Christmas/Hanukkah Women’s Fragrance Gift Guide

My apologies for being away so long but with the holidays coming up and code freezes encroaching (which drives everyone involved with software development crazy) I’ve gotten behind in posting.  Nevertheless, I’m back with what I hope will be a very helpful and inspiring post involving the touch aspect of fragrance gifting for the holidays for that special woman in your life.  My fragrance recommendations for gifting the men in your life haven’t changed since my Father’s Day article.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Bring on the fragrance!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Bring on the fragrance!

I realize that fragrance is a very individual thing.  However, my experience has been there are some fragrances within groups that hold appeal to everyone, and are not as likely to offend everyone around you.  The fragrances I will recommend in this post are either owned by me, or spoken highly of by those with a nose for fragrance and passion for fashion.

Clean and Bright

Perfect for formal settings yet interesting enough to make you stand out, clean and bright fragrances inspire smiles and generate compliments.  Consider these fragrances for someone who likes a fragrance that is memorable but not heavy or ‘offensive’.

Body by Victoria 

Marchesa Parfum d’Extase

Versace Bright Crystal

Coach Legacy

Complex

For that ‘I can’t quite place it but I love that scent’ women, complex fragrances offer a wonderful lingering scent that people can’t seem to place.  Be unforgettable with these scents.

Hanae Mori

Gucci Guilty Intense

Acqua di Gioia

Vince Camuto

Sophisticated

For the woman who seems to have it all under control or at least gives the appearance as such, go for a fragrance as sophisticated as she is.

Guerlain Shalimar

Bulgari Jasmin Noir

Michael Kors MICHAEL

Vera Wang

Spicy

Sometimes a floral fragrance isn’t desired.  For those women who prefer their scents more spice than floral based, try one of these lovelies.

YSL Opium

Calvin Klein Obsession

Guerlain Samsara

Chanel Chance

Fresh

These are great fragrances for women who aren’t big into wearing perfume.  Fresh scents evoke memories of fresh fruits, therapeutic essential oils and exhilarating ‘greens’.

Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue

Tom Ford Lavender Palm

Philosophy’s Living Grace

Clean Original

Teen/Tween

For teens and tweens, scents that are close to that of baked goods or simple notes such as vanilla are perfect choices and not too grown-up but are definitely not kid’s stuff. Fresh scents work as well for this age group.

Prada Candy

Fresh Lemon Sugar

Aquolina Pink Sugar

Philosophy’s Pure Grace

Fragrances to AVOID!!!

I personally do not favor gifting anyone with Chanel No 5 because it is a very heavy and very rich fragrance that doesn’t smell good on everyone (including myself).  Dior’s Poison is another heavy fragrance that unless you know for sure the woman you are shopping for wants it, please do not consider buying it.

As a public service I must warn you that no matter how slick the advertising, how pretty the pictures or how big of a fan you/your mom/your daughter/your mother -in-law is, please, do NOT purchase any ‘celebrity’ fragrance.  These include such scents as the infamous Lady Gaga’s Fame, Niki Minaj’s  Pink Friday and any fragrance with Beyonce or Kim Kardashian’s name on it.

So dear readers, are there any other fragrances I haven’t metioned that you think are great gifts?  Any to add to the ‘avoid at all costs’ list?  Please do drop a line and let me know.

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Preview: Guerlain Fall 2012 Rouge G L’Extrait and Blush aux Joues

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Yay! It’s Guerlain Fall 2012!

Guerlain is my favorite luxury cosmetics vendor and their Rouge G lipsticks have hooked me for life. While a new crop of Rouge G lipsticks are slated to debut for Fall 2012, the real stars of this collection are the new Rose Aux Joues blush duos and the Rouge G L’Extrait liquid-to-matte lipstick. For a quick rundown of all the items contained in the Guerlain Fall 2012 collection, please see my article up on TheStyleAndBeautyDoctor.com (yep, I’m contributing over there as well).

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Guerlain’s new Blush Duos for Fall 2012 – my fave is Red Hot!

New for Fall 2012 are these gorgeous blush duos from Guerlain. Each shade is paired with a complimentary highlight shade comes with a slanted applicator blush for precision shading, and is packaged in Guerlain’s trademark brass mirrored compact. As with all Guerlain products it has that wonderful violet smell I’ve come to associate with this brand. The shade I purchased, Red Hot, is very complimentary on dark skin and looks like a pairing of NARS Sin with NARS Orgasm.

