Filed In: nail polish

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

Dior · Diorific Vernis Splendor, Cosmic & Nova – Holiday Splendor 2016 Collection

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Drawing inspiration from exquisite haute couture detailing, Dior has just launched the Splendor 2016 Collection for the holidays, filled with timeless & classic colours such as the nail shades shown here … then added a festive little twist to keep things unique. As in past holiday collections, these Diorific Vernis hues come housed in round retro-glam bottles with gold packaging, details that are totally not lost on a beauty obsessive such as myself.

I’ll be posting the rest of the collection in upcoming reviews — stay tuned as you won’t want to miss seeing any of it, believe me! For more behind-the-scenes-peeks, I welcome you to join me @ommorphia on any (or all!) of my other platforms: Instagram & InstaStories, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter.

∗Note that there are 2 more shades — 328 Golden and a pink hue that I believe won’t be released in Canada.

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Dior · Diorific Vernis, Holiday Splendor 2016 Collection

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Dior · Diorific Vernis, Holiday Splendor 2016 Collection

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Dior · Diorific Vernis, Holiday Splendor 2016 Collection

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001 Nova, limited edition (CAN $34.00) | Described as a “broken mirror top coat”, this little beauty is definitely the heart & star attraction of the three. Bearing a clear base, it’s filled with irregularly shaped iridescent shards. The formula leans on the thick side but is easy to apply and has the added advantage of not needing any fishing to get enough of the shimmery bits per brushful, although you may need to nudge a few strays in place (any that might stick out along the free nail edge or along the sides). Brilliantly reflective, you can wear Nova on its own or layered over EVERYTHING (seriously) and if you’re really looking to bring out its prismatic effect (especially with a darker colour underneath), try adding a matte top coat and then sit back to watch the magic happen. Relatively smooth to the touch, it becomes even more so with a regular top coat added.

Coats: 2, plus top coat

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Dior · 001 Nova Diorific Vernis

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Dior · 001 Nova Diorific Vernis swatches

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850 Splendor, limited edition (CAN $34.00) | A rich deep garnet (red velvet?) hue filled with Dior’s iconic ultra fine shimmer in gold & red hues. Slightly cooler leaning due to the blue undertones in the base, Splendor is super colour-saturated — almost a one-coat-wonder. The shimmer is apparent regardless of lighting, and while more vivid in direct light, it still manages to provide a lush depth of tone to this colour even when seen indoors. Self-levelling with an excellent flow & opacity, and ultra glossy at the finish, it’s also relatively non-staining provided you apply base coat first.

Coats: 2, plus top coat (1 coat of Nova added then mattified in the last two swatches)

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Dior · 850 Splendor Diorific Vernis

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Dior · 850 Splendor Diorific Vernis swatch

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Dior · 850 Splendor Diorific Vernis swatches, with 001 Nova (left) & mattified (right)

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899 Cosmic, limited edition (CAN $34.00) | As someone who’s a huge fan of brooding darkling shades, Cosmic sits right in the heart of my colour wheelhouse. This is a blackened violet hue with grape undertones and chock-full of ultrafine shimmer in bronze and burgundy hues, of the type that Dior does so well. With an effortless application, the formula is smoothly laying and comes to a natural high-gloss finish — along with being relatively stain-free, provided you first add a base coat. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I threw on a layer of Nova then took things to the next level by mattifying it all up, and I ended up with a major OMG moment. Just look at it; seriously frame-worthy.

Coats: 2, plus top coat (1 coat of Nova added then mattified in the last three swatches)

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Dior · 899 Cosmic Diorific Vernis

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Dior · 899 Cosmic Diorific Vernis swatches, with 001 Nova (right)

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Dior · 899 Cosmic Diorific Vernis swatches with 001 Nova magnified (direct sunlight, right)

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Dior · Diorific Vernis, Holiday Splendor 2016 Collection

 

You’ve probably heard me say this several times before, but Dior makes one of my favourite nail polish formulas and that also includes the three holiday versions shown here. The bottles are absolutely adorable and almost begged to be displayed (but a total pain to hold while trying to photograph them), with the brush being the only departure from that of the regular range, both in size/length of the wand and shape. Nevertheless, it still splays effortlessly along the nail and I actually think the shorter size makes it almost easier to maneuver — but I still prefer the usual format just the same. If you get nothing else (although good luck in picking just one), make sure you don’t miss out on Nova — I’m definitely planning on a back up.

