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January 29, 2016

Lip Service

 

My makeup routine is very simple and lacks a lot of fuss, or technique. I've never been one of those girls who could draw perfectly draw their eyeliner and I most certainly am not one who can contour an entirely new face for myself. In addition to lacking the skills, I also just prefer to use as few products as possible. I like my mineral foundation and blush, my lashes curled but devoid of mascara and my eyebrows brushed. Tinted lip balm is usually what's on my lips. That's the day-to-day. When it comes to occasions that call for a bit more face, I'll add in some basic eye shadow and mascara and go for a gloss over just balm. I feel uncomfortable in too much makeup, almost as though I am playing dress up. 


My cosmetics arsenal is quite small and contains only the products I actually use. I don't have the entire catalog of MAC eye shadows or trays of product sitting on my dressing table. I don't get that rush of excitement or the feeling of "I must have!" when it comes to cosmetics. No, that is reserved for shoes. Unsurprisingly then, that the one cosmetic product in recent history that has made me sit up and take notice comes from one of my favorite shoe designers, Christian Louboutin.



The Louboutin Charme lipsticks first caught my eye when I spied them over social media from beauty editors who had received an early preview of the product, and from that moment it was all over. The first thing that strikes you is the opulent packaging.


Encased within a stunning gold bullet, it’s like an objet d’art and they definitely lend themselves to a bit of art deco styling. The exception to this gold case is the signature Louboutin red, fittingly named Rouge Louboutin, which comes in a black case. If the first thing you notice is its looks, the second thing you’ll notice is how heavy it is. I don’t know if I’ve ever picked up such a weighty lipstick before! Threaded through the cap is a ribbon, as it was designed to be worn around the neck if you so wish. Hence the name, Louboutin Charme. I wasn’t going to risk any serious neck injury on account of the weight, so I removed the ribbon. It was also getting in the way when using and carrying around in my bag!



Released in three formulations – velvet matte, silky satin and sheer voile – the number of shades over the entire collection total a whopping thirty eight, with twenty of those shades sitting in the silky satin range. My personal preference was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the sheer voile but wanting to try something different I also decided on a velvet matte.
Survivita to the left, You You on the right
I tend to be a ‘your lips but better’ kinda gal, but decided to go all out and choose shades I wouldn’t normally wear. After having a bit of a play with all the shades, in the sheer voile I selected You You and the velvet matte was Survivita. My first pair of Louboutin heels were actually the You You style, so that was a cute little coincidence.
Survivita
You You

Both are similar red-based shades, with the matte Survivita being a cool toned red with a hint of pink peeking through, while the You You gives a lovely crushed berry hue to the lips.
Velvet Matte Survivita
As with any matte lipstick, good prepping of the lips beforehand will ensure a smooth application. True to its velvet matte name, it feels velvety on the lips and finishes to a soft matte. It lacks that overly dry and powdery finish that can be sometimes found with matte lipsticks. The color is extremely pigmented and long lasting, even after eating and drinking.
Sheer Voile You You
On the other hand, the sheer voile is a wonderfully glossy affair giving the perfect amount of color with shine. I love it. For a sheer formulation, there is no lack of pigmentation and it feels lovely on the lips. If you were to create a product from a lipstick and a lip gloss, I feel this is what you’d want. Great color performance with a shine that doesn’t have too much slip and definitely none of the stickiness of a gloss. The sheer voile is a definite winner in my books.

 

While it is an indulgent buy at US$90 a pop, I don’t believe you can dispute the quality of the product. Both the packaging and the product hit the mark. Though my makeup collection is not vast, I do have  lipsticks by Chanel, YSL and Dior and my thoughts on the Louboutin Charme are based on a comparison between these other brands.
Available online and in store from Louboutin, Saks and Sephora, you should definitely treat yourself. Or better yet, have someone treat you.

January 18, 2016

A New Year Do-Over

I’m not one for huge New Year celebrations. At least not those of the raucous and over-the-top variety. Smaller celebrations and more intimate parties are my preferred way to ring in the New Year; enjoying the company of those nearest to me preferably with the inclusion of a nice meal and well mixed drinks. Being in New York City over the festive and holiday season I was of course asked if I would be in Times Square for New Years Eve and I really cannot think of one place I’d rather not be at that time. At the best of times I don't rather enjoy Times Square!

