Sunday, July 17, 2011

NARS Bright Lights, Big City (Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2011)

NARS Vestale Nail Polish, NARS Matto Grosso Nail Polish, and NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette
          This weekend Nordstrom kicked off its Anniversary sale event. A sales associate once told me that Nordstrom moves more items during the Anniversary sale than any other season in the year, including the holidays. I'm not sure if this applies to cosmetics, or the entire store, however it certainly puts things into perspective. As you can imagine, I, like many, trotted downtown this weekend to pick up a few things at the NARS counter.

          I chose NARS Vestale nail polish, NARS Matto Grosso nail polish, and the NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette. I did not purchase the third nail polish color, Koh Lanta, however I have a finger swatch below. One thing I've noticed about the Nordstrom Anniversary sale cosmetics offerings is that they aren't the trendy offerings of the season. They tend to be good values with safer colors that can build a basic collection. This is the case with the NARS Bright Lights, Big City collection, if you compare it to the Fall 2011 collection which was also available in-store. Fall 2011 has bright blue eyeshadow and stormy grey-blue polish, while Anniversary has standard smoky eye colors and pink, brown, and purple polish. I've picked up only Anniversary sale items so far, because I'll attend a National Artist event next weekend to try the Fall 2011 products.

          This post has an overview of the products as well as initial thoughts, photos, and swatches. I'll try to post more in-depth reviews and comparisons after I've gotten more use out of them.

NARS Vestale nail polish, NARS Matto Grosso nail polish, and NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette
          First up are the NARS Matto Grosso and Vestale nail polishes. Lately I'd been craving a dark moody polish and a good nude color for pedis lately and my collection felt lacking. Somehow NARS read my mind and released these two beautiful colors. Matto Grosso is a the darkest, blackest brown creme possible. It's reminiscent of a molten dark dark chocolate. I love blackened browns, they have the same edgy character as black, however the color is less harsh and less goth. Vestale is a ballet pink (well described by KarlaSugar). It's a really beautiful opaque light nude pink. I've been looking for a color like this a while now. Most nudes tend to be too beige or too dark for my liking, while most pale pinks are too candy pink. No one does modern nuanced color as well as NARS.

          This was my first stint with NARS nail polish formula, so I didn't know what to expect. Unfortunately, I have to report that the formula on these two colors are less than ideal. NARS Matto Gross is the worse of the two. The texture is a little goopy/stringy and is therefore difficult to spread lengthwise on the nail. It's almost like trying to spread actual chocolate on your nails. The first coat looked horribly uneven, however the second coat made the color opaque and even. The application is a pain, however the final product looks beautiful, opaque and very glossy. The drying time is relatively quick, which is a plus. Vestale is a bit smoother, but still not as smooth as I'd prefer. It will require two thick coats or three thin coats. I think I got better application with the bottle in store, as compared to the bottle I bought. Perhaps the formula will become better over time, I will have to report back on this later.

EDIT: The formula does get better. See my later review here.

NARS Matto Grosso nail polish and Vestale nail polish swatches
          While I was in-store getting my makeup done, I made a few quick and dirty nail comparison swatches of the Fall 2011 and Anniversary nail polish colors. I wasn't planning on posting these originally, but I figured why not. You can see NARS Koh Lanta here, which is the third polish from Anniversary. It's a really beautiful dark plum purple. I only did one coat, however you can imagine that two would be much more even and beautiful. There are both distinct red and blue tones, kind of like a real plum. It looked really beautiful on my nail, however I just don't reach for purples, so I passed. NARS Galion is a dark grey-blue creme color from NARS Fall 2011. It's much darker than I'd imagined it to be. The blue tones almost seemed dark teal to me. It's no-where close to Sephora by OPI Break-a-Leg-Warmer, which is another blue-toned grey. I thought I would love Galion, because I love greys, however I wasn't really feeling it. I swatched NARS Vestale to compare with Sephora by OPI Nonfat Soy Half-Caff, another nude pink. Not even close, though it was the closest nude pink I saw at Sephora.

