CHANEL: Le Vernis #521 Rose Caché, #519 Rose Exubérant, #08 Pirate and Velvet Mat Top Coat (swatches & review)


With their Fall 2011 Collection still gracing their counters, CHANEL has decided to throw even more temptation in our our path by way of this latest micro launch, which includes their limited edition Velvet Mat Top Coat.  Accompanying these three varnishes and top coat, are CHANEL’s brand new Rouge Allure Velvet Lip Colours – ultra creamy, long-wearing and slightly mattified lipsticks, with the two shades that pulled me in being ‘La Distinguée’ and ‘La Fascinante’ (review forthcoming). As I have been intrigued lately with a more subtle yet edgy finish, both in my nail polish and in my makeup, this launch seemed to have literally read my mind…and my tastes.



This new trio of shades, runs the gamut of tastes in just three simple bottles: ‘Rose Caché’ – a delicate pale pink, perfect for neutral lovers, ‘Rose Exubérant’ – a hot, hot pink for those who wished to be noticed, and ‘Pirate’ – a vivid red hue, to best channel your inner siren. Each shade had a totally unique formula, with ‘Rose Caché’ shyly revealing the secret shimmer CHANEL has become known for, ‘Rose Exubérant’ being so colour-saturated it could easily be perfectly opaque in just one coat, and ‘Pirate’ displaying a hybrid crème/jelly format that was a dream to apply.  All three were completely self-levelling, as well as sharing a wonderful glossy shine, with the finish on ‘Pirate’ being nothing short of just brilliant.  Please note that no base coat was used for the following swatches.


‘Rose Caché’, a subtle and feminine pale dusty pink, is made even more wearable by the hints of peach lurking in its depths.  The way the ultra fine hidden pink shimmer flashes out in certain lights made me think that this could be the rose version of ‘Paradoxal’ (reviewed here). It’s this finely milled shimmer that keeps this shade interesting and prevents it from fading into the background, lending it an urban and more modern edge. The following swatches are with three thin coats of lacquer.


With sunlight reflecting off the nails, the warm peachy undertones come to the surface, and the pink shimmer seems to dance tantalizingly under the surface.


Still looking rather warm-toned, indirect light gives a more muted and dusky look to ‘Rose Caché’, looking like much-loved & worn ballet slippers.


Seen in shaded light, this shade’s more pink nature appears to unfold, while the shimmer is tucked away somewhere in its depths.


A final view taken with flash exposes the shimmer once more and also serves to showcase this shade’s incredible natural glossy finish.


‘Rose Exubérant’, an incredibly vivid and steaming hot pink hue, somehow manages to stay so elegant, despite being such a bright shade.  Seeming to bear slight coral leanings in its base which lend it a warm and wearable air, the pigmentation on this lacquer is second to none. Even though I applied two thin coats for the following swatches, one thicker coat would most likely achieve the same look – perfect for those on the go!


Looking more honeysuckle than bubblegum, sunlight seems to draw out the warmth inherent to this shade and spotlights its über-bright nature.


Looking rather cool-toned in indirect lighting, I love how this shade just seems to glow with a cerise inner fire.


While shaded light darkens ‘Rose Exubérant’, it also serves to bring about a slight cherry blossom hue, giving this shade a modern feminine touch.


A final view taken with flash focuses on this shade’s deep, deep true pink colour yet still manages to stay far from any neon-like effect.


‘Pirate’, an almost eye-searing tomato red shade, has a bit of a chameleon quality to it; depending on your skin tone, it will either appear to have reddish undertones, or subtle blueish glints, helping it to morph effortlessly from a warm to cool, to finally a mid tone colour. Expecting it to be somewhat on the sheer side due to its slight jelly-like formula, I was pleasantly surprised to note that two coats were more than enough for great opacity.  What I did not expect was the insanely high gloss – absolutely stunning!


Seen in sunlight, I couldn’t make up my mind whether I was seeing slight orange or pale blue glints, until I realized that it was an amalgamation of both hues!


Indirect light appears to throw a cooler mantle over ‘Pirate’ and draws out a more maraschino cherry-like tone.


Something about shaded light seems to give this shade a glow, with a slight blueish tone hinting along the nail edge.


A final view taken with flash enables ‘Pirate’ to appear as a true, Crayola red shade and highlights how incredibly vivid it is.



