Wednesday, 23 February 2011

L'Eau My God

L'Eau My God..

When I first saw the visual for Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, I was stunned. Lagerfeld's latest muse, Monika "Jac" Jagaciak, has more than an air of a 90's era Vanessa Paradis. The porcelain skin, piercing green eyes and flowing mane of brown hair, are all reminiscent of Paradis in the 90's Chanel Coco fragrance advert, directed by the legendary Jean-Paul Goude. In this TV and print campaign, Goude envisaged Paradis as an exotic caged bird. She swung suggestively, clad in Chanel couture, a dazzling vision of black feathers and sheer black diamante encrusted nylons (well this was Paradis in her prime). A work of conceptual genius, perhaps Goude was alluding to those privileged and beautiful women in society whom inhabit a gilded cage. Their prison may be crafted from gold, but what use is opulence to them without freedom?

Paradis' make-up in the Coco advert is like a Polaroid from the Supermodel era. That definitive cultural moment when Vogue put Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz on their cover. George Michael cast the same girls to appear in his Freedom video, and (with the exception of Patitz) they were photographed striding down the catwalk together, arm in arm for Gianni Versace. And so the supermodel was born. The antithesis of the modern waif, the supermodels were all suggestive curves, big hair, doe eyes, Bardot lips and a strictly matte, maximalist approach to make-up.

The "more is more" beauty maxim may have worked back in 1990, but for Spring / Summer 2011, there's a strong trend towards sheer, translucent dewiness. Gone are the heavy powders and bases that defined early 90's beauty. In their place, we have super-lightweight, silky, "barely there" textures. The difference between the old fashioned souffle and velvet textures and the new super-sheer formulations, is like the difference between opaque wool tights and the finest silk denier stockings. The former completely obscures the skin, masking it rather than enhancing it. While the latter offers a whisper of coverage, whilst allowing the skin to shine through. This is the essence of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua's allure, only, what it lacks in viscosity, it more than compensates for in pigment content.

As with all things Chanel, this new wonder-product has already earned a loyal celebrity fan base (not to mention selling out pretty much everywhere). Hollywood starlet Anne Hathaway may have worn Balmain for the cover of ELLE UK's December 2010 issue, but it was with Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua that make-up supremo Kay Montano adorned her face.

To wear this look well, it is best to adhere to the beauty mantra "beautiful make-up begins with beautiful skin". Investing in a gentle facial exfoliant will do wonders for the surface texture of your skin, imbuing you with a perfectly smooth canvas. The gentle jojoba microbeads in Chanel's Maximum Radiance Exfoliating Gel will slough off dull dead skin cells, smoothing the texture of your skin and revealing the fresh "virgin" skin beneath. The massaging action itself will do a world of good, stimulating micro-circulation, bringing life to the complexion. Don't forget to exfoliate your lips, after all, a fabulous lip colour or gloss is pointless with a parched pout. With the dead cells gone, the skin is ready to be nourished.

I suggest incorporating a facial serum into your skin regime. Applied post cleanser / face wash, and before moisturiser, a good serum will nourish the skin, boosting the effects of the moisturiser. Nothing evokes youth and vitality more than plump skin. Massage Chanel's Hydramax + Active Moisture Boost Serum into the skin in firm circular motions, starting from the neck, working up behind the ears, taking care to massage the back of the neck, and finally up to the face and temples. I can't stress enough how much good a little regular daily facial massage will do for your complexion and skin health. Stimulating blood flow will allow the active ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin.

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Like the neck and hands, they are also one of the biggest indicators of our age. Banish fine lines and dark circles with Chanel's Energising Multi-Protection Eye Gel. For a truly soothing treat, keep this in the fridge. The coldness on application will shrink capillaries, reducing puffiness and shadows. I suggest massaging gently around the eye, using the lightest pressure with the tip of the ring finger. Finish by tapping lightly around the orbital bone, this will stimulate lymphatic drainage, easing the flow of toxins away from the eye area.

For people of my generation, I'd suggest hydrating the skin with Chanel's Hydramax + Active Moisture Fluid. If you have a more mature skin type, I'd suggest upgrading to something richer, as our skin tends to lose moisture as we advance in years, necessitating increased nourishment. Massage the moisturiser into your skin in the same manner as the serum, allowing a few minutes to dry before applying your primer.

