Cock a doodle doo!

Consider this part 1 of a 2-part celebration of the Chinese New Year.  Later this week I'll be discussing some really cool vintage Chinese New Year-related finds, but today I'm looking at some contemporary rooster-themed items since 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. 

We'll start with Armani's lovely palette.  The design is similar to last year's, with a striking red outer case and a subtle engraving of the animal on the powder inside.  The characters on the 2017 case, however, apparently mean happiness and luck, whereas last year the character was "fu", which symbolizes fortune or good luck.  Alas, since I'm not familiar with a single Chinese character I can't say for sure what these are and have to rely on other blogs and press releases.

Armani Chinese New Year palette 2017

At first I was a little disappointed that the rooster was rendered in the exact same style as last year's monkey.  But then it occurred to me that if Armani continues releasing these palettes and maintains the same style of illustration, they will look utterly fabulous displayed together.  ;)

Armani Chinese New Year palette 2017

The rooster is the 10th sign of the Chinese zodiac.  Roosters are known to be "honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, and confident."  They also tend to be incredibly punctual, since for centuries roosters served as alarm clocks.  And this is interesting:  I didn't know this previously, but all the Chinese zodiac signs also correspond to the Chinese elements of fire, wood, earth, metal and water.  While the zodiac animal sign changes each year, the elements change only every 12 years, so each animal/element combination will only be repeated every 60 years.  Currently we're in a fire cycle, so this year it's a fire rooster. 

Armani Chinese New Year palette 2017

Next up is a handful of items from Etude House.  I was browsing their site to order some of their holiday collection, which I found out about quite late in the season, and spotted their adorable Chinese New Year lineup.  Completely different feel from Armani, but super cute and worthy of the Museum.

Etude House Chinese New Year 2017

Other beauty brands were eager to jump on the Chinese New Year bandwagon this year, so in case Armani and Etude House didn't do it for you, here are some more goodies.

Chinese New Year 2017 beauty products

  1. Givenchy Prisme Libre Loose Powder
  2. A'Pieu Full of Color Eyes palette
  3. LUSH Little Dragon bubble bar (this actually isn't new, but I'm so glad it's still around!)
  4. Guerlain Rouge G lipstick
  5. YSL Chinese New Year Blush Palette
  6. Laneige Water Bank set
  7. MAC Eyeshadow x 9

So that's the start of the Museum's 2017 Chinese New Year celebration!  Stay tuned for another (rather mysterious, I might add) Chinese zodiac festivity later this week.  ;)






Ghosts of Christmas makeup past: Armani Black Gem palette

Happy December!  It's that time of year where not only do I share current holiday goodies but also highlight some that came before.  I was digging through the Museum's archives and couldn't believe I hadn't posted about this beautiful palette Armani released for their 2007 holiday collection.

Armani Black Gem palette

A smooth, sleek black case is adorned with a delicate flower pattern offset by black crystals.  I found the design to be rather elegant and understated, similar to the lovely 2008 crystal palette.  (Why they went the the more blingy, "look at me" route in 2009 I'll never know, but I still think that collection's gorgeous too because, well, I love sparkly anything for the holidays.)

Armani Black Gem palette

The first tier contains 4 shadows for building a smoky eye.

Armani Black Gem palette

The second tier consists of face powder imprinted with the same floral pattern as the case.  *swoon*

Armani Black Gem palette

Armani Black Gem palette

Armani Black Gem palette

I touched briefly on the fall 2007 couture collection in my coverage of Armani's fall 2007 palette, but I wanted to expand on it here since I suspect the Black Gem palette was based on the fall 2007 couture collection.  Black crystals showed up everywhere.

Armani couture fall 2007

Armani couture fall 2007

Armani fall 2007 couture

The models were covered literally from head...

Armani fall 2007 couture toe.