Entering the textural lacquer field, CHANEL introduces its ‘Velvet Mat Top Coat’, designed to be applied over the polish of your choice to create a smooth, suede-like finish.  The bottle differs slightly as well, with the double CC logo on the top printed in silver (as opposed to white) and the body of the bottle a satiny/matte black, mimicking the effect this top coat achieves.  The formula is of a medium consistency, with a slight milky fluid that does not alter your base shade at all; it only changes the finish. In order for this top coat to be at its most effective, I found that skipping base coat under your chosen base shade, seems to work best. The final finish takes a few minutes to develop: ‘Rose Caché’ – 2.5 minutes, ‘Rose Exubérant’ – 2 minutes, ‘Pirate’ – 3 minutes.


‘Rose Caché’ in sunlight


‘Rose Caché’ in indirect light


‘Rose Caché’ in shaded light


‘Rose Caché’ with flash


‘Rose Exubérant’ in sunlight


‘Rose Exubérant’ in indirect light


‘Rose Exubérant’ in shaded light


‘Rose Exubérant’ with flash


‘Pirate’ in sunlight


‘Pirate’ in indirect light


‘Pirate’ in shaded light


‘Pirate’ with flash


Final thoughts: As with basically everything that CHANEL does, this trio of lacquers were absolutely spectacular, in terms of colour, performance and composition. Not expecting to be enamoured of either of the two pink hues, I was surprised by how blown away I ended up being by those two colours; ‘Rose Caché’ in the mattified format was a vision of supreme elegance, while the paradoxically vivid/dusty look of ‘Rose Exubérant’ was a total thrill to behold.  The pièce de Résistance for me, was ‘Pirate’, in either format, but the mattified version left me staring dumbfounded at my nails! To me, that look embodied the sultry femme fatale of the 30’s & 40’s.  ‘Pirate”: the Mata Hari of red nail varnish, sensual, seductive and killer deadly!



30 Responses to CHANEL: Le Vernis #521 Rose Caché, #519 Rose Exubérant, #08 Pirate and Velvet Mat Top Coat (swatches & review)

  1. ettastratos says:

    I was looking for a matte top coat. What’s the difference between this one and the essie one? Besides price of course, but I’ve hard such good reviews on I don’t know which to choose.

    • Eugenia says:

      While the price is a determining factor, with the CHANEL easily twice the cost of the Essie, the other differences are that the Essie takes less time to “cure”, so you see the finished look slightly quicker and the CHANEL is not a very flat matte, but one with an almost velvety finish. Very similar effect from both with subtle differences – all depends at this point on availability, budget and brand preference! Hope this helps 🙂

      • ettastratos says:

        It helps a little. My problem is that I don’t have Essie Matte to compare, though the shops here carry the Chanel one. I’m going check out if I like the velvet finish. Thanks. 🙂

      • Eugenia says:

        Not sure where you’re located, but Gosh makes a matte finish top coat as well – perhaps that might be an option!

  2. lulu says:

    pirate is gawwwjuzzzz! do u know if its limited editon tho? i live in australia btw :) ur swatches are beautiful!

    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks, Lulu! ‘Pirate’ is still one of my favourite Chanel reds, and it applies like a dream! From my understanding, it’s now part of the permanent collection, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding it!

  3. Louise says:

    Your nails are great, do you have a gel overlay on or are they extensions?!?!?! I’m off to buy Rose Cache…..

    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks, Louise! To answer your question: NEITHER!!! My nails are 100% natural and all ME!! Happy shopping! (PS: I’ve never had either gel, acrylic or any other artificial product on my nails in my entire life!)

  4. Betony says:

    I love this collection! It’s not available any where in my area. I’m being told it might not be until mid-November. Argh! The waiting is killing me! Lol. Pirate and the Velvet top coat will he mine. 😉 Your post was gorgeous as always! Thanks for the beautiful pics and descriptions…it’s like poetry!

    • Eugenia says:

      Awww…you’re so sweet! I swear that I spent a ton of time drooling over the mattified Pirate look….it’s really unique! Hope this collection comes to you soon!

  5. Oh oh oh… how will I justify the Chanel price of a matte top coat??? You’ve nearly convinced me! It’s only a matter of testing it out at the counter!

    And I agree that Rose Cache is the dark horse of this collection. I don’t dislike nudes but have so many other interesting shades to wear that they never get the attention they deserve from me. But something about this Rose Cache is just screaming my name! Lovely review as always, Eugenia!

