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China Glaze Retro Diva Review & Swatches

By on June 10, 2009
in Berry, China Glaze, Fall 2009, Gray, Purple, Red
It’s like the every-other-decade theory, you know? The ’50s were boring, the ’60s rocked, and the ’70s– Oh, my god, they obviously suck. Come on. Maybe the ’80s will be radical. You know? I figure we’ll be in our 20s and, hey, it can’t get any worse. – Cynthia in Dazed & Confused.

Now I love me some Dazed & Confused but I can NOT get behind Cynthia’s claim that the 70s suck. Granted I can barely remember the decade and yes, the clothing wasn’t the best but, it wasn’t all bad. Apparently China Glaze agrees since their fall collection, Retro Diva, is a 70s themed throwback.

Check out the first half of the collection, after the jump!

As I lined up all the bottles, my first impression of the colors was that they’re pretty but not jump and down outrageous. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by collections like Bahama Blues and Summer Days but I always hope for WOW when it’s China Glaze. Though I am in summer mode and this palette is definitely fall so it’s hard to tell how I’ll feel once the leaves start to change. I will say that as I started testing them, there was a bit of WOW factor to some of shades which goes to show how deceptive bottles can be.

All the polishes in the Retro Diva collection are shimmers and I’d categorize them as metallic shimmers. They have a bit of a brush stroke thing going on. They’re all well pigmented requiring only two coats but a few got a little draggy on me and needed a third to cover bare patches.

Cords was not at all what I expected. I wasn’t sure what “rustic gray shimmer” meant but now I know that translates to taupe with shimmer that gives it a metallic look. It’s definitely unique and I’m always on board for something unexpected.
Because the finish reminded me of the spring Romantique shades I pitted it against Awaken to see how much they differ. Awaken is clearly charcoal gray compared to Cords.
The second I put on Stroll I was stunned. Gold glitter floating in a a berry red jelly… SIGN ME UP! This is the one polish that got me excited even in the bottle. I could just feel it’s deliciousness coming and I was right. A must have!
Though as soon as I put Stroll on my brain started turning, thinking that I’d seen something similar before. Something that was LE and beloved. That’s when it hit me… Finger Paints Festive Claret! This LE holiday shade was a nail board fave when it released and while Stroll is a bit more berry, this would make any girl that curses never finding F.C. very, very happy.
Stella is a deep magenta, shimmer. You could call it berry it just has a blackened magenta feel to me because of the hint of pink the light picks up.

Skate Night is a deep crimson. It’s got a sultry feel to it due to the depth the shimmer adds. Though the name doesn’t quite fit for me. Skate Night brings back memories of school parties at this horribly small and dingy rink that had no element of sexy to it.

Short & Sassy is a slightly browned, deep garnet hue. Though in the bottle it looked so much lighter. In fact, next to Skate Night I didn’t see the difference. So just to prove to myself that they’re not one in the same, I swatched them side by side for us.
Um yeah, obviously different. But it never hurts to compare. In fact Skate Night even looks a little berryish next to Short & Sassy even though on its own it’s obviously not.

When I saw Let’s Groove I was all set to see another “almost black” like Midnight Ride from Rodeo Diva but I really should stop putting expectations on polish before applying it because HELLO GORGEOUS! It’s rich, warm and luscious but not so warm that it ventures into red grape territory. It’s just perfect. In fact it may be an Essie Viva La Vespa dupe but if not it has no twins in my collection. Love it!
The Retro Diva collection will hit shelves in July and can be found at Sally Beauty Supply and online at, and

I’ll have the rest of the collection to show you soon so stay tuned! What do we think so far?

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  1. ChitChat Nails | April 8, 2011
  1. queen frostine says:

    I'm still disappointed that ChG would release a 70s collection and not have an Avocado green or some other olive. Is there any color that says 70s quite like Avocado?

    So far the colors look nice but not particularly special.

  2. Lina-Elvira says:

    Wow I LOVE all of these, but it was really Stroll that made me squeal :) Thank you so much for these lovely swatches :D

  3. Renee says:

    let's groove reminds me of Zoya Yasmeen…?

  4. crotchfairy says:

    Hell yes to Cords!

  5. Eeeradicator! says:

    Wow! I was not expecting to love these, just based on the promotional materials, but your swatches are changing my mind. I'm thinking of picking up a few after all.

