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making faces :: bette davis lips

the inscription on bette davis' grave reads "she did it the hard way", which should tell you something about the kind of life she led. indeed, she was known as a fighter, taking on studio executives at a time when that simply wasn't done, unless you "never wanted to work in this town again". even when she lost a legal battle against warner brothers that forced her to see out her contract, she was able to parlay her return to the screen into better roles that secured her legacy as one of the greatest icons of the screen. she was the first woman ever to garner ten nominations for best actress at the academy awards and the first woman ever to be president of the academy of motion picture arts and sciences [the people who give out the awards].

that bette davis ever became a movie star, let alone one of the biggest movie stars in the world, is kind of remarkable. after all, she wasn't conventionally beautiful, although her face was certainly unforgettable. her sharp new england accent wasn't considered a benefit in the early era of sound films. she had a reputation for being obstinate and argumentative with producers, directors and other actors, which lead to her being passed over for a number of roles. however, none of those impediments stopped the public from adoring her and keeping her a star for decades. they loved her despite the fact that the characters she often played were flat-out bitches: not the vampy bad girls of the silent era, but mean, manipulative, dishonest women who nonetheless wrung some sympathy from film-goers.  indeed, she seemed to relish the opportunity to take on difficult- but always strong- roles.

it's no small wonder that francois nars included a shade of his audacious lipstick named in honour of the incredible ms. davis. in fact, it would have been shocking if she'd been omitted. and i feel like, in his colour selection, he's come up with something that is an absolutely perfect match for the woman herself.



"bette" is one of the deep, vampy shades in the audacious line up [and kudos to mr. nars for offering a variety of deep colours, not just one]. it's described officially as "bordeaux" and there certainly is something similar to a full-bodied red wine in the colour, but there's also an earthiness from a warm, brownish undertone. compared to the other deep reds i've reviewed in the audacious line, "jeanne" and "charlotte", bette is more conservative, less bright, but stronger, less seductive, but more commanding. on medium-to-deep skin tones, this shade will be unbelievable and appropriate for just about anywhere. on lighter skin tones [like mine], it's going to be an option for those who want a high contrast.

bette

the formula of "bette" is a bit different than the other audacious lipsticks i've tried and from what i've read, others have had the same sort of experience. the texture is a little slicker and glossier going on, which means that it isn't quite as opaque in a single pass. it also means that it fades a little faster if you apply just one pass. the first time i wore it, i was a little annoyed to discover that it seemed to fade quite quickly, even if i wasn't doing any of the things that normally caused lipstick to depart early. the second time i wore it, i applied one light layer, then did a second and got fully opaque coverage that lasted through the day, and had minimal fading even after a cup of coffee and a light snack. so you can get this shade to work as well as the others, it just requires slightly more effort. [and seriously, no one should be thinking of an extra pass with the lipstick tube as being a big effort. really. take some vitamins or something.]

as intense and dark as "bette" looks, i found her to be a little brighter than the other vampy red options at my disposal. le metier de beauté "bali" is darker and a shade more purple. rouge d'armani "611" is also darker.

l to r :: lmdb bali, bette, rouge d'armani 611

in keeping with the audacious line in general, i think that the warm brown tones in "bette" will be amplified on warmer skin tones. on me, it reads as just a bit warm, but mostly neutral. [the same thing happened with "jeanne", which looks very browned on some others, but just a little warm on me. i don't know how that works with such an opaque formula, but your mileage will almost certainly vary.]

here's a look at "bette" in action, with a warm neutral base, because you don't need much to complement a lady this powerful.

 


products used

the base ::
nars luminous, weightless foundation "mont blanc"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
mac frost e/s "shroom" [browned white]
mac satin e/s "natural wilderness" [warm ochre]*
mac satin e/s "marsh" [swamp green]]*
urban decay 24/7 e/l "demolition" [dark cool brown]
illamasqua precision ink e/l "wisdom" [sheer antique gold]
dior new look mascara

the cheeks ::
mac blush "my highland honey" [toasted peach]*

the lips ::
nars audacious l/s "bette" [deep burgundy red]

*suggested alternates :: i'm sorry, but you're kind of on your own with "natural wilderness" and "marsh"; the closest to "natural wilderness" would be either mac "outré" or mac "ochre style", both of which were limited and from even further back; there are other olive shades that could substitute for "marsh", but most, like "sumptuous olive" are shimmery and lack the unique muted/ greyed quality that makes "marsh" so special; my highland honey = nars gina [brighter, redder]

so yes, the audacious love train moves on. i have to say that i am feeling the need to buy something outside the deep red range [although, spoiler alert, i still have a couple more to review now and none of them is outside my deep red box, if you'll pardon the expression]. i notice that it's starting to look like i'm trying to play audacious lipstick bingo on sephora, attempting to complete an entire row of the offering before moving on. [weird thing that just occurred to me that i feel compelled to share: you could actually spell out "bingo" with the first letters of nars audacious lipsticks: bette, ingrid, natalie, geraldine, olivia. so, if you wanted a weird reason to buy a bunch of lipsticks, that's as good an excuse as any, i suppose.]

but what can i say, although "bette" might be just a little more difficult than her screen siren sisters, she's well worth the trouble, much like her namesake.

[as a side note, i'm sure it would give the inimitable ms. davis a little pleasure that she was included among the forty inspirational actresses honoured by this line, but her longtime enemy joan crawford wasn't. the two actresses had a serious hate on for each other, which spilled over as the filmed whatever happened to baby jane together. joan was the widow of a pepsi cola tycoon and sat on the company's board of directors, so bette demanded that a coca-cola machine be brought to the set. in retaliation, when shooting scenes where bette had to drag joan across the floor, ms. crawford would load her pockets with rocks. celebrity cat fights aren't just for teenaged starlets.]

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