Older Girl Beauty


Pretend French Vacay, Pt. 5: The History of Beauty: Chanel No. 5

photo credit: Beau Wade

Before any vacation ends, you always have to see the defining monument that is famous to that location. In the case of the city of Paris, it’s always the Eiffel Tower. In the case of French Parisian beauty, it is Chanel No.5. And I was lucky enough to be gifted a bottle for Christmas last year.

From the beginning Chanel No. 5 has always been exclusive. It was first released in 1921 as a Christmas gift to Mlle.’s best customers and was limited to only 100 flacons. When these customers started coming back, asking for more, it was officially launched as “Chanel Nº 5” in 1922. Word is that this scent was the No. 5 bottle out of 10 samples presented to her, and that when asked how she would name it, she replied, “I always launch my collection on the 5th day of the 5th month, so the number 5 seems to bring me luck – therefore, I will name it Nº 5”.

Coco was never a big perfume fan. In fact, it’s said that she thought that “women perfume themselves only to hide bad smells”. Things seemed to change after Coco’s lover, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, took her to Cannes and introduced her to perfumer Ernest Beaux and toured his lab. It was here that he presented Coco with his 10 samples, numbered 1-5 and 20-24. He became forever known as the man who created Chanel No. 5.

Coco was also known to have said, “I want to give women an artificial perfume. Yes, I really do mean artificial, like a dress, something that has been made. I don’t want any rose or lily of the valley, I want a perfume that is a composition.” To that end, Chanel Nº 5 became famous for its overdose in synthetic perfumery raw materials, the aldehydes (*don’t worry – I read that, too, and still didn’t understand it either.) in the top note. When the scent was released for public sale, it came in three strengths: Extrait Perfume, Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne. (*The Eau de Cologne was discontinued in the 1990’s and replaced with the Eau de Parfum.) Only the Extrait Perfume contains rose oil and jasmin absolute from the Grasse region, and is sealed by hand. So concerned to keep the scent as true as the original, Chanel has signed exclusivity agreements with the largest flower producer in Grasse, the Mul family, to provide them with the finest jasmine & roses.

Now, you might think that having “the world’s most legendary fragrance” (*in a bottle that was created in 1924 by Jean Helleau, that is itself iconic, and has been on permanent display at the MoMA in NYC since 1959 AND made into a poster by Andy Warhol) would make you richer than sin, right? Not so fast. Turns out that in 1924 Coco signed over the rights to No 5 to Pierre Wertheimer and Theophilus Bader, owners of Galeries Lafayette, with the shares divided that Pierre received 70%, Theophilus got 20% and Coco got the last 10% (*they created Parfums Chanel to distribute, hiring Ernest Beaux to be their chief perfumer). Now, that sounds bad, but remember, this was before she became famous for her LBD in 1925 and she needed their connections, money and distribution capabilities. Of course, this ate at her and she felt taken advantage of, so she decided to go back to Ernest and created “Mademoiselle Chanel Nº 1”, to be sold exclusively in her shops. Well, the French government considered that “Counterfeiting” and prohibited it. However, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Neiman Marcus in Texas, in the US, kept on selling it. After the customers were all puzzled, Pierre ended up raising Coco’s share. They eventually made nice, to the point that when Coco wanted to restart her couture house in 1947, Pierre financially backed her. However, all niceities aside, for the rest of her life she still felt like she had been shafted out of a huge sum of money.

As for the smell, I’m not even going to try to describe it myself, because I have told you guys I am not one to know “notes” or anything like that to be descriptive. I will say that there are legions of fans, including Marilyn Monroe who, when asked what she wore to bed, famously said, “Five drops of Nº 5.” And, I will quote others who have tried to describe it:

According to Luca Turin, author of The Secret of Scent and, with Tania Sanchez, the recently published Perfumes – The Guide: “Those who have been brought up on stunted, suburban fragrances must find it hard to accept the existence of such a regally beautiful thing,” he writes. “The top notes surprise every time: a radiant chorus of ylang and rose floating like gold leaf on the chalk-white background of aldehydes. Curiously, this most modern of perfumes evokes an image of great antiquity, perhaps a Scythian jewel on a white dress. “The drydown fades the way white flowers do, slowly becoming soft and flesh-coloured. And to get an idea of No 5’s quality, smell it on a paper strip after 24 hours. Now try this with whatever else you’re wearing. See?”

