Tag Archives: Yves Saint Laurent

Style on Film: Belle de Jour/Le Week-end

Belle de Jour - hat and shadesI watched a couple of movies set in Paris last week – and found style inspiration in both. Weirdly, the film which I fully expected to be like a flick through the pages of a 1967 edition of Vogue turned out to be a little drab in the style stakes, while the film which I hadn’t even considered as a potential source of style inspiration provided a handful of sartorial delights..

The 1967 film in question was Belle de Jour, starring Catherine Deneuve – whose 1960s look, I had already recently decided (when donning a tux and backcombed hair for an awards event), is going to be a reference point for me this winter. Her Belle de Jour wardrobe was created by her favourite designer in real-life, Yves Saint Laurent, and it Belle de Jour - Red suitwas the above photo of the ensemble she wears when first visiting the brothel where she is seeking a day shift that seduced me into watching the whole film.

Aside from a Chanel-esque scarlet wool skirt suit and a pretty, if unremarkable, black mini dress with white collar (admittedly, very “now”), however, the clothes were nothing to write home about. They certainly didn’t inspire me. I should have made-do with that photo as inspiration; I didn’t find any more in the film. Indeed, underneath that coat she is wearing a very dreary beige shirt dress.

Much more interesting – as well as quirky and insouciantly sexy – were the clothes sported by Lindsay Duncan in Le Week-end, which I saw in the cinema last week. Duncan may be more than twice the age Le Weekend - Black lace dressthat Deneuve was when she made Belle de Jour but to the modern eye, hers is the more youthful look. (Mind you, Deneuve was playing a buttoned-up kind of a character letting her hair down for the first time.)

I loved her boulevardier gear of slouchy herringbone coat, short skirt and ankle boots, and coveted the sexy little black lace dress she wears to the pretentious dinner party at which, to her own surprise, she beguiles several of the men. Oh, and I fancy a fedora having admired Duncan’s in the final scenes. Move over Ms Mirren; the Duncan dame looks like the new poster girl for les femmes d’un certain age …Le Weekend - fedora & raincoat



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My Week in Beauty


A flying visit to London to see a new silent, black & white, movie seemed the perfect occasion to debut one of the most alluring items in the Christmas collections: Yves Saint Laurent Manicure Couture No6 Duo Terriblement Noir  (£24).

This double-act of black nail polishes – one shiny and one matte – echoes the inspiration behind this season’s Les Noirs collection: the tuxedo, with its satin lapels. I haven’t quite perfected (actually, I haven’t come close to perfecting) a French-style manicure using the two polishes – I’ll probably have to train one of my twin boys to do it! – but I’ve been enjoying wearing the glossy one on its own… It seemed the right choice for a silent movie screening: after all, actresses probably wore black nail varnish in those old movies as red would not have shown up ..


I don’t usually have beauty appointments in suburbia, but I had one in the new Whole Foods market in Giffnock, on Glasgow’s southside, on Tuesday as it is home to an outpost for the French organic beauty company Melvita. In just 18 months, this cultish brand has established itself as a favourite of green-minded beauty buffs, has two stores in London and has become available through John Lewis and its own website.

I had a consultation at Whole Foods and was very impressed with the products and how gentle and effective they felt. I immediately switched to a Melvita cleanser as I had run out of my Clarins one. Melvita 2-in-1 Cleansing Milk (£8.40; www.melvita.co.uk) cleanses and tones the skin in one fell swipe (*makes mental note for the party season*). You simply squirt some of the cream onto a cotton pad and wipe it over the face.

It leaves the skin feeling clean, refreshed, comfortable (and my skin is sensitive) and lovely – and it’s an absolute bargain, at less than a tenner for 200ml (via the Melvita website).


The big cultural event on Wednesday was the launch of the new American TV series Pan Am – but it failed to take off as grippingly as I’d hoped. It felt about as convincing as a Carry On film; Mad Men it ain’t.

However, as with the infinitely superior Mad Men, its influence is bound to be felt in fashion and beauty trends. Revlon, which designed the original Pan Am look back  in the 1960s, is punting it again, with matching pink lipstick and nail polish. I’m waiting for samples to arrive – and will report back..


And speaking of Revlon, I gave their latest foundation, Revlon Age Defying with DNA Advantage Cream Makeup (£13.99; www.revlon.co.uk) a whirl on Thursday – and am a convert. (I reckon the big count-down to my fortieth birthday has probably made me a sucker for anything that suggests defying age..)

It may have a very complex name, but the way this foundation works its magic is actually pretty simple. Recognising that the main signs of ageing in skin are caused by dehydration and exposure to UV rays – both of which can cause damage to skin cell DNA (hence the name) – it tackles these problems. So, it’s an extremely moisturising cream foundation and it contains an SPF of 20. Not only that but it evens out skin tone and contains subtle illuminators that flatter the skin and reflect the light. The result is healthy looking and feeling skin, and a very natural, radiant finish – and the coverage is good.

I particularly like the fact that it offers plenty of what Revlon calls “play time”; time to apply and blend it. None of that racing-to-get-it-in-place-before-it-sets nonsense…


Why the photo of a young Alison, you might ask? Well, because I felt like I had the skin of a six-year-old after I had my regular Triactive Facial at the Clarins Spa (0141 221 5760) in Frasers, Glasgow on Friday. My therapist, the talented Lindsay, has made it her mission over the last couple of months to turn back the clock a bit when it comes to my complexion and I must say I was particularly impressed with last week’s results. The radiance and youthful glow lasted for a few days .. and then I caught a stinking cold and have broken out in dry patches and, of course, the obligatory red, flaky skin that’s caused by blowing your nose every two minutes.

