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making faces :: novel ideas

years ago, like many aspiring writers, i gave thought to trying to write romance novels for money. after all, it would be a way to get in print and it would provide me with enough income to pursue the writing i really liked. nothing could possibly go wrong. well, except that i'd never actually red a romance novel [unless you count gone with the wind], so i had no f**king clue what i was doing. oh, and my usual writing style is the sort of thing that wilts the blossoms of romance faster than a blow torch. "he stared deeply into her eyes and thought "i'll bet she was a pretty girl before her head was cut off and used as a polo ball"" is much more my style.

and so i never did manage to swing that secret career in romance writing. i couldn't even get started because as soon as i'd start, what i was trying to write [in so far as i understood it] would reduce me to fits of giggles almost immediately.

i thought about that experience when i saw mac's new fall collection, entitled "a novel romance", because the self-consciously lurid imagery and colour offering are at once reminiscent of the feeling of trashy romance, but there's something that doesn't quite seem to connect. not that everything has to relate to a theme, but if you're going to choose one that has such obvious visual reference points and then use those visual reference points in your marketing materials, i think that you do build the expectation that there's a through-line somewhere. it's a tiny quibble and probably one that most people wouldn't have.

the collection is rather huge and rambling, which romance novels [the trashy kind sent up in the visuals] tend not to be; it has a regular colour portion, its own group of nail polishes, a new type of eye liner in several shades and a gaggle of metallic eye shadows in a cream formula. some elements look typically fall-friendly- deep lips, murky neutral eyes, wind-kissed cheeks- all of which are found in the colour collection proper. others seem more general and the cream eye shadows seem almost futuristic.

for the sake of my sanity, i figured i'd focus on the regular colours and picked up one of the three available eye shadow palettes and a single lipstick. i should add that, to my eye, the palettes and lipsticks look like they're by far the most interesting parts of the whole shebang. all three palettes have an interesting assortment of shades that are original [well, except the ones that have been offered previously] both individually and in the way they're grouped together. i was tempted to pick up all three, but rationality prevailed and i stuck to the one that i felt was most different from what i already have, the eponymous "a novel romance".

the four shadows are an interesting, swampy kind of mix. i don't know that i'd immediately associate them with romance, even with the naming, but i guess i could see my way to finding them reminiscent of the light filtered through the low-hanging branches and overgrown vines of an ancient bayou on the plantation of a southern family down on its luck and needing to be saved by the beautiful young daughter who is its only heir. let's go with that, shall we?

first up, we have "my fantasy", the lightest shade of the four. it's a strange little number, being a mix of ivory, olive green, pale gold and grey. it's too dark to work as a highlighter on me, but i love using it on my lids. it picks up nicely on the yellow tones that lurk in my otherwise blue-looking eyes and i think it would have much the same effect on anyone else with any kind of yellow tones of their own. it applied well and lasted very well. some mac shadows have a tendency to fade on me, but this one remained very true throughout the day.

my fantasy
at first, i thought that it might have similar undertones to le metier de beauté "chameleon", a deeper antique gold with olive tones, but it really doesn't. it's much cooler and less gold. it's a little more similar, but darker and greener/ yellower than the limited edition mac shade "image maker".

nope. l to r :: my fantasy, lmdb chameleon

better. l to r :: mac "image maker" [l.e.], my fantasy
next is "fall in lust", a soft grey-taupe with a hint of lavender. it's a misty sort of shade, but with enough brown that it doesn't skew too cool. this one needed to be built up to get more noticeable colour, although just a wash of the shade can be pretty too. the cooler grey tones dominate when it's applied lightly; the more you build, the browner it gets.

fall in lust
le metier de beauté "corinthian" is deeper and redder, while edward bess "storm" is lighter and cooler. "fall in lust" occupies the space between them.

l to r :: lmdb corinthian, fall in lust, edward bess storm [d.c.]
"dance in the dark" [which made me think of the lars von trier film "dancer in the dark", the only thing less romantic than the stuff i write] is a dark greenish-grey with gold sparkle. it swatches beautifully and applies well enough, but i struggle to get the sparkly bits to show up. applied in the outer corners, i could get a hint of them, but over a larger area, the shade just became kind of muddy looking. i thought about trying it with a damp brush, but mac shadows aren't meant to be applied that way and i didn't want to screw up an[other] eyeshadow trying this technique. it's frustrating though, because the shade looks like it could be so incredible.

