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making faces :: guerlain hits high notes with liu

for their holiday offering this year, guerlain has taken liu as their theme. liu is the name of a classic guerlain fragrance, inspired by the heroine of puccini's opera turandot, his final work, left incomplete [but "fleshed out" with an ending by franco alfano two years afterward] upon his death. guerlain's interpretation of liu was that she was a servant girl who dies to protect her lover, the prince calaf. 
that's one way of looking at it. 

another way of looking at it would be that liu is a slave girl in love with the prince calaf who could give a shit about her existence because he's hell-bent on marrying the ice princess turandot. turandot is renown for refusing the advances of all men, as a tribute to her ancestor lou-ling, who was raped. in particular, turandot has a habit of promising to marry men who can solve riddles that she tells them and then killing them when they inevitably fail. 

calaf, though, solves the riddles and, apparently having no sense that he's lucky to still be consuming oxygen, tells the princess that she can still get out of marrying him if she's able to guess his real name [which, of course, he hasn't told her]. although you'd think a prince would be fairly well-known, this one apparently isn't, and he's even kind of cocky about keeping his secret, despite the fact that liu and her blind father, who have been standing around the whole time, are perfectly aware of who he is.

turandot gets into a froth, especially when she finds out that liu knows the prince's name. she orders that liu will be tortured until she coughs up the moniker, which she is, to the point where she kills herself because she can't take it anymore. 

calaf does scold turandot for being kind of a biatch with the whole torturing innocent girls thing, gropes her, tells her his name and, thus wins her love. the end. 

not quite so romantic when you look at it that way. in fact, in the operatic genre, already a rather bloody and macabre one, turandot has got to be one of the least pleasant stories that audiences are subjected to. but apparently guerlain could still find beauty in it, both at the time, when the house introduced the perfume "liu" and now, when they take take the opera and its characters as inspiration for their holiday collection. 

all of the items included are limited edition, as is normally the case with guerlain's holiday collection and, here's the potentially bad news: all of them are fantastic. i would have purchased every single item if my budget would have accommodated, even the fantastically expensive lou-ling finishing powder. as it is, i grabbed two palettes and a lipstick and feel like i came home with the bare minimum. 

first up, we have the turandot eye shadow palette. it's contains four shades, just like the regular shadow palettes that guerlain offers. i'm not sure what they've been doing differently, but even though i love the standard palettes that were introduced last fall, the ones that have come out with recent collections have upped the quality ante. with the fall collection, you had the fiery combo of "les fauves". turandot is likewise a warm group of colours and the pigmentation, texture and lasting power are the best they have offered. 


despite the overall warmth of the palette, cooler-toned ladies should not fear: these colours will look great against blue eyes. my only hesitance would be that, if you have a lot of redness in your complexion, the rosewood shade included might bring that out a little more if used heavily. 

going clockwise from the left, the shades are an orange-tinged medium gold that's quite frosty without giving your eyelids that charming "crumbly" effect; a mostly matte russet-brown colour that reminds me of autumn foliage; a slightly warm, deep walnut-brown with shimmer; a medium-deep rosewood- maroon kind of shade [this is the one that i worried might highlight redness]. like "les fauves", the combination lacks a highlighting shade, although i think this is because guerlain assumes there's no need to waste the space on another light neutral. i do find that there is enough variation between the shades that each stands out well. the two medium matte shades could probably blend into one another, but i don't have trouble telling them apart. it's especially nice that the mattes are easily blended but at the same time retain enough of their original colour that blending doesn't disperse them everywhere. i found that the colours all lasted well for 8+ hours. the only one that had some noticeable fading was the maroon shade, although even at the end of the day, it was still visible. 

natural light
with flash
natural light
with flash
natural light
with flash
natural light
with flash
the gold shade is a lot more orange than any other golds in my collection, but it's more gold than most oranges. chanel "tiger lily" is a lot more orange and brighter. mac "straw harvest" is deeper and more orange. mac "flip" is lighter and peachier, but it's the closest colour that i have in my collection. mac "style predator" is considerably darker. 

