One of my proudest achievements while working at the gourmet cookie company was getting our product back in Henri Bendel. A quick tutorial for for those of you who don't know what or who Henri Bendel is -- or how to pronounce it -- I was calling it En-REE Ben-DEL, you know, all French like. FORTUNATELY, when you call there they answer the phone "Henry Bendel" and I never made a fool of myself. Anyway, Henri Bendel is like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for cosmetics.
I'm a makeup slut. I love makeup. I always have. My mom used to have a drawer full of outcast cosmetics that I guarded with my life. I was an expert at putting on makeup by the age of 3. So Henri Bendel is kind of like my Mecca.
The bottom floor holds every makeup line you've ever read about in any fashion magazine and some you haven't. It is literally almost too much to behold. Too many choices. Too many colors. Too many fragrances. In other words, too wonderful. The three upper floors contain beautiful clothes and purses, but I'm a cheapskate at heart and after seeing the outrageous prices on everything never ventured upstairs again.
I had arranged to do a demo of our products because that will sometimes will help tip a buyer over the edge. You might wonder why a cosmetics store would be carrying cookies, but the product my company sold was very "gifty" and the colors of the tins that our cookies came in perfectly matched Bendel's summer theme.
I arrived early because I wanted a makeover. I scoped out the different cosmetics selections and ultimately chose Laura Mercier. I don't remember why I chose her line but it probably had something to do with the packaging. I'm a sucker for cool packaging and I love the color brown. Her line is sleek and all in brown, so there you go.
I almost changed my mind when the Laura Mercier consultant approached me. She was slightly frightening looking and her makeup was....well....let's just say she applied it with a heavy hand. It's kind of like when you walk into a new salon and you meet your stylist and her hair looks like a bird has nested in it for several weeks and you think to yourself "Does she think that looks good?" and whether the answer is yes or no you're in trouble. But all the other girls at the LM counter were busy and I was running out of time.
I sat down and she went to work on me. We talked about how much makeup I generally like to wear (not much), my skincare regimen (very simple), etc. And then we got to the lips. Now I'll be the first to admit that I have kind of a thin upper lip. And we've all heard that if you want to make your lips look fuller that you should line them slightly outside of your natural lip line. Well, she went to town on my lips. She lined them, lipsticked them, and glossed them. And then she handed me the mirror.
Everything was great -- a little more foundation than I normally wear but you kind of expect that when someone else is doing your makeup. But y'all. The lips. She had lined them a good quarter inch outside of my natural lip line. They looked grotesque and swollen. And sloppy. And fake! It was OBVIOUS what she had done. I mean, it's not like anyone would have been fooled by her makeup trickery (for the record, her OWN lips also looked like this so I should have known). I mean, if I were on tv (have you SEEN that home shopping network lady??) or on stage where the audience is so far away I MIGHT have been able to get away with it. But in real life?
"What do you think?" she asked.
"It's great! I love it. I'm not really sure about the lips, though."
"Oh, it looks fantastic!"
"Yeah, well, I'm getting ready to do a demo in here and I'm not really sure I want to wear THESE lips to do it. I'm going to wipe it off, if that's okay."
"Okaaaay. But you have to promise me you'll wear it like this sometime, okay?"
"Okay. (on HALLOWEEN! I screamed inside my head)
So I ended up buying most of what she used on me that day. I did buy the gloss and the lipstick but NOT the liner. While she was away ringing me up, I was mentally trying to tally the damages. I've done makeovers before, albeit usually a the Clinique counter, so I know how quickly things can add up.
"That'll be $253.87."
WHA?? GULP! And of course at that point there's no way to say "Oh, well, you know, maybe I don't need the foundation prep cream after all. Or the concealer brush. Or the concealer, for that matter." You pretty much have to suck it up and fork over the cash. Fortunately, at that time the bank where I had my car loan gave its customers the option to skip a car payment in July and December -- you know, so you'd have a little extra cash for vacation and Christmas presents. I had elected to skip my July payment so I would have a little extra cash to spend in New York. Guess how much my car payment was? $254.
So, I walked out with my cute little Bendel's brown and white striped shopping bag, which, in NY especially, is as iconic as Bloomingdale's Brown Bag and Tiffany's blue one. I was walking on a cloud and vowing never to tell Mr. Daddy how much I spent (and I actually managed it until today's post. Hi honey!)
I went back to Bendel's every time I went to NY after that, but I never dropped so much cash there again. In fact, the only thing I ever bought there again was my Benetint, which I still love. And if I go to New York again -- and as God as my witness I WILL go again -- you can bet I'll be back. With my nose pressed against the glass.
5 years ago