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Slightly elongated applicator for Rouge G L’Extrait

Also new for Fall 2012 and what I have been eagerly awaiting ever since Chanel discontinued their Rouge Allure Lacque, is Guerlain’s Rouge G L’Extrait. This is the celebrated Rouge G in liquid lipstick form that dries down to a flexible matte finish that looks amazing and is beyond comfortable to wear. The packaging is elongated slightly but still carries a hefty weight. That is a small matter compared the color impact and the ability to precisely put this where you want it to go. I picked up M69 (Orgueil) which is a dark plum wine color that screams fall.

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Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait from left: (M69) Orgueil, (M25) Colere, (M27) Luxure, (M71) Gourmandise, (M06) Avarice

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More Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait swatches

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Testers of Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait at Neiman Marcus

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Guerlain Fall 2012 Red Hot blush duo and Rouge G L’Extrait in Orgueil

Father’s Day Shopping Guide: Fragrance Gifting

Think fast! Have you purchased your Father’s Day gift(s) yet?

“Fifty Shades Of Grey is Every-damn-where!”

If you are anything like me, you put off purchasing any gift at the last possible minute.  Unfortunately it makes you run around like a headless chicken. But not to fret–I’ve got you covered.  Unlike a tie (which is a lame loser gift anyway) fragrance is something that not only enhances the attractiveness of the wearer, but makes the wearer nice to be around.  It’s a gift that gives way past the recipient and giving it suggests you took time to consider what they would like as opposed to just shoving something in a box that you wouldn’t gift to your worst enemy.

For your consideration and last-minute shopping, I have culled together an assortment of men’s fragrances that are fresh, classic, edgy and downright awesome for gift-giving.  I realize fragrance is a very personal thing but given the testing I’ve done over the past several weeks, talking with lonely but very helpful men’s fragrance counter sales associates, reading industry articles, talking to friends and getting the scoop from the 2012 Fragrance Industry (FiFi) awards, I feel this is a safe assortment of scents that won’t recall fragrance memories of Brut, Hai Karate or even worse, Axe body spray.

Gucci Guilty

Gucci Guilty for Men — The 2012 Fifi Mens’ Fragrance of the Year

I’m not even going to mince words.  Gucci Guilty, the brainchild of the ever-so-sexy Tom Ford, is a kick-ass sexy fragrance in a bottle so masculine yet elegant, James Bond would sport it without shame.

The industry says:

Made for the man who knows what he wants, this fragrance is a powerful mix of excitement, allure, and sensuality. It awakens the senses with a burst of zesty lemon, cool lavender, and spicy pink pepper. The subtle heart notes then reinforce the fragrance’s clean freshness, creating a bridge to the sensual and provocative woodiness in the base. As it dries down, the scent focuses the hallmark of all Gucci fragrances, patchouli, and mingles alluringly with cedar, sandalwood, and amber. The overall effect is young, stylish, and sexy—a bold and uncompromising fragrance that captures the essence of Gucci.

I say:

Blows back your nose hairs from the pure, raw sensuality of the fragrance then softens to a sexy, alluring mix of fresh woods and spices.  It won the 2012 FiFi Award for Best Men’s Fragrance.  In other words, the people for whom fragrance is their business have anointed this men’s fragrance as ‘The Business’.  Make this the FIRST mens fragrance you smell while shopping.

Aqua di Gio

Aqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani — 2012 Fifi Awards ‘Hall Of Fame’ Winner

Back in the day (and I know I’m dating myself) the clasically timeless fragrances were the likes of Polo by Ralph Lauren and Drakkar by Guy Laroche.  Fast forward to today and Aqua Di Gio has earned its way into this prestigious club.  Don’t think so? I dare you to walk into anywhere mens fragrance is sold and not see this prominently displayed.  Even Target has it on hand.

The industry says:

A resolutely masculine fragrance born from the sea, the sun, the earth, and the breeze of a Mediterranean island. Transparent, aromatic, and woody in nature Aqua Di Gio Pour Homme is a contemporary expression of masculinity, in an aura of marine notes, fruits, herbs, and wood.

