Tag Archives: Chanel

A Story Goes With Them: Les Exclusifs de Chanel

Chanel Les Exclusifs extraitsOne of the biggest thrills of my career as a beauty journalist was being invited to Paris to meet Chanel’s fragrance creator, Jacques Polge, back in 2006. I met him twice that year – once at his lab in Neuilly where he introduced me to the latest Chanel fragrance, Allure Sensuelle, and then a few months later when the subject for discussion was a new collection of fragrances, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, which were a sort of olfactory evocation of Coco Chanel’s colourful life and inspiring tastes.

Not only was I granted a leisurely interview with Polge, who has created every new Chanel fragrance since 1978 and is the custodian of its fragrance heritage,  but we had our chat in the apartment which is essentially the epicentre of the Chanel universe – Coco Chanel’s private quarters above her original Paris boutique at 31 rue Cambon.

Chanel 1932 Jacques Polge with brooch

Jacques Polge, the creator of Chanel fragrances, in the fine jewellery boutique at 18 place Vendome

Sitting on Coco Chanel’s sand-coloured settee, surrounded by her personal possessions which have all been left as they were when the great couturiere died in 1971, I heard all about the about-to-be-launched Les Exclusifs collection; ten fragrances which drew inspiration from every aspect of the legendary designer’s life – including many items and motifs which were in evidence in front of me, in her apartment.

Four of the fragrances had made their debut in the early years of Chanel’s career, and had been revived by Polge for this collection, while the other six – among them my personal favourite, 31 rue Cambon, a complex, elegant yet sensual, chypre – had been specially  created, and were the result of Polge immersing himself in “Mademoiselle’s” personal effects and biography.

Les Exclusifs were launched in 2007. Since 2009, Polge has added a further three fragrances to the collection: Beige (2009), Jersey (2011) and 1932 (2012). The inspiration for Beige, a  warm, honey-floral equivalent of one of the couturiere’s signature colours, and Jersey, Polge’s reimagining (and rehabilitation) of lavender in tribute to the fabric which symbolises Chanel’s modernity and revolutionary spirit, is obvious to anyone who is familiar with the Chanel story and the history of fashion, but the background to 1932 is maybe not as self-evident.

Chanel 1932 necklace

“Comete” necklace from Chanel’s 1932 Bijoux de Diamants collection, photographed by Robert Bresson

It was in 1932 that Coco Chanel presented her first collection of fine jewellery, and Polge took inspiration from the Comete necklace and brooch which she designed for that initial collection to create a sparkling white fragrance structured around the most star-studded flower in perfumery – jasmine.

Les Exclusifs – to which customers can be introduced by an expert at one of the handful of Chanel olfactive bars around the country – are only available in Chanel boutiques and Espaces Parfums, and were launched without any fanfare because, as Polge explained to me back in 2007, they were only going to be available to buy in places where they could be presented properly; where their stories could be told and where their presentation could be appreciated and admired. Their launch was a reaction against what he called “the banalisation” of fragrance, particularly the way perfumes were being routinely sold in supermarkets and often being chosen solely on the basis of their packaging and ad campaigns.

Now, in 2014, as Polge prepares to hand over the reins of the Chanel fragrance empire to his son (his retirement was announced last year, but no date given), he has introduced pure perfume variations of Beige, Jersey and 1932 to the collection – Les Exclusifs de Chanel Extraits – and these have slightly different accents to their parent scents; they are, in fact, new interpretations of them.

I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Monsieur Polge produces an extrait of 31 rue Cambon before he starts drawing his perfumeur’s pension …

* Les Exclusifs de Chanel Extraits (£155 each) are available exclusively in Chanel at Covent Garden, Chanel Boutiques, Frasers in Glasgow, Fenwicks in Newcastle, Selfridges in Manchester and Selfridges W1. For further stockist information, call 0207-493 3836.

