Monthly Archives: March 2011

My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A dull Monday was brightened up by the arrival of a package containing a selection of new lipsticks from Dior – all from its revamped Dior Addict (£22 each; at Selfridges now and nationwide from April 11) range. As you can see, none other than Kate Moss is the face of this new collection, the advertising film  of which was directed by Jonas Akerlund who’s best known for Lady Gaga’s Telephone vid.

Miss Moss looks gorgeous – 1960s rock chick meets 1950s starlet – in the ads, but frankly I’m more excited about the fact that there are 44 exquisite colours to choose from, and the texture, which is less waxy than a conventional lipstick and contains an innovative gel that makes lips feel hydrated and look shiny and full.

Kate’s favourite shade is no578 “Dior Kiss” – which she models in the ad above. I’ve only tried out a handful of the 44 colours, but love the texture and the glossy effect. I’m hoping that when Dior’s  National Make-up Artist Jamie Coombes comes to Glasgow next month, he can help me find the best shade for me …

TUESDAY

Some beauty products just baffle me – not because of the “science part” (though that can be a challenge sometimes, if not explained well), but because I do wonder: “What’s the point?”. That was my reaction to the latest nail varnishes from Revlon, a company which already has an impressive range of nail colours. Why? Because its latest thing is smelly nail varnish.  The limited edition Revlon Scents of Summer Nail Enamels (£6.49 each; available now) are just what they say on the label – unfortunately. If you are so inclined, you too could smell papaya, coconut, bubblegum or one of the other scents every time your fingers are near your face. One for the tweenies, methinks – it’s just a step up from the scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers that my generation collected ..

WEDNESDAY

At lunchtime on Wednesday came the sad news that Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most beautiful and talked-about women of her time, had died. Contrary to many news reports, she was not “the last of the great Hollywood stars” – we still have Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Kirk Douglas, Olivia de Havilland and several more – but she was unquestionably one of the most fascinating.

She had delicate features and, in the early part of her career, often looked like a porcelain doll; her rosebud mouth usually the focus of her look. At some point after she became a fully-fledged sex symbol in the late 1950s, she began playing up those unforgettable, so-called violet eyes. The 1960s suited them beautifully: lashings of fashionable kohl drew attention to them, and personally I think she looked far more alluring with the accent on her eyes and her lips painted in muted colours than in the darker shades which were undoubtedly a requirement of being filmed in black and white a decade earlier. In fact, it almost looks like she’s wearing Dior Addict no.564 (AKA Model)  in this pic …

THURSDAY

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Clarins make-up is really having a moment just now. My Neo Pastels Eye Colour and Liner Palette (£30) is being used on an almost-daily basis and on Thursday I finally got round to trying out their new range of creamy, natural-coloured lipsticks.

Clarins Rouge Hydra Nude Smoothing Cream Lipsticks (£16.50; www.clarins.co.uk) would have been a pleasure to use – had it not been for one thing: their scent. What is it about smelly beauty products? First the fruity nails – and now these lipsticks which have a caramel sort of fragrance to them. I realise that most lipsticks do have a scent but this one is very pronounced, especially if – like me – you can’t stand sickly, sweet, vanilla-ish fragrances. Anyway, if you do like that sort of smell under your nose all day – lucky you: you’ve four pretty nude shades (coral, rose, beige and caramel) to choose from …

FRIDAY

And speaking of Clarins, thank heavens for the their treatments … I was feeling quite run-down and fed-up before I arrived at the Clarins Spa at Frasers in Glasgow but a Clarins TriActive Facial (from £62) soon sorted me out. When Lindsay, my facialist, asked about my skin concerns, I mentioned that I was beginning to worry about the signs of ageing (well, the fortieth birthday is hanging over me), in particular around the jawline. She tailored the treatment accordingly, explaining to me afterwards that “as soon as someone mentions concerns about sagging round the jaw, I reach for the ClarinsPRO Refreshing Lift Mask.”

Regular lymphatic massage – which is a staple of all the variations of the TriActive facial – helps to prevent jowls appearing, but that mask produced especially impressive results. So much so that it can only be used by therapists in the spa: at one point, customers could buy it, but they loved the tightening effects so much, some were over-using it – and it’s very potent..  Needless to say, I’ll be back for more!


