Tag Archives: Peter Philips

Les Beiges for Beginners

LES_BEIGES_2013_PRESS_RELEASE_04When is beige not boring? When it’s Chanel beige, cherie.  I should know: I spent the morning being educated in the the ethos behind Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, the latest addition to the Chanel make-up range.

The brainchild of Peter Philips, the Creative Director of Chanel Make-up,  whose tenure has so far produced such instant beauty classics as Rouge Coco Shine, Illusion d’Ombre and Rouge Allure Velvet, Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder was directly inspired – as so much within Chanel Beauty is – by Coco Chanel herself.

The legendary designer revolutionised fashion by liberating the female body from constrictive clothes, allowing it to move freely and be exposed to the sunlight. She was one of the first women to embrace a healthy, sun-kissed glow as a beauty ideal – porcelain skin had previously been the desired look – and photographs from the 1920s show Chanel on the beaches of Deauville, Biarritz and Cannes bare-faced and glowing with a subtle radiance.

Peter Philips credits Coco Chanel’s “emancipation” of the body as the inspiration behind his vision of “a free and liberating make-up; make-up that frees make-up in one novel beauty step” – and provides “an outdoor, radiant complexion”.

The idea of Les Beiges is to enhance the complexion and help women to achieve the healthiest, most glowing version of their skin. The new powder – claims Chanel – puts an end to dull complexions. Indeed, they go so far as to declare it as  “a manifesto for a healthy glow”.

If the powder wasn’t so lovely and effective (and don’t get me started on the chic-beyond-belief packaging), the natural piss-taker in me would have to do something with all the pseudo political spiel set out in the press dossier – but one can’t help but be charmed by Philips and his passion for what he does. Especially when he keeps giving us girls such fabulous new products to play with.

Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder is ideal for those of us who aren’t into bronzing powder, but would like just a little boost for pale or lacklustre skin. Philips says: “I wanted a refined, visible yet discreet result. I had to avoid the trap of excessive pearly effects and flamboyant tans to achieve this healthy glow. I worked with the Chanel Laboratories for months to compose the perfect range of beige shades.” And while it’s working its magic on the appearance of the complexion, the powder is also looking after the skin – since it provides protection against sun MA2012_24_0032editeddamage, pollution, dehydration and environmental stress.

There are  seven shades in the range – and how you choose your shade depends very much on what you’re wanting from the powder. Lucinda Paterson-Brown, one of Chanel’s top UK-based make-up artists, talked me through it. No10, the lightest shade, was the one she chose for me as a base – applied with a kabuki brush, it is, she says, a terrific foundation. “For a soft, natural  glow,” she adds, “you could use No20. And if you were wanting a powder to use as a gentle bronzer, across the cheeks and temple, No30 would be ideal.”

Very much created with the needs of the modern Chanel woman in mind, the powder comes with a half-moon shaped brush designed to follow the curves of the face. “You have to be able to apply your make-up without thinking about it,” explains Peter Philips. “And even though the case contains a wide-angle mirror, you can sweep on some Beige with your eyes closed. I guarantee that the result will be perfectly natural.”

* Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder SPF15 (£38) and retractable kabuki brush (£33) are available now.

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My Week in Beauty


Oooh-la-la, on Monday I was sent the sexiest new mascara I’ve tried in ages: YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking (£22) is just the job for creating come-hither eyes. Or, as the press release says, for achieving “indecent volume”… The mind boggles.

Anyway, it does this thanks to its asymmetric brush and the combination of two types of wax in its formulation: a soft adherent wax to thicken the lashes and a hard wax to maximise the curve.

Since it’s part of YSL’s Noirs collection, there are six shades of black to choose from – I’ve been using No2, Ashy Black, but would like to get my hands on Jade Black and Cherry Black to see how much difference there is…


Wednesday was the Estee Lauder companies’ annual Christmas press day in Glasgow – which means that we journalists get the chance to view all the festive goodies from the likes of Aramis, Aveda, Darphin, Clinique, Ojon, Origins and Bobbi Brown. One item which leapt out at me as being the ideal suits-all cosmetic was the Bobbi Brown Party Eye Palette (£39; www.bobbibrown.co.uk), a lovely, new, limited edition sextet of neutral shades perfect for day or evening wear.

