Monthly Archives: September 2010

Style Heroine: Lizabeth Scott

Lauren Bacall isn’t the only forties femme fatale still living …  Lizabeth Scott, the husky-voiced star of such classic films noirs as Dead Reckoning (above, with Humphrey Bogart), celebrates her 88th birthday today. And like Bacall, she is something of a poster girl for femme fatale style – all slinky gowns, peekaboo fringe, strong eyebrows and scarlet lips. I’m not sure which films the photos below come from – but they’re all inspirational!

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Style on Film: Charade

‘Tis autumn, and if ever there were a stylish, autumnal film it’s Charade (1963), the super-sexy thriller-cum-rom com which stars Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Paris, Henry Mancini’s wonderful music and a fabulous array of Givenchy clothes – far more than we see in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Here’s our first glimpse of Audrey’s character, Reggie – sporting ski-wear, sixties-style. (In case you’re wondering, she’s sitting outside an indoor swimming pool!)

Reggie returns from her ski trip to find that her apartment as been stripped of all her possessions. Luckily, she had obviously taken all her new season outfits on holiday with her.. Here’s the first of the 12 ensembles we see her in during the rest of the film.

If you’re in the market for a new coat, and you like the streamlined, unfussy 1960s look, Charade is a great source of inspiration. My own favourite ensemble from the film is the one Reggie wears when she visits Walter Matthau’s character at the American Embassy for the first time: the coat is tomato red, funnel-necked with bracelet-length sleeves and it’s teamed with a leopard print hat, long black gloves, black kitten heels and a black patent bag. You can glimpse it in this trailer:

For a post-funeral night on the town, newly-widowed Reggie is a vision of elegant simplicity – a little black dress and little black bolero jacket, and minimal jewellery. You can’t see it in the only photo I could find of the frock, but it has a sparkling black peplum waist and matching trim round the hem..

Doing her damnedest to be inconspicuous as she follows the Cary Grant character, Reggie dons that well-established uniform of the private eye – the raincoat. But few private eyes ever looked as chic (or conscipuous!).

The beige dress with the deep black waistband which Reggie was wearing under her raincoat sums up the sublime simplicity of her Charade wardrobe.

I’m not mad-keen on the white hat in the next outfit but Audrey carries it off beautifully, of course. Here’s the ensemble she wears when she drops her ice cream cone during a stroll along the banks of the Seine.

For the famous chase scene through the Metro and the Palais-Royale, Reggie sports another lovely coat, this time in a mustard shade, with a matching dress underneath.

Who said navy blue and black couldn’t go together? Reggie shows us how to do it in style in the final scenes from Charade, where her navy suit is accessorized with black shoes and a black bag, balanced out by the white hat and gloves  from before. You see – Charade is not only an exercise in sparkling comedy; it’s also a master-class in style.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A trip to Paris has eluded me so far this year – much to my chagrin (I lived there for a year as a student). My withdrawal symptoms are even worse now, thanks to the utterly exquisite new eyeshadow compact which I was sent recently, and started using on Monday. Why the increased withdrawal symptoms for Paris, you may ask?  Well, because the eyeshadow comes from Guerlain’s autumn collection, entitled 68 Champs-Elysees – the address of the flagship Guerlain boutique in the French capital.

Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs (£51) is almost too pretty to use. The silvery, solid-feeling, compact was designed by India Mahdavi with an exotic, eastern design carved into the lid. Inside, there’s a mirror which opens out to the side and snaps back into place. Oh, and there are also some gorgeous eyeshadow colours – all of which have moonstone as a common ingredient.

There are five colourways to choose from, and each is named after the Parisian address of a Guerlain boutique. For a lovely, neutral, easy-to-wear palette go for 93 rue de Passy and for a bolder colour scheme which can take you from day to daring,  it’s got to be 68 Champs-Elysees, with its central deep violet shade.

