Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thierry Mugler Angel Eau de Parfum review

          Today's the day I face my fears and finally write about Thierry Mugler Angel Eau de Parfum. As someone who typically enjoys light florals,  the oriental gourmand fragrance's expansive list of notes and patchouli-heavy character was certainly intimidating. However, Angel is one of those fragrances one should really experience at some point in life; after all, the perfume (created in 1992), was inducted into the FiFi Awards Hall of Fame in 2007.

             Thierry Mugler is known for crafting fragrances inspired by fantasy. Eva Mendes (seen in the photos) is the current face of the Thierry Mugler Angel campaigns, after replacing Naomi Watts in 2011. The multicolor sequined dress, the cosmic flashes of light in the shape of wings, and the sultry look of Eva herself all combine to create a sense of sensory overload that is not unlike the fragrance itself. Thierry Mugle Angel Eau de Parfum is packaged in a beautiful asymmetric star that appears stretched out, as if it's getting ready to warp into space. The star can be refilled with decants of Theirry Mugler Angel, which is eco-friendly and adds to the fancy of having a personal shooting star.

Notes: melon, coconut, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, bergamot, cotton candy, honey, apricot, blackberry, plum, orchid, peach, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, red berries, rose, tonka bean, amber, patchouli, musk, vanilla, dark chocolate, caramel.
         The Thierry Mugler Angel experience has a dreamlike character, where childhood memories are drawn out through the litany of notes. Overall, I would describe Angel as a voluptuous scent with fleshy fruits and vanilla caramel sweetness, underscored by generous helpings of dry cocoa powder and patchouli. Thierry Mugler Angel Eau de Parfum opens with dewy fruits enmeshed with a sticky candy sweetness. The fruity burst is an unusual combination of melon and tropical fruits; I get a good helping of honeydew, citrus, and coconut. Likewise, the sweetness is a full combination of the gourmand greats : vanilla, caramel, and tonka; the lot is more delectable than the sum of its parts. Over time, the fruits transition into their more dark fleshed varieties, namely plums and blackberries. As the fragrance draws out further, I get a distinct nectarine and hints of apricot. The base of the fragrance is dominated by a dry cocoa scent and patchouli that run throughout. (Angel does have a reputation of being a patchouli bomb). There are honeyed aspects as well, and a spritz of amber spice. I'm too distracted by the other scents to piece apart the floral notes, which quietly fill in the seams and add to the background ambiance. However, if I had to guess, soft jasmine, orchid, and rose are likely candidates.

         Thierry Mugler Angel Eau de Parfum is a sweet and voluptuous scent filled with a cornucopia of fruits and flowers to add intrigue. Smoky patchouli wafts up old memories, while chocolate adds comfort. I tend to prefer more straightforward scents and find Angel a bit overwhelming, but I can respect its creation; it's impressive that a fragrance can hold together so many individual scents without devolving into a stew. With so many component scents, I think each individual will experience a different emphasis dependent upon unconscious proclivities molded by memory. Though Thierry Mugler Angel is resplendent with fruits and sweet smells, I wouldn't call it childish; though it's weighty and complex, I wouldn't call it elegant. Angel is in a category of its own, and is certainly worth a sniff. Thanks for reading! Have you tried Thierry Mugler Angel? What are your thoughts? Are you a patchouli person?

Love, Dovey.

P.S.  It is worth noting that Thierry Mugler Angel Eau de Parfum should be differentiated from the Eau de Toilette version. The Eau de Toilette was launched in 2011; while it has similar notes, it is not the exact same scent!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Five: Insta-week edition

         Happy Friday! This past week, I've been all over the place in terms of work and amusement. So, today's post is a patchwork diary of five highlights from my week: One, I watched the Presidential Inauguration. The program was inspiring and I was reminded how lucky we Americans are to live in a nation where a peaceful turnover of power is the norm. Two, I received a very fragrant package. I've been enjoying my bottle of Balenciaga Florabotanica, as well as the deluxe samples of Gucci Première and Balenciaga Paris that came with it. Three, I mixed up my blush routine. When things get busy, I stick with neutrals for eyes, but try to alternate blush colors to keep things interesting. Four, I finally filled my Bumble and Bumble bag with empty beauty products. It took me months, I'm still a grasshopper when it compared to 'empties' masters like Beauty Reductionista! Five, the Baltimore Ravens are headed to the Superbowl, which, if you read last week's Friday Five, means that my Essie Lilacism pedi stays on! Finally, as per usual, I have an eclectic selection of my five favorite articles on the web this week:

1. Michelle Obama went with Jason Wu (again) for the inaugural ball! On NYTimes.
2. Have you tried Twitter Vine, the new video sharing app? On NYTimes Bits.
3. Café Makeup has a beautiful montage of Chanel Spring / Summer 2013.
4. I'm not one to resist a good haul post, especially if it's on Pretty Pink Lips.
5. Chanel Fantasque looks fantastic on Mostly Sunny.

        Thanks for reading! Did you watch the Inauguration and/or NFL playoffs? What were some of your newest beauty purchases or pick-me-ups? Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

Love, Dovey.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream review

          Kiehl's must have taken a leaf out of Lady Liberty's notebook because their latest wrinkle-reducing innovation is all about copper. Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream utilizes copper to stimulate elastin production. Historically, skincare to treat fine lines and wrinkles has focused on collagen production; elastin, another integral component of skin, has largely been overlooked. As its name suggests, elastin plays an important role in maintaining the elasticity of skin. Decreased elastin, and thereby decreased recoil, can lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. According to Kiehl's, copper has the ability to stimulate elastin production, thereby promoting a more youthful complexion. In addition to copper PCA, Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream also contains calcium PCA, a humectant, and moisturizing Apricot Kernel Oil.

         As you can see, the copper theme of Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream extends to the translucent tinted tub and metallic cap. Though the lid and jar have the convincing appearance of metal and glass, respectively, both parts are actually made from practical, durable plastic. I really like the texture of Kiehl's creams and that of Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream is no exception. The cream is thick with a bit of slip; only a small amount is required for application. It moisturizes and protects well without being heavy or oily. The ingredients seem to sit well with my sensitive skin, which makes me happy.

         Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream ($52 for 50mL) is now available in stores or www.Kiehls.com, along with a companion eye cream and SPF containing cream. The packaging and texture of the cream are both wonderful (as one would expect of Kiehl's quality). I don't have visible wrinkles or fine lines (yet), so I can't attest to improvement. However, elastin starts to decrease in your 20's so I plan on putting Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream to good use! Thanks for reading! Have you tried any of the products from Kiehl's Wrinkle Reducing line? What are your current Kiehl's favorites?

Love, Dovey.
Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent to Cute and Mundane for consideration by PR. The ideas and opinions in this post are genuine and my own. The Kiehl's link in this post is not an affiliate link; it is present for your convenience.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Balenciaga L'Essence Eau de Parfum review

          Lately, I've been going through an aromatic renaissance of sorts thanks to Balenciaga perfumes. The brand first caught my nose with the release of Balenciaga Florabotanica. After that fragrant first experience, I made a point to find out what other scents of theirs I've been missing out on. Luckily, I didn't have to look far; I happened to have samples of both Balenciaga Paris and Balenciaga L'Essence in my archive of sample sleeves! Today, I'll share my thoughts on Balenciaga L'Essence Eau de Parfum, a more intense and sophisticated evolution of Balenciaga Paris. Balenciaga L'Essence is bottled in a gorgeous glass flacon with a hematite cap, pyrite collar, and green gradation. The green and black coloring hints at a scent dominated by heavy green notes (think violet leaf and vetiver, as opposed to grass).

Notes: patchouli, violet leaf, violet, green notes, sandalwood, cedar
          When I think of Balenciaga, the first thing that comes to mind is their line of popular tasseled leather handbags. Balenciaga L'Essence Eau de Parfum evokes this association for me in a complementary sense; the scent of L'Essence has a close wearing feel reminiscent of leather, but with a verdant aspect. (Which is good, because I'd rather not smell like a leather purse).

           Balenciaga L'Essence is a light and grounded combination of violet leaf, vetiver, and sandalwood. There are no real 'top' notes; the fragrance starts off at mid range with earthy violet leaf and shy violet flower. There are subtle sweet vanilla-like notes that complement the violet felicitously, bringing to mind candied violets. The base is characterized by a green vetiver, along with soft wood notes. The woods are largely composed of creamy sandalwood, with just a hint of cedar crispness to tickle the nose. Over time, Balenciaga L'Essence becomes sweeter and more vanilla-like while maintaining its violet leaf and vetiver character. While the fragrance is base note heavy, it maintains a clean and light feeling due to a lack of smoky patchouli or animal musk notes.

