about make-up and beauty

“Secrets … Are the Very Root of Cool:” Penhaligon’s Tralala

I’m often asked about the perfumes I wear, but explaining in detail what draws me towards a certain scent is hard. Choosing a perfume is a very personal, intimate and subjective act, which deals with memories, echoes and dreams. Moreover, what works for you may not work for others, because perfumes adapt to their wearers with different outcomes. It’s frustrating when you want a perfume to work for you [1], but there’s nothing you can do about it (I guess it’s a chemistry matter); on the contrary, when you realize something works wonderfully on your skin, that’s pure bliss. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but with perfumes… well, that’s a different story.

Penhaligon’s Endymion struck me like thunder, and the same happened with the latest scent of the British brand. Tralala is the result of a unique combination of creativity and artistry: created by Bertrand Duchaufour in collaboration with Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, it will officially launch next spring [2], but I was lucky enough to get a sample from Penhaligon’s [3].

It’s taken me days to “study” it. I’m not joking: there’s so much hidden in this perfume, that whenever I wear it, I know there’s something more I can’t quite grasp. I don’t think I’m able to describe in detail, but let’s see what the official report says about the olfactory pyramid. The head notes include aldehydes, saffron, whiskey, ambrette seed butter, galbanum and violet leaf absolute; the heart notes are carnation, leather, tuberose, ylang ylang, orris and incense; the base notes include myrrh resinoid, opopanax absolute, patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood, heliotrope, musk and vanilla. It’s definitely the most complex composition I’ve ever smelt, but let me tell you I immediately connected it to two Penhaligon’s perfumes I own and love – Artemisia and Cornubia. Both perfumes have musk and vanilla as base notes, just like Tralala, but despite this similarity, the latter succeeds in standing out.

02_tralala_image-2To my nose, the perfume opens with a fresh, yet romantic, scent of violet, soon followed by a slight note of incense (which I love, and would smell it among millions of scents) and a rich tuberose. When the floral notes subside, the wooden/spicy heart of the perfume opens up with comforting and earthy notes of vanilla, patchouli and musk; on the background, a fresh hint of vetiver. Perfumes usually don’t last long on me, but this one lingers on my skin for hours – you can definitely tell it’s there for a long time. It’s a fragrance you can lose yourself in, but there’s more about it, a subtler yet deeper meaning: to me Tralala speaks of warmth and comfort, ideas I connect to Artemisia, too, but here there’s a mysterious element which I guess  is of its charm, a feature that beautifully echoes the imagery of its creators, along with the perfume bottle.


Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: December 2013

Sorry for the lack of updates, but December was such a busy month and January kind of caught me by surprise. I’m currently stuck home with a flu, so I guess this is the right time to see what my nails wore in the last month of the year. FYI: I haven’t done my nails since then because of split ends; I think they need some time polish-free to get healthier.

56505bf25b4311e3b7d2127ea6e65569_8Loving this look so much! Lynnderella Tidy Whities is gorgeous on dark colours, especially in blue shades. I used it over Kiko 294 Indigo Blue and it looked fantastic: the result is a bit snowy/galaxy.

“The Amount of Perfume She Had On Was Like a Human Sacrifice on Incense Night”: An Ode to Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet

Have you ever had a signature scent, one of those perfumes you’ve been wearing for years? The idea of it is appealing – a perfume becomes you from an olfactory point of view – but I could never make it happen in real life. As a perfume lover, I’m constantly looking for perfumes which remind me of pieces of my life. I can find one which doesn’t really tell me anything, which is not connected to memories, but it rarely occurs. Just before Christmas I added another perfume to my small collection: it speaks of the past with a beautiful and serene approach. Needless to say, I’m hopelessly in love with it.

penhaligons_blenheimbouquet (2)There’s a special story behind this perfume. Some time ago I was playing with my Penhaligon’s scent library: I had my mind focused on Bluebell and Lily of the Valley, but when I smelled Blenheim Bouquet I forgot the rest. Call me crazy but my mind immediately went to one of my favourite perfumes ever, Cacharel Pour l’Homme, an iconic 1980s scent which has been spoiled by a recent reformulation. If you compare their perfume pyramids, you’ll see they are part of the same family: both of them are aromatic/fresh spicy, even if Cacharel Pour l’Homme is woody and Blenheim Bouquet citrus. The unusual thing? I can smell frankincense in both of them but that specific note is missing. I don’t know what gives me the illusion of frankincense, which is – for me – a very evocative smell: it’s probably the nutmeg in Cacharel Pour l’Homme and who knows what in Blenheim Bouquet.

Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: November 2013

For me, one of the unmistakable signs of anxiety/depression is the lack of nail inspiration. That’s the reason why I did my nails only 4 (yes, four) times last month. I felt miserable for a number of reasons and all I wanted to do was lying in bed and sleeping. I don’t know if devoting some time to improving my painting skills has helped me to feel better, but it has surely helped me to focus on other than my own fears.

photo (5)I definitely want to do this manicure again because I loved it so much! I’ve got a thing for half-moon manicures (for me they’re the epitome of chic), so I decided to go for an untried combination – nude and sparkling red. I used Deborah Lippmann Putty in Your Hands as base and China Glaze Ruby Pumps (aka the best red glittering shade ever).

Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: October 2012

October was a very hard month for me: adjusting to the new school routine was harder than expected and, as a result, tiredness and anxiety hit hard. This is the reason why I didn’t devote much time to manicures; now I realize I should have, since this activity usually relaxes and calms me down. I’ll try to go back to them next month. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy what I came up with in the past 31 days.

d7c632c829f311e38b9a22000a1f9d42_8I’ve recently found myself more and more drawn to Deborah Lippmann nail polishes, which is not a surprise. I’ve always loved the American celeb manicurist’s shades, especially the glitter bombs, but now I’ve found out even the “regular” colours are stunning! I was lucky enough to get a bottle of Through the Fire from a German swapper. This dark, rich merlot red with metallic shimmer was originally released in the 2012 Holiday collection: it’s such a great winter colour. I used it in a manicure along with Chanel Malice, another red shade released for the 2012 holiday season as part of the Eclats du Soir collection. They’re not dupes (Malice is darker), but they’re definitely part of the same family.

Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: September 2013

Am I the only one who thinks September passed so quickly? It’s probably due to the beginning of a new school year, which for me means a new school and new students. When you’re busy with something (family, job, life in general), your perception of time changes, usually by giving you the feeling a month is just a blink of an eye. Despite the hectic schedule I had, I was able to devote some time to my nails, so here are the manis I did.

photo(3)Ok, I must admit this was a mistake, a compulsive purchase which I shouldn’t have done. OPI Suzy’s Hungary Again is already sitting in my swap basket, even if it’s a very nice geranium pink shade. The point is that it’s nothing special and I don’t think I need something like this in my stash. Nice colour, though, part of the Euro Centrale spring 2013 collection. The polish contains some fine shimmer, pretty invisible once applied.

Summer of Love Bottled: Kiehl’s Original Musk

One of my weakest spots is having an eye for details. Sure, it can also be considered a plus, but sometimes focusing on details diverts the attention from what really matters – watching a movie, for example. A guilty pleasure of mine is trying to spot renowned beauty products in movies or tv shows [1]: it’s a funny game I like playing especially when I’m tired because it relaxes me, but it can sometimes lead to unexpected results.

94c52834167b11e3996722000a9f18fe_7I’m a bit ashamed to say that I bought Kiehl’s Original Musk after spotting it in a Woody Allen movie…

“This Whole World’s Wild at Heart and Weird On Top”: Make-Up and Identity in David Lynch’s Wild At Heart

I believe the movies you watch as a child and as a teenager often leave an indelible mark on your memory and on your cinema tastes as an adult. This is surely my case: the first memories I have of watching a movie at the cinema are linked to A Hard Day’s Night by Richard Lester (I was 5), to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (I was 12) and to David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (I was 17). I started to regularly attend a cinema when I was 14, so these are not the only movies I remember vividly, but are surely those who impressed me most. I strangely have no memories of Disney movies, but I perfectly remember the impact the twisted love story by Lynch had on my 17-year-old prudish self. It shocked me, as if I had seen an alien, because it was different from anything I had watched so far. After many years, I recently had the chance to watch it again: the shock is obviously gone, but the feeling you’re watching a unique film is still there. I love everything about it, which is the reason why it’s still among my favourite movies ever. All the bizarre, eccentric, wicked, violent and ruthless Lynch aesthetic is shown at its best, reaching its peak of perfection in the star-crossed lovers (Sailor Ripley and Lula Pace, respectively Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern) and in Marietta Fortune, Lula’s vengeful mother (the actress who played the role is Diane Ladd, Laura Dern’s mother in real life).

