Tag Archives: Elizabeth Taylor

The Lipstick Renaissance

This is the year of the lipstick. After all, so far this spring we’ve seen new lipsticks being launched by Estee Lauder (Pure Color), No7 (their new Poppy King range), Clarins (Rouge Hydra Nude), Dior Addict and Guerlain (Rouge Automatique). Chanel’s creative director of make-up, Peter Philips, continued on his mission to convert girls to the lipstick cause by launching the glossy Rouge Coco Shine…. Lipstick is having a moment, as they say in fashion-ville; though for many of us it’s never gone out of style.

After all, it’s difficult to resist the way a slick of lipstick can lift the spirits by brightening the smile. Not only that, but lipstick is a shortcut to glamour and can instantly transform the appearance in a way that no other single item can. Gwyneth Paltrow summed up the powerful effect of lipstick when she said: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

For the millions of women who have bought Chanel lipsticks since they were first sold in 1924, owning one of those little black tubes is an affordable way of sharing in the luxury and elegance of the brand – and of keeping up with the latest trends. The same goes for Dior, Tom Ford, Armani and the other beauty brands which belong to fashion houses.

The history of the lipstick as a staple of our beauty routine stretches back to the ancient civilsations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, when both sexes painted their lips using such natural dyes as carmine, which is made from ground-up insects, or sheep’s blood. By the 16th century, women were following Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for prettifying her pout by colouring her lips with cochineal paint (made from beetles), while their great-great-grand-daughters, a hundred years later, favoured creams that were made with black grape juice.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for the early incarnations of lipstick. In the 18th century, it was banned – along with other cosmetics – by Parliament (which associated it with witches), and it was dismissed as “impolite” by Queen Victoria in the 19th.

Of course, back then, lip colour came in little pots or, in the case of Liquid Bloom of Roses, which was imported from England by the founder of the Parisian beauty house Guerlain, in a little bottle. Monsieur Guerlain soon changed its formula and created Liquid Rose Extract “for lip colour with great staying power that lasts through meals”. It continued to sell until 1958.

Guerlain was also responsible for the very first modern-day lipstick, made with a wax base in 1870. Ne m’oubliez pas was its name and it came in a refillable container with a “push-up” mechanism. The first swivel-up tube was patented in 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, and 13 years later Guerlain created the Rouge Automatique – which it has recently revived – a lipstick with no cap, that can be applied using just one hand: perfect for the girl on the go, who can’t take her eyes or fingers off her phone as she does her lippie.

And it’s not just the design of the containers and the formulation of the lipsticks that have changed over the years; the colours have come in and gone out of fashion. The most enduringly popular lipstick colour is undoubtedly red, since it’s a dramatic variation on the natural colour of the lips.

Deep, dark red became popular in the late teens and early 1920s when such sexy silent movie stars as the “It” Girl, Clara Bow  and the vampy seductress Theda Bara (right, as Cleopatra in 1917) wore it – anything lighter wouldn’t have shown up in black and white. Not only did they kick off the fashion for red and scarlet lips, but Clara Bow also ignited the trend for “bee-stung” lips, the style of applying the lipstick so that it exaggerates the centre of the lips.

During the 1940s, lipstick was harder to come by because essential ingredients, such as petroleum were unavailable. In Britain, production of cosmetics almost completely ground to a halt and women swapped tips on how to make their own lip tints using beetroot juice or by melting down the stubs of old lipsticks. No7 lipsticks, many of which hadn’t been available during the war, made a comeback in 1949 with a range that included several variations on red.

Indeed, red remained the lipstick shade of choice for Hollywood stars and would-be glamour pusses well into the 1950s, the decade when Revlon launched its iconic Fire and Ice shade, which returned to shops late last year. As the 1950s went on, the pinks and corals shades introduced by Christian Dior also became popular across the world. But the biggest, most radical change in lipstick fashions took place in the early 1960s – and it was all down to one woman: Elizabeth Taylor, who died last month.

Elizabeth Taylor’s services to lipstick should have earned her an award. Not only did she show, in the famous lipstick-on-the-mirror sequence in her movie Butterfield 8, how handy the cosmetic could be in those moments when you find yourself without pen and paper and have to leave an urgent message for your lover, but she also set a new trend in make-up fashion when she starred in the infamous and extravagant epic Cleopatra, which finally came out in 1963 after being in production for two years.

