Monthly Archives: February 2011

Zoya Pinta nail polish review

Oh Zoya. We’ve come this far and you’ve never disappointed me but I suppose it’s inevitable we’d have a falling out eventually. Well, I’m afraid the time has come. The reason? Pinta.

Your website says Pinta is a dark purple creme. The bottle is a dark purple creme. And yet when I apply it, I just see dark navy inky blue.

Lots of bloggers also seem to think it’s the perfect ‘blurple’ shade (have they heard of the word ‘indigo’? Because I’m fairly sure that’s the colour ‘blurple’ is meant to be!) but I could rarely catch the deep grape colour that everyone else seemed to see. Sometimes, when the sun was shining hard, my nails were angled just right and all the planets were aligned, I could just about catch it, but mostly it was like an eternal midnight on my nails.

Desperately seeking purple: Take 1 (regular lighting)

OK, I’m overdoing this a bit because even when Zoya nail polishes aren’t exactly what I had in mind, they’re still better than most other polishes on a good day. The formula was fantastic, opaque in just one coat, although it could have been a little glossier and dried a little quicker in my opinion. As ever, I find Zoya’s brushes by far the easiest to work with and although it’s such a strongly pigmented colour, it came off easily and without staining. And if you wanted a deep dark inky blue, then this would be great. But I didn’t – I wanted blurple. I mean indigo.

What I really wanted was the bottle colour that had drawn me in the first place, a soft creamy indigo that you could get lost in. Dark? Yes, but still definitely visibly purple. But once on the nails, at times it even seemed closer to jet than purple! And it’s also worth noting that it looks WAY more purple on all my photos than it ever did in real life!

Desperately seeking purple: Take 2 (strong sunlight)

After Edyta, another ultra-dark Zoya shade that I liked but didn’t love, I think I’ve worked out that I’m not really a fan of these really dark hues. I guess I save that stuff for my eyeliner.

I’m afraid Pinta just isn’t for me, Zoya, but I’m sure we’ll patch things up soon!

Looks good with: the knowledge that it really isn’t that purple
Drying time: 10 mins
Coats required: 1-2
Chips: 3-5 days

Zoya Pinta nail polish, Fall 2009 Dare Collection, $80, Cher2

OPI Suede You Don’t Know Jacques nail polish review

The only problem with OPI’s Suede Collection? Once you wear one, you’ll never want to take it off. And such was the case with You Don’t Know Jacques.

A soft velvety take on mink with that trademark matte micro-glitter finish, You Don’t Know Jacques in Suede is yet another winner from the collection. C’mon OPI – this 100% hit rate is getting boring! It’s a tawny taupe transformed into a muted muddied copper thanks to that dense shimmer effect, and it’s the perfect matte take on the whole greige trend. I absolutely adore it.

This is the third Suede I’ve reviewed now (following the stunning Lincoln Park After Dark and Ink) and all the pros and cons are still exactly the same. Super speedy drying, excellent coverage from just one coat, a fat brush that is impossible to use on my pinkie and more chips than you’ll find in the deep-fat fryer at McDonalds. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. 12 hours spent lying flat in bed and you’ll probably still have some chips to show for your efforts.

Of all the drawbacks to have, chipping quicker than an Olympics 100m race is a pretty big one, but somehow OPI Suedes still have me coming back for more. You Don’t Know Jacques is no different – it’s a really subtle soft but sophisticated shade, highly versatile and a contender for a different take on work-wear nails. It looks really dreamy matched with pastel pinks, greys and creams yet also looks ultra-haute against black. I’m going goo-goo eyed even thinking about it.

There’s just something about that suede finish that is, as my good friend Alex Perry would say (with strong Aussie accent for best effect), ‘expensive’. You Don’t Know Jacques might just be the most expensive of the lot.

Looks great with: soft pastels and neutrals, workwear, luxury
Drying time: <1 min
Coats required: 1
Chips: <24 hours

OPI You Don’t Know Jacques nail polish, Fall 2009 Suede Collection, $70, Cher2

Sheung Kee restaurant review – to dai for Canto cuisine

Dai pai dong? As far as dining experiences in Western culture go, it really is a totally different language.

