Art

Moving the Man: Sotheby’s Bowie/Collector Preview

Sotheby's Bowie/Collector

“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could buy sprouts and a Jeff Koons in the same place?” Bowie mused during an interview back in 1995, tucked somewhere in an anonymous gallery. With an idle tap of his chin, he adds “—which may not be too far away, judging by his prices.”

Whatever his thoughts on the accessibility of art, the late David Bowie amassed an impressive collection of artwork including paintings, sketches, and sculptures that easily cost more than a metric ton of sprouts. During his lifetime he actively loaned pieces to museums and collections, happy to share the pieces that brought him such happiness, but the public finally got a chance to view his collection in full this fall thanks to Sotheby’s, who displayed the work in multiple cities prior to their sale, titled Bowie/Collector.

Bowie/Collector

On paper, Bowie collected Post-War British Art, but Bowie was never a man to be neatly categorized: his collection contained examples of Contemporary African and American art, Surrealism, and Italian design. In fact, very few pieces seemed to “go” together, let alone fit a theme. Brightly colored large-scale paintings hung beside small sketched studies, bronze sculptures rested on pedestals beside futuristic dayglo furniture. If there’s any common thread between what seem like radically different pieces in Bowie’s eclectic collection, it’s the simple fact that they moved him. Art was a passion, and it’s that passion that holds the collection together.

In this way, Bowie’s collection is much like his career: varied and diverse, at times scattered and downright strange, not always executed with the best technique or foremost skill, but pursued with enthusiasm because of a genuine emotional response. As an artist, Bowie was prolific, writing, performing, and producing music for more than fifty years in addition to pursuits in acting and painting. His work touched millions of people, created a soundtrack for so many memories, became the catalyst for so many emotions. Considering his own power to move, Sotheby’s preview seemed like a rare and precious opportunity to see what moved the man behind the icon.

La Condition Humaine

Standing in front of Méret Oppenheimer’s La Condition Humaine, one of the four hundred pieces being sold at Sotheby’s in London this November, one can’t help but wonder whether the piece appealed to the same frenetic neon desperation that produced “Be My Wife,” or “Always Crashing In The Same Car.” Frank Auerbach’s Head of Gerda Boehm recalls the discordant synthesizers of “Ashes to Ashes,” and again the thought creeps in—did the heaps of paint on canvas evoke the same feeling in Bowie that drove him to write the song?

Head of Gerda Boehm

Sotheby’s did not provide dates of acquisition for any of the pieces, though it would certainly help to give fans a better idea of Bowie’s relationship to the works themselves. Such dates may become available in the exhibition catalog, currently available for preorder to ship some time in October. In the meantime, the only item on which no one needs to speculate is 1966 radio phonograph designed by Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglione. Set beneath a nearly life-sized still from the 1979 “DJ” music video, Bowie’s well-loved phonograph undoubtedly played countless LPs, inspiring so many evolutions we’ve come to recognize in his own music. But art isn’t the only thing on the gallery walls: listed beside the phonograph are Bowie’s 25 Albums That Could Change Your Life, a list spanning nearly 70 years containing everything from chanson to electronic to comedic novelty. It seems to only further the feeling that in the end, it seemed what mattered most to Bowie was not collecting trends or making tastes, but inspiring passions and evoking emotions.

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Music

Neon Pink Cynicism: the 1975’s I Like It When You Sleep… Review

It was a frigid February morning and I was huddled with my sister on Orchard Street trying to soak in sunlight to combat the unforgiving wind. I had only been standing there for about 20 minutes, but she and her friends had been on the street since 2AM counting down the moments. We barely noticed when the car pulled up at the curb and the 1975 rolled out, all retro fringe and rockstar shades. Screams erupted as Matty Healy pulled off his sunglasses and sniffed the frozen air, “Oi, it’s blazin’ out here!”

Pop-Up Line-Up

 

Some 15 minutes later we were inside the LES gallery space rented for their one-day pop-up, a well-kept secret to promote their brand new album: I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. My sister had hunted down the address only hours before she arrived on the scene, and now some two hundred fans were lining the adjacent blocks waiting for their turn to buy the new music and meet their idols. The bare brick walls were hung with neon signs spelling out new album tracks, and brightly-colored photographs in stark white frames played on lyrical themes. Nothing could stop me now: I was going to buy the boxed set. I had almost preordered it originally, instantly attracted by the neon-pink lucite casing and the idea of exclusive 7” singles, but the price tag seemed steep—now that I had a chance at an autographed copy of the LP, it seemed well worth it.
Bubble-wrap trailed out of my pockets as I ascended the back stairway, barely registering the photographs hung along the hall. My eyes had barely adjusted to life in neon pink when I realized this was no formal record signing meet-and-greet. The minimal loft space had been converted into a sort of listening lounge, with a well-worn black leather sofa totally abandoned as the band wandered free, chatting with fans, taking selfies, sharpie-ready for autographs. Each wall held massive prints of album artwork, including the neon sign spelling out the impossibly long album title, coating everything with a candy-colored glow. I barely registered the upbeat Haim song piped in as I embarked on my signature-collecting mission, LP clutched tightly and phone camera-ready in pocket. At one point, I found myself nervously chatting to Ross MacDonald about the album, admitting I had listened to it on loop since it had leaked a couple days earlier. “It’s a bit all-over-the-place, don’t you think?” He asked with a certain degree of concern in his voice.
I Like It When You Sleep...
At first listen, it is. The band’s now-signature, self-titled opener is given a brighter, chorus-driven vocal, turning it from sort of sleepy to deliberately dreamy before launching straight into the retro-funky Love Me. The transition from swelling synth and slow vocal to Bowie-Chic guitar is a little jarring, but maybe intentional considering the dialog proposed by the leading single’s lyrics. That said, Love Me remains among my favorite tracks on the album: aside from the obvious musical similarities, the lyrics read like a Millenial Fame, equally cynical in a new age language. It’s the same cynicism that pervades songs like Change of Heart, which feels like the disillusioned follow-up to their self-titled LP’s the City. It’s the falling-out-of-love story after the romance of Robbers dies–
“You used to have a face straight out of a magazine
Now you just look like anyone