I say:

Classically sexy.  If you’re shopping for a man who takes risks within reason and loves to be the best dressed in the room with his own edge, this is an excellent choice.  This year it won the 2012 FiFi Hall Of Fame award so those who have a paid ‘nose’ have known for years how hot this fragrance is and how many man consistently flock to it and women are drawn to the smell of it.

Hanae Mori HM for Men

Hanae Mori HM For Men

My affinity for this fragrance is completely Neiman Marcus’ fault.  At first sniff you are captivated by the strength and complexity of this fragrance.  It takes a certain masculine strength to wear this fragrance or else it will wear you.  Frankly, this is my first choice for gifting to anyone in the military for Father’s Day.

The Industry says:

A subtle blend of 50 exquisite essences harmonize with the warmth of the skin to produce a woodsy Asian scent unlike any other. Lemon, lavender and black currants float over a mossy vanilla and sandalwood base. The cap’s design is inspired by the Tsuka, the piece found at the extremity of antique samurai swords. HM by Hanae Mori —an enduring classic.

I say:

This fragrance contains oakmoss which adds to the strength of this woodsy fragrance and makes it stand out in contrast with other woodsy fragrances like Ralph Lauren’s Polo.  If the man you are shopping for is into finely-crafted goods whether they be watches, swords or my favorite, firearms, this is an excellent choice.  Hanae Mori fragrances are mainly found in upscale retailers so while it is possible it may be in the prestige fragrance section at Target, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Guerlain Homme

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Guerlain Homme by Guerlain

Fresh from my favorite luxury brand comes a new men’s fragrance that is so fresh, so clean I consider it a must-have for men who live in the tropics and sub-tropics.  I had the great fortune of smelling this fragrance at the Guerlain boutique in the France pavillion at EPCOT.  Not sure if it was the amazing sexy smell or the Cuban Disney Cast Member trying to sell me on it but it definitely made an impression on me.

The Industry says:

Introducing Guerlain Homme, a magnetic new fragrance for him, inspired by the famous “mojito” cocktail. A splash of citrus and fresh floral notes atop aromatic, woodsy accords blend into an addictive, subtly faceted mélange that is both astonishing and familiar. This scent is the ultimate stimulation for the senses—the essence of luxury for the sophisticated man.

I say:

The use of lime, sugarcane, rum, vetiver and rum in this fragrance makes it an excellent choice for men who love their cigars.  Even if your man isn’t a cigar afficionado (and why isn’t he?), this scent has a lighter, sweeter smell with musky grassy notes from Vetiver and Pelargonium.  Fresh, surprising and unmistakeably masculine.

Bleu de Chanel

Bleu de Chanel–fresh, crisp and masculine

If you remember Davidoff’s Cool Water, Bleu de Chanel is more sophisticated but still retains that ‘ocean’ freshness.  This is a fragrance I believe is more suited to younger men (remember, NO Axe!) but if your man is young at heart it is still an excellent choice.

The Industry Says:

A woody aromatic fragrance for the man who defies convention, and resists the ordinary every day, finding satisfaction in the unexpected. His fragrance, a provocative blend of citrus and woods, liberates the senses — fresh, clean, profoundly sensual — a signature statement of determination and desire. Be unexpected.

I say:

Men who love luxury but are not into showing it off all the time, or young men making their first real foray into the land of men’s fragrance should find this scent appealing.  This is a pretty safe choice for gifting.

Chrome by Azzaro

Chrome by Azzaro

Azzaro’s Chrome is a fresh light smell very similar to Bleu de Chanel but a touch fresher.  Chrome has lingering orange-citrus notes while Bleu de Chanel leans slightly more woodsy.

The Industry says:

Inspired by the dreams of a new generation and the reflections of those who came before, Chrome is a contemporary, yet traditional masculine fragrance that speaks to men of all ages. Created in 1997 by world-renowned couturier Loris Azzaro, Chrome’s fresh citrus notes are an authentic expression of man and his infinite tenderness.

I say:

The industry description may sound ‘flowery’ but this fragrance is anything but.  It is a ‘fresh from the shower’ type of smell.  Still masculine, this is a softer and more contemporary scent.

