Tag Archives: V&A

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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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A hair crisis was narrowly averted on Monday – thanks to James Brown Hair Reviving Dry Shampoo (£5.99; www.boots.com).

Having promised to go out with the family after spending the morning and much of the afternoon working at the computer, I found myself without enough time to get both my hair and my make-up done… The choice was: wash my hair and risk the family’s wrath, or skip the hair-washing. In which case, I might as well have also gone the whole hog and worn my jammy bottoms for the rest of the day.

It was only when I remembered about the can of dry shampoo in my cupboard that a third option presented itself. And you know what? My hair actually looked better, post-James Brown Hair Reviving Dry Shampoo, than it has, post-normal shampoo, for ages.

TUESDAY

On Tuesday, I was still flirting with the new Dior mascara, Extase, which was sent the week before. But, as always happens when I start a relationship with a new mascara, I began to reminisce about past favourites.

Friends are always asking me for mascara recommendations, and there’s no better recommendation from a beauty writer than to say which items she would buy if she had to…

Any time I can’t find a satisfactory mascara among the latest offerings, I turn to one of the following: Estee Lauder Sumptuous (£18; www.esteelauder.co.uk), Bobbi Brown Party Wear (£17.50; www.bobbibrown.co.uk), Revlon Double Twist (£6.29) or Boots No7 Lash 360 (£11.50; www.boots.com).

All of these are fantastic for adding length, boosting volume and curling the lashes. Put it this way, I always have at least one of these mascaras in my cosmetics cupboard – just in case the latest wand I’m testing fails to work its magic..

WEDNESDAY

The weather was really warm on Wednesday and a lighter foundation seemed in order – especially since my skin seems to be behaving, for once, as far as being shiny is concerned.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15 (£28), which launched early last year, has become one of my favourite bases; a must for when I want light, natural-looking coverage and I don’t expect to get hot, bothered and shiny (it’s better for the dehydrated/dry part of my combination skin than my oily part).

Ordinarily, I’d avoid a shade called Sand – Ivory, Porcelain or some other shade of “as pale as they come” is usually the one for me – but this one is absolutely perfect. I dread to think what the girl who wears one of the three paler shades looks like sans make-up. Something out of Twilight, perhaps…

THURSDAY

The press preview of theV&A’s  Grace Kelly exhibition took place today. One aspect of her style which isn’t covered is the make-up that she used to create her classic, fresh-faced American look.  Coral was her favourite lipstick shade,  so I’m sure she would have loved Dior Addict Lipcolor (£21.50) in Coral Craze, from the forthcoming summer collection. I do! It could well be the replacement for my last favourite coral lipstick, Estee Lauder Pure Color Crystal Lipstick in Coral Reef, a limited edition two years ago..

FRIDAY

Having highly sensitive skin – possibly as a result of testing too many creams and cosmetics over the last 14 years – I am always very careful about what I’ll test on my own face, and which lotions and potions I’ll delegate to tried and tested testers.

Luckily, I decided to give Dior’s latest anti-ageing moisturiser a whirl myself. Why? Because Hydra Life Pro Youth Comfort Creme (£40) is extremely kind to even the most sensitive of skins. It’s one of several new products in the new Hydra Life collection which claims to delay the signs of ageing using pure plant extracts selected from Dior gardens.

Only time will tell if the signs of ageing are delayed but in the meantime, I’m relishing using this highly hydrating, delightfully scented and luxurious-feeling cream which – like its siblings in the Hydra Life family – contains a unique concentrate of plant extracts from Uzbekistan, France and Madagascar.

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Style File: Grace Kelly’s Film Years

This Helen Rose gown, one of several from High Society which were given to Grace Kelly as a wedding gift from MGM, is in the V&A exhibition.

Grace Kelly, one of the most influential style icons of the 20th Century, is the subject of a major exhibition which opens this weekend at the V & A in London. A movie star who became a real-life princess, she is the perfect example of what it means to be stylish: although she followed fashion, she was always true to her distinctive, ladylike look. Only very rarely did she deviate from the streamlined, unfussy suits and dresses which she knew suited her.

The exhibition is divided into three parts: Grace Kelly the actress, Grace Kelly the bride, and Princess Grace of Monaco. Although the view of Jenny Lister, the curator, is that Grace Kelly wouldn’t have become an enduring style icon had she not had a high-profile wedding and become a princess, I personally believe that her movie years alone would have ensured her status.

Here are some of my own favourites from her onscreen wardrobe during the 1950s, starting with a selection from Rear Window (1954), the Alfred Hitchcock thriller which acknowledged the growing fascination with Kelly’s style by casting her as a young woman who works in the fashion industry.

The Edith Head suit - worn with a cream halterneck and cream pillbox hat - in Rear Window was very much Grace Kelly's own style.

Playing a fashion-mad socialite, Kelly is seen in a different outfit in every scene – and her onscreen wardrobe includes slinky lingerie (which she memorably pulls from the dinkiest overnight case – much to the bemusement of her boyfriend, James Stewart), evening wear and casual attire. It’s a veritable fashion parade – and much of it was a reflection of Kelly’s own style. Here’s how she makes her entrance – note the signature pearls are there from the get-go, and watch how the outfit is revealed very gradually (and tantalisingly), culminating in a full-length shot.

In To Catch a Thief (1955), Kelly worked again with director Alfred Hitchcock and costume designer Edith Head, and the wardrobe was as memorable as Rear Window’s. As a  socialite holidaying on the Riviera, she was seen in a number of casual outfits – including this chic little ensemble:

Of course, To Catch a Thief pairs Kelly with another great style icon, Cary Grant who  swaps his usual sharp suits for the casual clobber that one presumes is de rigueur for a retired continental cat burglar. I love this picture of this most elegant pair of stars relaxing between takes – and, although espadrilles aren’t associated with Kelly in the way that Hermes bags, pearls and twinsets are, I always think of her when I am tempted to buy a pair…

It’s not just the To Catch a Thief espadrilles that have forever linked Grace Kelly with this style of footwear in my mind; she also sported them – with beige shirt and chinos (and silk kerchief) – in the opening scenes of High Society (1956).

But  back to To Catch a Thief … The evening gown that people often remember is the gold lame, Marie Antoinette number which Kelly wears for the masked ball. I’m not a fan of it; this beautiful, Grecian-style gown gets my vote in the evening wear stakes.

High Society was Grace Kelly’s last film, made during the short period between her engagement and her wedding, a period when she was also assembling her trousseau under the watchful eyes of fashion commentators from all over the world. Her clothes in High Society were designed by Helen Rose, and, again were very much in-keeping with her own personal style – so much so that she was given a number of the gowns  as a wedding present from her studio, MGM. One of these was this exquisite dress, again in the draped, Grecian style – appropriately enough, as her character has something of a Goddess complex..

This gown, which was worn over a swimming costume in High Society, is also in the V&A exhibition.

*Grace Kelly: Style Icon runs at the V&A from April 17- September 26; the accompanying book, Grace Kelly Style (V&A, £19.99) is out now.

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