I just had a change of heart
I feel as though I was deceived
I never found love in the city
I just sat in self-pity and cried in the car”
But it’s not all twenty-something bitterness and upset. One of the album’s standouts is the ethereal, choral-driven This Must Be My Dream,  an upbeat, synth-pop plea of adolescent optimism that simply sticks with you. Like She’s American and the Sound, it’s got a catchy, danceable beat that distracts you from the admittedly garbled, Manchesterese lyrics long enough that you might be surprised by the actual words:
“You got excited and now you find out that your ‘girl’
won’t even get you undressed or care about your beating chest”
Personally, I think the album might have been better ending on the following track, Paris. The relaxed, nostalgic vibe is a pleasant wind-down from some of the album’s quicker-paced tracks without bringing down the mood or inducing sleep–but the band continues with two additional tunes. Nana and She Lays Down are both absolutely heartbreaking, tragic songs backed by a simple acoustic guitar, bringing the album to a strange, unsettling end. If they had been anywhere else, I might be able to overlook the general air of melancholy peppered through the record’s more electronic tracks. Concentrated at the end, however, it’s an unavoidable fact: this is kind of a really sad album. It tells stories about lost identities, painful breakups, faith questioned, and deaths faced. But when wrapped in a package of synthesizers and pop guitar riffs, they seem almost idyllic. There’s a romance to the kind of jaded cynicism the 1975 is peddling—a kind of absurdist idealism.
While the musical style does jump from chill out groove to new generation funk to acoustic heartbreak ballad, the mood of I Like It When You Sleep… makes it a logical follow-up to the band’s 2013 EP. If the 1975 was about sex and drugs and making memories with friends, I Like It When You Sleep… is about facing the world after teenage dreams begin to melt away. You might not know who you are, you might not recognize your relationships, you might even lose the people closest to you, but you can be damned stylish and look good doing it.
A Morning Well Spent
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Keep On Spinning: the Edit Review

