Monthly Archives: August 2010

Lipstick, Powder and Pants

I’ve spent much of the last week wearing a men’s fragrance and it got me thinking about some of the great female style icons who made cross-dressing both elegant and sexy. And nobody did it better than Marlene ..

Mind you, she wasn’t the only 1930s style queen to embrace cross-dressing – Katharine Hepburn was another fan of trouser suits and brogues, and – unlike Marlene – she continued to sport the style throughout the rest of her life. Here she is in a favourite shot from the 1940s.

Other style heroines of mine, including the great photographer Lee Miller, have dabbled with elements of the male wardrobe. Carole Lombard was often photographed wearing skirt suits with very mannish jackets, or off-duty in checked shirts, rolled-up jeans and brogues. I love this picture of her wearing a very masculine jacket and trousers with her high-heeled Mary Janes.

Sixties style icon Bianca Jagger set a trend for white trouser suits but few women could have carried off this Charlie Chaplin-inspired ensemble as beautifully as she did.

The only other person of her generation who could – and did – was Diane Keaton whose own naturally quirky style was showcased in the brilliant 1977 comedy Annie Hall.

And if a trilby is more your taste in headgear, then take a leaf out of Judy Garland’s book and team it with a slimming black tux and a great pair of legs …

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Aaahh!!! Monday was what the French call La Rentree – back to school day – so I was up with the larks, or at least with two very excitable six-year-olds, despite having gone to bed at my usual ridiculously late hour.

So, how to deal with the resulting tired eyes? Well, luckily, I had just started using the new Jurlique Herbal Recovery Eye Cream (£33; www.jurlique.co.uk), a gorgeous botanical cream which is soothing and refreshing – and helps to counter those dark circles and morning puffiness..

TUESDAY

Tuesday morning was a struggle – thanks to a late-night viewing of the glorious Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall, which I hadn’t watched in ages. While  Annie (Diane Keaton in her most stylish role) favours black soap for her complexion (“Say, are you joining a minstrel show?” asks a bewildered Alvy), I have found that both complexion-wise and wake-up-call-wise, the best face wash on the block just now is Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser (£15; www.origins.co.uk). Thanks to the saw palmetto extracts and mint which are key ingredients, it is incredibly thorough and gives the skin a tingling, awakened feeling ..

WEDNESDAY

The combination of this strange, changeable weather and the arrival of autumn/winter clothes in the shops made my Wednesday play date with the new season’s cosmetics very timely.  There are some stunningly beautiful new products being launched but few as exquisite as Lancome’s La Rose Deco compact (£32; from Harvey Nichols stores now, and other Lancome counters from September 1), which is one of the stars of the lovely French Coquettes collection. In fact, it’s so exquisite that I can’t actually bear to use it and spoil the pretty picture…  I’ll be writing more about the French Coquettes collection – it’s very inspiring, and was itself inspired by three icons of Parisian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Wharton and Kiki de Montparnasse. Chapeaux off to Aaron De Mey for his most covetable collection to date.

THURSDAY

After the success of its initial, core, range of make-up, Topshop is launching a seasonal collection named Heavy Duty in late September. Inspired by the grunge aesthetic of such LA “boho” girls as the Olsen twins, it features inky, murky shades on the eyes, crumbly black kohl eyeliner, and a “bitten lip”. One essential component, to which I’m already devoted, is the thick black mascara, Topshop Mascara in Carbon (price TBC but under a tenner; www.topshop.com, from late September) which does a brilliant job of creating that dramatic, heavy lash look that sixties beauties like Brigitte Bardot (right) perfected when they combined it with layers of kohl eyeliner. Watch out for it going on sale and buy yours while you can as this limited edition mascara is going to fly off the shelves.

FRIDAY

When the latest foundation from Laura Mercier – Creme Smooth Foundation (£40; from September) arrived in the post, I dismissed it. It looked too old-fashioned, too heavy and, even in the Warm Ivory shade (one of 12), too dark. How wrong I was! When I gave it its first proper outing on Friday, I found that appearances can be deceptive. This is actually an incredibly light-feeling foundation which glides on to the skin (as opposed to having to be dragged across it – which is what I was expecting) and provides good coverage. It leaves the complexion looking naturally radiant, and much fresher than most medium coverage foundations, and its optical diffusers help to reduce the obviousness of fine lines and wrinkles.


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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Amongst the numerous gorgeous new cosmetics which have been arriving chez moi over the last few weeks came a batch of new eyeshadows from Revlon. With their plain, black packaging, the Revlon Luxurious Color Eyeshadow Monos (£4.99) hardly had the wow factor of some of their more expensive counterparts but they quickly turned out to be serious contenders.

