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making faces :: nars' summer of surprises

i had a dream last night that it snowed. i remember that it was june, just like it is now. most things were very similar to how they are in waking life, but it was snowing outside. although the last week has been a bit blustery and below average in temperature here in montreal, i think we're still well safe of the danger of snow, but the truth is, in canada, one doesn't know what to expect.

i'm thinking that francois nars must have grown up in a similarly unpredictable climate, because his company's seasonal collections so often defy expectations. i adored his earthy take on spring 2012 and i'm happy to see that his version of summer has some real surprises. i already did a quick preview of some of the items. this week, i finally got around to purchasing a couple of them.

although i loved the ramatuelle eye shadow trio and may in the end go back for it, i was unable to resist the allure of the mysterious marie-galante, the sheer, shimmery duo of unexpectedly cool shades. in the pan, the colours are an orchid purple with a periwinkle blue sheen and a deep indigo with a lighter blue sheen. the duo has been controversial in reviews i've seen, in that some people really like it, whereas others think there's something terribly wrong. i count myself among the former, but i do understand the position of the latter. i'm a libra. i'm like that.

i wish that nars had somehow differentiated these shadows from their regular formula, because i think that that might have avoided some of the problems. both of these shades are very sheer. swatched on the skin, even using a sponge-tipped applicator, which is the best way to get a heavy swatch, they look a bit anemic. even used wet, the base colour remains sheer and building it up will not make it opaque. the thing is, it's pretty clear that the colours are meant to be that way. the effect is very much like dragonfly wings. the sheen is constantly catching the light, reflecting it in different ways, but it's only from certain angles that you can clearly see the underlying colour. these aren't like standard shadows with bad colour payoff, they're like a completely different formula. but since they're called eye shadows, the same as all nars shadows, it's a bit unclear that there's a distinction.

both shades are incredibly smooth to apply, which is a good hint that there's not something wrong. they layer well and they are quite hypnotic to look at from different angles and in different lights. i can't stress this enough: the quality of this duo really comes alive on the eye. swatches do it no justice.

i adore purple and have a ton of them, but the sheer base and incredible reflective sheen of these colours makes them clearly stand out from anything similar. urban decay's asphyxia has a similar base to the purple shade, but is much more opaque. mac's contrast is close to the indigo, but the base is more opaque and the sheen much less apparent.

mac contrast, marie galante indigo/ orchid, urban decay asphyxia

now, a lot of women whose makeup knowledge and techniques are better than mine have had issues with this duo, finding that it faded, creased and had at least a moderate amount of sparkly fallout. i'm not sure what i'm doing right, or what i'm doing differently, but i experienced none of those things. the darker shade faded a little after four hours or so, but that's completely in keeping with my experience of all shadows, particularly in my office where, for whatever reason, eye makeup fades much faster on me than it does normally. after more than nine hours, i could see the beginnings of some creasing, but only under pretty close analysis with a makeup mirror. i got no fallout whatsoever, either in application or as they wore.

no problems
if it helps to know, i applied the shades with slightly damp brushes, in light layers. i really didn't need to blend them at all, since they're so soft, which probably helped prevent any fallout. i was prepared to look at this duo as something that would require a lot of work but give an interesting, offbeat effect. while it certainly looks unique, i really can't say that it's more finicky than a lot of different shades i own.

the bottom line is, this isn't going to be a combination for everyone. some people will just never like the sheerness of the base and that's a matter of personal taste. if you do like the colours, though, and if you think that the effect is something you'd enjoy, you should not be intimidated by thinking that this will be "high maintenance". it confounded even my expectations.

i was much more certain about this season's lipstick "vendanges". as i mentioned in my preview, this was love at first swatch. although many have described this as a warm plum, myself included, when i brought it home, i had to be honest. this really crossed the line from warm plum to brown. i have some brown shades i like, but i'm always a little bit more nervous about them than i am about other colour families. there was just something about this shade that made my heart flutter.

part of that is because it really looks more like a typical fall shade- very rich and deep. it doesn't say "summer" to me at all. because it's a semi-sheer [really more semi-opaque, which is kind of like the difference between having a steak medium rare and medium well], it isn't full on vampy, but it's still a pretty daring shade for summer. on the other hand, i find that these colours are also very appropriate for hot, sultry summer night, combined with a smudgy smoky eye and a bit of bronzer. then again, i really love shades like that year-round.