Finalizing Your Decision

So have you decided yet?  What I’ve presented is a mere fraction of what is available in the world of Men’s fragrance but what I consider to be the ‘cream of the crop’.

Still not sure what to get?  Not sure which scent your man would like for Father’s Day? Just like with my Art of Shaving article, Sephora has you covered.  Behold, the Deluxe Fragrance Sampler for Him by Sephora:

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The Deluxe Fragrance Sampler for Him by Sephora. Get all of these for a great price to sample for Father Day and redeem the enclosed certificate for a full size of his favorite!

Granted Sephora does have other sets but the Deluxe set includes three (3) of my absolute favorite scents for men: Gucci Guilty, Hanae Mori HM and Aqua di Gio.  The other scents are quite nice and the small sizes make them perfect to put into a carry-on without having TSA confiscate it.  The best part is, while only priced at $50 (it’s almost a $100 total value), your man can decide which fragrance he likes out of of the group and using the certificate inside can redeem it for a full-sized bottle that he (or you) like the most.

So let me know–what men’s fragrances are your favorites?  Remember, we get to do this all over again for Christmas/Hanukkah!

Guerlain Terracotta Sun In The City Illuminator: The Rundown

Florida is known as the ‘Sunshine State’.  Little did I know Guerlain had managed to press it into a compact and have it waiting for me on my trip to Disney World this past Easter.

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Guerlain’s Terracotta Sun In The City Golden Illuminating powder–sun in a compact

I had no intention of buying this product.  That all changed with the MUA at the Guerlain boutique in the France pavilion at EPCOT swiped it on my skin once and raved at how it looked on me.  I was about to tell her she was blowing smoke up my skirt but one look in the mirror and I was floored.

And so I bought it.

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Close up–the imprinting on this compact is insanely detailed.

Part of Guerlain’s Summer 2012 collection, the Sun In The City golden glimmer powder is a shiny addition to the Terracotta bronzing line this luxury brand is famous for. Weighing in at a hefty 15 grams (.52 oz) it comes in a plastic mirrored compact imprinted with the words ‘Terracotta’ on top and is about the size of an adult’s palm.  As with other memorable Guerlain pressed powders it has an imprint on it designed to impress.  Sun In The City has a gorgeous wavy imprint that makes it look like gold weaving in the wind.  It almost makes you not want to use the highlighter so you don’t mess up the pattern but trust me, you’ll get over it.  You need very little to get a rich brush of gold on your skin.

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Closer shot of Sun In The City highlighter on my cheeks and nose bridge. Brings warmth and definition to dark skin.

The reason I love highlighters so much is because you can use them so many ways.  I like to use them to highlight the bridge of my nose, under my browbone and to emphasize my cheekbones before applying blush.  And of course there is the most common and alluring way to use a highlighter—to emphasize the tops of ones cleavage/décolleté.

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Sun In The City highlighter on my cheeks (under Chanel Joues Rouge Contraste blush in Malice) and on the bridge of my nose.

As compared to two of my other favorite highlighters, Guerlain’s Sun In The City highlighter is more golden than theBalm’s Mary LouManizer and not at all pink and iridescent like Guerlain’s Cruel Gardenia released this past Spring.  I don’t own the Bobbi Brown Gold Shimmer Cheek Glow but it does look similiar to Sun In The City.  According to Temptalia.com, Guerlain’s highlighter is more opaque which is good for olive to dark skin. If you are fair to medium-skinned and price is an issue, I think you could use the Bobbi Brown gold shimmer cheek glow as a suitable dupe.

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Highlighter comparison swatches from top: Guerlain’s Cruel Gardenia, Guerlain Sun In The City, theBalm Mary LouManizer (with Flash)

For those with deep to dark skin you need to be careful to choose a highlighter that is translucent enough to give you a glow and not look ashy.  Guerlain’s new highlighter, as with all of their highlighters I’ve tried, does this and more.  Try blending it with their Terracotta bronzer in #3 (yellow undertones), #4 (red undertones like mine) or #8 (all ebony skintones) to deepen the gorgeous warmth of dark skin.  The effect is similar to combining theBalm’s Mary LouManizer and Betty LouManizer but more opaque and richer color.

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Guerlain’s Terracotta Sun In The City highlighting powder is great on dark skin!

