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making faces :: cinematic dreams with "nouvelle vague"

ah, paris. is there any city that has for so long inspired the imagination in so many different ways? that's a rhetorical question, because there isn't. new york is working on it, but just doesn't have the history yet and will likely never have that quintessential french-ness that americans pretend to hate but which makes their heart flutter nonetheless. through the ages, paris has morphed so that it is always where the coolest things are happening, where the coolest people are living and where life is always a mix of food and art and fashion and sex.

jean seberg is everything you wanted to be
how cool is paris? in the wake of world war ii, after the french army had collapsed and the rhythm of the city was that of nazi jackboots, parisians shook off their doldrums and stole back cinema. although france had been home to some of the pioneers of the medium, there was no doubt that america had taken over as its rulers. but just to show that even after everything they had been through, france could still find ways of looking down at the yanks, a group of young filmmakers emerged- many of them starting out as commentators on film before trying their hand behind the camera. their new, often challenging form of cinema was dubbed the "new wave" or "nouvelle vague" and concentrated on the character of the auteur- the author and creator- and his view on the world. rather than focusing on hiding the role of the director, they presented work that was often jarring and that refused to allow the audience to suspend their disbelief- something which was a key tenet of classical cinema. 
ah brigitte, a muse to a generation

they were the darlings of the young and achingly fashionable of paris and, in turn, the people who populated those films were themselves drawn from the ranks of the young and achingly fashionable. and no one was more iconic of the beauty of the age than brigitte bardot, france's blonde bombshell whose blossoming sexuality has continued to inspire artists for a half century since her rise to stardom. 

what does this do?
and the latest to fall under the spell of the "nouvelle vague" aesthetic is mikey castillo, colour director for the american brand that already embodies so much of the imaginative love affair with the french capitol, le metier de beaute. it doesn't entirely surprise me that castillo would have drawn his inspiration from this school that truly reinvented film as a self-consciously artistic medium, since le metier is a high-end brand that seems to thrive on being very fashion-forward and daring in their colour choices. why shouldn't a company that challenges women to think differently about the colours they put on their face take inspiration from a movement that encouraged people to think differently about the "pop culture" medium of cinema?

le metier's fall collection features two of their "kaleidoscopes"- vertical palettes of four shades that can be combined in various ways, including layering the colours to produce a deep and prismatic effect of multiple colours working together. there is one palette for the lips- and i'm still not ready to accept the idea of lip palettes, because when i think about toting one around in my bag for touch-ups, i feel a bit sick to my stomach. so the real draw here for me was the eye shadow kaleidoscope, a symphony in soft rosy shades with a solid black as a base.

i must say that i do think that the four shades used in the kaleidoscope do capture something of "bardot-ness", combining softly feminine shades with the shockingly strong black that helps give the look its edge. but the look is also very modern, in that the shimmer of some of the shades is something that wouldn't have been possible- at least not in the way le metier has rendered it- in the era of truffaut and godard.


starting the palette off is "nouvelle" a very shimmery pink-tinged peach. it's described as a "sheer mink negative", which doesn't really resonate with me. it's not especially sheer- it's a light colour but it definitely has an impact- and i would associate a "mink" shade with something browner. this is a lovely, effervescent kind of colour. 

nouvelle :: natural light

nouvelle :: with flash
in terms of other shades like this one, they do exist, since shimmery light peaches are flattering and therefore popular. the closest matches i had in my collection were urban decay's "sin", which is a bit deeper, heavier-looking and more a neutral pink and chanel's recently released "complice". "complice" has a very distinctive sheen that is more reflective and therefore makes it look very different on the eye. 

l to r :: u.d. sin, nouvelle, chanel complice :: natural light

same as above :: with flash

the second layer of the kaleidoscope is "gamine", a french term for a young woman who might be slightly boyish and innocent, but still exudes a playful sexuality. it's a perfect name for this ultra-feminine candy-pink with a white frost. this is the sort of shade that some people have trouble with wearing on their eyes, because they find it makes them look fatigued [or worse, infected]. personally, i find pink shades pretty forgiving on me, but i'm careful to ground them with a good liner, so that there's always a barrier. 

gamine :: natural light

gamine :: with flash
"gamine" is most similar to mac "swish", which is a classic mac pink shade with a lot of frost. "swish" is more magenta- cooler in tone- but the two are definitely cousins. my guess is that the slightly softer base of "gamine" will make it more wearable by a wider variety of people. [if you're feeling a little daring, you can also tap a little on your cheeks as  a blush/ highlighter, but be careful- it is very frosty!]