l to r :: chanel tiger lily, turandot, mac straw harvest [l.e.], mac style predator [l.e.], mac flip [l.e.] :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
the russet colour is most similar to the similarly hard-to-define shade i loved so much in "les fauves", which is more orange, less brown. 

l to r :: turandot, guerlain les fauves :: natural light

same as above :: with flash
the deep brown is not a super-dark shade. it's noticeably lighter [and warmer] than urban decay "darkhorse", which i would see as a more traditional dark brown. it's deeper than the brown-taupe from chanel's holiday "harmonies du soir" palette, however. i'm sure that this one must have analogues out there, but i was surprised that i had none in my collection. 

l to r :: u.d. darkhorse, turandot, chanel les harmonies du soir :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
the rosewood-maroon colour immediately reminded me of mac's underrated matte shade "deep damson", but the one in "turandot" is warmer, browner and lighter. 

l to r :: turandot, mac deep damson :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
you'd think that one palette would have been enough, but i have to say that i fell in love with the eponymous "liu" palette, which contains four more eye shadows and two lipsticks. it says something that i ended up buying this, because the notion of mixing powder and lip products, with the attendant co-mingling of dust and cream, is something i've always found disgusting and i've generally detested lip products in palette form at all. "liu" made me overcome that. 

it does help that, packed along with the products, there are two little brushes. the first is the typical sponge applicator affair that comes with all shadow palettes, but the other is a small lip brush, which actually makes it possible to retouch- something most lip palettes don't offer. there is some migration of shadow cast-off into lipstick pots, which i try not to mind. none of the shadows are especially powdery, which is a definite plus.

the shades are a light, shimmery neutral with a decidedly warm cast. there is some base colour, but it's more sheer than anything and it's very close to the colour of my skin, which makes it difficult to see. it's not over-the-top, but it has more dazzle factor than your average highlighter. 

natural light
with flash
next up is a bright copper-gold, the shade of a brand new penny or coil of copper wire. the brightness of the shade is even more evident next to the more muted, conservative colours in the rest of the palette. placed on my lids, it really, really brightens the blue. 
with flash
natural light
the third shade is probably my favourite thing in the entire collection. it's a tarnished pewter-grey, with a slightly brown cast and a soft gold shimmer. it's unique and absolutely beautiful to look at. although they're quite different, i find that the shimmer in the pewter shade makes it blend nicely with the bright copper- like there's a gold patina over both of them. 

natural light
with flash
the final colour is a soft matte black, that can be used dry as a shadow or dampened as a liner. i've tried it both ways and i'm impressed with its staying powder as a liner, although i can still see a "stain" on the shadow where i applied the damp brush. it doesn't seem to have affected the consistency, but it did give me pause. other shadows that can be used dry or damp- nars for instance- don't generally hold a wet mark. that's usually a sign that you've done something wrong. 

natural light
with flash
although there are dozens of highlighter shades, i didn't have one that matched the sparkle of this one. it's a little similar to mac lustre shadows in concept, but the execution is soooooo much nicer. mac "manila paper" is whiter and more satiny. mac "dazzlelight" is not as warm- it looks almost pink in comparison! mac "white wheat" looks somewhat similar, but it's much cooler-toned- more yellow than gold-tinged. 

l to r :: mac manila paper [l.e.], liu, mac dazzlelight, mac white wheat [l.e.] :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
the copper colour didn't look like anything else i have mac "coppering" and "aztec brick" are both deeper and a lot redder. 

l to r :: mac coppering, liu, mac aztec brick [l.e.] :: natural light

same as above :: with flash

the dirty grey-pewter is somewhat similar to sisley "stardust" [my holy grail pewter shade], but "stardust" is a bit greener and lacks the gold sheen. 
l to r :: sisley stardust, liu :: natural light

l to r :: sisley stardust, liu :: with flash

unsurprisingly, the easiest shade to duplicate is the matte black. it's a good quality black, almost a dead ringer for the black in the armani neo-black palette released this fall. i will say that, while they swatch the same, the guerlain shade was noticeably softer when applied, blending more into the colours around it. 
l to r :: liu, armani neo-black :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
i like the fact that the colours are at once classic- what's more standard for the holidays than neutrals plus gold?- but at the same time, a little adventurous because of the subtleties of the copper and pewter shades, which are absolutely visible on the lids. it makes it at once easy to work with and distinctive. 