They sure know how to throw a party, those folk from ROX, the jewellers in Glasgow. French Martinis, fabulous jewellery on display in the chic “Thrill Room”, and lovely fellow journalists to mingle with – my pal Kim and I had a great night at their “Audience With  Shaun Leane” event on Thursday.

Aside from the chance to chat with celebrity jeweller Shaun, the girly gossip and the trying on of each other’s bijoux, I enjoyed having the opportunity to wear my favourite of the Christmas collections’ nail polishes – Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Carat (£17.50; from November 4; for stockists call 020-7493 3836), a beautiful garnet shade with gold running through it, seemed the perfect choice for a night in a jewellery boutique…


And speaking of Chanel, I was invited to their Espace Beaute at Frasers on Friday to have a little make-over and a play with the new Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Lipsticks  (£23.50). As they did when they launched Rouge Coco Shine earlier this year, Chanel had a fancy photo booth there so that glammed-up customers could get a souvenir of their makeover. Their lovely Regional Make-up Specialist LucindaPaterson-Brown, who transformed me in March when Rouge Coco Shine was launched, was on hand – possibly for the last time before she starts a new job working more closely with Chanel’s Creative Director of Make-up, Peter Philips.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Lucinda, who was wearing the La Fascinante shade – a dark red – of Rouge Allure Velvet and had teamed it with a very simple, retro eye. She used the same colours on me but I felt it was just too harsh so she tried a different shade (pictured): La Raffinee. My pal Margaret, herself a make-up artist whom I met years ago in Frasers, got the Chanel treatment too. And while she wasn’t convinced by the coral La Ravissante (it was nothing like her usual nude shade), I think she looks gorgeous.

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My Week in Beauty


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…


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. 


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!


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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An Audience With The Illusionist

Chanel’s Creative Director of Make-up Peter Philips is the Willy Wonka of the cosmetics world. On a hot summer’s day in Paris, journalists from across the globe descend on the upmarket suburb of Neuilly, just outside the French capital, to catch their first glimpse of the new autumn make-up collection, which goes on sale on Friday. It’s as if we’ve all won a golden ticket to the factory where our favourite cosmetic confections are produced.

In small groups, the beauty writers are shown into a long penthouse room which is gleaming, glossy white from ceiling to (white patent) floor. There is nothing in this room – down both sides of which are continuous windows offering stunning views across Paris – apart from a series of TV screens on a wall at the bottom. In front of these screens, is a curved white bar with high stools on which we are all invited to sit. And behind the bar is Philips himself, Wonka-like (more Gene Wilder than Johnny Depp, thankfully) in his enthusiasm and sense of theatricality – but with a touch of the Wizard of Oz about him as well.

Once everyone is comfortably perched on the stools, a squad of assistants – all clad in black and sporting a slash of red lipstick – materialise holding glossy white coffrets which they set down in front of the journalists and open with great aplomb. To gasps of delight from the press corps, the new season colours are revealed – and everyone reaches for the first nail polish or eye shadow to catch their eye. And there’s certainly plenty of choice…

The Autumn 2011 collection is entitled Illusions d’Ombres de Chanel and was inspired by the precious materials used by the “Artistic Creation Houses” , the legendary houses which specialise in the traditional crafts used in couture: embroidery, decorative feathers and flowers, beading and so on, and which Chanel supports and celebrates in its annual Metiers and Arts show.

At the heart of the autumn range is a new eyeshadow, Illusion d’Ombre (£22.50), a creamy, silicone-based, sparkling formula which glides onto the eyelid (use the applicator brush or  your fingers) and can be used as sheer as you like, or built up and blended with another shade for a more dramatic, intense look. There are six colours to choose from, and while the paler shades are pretty, the ones that grab the attention are Ebloui (a reddish-brown), Illusoire (a taupe-grey) and my favourite, Epatant (a greeny-grey, pictured right, which looks great with blue eyes – at least I thought so, when I first wore it out, in May).

Peter Philips is clearly thrilled with his new eyeshadows – and by the journalists’ response to them. “If you are generous with it,” he says, demonstrating how to work the black shade, “it’s fireworks! You can create new and avant-garde looks.” Which is just what he did for the Fall-Winter Ready-to-Wear shows.

