Monthly Archives: June 2013

Style-o-Meter: June 26, 2013

SO HOT …

JAZZ STYLE ICONS

As the jazz festival season swings into action, we have to hope that some of our scruffier jazz musicians find inspiration in such stylish jazz greats of the past as Anita_O'Day_1958_Newport_Jazz_2Chet Baker (who gave good T-shirt), Lester Young (whose pork pie-hatted silhouette is as recognisable as his plaintive-sounding tenor sax), Gerry Mulligan (poster boy for Ray Bans) and, of course, Anita O’Day, whose appearance in a black shift dress and hat, both trimmed with white ostrich feathers, in the legendary documentary Jazz on a Summer’s Day guaranteed her position as a jazz style icon (and, I like to think, inspired Holly Golightly’s Sing-Sing ensemble in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…).

DHC DEEP CLEANSING OIL

This is proving to be a great year for cleansers – and this one (which costs £21.50 for 200ml and seems to last forever), from the Japanese skincare company DHC, is one of the best; a real find. It’s an olive-oil based cleansing oil which is lovely to use, even if you normally find that wash-off cleansers leave your skin feeling dry. Indeed, olive oil is the key ingredient across the DHC skincare range which was developed 30 years ago and is free from parabens as well as “unnecessary” fragrances and colourings. Check out their website – www.dhcuk.co.uk – to browse and order these very reasonable products.

CHANEL STYLO EYESHADOWChanel_Papillon

Chanel’s latest eyeshadow innovation is a crayon/pen (£23) which is perfect for those (uh, those) summer nights. Not just because it comes in six exquisite and super-shimmering shades (including the gorgeous aqua Jade Shore and the vibrant cobalt Blue Bay – which are perfect matches for their latest nail colours), but also  because it is a delight to use – cooling, refreshing and it blends and lasts really well. Part of the L’ete Papillon de Chanel summer collection of butterfly-inspired colours; a particularly covetable collection even by Chanel standards .. Watch this space!

SO NOT …

SCARY EYEBROWS

What is it with eyebrows this year? There seems to have been a major outbreak of black slugs masquerading as face furniture.. Stop it, please! I say this as someone who had to keep a straight face when she encountered a young woman in the supermarket who seemed to have stuck two Mr Potato Head moustaches above her eyes in the quest to adhere to this ridiculous “trend”. And men are also guiltyCello shots of serious crimes against eyebrows – step forward the Welsh Dracula lookalike on The Apprentice. Terrifying.

ESTEE LAUDER CELLO SHOTS PURE COLOR CHEEK RUSH

£24.50 for a shot of colour to the cheeks? Frankly my dear, Scarlett O’Hara produced a similar effect simply by pinching her cheeks, although I guess she didn’t have any control over the exact shade she produced. These cute little tubes of gel blush are very attractive and no doubt a little goes a long way, but must-haves they ain’t – and don’t believe any glossy mag that tells you otherwise…

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Style-o-Meter: June 13, 2013

SO HOT … 

RITA HAYWORTH

The voluptuous 1940s star with the voluminous, flame-coloured hair is the subject of a major retrospective at the BFI this month – a rare chance to celebrate her best movies, among them the musicals Cover Girl and Pal Joey and the influential film noirs Gilda and The Lady From Shanghai. They’re not all great movies but Rita_Hayworth_2013those last two films in particular have many inspiring style moments – notably the famous redhead’s brief stint as a short-haired platinum blonde (The Lady From Shanghai) and her entire Gilda wardrobe (notably the way she works her satin evening gloves .. ). Look and learn. Full details of the Rita Hayworth season are at www.bfi.org.uk .

get-the-gloss-festival-beauty-benefit-new-stay-flawless-primerBENEFIT STAY FLAWLESS 15-HOUR PRIMER (£24.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk, from June 13)

Once you’ve developed a routine with this new primer, it will become indispensable.. A stick formula which rolls on to the skin, it sets very very quickly so speed is of the essence for the foundation-applying stage. The reason it’s so fab? It keeps your foundation in place for hours and hours. It saw me through an evening which included a photo shoot, and several glasses of wine – ’nuff said.