               Much like the brand's bohemian, yet structured bags, Balenciaga L'Essence perfume strikes a balance between earthy and clean. The combination of youthful violet leaf with vetiver and sandalwood has a straightforward elegance. I do detect L'Essence's resemblance to the original Balenciaga Paris through their shared notes; however the former is more grounded, while the latter is more floral and sweet. Overall, I've been enjoying Balenciaga L'Essence; it's a relaxing scent to wear when I'm not in a floral mood! Thanks for reading! Have you tried Balenciaga L'Essence Eau de Parfum or any other Balenciaga fragrances? Do you like vetiver or violet scents?

Love, Dovey.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

MAC Sunny Seoul lipstick review + swatches

            The MAC Cremesheen + Pearl collection from Fall 2012 has to be my favorite MAC Collection to date. The collection consists of eight cremesheen formula lipsticks and seven cremesheen lip glasses with Asian-inspired names. I'm a fan of cremesheen formulas and light colors, so this collection was right up my alley. Thankfully, the MAC Cremesheen + Pearl collection was made permanent, so now I don't have to worry about missing out on the pieces I haven't tried yet! Today I have a review and swatches of my most recent acquisition, MAC Sunny Seoul lipstick, as well some other photos for fun!

Seoul, Korea. Photo Credit : my aunt!
        I asked my aunt if she could send a few recent photographs from Seoul for this blog post. She kindly sent me a few snaps from around the city (Thank you 이모!!) These two photos are from the Gangnam District, the 4th most populated district in Seoul; Gangnam literally translates into "South of the [Han] River." In recent history, Gangnam has earned a reputation as one of the most affluent and dynamic areas in Seoul; you might recognize it from Korean rapper PSY's YouTube sensation Gangnam Style. (For the record, I have yet to attempt the dance).

Photo credit : my aunt!
         You can find pretty much anything in Seoul, even a Ladurée! I had to smile when I saw this colorful photo, especially in light of the macaron craze that has swept the blogosphere. I have yet to try a Ladurée macaron, though not for lack of wanting; I can still remember Café Makeup's 2010 macaron posts: Les Macarons de Paris and The Real Housewives of Café Makeup! I've made it a point to try a real French macaron someday, however till then I'll live vicariously through photos!

          MAC Sunny Seoul lipstick is a light, bright, and clean pink. (Perhaps one could even call it a macaron pink!) Sunny Seoul lipstick is made with MAC's cremesheen formula, so there is some sheerness. You can see from my swatches below that MAC Sunny Seoul doesn't have any of the peachy or beige undertones typical of similarly hued lipsticks. Chantecaille Sunrise and NARS Mayflower (see swatches here) are peachier. Smashbox Posy Pink is the most similar in color, however it is still more peach. Too Faced Juicy Melons is a more intense and darker pink.

         I'm really happy with MAC Sunny Seoul lipstick. The bright pink is perfect for the coming spring, and is a nice light alternative to my mostly peachy or nude lip color collection. Thanks for reading! Have you tried MAC Sunny Seoul or the other Cremesheen + Pearl collection colors? What is your current favorite MAC lipstick color? Have you ever tried a Ladurée macaron?

Love, Dovey.

P.S. See my review of MAC Pure Zen, my first pick from the MAC Cremesheen + Pearl collection.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Five : Sports + Superstition edition

           Happy Friday! It's NFL playoff season, which is always an exciting time in the Cute and Mundane household. It's especially exciting this year because my team, the Baltimore Ravens, is headed to the AFC Championship! If you know any hardcore football fans, I'm sure you've run across a gamut of game time superstitions ranging from lucky jerseys to lucky seating arrangement; I'm not normally a superstitious person myself, but I decided to apply a lucky purple pedicure before the playoffs, just in case. Sure enough, the Ravens, who were the clear underdogs last week, defeated the Denver Broncos 38-35 in a double overtime victory! To say it was a dramatic victory, would be an understatement. So, regardless of how illogical it may be, in honor of Ray Lewis' final season,  I'll still be wearing the same Essie Lilacism pedi, chips-be-darned, until the Ravens are either eliminated or take the Vince Lombardi Trophy home to Baltimore! In addition to all the NFL excitement, here's a list of my favorite reads this week:

1. Nicole Richie's unique and chic G.Globes look was absolutely captivating on Temptalia.
2. The Non Blonde discusses how to wear NARS Persia eyeshadow.
3. Check out the lovely olive flashes of YSL Bronze Pyrite on The Beauty Look Book.
4. The Former Girl at Bar shares the gorgeous MAC Orpheus.
5. A heartwarming photo of two NFL greats. See it on USA Today.

