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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I’m not ready for summer to be over but now that jazz festival season is finished – it’s time for me to look ahead to the autumn. And, frankly, the new season colours from Clarins and Chanel are making the idea a whole lot more palatable.

It’s all about the eyes with the Clarins Colour Definition autumn 2011 collection (available mid-August) – as the photo shows. The French company is introducing a new Clarins Eye Quartet Long Lasting Mineral Powder Palette (£30; www.clarins.co.uk) in six gorgeous colourways. I’ve not been able to get past the Rosewood collection of pinky brown shades – a very easy-to-wear palette with colours that do indeed last extremely well – but this photo has persuaded me to try the Graphite quartet for my next night out. The model is wearing it with Instant Definition Mascara in Intense Black, Rouge Prodige Lipstick in Rosy Coral and new 3D Radiance Face Powder.

TUESDAY

So apart from my coup de foudre for midnight blue nails, my other big beauty passion during last week’s jazz festival was for a nail colour that is being revived soon: Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate (£17.50; from late September).

The picture doesn’t do it justice. This is a gloriously vampy, pinky-red which fits in perfectly with the femme fatale feel of the new lipstick the company is launching in the autumn: Rouge Allure Velvet. You could easily imagine Lauren Bacall wearing this as she gets her claws into Bogie in The Big Sleep or To Have Or Have Not..

I’m pretty sure it’s part of the reason I found myself being approached by a 20-year-old girl in the street on Saturday.. There’s nothing like a compliment from another woman to give your spirits – and confidence – a lift: this student told me she loved my style..  Bizarrely, she too was wearing a long black dress, short denim jacket and had her blonde hair in a high ponytail. But she didn’t have the Pirate polish .. Perhaps if she had, then she too would have found herself sufficiently emboldened (though the two glasses of rose just prior to this may have helped) to run across the street, stop the American singing star Curtis Stigers, and tell him how much she loved his performance in Glasgow last year of The Heather on the Hill …

WEDNESDAY

When I was a little girl – way before I could blame it on my hormones – I used to end up a sobbing emotional wreck after pretty much every episode of Little House on the Prairie. Each week my mum would say: “Why do you put yourself through it?”. But I always went back for more. It was a similar story on Wednesday, when I attended a press screening of Sarah’s Key, a new movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas as a journalist who discovers a personal link to a particularly shameful atrocity committed in Paris during the Second World War.

I sat in tears almost from the off. I kept going to leave but was pulled back into my seat by the story which is compelling both emotionally and intellectually. And they really nailed the obsessive feeling that you get when you start investigating an aspect of history that has a personal connection. My own quest for the story of my Hollywood ancestor took over my life for months.. The only bit that didn’t ring true was when Kristin didn’t either tear open a box containing many of the answers to her questions – or sit and stare at it for hours, savouring the anticipation. No, this being Paris, she went for dinner..

Anyway, it may seem fatuous to say it but Kristin ST looks radiant throughout the movie. Sadly, by the end I certainly didn’t: puffy eyes and mascara tracks right down to my chin. Not to mention the red nose. My new beauty hero, Clarins Advanced Extra-Firming Eye Contour Cream (£35.50) – a delightfully soothing, firming and moisturising balm – had to work extra hard on Wednesday night.

THURSDAY

I am already a big fan of the Hypnose mascaras so really didn’t think Lancome could improve on perfection. But their new Lancome Hypnose Doll Eyes (£20.50; www.lancome.co.uk ) is a stunner.

Clearly, the French beauty company was determined not to rest on its lash laurels: they have spent seven years developing the conical brush which can get in to the smallest, trickiest lashes and which does a brilliant job of separating, lengthening, curling and volumising  - everything you could ask for, really. The formulation of the mascara is such that it holds the curl and gives the lashes a glossy sheen, while stretching them beyond belief.

FRIDAY

I went to get my hair colour seen to on Friday – and turned out a bit blonder than expected. No matter what I say to my hairdresser, I never know how it’s going to turn out.. why is that?

Luckily, I think I like it – consequently, I have decided that, since it coincides with the return of scarlet nails and matte red lips, my beauty icons for the next wee while  (or as soon as it’s appropriate to ditch the summery wardrobe) are the femmes fatales of film noir, particularly Kim Basinger in LA Confidential (a colour version of noir heroine Veronica Lake) who could have stepped straight out of the ad campaign for Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet.

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My Week in Beauty

SUNDAY

My week got off to a glamorous start, with a trip to the cinema to ogle Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra and the beautiful Deborah Kerr (left, and sadly no relation) in the 1953 melodrama From Here to Eternity.

