Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog Sale

Hello! Welcome to my first blog sale. I am just clearing out a few products that I either have doubles of or did not work perfectly for me (i.e. wrong shade, too shimmery, etc.). Most items are practically brand new, so this is a great way to try some interesting products at a great discount. Of course, they will all be sanitized fully before I ship them out. I am excited to pass on some great products to my friends and subscribers. I would hate for some of these absolute gems to go to waste. :D -Michael

If you want to buy multiple items, I will ship them all for the same flat rate (I will add $4 for domestic shipping and I will add $6 for international shipping).

Just leave a comment to this blog post with the items you would like. Make sure to tell me your Paypal e-mail address and I will send you an invoice for the total amount. Please try to pay ASAP so I can mark the item as “sold” so as to minimize confusion.


Temptu Retouch Blush: Blushing Coral (Brand New, just swatched once…Expensive Product if bought retail, but a very nice liquid blush): SOLD


Sigma SS187 stippling brush. This is in almost brand new condition. For some reason the handle kinda started to curve, but try out this brush for a great price -- SOLD


NARS Copacabana Multiple (very popular product/cream highlighter--about 50% remaining) -- SOLD


Smashbox Brow Brush from their Vanity collection. Metal brush, great quality. -- SOLD


Bobbi Brown Concealer Brush (comes with lid, brand new ... one of her most sought after brushes) -- SOLD


Sigma SS194 concealer brush (new and never used) -- SOLD


CoverFX Foundation Brush (#130). Absolutely one of the best foundation brushes! -- SOLD


obbi Brown Foundation brush (one of my favorite foundation brushes, used a couple times, in great condition!) -- SOLD

Bobbi Brown Touch-up brush (a natural hair brush, perfect for concealer, powder, eyeshadow..etc). A cult brush! - SOLD 


Bobbi Brown: Shimmer Brick (Platinum Pink Limited Edition—a gorgeous and pretty Rare highlighter) 95% remaining -- SOLD


M.A.C. To the Beach cream bronzer: "Beach Bronze" (Beautiful bronzer shade with golden shimmer). Only swatched -- SOLD


Anastasia Beverly Hills: Lash Lifting Mascara (NEW with box) -- SOLD


NARS Taj Mahal Blush (swatched a few times—Rare, will make you look like Naomi Campbell ;) ) -- SOLD


M.A.C. Mineralize Skinfinish: Sunny By Nature (90% left—A PERFECT Matte Bronzer shade) SOLD


M.A.C. Mineralize Skinfinish: Cheeky Bronze (90-95% remaining -- GORGEOUS) -- SOLD


M.A.C. Mineralize Skinfinish: Gold Deposit (80% left, totally gives you that Jennifer Lopez golden shimmery glow) -- SOLD


M.U.F.E. Shine On Powder (Brand New…A very pretty highlighting powder) SOLD


Louise Young Super Blusher Brush (New! LY has some of the best brush construction out there): SOLD


NARS Sparkling Loose Powder: Gold Rush (95% remaining, I have a review on this powder): SOLD


Amazing Cosmetics Kabuki Brush (New, Original retail is around $39…nice little kabuki): SOLD


M.A.C. Studio Finish Concealer NW25 (75% remaining)-- SOLD


Guerlain Powder Brush (Brand New in Box…this brush is $50+ Retail): SOLD


Giorgio Armani Eye Brow Defining Pencil #3 (brown) (85% remaining, my FAVORITE brow pencil) : SOLD


Sigma SS150 Powder Brush (wording has rubbed off, but in great condition) SOLD


Lancome #3 Highlighting Brush (Pretty New with some pink staining on the handle and the ferrule is dented, but still very nice and functional) SOLD

Sunday, January 23, 2011

An Everyday Face Routine - No Makeup Makeup Look (Natural, Even Complexion)


Products Used:

Chantecaille -- Bio-Lift Concealer (Skin Care + Light/Medium Natural Coverage)

M.A.C 224 Brush (necessary for blending concealer)

La Mer- The Powder (color Neutral) 

M.A.C. 165 Brush (one of those "Must Have" brushes)

Bobbi Brown -- Foundation Stick (Warm Sand) -- A must have for guys! Super natural, easy to use and transport! 