Many traditional dai pai dongs, open-air food stalls where you eat home-style  in the streets (as depicted in those gorgeous Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns in Tsim Sha Tsui), have died out in Hong Kong, amidst hygiene and street congestion concerns. Instead, they now masquerade under the similarly-indecipherable name ‘cooked food centres’ on the top floor of indoor wet markets throughout the city (I guess I’ll leave explaining wet markets for another time, suffice to say for those brought up on a diet of sanitised supermarkets or even farmers’ markets, you ain’t seen nothing yet). Sheung Kee is such an establishment.

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Majolica Majorca V1494 nail polish review

On my epic quest for Gosh Cosmetics, I had some happy accidents along the way (although this makes it sound as if I was merrily wetting myself upon arrival at each Watsons store – not the case I assure you). One such discovery was Majolica Majorca’s V1494 nail polish.

V1494 – snazzy name, right?! However, that’s pretty much the only thing about this polish to dislike. Almost too sparkly for words, it’s a bright violet-based glitter packed with more twinkles than you could shake a magic wand at.

Majolica Majorca is the drugstore sub-brand of Japanese high-end cosmetics company Shiseido, and can be found in most Sasas and selected Watsons. The whole line is very typically Japanese – overly cute girlie packaging, pretty feminine colours, liberal heaps of sugar and spice and all things nice… you get the picture. Their nail polishes are suitably packaged in 3ml teeny tiny bottles (so much so they can’t even fit their ingredients list on!) – but my, do they pack in some polish for your buck!

V1494 is part of Majolica Majorca’s Jeweling Line (and yes, it pains me to write that typo but that is how they’ve decided to spell it…), designed especially for creating glittering and glistening nail art. They’re meant to dry in 45 seconds flat and have teeny tiny brushes so you can be as delicate and precise as possible. I’d highly recommend their website, which features lovely step-by-step tutorials on how to create pretty designs that look do-able even to a nail art novice like me. However, despite the rainbow of glitters available as part of the Jeweling Line, V1494 is the obvious standout.

Why? Because in addition to the lushly gorgeous pinky-purple glitter itself, V1494 comes studded with beautiful bigger rainbow-reflecting circles of sparkle that have an almost diamante effect on the nail. It’s an absolute dazzler.

As a topcoat (shown below), it’s seriously stunning. I put it over the tips of Gosh’s Gasoline to accentuate the violet glitter; the overall effect reminds me of the glittering sumptuous jewel tones of an Indian sari, with a cascade of gemstones thrown at it for good measure. Super pretty – I could not stop looking at it.

On its own, it’s perhaps a little gaudy for some, but the mixture of colours and sizes of glitter means that you get a wonderfully three-dimensional effect that flashes in continually entrancing ways whatever time of day it is. It takes three coats to build up the intensity of the violet to opaque levels (a bit of a pain with the tiny brush) and, as with many glitters, you end up with a slightly bumpy and uneven finish, but for nails so blingtastic they’d put J.Lo to shame, V1494 is a winner.

Alas, I didn’t have my stopwatch with me, but 45 seconds doesn’t seem too much of an exaggeration. It also sticks like glue, lasting days without chipping, and as a topcoat could add life to your manicure as well! Glitters are renowned for also sticking like glue just when you don’t want them to but, with my trusty Nail Tek II as a base, I found I could just peel it away, like the white PVA glue you used to use as a kid in school (and which Neil Buchanen was constantly using on Art Attack, of course).

It’s basically WOW in a bottle. Hell, it’s even good enough to excuse that typo too!

Looks good with: purple base coats, jewel tones, not being a shrinking violet
Drying time: <1 min
Coats required: 3-4 on its own, 1 as a top coat
Chips: +5 days

Majolica Majorca V1494 nail polish, Jeweling Line, $38, selected Watsons

Gosh Gasoline nail polish review

After the various trials and tribulations involved in getting my mitts on Gosh’s Gasoline nail polish, it didn’t have much choice other than to be bloody brilliant. Thankfully, it was.

An amazing glittering true purple that manages to be bright but deep at the same time, I can honestly say it’s become one of my favourites. Partly because purple is lucky enough to be my favourite colour full-stop, but mostly on the grounds of Gasoline’s merits alone.