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Chanel’s Colour Compositions

Chanel Notes de Printemps model shotChanel’s newly launched spring make-up collection, Notes de Printemps, takes its inspiration from music. A strange concept? Mais oui. And one that probably speaks more to the French sensibilities – and is easier to understand in French. So I’m going to let the pictures from the collection do the talking; suffice to say it’s a pretty, fresh look which is built around plum, violet and soft red shades. I’m very taken with the two new nail colours (£18 each) – Charivari, a dark, greyish mauve which is tres chic, and Tapage, a gentle red which is currently adding a touch of summer to my toes.

Chanel Notes de Printemps nail varnishes

Also worth checking out is the gorgeous new Diapason shade of Illusion d’Ombre eye shadow (£24), a vibrant brownish purple which looks much more striking in real life than in photos.
Chanel Notes du Printemps Illusion d'Ombre in Diapason

And for lips? Well, my favourites from this musical compilation are both corally colours: the Rouge Allure (£25) in Melodieuse and the Levres Scintillantes  gloss (£21) in Sonate…Chanel Notes de Printemps Rouge Allure in Melodieuse

Chanel Notes de Printemps LS in Sonate

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A Trio of Beauty Heroes

Le Jour La Nuit Le Weekend de ChanelOften, in the course of operating as a beauty journalist, I get mildly – occasionally wildly – excited by a new product, only to abandon it when the next big thing comes along. Fickle? Well only up to a point. And that point is when I realise that I’m seeing results beyond the initial, inevitable quick fix effect. The reason for explaining all this is that I’m approaching the end of my summer of serums, the serums Le Jour, La Nuit, Le Weekend de Chanel –  which I started back in June – to be precise. And, as occasionally happens, I’m not ready to give them up without a fight – or at least without a reliable replacement because my skin has undoubtedly benefitted both in terms of appearance and how it feels.

The concept behind the trio of serums may have seemed a little gimmicky –  “re-setting”  the skin’s clock by giving the skin what it needs at the right time of day, and even the right time of the week – but it’s worked for me. I’m particularly smitten with the Nuit one which is extremely nourishing and smells gorgeous. I initially found that the Jour, which has the consistency of a runny gel, left my skin still feeling dehydrated so I used it in conjunction with my Chanel Hydra Beauty Serum for the first six weeks or so.

Each serum – one to be used in the morning, one to be used at night, and one to be used at the weekend – is quite different, and the ingredients have been determined by the pace of life and the natural rhythms in the skin. The idea is to “re-set” the skin’s clock: Chanel’s research boffins have discovered that most women’s skin has lost the notion of time – biological rhythms which used to be synchronised aren’t, because the pace of modern life gives no rest to skin.

Chanel has identified four aspects that together define what they call “exceptional skin quality” – luminosity (reflection of the light), plumped appearance, smooth surface and even complexion. And these new serums have been designed to meet the needs of “desynchronised” skin that is lacking these qualities. So, Le Jour – whose role is to “reactivate” the skin – contains a jasmine extract that kickstarts the cells in the complexion, and salicylic acid which gently exfoliates the skin, producing a radiant effect. La Nuit – whose role is to “recharge” – soothes the skin, thanks to a Frankincense extract, and uses hyaluronic acid to plump it up.

They are expensive so I asked top London facialist Sarah Chapman, who had roadtested the range before I got my hands on it, if there were any advantages to be had from just using one of them – and if so, which one?  Her answer was “yes” – Le Weekend.

Indeed, Le Weekend is the most intriguing of the trio. Its role, say the Chanel scientists, is to “renew” the skin and “reset all counters back to zero”. Sarah explains: “At the weekend, you would put aside other serums and use this morning and evening. It uses a gentle glycolic acid to exfoliate and renew and rebalance the skin’s PH. After using it, your skin should look clearer and brighter and feel smoother, but it is also balanced and therefore ready to protect itself during the busy week ahead.”

While some serums are worth using as a short, intensive course every now and then, when the skin needs pepping up, Le Jour, La Nuit & Le Weekend de Chanel are designed to be used continuously as the results are ongoing. I’ve been using mine for over a month and can testify to the smoothness and increased radiance of the skin – and, as someone in her forties who is concerned about the effects on he complexion of ageing, it’s a nice feeling to know that, as the Stones said, “time is on my side”, rather than being my enemy.