          Thanks for reading! Which NFL team do you root for? Do you indulge in any superstitious behavior? Will you be watching the playoffs, or do you have other fun plans this weekend?

Love, Dovey.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chloé Chloé Eau de Parfum review

           French fashion house Chloé was founded in 1952 by Egyptian-born Parisienne Gaby Aghion. The brand is best known for creating designs that were 'prêt-à-porter', or ready-to-wear, at a time when luxury brands were producing 'made to measure' clothing. Chloé is beloved for its clean, free-spirited, and feminine designs. Karl Lagerfeld launched the original Chloé perfume in 1975. The tuberose heavy fragrance was reformulated in 2008 into the powdery rose version of Chloé Chloé Eau de Parfum that most of us are familiar with today. The barely blush toned packaging is contrasted by a stalwart square bottle; the combination hints at the feminine, yet bold perfume that is Chloé. Chloé has an enigmatic personality; it's a signature scent for some, but a complete turn-off for others. I've spent some time investigating the polarizing nature of this perfume; here's what I discovered:
Notes: pink peony, freesia, lychee, magnolia flower, lily of the valley, rose, cedarwood, amber, honey.
            Chloé Chloé Eau de Parfum is a delightful rose scent with hints of powder, sweetness, and a surprising pungency. Chloé opens with a beautiful watery peony and rose burst that I want to hold on to forever. That moment is quickly broken up by a sharp scent that resembles the pungent aspect of lily and the woodiness of magnolia stuffed into a single note. It is the precarious intermixture of these clashing scents that rides the line between  interesting and intolerable. I think skin chemistry is a strong factor as to the sort of smell you will get.  For those lucky enough to get light amounts of lily and magnolia, the mixture will add a redolent dimension. On the pulse of my wrists, however, these elements are unbearably strong. As the scent progresses, the rose hugs a sweet lychee, resulting in a juicy floral. A light amber concurrently prickles my nose. Towards the conclusion of Chloé , there's not much development or jostling of notes. It seems as if all the notes just trail off in a gradual diminuendo. I'm left with rose, a pinch of powder, lychee sweetness, amber, and a mild amount of the contentious lily and magnolia note.

          Chloé Chloé Eau de Parfum is like a beautiful chiffon gown wrapped in a well worn leather jacket; it's a rosy floral with an edge that matches the confident and free-spirited femininity of the brand. The opening florals are beautiful, however the scent's success does depend on skin chemistry. Unfortunately it wears poorly on me, but I can see why it's well loved by others. It's a scent with potential, but I'd recommend trying before buying! Thanks for reading! Have you tried Chloé Eau de Parfum? Do you have a favorite out of Chloé's fragrance lineup?

Love, Dovey.

P.S. This month's issue of InStyle (February 2013) has a nice feature on Chloé designs. The 2004 Phoebe Philo dress is absolutely stunning!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Inspired by Gastone Novelli (La Liberazione)

          Whenever I'm in the D.C. metro area, I make it a point to visit the National Gallery of Art. The East Building modern collection is a beloved old haunt of mine; the permanent collection there is home to many of my personal favorites. The collection is so large though, that each visit I always end up discovering something new! During my most recent visit, I was struck by the wintry white color and three-dimensional textures of La Liberazione (1959) by Gastone Novelli. Novelli (1925-1968) was born in Vienna and classically trained in Rome. In 1943 at the age of 18, he joined the Resistenza Italiana, and was arrested and tortured by the Nazi regime. He was released upon the Allied liberation of Italy in 1944, but was deeply affected by the experience. After completing a degree in political science, he fled to Brazil, where he began to paint. His abstract, almost graffiti-like works were ahead of his time, yet they bore the marks of his haunting past.  For today's Inspired by Art post, I've constructed a cosmetic color palette and look based on Novelli's La Liberazione.

