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making faces :: mac's strength and weakness [and apres chic]

she's determined to get that lipstick
this has to stop. not the stomach flu. that has to stop too, but it's improved slightly from yesterday and i know it'll go away eventually on its own. but there have been two new collections out from mac cosmetics for a week and a half now and i haven't posted a review. a week and a half? in mac's calendar, it isn't even worth mentioning those collections any more, because if you haven't given your opinion within 48 hours, everything is basically sold out forever anyway.

the two collections released on december 26th follow the pattern that's been established for the last couple of years of having a "bold" option and a "soft" option. the bold option this year comes in the form of "strength", a collection that includes blushes and a couple of new eye shadow quads [basic but useful], but it's really about the lips. the soft option is, like last year, a mineral makeup collection with very muted tones to soothe the senses in the earliest, coldest days of the year.

one of the reasons that "strength" was particularly anticipated was that it featured the return of the two bold pink lipsticks that sold out within hours when they were first released last january- pink pigeon and party parrot. both of these are takes on hot pink, with the former being cooler, bluer and more fuchsia, while the latter is a warm coral-pink. both require sunglasses to be viewed properly and both are incredibly colour-rich, owing to their intense matte formula. mac has really redone their matte lipsticks in the last couple of years, so that they are softer on the lips, apply smoothly and don't dry you out.

accompanying the pink sisters this time are a brilliant cherry pink-red [absolute power], a bold purple [strong woman] and, most interesting, a black shade flecked with gold [firm form]. i could have happily brought home all five of these shades, but remembering that i do have a lot of these types of shades already in my collection, i limited myself to the two that i found i couldn't duplicate- "party parrot" and "firm form".

party parrot
firm form
i had actually passed on "party parrot" when it was first released because i thought that it looked like mac's regular colour "fusion pink" without the eye-catching shimmer, which it does, but the difference in finish translates to a very different look on the lips, so i'd say it warrants owning both, if you're a bold lip kind of person.

l to r :: party parrot, mac fusion pink : natural light

"firm form", of course, looks like no other black lipstick i have, partly because of the warmth imparted to it by the gold flecks, but more because it actually looks quite purple when applied. i found this one to be quite dry, which had me worried, but, strangely, it doesn't seem drying. it has a texture unlike any lipstick i've met.

IT CONTINUES...



despite the dryness, it's easy to get even coverage and the resulting colour is lovely- and more wearable than you might think! it's more interesting to me than a flat black. it's definitely more opaque than urban decay "oil slick" which was the first comparison shade i thought of. it's more similar to the limited edition chanel shades "hysteria" and "maniac", although both of those are more opaque and darker. it's definitely the most unique thing in the launch.

l to r :: chanel hysteria [l.e.], firm form, urban decay oil slick, chanel maniac [l.e.]
balancing the muscle of "strength" is "apres chic", which features softer shades for the lips, mineral shadows and blushes for the eyes and face, with their distinctive sheen. included in the line-up is the much anticipated re-release of "stereo rose" the pink-tinged amber blush that sold out in hours the last time it was released [in 2010]. i put it's popularity down to its rarity and to the fact that it has the word "coral" associated with it a lot, because mac have certainly released shades that are easier to wear.

don't get me wrong- "stereo rose" is nice and i own it, but it's one that i have to be careful of, because it's easy to overdo. it's bright and warm, two things that can go wrong on my complexion very quickly. and the warmth has a lot of red to it, which means that it can look ruddy on any complexion if it's not blended properly.

stereo rose

one thing that i can say for it is that it is quite distinct. the pink tones make it different than a lot of similarly warm shades in other lines. the closest things i found to compare it to were other mac mineral blushes/ skinfinishes: "redhead" [last available as part of the "naturally" collection last january] and "petticoat" [last available in 2010 in the same collection as "stereo rose"]. the former is lighter and more muted, while the latter is pinker and more muted. so, yes, for once, it is hard to duplicate this hard-to-find item.

l to r :: mac redhead [l.e.], stereo rose, mac petticoat [l.e.] :: natural light

of the mineral eye shadows released with this year, i did pick up one, a dirty grey [that looks green-grey and peach in the pan] called "silver birch". i have a real weakness for these sorts of pewter colours- silvery grey but still with a hint of warmth- and i don't think i'm alone. they tend to be more exciting than plain neutrals, but not as attention-grabbing as straight metallics. and, since they contain both warm and cool elements, they're pretty easy for anyone to wear.

