Coco Chanel’s back story reveals drama, determination

Coco Chanel’s design aesthetic was partly influenced by the time she spent in the Aubazine convent in central France.

Coco Chanel’s design aesthetic was partly influenced by the time she spent in the Aubazine convent in central France.

Sure, this chic mini-film is a commercial for the mighty brand, but it’s fascinating to consider Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (Aug. 19, 1883 – Jan. 10, 1971) and her rise from poverty to power.

Meanwhile, showing tonight on TCM: “Double Indemnity” (at 7 p.m. EST), “Gun Crazy” and “The Big Sleep.”


Film Noir Blonde’s beauty picks for fall 2013

Guerlain's 2013 collection clearly channels film noir. Love the berry-colored lips and nails.

Guerlain’s 2013 collection clearly channels film noir. Love the berry-colored lips and nails.

Try pairing a half-moon manicure in this sumptuous shade with nude polish on the toenails.

Try pairing a half-moon manicure in this sumptuous shade with nude polish on the toenails.

Bond No. 9's latest New York City swoon: Perfumista Avenue.

Bond No. 9′s latest New York City swoon: Perfumista Avenue.

Designer Tory Burch said her mother's vanity table inspired her new fragrance and beauty collection.

Designer Tory Burch said her mother’s vanity table inspired her new fragrance and beauty collection.

Phylia de M, a hair restorer/thickener, is receiving rave reviews.

Phylia de M, a hair restorer/thickener, is receiving rave reviews.

Kate Winslet for Lancome is inspiration for any femme fatale.

Kate Winslet for Lancome is inspiration for any femme fatale.

Add a pop of bright color to emphasize your eyes with Lancome's Art Liner 24H.

Add a pop of bright color to emphasize your eyes with Lancome’s Art Liner 24H.

After a five-year hiatus, Jo Malone is back with Jo Loves. Gift-buying dilemma now over.

After a five-year hiatus, fragrance guru and former florist’s apprentice Jo Malone is back with Jo Loves. Gift-buying dilemma now over.

Dior first introduced Dior #9 in 1953. This classic red was recently relaunched as #999.

Christian Dior first introduced Dior #9 lipstick in 1953. This classic red was recently relaunched as #999.

Dior's New Look photographed for Vogue.

Dior’s New Look photographed by Serge Balkin for Vogue.

Chanel's gorgeous Cast a Spell collection is new this fall.

Chanel’s gorgeous Cast a Spell collection is new this fall.

When Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed, her answer was Chanel No. 5.

When reporters asked Marilyn Monroe what she wore to bed, her answer was Chanel No. 5.

Looking forward to a spritz of Estée Lauder's Modern Muse and, I hope, a surge of creativity. ;)

Looking forward to a spritz of Estée Lauder’s Modern Muse.

Since the '90s, Lorraine Massey has been helping those with hard-to-tame tresses embrace their inner curl. But her products are new to Space NK in Brentwood. Cheers, Lorraine!

Since the ’90s, Lorraine Massey has been helping those with hard-to-tame tresses embrace their inner curl. But her products are new to Space NK in Brentwood. Cheers, Lorraine!

The nice girls at Space NK in Brentwood recommended Life Daily Fix Foot Cream to heal my dry cracked heels. Perfect for a post-yoga slather. Take that, Warrior 3 and Reverse Half Moon!

The nice girls at Space NK in Brentwood recommended Life Daily Fix Foot Cream to heal my dry and cracked heels. Perfect for a post-yoga slather. Take that, Warrior 3 and Reverse Half Moon!

Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King says she had vintage Hollywood in mind when she created her Velvet Rope lipstick collection. Shown here is Star System, a nude with A-list oomph.

Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King says she had vintage Hollywood in mind when she created her Velvet Rope lipstick collection. Shown here is Star System, a nude with A-list oomph.

Laura Mercier's Dark Spell Collection looks truly divine.

Laura Mercier’s Dark Spell Collection looks truly divine.


