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

MONDAY

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…

TUESDAY

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. 

THURSDAY

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!

FRIDAY

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

MONDAY

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.

TUESDAY

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.

WEDNESDAY
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..

THURSDAY

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

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

MONDAY

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..

TUESDAY

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

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.

THURSDAY

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.

FRIDAY

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

SATURDAY

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!

TUESDAY

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.

WEDNESDAY

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 …

THURSDAY

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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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I couldn’t help but think of the lovely 1940s bombshell Rita Hayworth when I opened my bottle of this summer’s most unusual product so far: Benefit Cha Cha Tint (£24.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk, from June 1).

Rita was a terrific dancer (Fred Astaire once named her his favourite of all his many dance partners) and was well versed in every style from the Charleston to the Cha Cha Cha. With her colouring – auburn red hair and olive skin – she would have been a natural for this lovely sibling to the original Benetint. But whereas Benetint was a rose-coloured tint (scarlet in the bottle, but sheer pink on the skin), Cha Cha Tint is a coral version which is less sheer but equally wearable – especially on sun-kissed or naturally sallow skins.

All you do is brush three (or fewer) strokes of the tint on the cheeks to create a gentle flush. It is strange to use as it seems as if you’re painting on your nail varnish. (Don’t
keep the bottle too near your coral nail polishes – or you might make that mistake!) I would avoid it if your skin is sensitive: I am prone to red cheeks and did have mini flare-up after using this as a blusher. Personally, I was particularly impressed with the results when I used it as a lip stain as the colour was lovely, and it was very comfortable on my normally dry lips.

Not only that but it seemed to last pretty well.

TUESDAY

I was packing for an overnight trip on Tuesday and was delighted to have an excuse to try out the “gift with purchase” which Lancome is launching on June 1.

For the second time, the French beauty company has teamed up with fashion label Temperley London – and the result is a very covetable clutch-style cosmetics or wash bag, stuffed with such favourite Lancome goodies as a travel size Hypnose Mascara and my favourite toner, Tonique Douceur.

To get your free gift, buy two Lancome products (including at least one skincare item) – but watch out, stocks are limited..

WEDNESDAY


I was fortunate enough to have a tete-a-tete with Chanel’s make-up supremo Peter Philips on Wednesday, when he unveiled the gorgeous Autumn-Winter colours (which launch here on August 19). More about them nearer the time – though I’m starting wearing them right now! I had to take the opportunity to grill Peter about the star nail polish in the currentLes Fleurs de Chanel summer collection: Chanel Le Vernis in Mimosa (£17.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836). How on earth did he come up with this unusual sparkling canary yellow shade?

The rest of Les Fleurs de Chanel collection

“Well, ” he said, “actually there was a large demand because the frst thing I ever did for Chanel was a limited edition mini collection created for the opening of a boutique on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. The collection was called the Robertson Collection and it was  four nail polishes – one a lavender, a shocking pink, a coral and a yellow (LA Sunrise). Shortly afterwards I did the make-up on a Japanese actress and I used the nail polishes. The pictures appeared in a magazine in Tokyo and everyone went crazy. The colours were being sold in Tokyo and they sold out in an instant. And people kept asking me: “I’ve seen a yellow nail polish somewhere – and I can’t find it!” I’d just done it as a limited edition and I feel that when you present somethng as a limited edition, and they queue for it, they’re buying it because it’s something unique – because it’s limited. I don’t want to go the next season and bring out the same colour because then they’ve been queueing for nothing.”

Three and a half years later, Philips felt the time was right to bring out a similar yellow – a fraction stronger than the original one. (Click here to compare and contrast.) So, which skin tone does he think wears it best? “Yellow is not so easy. Yellow is best on a sun-kissed, holiday skin tone. If you’re olive-skinned it might be tricky – but that’s why I have a beautiful pink in the collection. It’s best on the toes, you can wear Morning Rose on the hands and a cute bikini – and voila! – holiday!”

THURSDAY

The most fabulous facials I’ve had in my entire 15 years of writing about beauty were in the Guerlain Institut de Beaute on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Why? Because they were the longest, most indulgent, most opulent – and most effective I’ve ever had. I think the last one I had, about four years ago, lasted about three hours all-in.

So I was thrilled, on Thursday, to be able to take up the invitation of trying a Guerlain Facial when the French beauty brand was operating out of the airy beauty rooms downstairs in Frasers, Glasgow. Okay, it wasn’t on a par with the ones I’ve had in Paris but, then, you have to make some allowances when you’re in a department store’s beauty room. It was a relaxing, extremely pleasant experience (strangely, the most striking aspect was that there was no exfoliation stage) – and I loved having my beloved Orchidee Imperiale professionally massaged into my grateful pores..  My skin looked and felt great afterwards.