Chanel- Bronzing Makeup Base (Favorite Favorite Favorite)

ELF Studio Flat Top Powder Brush (Excellent quality and ONLY $3)

Smashbox #19 Brush (My FAVORITE brush of all time)

Guerlain- 4 Seasons Bronzer (Matte, with four great shades *mine is Brunettes*) 

M.A.C. 168 Brush (Angled Contour Brush)

NARS Ita Kabuki Brush

Giorgio Armani -- Sheer Blush (Beige Violet #5...super unique)

Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick (Pink Diamond, discontinued but can be tracked down)

Giorgio Armani- Eyebrow Defining Pencil

Laura Mercier- Eye Brow Gel 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sublimage Eye

Essential Regenerating Eye Cream

CHANEL

As with many high-end products, there are rarely total ‘hits’ or total ‘misses,’ which creates a rather substantial grey area. Chanel’s Essential Regenerating Eye Cream from the uber-pricey Sublimage line is certainly no exception. I firmly believe that this eye cream is not the best high-end option out there, but it is certainly not the worst. It may even be a perfectly suited option for a (very) specific type of customer, which I will outline in a moment. Nonetheless, the Sublimage Eye Essential Regenerating Eye Cream by Chanel falls short of achieving ‘holy grail’ status for a number of reasons; namely, it doesn’t live up to all of its claims, it is extremely pricey considering what it is, it seems to be founded on what may very well be a total gimmick, and it lacks a lot of the basic skin care ingredients that the eye area needs.

On Chanel’s website, the company describes the Sublimage Eye Essential Regenerating Eye Cream as, “The ultimate in anti-aging luxury, specifically formulated for the delicate eye area. It starts with one unique plant -- the Vanilla Planifolia -- unearthed in the farthest reaches of Madagascar. A unique process created by CHANEL Research harnesses the power of this potent botanical fruit for targeted de-aging action. With the exclusive ingredient, Planifolia PFA (PFA: Polyfractioned Active. An ultra-pure, ultra-powerful ingredient created through an exclusive purification technique developed by CHANEL), wrinkles, loss of firmness, dehydration, lack of radiance and inconsistency in pigmentation are pinpointed at once. Adding to the cream's core strength: a unique eye complex to diminish the appearance of puffiness and dark circles and help skin quickly achieve a luminous look…revitalized, regenerated, radiant.”

Sublimage Eye does accomplish one very rare and coveted task as far as eye creams are concerned, and it does it quite well. While many eye creams tout the ability to reduce puffiness and under eye circles (also known as dark circles), few eye creams are actually able to touch dark circles and only a small percentage tackle the common problem of under eye puffiness. I would say that this eye cream does very little in terms of reducing puffiness. However, when it comes to under eye darkness, the Essential Regenerating Eye Cream does seem to make a nice difference. I know…I was shocked as well! Trust me, I have read all the literature (which is basically filled with skeptical arguments concerning an eye cream’s ability to ever reduce under eye darkness), but the Chanel’s Sublimage Eye still seems to perform well in this area. After the first application, one will notice that his or her under eye darkness has visibly lightened by a few shades (if not more)—I know, I could not believe it either. Of course, if you do not apply the eye cream regularly (i.e. on a daily basis), the dark circles will return as normal the next morning (hence, the eye cream doesn’t treat as much as it temporarily soothes the problem). With nightly use, however, I noticed a significant difference in my own under eye darkness. Put differently, my under eye area was visibly brightened by the following morning after using the eye cream. As for the eye cream being able to tackle fine lines or actual wrinkles, the jury is definitely out. To me, the Sublimage Eye does not seem capable of even touching deeper wrinkles, and it only plumps fine lines as well as any other hydrating eye cream would. Hence, the number one selling point of the eye cream seems to relate to its treatment of under eye darkness, which immediately cuts 10% of prospective customers out of the running (I derive the 10% figure from the statistic that argues that 90% of people deal with under eye darkness in some form). Remember that the effect is still only temporary. The added brightness is, of course, warmly welcomed, and may even prevent one from needing to conceal this area.

I now feel the need to deliver a quick word of warning to my readers. If you are expecting the truthful scoop from a Chanel sales associate, don’t! Basically, making a sale in Sublimage line is any SA’s dream because they are compensated with actual cash rewards for every product they sell. I do not know the exact figures, but insiders have reported around $50 per jar (and I assume this is for the companion face cream, so I don’t know the actual numbers for the eye cream). With needed commissions and monetary cuts at stake, expect Chanel to push the Sublimage line on you no matter what actual skin care concerns you bring to the counter.