nars' semi-sheer lipsticks are one of my favourite lipstick formulas, because the level of colour can be easily adjusted, they keep a good deal of their shine as they wear and because they last very well for a lipstick that isn't heavy or opaque. "vendanges" does especially well on that last count. once again, i find that the air in my office has a tendency to dry my lips out, which means that colours tend to fade faster [i have a habit of pleating my lips a lot when they're dry]. this one hung on well for hours and there was even a light glaze of colour left after lunch. i don't experience any feathering and it doesn't emphasise the lines in my lips.

in terms of comparisons, there are shades in the same family, but the closest i could find, ironically, since i just used it in a look last week, was mac's limited edition colour "sinister", it's lighter, sheerer and pinker, but i find that the browns i have are either darker or more mauve toned, whereas the plum and berry shades look very purple next to vendanges.
vendanges, mac sinister [l.e.]
i can't think of anyone who couldn't wear this shade, since the semi-sheer formula will make it "adjust" to one's underlying lip colour. it's really a question of appeal: if you like the colour, it's absolutely worth it.

both marie-galante and vendanges are being added to the nars permanent collection, so they'll be available on an ongoing basis [although it's always nice to grab something when it's still shiny and new]. in fact, all items from the summer collection are being added to the permanent nars line-up, save for the eye shadow trio, since those are always limited. i'd like to reiterate that i really appreciate how nars keeps growing its permanent collection with each season and that even the limited items stick around a long time, either in stores or on the web site.

there are lots of takes on summer that are the traditional brights or warm, baked shades. it's nice to see something that's really different. i still don't want it to snow, though.

here are my new babies in action! the first two photos are taken with a flash, the third without in natural light.

the base ::
marcelle beauty balm "light/ mediun"
lush colour supplement "jackie oates"
marcelle pressed powder "translucent"
smashbox high definition liquid concealer "fair/ light"

the eyes ::
nars e/s duo "marie-galante" [orchid purple/ indigo, both with bright sheen]
mac e/s "pincurl"* [dirty white]
mac superslick liquid liner "smoky heir" [deep blue-purple]
guerlain eye kohl "black"
armani eyes to kill excess mascara

the cheeks ::
mac mineralize skinfinish "metal rock"* [chocolate brown with copper shimmer]
edward bess quad royale "south of france" [shimmery mauve sand]

the lips ::
nars l/s "vendanges" [glossy medium brown-plum]

*suggested alternates :: pincurl = mac crystal avalanche [much brighter and whiter; for a really cool effect, you could use mac's "vellum", which is a dirty white with an intense "black light" sheen]; metal rock = i honestly can't think of anything that's as deep as metal rock. the darkest of guerlain's bronzers would work, but it lacks the mineral sheen. i picked this up pretty much as a dare to myself, but i find that with a light hand, it gives a great effect. obviously on darker skin, it will be more of a natural fit.


anahdara said…
did you dampen the brush before you put the eyeshadow on it? i kind of struggled when i tried to use marie galante...
Kate MacDonald said…
Sorry to hear you had troubles. I did dampen the brush a little and I used fairly dense brushes to pat the colour on. I find it weird that I didn't have any issues, because there's no way my makeup application skills are that much better than anyone else's. I can't do a sharp line of anything to save my life!
anahdara said…
well, i was a bit worried about wetting the brush before putting it to the shadow, because of all the spoiled testers i saw...

one of the shadows ended up crumbling a little, and that made me pretty sad...i had high hopes!

anyway, i'll give it another shot....intersting though -- we got the same two items from this collection....
astrid paramita said…
I like your new hair color, Kate :). Glad you had another experience of Marie Galante. I think the colors look pretty on you. I might get Vendanges the next time I'm doing a Nars haul, I quite like this new take of brown-plum... I didn't get it last time just because I thought the color looked more like fall, and summer hasn't even started around here :D.
Kate MacDonald said…
Thanks Astrid! I agree that Vendanges is more of a "fall" colour, but it's still very flattering.

Anahdara- I'm pretty sure that all Nars shadows can be used dry or wet. I wouldn't soak them, but they do seem to go back to "normal" after I've used a damp brush. Nice to know that we're "Nars twins" :-))
anahdara said…
thanks kate! i didn't know that about the nars shadows, but i am definitely relieved i may not have thrown my money into the wind!

i didn't wake up in time to play with MG this morning, but hopefully sometime in the next few days i will, esp armed with this new knowledge ;)

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