silver birch
while i like "silver birch" and am happy that it doesn't irritate my eyes as some mineral shadows can, i found that all of the shades in this collection were very sparkly. each one seemed to have a lot of extra bits added for dazzle effect and that's not something i felt they needed. i prefer the more satiny texture of the ones that were released with "naturally". that includes "cloudy afternoon" which does bear some similarity to "silver birch", although it's lighter. [i apologise for the lack of comparison photos, because i was literally taking these as the first thing that i shot with my new camera and none of them were in the least bit instructive. if you want to have a look, though, you could peek at my original review of the "naturally" collection.]

not to be overlooked, of course, are the lipsticks of this collection. they may not be as memorable as the ones from "strength", but chances are you'll wear them more often and the shades are really nice. i picked out the eponymous shade "apres chic", since it's a soft red i felt i could wear at the office without attracting too much attention, but still have the benefits of a red lipstick. it does stand out against my pale skin, but it's not red, if you understand what i mean. it's warm-toned, so it appears like a sort of bright terracotta in certain lights. and although it's a cremesheen finish, which i normally don't like, the formula is excellent. seriously, this shows none of the problems with unevenness that these lipsticks usually do, although i did get a little feathering around my lips by end of day it was nothing compared to what i've seen from other shades and, best of all, i didn't find this one drying at all.

apres chic
it's warmer and lighter than mac's "party line", although the two are fairly close, and it's a lot lighter, slightly cooler than guerlain's "gardener". [it's also not opaque, which means that the differences between it and "gardener" are even more apparent on the lips.] although i didn't think of the comparison until after i took the photos, it's also reasonably close to "viva glam cyndi" from 2010, although "cyndi" was a bit darker and browner. it's a very, very wearable red and mac did an excellent job with the formula- better than i'm used to from these.

l to r :: mac party line, apres chic, guerlain gardener [l.e.] :: natural light

now the bad news.

in 2010, mac always seemed to have leftovers from their collections on hand for months, both on line and in stores. it was clear that they were ordering too much stock for their limited runs and, while it was nice for people like me who can take a lot of time to make up their minds, it wasn't great for mac, because carrying those inventory levels without having them move is a very bad thing for your business. [inventory is counted as a liability by accountants, since you have money invested in it and it costs you money because you're holding it. it is only bringing money into the company when you sell it, i.e., when it's gone.]

clearly, something needed to change in the ordering process, but mac reacted like a bipolar person on a sugar high and has subsequently swung way too far in the other direction. items sell out within minutes- less than one hour- on line for virtually every launch [which is especially surprising since site updates normally go "live" in the middle of the night.]. stores receive minimal inventory, which means that if you can't make it down on the day of the launch, you probably won't be able to get that super-hot item. in this case, i was able to make it to the store the day of the launch, because i was on holiday. most times i can't, and i'm past the age where i'm going to stay up all night to buy something i might end up not liking. [mac formulas are vexingly inconsistent, so i strongly prefer to try them in person before committing.]

so, ten days after the launch of these two collections, i'm sad to say that they're mostly sold out. "apres chic" has more items available on line, but the store where i bought my products were out of stock the day after the launch of several items. the lipsticks from "strength" all seem to be sold out on line, although there may be stores that have them. everything has been obliterated. in ten days.

what i dislike about this quite intensely is what made me weary of being a more dance-oriented dj way back when. it's always fun and exciting to anticipate the new, but when "the new" is available for a splinter of time and from limited locations before it's whisked away to make room for the even newer, it has the effect of making the thing itself- a lipstick, a record, whatever you choose- unimportant. what becomes important is the state of being new. yes, it's easy to grow bored with your collection of _________ [your choice], but if you don't have time to play and experiment and enjoy something before you get sucked into the next marketing cycle, it can actually get a bit depressing.

so, mac, i get it. you want turns on your inventory and you can't have things hanging around for months, subtracting from your profits. but the pandemonium of constant releases isn't just frustrating because it's creating uneven quality [which is bad enough], but because it's taking something that should be nothing but light fun and making it dreary. other brands aren't doing this. learn from their example.

Comments

Perilously Pale said…
oooh I love Party Parrot on you!
Kate MacDonald said…
Thank you! It's not a shy shade, but I really like it. Of course, I haven't worn it outside the house yet, because I don't think it would be really office appropriate, but when I'm feeling bold, it'll be my go-to.

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