However, in addition to the hard slog that was getting the nail polish itself, application wasn’t exactly a breeze either. As a girl used to salon-quality nail varnish in the forms of OPI, Essie, China Glaze and Zoya, the ridiculously sheer first coat was a bit of a shock. On seeing the initial pale watery fuchsia colour, I wondered if I’d be building up coats quicker than mattresses in The Princess & The Pea in order to get the bottle colour. It took four coats and a long fraught drying time of tackiness, but I finally got there – and it was totally worth it.

Chock-a-block with flecks of multi-coloured glitter, Gasoline is a hypnotising mesmerising shade of purple that was just about everything I wanted but failed to get from Essie’s Sexy Divide. It’s that pitch-perfect purple smack bang in the middle of the spectrum between pastel and midnight. Neither too pink nor too blue, it’s basically the colour I’d conjure up in my head if you asked me to envisage my ideal purple. Eye-catching and still obviously purple in all types of lighting, it especially comes alive against black.

What with the vivid purple colour and the glittery sparkliness, it’s the kind of nail varnish I’d imagine my all-time favourite cosmetics company, Urban Decay, coming out with. In fact, it’s pretty much the polish equivalent of their brilliant shimmering 24/7 eyeliner in Lust. [Gasoline is such an Urban Decay name too.] Then again, it’s also the polish equivalent of the Purple One in a box of Quality Streets too.

A rocky vibrant shade with a gleaming cosmic depth provided by those swirls of glitter, Gasoline had me utterly spellbound. Thank God Treg’s Luck didn’t strike again!

Looks good with: black, love of purple, Urban Decay make-up
Drying time: +10 mins
Coats required: 3-4
Chips: +7 days

Gosh Gasoline nail polish, $78, selected Watsons

Red Carpet Rundown: Screen Actors Guild Awards 2011, Part III

The Hmmms

My final red carpet rundown of looks from 2011’s SAG Awards that I liked… sort of… maybe…

Mila Kunis in Alexander McQueen – This is topping lots of people’s best-of lists and I get why, but it’s just a bit too hippy-chick earth-mother for me. I’m absolutely overjoyed that since discovering colour existed at the Golden Globes, Mila is sticking with brights and this shade of scarlet looks stunning with her colouring. There’s *yet more* L’Oreal worthy hair on show and the addition of the belt was a clever touch, as it gives a little shape to the sheer flowiness. But it’s just not my kind of dress. Imagine if she’d worn a slightly-shorter version of Tina Fey’s dress instead – I don’t think mankind’s hormones would ever recover.

Claire Danes in Louis Vuitton – From good belt to bad belt, this black one just feels too heavy and ugly for this dainty and delicate floral gown. And given that there’s a black thing dangling down that doesn’t appear to be part of the belt anyway, was the extra belt even necessary in the first place? However, in a red carpet swarming with simplicity (less kind people would say mediocrity), this ultra-pretty print stands out, especially given that Danes is usually one to head down the minimalist route. It might have a slight 70s curtain/tablecloth feel, but those appliquéd flowers at the bust are a really beautiful touch.

Helena Bonham Carter in Marc Jacobs – Believe it or not, HBC was actually on my list of ‘Yays’ at one point. That was before I saw that she’d showed up in those blasted sunglasses again – does she have some sort of eye condition (in which case, I am a truly horrible person)? Luckily, the photographers managed to coax her out the shades for most photos, yet this was the only shot I could find that shows off her super-cute ‘Pearls Of Wisdom’ clutch (matching the pearl necklace, wouldn’t you know). Having got angry at Helena’s contrived eccentricity with the mismatched shoes at the Golden Globes, this look shows effort being directed into the right places nicely. I absolutely love the lacy dress – it’s got a slight 50s ladies-who-lunch vibe to it and would look incredible with kid gloves – but the sheer shoulder straps almost ruin it for me (wish they’d been made out the bodice material instead). A lighter lipstick colour wouldn’t have gone amiss either but given this is Helena Bonham-Carter we’re talking about, I’d be amazed if there was any understated anything in her make-up box.