Liz Taylor’s exotic make-up when she played the Egyptian queen may have borne some resemblance – at least in terms of the elaborate eye decoration – to images of the real Cleopatra, but it was also designed to show off her exquisitely beautiful face, and in particular those famous almond-shaped, violet-coloured eyes. All emphasis was placed on the eyes, and her lips were kept light-coloured – in pale corals and pinks – throughout the film.

The effect of this bold eyed, pale-lipped look was sensational. Revlon picked up on it immediately and launched the Cleopatra collection (including “Sphinx Pink” lipstick), which offered a watered-down version of the Liz-as-Cleo look. Andy Warhol later said that Cleopatra was the single-most influential film in terms of style in the 1960s: it certainly launched the make-up trend which defined the 1960s – and it’s a look which is still popular today.

Of course, these days, anything goes lipstick wise – you can work a 1960s, Cleopatra-inspired look one day; a shiny red 1950s Hollywood pout the next and a vampy dark 1920s one at night – and there are any amount of colours, textures and finishes to choose from.

There is a lipstick for everyone – for those who want a signature colour to see them through the ups and downs of life to those who want to stay bang on trend and are currently replacing nude shades with brights for summer. After all, changing you lipstick is the cheapest way to immediately update your look.. Not for nothing did Max Factor advertise its Color Fast lipsticks, way back in the 1950s, with the strapline: “High fashion for every woman’s lips.”

But the last word on lipstick in the 2010s should really go to the American comic Jerry Seinfeld, who once said: “Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not colour, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end.”

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Turban Power 2

This winter I’ve had great use out of my my fabulous ASOS turban, a style of headgear I’ve hankered after for years – after seeing it being worn in many a 1940s movie, by the likes of Ann Sheridan and the sultry Hedy Lamarr (above).  The style was in and out of fashion from the 1920s onwards – and Hedy’s white, 1940s version contrasts beautifully with her jet black hair. I’m not sure that Greta Garbo’s (below) works as well: it looks a little like a post-brain surgery bandage ..

It wasn’t just the exotic beauties who made the turban chic in Hollywood; homegrown, all-American actresses worked the look too. Here’s the elegant and always tasteful Loretta Young pushing the boat out with an uncharacteristically OTT variation on the turban theme. Substitute some fruit for those flowers and you’re halfway to Carmen Miranda-style understatement!

And talking of understatement (not!), few actresses of our time offset instances of good taste with those of bad as blatantly as the late Elizabeth Taylor, pictured here in the sort of turban that normal people could only wear to a wedding..

Lee Remick’s blue turban in The Omen was one of the few style highlights of the movie – though her character paid a price for it ..

And those jazz divas knew a chic trick (saves washing the hair) when they saw one. In my last turban round-up, I featured Lena Horne, but she wasn’t the first jazz star to adopt the style: here’s Billie Holiday, offsetting the turban with a mannish suit, alongside one of the most stylish men in jazz – Duke Ellington (left).

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My Week in Beauty


A dull Monday was brightened up by the arrival of a package containing a selection of new lipsticks from Dior – all from its revamped Dior Addict (£22 each; at Selfridges now and nationwide from April 11) range. As you can see, none other than Kate Moss is the face of this new collection, the advertising film  of which was directed by Jonas Akerlund who’s best known for Lady Gaga’s Telephone vid.

Miss Moss looks gorgeous – 1960s rock chick meets 1950s starlet – in the ads, but frankly I’m more excited about the fact that there are 44 exquisite colours to choose from, and the texture, which is less waxy than a conventional lipstick and contains an innovative gel that makes lips feel hydrated and look shiny and full.

Kate’s favourite shade is no578 “Dior Kiss” – which she models in the ad above. I’ve only tried out a handful of the 44 colours, but love the texture and the glossy effect. I’m hoping that when Dior’s  National Make-up Artist Jamie Coombes comes to Glasgow next month, he can help me find the best shade for me …


Some beauty products just baffle me – not because of the “science part” (though that can be a challenge sometimes, if not explained well), but because I do wonder: “What’s the point?”. That was my reaction to the latest nail varnishes from Revlon, a company which already has an impressive range of nail colours. Why? Because its latest thing is smelly nail varnish.  The limited edition Revlon Scents of Summer Nail Enamels (£6.49 each; available now) are just what they say on the label – unfortunately. If you are so inclined, you too could smell papaya, coconut, bubblegum or one of the other scents every time your fingers are near your face. One for the tweenies, methinks – it’s just a step up from the scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers that my generation collected ..