FNB holiday gift guide 2012: Part One

The sharing and caring of the season is swell, but some of us get joy from coveting stuff. With that in mind, we present part one of our holiday gift guide, highlighting vanity-table delights as well as snacks and sips. Tomorrow: Books and DVDs.

Henri Bendel New York Minute silk scarf, $68. The pattern comes in three colors. Also cute is the NYM Iphone 5 phone cover, $38.

Brian Atwood gloves for Target + Neiman Marcus, $50.

Marc Jacobs/Dita Von Teese cotton T-shirt, $35. All proceeds from the sale of this shirt will be donated to NYU Skin Cancer Institute.

Nest body cream, $50, in Amazon Lily. Also comes in Midnight Fleur and Passiflora. The fragrance line was inspired by the botanical artworks of 18th Century artist Mary Delany.

Lady Gaga Fame soap, $15.

Kilian’s Good Girl Gone Bad perfume, 1.7 ounces, $245. Each bottle includes a white clutch embellished with a goldtone snake detail.

The latest from Chanel: 1.7 ounces, $98 and 3.4 ounces, $130. Available at department stores and online.

Givenchy Noir Couture Mascara is formulated to improve shine, suppleness and strength, $32.

Tom Ford Beauty Lip Color in Crimson Noir, $48.

Bobbi Brown Rich Caviar Eye Palette, $47.50.

Lalique pétillante ring in silver/black crystal cabochon, $925.

Gifts for him from Tiffany: Original design by Paloma Picasso. Cuff links in stainless steel and midnight titanium, $425.

Dom Pérignon by David Lynch limited edition champagne: Dom Pérignon Vintage 2003 and Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2000. Starting at $175; prices vary depending on vendor.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat by Katrina Markoff is sure to please. Try the Caramel Marshmallows, four pieces, $13. The hot cocoa sold in Vosges boutiques (Chicago, NYC, LA and Vegas) boosts energy while shopping.

McConnell’s peppermint stick ice cream, $7 per pint. The company was founded in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1949 by a World War II veteran who was inspired by the ice cream he tried while stationed in Europe.


On the shopping radar: Fragrances, the Jetsetter Collection, lip tar, SW1 and Chanel celebrates little black jackets

In between watching TCM’s Flashbacks in Noir tonight (“Possessed,” “They Won’t Believe Me,” “Dead Reckoning,” “Killer’s Kiss” and more), I’m adding to my summer shopping wish-list. If I go to Anne Fontaine one morning for a bit of browsing (the summer sale runs through Wednesday, June 20), this should be sufficient for a dreamy afternoon. ; )

Gucci Glamorous Magnolia eau de toilette, $70 for 1.7 ounces. The Flora Garden Collection is inspired by an iconic pattern from the Gucci archives.

White Gardenia Petals, from Illuminum Perfumes, $150 for 100 ml (15% concentration of essential oil). Worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day, the feminine fragrance is available in the U.S. exclusively at Henri Bendel.

Also from Henri Bendel: Jetsetter large hanging weekender, $168. Very cute collection.

Another tie for Dad … or not: BOIS 1920 Classic 1920, $195 for 100ml. Another idea: Gendarme cologne for men, $75 for 4 ounces. Both available at Barneys New York.

Lip Tar in Stalker by NYC-based Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, $14. Says OCC: Goes on slick and moist, and dries to a satin finish. Meant to be mixed, Lip Tar comes in 36 colors.

“The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited” (Steidl, $98). This photo-book by Karl Lagerfeld and former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld comes out Aug. 15. And, in New York, “The Little Black Jacket” photo exhibit runs through Friday, June 15, from 12-7 p.m., at 18 Wooster St.

Alvaro Gonzalez (formerly with Jimmy Choo) is the creative director of Stuart Weitzman’s new accessories line called SW1. Shoes are $675-$775; Photo from Harper’s Bazaar


Film noir gifts for the holidays: Makeup and fragrance

Bulletproof notes include tea, woods and cedar.

