When I first read Lewis Carroll's fantastical books and watched the old "Alice" Disney film, they captured my imagination. If a little girl could fall down a hole and wind up in another world, why couldn't I? I spent — or wasted, depending on your perspective — hours chasing the neighborhood rabbits and staring in my bedroom mirror in the hopes of reaching Wonderland.
I still remain a firm believer in the necessity of play and imagination, even (or especially) for adults. Since it's no longer socially acceptable for me to chase bunnies in my front yard, I have to be a little more creative. Cosmetics are one of the best ways to make-believe as an adult — With the right lipstick and eyeliner, you can imitate anyone from Cleopatra to Khloe Kardashian. And now, with the right eye shadow, you can clamber through the looking glass with Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the rest.
Imagine my delight when the latest limited edition Urban Decay eye shadow palette, inspired by Tim Burton's "Alice Through the Looking Glass," arrived at my door, trussed up in ordinary brown packaging. The hefty box, imprinted with psychedelic patterns, . I expected, or at least hoped, that something inside it would provide at least a glimmer of that old make-believe world. And it did! Urban Decay knocked it out of the park, designing a full experience for their user. The box opens onto a mirror with the words of the Mad Hatter scrawled across — "We're all mad here" — and a fluttering, three dimensional butterfly. The palette itself is hidden away in a semi-secret compartment; the only hint you'll find as to its location is small gold transcription of another Lewis Carroll quote: "I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I must have changed several times since then." A nice touch, especially if, like me, you change your mind, outfit, and lipstick five or six times in between waking up and getting out the door.
The design immediately captivated me, but I was a little skeptical about what I'd find inside. I might love Tim Burton as a director, but he doesn't seem to make it to many #beautyinspiration boards on Pinterest. (My hair, incidentally, looks a little like Burton's when I wake up Sunday mornings.) His films are dazzlingly creative, but the beauty looks often skew more lurid and, well, extreme than my personal taste. After all, some of the beauty looks from the first and second "Alice" movies might not fly in your 8:30 Chem lab.
Fortunately, while the trippy packaging pays homage to the colorful excess of Burton's film, the shades inside display surprising nuance and variety. The dazzling blues, greens, and purples that characterize Burton's aesthetic are there as expected, but in smooth, wearable iterations that don't make me look like Helena Bonham Carter on acid. And these bright colors are accompanied by a surprising number of translucent base tones, from cool, shimmery "Lily" to the sunburnt matte of "Reflection," and plenty of soft browns to build and shade.
The palette is wonderfully structured in a way that makes the looks easy to put together and adjust, or to stay faithful to the book and film. Each row is inspired by a different character, allowing you to select the soft, subtle hues of Alice one day, the wild shades of the Mad Hatter the next.
I don't plan to drink anything labeled "Drink Me," or spend time with anyone named "Time." But for now, even my beloved Naked palette is sitting in a drawer. I'm too busy playing.