Monthly Archives: May 2010

My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Dear God, don’t let them run out of ojon oil in the tropical rainforest .. Why? Because if and when they do, that will be the end of my favourite haircare find of last year.

Ojon Hydrating Ritual Collection (from £16; www.johnlewis.com) is a new haircare range which, I am convinced, has boosted the condition of my permanently highlighted hair. It uses a whole host of naturally derived raw ingredients, including nourishing ojon oil, in its shampoos, conditioners, treatments and cultish mask.

I was thrilled on Monday to receive a parcel with the shampoo and conditoner I liked best from the Ojon range – Shine & Protect Shampoo and Shine & Protect Conditioner. If you’ve never been tempted to splurge on hair products before, Ojon might be the range to convert you … wish they’d improve the design of the flimsy lids though.

TUESDAY

Thanks to my second bug of the year – oh, the joys of having school-age children who bring us back a daily dose of whatever’s going around – I was pretty much confined to quarters on Tuesday and decided to catch up on my viewing.

I had just bought the special edition DVD of Cleopatra, the lavish Liz Taylor-Richard Burton epic from 1963. I confess I didn’t buy it so much for the film as for the two-hour documentary about the film.. And because I wanted to ogle Elizabeth Taylor’s style in the film – it’s as much 1963 as it is 40BC..

Of course, aside from her 65 costume changes (her wardrobe alone reputedly cost $194,800) and myriad hairstyles, what is particularly striking throughout is her make-up, which again straddles both Ancient Egyptian and early 1960s beauty aesthetics. Of course, we all owe good queen Cleo a debt of cosmetic gratitude: she is a poster girl for mineral make-up, kohl eyeliner and milk baths.

WEDNESDAY

With all her eye make-up, Cleopatra would have loved the latest product from Benefit.

Stay Don’t Stray (£19.50) is an eye base which keeps your eye make-up in place all day so that it stays fresh-looking and doesn’t slide into the crease of your eye lids.

I started testing it on Wednesday – and it works, though I would probably only use it when I knew I had a long, busy day or evening ahead. Otherwise, my recently learned trick of using a flesh-toned shade of eye shadow as a base is fine for general day-to-day use. Check it out at www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk

THURSDAY

My pal, and deputy product tester, Shiv gave me her verdict on the new Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage (£20; www.clinique.co.uk) on Thursday.

As someone whose eyes are prone to puffiness, she was the ideal person to try out my preview sample – especially since she has  “form” when it comes to testing eye de-puffers.

Her verdict? “It was no great shakes – certainly no different from the Garnier one I’d already tried, and although the puffiness did indeed go down, it wasn’t noticeably faster than when I don’t use a product at all. What I did like about it was the coolness of the metal rollerball..”

And her personal, tried and true, recommendation for de-puffing the eyes? “Origins No Puffery eye mask (£19.50; www.origins.co.uk) is still the best.”

FRIDAY

Oh, life does get complicated when you keep falling in love … On Friday I fell, again, for a hot pink lipstick – this time the limited edition Island Hibiscus shade of Givenchy Rouge Interdit (£18.50) from the French company’s exquisite new tropical island-inspired summer collection.

Rouge Interdit is a moisturising, shiny lipstick which is a pleasure to wear – and this deep, dark hot pink (that’s how it looked on me, though the press release talks about “a new shade of red with nuances of coral” – don’t see that myself) is going to be vying with the lighter, nearer bubblegum, pink of the Dior Addict Lipcolour in Ravishing Rose for outings over the next few weeks …

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Style on Film: Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

The ravishingly beautiful 1951 movie Pandora and the Flying Dutchman not only stars Ava Gardner at her most breathtakingly lovely (all dewy skin and rose red lips) but it also features her most exquisite movie wardrobe, created by the now-forgotten English costume designer Beatrice Dawson.

Playing a selfish, spoilt and sought-after siren who appears to care for no-one but herself, the sultry Gardner glides through this lush romantic fantasy looking like a goddess, thanks to a series of draped Grecian gowns which are teamed with a spectacular yellow satin-lined indigo cape.

It may be set in the 1930s, but the halternecks and nipped-in waists on Pandora’s dresses are much more evocative of the era in which the film was made.

Who cares about fashion anachronisms, though, when the results – a taster of which can be sampled in the video clip (set to Ava Gardner languorously crooning Dorothy Parker’s lyrics How Am I To Know as she does at the start of the movie) – are so stunning?

And in addition to the film’s style credentials, it  boasts some of the most sumptuous cinematography ever – by the legendary Jack Cardiff – as well as superb performances by Gardner and James Mason, as the tortured Flying Dutchman.

If you’re looking for a timeless alternative to the throwaway movies doing the rounds just now, this is a great, and very stylish,  choice.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Lunch with my friend Margaret, a beautician and make-up artist with her own salon outside Glasgow, gave me an idea for my mum who had been complaining about being stuck in a make-up rut. Margaret, like my mum, has green eyes  and fair skin, and when I met her her eyes looked fantastic lined with purple pencil.

So, armed with Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil in Black Plum (pictured left; £15; http://www.esteelauder.co.uk) and By Terry’s Silky Eye Shadow (£22; Space NK stores)  in the lovely new lilac shade Milky Marshmallow, I experimented on Mum – and we were both delighted with the results, especially once we added a coral lipstick.  Green and beige eyeshadow shades are henceforth (or at least temporarily!) banished to beauty Siberia…

TUESDAY

Givenchy seems to be having a moment just now – at least it had a moment chez moi on Tuesday when I received the latest summer colours (report to follow), and finally got around to trying its latest fragrance, Eaudemoiselle de Givenchy (eau de toilette from£39).

It’s a bit heavy and headily floral for my personal taste – but I can imagine it will appeal to first-time perfume wearers, the demoiselles who want something that the opposite sex can’t fail to notice…  It made me think about first perfumes and how I must experiment soon with a return to my own first fragrance – or at least the first one that I wore more than once.  I do love the new Givenchy bottle – an important factor in our first fragrance choices …

WEDNESDAY

I’ve been writing a series of articles about beauty basics and, as happens with these things, different make-up artists have different ways of doing things.  While some advocate using a special eye base to keep eye make-up in place and make it last, others – including Bobbi Brown – prefer to use a flesh-coloured shade of shadow as a base.

The gorgeous new limited edition Guerlain Ombre Eclat 4 Shades in Ombre Perlees (£36; available June 5) is ideal for this, if you’re fair-skinned. I started wearing it on Wednesday and expect to continue on a daily basis through the summer. The colours are natural, fresh and very flattering, and they last brilliantly – especially if you use the pale pink as a base.

Teamed with coral or pink lips, this is the ideal palette for daywear.

THURSDAY

And speaking of coral, a sandal-buying spree on Thursday prompted me to dig out a nail varnish I was sent a while back.

Revlon Nail Enamel in One Perfect Coral (£6.29) is a great shade for this summer – and even just one coat gives the right amount of bright, orangey-coral colour.

It’s a flat matte shade bordering on red, so it won’t take the place of my favourite-ever toenail shade, RMK’s Nail Color in Cherry, a sort of shimmering watermelon shade, which I’ve not been able to track down for some time – and for which I’ve not been able to find an exact match in an other range.

FRIDAY

The first seriously hot day of the year had me reaching for the Factor 50. I’ve tried various sun blocks and high SPF sunscreens under my make-up but Chanel UV Essentiel SPF50 (£34) is my favourite by far.

It’s milky in consistency and evens out the skin tone as it goes on (not that that’s one of its claims) – and I love the way my foundation goes on on top of it. Some treatment primers leave the skin shiny, even once the foundation has gone on, but this one doesn’t – and I have been known to use it even when there’s no call for a high SPF.

What’s more, its dinky, unisex bottle is perfect for stashing in the handbag, shirt pocket – or wherever. And it contains just the right amount for one sunny summer, though if there’s any left over there’s no rush to use it: unlike some sun creams, which require to be used within six or 12 months of opening, this has an 18 month deadline…



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Great Movie Hats of the 1930s

I grew up on a diet of old movies and I love to style-watch them – to play at spot the fabulous frock or the ace accessory. Recently I’ve been a bit obsessed with some of the ridiculous – but wonderful – hats that popped up in 1930s films. And they don’t come much more wonderfully ridiculous than Greta Garbo’s in the 1939 comedy Ninotchka.

The Ninotchka hat was much more than a fashion accessory; it was symbolic of the fact that its wearer had succumbed to the romance of Paris and was shaking off the shackles of communism…. Irene Dunne’s crazy black heatgear in the priceless 1937 screwball comedy The Awful Truth, on the other hand, was representative of nothing more than high fashion – though her newly ex-husband (Cary Grant) doesn’t look convinced…

Cary Grant looks much more at ease in the next picture, from the 1938 romantic comedy-drama, Holiday – maybe because he’s just resigned himself to the fact that he’s outnumbered (by Doris Nolan, left, and Katharine Hepburn) on the silly hat front..

I don’t know if Linda Darnell wore this next hat in a movie, but, given that it seems to be Saturn-inspired in design, it’s way ahead of its time: after all, the sci-fi movie genre didn’t take off until the 1950s!

Similarly, I don’t recall ever seeing Ginger Rogers wearing this next natty hat – by celebrated hat designer Lily Dache – in any of her 1930s films. Maybe the stars circling the pointy peak of the hat was too much like Paramount Studios’ logo for RKO’s (her home studio’s) liking..

And finally, my favourite daft hat of the 1930s – worn, as only she could, by the inimitable Rosalind Russell (pictured here with Joan Crawford) in the gloriously funny and stylish 1939 movie The Women..

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I’ve been recovering from my recent jaunt to Norwich for the annual “jazz party”. Jazz and parties are, as you know, both late-night affairs – organisers of this jamboree don’t take that into account when planning their concert schedule, which starts BEFORE LUNCHTIME! I should really have taken a bottle of Guerlain Midnight Secret (£58) with me – since it makes your skin look like it’s had its beauty sleep – but I was too excited at the prospect of three days of wall-to-wall jazz.

Thank goodness I did have two key weapons from my Clinique skincare arsenal with me, to help with my skin’s recovery from over-indulgence at the bar. Clinique Redness Solutions Soothing Cleanser (£15; www.clinique.co.uk) and their Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 (£14) are both top choices for countering the effects of Gin Night, White Wine Night and, especially, Red Wine Night …  I am prone to flushed cheeks and can vouch for the fact that the cleanser takes the sting out of nippy skin, while the green-coloured base evens out the red and doubles as a great primer for the rest of your make-up.

TUESDAY

It may look as if jazz singer Annie Ross is applying nail varnish in this photo from the 1950s – and that would be entirely apt.

When I met the great lady – still a vision of glamorous chic at the age of 79 – in Norwich last week, I was impressed by her bold make-up, not least her shocking pink lipstick which looked terrific with her flaming red hair. (What is it about stylish old dames and hot pink lipstick? When I met King Kong star Fay Wray back in 1998, the 92-year-old wouldn’t start the interview until she had applied some lipstick in that colour..) So I gave her my bottle of hot pink nail polish – the now unavailable Estee Lauder Michael Kors Nail Lacquer in Bungalow Pink – to complement the look.

Anyway, inspired by Annie, I have been on a bit of a quest to find a shocking pink lipstick for myself and it turned up on Tuesday, in the shape of one of the new Dior Addict Lipcolours (£21.50) which come out at the end of May.

The Ravishing Rose shade (left) is a brilliant choice if you fancy a slash of neon colour. And, unlike many shocking pinks, it’s not flat and matte, but moist, glossy and very, very comfy.

WEDNESDAY

The promised goody bags may not have materialised but my trip into the sleek and spacious new beauty hall at Boots in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries was not entirely wasted. I was given a very educational makeover by one of the ladies at the Lancome counter – though “zone” is probably a more apt word.

I may write about beauty but I’m still learning tips and techniques and Jackie helped me overcome my aversion to kohl eyeliner (love it on other people; find it gives me panda eyes) by using a waterproof eyeliner pencil – Lancome Crayon Khol Waterproof (£17.50; www.lancome.co.uk), and giving me a 1960s look. Not only did it look great but it lasted till bedtime – and came off easily with a bi-phase eye make-up remover.

THURSDAY

After the success of the Dior Addict Lipcolor in Ravishing Rose, I was keen to give the new Dior 5 Couleurs Iridescent Eyeshadow palette in Ready-to-Glow (£39; available May 17) an evening outing.

A book launch on Thursday provided the perfect opportunity to experiment. And I was thrilled with the results.

These colours are fantastic – they blend easily and last fabulously – and it’s not very often I can say that about eye make-up. The gorgeous shimmering shades flatter and emphasise the bone structure and add a bit of colour at the same time ..  and they look great with Ravishing Rose lips. Summer nights here we come!

FRIDAY

I finally made my mind up today about Guerlain’s new mascara, Le 2 de Guerlain Volume Mascara (£24). I love it – but only for the first couple of hours it’s on.

The latest in the French beauty house’s collection of two-wand mascaras, this one is different because its second step is painting on a glossy top coat for the lashes: after you’ve brushed on your volumising mascara and teased your lashes into the desired curve, you are supposed to go over them with the lacquer.

While the traditional first step does indeed add oomph to lashes and is perfect for creating a lash-heavy look a la Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, I found that this mascara didn’t stay put on my lashes and I ended up with smudges below and above my eyes. Maybe, as with the kohl pencil, I need to hold out for the waterproof version…



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Style File: Katharine Hepburn

Today is the birthday of the late, great Katharine Hepburn, a movie star who refused to bow to convention and who evolved an androgynous look that is still inspirational today. Whether the above, early 1940s, photo is Hepburn in her own kit or in one of her characters’, it nevertheless reflects the distinctive Hepburn style: simple, mannish tailoring (and brogues) combined with loose, feminine hair. She was photographed in 1937 wearing similar gear, on the set of Stage Door (that’s Ginger Rogers on the left).

I love Hepburn’s look in The Philadelphia Story (1940) – apart from the intentionally OTT flouncy gingham number she wears during the performance she puts on for the reporters from Spy Magazine.  Here she is with James Stewart in the scene in the library. Love the Wee Willie Winky hat …

Designed by Adrian, this is the stand-out gown in the film, appropriately classical because Hepburn’s character, Tracy Lord, is seen (not least, by herself) as something of a goddess..

The gown she had worn when she played Tracy in the original stage production of The Philadelphia Story was even more overt in its nod to Greek influences.

My other favourite Hepburn movie is the one she made after The Philadelphia Story. Woman of the Year (1942) is another stylish and very funny comedy – about the love affair that develops between two writers on the same newspaper: Tess (Hepburn), the world-renowned political columnist, and Sam (Spencer Tracy), the top sports reporter.  Here they are at Tess’s first-ever baseball game.

Tess and Sam get married – not at the end of the film, but maybe halfway through. Here’s Hepburn looking elegant(and radiant – she had just fallen in love with her co-star, after all – in the wedding dress which Adrian designed for her.

Sadly, I couldn’t find a photo of Tess in the stripy Adrian suit she memorably wears in the film, but here she is in the film’s most celebrated scene, trying unsuccessfully to be the kind of wife who cooks breakfast for her husband. The straps on her pinafore-style dress were not purely decorative: they provided some of the comedy as they continuously got in the way of her attempts to get to grips with unfamiliar kitchen gadgets.

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Style Heroines: Lena Horne

Lena Horne (1917-2010), who died yesterday, was one of THE most beautiful, elegant and stylish stars of the 1940s and beyond. Here’s a selection of my favourite images of her, kicking off with this still, from the all-star, Technicolor, MGM movie Thousands Cheer (1943).

In Thousands Cheer, Lena combined sultriness with sophistication as she sang Honeysuckle Rose with the Benny Carter band. In 1943, she also starred in two all-black musicals: Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. She was at her sexiest in Stormy Weather- as this picture of her in a slinky gown designed by Helen Rose (some of whose work is currently on display in the Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A) – shows.

I’m not sure where the next photo was taken but it highlights just how refined Lena Horne was – oh, and what exquisite taste she had in evening wear …

Ditto for this one ..

And offstage/screen, Lena Horne didn’t disappoint with her sartorial choices, as this photo from the late 1950s demonstrates.

And here she is in action, in Thousands Cheer, wearing one of the loveliest, most striking dresses of the 1940s, and singing with the Benny Carter band:

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