Amy Adams in Herve L. Leroux – You last heard me wishing for Amy Adams to recover her style mojo and step away from the jewel tones. I kind of got my wish, as here she is in blinding white, which was enough to make me give her a win without much thought. But then on closer inspection, I decided I didn’t actually like the dress too much (mummy’s bandages, anyone?!) and that maybe white wasn’t a great colour for her anyway. Perhaps if she’d let her awesome red hair down rather than sporting this severe pony, that would have broken the milkiness up – and scored her a potential L’Oreal commercial too.

Dianna Agron in vintage Chanel – True to form, as soon as I’ve hailed Dianna my latest red carpet one-to-watch, she goes and messes it up. Admittedly, this isn’t a balls-up of Marion Cotillard’s squashed boobs and poodle perm level because the dress is actually beautiful and typical Dianna. Feminine, classic, exquisitely pretty and working the underrated combination of navy and black; again, it’s got that whole 50s tea-dress thing going on and I’m experiencing those kid gloves urges again. The problem is the heavy smoky eye make-up (the same amateur who sooted-up Jennifer Lawrence?!), which doesn’t suit Dianna’s look at all. Shame.

Naya Rivera in Aurelio Costarella – Well, it was nice of Naya to attempt to put the girls away, but you can see they’re still squishing their way to a bid for freedom. This dress is understatedly lovely in a retro vintage way yet its clingy nature makes her look a little too slender for my liking… and most probably for her boobs’ liking too, as they desperately wonder how they’re being kept up by that tiny a ribcage. I like that she keeps switching up her style and doesn’t always give us the typical va-va-voom Latino look (more of them later), I LOVE that her lipstick complements her nail varnish, I’m not so keen on the lifeless limp hair. No L’Oreal commercial for you!

Sofia Vergara in Roberto Cavalli – I don’t like Sofia Vergara’s red carpet style at all. For me, she falls into every stereotype of a ‘Latino lovely’, always squeezing into va-va-voom dresses that hoist her boobs up somewhere near her hairline. I find her just that teensy bit vulgar – I know, grab Grandma over here the smelling salts – and just so Eva Longoria five years ago. Her and Cavalli are practically made for one another. She’s included because this might just be my favourite ever look from her, primarily because of that amazing electric cobalt blue colour and absolutely nothing to do with her boobs staring me cold in the eye. It’s essentially a slutty version of Kate Middleton’s Issa engagement dress and that dress was so lovely that even the slutty version ain’t half bad.

Eva Longoria in Georges Hobeika – Speak of the devil and she shall appear… This colour is absolutely dreamy (and since greys are going to be the spring trend for nails, why not dresses too?!) and I like Eva’s complimentary soft eye make-up (thank God the Agron/Lawrence make-up artist didn’t get to her). I actually even like the shapes that this dress makes but it’s essentially slutty on a classier scale – imagine the side-boob on that! I feel that Eva’s very overt style of glamour is losing relevance on the red carpet at the moment and will be interested to see how she evolves, especially once Desperate Housewives is over, but this could be a step in the right direction from the OTT ballgowns and big trains she usually favours. Sofia, say hi to yourself in five years… if you’re lucky enough to still be famous that is

Rosario Dawson in J. Mendel – Rosario misses the best-dressed list purely on being so meh in general. What films has she actually been great and really memorable in? *Racks brain* However, this pale lemon colour is just divine on her skin-tone though the shape is a little boring… but those turquoise earrings! Well, let’s just say, if I could have put them on their own on the ‘Yays’ list, they’d be there by now.

Red Carpet Rundown: Screen Actors Guild Awards 2011, Part II

The Nays

Proof that my initial tweet about the 2011 SAG Awards (‘there’s a whole lotta ugly on the red carpet’) still stands. Incidentally, I don’t want to feature her because that’s exactly what she’d want but what the hell was Kim Kardashian doing there? Please remind me what work of hers was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award??? I thought the SAGs were supposed to be the “serious” awards show. The day when Snooki shows up isn’t as far-off as I’d hoped.

