Festive Noir

Chanel Rouge Noir model shotThis year’s Christmas collection from Chanel is as glamorous as ever but it has a dark twist. The Rouge Noir Absolument collection has been inspired by the classic, vampy Rouge Noir nail varnish, which celebrated its 20th birthday recently and was one of the biggest beauty stories of its era. I remember vividly writing a story for The Herald about it when news broke that this dinky little bottle of inky, blackish-red polish had a waiting list in the UK. I only got my hands on mine because I went on a press trip to Copenhagen where there were still a few bottles left!

Rouge Noir was originally inspired by a colour mentioned as a favourite of Coco Chanel in a 1926 magazine article, and this new collection puts the deep Chanel Rouge Noir Signe Particuliergarnet shade centre stage, with a number of roses, pinks and golds in supporting roles so you can release the inner vamp or temper her with softer, prettier shades. Highlights of the collection include the Signé Particulier Exclusive Creation (£44), an eyeshadow quartet which revolves around the matte Rouge Noir shade; a beautiful highlighting powder, Joues Contraste Lumiere 12 Coups de Minuit (£31), in a pearlised rose-gold shade, and of course the gorgeous new trio of nail varnishes  (£18 each) – the original Rouge Noir shade, plus brand new Le Top Coat Lamé Rouge Noir, a transparent top coat with gold flecks, and the delicate Rose Fusion shade.

I popped along to the Chanel counter in Fraser, in Glasgow, last week for a Rouge Noir makeover (scroll down to see my pix from the day). Late morning is probably not the best time of day to go noir, but it was worth doing as my make-up artist, Megan, gave me some great idea about how to wear the Rouge Noir collection. I particularly loved the eye palette, which was enhanced by the new Rouge Noir shades of the Ombre d’Illusion cream eye colour (£25 ) and Le Volume Mascara (£25).

  • For stockists call 020 7493 3836Chanel Rouge Noir nails

Chanel RN makeover 3

Chanel RN makeover 5

Chanel RN makeover 8

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A 1950s Christmas Carol

Carol 2Yesterday I was at a press screening of the most gorgeous-looking film I’ve seen this year. Carol is its title, and it was directed by Todd Haynes – who also directed the similarly ravishing-looking Far From Heaven back in 2002. To be honest, I wasn’t really convinced by the characters or gripped by the plot but I was utterly seduced by the autumnal palette, slightly grainy film and – most of all – the  way the two central characters, socialite Carol (Cate Blanchett) and young department store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara), looked. (Scroll to the end of this post for more images plus trailer.) Anyone who loves and appreciates 1950s style and beauty, as I do, will not be able to take their eyes off the screen!

The plot centred on the love affair between these two women – and it was a bit like watching Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn (in Sabrina – pre-Paris transformation) getting together. They both look amazing in clothes designed by costume designing legend Sandy Powell: Blanchett sports chic suits or fitted dresses with silk scarves and elegant jewellery, tidy little hats and a ubiquitous mink, while Mara wears simpler, gamine gear. (Indeed, the pinafore-turtle neck combo she sports for Christmas in the country is a direct lift from Sabrina.)

In an interview earlier this year, Blanchett said: “The mink was old and it kept falling apart. Between takes, Sandy Powell  the costume designer, would sew it back together by hand. I considered changing coats, but when you find the right thing, you know immediately. That coat was the one to tell Carol’s story. It was perfect.”Carol 6

Just as perfect and every bit as striking was the make-up look created for Blanchett by her regular movie make-up artist Morag Ross, who told the MakeUp411 website: “The character of Carol Aird was a sophisticated, wealthy woman, so the make-up and hair had to reflect that. As was the norm of the period, she was always made-up and lipsticked, always put-together and elegant when in public. When the two women go on their road trip the look became more relaxed and free.

“Cate’s look really came together with the immaculate and stunning hairdressing by Kay Georgiou. We took our inspiration from period photos of Grace Kelly who, of course, always seemed effortlessly elegant and beautiful, and we made our aim to channel that kind of look and feeling.” Carol’s coral-red lips, says Ross, were painted with Chanel’s Rouge Allure Lipsticks in Coromandel and Incandescente (used on the middle of the lower lip), while her nails, throughout the film, sport the Lilis shade of Chanel Le Vernis.

And Blanchett’s verdict on her make-up also referred back to Chanel. She said: “I had to pluck my eyebrows nearly every day to achieve that very stern look. I just hated it. I much prefer a natural approach to beauty. You know, Coco Chanel always said to take one thing off before you leave the house, and I think that also applies to makeup.”

