Want Les Essentiels has been tempting me for a long time with their leather products. I picked up the Mini O’Hare mini leather tote in black. It comes in various colors and the black was certainly the hardest to find on sale.
I bought the Celine small vertical cabas tote in black grained calfskin (FR link) a few years ago and promptly sold it as it was an unplanned purchase in Paris due to using up expiring credit. I don’t regret it, the timing was off. Lately I’ve been wanting the same bag again, but I couldn’t find it in during my last trip to Europe. I’m guessing this style and color is hard to find outside of Paris, which has an abundance of Celine stockists. Celine has updated their website since so now you can easily search for availability online.
I came upon Mark and Graham and their Italian Leather Crossbody Tote looked very much inspired by the Celine. (Note: this site is owned by Williams-Sonoma and will put a monogram on everything.) M&G has some good looking bags but it’s hard to find reviews of them. I have one piazza zip pouch from M&G made of Italian leather and the leather is very nice. I would say it’s a similar leather as this bag.
(Images: Celine, Mark and Graham)
The M&G comes in navy, brown, and cream. Of those three colors, I think Celine’s only ever made it in cream. I like the navy and the brown, but would’ve preferred it in black. I ordered a monogram-less brown and navy when it was initially marked down.
(Image: Mark and Graham)
My photo of the actual item
- Dimensions were very similar.
- Leather grain was noticeable smaller and more delicate on the Celine.
What I didn’t like:
- Hardware: There’s a round piece of hardware on the sides of the bag. It distracts from the sleekness. You can see it the clearest on the blue bag above.
- Edges: The vertical edges are very round and nowhere near a 90 degree angle and as a result didn’t appear to be straight edge (as seen above). Also distracting from the sleekness. I think this comes from the stiffness of the leather and don’t see it going away or softening up with usage.
- Hard to adjust strap: I’m not sure if it’s that hard to adjust the strap length on the Celine but it was impossible to adjust on this bag. If you’re shorter end of petite, you would need to get extra holes punched.
Verdict: I didn’t expect the M&G to match up to the Celine at ~10-20% of the price. The M&G sale price is a steal (I didn’t think it’s worth its retail) and a good buy for someone who wants this style and doesn’t mind the lack of defined edges. I am still waiting to encounter the Celine again.
Note on Mark & Graham shopping experience:
- If you want to be able to return it, don’t get it monogrammed. I have gotten stuff monogrammed before and some were done poorly. They were good about sending replacements.
- The returning process was slow compared to most other e-tailers. It took them almost 2 weeks to process the return after receipt during the summer and maybe it’s because I sent an email to inquire on the status. They also charge you for the UPS label (which is fine given the size of the boxes).
I’m fairly fond of Drunk Elephant (past mentions). However, I have not tried their sunscreens or soaps. Nor do I plan to. When DE dropped the new Beste jelly cleanser, I thought eh… why not. My experience was consistent with many lackluster reviews, I was not impressed. My skin is normal (I used to think it was combination). In general, I wash my face at least twice a day and do a double cleanse at least once a day. I tried this cleanser on dry skin, wet skin, as an only cleanser, and as a second cleanser.
- Texture: A little goes a long way, but it felt slippery and stripped my skin of moisture despite having Marula oil and glycerin. Maybe it works better for oilier skin. It does foam up.
- Packaging: People were extremely upset at the packaging. The bottom lid is concave, you turn it for the center opening to open and squeeze the tube to dispense cleanser. You turn it back and hear a click for it to lock in place. My bottle never leaked but others complained about it leaking. Also, if you leave it in any wet surface in an upright position, that can’t be hygienic. The tube comes in a cardboard box which has an internal black/white print, which leads a gray line on the right side of the tube.
- Pricing: Drunk Elephant is by no means a wallet-friendly brand. This cleanser is $34 for 5 oz.
Compared with the other jelly cleansers you see here, or my favorite non-jelly second cleanser (Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser), this cleanser is not worth keeping and already returned to Sephora.
Reviews of the other two cleansers. Both have hyaluronic acid, which is hydrating.
- Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. Thicker texture. I like it on wet skin. Nice packaging and it comes with stickers for customization. It has a smell – like a mild floral scent of a plastic toy from childhood – but it’s actually from rosewater. This is probably the only Glossier product I like aside from the lip balms. It’s slightly pricier than the next cleanser, but since it’s a thicker cleanser, you will have to use more to properly cleanse. I like trying new cleansers so most likely won’t rebuy. Referral link: 10% off first purchase.
- Lagom Cellup Gel to Water cleanser. Lagom is a Korean brand. Gel = jelly. This cleanser is great — if you wanted a jelly cleanser in concept, this is the one to try. It does not strip at all. In fact, I think it’s super moisturizing*. I love how the gel dissolves into a watery consistency once you swipe it. Similar to the Beste, a little bit goes a long way. I would have be impressed if DE formulated a product like this. (*You will never get enough moisture from a cleanser — you still need actual moisturizer.) It’s also a large tube — at 7.44 fl oz for $17, the cost per oz is almost 1/3 of the Beste cleanser. Find it at Target and Peach & Lily (referral link: $10 off $50 for first purchase). This bottle is lasting me for a while since I rotate cleansers regularly. If I had to decide right now whether I would rebuy one day, I would say yes.
In the summer, my work uniform is usually a dress (often COS) with a cardigan. The cardigan is a necessity — the a/c is blasted on the bus, ferry, and in the office and I also prefer to cover my arms if I’m wearing a sleeveless top. I fell in love with the Uniqlo lightweight cardigan last summer and was sad that the long version didn’t return this year. I did, however, end up buying this Uniqlo light v-neck long sleeve cardigan in black and then returned to get the blue and white. It’s sheer, made of a tencel/lyocell blend, hopefully blocks some UV rays, and is super affordable. I wash it in the machine on delicate. It runs TTS. Uniqlo also says it has a cooling touch and is anti-microbial. Sizes online are scant, but were plentiful when I stopped by the Fifth Avenue store.
Images: Uniqlo JP
I have too many striped tees. This one by Maison Labiche is a favorite (tied with Petit Bateau x Kitsune collab). It’s a heavier material (not for summer), but it has a flattering fit and is soft. The sleeves are also not too long on my arms which typically align with petite sizing charts. I think it runs slightly big, yet tailored and neat. They come with an embroidered message on the chest, sometimes cheeky. You can also make your own (if you order from Paris or go to their Paris store). In comparison, Petit Bateau’s classic marinieres cut is boxier, the length/sleeves too long, and made of a stiffer material. And I never was into the classic Saint James tees either for similar reasons. This Maison Labiche top is of better quality than the striped tees that you’d find at J.Crew, Gap, etc. made of thinner material.