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?

Couture Monday: Armani Madreperla

I was a bit nervous about getting my hands on this, as apparently only 3,000 were produced, but I made it mine.  (I am now skeptical that this is in such limited supply as it was fairly easy to get and is also not numbered). As part of the holiday 2011 collection Armani introduced the Madreperla (mother-of-pearl) Face and Eye Palette.  Inspired by Armani's spring 2012 ready-to-wear show, this palette features a handmade, genuine mother-of-pearl outer case with the Armani logo centered in silver.



You can really see the prism-like iridescence towards the bottom from this angle:


With flash, so you can see the different ways the light reflects off the pearly surface:



Here's the interior:



With flash:


According to Women's Wear Daily, Armani stated about the show,  “The taking all the colors from the pearl. Everything is a play on light; the shiny effect comes and goes.”  Indeed, the palette for the clothes included whites and ivories, pale blue and lavender, and charcoal, all infused with an ethereal sheen evoking a "madreperla" surface.


Runway 2

(images from

While the use of mother-of-pearl as a vehicle for playing with light and reflections in a fashion and makeup context is pretty genious, I must say that it has been done before in interior design.  Iconic designer Verner Panton had the extremely clever idea way back in the 60s to use mother-of-pearl discs as surroundings for a lamp.  Here are the "Fun 1DM " series lights in our kitchen:

Photo 1

Photo 3

Photo 3

A little history behind his use of mother-of-pearl:  "The raw material chosen was something as unusual as large sea shells, coated on the inside with motherof-pearl and which were available by the million in the Tropics. If these shells could be sold in Europe, it would give the economies of various developing countries a cash injection and perhaps form the foundation for a unique product. This is how the mother-of-pearl Fun series was born – and later the series was also produced in metal.  A feature of both was the stunning interplay of light and sound produced by the lamps when just a slight breeze was blowing." It's true - a soft twinkly sound comes from the lights whenever there's a draft from our very old windows.  (Side note:  if you like the looks of these lights but don't want to shell out the money for them [pun fully intended] West Elm makes some good knockoffs.)

Anyway, getting back to the palette, it's also fitting that mother-of-pearl was utilized to house a product that illuminates one's features and highlight the areas where light hits most (cheekbones, browbones, etc.)  Overall I think this was spot-on - it's a perfect extension of the spring 2012 fashion collection and it's elegant and unique to boot, as I don't think mother-of-pearl has ever been used on a contemporary palette.  Armani's fascination with light effects doesn't end here, however:  his entire spring 2012 makeup collection is devoted to light play and aptly named "Luce". 

Couture Monday: Armani Jacquard print palettes

I thought this was an odd choice for Armani, as I'm not sure if the brand is really known for using jacquard in their fashion.  It certainly doesn't seem quite as iconic as, say, Chanel's use of tweed.  However, I was pleased to see these palettes for their fall 2011 collection since their last few offerings have been a total snoozefest (I'm looking at you, ugly holiday 2010 compact).

I got one of the eye palettes (#2).




With flash:



Here's the description from Neiman Marcus:  "Jacquard - intricately woven color.  Light, transparency, density and color, woven together create the luxuriously sophisticated jacquard look for Fall 2011.  The famous jacquard fabrics, made primarily of silk, were constructed in a variety of complex weaves juxtaposing light, color and texture in a highly sophisticated design.  From textiles to cosmetics... Never before was Armani fabric artistry so close to makeup."  That's all well and good, but why now?  I set out to discover whether jacquard was featured prominently in Armani's fall 2011 fashion collection.  As far as I can tell, it was not (although it is  in Armani's ties.)  But I did find that he constructed a metallic jacquard shorts suit for Gwyneth Paltrow for the Iron Man 2 premiere last year:

(image from

If you squint really closely at the computer screen, you can almost make out the jacquard pattern:

Paltrow suit close up
(image from

So  yes, it does seem that jacquard would be somewhat relevant to this makeup collection.  Also, I think fall is the best time of year to present a fabric-inspired pattern.  For summer you're looking for more lightweight fabrics that don't really have much of a texture (hmm, I do concede it would be cool if someone came out with a linen-patterned palette).  For fall, you want to break out the tweed, corduroy, cable knits, etc. - anything with a heavier knit and texture.  So jacquard may be fitting, shorts suit or not. 

What's next for Armani?  While last year's holiday palette was disappointing, this year's promises to be much better.  You will most certainly see it in the ever-glitzy holiday exhibition here at the Museum.  :)

Friday fun: makeup goes to the movies

The Oscars are this Sunday so I thought I'd do a round-up of makeup movie tie-ins.  In recent years cosmetics companies have come up with special collections in conjunction with a new movie.  I've already discussed the Alice in Wonderland products, but here are some more.

Last year saw the introduction of an entire line devoted to the Twilight movies.  Sold at Nordstrom, the collection has everything from lip gloss to body glow, with names like Just Bitten and Mortal Glow.

(image from 

Perhaps no one has had more movie-related promotional products than Stila.  In 2001 they released a palette for Legally Blonde (with Reese Witherspoon - one of my favorite comedies!) and two more in 2003 for the sequel.  I'm unable to find pictures of the outer packaging but if I recall correctly  each palette has an adorable blonde Stila girl, just like the lovely Elle Woods.  In 2004 they released a set for Vanity Fair (also with Reese Witherspoon) and in 2006 2 palettes for Just my Luck 2006.

Jml ebay
(image from

Vanity fair amazon
(image from

Finally, while it's not related to a particular film, the 2007 Armani Movie Lights compact evokes vintage Hollywood glamour with its vanity table-like lights:

Movie lights
While I do think it's a little gimmicky for a cosmetics company to release limited-edition products in conjunction with popular, possibly over-hyped movies, I do like to see what they come up with especially if there's cute packaging involved.