           The airy whitewashed surface of La Liberazione is characteristic of Novelli's mixed media works in the early 1960s. (The composition of the creamy white paste was secret.) On top, he typically used pencil, ink, brushes, and other instruments to delicately inscribe letters and words.

           Wintry white is the dominant color on the canvas, and in my Novelli inspired look. Using a fluffy brush, dust a white eyeshadow from the eyelid to eyebrow. Illamasqua Sex eyeshadow is a pure paper white, while Bobbi Brown Navajo is an off-white. Taupe undertones are apparent in the under-painting of La Liberazione. A taupe like Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Cement can be used to contour the eye. (For extra credit, contour before adding a wash of white, like in the artwork).

          A simple graphite line would be the perfect way to channel the words and scribbles found in Novelli's work. A few of my grey eyeliners include MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Shadow in 4E (reviewed here), NARS Larger Than Life Eyeliner in Madison Ave. (reviewed here), and Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eyeliner in Charcoal Grey. Small silver or yellow accents can add dimension while maintaining an abstract feel to the look. Smashbox Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow in Sterling and MAKE UP FOR EVER Blush Powder in #71 are my picks.

         A yellow concentration of color and texture is a highlight of the painting. Here, you can see a bright primary yellow covered by washes of white, drizzles of pastel yellow, and etches of graphite.

            A striking nail color is a great way to add detail to this Novelli-inspired look. A sunny yellow would be beautiful and unexpected, like the detailing on La Liberazione. China Glaze Happy Go Lucky is a primary yellow and Sephora by OPI IM Beauty is a pale pastel yellow. White and graphite grey are hues from La Liberazione that would make bold alternatives to a yellow nail. Revlon White on White is a pure white. NARS Storm Bird (reviewed here) is a steel colored creme nail polish; Revlon Steel-her Heart is a metallic graphite.

          In Gastone Novelli's La Liberazione, a wintry white blankets the painting, with graphite and taupe details that hint at what lies beneath. The effect is much like a ground covered by patchwork snow in the depth of winter. Novelli doesn't leave us out in the cold, however; the striking yellow accent gives us hints of sunshine and light in the days ahead. It's a hopeful color palette that I find particularly suitable for this time in January! I can't help but wonder if this was the sentiment behind the piece, after all, La Liberazione translates to 'The Liberation', a possible reference to Novelli's own experience in the twilight hours of World War II. Overall, La Liberazione is a beautiful painting with a striking color palette; I'm glad I chanced upon it during my last visit to the National Gallery of Art. Thanks for reading! What do you think of this painting? Do you ever mix yellow into your makeup routine? What colors are you wearing this January?

Love, Dovey.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Five: Inauguration edition

         Happy Friday! This week I've been sticking to my New Year's resolutions and enjoying the new pace and directions of my blog. I've had an eventful week: I watched the NFL playoffs, did some post-holiday organization, and explored some new fragrances. I've also been flipping through the Special Inauguration Issue of Washingtonian, which I picked up as a souvenir while in D.C. I love how warm and happy the First couple looks on the cover (and how chic Michelle Obama is)! There were articles about Bo "the first dog", gown shopping tips from Hallie and Kathleen Biden, and memorable anecdotes from the President's first term. That said, my favorite article by far was American Style, which looked back at previous First Ladies' inaugural gowns. If you remember, back in 2009 Michelle Obama chose a gorgeous one-shouldered white chiffon gown by Jason Wu. Apparently the designer didn't know she had chosen his gown until he saw her on TV! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing whose gown Mrs. Obama picks this year. I highly recommend checking out the rest of the slideshow at Washingtonian online (see here).

            Of course I've been catching up my favorite blogs and online print as well. Today I have a 'Friday Five' list of my favorite finds this week. You'll find an eclectic collection of topics, including ladybugs, taupes, sharks, chocolates, and an interview:

1. Makeup Magpie has photographed the life cycle of ladybugs.
2. Cafe Makeup examines the taupe blush trend.
3. Best Things in Beauty has the first swatches of Chantecaille Sharks.
4. Swedish Love Affair shares her home-made truffles and other delights.
5. Lifestyle Mirror interviewed me last week for their Blogger Q&A series.

          Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear what you've been up this week, or what you're planning on doing this weekend! Do you read or subscribe to local magazines? Are you planning on watching the presidential inauguration this year*?

Love, Dovey.
*U.S. Inaugurations occur on the constitutionally mandated date of January 20, however because it falls on a Sunday this year, the public ceremony will occur on Monday January 21, 2013. Incidentally, this is the second time a president has been sworn in on Martin Luther King Jr. day; the previous time was on January 20, 1997 when Bill Clinton was sworn in for his second term!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tocca Graciella Eau de Parfum review

             Tocca Graciella Eau de Parfum is an elixir inspired by the beauty and sophistication of Grace Kelly, 1950's movie star turned Princess of Monaco. Tocca Graciella is packaged in Tocca's classic rounded bottle topped with aged gold filigree that channels the old-world romanticism of the brand. The fragrance itself is a pale blue, which hints at the water notes in this floral fragrance.

Notes: Bitter Orange, Asian Pear, Watery Apricot, Casablanca Lily, Ylang Ylang from Comoros Islands, Karma Fleur, Rose de Mai, Cashmere Musk, Benzoin, Laos.
         Tocca Graciella is a floral musk with fruit and water notes; it's delicate but not sparkling. The fragrance opens with a clear rose paired with the warmth of ylang ylang, a truly classic combination. The rose transitions nicely into a watery pear. (Pear and rose might sound a bit unusual, but I find the combination to be quite pleasing. If you're a fan of those two notes, try Escada Especially Escada (reviewed here) which is a more full bodied rendition). The pear is short lived and gives way to the Tocca Graciella's creamy center, which is my favorite part of the scent. A soft, non-pungent, non-spicy lily perfumes and adds a touch of sophistication. I don't sense much iris; at best it's a touch of freshness. Apricot becomes the predominant fruit note. The base of Tocca Graciella is rounded out by a light musk. There might be a pinch of benzoin, but it's barely evident. As time passes, the apricot grows sweeter and more syrupy on me, much like apricot preserves. The lily trails a bit toward the end as well. Overall, I agree with the notes described in the paper sleeve above, however the sequencing was a bit different for me.

            Tocca Graciella Eau de Parfum is a graceful and easy-going floral musk. The water notes and choice of fruits add a touch of intrigue to otherwise classic floral notes. I'm particularly fond of the apricot note. As is typical of Tocca perfumes, Graciella's character differs from mainstream scents without venturing too far off the beaten path. As for its muse, Tocca Graciella seems more like an anecdote about Grace Kelly's youth, as opposed to a the full bodied elegant fragrance that might adorn a royal princess. However, the light and pretty character of Tocca Graciella make it wearable for even for those that are perfume shy. Thanks for reading! Have you tried Tocca Graciella? What are your favorite Tocca scents? What Grace Kelly films have you seen?

Love, Dovey.

P.S. Creed Fleurissimo is the actual fragrance associated with Grace Kelly, as I learned from The Non-Blonde. The tuberose, rose, iris, violet, and amber scent was commissioned by Prince Rainier III for their wedding day!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

NARS South Pacific eyeshadow duo review + swatches

          The 1949 Broadway musical South Pacific and its subsequent 1958 movie adaptation tell the quintessential story of love in paradise inextricably intertwined with the darkness of prejudice and war. South Pacific, the movie, was shot on location primarily at beautiful Hanalei Bay on the Hawaiian island of Kawa'i. The storyline follows two romances against the backdrop of the Pacific Theater of World War II: Nellie, an American nurse from Arkansas falls in love with Emile, an expatriate French plantation owner, and Joe Cable, a U.S. lieutenant falls in love with Liat, a Polynesian woman. Both Joe and Nellie, however, struggle with their prejudices; Nellie is uncomfortable with Emile's mixed race children, and Joe feels that he cannot marry outside of his race. Both the stage musical and the book it was based upon (Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener) are Pulitzer Prize winners.

         Like Nellie who fell for Emile's chivalrous charms, I've fallen for the beautiful blues in the NARS South Pacific eyeshadow duo. The South Pacific LP cover shown here is from my brother's vinyl collection. You can see how the colors in NARS South Pacific draw from the colors of the island horizon. These beautiful blues may reflect a more personal inspiration of Francois Nars; after all, he purchased the French Polynesian Island Motu Tané as a personal retreat, after the sale of NARS to Shiseido in 2000.

