Greetings from the glittering desert night, fellow rogues!
So, I’m a huge fan of many things ‘Arabian’ – I love the history of the Middle East (to the point of having an entire university degree in Egyptology/Near Eastern history), I think Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art and architecture are just about some of the spiffiest you’ll find anywhere, it’s not possible for me to get enough of Middle Eastern food, and I have been lucky enough to travel not un-extensively in that part of the world! Their maths and science even helped haul Europe out of the Dark Ages (much as you might feel otherwise about this as you learn algebra?) ;-).
When I saw, therefore, that Sleek had released a limited edition eyeshadow palette entitled ‘Arabian Nights Smoke and Shadows’…well! Sleek has some of the best international shipping rates I’ve ever seen (~$4 from the UK to NZ?!?!), I’ve heard so many good things about their eyeshadows, and DID I MENTION IT’S THE ARABIAN NIGHTS PALETTE? *cough* sorry. Sometimes this rogue gets a little carried away over certain treasures…I mean, I can, in fact, recite the script of Disney’s Aladdin verbatim (including all the songs).
What’s this palette artefact all about then? Well, it’s a limited edition offering based on the tales of the 1001 Nights, a collection of arabic myths, legends, and folk tales that has been around since about the 9th Century. The basic premise is that there’s a bitter and hypermisogynistic Sultan who takes as his latest wife one Scheherazade, the daughter of his vizier. Since he’s been killing off all his previous wives after their wedding night (so that he’d get their virginity but they could never be unfaithful to him – yes, just as messed up as it sounds), Scheherazade devises the plan of telling him a thrilling story before bed, but leaving it on a cliffhanger! Her unfolding and interconnected stories manage to get her through 1001 nights, by which time the Sultan has gotten over his issues and decides not to murder her. Don’t you just love romantic, happy endings? ^_^
Some stories you may associate with with the 1001 Nights, such as Aladdin and Sinbad, are not actually part of the original set, but are other, standalone Middle Eastern folk tales that were added to the anthology by – believe it or not – a Frenchman named Galland in the 18th Century. As I go through the colours below, I thought I’d try and take a stab at associating each shade with its 1001 Nights story. Ready to dive into the vally of diamonds, fellow adventurers? (Who wouldn’t be, based on that name?).
Let’s dive straight in, shall we? The palette comes in a sleek (oh Gods…) black case with a truly ferocious clasp – you need have no fear of this popping open in your bag (it’s the perfect travel size and weight), but if you have just manicured your nails, you may with to reach for another instrument from your kitbag to jimmy this thing open. Rogues with trap disarming tools will probably have something, so if you’re rocking another class, ask a nearby thief ;-). Inside is a plastic sheet with the names, a generous mirror, twelve gloriousy coloured eyeshadows and a token double ended sponge crapplicator (I love you, Rae!).
In terms of specifics:
Scheherazade’s Tale is a shimmering, light peachy pinkish ‘base sheen’ or ‘edge blending’ or ‘browbone’ type of colour. This type of thing, like my usual favourite UD Sin makes a great, easy ‘toss it on the lid, add mascara/liner and go’ shade. It’s is super smooth and buttery, with solid pigmentation. The name makes it pretty obvious what this shade is about! 😉
Gold Souk is a sheer, glittery gold. Although I didn’t have any fallout problems with this, and I love how the glitteriness ties into the name without being OMG GLITTER WTF, if you’re looking for a gold eyeshadow with the pigmentation of, say UD Half-Baked, this is not it. This is more of a ‘sheer wash of sparkle’ kind of shade – useful in its own way, and really pretty. The name I couldn’t specifically find in the 1001 Nights – obviously, gold crops up a fair bit, and there are many famous gold souks in the Middle East (both modern and ancient), but I think this is more ‘flavour text’ than a specific reference. If you know otherwise, though, let me know!