Carol is in cinemas from November 27Carol 4

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Carol 3

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Black Velvet

Max Factor Velvet mascaraFancy having flutterable lashes with extra va-va-voom? Then get along to a Max Factor counter near you and treat yourself to the latest magic mascara wand from the company which invented them. Max Factor’s new False Lash Effect Velvet Volume Mascara (£11.99) features the brand’s latest innovation – its “Lavish Volume brush” – plus a revolutionary new mousse formula.

Why do we need another addition to the already bewildering array of mascaras on offer, you might ask? Well, because Max Factor has designed this one in Max Factor False Lash Effect Velvet Volume Mascararesponse to research which found that while women love the full lash look, many of them can’t stand the volumising mascaras already out there because they feel they leave lashes looking stiff and feeling brittle.

With its gentle, mousse texture – the formula has been blended with natural beeswax – False Lash Effect Velvet Volume is kinder to lashes and adds volume in one fell swipe. My verdict? I loved the mega-lashes look and their intense blackness, and liked the softness of the mascara but, sadly, it turned out (unlike my existing favourite Max Factor mascara, False Lash Effect Clump Defy Extensions) to leave smudges under my eyes after a few hours’ wear.


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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Cocktails!

Xmas - golden baublesI’ve been plunged into thinking about Christmas  entertaining a little early this year – thanks to the lovely people at Paperless Post, the online stationery company which specialises in e-invitations.

They have asked me to write about my ideal festive party; something I think about every year, whether I am actually hosting one or not ..

As a devotee of old Hollywood movies, and a lover of the glamour of the 1930s and 1940s, I’ve always adored what the Americans call the “holiday” season – and I have the vintage holiday-themed jewellery, cocktail recipe books, and record and film collections to prove it!Xmas - brooches

For me, my ideal festive party would be inspired by the American holiday style of the 1930s and, especially, the 1940s when most of the great Christmas movies were made.

Particular inspiration for me comes from The Man Who Came to Dinner – with  the chic ensembles and eye-catching jewellery worn by Ann Sheridan (I always sport a vintage brooch, usually a brightly baubled golden Christmas tree or a sparkling snowflake, at this time of year) – and a less-well remembered 1945 film entitled The Cheaters, about a Park Avenue family’s lavish Christmas. Just watch how they wrap! A masterclass in ribbon tying!

However, heads and shoulders above any other source of inspiration is the 1946 classic – and my all-time favourite film – It’s a Wonderful Life. It has provided me with ideas for gift tags, Christmas card designs and even the invitation to my 21st birthday party many moons ago. I love the graphics in the film’s title cards – the bells, the dancing Santa, the holly and the ivy, the Christmas tree, even the typeface. It was all replicated in The It’s a Wonderful Life book I’ve treasured since I acquired it in 1946, and I have Xmas - IAWL book 1reproduced many of the designs as part of my Christmas preparations ever since.

With a birthday just before Christmas, I have always liked to get friends together before December 25 – though it can be tricky to find an evening when everyone is in the same place. I managed it for my 40th birthday, four years ago, and two years ago, I hosted a ladies’ night at which I sold cosmetics for charity, and hired a cocktail bar. My ideal party would be a hybrid of those two evenings: all my friends and family, a pianist playing in the living room, plus a pop-up bar from Social and Cocktail, with a smartly turned-out mixologist whipping up drinks in my hall.Cocktails - Patrick in action

But if I didn’t hire a professional cocktail bar, I would have no shortage of recipes for making my own. Over the years, I’ve acquired a number of cocktail recipe books, including the wonderful Hollywood Cocktails (Amazon, £9.99).

For my decorations, as with my favourite cards (usually Marks & Spencer or Paperless Post), I adore anything that reminds me of these old movies – though I have a bit of an aversion to the red-and-green colour theme. Vintage baublesBrightly coloured vintage and vintage-style decorations are easy to come by these days – and this year I’d like to find some of the old-fashioned concave baubles that my grandparents’ generation had, and in every possible colour, not just the usual Christmas ones. I picked up some in the charity shop recently, as well as in the breathtakingly beautiful La Maison du Roy in the Passage Jouffroy in Paris last December.

Here’s a selection of my favourite baubles, plus some of my Christmas inspirations and a selection of Paperless Post invitations which I’d be hard-pushed to choose between! Though a cocktail might help the decision-making along… Xmas - French decorationsI can’t get enough of these gorgeous baubles from La Maison du Roy. I also love to get out my cocktail glasses every year – though this Christmas I’m hoping Santa brings me some rounded ones.Xmas - decorations in glass

And if he does, I will be trying to knock up an egg nog, the Christmas cocktail of choice in many a Hollywood movie. I have the recipe in various books, but I like the look of this one.Xmas - cocktail recipeIf we’re mixing our own drinks, my girlfriends and I love Chambord and champagne. Not only does it taste great, it looks fab and very festive too! Birthday drinks