The cold weather can wreak havoc with the skin's moisture levels. A great make-up artist trick for giving skin a hasty boost, is to apply an intensive hydrating mask prior to a special occasion. Chanel's Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask is a fantastic option. Layer over skin after cleansing, leave for 15 minutes then tissue or rinse off as desired. I often take this approach when a client's skin is looking a little parched, or when a model turns up for a shoot, fresh off the plane, with the lacklustre skin to prove it. This handy little trick is the perfect pre-party pick me up.

When hydrating the skin, it's important not to forget your lips. I always suggest applying a conditioning balm to the lips after moisturising the face, as it allows sufficient time for the product to sink in prior to the application of lip colour. Chanel's Hydramax + Lip Care is a handbag / manbag essential. I can't live without lip balm, especially at this time of year.

The key to replicating the ethereal dewiness so loved by the A-List is to invest in a good cream / liquid highlighter. Chanel's Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base can either be applied to skin prior to foundation, mixed in with the foundation, or applied over foundation (on cheekbones and temples) to achieve an incandescently radiant complexion. Experiment to find the best option for you, though I suggest investing in Chanel's superb foundation brush, as this will assist you in achieving that airbrushed Hollywood finish. The shorter hairs in this brush make it fabulous for buffing. Of all the professional brushes I've tested, this is without doubt one of my all time favourites. A "must have" for anyone who is serious about flawless foundation.

With your skin buffed, plumped, primed and illuminated, it is time to perfect your base. Using the Chanel Foundation Brush, I suggest buffing Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua foundation down the central panel of the face, blending softly outwards the hair line and temples. When you look at someone or converse, you tend to focus on this area of the face, hence focusing the denser coverage in these areas. Water-based, this foundation delivers sheer-to-medium, buildable coverage, with ease of texture of a tinted moisturiser.

The pigment content is the highest of any of the similar products I've tested from competitors on the market. The subtle, fresh oceanic scent further intensifies the sensuality of this product, making it a true delight to use. It is quite literally a breath of fresh air for the skin. Lotus water extract boosts micro-circulation, while hyaluronic acid hydrates and brown seaweed revitalises (and all in such a tiny portable plastic bottle).

Like some of the other notable "next generation" foundations, Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua contains silicone. This ingredient not only assists in waterproofing (and therefore extending the wear of) your foundation, it also imbues it with a liquid silk texture, creating the smoothest of canvases. Meanwhile, the Radiance Light Diffusing Complex creates a halo of soft light, imparting an ethereal and highly flattering glow. The SPF 15 provides sufficient protection from the ageing effects of sun exposure and environmental aggressors, negating the need for an additional SPF product.

To keep this look fresh, it is best to stick to liquid concealers. Anything heavier will take away from the dewiness. Chanel's Eclat Lumiere Highlighter Face Pen is the perfect option. I suggest blending under the eyes, on the brow bone, lightly along the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, along the cupid's bow and around the sides of the nose (anywhere prone to shadows and redness).

With your face highlighted to perfection, it is time to sculpt. Chanel's Soleil Tan Sheer Illuminating Fluid is a delightfully sheer and pearly cream bronzer. I love to apply this with Chanel's Foundation Brush for a truly flawless finish. I suggest blending along the cheekbones, up towards the hairline. Or for a more elaborately scultped look, blending along the hairline and temples, down the sides of the bridge of the nose, beneath the cheekbones, along the chin and under the jaw line. My skin looks especially sallow at this time of year, so I rely on tricks like this to add some subtle warmth to my complexion.

Too much powder would really kill this look. Using the accompanying powder puff, I suggest gently patting / rolling the faintest whisper of Chanel's Natural Finish Loose Powder down the T-Zone. Minimising shine here is fine, but avoid powdering the cheeks and the edge of the temples, as shine in these areas has a beautiful lifting effect on the face.

I shall leave you with some words of wisdom. Never accept gifts from strangers (with the sole exception of licensed couriers hand-delivering Chanel).

Maximum Radiance Exfoliating Gel - £32
Hydramax + Active Moisture Boost Serum - £52.50
Energising Multi-Protection Eye Gel - £40
Hydramax + Active Moisture Fluid - £44
Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask - £35
Hydramax + Lip Care - £27
Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base - £29
Vitalumiere Aqua Skin Perfecting Make-Up - £31.50
Eclat Lumiere Highlighter Face Pen - £26
Soleil Tan Sheer Illuminating Fluid - £31
Natural Finish Loose Powder - £31

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