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!



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