TUESDAY

My nostalgia for Paris continued on Tuesday as I washed my hair with Melvita Blonde Hair Shampoo (£9; www.melvita.co.uk). As soon as I started lathering my locks, I was back in France in 1992 when I swore by a strikingly similar shampoo which counted lemon and vinegar among its ingredients. Lemon, of course, is reputed to be able to lighten blonde hair (in our teens, a schoolfriend and I compiled a beauty manual which was full of recipes for homemade products, and lemon always loomed large in my experiments).  After a few days of using this new shampoo I noticed that the light-coloured ends of my hair looked much more blonde; unfortunately, this emphasised the fact that the roots are in dire need of coverage.. So if I use this shampoo again, it will be nearer the start of a colour cycle!

I don’t think, however, that I’ll be rushing back to use the conditioner which I was sent at the same time.  After using the shampoo, my hair felt very tuggy and even a generous dollop of Melvita Tired Hair Conditioner (£9) failed to detangle it. It’s a shame because I loved the smell: geranium is one of my favourite scents.

I won’t let it put me off trying some of the other products in the vast Melvita range. This is an organic range which, in France, is sold in pharmacies  and over here, is available in John Lewis and online. But watch out for a dedicated store opening in Covent Garden in November.

WEDNESDAY

I seem to be having a bit of a Hitchcock Blonde obsession at the moment… and I’m not just talking about Grace Kelly. While I’m not bowled over by any of the individual outfits that Kim Novak (left) wears in Hitch’s 1958 classic Vertigo, I love the line of her clothes and the way she marries ladylike with sexy.

On Wednesday, I tried on a 1950s-style wide-collared, knee-length, bracelet- sleeved, leopard print coat in Topshop (having just posted a celebration of leopard print on this blog, I thought I’d better check out what was available), and I fell in love. What swung it wasn’t the cosiness of the fake fur, the gorgeous print, or anything remotely practical about the coat; it was the fact that when I tried it on, with my hair pinned back with a bit of a quiff on top, the look was pure Vertigo-era Novak.

Now, you can’t do the Novak look without an impressive pair of eyebrows, so the recent arrival of not one but two eyebrow pencils was very timely. Both the brand-new Lancome Le Crayon Sourcils Pro (£14.50) and Sisley Phyto-Sourcils Perfect (£29) are great for grooming brows – thanks to the little brush they have at one end – and both come in an ideal shade for blondes (Hitchock or otherwise…).

THURSDAY

A night at the theatre with my fiercest beauty critic – AKA Mum – was the occasion for the first public outing of my new Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Pink Dusk (£35), which is apparently the most popular shade in the collection of luxury lipsticks.

Being a Monday’s child (“fair of face”), I have always tended to go for brightish reddy-pinks but since a beauty epiphany at Space NK a couple of years ago, I’ve always had a flesh-toned, paler pink in my collection – for use with a strong, smoky purple eye and a 1960s look.

This Pink Dusk shade is perfect for that, and, on Thursday, worked beautifully with a smoky eye made up with a couple of the light shades from the Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs in rue de Passy, plus the eyeshadow that has become an essential in recent months – Estee Lauder Pure Color Eyeshadow in Tempting Mocha (£15; www.esteelauder.co.uk). Put it this way, not once on Thursday evening did Mum ask if I was feeling alright – the usual question I’m asked by family members who are tricked into thinking I look pale if they see me without a bright lipstick.

FRIDAY

I’m thrilled that there are so many purple options out there again for autumn and winter 2010, and I’m certainly going to be making full use of them.

I was sorting through all the purple possibilities on Friday and came to the conclusion that my two favourite nail varnishes of the moment are Chanel Le Vernis in Paradoxal (£16.50), a pewtery shade of purple, perfect for evening wear, and Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Surreal Violet (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk) which has turned out to be the polish that I’ve worn most over the last couple of months. I particularly like the fact that it dries fast, lasts well and – as a near-neutral – goes with just about everything.