New York Times perfume critic, Chandler Burr: “Chanel No 5 hits you like a bank of white-hot searchlights washing the powdered stars at a movie premiere in Cannes on a dry summer night. If you haven’t smelled it in a while, do so again. It’s great to bathe in that light.”

Get it now? It clearly rises above simple description. If you haven’t had a chance to smell this, please take the time to stop by the Chanel counter and take a whiff then come back here and give me YOUR description of this iconic scent. If you have this, what do you think? Do you think the descriptions are accurate? Let me know!

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Pretend French Vacay, Pt. 2: The people that you meet

When you are traveling, one thing you notice are the people. Now, I’ve never been to Paris, or anywhere in France for that matter, so I can’t speak from experience, but, there seems to be a thought (*at least here in America, I think) that French people smell bad. I’m not saying yay or nay on this, however, if most French folks wear Nuxe Tonific Deodorant then, yes, ohlordhavemercy, YES, they stink.

I say this based on my own experience. I was given some Nuxe Tonific Deodorant as part of a Christmas packet of lovely French treats. (*I had specifically requested this, btw, as I was *stillam* looking for a non-itchy/non-annoying deo). Anyway, I decided to try it out soon after – middle of winter, mind you. All was good in the AM’s. No stickiness, no irritation – nothing bad going on. Then, BAM – after lunch – holdmebabyjesus – I stunk. And not in the “hmm, i think i caught the merest hint of an odor” but in a “oh lord, if *I* can smell this, surely everyone around in a 30yd radius can, too” kind of way. This is NOT what I expected from a “24hr Protection” product.

I gave it the benefit of the doubt & tried it a couple of more days, but, it continued to act like a light switch was flipped and just stop working on me, so, clearly my body chemistry wasn’t ideal for this. At least now I know, right? But, that’s not to say that all Nuxe products aren’t that effective. They have *such* a broad range of skin caring products that one product misstep did not turn me off. In fact, I quite like their Micellar Cleansing Water with 3 Roses as a gentle way to clean my face – soothing, without any burning or itching.

One of Nuxe’s other bestsellers is their Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil. It’s a blend of 6 Precious Plant Oils (Borage, St Johnswort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnut, Macadamia) that is able to be used on the face, body AND hair – a real multi-tasking product, which is beneficial as it runs around $45USD for 100ml/3.3oz.

Like any place you visit, you will find people you like to be around and some you try to avoid (*cough*reading maps out loud across the room*cough*), such is the case with the Nuxe brand. Have you ever had chance to try this brand? If you have, I’m curious what you tried and what you liked/didn’t like, so, be sure and let me know.

*Don’t forget to enter to win a tube of Talika Lipocils Expert that I talked about in part 1 of our pretend vacay.

Pretend French Vacay, Pt. 1: Vacation lashes & giveaway souvenir’s, too

With all of the dramarama around here, I am in desperate need of a “Calgon, take me away” vacay, but, there doesn’t seem to be one on the immediate horizon. To make matters worse, I feel like I am being bombarded by things relating to Paris, France. Like, my lovely friend, Melissa from Epic Makeup just took a trip there and my delightful French friend, Marie-Laure from Fournier Communications has been quite..erm…”vocal” on twitter while cheering her country’s team on in the FIFA World Cup. I’ve also been reading a delicious book called “The Sweet Life In Paris” by David Lebovitz”.

So, since it doesn’t look like I’m going to be dusting off my passport any time soon, I can at least have a pretend trip, and bring you guys along, by chatting about some French products that I have so we can at least feel like we’ve been to the City of Lights. Plus, I’ll even give you guys a souvenir at the end, too. Sound good?