At lunchtime on Wednesday came the sad news that Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most beautiful and talked-about women of her time, had died. Contrary to many news reports, she was not “the last of the great Hollywood stars” – we still have Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Kirk Douglas, Olivia de Havilland and several more – but she was unquestionably one of the most fascinating.

She had delicate features and, in the early part of her career, often looked like a porcelain doll; her rosebud mouth usually the focus of her look. At some point after she became a fully-fledged sex symbol in the late 1950s, she began playing up those unforgettable, so-called violet eyes. The 1960s suited them beautifully: lashings of fashionable kohl drew attention to them, and personally I think she looked far more alluring with the accent on her eyes and her lips painted in muted colours than in the darker shades which were undoubtedly a requirement of being filmed in black and white a decade earlier. In fact, it almost looks like she’s wearing Dior Addict no.564 (AKA Model)  in this pic …


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Clarins make-up is really having a moment just now. My Neo Pastels Eye Colour and Liner Palette (£30) is being used on an almost-daily basis and on Thursday I finally got round to trying out their new range of creamy, natural-coloured lipsticks.

Clarins Rouge Hydra Nude Smoothing Cream Lipsticks (£16.50; www.clarins.co.uk) would have been a pleasure to use – had it not been for one thing: their scent. What is it about smelly beauty products? First the fruity nails – and now these lipsticks which have a caramel sort of fragrance to them. I realise that most lipsticks do have a scent but this one is very pronounced, especially if – like me – you can’t stand sickly, sweet, vanilla-ish fragrances. Anyway, if you do like that sort of smell under your nose all day – lucky you: you’ve four pretty nude shades (coral, rose, beige and caramel) to choose from …


And speaking of Clarins, thank heavens for the their treatments … I was feeling quite run-down and fed-up before I arrived at the Clarins Spa at Frasers in Glasgow but a Clarins TriActive Facial (from £62) soon sorted me out. When Lindsay, my facialist, asked about my skin concerns, I mentioned that I was beginning to worry about the signs of ageing (well, the fortieth birthday is hanging over me), in particular around the jawline. She tailored the treatment accordingly, explaining to me afterwards that “as soon as someone mentions concerns about sagging round the jaw, I reach for the ClarinsPRO Refreshing Lift Mask.”

Regular lymphatic massage – which is a staple of all the variations of the TriActive facial – helps to prevent jowls appearing, but that mask produced especially impressive results. So much so that it can only be used by therapists in the spa: at one point, customers could buy it, but they loved the tightening effects so much, some were over-using it – and it’s very potent..  Needless to say, I’ll be back for more!

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The Wisdom of Pearls

Pearls are big news this season in the beauty world, with Chanel and Guerlain both paying tribute to that most flattering of jewels in their spring make-up collections.  How better to complement a pearl-inspired make-up than with the real thing? Here, then, is a selection of stylish ladies who knew how to work their strings of pearls. Josephine Baker (sometimes nicknamed the Black Pearl),  knew how to get mileage out of her beads – both offstage (above) and on (below). Given that she made her name on the Paris stage, there’s a good chance that some of these pearls came from the boutique owned by one Mademoiselle Chanel ..

Silent movie icon Louise Brooks got in on the pearl trend when she played Lulu in Pandora’s Box in 1928.

By the 1940s, multi-strand necklaces which sat at the collarbone had become the “in” way to wear pearls, and, as screen siren Hedy Lamarr demonstrates here, it was particularly effective with a black chiffon. Anything else would have been too heavy-looking..

In the 1950s, a single strand worn high at the neck was a favourite way of wearing pearls, especially if you wanted to achieve a demure, ladylike look – which is clearly what a certain Miss Monroe was going for in this next photo.

And Elizabeth Taylor (almost) managed to deflect attention away from her low-cut dress with her ladylike single strand of pearls..

Of course, the reason for pearls becoming so strongly associated with a ladylike look was the fact that they were – along with white gloves – a key component of the signature style of Grace Kelly, the Hollywood star who became a real-life princess. Here she is in one of her beautiful Edith Head gowns from Rear Window (1954), a film in which her character’s chic wardrobe was designed to reflect the star’s own.

Jacqueline Kennedy was another American aristocrat who was known for her penchant for pearls – simple jewellery to complement the unfussy lines of her much-admired clothes.

Just when pearls were at risk of becoming too conservative a style choice, along came Sophia Loren – whose bib-like multi-strand was clearly a favourite, as she was often photographed wearing it.. If anyone could inject some va-va-voom into the art of wearing pearls, she could..