Of the purple make-up for the face, I love the new shades of lipstick from Dior (the Serum de Rouge  in Smoky Pink Serum would be lovely on a sallow skin) – though purplish lipsticks don’t work on me – and the two Dior 5 Couleurs compacts (£39), Pink Design and Misty Mauve. Mum had her own beauty epiphany recently, and it also revolved around the colour purple. She is now a convert to purple eye makeup, and I sent her off on her trip to Paris on Friday with two treats: Clinique Color Surge Eye Shadow Duo in Blackberry Frost (£18.50; www.clinique.co.uk) and the gorgeous new Sisley Phyto Khol Star in Dark Amethyst (£29), which has a subtle sparkle.

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Leopard Ladies

I’ve never been a cat lover but I’ve always adored leopard print – and this winter, it looks set to be THE pattern to be seen with. In fact I’m lusting after a leopard print coat from Topshop. Here are selection of some of my favourite stylish leading ladies in leopard print, starting with the sexy and elegant Anne Bancroft in her most famous role – as Mrs Robinson in The Graduate (1967).

Even in leopard print, the lovely Audrey Hepburn looks as demure as ever …

While Anne Bancroft’s Mrs Robinson wore her leopard on her head and as a trim on her collar, and Audrey went for a typically chic little pillbox hat, the luminous Carole Lombard wore leopard on her hat, collar and muffler in her breakthrough film, Twentieth Century (1934).

Leopard print has always been associated with bad girls and in the 1940s, one of the vampiest bad girls on the big screen was Barbara Stanwyck who accessorizes with leopard print in this picture in a surprisingly restrained and elegant way …  Mind you, the pout and the come-hither eyes compensate!

I can’t think of any photos of Marilyn Monroe sporting leopard print offscreen but she wears it beautifully in the early ocean liner scenes of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

Kim Novak was another 1950s blonde star who memorably sported leopard print – as if to underline her slinky, feline quality – especially in the wonderfully stylish romantic comedy Bell, Book and Candle.

So far, so useful in terms of style inspiration for this winter. I doubt that many of us will be taking a leaf out of Gene Tierney’s book, though:

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Style Stories: Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg seems to be having something of a moment just now, thanks partly to her iconic elfin hair-do and also to the 50th anniversary of her most famous (and stylish) film, A bout de souffle (Breathless). It’s always a treat to see the film, but the tantalising “featurette” about Seberg – one of the extra features – is a let-down. So here is a potted biog of the ill-fated actress.

In 1959, when she appeared in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless as the epitome of carefree American-in-Paris chic, Jean Seberg had the world at her feet. Still only 21, she had already been considered a wash-out after her first movie, St Joan, flopped spectacularly, but she seemed to be reborn thanks to the French New Wave.
During the 1960s, she juggled Hollywood roles with offbeat European projects until a series of disasters – in particular, the death of her baby daughter in 1969 – led to her suicide at the age of 41.
As with most things in Jean Seberg’s troubled life, the death of her child – at only three days old – was not what it seems. During her pregnancy, Seberg was heavily involved with the Black Panther movement. She was already under scrutiny by the FBI because of her political ideas, and in 1969 they planted a smear story in the Los Angeles press.
Seven months into her pregnancy, Seberg opened her paper to read the rumour that her baby had been fathered by a Black Panther and not by her husband. In shock, she went into labour and gave birth prematurely. She returned to America to bury her baby and went so far as to allow photographs to be taken of the dead infant so that she could prove she was white.
According to friends, Seberg never recovered. Every year on the anniversary of the baby’s death, she tried to kill herself. At the time of her death, the FBI denied any involvement in the false rumour, but a year after her overdose they admitted their part in the planting of the story.
Incredibly, a musical version of Seberg’s tragic and extremely confused life was staged by the National Theatre in 1983. Peter Hall directed, and Marvin Hamlisch set Christopher Adler’s lyrics to music, but – inevitably – the musical was box-office disaster. Maybe the Seberg jinx has played a part in the non-appearance in a movie version which was much talked about in the 1990s, and was originally intended to star Jodie Foster or Winona Ryder.

