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.

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Dita Von Teese on costumes, haute couture, Carmen Miranda, ‘CSI’ and more

For nearly 20 years, Dita Von Teese has mesmerized audiences with her brand of burlesque – sexy and sophisticated, provocative and polished. And definitely laced with humor. I saw her perform at the Roxy the last time she was in Los Angeles and wanted to know more about her and how she puts the show together. Here is our chat via email.

Photo by Aaron Settipane/

FNB: Your show is terrific and your costumes are spectacular. In this current show, do you have a favorite number?
DVT: I was pretty excited to have the new Swarovski crystallized glass because it’s something I always dreamed of, and it makes doing my most-known show exciting for me again. But I also loved doing the powder compact, it’s a show I made over 15 years ago, so it was fun to do it again. The Opium Den is definitely my most extravagant overall, so it could be a favorite. …

It’s difficult to choose a favorite because I created each of these acts, and so there’s a lot of heart-felt effort time, and money put into each act, and so I perform then with great pleasure. It’s much different than an entertainer who steps onto the stage in a show of someone else’s design, choreography, etc. It’s a huge process to build these acts, and so by the time each one comes together, it’s nearly impossible to say I like one more than the other!

FNB: I’ve read that you do your own makeup. Do you design your costumes? If not, can you talk about where they come from?
DVT: I work very closely with the costumers, I have very definite ideas of what I want to wear and the function of the costume. I like to give some creative freedom to the costumer, but in the end I have to be very attentive to how it’s made and how it looks as each piece of clothing come off. …

Each time a piece drops to the floor, it has to be a new, beautiful look worthy of a photo. I have costumes designed by fellow burlesque performer Catherine D’Lish, and it’s great to work with her because she actually puts the costume on and can feel what’s right and really understands the functions of the costume. I have costumes designed by haute couturiers Elie Saab, Christian Dior and Mr. Pearl too, and they’re beautifully made, and each has a very different style.

Photo by Aaron Settipane

It’s a lot of fun to work with these designers because their tailoring and attention to detail is amazing. Elie Saab did three gowns for me, and one is a long sheer gown covered in silver embroidered stars and I remember asking for a piece of the fabric to make a g-string out of and they came out of the atelier in Paris with two things: a piece of fine tulle and a bag of tiny beads. I had no idea that each and every tiny bead on this incredible, sweeping gown had been hands sewn on. THAT is haute couture! I also work with Christian Louboutin for all my shoes for the shows, and we have fun in his atelier coming up with new extravagant ideas for show-shoes … he’s working on something now that is amazing!!

FNB: From what I’ve read, your Mom was a big fan of old movies and got you hooked as well. What are some of your favorite films from the 1940s?
DVT: I’m a big fan of WWII era Technicolor musicals with Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda. These are my absolute favorites!

FNB: Any film-noir favorites?
DVT: I like ’40s era film noir, but I admit I am not a film noir expert as much as a Technicolor expert! I would love to have your recommendations!

FNB: I liked your role in the “CSI” episode, “A Kiss Before Frying.” Did you enjoy it and do you have any more plans to act in film noir-inspired projects?
DVT: Well, I have to admit that I did “CSI” because Eric Szmanda (who plays Greg) is a very close friend of mine, and we always jokingly talked about it, but you know, being a burlesque dancer, mainstream American TV seemed very out of reach for me. I was happy to have the experience, and really happy to bring a bit of authentic burlesque to a wider audience, especially in the wake of the commercialization and sanitization of burlesque that we see a lot of lately. …

I insisted that I take my bra off for the burlesque part of the story, because I’m tired of seeing burlesque portrayed as just retro-style dancing and singing, because it’s NOT. Gypsy Rose Lee, the most celebrated burlesque star of all time from the ’30s and ’40s, was a stripper, and wasn’t offended by the term at all. [Read more…]

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Drink in the pink with divine nail color by Dior

Maybe it was Reese Witherspoon’s blush-pink wedding dress by Monique Lhuillier. Could be I’m just ready for hot weather. But I am all about pink this week! Shocking I know.

Dior Vernis has a great brush that eases application.

So my new favorite nail polish is Christian Dior’s Vernis, in Pink Kimono, $21 (on its side in the pic). Rereleased with a new formula and an oversize brush, this polish is easy to apply — the idea is that you can do it in one stroke.

I’m not that good, but I’ve used it a few times and I didn’t have too many mistakes, i.e. polish glopped on my cuticles or oozing into the sides of my nails. I had my nails done Sunday and the color held up well all week.

I don’t know if it’s thicker than other nail polishes, but somehow it’s more clingy or springy; it seems to grab onto your nail and stick there. Because the Saks sales guy was so animated about the products, I also bought Diorlisse Ridge-filling basecoat, in Pink Petal, $21, a soft shade that also looks good on its own.

Now if it would just warm up outside; it’s cloudy, cold and 43 degrees today in Los Angeles. But, hey, at least it’s Friday!

Product Source: From my own collection. I did not receive products or compensation from Dior.

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‘The New Look’ remembered 64 years later

Display at Christian Dior in Beverly Hills

At the Christian Dior store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, I learned that today is an important fashion anniversary. Dior’s first couture show debuted “The New Look” on Feb. 12, 1947.

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