At $70 the price for Guerlain’s Sun In The City  is steep however, there is more product than in Cruel Gardenia or Meteorites perles.  Because of its pigmentation and neutral coloring, and it’s manufacture in Italy (the best pressed powders seem to come from there) there is definitely value in this luxury product.  Unlike with Cruel Gardenia and Meteorites I didn’t notice the trademark violet scent.  This was somewhat dissappointing to me as I love the smell of violets synonymous with Guerlain products.

Sun in the City Illuminator is a limited edition item and is available at Nordstrom.comSephora.com and in freestanding Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus stores.

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Another shot of Guerlain’s Sun In The City highlighter (w/ flash

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Guerlain Sun In The City Higlighter–heavily swatched and sheered out (w/ flash)

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Highlighter comparison swatches from top: Guerlain’s Cruel Gardenia, Guerlain Sun In The City, theBalm Mary LouManizer (without flash)

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HIghlighter comparisons from left: Without flash, with flash.

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Gorgeous Guerlain Golden Goodness

Guerlain by Emilio Pucci Capri Eye Shadow Quad: The Rundown

Finally! I have gotten around to reviewing the Guerlain by Emilio Pucci Terra Azzura Capri eye shadow quad from the delightful Summer 2012 collection. I’ve had a few weeks to road test this product and see how versatile it is and how the shadow formula behaves.

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Guerlain by Emilio Pucci Eye Shadow Quad in Capri–French Riviera memories!

The Product Details

There are four (4) colors in this quad chosen to replicate a feeling of being in the French Riviera at summertime are as follow:

  • A shimmering ecru
  • A smokey brown
  • A satin pink
  • A semi-frosty peach coral

At first glance if you think you’ve seen a quad like this you probably have. MAC’s Call Me Bubbles quad that came out for Spring 2012 for Shop MAC/Cook MAC is almost identical at first glance. But unlike with MAC’s quad, I found all four colors in the Guerlain palette to be buttery smooth with amazing color payoff. More often than not I got too much product on the application with less effort than with my MAC shadows. For darker-skinned beauties NC/NW40+, these colors will definitely work for you however I would suggest using either a white eyeshadow on the lid, or a light color eyeshadow pencil such as Make Up For Ever’s Shadow Pencil in Pearly Peach (26E) or Urban Decay’s 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Sin.

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Guerlain’s new eye shadow palette by Emilio Pucci–Great for everyday!

The palette seems like it is all warm colors but there is enough neutrality for it to look nice on all skintones. Even with my screaming red undertones all of colors complimented me very well and I found myself reaching for this palette more often than not. Out of all of the colors, the cool dusty brown and peachy orange are my favorites for a surprisingly wearable summer smokey eye. The pink color is nice but as I have the Les Roses palette and this one is more matte, I use to enhance the peachy orange shade moreso than on its own. The beige color is fabulous as a highlighter or a light wash of shimmery ercu across the lids.

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Guerlain by Emilio Pucci swatches from bottom: Kohl Kajal, Eye shadow palette (no flash/HDR)

I would highly suggest using the included custom applicator to apply the shadow. My MAC brushes didn’t seem to play very well with this. And if you have oily eyelids as I do, definitely use an eyeshadow primer like Too Faced Shadow Insurance and a cream shadow as a base such as MAC’s Quite Natural or Painterly paint pots, or Maybelline’s Color Tattoo 24hr cream shadow in Tough as Taupe or Pomegranate Punk. Total weight by volume of all four shadows is .24 oz which is a very healthy amount compared to MAC’s usual .17 oz total weight for a quad.

Final Recommendation

While the price point is quite high ($59), the different finish of the case and quality of the eyeshadows (and big mirror in it) more than qualify the price. For women of color, the shadows do not turn ‘ashy’ but to make them pop I would suggest using a cream shadow underneath either a few shades lighter than your coloring or use a white shadow pencil. All colors are easily blendable and while this pallete is showcased for Summer, it is a lovely one to have year-round for olive to dark-skinned beauties.