Armani couture fall 2007(images from

However, I must include this photo from the fall 2007 ready-to-wear collection.  I wasn't able to zoom in, but I swear the floral pattern is the same as the one on the Black Gem palette, and it looks especially similar because of the black-on-black detailing.  So maybe they combined elements from the ready-to-wear and couture collections in one palette?  I don't know.

Armani fall 2007 ready-to-wear
(image from

I do know that the Black Gem palette is gorgeous and I wish Armani would return to these sorts of designs.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that the more recent runway palettes are literal representations of the pieces from the fashion shows, but I appreciate crystals and embossed powders even more.  ;)  I mean, when I compare, say, the fall 2016 palette to Black Gem, both are Museum-worthy but the latter definitely has a more eye-catching design.

What do you think?  And do you remember the Black Gem palette at all?




One of a kind? Armani fall 2016 runway palette

The past two runway-based palettes from Armani did nothing for me, but their fall 2016 one called my name.  It's especially odd given that I'm generally not a fan of floral prints, and I'd never wear any of what came down the Armani runway this season.  I also think the print itself reads very spring rather than fall, given the delicate, watercolor-esque pastel hues.  However, this palette seemed to be a little more tied into the clothing than in the past 2 seasons.  The other unusual aspect is that the pattern seems to differ on each palette.  Let's take a closer look.

As with previous runway palettes, it comes with a luxurious tulle pouch, and the outer case is decked out in fabric too.  While gorgeous, I don't think it would hold up well in one's makeup bag.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

The top tier is a highlighting powder.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Underneath are the eye shadows.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

The pattern came straight from the floral print on the runway pieces. 

Armani fall 2016

Armani fall 2016 bags

Armani fall 2016 bags

The pattern on my palette can be seen on the left lapel and right sleeve of this jacket.

Armani fall 2016 jacket(images from

And because I'm obsessed with finding the exact pattern, I cropped and rotated the lapel so you can see precisely where it is.

Armani fall 2016 palette and pattern

As you can see from the stock photo below, the pattern on the palette I received is markedly different.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette(image from

And I noticed the palette that Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog reviewed also has a different pattern.  I wonder if there are just 3 versions or if every single one has a unique swath of fabric.  In any case, these variations are what compelled me to buy it.  Not only was the print the same on each palette from the last two seasons, I couldn't really even match it exactly to the prints from the runway.  They looked like watered down interpretations of the designs, not actual reproductions.  Fortunately (and unfortunately for my wallet, as this was a pricey one) Armani's fall 2016 offering was way more interesting from a collectible standpoint.  :)

What do you think?  Have you seen these palettes in person or do you plan on purchasing?  I'm so curious to know if they're all different!


Couture Monday: Monkeying around with Armani

Happy Chinese New Year!  This Armani palette will help you celebrate in shimmery style. YSL and MAC both occasionally release items in honor of the holiday (and both are this year), so I guess Armani is following suit.  

The red lacquer case depicts the Chinese symbols for fortune and luck.

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Inside, the powder is inscribed with a silhouette of a monkey.  I thought this was well-done.  While more detail might have been interesting, keeping the design limited to a simple outline is probably the best way to go so that it doesn't veer into cartoon territory.

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Those born in a year of the monkey are said to be curious, sociable, mischievous and clever.  In fact, China may see a significant increase in births this year since the traits associated with this sign are so desirable.

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Armani Chinese New Year palette

I guess Couture Monday is a misnomer in this case, as I couldn't find any relationship to Armani's fashion - no special Year of the Monkey capsule collection or anything like that.  So in lieu of fashion, today I will bring you some of my favorite monkeys in art.  There's even a whole Tumblr devoted to the topic!  Some Chinese and Japanese examples.

Yi Yuanji, Monkeys and Cats, 11th century(image from

Gibbons at Play, 1427
(image from

Monkeys on a Limb by Mori Sosen, 18th century

Gibbon Reaching for the Moon's Reflection, Ohara Koson, 1926
(images from

And here are some monkeys in Western art:

A Monkey Smoking and Drinking with an Owl by Ferdinand Van Kessel, 17th century
(image from

Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, 1884

Tropical Forest with Monkeys by Henri Rousseau, 1910(image from

The Monkey by Franz Marc, 1912
(image from

Self Portrait with Monkeys by Frida Kahlo, 1943(image from

Some other monkey business includes these home goods, a collection of lovely cards by Japanese designers, this exhibition at the Met, and you simply must check out these monkey orchids.