CHANEL UV ESSENTIELS (£41 each; 0207-493 3836)

Now that the sun is finally putting his hat on, Chanel’s new handy, handbag-friendly, tubes of sun protection are making a timely debut. Available in SPFs of 20, 30 and (for those of us of a Scottish inclination) 50, they not only protect the skin, but are also great bases for make-up – just don’t use them at the same time as the Benefit primer!

SO NOT ….

CLINIQUE A DIFFERENT NAIL ENAMEL (£12; www.clinique.co.uk)

I wanted to love this new range of reasonably priced, gloriously colourful nail varnishes but, frankly, their drippiness is a pain in the ass (and a stain on the floorboards!).

NAKED TOENAILS

Put them away! Nobody suits the natural nail colour of their toes – that’s why God invented Chanel nail polishes .. The only excuse for an unpainted toenail is if it’s attached to a male foot.

DRESSES WITH TIES AT THE BACK

Which grown woman wants to wear a dress that reminds her of something she wore to a party when she was six years old?! Hello – Monsoon? Save your Holly Hobby dresses for your girlswear department.

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Guerlain Forever

Guerlain pic

A few of my favourite Guerlain things …

It’s 21 years since I first fell in love with the luxurious French beauty company Guerlain. This fact dawned on me last week, as I floated in and out of wakefulness during my first-ever experience of a Guerlain facial in my home country of Scotland – at the recently opened Guerlain Spa in The Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in Edinburgh.

My first encounters with Guerlain all took place in its home town – of Paris. Back in 1992, I was a student living and working in one of the more upmarket suburbs to the south of the city. Having worked initially as an “assistante” (language assistant) in a lycée, I had decided to stay on for the summer and, having  turned down offers of work at EuroDisney and  The Hard Rock Cafe (both of which would have done my French language skills no good whatsoever), I found a job in the Saint-Germain-en-Laye branch of the costume jewellery shop Agatha.

My friend, Anne-Sophie, was already a Saturday girl there and she helped me land a summer stint as a salesgirl. At the same time, she provided me with a basic education in French beauty rituals…. in particular, her must-have make-up – Guerlain’s Les Meteorites. I had never seen anything like these little shimmering balls of coloured, Parma violet-scented powder, but Anne-Sophie swore by them – and her luminous complexion certainly made Les Meteorites seem like a worthwhile investment.

Once I was aware of Guerlain – brand-aware as the 20-year-olds of today might say – it seemed to become a recurring theme.. My boss, a feisty Spaniard who exuded a sultry sex appeal, always had a bottle of her signature scent, Jardins de Bagatelle, stashed behind the boutique’s counter; my first encounter with fake tan was Terracotta, as used by one of the other girls in the shop; evening strolls along the Champs-Elysees in the summer meant a chance to ogle the elegant Guerlain boutique at no68…. And so on. Guerlain was Paris. And Paris was Guerlain.

The summer after my stint in France ended, I returned to Paris for a holiday, but the year after that, I was working full-time as a journalist and couldn’t get away. In readiness for my first big assignment, I had my first-ever splurge in a department store beauty hall. I don’t remember planning it, but it was probably inevitable that I ended up at the Guerlain counter, buying a coral/red lipstick and matching nail varnish; a purchase which I now look back on as marking a sort of coming-of-age style-wise. It was the moment I started forging my own path – a path that has led me back time and again to Guerlain.

The house of Guerlain marks its 185th anniversary this year so to celebrate that, plus the recent opening of its first UK spa, at The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh, I’ll be running a series of articles on Guerlain this week – and at the time of the anniversary celebrations, in the autumn.

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Guerlain: All About Beauty

1. Boutique ExteriorThe Arc de Triomphe is not the only cherished landmark on the magnificent Champs-Elysees. No.68 avenue des Champs-Elysees has, for generations, been a celebrated address for Parisians; an exquisitely elegant listed building which is a mecca for admirers of fine fragrance and lovers of luxury beauty products and treatments. This, you see, is the location of La Maison Guerlain, the oldest existing beauty house, which is currently celebrating its 185th anniversary.

For almost two centuries, Guerlain has been synonymous with the ideals of French beauty and allure. And it has retained its position as one of the leading perfume, cosmetics and skincare brands in the world without having the image of a fashion brand to bolster its identity. Unlike Chanel, Givenchy and Dior, Guerlain didn’t begin life as a couture house which diversified into beauty; it has been all about beauty – and, in particular, fragrance – from day one.