Available at The Bay & select Dior counters nationwide

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Press samples/As always, all opinions are my own

CHANEL · Cheeks, Lips & Nails – Collection Libre de CHANEL

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To harmonize with the more somber tones of the eye products in the collection, Lucia Pica selected a vibrant and fresh palette of colours for cheeks, lips, and nails. The theme of the Collection Libre Synthetic de CHANEL is all about the play of shadow & light, texture, and mood, revisited and reimagined in unique new forms. Then there’s that explosive blush shade … you won’t want to miss out on it, believe me.

Previously reviewed from this collection:

 

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Collection Libre de CHANEL · Rianne Van Rompaey, photographed by Karim Sadli for CHANEL

 

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CHANEL · Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh

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Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh, limited edition (CAN $53.00) | Acting as a counterpoint to the more industrial-like shades of the eyes, this blush is like finding a flower blooming unexpectedly in concrete. A vivid and almost neon pink (neon + CHANEL … who would have thought?), this is an über-pigmented hue that needs a very light hand to start with. Bearing the brand’s signature rose fragrance which dissipates fairly quickly once applied, the texture is incredibly refined and appears flawless when buffed lightly into the skin. There’s the lightest whisper of gold thrown in (visible in the macro shots, below) to add a nice touch of warmth, thus making Hyperfresh wearable by a broad range of skin tones. Lasting power (over foundation) is bang on, staying true & without fading until removed.

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CHANEL · Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh

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CHANEL · Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh

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CHANEL · Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh

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CHANEL · Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh swatches

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The only shade that come close to Hyperfresh from my collection of CHANEL blushes, is 270 Vibration (from Fall 2015, which I believe may no longer be available in Canada) and while both are bright pops of colour, there are still enough differences between them with Hyperfresh leaning slightly more peony pink.

As someone who tends to stick to coral-based blush shades, I was surprised to see that I owned 2 more neon-ish shades in my stash: Starscape (LE) from the NARS Christopher Kane Collection (Spring 2015) and Se Pomponner from Surratt Beauty. Again, while both of these are almost retina-searingly bright (especially when swatched heavily as I have here), neither is a match to Hyperfresh. Starscape, while extremely close, does appear to be a couple of degrees lighter & more true pink, while Se Pomponner is more blue-based and definitely the more vivid of them all. Quality-wise, apart from the fact that all are highly colour-saturated, they also display an extremely refined texture that makes them easy to blend seamlessly into the skin (just make sure to start off with a light hand).

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CHANEL · Joues Contraste 360 Hyperfresh vs 270 Vibration swatches

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CHANEL · 360 Hyperfresh, NARS Starscape & Surratt Beauty Se Pomponner swatches

 

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CHANEL · Rouge Allure Gloss 137 Super Nude & Rouge Allure 247 Ultraberry

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There are five lip products in this collection and I have my two favourites to show you here. Playing harmony to the more urban eye shades, both hues are fresh and easily wearable, while the textures offer up a smooth application and continuous hydrating feel to lips.

Rouge Allure Gloss 137 Super Nude, limited edition (CAN $43.00) – I have a total weakness for CHANEL glosses and in particular the Rouge Allure Gloss formula. There’s a nice thickness to the texture that helps it adhere well to lips without feeling tacky, seeming to level out and even fill in lip lines as it settles in. Super Nude is a beautiful mix of both cool & warm undertones which makes it universally wearable by all (without disappearing into one’s skin tone) and probably my fave neutral to date. Staying power is about average for a shade this light, approx. 3-4 hours without eating and/or drinking.

Rouge Allure 247 Ultraberry, limited edition (CAN $43.00) – Having been revamped over a year ago, the Rouge Allure formula provides excellent colour saturation with a rich moisturizing feel. Ultraberry is one of those wine/berry shades that can be worn several ways; lightly blotted to give that “bitten” effect, or layered for more depth of tone. Do note that it will leave a light stain behind, which in itself can also be yet another cool look to this shade.