The whole marketing gimmick behind the Sublimage Eye centers on its ingredient “Vanilla Planifolia.” On the surface, this ingredient may seem very rare, coveted, and useful to some degree. However, I am more than skeptical when it comes to believing that such a plant product would be beneficial to the skin in any notable way. In fact, there seems to be a lack of independent results to suggest that the cream’s powerhouse ingredient actually does anything for the skin. Thus, Chanel has relied on its promotional speeches and well produced product videos to instill the notion that polyfractionated Vanilla Planifolia is a posh and hyper effective skin care additive. In my mind, the ingredient is exalted in ways similar to other luxury lines’ “botanical” extracts, in which the draw of these ingredients is powerful enough for a customer to shake off all lingering skepticism and give the product a try. While I may be disproportionately focusing on the Vanilla Planifolia ingredient (did I mention it is located fairly far down the list of ingredients in the Essential Regenerating Eye Cream?), I do so only because the eye cream lacks many other ingredients that almost all skin care consumers have come to expected (e.g. basic vitamins, acids, retinols, and even hyaluronic acid). With that being said, the eye cream is also slightly less hydrating than one would expect, which excludes those with dry and very dry skin. Having normal skin myself, I find the hydration afforded by the eye cream to be sufficient...so anyone with normal, combo/oily, and oily skin should be in the clear. Given the consistency (a very thick and heavy cream), one would expect the cream to be a tad more hydrating. Of course, the Chanel eye cream is a total luxury experience. Still, for the price, one may be wiser to invest in some Botox and a top notch sunscreen.

Price:
$200.00
15g/0.5oz


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Eye Balm Intense

La Mer


To start the review, I feel as though I should mention a brief history of this product. So, as you may know, The Eye Balm was the predecessor to The Eye Balm Intense. Out of the entirety of La Mer's product range, The Eye Balm was always one of their underachievers. The packaging was a bit awkward, and it didn't really stand out amidst the other heavy-hitting options. In fact, The Eye Balm became notorious for being a hit or miss product for people (there didn't seem to be a middle-ground, and it was pretty clear why this was). In fact, it scored in the mid-three range on MakeupAlley.com out of 175 reviews, which is a very average rating (and a veritable loss in the world of high end cosmetics). For these reasons, I am not surprised that La Mer decided to discontinue The Eye Balm and come out with a bit more innovative and substantial replacement...that being the brand new Eye Balm Intense.

From what I can tell from comparing these two eye balms (The Eye Balm and The Eye Balm Intense), I have a feeling that the newer version will fare a bit better. There are many similarities between the original Eye Balm and this second generation eye balm. The color is the same (a dash of Green #5), and the consistency is fairly similar (slippery, light, and creamy). However, the product has been reformulated with what I would consider significantly higher quality ingredients. For one, there are no parabens in The Eye Balm Intense, whereas the eye balm had one form of the most common four paraben types (though in a rather small quantity). Secondly, The Eye Balm Intense now features an assortment of La Mer's newest trademarked formulations like the De-Puff Ferment which derives from Deep Sea Red Algae.

Having experienced both the original Eye Balm (discontinued) and The Eye Balm Intense (introduced in 2010), I do believe that the latter is a bit more potent, and in my opinion, it seems like a bit of a hybrid between the old Eye Balm and The Eye Concentrate.

The Eye Balm Intense is moderately thick in terms of texture and is absorbed very rapidly. The eye cream is also extremely emollient, and a tiny bit covers a very large area. It doesn't really have an artificial or added scent to speak of (a major plus). Any scent that you may detect would thus be a derivative of the actual ingredients. The greenish cream also leaves a non-greasy or a non-filmy coating of the product around your eyes, so if you do apply makeup, I don't believe a concealer will encounter issues with the use of The Eye Balm Intense (i.e. streaking, migrating, clumping, etc.). Users of the original Eye Balm experienced major issues with not being able to use concealers or any other facial makeup product near the eye area. I believe this issue has been addressed with the reformulation, as this was a major drawback of the original formulation. Still, you will want to wait, as with most eye creams, about five minutes before applying anything on top of The Eye Balm Intense. As with La Mer’s The Eye Concentrate, The Eye Balm Intense comes with La Mer's proprietary silver-tipped applicator, which cools skin on contact to help stimulate mircocirculation.