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Style on Film: Sabrina

This stunning yet simple black cocktail dress which Audrey Hepburn wore in the 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina is – believe it or not – one of the most controversial frocks in cinema history. It helped to make Sabrina one of the most stylish films of the 1950s – and to establish its young star’s famous chic gamine look. It also marked her first collaboration with Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier, with whom her style would be inextricably linked for the rest of her life. Being a Cinderella-style love story, Sabrina opens with its heroine dressed in rather dowdier attire, however …

Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe in Sabrina was originally to be designed by Paramount Studios’ costume supremo, Edith Head. In the film, Sabrina, the chauffeur’s lovesick daughter, goes to Paris as an awkward adolescent and returns transformed into an elegant young lady. Edith Head was put out to learn that, after their first meeting, Audrey had asked director Billy Wilder if she could wear “a real Paris dress” in the film. Mrs Wilder suggested Audrey go to Balenciaga but when the young star turned up, the couturier was too busy see her and sent her to his young friend, Hubert de Givenchy.

Givenchy later recalled: “When the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T-shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read ‘Venezia’. I told her: ‘Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers. I am in the middle of a collection – I can’t make you clothes.’  Audrey asked to see the collection – and ended up choosing all of Sabrina’s post-Paris capsule wardrobe from it, starting with the super-elegant ensemble with which she wows her childhood crush when she arrives back on Long Island from France.


For Sabrina’s first-ever date with David Larabee (the dashing William Holden), the playboy with whom she has been besotted all her life, Audrey (for it really was her choice) selected from Givenchy an exquisite strapless evening gown with a boned bodice and flowing, full, ankle-length skirt. She asked the designer to alter it to that it would hide the hollows behind her collarbone. He later said: “What I invented for her eventually became a style so popular that I named it ‘decollete Sabrina’.”

Needless to say, Sabrina is the belle of the ball in her black and white Paris dress. It certainly opens the otherwise-engaged David’s eyes, prompting him to say: “Oh Sabrina, if I’d only known…”. But the “if I’d only known” dress isn’t my favourite from the film; I love the cocktail dress and cute catwoman-like hat that our fickle heroine wears when she’s being romanced by David’s brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart). What made this cocktail dress so controversial? Well, here’s a clue:

You would assume that this sketch, by Edith Head, is evidence that she designed the dress which sums up Sabrina’s seductive blend of playfulness and elegance. But that isn’t actually the case – though Head herself allowed the misconception to go uncorrected for the rest of her life. The truth – as explained in Jay Jorgensen’s superb book, Edith Head – The Fifty Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer (Running Press) – is that Head’s department was supposed to make this dress, with its distinctive bows on the shoulder and boat neck, from a sketch by Givenchy. Jorgensen explains: “Confusion about the designs in the film began as sketches were done in the wardrobe department to execute all the clothing needed. Edith began sending the sketches out to publicize the film, leading to the assumption that all the clothes were her designs.” Here’s Sabrina wearing it on her pre-theatre dinner date at The Colony with Linus.

The boat neck of what became known as “The Sabrina Dress” – the design of which was translated into a best-selling dressmaking pattern when the film was released – became a hallmark of the Hepburn look. As did the black legging-like trousers and pumps which she wore, along with a slash-necked top, for a casual visit to Linus’s office.

It’s only when Sabrina removes her coat – a collarless number which anticipates the Givenchy coats she sports in their classic 1960s collaboration Charade – and turns around that we see the sly sexiness of the ensemble:

There aren’t that many different outfits in Sabrina – just enough to immediately establish it as a must-see for style lovers. Which must help explain why Edith Head presumably kept quiet about the extent of Givenchy’s involvement in the film and the fact that, with Audrey, he created Sabrina’s Parisian-inspired look, the look that dominates the movie. Not only did Givenchy’s name appear nowhere in the credits, but Head accepted an Oscar for Sabrina and didn’t even acknowledge the French designer’s contribution to the film.