As an early Millennial, I’ve watched a lot of technology rise and fall. My first computer was a simple DOS system, I can recite every Windows update in chronological order from 1990, and the sound of dial-up still haunts my dreams. As a life-long audiophile, I remember the thrill of finally owning my own portable CD player, realizing I was no longer limited to the narrow selection of bulky cassettes my parents kept in the car, even if the disc did skip every time we hit a bump. Stalking out the new CD singles was a weekend ritual, and finding a Sam Goody gift card tucked into a birthday card was like winning the lottery. Mp3s offered relief from the clutter of all those jewel cases, but I’ve always liked to keep physical copies of my favorite albums: like precious art objects, there’s something sacred to the physical record of a song. The grooves and pits of the recording are like a fingerprint of the artist.
That said, while I’d always been intrigued by the stack of Stones’ and Beatles’ albums my parents left to collect dust and the massive stack of 7” disco singles my grandmother had acquired through the years, I’d never really experienced vinyl. I collected a couple of my favorite albums as I found them in thrift stores or garage sales—ChangesOneBowie, Rebel Yell, Bloodflowers—but as my technologically gung-ho family tossed whatever they deemed dated, I had no way to really listen to them. And in a gesture that seems all too popular in my generation, I eschewed modern convenience for nostalgia by purchasing only a portable turntable to set the musical mood of my apartment. Little did I realize when I bought myself a used copy of First and Last and Always for just pennies more than my morning latte that I was about to have something like a Religious Experience of the Ears. It was an album I’d heard literally hundreds of times in various formats—CD, mp3, even recorded off someone else’s stereo on a cassette—but I’d never heard the depth of tone or richness that I was getting from this piece of carved-up plastic that was older than me. I was moved by nuances I’d never even noticed before, all channeled out of barely-there speakers in a device that looked like a briefcase. Clearly, this piece of plastic was something magical, and I fully intended to root out more.
turn, baby, turn
Luckily, vinyl is coming back. Like film photography and Super-8 video, there’s been a such a surge in interest that companies are starting to press records again. Hell, even Barnes and Noble has a section devoted to vinyl LPs. But what if you’re not looking for the new Adele album or an overpriced Elvis reissue? Where do you get your fix?
Enter the Edit. One part subscription service, one part personal shopper, the Edit is a daily text service that brings you a new, handpicked album or set with every message. How do they know what to suggest? Well, when you sign up, you’re asked to rate popular albums after providing your mobile number–the more albums you rate, the better the suggestions. Don’t worry, the rating process is more like Tinder than Consumer Report, and a simple swipe left or right tells the Edit all it needs to know. But don’t be discouraged if you still get some unpalatable choices–you can respond back to any text with a simple “LIKE” or “DISLIKE,” and the Edit logs that info. And if you don’t like something, you’re given the opportunity to request something else. I’ve snagged releases from Depeche Mode, remastered double LPs from the Cure, and a boxed collection of Floodland-era releases from the Sisters of Mercy.
Collection, Part I
Recently, the Edit offered up a double LP recording from Peter Murphy’s Wild Birds tour—needless to say, I jumped on it. I texted “yes” and got my confirmation, but hours later received another text saying my order was cancelled due to inventory issues. Disappointing, but I figured it just wasn’t meant to be. The next day, I woke up to a text saying they had gotten in a new shipment if I was still interested in ordering. This time, I my order was cancelled less than an hour after it was placed. Honestly, I was a little put off—why offer me something twice only to tell me I couldn’t have it? When my phone chimed the next day, I was surprised to see an apology and a credit for my troubles with the service. They explained that there had been an issue with their shipment and they didn’t want to sell defective product. Returns are free, but who wants the heartbreak of a broken record? Within the week, however, I received another offer for the elusive Wild Birds Live album, and my order was processed and shipped without cancellation. The marble-white double LP set was well worth the wait, and the Edit more than made up for the frustration of their back-end issues.
birds2
Whether you’re a newly-initiated vinyl enthusiast looking to expand your library or a seasoned collector seeking out the newest releases, the Edit is a fun, easy service with plenty to offer. There’s no obligation to purchase, though I can’t promise you won’t be incredibly tempted at least twice a week. The Edit’s texts have become a highlight of my day—with seemingly endless resources for inventory and intelligence, there’s always something interesting to offer. Go ahead–ask the Edit to track down that album you’ve been stalking out, or let them help you find your new favourite record. It’s quickly become my favourite subscription service, and with no membership fees or recurring charges, it’s one of my wallet’s favourites too!
Full disclosure: I have not been compensated to promote the Edit in any way, but if you like what you hear and sign up using one of the links above, I receive referral credit which helps me bring you more music- and vinyl-related content on the regular!
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Music

Where Are We Now? The Musical Milestones of 2015 in Review

2016 comes with promises of big new releases from so many artists–David Bowie drops an album later this week, and that’s just the second week of January. I, for one, am on the edge of my seat for what’s to come. New albums can set the entire soundtrack for your life, and new releases serve as milestones to measure against–I know I’m looking back at where I was when Bowie’s last album reached my ears, looking at how far I’ve come since I drove around memorizing the lyrics to “Where Are We Now?” –and I know 2015 will be measured against some seriously killer albums in memory. I’ve rounded up some of the most memorable releases of 2015, albums that will forever live in my mind as markers of where I was and where I’ll go.

By the time the Pale Emperor was released in January, I had all ready been stalking critical reviews and sneak peaks for a while. In fact, I had tickets for Marilyn Manson‘s corresponding tour before the CD I pre-ordered ever hit my mailbox. Despite the fact that Born Villain wasn’t everything I had hoped it to be, I had high hopes for his 9th studio album–I recognized the more classic goth-rock influences he had drawn on for Villain (that very Bauhaus verse in “the Gardener,” tho) and I was hoping for more. I could tell by the third track (and “the Third Day…”) that what Manson brought was less Bauhaus and more blues–this was the soulful, sophisticated Manson, the Mephistopheles of Los Angeles in bespoke suits and Italian leather so far removed from the Antichrist Superstar who shocked us with bondage and blood. “Cupid”‘s witch drums might have pounded for the television series Salem, but the magic of this album was more hoodoo than witchcraft–the murky throb of “the Birds of Hell Awaiting” transported me straight to the banks of the Mississippi River. While I walked around New York with my headphones on, I dreamed of New Orleans for months. –Sure, Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals are classics, but the Pale Emperor, arguably his most mature offering to date, sits very steadily at the top of my favourite Manson albums.

