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.