    • Eugenia says:

      Wow, Liz…high praise! Thank you, my friend! While brighter or more eclectic shades may be more eye-catching, you’re right that there’s that undefinable something that makes Rose Caché so unique – and I really do love how it looks with the Mat top coat! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you do try it out at the counter!

  6. Here is the link for the swatch of Chanel’s Brown Sugar – – one of my friends said, “It looks so boring to me!” Sacrilege. Then I let her get a mani with it…and she was practically begging me for the bottle. LOL

    and so you can compare, this is my swatch of Pirate

    • Eugenia says:

      Oh, I love Brown Sugar…you are so right! Know what it reminds me of? Chanel’s Quartz of this year….do you find that there’s a similar undertone to both, not to mention a similar quality & type of shimmer? And Pirate is just….pure lust!! Lol!! I’m just about to give myself a pedi with it right now! 🙂

  7. Love Pirate, it’s so… red! Their matte topcoat is SERIOUSLY matte 🙂 Chanel doesn’t mess around lol

  8. Latoya says:

    I totally agree with your assessment of the matte version of ‘Pirate,’ Eugenia! It invokes such an image of retro glamour, so sultry! I think my fave is Rose Cache, that really appeals to me. I didn’t even know about this release, so thanks for inspiring some more lemmings LOL!

    • Eugenia says:

      Glad to oblige, Toya…lol! You put it so well “retro glamour” – perfect! That’s exactly how it made me feel! Isn’t it strange how Rose Caché, a seemingly innocent nude/pink shade, can end up being the sleeper hit?!

  9. D... says:

    Oh I am in love with this collection. I definitely have to give Chanel another go. I really love Rose Cache (I am so predictable). It’s just so sublime in it’s beauty. I look and my heart speaks the words, “oh pretty!!!” And the matte is just fantastic. I really like the matte texture too, it reminds me of this company called Knockout Cosmetics they sell matte nail polishes and they look really pretty too.

    • Eugenia says:

      I too was surprised by how much I liked the matte version of Rose Caché; it doesn’t give your hands that dreaded “dead” look, but instead imparts a sophisticated neutrality! I never heard of that brand, but it’s interesting that they had similar finishes.

  10. Shimmer says:

    Wow, I love all of them! I am especially drawn to Rose Cache, especially with the matte top coat! I need to bite the bullet and somehow justify splurging on a Chanel polish. Can you believe I don’t own a single one (yet)? Xoxo Beautiful pictures!!

    • Eugenia says:

      I don’t know how you’ve been able to resist for so long….you must be made of steel! I began my love affair with Chanel polishes more than 20 years ago….and it’s only gotten stronger! As a matter of fact, I have an entire box of my “Vintage Chanel” polishes that I’ve been dying to find the time and swatch! Sigh…one of these days!!!

  11. So pirate is being re-released? That is wonderful! I did a swatch of it last year after finding it hidden in a box. A couple of friends went nuts…and they were heartbroken when they were told that it had been discontinued. I can’t wait to tell them!

    Now if they re-release Brown Sugar in polish form, I’m going to buy 4 bottles! lol

    When will this collection be released or has it been already?


    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks for the info – I didn’t realize that Pirate had been previously released! As to when the collection will be launched, here in Canada, The Bay department store has an early exclusive and it’s already in store; Holt Renfrew will receive this collection end of October, early November. I can’t really say for outside of Canada, I’m afraid, although these releases do tend to come out earlier in the US than here. You’d probably have more accurate information from your local Chanel sales agent. Now about that Brown Sugar…I’m intrigued enough to look it up, plus it sounds yummy! 🙂

      • I actually have a swatch of it on my blog. It’s a nice neutral beige with a shimmer. It’s got a good touch of pink in it, but still remains on the beige side. I honestly wish I had back-ups of this. It’s my shimmer version of OPI’s Tickle My France-y. I have 5 of those.

      • Eugenia says:

        Oooooh….send me the link – would love to see it! 5 back-up bottles of Tickle My France-y? WOW!!! Now, that is impressive…and dedicated! I love it!

  12. Wow! I was surprised by how much I loved the matte versions of these – much better than the original, actually. Well, I loved Pirate both ways 😉 Thank you for the beautiful swatches!

    • Eugenia says:

      Lol…..I came close to saying almost the exact same thing; for some reason, the matte version seems, well…..more interesting, to me! Glad you liked them! 🙂

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