Saturday, January 10, 2009

Favorite Things 2008

Recapping the year only in perfume terms just doesn't cut it: There are tons of things that are connected to the Good Life which have brightened the year past. So in an effort to credit the small and bigger things that have done so, a group of bloggers are showcasing them. Thanks to Grayburn for organizing this project and kindly inviting me to join!
What does it take for something to make it to my favorite things 2008 list? It has to be something I have derived actual pleasure out of, plus results; it must be luxurious without necessarily being in the stratospheric price echelons; and it should provide that ne plus ultra that makes it indispensable. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite things for 2008.

Favorite Primer
Clarins Lisse Minute/ Instant Smooth perfecting touch

Do you consider your face a fresco? Then why are you applying what is essentially paint directly onto the mortar (your pores)? This small jar of volatile silicones and wax helps make all small textural imperfections (pores, lines, roughness) vanish in such a miraculous way as Keyser Söze did in The Usual Suspects. Making the imperceptible yet annoying disappear is impossible in forensics, archaeology and the coroner's bed, but not in cosmetology any more thanks to Clarins. Pricy but worth it!

Favorite blusher and beyond
Nars the Multiple in Malibu

Not new, but I have come late to the cult of this, thanks to my introduction to it by Dain. Basically sunset in a stick, meant to be lightly dabbed on cheekbones (but also eyelids and/or lips), it imparts the loveliest glow without seeming garish (it's not as dark as it shows in the tube) and should look lovely on those with light or medium complexions (I fear it won't show up enough on dark skins, that's why)

Favorite Anti-ageing Treatment
Laboratoires Avène Ysthéal creme

This is so good, so well tolerated and perportedly so effective (I will know in about 10 years' time I guess) that it's a perennial favorite of mine for at least 8 months of the year every year (strong sunlight is a no-no so I give it a rest during summer ~no matter how much I lather sunscreen on, some of it slips and I am taking no chances). Containing retinaldehyde (a precursor of Retin-A, more effective than retinol, better tolerated than actual Retin-A) it transforms to retinoic acid in the skin providing an investement for the future. Consider it Skin Insurance.

Favorite Moisturiser
Vichy Aqua Thermal UV SPF15

The new product that finally managed to salvage me on the humid days in the metropolis when I didn't have the heart to put my moisturiser on (instant sweat on the forehead!) or my much needed sunscreen (the requirement for safekeeping the future). Luckily this combines both in a satiny gel-cream that absorbs quickly, leaves a smooth texture and has a high PPD of 18 (basically this means that it does perform a good work of shielding the skin from the ageing UVA rays contrary to sunscreens with a high SPF factor but not much UVA protection). Available through chemist's.

Favorite Fragrance
This is a perfume blog, how could it ever be possible to choose only one? Still the fragrances I have worn most in 2008 are Vetiver Tonka by Hermès, Chant d'Aromes by Guerlain and El Attarine by Lutens (one out of three is from 2008). Please peruse my Reviews Index and Recent Releases for more.

Favorite Portable Obsession
Tie between Roxana Illuminated perfume in Sierra Gold (complex resinous goodness) and Pacifica Madagascar Spice (the clove smell of the holidays's melomakarona). These are so easy to use and so yummy that they have converted me to smearing my wrists with what I thought was simply goey stuff; it's so much more.

Favorite Lip Balm
Parfumeria Gal Madrid in Grosella (Red Currant) and Violette

These cute looking Art Nouveau tins hide a wonderfully aromatic balm in various shades. Grosella is especially becoming in the colder months and Violette smells delicious. Available through Beautyhabit.

Favorite Sandals
Amedeo Canfora Sandals in Danielle Turquoise.
When you're traipsing your way through the hot cobblestones of Capri (What am I saying? Even through Monastiraki square!), these elegant, foot-friendly sandals are a constant reminder that your well-cared-for feet are, per Leonardo da Vinci's words, "a wonder of mechanics". They make me wish for the return of summer!

