Monthly Archives: April 2010

Oh, Beehive!

In tribute to the hit musical, Hairspray, which is touring the UK at the moment, here are some of the best beehives of the 1960s – starting with the most elegant and iconic of them all: Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Swedish star Britt Ekland was a big beehive fan in the 1960s too – and helped popularise the gravity-defying style here in Britain.

Julie Christie was another film star whose hair trends were always worth watching in the swinging sixties.

The most famous exponent of the beehive, pre-Amy Winehouse anyway, was French “sex kitten” Brigitte Bardot who liked to wear hers loose – a sort of 1960s variation on the bedhead look.

Her fellow French star Catherine Deneuve was usually seen wearing her backcombed hair long and completely loose, or with an Alice band, but here’s a rare picture of her with a shortish fringe and bit of a beehive.

And let’s end our beehive bonanza with the lovely Leslie Caron, another Gallic style heroine – and one who often played similar parts to our first queen of the beehive, Audrey Hepburn. This is probably how Leslie C would have looked had she played Holly Golightly!

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I don’t wear nail polish all the time as my nails just cannot cope with the excitement of chopping and changing colours too regularly. They get stressed and split and become scraggy round the edges whenever I’ve had a couple of days of polish.

This was certainly the case on Monday – the return to colder weather didn’t help matters – so I had to get my nails on a twice daily regime of my favourite nail treatment: the Intensive Nail & Cuticle Therapy (£7.50; www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk) from Crabtree & Evelyn’s La Source range.

I’ve been a fan of this lovely cream for almost ten years because it’s easy to use (especially on trains, planes and automobiles – if you’re not driving..), it’s not greasy or oily, and it keeps the nail and surrounding skin moisturised and healthy-looking, thanks to the panthenol and keratin (a natural protective protein found in nails and hair) it contains.

TUESDAY

Chanel’s summer nail polishes may not be on sale until May 7, but this one, Le Vernis in Nouvelle Vague (£16.50), is already generating pages of magazine copy – and no doubt the inevitable waiting list.

Alas, as is the case with many of the most tempting summer goodies, this beautiful greeny-turquoise shade will look fab on a bronzed beauty – or even a slightly sallow one. But when I tried it on Tuesday, I was forced to admit that against my white, no fake tan please – we’re proud to be porcelain skin, it looks less like the “it” shade and more like the … well, you can guess – I do like my alliteration after all.

So my bottle is winging its way down to the infinitely more sallow-skinned Shiv who will once more be the envy of her office by jumping the queue in terms of must-have nail polishes. I may be getting slightly paranoid about how little there is for me in the summer cosmetics collections but I’ve already earmarked at least one of the two other Chanel polishes for another pal, fake tan-loving Lizzy – who also happens to have a penchant for pink…

WEDNESDAY

I’m afraid a Jean Seberg hair cut will have to wait a while longer … on Wednesday I gave in to the influence of another blonde movie star – but one whom I love in several movies, not just one.

Veronica Lake has been one of my favourite old stars since my dad showed me the delightful1940s comedy I Married a Witch (a forerunner to Bewitched) when I was a child. Lake played a beguiling sorceress who, by way of revenge, casts a love spell on the descendent of the Puritan who had her burnt at the stake.

I love Lake’s trend-setting “peek-a-boo” fringe – she could hide behind it when she was playing coy and scheme behind it when she was playing the femme fatale. It lent her a sophisticated, mysterious air which balanced out her mischievous smile and the cheeky glint in her eyes. She was a delight in several wonderful 1940s movies, and had an air of intelligence and wit about her – unlike some of her more overtly sexy contemporaries.

THURSDAY

Hoorah! A summer collection turned up on Thursday which might provide me with a new nail polish. This Estee Lauder collection’s name isn’t promising (for me) – it’s Bronze Goddess – but it includes Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Ultra Violet (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk), a sparkly dark purple, which looks like it will be just the job for summer nights-out.

FRIDAY

In need of a new eyeliner – I love the retro eyeliner look achieved with a pen-brush style liner or one that you paint on from a little pot (kohl pencil just doesn’t work for me) – I dug out one I’d been sent a few months back. Max Factor Masterpiece Glide & Define Liquid Eyeliner (£6.99; www.boots.com) doesn’t so much glide as drag. It’s not easy to control or vary the width of the line, and it was an effort to use.. Think I’ll be reverting to my Clarins Eye Liner (£18; www.clarins.com) or one of the terrific Clinique Brush-On Cream Eye Liners (£13; www.clinique.co.uk) …

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Style File: Diane Keaton

This is the moment in Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s classic 1977 romantic comedy, when the world (and Alvy Singer) fell in love with Diane Keaton’s distinctive and quirky style. When the 30-year-old actress had turned up on the set, the film’s costume lady complained to Allen that she looked “crazy” and couldn’t possibly wear her own gear onscreen (as often happened in Woody movies). But Allen replied: “Leave her. She’s a genius. Let’s just leave her alone and let her wear what she wants.”