Who is The Eye Balm Intense best for? I would say it is most adequately suited for those with dry, extra dry, combination/dry, and normal skin types, as long as you apply The Eye Balm Intense and then follow it up with a facial moisturizer that works around the eye area. In my case, I would follow the eye cream with a small dose of the Crème de la Mer, although the use of the CDLM is not absolutely necessary (many others would work just as effectively, so don’t listen to the sales assistants). However, an eye cream should not require two steps, and there are many better options out there for us dry/normal skin types. If you have combination/oily, oily, sensitive, or super sensitive skin, this is a great eye cream for you. For people who often experience eye puffiness from the use of an eye cream (assuming that you are applying the cream correctly), this is a product that will not offend. For people with heavy allergies, this eye cream is also superb. In fact, it is perhaps the most ideal eye cream on the market for those with various sensitivities. With that being said, The Eye Balm Intense is more of a starter eye cream, and I certainly would not recommend it for someone who is looking for an intensive anti-aging regime. The Eye Balm Intense would be ideal for those in their 20s, 30s, and early-40s. Anyone with more ‘mature’ skin would fare better with La Mer’s The Eye Concentrate or another anti-aging eye cream. As far as application goes (refer to my companion video review as well for proper application techniques):

1. Starting at the temple, sweep the applicator underneath the eye towards the nose.
2. Circle the area above the brow.
3. Finish by gliding the applicator back to the temple.

I have a feeling that La Mer will eventually take a hint from the major trends in the skin care industry and convert this product's packaging into a chic tube or pump dispenser (I see that they have switched their sample products over from jars to air-tight tubes—good for them). Until then, I don't find the jar medium to be offensive, especially as it pertains to hygiene or the maintenance of the product’s active ingredients. The Eye Balm Intense is an opaque glass jar that does stay fairly air tight and blocks the product from damaging UV rays.


Size - .05 oz.
*Price - $145.00

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Master Corrector

Giorgio Armani



Giorgio Armani’s website regards its master corrector as a, "Corrective concealer in four color-balancing shades designed to target specific complexion concerns. Exclusive micro-fil technology allows for targeted correction, visibly concealing imperfections while light-reflecting pearls impart a halo of light imparting a seamless, flawless facial canvas." For the first time, I agree with all of the claims made by a product’s manufacturer.

I use the Master Corrector in the shade Orange (#2). Although the color is not a true orange (it is more of a beige, peach, salmon-orange), it is perfect for immediately neutralizing any blue, purple, and brown tones that may occur under the eye area (although it can be used anywhere on the face). The #2 shade is said to be best
for targeting “olive or darker skin tones to conceal under-eye circles, freckles, dark spots and hyper-pigmentation.” I am not sure if I agree with the “olive or darker skin tones” bit, as this corrector works wonderfully on my pale skin (refer to the demo in the companion video review) and would likely work on almost any skin tone.


Unlike most color correctors, the corrector from Giorgio Armani does not leave an offensive tint after use. Instead, the Giorgio Armani Master Corrector effectively neutralizes the color and then blends in with the skin tone seamlessly. The staying power of this corrector is also rather exceptional. You may choose to dust a small amount of your favorite powder to set the corrector, but this stage is not necessary to increase the length of wear or to set the product from smudging or migrating all over the face. Common sense applies to this aspect of the corrector, as always, so if you have extremely oily skin, you will want to take measures to keep excessive oils at bay.
The Giorgio Armani Master Correctors are truly professional quality and ideal for those who require (or desire) light to medium correction of their skin tone problems. From my perspective, the only real drawback is the poor packaging, as the expensive corrector spills into the cap a bit, thus running the risk of waste. Still, the corrector’s light texture makes it perfect for blending and also minimizes the potential for creasing, and since you require so little of the product each time, it will last you for months if not years. Additionally, I have noticed that you don't really need a skin toned concealer to hide the orangey tint of the corrector, but an additional layer of coverage might be a good precaution to take only if you have a concealer that you really like (in my case, Chantecaille’s Bio Lift Concealer), otherwise you can definitely pull off applying the corrector by itself onto bare skin. If your skin tone is notably pale, you will most likely need to apply a concealer over the corrector.

