Monthly Archives: June 2011

Jazz Style Icons

It’s all about jazz for me at the moment, in the run-up to the Glasgow Jazz Festival (June 29-July3) and I’ve had to neglect this blog a little  … However, I have – as always – been finding a great deal of style inspiration in jazz –  not so much from the current crop of jazz stars as from the greats of yesteryear. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite style icons, starting, above, with Chet Baker (1929-1988), the James Dean of the jazz world, who wins my style award for services to the white T-shirt .. And below is his one-time band-mate, baritone sax star Gerry Mulligan (1927-1996) who was rarely without a crew cut and Ray-Bans in the 1950s.

Another super-cool jazz musician whose music and style I love is the legendary Lester “Prez” Young (1909-1959), the ethereal-sounding tenor saxophonist who came to fame in Count Basie’s band in the 1930s and made a series of landmark recordings with his friend Billie Holiday. He became a much-feted solo star in the 1950s, and his signature pork-pie hat is as recognisable to jazz fans as Lady Day’s gardenia and Louis Armstrong’s white handkerchief – possibly moreso. So indelibly linked are the Prez and his pork pie hat that Herman Leonard famously took an evocative portrait of Lester Young without Young in it: the pork-pie hat plus the saxophone (and a swirl of cigarette smoke) were enough to suggest their owner’s presence.

As I mentioned, one of the most identifiable accessories in jazz history was Billie Holiday’s (1915-1959) gardenia – which, for a decade from the late 1930s, was a key part of her look. Legend has it that the first gardenia was pinned on her head to cover a patch of hair which had been singed by tongs. It quickly became her trademark..

I also love the hair style she sported for much of the 1950s – the sleeked-back ponytail. This was how she wore her hair in the landmark TV programme, The Sound of Jazz.

Perhaps more of an all-round style icon was the lovely Lena Horne (1917-2010), a woman with exquisite taste and a sense of elegant style that lasted her whole life.  She was known for her turbans and for her gorgeous evening gowns …

Not all of the great jazz style icons have left us: Annie Ross (born 1930), the 80-year-old pioneering jazz vocalist is still performing (she plays in London next week, at the Bluesfest, and in Glasgow’s Oran Mor on July 8). And I haven’t seen a photo of her looking less than stylish. Check out this beautiful portrait from the 1950s.

And I especially love this one: three of my favourite jazz style icons captured on photo as they record the wonderful album Annie Ross Sings a Song of Mulligan (that’s Chet Baker in the middle). Cool in every sense of the word..

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A wedding at the weekend was the perfect time to test out the latest lipstick to e launched – honestly, they’re breeding this year! Estee Lauder Pure Color Sensuous Rouge Lipcolor (£20; www.estee-lauder.co.uk from July 4) follows hot on the heels of the Pure Color collection which was launched in the spring. What’s the difference, I hear you ask? Well, the colours are really intense but comfort is not at all compromised: these are

I’m smitten with the Rose Exposed shade which is a strong, vivid deep pink – and which lasted remarkably well through several French Martinis. Only criticism? The model pictured, who is the face of the new lipstick, looks as if she’s wearing a very bad wig.

TUESDAY

With all the pink on my lips and the bright coral on my toes, I realised on Tuesday that the only colour I wanted for my fingernails – which needed a slick of something to make them look business-like and neat for a work meeting – was a shade from last year: Chanel Le Vernis in Inattendu (£17.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836). The more I use it, the more I love its simple, understated elegance and the flattering effect it has on the hands. It’s going to be my default setting until I get my hands on Peter Philips’ new Rose Cache shade, a sister to my favourite of last autumn, Rose Confidentiel, which comes out in October. Watch this space, as they say!

WEDNESDAY

I can’t say I’m particularly attracted to the packaging – or the scent – of the recently launched b.right range from Benefit, but I have been completely won over by Benefit Remove It! Makeup Remover (£16.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) an extremely effective eye make-up remover which takes cosmetics off in one fell swipe, and instead of leaving a greasy residue, leaves the eyes feeling bright and super-clean.

I’ve even been known to treat my eyelids to it in the morning, by way of a wake-up call … For a cosmetic perk-me-up, I’ve taken to using Rodial Glamtox Eye Light SPF15 (£50; www.houseoffraser.co.uk) which protects, repairs and moisturises the delicate skin beneath the eyes while cosmetically banishing dark circles and brightening the eye area.

It’s going to be seeing a lot of action during the forthcoming Glasgow Jazz Festival, that’s for sure.

THURSDAY

If I wasn’t already in love with Chanel 31 rue Cambon – and newly smitten with their soon-to-be-launched No19 Poudre (and feeling guilty for ignoring my usual summer fragrance, Chanel’s Cristalle) – I would consider doing a spot of fragrance cross-dressing. Why? Because a bottle of Guerlain Homme Eau de Parfum Intense (£40; www.debenhams.com) has come my way – and it’s the kind of men’s perfume that women will want to steal, with fresh top notes of mint and lime, a floral, geranium, heart and a woody base. However this bottle – a collector’s edition designed by sports car designers the House of Pininfarina – is likely to be closely guarded by men…

FRIDAY

Shopping for a friend’s birthday, I happened upon this beautiful compact at the Clarins counter – and just knew she would be taken with it. Not only would she find it beautiful, but – unlike me – she would actually use the bronzing powder contained within. I don’t do bronzer and, lovely as this is, I’m not about to start.

Clarins Mosaique Summer Bronzing Compact SPF10 (£26; www.clarins.co.uk) is a limited edition so snap one up fast if you fancy what is undoubtedly the prettiest bronzer to be seen with this summer. Just note that you still need to wear sun protection under it as Factor 10 is below the recommended minimum.

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