* A bout de souffle is out on special edition DVD on the Optimum Home Entertainment label.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

After a particularly glam night at the movies – local burlesque outfit Club Noir had launched a series of Film Nights at the Glasgow Film Theatre with a screening of Some Like It Hot on Sunday – I was inspired to up the ante, glamour-wise, on Monday and wear a bolder, redder lip than usual.

The decision to experiment with the latest reds couldn’t have come at a more apt moment as I hadn’t yet got round to trying out Chanel’s forthcoming lip lacquer – Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss (£22.50; from October 1). Its Exces shade is exquisite  – though possibly not so much the kind of coral red that Some Like It Hot star Marilyn Monroe would have worn; more the sort of cherry red that her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes partner Jane Russell would have plumped for. It will definitely get another outing next time Club Noir serves up a suitably sexy film.

TUESDAY

Movie star make-up requires movie star make-up remover so it’s appropriate that I’ve been using an old favourite of the Hollywood brigade – Pond’s Cold Cream (£3.99, www.boots.com).

It’s no wonder this 103-year-old cleanser is so popular amongst people who have to wear layers of make-up all day: it does what it promises – melts away the make-up and softens the skin at the same time.

Incredibly, I had never used it until I was given a jar a fortnight ago, but I am a convert and at such a credit crunch-friendly price, I’m willing to ignore my slight aversion to its fragrance …

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday I travelled to London where I was to interview a rising star of the jazz world -Nikki Yanofsky. Arriving early at the jazz club where she was to do her sound check, I had time to give myself a mini-manicure (well, the interview was all prepared..), using one of the two beautiful shades of nail varnish in the new French Coquettes collection from Lancome for autumn/winter.

Lancome Le Vernis in Metropolitan Beige (£12) – what an appropriate shade for a visit to the capital – is one of the prettiest and most delicate nude varnishes I’ve come across. It looks peach-c0loured in the bottle, and glistens slightly. And it dries very quickly.

Its sister polish in from the same collection – the Rouge Noir-esque Black Cherry shade – is also fab, and has quickly become a favourite for nights-out. Indeed, it was my polish of choice for the Some Like It Hot extravaganza at the weekend – after all, how much vampier can you get?

THURSDAY

One style icon who would have appreciated my doing my own nails is Grace Kelly, the subject of the V&A’s wonderful exhibition, Grace Kelly – Style Icon (until September 26) which I finally got to see on Thursday. The movie star turned princess remained refreshingly practical throughout her life when it came to her look: she bought clothes that she fell in love with and then got great use out of them, and she kept to a fairly simple and elegant maquillage.

The shop within the exhibition is a little treasure trove of Grace-inspired costume jewellery (mainly pearls, of course) and accessories, but one item that was missing was the compact – an essential if you plan to emulate that ladylike look which is so current  this autumn. Grace, like any 1950s woman, would not have left home without some pressed powder in her purse.

I couldn’t have got round that exhibition in what I like to think was a Grace-ful manner had I not brushed on some of the new Clinique Redness Solutions Instant Relief Mineral Pressed Powder (£24; www.clinique.co.uk) – it was so hot and stuffy in there! It undoubtedly saved me from an oily T-zone and flushed cheeks .. The same, yellow-coloured, powder got me through a particularly uncomfortable train journey home, on a ridiculously crowded Virgin Pendolino train. I wonder how the ever-cool Grace would have fared under such trying circumstances..

FRIDAY

It’s only five weeks since my hair was last coloured but it’s been driving me mad – and by Friday I just wanted to tie it back and not think about it. I remembered that I’d been sent a rather scary-looking new hair tool – the Goody Spin Pin (£4.99; from Asda stores) – and decided to give it a go. It’s actually two spiral pins – and it turned out to be surprisingly easy to use. You pull your hair back into a pony tail, twist it round into a bun shape then effectively screw the pins in – one from above the bun and the other from below.

With my fine, poker-straight hair, I found that a low bun, at the nape of the neck or over to one side, looked particularly pretty. In fact, it looked a little like the sort of style that Grace Kelly and the other great Hitchcock blonde, Kim Novak, favoured in the 1950s.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Beauty icon Jean Harlow, known as the Platinum Blonde bombshell of the early 1930s, liked to contrast her beestung, scarlet lips with pale, milky white skin – and loose powder was a staple of her make-up regime.

