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making faces :: product review [yves st. laurent]

twiggy wearing yves st. laurent
this isn't so much a haul as a few products i've accumulated over the last little while from ysl. for some reason, this is a brand i'm more or less discovering, not because i didn't know they existed, but because they were never one of the brands i felt i absolutely had to try. it seems like other brands always have some new or sought-after thing that distracts my attention. ysl's offering just didn't seem as special as others.

in a way, it's strange that i haven't paid more attention to ysl, because yves saint laurent the man is a character who fascinates me. promoted to the position of head designer at dior at age 21, succeeding the man himself (who had hand-picked him before his own untimely death), he saved the company from bankruptcy with his 1958 spring collection. by fall of that same year, he was old news and in 1960, the house of dior colluded with the french government to see him conscripted to the army so that they could replace him. (he later sued them and won his case.)

androgyny rocks
he is best known for his somewhat androgynous fashions, above all a women's suit dubbed "le smoking" and clothing that became associated with the beat movement. his own designs were often extremely stark, sometimes incorporating so-called "ethnic" elements, sometimes taking their inspiration from artists like piet mondrian. his was also the first fashion house to produce a prêt-à-porter clothing line, clothes designed for daily wear as opposed to those created for inspiration.

on a more personal note, one of my prized shoe possessions (found at well less than their value on ebay) is a pair of boots from designer tom ford's final season with the fashion house that are really more like a piece of wearable art than something you'd find at payless.

i may never get to own a piece of vintage ysl couture (the house closed in 2008, although its parent company, gucci, continues to produce ready-to-wear lines as well as accessories and cosmetics, under the ysl banner.), but i can indulge a little in the colour offerings found at their counters at the bay and holt renfrew. here's a few choice morsels:




mondrian, not mascara
faux cils mascara :: noir radical :: i am a mascara hound. i have for years been on the search for the holy grail of eyelash amplifiers. generally, i look for volume rather than lengthening or curling, because my lashes are pretty long and curved on their own. since this formula promises increased volume and comes in their "extreme black" colour, i figured i'd give it a try.

so far, my all-time favourite mascara has been benefit's bad gal, but i'm always on the lookout for something new. with faux cils, i may have found it. it does indeed add volume, so that you have a lovely fringe without a lot of fussing around or dealing with multiple coats. at first, i thought it was clumping a little, but an extra pass with the wand combed that right out. it doesn't deposit any unsightly lumps and, although the applicator can get a little messy when first removed, it doesn't go on messy like some other volume formulas i've tried. best of all, i find that the wand separates the lashes enough that, despite the considerable enhancement it gives, lashes never look "heavy". i was easily able to apply it to my bottom lashes without making my eyes look all squinty.

as far as the "noir radical" colour is concerned, i took it for a marketing ploy. black is black, right? well, not quite. i tried it next to mac's "false lashes" mascara, which is another formula i really like and, yes, i could easily see a difference. the "faux cils" was noticeably darker. i think that the intense black colour augments the appearance of volume as well, since it really makes lashes pop.

a definite winner! ($36cad)

rouge pur couture :: rouge saadi :: everyone seems to flip over ysl's "rouge volupté" lipsticks, their moisturising intense colour line. personally, while i really liked the formula at first, i've grown a little disenchanted with it. i find it very slippery and, on me at least, it wears off very quickly and leaves me with the lipstick "ring of shame". couple that with the fact that they smell strongly of watermelon (i hate watermelon) and i'm not exactly rushing back to try more.

rouge saadi #3
i do, however, love their rouge pur lipsticks. i find the formula much nicer, satiny smooth, adequately moisturising without sliding all over the place and beautiful pigmented. when it does fade (which takes some time), it leaves a nice, even stain and it's easy to retouch.

the "rouge pur couture" colours were launched this spring and are a different formula from the original "rouge pur" lipsticks. this series of shades are inspired by the designers original palette of bold colours- red, orange and magenta shades. if you like bold lips (and i do), the colour selection is dazzling. the nice thing is that they are pretty true to the colour you see in the tube, which most lipsticks aren't. there are a few more understated colours available, but this whole collection seems to be about the brights. the reds in particular are just ravishing.