  6. rosarita says:

    Let's Groove is calling my name, and Cords looks like one I'd wear a lot. Thanks for the swatches!

  7. The Glitterati says:

    None of the colours called out to me in the promo pics, but Stroll, Cords, and Let's Groove all look pretty cool on the nail. I wonder how close Let's Groove is to Essie's Sexy Divide though?

    (And the every-other-decade theory is clearly flawed… while the 40's may not have been boring, I doubt anyone would argue that they were great times! :P )

  8. Michelle says:

    I don't know, I'm not blown away. I'll probably buy Short & Sassy and Let's Stroll but I think that'll be it.

  9. Sarah says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for the swatches. I was so excited to see them. I have to ask – how is Stella compared to last fall's CG Cowgirl Up?

  10. SaintBella says:

    I liked Stella and Let's groove, but the other didn't do much for me. Hope the other half is better.
    Btw, I linked to this post in my blog, hope that's OK? Or else you can tell me and I remove it.

  11. Marie says:

    Oh my… I think I love them all – what a great collection! The last two reds, the purple, and of course the first one, the silver/taupe! I don't think I've liked a complete collection before…

  12. The Asian Girl says:

    Wow, I'm extraordinarily impressed. I honestly thought I wouldn't get a single color from this collection, but you really can't judge a color from the promo pic! I'll be picking up Cords, Stroll and Let's Groove for sure!

  13. Recessionista! says:

    Cords *totally* captures the exact color of the corduroys the boys at my elementary school used to wear in the late 70s. Love it!!

  14. Maureen says:

    I, too, am in summer mode but I do enjoy these colors. I thought Cords was going to be another fab grey to have in my collection. It is the only one that I am not too crazy over. I love greys!

  15. Marina says:

    Thanks for he swatches! How does Cords compare to Beatnik? It looks to me like they might be in the same family, though probably not dupes.

  16. itzzzkimmm says:

    I think I am in LOVE!

  17. Gaby says:

    Stella & Let's Groove look so pretty!

  18. Nosaby says:

    Skate night and Let's groove will probably be all I get. Don't care for Cords. I do look forward to seeing the rest of the collection.

  19. ashleydanielle4 says:

    i like stroll and skate night.

  20. moonchaii says:

    Oooo. They're all very pretty, I think. I'm not sure which ones I'll get and not get, my polish collection is rather small, so I can gaurantee I have no dupes, but I know I want the last two reds. They're so pretty and rich!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Is it just me or does Cords look like Chanel Kaleidoscope?

  22. Leann says:

    So many comments!! I love "Let's groove". I'm a huge purple polish fan!!

  23. Danica says:

    Wow, great swatches! Thanks for doing all those comparisons! You're really on top of things, one step ahead of the rest! Great job!

  24. All Lacquered Up says:

    Queen Frostine – OMG how on earth did I not think of Avocado Green. Our kitchen growing up looking like an avocado exploded. The appliances, floors, sink, etc. all that horrid shade. They totally should have included that.

    Lina-Elvira – You're welcome. Stroll is definitely squeal-worthy

    Renee – Yasmeen is much more ruddy. I'll add it to my swatch request list for you.

    Crotchfairy – Hells yeah indeed!

    Eeradicator – I'm with you. It's funny there are some collections that get me as a whole and others that it's the individual shades that make it great. This is definitely the latter

    Rosarita – I'm glad you found a couple you love. I hope you enjoy Let's Groove & Cords

    The Glitterati – I haven't swatched them on the nail but in the bottle Sexy Divide looks a little darker. I'll add it to my comp list.

    Michelle – I hear ya. You know I love my oddball colors so something with more mass appeal like this collection doesn't make me scream and shout but they're definitely pretty.

  25. All Lacquered Up says:

    Sarah – Good question. Cowgirl Up actually looks pretty red next to Stella which has a lot more magenta/fuchsia in its base.

    SaintBella – Of course that's ok. Thank you so much for the link.

    Marie – Excellent, so glad you're into them.

    The Asian Girl – You're so right, promo pics mean nothing for the most part. They give you an idea but that's about it.

    Recessionita – I hear ya. It's a great color. I probably had a pair of cords that color myself. I remember living in a rainbow of them.

