Monthly Archives: June 2012

My Week in Beauty

SATURDAY

If there’s one thing I can bear less and less well as I get older it’s being kept dangling when it comes to arrangements – and being at the mercy of other, more laidback, folks’ timetables (or their habit of confirming rendez-vous at the last minute). I’m always waiting for people to get back to me in my work; I can’t stand it happening in my personal life as well..

By Friday night, I had recovered from a stressful week work-wise, and was feeling in control of my weekend plans – when I received a text telling me that the main focus of my weekend plans was under threat. By the time I finally learned that the get-together was cancelled, I felt stressed-out and I was upset at how upset the unexpected change of plan had made me.. There was only one thing for it (well, three, if you count the double G ‘n’ T): a long soak in the tub with the lavender-scented Aveda Stress Fix Bath Salts (£29; www.aveda.co.uk), which help to calm and relax and are part of a new range of body products from the American beauty company. Indeed, so therapeutic was the bathtime experience that I carried the Aveda Stress Fix Concentrate (£21) – a rollerball oil with the same soothing scent – around in my handbag for the rest of the week.

MONDAY

It’s totally irrelevant to my beauty journal – though I could tell you exactly what make-up I was wearing at the time (Clarins eyeshadow, Guerlain eyeliner, Clinique mascara, Dior foundation and lipstick, Benefit blusher – see?) – but I met Tony Bennett on Monday.  Well, I accosted him and his wife in the street… I had been propping up the bar in Rogano (drinking coffee, I should point out), when I turned round to find
a dapper old gent in a powder blue suit giving me the once-over. By the time I had registered that it was Tony Bennett, whose concert I was going to review that night, he had gone. I leapt off my bar stool, peeked out into the street and saw him heading off into a busy shopping street.

Having long wanted to meet him – not least because his one-time musical director, the late John Bunch, was a good friend of mine – I sprinted (that’s how it looks in my mind; “galumphed” is probably a more apt description) along a few blocks, caught up with him and breathlessly introduced myself. And, er, that’s the high point of the story. He didn’t say much, didn’t shake my hand and probably thought I was just a nutcase.  Still, these are the chances you have to take sometimes when you’re faced with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…

TUESDAY 

Oh dear, an emotional (PMT-fuelled) chat with a very mixed-up friend on Tuesday threatened to make a mess of my new mascara….  Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara (£17; available from August 1; www.clinique.co.uk).

However, I’m delighted to be able to report that despite a couple of tissues’ worth of tears,  my naturally poker-straight lashes remained beautifully composed (this mascara has a very clever wand, which separates, stretches, bends and lifts the hairs as it coats them)  – though I can’t say the same about my eyeliner. (Or my friend!)

The mascara comes in two shades – Black and Extreme Black (the one I’ve been wearing, which is very glossy and certainly wears well through the day).

WEDNESDAY

I’m big into the blues this summer – royal, cobalt, navy, turquoise, any shade as long as it’s not wishy-washy pastel which wishy-washes out my pale skin. For the first night of  the Glasgow Jazz Festival, on Wednesday, it had to be my new “electric” blue (that’s what the shop assistant called it) top and last summer’s nail polish of choice, Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate (£18), a bold, vampy shade guaranteed to make you feel like a bold vamp – even if you’re feeling more like a washed-out wallflower!

 

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My Week in Beauty

SUNDAY

I’ve been thinking a lot – okay, obsessing – about one of my favourite actresses this week because one of her best films is going to be screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival next weekend. And that gave me the opportunity to write about her in Sunday’s Herald, and on my film blog, and to be invited to speak about her on the radio next week.

Lombard, who is now – ridiculously – best remembered as Clark Gable’s great love, was a magnificent comedienne. She specialised in playing superficially dizzy young women trapped in situations where their intelligence didn’t really get a chance to blossom. I’m thinking, of course, of Irene Bullock in My Man Godfrey (the glorious 1936 screwball comedy which is playing at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse on June 30), of overnight celebrity Hazel Flagg in Nothing Sacred (1937) and of Shakespearian actress Maria Tura in To Be Or Not To Be (1942) – three of Lombard’s best films.

I think I’m drawn to Lombard not just because I love her performances, her elegance, her willingness to abandon the elegance in the name of comedy (see the “Godfrey loves me” sequence in MMG), her wit and her intelligence – but also because in real life she was, by all accounts, very much “one of the boys” and as someone who spends her life in the jazz world, I know all about that.

In my opinion, Lombard’s looks improved with age. She died in a plane crash in 1942, aged just 34 and was at her most radiant – as her last films Mr and Mrs Smith (1941) and To Be Or Not To Be show. She had matured from looking like just another bottle-blonde Hollywood ingenue into a leading lady with a commanding presence and magnetic sexuality. In her later films she looks quite different to her early screen appearances: strong jawline, chiselled cheekbones, prominent forehead (weirdly, something I was complimented on – on Sunday!). And she was voluptuous to boot.

