Filed In: nail polish

YSL · The Street And I Spring 2017 Collection

 

 

The Spring launch from YSL is taking its cue from the street, although there’s nothing remotely gritty about this collection, that’s for sure. Bright pops of colour are made wearable by new layerable textures and formulations: now that’s what I call being street & beauty savvy.

 

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Essie Gel Couture · Ballet Nudes Collection

 

Say what you will, no brand understands feminine and dainty better than essie, and this latest Ballet Nudes Collection (CAN $13.99/each) certainly backs up what I’m saying. Of course, the fact that these lacquers come in essie’s new gel couture™ formula doesn’t hurt either; created to be long-wearing, it’s also the revolutionary brush that makes all the difference in the world between a mediocre and totally flawless application. So basically, the nail polish aficionado + ballerina wannabe in me have just come together in perfect harmony.

Inspired by the elegance of the ballet — from the costumes (think: pastel, shimmery tutus) to the choreography (embodied by the uniquely twisted bottle and brush wand design), these shades are meant to be applied to your bare nails, then finished with the specially formulated top coat … no base coat or curing lamp needed.

Note that none of the swatches shown have top coat added — I wanted to show how glossy they are even on their own.

 

Luxury inspo? CHANEL Fall/Winter 2016-17 Haute Couture Collection

 

Lace Me Up | A white based baby pink hue that applies relatively streak-free, with any patchiness seen by the first coat easily smoothing out with a second layer. You’ll need at least three thin coats to reach the opacity seen here.

Perfect Posture | Pale lavender/periwinkle hue with white undertones in the base, in a formula that’s was easy-peasy to apply: self levelling, non-patchy & coming to a glossy finish. Two coats seen here.

Satin Slipper | A light nude/beige with ultrafine pearly shimmer that may be a bit difficult to see unless direct light hits the nails, although it does add depth. As this formula has some translucency, you’ll need three thin coats to reach the opacity seen here.

At The Barre | A soft flesh toned nude with pink undertones in the base, thus making it universally wearable by a broad range of skin tones, with a formula that’s quite effortless to apply. Two coats seen here.

Hold The Position | A warm rose hue that’s surprisingly non-streaky in application (for something in this colour family, that is), falling in a self-levelling way and with good opacity as well. Two coats seen here.

Closing Night | A unique mix of light blue & soft-wash grey that’s filled with undercurrents of metallic blue shimmer which provides a slight shift seen in certain lighting. The formula here is a touch runnier than the rest, but still very easy to work with and apply. Any translucency seen with the first coat becomes totally opaque by a second layer. Two coats shown here.

 

You know that Spring is near when brands start busting out all the pastels (with neons & brights not far behind for Summer), and essie certainly managed to capture the essence of the ballet with this collection. My favourites are hands down Closing Night (I mean, just look at it), and Satin Slipper (even if it does take a bit more effort in application), although Lace Me Up falls totally in my white-loving wheelhouse and At The Barre is one of the easiest nudes you’ll wear. I was actually surprised by how much I liked Hold The Position, but as someone who’s not that big a fan of pink, well …. let’s just leave it here.

Available at salons & retailers nationwide

 

PR samples/All opinions my own

CHANEL SS/17 · Le Vernis Coco Codes Collection

 

Having previously reviewed several key pieces of the CHANEL Spring 2017 Coco Codes Collection (linked below), the last items I have to show you are the nail polishes. All slated to be permanent, they consist of three solid shades and one special top coat which can be worn either solo or layered with other colours. In keeping with Mlle. Chanel’s classic colour theme of red, white, beige and black (only gold is not represented here), each hue is wearable and totally relatable, and while this top coat stands unique, be advised that it’s not without a learning curve. I do so love a beauty challenge …

Previously reviewed from this collection:

Le Top Coat Black Métamorphosis (CAN $32.00) | a translucent/sheer charcoal with CHANEL’s ultrafine “secret” shimmer that’s not really visible to the naked eye, but does add an overall depth of tone. The formula leans on the thick side and while workable, you do need to work quickly due to a slightly faster dry time, and have a steady hand during application. The bonus to this top coat, is that it can be worn on its own as a tint, or layered over anything else for a completely new colour combo. The most even look is achieved when it’s paired over a deeper shade, although I actually like the “smokey” effect it gives when layered over a lighter hue. I do admit that the latter look does take some getting used to, but it’s a fun and new way to change things up.