accompanying the four shadows in the "liu" palette are two holiday-perfect red lipsticks, one warm and one cool-toned. again, the fact that there's a lip brush included is what helped sell me on the palette. i find it's a little soft for precise application [although i used it for my lip photos], but it would be more than adequate for touch-ups. 

both lip colours last well and feel appropriately soft. they're creamy enough in consistency, but they don't feather or bleed, even when applied without a lip liner. neither colour has any shimmer to it- they're both very much what you see is what you get. given that, i still find that guerlain managed to do something unique with each of them, something that plays to the different moods of the shadows in the palette. 

the first shade is a cool cherry red with a lot of pink to it. it's right on the border between pink and red, actually. it's the sort of shade that seems to shout happy thoughts without saying a word and definitely harmonises well with the playful elements in the palette.

natural light

with flash
natural light
with flash
it's quite close to the limited edition mac shade "gesina", although it's a bit softer, less shiny and redder. chanel "cambon" is redder still and deeper. [sorry, i wasn't able to get a decent shot of this without the flash. as you might be able to tell from the lip swatches, the feeble light that we got was fading. this was much easier to do in the summer...]

l to r :: mac gesina [l.e.], liu, chanel cambon :: with flash
the second lip shade is a deep tomato red, a lot warmer than its neighbour and a bit more conservative-looking. i'd say that this melds with the more "classic" elements of the palette, being a little more muted, a little less brash. 

natural light
with flash
natural light
with flash
the closest shade i have to this one is actually guerlain's "gardner", which is lighter and has noticeable shimmer on the lips. hourglass "raven" is much brighter and redder. 

l to r :: guerlain gardner [l.e.], liu, hourglass raven :: natural light
same as above :: with flash
it's a lot to take in, this palette. it's a whole bevvy of holiday looks in one and it's nicely thought out to allow a lot of flexibility. i've been wearing it regularly and i've found that there are a lot of different things i can come up with. [about the only thing i haven't tried, actually, is combining the lip colours.]

but i didn't stop there. 

last on my purchase list was "lou-ling" one of two lipsticks in the rouge automatique shine formula that guerlain introduced earlier this year. although the coverage on these is usually more sheer, i found this one almost as opaque as a regular rouge automatique. what makes it different- a hallmark of the "shines"- is the preponderance of sparkle included. the down side of that- or what might be a down side for some- is that you can feel the sparkle a little on your lips, particularly as the lipstick starts to fade. it never looks gritty, though and the sensation doesn't bother me especially.

i absolutely adore how soft and moisturising these feel on the lips and, for a less-than-opaque lipstick, the lasting power is impressive. [granted, this is a nearly opaque shade]. it's a slightly berry-tinged deep pink with light gold shimmer that really catch the light. as it fades, it looks more like a stain. i really could not get  a picture that adequately captured how hypnotically beautiful this shade is, but you'll have to take my word for it: it's very, very special. 
with flash
natural light
lou-ling :: with flash
lou-ling :: natural light

nor could i get comparisons that worked terribly well. it is in the same family as mac's springtime shade "dish it up". on the lips, "lou-ling" is redder and darker, but when swatched, it looks like the opposite. wtf? another limited mac shade "blood red" [which you can see as the lead-off in my "30 days of lips" series] has a similar base colour, but no shimmer. 
l to r :: mac dish it up [l.e.], lou-ling, mac blood red [l.e.] :: natural light
same as above :: with flash

i'll admit that i have a soft spot for these kind of shades because i find they do particular wonders for my complexion. i don't know if "lou-ling" could be called universal- it definitely pulls cool- but i think that there is enough pigment to mean that it will show up well even on dark skin and enough sheerness to allow it to blend with your underlying colour. 