Despite being a fellow Scot – she was born just outside Glasgow – Deborah Kerr has never been one of my favourite actresses, probably because she often played prudish characters. Let’s face it, the collection of governesses’ dresses and nuns’ habits that made up her movie wardrobe were hardly likely to rank amongst my top choices of stylish films.

Anyway, I was struck by how sexy, indeed vampish, La Kerr looked in FHTE, playing the rather promiscuous army wife who becomes romantically entangled – most memorably on a Hawaiian beach – with Burt Lancaster. It’s not just the long legs which are shown off in shorts that could have been borrowed from The Postman Always Rings Twice’s Lana Turner; it’s the loose, and rather wild blonde hair, the scarlet lipstick and, especially, the long, long eyelashes which turned in their own Oscar-nominated performance.

MONDAY

Only vamps need apply for the new limited edition Tom Ford Black Orchid Collection (£100;  Harvey Nichols stores and Frasers, Glasgow) - of solid perfume, lipstick and nail varnish – which is coming out for Christmas.

At an elegant dinner in Glasgow on Monday, beauty writers were given a sneak preview of this lovely Christmas gift as well as the latest Tom Ford Private Blend fragrance, the gorgeous Azure Lime (£115).

I know we’ve got a few months to go but given that everyone at the dinner was dressed in little black numbers (even our favourite male beauty writer was a vision in noir) with sparkly jewellery (and, in a couple of cases, nails), it definitely had the feel of the first Christmas night-out of 2010!

TUESDAY

Tuesday evening was spent in the cosy yet chic surroundings of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh where the journalist and author Justine Picardie was giving a talk on the subject of her latest biography – Coco Chanel – The Legend and the Life. This seemed like as good an occasion as any to road-test one of the latest nail colours from the Parisian beauty company, so it was with Chanel Nail Colour in Jade Rose (£16.50) adorning my talons that I watched Justine’s fascinating slide show and listened to her stories of Mademoiselle’s adventures in bonnie Scotland.

Jade Rose is a lovely, delicate variation on the nude theme  - not as readily identifiable as last year’s Jade or this season’s Paradoxal, but undoubtedly a future classic nonetheless. A bit like Justine’s book – which I’ll be writing more about shortly.

WEDNESDAY

I was starting to feel unwell by Wednesday, thanks to some bug that was presumably brought home by one – or both – of my six-year-old sons. So I let my pal Lizzy do the talking when we had a chat about beauty products which I’d asked her to try out for me.

A couple of months ago, I shared a batch of hair masks out amongst my friends and Lizzy bagged the Jo Hansford Intensive Masque for Fine Hair (£25; www.johansford.com). It certainly got a good review from her, despite a “weird” texture which was “a cross between putty and chewing gum”. Lizzy said it had a lovely scent, reminiscent of pink grapefruit, and that, once she had got over the texture and worked it in her hands for a few seconds, it was softer and very easy to apply.  And the results? “Softer, glossier hair which smells really fresh after it’s dried.”

THURSDAY

I was determined to ignore my burgeoning bug on Thursday as I had a meeting at Glasgow’s newest old hotel – the Grand Central. As the name suggests, this is a station hotel and now, as in its heyday (when it was merely the Central Hotel), it is somewhere you would want to see and be seen in … (In the interim decades, it had been somewhere you wouldn’t set foot in!)

Anyway, to get myself in the mood for the hotel where vampy comedienne Mae West stayed for two memorable weeks (in 1947, since you ask), I upped the eyeliner ante by swapping my usual semi-subtle chocolate brown liner for the forthcoming Benefit Magic Ink Jet-Black Liquid Eyeliner (£14.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk from October 31).

The verdict? Very sexy, very femme fatale – the ideal liner for creating a feline flick and the sort of come-hither eyes that Deborah Kerr works so memorably in From Here to Eternity ..

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

After a particularly glam night at the movies – local burlesque outfit Club Noir had launched a series of Film Nights at the Glasgow Film Theatre with a screening of Some Like It Hot on Sunday – I was inspired to up the ante, glamour-wise, on Monday and wear a bolder, redder lip than usual.

The decision to experiment with the latest reds couldn’t have come at a more apt moment as I hadn’t yet got round to trying out Chanel’s forthcoming lip lacquer – Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss (£22.50; from October 1). Its Exces shade is exquisite  - though possibly not so much the kind of coral red that Some Like It Hot star Marilyn Monroe would have worn; more the sort of cherry red that her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes partner Jane Russell would have plumped for. It will definitely get another outing next time Club Noir serves up a suitably sexy film.

TUESDAY

Movie star make-up requires movie star make-up remover so it’s appropriate that I’ve been using an old favourite of the Hollywood brigade – Pond’s Cold Cream (£3.99, www.boots.com).