What do you think of the Armani palette?  And do you like monkeys either in general or as a decorative motif?

Couture Monday: Armani Orient Excess palette

While not as spectacular as some of Armani's previous holiday offerings, I was pleased enough with the Orient Excess palette to buy it.  The palette comes with a sapphire blue velvet pouch.

Armani Orient Excess pouch

Unlike the palettes from 2009 and 2008, there is no bling on the outer side of the case, but the deep blue is quite striking on its own.

Armani Orient Excess palette and pouch

Inside, Armani went for a simple cascade of thin vertical lines of varying lengths streaming from the top of the palette, some punctuated with stars.  It's an abstract design but still is reminiscent of holiday/winter motifs, like baubles dangling from a Christmas tree or perhaps icicles.  Like the T.LeClerc Paris in Winter palette, the beauty of the design lies in its subtlety - no harsh colors or glitter, or even prominent shimmer.

Armani Orient Excess palette

Armani Orient Excess palette

The eye shadow tier:

Armani Orient Excess palette eye shadows

Naturally I had to see whether there was any direct connection to Armani's recent fashion shows.  The fall ready-to-wear show was the inspiration for the Organica palette so it's not from that.  I checked the fall couture show and nope, there was nothing there either that would suggest any relation to the palette.  So I went to the press release about the holiday collection and found this description:  "To celebrate the end of the year, the Orient Excess collection invites you on an exotic journey to the snowy steppes of the Far North. These immaculate plains, covered in frost and stretching as far as the eye can see, inspired by Giorgio Armani Beauty to create a polar atmosphere through pure and intense make-up."  That certainly paints a picture and the highlighter does bring to mind some sort of frozen tundra-filled landscape, but there's still no explicit reference to Armani clothing. 

Then I came across an article announcing Armani's Luxury White capsule collection.  For a capsule it's rather large, running the gamut from jackets and sweaters to shoes and bags.  However, the color scheme is restrained, consisting only of variations of white and ivory.  The variety of textures keeps the pieces interesting though, as alpaca, rabbit fur, silk, and three types of cashmere were used.

As you can see from the sketches the collection's title is apt.  The fur-collared trench coat and the bathrobe (ooh, is it cashmere?) look particularly sumptuous to me.

Armani Luxury White capsule sketches

Armani Luxury White capsule sketches

While there are only sketches of the clothing online, stock photos of some of the accessories were released, like this rabbit fur trimmed bag.

Armani Luxury White capsule bag
(images from

So while I have no quote from Armani about the link between this collection and the Orient Excess lineup, I'm pretty sure Luxury White was the inspiration, especially when you consider the model in the Orient Excess ad, who is swathed in white fur.  There's also a line from the aforementioned press release that calls to mind the extravagant textures used in the Luxury White collection:  "Featuring a porcelain, universally translucent face powder for that essential, winter glow and a trio of eyeshadows, inspired by the softest mink, chinchilla and sable furs, to bring a touch of animal warmth to translucent skin."

Armani holiday 2014 promo
(image from

What do you think of the Orient Excess palette?  Think my theory about it being loosely based on the Luxury White collection holds any water?

Couture Monday: Armani Fall 2014

I was initially tempted to get this palette for the Museum, but soon decided against it.  In terms of color, Armani's Organica eye shadow palette is the embodiment of the "Fade to Grey" fall 2014 fashion collection.

(image from

The color scheme was grey with touches of green, with subdued makeup (save for the strong brows).