at that point, according to my wallet, i had to stop. i could have gone on and explored the wonders of the whole collection, as mentioned. i feel like i sing guerlain's praises almost too often, but i also feel like they're a prestige brand that continues to challenge themselves to come up with new things, new colour combinations and to improve on what they've done to date. whatever catches your eye from "liu", grab it. i'm reasonably certain that it's impossible to be let down by anything in this collection, 

unless it's the notion that it's named after a character who gets tortured and commits suicide to protect the secret of a guy who has the hots for her torturer. that kind of sucks the festivity out of anything. 

here are a couple of looks i put together from the items i bought...

#1 "turandot"

i have to say that i love absolutely everything about how this turned out. yes, i am evidently still in the process of getting ready to go out and am covered in cat hair because i'm wearing one of those around the house things that people [like you!] are never supposed to see, but i can tell you, i already felt pretty. 
the base :: 
gosh anti-aging velvet primer
rouge bunny rouge milk aquarelle foundation "coconut milk parfait"
diorskin nude hydrating concealer "01"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
guerlain e/s palette "turandot"  [rich gold, russet, maroon, deep warm brown]*
guerlain e/s "les bois de rose" [pink-white highlighter shade only]
stila e/l "lionfish" [dark brown with copper shimmer]
givenchy noir couture mascara

the cheeks ::
guerlain rose aux joues blush "pink punk" [bright warm pink, soft plum]

lips ::
guerlain rouge automatique shine l/s "lou-ling" [berry-pink with gold shimmer]*

i feel it necessary to point out that even the perfume i had on when i was wearing this was guerlain- insolence, which i love despite the fact that it departs significantly from scents i usually wear. 

#2 "liu"


these are not the best photographs, but unfortunately they are the best photographs that i happened to get that night and they're the only photos i have of myself wearing the liu palette. such is life. it should at least give you an idea of how the colours look together. by the way, the lip liner i used brightened the lip shade rather considerably. 

the base :: 

gosh anti-aging velvet touch primer
urban decay naked skin foundation "2.0"
lush colour supplement "jackie oates" [used to lighten the foundation, which was a better match for my summer skin tone]
diorskin nude hydrating concealer "01"
dior flawless perfection pressed powder "010"

the eyes :: 
guerlain e/s palette "liu" [ivory with gold shimmer, bright copper gold, pewter with gold shimmer, matte black]*
gosh pen e/l "brown" [dark brown]
cargo better than waterproof mascara

cheeks :: 
guerlain blush g [bright coral-pink]*

lips ::
mac lip liner "red" [bright warm red]
guerlain palette "liu" [deep tomato red]*

*suggested alternates :: it would really be silly of me to suggest alternates for the products i've just reviewed, but for blush g, try benefit "bella bamba". it's not quite the same, but it's from an adjacent planet. 

these products are currently on sale at guerlain counters, although in the united states, they're about to be replaced by the spring collection [which looks pretty incredible]. a note for canadian customers: apparently, shoppers drug mart will no longer be getting guerlain's seasonal collections. they will be integrating new additions to the permanent collection later on. shoppers' sister company, murale, will continue to receive the new collections with everyone else. plus, of course, you can also buy guerlain at the bay and holt renfrew. sephora carries a very limited range of guerlain products, but doesn't seem to get the new collections. or it only gets some parts of them. and not always at the same time.


Perilously Pale said…
So jealous! I was excitedly saving up my Shoppers Optimum points to buy stuff from the Guerlain Liu collection only to finally find out after weeks of looking that Guerlain didn't give the collection to Shoppers. It still hasn't shown up online at the either so I have a feeling they pulled the same stunt with them. The products look GORGEOUS and they look beautiful on you!
Kate MacDonald said…
The whole dispersement of the Guerlain collections is getting quite confusing. As far as I can tell, Murale and Holt Renfrew always have everything. Other than that, it's very confusing and no one seems to know what's happening.

I do highly recommend tracking down at least the Turandot palette, which would look divine on you.

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