Favorite Art Site
None other than Art Daily. A little dose makes for plenty of ideas and much enjoyement.

Favorite Sinful Indulgence
Orange and Thyme pralines by Pierre Marcolini. A look through their catalogue is sin itself. (available also in 6 Lancer Square Kensington, London W8 4EH and Park Avenue, 85 10022 New York. Pretend you never read this).

Favorite Healthful Indulgence
Drinking the earthy, almost tannic tasting Pu-erh tea which is said to lower cholesterol in the process as well. (Can it wash down the Marcolini pralines, I wonder?) Available through

Favorite Nail Polish
Essie in 491 Sweet Tart

This nail polish is everything autumn and winter fashions were about: mauve-ish, metallic and elegant. It has been adorning my fingernails for most of autumn and into winter and goes well from university lecturing to theatre-and-a-drink night out. The finish is excellent, it lasts well, it compliments my light, yet neutral skintone and the price is right.

Favorite Literary Parody
If you are an avid reader (like myself) and might also want something practical around (unlike myself) Sartre's Sink by Marl Crick might do the trick of two birds with one stone. Imitating the literary style of famous writers to actually compose a Do-it-Yourself guide that includes from wallpapering to unblocking a sink, Crick will have you laughing out recognising The Old Man and the Sea, The Black Cat or The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (to give out but a few). He's written a cooking guide called Kafka's Soup as well, tackling the authors who escaped; word has it the recipes work too! (on my to-read-list)

Favorite Tobacco fix
For someone who doesn't smoke, but appreciates the complexity of a good Partagas Reserva nevertheless, finding something with a rich, satisfying tobacco smell is a futile mission.
The perfect combination came this year in Kings & Queens Tsar Peter shower gel followed by a spritz of Bell'Antonio by Italian designer Hilde Soliani (available at New London Pharmacy). Two minutes later and I am sporting a fedora shading my eyes in an imaginary Kafka-esque walk through Mala Strana.

Favorite Threatical Performance
No contest; the Quebequois Cirque Éloize in their latest, Rain: Childhood innocence and fantasy combined in a Fellini and Comedia-dell'Arte-like show full of wonderful music that takes the form of a memoir of author/director Danielle Fins Pasca's childhood recollections. The catharctic finale has the entire troupe reverting to their childhood, one by one, participating in a rain-soaked game of football. It was hard to get back to reality as I exited the theatre and to tick off the last remaining drops of "rain" clinging like a vague souvenir off the lapel...

Please check the other participants for more ideas on Favorite Things of 2008:
Beautiful Makeup Search
Beauty 411
Beauty Talk
Beauty Tyrant
Binary Star
For The Love of Beauty
Life Of A Ladybug
lily loves mac
Make Do Style
Mischo Beauty
Miss Whoever You Are
Platinum Blonde Life
Searching the Inner Me
Slap Of The Day
The Beauty Alchemist
The non-blonde
Urbane Girl

Pic through Amazon,,,, ulterior epicure/flickr


  1. I bought a few chocolate bars that could last me a while when I was at the Marconlini store in Brussels two months ago. The Java one was a bit too sour, but the rest was great!

  2. Fun list! I love those Gal lip balms. We used to be able to get Gal fragrances here--I have a Spanish leather extrait I just love. I never see them any more, though. Are they still made?

    The eclairs in that Pierre Marcolini catalog have me lusting for one--and I'm not even particularly fond of eclairs!

  3. What a fantastic list! I have a cup of tea in one hand and a pen in another to write down a few things from your list. I already love the Multiples but I need to get the sunscreen and the Roxana illuminated perfume. Goey somehow sounds alluring!

    Thanks for sharing such a fantastic assortment of your favorite things!


  4. What a great list! So many things I want to try... especially the chocolate and the nail polish :)

  5. I'm dying to try the Vetiver Tonka; I just know it's one I'm going to love. Thanks for the great list!

  6. Yep, love Clarins Primer, love the NARS Multiple, love Hermès fragrances, love Essie nail polishes. We're like two peas in a pod - I'm in awe of how many items we're in synch with. Now, what I must try is that Parfumeria Gal Madrid and the chocolates - how luxurious!