These days, anything goes – pearl-wise. Heaping them on to create a mess of pearls has become a statement-making way of of wearing them. Sarah Jessica Parker worked this look in Sex and the City but I don’t think it’s been done better in recent times than by the singer Rihanna whose pearls were the talking point of the Inglorious Basterds premiere in 2009.

But the pearly queen of them all – the woman who stayed true to the jewel throughout her life and who is still teaching us how to wear it- was Coco Chanel (pictured below with Serge Lifar in 1937) who was layering real and faux pearls of different sizes from early in her career. Vive les perles!

(c) Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet

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My Week in Beauty


Amongst the numerous gorgeous new cosmetics which have been arriving chez moi over the last few weeks came a batch of new eyeshadows from Revlon. With their plain, black packaging, the Revlon Luxurious Color Eyeshadow Monos (£4.99) hardly had the wow factor of some of their more expensive counterparts but they quickly turned out to be serious contenders.

Within the new range of richly pigmented eyeshadows are some with a “Perle” finish and others with a “Satin” look. The standout for me, when I tried them on Monday, was the beautiful Peacock Lustre shade, a gorgeous, blue-tinged green satiny powder which matches the eyeshadow worn here by Elizabeth Taylor in her role as Cleopatra. It’s perfect for using as a light wash of colour across the lids or if you want to create asmoky eye by mixing it with a brown shade for a khaki effect – very autumn 2010! Since the season’s blue eyeshadows just don’t do anything for my blue eyes, I’m going to copy the famously violet-eyed Liz and give green a whirl instead ..


The fates are clearly conspiring to make me go green this autumn. I was rummaging through a bag of Topshop Make Up that I had been sent to help me research an article for their 214 mag, and leapt out? A stunning, metallic emerald green nail shade of nail polish. Topshop Nails in Poison Ivy (£5; www.topshop.com) is its name, and it is a Wicked green indeed – definitely reminds me of those Wizard of Oz witches.


Having been suffering from some bug that I caught during the Edinburgh Jazz Festival as well as several disturbed nights’ sleep due to unwell children, I couldn’t wait to try out the new Elemis SpaPod in Debenhams, in Glasgow’s city centre. I needed a nap!

The visit began with a detailed analysis of your skin by a therapist. And when I say detailed, I mean detailed: absolutely no flaw goes unrecorded by the clinical imaging equipment which takes a picture of your skin and then highlights all the different types of damage on one particular area. I thought I was doing a pretty respectable job of keeping wrinkles at bay so was gutted to be told that I had 27 on one side of my face alone!

Once the therapist – and the machine – have worked out which products would be best suited to your skin type, you move through to the SpaPod for your facial. The pod is a cosy, quiet room with an “Intelligent Massage Chair” which, I quickly realised was not for me. As my Elemis Modern Skin Power Booster Facial (£45/30 mins; www.elemis.co.uk) got underway, with the therapist removing my makeup and cleansing my skin, the chair whirred into action and I found myself being rolled around, pushed up and then sinking down thanks to the chair’s undulating movements. Relaxing? No way. The worst bit was when it grabbed my legs tightly around the calves and squeezed them till I thought the blood vessels would burst. The noise and the motions combined to make me feel like I was on a mechanical rodeo bull… Shades of Gene Wilder in Silver Streak.

But, once I had asked the therapist to put me out of my misery by switching off the chair, the facial was utterly blissful – thanks to the lovely-smelling and feeling products used and to the super-relaxing neck and shoulder massage I was given. The human touch? You can’t beat it..  And what’s more, my sensitive skin didn’t flare up afterwards: in fact, it looked radiant for days. I’ll definitely be looking to make this a regular thing. They’re currently doing two facials for the price of one at the Glasgow Debenhams Elemis SpaPod so I’m off to make my follow-up appointment.


Thursday evening was a long-overdue night out with the girls, Lizzy and Colette. The catch-up was supposed to happen over Prosecco and pasta at Jamie’s Italian, the new Jamie Oliver eatery in Glasgow. However, after queuing for, oh, two minutes, we decided that we really didn’t want to waste another 88 (you can’t reserve tables for small groups, apparently), and headed off to find an alternative restaurant.

