RSS Feed

MUG SHOT: Vamp Diaries (Chanel Vamp vs. Chanel Rouge Noir)

June 23, 2012 by pam

It’s a great time to be a Chanel fan.

Diwali from the Chanel Paris-Bombay collection is now available on



It’s gorgeous – check out this gorgeous swatch on The Purse Forum.

The Fall shades Vertigo, Suspicious and Frenzy have started to appear at Chanel counters in the U.S. (Check out the reviews on one of my favorite blogs The Beauty Look Book here, here and here.)

Sadly, I live on the other side of the world so I have yet to get my hands on these shades. So while I’m waiting to get my bottles (and to find out what shades will be released at this year’s Vogue’s Fashion Night Out event), I decided to turn my attention to a cult classic, one that undoubtedly jump-started a lot of people’s love for Chanel polish.

Chanel Vamp.

I was 14 when Vamp first came out in 1994. I remember staring at the gorgeous bottle that appeared in my aunt’s Vogue. Back then, nail polish was a big no-no for me. It wasn’t allowed in school and I was a Catholic school girl who followed the rules set by the nuns.

While I was keeping my nails polish-free, in the US, Vamp was creating quite a stir.

Uma Thurman wore the shade in the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction.



Madonna wore it in her Take A Bow music video.




And the $15 bottles of Vamp flew off Chanel counters. In 1995, Chanel rep Judy Biasalli was quoted, “If I had a penny for everyone that wanted Vamp, I’d be rich. It’s literally flying out of the store. In my 11 years with Chanel, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Here’s a fun read about giving in to the trend.

Soon, the shade was discontinued.

Luckily, Chanel released Vamp again in 2003.

But it wasn’t exactly like the old Vamp.


The old Vamp was a blackened blood-red and a pure creme. The new Vamp is a paler burgundy with silver shimmer.


But on the nails the shimmer isn’t super obvious.


I loved the way the old Vamp looked but I like the new Vamp too.


It’s sexy.


I’ve always loved dark polish shades and this one is just pretty.


The formula was good.


Two coats and it was perfectly opaque.


I have another reason for loving Vamp.


My bottle was a surprise from the awesome Miss Bun.


And that makes it doubly special.




But if it’s the original darker shimmer-free Vamp that you’re looking for, what you need is Rouge Noir.


It’s a beautiful blackened red that on me also shows quite a bit of brown.


It’s a pure creme, no sign of shimmer at all.


It’s so easy to see why so many women fell for this color.


It’s beautiful.


Rouge Noir is also special to me – it’s one of the first six bottles of Chanel I purchased.


I bought Black Satin, Blue Satin, Dragon, Vendetta, Splendeur with Rouge Noir during a trip to Singapore. Almost a hundred bottles later, they’re still among my favorites.


Great formula.


I used two coats.


I couldn’t end this post without comparing the two shades.


Vamp and Rouge Noir – both gorgeous but definitely not dupes.


And I really really love them both.


Now if I only I can find bottles of Very Vamp and Metallic Vamp.


  1. Maribeth says:

    I love both on you! Vamp was definitely on my radar back when it first came out. I was 15 back then (oooh this explains our mutual love of NKOTB too…we are close in age) and I made a half hearted attempt to find it but couldn’t. It’s not like we had online ordering back then, so that was the end. Also, Pulp Fiction is one of my top 3 fav movies of all time, so naturally that polish holds a special place in my heart <3
    Sweet swatches!

  2. Polished Pinay says:

    Wow thank you for this iconic post, is there a book on nail polish history?

  3. Cat says:

    Mrs. Mia Wallace was actually wearing MAC Dubonnet. I was 18 and modeling at the time, and the makeup artist who worked with me told me it was Dubonnet. I remember reading an article confirming it was Dubonnet as well.

    MAC wasn’t as popular back then, and Vamp was heavily marketed and capitalized on the frenzy.

    • Maribeth says:

      I thought Dubonnet was the lipstick?

      • Eugenia says:

        Maribeth, you are correct: Dubonnet WAS the lipstick shade that Uma Thurman’s wearing in the movie. It was the announcement that ‘Rouge Noir/Vamp’ that graced Mia Wallace’s nails that actually BEGAN the entire frenzy for this shade, and catapulted Chanel lacquers into the stratosphere. Sorry Cat, but I had this fact confirmed by my sources at Chanel!

