Monday, 17 October 2011

Majolica Majorca Blush Swatches

Majolica Majorca is one of Shiseido's most popular drugstore brands, and probably epitomises most foreigners' ideas about that 'kawaii stuff wot those Japanese folk like'. Packaging tends to princessy extras, glitter plays a starring role, and the website is a ADD-flash-packed camp dream/nightmare, but they also happen to make some standout products.

Earlier this year, the Puff de Cheek blushes, four mattes(!) in adorable round tin packaging with cute mini-puffs (HK$118 for 7g) were runaway bestsellers across Asia. Only two made it into the permanent line-up, and I've swatched them here alongside the four permanent shades from the Customise Cheeks range (HK$75 for 3g).

All swatches are two swipes layered onto bare arm. Natural light (no, I don't know what going on with my arm hair either... full moon that night perhaps?)
Puff de Cheek first two on left, other four are Customise Cheeks.

Majolica Majorca Puff de Cheek PK301 OR302 Customise Cheek 88 PK333 OR211 RD255

Customise Cheek RD255 is another one of those Nars Orgasm dupes, 88 is a lilacy highlighter which has reached cult classic status; both are too frosty for my tastes. PK333 and OR211 are the pretty cool pink and bright coral peach shades you can find in every Japanese line.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Shopping the side-street

In fashion terms, I am an insatiable omnivore constantly trying to reform my shopping habits and edit my wardrobe. For the last 4 years, I have kept strictly to a "project twelve piece" (not allowed to buy more than twelve new items a year, all others must be thrifted or hand-made, basic necessities excluded).

Er...yeah... not so much anymore.

In my defense, I have tried to shop mostly local, which entails much wandering around a little side-street called Granville Road in TST, Kowloon.

It's the kind of area that has an abandoned post-zombie-apocalypse feel in the day time, but come 4-5pm when the kids get off school, the lights come on in a plethora of local cheap&cheerful shops, like this market-style one, which cleverly organises things by print:

and sells, well, a little of everything as long as it's tacky and wacky and bling.

There are also little food stalls sandwiched in the 30cm or so of space between shops. This one offers piping hot griddle cakes with your choices of topping, filling and batter.

This my be Kowloon, but rents are sky-high here too, so some of the most interesting eateries can be found if you look above street level:

A new-ish addition is the G.I. (Granville Identity) mini-mall, three floors of stalls rented mostly to independent, newbie designers, set up by Hong Kong comedian and director Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle is probably his most famous film abroad and is a lot of fun, but I prefer the surreal and witty 90s cult classics A Chinese Odyssey Parts I and II).

It's fun to wander around nomming some Fro-yo from one of Hong Kong's most popular joints, Crumbs. Sorry, I think it's actually 'Crumbs!' Eh, anyway, the yoghurt is Japanese-style so very creamy, mildly tangy and soft-serve... and the matcha mochi sprinkles were 'interesting'. I'll be sticking with house crumbs (think crumble-topping :D) and blueberries in future...

Anyway, wandering schmandering, the main draw of Granville Road is actually an even tinier side-street off the side-street:

Which, I am told, is where budding designers straight out of fashion school like to set up shop for as many years as they profitably can before retraining as accountants.

At the end of Granville Circuit is this converted old office building, in which the indie designers who can't afford to keep up a shop rent stalls (most open after 5pm when they finish their day jobs. Possibly as accountants.) If you go around 6-7, you'll find most shop keepers having their dinner while ringing up customers.

The upper floors (there are 17, escalators only serve the bottom 4) offer much delicious Asian Random, and are worth the dank b-horror-movie climb:

Apart from numerous offices, dentist's practices, the dodgiest-looking collection of travel agencies and beauty salons EVER, you'll find:
the least sizeist dress shop ever?

a second-hand shop -- rarest of beasts in E Asia

and a handy wee chapel-kins

Back on floors Ground-4th, we have the usual mini-mall shenanigans as many shops specialising in Japanese and Korean imports have taken over.

but really, just a salesTORSO would do...

But there are still many local designer-owned shops, usually staffed by the owner/designer/maker and random friends, and organised by one unifying aesthetic.
This last shop offered custom-made shoes and tailoring. Only for the mens, sadly. Although I managed to pick these handmade leather brogues up for about £20 at a neighbouring shop:

Other cool bits: a lacy metal collar

a khaki crepe school-marmish skirt with a slight pouf and slit up the centre back (the shape is just brilliant, and it has deep pockets :D)

and a filmy print silk top which can be worn any number of ways, and makes a nice scarf too

Right, enough frivolity. Remember, you'll know it's streetstyle if there are random umlauts involved.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Giorgio Armani Designer Lift foundation comparison

Designer Lift is the latest foundation from Armani, released this autumn and supposed to bridge the gap between liquid and cream foundation. According to the sales assistant, it's best suited for normal-dry skin, and offers medium-to-full coverage with a silky matte finish. It will be the fullest-coverage liquid foundation that Armani makes, but will provide less than the Designer Shaping Cream foundation.