The Maine doesn’t fit my usual musical profile–they’ve gone from pop-punk to classic rock and roll, and their Arizona roots give them a certain down-home flare that normally wouldn’t appeal to me. But since my sister played Pioneer ad nauseam over so many family car trips, I’ve developed a soft spot for them. When “English Girls” went live in February, I could tell something was different. The hint of 90’s Rock I had heard in Pioneer and Forever Halloween was back with a totally new energy behind it, turning it playful and nostalgic rather than brooding and edgy. That’s not to say that edge was gone–American Candy dropped in March, and along with it came some seriously moody tracks. Listen to “24 Floors,” really hear the words, and try not to cry. Go ahead, I dare you. “Am I Pretty?” undoubtedly strikes a chord for their longtime teenage fans, but anyone who’s ever been insecure about their social footing can identify–the same is true for most tracks on this strikingly self-aware album. Despite that, it’s one of my go-to feel-good albums, mellow without sedating, fun but reflective.
I was raised on the complexities of Baroque music and I found a familiar thrill in the classically-touched art rock of Muse. I spent so many summers rocking out to Origin of Symmetry and passed chilly winters with AbsolutionBlack Holes and Revelations had its own place in my car for years. When the Resistance tour came to town, I nabbed tickets without a second thought. So when the 2nd Law happened…well…let’s just say it was a tough break. Their last four albums were practically perfect–it sounds a little irrational that I’d let one lackluster release break my heart, but as far as I was concerned, Muse were all but disbanded. Which is why Drones almost escaped my notice. When Spotify told me it dropped in June, my reaction was basically “may as well.” Talk about underestimation. From the opening strains of “Dead Inside,” I could tell my Muse was back. Although they sport some heavily political lyrics, the new tracks are full of the aggressive energy I enjoyed from Absolution and Resistance. “Mercy,” with its oddly predictable stadium-rock vibe and the second single off the album, seemed a strange follow up considering the strength of other tracks like “Reapers” or “the Handler” (though the first was used as a promotional single on YouTube)–but it charted fairly high in the US, so I guess I’m in the minority. “Revolt,” November’s third single offering, was much more my speed (though only Belgium seemed to agree).
Say what you want, Duran Duran is still one of my all-time favourite bands, and 2010’s All You Need Is Now remains one of my favourite albums period. I didn’t question their summer tour before I had tickets in hand, but when I heard they were releasing a new album I properly flipped. The single was released that same week, an upbeat, super-poppy collaboration with Janelle Monáe and Nile Rodgers (of disco heavyweights Chic, and former producer for Duran) called “Pressure Off,” followed quickly on by promotional releases of a handful of other tracks–including the title track, Paper Gods. The album officially dropped in September, and with it a deluxe version featuring three bonus tracks (seen above between my teeth)–it’s a great collection of dance tracks, and the upbeat pop tunes were a fantastic soundtrack for stress-free, (dare I say?) cheerful commuting, but I felt like the album lacked the meat of some of its predecessors. –that is, until I saw some of the new tracks performed live. “Last Night in the City,” and “Danceaphobia” come alive on stage (and without Lindsay Lohan’s deadpan narration), and the band’s energy added an entirely new layer of emotion to more lyrical tracks like “What Are the Chances?” (In fact, the new stuff is so good live, I saw them three times during their promotional tour–they’ll be back this summer with the official production!) That said, “Face for Today” feels like what I loved most about their 2010 release–a driving beat, infectious tune, and a chorus that sticks in your head for hours, and “the Universe Alone,” with its soaring melody and throbbing beat, is a beautiful song with some seriously provocative lyrics.
I liked the 1975‘s self-titled release as much as the next girl (which is to say a lot), but “Robbers” can only get me so far. When my sister texted me that a new single was live online, I was on Spotify in record time–“Love Me” was the first release since their rosy rebrand, and I was dying to see whether the colour had creeped into their shoegazey sound. The answer was an instant and resounding yes, it had–with a funky baseline and soaring synth, the new track is disarmingly fun, fantastically retro, and actually downright danceable. Don’t worry, ladies: it’s still got the heat of their previous singles–you might not want to watch the corresponding video in polite company. Though released digitally as a single, their next full album (with its title totally chock-full of words) won’t drop until the end of February. To tide us over, they leaked another track, “Ugh,” in charmingly vintage style on the radio. If you’re hungry for more, it’s worth listening to the band’s interview on what’s to come–I’ve all ready got it on order (and on pink vinyl!) to devour as soon as possible.
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Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful, a book review

Sometimes when you’ve made up your mind to do something, the universe will find ways of providing you with the tools you need. In this case, my resolution to develop signatures received some help in the form of a gift: Bobbi Brown’s latest book, Pretty Powerful.

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While I do love Bobbi Brown’s foundations and concealers, her makeup line is only a fraction of what she has to offer. She’s an industry veteran, still applying makeup at runway shows each year at New York Fashion Week, working magazine cover shoots and charity events while managing a company and a household. To young beauty professionals, she’s a shining example of what we can accomplish when we’re driven and passionate. Along the way, she’s compiled much of her experience and wisdom in books for everyone from teenagers beginning to experiment in beauty to professionals who have all ready begun to work in the industry.

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When I said that I want to work on developing signatures this year, I never thought that I would come home the next day to find a valuable tool on my dining room table. Pretty Powerful is not your typical makeup book: there are plenty of how-to volumes filled with color-by-number face formulas, but Bobbi approaches it from her own place, stressing individual beauty over total perfection. Each time I read one of Bobbi’s books, I’m truly taken by her philosophy that beauty is not a standard, it’s an individualized trait that each and every woman in the world possesses. Makeup exists merely to enhance it. Pretty Powerful is organized by profiles–not beauty profiles, per se, but personality profiles. The task presented to you as the reader is not to decide which of your physical features to emphasize or what colours you look nice in, it’s simply to decide how you feel most comfortable. 