Even in consideration of what did end up going down on New Years Eve, I'd still not have a Times Square ball drop at the top of my list. Without divulging too much of the specifics, of course to protect the identity (or perhaps more appropriately, the dignity) of the unfortunate party, most of my New Years Eve and the early hours of the first day of 2016 were devoted to the care of two badly cut fingers. Unfortunate though fortunate they were not my own fingers. When it comes to the sharp blades of a mandolin, man will lose every time, and of course man will blame woman (that being me) for the inattention that caused said fingers to fall victim to the blades.

Some of you are likely squeamish when it comes to tales of blood and other gory things, so I will hold back on the imagery but let’s just say I have never in my life seen so much blood! While concerned over the injury and how nothing seemed to quell the free flow of blood, I was also silently cursing that the spotless bathroom that I had cleaned earlier that day in anticipation of starting the new year with the apartment being all fresh and clean now had big splotches of blood all over the tiled floor and even the bathroom mat. Together we cobbled a makeshift dressing and made it to a friend’s party just in time for the countdown, and I do mean just in time. As I walked into the door, twenty seconds were left to the countdown at Times Square which was being shown on the TV.

We made it to the countdown, passed out the obligatory good wishes and then left for the hospital. A tetanus shot, a lesson in wound dressing and a few hours later we were done and discharged with only a couple hours of sleep to be had before we had to prepare for the dinner party that we had invited a few people to later that evening. Talk about great timing.

By the end of the first night of the new year, everyone was well fed and I had washed more dishes in one night than I probably would in a week. Having two cut fingers certainly does get a person out of a few chores. I rolled into bed exhausted, thanking my lucky stars that tomorrow night there would be no dishes to wash or any time at all needing to be spent in the kitchen because we had a much anticipated reservation at one of the best restaurants in the city. It was to be the perfect do-over for a slightly catastrophic ushering in of the new year.


Depending on who you ask or what list you consult, you could say that Eleven Madison Park is the best restaurant in New York City. It has three of those highly sought after Michelin stars, currently sits at number five on the San Pellegrino Top 50 list and of that list, it is the highest ranked restaurant in North America. Impressive stats. Offering a tasting menu, it was an almost four hour heavenly dining experience. As you would expect of such an awarded restaurant, the dishes were all impeccably created from the concept, to the taste, to the techniques through to the plating. The service was perfection. Highly attentive as you would expect but far from intrusive, which is what you want.


I won't even attempt to put into words or describe the composition and execution of each dish. What I will say is that it surely was an exceptional evening. Without a doubt, it is a costly night out but if you love your food and appreciate the sheer talent and mastery of chefs that are on top of their game, you will not be disappointed. I believe we were served fourteen dishes in total and I lamented that by the end I was actually quite so stuffed that I could not completely finish the last couple of dishes despite how delicious it all was. The duck was superb and I even had to fob off the last little forkful. Sometimes people scoff at tasting menus, despite the multiple courses, due to each dish being on the small side but it definitely all adds up in the end. After all, one of us had to undo the last buttons on their shirt...and it wasn't me.


Stand out dishes of the evening included the smoked salmon sabayon we were served as our second course. Superbly airy and frothy with an unbelievable flavour of the smoked salmon infused throughout. The restaurant's interpretation of the classic eggs benedict wowed. Served in a gorgeous little tin, the creamy hollandaise sauce sitting atop caviar and quail egg. The beautiful, beautiful duck which was shown to us tableside as a whole bird before taken back to the kitchen to be carved. Covered in a spice rub and festively stuffed with lavender flowers into its backside, it was just gorgeous. Lastly, one of our sweet courses which was on one side a serving of a delicious late harvest riesling and on the other side, a deconstructed dessert embodying all the flavors of the riesling. I could not believe how perfectly they pulled this one off. The sweet almond flavors of the riesling which ended with a hit of gingerbread (yes, actual gingerbread!) was recreated in this perfect quenelle of almond icecream and gingerbread crumbs. It was bliss.


As a final treat, the night ended with a game of guessing the milk used in making four different bars of Mast Brothers chocolate. Despite my penchant for chocolate, I let myself down this time and ol' Edward Scissorhands walked out the triumphant winner with all guesses correct.