l to r :: gamine, mac swish :: natural light

same as above :: with flash

giving the palette some artsy depth is "icon", a soft mauve shade with a little taupe to it, but still fairly rosy overall. it's a dusty, antiqued kind of colour and works really well along the crease. it also looks fantastic with either of the lighter, more youthful shades layered over it, creating something that seems much... more than just the sum of the two shades added together. 

icon :: natural light

icon :: with flash

i thought this would be an easy match for me, since i love this sort of shade, but it turned out to be quite unique in my collection. "velour", an older mac shade that looks slightly lighter in the pan, turns out to be not just lighter, but quite a bit greyer and more neutral. guerlain "les fumes" has a shade i thought would be similar, but it's quite a bit warmer and browner. 

l to r :: mac velour [disc], icon, guerlain les fumes :: natural light

same as above :: with flash

and at last, we come to "fin", le metier de beaute's statement black. i don't really know how to describe this without being excruciatingly obvious, because this colour is black. it's like being sucked into the far corners of space. it's like contemplating non-existence. this moves beyond black and into the territory of the platonic ideal of black. there are a few multi-coloured sparkles in it, but they're only visible when swatched. when you put the colour on your eyes, it's just black
fin :: natural light
fin :: with flash

of course, i couldn't resist comparing it to the black from giorgio armani's "neo-black palette", which had made my standards for bottomless blacks very high indeed. and what did that comparison show? 

fin, armani neo-black [l.e.] :: natural light

same as above :: with flash
wow. hats off, le metier de beaute. that is a black that would shame the souls of the damned. 

channeling my inner brigitte
next to the softness and freshness and subtlety of the other shades, "fin" is indeed a contrast. it takes very, very little to get a lot of effect and you're going to want to makes sure to tap any excess off your brush, because application can get a little messy with anything this intense. you also have to be careful that "fin" doesn't overwhelm everything you're trying to do, because that can happen really, really easily. 

le metier de beaute's kaleidoscopes are luxury products at a luxury price point. their shadows are very nearly flawless. they apply smoothly and evenly, are easy to work with, blend like a dream and would probably stay put for days if i let them. i also find that they resist fading better than almost any other brand. even "fin" had remarkable staying power for such an intense colour. however, at $100cad a pop, it's a case of getting what you pay for. it's still a savings over the price of four individual le metier shadows, but the difference is less pronounced than with other brands. [it should be noted that other brands tend to make palettes with shadows that are smaller than regular singles. le metier'd kaleidoscopes are four full-size shadows and their shadows are large, if that helps.]

i love the stacked, pivoting design of the kaleidoscope with it's cute [and functional] little mirror on top. i did not like the plastic silver packaging, which held fingerprints and isn't nearly as nice looking as le metier's regular matte-black cases. it reminded me a lot of the ellis faas tubes, in that you expect a luxury piece to feel like it's got some heft. the chrome-look plastic might be sturdy, but it looks and feels flimsy, which undercuts the product just a little.

but i certainly have only praise for the contents of the kaleidoscope. it's a wonderful homage to its inspiration, to ebullient youth and artistic commitment, exactly what i'd want from the subject matter. well done!

here's my "nouvelle vague" look, inspired, i hardly need mention, but brigitte bardot. i thought this would be a great opportunity as well to imitate her enviable cheekbones by using a more human application of chanel's new and limited "notorious" cheek and eye colour, which is a perfect contour that mimics a natural shadow to give your face some added relief. 

the base ::
gosh velvet touch anti-aging primer
mac paint pot "painterly"
lush colour supplement "jackie oates"
clarins everlasting foundation "103"

the eyes :: 
lmdb e/s "icon" [dusty plum-mauve]*
lmdb e/s "gamine" [frosty cool pink]*
lmdb e/s "nouvelle" [shimmery light peach]*

lmdb e/s "fin" [blackest ever black]*

urban decay 24/7 liner "perversion" [black black]
mac eye kohl "i get no kick" [nude shimmer]*
chanel inimitable intense mascara

the cheeks :: 
chanel ombre contraste "notorious" [lavender-taupe]*
nars blush "nico" [natural glow]
lmdb e/s "gamine" [frosty cool pink]*

the lips :: 
mac lip pencil "life's a breeze" [yellow pink]*
mac lip pencil "naked" [pink flesh tone]
mac l/s "playing koi" [light nude peach]* 
mac l/g "icescape" [opalescent white pink]*

suggested alternates :: i get no kick = nars rue bonaparte; life's a breeze = mac in synch; playing koi = nars madere [less peach, more neutral]; icescape = guerlain frosted rose #871 [sheerer]

the nouvelle vague kaleidoscope, like all kaleidoscopes, is limited edition, but it is still available from neiman marcus in the states [no guarantees that there are counters that still have it, but it is on the web] and it's also available from zuneta, which is where i got mine. 


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