Chatting with Peter, I ask him how these new colours had come about – had Chanel’s Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld told him which colours he’d be working with? “The thing is,” he says, “my make-up calendar is a totally different calendar to the fashion one because I work two years ahead. I communicate a lot with Karl but I do my thing, and sometimes it matches and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, and I don’t have, for example, an autumn collection which links with Karl’s autumn collection, then I can find colours in my main Chanel range… I don’t have to have a launch collection which matches his – but  in this case it was  a very lucky strike!”

So, does he feel that he and Karl are in tune with one another? “I don’t think we’re of the same mind but a lot of communication goes on – and that helps. I wouldn’t say that I influenced him – it’s more the other way round. I see a lot, I hear a lot, I know the future projects. I’ll run things I’m working on by him to see if they can link in with what he’s doing – for example, the Byzance palette. I showed it to him and told him that it was in the pipeline but could be speeded up if he wanted it. He looked at it and said: ‘It’s fantastic, I’d love to have it linked to the show.’ That put the pressure on, and we produced the limited edition. It was a good synergy.

“Karl mentioned to me once that he would love to do something with tattoos or fake tattoos. When the Marie-Antoinette show in the barn came along, I knew there would be a lot of skin showing, a lot of places for tattoos, so I thought: ‘Okay, let’s do something rebellious like tattoos, but elegant like Marie-Antoinette.’ So I did the jewels like the pearls, and the swallows in tattoo form.”

This season, Peter is proudest of the afore-mentioned Illusions d’Ombre eyeshadows.Why? “Well, I’m very proud of the formula itself – the fact that we can stretch from really intense pigment, colour-wise, like the pitch black , to the more subtle shades. I’m stretching it all the way back to a natural, almost luminous make-up finish. And that, in the same formula, is unusual and something I’m very proud of – the laboratory did an amazing job.”

Of course, the other items pounced upon by the press pack are the new nail varnishes – Le Vernis in Peridot, Quartz and Graphite (£17.50). Quartz is a satiny taupe while Graphite is a glittery silver. The Peridot, I tell him, reminds me of the chartreuse dress worn by the subject of the iconic art deco painting The Girl in Green With Gloves, by Tamara De Lempicka. “I wasn’t thinking of that – more of peacock feathers,” he says, “but yeah-yeah-yeah, you’re absolutely right. I’m very proud of that shade – but it’s kind of obvious because it’s unique.

“My favourite, the one that I really love and which I know a lot of women will adore, is Quartz, the most subtle one. It’s very beautiful. The other two are kind of ‘wow’; this is a bit of a sleeper. You’re not attracted to it in the first moment, because the other two are so bling-bling almost, but Quartz is a slow-burner.”

So there you have it: ladies, form an orderly queue ….

* The Illusions d’Ombres de Chanel collection for Autumn 2011 goes on sale on Friday, August 19. For stockists call 020-7493 3836.


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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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My Week in Beauty


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.


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..


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!”


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.


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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Coco Mademoiselle

The most stylish film you’re likely to see this month is just 30 seconds long and has no dialogue. It was shot in Paris by a BAFTA award-winning director and stars a Hollywood A-lister in a surprisingly action-packed role. Oh, and it’s a sequel. You’ll see it on TV any number of times  – and it might just inspire you to go on a shopping trip.

It’s the new advert for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle fragrance – and it stars British actress Keira Knightley, who has been the face of the perfume for the last three years. For 25-year-old Keira, reprising the role of the elegant starlet leading a glamorous Parisian life offered the chance to be reunited with Joe Wright, her director on two of her most successful films – Pride and Prejudice and Atonement – as well as the last Coco Mademoiselle ad, which has been running since 2008.

That advert famously opened with Keira, wearing a man’s shirt and bowler hat, nipping into an apartment through its open window and dressing herself in a 1930s-style scarlet evening gown which she wears to an event before fleeing into the moonlit streets of Paris.

The new advert also crams a great deal of story into its running time – and Keira is clearly still playing the same mysterious character: same hairdo, same penchant for grey nail varnish, same hurry to get to where she’s going (this time it’s to a photo shoot) – and the same desire to flee once she’s done her job. But this new advert required a bit more preparation from the actress
than the last one. Why?