        • Cat says:

          Dubonnet was also a nail polish. I have it still! The MAC artist who worked on me told me her colleague applied MAC Dubonnet on Uma the week she did it, months before the movie came out. (I am not partial to MAC over Chanel. I couldn’t care less about brands.) This is just what I was told. If you look at Uma’s nails in the picture, the color is not nearly as dark as Vamp though.. I truly believe she was wearing Dubonnet.

        • Cat says:

          OK at the risk of sounding obsessed, I just found this excerpt from “Made For Each Other: Fashion and the Academy Awards” by Bronwyn Cosgrave, and she writes of Uma Thurman: “Done up as Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace in a jet-black bob wig (Tarantino’s homage to Louise Brooks), blood-red nails (MAC Dubonnet mixed with OPI matte finish polish) and improvised pedal pushers…”

          She is writing about what Ms. Thurman wore to the Oscars, but she was wearing the identical outfit as in the movie, and her nails were really MAC Dubonnet.

          I was an adult consumer back then and as I recall, people were mad about the COLOR not necessarily the brand. MAC wasn’t well-known by the general public back then, and Chanel had a similar color (thought it was darker) so of course they were going to capitalize hardcore! Just one beauty editor needs to suggest wearing Vamp to “get the look” and suddenly everyone is clamoring to get a bottle.

          • Sarah says:

            Thank you, I’ve been saying this for years (you’d be surprised how often it comes up) and everyone always thinks I am wrong. I far prefer Chanel as a brand and Rouge Noir (the UK version of the original Vamp) was my first ever Chanel polish back in 1994 but I do remember all the original magazine articles quoted MAC Dubonnet as the polish used on Uma.

          • Rebecca Kell says:

            Beauty editors often make mistakes or give substitutes before it goes to press, so I’m not surprised that the Chanel was used as a substitute and took off. I wish MAC had gotten credit, but people would rather believe Chanel came up with the color vs. MAC.

  4. Maddie Shen says:

    I bought Rouge Noir in the Shanghai, China airport on the way back to the U.S. along with the Les Jeans de Chanel collection. Due to my busy schedule, I haven’t tested them out yet, but because of this post, my busy schedule might have to allow some room to paint my nails with Rouge Noir! The color looks very…vamp (heehee) and nothing short of elegant on you!
    It’s such a beautiful color that I might have to purchase Vamp! Very Vamp and Metallic Vamp are on my list of Chanels to purchase, but I’ll have to find them first! ;)


  5. Eugenia says:

    Pam, it drives me absolutely bananas when I get the notification from that items I’ve been eagerly awaiting are finally up for sale through their site, but as a Canadian, I can’t purchase them….I have been simply dying for Diwali since the first whispers and to know it’s available but out of my reach, well….it drives me mad, I tell you! And you already know about me & my long-time love affair with Chanel lacquers, right?!
    Moving on (it will eventually find its way to me, I have no doubt!), I wanted to thank you for showcasing these vintage beauties; you reminded me again of how much I love these shades – and that I really should give more love to Very Vamp & Metallic Vamp as well, especially seeing as how they’re now considered so rare! Gorgeous swatches, my friend!

  6. Carol says:

    Such a great post!
    Rouge Noir is special to me too, my bf recently gave it to me as a surprise gift together with Black Satin! And of course I told him all the Vamp story! hahaha
    and OMG I had completely forgotten about the FNO shades… omg, I’m so curious right now – and desperate to earn money, lol!

  7. Ann says:

    Uma Thurman wore Mavala Las Vegas in Pulp Fiction. It was neither a Chanel nor a MAC Polish.

  8. Ellen says:

    Just FYI.. You can get duplicates from ’3 custom color specialists’ in NYC. They have a websit and they even have the super obscure ‘very vamp’ lipstick which had a bit of gold in it and was GEORGEOUS!! Does anyone remember it?? I’m going to order it soon!
    If you have a lipstick, or other type of makeup, and you can afford it, you can mail it to them and they will attempt to duplicate it. If they’ve already duplicated it, they keep the formula on file. You can check on the website. I nearly choked when i saw ‘very vamp’ because no one remembers it. Anyway.. Great post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>