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making faces :: armani's lost world

so many discontinued lippies... why, giorgio?
with the exception of a few cult items here and there, i normally find that high-end brands are pretty good about giving their fans a shot at grabbing items from seasonal or special collections before they're whisked away into the netherworld of discontinued cosmetic goodies. however, i have to say that of late, armani are proving uniquely frustrating in this respect, throwing out items for short periods of time [the only counter in montreal sometimes has stock for less than a week], or making it unclear to all whether certain products are permanent. it's frustrating, especially since, in the last year, i've really gotten to love armani, particularly their lip products and their incredible eyes to kill shadows. what's worse is that i find that armani's permanent collection is actually smallish compared to their pretige cosmetics rivals and so it's all the more annoying when beautiful things appear and disappear in short order.

one of the most egregious examples of this on armani's part was the "downtown" armani collection. or the "hollywood ambers" collection. or the "my armani browns" collection. which are, in point of fact, different names for the same collection of lipsticks and glosses that were released between the proper armani fall and holiday collections late last year. if you haven't heard of them, you're far from alone. no one seemed quite sure whether this was part of fall, or new colours being added to the permanent line, or a collection unto itself. if you google any of the collection names, you'll find links mainly to a very small number of blogs, or to the armani site itself, which will tell you that pretty much the entire collection is unavailable. the fact is, most if not all of the shades are still available through online retailers like neiman marcus and nordstrom, but even they don't seem to know how to classify the shades. it's all very confusing for a makeup fan and, with all the nifty collections we keep getting thrown at us, we're a group who are already prone to confusion.

first world problems, i know.

FEEL MY PAIN...


the "downtown armani" collection [let's just agree to use that name going forward] was something i originally thought marked an addition to their lipstick and gloss line, because the colours seemed like they would be a very nice complement to what was already available. good, standard colours from muted beige to vampy plum-brown, most of which were very wearable. i've already waxed poetic about the wonders of shade #608, truly one of my favourite reds ever.

rouge d'armani 609
by the time i decided i wanted to go back for seconds, however, my counter had sold out of the entire collection. i did snag the one shade i remembered liking a great deal, which was the rich, dark mahogany with a hint of purple #609. like #608, this would make an excellent addition to the armani line, but for different reasons. while this one might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's still comparatively rare to see a prestige line with this sort of striking vampy colour. chanel doesn't have one. neither does guerlain. nars doesn't have anything i'd qualify as really vampy, although it has some very nice red shades. it would be nice to see these sorts of striking colours make their way into the regular line-up of high end brands.

there are comparable shades of course. yves st. laurent "noir laque" is darker and cooler. it's actually marketed as a "modifier", meant to be used on top of other shades and is a wee bit patchy used on its own. [not to say it can't be used that way, it just takes some work. it also blots to a nice stain.] ysl also has "poupre carmin", which is brighter and more pink-berry toned. tom ford "black orchid" is similar, but noticeably redder and warmer. le metier de beaute "kona" is not as dark and much more purple. "609" is probably closest to the limited edition mac shade "dark deed", but the armani shade is browner and a bit darker. plus, of course, it comes in the incredible rouge d'armani formula, which is sort of like what happens to good lipsticks when they go to heaven. quite possibly the best on the market.

rouge d'armani 609
sadly, #609 is limited but, as mentioned, some retailers still have it. so should you rush out and grab this? i'd say that it's less universal in its appeal than #608, but if you're a fan of deep, vampy shades, then yes, you should absolutely take advantage of the opportunity to get a colour like this in a superior formula. if you're less sure about dark lips, it might be a bit of an investment to start with. i personally can never have enough dramatic lipsticks, so it's a no brainer.

it is still available from on line retailers, as is the rest of the "downtown" collection. get 'em while they're still there, because who knows when they'll disappear... [i'm personally planning, when i have the funds, to go back and get more.]

another shade i picked up recently was the brown-plum gloss d'armani #603. i'm less certain about the status of this one, since it was released with the special holiday collection, but some of those shades seem to have become permanent. it's still available on line, but no guarantees for how long.

i'd actually skipped over the armani glosses when they came out, because i found they looked very sheer. turns out, that might have been a mistake. the colours are somewhat sheer, but unlike other glosses, they're not particularly prone to fading, at least not for a few hours, so what you see on application is more or less what you get. i also felt that they seemed a bit thin, which i usually equate with a product that slips around and disappears quickly. these are remarkably different. and by that i mean that they're both remarkable and different.