My first grown-up party invitation took It’s a Wonderful Life as its theme, and I worked hard with scissors, glue and a photocopying machine to get all my guests’ faces into the closing scene of the film.. Thankfully, it was a select gathering!
Xmas - IAWL invitationThe envelopes and interiors of the cards had a hand-drawn design based on the motifs from the It’s a Wonderful Life opening titles and my book. I’ve returned to them most years since when I’ve had time to add illustrations to Christmas card envelopes. Xmas - IAWL tree graphicAnother wonderfully stylish film, set at Christmas, has provided lots of inspiration in recent years: The Thin Man (1934) features an impossibly chic Myrna Loy staggering into a cocktail bar laden down with boxed Christmas presents. When I received a Christmas card with an image on the front which reminded me of that scene, I had to use it for party invitations the following year.Xmas - my invitationAnd here are some of my favourites from Paperless Post’s collection, available in electronic or paper form.
Xmas - Swooshing Down the Slopes Xmas- Moorish Silk card

Xmas - Kaleidoscopic Christmas invitation

Xmas - Ornament Box card

Xmas - Holiday Confetti

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Luxe Lips on a Budget

Bourjois Rouge Edition AquaAll hail my latest beauty hero! Bourjois Rouge Edition Aqua Laque (£8.99) may have been around for a few months but it took me till now to stumble across it in Superdrug while on a quest to find something to replace a much-loved and much-missed lip lacquer which I can’t really justify splashing my cash on…

When I fell in love with YSL Rouge Pur Couture Vernis a Levres back in 2012, a tube cost £22.50; now the price tag is £26 – and I’m afraid I just can’t help but think that that much of an increase smacks of greed. Of course, I might have been tempted to part with the asking price – and kept the lip shine for special occasions – had I not discovered the beautiful Bourjois equivalent and taken a chance on it. (A no-brainer especially just now, when Superdrug is offering 3-for-2 across all its beauty brands!) It was a miracle that in the coral-pink Appechissant shade (right) I found a pretty close substitute for the gorgeous Corail Aquatique colour that served me well across several adventures in 2012, and was always complimented.YSL Rouge Pur Couture Vernis a Levres Glossy Stain

I’m happy to report that the Rouge Edition Aqua Laque was a big hit on its first outing on Sunday. What do I love about it (and the YSL)? Well, the flattering colour which can be used to soften a darker shade, the high shine and the complete absence of any stickiness (this is not a gloss, and I am not a gloss wearer!). As someone who won’t be doing the matte lip thing this winter, I am hoping that Bourjois add some more shades to the current existing sextet. And that they don’t hike the price up by £3.50!


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A Little Noir for the Soir

Tom Ford Noir faceYou can rely on Tom Ford to confound cosmetic expectations – and for this party season, he has created a dark and decadent look that is in contrast to the reds and golds and other seasonal shades we normally see at Christmas time.

The Noir Color Collection – available from Monday – was inspired by Ford’s new signature women’s fragrance, Noir Pour Femme, and features the darkest smoky eye, matte nude lips and vampy black nails. I’d say it was reminiscent of that great beauty icon Morticia Addams, but she would have had to be feeling extra audacious to swap her red lipstick for the pale one that’s key to this look.

It’s not all sombre sophistication, however: there is a playful side to the Noir proceedings too – in the form of the new Lash Tips Mascara, in cobalt or gold, which adds a dash of colour where you might least think of Tom Ford Lip Color in First Timehaving it!

Personally, I’m already rather smitten with the Lip Color Matte in First Time (£42), which is a beautiful, very wearable velvety nude shade – and one which is surprisingly comfortable to wear.

This limited edition collection also comprises Cream & Powder Eye Color  in Night Sky (£50), Eye Defining Pencil (£29), Waterproof Extreme Mascara (£39), Lash Tips Mascara (£35 ) and Nail Lacquer in Black Out (£30).


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The Crème That’s Not For Ma Mère

CDLM Renewal Oil High ResGood news for Crème de la Mer fans – or anyone else with the financial resources to fight off the signs of ageing! The cult skincare company this month launches The Renewal Oil (£155), a highly potent and super-versatile elixir which offers a new way to deliver the famous Crème de la Mer “Miracle Broth” – a kelp-based formula which is at the core of every CDLM product – to the skin.

The dual-phase oil, which you have to shake gently before use, contains a liquid blend of sea-sourced nutrients plus the Miracle Broth which rehydrates, helps to lift and claims to plump the skin and soften emerging lines and wrinkles.

It’s not only luxurious (and expensive), it’s also great for using on the body and on hair. I have a tiny bottle and am rationing myself to just a couple of drops at a time – on the old visog, where the anti-ageing assistance is most needed! Gone are the days when I’d ask my mum to test the wrinkle potions….

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