    Maureen – I love greys too and I'm sorry your disappointed. I am glad they did something different than all the other grays on the market but it's not what you would think of as "grey"

    Marina – You know, I thought I owned Beatnik but I have Stone Age so unfortunately I can't compare them. Sorry :(

    Itzzzkimmm – Shh, don't tell your lover, they might get jealous! ;)

  26. All Lacquered Up says:

    Gaby – Let's Groove is such a standout for me. I'm glad everyone is loving it too.

    Nosaby – I'm sorry the rest didn't thrill you but I hope the other half will have some winners for you.

    Ashleydanielle4 – You MUST get Stroll. It's beyond fab!

    Moonchaii – Rich is a great description. They're all very deep and velvety. Choosing won't be easy but I'm sure you'll be happy with whichever ones you buy.

    Anon – I see why you'd say that but Kaleidoscope has a green flash and no real taupe-like warmth.

    Leann – You're a girl after my own heart. Purples rule (just not as much as greens)! :D

  27. Orli says:

    they're all nice, but I'm not sure if any of them are must have shades for me. I feel like I've already got a bunch of polishes like these.

  28. Lexie says:

    Cords and Let's Groove seem really flattering on the nail.
    But I'm suprised no one's mentioned Skate Night! It's been a while since China Glaze last released such a perfect deep crimson shimmer (in my opinion). AWESOME!
    Still a tad disappointed that there aren't any greens or blues in this one though.

  29. Linda says:

    Cords reminds me a lot of a shimmery silvery version of OPIs YDKJ!

  30. B says:

    I'm like you. ChG really spoils us nail crazed peeps. I'm not diggin' this collection too much. Tons of dupes and no originality. But I still love my China Glaze. Rock on with the wonderful swatches, lady! Keep up the fab work!

  31. BeautyChick101 says:

    Unfortunately this collection just isn't really doing it for me. I usually love China Glaze but I'm left feeling a bit underwhelmed by this collection.

  32. diann_co says:

    I really like Stroll and Stella! Short and Sassy looks like it might be close to one of the 2 Zoyas, Blair or Colbie, I always get those 2 mixed up..
    I know, my mon's decorating color scheme was always turquoise and avocado!

  33. moeysullivan says:

    How about Cords vs. Chanel Kaleidoscope? I know it's not quite a dupe but I'm curious as to whether it provides the same effect.

  34. Mary Clark says:

    I must have Cords!!

  35. Denette says:

    Oh my goodness, I have to have Let's Groove!! It is gorgeous, and it definitely appeals to the purple polish fan in me!! It does seem to look a little bit like MAC Wildfire though. Either way I have to have it!!

    I also like Stroll. Since I did miss out on the FingerPaints LE this would definitely be the next best thing!

    Can't wait to see the rest of the swatches! Thanks

  36. bargainbeautyblog says:

    Stroll is STUNNING!!! I love it!

  37. Meyahna says:

    I find them not bad… duh I was going to place an order for sexy divide but now I wonder if i won't wait again a couple weeks to get let's groove, it looks so pretty. Short and Sassy is pretty too. I would have kept the 70's theme for a spring/summer colorful collection, 50's or 60's I'd have understood but 70's not quite.

  38. Sharon says:

    Short & Sassy reminded me of OPI’s Royal Rajah Ruby! But of course RRR is much darker though.

  39. Sandi says:

    By the time 1970 rolled around the whole avocado, rust, turquoise thing was pretty much passe. I graduated in ’74 and by then people were so tired of those colors they were all being remodeled out of existence. Greens had lightened up and lost the brown undertones and the young crowd was drawing on the brighter and more pure primary/secondary colors seen in the typical tie dye of that time period.

    • Sandi says:

      Today is the first time I’ve actually used Cords when the sun is shining (spring has been non-existent in the Great NW) and how com no one mentioned that the shimmers are multi-colored? Subtle, but multi none the less. As I wingle my nails in this glorious light from the sky I see tiny particles of blue, green, hot pink, purple…maybe even a random orange or two. What was boring in February is awesome now. Glad I revisited.

  40. Jenny says:

    I love avocado, turquoise and bright orange in decor! of course, i am a total sucker for anything retro and 60′s/70′s – avocado green couches, bell bottoms, hoop earrings etc…I wish I lived through these 2 decades, but I digress.

    Cords is an old tired pearl taupe that has been made so many times over, it’s not unique or interesting at all. I do love other China Glaze collections, but this one – despite the name, I will pass on.