Here’s her 1932 response to the question of what her beauty routine was (courtesy of www.carolelombard.org, a fabulous tribute blog I stumbled across). “Although I think make-up is very essential to my beauty, my hint is not to overdo it. In daytime I use a powder of equal parts beige and flesh tints; a tea rose shade of rouge an a very pale rose lipstick. I never use mascara or eye pencil when going to shop or out walking.

“For evening, a powder four shades darker is my favourite. I use no cheek rouge, but my lipstick is heavier. I use a carmen red. At night I also use violet eyelid shadow and dark blue mascara, lengthening my eyebrows slightly with a blue pencil.”

Do you think she meant “brow pencil”?!

MONDAY

What would actually have been even more useful to know on Monday morning was if Carole Lombard had a good hangover cure (apart from one of her man Godfrey’s “pixie remover”/ hangover blasters) – as I was paying the price for some post-reviewing debauchery after covering the Leith Jazz Festival over the weekend. Actually, it was more lack of sleep than alcohol which caused my eyes to be slits and my skin to look less than its best – so I wasn’t a very good advert for beauty journalism when I turned up for my meeting at the new Philosophy counter in Debenhams, Glasgow – one of many new Philosophy counters recently opened nationwide. More on Philosophy anon.

THURSDAY

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist (£16.50), a classic spray-on toner which refreshes and hydrates the skin, proved its worth on Thursday when my skin was still feeling a little dried out and sensitive.

Even more of a boost was my first experience of an Origins Mega Bright Mini-Facial at John Lewis (0141 353 6677) in Glasgow. This is a half-hour treatment comprises a thorough cleanse and exfoliation using Origins Modern Friction Nature’s gentle dermabrasion, followed by a mask and a facial massage using a sculpted piece of jade and Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum. I was slightly alarmed by the pressure applied round the eyes with the jade – I was worried that I might have two bruised-looking eyes afterwards – but Cheryl, my therapist, reassured me by showing me how the jade was shaped so that it presses on only the correct areas.

The effect was wonderfully relaxing, and the results on my skin were impressive: I had a very definite glow for quite a few days and will definitely be back for more when Origins has the beauty room next – between June 30 and July 8, and then from July 30 until August 14. The facial is free and is available from selected Origins counters nationwide.


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My Week in Beauty

SATURDAY
A jazz party in Edinburgh was the big event of the week and although my pal Caroline and I had been debating for weeks about what we might wear, we still ended up getting changed and made-up in a huge rush at the last minute – that’s what happens when you’re the hostess (as Caroline was) and her glamorous assistant (me!).

I had settled on my one and only maxi dress, a black Grecian style number which I bought last summer and wear with flat gladiator sandals (I do like to mix my ancient civilisations-inspired looks… Actually, the effect I’m going for is the pool-side Grace Kelly in High Society!). So it seemed highly appropriate that the palette to which I turned for my one-stop eye make-up requirements was Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Pure Color Five Color Gelee Powder EyeShadow Palette in Bronze Sands (£35; www.esteelauder.co.uk), worn (right) with Guerlain Eye-Liner in Noir and Sisley Phyto Mascara Ultra Stretch.

I may not have the requisite tan to be  a bona fide “Bronze Goddess”, but I found that the copper and bronze shades worked a treat on pale skin too.

MONDAY 

After getting virtually no sleep post-party on Saturday, I was still a wreck on Monday but managed to fake my way through the day thanks, largely, to Guerlain. Not only did the Guerlain Precious Light (£29) prove once again to be the best eye-opener for weary peepers, but the no.263 shade (appropriately, for me, named A La Parisienne) of the recently launched Guerlain Rouge Shine Automatique (£24.50; www.houseoffraser.co.uk) also perked up my paler-than-usual face no end. The other recent favourite make-up item which came into its own in the battle against looking completely knackered was Benefit Coralista (£23.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk),  which – as you might infer – is a coral-coloured blusher, which I’ve taken to applying with an angled brush to really accentuate the old cheekbones. (I was wearing it on Saturday too for its contouring capabilities..)

TUESDAY 
The Blythswood was the venue for a champagne-fuelled beauty catch-up with the lovely Ally from Clinique. She had come to Glasgow weighed down with new products to show us beauty journalists. I know I’m in a minority but I’m not a convert to the Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balms (£16; www.clinique.co.uk several new colours of which have just been launched. I was much more excited to get my hands the latest additions to the Even Better range of products which tackle hyperpigmentation. So far, I’ve been giving Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Correcting Hand Cream SPF15 (£22.50) a whirl, and it could be a contender for favourite hand cream along with the other Clinique must-have for the mitts – the Deep Comfort Hand & Cuticle Cream (weirdly much cheaper, at £16).