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Each chapter–Pretty Natural, Radiant, Strong, Classic, Authentic, and Bold–begins with a note from Bobbi about how the chapter applies to to her, therefore reminding you that there is plenty of cross-over between profiles. You might identify as Pretty Natural, but adopting traits from the Pretty Radiant or Pretty Authentic chapters could benefit not only your makeup routine but also your lifestyle. Each one contains face charts for day and night with suggestions for colours, finishes, and textures to experiment with as well as numerous before-and-after pictures of women who underwent Bobbi’s Pretty Powerful transformations. The captions beneath each photo offer some info on how the look was created–sometimes the complete opposite the face charts, since even within general types Bobbi respects each model’s individual preferences–as well as notes about what the ladies themselves think make them beautiful. It’s inspiring and wonderful to see so many women embracing traits that might have been rejected under traditional beauty ideals.

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Additionally, each chapter features a celebrity or woman of note who is not only transformed by Bobbi’s makeup team but also contributes a short essay about what they find beautiful, and what led them to their place in life. Some write about childhood notions of what was or was not beautiful–their freckles, their dark eyes, their uncontrollably curly hair–some talk about the people in their lives that encouraged them to be who they are and helped them see what beauty really was. It forces you to examine your own ideals and experiences in order to transform your routine. Whether you’re stuck in a “beauty rut,” as Bobbi discusses at several points during the book, or just looking to experiment with your look, this book includes plenty of points to ponder.

Going through the articles and face charts, it’s impossible not to envision yourself in each category. Some simply don’t fit (I could never call myself “Natural”) and others might seem to apply in bits and pieces (I’ve definitely gone through both “Radiant” and “Classic” periods), but invariably one category will seem most you. Perhaps predictably, most of my cosmetic habits fell under Pretty Bold–my penchant for colour and experimentation, my confident approach to self-expression through cosmetics. While labeling often causes constriction, Bobbi uses each category to encourage readers to explore what makes them feel most beautiful, whether its looking fresh-faced and dewy or wearing bold, neon lipsticks.

Pretty Powerful can be purchased on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at independent booksellers. All images above from Barnes & Noble.

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Fashion, Reviews

An Eye for Style: Accessorizing with Firmoo

As an eight-year-old with rapidly-developing near-sightedness, my glasses were part of my identity. I remember the day I picked them out–a pair of giant oblong frames in a purple tortoise-shell finish–considering how they could change people’s perception of me, what they would say about who I was. I wore them day in and day out, content with them and their effect on my image. As a teenager, however, it occurred to me that I changed my clothes every day. I wore different makeup, different shoes, even carried different purses if it suited me. Why should I have to wear the same glasses all the time? Of course, I was oblivious to the exorbitant cost of a pair of glasses. It was expensive enough to change the lenses in one pair each year.

When I was contacted by Firmoo about reviewing a pair of glasses, I had flashbacks to that first time I ever picked out a pair of glasses. My most recent pair was selected more for comfort than style: I experience chronic photophobia and selected the largest, blackest frames I could to reduce the amount of light that came through. However, I find my large frames and tinted lenses to be an obstacle while working. They interfere with my sense of colour and space, which is not acceptable while working with hair and makeup. Firmoo offered me my choice of frames as well as lenses in my prescription in exchange for my honest review.

The task was honestly a little daunting–Firmoo has thousands of frames to choose from. Luckily, you can break down your search easily by materials, colours, shapes, sizes, and any combination thereof. When selecting frames in a doctor’s office, I usually end up trying on a dozen or more pairs before settling on one over another, so I was uncertain how shopping online might turn out. However, if you create an account on Firmoo’s website, you can use their handy “virtual try-on” tool by uploading a photo of yourself, selecting your pupils for accuracy, and allowing the tool to superimpose an image of your frames over your face.

After agonizing over five or six different pairs for what seemed like days, I settled on the frames above: a dainty pair of black-and-lavender plastic, much lighter than what I was used to but still bearing enough black for me to feel like myself. Inputting my prescription information was simple enough, but my doctor did not give me my Pupilary Distance, or PD. This is a measurement taken before fitting a pair of frames and is not usually written on a prescription. Luckily, I did some quick google-fu and found this handy online tool that measures your PD using your webcam a basic credit card for measurement. I did this a few times to get a solid number and came up with a number of 62, a fairly average PD for a normal human being.

My glasses shipped within a week and arrived quickly, along with a sturdy leather case, a cleaning cloth, and a tool to loosen and tighten the screws as necessary. The frames fit perfectly without any adjustments–my last pair needed to be re-molded several times before they sat evenly on the bridge of my nose. My prescription was correct and the lenses were clear. However, like many glasses I’ve had in the past, I did notice a bit of distortion around the periphery. It could be my prescription, it could be the shape of the frames, I’m not sure, but I have had many pairs of glasses in the past that had this same sort of warping around the outermost portion of the lenses. It usually takes me about a week to adjust to it and then it becomes less noticeable. I found the same was true of these glasses. I don’t feel it has anything to do with the quality of the lenses as much as it has to do with the sensitivity of my eyes.