Guerlain facials are available regularly at your nearest department store, so keep an eye out.

FRIDAY

Kirsten Dunst won the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday –  but it wasn’t just her acting talents which were worthy of recognition; her sartorial skills were faultless.  In the past some of her choices have been a bit hit or miss, but she seems to have recently upped her game in the style stakes.

She wore Chanel throughout the festival – either couture or make-up, or both. In this picture, she’s a poster girl for the cult Chanel red – Chanel Rouge Allure in Enthusiast (£23) – which, with the vibrant mustard yellow gown, gives her a fabulous old Hollywood look.


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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Like many of my friends, I spent Monday mourning the end of the best TV crime series since The Killing (which preceded it!) – Spiral, the French drama which (much more stylish than Law and Order) concerns itself not just with the cops, but also with the investigating judges, the prosecutors and the defence lawyers. There may be some damned good-looking actors in the cast (personally, I have a soft-spot for bad-boy Gilou) but the character who keeps me glued to the screen is the flame-haired bad girl lawyer Josephine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot), whose wardrobe and look are always striking – and not at all your run-of-the-mill Parisian professional.  I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who’s been considering dyeing her hair red as a result of a girl crush on JK.

TUESDAY

When it comes to perfumes that are quintessentially Parisian, the house of Guerlain’s collection springs instantly to mind – and no wonder: it’s been on the go for over 150 years.

The Aqua Allegoria range may be quite a bit younger – it was introduced in 1999 – but it is steeped in the Guerlain tradition. The bottle is a classic – inspired by the original 19th century Eau de Cologne Imperiale flacon – and the fragrances are fresh and summery but very classical. This summer’s addition, Aqua Allegoria Jasminora (£35.50; from www.houseoffraser.co.uk from June 1) is a lovely fresh scent which was created by Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser using Calabrian jasmine, a lighter jasmine than is found in most perfumes. Its freshness is complemented by white flowers with green tones, along with cyclamen and lily of the valley. The bottom line? It’s a very feminine, classy summer scent.

WEDNESDAY

I’d been looking forward to my Wednesday afternoon catch-up with the Ojon PR girl for ages.. Why? Because I’d been tipped off that this fabulous haircare range was finally going to sort out the one problem that its fans have identified: the dodgy bottles.

Not only have the bottles been redesigned (no more broken lids – hurrah!) but the collection has been refined and revamped. I tried the Ojon Color Sustain (from £18; available from John Lewis from May 21) almost immediately and found it to be a worthy, possibly even superior, replacement for the old Shine & Protect products. I especially liked the Ojon Color Sustain Color Protecting Cream (£22) which protects the hair from the damaging effects of blow-drying.

THURSDAY

If there’s one company that knows how to do things in style it’s Chanel which chose Frasers in Glasgow as the site for its first Chanel Espace Parfums outside London, and invited journalists along to visit it on Thursday. Not only does this beautifully kitted-out boutique (everything about its look derives from Coco Chanel’s signature style and from aspects of her life) sell the Les Exclusifs collection of fragrances created or revived by house “nose” Jacques Polge, but it also offers customers the chance to discover the world of Chanel perfumes (48 in all) through its unique olfactive bar where concentrates of all the fragrances are sniffable on ceramic blotters. Fragrance expert Joanna Norman guided me through the Chanel perfumes on Thursday and it was a fascinating tour. What makes the ceramic blotter idea so useful is the fact that there’s no need to scoosh any perfumes – and therefore less likelihood of what industry people call “nasal confusion”. It’s much easier to identify what you like – and eliminate what you don’t. Anyone contemplating changing their perfume, or simply interested in how fragrance works should pop in and ask for a consultation.

FRIDAY

Unlike Kim Novak (pictured here, with the swoonsome Cary Grant), who showed hers off at every opportunity, my back has never really had any attention. But all that changed on Friday when I accepted an invitation to have a back treatment Clarins Spa in Frasers (0141 221 5760).

Clarins Neck, Back & Shoulder Massage (£33) proved to be just what the doctor ordered. Using the Renew Body Serum and the Smoothing Body Scrub, Lindsay, my therapist, untangled the knots of tension in my neck and shoulders and gave my back a thorough going-over, both in terms of massage and treating the usually neglected skin. The serum is great for hydrating, but doesn’t leave the skin feeling overloaded with product – perfect if congestion is an issue.

