Rivalry, assassination plots, and the crown at stake … Elizabeth & Mary is the latest collection from a-england, which draws inspiration from two of Great Britain’s most well-known monarchs: Elizabeth I, also known as the ‘Virgin Queen‘ as well as ‘Gloriana‘, and her cousin Mary Stuart, also known as Mary, Queen of Scots.
There are five shades in this collection – three prismatic, one filled with fine reflective glitter, and one with a luminous shimmer – all in a-england’s solidly performing formula.
What I absolutely love about this brand (apart from having some of the most beautiful nail lacquer shades), is how founder Adina Bodana merges touches of history with each collection, which in turn manages to inject a more personal touch to her lacquers – they almost develop ‘personalities’, if that makes any sense.
a-england | Elizabeth & Mary Collection
Queen Elizabeth I, The Ermine Portrait (1585), Nicholas Hilliard
Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603), the last Tudor monarch (and some say the greatest that England has ever known), reigned for 45 years, a period which saw literature flourish throughout the land. Throughout her reign, Elizabeth I, never married and was finally succeeded by James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Virgin Queen | Pewter prismatic hue with a light pink undertone (more apparent in sunlight), making it more of a warm-leaning shade. Indoors, Virgin Queen can appear to have more of a grey/coppery-olive cast, with a more subtle holographic sheen. The formula here is a touch thick, but still easy to manipulate and appears basically opaque at one just coat. Coats applied: 2, plus top coat
a-england | Virgin Queen
Gloriana | Chilli-pepper red hue filled with fine and ultra-fine gold sparkle. Self-levelling and almost a OCW (one coat wonder), Gloriana bears the same density to its formula as Virgin Queen, with a richly glowing tone and utterly brilliant at the finish. My photos make it appear a little rough, where in fact the surface does wind up smooth. Bonus: non-staining, although you may experience some glitter migration upon removal. Coats applied: 2, plus top coat
a-england | Gloriana
Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542 – 1587 Painted about 1610-1615, artist unknown (National Galleries of Scotland)
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542 – 1567) ascended the throne at merely 6 days old, when her father died. Seeking to restore Catholicism in England, she became a pawn in all the royal intrigue and power struggles that were taking place, and ultimately wound up imprisoned in England for 19 years, before finally being executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, at the age of 44.
Queen of Scots | Beyond captivating, that’s for sure (no pun intended). An inky/deep royal blue shade in a category all its own: at once metallic, pearlized and satiny. I honestly don’t know how else to describe this finish. What you see here, is just one coat. ONE COAT. The shimmer in Queen of Scots is ultra-fine and the type that seems to just glow from along the centre of the nail beds, while the blue colour is deep & rich, yet manages to steer away from looking blackened. The formula is an odd mix of thick-ish density but yet still quite easy to apply, leaving no visible brush strokes behind. Relatively non-staining upon removal, provided you apply base coat first as a precaution. Coats applied: 1, plus top coat
I had a strong urge to mattify Queen of Scots, and my instincts proved correct: the resulting look is unlike anything I’ve seen before, while the finish feels like the most buttery suede – and just like that, I am obsessed with the way this looks.
a-england | Queen of Scots
a-england | Queen of Scots, matte
a-england | Queen of Scots, matte
Crown of Thistles | A regal amethyst hue with a fairly evident prismatic tone (more of a strongly scattered holographic appearance, as opposed to linear). Interestingly enough, seen in sunlight, Crown of Thistles definitely appears warm-leaning, and yet under fluorescent lighting, it appears to veer decidedly cool. Quite the chameleon and one of the most sophisticated vivid purple shades I own (not a term I usually ascribe to this colour, but it sure fits here). Coats applied: 2, plus top coat
a-england | Crown of Thistles
The birthplace of Richard III and place of execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, Fotheringhay Castle was founded in 1100 AD by Simon de St, Liz (Senlis), Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon. Today, only the earthworks and the conical motte remain of the castle, its stones having been robbed and carted away by locals in order to build their own homes after Mary’s execution.
Fotheringhay Castle | Lustrous olive/mossy green with a strong prismatic shimmer, in a formula that was perhaps the thinnest applying of the five, but easy to work with just the same. I could easily have left it at one 1 coat for full opacity, but I personally prefer the look of Fotheringhay Castle with 2 coats – really brings out the holographic bits. Coats applied: 2, plus top coat
a-england | Fotheringhay Castle
I’ve made it no secret that I am a huge fan of a-england, but I also like to give credit where it’s due, and there is not one disappointment in any of these five Elizabeth & Mary shades. Unlike some other brands that can finish quite glossy, these lacquers have a more refined shine, and benefit from added top coat, turning them truly stellar – although Queen of Scots becomes an object of supreme beauty (for me, at any rate) once mattified.
Available now, find more information on a-england’s Elizabeth & Mary Collection (as well as the full range and worldwide stockists) by visiting a-england.com.co.uk
Click on the a-england tab (at right) to see swatches of all other a-england lacquers
Press samples provided for my unbiased consideration