(images from

Linda Cantello, International Makeup Artist for Armani, notes that "[Armani] didn't want a very strong makeup statement for this show...he wanted the brows to be very strong but not overtaking the complete look.  So basically, it's like a makeup that's faded."  She adds, "I believe the best and the most flattering makeup is makeup that you cannot see.  It’s more striking when it has that slight ‘lived-in’ look. Eyes with muted colour, an Armani look with stronger eyebrows, grey eyes and a soft mouth. It is all easy to apply and anyone can wear it.”  I thought this look worked very well with the clothes that came down the runway.  It's not easy to figure out a cohesive beauty look that goes with grey and green.



(images from

While I was pleased to see that the palette's colors were an excellent complement to the fashion show, the pattern stopped me from buying it.  What is it supposed to be?  Perhaps some variation of a leopard or crocodile print, but neither of those made an appearance in the clothing.  To my eye, the shapes look a little like keyhole limpet shells.

(image from

Indeed, Jane at British Beauty Blogger called the design a "kind of ombred barnicle".  There is something biological or sea creature-like about it, which would be somewhat appropriate given that the palette is named Organica.  But without any direct reference to the fall show nor a clearly depicted leopard or other animal pattern, I had to skip purchasing it.  From a collecting standpoint it didn't meet my criteria.  However, the colors are gorgeous and I could definitely see myself using it if I wore lots of muted greys and beiges (you learned last week I'm not a huge fan of neutrals). 

What do you think of this palette overall and what do you think the pattern is supposed to be?

Couture Monday: Armani Belladonna Highlighting Powder

Well, this was a close one!  I almost didn't get my hands on this palette as I was waiting for a good gift-with-purchase event.  Little did I know not all the usual online retailers of Armani would be selling it, and counters only received a few.  Anyway, after much searching I managed to snag this palette, and reminded myself that if something is a "must-have" for the Museum, it's best not to wait to buy.

The Belladonna Highlighter is embossed with its namesake flower in a lovely champagne color with a high-shine, nearly metallic finish. 





Instead of tying the palette to their spring 2014 fashion collections, Armani went in reverse, looking instead to their fall 2013 Privé show.  The "Nudo" collection provided a fresh take on neutral tones in which the designer opted to play with texture and pattern rather than color.  In looking at the styles that came down the runway, you can definitely see how the palette relates to the overall feel of the collection.  On the more literal side, flowers were an integral part:


But the airy lightness of several of the gowns, coupled with the gleam of subtle metallic touches, is much more reminiscent of the palette than the flowers.  The models almost seem to float down the runway in wispy fabrics and flowing silhouettes, offset by glints of iridescent gold and champagne.



The texture of this jacket in particular reminded me of the fabric-like background of the palette.


Here's a close-up so you can really see the lines:

(images from

Armani makeup artist Linda Cantello used a prototype of the Belladonna palette on the models' eyes, which tied the ethereal look together perfectly while also lending a touch of '20s glamour.

(image from

While I'm still a little confused as to why Armani would release a product that was tied to a fall collection for the spring, I do think in this case it works.  The fall 2013 couture show read much more spring in terms of color, shape and textures; there was none of the heaviness that designers tend to bring out for fall collections.  With all the elegant details incorporated in both the styles at the Privé show and in the Belladonna palette, Armani demonstrates that nude doesn't mean boring.  I also love the choice of the belladonna flower.  While I don't know the reasoning behind Armani's selection of this particular bloom, it's always refreshing to see flowers other than roses on palettes.

What do you think of this palette?  And of the fall 2013 couture collection? 

Couture Monday: Armani Eccentrico

This is an unusually vibrant offering from Armani for the holiday 2013 season.  The Eccentrico collection was created in conjunction with the fashion exhibition of the same name.  "Eccentrico" was a pop-up exhibition debuting for one night only in Milan, Tokyo, Rome and Hong Kong that displayed some of Armani's more memorable designs spanning from 1985 to the present day.  From the website, in the designer's own words:  "Eccentrico is an installation of exceptional clothes and unique accessories, a journey through the imagination and a study of the capacity for transformation, playing with shapes and materials to explore cultural connections and artistic symbols. It is this aspect – of the unusual – that I wished to highlight, because it represents an exuberant form of creativity that extends the concept of minimalism and rigour linked with my fashion design. And as simplicity of line does not equal simplicity of thought, I have underscored the wealth and freedom of inspiration that form the foundation of my work and that tell a long and unexpected story. My own story, beyond the clichés." 

