Nars Cruella. It's been a standard red for a while now, but I just thought well... I have 46352 others, how essential can it be? While Cruella is somewhat twinsies with a number of other OG reds on a superficial level and is not necessarily for everyone, it is such a sophisticated composition, combining such subtly awesome colour and striking, uncompromising texture that it impressed the ever-living hell out of me. I've been wearing it nonstop since it arrived on my doorstep out of sheer old-school infatuation. It is photographing brownish in these first few picks, probably due to oxidation on the surface of the product.
L2R: Russian Red, Nars Cruella, Ruby Woo, Ruffian Red, Studded Kiss, Nars Mascate.
There is not one atom of shine, slip or satin contained therein. It gives Ruby Woo a dry run for its money and makes the Nars Pure Mattes look almost sticky. It is matte squared. That means Cruella is both difficult and rewarding.
Yes, unless you take certain steps, it will feel like the Kalahari and the Negev made a dust baby and parked its little arse on your lips. And yes, there are some unexpected longevity issues; with no slip to compensate for localised wear, this shade can rub and turn patchy on the unwary. I've found you can improve the comfort and wear of Velvet Mattes by patting on a very (and I mean as minimal as humanly possible) thin layer of your waxiest lip balm before application. Nor is it for someone with lip insecurities because it requires considerable application expertise and tends to be merciless to a thin or asymmetrical mouth.
However, well-applied and maintained, Cruella is possibly the most striking, elemental, fully-adult red I own. Its almost secretive earthy aspect is outstandingly complimentary to a wide range of eye colours and skintones, far more so than many of the other truer reds you might have tried and rejected.
The swatch immediately below it is the same lineup captured in cool indoor shade.
Listen, if you're a red lipstick dilettante and already own a Russian Red or Mascate, you don't need Cruella, because- to the average, rational person- there's not enough difference to justify the considerable expense. But speaking to my fellow red/hardcore matte obsessives and Cruella holdouts, I say buy this little bitch now if you haven't already.
Why? Two reasons. The colour is queenly, nuanced and deserving, like the shade wiped so dramatically from the face of la Marquise de Merteuil in the final scene of Dangerous Liaisons. 'Candlelit red' is the phrase that springs to mind. But texture is the thing that sets it apart, framing and complimenting that chromatic singularity like no one's business. I've detailed my opinion of the Nars Velvet Matte formula here.
very neutral daylight, pretty accurate colour