If you fancy getting your back in Cary-worthy condition, you can try out the Neck, Back & Shoulder Massage for free, if you book a Clarins Professional Face or Body Treatment at any Clarins Spa between now and May 31. To be redeemed by July 26.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

By far the most intriguing and seductive-looking of the new batch of lipsticks is Guerlain Rouge Automatique (£24.50, available in Selfridges now, and nationwide from May 1). Guerlain certainly knows how to package its products: their Rouge G lipsticks, with their pop-out mirror and bullet-shaped tube, look like they should belong to a Bond girl, if not 007 himself. And the Rouge Automatique is just as impressive and gadget-like in its design; the difference being that it is a reproduction of the original, 1936, Rouge Automatique which was designed without a lid so that the woman applying it could do so with one hand.

Of course, there’s more to it than the flick-knife style tube. I became an instant fan of the Rouge Automatique when I tried a few on Monday – the texture is gorgeous: moisturising, comfortable and rich. And the 25 shades include some real beauties – especially in the corals and reds. I’m looking forward to posing with mine … After all, it’s far too elegant and sexy to be kept hidden in the make-up bag.

TUESDAY

Over lunch with my beautician friend Margaret she gave me the low-down on the last new product I asked her to test – Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer SPF15  (£21; currently available exclusively at Selfridges, Brown Thomas and at www.clinique.co.uk just now, and nationwide from April 22). I hadn’t wanted to judge this one all by myself as I’m a bit of a tinted moisturiser virgin – I’ve tended to avoid them because there usually isn’t a shade pale enough for my fair complexion, and also because, having a less than perfect skin, I feel more confident with a full coverage foundation.

Anyway, Margaret was highly impressed. ” I’m really enjoying the Moisture Surge,” she said. “It has a lovely texture and great coverage, but best of all – it lasts! Most tinted moisturisers disappear pretty quickly – but not this  one. It will definitely be in my holiday make-up bag! I would buy this product again.” .

WEDNESDAY

When you write about beauty, your local upmarket department stores becomes your second home – and I paid mine, the historic Glasgow store Frasers, a visit on Wednesday in order to meet with Dafna, the PR for Bobbi Brown. She was in town to brief journalists on the American make-up guru’s latest wonder concealer-corrector, Creamy Concealer Kit (£23.50; www.bobbibrown.co.uk).

Sure enough I was impressed with the results of my mini-makeover using the kit. It contains two products: the corrector which neutralises dark circles and lines, and the concealer which lightens the skin. It undoubtedly brightened the eye area and gave my complexion a much-needed lift. I’ll be interested to see how I get on with it when I try it at home.

In the meantime, I’m delighted with the new mascara that Dafna brought me: Bobbi Brown Lash Glamour Extreme Lengthening Mascara (£18). It certainly lives up to its name thanks to its unusual bristles, which interlock with the lashes like a zipper, coating each hair with colour from root to tip, and the  slightly curved shape of the brush which encourages lashes to stand to attention..

THURSDAY

My deputy tester (and head of the anti-ageing cosmetics department) may not have been terribly taken with Clarins’ most recent addition to its Instant Smooth collection – the Instant Smooth Line Correcting Concentrate (£24; www.clarins.co.uk), a pen which is supposed to make wrinkles disappear in one stroke – but my experiments with their latest body lotion has been much more successful.

Clarins Extra-Firming Body Lotion (£39.50) is certainly pricey but I’ve enjoyed using it more than I have enjoyed using most products in this category for a long time. By Thursday, I had been using it (just once a day instead of the recommended twice – who has time in the morning?!) for a couple of weeks, and I became convinced that I was starting to notice a difference. It helps that it smells lovely… It contains lemon thyme extract, which encourages the production of a protein essential in maintaining the skin’s elasticity, and plant extracts which reactivate the production of type 1 collagen, thus improving skin density and firmness. Oh, and it feels gorgeous!

Clarins newsflash: the Clarins Spa at Frasers (0141 221 5760) in Glasgow is offering any 80 minute treatment (including the sublime TriActive facial) for the bargain price of £40, if booked before Thursday April 21.

FRIDAY

Every time I use the Chanel Crayon Sourcils  Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil (£18.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836),  which I opened on Friday, I can’t help but think of Bette Davis (left), who wouldn’t have pulled off quite as magnificent a performance as catty Margo Channing in the classic bitch-fest All About Eve had she not had a pair of well-defined eyebrows working in her favour. It’s a cliche but it’s true: eyebrows do frame the face. Their shape can drastically – and dramatically – transform your whole look. Could Bette have been quite as memorable as Margo without those thick, yet well-tamed, eyebrows, which balance out the cruel, full mouth?

The new Chanel pencil is – as most are today – a double-ended affair, with a brush at one end and the pencil at the other. It’s difficult to draw comparisons with other very similar pencils on the market, but what is particularly impressive about this one is the choice of colours available: there are four, including two shades for blondes. Fasten your seatbelts for some serious eyebrow-arching …

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