Tag Archives: Marilyn Monroe

The Scarlet and the Pink

Gentlement Prefer Blondes - DAAGBFLet’s face it, Valentine’s Day can be a pretty lonely place. So I love the idea of a Valentine’s-inspired make-up range which you can buy for yourself and perk yourself up with – not that that was necessarily the concept that Bobbi Brown was going for when she devised her new, limited edition, Pink & Red Collection.

Hot pink and blood red is a combination that really shouldn’t work – but it does. Witness its most (if not only) iconic incarnation in the Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend sequence from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The key to the clash working is – I think – that you’ve got two bold shades. The only other pink-red combo I can recall is the Catherine Walker dress that Princess Bobbi Brown Pink & Red productsDiana wore to Kuwait in 1989, but the top half was a wishy-washy pastel pink so the effect was watered down and had considerably less impact than the purple-and-red outfits which the same designer created for her.

But back to Bobbi, whose own bold take on the colour scheme has resulted in a range that stands out from the many spring collections that are dominated by pretty, delicate, romantic pinks. She says: “With  this collection, I took an unconventional approach to the season’s traditional colour palette.

“The Pink & Red Collection isn’t about matching your lips, cheeks and nails. It’s about deliberately mismatching. I love pink and red worn together – it’s a very modern mix (and perfect for Valentine’s Day).”

Personally, I’ve been seduced by the beautiful and comfortable (even on dry lips) new Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color in Hot (£18; www.bobbibrown.co.uk), a perfect match forBobbi Brown Pink & Red Marilyn’s dress, and the Bobbi Brown Nail Polish in Valentine Red (£11), a vampy crimson shade. But if you fancy inverting the look, you could team Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color in Heart with Bobbi Brown Nail Polish in Pink Valentine…  Indeed, they’re next on my wish list!

Also in the collection are a pink and a red lip gloss and a pink and a red cheek tint.

In all, it’s the perfect antidote to the Valentine’s Day blues….

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“Just a few drops of Chanel No5″

Marilyn Monroe’s love affair with Chanel No5 – a meeting of two icons – has been well documented in both a beautiful photograph and in the famous quote she gave when asked what she wore in bed.. As part of an ongoing campaign about the history of the world’s most celebrated perfume, Chanel has just released this little film featuring – for the very first time – Marilyn caught on tape discussing the quote which not only linked her forevermore with No5, but highlighted how witty she was.

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November 17, 2012 · 7:38 pm

My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I wouldn’t compare myself to Marilyn Monroe, but I did wake up on Monday morning looking as puffy as she does in this photo (presumably from her Actors’ Studio period) – especially around the eye area. Why? Because I’d just had my second night of virtually no sleep – at the Norwich Jazz Party. The “jazz party” format involves round-the-clock music until 12.30am, followed by the obligatory “hang” at the bar. For me, it also involved trying to cram in some writing, and some sleep – in a room which made very strange noises (room 211 of the Holiday Inn Express, Norwich, I’m talking about you!).

Despite all this, I was told I looked fresh-faced on Monday morning – the result, I’m sure, of a four-pronged attack on the signs of knackeredness. I used an eye mask (one of the discontinued Chanel ones) to reduce the puffiness round my eyes, exfoliator – Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator  – to brighten my skin, and Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 to counter any high colour caused by late-night libations. And of course, the old reliable Guerlain Precious Light …. Never leave for a jazz fest without it!

TUESDAY

Knowing that some sleep was going to be lost in Norwich, I had planned to take the new Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel (£32.50; available from May 20; for stockists call 020-7493 3836) bronzing powder with me – to perk up my pale skin.

Luckily, I forgot to pack it: when I got home from Norwich and brushed some of the Rose palette on to my face, I realised that it’s not for me. The colours are beautiful, and I love the healthy glow a good bronzer/blusher can impart, but I am just too fair-skinned for even the lighter of the two colourways. It’s even a little too dark for me to use purely as a blusher (which is how I use the equivalent compact from Guerlain).  To paraphrase the Gershwins, s’wonderful – but not for me…

WEDNESDAY

Any help I can get in the eyelash department is always welcome and I love to experiment with any mascara that promises to beef up my featherweight lashes. So I was delighted to be given a tube of the latest from Dior, whose Extase I already love.

