Monthly Archives: March 2013

Les Beiges for Beginners

LES_BEIGES_2013_PRESS_RELEASE_04When is beige not boring? When it’s Chanel beige, cherie.  I should know: I spent the morning being educated in the the ethos behind Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, the latest addition to the Chanel make-up range.

The brainchild of Peter Philips, the Creative Director of Chanel Make-up,  whose tenure has so far produced such instant beauty classics as Rouge Coco Shine, Illusion d’Ombre and Rouge Allure Velvet, Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder was directly inspired – as so much within Chanel Beauty is – by Coco Chanel herself.

The legendary designer revolutionised fashion by liberating the female body from constrictive clothes, allowing it to move freely and be exposed to the sunlight. She was one of the first women to embrace a healthy, sun-kissed glow as a beauty ideal – porcelain skin had previously been the desired look – and photographs from the 1920s show Chanel on the beaches of Deauville, Biarritz and Cannes bare-faced and glowing with a subtle radiance.

Peter Philips credits Coco Chanel’s “emancipation” of the body as the inspiration behind his vision of “a free and liberating make-up; make-up that frees make-up in one novel beauty step” – and provides “an outdoor, radiant complexion”.

The idea of Les Beiges is to enhance the complexion and help women to achieve the healthiest, most glowing version of their skin. The new powder – claims Chanel – puts an end to dull complexions. Indeed, they go so far as to declare it as  “a manifesto for a healthy glow”.

If the powder wasn’t so lovely and effective (and don’t get me started on the chic-beyond-belief packaging), the natural piss-taker in me would have to do something with all the pseudo political spiel set out in the press dossier – but one can’t help but be charmed by Philips and his passion for what he does. Especially when he keeps giving us girls such fabulous new products to play with.

Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder is ideal for those of us who aren’t into bronzing powder, but would like just a little boost for pale or lacklustre skin. Philips says: “I wanted a refined, visible yet discreet result. I had to avoid the trap of excessive pearly effects and flamboyant tans to achieve this healthy glow. I worked with the Chanel Laboratories for months to compose the perfect range of beige shades.” And while it’s working its magic on the appearance of the complexion, the powder is also looking after the skin – since it provides protection against sun MA2012_24_0032editeddamage, pollution, dehydration and environmental stress.

There are  seven shades in the range – and how you choose your shade depends very much on what you’re wanting from the powder. Lucinda Paterson-Brown, one of Chanel’s top UK-based make-up artists, talked me through it. No10, the lightest shade, was the one she chose for me as a base – applied with a kabuki brush, it is, she says, a terrific foundation. “For a soft, natural  glow,” she adds, “you could use No20. And if you were wanting a powder to use as a gentle bronzer, across the cheeks and temple, No30 would be ideal.”

Very much created with the needs of the modern Chanel woman in mind, the powder comes with a half-moon shaped brush designed to follow the curves of the face. “You have to be able to apply your make-up without thinking about it,” explains Peter Philips. “And even though the case contains a wide-angle mirror, you can sweep on some Beige with your eyes closed. I guarantee that the result will be perfectly natural.”

* Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder SPF15 (£38) and retractable kabuki brush (£33) are available now.

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Bathing Beauty

Bath - Myrna LoyBathtime has become an especially enjoyable ritual recently – and not just since I discovered that my wi-fi works in the bathroom… Two new beauty products have also transformed the experience.

The first one to boost my enthusiasm for bathing was Clarins Tonic Bath & Shower Concentrate (£18; www.clarins.co.uk) which was launched earlier this year. I guess it was inevitable that I’d fall for this gel – which can be used as a body wash or for some bubbles – since one of its key ingredients is geranium, a favourite scent of mine. It smells divine, leaves the skin feeling smooth and cleansed, and complements my beloved Clarins Toning Body Balm (£30).

The second item is not actually a bath or body product, but a facial cleanser which works beautifully on dry land, so to speak, but is especially beneficial – both to the complexion and the sinuses –  when used in the tub. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm (£39.50; www.timetospa.co.uk)  is a luxurious-feeling, oil-rich balm which melts away make-up and gives the skin a thorough and quick cleanse, when washed off with a hot cloth.  Smear a thick layer on before you dissolve into a warm bath, however, and the balm becomes a salon-worthy treatment which leaves the skin clean and feeling nourished.

The oils used in this blend include geranium, eucalyptus and menthol – and it was undoubtedly because of the last two-mentioned oils that I found this beauty product a help when I was bunged up with the cold recently. A hot bath with the scent of eucalyptus and menthols released under my nose was just what was needed.

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Style on Film: Swing Time

Swing Time - bias cut dressIs this the most gorgeous dress in all of the Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire films? Quite possibly. It’s certainly one of the most sublime of all the many evening gowns sported by Ginger in her various outings with Fred, from 1933 until 1939, at RKO Studios. Designed by Bernard Newman, who had already dressed Ginger in Top Hat and Follow the Fleet, it comes from the film regarded by many as the best of the Astaire-Rogers musicals – Swing Time (1936). Here’s Ginger in the outfit she’s wearing when her character, Penny, meets a rather overdressed Lucky Garnett (Astaire) for the first time.Swing Time - meet outfitLucky has just had a narrow escape from a wedding – his own – and meets Penny when he asks her for change on the street. Determined to get his lucky dime back from her, he follows her into her place of work – a dance academy – where the only way to get to meet her is to enrol as a student. Cue the classic Pick Yourself Up number in which Penny sports what is now an iconic day dress, black with a white peter pan collar.Swing Time - Pick Yourself Up dressIdeally matched as dance partners, Penny and Lucky are offered employment in the Silver Slipper nightclub, giving Penny the first chance to show off her slender figure in a fluid, flowing – though slightly fussy – evening dress with frou-frou sleeves and trim. Swing Time - frou frou dressNeedless to say, the couple fall in love on the dance floor but, quelle surprise, it’s complicated. On a trip to the countryside with friends, Penny prays for a chance to get Lucky alone, while Lucky  – who is still engaged to the woman he inadvertently jilted – does his damnedest to avoid any (non-dancing!) physical contact.  It’s all very silly, and very funny – and they both look stylish and cosy as they sing Dorothy Fields’s supremely witty lyrics to A Fine Romance.Swing Time - A Fine Romance outfitThe kiss finally happens – and Penny finally gets lucky (and Lucky) when he gets a load of her in THAT dress. (Her other admirer, smoothie bandleader Riccardo, has already seen it, prompting him  to say: “How can I keep my mind on the music when she’s dressed like that?”.) Swing Time - Never Gonna Dance dressBernard Newman, the creator of Ginger’s Swing Time wardrobe, had been a successful bespoke designer at Bergdorf Goodman in New York but came to Hollywood on the recommendation of the elegant RKO star Irene Dunne, having designed gowns for her to wear both onscreen and off. One of his Dunne films was Roberta (1935), which featured a fashion show sequence and also starred Astaire and Rogers.  After only two years in Hollywood, Newman returned to Bergdorf Goodman but continued to design for Ginger for a few more films. Swing Time - back of dressAnd in case the front view and the rear view of this divine dress aren’t enough, here it is in action – viewable from every side ….

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