Aladdin’s Lamp is a smooth, shimmering, cool taupe brown shade. It’s buttery and pigmented, and the kind of shde that is pretty much essential to an everyday eyeshadow wardrobe (well, if you’re wearing neutrals every day). It’s great in the crease, it’s great on the lash line, it’s great all over the lid! If you have more than one eyeshadow, you probably have something in the same colour family, but it’s a fantastic shade. The name is probably familiar to most of you, but what you may not know is that (as I mentioned above) Aladdin is not part of the original 1001 Nights! It was added to the collection of tales by 18th C anthologist and translator Antoine Galland. This doesn’t make it any less awesome, however.
Sultan’s Garden is a difficult shade, and probably the worst in the palette. I’m sorry to be blunt, but it always makes me sad when there’s a fabulous palette with lovely texture and pigmentation generally, and then there’s this shade with an awesome colour and cool duchrome effect, and it had a stiff texture and ‘meh’ pigmentation. Having said that, this smoky forest green with gold/turquoise duochrome microsparkle is still worth using – you just need to use it on the lash lines, for smoking out the edges of things, or maybe for wetting and making into liner (I haven’t tried this yet). The sparkle in it really is glorious, but I wish they’d made it fully pigmented! As for the name, I’m wondering if this might refer to the Story of the Speaking Bird! Other than that, there are quite a few sultans in the tales, so…
Hocus Pocus is an AMAZING, smooth, forest green with turquoise shimmer. Really, this is kind of what I wanted Sultan’s Garden to be a smoky version of. It’s a jewel-tone shade that really works with the theme of the palette (IMO) and blends gorgeously with so many of the other colours. The name is a bit random – Hocus Pocus, in terms of referring to magic/sorcery, is definitely inkeeping with the Arabian Nights idea, but the words themselves are a corruption of ‘Hoc est corpus meum’, Latin for ‘this is my body’, the phrase spoken during the holiest part of the Catholic Mass, the consecration. As the phrase moved into alchemy and magic, it became ‘Hocus Pocus’. Not terribly Arabian, but have an interesting factoid anyway! 😀
Simbad’s Seas OK, so, what you all need to do, right now, is go and buy this palette for this shade alone. Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you’ll know what I mean when you look at the swatch. Something that many makeup companies seem to have trouble doing is produce a saturated, vivid, sapphire blue eyeshadow that isn’t somehow sheer, or chalky, or not actually blue when you swatch it. Sleek has created a masterpiece here, and I would pay the $12 that this palette costs for this shadow alone. Since you also get a whole bunch of other magically awesome shadows with it…well! It’s a dense, buttery, pigmented sapphire blue shimmer – almost a metallic, as the sheen is the same colour. This here is what blue eyeshadow dreams are made of, people. The name refers to the stories of the Adventures of Sinbad (or Simbad, I guess), a sailor who had a lot of very interesting and unusual experiences. As I mentioned above, it’s not technically part of the original 1001 Nights, having been put at the same time as Aladdin. The stories are cool, nevertheless!
Genie is a coolish dark brown shimmer with a rusty red untertone and a pink sheen to the sparkle. Does that even make sense? Whatever it is, it’s very dense and smooth, and the contrast of lighter warm undertone with darker cool top tone produces a nice multidimensional effect. The name is the French transliteration of the arabic ‘jinni’ or ‘djinni’. There are at least two tales in the original 1001 Nights that contain one – The Fisherman and the Jinni and the Trader and the Jinni. Of course, Aladdin has one too ;-).
Black Magic is one of those ‘oil slick’ kind of shades. Maybe ‘gunmetal’ might be appropriate too. Basically, it’s a smoky, very dark grey with a generous helping of petrol blue shimmer to it. The shadow is soft and smooth, and although the pigmentation of the underlying grey is not as heavy or even as some other shades, the quantity of the blue shimmer is very generous, and creates a neat two-tone effect. The name is another relatively non-specific one, as ‘black magic’ occurs several times in various tales, but is not usually referred to as such.
Stallion is a smoky, dark plum/burgundy shade. The shadow itself is soft and smooth, although like Black Magic the pigmentation is a bit patchier/lighter than would be ideal. Unlike many of the other shades in the palette, this one is a satin matte, with no shimmer or sparkle whatsoever! The name probably refers to the tale of the Ebony Horse.
