Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Money's Too Tight to Mention

Just when I thought that I had some money to burn... reality intervenes.

I really was looking forward to spending some B-day dinero this week, but somehow I got a hold of some very important bills that I have to pay. That gave me some pause, because I'm suddenly facing some tough decisions ahead - especially when you consider that I am going to be losing some important student privileges once I graduate in three weeks. We're talking about things like rent, health insurance... and an upcoming working vacation in a certain city on the US Mainland, which I am in the process of confirming.

Yeah, I know: Some people would kill to have my problems right now. And as much as I would love to be walking up with a nice little outfit to go with my black robe and Masters' stole, I don't know if I could do that at the risk of going completely broke. Or, worse, broke and uninsured... which was exactly what happened to me, one month after the last time I marched down an aisle with a tasseled hat.

Temporary happiness, or long-term gratification?

Somewhere down the road, I do have to break down and be the grown-up. Home cooking and Netflix have become my friends - along with the Hawaii State Library, Lyon Arboretum, and the yoga DVDs that I inherited from my sister. Most of the things that I don't need have either been thrown away or given away, and I'm more determined than ever to "hit the pan" on the shadows and lip glosses in my beauty stash that have not gone rancid on me.

And yes, I still make sure that I get 5 cents for every bottle and can that I take out for recycling.

There's even a stash of broken gold jewelry that I'm seriously thinking of selling off as scrap metal. Yes, you heard me - and you're probably thinking, But they're still jewelry! To which I say, it's still gold - I'm not expecting much money to come out of it, but I'd rather see it "recycled" by a legitimate local company (none of your Internet recycling thingamajigs for me, thanks) than let it lie unused in my jewelry box. Besides, if I'm going to pass anything down to my kids, I'd rather that they inherit the stuff that actually works.

It's not the easiest thing to go through, I know. But I'm confident that I'll be able to pull this one through. :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Design Crush

Could I be turning into a fangirl for Phillip Lim?

Never mind that it will probably take me ages (including an increase in earning power and a decrease in poundage) before I can get away with wearing his stuff off the rack. I've already gushed about the 3.1 Phillip Lim blouses that I just saw at Nordstrom, and I'm not surprised that his latest spring collection has some precious surprises as well.

This dress, in particular, reminds me of one of the '70s dresses I used to play dress-up with in my Mom's closet:

And the detail on this gown, despite the rusty hue, belongs in the There But For the Grace of God Go I file:

So when I heard that Phillip Lim was going to be one of the featured designers for the 2008 Gap Designer Editions (more information from official Gap press release here), I immediately packed myself off to the nearest Gap store and ogled all the goods. Naturally, out of all the designer shirts on parade, it came as no surprise that my favorite design of all was, indeed, a 3.1 Phillip Lim.

So deceptively simple, so surprisingly flattering. I don't know about you, but I think it's the V-neck and Empire waist detail that gets me on this one; there's no risk of looking like a Styrofoam board or a prissy schoolmarm with a shirt like this. I can totally see this as part of a first-date outfit with skinny black pants or a pencil skirt with heels.

And at the low MSRP of $78, you can snap it up at Gap without having to wait for your next raise.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Because I'm Roman Catholic That Way...

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
"Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."
- Genesis 14-15

And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful
are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!" -
Romans 10:15

The Papal shoes are the red leather outdoor shoes worn by the Pope. They should not be confused with the indoor papal slippers or the Episcopal sandals, which are the liturgical footwear proper to all Latin Rite bishops. - Wikipedia, "Papal Shoes"

The most widely publicized papal branding event appears to have been the result of mistaken identity.

Over the past few months, scores of media reports have dubbed Benedict XVI the "Prada Pope," crediting the Italian fashion house with having made the pope's eye-catching red loafers.

The senior Vatican official says the loafers were actually made by the pope's personal cobbler. But Prada has refused to confirm or deny the reports, allowing the press speculation to continue. A spokesman for Prada said the fashion house lacked "the necessary elements" to make an accurate determination. - Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2006

Say what you want about Pope Benedict XVI - or, as one of my ex-seminarian friends often called him, "The Zinger" - but you gotta admit, those red leather Papal shoes are super fantastic.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Making More Faces

The entry I wrote yesterday about Lauren Luke/Panacea81's video blog made me even more nostalgic for the late, great Kevyn Aucoin, and in particular the looks from his books Making Faces and Face Forward. It's no secret that I loved reading those books, both for the fantastic makeup tips and the equally fantastic musings of the master himself, as he expounded at length on his philosophy about beauty and life and how makeup can really, truly, change one's life.

Like a good majority of us in the blogosphere, I never got to meet the man himself, but I was definitely reminded of something Kevyn once said when I wrote my recent blog tribute to Kevyn for No Book Left Behind: "Life is too short to spend hoping that the perfectly arched eyebrow or hottest new lip shade will mask an ugly heart." Kevyn's life was short, for sure, and if he had worked with some of the ugliest hearts in the celebrity universe, you can be sure you won't hear it straight from him, knowing that he has endured worse.