All in all, I am very satisfied with my experience with Firmoo. Even if these glasses had not been free, they would have been well worth the money: the frames with basic lenses would have cost about $8.00 plus shipping–my last pair of glasses cost me over $150 for the frames alone, and lenses were an additional $200. The most expensive pair of frames Firmoo offers is $55.95, which is still far less expensive than what most places ask. If you require more than just basic lenses, that’s fine: for less than $30, your glasses can be made into bifocal or progressive lenses. Prescription sunglasses can be polarized for an additional $20, and for no extra cost you can select your own level of tint.

If you’ve never purchased from Firmoo before, make sure you check out their Free Glasses offer. As a new customer, you can receive a voucher for new glasses when you share your favourite eligible pair through Facebook, Twitter, or email. Even if you have a pair of glasses, this offer allows you to snag a spare pair for backup, or even just a departure from your norm!

Thanks to Firmoo, I have a great, functional addition to my fashion arsenal. Now that I have the option to choose which eyewear I’ll be sporting each day, I wonder how I got by for so many years with just one pair.

;

(cross-posted from Bella Cantarella)

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Mind Your Mane: Bumble & Bumble’s Color Minded

As a beauty professional, I’m always amazed by the number of people who don’t know what they need. Hair and skin can change over our lifetimes, but for the most part the hair you have now is the hair you’ve worked with for years. I’ve met countless people with fine, straight hair who are heartbroken because they think they have thin hair, or women with gorgeous, thick curls who label themselves with coarse, unmanageable locks. Simply put, most people don’t know what they’re dealing with and therefore don’t know what kind of products they need to be using.

I thought I knew my own hair: it’s on the finer side, but its significant wave pattern can make it look puffy and fizzy at times. But rather than buy products for fine or wavy hair, I often find myself trying to combat the damage I’ve done through years and years of bleaching. Trying to take my naturally near-black hair to a state as close to white as possible has wreaked absolute havoc on its integrity, so I moisturize and reinforce as much as possible. Now that I’ve stopped bleaching, my hair has bounced back almost completely, but I still use my products for fragile, damaged hair daily.

When Klout offered to send me Bumble & Bumble‘s new colour care line, I considered my hair carefully: would stepping away from my protein-infused, deep-moisturizing products spell disaster? I had been curious about Bumble & Bumble for a while–as a prestigious professional brand not sold in my salon supplier, I always wondered about the quality of the line. When the KloutPerks box showed up on my doorstep, I was incredibly glad I took the chance.

I was expecting little foil packets with maybe two good applications of product, but Klout and Bumble & Bumble sent full sizes of not only the new Color Minded shampoo, but also the UV Protective Styling Balm and Polish. The line also has a corresponding conditioner, which was not part of the Klout Perk, but can be purchased at Sephora, Bloomingdale’s, or Bumble & Bumble salons.

The Color Minded Shampoo boasts a sulfate-free formula and gentle-cleansing action, both buzzwords in the current haircare market. According to the bottle itself, it promises clean hair without colour washout or fading while preserving shine. If I had a dime for every shampoo I’ve used that made the same claims, well, I’d probably have enough dimes to buy this product at retail value (that’s 290 dimes, by the way). The ingredients all checked out: aside from the sulfate-free cleansers, it has components to adjust hair’s pH and seal in colour during the washing process. The texture is pleasant and lathers nicely, both chief complaints I hear from people switching to sulfate-free formulas, and the scent is light and clean. When used in my hair, it did not tangle, pull, or leave my hair feeling “squeaky”–all things I’m particularly conscious of before conditioning. I began testing this product after coloring my hair with a demipermanent formula to start with a fresh slate: I noticed that the lather initially took on the orange-pink cast of my colour, but after that first wash the lather remained clear.

I followed the shampoo with conditioners I had on hand since I did not have the corresponding conditioner to test, but used the Color Minded UV Protective Styling Balm as a leave-in conditioner in my clean, damp hair. Formulated with proteins, humectants, and even a few hair-stimulating ingredients, this is a very thick preparation with a texture like sour cream or greek yogurt. A dollop about the side of a nickel is enough to work into my not-quite-bob-length hair.

After blow-drying, I used a pump of the Color Minded UV Protective Polish to seal out environmental damage to my colour and keep my hair shiny. I was taken off-guard by how light this polish was compared to most other silicone-based shine serums: rather than the super-viscous goop that many brands produce, this polish is almost runny by comparison and applied correctly (rubbed between the palms and dispersed into the hair beginning at the ends), it will not weigh down fine strands or look greasy.

The following shows my freshly-coloured hair alongside my hair after about five shampoos (four weeks) using the Color Minded system, first in direct natural light, then indirect.

As you can see, the fading is minimal. Previously, my colour would fade to a shade more pink than red just days after coloring between washing, styling, and simple environmental factors. Even friends and colleagues have noted the difference (and trust me, hairstylists notice every little change in a person’s hair). Honestly, I really wanted to hate these products–since Bumble and Bumble appears to be privately distributed, my only hope of getting them wholesale would be working a Bumble salon–but I can’t. They’re wonderful, well-formulated, and do exactly what they say. I might be able to get professional grade shampoo for less than $7, but I would definitely consider spending the $29 retail for more Color Minded shampoo when I run out. The Styling Balm and Polish each retail at $28, and great for summer styling when the sun noticeably leaches colour.

