Going around the world is tough (queue world's smallest violin). Every time you happen upon a new city, it's completely foreign to you. No idea where to find services, products or even your hotel for that matter. But there's something absolutely electric about that novelty as well. It's such an experience seeing a place with new eyes. Even the most desolate towns (Dubuque, Iowa... Entrocamento, Portugal) are charming on that first visit.
Milwaukee is a small Wisconsin city. As far as I can tell, not too much happens in the union's 23rd largest state. It has cheese (by American standards, good. By any real cheese-producing nation's standards, tastes like salted wax), the Green Bay Packers, cross-country skiing, some strange laws (it was once banned to serve apple pie without cheese in public) and breweries. As kids, my sisters and I would be dragged kicking and screaming to Wisconsin on most weekends.
Hell for us then, but something I look back on fondly now, trying to recreate those halycon summer evenings roasting marshmallows and eating Goober around a campfire whenever given the chance (and lighter fluid). Until now, that was the extent of my Wisconsin state general knowledge. But a recent visit revealed that there seems to be a revival of sorts in Milwaukee's historic 3rd district, including its beauty offerings. It's chocka with great vintage (mid-century vintage heaven, for those collectors out there), beer, more beer and Santiago Calatrava's amazing art museum. Blush is among all these new and shiny offerings at the corner of Water and Buffalo Streets, next to the Milwaukee Ale House and down the street from fabulous Broadway Paper (the first place I happened upon Snow & Graham).
Blush is somewhat of an agent of beauty change in the Midwest. It is the only place where Laura Mercier is sold in Wisconsin, a state about 4.5 times the size of the country of Switzerland. Shocking to the makeup junkies among us, I know. My heart goes out to the beauty-philes among us who don't happen to be within stomping distance of Barneys or Harvey Nichols (or who don't 'do' the internet).
Find cool brands that even some department stores haven't cottoned on to yet: Duchess Marden, B. Kamins, Tocca, Fast Lash, Lucy B, Japonesque, MOR, Osea... and they have a full-service spa and salon, so you can get lash extensions, brow tidying, facials (and the whole gamut of treatments), makeup artistry. It's an airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows. It's inviting and makes me want to hop on a train to Milwaukee when I'm having an uninspiring beauty day in Chicago.
BEST BEAUTY SECRET AT BLUSH
Alcone Fast Lash: I haven't seen this product anywhere else yet... that's not going to last for long. Why? It makes you look like you're wearing false lashes, but you're not! All you do is touch the wand to the tips of your lashes right after you've applied mascara. The wet mascara grabs the dry, white polyester fibers. Come through the lashes and then re-apply mascara. Voila... really really long eyelashes (eyelashes you could usually only get with falsies) using just your regular mascara.
Blush Beauty, 249 N Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202 (+1 (414) 272-1718)