The Guerlain by Emillio Pucci Capri eye shadow palette is a limited edition item and is available at Nordstrom, Sephora.com and NeimanMarcus.com

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Back of Capri eyeshadow palette by Guerlain by Emilio Pucci

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The velvet sleeve for the eye shadow palette–a true identifier of luxury cosmetics

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Guerlain by Emilio Pucci Eye shadow quad – Flash

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Guerlain by Emilio Pucci swatches from bottom: Kohl Kajal, Eye shadow palette (flash)

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Preview: Guerlain by Emilio Pucci [Summer 2012]

At times like this, it pays to be a Sephora Beauty Insider.  Why? Because I got first crack at ordering pieces from this collection I’ve been waiting for w/ baited breath.

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Finally in my possession--the Guerlain by Emilio Pucci collection for Summer 2012.

The collection is only available for purchase now by Sephora Beauty Insiders but should be available for sale to the general public in time for it’s publicized May release date.  My advice is to keep stalking Sephora, Nordtrom and Neiman Marcus websites for the launch.  Considering how fast the Cruel Gardenia highlighter went, the limited edition meteorites from this collection should go just as quickly if not faster due to the Pucci name.

Individual product reviews to come in the next few weeks or so but in the meantime check out the picspam and comments!

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These smell absolutely divine! Even if you bought them to scent your lingerie drawer they'd be worth it.

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Pucci print all over in my favorite colors.

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The eye shadow palette in warm colors are perfect for women of color.

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The cult classic returns in a striking indigo color.

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The Emilio Pucci brush. You cannot call yourself a Pucci fan and not get this.

Preview: Guerlain by Emilio Pucci [Summer 2012]

I love Guerlain.  And I love Pucci.  Put them both together and it rockets right to the top of my Summer 2102 beauty shopping list.

Natalia Vodianova--the face of Guerlain looking gorgeous for the Emilio Pucci Summer 2012 collection (Source; British Beauty Blogger)

Les Meteorites Pearls D'Azur tricked out with the Pucci art on the tin for Summer 2012 (Source: British Beauty Blogger)

Terra Azzura blush/bronzer with Emilio Pucci motif--amazing! (Source: British Beauty Blogger)

There are eleven (11) pieces in this special collection.  According to ChicProfile.com, here’s a breakdown of what’s included:

Terra Azzura Bronzing Powder & Blush

Formed with the iconic Emilio Pucci logo, it has separate bronzer, blush and possible highlighter strips that when all used together provides a bronzy blush glow to the skin.  I’m a fan of the Terracotta bronzer so I’ll more than likely pass on this.

Meteorites Perles d’Azur

The world-famous meteorites highlighters that are more than worthy of their reputation.  I own the Cruel Gardenia highlighter and the color is amazing on dark skin.  If you’ve ever wondered if this would work for you definitely give it a try!

Terra Azzura Brush 

This is in pretty Pucci print case!  More than likely I’ll get it because it’s Pucci, my mom wore Pucci in the late 70’s so I’m programmed to want it.

Ecrin 4 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette

  • #13 Capri (consists of a cream, pink, coral and brown shades)

Mascara Le 2 de Guerlain by Emilio Pucci

  • Indigo (dark indigo blue mascara)

Terracota Khol Kajal

I first saw this last year in the Guerlain boutique at the France Pavillion in EPCOT center in Disney World.  The creamy smoothness of how this applied to my eye and the pigmentation really impressed me. Turns out this product had been out of the Guerlain product line for several decades but was being reintroduced to consumers.  It is offered regularly in a dark black but for this collection it comes in a beautiful cobalt blue.  Definitely picking this up.

Terracotta Kohl Kajal (source: ATime4Beauty)

Terra Azzura Vernis

I don’t remember Guerlain ever having nail polish before so this is a first.

  • #01 Paradisio (coral pink with a dazzling brilliant finish)
  • #02 Riviera (electric blue indigo with a metallic finish)

Terra Azzura Gloss

  • #10 Porto Fino (Coral pink)
  • #11 Porto Ercole (Chocolate)
  • #12 Porto Azzuro (Indigo blue)

The international release date is scheduled for  3 June 2012.  In North America (more specifically the United States) It is possible that it could be released earlier by online retailers such as Nordstrom.com, NeimanMarcus.com and Bloomingdales.com.  I will keep you posted if anything changes. Lemming for swatches?  Then check out ATimeForBeauty’s website for more!  The website is in Russian but if you’re using Google Chrome as a browser you can easily get a ‘close to English’ translation.