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ALU’s 365 of Untrieds – Chanel Graphite from the Illusions d’Ombres de Chanel Fall 2011 Collection

chanel graphite nail polish from the fall 2011 illusions d'ombres de chanel collection 365 of Untrieds is my personal challenge to weed through the polishes in the ALU stash that I’ve been wanting to try but just haven’t gotten around to.

My friend Nancy from Beauty 411 is what you might call a Chanel connoisseur. She knows the makeup line inside and out and every season she is first in line to take home her favorite pieces from the collection, especially the nail colors.

When pictures first surfaced of a silver metallic Chanel nail polish from backstage at Paris Fashion Week, Nance was the first person to ask me about it on Twitter. At the time, the images I saw didn’t wow me. Another foil metallic, how original.

I told her I didn’t expect Chanel Graphite to be anything special and even after I could see it in person I was feeling kind of “meh” about it. Well, now you get to watch me eat my words.


Formula & Application: Chanel nail polish is 4-Free (includes formaldehyde resin) plus there’s no camphor, which can be an irritant. The signature square glass bottles are topped with a black square outer cap that is removed to reveal a stubby, round, ribbed inner cap. The brush is round, medium in length and width and reminds me of the old OPI/new SOPI brushes. It easily fans out and covers the nail without much resistance.

Like most foil metallics this polish flows easily on the nail. It levels itself well and even though the first coat goes on somewhat sheer, it builds up fast. I ended up using three coats because I thought my I could still see my nail through the polish but a third coat ended up being more than enough. I could have gotten away with only two.

Chanel Graphite is a light charcoal foil glitter that has been warmed up with small gold flakes. The gold makes this color somewhat chameleon-esque in that it looks quite warm from one angle and a cool silver from another. Something about it is vaguely reminiscent of NYC Molten Metal, a limited edition foil glitter that I just loved. I snapped a ton of shots of this one trying to give you an accurate look at the color. At the end of the day I couldn’t decide which picture I liked better so I posted both.

chanel graphite nail polish swatch chanel fall 2011 illusions d'ombre

chanel graphite nail polish swatch chanel fall 2011

When I previewed this collection I mentioned that Graphite looked like a mix of OPI Your Royal Shine-ness and Brand New Skates. Turns out BNS doesn’t even live in the same neighborhood as Graphite so I decided to replace it with Chanel Kaleidoscope for this comparison. As you can see, Graphite is much darker than both colors and warmer than YRS-ness. Kaleidoscope looks practically champagne in comparison.

chanel graphite nail polish comparison swatch with chanel kaleidoscope and opi your royal shine-ness

A reader asked how Graphite compares to Color Club Snakeskin and while they have similar base colors, the finishes are very different. Snakeskin is a pewter shimmer with a small amount of gold micro-glitter thrown into the mix and compared to Graphite, it looks very flat. The other request I saw was for OPI Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous. I wasn’t able to swatch them side-by-side but take my word for it, they are not dupes. Lucerne’s graphite base has a blue cast to it and it’s not as blingtastic. Plus it’s missing the gold foil glitter of Graphite.

chanel graphite nail polish swatch comparison with color club snakeskin

Bottom Line: I was having this anti-foil moment for a while and clearly that is gone because I’m loving Graphite. The gold particles give it a tarnished look and I love the smoky, urban base color. It feels very industrial yet the glitz of the finish makes it chic. Is it a must-have? Not necessarily, but if your budget allows you to pick this one up I say go for it.

365 of Untrieds Stash/Share Verdict: Any guesses? Yep, I’m STASHing it.

Chanel Graphite and the rest of the Illusions d’Ombre de Chanel nail polishes are available now at Chanel counters nationwide and online a Chanel.com. Chanel nail polishes retail for $25/ea for a .5oz bottle.

Are you feeling Graphite? Do you plan to pick up a bottle? Do you find it to be unique enough to own?

Disclosure: A product sample was provided by Chanel. For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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There Are 58 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Brooke says:

    well I thought I could pass on this, but you’re the devil and have me opening my wallet AGAIN lol

  2. I think I actually prefer Snakeskin. Very nice though

  3. maya says:

    Untrieds? :P That’s cheating! ;) This shade is not even realeased yet. Gorgeous, btw!

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Well I technically haven’t tried it so I don’t consider it cheating. Besides the color is on counter and online

      • Grr…. I called a local Chanel Boutique at Holt Renfrew (Toronto, ON) and they don’t have it yet. I even called Macy’s in Buffalo (yes, I will actually drive to NY to get the polishes- not the first time either) and they will have it next week hopefully. The super nice lady put all 3 of them away for me.
        Does anyone know who has them already? (other then Chanel’s wbsite- they don’t ship to Canada)

        • aggie says:

          Argh, HR doesnt have it yet? I was just about to go this weekend to check it out =(

        • Amanda says:

          Bergdorf Goodman has them online and I just picked Graphite and Peridot up at the store on 5th Ave earlier today. I believe they ship to Canada, and certainly will if you call the store. Carmen at the Chanel counter is lovely to work with.