The best ways to apply this:
The Giorgio Armani Master Corrector will always be applied directly to the face with the tiny wand/brush that is included in the tube. However, for the sake of blending, you may use one of the following four methods:

1) I always use my finger despite the fact that I generally prefer brushes—for whatever reason the finger is particularly suited for use with this corrector.
2) You could certainly use a small fluffy brush (e.g. the M.A.C. 224 brush) or a variety of appropriate brushes.
3) I have received feedback from others that the Beauty Blender is their tool of choice for use with the Master Corrector.
4) Finally, you could use a cosmetic sponge (it seems that a wedge would work best) to press in and blend the corrector.

Indeed, some may think that color correction is just one step too many for a daily routine, but it certainly makes a considerable difference in the end. Unlike other correctors, I think you can easily add this into your routine with about 30 seconds required per eye. Oh, and I must also note that the Giorgio Armani Master Corrector is one of the highest rated cosmetic items on MakeupAlley.com. The product scored a very high 4.9 out of 5 with 100% of respondents indicating they would repurchase.

*Price - $36.00



Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder

GUERLAIN

I acknowledge that a $74.00 price tag for almost any cosmetic product (especially a bronzing powder) is likely to arouse some immediate reactions. As usual, many will dismiss the product outright as overpriced, frivolous, decadent...... Another group will consider the merits of the product and tuck away any desire for the product for another day (or scribble down the name onto yet another wish list). A third group will insist to have a hands-on moment with the product before contemplating the splurge. A final group will simply purchase the product for the “Guerlain” name or due to the draw of the “Terracotta” line (regarded widely as having produced some of the finest bronzers on the market). Personally, I find myself drifting back and forth between the three latter groups. However, when it came to the 4 Seasons Bronzer, I was genuinely moved and, as a result, insisted on owning the product. I will admit, the mention of pure gold caught my attention from the start (although the presence of gold is, for the most part, a gimmick), but the promises of a dimensional, bronzy, and sculptural glow was what sealed the deal for me—plus I am admittedly obsessed with finding the perfect bronzer (in whatever manifestation) after purchasing and trying approximately two dozen of the “top” bronzers. Capped off with a decently protective SPF 10, I was sold.

Sephora.com describes Guerlain’s Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder as, “A tailor-made bronzing powder with pure gold and SPF 10.” In addition to this description, the company argues that, “As the seasons change from winter through summer, women find that the tone of their complexion and their bronzing needs change as well. From the ultimate authority in bronzing comes Terracotta 4 Seasons: a variation in four steps to sculpt your tan all year long. The perfect gradation of caramelized tones, Terracotta 4 Seasons features four wonderfully matte shades to blend together to match every desire, skin tone, or season for an authentic tan and an incredibly natural result. With endless possibilities for combining and layering, this new powder is essential for sculpting a perfectly tanned complexion. Its secret to unprecedented luminosity lies in the formula enriched with pure gold that plays within the four tones for a tan that maintains radiance, no matter what the season.”

The shade I purchased was ‘Brunettes,’ which consists of four bronzy shades. These colors are separated into quadrants and consist of a light tan, a medium tan, a deep bronze, and a (very) dark tan. I admit that I made the mistake of purchasing the ‘Brunettes’ shade because, well, I am a brunette. It seems like an understandable mistake, as I could have never predicted the shades to be as dark as they were. In hindsight, I would have been much better suited with the ‘Blondes’ version of this bronzer, but I have been able to make do with the Brunettes (suck it up, right?). Despite three of the four shades being a tad too dark for my fair skin, I am still struck by the realistic color effects that one can create with the 4 Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder. If you have ever had a bronzing powder from the Terracotta line, you will be familiar with the shades of bronze that the 4 Seasons bronzer uses (a tad ruddy, never orangey). Indeed, the coppery, bronzy, peachy, reddish, brown colors come off quite well in terms of their ability to mimic an authentic tan. Plus, this bronzer is matte, which adds to the realistic effect it can create. However, it still takes a bit of practice to master this bronzer. Due to its four distinct colors, it is possible to create some fantastic illusions in terms of one’s ability to engineer a highly defined and sculptural bronzy look. Of course, this attempt can quickly turn sour, as poor blending or awkward color placement could thwart one’s dream of the perfect bronzed effect. Still, if ever there were a bronzer to offer what no other bronzer has, the 4 Seasons bronzing powder seems to be it. In fact, many makeup artists use this bronzer for the many ‘tricks’ up its sleeve. Place the darkest shades onto contour zones and blend them seamlessly into the slightly lighter shades to highlight, contour, and chisel the face to sheer excellency.