* Le Jour de Chanel (£60), La Nuit de Chanel (£60) and Le Weekend de Chanel (£72) are all in shops now, and are also available in a coffret (£172). For stockist information, call 020-7493 3836.

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My Week in Beauty


One of my highlights of my trip to Paris with Chanel earlier this year was the moment when Peter Philips – the company’s Creative Director of Make-up – unveiled the new Rouge Velvet Allure range of lipsticks (and complementary nail varnishes). Or rather, when his squad of chic assistants opened the coffrets of lipsticks to show the waiting beauty press.

While the other girls reached for the nudes, beiges and subtle shades, my eye was immediately drawn to a strong coral shade – La Ravissante (love the name – the Ravishing One). The bright colour perked up my pale complexion and prompted Peter Philips himself to compliment me on the colour – his colour! Not only that, but, considering that it’s a matte lipstick, it’s much creamier than you’d expect. Oh, and it lasts extremely well.

La Ravissante is one of eight shades of Rouge Allure Velvet (£23.50 each) – the model in the picture is wearing La Fascinante, teamed with the new Le Vernis in Pirate (£18) which I’ve been hooked on since the summer. I also love the Rose Cache shade which was launched at the same time.  

I was wearing my La Ravissante  on Monday when I went to hear the great jazz singer Carol Kidd playing a duo concert. It was just as well I popped backstage to say hello, as she had left her lipstick at home – and asked if she could borrow one. Check out the results – and the fact that the same shade looks completely different on the more tanned Ms Kidd.

Here’s a wee clip of Carol Kidd and her guitarist Nigel Clark (oh, and La Ravissante!) in action last Monday, singing one of Style Matters readers’ favourite songs – well, it does come from Breakfast at Tiffany’s…


I’m loving my Diorskin Forever but it’s not the only foundation that has recently seduced me: Shiseido Perfect Refining Foundation (£32; for stockists, call 020-7313 4774) is another lovely new one which has a great shade for my pale skin, and provides impressive coverage and a natural look.

Not only that but it has skincare properties -and comes in a lovely art deco bottle..

And if you’re interested in experimenting with new looks but are put off by the idea of having your make-up done in a department store, check out Shiseido’s Magic Mirror, a virtual make-up application that allows you to try colours without anything touching your face. It’s touring round the country just now – currently in Jenners in Edinburgh, until October 19. To find out when it’s coming to a counter near you, call 020-7313 4774. 


After being quite unwell on Wednesday, I was really short on sleep on Thursday – and had a girls’ night out to get ready for, to celebrate my friend Siobhan’s birthday. It seemed the perfect time to dig out the Clarins Skin-Smoothing Eye Mask (£28.99; www.clarins.co.uk) which I’ve been using intermittently for the last month or so.

I have to confess: I don’t find this sort of eye mask – a cream – nearly as effective as an actual mask that you lay on the skin round your eyes. (Chanel, why did you discontinue yours?!) I wouldn’t say it makes my eyes feel particularly refreshed but it does produce a tightening sensation and perks up the old peepers. Next time I have a hangover, I’ll give it another shot – that’s the big test!


The eye cream I’m most enjoying using on a day-to-day basis came into its own on Friday when I was even more sleep-deprived .. Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Eye Creme (£40; www.esteelauder.co.uk)  is one of the latest products at the Lauder counter and it really does brighten the eye area as it’s a sort of iridescent cream – though one that you use night and day. I can’t say I’ve noticed any particular improvement in the firmness of the skin around my eyes – yet – but it’s a lovely eye cream with the bonus of meaning you can skip using a highlighter when you look tired ….

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My Week in Beauty


Doris Day and I seem to be running into each other a lot just now. Everything I do at the moment seems to end up relating to Doris. I interviewed a jazz musician on Monday and his favourite singer turned out to be .. you know who. A couple of weekends ago, I stumbled across an evening’s worth of programmes about her – one of which I watched a further two times… Then I interviewed another jazzer – and she too turned out to be a DD fan.

