I perpetually find myself drawn to make-up palettes because they're a very visually appealing product, sleek packaging and masterfully selected eyeshadows looking alluring next to one another. On a more realistic second thought, I usually see that the colours that seem the most exciting to me are the bold and bright ones that don't suit me at all. If I bought the palette, I'd end up using approximately three eyeshadows similar to the ones I already wear all the time, so it's not worth it.
Because I could never find a palette where I'd use all the colours, I decided to build my own.
After reading several glowing reviews about Inglot eyeshadows on beauty blogs, I headed to Westfield, an enormous shopping centre in West London and home to the only Inglot store in the UK. Inglot is a Polish cosmetics company famous for their Freedom System palettes. The concept is simple: you buy an empty palette and fill it with your favourite products. These can be eyeshadows, blushers, lipsticks, concealers, brow powders, and setting powders. I'm pretty satisfied with the rest of my make-up collection, so I went for just the eyeshadows.
Finally, I have a palette that's as useful as it's beautiful.
Photo by Nepheliad on Flickr.
I first sniffed Black Orchid by Tom Ford in August in Salzburg after months of darting past Tom Ford fragrances in several cities without realizing they were right there for me to try on and indulge. It was not a love at first sniff - I find it increasingly difficult to sync with perfumes, nothing seems quite right, and there was also the disappointment of White Patchouli. Based on reviews I thought I'd love White Patchouli, but on my skin it turned into an artificial, unpleasant chemical concoction. I didn't buy Tom Ford perfumes in Salzburg nor in Manhattan, where I visited the Tom Ford flagship store last week.
It was the visit to the flagship store, however, that made me realize something important about Black Orchid: it fits the brand Tom Ford to a t. It's opulent, rich and dark. What makes it different from other heavy orientals is a certain dirtiness you can smell below the top notes. I think this dirtiness is the essence of Tom Ford, a continuous theme in his work onwards from the mid-1990s. It's the x-factor that made him the Tom Ford.
I never imagined it was possible to capture something so abstract in a fragrance. Not even Grenouille with his unwordly talent to blend scents after a single whiff could have replicated Black Orchid.
A gift from mom. "For your good grades," she said. I'm happy that studying like a maniac didn't pay off in just good grades.
My story with make-up is that I wore exactly zero until I was 18, and even then the first year it was only soft smudged brown eyeliner. I'm much more into make-up today, it's especially useful when I go through bouts of lack sartorial inspiration and wear lazy clothes - I compensate by doing more innovative and detailed make-up (lifts your spirits immensely too).
Here are some of my current make-up favorites:
Mascaras: ArtDeco All in One (blue), Diorshow Iconic and Blackout, Maybelline Falsies Black Drama. Iconic is my everyday "I'm-not-wearing-make-up" brown mascara. When I want really intense eyelashes, I apply one layer of Blackout and two layers of Black Drama.
Collistar eye shadow and violet eyeliner. They're from their current "Italian Look" collection, which I raved about extensively on Twitter. The colors are so wonderful.
MAC Aquadisiac eye shadow, Collection 2000 Glam Crystals gel liner, Chanel eyeliner. The brand Collection 2000 was completely unknown to me until I found this gel liner in a duty free shop when I was waiting at Gatwick airport in London alone on a Sunday evening and my flight got delayed for 2 hours. Oh, fate.
Lip glosses: Maybelline, MAC, Maybelline. I used to ignore lip glosses completely because my hair stuck to lip gloss in windy weather. Now I know better and choose lipstick for such uncanny occasions instead. In the meantime I've also learned lip glosses are much more practical to apply than lipstick; during warmer months you'll always find one in my bag.
My family is crazy about fragrances, they're our souvenirs of sorts because when we travel, we always end up bringing home a new perfume, whether we planned it or not (you can barely get non-mainstream fragrance lines in Slovenia, even Hermès is tough call. Luckily Trieste and the wonderful Essenze shop that's bound to satisfy the finest of appetites are only an hour away by car).
Last weekend we were on a mission to find the Santa Maria Novella boutique near Palazzo Grassi in Venice. You can never be too sure you'll find what you're looking for in Venice because addresses and numbers don't mean or help much there, so such escapades are actually all about getting lost in shady little alleys and maybe finding something you like even better than what you were supposed to find ... It's very rewarding when the building suddenly materializes before you (or vice versa) after the long time you've spent walking, and clearly we were of luck that Sunday because at one point the Santa Maria Novella boutique appeared right in front of us.
Santa Maria Novella is one of the world's oldest pharmacies. It was established in Florence in 1612. Many of their products - ranging from candles and room sprays to fragrances and creams - are based on hundreds of years old recipes. Each bottle of SMN fragrances is numbered and upon purchase you get a certificate that you can fax to SMN Florence headquarters where they'll write your name down in their golden book (edit: mom corrected me this only applies if you buy Ottone or Porcellana, the two fragrances released for Santa Maria Novella's 400th anniversary). The golden book, the history, the package design and most of all, the smells themselves, it all has this luxurious old world charm I cannot be impervious to even though I myself live in the old world. My mom chose a cologne called Porcellana and has labeled me "perfume thief" in advance as I was very sincere and blatantly obvious about the fact that I plan to wear it too (I'm actually wearing it right now), breaking my longstanding self-imposed rule about never wearing the same fragrance as someone I see more or less every day (which has spared me from wearing many lovely scents, so maybe it's not that much of a good rule after all?) Porcellana is light and romantic, I usually go for more complex and unusual fragrances, yet this one works because it's simple, but not really.
Now that I think about it, most of all the fragrance evokes Florence, though my memory of it is sparse, so in my head Porcellana might be inventing a whole new world.