To get a standard bronzed effect, one could run an angled brush, a typical powder brush, or a kabuki brush through the four caramelized tones and dust it onto the face. This type of effect is actually rather becoming. Although a true matte finish, there does seem to be a subtle luminosity to the powder. This luminosity is not shimmer (and it certainly isn’t glitter), but there is a radiance achieved that is not typical of strictly matte powders (Guerlain claims that the glow is due to the gold). Perhaps the gold is micronized to a point where it actually does enhance the otherwise matte caramel shades. Either way, the subtle luminosity is, dare I say, a tad sublime. With that being said, I do believe it would be easy to apply a bit too much of this bronzer and end up looking ‘overdone’ or ‘muddy’ (i.e. the worst nightmare of any bronzer). Nevertheless, Guerlain still have the most finely milled powders in the business, which helps one create a streak-less, non-caked effect time after time. On this note, the bronzer is one of the most blendable bronzers I have ever used. In many ways, it mimics a cream bronzer on the skin in that one has the option to keep blending it until the desired effect is perfectly in place (by the way, this bronzer would also double as a brilliant eye shadow for those who seek the natural, contoured, and, well, ‘shadowed’ effect). Although the bronzing powder can be blended for quite some time, I have noticed that it ultimately sets and stays in place very well (which is an effect unique to this bronzer from my experience), and as one would expect with a super-luxury bronzing powder, the Guerlain 4 Seasons really latches onto the skin and gives durable color for the better part of 24 hours. Although I adore, for example, my NARS Laguna bronzer, I have noticed that it tends to wipe away much more easily.

Finally, I must mention the packaging, for the packaging is this bronzer’s first line of defense…and what a defense! Just look at it! I would be hesitant to ever throw this compact away, even years after the bronzer has faded away. Two final words of warning—for those with oily skin, you will need to take extra precautions with this bronzer (a mattifying primer seems to be a must). For those with dry patches on their faces or small bumps (e.g. Keratosis pilaris), the risk of having this super-fine powder latch onto these irritations is a valid concern, so take special care and I think you will really love this bronzer!

Size .35 oz.
*Price - $74.00

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No. 1 Perfume Spray for Men


 BY Clive Christian


I pondered over the most appropriate way to write a review for “the world’s most expensive perfume” for quite some time. On one hand, Clive Christian’s No. 1 Perfume Spray for Men confronts one with its off-putting and shamelessly ostentatious title. Still, I am willing to overlook the marketing tactics at play and assess the scent on its own merits. The context around the 2001 launch of No. 1 involves a celebrated heritage that extends all the way back to 1872. In 1999, the British perfume house acquired the Crown Perfumery, which allowed the label to use the likeness of the royal crown (the heavy golden crown topper). The tradition of creating luxury perfumes from the most exotic and natural ingredients continues today at Clive Christian, with No. 1 being its most outstanding example of sated decadence, wealth, and curiosity.

No. 1 Perfume Spray for Men (mine is the 50ml bottle, not the 30ml pure perfume) is widely recognized as the world’s most expensive perfume. Whether or not it actually is the priciest fragrance on the market, this slogan has been trumpeted far and wide and there is no turning back now. The company’s own selling-points aside, the fragrance is actually quite sensual and intimate. At its core, No. 1 is an oriental as well as an amber fragrance. While one may immediately think of several dozen fragrances that fit this genre, No. 1 adds some unique twists that are easy on the nose. However, it may not be the twists that make No. 1 so special—to me, it seems to be the way in which the notes are blended into consummate symmetry.

The top notes in No. 1 consist of bergamot, lime, Sicilian mandarin, cardamom, nutmeg, and thyme. The heart notes consist of lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, and heliotrope. Finally, the base notes consist of cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, ambery woods, and vanilla. While the caliber of the component ingredients may be of the utmost quality (in terms of rarity, the jury is still out), it is up to the consumer to decide if a 50ml bottle is worth the $865.00 price tag. Indeed, I have fraternized with my share of people who are quick to purchase something simply for sheer fact that it is the most expensive of its kind available, but I still have a difficult time wrapping my head around how this concept of such expressive opulence would translate to No. 1.