The Annie Hall style of cross-dressing caught on in a big way, and was still influencing students when I started university in 1989. In fact, it was a shared love of oversized, Annie-style hats and gents’ coats that first drew my oldest uni pal and me to each other. And as for the straw bag which Annie carried her tennis racquet in – well, those were enjoying a revival in the late 1980s amongst Diane Keaton devotees.

Annie Hall wasn’t Keaton’s first film with writer-director-star Woody Allen; they first appeared together in Play It Again, Sam (1972), from which this clip – featuring Keaton in an unusually streamlined, 1920s-inspired ensemble – is taken.

The madcap comedy Sleeper (1973) starred Keaton as Luna, once more the object of Woody’s affection – not least because of her favourite household appliance, the Orgasmatron.. Here’s Luna looking seductive in her 1930s-style evening wear..

Keaton is often photographed in black or white or monochrome and even when she’s been in period films – Love and Death (1975) or Reds (1981, pictured below) – she seems to reflect something of her own style and that of her times.

I’m not particularly fond of Keaton’s penchant for wearing ties and belting men’s jackets – as she does in Manhattan Murder Mystery (1994) – or for wearing all-white trouser suits (First Wives Club, Hanging Up etc), but I admire her unique, immediately recognisable style which has evolved from romantic and eccentric to streamlined and, er, eccentric.. That said, she looks every inch the chic WASP in Something’s Gotta Give (2003), in which she wears a series of outfits that are sort of toned-down versions of what she would probably wear in real life. The colours are 100% Keaton.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A hair crisis was narrowly averted on Monday – thanks to James Brown Hair Reviving Dry Shampoo (£5.99; www.boots.com).

Having promised to go out with the family after spending the morning and much of the afternoon working at the computer, I found myself without enough time to get both my hair and my make-up done… The choice was: wash my hair and risk the family’s wrath, or skip the hair-washing. In which case, I might as well have also gone the whole hog and worn my jammy bottoms for the rest of the day.

It was only when I remembered about the can of dry shampoo in my cupboard that a third option presented itself. And you know what? My hair actually looked better, post-James Brown Hair Reviving Dry Shampoo, than it has, post-normal shampoo, for ages.

TUESDAY

On Tuesday, I was still flirting with the new Dior mascara, Extase, which was sent the week before. But, as always happens when I start a relationship with a new mascara, I began to reminisce about past favourites.

Friends are always asking me for mascara recommendations, and there’s no better recommendation from a beauty writer than to say which items she would buy if she had to…

Any time I can’t find a satisfactory mascara among the latest offerings, I turn to one of the following: Estee Lauder Sumptuous (£18; www.esteelauder.co.uk), Bobbi Brown Party Wear (£17.50; www.bobbibrown.co.uk), Revlon Double Twist (£6.29) or Boots No7 Lash 360 (£11.50; www.boots.com).

All of these are fantastic for adding length, boosting volume and curling the lashes. Put it this way, I always have at least one of these mascaras in my cosmetics cupboard – just in case the latest wand I’m testing fails to work its magic..

WEDNESDAY

The weather was really warm on Wednesday and a lighter foundation seemed in order – especially since my skin seems to be behaving, for once, as far as being shiny is concerned.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15 (£28), which launched early last year, has become one of my favourite bases; a must for when I want light, natural-looking coverage and I don’t expect to get hot, bothered and shiny (it’s better for the dehydrated/dry part of my combination skin than my oily part).

Ordinarily, I’d avoid a shade called Sand – Ivory, Porcelain or some other shade of “as pale as they come” is usually the one for me – but this one is absolutely perfect. I dread to think what the girl who wears one of the three paler shades looks like sans make-up. Something out of Twilight, perhaps…

THURSDAY

The press preview of theV&A’s  Grace Kelly exhibition took place today. One aspect of her style which isn’t covered is the make-up that she used to create her classic, fresh-faced American look.  Coral was her favourite lipstick shade,  so I’m sure she would have loved Dior Addict Lipcolor (£21.50) in Coral Craze, from the forthcoming summer collection. I do! It could well be the replacement for my last favourite coral lipstick, Estee Lauder Pure Color Crystal Lipstick in Coral Reef, a limited edition two years ago..

FRIDAY

Having highly sensitive skin – possibly as a result of testing too many creams and cosmetics over the last 14 years – I am always very careful about what I’ll test on my own face, and which lotions and potions I’ll delegate to tried and tested testers.

Luckily, I decided to give Dior’s latest anti-ageing moisturiser a whirl myself. Why? Because Hydra Life Pro Youth Comfort Creme (£40) is extremely kind to even the most sensitive of skins. It’s one of several new products in the new Hydra Life collection which claims to delay the signs of ageing using pure plant extracts selected from Dior gardens.

Only time will tell if the signs of ageing are delayed but in the meantime, I’m relishing using this highly hydrating, delightfully scented and luxurious-feeling cream which – like its siblings in the Hydra Life family – contains a unique concentrate of plant extracts from Uzbekistan, France and Madagascar.

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Style File: Grace Kelly’s Film Years

This Helen Rose gown, one of several from High Society which were given to Grace Kelly as a wedding gift from MGM, is in the V&A exhibition.

Grace Kelly, one of the most influential style icons of the 20th Century, is the subject of a major exhibition which opens this weekend at the V & A in London. A movie star who became a real-life princess, she is the perfect example of what it means to be stylish: although she followed fashion, she was always true to her distinctive, ladylike look. Only very rarely did she deviate from the streamlined, unfussy suits and dresses which she knew suited her.

The exhibition is divided into three parts: Grace Kelly the actress, Grace Kelly the bride, and Princess Grace of Monaco. Although the view of Jenny Lister, the curator, is that Grace Kelly wouldn’t have become an enduring style icon had she not had a high-profile wedding and become a princess, I personally believe that her movie years alone would have ensured her status.

Here are some of my own favourites from her onscreen wardrobe during the 1950s, starting with a selection from Rear Window (1954), the Alfred Hitchcock thriller which acknowledged the growing fascination with Kelly’s style by casting her as a young woman who works in the fashion industry.

The Edith Head suit - worn with a cream halterneck and cream pillbox hat - in Rear Window was very much Grace Kelly's own style.

Playing a fashion-mad socialite, Kelly is seen in a different outfit in every scene – and her onscreen wardrobe includes slinky lingerie (which she memorably pulls from the dinkiest overnight case – much to the bemusement of her boyfriend, James Stewart), evening wear and casual attire. It’s a veritable fashion parade – and much of it was a reflection of Kelly’s own style. Here’s how she makes her entrance – note the signature pearls are there from the get-go, and watch how the outfit is revealed very gradually (and tantalisingly), culminating in a full-length shot.

In To Catch a Thief (1955), Kelly worked again with director Alfred Hitchcock and costume designer Edith Head, and the wardrobe was as memorable as Rear Window’s. As a  socialite holidaying on the Riviera, she was seen in a number of casual outfits – including this chic little ensemble:

Of course, To Catch a Thief pairs Kelly with another great style icon, Cary Grant who  swaps his usual sharp suits for the casual clobber that one presumes is de rigueur for a retired continental cat burglar. I love this picture of this most elegant pair of stars relaxing between takes – and, although espadrilles aren’t associated with Kelly in the way that Hermes bags, pearls and twinsets are, I always think of her when I am tempted to buy a pair…

It’s not just the To Catch a Thief espadrilles that have forever linked Grace Kelly with this style of footwear in my mind; she also sported them – with beige shirt and chinos (and silk kerchief) – in the opening scenes of High Society (1956).

But  back to To Catch a Thief … The evening gown that people often remember is the gold lame, Marie Antoinette number which Kelly wears for the masked ball. I’m not a fan of it; this beautiful, Grecian-style gown gets my vote in the evening wear stakes.

High Society was Grace Kelly’s last film, made during the short period between her engagement and her wedding, a period when she was also assembling her trousseau under the watchful eyes of fashion commentators from all over the world. Her clothes in High Society were designed by Helen Rose, and, again were very much in-keeping with her own personal style – so much so that she was given a number of the gowns  as a wedding present from her studio, MGM. One of these was this exquisite dress, again in the draped, Grecian style – appropriately enough, as her character has something of a Goddess complex..

This gown, which was worn over a swimming costume in High Society, is also in the V&A exhibition.

*Grace Kelly: Style Icon runs at the V&A from April 17- September 26; the accompanying book, Grace Kelly Style (V&A, £19.99) is out now.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I may be the one who writes about beauty but my friends are all experts about the areas that particularly concern them.

My pal Shiv is one of my top testers for fake tan and body products; apart from her essentials – mascara and lip gloss – make-up has tended to be much lower down her priority list .

Her skin is so good that she only recently began to feel the need of some sort of coverage to even out dark circles and disguise fine lines – so she turned to the excellent By Terry range.