Giggling, she replies: “Because of the motorbike! All Joe told me before we started work on the ad was that it would involve a motorbike. I must admit I was rather terrified of the idea. I think that Joe thought that I was the kind of girl who would already have been on one – which is flattering for me, because that means that he must see me as a very cool girl! But in reality, I’d never been on this kind of bike – so I took a few lessons.”

After her “crash” course, Keira felt sufficiently confident to shoot the ad – only to be told that the motorbike that would be used wouldn’t be any old motorbike. “They told me it would be a Ducati – and that was a completely different story. Especially since my instructor very calmly explained to me that if the motorbike fell, I would be unable to lift it up. Mind you, I had a lot of fun with my lessons – though I would have loved to have been as good as my biker companions who made revving up their bikes look so easy. I had to cheat a little, but this made me want to take more lessons so I could really make the bike go ‘vroom’!”

Of course, you can’t ride a motorbike in a Chanel evening gown. So Karl Lagerfeld promised to kit Keira out in appropriate gear. “All I knew before I saw it was that was a catsuit and that it would be beige,” laughs Keira. ” I didn’t have any details. I discovered it in his offices once it was done and immediately when I put it on, I felt like I was slipping into a second skin. I felt like a Chanel superwoman!”

The colour of the catsuit was obviously chosen to stand out alongside the black gear worn by the male bikers in the film, but that wasn’t the only reason: beige was Coco Chanel’s signature colour, and it’s one of the advert’s many little tributes to the legendary founder of the house of Chanel. Her famous mirrored staircase, which is to be found at her original boutique in Paris, is featured, as is her beloved Place Vendome, the magnificent square onto which her bedroom at the Ritz Hotel faced. Her love of pearls is reflected in the keyring which Keira carries her bike keys on, and even the actress’s loose bob seems to evoke the look of Coco Chanel in her heyday.

Was Coco Chanel an inspiration for the character Keira plays? She won’t say, but she does admit to being very impressed by what she’s learned about Chanel and her background. “I’m sure I would have found her intimidating in person. In my mind, she is incredibly mysterious but also strong, powerful and – above all – independent. Which is an essential quality to me.

“Actually, one of the things I love about Coco Mademoiselle – which was my fragrance even before I was first approached by Chanel – is that although it’s extremely feminine, it gives me this feeling of power. Before it, I only wore men’s fragrances. I didn’t want something light and flowery – I’m not that kind of girl. Coco Mademoiselle was the first perfume I tried and thought: ‘Yes, that fits.’ It’s the mixture of strength and subtlety. It doesn’t overpower but it makes you feel you can stand up straight – and that’s important to me.”

Keira was given her first bottle of Coco Mademoiselle by a friend who was fed up with her wearing men’s perfume and told her “it was time to grow up!”. If she hadn’t fallen in love with the fragrance almost on first sniff, Keira would undoubtedly have discovered Coco Mademoiselle for herself by visiting one of Chanel’s olfactive tables – one of which will be a key part of the company’s new beauty zone, an Espace Parfums with a Chanel Make-up Studio, opening in Frasers, Glasgow, later this month.

The Chanel olfactive table houses the 48 concentrates which make up the entire range of Chanel perfumery. From April 21, when the the Espace Parfums opens, fragrance experts will be on-hand to guide customers through the collection using a new ceramic blotter system which will allow them to sample every scent. There will also be a floating bar showcasing the entire Les Exclusifs mini collection of perfumes which, until recently, were only available in Chanel boutiques and Selfridges.

The Espace Parfums is the first that the company has opened in the UK outside the capital. The revamped beauty area, which will have a make-up play station and a giant screen showing the latest make-up collections, will put Scottish Chanel fans on an equal footing with Londoners as the “Fast Track” make-up collections, designed by Peter Philips, the creative director of Chanel Make-up and previously only sold in Selfridges and in Chanel boutiques, will be on sale here for the first time.

So, later this month, make like Keira and get on your bike – down to Frasers to check it out….
* View the Coco Mademoiselle adverts online at www.chanel.com, and the Chanel Espace Parfums and Chanel Make-up Studio open in Frasers, Glasgow, on April 21

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My Week in Beauty


We’ve been having a bit of a Star Wars moment in my house recently – thanks to my twin boys’ ever-increasing obsession with the original trio of movies. I hadn’t seen them for years and was struck by how very now Princess Leia’s hair styles are – all those pleats! Sometimes they’re piled high in a bun, sometimes she wears long loose pleats and other times – as in this picture – she loops the loop with them (and snares the gorgeous Han Solo in the process!). It’s just too bad she (and Carrie Fisher, the talented actress/writer who played her) is best remembered for her two-bun look…

The ongoing Stars Wars fixation was the perfect backdrop, on Monday, for the arrival of a parcel containing two perfumes which both looked as if they had been designed by a sci-fi fan.

