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

in sunlight

shaded light

with flash


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:

  1. NARS ‘Galion’ (reviewed here)
  2. OPI ‘Nein, Nein,Nein … Ok Fine!’ (reviewed here)
  3. Essie ‘Power Clutch’ – (reviewed here)
  4. YSL ‘Stormy Grey’
  5. MAC ‘On the Prowl’ (Hello Kitty Collection)

To the right of ‘Storm Bird’, from top to bottom:

  1. Deborah Lippmann ‘Stormy Weather’ (reviewed here)
  2. Gosh ‘Miss Grey’ (reviewed here)
  3. China Glaze ‘Concrete Catwalk (reviewed here)
  4. OPI ‘Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees’ (the Spain Collection)
  5. 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

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