With socializing and chic travel in full swing, you may be looking for a few new additions to your makeup bag or stand-out presents for your beauty-addict chums. Here are my suggestions.

Tailor-made for wicked women is Tokyo Milk’s Femme Fatale collection, eight new fragrances with names like Crushed, Excess, Arsenic and, my favorite, Bulletproof. Fragrance notes too are uncommon: smoked tea, coconut milk, crushed cedar and ebony woods define Bulletproof, for instance. And the design is divine!

A three-piece Femme Fatale set runs $65 and includes 2 ounces of eau de parfum, 3.4 ounces of shea-butter hand cream and one .70 ounce lip elixir/balm. You can also buy items individually. (The photo shows two versions of the hand cream.)

No-fuss drama by Hourglass.

Dior plays the blues.

Hourglass Film Noir Lash Lacquer, $28. Take your look up a notch for nighttime by creating high-drama eyes. Like gloss for the lashes, this Vitamin E-enriched lacquer can be worn alone or over mascara to add a little (or a lot of) shine. “The results are stunning, almost cinematic,” says Hourglass CEO and founder Carisa Janes.

OK, so frosty blue became a hideous icon of the ’70s. But midnight blue has always given inky black a run for its money. Look at the gorgeous color in Dior Blue Tie Essentials and you’ll see why. The gleaming chunky container also houses a square of pretty pink lip color. Regularly $70, this is selling online for $40, but is going fast! Try Bloomingdale’s.

Metallics, martinis. Life's good.

Lancome's lovely set.

Pressed for time? Add instant glitz with a quick metallic dusting on your brow bones and cheekbones with Bobbi Brown’s Martini Shimmer Brick, $40. Also makes a festive gift for a friend.

Hypnôse Drama mascara is the star of this four-piece set from Lancôme, selling at Nordstrom for $29.50 ($68 value). That said, the amazing eye-makeup remover very nearly steals the show and I’m so excited to find it in a travel size! The set includes:

- Hypnôse Drama mascara in Excessive Black
- Travel-size Cils Booster XL mascara base
- Le Crayon khol eyeliner in Black Ebony
- Travel-size Bi-Facil Double-Action eye-makeup remover (1.7 ounces).

L’Oréal Infallible gives a soft sheen and lasts several hours.

Chanel's coveted gloss.

Smoky eyes call for subtle lips and L’Oréal Infallible lip gloss, $12, does the trick. Designed to last for six hours, it’s also a lip plumper. For me, Infallible hasn’t quite lasted the full six hours but it’s easy to apply, feels good on, and comes in a bunch of cool colors. Shown here is Suede.

Chanel’s holiday 2011 collection is breathtaking! You’ll find there’s much to covet and, if struggling to decide, you can’t go wrong with Glossimer lip gloss in Sparkle D’Or, $28.50. On its own or over a red lipstick, Glossimer is sleek, smooth and vibrant.

Being good is so overrated.

Be red-carpet ready with Revlon's Silver Screen.

Want to inject more zest into your office holiday party? Mix it up a little with Good Girl Gone Bad nail polish by Deborah Lippmann, $16. Or choose from the new holiday shades, which are “dripping in glittery excess,” as noted on her company’s site. Gotta love that this time of year, no?

I also love Lippmann’s success: she started her own line of products in 1998 after her flair for nails and color caught on with celebrities and fashion houses (Versace, Valentino, Balenciaga, Donna Karan and Zac Posen).

A stunning red by Nails Inc.

Revlon Silver Screen polish, $6, is a versatile metallic that picks up tints of pewter, shiny gray and muted lavender depending on the light. I can’t find this shade on Revlon’s site, which I found plodding and cumbersome, so I would suggest buying it at your local drug store.

Need a gift for your mani-pedi buddy? Try Nails Inc. London polish in Charing Cross – an irresistible red that Santa’s elves must be scurrying to stock. Company founder Thea Green was honored in June with a MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her outstanding contribution to the beauty industry. This polish is $19.50 at Sephora.