    I can't wait to read more of your posts and fragrance reviews! Yea ...

    Am having so much fun reading everyone's favorites lists. It's like discovering newfound treasures all at once.

    Have a wonderful year and so glad I now know about Perfume Shrine. Adding you to my blogroll right this second. : )


  7. Anonymous14:33

    Agree with people above; a great list! And inspiring too! Will try Vichy facial moisturizer in the summer (until then dream of days with bare toes in beautiful flat sandals, like the one's you like..:). I also love the Clarins instant smooth, and I like it without any color on top.
    Nars on eyelids is great!
    Orange and thyme pralines - well, got my mouth to salivate, and here I sit in my office far away from any kind of possible pleasant indulgences for the "lower" senses.. ;)

  8. L,

    I am singing *la la la* right now, trying to resist the idea of chocolate. It's January for Pete's sake, choc should be forgotten for once! (yea, yeah, who am I kidding?)

  9. M,


    I don't know if the Gal frags are still made, to be perfectly honest. I never thought to investigate. You have given me a task, now.

    Alas, I am fond of eclairs. *see above*

  10. V,

    thank YOU for organising such a project, I know it can be hard work!

    Curiously the Vichy cream is very pleasant and does a decent job of holding off the rays. And Roxana is a nice lady with great products!
    Do try them out!

  11. J,

    thanks dear, hope you enjoyed them. The nail polish should be great on you, judging by your avatar!

  12. B411,

    thanks for stopping by and commenting! I think you should, it's very, very wearable. It combines the best of two worlds: vetiver (woods) and a gourmand quality. :-)

  13. R,

    we clearly must be!!! I am adding you now, as I know I will find useful things to read on your pretty site!


  14. S,

    so glad you enjoyed it!

    Yes, the Clarins is great for using alone too! It somehow makes everything better, doesn't it?
    Do try the other stuff if you can and looking forward to your impressions :-)

  15. Anonymous18:36

    E -- Definitely will look for the blush -- it's hard to find a really good one. And yay a new fragrance for the wishlist, Vetiver Tonka!

  16. Oh yes gorgeous list - lots of dreamy things. BTW the necklace at Paul Smith is by David (somebody, ah forgot whom) and in every sign of the zodiac!

  17. Hi Helg. I am going to look out for that anti aging one!
    After last week - I need it!

  18. P,

    please do, it's a very nice colour and texture (not too creamy, not too dry). Vetiver Tonka is gorgeous IMO. Outstanding!

  19. I think I will need it in the same sign ;-) Thanks for the info and for stopping by to comment! :-))

  20. M,

    the Ystheal creme is considered a staple to many skincare-fanatics' regime. I find it's excellent and it's not ultra-expensive (basically a good French chemist's brand)> it basically gently exfoliates and prompts skin to regenerate itself.

    I hope tiredness was due to fun and not anything more sinister, yeah?

  21. I have a thing for those lip balms too- especially the violet- I haven't actually tried the red berries but am sure it's very good.

  22. Oh Helg. We had to put one of our dogs to sleep last week and the other sweetie has cancer and its not looking too good.
    When it pours..... as they say.

  23. K,

    the violet smells lovely, no?

  24. My dear M,

    ((((hugs))). My condolences: I know this must hurt a lot.
    I do hope there is some chance for your other little love!

    Hang on in there!

  25. oh such a lovely list. would love to try out the chocolates, most definitely!! I drank the Pu er tea before, it's quite an acquired taste. The clarin's lisse minute is really quite fantastic.

  26. BT,

    thanks for stopping by!
    The choc were quite the pick of the crop, weren't they? Everyone is appreciating some good chocolate it seems!
    Yes, the tea is an acquired taste, but I like its earthy feel. And well, I will never look back to other primers now.

    Had fun perusing everyone's lists! :-)


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