Within the new range of richly pigmented eyeshadows are some with a “Perle” finish and others with a “Satin” look. The standout for me, when I tried them on Monday, was the beautiful Peacock Lustre shade, a gorgeous, blue-tinged green satiny powder which matches the eyeshadow worn here by Elizabeth Taylor in her role as Cleopatra. It’s perfect for using as a light wash of colour across the lids or if you want to create asmoky eye by mixing it with a brown shade for a khaki effect – very autumn 2010! Since the season’s blue eyeshadows just don’t do anything for my blue eyes, I’m going to copy the famously violet-eyed Liz and give green a whirl instead ..

TUESDAY

The fates are clearly conspiring to make me go green this autumn. I was rummaging through a bag of Topshop Make Up that I had been sent to help me research an article for their 214 mag, and leapt out? A stunning, metallic emerald green nail shade of nail polish. Topshop Nails in Poison Ivy (£5; www.topshop.com) is its name, and it is a Wicked green indeed – definitely reminds me of those Wizard of Oz witches.

WEDNESDAY

Having been suffering from some bug that I caught during the Edinburgh Jazz Festival as well as several disturbed nights’ sleep due to unwell children, I couldn’t wait to try out the new Elemis SpaPod in Debenhams, in Glasgow’s city centre. I needed a nap!

The visit began with a detailed analysis of your skin by a therapist. And when I say detailed, I mean detailed: absolutely no flaw goes unrecorded by the clinical imaging equipment which takes a picture of your skin and then highlights all the different types of damage on one particular area. I thought I was doing a pretty respectable job of keeping wrinkles at bay so was gutted to be told that I had 27 on one side of my face alone!

Once the therapist – and the machine – have worked out which products would be best suited to your skin type, you move through to the SpaPod for your facial. The pod is a cosy, quiet room with an “Intelligent Massage Chair” which, I quickly realised was not for me. As my Elemis Modern Skin Power Booster Facial (£45/30 mins; www.elemis.co.uk) got underway, with the therapist removing my makeup and cleansing my skin, the chair whirred into action and I found myself being rolled around, pushed up and then sinking down thanks to the chair’s undulating movements. Relaxing? No way. The worst bit was when it grabbed my legs tightly around the calves and squeezed them till I thought the blood vessels would burst. The noise and the motions combined to make me feel like I was on a mechanical rodeo bull… Shades of Gene Wilder in Silver Streak.

But, once I had asked the therapist to put me out of my misery by switching off the chair, the facial was utterly blissful – thanks to the lovely-smelling and feeling products used and to the super-relaxing neck and shoulder massage I was given. The human touch? You can’t beat it..  And what’s more, my sensitive skin didn’t flare up afterwards: in fact, it looked radiant for days. I’ll definitely be looking to make this a regular thing. They’re currently doing two facials for the price of one at the Glasgow Debenhams Elemis SpaPod so I’m off to make my follow-up appointment.

THURSDAY

Thursday evening was a long-overdue night out with the girls, Lizzy and Colette. The catch-up was supposed to happen over Prosecco and pasta at Jamie’s Italian, the new Jamie Oliver eatery in Glasgow. However, after queuing for, oh, two minutes, we decided that we really didn’t want to waste another 88 (you can’t reserve tables for small groups, apparently), and headed off to find an alternative restaurant.

It was a well-behaved night, with moderation on the alcohol front, but I had come prepared, beauty-wise, by applying a layer of Origins Zero Oil Instant Matte Finish (£11 ; www.origins.co.uk). This wonder-working, all-natural liquid absorbs oil but doesn’t dry out the skin and provides a lovely base for make-up – though it can be used over make-up in shine emergencies. Just wish I had had some with me the previous week in Edinburgh when photos were being taken after wine had been consumed …

FRIDAY

Uh-oh. I’ve spotted the first deep creased wrinkle on my forehead. (It’s probably been there for ages and I hadn’t noticed, though I’m sure if it was very obvious either my mother or my twin sons, who have inherited her critical gene, would have taken great delight in pointing it out!) Anyway, now I’ve noticed it, there’s no going back: I have to face up to it, and take it on. And I’m going to do this with the help of Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus  Wrinkle & UV Damage (£35; available in Selfridges nationwide and at www.clinique.co.uk now, and at other stores from September 10).