lulamariettaMother and daughter are very different – at a certain point of the narration they’re actually enemies – but there’s a very strong bond between them. From a visual point of view you can tell there’s a connection between them: Lula is Marietta’s younger and wilder version. This physical similarity is surely one of the reason why David Lynch casted both Ladd and Dern. Both of them are natural blondes, with the help of some hydrogen peroxide, and love wearing red lipstick. Lula is more consistent in her make-up choices, because she opts for the classic red lips/red nails combo most of the time, while Marietta likes wearing something different from time to time (see the hot pink nail polish on her talons in the screencap above).

Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: August 2013

August came and went so quickly! I didn’t really spend a proper holiday this year, just a few days in the mountains with my family, and if I look back, it seems it happened years ago. Well, I guess it’s because a new school year is just around the corner, so my mind is moving forward. Unfortunately I couldn’t devote much time to painting my nails, but I’ve got something new to show you anyway.

photoThe first manicure of the month was with one of my favourite shades ever – Across the Universe by Enchanted Polish. Every time I put it on, it surprises me with its complexity: it’s a multichrome (blue, purple, with some pink and emerald green reflects, too) studded with silver glitter. I could spend hours trying to capture all these effects on camera, especially under the sunlight, and be sure I wouldn’t be able to show you exactly how it looks in real life.

“She Has Enough Black Eyeliner On to Outline A Corpse:” The Opening Credits of Orange Is the New Black

As an avid tv show watcher I usually focus on some elements which make me decide if a tv show is worth my time or not. After the plot and the characters (and their style sometimes) there are the opening credits, a sort of business card of the show itself. I hate when there are no opening credits and I highly enjoy them when they’re good. This is the case of the credits of Pretty Little Liars and Ripper Street, for example: they beautifully introduce each episode re-working the main theme of the show and its imagery. I’ve recently binge-watched the first season of the new it show – Jenji Kohan’s Orange Is the New Black, based on a novel by Piper Kerman – and its opening credits have immediately entered my favourite list. Regina Spektor wrote and sang the theme You’ve Got Time (whose lyrics directly refer to the story told by the show), while the visuals were designed by Thomas Cobb Group, referencing yet again to the show in a different way.

One of the peaks of Orange Is the New Black is the diversity of the stories told and of its protagonists, who not only have different backgrounds, levels of education, ethnicities and differ from a physical point of view, too. None of the actresses acting in the show are in the opening credits [1], but Kohan wanted to keep a high level of authenticity nonetheless. For this reason, all the women portrayed by Michael Trim and Thomas Cobb in New York and Los Angeles were previously incarcerated, just like the protagonists of the show. Writing a show without taking a dip into the wide sea of stereotypes is very hard but Kohan did her best to steer clear from it, and this approach is mirrored by the credits, too. Those we see (their eyes and mouths, to be precise) are not the classic airbrushed women we usually see on tv but are portrayed in all their flaws – wrinkles, undereye bags, skin marks, moles, acne scars and clogged pores. God knows if we need such a plausible portrayal of women on tv!

As a visually-obsessed blogger, it’s easy to see why the opening credits have had such an appeal on me. The point is that I’m a make-up addict, too, so I screencapped all the sequence and kept some shots only. The concept behind the credits is interesting and thoroughly relevant, but I’m a vain girl, so here is a breakdown of all the shots portraying a woman sporting black eyeliner, mascara or eyepencil [2].

vlcsnap-2013-08-17-12h25m43s89Plucked eyebrows, black eyeliner on the upper lashline, black mascara on upper and lower lashes.

vlcsnap-2013-08-17-12h25m48s138Plucked eyebrows, black mascara.