According to Jorgensen’s book, Head even had the gall to parade the original dress down the runaways of her fashion shows. It was only after Head’s 1980 death, that Givenchy, a true gentleman, finally confirmed that the dress had been his design but had been made under Head’s supervision at Paramount…

 

 

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

We’ve been having a bit of a Star Wars moment in my house recently – thanks to my twin boys’ ever-increasing obsession with the original trio of movies. I hadn’t seen them for years and was struck by how very now Princess Leia’s hair styles are – all those pleats! Sometimes they’re piled high in a bun, sometimes she wears long loose pleats and other times – as in this picture – she loops the loop with them (and snares the gorgeous Han Solo in the process!). It’s just too bad she (and Carrie Fisher, the talented actress/writer who played her) is best remembered for her two-bun look…

The ongoing Stars Wars fixation was the perfect backdrop, on Monday, for the arrival of a parcel containing two perfumes which both looked as if they had been designed by a sci-fi fan.

I’m not drawn to extra-terrestrial style fragrance bottles myself, but the latest addition to Thierry Mugler’s Alien family of fragrances  – Alien Sunessence Amber Gold Edition (£40; out now), a fresh floral amber eau de toilette variation on the original Alien perfume – is bound to appeal to younger fragrance fans and devotees of the Alien range.

The other new perfume on the inter-galactic block is Aura by Swarovski (from £44), the first eau de parfum from the celebrated crystal company.

Like Alien Sunessence, it’s a fruity floral which comes in a strikingly futuristic bottle – with a crystal-topped lid, of course..

TUESDAY

Every so often media coverage of a nail varnish makes my pals sit up and take notice – and I’ve had a few requests for any spare bottles of this season’s must-have Chanel polish, the Black Pearl shade of Chanel Le Vernis (£17; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). If you can’t get your hands on a bottle – or a beauty writer pal can’t help you out – then here’s an alternative which is virtually identical: Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Perfect Storm (£14; www.esteelauder.co.uk). But it is limited edition – so hurry!

It may have been a bit too sober a shade to wear to Tuesday’s press night of Mamma Mia, the Abba show which came back to the Clyde Auditorium last weekend, but it certainly looks very chic and very now.

If I’d really wanted to get into the spirit of the show,
however, I could have chosen any number of the beautiful, vibrant colours in the range, which has been designed by Tom Pecheux. I particularly like Wicked Green and Wild Blue, which are also limited edition shades.

WEDNESDAY

Flicking through the copy of the InStyle’s authoritative Best Beauty Buys 2011 on Wednesday, I found myself nodding in agreement at more of the inclusions than usual.

I’ve recently become a fan of the lovely basic skincare items in Lancome’s comprehensive range, so was delighted to see that two of my new favourites were included in the best cleansers and toners category. Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur Express Cleansing Water (£20; http://www.lancome.co.uk) and Lancome Tonique Douceur Softening Hydrating Toner (£20) are a delight to use. The cleansing water is a lovely, refreshing way to remove make-up and cleanse the skin, while the toner – which smells gorgeous – is extremely comfortable and leaves skin looking healthy.

In fact, Lancome really cleaned up in that category, as their cult eye make-up remover Lancome Bi-Facil Non Oily Instant Cleanser (£19.50) was the third of the five products in that section….

THURSDAY

The lovely Ally and Sheena from the Clinique and Aramis & Designer Fragrances PR teams were in Glasgow on Thursday to brief us beauty writers on their next batch of new launches.

And there’s lots happening. Fragrance-wise, there are two new limited edition additions to the DKNY Be Delicious family – DKNY Be Delicious Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette) which is a fresh, fruity concoction, and DKNY Fresh Blossom Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette), a light fruity-floral scent. Both are availalable now from Debenhams, and from Boots from April 5 onwards.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of fruity fragrances so I was most excited by my introduction to the gorgeous colours in the new range of Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balms (£13.50; www.clinique.co.uk). These chunky lip balm pencils are highly moisturising and super-comfy to wear – and I was immediately hooked on the bright pinky-red shade, Chunky Cherry.

FRIDAY

Friday was the launch date for the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipsticks (£22.50; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). And, as you may have read here a couple of weeks ago, they were being launched here in Glasgow with a photo opportunity for customers at Frasers: you could come along and have a mini-makeover using one of the 18 shades of Rouge Coco Shine, a moisturising sheer lipstick created by Chanel’s make-up maestro Peter Philips, then have your picture taken in a special Chanel photo booth..