    • kirsten says:

      What are you talking about? Yes it is. My picks from the Fall 2011 collection were delivered days ago.

      • maya says:

        I asked in my local Sephora and they don’t have this collection yet, it’s going to be released later on. Makes sense, since the summer just started. Besides, I understand the ‘untrieds’ concept as trying polishes that have been sitting in ALU’s stash for a while, not reviewing the current collections. But apparently I got it wrong.

        • kirsten says:

          Sephora? Your Sephora carries Chanel? Lucky! Do you live outside the US or something? I mean I know they all carry the fragrances (I’m a total Sephora junkie), but I’ve never heard of one single Sephora store carrying any Chanel cosmetics or skincare before. I almost always just order directly from the Chanel website which I highly recommend since they always have the new collections first and they ship super fast (my orders always arrive overnight even when I get regular ground shipping. If you can’t order off the website for some reason then I suggest checking the Chanel counters at your local department stores.

          • maya says:

            Yes, it does. In Europe, at least. So, American Sephoras sell only fragrances? Now, I’m surprised :)

        • Susan says:

          Sephora doesn’t sell Chanel polish. Maybe they were talking about their own fall collection.

    • lillian says:

      I thought this was released a while ago!

  4. Rosalinda says:

    Ah! Without a doubt I have to have this polish. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I am going to have to buy Graphite and Peridot without my husband finding out. Thank you for swatching this!

  5. GORGEOUS!! I have this on the way to me now! So happy I decided to get it after all. Originally I thought it was pretty uninteresting as you did. So glad I changed my mind the other day since it takes a week to get to me!

  6. Danielle says:

    I wonder if OPI Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous is remotely close. It seems pretty similar to me.

    Either way, GORGEOUS color!

    • meme says:

      Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous does not have the gold in it that this Graphite has. But LLM is one of my fav metallics. I stashed at least 2 bottles of it.

  7. Wow, Graphite is gorgeous! Ugh, I was hoping I wouldn’t need it but it looks a lot more complex and unique than I thought it would be.

  8. Luka says:

    I bought one and a back-up!

  9. Gaby says:

    I was thinking of skipping on this collection but now I’m considering taking a second look

  10. Eloisa M. says:

    Very beautiful.

  11. Rachel says:

    I’m wearing Graphite today and I LOOOOVE it! :D I knew it wasn’t dupey to LLM, but was a little concerned about YRS, which I have on the way! Thanks for putting my fears to rest! :D

  12. Lauren says:

    I love it, but you read my mind when you said it’s not necessarily a must-have… not for $25. Hopefully someone will dupe it. :)

  13. NailPolishFan says:

    I like them both, but Color Club Snakeskin has just the right amount of foil glitter for me.

  14. Bunny says:

    The really interesting thing about Graphite is that it dries with a velvet finish. With top coat it takes on a high shine which is blindingly bright even though it’s a dark color. It’s incredibly blingy and I can’t decide whether I prefer the finish with or without topcoat. I guess I love them both, but even without TC, I’m not sure whether this polish would be work appropriate.

    Btw, I finally got some good daylight on Peridot, and the duochrome effect is strong. The polish is very metallic in finish, drying matte, and I have no dupes or close relatives in my helmets.

    • meme says:

      Good to know Bunny. I would automatically put my top coat on it. I don’t think I would want it blinding bright as that takes away the pewter look to it. So when mine arrives I will proceed maybe without a topper and see how long it lasts that way.

  15. Shaina says:

    OMG! This is so beautiful!

  16. Chris says:

    While I like this color, I already satisfied my charcoal shimmer craving with OPI Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous and L.A Colors Metallic Charcoal.

  17. Nudie says:

    oh GOD. this is incredible…just my type of varnish. can’t wait to see the other 2 shades!

  18. Beautiful!! Unfortunately,I will not be shelling out that much for a nail polish :( But one can dream!! Love the “Untrieds” Keep ‘em coming!

  19. Sarah says:

    The way the glitter and foil are done on this reminds me a lot of HC Mr Wrong, it just doesn’t have the purpleish base.

  20. Nancy says:

    What a great (and as always thorough) review! I also get that urban/industrial chic vibe from your pics and now I’m going to have to get to a Chanel counter to check Graphite out. Thanks…I think! :)

  21. Susan says:

    OK. I tweeted you the other day that I had bought Peridot. In fact, I bought it about 5 seconds after I got the email about it – I had somehow missed the buzz about it, maybe because I was so focused on Mimosa and the summer collection, but as soon as I saw the picture I figured it would sell out and I would be sorry if I didn’t have it.