DiorShow Extase Flash Plumping Mascara (£22; www.houseoffraser.co.uk) may have a particularly daft name but it does the biz – not so much, I’ve been finding, with “plumping” up the lashes, but more in terms of lengthening and curling them. Ten out of ten for battability..

THURSDAY

I was thinking about how much my legs are currently worth, on Thursday morning. It’s not that they’re anything special – and I’ve not had them insured a la Betty Grable (left) – but I’ve certainly been investing in them recently. Let me explain: I’ve been testing out one of the pricier cellulite creams over the last few weeks.  Sisley Phyto-Svelt Global Intensive Anti-Cellulite Contouring Body Care (£123; www.sisley-cosmetics.co.uk) is the latest wonder cream from the French botanical company, and it has made a difference to my thighs – which is where I’ve been using it (might as well give it a challenge!). It has, as it claims to be able to do, improved the texture and tone of cellulite-afflicted areas and there’s a tautness to the skin that I’m pretty sure wasn’t there before. I’m not saying that the cellulite is a distant memory but it’s certainly not as obvious as before.

FRIDAY

Having finally caught up on my sleep, I met the PR for Aveda and Darphin – the charming Cemo – on Friday morning at the Hotel du Vin in Glasgow. I’ve yet to try out the new Darphin samples she gave me, but I had to point out that I’m already a convert to the conditioner and conditioning treatment she brought from the excellent Damage Remedy range.

As I have a few more trips coming up, I was very keen to hear about the Aveda Travel Size Collection (from £4; www.aveda.co.uk) of 50ml bottles of shampoo and conditioner, plus various hair styling and body products. Unfortunately, the Damage Remedy items don’t come in these plane-friendly sizes but at least you can continue using Aveda when travelling – and decant some Damage Remedy into the bottles when they’re empty!


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Style Heroines: Jane Russell

I wouldn’t say she was a style icon, but Jane Russell – the sassy, statuesque sexbomb star of the 1940s and 1950s, who died yesterday – should be remembered in the fashion world for her services to the halterneck. Here’s a selection of some of her prettiest halternecks – starting with this simple monochrome dress she wore in the 1951 film noir His Kind of Woman.

It was probably not her own idea to showcase her magnificent bosom in this style – but it was no doubt written in to her contract that her cleavage be shown off in every film. Designer Howard Greer kept things tasteful and on the elegant side with the His Kind of Woman clothes (unlike The French Line wardrobe) – witness this pretty sundress…

My own favourite of her halterneck ensembles is the simple black halterneck top and trousers (with high heels – natch) that she sports for her only solo number in the wonderful musical-comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in 1953.

Raven-haired Russell was also unusual in the fact that she also wore a great deal of black onscreen – even, as in the case of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in colour movies. She wears two black evening gowns in the movie, including this sparkling halterneck. The idea was no doubt to direct viewers’ eyes towards the colourful new star the studio was trying to promote …

Appropriately enough, for a couple of stars ultimately both known for their halternecks (Marilyn’s most famous was yet to come – the white “subway” dress in The Seven Year Itch), Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell turned up to leave their mark on the Hollywood Walk of Fame wearing … you’ve guessed it – halterneck dresses!

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The Wisdom of Pearls

Pearls are big news this season in the beauty world, with Chanel and Guerlain both paying tribute to that most flattering of jewels in their spring make-up collections.  How better to complement a pearl-inspired make-up than with the real thing? Here, then, is a selection of stylish ladies who knew how to work their strings of pearls. Josephine Baker (sometimes nicknamed the Black Pearl),  knew how to get mileage out of her beads – both offstage (above) and on (below). Given that she made her name on the Paris stage, there’s a good chance that some of these pearls came from the boutique owned by one Mademoiselle Chanel ..