Left to Right:
Face Fabric 2, 1
Designer Lift 2, 3, 4
Designer Shaping Cream 4
Lasting Silk 2
Luminous Silk 2

natural light, direct light
Armani foundation swatch Face Fabric 2, 1 Designer Lift 2, 3, 4 Designer Shaping Cream 4 Lasting Silk 2 Luminous Silk 2

natural light, shade
Armani foundation swatch Face Fabric 2, 1 Designer Lift 2, 3, 4 Designer Shaping Cream 4 Lasting Silk 2 Luminous Silk 2

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Shu Uemura Blush swatches -- part 3 (browns and highlighters)

This concludes my swatches of all of the permanent Colour Atelier blushes. P light pink 315 and P light peach 510 are also reswatched from Parts 1 (here) and 2 (here) respectively.

All swatches one swipe onto bare arm (except for P005 and P010 which are two swipes layered). As always, click to enlarge.

direct sun
Shu Uemura blush swatch P 740, M 750, M 761, P 780, P 930, P 005, P 010, P 315, P 510

natural light
Shu Uemura blush swatch P 740, M 750, M 761, P 780, P 930, P 005, P 010, P 315, P 510

I'm sorry you probably can't see the highlighters very well against my (neutral, paler than NARS Siberia) skin. P light silver 005 and P light gold 010 are both sheer, with microshimmer and a very slightly gritty texture. P light pink 315 and P light peach 510 are both pigmented, silky and with a sheeny finish. 315 has a slight pearly pink/lilac iridescence while 510 is a glowy neutral peach sheen. On skintones of NC/W15 and darker, they would both make beautiful subtle highlighters.

Shade list for search purposes: P 740, M 750, M 761, P 780, P 930, P 005, P 010, P 315, P 510.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Shu Uemura Blush Swatches -- part 2 (peaches/oranges)

So apparently sunny days and nice SAs are like buses...

Today I swatched the 'Peach' and 'Orange' blushes from the Shu site along with P 531 which they inexplicably shoved into the 'Pink' category.... as you will see, it aint no pink. Pinks and reds were swatched here and browns/ambers/highlighters here.

natural light (more colour-accurate)
P 510, M 520, M 521, P 530, P 531, P 550, P 560, M 561, P 540, P 571

direct sun, angled to show which shades have more shimmer
Shu Uemura blush swatch P 510, M 520, M 521, P 530, P 531, P 550, P 560, M 561, P 540, P 571

Shade list for search purposes: P 510, M 520, M 521, P 530, P 531, P 550, P 560, M 561, P 540, P 571.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Shu Uemura blush swatches -- part 1 (pinks)

Today was the first day since arriving in Hong Kong that I a.) got some weak sun and b.) found an amenable SA. So to celebrate, here are some belated Shu Colour Atelier blush swatches!

I swatched the 'red', 'wine' and top row of the 'pink' categories on the Japanese Shu site, slightly out of order as the lovely SA had to go dig some out of storage. HK$135 for a refill.

First impressions: these seem to be softer and more pigmented than the old Shu blushes, but I'm not sure if it's due to the testers being newish and some of my old blushes pushing double digits. If you have blushes from both generations, please chime in!

Part 1 focuses on Pinks and Reds (100-300); Part 2 on Peaches/Oranges here and Part 3 Browns/Highlighters here.

Pigment and finish varies between shades (225 and 325-327 are softer and more muted -- but I believe this is intentional). All swatches are 1 swipe onto bare arm. Click to enlarge as always.

natural light
M 225, M 325, M326, M 327, M 335, M 336, M 345, P 365, P 366, P 385, M 375, P 175, P 315

better-lit shot of the muted shades on the left, natural light
Shu Uemura blush swatch M 225, M 325, M326, M 327, M 335, M 336, M 345, P 365

Shade list for search purposes: M 225, M 325, M326, M 327, M 335, M 336, M 345, P 365, P 366, P 385, M 375, P 175, P 315.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Guerlain Asian foundation swatches -- palest shades

As with most other Western brands, Guerlain have a range exclusive to Asia: the Parure Pearly White range of powder and liquid foundations. In addition, all of their foundations are available in the shade 01 Beige Pale whereas in N. America and Europe, the ranges all start from 02 Beige Clair.