Swatches above are shown with 1, 2 & 3 coats respectively – no other top coat

Le Vernis Culte (CAN $32.00/each) | Three classic shades in CHANEL’s updated formula that work best when paired with the Le Gel Top Coat for a long-lasting glossy finish. As the brand’s nail polish range was revamped last year, you probably won’t find too many duplicates to compare to (with the exception of perhaps the red shade), which is a point scored in their favour. That said, I do feel that CHANEL needs to create a better brush, as that still seems to be a weakness with their lacquers.

Note: for the swatches below, the top row shows the shades on their own, while the bottom row is with 1 coat of Black Métamorphosis layered on top.

  • 548 Blanc White – a warm leaning sheer ivory, glossy finish, needs 3 coat for decent opacity (best layered over a ridge filling base coat to act as “undies”). Coats shown: 3
  • 556 Beige Beige – a peach/flesh toned nude, good opacity seen even by the 1st coat, excellent non-patchy formula. Coats shown: 2
  • 546 Rouge Red – a vivid pink/red hue in a crème-jelly hybrid formula, a plush cushiony look with a good opacity (slightly translucent with 1st layer). Coats shown: 2

The more I played with these shades, the more sense they made to me — in particular Lucia Pica’s vision of “lacquering”. Groundbreaking, they definitely are NOT and while we all probably have more than our share of white, beige and red polishes, I still appreciate the spin they’ve been given with the addition of this top coat. By the way, if Black Métamorphosis seems somewhat familiar, you may remember Dior’s Rock Coat released in Spring 2011 as part of the Rock Your Nails Collection — a shade that was obviously way ahead of its time.

Available now at all CHANEL counters

 

PR samples/All opinions my own

a-england · Tennyson’s Romance

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It’s no secret that one of my favourite nail polish brands is a-england, and not just for the absolutely stellar quality of the product. What makes this range a total stand-out for me, is how well thought-out and curated each collection is and the love with which founder Adina Bodana goes about in creating each shade. Inspired by her love of of Pre-Raphaelite art and literature, Tennyson’s Romance draws inspiration from a beloved poem of Adina’s, The Beggar Maid from Alfred, Lord Tennyson and brought to life by yet another of Adina’s favourites, the artist Edward Burne-Jones.

To see all previous reviews from this brand, click this a-england tab

The Beggar Maid (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Her arms across her breast she laid;
She was more fair than words can say:
Bare-footed came the beggar maid
Before the king Cophetua.
In robe and crown the king stept down,
To meet and greet her on her way;
“It is no wonder,” said the lords,
“She is more beautiful than day”.

As shines the moon in clouded skies,
She in her poor attire was seen:
One praised her ankles, one her eyes,
One her dark hair and lovesome mien:
So sweet a face, such angel grace,
In all that land had never been:
Cophetua sware a royal oath:
“This beggar maid shall be my queen!”

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King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid by Edward Burne-Jones (1884)

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The Beggar Maid | A steely grey base with olive undertones and a scattered holographic effect that gives off a slight pink shift under some lights. Self-levelling and almost a one-coat-wonder, this comes to a glossy finish.

Coats: 2, no top coat

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Angel Grace | A vivid purple with a strong scattered holographic effect. A slightly thinner formula than The Beggar Maid, but bearing the same smooth application and shiny finish.

Coats: 2, no top coat

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King Cophetua | Probably the black holographic shade to rule them all, the scattered effect here is beautifully rendered and this is truly a one-coat-wonder. Self-levelling and coming to a glossy finish, there’s no staining upon removal either.

Coats: 2, no top coat

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In Robe And Crown | A rich burgundy hue with a scattered holographic effect, with a flawless application, glossy finish, and no staining upon removal. I’m all about the ‘banked embers’ look happening with this shade and love how complex it is.