Sorcerer is (to me) a bit like Black Magic with less blue shimmer. It’s a hazy, dark grey shadow with (if you look in the pan) multicoloured sparkle to it. On the skin, the pigmentation is on the lighter, smokier side, and the multicolour shimmer, while still present, is so fine that it takes on more of a multidimensional sheen. I think this one would be cool wetted down as a liner, actually (although I haven’t tried it yet!). The name is…yet another kind of general one, as sorcerers are not at all underrepresented in the 1001 Nights! Seriously, though. Does anyone from the West hear the words ‘Arabian’ and ‘sorcerer’ together and not get an immediate mental image of Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin? Just me? OK… 😉
Valley of Diamonds is kind of awesome, to be honest. It’s a smooth, vivid, pigmented magenta/plum eyeshadow with chunky gold flake glitter. I mean, really, people. You need this in your life! The name refers to the tale of Sinbad’s Second Voyage, actually, so it’s kind of nested within ‘Simbad’s Seas’.
1001 Nights is a *super* pigmented, smooth black eyeshadow with very fine shimmer that’s similar to the stuff in Black Magic and Sorcerer, in the sense that it’s both blue-themed and very, very fine. For all intents and purposes, this is a satin eyeshadow, although if you look in the pan (in person) you can see more individually the sparkles. A fine and rogueworthy black shadow that rounds out the palette nicely! The name is, once again, kind of self-evident ;-).
Phew! If anyone’s still around after that long desert campfire tale (and hasn’t run out of rations or snuck off to do battle against a few more disgruntled djinni), congratulations! 😀 In summary, I think this palette is more than worth its affordable price point, cost-effective shipping and cool theme. As I said (and as a blue eyeshadow lover) I’d get the thing for Simbad’s Seas alone, but you also get the awesomeness of Hocus Pocus, Valley of Diamonds, Aladdin’s Lamp, Genie, 1001 Nights and Scheherazade’s Tale. The misses/redundancies are probably Sultan’s Garden, and the Black Magic/Stallion/Sorcerer area of the palette, but only because their pigmentation is less impressive than that of the others. They’re still nice colours and useful ‘smokies’ in their own right, although they didn’t quite live up to their full potential. Should you go for this (LE) palette? If you’re not already drowning in palettes, definitely. If you’re a blue eyeshadow connoisseur, definitely! If you love autumnal, jewel-toned eyeshadows in (mostly) excellent quality at an unbeatable price point, definitely!
I’m definitely planning to do a few looks with this palette (especially Simbad’s Seas!), but the daylight’s been a bit rubbish around here lately, so I haven’t been able to get much in the way of good photos. Stay tuned! If anyone has any requests for looks with this palette (or just in general) let me know it the comments 🙂
What do you think, fellow adventurers? Have you tried any of Sleek’s makeup? Be honest – how much do you want that blue shadow now? Are you also a fan of middle eastern mythology (and food)?
The practicalities: The Sleek Arabian Nights Smoke and Shadows i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette costs US$11.99 for 12 x 1.1 g (i.e. 12.12g, i.e. 0.43 oz) of total stuff, is limited edition, and may be acquired from www.sleekmakeup.com (This link isn’t affiliate, just here for your convenience!). If you are a Rogue of Middle Earth, the shipping is insanely reasonable direct from the website!
Until next time, fellow adventurers, don’t forget to check for traps!
I am an adventuring rogue, not a mercenary for hire, and as such, all opinions expressed here are my own, based on a genuine fondness for/interest in this product. If you have any queries or suggestions, please do not hesitate to pin your parchment to the board (contact me) at thepaintedrogue [at] gmail [dot] com., or use the contact form provided! All images and text on this blog are the property of The Painted Rogue unless otherwise stated. If you nick off with any of it, be prepared to find that your morning hot beverage tastes a little…different than usual. Didn’t the rogue say something the other day about that new poison that makes your innear ear itch maddeningly for the rest of your life? I think she did…