           NARS South Pacific eyeshadow duo contains light shimmery turquoise blue and pale shimmery heather blue - colors clearly drawn from the tropical ocean and sky. I've made comparison swatches to a few blues in my collection. MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Cream in #25 is a bright sky blue; notice that the 'left' side color of South Pacific has more green tones in comparison. Urban Decay Deep End (reviewed here) is darker and has more teal green tones than South Pacific. MAC Parisian Skies  (reviewed here) is significantly darker than the heather blue in South Pacific. MAC Moon's Reflection is probably the most similar color I've seen; I believe it's a bit darker.

             The delicate renditions of water and sky in NARS South Pacific eyeshadow duo are truly delightful, especially in context of their natural and musical inspirations. I like to think of this duo as a small slice of the South Pacific, which is a nice warm thought in the midst of winter. Thanks for reading! Have you tried NARS South Pacific? What are your favorite NARS duos? What are your favorite light blue eyeshadow colors?

Love, Dovey.

P.S. See NARS South Pacific in a Monet inspired makeup palette (shown here).

J.R. Watkins Apricot and Pequi Oil Body Butter review

           I'm a big fan of affordable natural skincare products, especially when they come in beautiful packaging. J.R Watkins is one such brand that I've enjoyed over the years. Every time I pass by their display at Target, I get the urge to scoop up a bevy of their colorful bottles! Recently I had a chance to try J.R. Watkins Apricot and Pequi Oil Body Butter - a new addition to their line of moisturizers. It's full of shea and cocoa butter, along with nourishing apricot and pequi oils. (In case you're wondering, pequi is a fruit common in the Amazon; it's green and about the size of an orange).

        J.R. Watkins Apricot and Pequi Oil Body Butter has become my go-to post-shower moisturizer. The Apricot and Pequi Oil Body butter has a thick creamy texture; I'm guessing the semisolid feel may be due to an abundance of shea butter (the second most common ingredient) and other natural oils that are solid at room temperature. Warming it on the skin helps soften the butter for a smoother feel. It sinks in well for a velvety, non greasy, moisturizing finish. This differs from their hand salve formula, which I find to have a more oily texture. There is a light apricot fragrance that I really like as well.

         Overall, I give J.R. Watkins Apricot and Pequi Oil Body Butter ($9.99 for 6oz.) two thumbs up. It's heavy enough for winter, yet sinks in quickly. I'm hard pressed to say what I like most about it: the colorful apothecary inspired packaging, the natural ingredient list, or the pretty apricot fragrance... It's a winner, to be sure. Thanks for reading! What are your favorite J.R. Watkins products? Do you have any recommendations from the line?

Love, Dovey.
Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent to Cute and Mundane for consideration by PR. The ideas and opinions in this post are genuine and my own.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Five : New Year's Resolutions and Reflections 2013 edition

          Two thousand twelve was a whirlwind year here at Cute and Mundane. Wind filled the wings of my fledgeling blog, taking me on new adventures that I could have scarcely imagined just a year ago. A last minute submission to a casting call led to a place in the first ever Allure Beauty Blogger Awards. I came out from behind my camera for the first time, made my first video, and experienced the intensity of competitive blogging. I was beyond fortunate to have been chosen as one of the winners; I flew to New York, took part in a 'real' magazine photo shoot, and ended up on the pages of Allure's October 2012 Best of Beauty Issue (see here). It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, made possible by family, friends, and most importantly, you, the readers. I'm so grateful for the support you've given me since the very beginning; none of this would have been possible without you.

          The past year was exhilarating, but also exhausting. I was determined to make the most of the opportunity offered to me and blogged almost daily for months. I worked round-the-clock; if I wasn't at my day job, I was busy blogging. I didn't have time for anything else; in a way, I had been pulled under a tide of my own making. I also faced my fair share of hostility and unkind words; let it suffice to say that there was some paradise lost. Despite all this, I still feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to experience so much so fast; even the growing pains were invaluable learning experiences.