dance in the dark
i tried a couple of nars shades as comparisons, since they have similar sparkle and i think they do a good job of showing how different base colours affect the overall perception. "mekong" has a deep bitter chocolate brown base and looks quite a bit warmer/ redder and darker. "night clubbing" has a black base, which looks a lot darker and makes the shimmer more obvious.

l to r :: nars mekong, dance in the dark, nars night clubbing
"rising passions" is a matte black brown, a sort of workhorse shade for adding depth and definition. although it looks almost black, there is a slight softness to it that is visible in use, so that it doesn't look quite as dramatic as a true black. it's also a phenomenal shade for filling in eyebrows if, say, your hair is coloured a little bit darker than it might naturally be...

rising passions
the shade that sprung to mind as a comparison is the limited edition, but frequently released mac shade "showstopper". it's similar, but a bit lighter and the formula on "rising passions" is so much better. you can clearly see this in the swatches.

l to r :: rising passions, mac showstopper [l.e.]
along with the palette, i picked up one of the lipsticks on offer, an online exclusive called "yield to love". it's a cremesheen finish, meaning it isn't totally opaque, has a bit but not to much of a sign and a creamy consistency. i've mentioned it before, but lipsticks with this finish have been improved in recent years over when they initially launched. this one feels nice going on, applies evenly and lasts fairly well, which is about par for the course.

yield to love
while there were a lot of deep and/ or dramatic colours included with the collection, my eye went to this one because i thought that it was something i could end up wearing a lot. it's a medium pink rose, a little cooler in tone, but not unwelcoming to warm complexions. it has a good deal of pigment, so it's going to show up easily on almost any skin tone, but it won't look too intense. it's the sort of shade that tends to brighten fair and cool-leaning complexions, because it brings out the natural rosiness in the cheeks. i'm a huge fan of this type of shade and they're remarkably difficult to find. well, kinda...

l to r :: mac dish it up [l.e.], yield to love, armani dolci
i had heard the shade compared to mac "dish it up", but "yield to love" is warmer and redder. it is, however, quite similar to armani rouge ecstasy in "dolci". "dolci" is a bit redder/ browner and has less of a shine when applied, so it looks a little different, but the two are closer than i'd normally select. these are the dangers of online exclusives. that said, it's nice to know that i have a lower-cost option to "dolci" for the time being and that i don't need to worry about using up "yield to love", because there's a permanent colour that's quite similar.

here's a look that i did with both products reviewed here. i think it highlights just how pretty a colour "my fantasy" can be on the lids and also the difficulty in getting the sparkle in "dance in the dark" to show up [it's on the outer part of the lids]. i've also used tarina tarantino "sparkling ammunition" eyeliner on the eyes and mac "dazzlelight" along the brow bone.


although i'm not crazy about the look, i thought i'd share this one with you as well, because it makes the issues with "dance in the dark" even clearer.


i desperately wanted to do a smoky look with the shade, so i applied it on the lower part of my lids with "fall in lust" layered above it. i thought that having more of the colour would mean that more of the shimmer would show, but it was not to be. instead, i found that the colour turned really muddy and unflattering. [in this case, i'm wearing hourglass lipstick in "grace", which probably isn't helping matters, although it's not the worst nude i've ever worn.]

finally, although it's only tangentially related, i thought i'd share a look i did inspired by one of the other eyeshadow palettes in the collection "an amourous adventure".

the palette includes the permanent shades "sable" and "black tied", both of which i already have along with two shades that seemed strikingly similar to ones that i already have: rouge bunny rouge "periwinkle cardinal" [mac's shade is called "sex and the oyster"] and the taupe shade from ysl's saharienne palette [instead of mac's "brawn"]. i don't think this combination of colours works as well on me as it would on others, but it is a distinctive look, the combination of warmer plum-browns with a cool sage green. [the lipstick i'm wearing in these pictures is guerlain rouge automatique "vega", although you could also use mac "hearts aflame" from this collection- it's a bit darker and browner.]

this is a fun collection, even if i don't feel i quite get the connection between the marketing and the marketed. being a mac collection, limited items tend to sell out quickly, which means you may or may not be able to get your hands on these. if you can't, i apologise... one of the reasons i avoid reviewing mac products more and more is because i feel so much pressure to get the reviews done immediately if not sooner that i don't have proper time to see how everything works. as of right this minute, on the mac canada site, "a novel romance" is still in stock online [and in stores] but "yield to love" is sold out. it may be restocked or promoted again in another collection, or you could just visit an armani counter if you don't want to wait. whatever you choose, good luck in the hunt.


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