Precious Oud is a perfect holiday splurge.

Fracas evokes vintage charm.

Tuberose, jasmine, jonquil, lily of the valley, white iris and pink geranium – must be Fracas, the classic fragrance by Robert Piguet, a legendary French designer who mentored Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Dior among others. Said Dior: “Robert Piguet taught me the virtues of simplicity through which true elegance must come.”

Neiman Marcus is selling Fracas sets (3.4-ounce eau de parfum spray and a 6.5-ounce body lotion) for $120. It’s a super deal because that’s the usually the price for the eau de parfum alone.

Such a pretty bottle and an uncommonly sophisticated, slightly exotic, scent (spicy florals with vetiver, wood and patchouli): Precious Oud eau de parfum by Van Cleef & Arpels, $185, at Neiman Marcus.


Femme fatale fragrances: 10 bad-ass bottles to die for

Even if you’re a makeup minimalist, every femme fatale worth her revolver needs a signature scent to call her own. The holidays are always a great time to see if your perfume collection could use a few new pretty bottles. And of course fragrances make wonderful gifts for fellow vamps and virile fellows when you have an idea of the recipient’s taste. Dig in!


My bottle of Norell with pulp accompanient.

Norell eau de toilette This retro scent reminds me of an old friend of my mother’s who ran her own business, liked to eat Haagen-Dazs Swiss almond vanilla in the middle of the afternoon and always had her nails done in Jungle Red. Norell was one of her favorites in the late ’70s. Notes of musk, vanilla, moss and myrrh meet sassy florals jasmine, rose and ginger lily.

As long as we’re on memory lane, Norell also reminds me of a handsome senior financial editor I used to know who always complimented me when I wore a little Norell behind my ears. It’s a formidable fragrance for a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. $25.49 for 3.3 ounces at Target

Victoria’s Secret Sexy Little Things Noir eau de parfum Winner of the 2009 FiFi fragrance of the year award, this fruity floral blends nectarine, amber and cattleya orchid, according to the company. Put a little of this on and then try not to flirt. It will put you in the mood, period. The black bottle and retro pump with tassel (what a cute gift!) would do Lana Turner proud. $29 for .85 ounces; $39 for 1.7 ounces; $49 for 3.4 ounces

Michael Kors Very Hollywood eau de parfum True, this fragrance is more starlet than Stanwyck, what with its soft feminine notes (mandarin, gardenia and vetiver) and clean, dare I say wholesome, finish. But even tough ladies are tender sometimes and when you feel the need for a light and luscious confection, Very Hollywood should do the job nicely. $45 for 1 ounce eau de parfum; $65 for 1.7 ounces; $85 for 3.4 ounces

A Jo Malone box with English stained glass

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir cologne Fruity with a smoky edge, this cologne, inspired by a red silk dress and that jewel of the desert, the pomegranate, is sure to bring out your wily side. And Jo Malone’s light singular scents are designed to be used in “the art of fragrance combining.” I like to mix Pomegranate Noir with French Lime Blossom or Vintage Gardenia. I’m also partial to the woody Wild Fig & Cassis, on its own. The black and white packaging is so clean, simple and elegant, Jo Malone is a must on any girl’s vanity table. $55 for 30 ml cologne; $100 for 100 ml cologne

Gucci Guilty eau de toilette “She’s got something on her conscience,” says Raymond Massey in “Woman in the Window” from 1944. “But what woman hasn’t?” Just ask Gucci, maker of this oriental floral fragrance with top notes of pink pepper, a heart note of lilac and base notes of patchouli and amber. Playing on neo-noir appeal, Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans heat up the screen in Gucci Guilty’s commercial, directed by Frank Miller. Mmmm, bring it on! $55 for 30 ml; $75 for 50 ml; $95 for 75 ml

D&G L’Imperatrice eau de toilette Fresh and clean, yet sophisticated, you could wear this just about anywhere. Dolce & Gabbana says the inspiration for this fragrance collection came from personality types. L’Imperatrice stems from The Star: “Flamboyant and energetic, for L’Imperatrice life is a movie and she is its heroine.” Notes are watermelon, kiwi and pink cyclamen with a musky base. $65 for 3.4 ounces

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (The Blue Hour) eau de toilette, et al “Why do they still make perfumes like Bouquet des Fleurs as if things still happened in flower gardens?” Van Heflin asks Joan Crawford in “Possessed” from 1947. Seductions might not take place in rose gardens any more, but flower power hasn’t diminished one iota.