Happy Oscar watching!

Crystal smackdown 2009

Boxing poster
Yesterday's post reminded me that last year (a year ago today, actually!)
I pitted Dior's and Armani's holiday palettes against each other since both prominently featured crystals to see who did a better design with them. This year both companies offered up more crystal-laden goodies, so it's time for another crystal smackdown! 


The competition is much stiffer than last year.  In the right corner we have Dior's Crystal Boreale pendant. In 2008 Dior's crystals weren't even real Swarovski, but this year the company clearly upped the ante by placing no less than 52 Swarovski crystals on the pendant, 4 of which are the "aurora boreale" iridescent crystals Swarovski created in 1955 exclusively for Dior.  

Crystal boreale

In the other corner we have Armani's "Black Lace" palette which features the usual clear Swarovski crystals but also black crystals, all arranged in a lovely circular pattern.  The pattern is echoed in the highlighter contained within.  Armani's has several weaknesses, however:  the crystals are off-center and there is no interesting story behind the design.  

Black lace top

Black lace first tier

So who do you think did crystals better?  Will Armani's elaborate (if ill-placed) pattern beat Dior's seemingly haphazard crystal cluster?  Or will Dior's prismatic gems, complete with historic backstory, trounce Armani's misguided "Black Lace" design?  Determine the winner by posting in the comments section!

Couture Monday: Another crystal palette from Armani

Armani loves to break out the Swarovski crystals this time of year (see last year's holiday palette) but like the 2008 palette this doesn't seem to have much to do with Armani fashion.  There isn't any sort of attempt to connect it to Armani's work in the product description:  "Shimmering and glittering palette adorned with fine crystals. Inside, an embroidered silky powder highlights the face and the décolleté. Featuring festive eye shadow shades."  Well, that's great but I'm a little disappointed there wasn't any link to the fashion.  In any case, here are some pics:

 Black lace top


Black lace first tier

Second tier:

Black lace second tier

I just couldn't resist getting a lipstick as well as the palette!

Black lace 95

This is truly a beautiful design, however, I'm disappointed not only by a lack of connection to Armani fashion but also by the sloppiness of the crystal placement.  If you look at both the palette and lipstick case, the crystals aren't aligned properly - they're completely off-center.  I didn't bother to demand a replacement since I figured they're probably all like this, but as a collector you want your items to be in pristine condition.  Oh well.  

Couture Monday: Armani Manta Ray eye shadows

Armani manta ray Even though it's still warm, fall is in full swing in the makeup world.  And that means tons of animal prints - not just in fashion but on compacts, like the "manta ray" pattern Armani's fall 2009 eye shadows.   "Inspired by the precious and luxurious materials used in Giorgio Armani fashion accessories, the palettes offer a beautiful selection of color harmonies inspired by nature.  The collection features subtle hues that offer a new take on the timeless color 'Greige,' created by Giorgio Armani."

Meh.  I'm just not sure how the pattern is much different from Armani's previously released fall offerings - it looks pretty similar to the python or croc palettes from years past.  I understand that it's Armani and the company wants to express how the designer is inspired by "precious and luxurious materials" in their accessories, but 1. this is a bit repetitive, and 2. I don't think Armani has used an actual manta ray in their accessories.  Thus, I don't think these are a must-have for the Museum.  Let's hope Armani comes out with an interesting holiday collection (and preferably one that uses something other than crystals!)

Couture Monday: Armani Sienna Minerals bronzing palette

A324_L I was a little disappointed in this palette, especially after seeing the spring offering, but I do appreciate the different colors and texture of it.  While most makeup brands are pushing a beached-based bronze look (and Armani does do this somewhat with its Mediterranean palette), I feel this bronzer represents a departure from the usual advertising.  The texture and reddish-brown tint evokes a dry, desert landscape instead of a beach - something you'd wear out West to the canyons of New Mexico, rather than, say, the islands of the Caribbean.   While I'm guessing the overall effect of the product is essentially the same as other bronzers, I like that Armani offered a different approach and representation for a summer staple (a staple for us pale people, anyway!) 

Couture Monday: Armani's spring palette

A315_L The creators behind the big couture houses' spring palettes seem to be suffering from the winter blahs.  Armani's Pink Light palette for the spring 2009 collection is nothing more than Armani's signature slapped on top of a plain black compact.  While all of the colors in the collection are great for spring (lots of luminescent, fresh pinks living up to the Pink Light title) the packaging for the palette could have been a bit more creative.  I guess they wanted something very simple to go with the basic colors in the palette.  "This limited-edition palette is embossed with Mr. Armani's signature, a distinct design for a classic spring palette."  I don't know about distinct, but I guess the colors could be described as classic for spring.  In any case, I'm excited about the upcoming Bronze Mania collection, which features a very interesting, desert-like patterned palette. 

Couture Monday: Crystal smackdown

Time for a good old-fashioned palette smackdown!  Two makeup companies are duking it out to see who can come up with the best use of crystals on their holiday offerings. 


In the right corner we have Armani's crystal palette, featuring a single vertical line of Swarovski crystals:

Armani crystal 08

And the interior of the palette:

Crystal 08 open

In the other corner we have Dior's Night Diamond powder, which has much bigger crystals, but that cannot boast the Swarovski name:
Night diamond

So who do you think did crystals better?  Will Armani's simple, understated design beat out the flashier use of faux gems by Dior?  Or will Dior's more geometric pattern, ingeniously borrowed from a pair of the company's sunglasses, crush his competitor?   You can determine the winner - cast your vote in the comments section!