Every now and then we have a strong emotional reaction about something which makes no sense to most of the world.
For blokes, it might be football or rugby. For film fans, it could be a movie coming out. This year, for me, it has to be hands-down the launch of a new collection of makeup, a collaboration between YouTube creator and makeup artist Violette and Estée Lauder. The collection has seven pieces and is called Poppy Sauvage. To help you understand why this is more than just a makeup launch to me (I WILL review the products too - see below or watch the video here), I need to take you back with me to my love of la vie de France.
I can’t remember where I first got the idea that French ‘plus chic’ compared to most other things, but I do know it has been with me since I was young, possibly wrapped up in the old Hollywood films I used to watch with my family. The quintessential French femme is Audrey Hepburns ‘Funny Face’, or Jane Birkin, unquestionably chic and beautiful, in ‘Evil Under the Sun’ (even though she was actually English!). My mother always had worn Dior or Chanel perfume and I grew up with a reverie, and always told I really needed to study French at high school, like the girls in my favourite Enid Blyton books. Thus, the idea of the elevated nature of France was implanted in me before I’d even ever visited.
How to be French: 101 - I am sucked in
An appreciation of all things French feels like connecting at a deep level with the DNA of my mother and happy family travels. As a girl when I visited France, I remember my mother telling me over and over how much she loved Paris. My brother and I were taken to the Musee D’Orsay and Louvre and shown the iconic works of Manet, Degas and Seurat, and shown how the impressionists made light dance across a canvas by using many varied colours. The magic didn’t stop, even when we returned to Wellington: Some of my fondest memories will always be having an almond croissant with mum at Bordeaux Bakery before I had to go to school, especially during times when I felt like making friends was hard. Later when I visited Paris again, I got it. It was about the legacy, something New Zealand really isn’t as able to pull off unlike an old city like Paris. You truly can be Parisian, wherever you are.
As I’ve grown up, into my teens and then twenties, when I sought to ask ‘Who am I?’ I looked for the answers in self-help or diet books with a French twist. I found French women had the best life advice, when I felt down, because everything could more or less be solved with a good glass of wine, a red lip and some blue cheese. First, there was 'French Women Don’t Get Fat' and its multitude of sequels (which was less a diet book and more a guide for life). Caroline De Maigrets ‘How to be Parisian wherever you are’ and the well pawed magazines I had tucked under my bed, with snippets of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lou Doillon and Brigit Bardot calling to me, with their scruffy fringes and sooty eyes.
So when my friend Elle showed me a YouTuber with a modest sized following called Violette_FR (ironically discussing an anti-French woman myth piece online). I saw her videos, and liked the look of it.
However, life being what it is, I got busy and didn’t watch them properly until after the Christmas break last year. Alone in my bed, snuggled down, I soon devoured every single artfully directed video, and was following Violette closely, a confirmed fan. Even more exciting was that she was working as the creative director for Estée Lauder. In particular, I liked that her videos focused on colour, art (Violette trained not in makeup but in fine art in Paris) and food. Violette is my ideal French friend incarnate, updated for 2018. She always come across as approachable, and has a sense of humour which is playful and flirty. Just the way you want to feel wearing makeup.
The love was sealed, at least on my side, when she personally replied to a few Instagram messages I mentioned her in. I was bouncing with excitement as I told my best friends (it was during our trip to Nelson). You might scoff at an admiration for someone I’d never met, and likely never will, but if we could never be inspired by others what a dreary world it would be. (Violette, if you’re reading this, I hope I don’t sound like a love crazed stalker. Because I am almost sure that is how this is going to come across).
This year Violette released her first collection with Estée Lauder. As a makeup artist, she adores colour and leaving certain things undone – an ‘Instagram makeup’ professional. Estée Lauder New Zealand, knowing how much I admired Violette, kindly said they’re send me some PR pieces from the collection because I am one of their blogger collaborators in Wellington (as a limited edition collection, they could only spare a couple). On receiving the first two pieces, a bright red liquid lipstick ‘Pure Colour Envy Paint-On Liquid LipColour in Poppy Sauvage’, and the heavenly eyeshadow palette 'Les Nudes de Soleil', I was blown away – and I suddenly realized that it wouldn’t be enough. The feeling was addiction *ironically for a collection based on poppies* - I needed MORE!!
The Poppy Sauvage Collection
Products in the Poppy Sauvage collection includes a blush duo (which I bought), a bright red liquid lipstick (sent as a PR sample), lipstick two lipsticks (I bought one), one eye crayon (I bought this too), an eyeshadow palette (PR sample) and a lip and cheek pot situation (again, guilty as charged). So, in short, I have the entire collection bar one lipstick. So why did I flip out?
Violette's red is the perfect shade for all. You will not need Ruby Woo ever again (I know!!), because this is the ideal all-rounder red, and is much, much more hydrating. These lippy's stay put and it really make any look pop. I love this and will be keeping it close whenever I am out and about from now on. As you can see above, I am smitten.
What struck me about the collection is how easy it is to make your makeup look amazing with it. In particular, the eyeshadow palette is some kind of wonderful. It is so buttery and soft, and applies immediately without any fall-down. The range of red-ish shades is evoke the Spring poppy fields in the south of France, and the burnt grass at sunset, and combine together harmoniously. It is a mix of matte and shimmery shades and the pearly colour is a great highlight for nose and cupids bow. This palette is my new go-to and is perfect for day to day and also more special times and is very blendable. If you only buy one thing, buy this (and the liquid lipstick).
This blush duo looks simple, but in fact packs a real punch. The bronze Soleil Doré shade is perfect to warm the face and use as a contour while the pink posey tone of Camélia is warm while also remaining very crisp and not muddy or too orange. Again, Violette has nailed the colours, and they really are very malleable, blurring together seamlessly.
Could be the answer for the girls out there who have never been sure about eyeliner. It is as smooth as silk yet stays on tough through the night. The shae is Terre d’Or and it has a shimmer that looks like burnt earth in Summer heat. I love applying this to finish the eyeshadow and tie in with a mascara.
Finally, today I got my fourth and final order (the collection is only available at www.smithandcaughey.co.nz sadly – not in physical Wellington stores), the soft glow which is supposed to evoke the dew on the flowers. It is hydrating and can be applied as a gloss to the face or on the lips as a balm.
This is probably the one item I could give or take a bit. It is a beautiful pink lipstick but could be interchanged with another non-Violette lippy. However, it is very hydrating and really lovely for day wear or when the red might get a wee bit messy.
If we don’t share our passions, we might not open others eyes to beauty which they’re yet to see. The collection is a triumph in my humble opinion and one that any girl should invest in. Violette is such a great inspiration for me personally, and is a modern French icon. It is always a little silly to be extremely passionate about something, especially when others might not understand. I recall when Matt and I first met, I would often remark on the amazing Wellington sky. “Look at the sky” became my catch phrase. At first he laughed at my enthusiasm and seeing something remarkable in the plain old sky which came and went every day. And then, after a while, he stopped laughing, and started looking. He too understood, the beauty of colour, hue and why some things are worth taking a moment to appreciate, even if it is as simple as seemingly the perfect shade of red, delivering a dash of joy.