Silent movie icon Louise Brooks got in on the pearl trend when she played Lulu in Pandora’s Box in 1928.

By the 1940s, multi-strand necklaces which sat at the collarbone had become the “in” way to wear pearls, and, as screen siren Hedy Lamarr demonstrates here, it was particularly effective with a black chiffon. Anything else would have been too heavy-looking..

In the 1950s, a single strand worn high at the neck was a favourite way of wearing pearls, especially if you wanted to achieve a demure, ladylike look – which is clearly what a certain Miss Monroe was going for in this next photo.

And Elizabeth Taylor (almost) managed to deflect attention away from her low-cut dress with her ladylike single strand of pearls..

Of course, the reason for pearls becoming so strongly associated with a ladylike look was the fact that they were – along with white gloves – a key component of the signature style of Grace Kelly, the Hollywood star who became a real-life princess. Here she is in one of her beautiful Edith Head gowns from Rear Window (1954), a film in which her character’s chic wardrobe was designed to reflect the star’s own.

Jacqueline Kennedy was another American aristocrat who was known for her penchant for pearls – simple jewellery to complement the unfussy lines of her much-admired clothes.

Just when pearls were at risk of becoming too conservative a style choice, along came Sophia Loren – whose bib-like multi-strand was clearly a favourite, as she was often photographed wearing it.. If anyone could inject some va-va-voom into the art of wearing pearls, she could..

These days, anything goes – pearl-wise. Heaping them on to create a mess of pearls has become a statement-making way of of wearing them. Sarah Jessica Parker worked this look in Sex and the City but I don’t think it’s been done better in recent times than by the singer Rihanna whose pearls were the talking point of the Inglorious Basterds premiere in 2009.


But the pearly queen of them all – the woman who stayed true to the jewel throughout her life and who is still teaching us how to wear it- was Coco Chanel (pictured below with Serge Lifar in 1937) who was layering real and faux pearls of different sizes from early in her career. Vive les perles!

(c) Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet


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Book Review: Fifth Avenue, 5am – Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I hope none of my girlfriends reads this review. Why? Because it’s about a book which should be in the Christmas stocking of every chic movie lover and every Audrey Hepburn admirer – and I know a few.

To be honest, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the 1961 film which transformed Audrey Hepburn from stylish gamine into style icon, is not this movie fan’s favourite Hepburn movie. With a heroine, Holly Golightly, whose “kookiness” irritates and enchants in equal measure, its outrageously offensive and ill-judged portrayal of a Japanese character (by an OTT Mickey Rooney) and its slightly wooden leading man (George Peppard), it’s far from perfect but, as author Sam Wasson points out, it was still a gamble which paid off – for almost everybody concerned – and a film which bridged the gap between the prudish Hollywood output of the 1950s and the more relaxed movies of the sexually-liberated 1960s.

In Fifth Avenue, 5am, Wasson skilfully weaves together all the many strands of the creation of this much-loved movie into a book which is, at times, irritatingly kooky itself (he even adopts Holly Golightly’s habit of dropping des mots francais into the prose) and sometimes unfairly dismissive (he writes off Hepburn’s subsequent film Charade in one line, while the Alastair Sim comedy Laughter in Paradise is, he says “regrettable” apart from the short scene which introduced the beguiling Hepburn to the world.

Nevertheless, the story of the film is a rivetting one: considered simply too risque (Holly is a happy-go-lucky hooker) for audiences who were used to seeing bad girls being punished and only good girls getting the guy and the happy ending, it faced all sorts of obstacles. And one of the major ones was in persuading the practically perfect Audrey Hepburn to take a chance on playing a part which author Truman Capote had wanted for his friend Marilyn Monroe.

Wasson takes as his starting point the story behind Capote’s creation of the original novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Capote’s flighty mother, Lillie Mae, who routinely abandoned him in their native Alabama as she was lured back to the bright lights and rich men of New York, was part of the inspiration for the character of Holly  (nee Lula Mae) – along with some of the once wild, now tamed society women whom Capote counted as friends and confidantes.