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Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 142.0 – You’re My Obsession, Sephora + Pantone Universe Pt. 1

If you had asked me as a child what colour I liked most, I would have responded, “odden my wooaaaaah dodden.” For those of you that don’t speak nonsense, that would translate roughly to “orange is my faaaaaaavourite colour.” It might have even meant, “I’m obsessed with the colour orange.” I was. As a kid, I wanted everything orange: orange clothes, orange backpack, orange highlighters, orange notebooks, orange ribbons for my hair, heck I wanted orange hair. As I got older, the obsession waned. It was still my favourite colour, along with it’s more grown-up, peachy cousins, but it didn’t factor so heavily into my life. Aside from a brief flirtation with orange streaks in my hair as a teenager, orange sort of fell completely out of my rotation. These days, it’s rare I wear colour at all and when I do it’s some shade of blue or green…

But back in November, I laid eyes upon Pantone’s official 2012 Colour of the Year: Tangerine Tango. Suddenly, my love for bright, vivid, retina-searing orange came rushing back. I wanted an orange purse, orange shoes, orange gloves, orange scarves… but above all, I wanted an orange lipstick.

via Pantone

Unfortunately, it was harder to find these things than Pantone would have you believe: designers might have been all over this shade for 2012, but in late 2011, it was still an elusive beast. That is, until Sephora announced it was teaming up with the iconic colour company to bring us a line inspired by this year’s hottest swatch.

Naturally, I rushed out to purchase the set. I thought long and hard about what to buy, but the Collector’s Edition included a little of everything. And everything is what I wanted.

Under a shiny shield of protective plastic, the set includes the Color of the Year eyeliner in Tangerine Tango Twist, eyeshadow quad, Prisma Chrome blush, blush duo, creme lipstick, and lipgloss.

The Color of the Year eyeliner pencil is packaged in a self-sharpening plastic tube, though the base does come off to reveal a small plastic sharpener to reshape the tip of the liner.

The tip is smooth and the formula is creamy, so it does not pull or snag on the delicate skin of the eyes. I was actually quite impressed with the formula: I expected this to be a bit messy and smear easily, as most of the Sephora-made pencils I’ve tried have, but once set it stays in place amazingly well and lasts a good 12+ hours until I choose to remove it.

You can see that there’s a bit of silver sparkle to this liner, but it does not come off as gritty or flakey in the least. Swatched here over bare skin, I applied the top line thicker and heavier and the bottom line with less pressure.

The Color of the Year Eyeshadow Quad was the one product in this set I would not have purchased on its own. I haven’t been terribly impressed with Sephora’s pressed shadows in the past and I have tons of both orange and neutral shades. However, Sephora’s partner collections are always significantly better quality than their standalone shadows, so I thought I’d take the chance anyway. This is packaged in a sleek, magnetic palette much like the Inglot packaging I love.

Each of the shades in this quad correspond to Pantone colours, which I do find interesting. Clockwise from top left, Sparrow (Pantone #18-1404), Pavement (Pantone #19-3900), Carnelian (Pantone #16-1435), and Scallop Shell (Pantone #12-1010).

Used over a primer, these shadows are actually quite well-pigmented. They’re soft and easy to blend, and with the design of the palette extremely portable. I wouldn’t say these shades are particularly unique, but they are true to the theme of the collection.

The Prisma Chrome formula is fairly new to Sephora, though I admittedly have not tried their Prisma Chrome eyeshadows. It promises a soft, pigmented formula with eye-catching, light-reflecting shades. The Color of the Year collection came with this Prisma Chrome blush in Apricot Brandy (Pantone #17-1540).

For some reason, I expected this to be more of a creme-to-powder consistency, but it reminds me more of a baked powder in texture. I tried first to apply it with my fingers as I would a cream blush, but found that the super-fine powder stuck to my finger tip  and did not transfer well onto my face. That said, when applied with a brush, I get a shimmering wash of colour that lasts all day without transferring or fading in the slightest.

Of the blushes, this is the most orange. It’s a warm coral-orange with a strong gold shimmer. Swatched here heavier towards the top, blended out towards the bottom.

In case that wasn’t enough blush for one set, the Collector’s Edition also contains the Color of the Year Blush Duo. Packaged in the same sleek, magnetic palette as the eyeshadow quad, it consists of two large pans of blush in different finishes.

Desert Flower (Pantone #15-1435), shown here on the left, is a matte finish and appears significantly pinker than Coral (Pantone #16-1539) on the right, which has a gold shimmer.

Desert Rose, applied heavily at the top and blended out towards the bottom, is the lightest, pinkest shade in the set. It definitely leans peachy, but if I saw this shade on its own I wouldn’t consider it “orange.”

Coral is a bright peachy shade with a heavy golden shimmer. I have a few blushes in my collection that are quite similar to this one, but it does have a strong colour payoff that sets it apart.

