I promise, there’s a fragrance angle to this, so please read on….
In addition to fragrance and makeup I love nail polish, and I know some of you do, too. There’s nothing like a pale, shimmery pink in the dead of winter, or a deep, gorgeous plum in fall, or a sophisticated nude shade any old time.
You know what else is great, though? Offbeat, “ugly” nail colors. Let’s face it, anyone can make polish shades that range from pretty to drop-dead gorgeous, but it takes talent to create truly niche shades, especially those found wandering outside of their normal brown-greige habitat.
This past fall Essie came out with a whole line of quick-dry polish called Expressie (insert eyeroll), a release which I ignored entirely, because I don’t love Essie’s formula or their fussy little brushes, frankly. Well, you could have knocked me over with an emery board when I finally looked at a display in my CVS and beheld, mixed in among more typical options, the glorious array of murky shades – a truly dubious sampling of mustards and burnt oranges and unfortunate greens and whatnot. Seriously, I was shook.
Today’s post takes a closer look at four of these new and some old oddities from Essie (photo above, with thanks to a great review on Gingerly Polished) and other brands, and pairs them up like a fine — yet slightly off — wine with an offbeat fragrance.
First we have Don’t Hate, Curate – not your usual neon orange and more than a little odd, it made me think immediately of L’Artisan Fleur de Carotte, launched in 2000 with Olivia Giacobetti and her dark arts – does anyone else even remember that? Notes of carrot, cucumber, ginger, apricot and tarragon (!) Before it was discontinued they probably sold 75 in total, to people who either loved the bottle or for some inexplicable reason wanted to smell exactly like, you guessed it, carrots. (And yes, I was one of those people, although I never wore it, and I eventually swapped it to someone who kept begging me for it.). I am bummed I can’t find a decent photo of the original bottle, but googling led me to this amazing French florist if you’d like to peruse their gorgeous arrangements.
Next up is Saffr-on the Move – A color this deep and orange-brown like an heirloom gourd of iffy provenance deserves something special, perhaps Etat Libre d’Orange Like This. Tilda Swinton’s collaboration with the brand was based on some of her favorite homey scents, like pumpkin and ginger and tangerines, along with vetiver and immortelle. But we’re talking about Tilda Swinton here, not Ina Garten, and Like This is a manifestly weird scent, at least to me (your mileage may vary). It’s as though aliens were given a list of ingredients and told to concoct an orange-spicy comfort scent based on photos, rather than any idea of what “homey” actually smells like. If your home smells like this, though, I’d like to visit.
In my opinion the chartreuse Taxi Hopping is the most challenging shade in the lineup, in the best possible way; it’s the one I love most and the one I’m wearing as I type this. I think it would pair beautifully with Serge Lutens’ Miel de Bois, a honey scent that is beloved by a very few (including me) and almost universally loathed by everyone else. If all you get is a urinous boxwood when you smell MdB, as if every dog in the neighborhood had marked their territory on your wrist, you have my condolences.
It took me awhile but I finally managed to get my hands on a bottle of China Glaze Budding Romance, shown at left, from a collection eons ago, and a bit of a Holy Grail among grunge polish aficionados. Look at that; isn’t it something?! I think I’d pair it (or the green Expressie polish up top) with green beans – specifically, Les Nez’ sublime, peculiar Unicorn Spell, by Isabelle Doyen, with its opening that smells exactly like green beans to me, on a base of frost hanging in the air over damp earth, spring grass and violets.
Finally, there’s your good ol’ greige grunge, exemplified by Sephora/OPI Metro Chic, along with OPI You Don’t Know Jacques from the France collection, the two ancient pillars of grunge-chic neutrals. Today I’d like to pay homage to an even darker favorite, OPI’s How Great is Your Dane, at right, from the Nordic collection. With its indefinable murky brown-purple-gray color and cool undertone, I think it pairs well with CB I Hate Perfume Black March, my beloved OG virtual-reality scent of cold, damp earth. Another fine choice would be everyone’s crypt-keeper favorite, Etro Messe di Minuit, with notes of spices, dank church and mildew (that may not be their official list of notes, but it’s close enough!)
By the way, if you’re curious about L’Artisan, this discovery set has some of my favorites and is a good deal.
What do you think of these shades? Would you wear them with pleasure, or not even if someone paid you? Do they make you think of any particular scents?