It’s no wonder this 103-year-old cleanser is so popular amongst people who have to wear layers of make-up all day: it does what it promises – melts away the make-up and softens the skin at the same time.

Incredibly, I had never used it until I was given a jar a fortnight ago, but I am a convert and at such a credit crunch-friendly price, I’m willing to ignore my slight aversion to its fragrance …

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday I travelled to London where I was to interview a rising star of the jazz world -Nikki Yanofsky. Arriving early at the jazz club where she was to do her sound check, I had time to give myself a mini-manicure (well, the interview was all prepared..), using one of the two beautiful shades of nail varnish in the new French Coquettes collection from Lancome for autumn/winter.

Lancome Le Vernis in Metropolitan Beige (£12) - what an appropriate shade for a visit to the capital – is one of the prettiest and most delicate nude varnishes I’ve come across. It looks peach-c0loured in the bottle, and glistens slightly. And it dries very quickly.

Its sister polish in from the same collection – the Rouge Noir-esque Black Cherry shade – is also fab, and has quickly become a favourite for nights-out. Indeed, it was my polish of choice for the Some Like It Hot extravaganza at the weekend – after all, how much vampier can you get?

THURSDAY

One style icon who would have appreciated my doing my own nails is Grace Kelly, the subject of the V&A’s wonderful exhibition, Grace Kelly – Style Icon (until September 26) which I finally got to see on Thursday. The movie star turned princess remained refreshingly practical throughout her life when it came to her look: she bought clothes that she fell in love with and then got great use out of them, and she kept to a fairly simple and elegant maquillage.

The shop within the exhibition is a little treasure trove of Grace-inspired costume jewellery (mainly pearls, of course) and accessories, but one item that was missing was the compact – an essential if you plan to emulate that ladylike look which is so current  this autumn. Grace, like any 1950s woman, would not have left home without some pressed powder in her purse.

I couldn’t have got round that exhibition in what I like to think was a Grace-ful manner had I not brushed on some of the new Clinique Redness Solutions Instant Relief Mineral Pressed Powder (£24; www.clinique.co.uk) – it was so hot and stuffy in there! It undoubtedly saved me from an oily T-zone and flushed cheeks .. The same, yellow-coloured, powder got me through a particularly uncomfortable train journey home, on a ridiculously crowded Virgin Pendolino train. I wonder how the ever-cool Grace would have fared under such trying circumstances..

FRIDAY

It’s only five weeks since my hair was last coloured but it’s been driving me mad – and by Friday I just wanted to tie it back and not think about it. I remembered that I’d been sent a rather scary-looking new hair tool – the Goody Spin Pin (£4.99; from Asda stores) – and decided to give it a go. It’s actually two spiral pins – and it turned out to be surprisingly easy to use. You pull your hair back into a pony tail, twist it round into a bun shape then effectively screw the pins in – one from above the bun and the other from below.

With my fine, poker-straight hair, I found that a low bun, at the nape of the neck or over to one side, looked particularly pretty. In fact, it looked a little like the sort of style that Grace Kelly and the other great Hitchcock blonde, Kim Novak, favoured in the 1950s.

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The Wintour Issue

If I thought I was having a grim month in terms of persuading commissioning editors to part with their pennies, it’s nothing compared to how soul-destroying it must be to work on American Vogue. How do I know this? Well, because I spent the morning watching, sniggering, empathising and cringing at the eagerly anticipated film The September Issue, RJ Cutler’s utterly fascinating and hugely enjoyable documentary which charts the production of what is always the biggest edition of the magazine of the year.

One by one, staff members are crushed by editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s apparently breezy dismissal of photos, ensembles or ideas that they have sweated blood over. But it’s the veteran creative director, Grace Coddington who inspires the most sympathy. Although she and Wintour have been colleagues for two decades, she knows that her boss will make her decisions based on her own judgement alone – with no consultation. Every spread she completes is chopped by Wintour, and always when she is elsewhere in the building.

Indeed, Coddington’s editorial tussles with Wintour provide most of the drama and tension in the film. (Cutler was lucky that Coddington, being older and more Wintour-wise than the rest of the staff, was self-confident enough to speak her mind for the camera.)

Of the two women, Coddington is the one whose passion shines through. Next to her (and the insanely flamboyant editor-at-large, Andre Leon Talley – who we don’t see enough of), Wintour has about as much passion as a dead fish. While Coddington is always on the look-out for inspiration and ideas, Wintour, her head bowed at Lady Di angles and her eyes often hidden behind her heavy fringe or her sunglasses (or both), seems introverted – as someone who relies solely on their own judgement and opinion must inevitably be.