I’m not drawn to extra-terrestrial style fragrance bottles myself, but the latest addition to Thierry Mugler’s Alien family of fragrances  – Alien Sunessence Amber Gold Edition (£40; out now), a fresh floral amber eau de toilette variation on the original Alien perfume – is bound to appeal to younger fragrance fans and devotees of the Alien range.

The other new perfume on the inter-galactic block is Aura by Swarovski (from £44), the first eau de parfum from the celebrated crystal company.

Like Alien Sunessence, it’s a fruity floral which comes in a strikingly futuristic bottle – with a crystal-topped lid, of course..


Every so often media coverage of a nail varnish makes my pals sit up and take notice – and I’ve had a few requests for any spare bottles of this season’s must-have Chanel polish, the Black Pearl shade of Chanel Le Vernis (£17; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). If you can’t get your hands on a bottle – or a beauty writer pal can’t help you out – then here’s an alternative which is virtually identical: Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Perfect Storm (£14; www.esteelauder.co.uk). But it is limited edition – so hurry!

It may have been a bit too sober a shade to wear to Tuesday’s press night of Mamma Mia, the Abba show which came back to the Clyde Auditorium last weekend, but it certainly looks very chic and very now.

If I’d really wanted to get into the spirit of the show,
however, I could have chosen any number of the beautiful, vibrant colours in the range, which has been designed by Tom Pecheux. I particularly like Wicked Green and Wild Blue, which are also limited edition shades.


Flicking through the copy of the InStyle’s authoritative Best Beauty Buys 2011 on Wednesday, I found myself nodding in agreement at more of the inclusions than usual.

I’ve recently become a fan of the lovely basic skincare items in Lancome’s comprehensive range, so was delighted to see that two of my new favourites were included in the best cleansers and toners category. Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur Express Cleansing Water (£20; http://www.lancome.co.uk) and Lancome Tonique Douceur Softening Hydrating Toner (£20) are a delight to use. The cleansing water is a lovely, refreshing way to remove make-up and cleanse the skin, while the toner – which smells gorgeous – is extremely comfortable and leaves skin looking healthy.

In fact, Lancome really cleaned up in that category, as their cult eye make-up remover Lancome Bi-Facil Non Oily Instant Cleanser (£19.50) was the third of the five products in that section….


The lovely Ally and Sheena from the Clinique and Aramis & Designer Fragrances PR teams were in Glasgow on Thursday to brief us beauty writers on their next batch of new launches.

And there’s lots happening. Fragrance-wise, there are two new limited edition additions to the DKNY Be Delicious family – DKNY Be Delicious Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette) which is a fresh, fruity concoction, and DKNY Fresh Blossom Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette), a light fruity-floral scent. Both are availalable now from Debenhams, and from Boots from April 5 onwards.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of fruity fragrances so I was most excited by my introduction to the gorgeous colours in the new range of Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balms (£13.50; www.clinique.co.uk). These chunky lip balm pencils are highly moisturising and super-comfy to wear – and I was immediately hooked on the bright pinky-red shade, Chunky Cherry.


Friday was the launch date for the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipsticks (£22.50; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). And, as you may have read here a couple of weeks ago, they were being launched here in Glasgow with a photo opportunity for customers at Frasers: you could come along and have a mini-makeover using one of the 18 shades of Rouge Coco Shine, a moisturising sheer lipstick created by Chanel’s make-up maestro Peter Philips, then have your picture taken in a special Chanel photo booth..