Coats: 2, no top coat

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Shall Be My Queen | A deep rose shade with a strong scattered holographic effect that applies almost fully opaque by the first layer. Self-levelling like the rest and coming to a glossy finish, with bonus no staining upon removal.

Coats: 2, no top coat

 

As passionate as I am about beauty, that also applies to literature and art which is why everything about the Tennyson’s Romance collection resonates so strongly with me. This is a perfect example of all the right ingredients colliding, and no one does that better than a-england. If I were to pick my faves, that would be The Beggar Maid, King Cophetua and In Robe and Crown — primarily because moody shades like that sit right in my wheelhouse. If you’ve yet to discover this brand, you really need to get on board because this is one unbelievably quality product that I honestly cannot recommend enough. Plus, just look at all this gorgeousness, am I right?

Visit a-england for retailers

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PR samples/As always, all opinions are my own

NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer, Holiday 2016

 

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Just when I think that I’ve got the NARS philosophy pinned down, this brand comes out with yet another vision of beauty. Their latest to hit counters is the Sarah Moon x NARS Collection, a collaboration between this often-eclectic beauty brand and model-turned-fashion-photogrpaher Sarah Moon. Drawing heavily on iconic cinema for inspiration, the collection centres around a sultry red theme, a colour that’s not only absolutely perfect for the holidays but the only hue that can be at once sultry, mysterious, dangerous & sophisticated — perfectly exemplified by the three limited edition lacquers shown here.

As this is a fairly large collection, I’ve broken it down into several posts that I’ll be showing here, in order to give each gorgeous item its proper due — stay tuned for the rest.

 

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photo by Sarah Moon (credit)

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NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer, Holiday 2016

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NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer, Holiday 2016

 

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FlonFlons (CAN $31.00) | Described as “pink red”, I see this more as a true tomato red colour, bearing a hybrid crème-jelly formula that applies in a totally self-levelling way and leaving a high-gloss finish behind. Richly pigmented, opacity is wonderful even with the first coat, without displaying any of the spring-back effect normally seen with this type of polish. Relatively non-staining, I still wouldn’t skip base coat just the same. PS: how much fun is it to say “FlonFlons”?

Coats: 2, plus top coat

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NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer · FlonFlons swatch

 

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Never Tamed (CAN $31.00) | Described as “geranium”, that’s pretty much bang-on; a brick-red hue with a blueish undertone but that will still be equally wearable against warmer skin-tones as well. Bearing a lighter version of a crème-jelly formula, it applies smoothly and winds up super glossy. Displaying the thinnest flow of the threes, opacity is excellent just the same with the final look giving off a vintage Hollywood-glam vibe — think screen siren, and you’ll get the picture. Slightly less staining than FlonFlons, I still recommend applying base coat first.

Coats: 2, plus top coat

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NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer · Never Tamed swatch

 

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La Dame En Noir (CAN $31.00) | Described as “deep burgundy”, is once again totally accurate, although there’s a look of lush port wine to this hue as well. Bearing a similar formula to Never Tamed along with similar blue undertones in the base, this shade is the epitome of sexy vampiness; think of it as the adult version of the entire group, one that positively drips with sultriness and a bit of ooh-la-la, along with being the glossiest of the trio as well.

Coats: 2, plus top coat (although the latter is only there for protection, not shine)

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NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer · La Dame En Noir swatch

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NARS x Sarah Moon Nail Lacquer, Holiday 2016

 

In my opinion, red will always be a classic and regardless of how many trendy shades pop up, I always swing back to it. Granted, none of the hues here are groundbreaking in terms of colour and if you’re anything like me, you probably already own more than your share of reds. That being said, it comes down to formulation and this time around, NARS has nailed it; not only has application improved by light years compared to past iterations, but the brush is pretty amazing too — something I’ve had issues with in the past with this brand. So if you’re looking for that perfect red to flaunt for the holidays, you’ll definitely channel your inner Marilyn or Greta with this trio.

Available at The Bay, Sephora & online

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Press samples/As always, all opinions are my own