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making faces :: flower of scotland

ah, the resilient, hardy thistle. the english can go on about their roses, but the oldest national flower that we know of is the thistle, and it represents the resilient, hardy scots who sit forever perched on england's shoulder. it's a peculiar-looking purple flower, encircled by stems with sharp thorns and invasive like a weed, and it does seem to rather sum up the condition of scottish-ness rather well.

it's also, as it turns out, the name of one of the six lipsticks launched by bite beauty this summer as the first extension of their "amuse bouche" lipstick line. given my well-established interest in genealogy and family history, as well as my obsession with lipsticks, it was always pretty much a given that i was going to buy a lipstick called "thistle" no matter what. the fact that it exists in what has become one of my very favourite formulas in the world is just a bonus.

the thistle flower itself is a surprisingly bold purple. i say "surprisingly" because scotland isn't exactly going to rival fiji for its bold natural colour palette. indeed, as comedian craig ferguson has noted, in scotland, damp is a colour. everything about the landscape is muted and misty and the chief reason that the thistle was selected as the national flower, adorning everything from military honours to football jerseys, was probably because it was the only thing that stood out on the bloody landscape.

however, bite haven't chosen to reproduce the colour of the... er... petals [?] of the thistle in their lipstick. instead, i'd say that the colour captures the beauteous spirit of scotland, infused with a bit of the purple thistle, but encircled with a rainbow of glorious damp. it's a neutral, but in no way the sort of fleshy tone that might be inferred by the term "neutral". indeed, if your flesh is the colour of this lipstick, i'd suggest seeking medical assistance. it's about halfway between the notoriously difficult to define shades of taupe and mauve, meaning that it has elements of earthy brown and cool purple, but tempered with a lot of grey.

thistle
thistle

one of the stories about how the thistle came to be scotland's national flower says that the norse king haakon [no detail as to which one] tried to invade scotland, but that his plans were foiled when one of his soldiers trod on a thistle and the sleeping scottish guards were alerted to the intruders. interestingly, as i've noted before in a post about my genealogical research, the scottish part of my ancestry was more than likely the invader in that scenario than the fortunate guard [and it would surprise no one to know that a relative of mine clumsily stepped on something]. thus it is appropriate that this lipstick, much though its connections with scottishness might seem a perfect match, is one that falls absolutely outside the range of colour i can comfortably wear.

thistle
"thistle" is a shade that's meant for people with sci/art true summer and soft summer complexions. my own bright season colouring isn't at all suited to its subdued, mysterious beauty. and, like a typical scot, i will say that i do na giv' a toss what anyone thinks, because this shade is such a wonderfully original, subtly thrilling colour that i'll wear it even with the stubbornness and pride that are my genetic heritage.

indeed, even among my unwieldy large lipstick collection, i could find very little that resembled this highland gem. mac's daring "viva glam rihanna 2" is darker, browner, more shimmery... basically, i just pulled this one because i thought it had a similar taupe quality, but they're not that close at all.

l to r :: thistle, mac viva glam rihanna 2 [l.e.]

so how poorly matched is it to my complexion? here's a look at it in use alongside and orange sweater that's also too muted and a deep teal eyeliner [urban decay 'invasion'] that should really be the property of autumn-season women only.




i don't care. this is a magnificent lipstick, that fulfills all of the high expectations that the formula has set for itself. it's a unique shade that, while it might not be what you'd call universal, can fit in a lot of situations without seeming garish or risky. i shall persist in wearing it and, if you're at all intrigued by the powers of oatcakes and damp, you should give it a try as well. if you are one of those lucky lasses, scot or not, who looks her best in cool, muted shades, those ones that everyone always seems to have trouble describing, you need to rush out to the moors of sephora and snag this flower for yourself. [it's a permanent addition to the line, though, so no need to shove, lass.]

Comments

I was seriously tempted by Thistle when it came out: I find those corpsey greige shades so flattering. The only thing stopping me from buying it now that I've seen it on you is my knowledge that the Amuse Bouche formula slides off my lips within 30 minutes of application. I do still love my tube of Lavender Jam, though.

I'm part Scottish as well--my Scottish ancestor's surname was Abernathy--but not Scottish enough that I can justify buying Thistle as a tribute to my forefathers and -mothers. I do find myself attracted to products with Russia-related names, though, like NARS Moscow lipstick or Comme des Garcons Zagorsk perfume.
Kate MacDonald said…
I remember reading about your misadventures with the Amuse Bouche formula. If it makes you feel better, the chemistry that allows me to wear this formula prevents me from wearing pretty much any of the liquid lipsticks that have been marching in battalions onto makeup counters everywhere.

One of my ultimate geek fantasies is to be able to create historically- and culturally-inspired makeup lines, so, if I ever find a way of doing that, rest assured there will be some Russian-themed treats for you.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

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