Just like with any trip we take, we start out with something familiar before we explore and in this case, we’ll start off with a brand that I have talked about on here before, Talika. I can’t help it – I just think it’s really good. And because I have been impressed with them in the past, I didn’t hesitate when I was given the chance to try their new lash enhancer, Talika Liposils Expert.

I think by now most of you have heard of the possible side-effects of Latisse, the (*what seems like) most widely known lash enhancer out there. Well, some of us want similar results, but without the possible harmful side-effects and without needing a prescription. Enter Talika Liposils Expert, a formula made from “a blend of natural actives to regrow sparse lashes, grow and thicken existing ones, magnify natural color and curl your lashes.” There are even clinical tests (*pdf) that show the changes possible:

  • growth: average length increase of 36%.
  • color intensifying effect: average color intensification of 50% (up to 100% improvement on blond and light brown lashes)
  • average increase in lash curve by 50%

In my case, I used the double applicator pretty much every day, twice a day the entire month of April (*I held this review to coincide closer to the actual release date). I didn’t have any stinging or burning or discoloration. The applicator is double in that it has a spoolie part to apply directly to the lashes and a sponge tip to apply to the lash line itself. Now, the sponge end was kinda stained dark by the end of the month because I *may* not have removed my mascara good enough each day, but none of that transferred to my skin. Now, I have pretty decent lashes anyway, so the real thing that I noticed was the curling effect. It was truly noticeable by the end of the month, to the point that if i was just messing around, I didn’t have to use my lash curler & still have a wide eyed effect.

I told you there would be souvenir’s, right? Well, I would like to give 10 of you (*in the US only) the chance to get your own tube to try and see what results you can get for your own eyelashes. Just enter your name and email addy in the box below one time between now and Thursday, July 8th at MidnightCST & I will announce the winners on Friday, July 9th. And like any vacation, after you try this out, come back and show me your pics of how they look. Everyone likes vacay slideshows, don’t they? 😉

The History of Beauty: Ungaro is NOT Lindsay Lohan

Nowadays, when you hear “Ungaro” you think of the dismally received fashion show fronted by “artistic designer”, Lindsay Lohan. Thankfully, it has not always been that way.

Emanual Ungaro, born in 1933, took to sewing, as his father had done. So much that by the time he was 22 he moved to Paris, & 3 years later he was designing for the House of Cristobal Balenciaga. He stayed there for 3 years before moving on to design for André Courrèges. Only 4 years later, in 1965, he opened his own fashion house – having his first Prêt-à-Porter collection and opening his first stores in 1968.

For the next 30 years, he expanded stores and licensing agreements. Along the way, he created perfumes – Diva (1983), Senso (1987), Ungaro (1991) and Emanuel Ungaro For Men (1991). In 1997, Emanuel Ungaro partnered with Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari to create a new company: Emanuel Ungaro Parfums. This company produced the fragrances Fleur de Diva (1997), Desnuda (2001) and Apparition (2004).

Keeping with the history of creating scents, in 2008, Ungaro teamed with Avon to create two new frangrances: Avon U by Ungaro for Her and Avon U by Ungaro for Him. The sucess of these fragrances led Avon and Ungaro to collaborate again – this time with color cosmetics – “U by Ungaro Color Collection”.

This Limited Edition collection contains 8 pieces, ranging from $10 to $20. It includes 3 lipsticks (*including one in the iconic Fuscia color “Ungaro Pink”), 3 eyeshadows and 2 face shimmer powders.

I’ve had a chance to try some of these, and I gotta say that I like the pink packaging – looks very luxe. The only thing I didn’t care for, was the lipstick case. It looks nice and sleek, but the top to pull out the lipstick is small and the tube itself is slick, making it difficult to open. It has a sheer ribbon on top, and while it may just be there for decoration, it became my go to way to open it. But, once it was open, I liked the texture.

So, when I tell you this is Limited Edition, I mean it – it’s only going to be around until December 31st. Then *poof*, it’s gone. So, hit up Avon.com or your local Avon representative and take a look at this collection with a pedigree for yourself.

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