Illamasqua’s Once Collection Wields Deathly Autumn Beauty

Not since Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet has death seemed so…romantic.

When I think of autumn, naturally I think of stuff dying. Nothing morbid, just the earth stripping down to its sleepy skeleton in a quiet incandescence. I know I’ve voiced my rather sour feelings about the season in general, but I can’t deny that the beauty in transition makes me feel much more connected (read: nostalgic?) to the earth.

Illmasqua’s autumn collection, Once, catches just that drift, with “a palette inspired by the gentle and exquisite point when a flower starts to fade and becomes impossibly beautiful in its complex decline” (according to Illmasqua creative director Alex Box). Not since Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet has death seemed so…romantic.

Soft earth tones are my jam, personally. As an olive/golden skin toned girl, I think I look my best in warm colors, so the trio of eye shadows in the Once collection are practically made for me.

The creamy gel formulas are richly pigmented and flecked with gold. The texture was surprisingly airy and delivered tons of opaque color with one swipe of my finger. I find that with cream eye shadows, the best way to apply is with your digits, but having a shadow-blending brush turns your finger painting into a Bob Ross masterpiece.

I dipped my ring finger into the golden brown color, Embellish, and smeared it all over my eyelids and into the crease. The color blends really well and thankfully is easily buildable, but once applied and set does NOT smudge. I was rather impressed at how well the shimmer stayed put. Shimmery eye shadows are always getting all over my face with the slightest brush of a sleeve or something.

With the golden-teal green shade, Bibelot, I brushed it into my lower lash line and extended outward with a slight wing. Under-lining is severely underrated, I always think, so a pop of earthy green with gold shimmer looks much prettier rather than punk, and offsets nicely against my brown eyes, if I do say so myself.

Courtier is the lightest shade, a sort of chameleon-esque dusky rose-beige. The base appears to be beige, but there are micro-flecks of rose-gold shimmer in it that catch light in a blushing-virgin-bride sort of way. I used my pinky to dab and blend it into the corners of my eyes and underneath my brow bone to highlight.

I lined my waterlines with brown pencil liner, and smudged it into the green on my lower lash line for a slept-in look.

I smeared some NARS The Multiple in G-Spot into the hollows of my cheeks and blended toward the apples of my cheeks (I tend to apply cream blush backwards, so the color isn’t concentrated right on the rounds of my cheeks from initial contact) and then dabbed some of the Courtier shadow on my cheekbones as a shimmery highlighter (dual purpose!). Some dusty rose-colored lip-gloss in the form of Buxom’s Maverick makes my mouth look all youthfully bitten and polished at once.

The overall effect is like a softly lit forest--the leaves may be falling but the ground is still warm. Leaving your hair to do whatever it wants just lends even more to the earth goddess vibe.

My favorite item though might very well be the nail polish color, Mélange, that belongs in the collection. It’s a gold-shimmered chalky teal green—almost like perfectly oxidized copper, if oxidized copper was anthropomorphized as a Vogue cover model, rather than a natural chemical occurrence.

Altogether the whole collection has no “filler” colors. I’m partial to keeping things concise, effective, and meaningful, and every item in this collection is pretty much that. Don’t you hate it when you buy a palette with a dozen colors and you only use two to four of them?

It’s as if Death Becomes Her is actually a beautiful metaphor for wearing the natural autumnal behaviors on your face, and not the tragi-comedy of Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn trying to out-hot each other over Bruce Willis.

Personally, this look might be too tame for their characters in that film, but I think we can agree that it’s better to be wearing subtle decadence than to lose limbs in a catfight.

Now it's time to talk. Autumn beauty: go! What seasonal colors do you wear?