           As I face the new year, I feel it's become more important than ever to examine my priorities and find a sense of renewal. Last year I put the pedal to the metal and really churned out material for the blog, at the expense of almost everything else. Now that I'm near my third year, I realize that now is the time to slow down, enjoy the scenery, and nurture ideas. My personal life will also be taking a new turn soon, so I have to prepare for that as well. I'm giving myself a chance to reclaim my original ideas and sentiments, and regain my creativity and positivity. There is a niche for me in the blogosphere, and this year I hope to build upon it using these five New Year's resolutions:

1. Stay Inspired
My favorite posts result from explorations in color and how I experience the world. I love weaving stories about art, nature, life, and travels into my posts. I hope to devote more time to my Inspired by Art (and Nature) series, as well as other related endeavors.

2. Follow my nose
I began a very fragrant journey this year. A self-imposed perfume buy ban (see here) led to a rewarding and successful exploration of a passion. Even though fragrances are not the most popular reads on this blog, I have received a lot of encouraging and thoughtful feedback from readers. Connecting with other fragrance lovers has brought much joy to my experience. I'm looking forward to continuing these explorations next year!

3. Make more time for myself
I'd love to focus more on family, friends, and other important things in life. It's important for my mental and physical health, and I believe it will feed back positively on my blogging as well.

4. Review old favorites
There are so many old, but well-loved products in my personal makeup collection that have yet to be reviewed. I hope to devote more time to featuring my favorite brands, including NARS, Bobbi Brown, and others.

5. Experiment with new ideas
In my first ever post on Cute and Mundane (see here), I wrote that I hoped for this blog to be an experimental and creative outlet. This is very much at the core of my blogging philosophy today. I still hope to contribute new ideas to  the beauty community, whether it be through writing, photography, or something else entirely.

           And so, in this New Year, I don my proverbial lab coat, and will get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. Thank you so much for reading; it has truly been an honor to share my experiences with you. It is you, the readers, that give me courage to continue on this journey.

Love, Dovey.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Inspired by Claude Monet (Houses of Parliament)

          Happy New Year! As per tradition, I'm celebrating the New Year with an Inspired by Art post! Last year, I featured a bold red lip inspired by Piet Mondrian. For January 1st, 2013, I'm sharing a makeup palette inspired by the soft blended tones of Claude Monet's Houses of Parliament (1900-1901) from the Art Institute of Chicago. Houses of Parliament is one in a series of paintings of the Palace of Westminster. All pieces in the series were painted on the same size canvas and from the same viewpoint in St. Thomas' Hospital overlooking the Thames, between 1900 and 1905. Westminster palace was designed in the Perpendicular Gothic style with intricate vertically oriented structural detailing (pictured below). Monet, however, was more interested in the interplay between light and fog; he painted the palace at different times of day and during different weather conditions. The resultant paintings showcased the impressionist ethos, blending reality, memory, and imagination together into unified focus.

Palace of Westminster (photo credit: Mom)
           Monet's Houses of Parliament captures the evanescence of sunlight filtering and reflecting through the fog across the Thames. The colors center around beautiful periwinkle, greyed lavender, and sky blue. For my Monet inspired look, I've chosen a myriad of sky tones to decorate the eyes. NARS 413 BLKR single (reviewed here) is an overcast grey purple, while Illamasqua Sex is the pure white of cumulus clouds. NARS South Beach duo is a beautiful blue duo that channels the azure of clear summer skies.The periwinkle blue of Parliament is arguably the most stunning color in the painting; I don't own a color quite like it, however I've found that blending the blue of NARS Outremer (reviewed here) with the lilac purple of Illamasqua CanCan creates a similar effect! Soft touches of brown, like Bobbi Brown Black Chocolate (reviewed here), can add an undertone of shadowed nimbus to the look.

Hints of pink in the sky truly capture the ephemeral spirit of weather. For my Monet inspired look, I've chosen to layer two cheery 'sky' pink blushes: NARS Deep Throat (a peach pink) and Illamasqua Nymph (a pure pink). Pale pink eyeshadow, like MAC Yogurt, can be incorporated into an eye look as well, as a base color. I'm always a fan of pairing pale pinks and blues; Aquamarine earrings are a nice extra touch to my Monet-inspired color palette.
          Claude Monet's Houses of Parliament captures a beautiful moment in time and imagination. I'm looking forward to incorporating unique blends of blue and lavender, alongside hints of pink, into my routine. I chose this painting because the soft focus and beautiful colors reminded me of the hopes and aspirations of the New Year. Hopefully 2013 will be full of good things, adventure, and many more Inspired by Art posts! Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Love, Dovey.