The only other Clive Christian scent I own is 1872 Perfume Spray for Men, which is a spicy-citrus fragrance. Compared to 1872, No. 1 is much more dimensional and much more versatile. My first impressions of No. 1 were, as the marketing team likely intended, wrought with considerable feelings of confidence (perhaps a little danger) and a soupçon of intrigue. At the first whiff of this frag, a characteristically feminine quality emerges (perhaps even an older feminine quality), but not one that would dissuade even the most manly of men from wearing No. 1. The powdery and floral aroma lingers lightly (but with a sense of constancy and resolve that I find charming), but as the scent begins to dry down, the composition melds into a softly blended floral with a touch of vetiver, amber, and spice. Unfortunately, the sillage is nothing short of languorous, but No. 1 remains tight to the skin for many hours, which adds to its intimate ‘come-hither’ quality.

Onto the daunting (but legitimate) question of whether or not Clive Christian’s No. 1 is ‘worth’ the splurge. In my mind, the answer will come down to one’s own dogma concerning ‘value.’ Perhaps to the most sophisticated of noses, one could fear being exposed in the midst of attempting to dupe No. 1 with one of Prada’s (very) similar scents, but this seems like an unlikely scenario. In the real world, however, I cannot help but relegate Clive Christian fragrances to a world in which mega millionaires have become unapologetically blasé toward the value of the dollar. Still, for those who have the funds to play hard, I would bet that a gentleman who is confident in his own skin would put the $800+ toward a new car or a new boat (or personal aircraft or luxury timepiece…). In other words, it would be hard to envision No. 1 awakening an effect so enticing that the surrender of one’s plastic would turn imminent. Customers in this luxury market have seen it all and have done it all. While the draw of the fragrance may be quite deep, soothing, and sensual, No. 1 may very well lack the star power to appeal to those beyond the few who yearn to commemorate their wealth and flaunt their earthly successes.

*Price
1.6 oz. -- $865.00

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TOBACCO VANILLE

Eau de Parfum

BY TOM FORD

Tobacco Vanille was the first Private Blend fragrance I ever purchased from Tom Ford. In hindsight, I am thankful that my first experience with the line was catered by such unmitigated profusion. But seriously, had I begun with, oh I don’t know, Black Violet, I may have not been as interested in exploring the full array of Ford’s scents. Although not my favorite of the Private Blends, Tobacco Vanille is certainly up there with a few of the best, and it has certainly found its place in my fragrance catalogue.

Tobacco Vanille is described as, “A modern take on an old-world men's club. A smooth oriental, Tobacco Vanille opens immediately with opulent essences of tobacco leaf and aromatic spice notes. The heart unfolds with creamy tonka bean, tobacco flower, vanilla and cocoa, and finishes with a dry fruit accord enriched with sweet wood sap.”

One moment, Tobacco Vanille strikes me with its punch of ‘good old country living’, but in a type of blow that is quickly unsettled by a conflagration of tobacco leaves fastidiously dunked in the finest (and thickest) of vanilla syrups. In mere moments, I envision myself seated around a campfire toasting marshmallows, but in a campsite closed in by the same urban jungle that had made Tobacco Vanille such a suave and gourmand blend. Proving itself to be greatly dissimilar to countrified living once again, Tobacco Vanille has a point to make, and though this point is perhaps unremittingly dense, the point is made with great haste.

Tobacco Vanille’s two powerhouse ingredients unite to bring about a robust, authoritative, and dominant chord, sending one through a rayless and humid tobacco cellar, only to turn up in the warm and vanilla laden tract of cherries, prunes, and figs. The entire journey almost seems to be a moist one, and it is difficult to descry any smoke apart from the initial flare-up. For this reason, one may be led to believe that this is a year-round fragrance, but it quickly transforms into something tremendously synthetic when any heat is applied. Living in Southern California, I find that this scent sits on the shelf day after day. But when the weather takes a dive, I am eager to grab for this honey-colored brew. If you choose to purchase Tobacco Vanille, go for the smallest bottle offered, and still be prepared to have it a part of your fragrance collection for decades to come.

*Price: 
3.4 oz. - $260.00
8.4 oz. - $465.00