And if you had any doubts, here's a first-hand account from one of his collaborators during a photoshoot for Face Forward with Martha Stewart, which resulted in the photo on the right:

He picked up and it was Cher calling. When Martha realized who Kevyn was talking to, she snatched the phone from him and asked, 'Cher, should I trust this guy?' To which Cher replied: 'With your life.'

The Kevyn makeovers I enjoyed the most, in fact, were not the star-studded cameos in Making Faces and Face Forward, but the straightforward portraits of everyday women transformed with a flick of the brush. Those makeovers were the reason why I never let a January pass without a copy of Allure, and why I never wanted to miss a day of Oprah if he was the one doing the soccer-mom makeovers. He definitely had the special gift of letting one's inner light show, making anyone - and I mean anyone ("girl, boy, bakla, tomboy," as we say in Tagalog) - feel beautiful, loved, and valued.

No wonder, then, that I'd be so transfixed by Lauren's vlog makeovers. There's something about her that just reminds me a bit of Kevyn - not the exact makeup looks per se (though the "Michelangelo of Makeup" would most certainly approve of what his disciples have begotten) but the generosity and enthusiasm. that she has in sharing her looks. Not everyone has the courage and enthusiasm to go before the camera and say, "I'm not a professional, but I love makeup and I want to share that love with you." It's the very definition of generosity, if you ask me; nothing commercial, nothing desperate, only a kindred soul who's just willing to take the risk of putting her true self out there for all to see.

As I've said before, every single one of us who has ever followed the beauty and fashion industry - right down to us lowly bloggers - every one of us owes a huge debt to Kevyn Aucoin. Not all of us may have his talent with eyeliner, or own a single product from his line (though, if anyone else is reading this, I would kill for a pot of The Sensual Skin Enhancer), but his legacy truly does live on.

Pick up one of his books, if you haven't already (even the posthumous tribute A Beautiful Life has a few of his classic techniques), and prepare to be inspired.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vlogging With Makeup

This week I've been picking up a lot of beauty-related obsessions on the Web - and not just because I've been playing with (mostly to test out several makeup looks on my own pictures, but also for the, uh, "stress relief"). Recently I've just discovered Lauren Luke and her YouTube channel of video-log makeovers, which I discovered after looking at videos for both Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" (the UK version*) and Adele's "Chasing Pavements" (though Lauren's Adele-inspired look is different from the retro-eyeliner in this video). There's just something hypnotizing about her video log entries; her accent is just charming, and you can even hear her pug snoring loudly in the background. While she does start every entry practically bare-faced with minimal to no foundation, she's also a huge believer in MAC and Stila - in particular MAC's Shadesticks and Pigments, which figure prominently in her video demonstrations.

(And lest you think that some of her products are beyond your reach, Lauren also champions NYX and L'Oreal's HIP line.)

Here's Lauren demonstrating a technique for making green eyeshadow more tolerable for dark brown eyes - gotta love her use of Benefit's Lemon-Aid as a base, and the combination of green with a hit of purple!

And here's the Leona Lewis-inspired eye look, tamed down to the essentials of fantastic eyeshadow and peachy-pink lipstick.

The best part of these video-log entries is that Lauren demonstrates these looks in real time, with minimal (and somewhat crude) editing, so you can either stop, rewind, or gloss over the boring parts if you find that she's going too fast for your pace.

So far Lauren's videos have already captured lots of media attention in the UK - and has even caught the eye of the bigwigs at MAC, who have invited her to a company event in London. I can't wait to see what will come out of her MAC experience!


*A word about "Bleeding Love": I like to call the UK video "the one where Leona Lewis shows off what she learned from the Nicole Scherzinger School of Fake Bake and Sexy Choreography." Not that it's bad, really; it's just that, apart from the gorgeous eye makeup that inspired Lauren's video-log entry, Leona looks unnecessarily shiny and varnished, and the chest-thrust/rain-dance moves don't help her either. I personally prefer the US version myself, since both her moves and skin look more natural.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Case Against the 'Stache, Men's Edition

Dear Daniel Radcliffe:

Friends don't let friends drink milkshakes with Daniel Day-Lewis.

(Yes, I know, it's for a role - and how could this be any more different than getting buck nekkid for Equus? - but still and all, y'know?)
Luv ya,
The Readers of Domesticity

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hey, I've Got Some New Shoes On

Just in case I get mountains of emails from people asking me what happened to this blog (...okay, just Mom and Happy Scribe, then?) I thought I'd throw in a quick update, starting with a picture of my latest shoe purchase...

Mudd Chipper lace-ups. $9.99 only at Sears. (And Ala Moana had my size!)

All those heavy man-made materials on the shoes remind me of my first Doc Martens, which - in retrospect - now seems more like a misguided attempt at being grungy than an actual Fashionista Moment. But I didn't buy these to be fashionable; like a good majority of my shoe purchases at Sears, I bought these for practical purposes... and in this case, "practical" means that this shoe will inevitably end up being used outdoors, getting banged up with time.

As Paolo Nutini would sing, "Hello new shoes - bye bye blues."