However, my favourite products in this set by far are the lipstick and lipgloss. In fact, I feel like they deserve their own post. Stay tuned later this week for a full report!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Metamorphosis 135.0 – Subtle Darkness, Detrivore Cosmetics’ December Collection

Some days, I want to wear something “dark” without actually wearing something dark. Luckily for me (and all those who have ever shared my sentiment), one of my favourite companies recently released an entire collection that fits the bill: Detrivore Cosmetics’ December Collection.

Consisting of three cool and three warm neutrals, these six shadows have become staples in my day-to-day looks. And in the vein of Detrivore’s previous releases, each shade is almost unsettlingly beautiful.

Predatory is described as a “frost pink satin eye shadow filled with white shimmer.” It’s a cool-toned pink with a strong blue-white shimmer, an absolutely perfect base for many eye looks. I’ve found countless uses for this shade, being neither a pink, nor a neutral person. I will admit, this shadow wins extra points for the name.

Topiary is a ” light brown taupe with white shimmer.” The white shimmer gives it almost a blue cast, causing it to lean very cool. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really grasp the taupe-fever that consumes so many makeup addicts, but this is a beautiful colour that lends itself well to many looks.

Mimicry is also described as a “taupe satin eye shadow filled with white shimmer,” though it’s definitely darker and a bit less shimmery than Topiary. It’s also cool-toned, and makes a perfect crease shade when paired with the previous two colours.

Aurum is an appropriately named “light gold satin eye shadow.” It’s a lovely pale yellow-gold, though not metallic. This makes a gorgeous highlight for warmer looks.

Decline is described as a “light orangish yellow satin eyeshadow with gold and orange shimmer,” and reads as a pale orange-brown shade with a satiny finish. This would be beautiful on warmer complexions and stunning during the summer.

Nocturnal is a “brown satin eye shadow filled with white shimmer.” Like Topiary and Mimicry, the white shimmer can appear a bit blue, but Nocturnal is still a very warm brown shade. It reminds me of the shield beetles we have here, which–while not detrivores–I think is oddly appropriate.

These six shades are entirely different from anything else in my collection, and definitely completely different from anything Detrivore has previously released. At this point Detrivore jars fill a large part of my storage drawers, and with Distorria constantly formulating breathtaking new shades, their numbers will only continue to grow. I’ve all ready been eyeing up the newly-relased Graveyard Collection, an array of loose mattes.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Metamorphosis 128.0 – Artistic Inspirations, a review of Innocent+Twisted Alchemy

There are so many indie companies floating around out there, it’s hard to try every single one. But every once in a while, a company comes along with a truly original concept and you simply need to try them. This was the case with Innocent + Twisted Alchemy. It wasn’t the branding that caught my eye, not even the pretty-looking colour blends, nor the fact that they seem to have great reviews. What caught my eye were the hand-drawn illustrations done by the owner. A little Ai Yazawa, a little Mistukaz Mihara, completely original, the owner even creates shadow collections based on her pieces. I had never seen anyone do anything quite like it.

But knowing that holiday collections were close at hand, I held off buying until Black Friday. I had just enough spare change scraped together for four samples. Innocent + Twisted uses clamshells for samples and absolutely stuffs them full of products. While I think $2 is steep for a 1/8th teaspoon baggie, it is perfectly reasonable for the samples you get here.

Shooting Stars is part of the limited holiday collection and described on site as a “navy blue with an explosion of golden sparkles.” The base is a very blackened blue, with bright gold generously scattered throughout. Sometimes, I think the gold almost gives the blue a green tint, like dark, murky ocean waters.

Guilty Grinch is another holiday limited, described as a “dark teal [with] multi-colored sparkles.” What stands out most to me are the bits of red and green and violet through the formula, like glittering confetti over the velvety blue-green base. This is definitely my favourite of the shades I ordered.

Hidden Present is an “army green with an explosion of pink sparkles.” The pink in the sparkle is light, like a dusty rose rather than a magenta, which I think can almost look gold or silver depending on the light. Green shadow enthusiasts should most definitely get their hands on this one before it’s gone–the green itself is pretty a pretty enough olive shade, but the added interest of the pink makes it really unique.

Twisted is the only colour from the permanent line I ordered. Described on site as “violet with green shimmer,” it’s a very deep, dark purple with a healthy dusting of turquoise-green sparkles. It’s incredibly pretty and has gotten a lot of wear, despite the fact that I really don’t wear purples often. This one gave me the hardest time photographing, since unlike the other shades, the turquoise here really is a shimmer and not sparkly enough to catch the interest of my (admittedly ancient) camera.

The photos below were taken slightly out of focus to try to capture the sparkles and shift. All were taken in natural light.

Shooting Stars

Guilty Grinch

Hidden Present

Twisted

All things considered, I would definitely order from Innocent + Twisted again and would gladly recommend them to people looking for pretty shades from a unique company. If you’re looking for ways to spend some Christmas cash, Innocent + Twisted also offers Lucky Packs–randomly chosen shades in full size, clamshell, and bagged samples. I’ll definitely be ordering one!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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