The founder of this French institution was Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain, who was born in Picardy in 1798, during the final days of the revolution. His father was a spice merchant and pewter potter, but it was as a sales assistant in the perfume house Briard that the young Guerlain found employment when he left home at the age of 19. This first job involved demonstrating and selling cosmetic products (precursors to today’s blushers, lipsticks and foundations), and this apprenticeship continued in two further beauty companies before he left for three years to study botany, chemistry and soap-making in England, then a hotbed for research in the fields of perfume, beauty products and toiletries.

In 1828, when he was only 30 years of age, Guerlain opened his first boutique, at 42 rue de Rivoli, the arcade-lined street at the very heart of Paris. The site was shared with the Hotel Meurice, then a favourite of the British upper classes. Guerlain began his business by importing fashionable products from Britain, but he was soon developing his own, original formulas for toilet waters, soaps, creams, pomades, perfume oils and perfumed essences for handkerchiefs. These were very popular with the British aristocracy, not least Queen Victoria for whom the perfume Bouquet de la Reine Victoria was created.

Before long, the Guerlain boutique was the “in” place and no fashionable Parisienne’s dressing table was complete without a jar of Creme a la Fraise (Strawberry Creme) to lighten the complexion or Creme de Perse (Persian Creme) to soften the hands. Her maquillage would also have included one of Ne m'oubliez pasGuerlain’s innovative lip tints – Liquid Rose Extract, which was sold from the mid-19th century until 1958; Roselip, a solid lip colour in a porcelain pot, or, from the 1870s, the world’s first lipstick in a tube – Ne m’oubliez pas (Don’t Forget Me).

By the time the Guerlain boutique had relocated to the rue de la Paix in the 1840s, royal commissions were beginning to flood in and Pierre-Francois-Pascal’s fragrances were all the rage in many of the European courts.

One of Guerlain’s greatest coups was being appointed official perfumer to the Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, in 1853. He had impressed the empress with the zesty Eau de Cologne Imperiale which he had made specially for her. Legend has it that it gave her unhoped-for relief from the migraines that troubled her. The cologne is still sold today, and in the same distinctive bee-embossed bottle (the bee being a reference to the imperial coat of arms).

The founder of the house of Guerlain died in 1864 and his eldest son Aime took over as the firm’s perfumer. He continued in his father’s pioneering footsteps, creating, in 1889, the perfume which is generally credited with ushering in the age of modern perfumery. Jicky broke ground by blending synthetic materials with natural ingredients. Its fresh top notes of lavender, bergamot and rosemary, its spicy heart and creamy, warm base (which is where the new synthetic vanilla made its impact) were different to anything that had gone before and it was men who tended to buy it in its early years.

FROM THE CREATION of Jicky onwards, the history of Guerlain is also the history of modern perfumery. Aime’s nephew, Jacques, was responsible for almost 400 scents, among them an incredible succession of legendary fragrances regarded as wonders of the perfume world. These included the fresh yet heady L’Heure Bleue (1912), Mitsouko (1919), which is one of the most celebrated and influential early examples of the chypre genre, and Shalimar (1925), the exotic perfume which sired the entire oriental family of fragrances.

Jacques’s grandson, Jean-Paul, who retired in 2002, continued the Guerlain tradition of innovation with such gems as the archetypal fresh, green scent La Maison Guerlain Heritage VisualChamade (1969), which was the first perfume to make use of blackcurrant buds, and the sensuous oriental Samsara (1989).

Like its home city of Paris, Guerlain treats its heritage with the greatest of respect. With its Art Deco counters and original marble walls, the ground floor boutique on the Champas-Elysees has changed little in the 94 years since it opened and the third floor spa is as discreet and luxurious as when it began catering to Parisiennes’ “soins de beaute” in 1938.

But, since 2005, no visit to 68 avenue des Champs-Elysees would be complete without a trip up the luminous, gold-tiled stairway to the revamped first floor where the very contemporary Espace Parfum offers the chance to explore just about the entire back catalogue of Guerlain greatest hits as well as such current chart-toppers as La Petite Robe Noire, Idylle and Insolence – and even, for true perfume obsessives, the opportunity to have your own signature scent created just for you. If luxury is timeless, Guerlain will have no trouble notching up another 185 years.

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