when first applied, the gloss does feel fairly slippery, but it quickly seems to "set". it becomes a little tackier and forms a kind of gel-like texture on the lips that really clings. it stays even and hangs on for a good four hours, which is unheard of in my world. armani's claim is that they can last eight hours, which i think is overstating it. [also, i tend to eat at least once er right hour period, so i really don't care if a gloss can outlast that. more than twelve hours without at least a piece of fruit and the condition of my lips will fall far behind chewing the leg off a random passer-by on my list of concerns.] nonetheless, it is without a doubt the longest-lasting gloss i've tried and the one where the colour stays the truest to the original application. it has without a doubt become my favourite gloss formula and the only thing stopping me from buying virtually every shade is the limits of my bank account and credit card.

it helps that this sort of warm, plum [meaning, in this case, brown and red, since plum means something different every time it's used] is one of my favourite shades for a gloss. brownish tones can be aging on me when they're opaque, but sheered out, they add a nice warmth and richness to my natural lip colour. i'm surprised that this was part of the holiday collection, since it seems particularly autumnal, but i'm not going to argue cosmetic semantics. it's a lovely shade that will work on just about everyone, everywhere. it packs some colour, but not so much, so even those maidens who shy away from the dark will likely be smitten with this sombre stranger.

i couldn't think of much in the way of analogues for this one, which is strange, since these sort of plum tones seem to follow me home a lot. it kind of reminded me of mac's "plum fun", but they're actually quite different. "plum fun" is a lighter base and is more opaque and strewn with gold shimmer. i think it's just that both shades are warm and plummy and both really seem to agree with me that i linked them. nars "fast ride" is kind of a similar colour [although redder and cooler], but it's a lipstick, so they look very different in use.

here's a look at both products in action, so that you can see what they can do. in both cases, i'm wearing mac prolongwear foundation in "nc15" and dr. hauschka concealer in shade "01" as a base.

"609"


ok, in all honesty, the best thing about these pictures has nothing to do with me or the makeup i'm wearing, but is the fact that seth managed to so effectively photobomb me in the second one. i hope that he continues to pop up in many more shots, because i could combine "making faces" with a version of "find the cat".

given the relative warmth of the shade, i thought it would work nicely with some of the gold-toned colours from the urban decay "naked" palette.

eyes ::

urban decay e/s "half-baked" [frosty gold]
urban decay e/s "sin" [shimmery beige-pink]
urban decay e/s "hustle" [warm deep brown]
urban decay e/s "virgin" [shimmery highlighter]
mac superslick liquid liner "on the hunt" [black patent]
guerlain eye kohl "black"
benefit they're real mascara

cheeks ::

mac mineralize blush duo "new vibe"* [deep raspberry pink + warm gold]
mac mineralize skinfinish "new vegas"* [sparkly gold highligher]

lips ::
rouge d'armani l/s "609"* [dark plum-brown]

*suggested alternates :: new vibe = nars sin [lighter]; new vegas = nars albatross [lighter]


"603"

i did say that the shade reminded me of mac's "plum fun", so i guess that's why it occurred to me to pair it with the "lady grey" eye shadow quad from the same collection. strangely, i also paired it with the same blush as i used in the previous look, probably since i've been rediscovering it lately and a good plum-toned blush can be a remarkably difficult thing to find.

eyes ::

mac e/s "all races"* [dusty light mauve]
mac e/s "tendersmoke"* [shimmery greyish purple]
mac e/s "lady grey"* [soft sage green]
mac e/s "hazy day"* [dirty warm medium grey]
mac shadestick "cakeshop"* [shimmery light gold-pewter]
mac powerpoint eye liner "black swan" [black with silver shimmer]

cheeks ::

mac mineralize blush duo "new vibe"* [deep raspberry pink + warm gold]
mac magically cool liquid powder "truth & light" [light peach]

lips ::

armani gloss d'armani "603" [sheer brown raisin]

*suggested alternates :: the "lady grey" shadow quad is still available, as is "cakeshop" shadestick, so i'd recommend picking it up as a whole if you can- there aren't very good substitutes out there for some of the shades. if you can't get it, though, you can try- all races = mac quarry [darker and pinker]; tendersmoke = chanel fauve [darker]; lady grey = laura mercier dew moss; hazy day = mac keep your cool [darker]; cakeshop = armani eyes to kill #19 [lighter and also limited, but seems to be sticking around for a while]

hope you're able to lay your hands on these babies and, if you're from armani and reading this make the downtowns permanent!!!!

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