WEDNESDAY

I was back at the Blythswood on Wednesday for a beauty briefing from the two Rachels from Purple PR which looks after a host of top beauty brands, among them Butter, Jurlique, James Read and Tigi. We were given a fab goody bag of products to try and so far I’ve been experimenting with the haircare from Tigi. I’m not that struck on the new hairspray, Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray (£TBC), though it does come in a funky, street artist-designed aerosol can. It’s very effective and fixed my hair beautifully while adding shine but I just don’t like the fruity smell and would rather my perfume did the talking rather than my hair spray…

THURSDAY 

I may have been wearing the coral shade Distraction of Chanel Le Vernis on my fingernails to Caroline’s party, and it is set to be the one I wear most over the next few months, but by Thursday I had also fallen in love with the palest of the new trio launched for summer 2012: Chanel Le Vernis in Island (£18) is a beautiful pearlised shell shade, slightly pink, slightly beige and it looks great on pale skin – though I’m sure it would look even better with a tan.

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Style on Film: Rear Window

Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window (1954) is not only a masterwork of suspense; it’s also something of a fashion show with Grace Kelly/Lisa Freemont trotting out one gorgeous summer ensemble after another for both our and James Stewart’s delectation. After all, as James Stewart’s character points out: this is the Lisa Freemont “who never wears the same dress twice”.The costumes in this ravishing-looking film were designed by that doyenne of movie designers, Edith Head, and they had to highlight the differences between Lisa Freemont, socialite and model, and her relationship-shy guy, photo-journalist LB Jefferies. We know Lisa is a class act from the first moment we glimpse her in smouldering close-up, leaning in for a kiss – the simple, elegant single strand of pearls speaks volumes. If the pearl necklace and tasteful make-up didn’t immediately connote class and wealth, then Lisa’s description of her beautiful dress being “straight off the Paris plane” gets the message across. With its deep “V” neckline at the front and back,  and full, frothy skirt, it strikes the perfect Grace Kelly balance between sexy and chic, and was undoubtedly one of the most influential movie dresses of the 1950s. As you can see here, she wore it with a thin black patent belt, strappy black heels and a white cape and gloves.

According to Jay Jorgensen’s superb book, Edith Head – The Fifty Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer (Running Press), Hitchcock’s brief to Edith Head was that Grace “was to look like a piece of Dresden china, nearly untouchable”. And yet, for most of the movie, it’s Lisa who is trying to seduce the incapacitated (he has broken his leg) Jeff … For her second seduction scene – where she’s thwarted by her man’s fascination with his neighbours and the possibility that one of them has bumped off his wife – Lisa is a vision of sophisticated sensuality in a black chiffon dress and the ubiquitous pearls, this time a triple strand necklace.

On the third evening of Jeff’s “last week” in his plaster cast, Lisa turns up looking suitably business-like in a sleek, mint-green skirt suit – after all, she is about to go into action as a detective, having been informed, by Jeff, that he saw their murder suspect going through a handbag stuffed with trinkets . As she unpins her veil and peels off her gloves, she explains to Jeff why this makes it all the more likely that he has done away with his wife: “Women don’t keep their jewellery in a purse getting all scratched and tangled up. And they don’t leave it behind either..”

For this scene, the single strand of pearls is back, along with plain, pearl disc earrings – but the whole effect is enhanced by Lisa’s beautiful satin halterneck top and, especially, the fabulous, clunkingly great, multi-strand pearl bracelet on her wrist. Not only does it add a bit of pearly pizazz to the elegant ensemble but it adds weight to Lisa’s case for the prosecution.. “Why, a woman going anywhere but the hospital would always take make-up, perfume and jewellery. .. It’s basic equipment. And you don’t leave it behind in your husband’s drawer.”Next, Lisa gives Jeff a masterclass in what else a woman would pack if she was going away for the night … an exquisite negligee. The story goes that when Hitchcock saw Kelly in this nightgown, he asked Edith Head to put in “falsies” to beef up her cleavage. But an indignant Kelly instead stiffened her back and stuck her chest out, and she and Head managed to convince the director that his instruction had been followed. The weakest link, in my view, in Grace Kelly’s wardrobe for Rear Window is the day dress she wears when Lisa goes snooping in the suspect’s apartment. It has always reminded me of curtains -albeit expensive ones.. See what I mean?I think the other issue I have with this frumpy frock is that I could equally imagine Stella (the wonderful Thelma Ritter), Jeff’s middle-aged, world-weary nurse, wearing it. I much prefer Lisa’s final look of the film – which is inspired by her man’s wardrobe, and which we see in a slow tracking shot, from the  Gene Kelly-style loafers up to the watermelon pink men’s shirt (which Head nipped in with a scarf ring at Kelly’s waist). 

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