I was invited along to be a guinea pig, and was delighted with the results. I’d already tried out one or two of the lipsticks at home and love the texture (ideal for a dry-lipped lipstick lover like myself), but I hadn’t tried the colours that Lucinda, the flame-haired make-up artist selected for me.  At home, my favourite of the four shades I was sent was the reddy-pink Monte Carlo. But on Friday, for the camera, the bright, orangey-red Rebelle proved a winner – and a great match for the coral necklace I had thrown on at the last minute as I left the house.  Check out the results below – I’m on the right, and that’s Lucinda, sporting the Romance shade … and if you fancy trying out a Rouge Coco Shine for the cameras, then read on for a list of stores that will be running the same event .. (Thanks to Boothnation for emailing me my photos and saving me from having to scan them in!)* Debenhams Oxford Street, London on March 19

* House of Fraser, Westfield on March 19

* Debenhams Liverpool on March 25

* Selfridges Birmingham on April 1 & 2

* Fenwicks Newcastle on April 2

* Selfridges at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on April 9

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Style on Film: The Big Sleep

This was the scene that made me sit up and start paying serious attention to the fashions of The Big Sleep, the classic 1946 film noir which is best remembered as the second movie to star the sizzling hot team of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The lady in the chic, tiered black dress didn’t even get her name in the titles – despite being more prominently featured than some of the other character actors. Her name is Sonia Darrin and she played Agnes, the hard-hearted dame who worked for the blackmailer Geiger. The first sighting of the movie’s leading lady Lauren Bacall finds her lounging in a stylish jacket, black trousers and loafers, as her character Vivian has an informal chat with private eye Philip Marlowe (Bogie).

Vivian and Marlowe’s next meeting is even less formal: he brings home her kid sister, the troublesome Carmen, who has been found drunk in charge of the dead body of her father’s blackmailer.

The next morning, Vivian visits Marlowe in his downtown office. The checked suit and beret combo sported by Bacall here is the best known outfit from The Big Sleep, and the publicity shots featured Bacall working what had been christened “The Look” – her unique way of holding her chin down and casting her eyes up as she spoke.

Bacall later explained that “The Look” had been born out of necessity: when she made her first film, To Have and Have Not, she found that the only way she could disguise her nerves, stop herself shaking and her voice from trembling was to hold herself like that.

A rendez-vous at a bar provides Marlowe and Vivian with a chance of trading a little bit more banter – and affords us a glimpse of one of the most contemporary-looking outfits of the movie: the shiny jacket..

Later that evening, in Eddie Mars’ casino, Marlowe discovers that Vivian – like only a couple of other film noir femme fatales – fancies herself as a singer. Wearing good-girl white (well, she is one of the least dangerous of forties FFs), she is the centre of attention – and quickly captures Marlowe’s interest once more.

And to finish? Two dresses for the price of one as both Agnes and Vivian feature in the next scene – the point in any normal thriller when matters come to a head and the real goodies and baddies are exposed. But this being The Big Sleep, the film with the most convoluted and confusing plot of them all (so convoluted and confusing that even the writer of the original book, Raymond Chandler, couldn’t say who had committed one of the murders), that doesn’t quite happen. Better to revel in the performances, the chemistry and badinage between Bogie and Bacall and the fabulous clothes.

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Style Heroines: Jane Russell

I wouldn’t say she was a style icon, but Jane Russell – the sassy, statuesque sexbomb star of the 1940s and 1950s, who died yesterday – should be remembered in the fashion world for her services to the halterneck. Here’s a selection of some of her prettiest halternecks – starting with this simple monochrome dress she wore in the 1951 film noir His Kind of Woman.

It was probably not her own idea to showcase her magnificent bosom in this style – but it was no doubt written in to her contract that her cleavage be shown off in every film. Designer Howard Greer kept things tasteful and on the elegant side with the His Kind of Woman clothes (unlike The French Line wardrobe) – witness this pretty sundress…

My own favourite of her halterneck ensembles is the simple black halterneck top and trousers (with high heels – natch) that she sports for her only solo number in the wonderful musical-comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in 1953.

Raven-haired Russell was also unusual in the fact that she also wore a great deal of black onscreen – even, as in the case of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in colour movies. She wears two black evening gowns in the movie, including this sparkling halterneck. The idea was no doubt to direct viewers’ eyes towards the colourful new star the studio was trying to promote …

Appropriately enough, for a couple of stars ultimately both known for their halternecks (Marilyn’s most famous was yet to come – the white “subway” dress in The Seven Year Itch), Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell turned up to leave their mark on the Hollywood Walk of Fame wearing … you’ve guessed it – halterneck dresses!

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