Jennifer Lawrence in Oscar de la Renta – This is inexplicably making lots of people’s best-dressed lists. God knows why. I think this shade of bright pink looks cheap and tacky in general and this gown isn’t doing anything to disprove my opinion. Not cheap and tacky enough? Let’s match it with black! Still not looking as if Jane Norman/Reveal/Hypnotic/* insert tacky local clothes shop of your choice here * turned it down for being too tasteful? Let’s customise those shoulder straps so it looks like a low-rent Herve Leger knock-off! Add on a make-up artist’s first attempt at doing smoky eyes, a Croydon facelift pony-tail and ugly clompy shoes, and you have a look that no doubt cost thousands yet looks as if it was found in New Look’s sales section. If it wasn’t for that slit, I’d be convinced it was lycra.

Julie Bowen in Malandrino – The top half got lost on its way to the Cabaret auditions, the bottom half got lost on its way to a good tailors. Someone give Julie Harry Shum Jr’s number! You could take a swim in those pooling hems! Anything vaguely reminiscent of a jumpsuit makes me think of Tina Fey’s Great Jumpsuit Disaster of 2010, which then makes me want to cry. Diane Keaton, you have a lot to answer for.

Angie Harmon in Monique Lhuillier – Is there any pink fluff left in the world? It looks like Harmon covered herself in superglue then rolled around in the flamingo pens at the zoo. Rather than being overtly ugly or too avant-garde to understand, this just looks deeply silly. I’m happy that she looks so delighted with herself though.

Kate Mara in Herve Leger – What is this?!?! It can’t have started life as a dress. My bets are on coffee filter paper, an accordion or strapping that athletes wear on injured parts of the body. The top part was made during a basket-weaving course, the bottom half is a handy Ikea invention for you to store bottles or shoes in. It was so monstrous that I’ve only just clocked the headband. Ladies, Black Swan has already happened. It’s over, finished, in the can. Stop trying to throw in your last-ditch ballerina auditions, please.

Cara Buono in J. Mendel – What is this?!?! The longer I stare at it, the more I start to see gargoyle-esque faces in the weird tumour mushrooming from Cara’s hip. There is enough material here to make five dresses but, on the grounds of just this one, I’m not sure any would be nice. The whole thing is crumpled, pleated and scrunched to an inch of its life, so much so it’s reminding me of the bit in sanitary towel adverts where they show you how their revolutionary quilting technology makes it hold more water than a camel’s hump. I never want to think of sanitary towels when I see a dress. NEVER.

Christina Hendricks in L’Wren Scott – What is this?!?! Goth’s bath-robe? Ladies smoking jacket? Yet another gown that clearly doesn’t fit her? It makes her look an alien-shade of pale, which in turn makes her hair look a wig-shade of fake and adds stumpy, lumpy and bumpy into the bargain too. And when you’re using words that sound like names for the seven dwarves to describe a dress, you know you’re in trouble.

Nicole Kidman in Nina Ricci – The other day, my boyfriend and I saw Nicole Kidman on a massive billboard advertising watches. ‘She looks baaaaaaaad,’ pronounced the boyfriend (and we’re not cool enough to use ‘bad’ to mean ‘good’). If she’s looking bad even with a SWAT team of stylists, make-up artists, lighting crews and air-brushers, it’s doubtful that she’s ever gonna look truly great on the red carpet again. Given what we’ve seen so far, this isn’t even that offensive, but the inclusion of the busy necklace on top of the already busy neckline is just bizarre. And up-close, it really does look like it was put together using off-cuts from a haberdashery.

Winona Ryder in Alberta Ferretti – If you’re thinking, ‘This looks bridal’, you’d be right. This is bridal. As in, has come from a designer’s bridal collection. I don’t understand why any celebrity would do this to themselves unless they’re so deadly desperate to wear a wedding dress that they decide the red carpet is a decent enough substitute to actually getting hitched (hey, don’t knock it, I’d probably do it if I could). The dress is actually lovely but Winona has been wearing this same finger-in-socket/how did you know I’m hearing Rachel’s coconuts knocking against each other face ever since she started doing promo for Black Swan and it’s just deeply odd. Stop it.

Paz de la Huerta – Cripes, how many parts of her body did Paz dip in chocolate? Tight-fitting brown dress = chocolate body. Strange brown tips to her hair = more chocolate-dipping action. Brown-smeared lips = why’s Willy Wonka not sucked her up a pipe or drowned her in a vat of chocolate yet? Final thought – what’s shinier, the dress or Paz’s face?! Even the leopard-print lining can’t save you now.