren’t too outrageous, I figured it would be relatively easy to find a few döppelgangers. Uh, not so much. But some interestingly close relatives were found just the same.
Finding a #561 Frenzy clone wasn’t as hard as I originally thought, but even so, most of the bottles I culled from my stash were either too pale, too grey, or too pink. I finally opted for Essie’s ‘Miss Fancy Pants’ from the brand’s fall 2012 collection (previously reviewed here). The following swatches are all with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat. Coats applied – 2 (for each) and how it compared:
- middle & ring fingers: CHANEL #559 Frenzy
- index & pinkie fingers: Essie ‘Miss Fancy Pants’ – a definitely thicker formula, more grey tinged and a few degrees deeper in tone, bearing similarities in opacity, self-levelling application and high gloss shine at the finish
I immediately knew which shade I wished to compare #561 Suspicious to, and that was none other than CHANEL’s #541 ‘Tentation’ from one of the brand’s spring 2012 releases (previously reviewed here), although I was concerned about the differing finishes but I felt that the base colour was identical enough to warrant a comparison. Once more, all swatches were done using Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat, using 2 coats of lacquer for both. Here’s how it compared:
- middle & ring fingers: CHANEL #561 Suspicious
- index & pinkie fingers: CHANEL #541 Tentation – a hybrid jelly/crème formula, which seems to give this shade more elasticity on application, several degrees more vibrant and pink-leaning when viewed live – most probably due to the multitude of fuchsia and blue tinged ultra-fine shimmer it’s filled with, same opacity and ease of application but not as glossy at the finish.
The final shade, #563 Vertigo proved to be more of a challenge and I was pretty sure that I had absolutely nothing like it in my collection. On the one hand I was right, but still found myself surprised to pull out at least 2 possibilities – both found amongst my Diors – ‘Ebony’ from the Mitzah Collection (previously reviewed here) and ‘Underground’ from the ‘Rock Your Nails Collection’ (previously reviewed here), and then decided to add CHANEL’s #509 ‘Paradoxal’ (previously reviewed here) to the equation, primarily because it offers the same mysterious shimmer as that of ‘Vertigo’, although the intensity of ‘Paradoxal’s’ hue is visibly way off. All swatches are with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat. Coats applied – 2 for each. Here’s how they compared:
- index finger: Dior ‘Ebony’ – the thinnest formula of them all, more brown based and bearing sparse silvery flecks that are almost invisible to the naked eye
- middle finger: CHANEL #563 Vertigo
- ring finger: Dior ‘Underground’ – the thickest formula of the group, although with a similar flow to that of ‘Vertigo’, more prune based and bearing scant silvery flecks that add depth, but are not visible unless seen in direct sunlight/flash
- pinkie finger: CHANEL ‘#509 Paradoxal’ – identical formula to that of ‘Vertigo’ and similar concept of a “muddied tone filled with complex shimmer”, obviously more deep mauve/purple leaning but with that same enigmatic look to it
Final thoughts: From the three lacquers of the ‘Les Essentiels de CHANEL’ Collection, the 2 that I would have to say are the most easily duplicated, are without a doubt #559 Frenzy and #561 Suspicious, although even at that, you would be hard pressed to find an exact match or come close to CHANEL’s stellar formula and application. Looking at the comparisons to #563 Vertigo, it is clear that there really is NOTHING like it out there, although if you theoretically combined Dior’s ‘Ebony’ and ‘Underground’, you’d probably come very, very close. Theoretically. My final verdict? I’m pleased to say that all three CHANELs can definitely hold their own in anyone’s collection, but if it’s something unique, off-the-wall, and one-of-a-kind that grabs your fancy, then you should definitely snag #563 Vertigo — while you still can!
*Disclaimer: Some products provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration