Monthly Archives: June 2010

Cool Crops

The combination of the hot weather plus the cool movies I’ve been watching – notably New Wave  classic A Bout de Souffle – has led me to obsess about getting a pixie crop a la Jean Seberg, the tragic American star of the afore-mentioned French film.

Not that she’s the only 1960s movie star whose elfin style is worth emulating. How about Shirley Maclaine with the “do” she sported as Fran Kubelik in the wonderfully bittersweet comedy The Apartment?

Or Mia Farrow’s early sixties flirtation with the gamine look – the style she sported when she married Frank Sinatra.

One of the original continental gamines got in on the act too: Leslie Caron may have put Gigi behind her when she lopped her hair off, but it certainly brought her up to date.

Perhaps I was in a minority, but I adored Kate Moss’s brief dalliance with the pixie crop, around ten years ago. And I still do!

Another 1990s hair style icon is Winona Ryder who was a brilliant poster girl for the elfin crop.

Rising British star Carey Mulligan has been sporting a crop since she started appearing in the magazines but she’s the first to admit she’s not a fan. She looks cute with her short cut but for a seriously sexy take on the style, check out Natalie Portman’s hair.

But only one leading lady has stuck to the style through thick and thin – and made it well and truly her own: Dame Judi Dench. Just put her in a pair of capri pants and a New York Herald Tribune T-shirt, and, voila, you’ve got A Bout de Souffle’s Patricia 40 years on!

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY Having had my hair cut and coloured at the start of the weekend, I became aware of the fact that the ends were completely dried out – despite having had no bleach and only minimal highlights put in. Luckily, I had been sent a tube of one of the new Ojon Restorative Leave-in Treatments (£29.50; 0870 034 2454) – the one for blondes. Rich in amino and essential fatty acids that penetrate the hair shaft to improve the condition of the hair, the Leave-in Treatments are also packed with naturally-derived oils and butters that add luminous shine and hydration. It’s pricey stuff but you only need a tiny, pea-sized, amount – and it really does make a difference. And, unlike other leave-in conditioners that I’ve tried, it didn’t weigh my fine hair down or make the non-dry parts look greasy.

TUESDAY A night at the theatre with my mother got off to a rocky start, beauty-wise, when she asked what I’d done to my eyebrows … I’d just started using the new Jane Iredale Bitty Brow Kit (£22; 020 8450 7111) and perhaps had been a little heavy-handed – or maybe she just wasn’t used to seeing my light, blonde (overplucked) brows so beautifully defined.. I’ve now mastered the art of using this kit. You simply brush on the wax which provides a base for the blonde or brunette-coloured powder and then gently brush on the powder to fill in gaps in the brow or to shape them. Just don’t go in too heavy-handed or you’ll end up – as I did – looking a bit Joan Crawford- scary. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is so not an inspirational movie, style-wise ..

WEDNESDAY I don’t do showers (before you think “smelly cow” – I prefer baths) and have a personal preference for not smelling like fruit …  So I was quite happy to pass the new Radox Shower Smoothies (£2.49 each) on to some fruitier-minded chums. Shiv, who admits to being “a shower gel snob”, was so smitten with the two that she bagged that she has declared that she might buy them instead of her usual £7 gel from Korres.

THURSDAY Another hot day and, with an evening at the Glasgow Jazz Festival ahead of me – and the prospect of being too warm in jeans – I decided to give a new tinted body lotion I’d been sent a whirl, so I could bare my legs in a cool, knee-length, linen dress. What a disaster. I used the lotion in the morning and was very impressed with how easy it seemed to be to use, and how moisturising it felt. However, when the colour began to show through late in the afternoon, I was horrified to look down and see streaks of deep tan (not the “sun-kissed”, natural, shade promised on the tube) scattered here and there on my otherwise still pale legs. My feet looked grubby. Even a good scrub in the bath didn’t make any impression on the colour. So I went out in jeans and a jacket – and melted in the heat. I’m not naming this new product until I’ve tested it again – or persuaded someone else to! – because it was just so disappointing. In any case, I’ll need to wait until it’s completely vanished before I can start all over again.

FRIDAY Another day, another future must-have nail polish turns up. On Friday, it was a selection from the Dior autumn 2010 collection of cosmetics that made my day – particularly this new coppery-bronze shade of Dior Nail Lacquer – Bronze Libertine (available September). Already hailed as le “it” vernis by French beauty bloggers, it looks set to have stiff competition for the title this autumn as Chanel is undoubtedly on to another winner with its Paradoxal shade.

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Style on Film: Jazz On a Summer’s Day

Jazz on a Summer’s Day is not only one of the great jazz documentaries; it’s also a fascinating snapshot of late 1950s fashions – as worn by the most stylish and tasteful people of the time: jazz fans and musicians! Pictured left is singer Anita O’Day, a vision of uptown chic (and surely the style inspiration for Audrey Hepburn’s Sing Sing outfit in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? – watch the YouTube clip below and decide for yourself ..)

The film was first shown in Britain in June 1960, and I’m celebrating it over on my jazz blog, www.jazzmatters.wordpress.com

What’s so appealing about this movie to non-jazz devotees are the lingering shots of some of the audience:  hipsters with crew cuts and Ray Bans, “cats” in pork-pie hats, and girls wearing pony-tails and pedal-pushers.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who loves this movie’s sense of style to discover that it was filmed by a fashion photographer, Bert Stern – who went on to take the last photos of Marilyn Monroe.

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Style on Film: A bout de souffle

It’s 50 years since A bout de souffle (AKA Breathless), one of the New Wave’s most stylish films, was first seen in British cinemas, and to mark the occasion a special edition DVD has just come out on the Optimum label. Playing Patricia, a naive American girl living in Paris, actress Jean Seberg (above, chic in capri pants, with Jean-Paul Belmondo) set a trend with her gorgeous, elfin hair-do and laidback look.  And her habit of lolling around in a man’s shirt…

She’s also seen in some pretty, feminine outfits – notably this demure stripy dress.

But the key to Seberg’s gamine look is the boyish haircut – balanced out by a slick of eyeliner.

And here it is in action … watch and learn!

* A bout de souffle (Optimum Home Entertainment) is out now.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I caught up with my beauty therapist pal Margaret on Monday and she reported back to me on the Dior Capture Totale One Essential skin boosting serum (£75) I asked her to try out a while back. This is the anti-ageing serum which Dior launched earlier this year, with promises of “increasing the skin’s ability to repair itself in order to combat all signs of ageing” and of  “increasing the effectiveness of skincare products applied afterwards”.

Margaret’s verdict? “I really enjoyed using it and definitely thought my skin looked more youthful. It’s expensive, given that it lasted only about a month – so is probably only for ladies with a disposable income!” She’s now testing Lancome’s Genefique …

TUESDAY

Okay, I know it’s only June – season of sorbet colours and hot pinks – but the autumn/winter cosmetic collections have been arriving and we beauty writers are already experimenting with the shades everyone will be wearing at Christmas..

Last week, the Chanel colours – including their next sure-fire must-have, the pewtery purple shade Paradoxal – arrived, and then, on Tuesday, I received a package containing the already-available Marks & Spencer Perfection Long Wear Nail Lacquers (£7.50 each; www.marksandspencer.com) in Gunmetal and Rainbow (don’t understand that name – it’s silver).

If you want to get a head-start on everyone else, go for the Gunmetal – a glistening metallic grey which looks great on fingernails. The Rainbow shade would be better against more tanned skin than mine but if you feel artistic you could always give yourself a French grey manicure, painting the silvery shade along the tip of the dark grey. It looks fab! Practise now and you could be celebrating Christmas in July – beauty-wise, anyway …

WEDNESDAY

With the hot weather last weekend, I noticed that both of my six-year-old twins had red bags under their eyes after they had been out in the sun – despite having been slathered in Factor 50. The younger boy, 11.41, who is fairer, actually looked quite ill because of it.

So, on Wednesday I set off to find a sun cream that could be used on the sensitive area under the eyes – and the only child-friendly one I could find in Boots was Garnier Ambre Solaire Very High Protection Stick for Sensitive Areas (£8.97; www.superdrug.com) which has turned out to be a great and speedy way of applying sun protection to the whole face.

What was particularly worthwhile about this trip to Boots was the chat I had with the excellent suncare advisor (at the Sauchiehall Street branch in Glasgow). I hadn’t known that almost all sun creams take a good 20 minutes or more to take effect, and that the only ones which are absolutely instantaneous are from the Nivea range. .

THURSDAY

And speaking of suncare – or rather sun tans – is what my pals Lizzy, Colette and I were doing when we went out on Thursday. Lizzy is the chief of my department of fake tan testing so when she announced that her new favourite tanning product was a body tint which cost less than a fiver, I took note..

Actually, I’ve got a feeling I gave her this Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan Bronzing Spray (£3.25) last summer so I was especially pleased to hear it was a hit.  She reported: “It gave me a lovely, even, colour for the night – I got lots of comments about my healthy glow  – and I didn’t wash it off until the shower the next morning.” The only drawback, says Lizzy, was that because of the spray, she had to do the tan in her bathroom – so the ten minutes post-application were spent scrubbing her bath. In the scud!

FRIDAY

I went into Debenhams to return a faulty necklace and came out looking like a movie star – though not Roz Russell or Joan Crawford (pictured, below, in the famous department store scene in The Women), alas!  My transformation was thanks  to a lovely girl called Gemma who was manning a new beauty counter – Smashbox.

Smashbox is an American company which was founded by the great-grandsons of a certain Hollywood make-up pioneer called Max Factor. I’m pretty sure it was available in the UK in the mid-1990s but it hasn’t been widely available here for years so we had a bit of catching up to do.

Gemma talked me through the philosophy behind the cosmetics. It’s a professional brand; the make-up has skincare benefits and it’s all about problem-solving. In this case, this meant applying some green primer to my flushed cheeks before the foundation went on. I hope to get to try out some of the products at home soon – as soon as I’ve tracked down the PR – but in the meantime, I may head back to Debenhams soon for another free make0ver!

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Can there be a better way to banish the Monday morning blues than to try a new lipstick? I don’t think so – especially when it’s a winner, as the new Revlon Colorburst Lipstick (£7.99) undoubtedly is.

I’ve found Revlon lipsticks too dry in the past but this latest creation by their Global Artistic Director Gucci Westman is creamy and comfortable – with fantastically intense colour which lasts and lasts, and a lovely glossy finish.

At the moment there are 12 shades to choose from, including a particularly bold Coral (pictured), a fabulous Fuschia and the deep pink Raspberry, which is my current favourite.

Not only does the lipstick look great on the lips; it looks chic in its elegant, quilted tube. Here’s hoping they add more shades with each season …

TUESDAY

I started the week by interviewing the mineral make-up pioneer Jane Iredale, a delightful and fascinating English lady whose American-based beauty company counts half of Hollywood among its fans.

After we chatted about eyeliners and she warned me about the toxic effects of kohl and the fact that latex is used in many liquid eyeliners, she offered to send me her Jane Iredale Eye Believe Liquid Eye Liner (£17; call 020 8450 7111) which I tried out as soon  as it arrived on Tuesday.

Verdict: it took a little getting used to (I’ve been accustomed to using pen-style liners rather than fine brushes), but it goes on beautifully and lasts really well. The Black/Brown shade is lovely for daywear; I may need to ask to try the intriguingly named Pinot Noir for my next night out ..

WEDNESDAY

I have to confess that I’m not a big fan of Chanel’s eyeshadow quartets, so when I decided to try out the new Chanel Ombres Contraste (£29; from June 25), I didn’t exactly have high hopes – even though I could see that they didn’t have the hard-baked look of the usual boules of Chanel eye colour.

In fact, I was utterly seduced by the first duo I tried – the Misty-Soft set, which contains a dark, almost plummy brown with the merest hint of shimmer, and a gorgeous sparkly mauve shade.

The two colours, as with the other five duo palettes in the collection, work extremely well together, especially if you’re going for a smoky look. (In which case, the Revlon Colourburst Lipstick in Raspberry complements the Misty-Soft eye duo a treat!) They are easy to use (thanks to their powder and cream-powder formulation) and they blend beautifully. Oh, and the colour lasts and lasts.  In case you haven’t guessed, I rather like them. Oh, what the hell: I want them all!

THURSDAY

Uh-oh, I woke on Thursday morning with a humongous, time-of-the-month, zit on my chin.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and mine was that it gave me the chance to try out the new concealer kit that I had just been sent.

Benefit Confessions of a Concealaholic (£28.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) is a book-shaped box, with mirror, which contains five of the US company’s famous concealers and primers. I’ll be trying out the primers soon but was thrilled with the “bo-ing” concealer, which Benefit describes as being of “industrial strength”.  It certainly did a terrific job on my very vivid red spot, allowing me to go out to a gallery viewing with friends without feeling self-conscious.