When Guerlain, another perfumer with a kick-ass pedigree, created this scent in 1912, it was all about flowers. Says Guerlain’s site: “Jacques Guerlain … pictured this bouquet of roses softened with iris, violet and vanilla, which evoke his favorite moment of the day when, as he put it, ‘the night has not yet found its star.’ ”

L’Heure Bleue may be a bit intense for some, but I love its distinctive character. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue eau de toilette, $70 for 1.7 ounces; $97 for 3.1 ounces 

And if, as a little girl, you saw a bottle of Shalimar at your grandmother’s house, used a drop and thought, “I’m so glad I’m a girl,” you have Guerlain to thank for that happy moment. Shalimar eau de parfum, $72 for 1 ounce; $95 for 1.7 ounces

Also, ideal for holiday parties: Guerlain’s Or Imperial Sublime Radiant Powder Face & Body – violet-scented iridescent bronzing powder – housed in Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Impériale bottle, $85. Ooh la la …

Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir Eau de Parfum Tom Ford is so brilliant, just wearing something he created makes you feel inspired. Take on the world? Sure, I can do it with my eyes closed. Maybe it’s the sleek clean lines of the brown glass bottle that seem to whisper at dawn, “shoulder pads, darling, and stand up straight!”

And then there’s the delight of inhaling and dabbing the provocative but dignified Noir de Noir on your skin. Designed for the fragrance connoisseur, it’s an oriental with notes of saffron, black rose, black truffle, vanilla, patchouli, oud wood and tree moss.

He had me at black rose. ;) $190 for 1.7 ounces; $260 for 3.4 ounces; $465 for 8.3 ounces

Bond No. 9 Madison Soiree The company puts it this way: “Ultra-feminine elegance and unmistakable posh meet unabashed sultriness in this day-into-late-night-blooming floral bouquet.” Notes of gardenia, jasmine, oakmoss. Madison Soiree is one of many unforgettable Bond No. 9 fragrances with New York namesakes and each stunning bottle nearly bursts with the city’s inimitable energy. $215 for 100 ml eau de parfum

Creed Royal English Leather eau de toilette Creed has been crafting amazing fragrances for centuries and this example is uncommonly sexy. Oh and did I mention it’s from the men’s line? Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Top notes are mandarin and bergamot; middle note is ambergris; base notes are leather and sandalwood.

Not so sure re: leather? It’s definitely, pleasantly, different. According to Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of “The Secret of Chanel No. 5,” Coco Chanel liked that her English lover Arthur “Boy” Capel smelled of “leather, horses, forest, and saddle soap.”

You can share Royal English with the guys in your life or if you think you’ll spar over the jar, get him some Green Irish Tweed (sandalwood, ambergris, violet leaves, verbena and iris) which, the company says, was “created … for a film industry client who personified masculine style and elegance on the silver screen.”

Royal English Leather $150 for 2.5 oz/ 75 ml

Green Irish Tweed $130 for 1 oz/30 ml travel size; $270 for 4 oz/ 120 ml flask

Chanel No. 5 OK, I cheated, there are 11 top scents. So sue me. But surely you didn’t think I was going to bring up Coco Chanel’s name and then not mention the world’s best-selling perfume, Chanel No. 5. As author Tilar J. Mazzeo writes: “Reverently known among industry insiders as le monstre – the monster – it is arguably the most coveted consumer luxury product of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”

Chanel No. 5 parfum $95 for .25 ounces; $155 for .5 ounces

Chanel No. 5 eau de parfum $80 for 1.7 ounces; $115 for 3.4 ounces

And two more runners-up, both new this year: Estee Lauder’s Sensuous Noir and Guess Seductive.