Comparison nail polish swatches for NARS Fall 2011 and Nordstrom Anniversary 2011
          Finally, here's the NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette, which is what I'm most excited about. The palette has six colors from the permanent line of single eyeshadows. This is a good deal, the cost of the palette is equivalent to three point something eyeshadow singles. I'm glad that NARS went with all permanent singles instead of mixing in single colors from duo eyeshadows. Do you know what I mean? I think duos were meant to stay as duos, and breaking them up doesn't make sense. This palette is best suited towards a smoky eye look. There are light/sheer colors in the top row and dark colors in the bottom row. There are no real medium tones here. Here's how the sales associate used this palette on me:

1) Prime the lid with NARS Smudgeproof eyeshadow primer.
2) Brush Cyprus over most of the lid as a base color.
3) Pat small amounts of Fathom on top of Cyprus. It's a sheer color, but adds a little sparkle and shine.
4) Blend in Night Clubbing from the lashline to make a smoke the colors.
5) Line eye with Night Breed.
6) Highlight corners or eyebrows with Biarritz.
7) Lots of Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara.

The colors and swatches are as follows:

1) Biarritz - Matte white. It's almost invisible on my swatch. It makes a good matte highlight color.
2) Cyprus- Shimmery light old gold beige. It's not unique, but a very wearable color that is really close to my current tanned skin tone. I'm sure it will show up more in winter when my skin is pale.
3) Fathom- a pale shimmery pink. The color is very sheer and doesn't read pink. It can be used to add sparkle to other shadows.
4) Night Clubbing- a golden black with multicolored shimmer. It reads mostly black in the swatch, however sheered out it has more interesting character. It reminds me somewhat of the golden black color of NARS Aguile Noir shadow pencil.
5) Coconut Grove- A blackened brown which I love. You can see my review here.
6) Night Breed- black with silver sparkles.

As a final note, you may notice that there's something different about my palette as opposed to normal palettes. Somehow Biarritz and Cyprus switched positions. I don't know if this is a common mistake throughout all the palettes, or it's just particular to mine. It's not a big issue; it just means the names on the back of the palette don't correspond accurately. Part of me wants to exchange it for a standard palette, however part of me is intrigued by the special character of my little palette. What would you do?

Thanks for reading! I can't wait to see posts or comments on what everyone's been getting from Nordstrom Anniversary. If you've picked up a little something, let me know, I'd love to hear.

Love, Dovey


  1. I also picked up this palette. Even though I have a few of the colors, I thought it would be really convenient to have these all in one place. I just checked the back of mine and it also has Biarritz & Cyprus in the wrong position! Thanks for the instructions on the look your SA did - I look forward to trying it out! :)

  2. AnonymousJuly 17, 2011

    That's too bad about the polish formula but I'm happy to be warned! I was toying with getting the palette then decided against it. I really don't need any more neutrals.

  3. ahh I really want that palette! It has several shades I've been eyeing for a while, and I'd rather have them all in one place instead of in individual pans

  4. Nars is my favorite! Your blog makes me feel comfy and at home :P

    I gave you a blog award this morning!

    Check it out at

  5. Lovely palette! I like both of the "night" shades. NARS doesn't do enough palettes!

  6. Makeup Magpie - Hm, maybe they're all reversed! Funny thing is that the colors are the "right way" on the Nordstrom website.

    Alex- Hehe, one can never have too many neutrals, jk

    Kelly- I agree, having them in one place instead of a bunch of little pans is convenient.

    LauraJean- aw, that's so nice of you. I'll definitely check it out!

    productdoctor- thanks, and agreed!

  7. And yuou chose very well very well indeed. Stunning palette and polishes, also having mini drools over Koh Lanta & Break a Leg warmer. Fabulous overload!

  8. MMB&I- thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it

  9. Love that palette!


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