noir lacque #18
rouge saadi (#3) is a slightly warm red with a lot of coral undertone, although it can certainly work on cooler skin tones as well. it's a fairly bold shade, to be sure, but it isn't in-your-face. i think this is the kind of thing that you could get away with in a lot of different settings, as it has a look that's both classic and classy.

for those who prefer their colours more toned down, the rouge pur couture line includes two shades- a shimmery, semi-sheer white and an intense purplish black-brown- which can be used to lighten or deepen other colours. of course, if you're like me, you'll just as soon where the dark colour- noir lacque (#18)- on its own. and there's no rule saying you can't do that...

you can see a full and very accurate set of pictures of the rouge pur couture line here. ($37cad)

slate green #5
ombre solo smoothing effect eyeshadow :: slate green :: it wasn't until after i'd fallen in love with these little shadows in their display the colours are gorgeously intense and true-to-pan. the two that i fell in love with right off the bat were smoky grey (#7) and slate green (#5). i picked up the latter one only, but i have a feeling that i'll be back for the grey shade sooner or later.

slate green doesn't remind me much of a slate colour at all, really. it's a very cool green- i'd say more like a slightly lightened forest green, with a gorgeous sea blue shimmer. unfortunately, while the shimmer shows both in the pan and when i swatched it on my finger, i couldn't get it to show up in use. granted, i could have built the shadow up more, but given how well the colour went on and how much payoff it gave, it seemed pointless to keep packing stuff on my eyes.

slate green #5
in use, the colour went on very smoothly and, while i had no trouble blending it, it did seem to set in place pretty quickly once applied. i found i had to work fairly quickly, which is odd for a powder shadow.  despite the visible shimmer in the pan, the colour applied was pretty close to matte- it had a slight sheen but that's all. billed as a long-wearing shadow, i did notice that there was almost no fading in the colour after several hours of wear. i wasn't out and about a lot, but it was enough that i think other products would have started to give up.

the shadow came with a little brush and sponge applicator, which i didn't end up using, but which would be great for travel.

once again, you can see a complete set of product swatches via karla sugar's site (shadows are second from the top). the colours surprise me a little, in that they're so far off what a "regular" range would be. there aren't really any "basics" (beige, cream, etc.) and the bulk of the colours are either fairly dark or quite bright. for my part, i'm quite happy with the selection. for me, these shadows are more of a "special" purchase, so i'd rather have them in colours that would be a feature. i can get light neutrals anywhere. ($34cad)

i have to say that my one beef with ysl is their packaging. everything is made to look like a little jewel case, with gilt and filigree, like something that immediately announces "high end". but for some reason, they insist on making these lovely little packages out of a cheap plastic that scratches and smudges so easily that even bringing them home can leave them looking shabby. this holds true for all the products i've tried from them, although i will say i found the mascara a little better. for the price range they're playing in, it's not something they can really afford to continue with. chanel has a lock on black chic, shu uemura always looks nicely futuristic, mac cosmetics at half the price have a streamlined and immediately recognisable look with their gunmetal casing (and "bullet" lipsticks). for the money they charge, they could look a lot better.

in closing, here's a look that i did that incorporates the three products (only one colour of lipstick) reviewed here, so you can see them "in action". i think it shows pretty well how well and precisely and evenly the shadow and lipstick apply, with no extra effort required.

products used

face ::
nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
mac prolongwear concealer nw20

eyes ::

mac vex e/s [soft grey-green with pink sheen: absolutely necessary; accept no substitutes]
mac motif e/s [peachy-gold with pink sheen]
nars night star [light peach with gold shimmer]
ysl slate green e/s [deep blue-toned green]
mac greasepaint stick greengrease [black-green, used as a liner]
ysl faux cils mascara noir radical

cheeks ::
mac magically cool liquid powder truth & light
mac my highland honey blush

lips ::
ysl rouge pur couture rouge saadi

tom ford for yves st. laurent made, evidently, with me in mind

Comments

Fashion Lover said…
you all are really inspiring. i love your blog. also, YSL is a very talented designer. I have learned to really appreciate the designers and not take them for granted ever since Alexander Mcqueen's passing. (I, too, have struggled with suicide so his death kind of hits a home for me.) I love YSL shoes. Thank you for including this particular designer in your post. =)
flora_mundi said…
Thanks very much Fashion Lover! That's a really lovely thing to read. I had a similar pang of real sadness when I heard about McQueen, who is another I always admired.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

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