She’s certainly not a bad icon to take as inspiration – style-wise and otherwise. A strong woman and a survivor, she endured a violent early marriage, and was left penniless (and in debt) when her long-term husband and manager died – just at the point when she was getting too old for the leading lady roles. Recently, she has had to endure the heartache of her only child pre-deceasing her. I’ll bet she’s still finding some reason to get up in the morning – when most of us would just have given in to sorrow.

Doris is also inspirational style-wise because she’s a lady who knows her own mind about what suits her – and what doesn’t.  In her 1975 memoir, Doris Day – Her Own Story, she wrote:  “Outdoorsy type that I am, I don’t like a lot of make-up…. I don’t want to look contrived. I can’t look slinky or femme fatale-ish, no matter what I do, so it’s silly to try.”

Very much a poster girl for the natural look (achieved through not using make-up rather than using cosmetics to create the natural effect!), Doris said: “All I do for my eyes is curl my eyelashes and use a soft-brown mascara to darken the tips. If I go out in the daytime with eye make-up on, I feel like I’m in some kind of carnival. And at night I feel like I’m pretending to be somebody else.”

I’m not the outdoorsy type – far from it! – but I admire Doris’s strong beauty ideals and love the look she sported in the 1950s (top picture); the hairstyle a sort of feminine version of the DA and the make-up very natural.


Of course, if you’re going for the natural beauty aesthetic it’s essential to have good skin – and if you’re saving on cosmetics, then it’s worth spending more on the best skincare you can afford. These days, there are probably not many of us who could afford the latest face mask from the luxury French botanical skincare company Sisley but if you look at it as the equivalent price of a couple of express facials, then it takes on a different, er, complexion.

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask (£88; www.johnlewis.com) is packed with active ingredients which are known for their anti-ageing properties. In just 15 minutes, they boost the appearance of the skin, making it look smoother, plumper and more radiant. The key ingredient is extract of Black Rose which tightens the skin while extract of Alkekengi Calyx (a Sisley exclusive) stimulates collagen production. Amino acids and vitamins revitalise the skin, while a cocktail of essential oils and shea butter moisturise and ensure comfort. I tried it on Tuesday, and there was definitely an improvement to my skin – both immediately and into the next day.

Benefit Watt’s Up! (£24.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) is a cheat’s way to luminous skin – but it’s very effective if you’re on the go and want to add a bit of va-va-voom to your make-up. It’s a creamy, shimmering highlighter which turns to powder on application. Simply glide it along the top of your cheekbones and browbones and blend it, using the spongey applicator at the other end of the stick. The result? The sort of look that the great Hollywood photographers achieved by using shadows and light… as I found out after a make-up session in my bedroom on Wednesday..


A night out with the girls was the perfect excuse to try one of the new Les Jeans de Chanel nail varnishes (£17.50) which are on sale exclusively in Chanel boutiques and Makeup Studios (in Harrods, Fenwicks in Newcastle and Frasers in Glasgow).

I sported Le Vernis in Blue Rebel, a dark petrol blue which, although admired, just doesn’t do it for me nearly as much as the midnight blue I fell in love with last month: Le Vernis in Blue Satin. It seems entirely fitting, given that after the excitement of my summer, I seem to be veering between the blues and the mean reds – both in terms of my mood, and my nails!


Friday should have been a good hair day as I was having it cut and coloured but the colour has turned out to be exactly what I didn’t want – too dark around my face, and with too many chunky dark streaks.. Needless to say, I’m going back soon to have it corrected. There was some good hair news, however: the PR from my favourite haircare brand, Ojon, was in touch to tell me about a fantastic deal they’re doing in John Lewis on Thursday, September 29 (for one day only): take in an empty shampoo or conditioner FROM ANY BRAND and you’ll receive a full-size  Ojon Damage Reverse Shampoo and a Damage Reverse Conditioner (while stocks last) … I’ll be there: Damage Reverse is just the job for coloured hair that gets dried out and is prone to split ends!