Coddington, who could get a job as an Elizabeth I look-alike if she ever gets completely fed up with Wintour, dreams up the most ravishing images (that 1920s shoot! the French chateau spread!) but it’s clear that she gets carried away and, like most of us, takes it personally when other people start hacking away at her work. She doesn’t seem to know when to stop once those creative juices are flowing – so of course Wintour has to edit her output. As she says, decisiveness is her greatest strength.

Aside from revealing that her children are her biggest weakness, and apart from a brief hint of embarrassment at her own admission that her siblings are bemused by her career, Wintour gives next to nothing away about what makes her tick and what drives her. She must be passionate about fashion and about Vogue to devote so much time and energy to them, but there is nothing in her manner or in what she says that distinguishes her from anyone else doing a terrifically high-pressured job.

There’s no sense that she gets anything out of it, or that it’s fulfilling – or even that she loves clothes. Only once does she register pleasure when a dress is presented to her. Every other time, she looks bored or disinterested. At YSL, she almost defies designer Stephano Pilati to impress her, and watching her making him squirm is embarrassing.

Some kind of explanation of how Wintour came to wield such power would have been useful because in no other context would an artist take direction and criticism from a magazine editor. It doesn’t happen in music or in literature or in art. Of course, fashion is a different world – but it’s shocking to realise that the Wintour-inspired character Meryl Streep played in The Devil Wears Prada was really not a caricature; in many respects it was a fairly faithful portrayal of someone who is terrifying but in a thoroughly understated way.

Wintour points out that she inherited a character trait from her father – his inscrutablity. Turn a camera on her and it seems to increase the inscrutability. She may have a fearsome reputation but, based on what we see in this film, she doesn’t appear to have a personality.

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The Wintour Issue

If I thought I was having a grim month in terms of persuading commissioning editors to part with their pennies, it’s nothing compared to how soul-destroying it must be to work on American Vogue. How do I know this? Well, because I spent the morning at the Glasgow Film Theatre watching, sniggering, empathising and cringing at the eagerly anticipated film The September Issue, RJ Cutler’s utterly fascinating and hugely enjoyable documentary which charts the production of what is always the biggest edition of the magazine of the year.
 
One by one, staff members are crushed by editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s apparently breezy dismissal of photos, ensembles or ideas that they have sweated blood over. But it’s the veteran creative director, Grace Coddington who inspires the most sympathy. Although she and Wintour have been colleagues for two decades, she knows that her boss will make her decisions based on her own judgement alone – with no consultation. Every spread she completes is chopped by Wintour, and always when she is elsewhere in the building.
 
Indeed, Coddington’s editorial tussles with Wintour provide most of the drama and tension in the film. (Cutler was lucky that Coddington, being older and more Wintour-wise than the rest of the staff, was self-confident enough to speak her mind for the camera.)
 
Of the two women, Coddington is the one whose passion shines through. Next to her (and the insanely flamboyant editor-at-large, Andre Leon Talley – who we don’t see enough of), Wintour has about as much passion as a dead fish. While Coddington is always on the look-out for inspiration and ideas, Wintour, her head bowed at Lady Di angles and her eyes often hidden behind her heavy fringe or her sunglasses (or both), seems introverted – as someone who relies solely on their own judgement and opinion must inevitably be.
 
 Coddington, who could get a job as an Elizabeth I look-alike if she ever gets completely fed up with Wintour, dreams up the most ravishing images (that 1920s shoot! the French chateau spread!) but it’s clear that she gets carried away and, like most of us, takes it personally when other people start hacking away at her work. She doesn’t seem to know when to stop once those creative juices are flowing – so of course Wintour has to edit her output. As she says, decisiveness is her greatest strength.
 
 Aside from revealing that her children are her biggest weakness, and apart from a brief hint of embarrassment at her own admission that her siblings are bemused by her career, Wintour gives next to nothing away about what makes her tick and what drives her. She must be passionate about fashion and about Vogue to devote so much time and energy to them, but there is nothing in her manner or in what she says that distinguishes her from anyone else doing a terrifically high-pressured job.
 
 There’s no sense that she gets anything out of it, or that it’s fulfilling – or even that she loves clothes. Only once does she register pleasure when a dress is presented to her. Every other time, she looks bored or disinterested. At YSL, she almost defies designer Stephano Pilati to impress her, and watching her making him squirm is embarrassing.

 

 

 Wintour points out that she inherited a character trait from her father – his inscrutablity. Turn a camera on her and it seems to increase the inscrutability. She may have a fearsome reputation but, based on what we see in this film, she doesn’t appear to have a personality.

  * The September Issue opens at the Glasgow Film Theatre and nationwide on September 11.

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