For the holiday makeup collection, the "Eccentrico" spirit was captured in some strange and unexpected colors that, at least to my eye, read more spring/summer than winter.  However, they are appropriate given the colors of the items in the exhibition.  A bold palette of red, pink and orange was repeated throughout.  Compare the lip glosses and nail polishes to the flower brooches and some of the dresses:


(images from chicprofile)

(image from

(image from

(image from


The colors also drew heavily not just from the pieces in the Eccentrico exhibition but the fall 2012 collection as well.

(image from

(images from

The star of the holiday makeup collection was the highlighting powder, a combination of pastel shades in shapes reminiscent of  jagged mountain peaks.

(image from

The reason I didn't purchase it, however, was that I was looking for an exact match in one of the items from the Eccentrico exhibition.  This skirt was the closest thing I found, but it's still not identical.  While the shapes are sharp and geometric, they're not exactly the same as those found in the palette.

(image from

(image from

I am puzzled as to why the palette had a distinct design yet one that didn't quite match up with any of the pieces in the exhibition - it makes me wonder why they bothered giving the palette that geometric design at all.  Overall, I think Eccentrico definitely lived up to the name given the strange colors; however, there was nothing worth buying collectible-wise.  It would have been nice to see a palette that had a more direct link to the something in the exhibition.

What did you think of the collection and the Eccentrico exhibition?

Couture Monday: Black pearls from Armani

While this summer palette from Armani is essentially the same as their 2011 holiday palette (only with black of mother-of-pearl instead of white), I'm in love with it...and the whole summer collection, for that matter.  I rarely connect to the descriptions that come with collections - I find them to be fairly empty - but the copy for Armani's Les Ecailles really spoke to me and is definitely part of the inspiration for the Museum's summer exhibition (coming soon!).  "This summer, Giorgio Armani Cosmetics reveals a new facet to uncover the mysterious allure of the sea: women’s beauty linked with the depths of the sea, where reds and oranges disappear, giving way to cooler liquid tones."   Linda Cantello, International Makeup Artist for Armani, says, "This collection is inspired by the play of moonlight on the ocean, by myriad shades from inky depths, by white and black pearls. The complexion is pale and luminous, lips are soft and feminine."  I love these two ideas:  the mystery held by the depths of the sea and the patterns light makes when it reflects off the ocean.

Onto the palette, which contains "a harmonious blend of deep sea blue, algae, lagoon turquoise and shimmering crest-of-a-wave white: colours to awaken eyes with a splash of natural radiance."



With flash:





With flash:


As with the holiday 2011 Madreperla palette, this one draws on Armani's spring/summer 2012 fashion collection.   As one review says,  "The theme was aqua—or perhaps more accurately, what happens to aqua when moonlight hits it and causes all sorts of ripples and reflections."  I chose to highlight some of the darker-hued pieces from the collection:


In looking at the spring-summer collection again, I noticed that the colors on the runway are identical to some found in the summer makeup collection.  For example, these blue and aqua dresses are the same shades of the two middle colors in the summer palette. 


And this shimmery blackened teal blouse  is exactly the same as the summer collection's Eyes to Kill eye shadow in Obsidian Black (shown in natural light on top and with flash below):

(runway images from

Again, while a mother-of-pearl palette is more or less a repeat of holiday 2011's star product, I feel Armani took it in a new direction.  When you see the palette with the rest of the colors in the collection and compare them to those on the runway, it does feel more inspired and distinct from the white mother-of-pearl palette we saw a few months ago, rather than merely recycled.

What do you think?