Product Source: From my own collection and store samples; I did not receive products or compensation from companies named.



Six sexy lips colors I couldn’t live without

Lip color – stick, stain or gloss – is my weakness. Maybe because it’s the first cosmetic I ever dabbled with and I remember watching my Mom applying her lipstick, then passing me the tube to try a little. Or maybe finding the perfect red, rose or raisin conjures other, more recent, memories, a tad more racy. Even when money is tight, it’s usually still possible to treat yourself to a brand-new tube. Herewith is my current list of favorites.

Six sexy lip colors for smokin' hot holidays

Chanel never disappoints. When I choose my old standby Rouge Allure lipstick in Passion, $30, from a masterful range of reds, I’ve had strangers stop me and ask me what lipstick I’m wearing. The idea of trying Rouge Allure liquid luminous satin lip lacquer, $32, gave me shivers of anticipation. Perhaps it’s the vaguely old-school name – lacquer just sounds so 1947, so silk stocking and cold cream-esque. And then there’s the fun of telling Boyfriend Du Jour that “it’s not lipstick, silly, it’s lacquer.” Or perhaps it would be: “It’s not lipstick, silly, it’s liquid luminous satin lip lacquer.”

At the Beverly Hills Saks counter on a recent Saturday morning, my eye was immediately drawn to No. 78. “That’s the color I want,” I told the woman helping me, a far cry from my usual dithering and debating and drawing countless stripes on the back of my hand. Indeed it is a perfect creamy soft rose, bright but light and luxurious. And lacquer, which I’d thought would be more like a stain, turned out to be a cross between a stick and a gloss. Afterward, as I window-shopped my way along Rodeo Drive, a tall, gray-haired guy stopped me and asked for my phone number. I took his instead. ;)

Much as I enjoy shopping on a Saturday, it’s almost more fun to leave work early, head to your nearest department store and buy a pretty lipstick on a weekday afternoon. To lose yourself in those vast, fragrant, shimmery aisles, packed with possibility, is akin to sipping a fluteful of Veuve Clicquot just for the joy of it. Even if you don’t buy anything, there are always free samples to score.

Guerlain's lipstick compact is sleek, shiny and chunky.

Oh who am I kidding? Me not buy a little product? Splurging is my special skill. Hence my acquisition of Rouge de Guerlain jewel lipstick compact, $46. Holding this drop-dead gorgeous tube – sleek, shiny, chunky – and springing open the mirror is a singular frisson and sure-fire conversation starter. It is without question the coolest compact I’ve ever seen. Smooth and silky, Guerlain lipstick glides on effortlessly every time you apply (I chose No. 65) and gives your lips a subtle but very sexy vibe.

Also combining pretty and practical is YSL Rouge Volupte, $34. The charming gold tube is topped with a handy mirror so a touchup couldn’t be easier. I bought mine a while ago and I got a really nice four-color sample set that even included a brush. YSL offers wonderful colors, feels great on your lips and the color is long lasting. No. 1 is a versatile pink/beige that can be brightened or bolded as you desire.

I also adore Laura Mercier’s lip glace, $22, in Plum Noir. What’s nice about this au courant shade is that you can blend a smidgen into a lighter color (such as the above-mentioned YSL) and you’ll get a gorgeous daytime look – sheer and shiny with just a hint of iridescence. And if you want to amp it up, just add another layer of gloss for a full-on plumintense pout. It’s almost like having two shades in one and it’s never overly thick or cloying the way some glosses can be.

Lest you think I plump exclusively for lip color with a double-digit price tag, let me assure you I spend plenty of time in drug-store aisles, less shimmery and fragrant perhaps, but chock full of irresistible bargains and endless opportunities. [Read more...]