Miss Harlow was a big fan of Guerlain fragrances  so I have no doubt that had she lived to be a grand old grande dame (and I mean seriously old – next year is the centenary of her birth), she would have loved the latest incarnation of the classic loose powder from the luxury Parisian beauty house.

Guerlain Les Voilettes Mineral (£33) is a lovely powder, scented – like Guerlain’s celebrated Les Meteorites – with a parma violet fragrance. It comes in a handsome, smooth gold tub and is applied with a decadent black puff.

My mum had been asking me for some powder and I thought I’d give this tub to her after I’d tried it out. I fully expected not to want to wear it much because I’m not a fan of parma violets, but I loved the feel and look of the powder on my face and, frankly, the scent wasn’t obvious after the initial application.

Mum’s had to make other arrangements …

TUESDAY

By strange coincidence, I was thinking about Jean Harlow as I headed to Hotel du Vin in Glasgow on Tuesday to meet the chic PR for Tom Ford Beauty. Tom Ford’s fragrance White Patchouli, with its Art Deco-inspired white bottle, always brings Jean to mind. After all, she liked to wear gleaming white gowns, and her era (she died, at just 26, in 1937) was the age of Art Deco..

Melissa was in town, however, to talk to the local press about the arrival in Frasers, in Glasgow, of The Tom Ford Private Blend Collection later this month. These 16 scents, many of which appeal equally to both sexes, represent the designer’s fascination with the world of artisanal perfumery – in other words, they’re not your run-of-the-mill, easy-to-wear, suits-anyone type of fragrances.

Strangely, given my recent predilection for wearing men’s fragrances (read on!), I was drawn to the floral-oriental Champaca Absolute (£110 for 50ml), a mysterious and complex scent – more Garbo than Harlow – with cognac amongst its top notes and a spicy floral heart…

WEDNESDAY

I rekindled an old love affair (well, not that old) last week – with Dior Homme (from £42), a gents’ fragrance which came out a few years ago and which I used briefly then set aside and forgot about.

Anyway, when I chanced upon it at the weekend, it seemed like the time to give it an outing – and I ended up wearing it for most of the week. I think it’s one that many women pinch from their partners as it is, unusually, a “masculine floral fragrance” with iris at its heart, as well as top notes of sage, lavender and bergamot and a woody/leathery base.

THURSDAY

I’ve been trying to continue with some of the Elemis skincare programme which was prescribed to me during my recent facial at their spa pod in Debenhams and, by Wednesday, I realised that I’d have to make it official and admit that I am now addicted to Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser (£27; www.elemis.co.uk).

Like that other fab, wash-off cream cleanser, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, Elemis Pro-Radiance is a pleasure to use. It has a luxurious texture, smells lovely (orange, lavender, ylang ylang and patchouli) and it leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth and looking radiant.

I’m not sure about the anti-ageing bit but I’ll be using it religiously and shall certainly notice if it starts to turn back the clock, complexion-wise.


FRIDAY

My revival of interest in men’s fragrance couldn’t have been more timely: Chanel has just brought out a new perfume for men.

An elegant square bottle of Bleu de Chanel (£42) arrived chez moi on Friday and I was delighted to find that it’s another men’s fragrance which I would consider wearing myself. First impressions are of a slinky, seductive scent – undoubtedly a midnight shade of blue..

As ever with Chanel, there’s a stylish advertising campaign with strong cinematic credentials – this time, director Martin Scorsese and actor Gaspard Ulliel, shown above. You might recognise him from some of the notable films he’s already been in (he’s only 26): Summer Things, in which he seduced Charlotte Rampling, A Very Long Engagement and Paris Je T’Aime..

Here’s a link to the film and the concept behind Bleu: http://www.chanel.com/en_GB/fragrance-beauty/Universe-Bleu-de-CHANEL-118651

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