I was invited along to be a guinea pig, and was delighted with the results. I’d already tried out one or two of the lipsticks at home and love the texture (ideal for a dry-lipped lipstick lover like myself), but I hadn’t tried the colours that Lucinda, the flame-haired make-up artist selected for me.  At home, my favourite of the four shades I was sent was the reddy-pink Monte Carlo. But on Friday, for the camera, the bright, orangey-red Rebelle proved a winner – and a great match for the coral necklace I had thrown on at the last minute as I left the house.  Check out the results below – I’m on the right, and that’s Lucinda, sporting the Romance shade … and if you fancy trying out a Rouge Coco Shine for the cameras, then read on for a list of stores that will be running the same event .. (Thanks to Boothnation for emailing me my photos and saving me from having to scan them in!)* Debenhams Oxford Street, London on March 19

* House of Fraser, Westfield on March 19

* Debenhams Liverpool on March 25

* Selfridges Birmingham on April 1 & 2

* Fenwicks Newcastle on April 2

* Selfridges at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on April 9

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He Should Coco

Peter Philips is like a kid with a new toy – or perhaps that should be a new set of toys. Why? Because the 40-year-old Belgian make-up artist and Global Creative Director of Make-up at Chanel, the man responsible for making “greige” all the rage for nails this spring, is unveiling his first collection of lipsticks. And to say that he’s eager to show off his creations would be an understatement.

Rouge Coco is the name of the lipstick, available in every shade you could desire – from barely-there nude to full-on red. In the Salon Vendome, a gleaming white room in Chanel’s fine jewellery boutique, beauty editors from the top magazines squeal with delight as they play with the sleek black tubes of lip colour and watch the  Rouge Coco ad, which stars French beauty Vanessa Paradis.

Beaming with satisfaction, Philips says: “This is what happened when I showed the lipsticks to the models. As soon as I open the boxes, it’s like I don’t exist any more!”      

Philips had a very clear desire when he embarked on this project. “I wanted to make lipsticks more accessible again, to seduce women into rediscovering lipstick,” he explains. “I was thinking about how to win over girls who have grown up with gloss and are afraid of lipstick.

“I wanted to make a lipstick in a range of colours that was accessible to them and with a texture that was easy for them to wear. Lipstick gives them a different attitude – a bit more maturity, maybe, and certainly a bit more sensuality.”

For Philips, lipstick is the ultimate in elegance – and Chanel’s lipsticks have always been the most chic of them all. Pointing at a shiny black tube with a gold rim, he says:  “This is what a lipstick looks like. It was created by Mademoiselle Chanel and it’s the most copied pack in the world.”

Part of the inspiration for launching a new collection of lipsticks was the popularity of the iconic quilted Chanel bag. “Chanel lipstick has as strong a design as that handbag,” says Philips.

Lipstick was an essential part of the Chanel look – so much so that, to ensure that she (and her clients) never mislaid hers, Coco Chanel also designed a special, tubular, pocket in her handbags specially for  lipstick.

Philips wanted to make sure that there was a lip shade for everyone – hence there are 31 different Rouge Coco’s. Most importantly, since every aspect of the collection is a homage to Coco Chanel (even the number 31 is significant as it refers to her Paris address, 31 rue de Cambon), it had to have a choice of reds – no fewer than three, in fact, including the one which he reckons “Mademoiselle” would have worn: Gabrielle.

When he was working on the colours, Philips drew the outline of empty lipsticks and filled in the shades, working his way out from his core reds. On one side, the line went darker, through dramatic russets and browns, while on the other, it grew lighter and more subtle.

Explaining the profusion of near-nude shades, Philips says: “I  had to have a lot of beiges and pinks to justify my motive of appealing to girls who weren’t used to lipstick. It was kind of tricky because some of the shades are really similar but once they’re applied, they give a different makeup result depending on the lip.”

Asked if he’s particularly proud of any of them, he replies: “Well, of course they’re all my babies. I’ve been working on them for two years, and I’m proud of them all.” But he points out that he’s delighted to have been able to include some classic Chanel shades from the past, among them the elegant coral Sari Dore, which was one of the colours available when Chanel first launched lipstick back in 1954.

“Yes, I brought some shades back, but not literally because some of the pigments are not allowed any more, and we had to change the texture to make it more contemporary and comfortable.”

For Philips, the revival of classic Chanel lip colours within the range gives it a bit of vintage appeal, and fits in perfectly with the current obsession many women have with the looks of the past – especially the 1940s and 1950s, when lipstick was at the peak of its popularity.

* Rouge Coco Hydrating Lip Colour lipsticks (£21 each) are on sale now. Visit www.chanel.com to see the shades. For stockists, call 020-7493 3836.

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