When I met her on Monday, she was singing the praises not only of the By Terry Touche Veloutee (£29; www.spacenk.co.uk), a concealer/highlighter and cousin to the original Touche Eclat (which Terry de Gunzburg created at YSL), but also of the lady who sold it to her in Space NK.

Shiv went in to buy the shade she had bought before. When the saleswoman realised they didn’t have it, she didn’t try to persuade her to buy something else; instead, she persuaded her to book herself in for a mini-makeover the following weekend.

I’ve not heard the usually cynical Shiv wax so lyrical about a retail experience as she did about the makeover. She was thrilled with the results  and left with a different (and better) shade of the Touche Veloutee,  as well as her first eyeliner pencil in probably about 20 years and a list of make-up she’d like to try.

TUESDAY

I spent some time on Tuesday in a bit of a coiffeur quandary. My hair is desperately needing to be coloured and cut but, for the first time in ages, I’m toying with the idea of doing something different with it. It could be that I fancy going for the chop because, suddenly, the ends of my hair are tangling and look like they’re paying the price for my regular colour sessions. It could be that short hair looks so much easier (though I know, from experience, that it isn’t). Or it could have something to do with the fact that, however much she may hate it, I love Oscar-nominated Carey Mulligan’s elfin crop. Though not half as much as I love the original model – as seen on movie actress Jean Seberg (above). Not sure if I’m quite ready to take the plunge but you never know …

WEDNESDAY

Dior’s summer make-up collection arrived on Wednesday morning – and the pinks, peaches and corals are mouthwateringly pretty. Also in the package was Diorshow Extase Mascara (£21.50), which somehow I missed out on when they landed in stores at the end of March.

I can report that, as often happens with mascara, I’m in love again.. This mascara is brilliant for beefing up scraggy lashes and making them look like contenders in the battable stakes. I am fickle when it comes to mascara so we’ll have to see whether I’m as much in love in a couple of weeks as I am now ..

THURSDAY

I was writing about foundations on Thursday and, in the course of testing a few different ones, I had a Dorothy moment. In other words, just as Dorothy realises that “there’s no place like home” in The Wizard of Oz, so I realised that there’s no foundation like my old reliable: Clinique Perfectly Real Make-up (£20; www.clinique.co.uk).

It’s not an all-singing, all-dancing base like some of Clinique’s recent offerings, but Perfectly Real is a godsend for women like me, with a less-than-even skin tone, and a complexion which is totally confused in its orientation: it veers between oily, sensitive, dehydrated and dry. Not only does this foundation deal with all these issues, but it also comes in a shade which is a perfect match for my very fair colouring.

FRIDAY

It may be the Easter Holidays and Friday is the day I usually look after my twin boys, but I had to book my mum to babysit for long enough for me to sneek into town to meet Melissa, the suitably chic PR for Tom Ford Beauty. After all, she had promised to give me a preview of the new Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Colors (£35), which go on sale in Harvey Nichols on April 24.

This collection of 12 lipsticks marks the talented Mr Ford’s first foray into the world of cosmetics.  Why start with lipsticks? Well, over to him. “There is no more dramatic accessory than a perfect lip,” he says. “It is the focus of the face and it has the power to define a woman’s whole look.”

At £35 a pop, a Private Blend Lip Color does not come cheap, but it’s designed to be the ultimate in luxurious lipstick -as the expensive-looking ivory and gold tubes suggest. The quality is immediately apparent when you apply the lipstick too. Extremely moisturising, it glides on to the lips thanks to such rare ingredients as soja seed extract, Brazilian murumur butter and chamomilla flower oil. My mother has already named a coral-coloured Lip Color as payback for the babysitting job ….

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Style Heroines: Billie Holiday

Jazz legend Billie Holiday has always been a heroine of mine – mainly for her sensational singing, which was by turns gut-wrenchingly moving and terrifically uplifting, but also for her distinctive style.

She was born 95 years ago – on April 7th, 1915 – so now seems a fitting time to pay tribute to the style of Lady Day. Here are a few of my favourite images of her, starting with one of the many 1940s photos of her with her signature gardenia.

The gardenia wasn’t her only form of headgear, though, as this stunning photo, probably taken in the late 1940s, shows.

The style of hat that Holiday was most often photographed wearing, however, was the turban.

Here’s another photo I’d never seen  before – of a particularly chic-looking Holiday. Dig the crazy earrings!

In the mid-late 1950s, in the years running up to her premature death in 1959, Holiday adopted a long, sleek ponytail as a key part of her look. Here it is in action, in the  fantastic Fine and Mellow number from the 1957 Sound of Jazz TV programme..

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