    Well, it arrived yesterday and it is AMAZING. I actually gasped out loud when I took out the bottle! The fall and winter Chanel polishes have left me cold ever since Kaleidescope came out. This one, however, is unbelievable. I have it on now, and I think it actually shows a bit more green than on the swatch from your last Chanel post. It’s rare that I find a metallic that doesn’t make my olive skin look green – both gold and silver have to have a greenish cast to counterbalance my skin tone. That’s why I loved Kaleidescope so much, and Peridot is the golden answer to K. but with a much more visible green tone. It’s a close race, but I think this might replace K. as my FAVORITE POLISH OF ALL TIME.

    As to Graphite, I passed on it because I already had a couple of gunmetal polishes in my stash. However, after reading this, I think I’m going to HAVE to get it if it’s still available. The gold flecks makes it look amazing, and I think it strikes that perfect Chanel balance between super upscale and classy, and really edgy and urban.

    Anyway, long post, LOL! I hope you’ll swatch Peridot because I read the comments on your preview post and was surprised to find that people felt indifferent about it. I’m curious to see the third one too, although I can practically guarantee that it won’t be flattering to my skin tone.

  22. Julie says:

    I think that I prefer Sally Hansen’s Opulent Cloud.

  23. Noelle says:

    Love the Graphite! I purchased all 3 colors from chanel the day they came out. I can’t wait to wear them this Fall!!! BTW: Your pics of nails and swatches are the best around!!

  24. Fabienne says:

    It’s gorgeous!! I also especially love that the square cap comes off to reveal a more used freindly one. Does Illamasqua do that, too? I find the square caps hard to work with…. :(

  25. Must have it ;) Of course. I love Chanel so I must have it.
    Is the finish pretty smooth with 1 coat of top coat or did you use 2 coats?

  26. moeysullivan says:

    Yes, you are the devil. I ordered it from Chanel online on the strength of these photos. I must be out of my mind. It is exactly the dash of bada&& elegance that I need in my life. So what if guys like red. This is much cooler.

  27. meme says:

    Yeap…I bit the bullet and ordered this shade from the new collection. I knew right off when you posted the bottles it was nothing like Brand New Skates that I wore constantly on my toes seems like all of end of Thanksgiving (and I put away my OPI Pumpkin Pie and other like autumn shades I have). While I do really love Brand New Skates (and most all of the Toyland OPI collection for that matter – I heart that wonderful holiday collection and hope OPI returns to a real holiday collection next year as I am not liking not getting my amazing shades I look to them for in the holiday collections we lost last year and again this year with the Muppets taking it’s place – But Graphite right off I knew was calling me. It was not any metallic I had, not even close. And now that I have my bottle too I am all over it! Best in this collection.

  28. V says:

    It reminds me of the charcoal metallic one that OPI put out in their ski collection.

  29. Sharon says:

    I am in love with this polish.

    This is my favorite of your untrieds so far. Love love love it.

  30. Helena says:

    Oh, God, I was not expecting to like this at all. Crap. Gonna have to hunt down Snakeskin instead…

  31. Liz says:

    Aghh I love it. It will most likely be my once yearly Chanel polish purchase!

  32. michelle says:

    I purchased both Graphite and Quartz from the Fall 2011 collection and LOVE THEM BOTH! They are beautiful. I will, however, be saving them for Fall and now breaking them out right now! They look awesome on!

    • meme says:

      Those are my 2 favs in this collection also. I just am not edgy enough most of the time to pay this price for the peridot that most nail mavens & ravens will be going for.

  33. Sandi says:

    I just got all 3 Chanel colors….I gasped out loud when I opened the package… I can’t decide which to try first.. Either Peridot or Graphite….Thanx for the great swatches…

  34. i says:

    neimans has it

  35. alice says:

    Putting Estee Lauder Extravagent Pearl over essence Fabuless (a sparkly charcoal) will bring pretty darn close to this! might have to try a Franken of the two…

  36. Well, I’ll have to wait a little more to buy it here in Italy, but this is definitely going to be the polish I’m looking forward to the most for next season!

  37. Suzanne says:

    Just picked up Carbontie by Revlon … Looks like a close dupe…..

  38. TLM says:

    I’m just not excited about it at all. I feel like I wore Revlon Silver Screen and Zoya’s Freja about 4 years ago, and I’m over the metallic greys. Surprised this is from the new Fall collection.

  39. W says:

    I LOVE Graphite!! Am wearing it now and can’t help but stare at my hands!! So easy to apply, 2 generous coats gives a pretty solid colour, and topped off with the Chanel top coat, gives amazing blingness!! Thanks for the recommendation!!

  40. Alecia says:

    I love graphite it is my favorite nail color that I have purchased this year.

  41. Nail_Guy says:

    Chanel Graphite is actually $26 for a .4 fluid ounce bottle. The price may have increased since posting, or may vary a dollar by location, but I believe Chanel’s nail lacquer has always been packaged in .4 ounce bottles.

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