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making faces :: the elusive ms. leigh

vivien leigh is proof that one need not be in a lot of movies to qualify as a screen icon. the stage was her first love and her main focus throughout her career, despite the fact that two of her performances won academy awards. the combination of her passion for acting, balanced with a sort of indifference to the silver screen is just one of the seeming paradoxes that help make her so fascinating. as such, she makes a perfect inspiration for yet another of nars audacious lipsticks, one that is also a little elusive and hard to define. yes, it's time for another edition of kate's lipstick and film journal...

one of the strange things about vivien leigh is that while she was british and spent much of her working life in her home country [often alongside her husband of laurence olivier], she's best known for two academy award-winning performances as southern belles. the first was scarlett o'hara in gone with the wind, the hot-tempered daughter of a georgia plantation owner during the civil war era. practically every actress in hollywood had tried out for or been considered for the role, but it's difficult to imagine anyone else embodying the character [or making her at all likeable]. thirteen years later, at a very different place in her career, leigh won an oscar again for her portrayal of tennesee williams' faded southern flower blanche dubois, a role she'd become synonymous with on stage. blanche seems eerily like scarlett's future self, living in a fantasy world of a nostalgia-tinted past, refusing to come to terms with the crushing realities that have overtaken her.

it is also difficult not to see parallels between these two performances and the actress herself, the one when she was the epitome of youth and beauty, the second when she was starting to weaken under the strain of a long-term struggle with bipolar disorder and the health effects of a recurring case of tuberculosis that would eventually kill her at only fifty-three years of age. [leigh herself said that she was uncomfortable being so closely associated with blanche, since she felt her time playing the character pushed her over the edge with her own mental disorder.]



in developing a shade inspired by this semi-tragic beauty, i feel like nars have absolutely nailed it: "vivien" the lipstick has a strong presence, but is dampened just a little. it's not outspoken like a bright red or hot pink, but refined and a little conservative [in keeping with the american image of the british during the second world war, when leigh's film career was at its height]. it's a rich purple-tinged berry shade with a cloud hanging over it.

vivien
as with all the lipsticks i've tried thus far, the formula is smooth, incredibly pigmented and somewhere between a satin and a matte in terms of finish. it's one of the shades with a lesser sheen, more akin to angela and greta than charlotte and jeanne. the first time i wore it, i felt like it was a little drying as time wore on, however what i've noticed in subsequent outings is that my lips start to feel a little drier when the lipstick fades, but feel amazing when it's on. my lips have been in horrible shape lately- full on apocalips if you will. with the exception of my beloved armani rouge ecstasy shades, i've not been able to wear lipstick very much recently, so i'm not sure that i'm the best barometer. that said, my lips were feeling a little better today, so i took a chance and wore vivien and the lipstick made them feel wonderful while it was there. they were dry-ish at the end of the day, but i'm not sure if that can be attributed to the lipstick or just to their general condition. remind me of how much i hate cracked lips the next time you hear me complain about humidity.

the relatively muted quality of "vivien" makes her harder to duplicate. [in general, i've been surprised at how distinctive the ladies of nars audacious have been.] i couldn't find anything from a permanent collection that seemed similar. the mac limited edition shade "red dwarf" is lighter, pinker and more muted. estée lauder "black cassis" is deeper, redder and less muted. [strangely, "vivien" and "black cassis" look quite similar swatched on paper, but further apart swatched on skin. and all of the swatches of "vivien" have more red visible on my arm than on my lips. life is weird.]

l to r :: mac red dwarf [l.e.], vivien, estee lauder black cassis [l.e.]

here she is in action with some of her nars friends that have recently followed me home. more on those later...

 


products used

the base ::
nars luminous weightless foundation "mont blanc"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"

the eyes ::
mac paint pot "painterly"
nars e/s duo "saint paul de venice" [shimmery apricot + warm reddened brown]
mac e/s "dazzlelight" [shimmery neutral highlight]
illamasqua precision gel eye liner
dior new look mascara

the cheeks ::
nars blush "outlaw" [rose pink with golden shimmer]
hourglass ambient lighting powder "luminous light" [candlelit glow]

the lips ::
nars audacious l/s "vivien" [muted deep purple berry]

what can i say? this line is nothing if not consistent and it's the sort of thing that can bring joy to makeup fiends and movie fanatics alike. score another for team audacious.

Comments

I didn't know that Vivien Leigh had bipolar disorder! I can imagine that playing Blanche over and over couldn't have helped her mental equilibrium.

Vivien is one of the Audacious lipsticks that first caught my eye, and now I'm trying to figure out if I already have a similar lipstick, since it looks like such a "me" shade. But I don't think I do! I agree with you about the slightly drying effect of the Audacious formula. Angela definitely makes my lips uncomfortable after a few hours, though it also does a good job of *concealing* dryness, which is odd.

I love your pairing of Vivien with that red top! I wish I could be more adventurous with my lipstick/clothing pairs, but I too often reach for my trusty black and gray shirts.
Kate MacDonald said…
Indeed, Vivien apparently did a pretty good job of hiding her mental troubles. For years only her husband really knew what condition she was in. I can't imagine the strain of having to keep hidden was helpful either.

Funny you should mention about the red sweater, because a couple of years ago, I probably wouldn't have bought such a thing. I found that looking into colour analysis has helped me think outside the "black box" a little, because I've always had a tendency to default to black, especially in tops. Glad you liked it!

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