As summer starts to hang heavy and humid over the northern hemisphere, it brings a sense of dread that hangs over me like a thunderstorm. The Nordstrom Anniversary sale, which I have early access to because I am fiscally reckless and possess a Nordstrom Card, arrives like clockwork every July. Should I think ahead and stock up on fall boots, cardigans, and winter necessities? Or do I focus solely on the 'exclusive' beauty products offered to select customers during the early access period? Readers, I think you can guess which route I ended up taking. (The name of the post is a bit of a giveaway.) In today's post, I'll be discussing the Tom Ford Iris Bronze Set which includes a new and supposedly limited edition 'Iris Bronze' quad (plus two mini Lip Colours in Spiced Honey and Casablanca). In a truly impressive display of capitalistic frenzy, I ordered the TF Set over the phone (from my lovely Nordstrom SA and good friend) while simultaneously swatching new launches at Sephora IRL.
The Lowdown on the Tom Ford Iris Bronze Quad
The Iris Bronze Set includes a brand new four-colour quad and two mini lipsticks from the permanent range of Lip Colors, namely Spiced Honey and Casablanca (Cary from the Lips & Boys range is supposedly a dupe of Casablanca but Emily vehemently disagrees.) Do note that the mini lipsticks are not the same size as the Lips and Boys Lip Colors or Clutch Sized Lip Balms. The ones in the set are called “deluxe samples” and are approximately the same length as my pinkie finger.
The mini Lip Colours included in the Nordstrom Exclusive Tom Ford Iris Bronze set - Spiced Honey on top, Casablanca on the bottom.
Yep, they’re small, but as a pro-mini lipstick activist, the size doesn’t necessarily bother me. It’s rare that I actually finish a lipstick and I love being able to try different colors without investing tons of dollars on products that will inevitably go rancid. Since Casablanca and Spiced Honey are permanent shades, if you fall in love with either of the minis, you’ll be able to purchase the full size version. I already own Spiced Honey but not Casablanca so it's nice to be able to add what is supposedly Tom Ford's best-selling lipstick to my collection, esentially for free. The price of the Iris Bronze set is $87 USD for 0.35 oz or 9.9g of product. The quad's weight alone is .29 oz or 8.2 grams.
The Tom Ford Iris Bronze Quad
Now, I had some…feelings regarding the quad once I ordered it, which I documented thoroughly in a heated Instagram Stories binge on the beautyblackout page (go follow it now, btw, if you don't already). To summarize: it appears that the Iris Bronze quad is comprised of 4 of the best-selling shades from TF’s Private Shadow collection - Hush, Irish Bronze, Body Double, and Videotape. Not every beauty lover and cosmetic customer is an insta-junkie who spends their free time scouring the net for sneak peeks. In fact, as hard as it for those of us with obsessive personalities and a fondness for makeup to believe, probably MOST consumers do not do this. And…they may not have been aware they were purchasing existing items under another name and dressed up in a pretty quad. I might sound harsh on this and I don’t mean to; there are certainly pros to owning the quad- it is a great deal, especially with the Nordstrom special where you get the 2 (miniscule) lipsticks with it for the price of one quad (it's actually a dollar less- $87 vs the usual $88 USD). Plus the fancy box. If you hoard packaging (like me), you understand the box is a check in the “YAS” column. You also get a significantly larger amount of product in the quad. Private Shadows are $36 for 0.04 oz. (1.1 grams) each so if you bought all 4 shades individually you would get 4.4 grams of product and pay (gulp) $144 (wow it’s upsetting to see that in black and white. Let’s move on quickly). So yeah, the quad contains approximately double the amount. There’s also the convenience factor of having the shadows together in a quad! I love individual shadows but if I’m honest with myself I don’t use them as much as I should because a) I’m lazy, and b) I’m disorganized, so quads and palettes tend to be easier to grab when I’m in a rush (always). But at the end of they day, Nordstrom and TF were pretty hush-hush about the quad until right before the sale started, and I really believe it was not made sufficiently clear that this is not a “new” product in any shape or form. I already had 2 of the shades included in the quad, and I expect that’s the case for many customers- personally I’d have been preeetty pissed if I owned some (or all!) of the shades and bought the quad without realizing this. Nordstrom does have a decent return policy, but that’s a pain, especially if you don’t live near a Nordstrom and have to return through the mail.
Two of the Private Shadows- Videotape and Hush- pictured next to the Iris Bronze quad.
Performance-wise, this is for all intents and purposes the same formula as the Private Shadows. Again, pros and cons with this aspect as well- I like the formula of the Private Shadows but have long wished for Tom Ford to make a quad using the Nude Dip formula. Why TF insists on sitting- nay, lounging on his pedestal (I picture it as an Italian villa surely decorated in tones of mahogany and black, and smelling of Tobacco Vanille), ignoring the cries of the proletariat for the Nude Dip formula to return, I’ll never know. Pushing aside my obvious bitterness (never said I was unbiased! That wet-dry formula from Nude Dip, Enchanted, and a few other quads is amazing so I don't know why they don't utilize it), I had slight issues with the Private Shadows when they first came out- they are quite hard pressed and I couldn’t get decent color payoff for the first couple swipes, but once I got past that unyielding top layer they performed well. There did seem to be some quality control issues with the launch of the Private Shadows, so hopefully the quad benefits from some improvements made since that initial release. Right off the bat, it doesn’t seem to be pressed as hard, so you don’t have to deal with that annoyance. I was able to get good color payoff right off the bat with no effort.