The bad news is, the truly pale still won't be able to find a match here. The palest Guerlain 01 shade is still around a MAC NC15, so only wearable if you can find a white mixer that plays well with their delicious formulations...

Swatches from left to right (starred ones are Asia-exclusive):
*Lingerie de Peau compact cream 01
Lingerie de Peau compact cream 02
*Parure Pearly White liquid 01
*Lingerie de Peau liquid 01
Lingerie de Peau liquid 02
*Parure Aqua liquid 01
Parure Aqua liquid 02
*Parure Gold 01
Parure Gold 02

natural light
Guerlain foundation swatch Lingerie de Peau compact cream 01 02 Parure Pearly White liquid 01 02 Lingerie de Peau liquid 01 02 Parure Aqua liquid 01 02 Parure Gold 01 02

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Kanebo Media blush swatches

Media is one of the cheapest drugstore lines from Kanebo, and unusually, is targeted at mature women rather than teenagers. Textures tend to be creamy, shades neutral for 'no makeup' makeup looks and according to the website, their USP is fragrance-free, elegant makeup, with collagen as a key ingredient.

The blushes caught my attention because there was an unusually wide range of shades (10! Most Japanese drugstore brands have 4 max) and I couldn't see giant chunks of glitter winking at me in the pan (ahem, Canmake, Lavshuca, Visée and all your ilk).

On touching them I was even more impressed. These are seriously silky, almost creamy, powders. Pigmentation varies a bit between the shades but they're far above average for drugstore -- more pigmented than Bourjois or Revlon, less so than Sleek (but what's more pigmented than Sleek?). Because of the creaminess, I think they would work well applied with fingers if you wanted full opacity (you can blend out the edges with a brush). None of the shades are matte, the finishes vary from sheeny/glowy to full-on shimmer -- but the shimmer is always finely milled.

Packaging is sleek and no-nonsense: dark navy shimmery plastic cases with clear lids. At HK$49 for 3.5g, they are definitely worth trying if you don't mind some shimmer in your blushes.

All swatches done on bare arm: I swiped my finger all the way across the blush pan and then down my arm once. They will be sheerer if you use a brush.

Natural light, cloudy (this is most colour-accurate)

Yellow store lighting (this gives a better idea of the diff. finishes)

Close-up to show textures

Saturday, 1 October 2011


...because, like, duh, one of the best movies of the 90s. And also because I am easily confused by maze-like structures

(See that girl, that's a poor fellow rodent, she's been wandering the corridors for days. And those schoolgirls? Originally swam into the mall as foetuses. True story.) I always end up wandering into the creepy corner with the kinky maid outfit shop:

Don't try to ask for directions. However deceptively simple they seem, they will all lead you back to this accessory cul de sac where the rings will MOCK YOU.

Right, scene-setting. I forgot there was a world outside LaForet or Island Beverley for a minute there. Both of which are 'youth' malls with some eateries (ice cream, pick'n'mix, pizza, sushi -- y'know, the essentials) but mainly 3-4 floors packed with tiny shops (we're talking cupboard-under-the-stairs here) selling ALL TEH THINGS what the youfs currently find cool

like blinged-out phone cases and danglies

...let's just call these accoutrements. Local designer-owned shop.

Many of LaForet's boutiques stock items imported from Japan and Korea, while Island Beverley has more local and Chinese designers mixed in (and prices are a bit cheaper). They have more in common than not, though, and being about 5 feet apart, across the street from the Causeway Bay metro station, are a convenient way to get a shot of Asian pop culture. If you can find your way back out.

(There is a shop of cunning hats if you end up wintering here)

Clothes shops, which all cater neatly to a certain style niche, advertised in the windows e.g.


slouchy minimalism

OL (office ladies)

and queens.

There were quite a few bodycon clubwear shops as well as those specialising in different Japanese and Korean street styles. (I'll do a separate post on those in future.) As you can see, these shops tend to display and sell things in outfit-sized units. The 'layering' pieces are actually often sewn together and sold as one.

That's not to say you can't find some fun cheap thrills if you dig, some of which are even workable into a 20- or 30-something wardrobe. And of course, there are shops like this, which are just made of awesome.

And if you do manage to make your way to the exit and back onto a metro train, you're home safe. Sailor Moon is there to show you the way.