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My Week in Beauty


Oooh, we’re going to experience a bit of a Weimar Republic vibe this autumn – thanks to Illamasqua, the cult makeup brand which champions alternative looks and cultures.. It’s highly appropriate, given how film noir – which gave us the femme fatale who is also a big inspiration for autumn/winter – grew out of German Expressionism of the same era as Berlin’s cabaret scene.

Which, of course, was famously immortalised in the 1972 Hollywood musical Cabaret, with the wonderful Liza Minnelli in her best-known role as Sally Bowles, an American singer who aspires to be as decadent as those around her.

Minnelli designed her iconic look for the film – the pudding bowl haircut with the widow’s peak and the Harlequinesque eye make-up – with the help of her director father, the great Vincente Minnelli. And it’s still a source of inspiration. I’m sure it’s played a part in the soon-to-be-launched Theatre of the Nameless collection from Illamasqua. Whether it inspired their new mascara, Illamasqua Masquara (£15; www.illamasqua.com) or not, who knows – but this fab separating, curling and lengthening mascara is just the job if you want to emulate Liza’s long lashes..


The prettiest package I received last week was from The Body Shop which this week launches three new ranges of handcare products. There’s the Hemp collection, for those of us with dry skin; the Almond range for all skin types and The Body Shop Wild Rose collection for, ahem, “mature skin”.

Not sure how I ended up with the rose range – did someone tip them off about my impending 40th (or is it showing on my mitts?) – but it is lovely to use. Even my boys are finding the Wild Rose Caring Hand Wash (£5; www.thebodyshop.co.uk) a luxurious alternative to the usual liquid soaps I offer them. I’ll let you know if the combined assault of the handwash, the Wild Rose Targeted Hand Oil (£7) and the Wild Rose Nourishing Hand Butter (£10) shave any years off the apparent age of my hands….


Wednesday was the day for my regular visit to the Clarins Spa in Frasers, Glasgow. Lindsay, my lovely therapist, really looks after me and is making it her mission to ensure that I continue to look as if I’m on this side of 40 – even after December, when the big day comes along. Last time I saw her, she focused the attention of the Tri-Active facial on anti-ageing for the first time and on Wednesday, she gave me some top tips on caring for the delicate skin around the eyes.

I’ve been diligently using eye cream at night and eye gel in the morning for the last few months and, as if they knew I was starting to get a bit fixated about this, Clarins has just brought out a new, improved version of its fab Clarins Eye Contour Gel (£26.50; www.clarins.co.uk) which is a must for de-puffing the eye area. Lindsay also suggested I try a couple of new additions to the Clarins repertoire: Eye Revive Beauty Flash (£26.50) and Skin-Smoothing Eye Mask (£28.99) …. Watch this space! Oh, and the Clarins Spa in Frasers (0141 221 5760) is currently (until September 3) offering a free “mini” neck and shoulder massage, and 25% off any Clarins Treatment if you book and pay when you’re instore.


By coincidence, having tried out and loved their new mascara earlier in the week, I met Illamasqua’s PR Nicola in Glasgow on Thursday. Nicola is a walking testament to how wearable this apparently inaccessible brand’s cosmetics are. She looked stunning with her lilac-grey eye make-up, fanned-out lashes that would have made Bambi weep with envy, violet lips and matte purple nails. All of which worked a treat with her shock of short platinum blonde hair.

It was the nails that caught my eye most of all… Nicola was sporting one of the new Illamasqua Nail Varnishes (£13.50), four new shades with a rubbery matte finish which were inspired by the so-called Boot Girls of the Wittenberg Platz; prostitutes whose menu of services was indicated by the colour of their boot-laces… I’m not sure what Nicola’s Faux Pas shade (a dark purple) signifies (we probably don’t want to know!), but the one I’ve taken to is Vice (pictured, though it doesn’t look as maroon in this photo as it does in real life), a Rouge Noir-like dark cerise.


I didn’t go out on Friday night – though I would have liked to, as I wanted to give my trio of new Benefit Velvet Eyeshadows (£13.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) an outing.