It claims to visibly repair UV damage and reduce wrinkles while preventing future signs of ageing and the environment by fighting free radicals. I’ll let you know how I get on … Hopefully, it will be more successful than the Clinique Self Sun Body Daily Moisturizer, the self-tanning body lotion that streaked my legs for a week in early July and just would not budge.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I was in Edinburgh last week, staying in a friend’s flat on and off while I covered the jazz festival. Knowing that I was going to be out and about a lot – and out late into the wee small hours on the odd occasion – I had to make sure I had a make-up bag full of only the most reliable basics.

For the last few weeks I’ve been using the new Laura Mercier Full Blown Volume Mascara (£18) and I’ve decided that, along with Lancome’s Hypnose Precious Cells, it is my favourite new mascara of the year so far.

It’s perfect for creating fuller, longer and more voluminous-looking lashes – ideal for someone like me, who is somewhat challenged in the luscious lash department. (Long, Bambi-style, lashes seem to be the preserve of the men in my family!) Not only that but it conditions the lashes at the same time.

Anyway, the new Laura Mercier mascara proved its reliability and it was only the day when I tried another brand that I ended up with panda eyes..

TUESDAY

I may have been playing it safe with tried and tested basics but I managed to fit in a little improvisation on the make-up front while at the jazz festival. I spent a few days (it lasted remarkably well, even through the typing of around five concert reviews, one beauty article and numerous emails) falling in love with the Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Surreal Violet (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk). A slightly opalescent, lilacy take on the putty shade that’s all the rage, it’s a great summer-to-autumn colour – not too wintry and not too pastelly. Love it!

WEDNESDAY

Disaster struck on Tuesday when my then-current liquid eyeliner fell apart – the brush came out of the lid. Luckily I had a spare – although I hadn’t used it before, having been put off by the old-fashioned bottle (when I was sent it, I was hooked on the pen-brush style of liner).

Anyway, Guerlain Eye-Liner in Encre Brun (£22.50) – a simple name for a sophisticated-looking cosmetic – saved the day and won my heart in the process: I am now totally smitten. It draws an elegant, even and smooth line and is just the job for creating a flicked-up fifties look or a Cleopatra-style cat’s eye.

It served me well through the last few days of the jazz festival though I’m still trying to establish whether it was guilty of causing said panda eyes on the last night, or whether that was the mascara. The late night session in the wine bar didn’t help mascara matters.. …

I’m off to dig out the other shades of Guerlain Eye-Liner which I have, including last season’s midnight blue colour, bound to look stunning with some of the new season’s navy, teal and kingfisher blue shades.

THURSDAY

Purple is big news once again this autumn/winter – how many years is that then? – and one of the loveliest of the new products that I’ve been sent so far is the limited edition Dior 5 Couleurs in Misty Mauve (£39) which I played about with on Wednesday and Thursday.

The colours are shimmeringly beautiful – opal white and pink highlighters, mauve and plummy-beige mid-tones and a dark aubergine shade perfect for creating a smoky eye look. These are classic colours which are worth investing in, if you’re in need of a new palette.

FRIDAY

Yuck. Woke up on Friday feeling hideous. Sore throat, runny nose and period pain – a triple whammy and one which left me looking totally washed out.

I’m pale at the best of times and usually need to have a bit of colour on my face to give me a lift. I especially wanted to look my best as I was escaping the jazz for half an hour in order to meet two of the lovely girls from the Clinique PR team for an update on the next few launches.

Thankfully, I had taken a new blusher to try out in Edinburgh and it saved me from looking like a ghost of my usual self. Just a light dusting of Chanel Joues Contraste in Pink Explosion (£29) gave me enough colour to make me look human again. And its slight shimmer added a hint of much-needed radiance.

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Headscarf Girls

The changeable weather can play havoc with a girl’s hair so it’s just as well headscarves are making a comeback. Starting with the lovely Sophia Loren, here’s a selection of poster girls for the humble headscarf. Hilda Ogden fans need not apply!

Yes, I know that the Queen likes to wear a silk scarves over the royal coiffeur but I’m afraid the only royal who makes my selection is the movie star-turned-princess, Grace Kelly.

Another great style icon of the 20th Century, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, was also a chic wearer of headscarves …

And as for her cousin, “Little” Edie Beale – who has become a style icon as a result of her simply unforgettable appearance in the cult documentary Grey Gardens – well, when she couldn’t find one of her silk scarves, she just fashioned a headscarf out of an old sweater.

One star above all others had a penchant for headscarves: Audrey Hepburn. Indeed, she liked them so much, she got married wearing one!

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