Tag Archives: Jean Harlow

My Week in Beauty


As a lifelong movie fan – with a particular passion for the films of the 1930s  – I’m ashamed to admit that I completely missed the centenary of one of my favourite comediennes, the original Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow (right).

Sassy, sexy and much more sussed than the bimbo characters she often played, Jean Harlow was the original prototype of the dumb blonde persona that Marilyn Monroe also cultivated.

Of course, as one of the biggest stars of her time, she was hugely influential as a style and beauty icon – the platinum blonde, waved hair; the dark, Cupid’s bow lips, the pencilled-on eyebrows and the slouchy, slinky posture were copied by women worldwide.

I was reminded of Jean, and her languid sensuality when, on Monday, I was marvelling at the exquisite Christmas collection from Guerlain. Jean was known to be a devotee of Guerlain fragrance – indeed, the legend goes that when her second husband killed himself, his body was found doused in Mitsouko..


If one item in that collection screams Jean Harlow (to me anyway!), it’s the  Guerlain Vol de Nuit Perfumed Shimmer Powder Face & Body (£49.50) which looks exactly the kind of item you’d expect to find on a 1930s movie star’s art deco dressing table.

Vol de Nuit may not be the Guerlain fragrance most associated with Jean Harlow, but it is very much of her time. Created in 1933 (the year of two of her biggest hits – Dinner at Eight and Blonde Bombshell), it was inspired by – of all things – aviation. Jacques Guerlain named this sensual oriental after the novel penned by his friend the poet and aviator Antoine de Sainte-Exupery and it was inspired by the great aviatrix of the day, notably France’s Helene Boucher.

This new shimmering powder is a lovely, modern way to try out the daring Vol de Nuit – while adding a touch of Harlow-esque glamour to any lady’s boudoir.


One person complimenting you on your skin could just be insincere flattery but by Wednesday, I had had enough compliments in that department to make me realise that there was something going on with my complexion. It has been especially well cared for in recent weeks, thanks to more regular exfoliation (with Elemis’s Gentle Rose Exfoliator, since you ask) and a weekly helping of a luxurious mask (Sisley’s Black Rose) but I think that what prompted the compliments was the foundation: each time I was complimented, I was wearing Dior Diorskin Forever Fluid SPF25 (£29.50), which provides great coverage but a natural finish. The effect is of no foundation, but super-enhanced, healthily glowing, skin…


Christmas may still be a way away but I noticed on Thursday that I had already worn down couple of the shades in my favourite Christmas palette so far: Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Smokey Passion (£30; www.clarins.co.uk).

This limited edition set is quite distinct from any other I’ve seen this season. It comprises a tawny, coral shade, a taupe and a dark grey-brown – all shimmery powders – plus a wet, glittery silver which goes on sheer and adds a subtle sparkle.


It may seem a little premature to be talking about spring cosmetic colours but that was what Lloyd Simmonds, the creator of YSL’s make-up, wanted to discuss when he came to Glasgow to meet the press on Friday. No wonder he was keen to talk spring: he has designed a beautiful collection of pastels and sheer shades for his next collection, which goes on sale on December 20. (The photo shows him playing with the new colours.)

The spring collection was inspired, said Simmonds, “by an old-fashioned candy shop I stumbled across in Paris”. It’s playful, light, fresh – very much “candy for the face” and a complete contrast to the current Holiday Look 2011, which is based around black.


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My Week in Beauty


Beauty icon Jean Harlow, known as the Platinum Blonde bombshell of the early 1930s, liked to contrast her beestung, scarlet lips with pale, milky white skin – and loose powder was a staple of her make-up regime.

Miss Harlow was a big fan of Guerlain fragrances  so I have no doubt that had she lived to be a grand old grande dame (and I mean seriously old – next year is the centenary of her birth), she would have loved the latest incarnation of the classic loose powder from the luxury Parisian beauty house.

Guerlain Les Voilettes Mineral (£33) is a lovely powder, scented – like Guerlain’s celebrated Les Meteorites – with a parma violet fragrance. It comes in a handsome, smooth gold tub and is applied with a decadent black puff.

My mum had been asking me for some powder and I thought I’d give this tub to her after I’d tried it out. I fully expected not to want to wear it much because I’m not a fan of parma violets, but I loved the feel and look of the powder on my face and, frankly, the scent wasn’t obvious after the initial application.

Mum’s had to make other arrangements …


By strange coincidence, I was thinking about Jean Harlow as I headed to Hotel du Vin in Glasgow on Tuesday to meet the chic PR for Tom Ford Beauty. Tom Ford’s fragrance White Patchouli, with its Art Deco-inspired white bottle, always brings Jean to mind. After all, she liked to wear gleaming white gowns, and her era (she died, at just 26, in 1937) was the age of Art Deco..

Melissa was in town, however, to talk to the local press about the arrival in Frasers, in Glasgow, of The Tom Ford Private Blend Collection later this month. These 16 scents, many of which appeal equally to both sexes, represent the designer’s fascination with the world of artisanal perfumery – in other words, they’re not your run-of-the-mill, easy-to-wear, suits-anyone type of fragrances.

Strangely, given my recent predilection for wearing men’s fragrances (read on!), I was drawn to the floral-oriental Champaca Absolute (£110 for 50ml), a mysterious and complex scent – more Garbo than Harlow – with cognac amongst its top notes and a spicy floral heart…


I rekindled an old love affair (well, not that old) last week – with Dior Homme (from £42), a gents’ fragrance which came out a few years ago and which I used briefly then set aside and forgot about.

Anyway, when I chanced upon it at the weekend, it seemed like the time to give it an outing – and I ended up wearing it for most of the week. I think it’s one that many women pinch from their partners as it is, unusually, a “masculine floral fragrance” with iris at its heart, as well as top notes of sage, lavender and bergamot and a woody/leathery base.


I’ve been trying to continue with some of the Elemis skincare programme which was prescribed to me during my recent facial at their spa pod in Debenhams and, by Wednesday, I realised that I’d have to make it official and admit that I am now addicted to Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser (£27; www.elemis.co.uk).

Like that other fab, wash-off cream cleanser, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, Elemis Pro-Radiance is a pleasure to use. It has a luxurious texture, smells lovely (orange, lavender, ylang ylang and patchouli) and it leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth and looking radiant.

I’m not sure about the anti-ageing bit but I’ll be using it religiously and shall certainly notice if it starts to turn back the clock, complexion-wise.


My revival of interest in men’s fragrance couldn’t have been more timely: Chanel has just brought out a new perfume for men.

An elegant square bottle of Bleu de Chanel (£42) arrived chez moi on Friday and I was delighted to find that it’s another men’s fragrance which I would consider wearing myself. First impressions are of a slinky, seductive scent – undoubtedly a midnight shade of blue..

As ever with Chanel, there’s a stylish advertising campaign with strong cinematic credentials – this time, director Martin Scorsese and actor Gaspard Ulliel, shown above. You might recognise him from some of the notable films he’s already been in (he’s only 26): Summer Things, in which he seduced Charlotte Rampling, A Very Long Engagement and Paris Je T’Aime..

Here’s a link to the film and the concept behind Bleu: http://www.chanel.com/en_GB/fragrance-beauty/Universe-Bleu-de-CHANEL-118651

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