Alongside the gradual evolution of Holly’s story and the birth of Breakfast at Tiffany’s the movie, Wasson describes the asteroid-like early career of Audrey Hepburn who shot to fame and won an Oscar for her first Hollywood film, the sublime Roman Holiday. While her career was on the ascent, her personal life in the 1950s was punctuated by miscarriages and disappointments – and her husband, Mel Ferrer, as sketched by the anecdotes included here, was a control freak who was jealous of his wife’s success and scolded her in public if she didn’t behave as he expected her to.

Their relationship – his dominance and influence over her; her capitulation and deference to him – moves centre stage late in the book when Wasson reveals that Ferrer’s opinions about Holly Golightly and his wife’s portrayal of her began to interfere with Hepburn’s own instincts, and those of director Blake Edwards.

Indeed, as well-documented as Hepburn’s life and career may be, hers is a particularly compelling strand of Wasson’s book, and his description of how she must have been feeling – an evocation drawn from a number of reliable sources (there is a vast, and extremely readable, notes section at the end of the book) – when she began filming outside Tiffany’s at dawn on October 2, 1960, is quite moving.

A new, first-time mother, she had had to leave her ten-week-old baby on another continent to play a part she wasn’t sure she could pull off and which could, potentially, tarnish her carefully constructed and trusted screen image once and for all. Where we see an impossibly elegant swan
gliding around the pavement of Fifth Avenue, Hepburn herself was a bag of stomach-churning nerves.

That’s just one of a tidal wave of behind-the-scenes insights in this chatty, highly enjoyable book which sheds light on every aspect of Breakfast at Tiffany’s – from the fashion, for which it is legendary, and Hepburn’s relationship with Parisian couturier Hubert de Givenchy, to the ways in which Capote’s story had to be adjusted and altered to fit the requirements of a 1961 Hollywood film.

Fifth Avenue, 5 AM – Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Aurum, £14.99), by Sam Wasson

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The Little Red Dress

Forget the little black dress, this festive season its little red sister is a sexy and stylish alternative to that old party staple. Here’s a selection of inspirational red dresses from the movies, including the one I’ve spent 20 years coveting – the crimson halterneck number in which The Fabulous Baker Boys’ Suzie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) so memorably makes whoopee one New Year’s Eve:

Suzy Diamond’s look throughout the super-sexy Fabulous Baker Boys film is very now – from her camel coat to her black beret, via her red lipstick. Actually, watching it recently, I realised that I’ve been subconsciously channelling her look every winter for as long as I can remember.. But for a classic red Christmas party dress, we should hark right back to 1944, and Meet Me in St Louis.

Judy Garland never looked more beautiful than in this movie, and in this scene she’s especially gorgeous – thanks to the killer combination of red hair, scarlet lips and scarlet dress. (She’s probably wearing her ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz under the long skirt.) Admittedly, hers is hardly the sexiest of red dresses, however. For that we need look no further than the sparkling tomato-red number that Cyd Charisse wore in her most celebrated movie dance routine – in The Bandwagon (1953).

Little red dresses seem to have seen a lot of movie action in the early 1950s – and in 1953 they were particularly popular: in addition to Cyd’s Band Wagon version that year, both Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell showed off their equally shapely, er, shapes in glittery red dresses in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Here they are poured into their slinky gowns… I’d say that the inspiration here is less the style of the dresses – wear that today and you’ll either look like Liz Hurley or a drag queen – but the attitude of the wearers!

Heavens, even the normally demure Grace Kelly got in on the racy red act. In Dial M for Murder (1954), the least memorable – both in terms of suspense and of style – of her Hitchcock movies, one dress stands out. Yup, you’ve guessed it: it was red. Red lace, in fact. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of coloured lace (black, white and flesh tones are best), but this is the exception:

And, no Style on Film would be complete without Audrey Hepburn who knocks ‘em dead when she descends the steps of the Louvre in this show-stopping tomato red Givenchy dress in the sublime musical Funny Face (1957). As with all the other ladies featured here, she’s wearing matching red shoes – take note: black shoes and a red dress just will not do …

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