FRIDAY

In the certain knowledge that Thursday’s zit would still be in place on Friday, I sent out an SOS to Darphin for an emergency spot treatment.

And they came up trumps with Darphin Blemish Clearing Gel (£19), which smells better than most spot creams (thanks to the geranium, sage and lavender it contains) and doesn’t dry the skin out.

It also proved to be very effective: the offending zit had faded into insignificance by the time the weekend rolled around. And I’m now ready to zap the zit the second it decides to make a comeback. ..

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Fans of mineral powder foundation rave about its natural, complexion-enhancing look, its  skin-friendly qualities (so kind to skin that – according to one brand – you can sleep in it), the fact that it doesn’t clog up the pores, and its sun protection. I had only tried a couple of mineral powder foundations in the past, and wasn’t converted.

I hadn’t, however, tried a foundation by a specialist, all-mineral brand so on Monday I gave the beautifully-packaged refillable pressed powder compact foundation, PurePressed Base (£39.95), from Jane Iredale (call 020 8450 7111 for stockists), a whirl.

My initial impression is that it feels lovely, and gives better coverage than I might have expected, but I think it’s going to take me a bit of getting used to, psychologically. Why? Because, as someone who has worn a full-coverage liquid foundation for years, and has less than perfectly even skin, my face feels naked with only powder.  I’ll keep going and report back, once I’ve mastered the very particular method of applying it – at the moment, I’m still doing it as I read the instructions..

TUESDAY

Sometimes you can sit back and bask in the fact that you’ve trained your offspring well.  I got my six-year-old boys schooled in the art of administering arm and leg massages (while I sit in bed on a Saturday morning) at an early age and it’s paid off for all three of us. They earn 20p (negotiable; I sense that it’s only a matter of time before 50p packets of Panini World Cup stickers become the going rate) per “beauty treatment”; I get some lovely cream rubbed into what 11.41 (our younger twin) refers to as my “rusty bits” – elbows and knees, in case you’re wondering.

Boots Original Beauty Formula Body Cream (£5.49 for 200ml; www.boots.com) was selected because it is so inexpensive I didn’t mind if it got wasted by the children; it’s turned out that I absolutely love it and would choose it over many a “prestige” product. It feels luxurious and smells sublime. And – to my therapists’ delight – it doesn’t require a lot of rubbing in…  so the cash is in their hands very quickly.

They were off school on Tuesday, so I managed to persuade (okay, bribe) one of them to sneak in a mid-week treatment..

WEDNESDAY

After a night out at the weekend, I started using Givenchy Clean to Sublime (£22), a new serum style of make-up remover which can be used across the whole face.

Not only did it prove to be super-effective at removing every last trace of my make-up; it was extremely gentle and pleasant to use – and is designed to be used on particularly delicate and sensitive skin. It also leaves the skin feeling hydrated.

No wonder I had been completely converted by Wednesday ..

THURSDAY

Okay, I’ve got a confession to make: I may spend a fair bit of time looking in the mirror but even I don’t know how well conditioned my eyelashes are. So I really can’t comment on whether their condition has improved in the four weeks that I’ve been using Lancome Hypnose Precious Cells mascara (£22; www.lancome.co.uk) – which claims to “regenerate lash condition”.

What I can tell you is that this is a fabulous mascara for anyone with short, straight lashes: it does a terrific job of lengthening and curling them and making them look much more voluminous and thicker. And, really, who could ask for anything more of a mascara?

FRIDAY

Guerlain’s exquisite pearlised powder balls – Les Meteorites – have been around for about 20 years, and I only have to open one of the exquisite Meteorite tubs, as I did on Friday, to be transported back to Paris, 1992. My chic Parisian pal Anne-Sophie, you see, was a devotee of these ahead-of-their-time complexion illuminators with their parma violet fragrance.

Anne-Sophie and I both worked in an upmarket costume jewellery boutique, and her explanation of why older women favour pearls – they reflect light and enhance the complexion – is equally true of these powdery pearls. The powder is applied by brush, which has been swept over the balls at the top of the tub – so you get  mix of skin-enhancing tones (lilac, pink etc) and corrective colours (green which cancels out redness).

This summer, Guerlain has rechristened the powder Meteorites Perles (£33) and has relaunched it in three colourways – Teint Rose, Teint Beige and Teint Dore. And don’t get me started on the pretty packaging …

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