Snow Job (a minty greeny-grey), Raining Men (a grey-ish greeny shade reminiscent of my favourite new eyeshadow from Chanel – the Illusion d’Ombre in Epatant) and Tickled Mink (a taupe shade) are the gorgeous new additions to Benefit’s range of beautifully blendable and long-lasting eyeshadows.

I may have been all dressed-up, make-up wise, with nowhere to go – but I know which eyeshadows I’ll be turning to next time I do have somewhere …

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My Week in Beauty


I spent last week with my jazz critic’s hat on (though it was a bit warm for a beret..), as I was covering the Edinburgh Jazz Festival for Scotland’s two quality broadsheets.

However, the week got off to a glamorous start when I attended my friend Merle’s royal-themed 40th birthday party. A couple of months ago she suggested that I come as Grace Kelly and the more I thought about it, the better an idea it seemed – especially when I remembered that I have a floral-patterned, full-skirted, calf-length  Zara dress which always reminds me of the frock Grace was wearing when she was introduced to Prince Rainier. The bonus was that I could wear this to my gigs (the second of which, appropriately, was a tribute to Louis Armstrong, Grace’s co-star in High Society) and not look ridiculous. I just stuck on fancy headband as I was leaving the concert, and, voila, my Kelly look was complete.

Of course, channelling Grace Kelly in the 1950s was easy – as it’s completely inkeeping with one of my favourite looks: a natural-looking eye make-up and coral-red lips. Luckily, my favourite coral of this summer,  Estee Lauder Pure Color Longlasting Lipstick in Coral Sun  (£18; www.esteelauder.co.uk), hadn’t yet melted on Saturday. By Thursday, it had come a cropper in the Edinburgh heatwave, and it’s now un-usable. Here’s a pic of me in character; my friend, the singer and concert promoter Todd Gordon, plays the part of Frank Sinatra rather well!


Beige is boring, pink is too/ Only navy nails will do … (apologies to Kay Thompson’s Think Pink song from Funny Face).

I fell in love on Tuesday, in Edinburgh …. with midnight blue nail varnish, two in particular: Dior Vernis in Tuxedo (£17.50, from August 16) and an old one that I discovered I’d never tried – Chanel Le Vernis in Blue Satin (£17.50;  for stockists call 020-7493 3836). They both look fantastic with my colouring (much better than the brownish metallic shades which are also going to be big for autumn) – and, I think, a lot more chic than black or grey. I am definitely a convert.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who the fabulous-looking woman is in the photo – that’s an American singer by the name of Clairdee, with whom I bonded over beauty tips and style secrets (when we were supposed to be discussing jazz!). She’s got THE most amazing skin, so watch out for her recommendations and advice on this blog over the next few weeks.


Oooh, it’s not too late – I hope – to get your mitts on the exquisite eyeshadow quartet which Chanel brought out about six weeks ago, as part of its limited edition Byzance de Chanel collection which is exclusive to its make-up studios in Frasers, Glasgow; Fenwicks, Newcastle and Selfridges, London.

Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow in Topkapi (£37) is a thing of beauty; very easy to wear and to adapt to either a low-key look or full-on glamour. Though it does seem a shame to muss up the quilted boules of colour..

I got hooked on the top two shades last week for daily wear – and plan to wear them instead of some of the (frankly, rather disappointing) autumn shades I’ve been sent …


As if by magic, the perfect companion to the Topkapi quartet was also in my make-up bag for the jazz festival: the limited edition Estee Lauder Pure Color Liquid Eyeliner (£19), from its new Modern Mercury collection, is a wonder: a liquid eyeliner which is as soft as a child’s crayon, and glides across the eyelid without dragging. In fact, you barely feel it making its mark.

I’ve been using the Black Quartz shade (can’t wait to try Graphic) which has a subtle sparkle through it and provides a considerably less harsh line than the average pure black liner. Of course, you can build it up for a dramatic look, or play it down for a softer one. The only drawback is it feels a little sticky once applied – on me, anyway.

And, speaking of makeup bags: I finally broke my bad habit of finding myself with my business cards because I’ve changed handbag. My new tip? I’m keeping my business cards in my make-up bag. After all, I never leave home without it!


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