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CHANEL · Rouge Allure Gloss 137 Super Nude swatch

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CHANEL · Rouge Allure 247 Ultraberry swatch

 

chanel-holiday-2016-nail-polish-1CHANEL · Le Vernis 540 Liquid Mirror, 542 Pink Rubber & 544 Hyperrose Glass

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The three nail shades of this collection (CAN $32.00/limited edition) each offer up a unique look and texture, and can even be mixed and matched (as seen in the swatches below).

542 Pink Rubber – a white based pale pink hue that has the finest pearly shimmer (seen more in direct sunlight) that applies in a self-levelling way but will probably show some patchiness with the first coat. Giving this shade a ‘rubberized’ finish takes it from dainty to something a lot more modern & unique, and also eliminates the need for using a matte top coat (I do love a matte nail). As seen in the swatches below, adding a glossy top coat (Le Gel Coat used here) gives a more classic look, while a layer of Hyperrose Glass gives a playful twist.

544 Hyperrose Glass – a semi-transparent cool pink hue with blue pearl reflects (and even some random darker pink pieces) in a super glossy jelly-like formula. Worn alone, 1 coat provides a pretty pink flush of colour while 2 coats gives a more colour depth, although don’t expect it to reach opacity any time soon. Layering Hyperrose Glass over other shades creates unique new colour combos, thus adding to its versatility.

540 Liquid Mirror – a dark silver metallic (with a grey/steely undertone) in a formula that’s not without it’s share of issues. On the plus side, the colour saturation is intense enough that you get great opacity even by the first coat, but you’ll need a very steady hand to minimize visible brush strokes. Some lines will level out as the polish dries, but do note that it will be impossible to eliminate them all. Another option is to add a layer of Hyperrose Glass which will not only camouflage some of the more obvious lines, but also provide a really cool mauve-y overtone. Apparently the inspiration here lies in the mirrored look and lines of urban skyscrapers and while I appreciate the imagery, I personally don’t feel it’s one that translates as well worn along the nails.

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CHANEL · Le Vernis 542 Pink Rubber swatches (natural light & direct sunlight)

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CHANEL · Le Vernis 542 Pink Rubber swatches (with top coat & 544 Hyperrose Glass)

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CHANEL · Le Vernis 544 Hyperrose Glass

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CHANEL · Le Vernis 544 Hyperrose Glass swatches (natural light & direct sunlight)

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CHANEL · Le Vernis 540 Liquid Mirror

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CHANEL · Le Vernis 540 Liquid Mirror swatches (direct sunlight & with Hyperrose Glass)

 

Apart from the fact that this collection is not overwhelmingly large (as so many other holiday collections tend to be), I’m really liking the sophisticated direction CHANEL has taken. As seen in my previous post, the eyes were all about strong & graphic colours, while here the lips, cheeks & nails serve to soften up any harsh edges. Neon pink is not a shade I’d normally reach for but here’s the thing: a light wash of Hyperfresh serves to totally brighten up the face while also adding a youthful hue, and that touch is always welcome. Both Super Nude and Ultraberry are drop-dead stunning and wearable; enough said. As to the nails, I applaud the mix of textures and and I’m having fun with both Pink Rubber and Hyperrose Glass, but Liquid Mirror just didn’t make the grade as far as I’m concerned, and that’s with bringing my considerable polishing skills to the table. I’m not giving up on it yet, however, as I not only love the colour but the name too; I still have a few more tricks up my sleeve to try!

Available November 1 at all CHANEL beauty counters

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Press samples/As always, all opinions are my own

MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton

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When makeup and photography collide, two of my [many] passions come together, and MAC’s upcoming Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Collection is sitting right in the heart of my wheelhouse. Ranking up there with such greats as Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, Iriving Penn, and Guy Bourdain (to name but a few) I’ve been a fan of Helmut Newton’s iconic ‘erotically-charged’ style since I discovered his work back when I began reading Vogue in the early 70s (gah…so long ago!). This tribute collection pays homage to this man’s legendary work, and I for one am going to freeze-frame it all up.