We’ve reviewed all these shades thoroughly in a few posts covering the majority of the Private Shadows collection, but most notably in our tour de force blog post here.
The Iris Bronze quad top to bottom- #1 (Hush), #2 (Body Double), #3 (Iris Bronze), #4 (Videotape).
Now, the quad shades aren't titled so for the purposes of this review I'll be referring to them by the names of their "dupes" from the Private Shadows collection. I've swatched the quad alongside the Private Shadow versions of Hush and Videotape below for comparison purposes.
The PS version of Hush is the top swatch, with Videotape at the very bottom.
Hush (a suede finish) was one of the first Private Shadows I bought (I also talked about it here, along with a rundown of the 5 finishes). At first glance, it's deceptively boring- a pale shell hue with a faint pink sheen. But its demureness is actually a boon, as Hush is a lovely all-over-the-lid shade with THE most beautiful subtle sheen. No glitter- just gleam! It immediately brightens up the eyes without being a flat matte neutral. Just the easiest on-the-go shadow that’s impossible to mess up. It’s also the least warm shade in the quad, and looks and performs identically to the single. Both the quad and single can look a tad chalky in heavy swatches, I assume from the white base, but this hasn't been a problem when applying them to the eyes.
Body Double (vinyl) is a shimmery taupe-beige that can look silvery in some lights and I imagine depending on skintone as well, but the base shade underneath that silver gleam pulls somewhat warm on me- it reminds me of Tom Ford’s Cream Color for Eyes in Platinum, with that interesting cool-warm contrast. Overall, it’s another easy all-over-the-lid color (I sense a trend). Compared to the single, the quad shade looks like it pulls a little warmer and more golden than the quite solidly neutral champagne tones of original. While Hush and the coordinating quad shade are virtually identical, this one is definitely a bit different.
Iris Bronze is a soft muted brown with a ruddy amber sparkle. Categorized as a sateen finish in the Private Shadow collection, Iris Bronze is not as bold or metallic as you’d expect based on the name. It’s a very warm bronze and the shimmer is smooth rather than in-your-face molten metal. It doesn’t swatch quite as smooth as Body Double (which is delightfully soft and velvety to the touch and has the best texture in the quad) but performs on the eyes just as admirably. All-over-the-lid, yes, duh, it’s getting repetitive, but its also nice to smudge around the upper and lower lashlines for a soft amber haze- it really brings out the green in my eyes. To my eye, the quad shade is a hair darker than the Iris Bronze single, but the difference once applied on the eyes would be negligible.
The quad and Private Shadows pictured in natural, outdoor lighting. Again, the order top to bottom- Hush (PS version), the quad shades 1-4, Videotape (PS version).
Videotape was one of the shades both Emily and I had issues with at first- it had a stiff top layer and was a bit patchy, not to mention the random flecks of glitter in an otherwise satin-matte color (it’s categorized as a suede finish in the PS line). It was a bit jarring. Once we recovered (and the texture improved deeper in the pan), we were able to appreciate how wonderfully rich the color is- warm reddish burgundy brown, leaning maroon but not quite that red. The glitter particles thankfully don’t seem to show up on the eye (seriously, why are they there?) While I was swatching the Videotape single next to the quad, I noticed Videotape looked almost purpley-red...definitely more purple than the quad. When I tried to photograph the difference it was almost impossible to pick up on camera in both artificial and natural lighting. Now, obviously my photography skills leave a lot to be desired (I'm working on it, ok??), but this probably means the discrepancy is minor enough that you could do one eye with the single and the other with the quad and no one would be the wiser. The quad doesn’t suffer from the texture issues the single did- although it is the driest shadow in the quad- and it’s sure to be a winner for the warm-neutral lovers out there who seemingly cannot get enough warm browns.
A close-up of Videotape- quad version in the middle, Private Shadow on the bottom.
In conclusion: Is Iris Bronze a must-have? That’s going to be entirely personal preference. Do you have 5,000 warm neutral palettes? Then no, it’s not. Do you collect TF quads and not picking it up would lead to severe FOMO and a hole in your collection from which you would never recover? Then sure, it’s a solid product with a cohesive, wearable set of shades. IMO Tom Ford should just go ahead and make it permanent, as it's different enough from his other quads to justify. It's like Cocoa Mirage's warmer, more satiny cousin- and like Cocoa Mirage, it doesn't contain the dreaded glitter topcoat. Now, I'm not a glitter-hater by any means, and- controversial opinion- I actually like a few of those shades in his other quads, but they certainly don't need to be in every. single. one. The Palliette (glitter- or "sequined" in Tom Ford Speak) finishes in the Private Shadow line seemed to be hit or miss with a lot of people, and can be tricky to work with, so maybe that's why they chose not to include one. Either way, I'm not complaining!