It was a well-behaved night, with moderation on the alcohol front, but I had come prepared, beauty-wise, by applying a layer of Origins Zero Oil Instant Matte Finish (£11 ; www.origins.co.uk). This wonder-working, all-natural liquid absorbs oil but doesn’t dry out the skin and provides a lovely base for make-up – though it can be used over make-up in shine emergencies. Just wish I had had some with me the previous week in Edinburgh when photos were being taken after wine had been consumed …


Uh-oh. I’ve spotted the first deep creased wrinkle on my forehead. (It’s probably been there for ages and I hadn’t noticed, though I’m sure if it was very obvious either my mother or my twin sons, who have inherited her critical gene, would have taken great delight in pointing it out!) Anyway, now I’ve noticed it, there’s no going back: I have to face up to it, and take it on. And I’m going to do this with the help of Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus  Wrinkle & UV Damage (£35; available in Selfridges nationwide and at www.clinique.co.uk now, and at other stores from September 10).

It claims to visibly repair UV damage and reduce wrinkles while preventing future signs of ageing and the environment by fighting free radicals. I’ll let you know how I get on … Hopefully, it will be more successful than the Clinique Self Sun Body Daily Moisturizer, the self-tanning body lotion that streaked my legs for a week in early July and just would not budge.

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My Week in Beauty


Dear God, don’t let them run out of ojon oil in the tropical rainforest .. Why? Because if and when they do, that will be the end of my favourite haircare find of last year.

Ojon Hydrating Ritual Collection (from £16; www.johnlewis.com) is a new haircare range which, I am convinced, has boosted the condition of my permanently highlighted hair. It uses a whole host of naturally derived raw ingredients, including nourishing ojon oil, in its shampoos, conditioners, treatments and cultish mask.

I was thrilled on Monday to receive a parcel with the shampoo and conditoner I liked best from the Ojon range – Shine & Protect Shampoo and Shine & Protect Conditioner. If you’ve never been tempted to splurge on hair products before, Ojon might be the range to convert you … wish they’d improve the design of the flimsy lids though.


Thanks to my second bug of the year – oh, the joys of having school-age children who bring us back a daily dose of whatever’s going around – I was pretty much confined to quarters on Tuesday and decided to catch up on my viewing.

I had just bought the special edition DVD of Cleopatra, the lavish Liz Taylor-Richard Burton epic from 1963. I confess I didn’t buy it so much for the film as for the two-hour documentary about the film.. And because I wanted to ogle Elizabeth Taylor’s style in the film – it’s as much 1963 as it is 40BC..

Of course, aside from her 65 costume changes (her wardrobe alone reputedly cost $194,800) and myriad hairstyles, what is particularly striking throughout is her make-up, which again straddles both Ancient Egyptian and early 1960s beauty aesthetics. Of course, we all owe good queen Cleo a debt of cosmetic gratitude: she is a poster girl for mineral make-up, kohl eyeliner and milk baths.


With all her eye make-up, Cleopatra would have loved the latest product from Benefit.

Stay Don’t Stray (£19.50) is an eye base which keeps your eye make-up in place all day so that it stays fresh-looking and doesn’t slide into the crease of your eye lids.

I started testing it on Wednesday – and it works, though I would probably only use it when I knew I had a long, busy day or evening ahead. Otherwise, my recently learned trick of using a flesh-toned shade of eye shadow as a base is fine for general day-to-day use. Check it out at www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk


My pal, and deputy product tester, Shiv gave me her verdict on the new Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage (£20; www.clinique.co.uk) on Thursday.

As someone whose eyes are prone to puffiness, she was the ideal person to try out my preview sample – especially since she has  “form” when it comes to testing eye de-puffers.

Her verdict? “It was no great shakes – certainly no different from the Garnier one I’d already tried, and although the puffiness did indeed go down, it wasn’t noticeably faster than when I don’t use a product at all. What I did like about it was the coolness of the metal rollerball..”

And her personal, tried and true, recommendation for de-puffing the eyes? “Origins No Puffery eye mask (£19.50; www.origins.co.uk) is still the best.”


Oh, life does get complicated when you keep falling in love … On Friday I fell, again, for a hot pink lipstick – this time the limited edition Island Hibiscus shade of Givenchy Rouge Interdit (£18.50) from the French company’s exquisite new tropical island-inspired summer collection.

Rouge Interdit is a moisturising, shiny lipstick which is a pleasure to wear – and this deep, dark hot pink (that’s how it looked on me, though the press release talks about “a new shade of red with nuances of coral” – don’t see that myself) is going to be vying with the lighter, nearer bubblegum, pink of the Dior Addict Lipcolour in Ravishing Rose for outings over the next few weeks …

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