 

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Helmut Newton (credit: Vanity Fair)

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Helmut Newton, Vogue Italia

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton

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Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4 (CAN $42.00) | The four matte shades of this palette were inspired by the black & white aesthetic Helmut Newton was known for, not to mention being pretty much made for a neutral-lover such as myself. Perhaps not groundbreaking colour-wise, this one slim-profile compact holds basically all you need to create a multitude of looks that will easily take you from day to night. The shade breakdown:

  • Real Fantasy – soft eggshell, matte
  • Hard Currency – grey, matte
  • Influential – brown, satin
  • Point ‘N’ Shoot – black, matte

With the exception of the black (which is more charcoal in fact and not a true deep black, and thus not quite as pigmented as I expected), the shades show a very good colour payoff, blend effortlessly, and without any fall down . Real Fantasy appears near invisible when swatched on my arm (seen below) but makes for a good base with which to layer any of the other shades over and I personally love it as a natural-looking brow bone highlight.

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4 swatches

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4

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Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour (CAN $25.00) | Does anything say allure quite like a red lip? Throw in a matte finish, and you’re basically channelling Old Hollywood glam right there. With MAC’s usual vanilla scent, the soft-flocked diamond applicator makes application a breeze; the flat side enables you to cover a large area quickly while the tip is great for more precision work. The finish is a true matte without any sheen or reflection, but still has depth to keep things from appearing flat. Colour saturation is on the strong side, and lasting power excellent without leaving any excessive drying feel behind. The shade breakdown:

  • High Heels – vivid true red
  • Chateau M – deep red wine
  • Self Portrait – dark plum

If you’re looking to make an impact, then nothing beats a strong matte red lip. Of course, some prep work is also needed; since matte lip products can emphasize flakes or dryness, make sure to properly exfoliate beforehand followed  by lip balm to trap hydration (just don’t forget to blot before application). A matching lip liner is also key in creating that sharply defined look, but I don’t mind a bit of imprecision either; shows some flirtiness. Note that Self Portrait might appear slightly patchy in the swatch below, but it actually appears much smoother in person (although it’s still the more finicky of the three).

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour swatches

 

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Studio Nail Lacquer (CAN $15.00) | Drawing inspiration by two of the cities Helmut Newton lived in and the other shade giving a nod to his profession, these hues are classic colours that transcend skin tone & season, easily wearable by all.

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Studio Nail Lacquer

mac-helmut-newton-call-time-swatchCall Time | A putty crème hue that’s self-levelling, although some patchiness that’s seen by the first coat reaches full opacity at by the second layer. Coming to a glossy finish, this colour is a beautiful compromise between nude & white.

Coats: 2, plus top coat

 

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Monte Carlo | My label has this as a frost (whut? Ummm…no), this is a blue-based maraschino red in a hybrid crème-jelly formula that’s self-levelling and comes to a plush, cushiony, and super-glossy finish. There’s a bit of a spring-back effect seen at the tips during application, while the colour saturation is strong enough to almost make this a one-coat-wonder — the perfect screen siren red. Relatively non-staining, don’t skip base coat just the same.

Coats: 2, plus top coat

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Berlin | A deep maroon crème-jelly hybrid, this shade shows a touch of sheerness at the first layer, but reaches a much stronger intensity by the 2nd coat. Self-Levelling and über-glossy at the finish, this colour just screams femme fatale red to me. Relatively non-staining, I’d advise applying base coat first just the same.

Coats: 2, plus top coat (although it really doesn’t need it)

 

With a selection of images by the legendary photographer adorning the packaging of this collection, there are two more items which I did not receive: Boot Black Liquid Eye Liner & Upward Black Upward Lash Mascara, although I’m thinking to go scope them out when everything launches. Breaking down the collection & starting with the lip products, matte red lips there are a-plenty, but what impresses me here is not only the smooth way these apply, but how non-dessicating they all feel throughout the wearing. The eyeshadow palette is 100% versatile, with shades that anyone can wear (and the one I reach for at the moment). MAC’s nail polishes have come a long way too, with a much better formula and brush, with the gloss factor on all three here being nothing short of WOW. With nary a wild or eclectic hue in sight, this entire collection gets a major thumbs up from me.

Available online October 27, in-store November (North America)

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Press samples/As always, all opinions are my own