Clearly, I’ll just have to ensure that Clarins sorts me out again in time for my 40th birthday – which is now less than a month away. Eek!

Oh, and watch out for Clarins Happy Hour events, where you can have a one-to-one consultation followed by a choice of mini beauty treatments. They’re doing them at Frasers on December 5.

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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


There’s nothing like being treated like a supermodel to brighten up a dull Monday – and that’s exactly what happened to me when I was reunited with Jamie Coombes, Dior’s National Make-up Artist and a member of the International Pro Artist Team. I loved the makeup he did for me this time last year – he taught me how to create the look and I trotted out variations on it at every event I went to last winter. So, on Monday when I had an appointment with him at Frasers in Glasgow, I challenged him to come up with an evening look that would see me through this year’s party season. “Oooh, can I play about?” he asked. Carte blanche was duly granted.

Jamie must have been reading my mind because he immediately picked out green as the dominant colour in the smoky eye he elected to create. His first step was to apply a little foundation – Dior Forever Fluide 010 (£29.50) – on the eyelids as a base. Then, taking the Dior 5 Couleur Designer in Green Design (£40), he applied its darkest shade along the lash line and created a V shape in the outer corner. He spent quite  a bit of time smudging the dark green, and pulling the colour further into the lid while keeping the darkest part at the outside. In the centre of the lid, he applied some of the central, shimmery shade in the palette – as well as the golden shade from the Dior 5 Couleur Designer in Amber Design. 

To complete the dramatic eye look, Jamie lined my eyes using a combination of the Carbon and Navy shades of Diorshow Waterproof Liner (£17), and then applied the Carbon shade to the inner rim of the eyelids to intensify the effect.  He plumped up my stumpy eyelashes with a coat of Diorshow Maximiser (£22), a bodybuilding primer, before applying the fantastic Diorshow Black Out Spectacular Volume Mascara (£22).

After sculpting my cheeks with blusher and highligher, Jamie painted on a nude lip – the Rouge
Dior in Beige Angelique
(£22.50), the shade he used recently on Charlize Theron. That’s what I’m wearing in the photo at the top of this article. Then we experimented with a bolder – almost scary – red: Diorific High Fashion Lipstick in Dolce Vita Red (£21.50). I think the pale one is slightly too pale and the red a bit too strong with the strong eye, so I’m going to conduct further experiments at home – sticking to warm shades to complement the greens.

Meanwhile, Jamie is coming to a House of Fraser store near you over the next few weeks: Tuesday, October 25 & Wednesday 26 at Selfridges, Manchester; Thursday 27 at Harrods, London; Friday 28th at Selfridges, London;  November 1 & 2 at Jenners, Edinburgh; November 3 & 4 at Frasers, Glasgow; November 15 & 16 at Arnotts, Dublin; November 17 & 18 at Brown Thomas, Dublin and November 28 & 29 at Harrods, London.


This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, as they’ve been doing for the last 18 years, the Estee Lauder Companies are highlighting this great cause with their own campaign.

Jo Malone London‘s contribution to the cause is one of the most covetable: Jo Malone Red Roses Body & Hand Wash (£30; http://www.jomalone.com) is a gorgeous new product which went on sale at the beginning of the month and is almost too delectable to use on a daily basis. (If you think my kids are going to get to wash their mitts with it, think again!)

£5 from every sale of the Red Roses Hand & Body Wash is going to be donated to help fund grants for research into breast cancer, here in the UK.


Well, I’m not sure if my legs would have made the grade in a 42nd Street-style line-up, but they certainly stand a much better chance following the Clarins TriActive Body Treatment – The Body Sculptor (£63; selected Clarins spas nationwide) which I enjoyed on Thursday.

The TriActive Body Treatments are the first new treatments to be introduced by Clarins in four years, and I was delighted to be getting the chance to try one out at the Clarins Spa in Frasers, Glasgow (0141 221 5760). There are three variations on the treatment – The Moisture Quencher, The Firming Age Corrector and The Body Sculptor. It’s a very thorough treatment- the therapist asks if there are any areas you would prefer she skipped as the massage takes in the breasts, tummy and inside leg.. Very French, you see. I skipped the tummy – mine does not like massage since I had my twins.

This isn’t a treatment designed to send you drifting off for a wee snooze – it’s about results. The 60-minute massage is all about detoxifying, toning up the skin and “sculpting” the contours. My skin felt lovely afterwards and where I had the toning mask (upper arms), there was a distinct sensation of tightness. I wouldn’t expect visible results after one session so I may well consider booking in for a series. Just as well, then, that, until October 29, Clarins Spas are offering the chance to book six body treatments for the price of four. Call 0800 036 3558 for more details or information on your nearest salon.


October is proving to be a great month for new lipsticks: in fact, we’re spoilt for choice. The latest is Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Golden Lustre (£22.50; from October 19), a sheer lipstick infused with gold. There are 12 beautiful shades in the collection – so far I’ve fallen for no.112, AKA (appropriately enough for someone who’s overdue a trip to the French capital) Rose Parisien…

The make-up maestro who created this sumptuous purpley pink – and the rest of the range – is Lloyd Simmonds, YSL’s Creative Director, and he’s going to be previewing his new Holiday collection at Selfridges on Thursday, November 3 (from 5pm) and at Glasgow’s Frasers on Friday, November 4.

During his visit, clients can have their make-up done by a member of his team – and receive a luxury goody bag and glass of champagne. Appointments cost £25, and are redeemable against any purchases made on the day. For Selfridges, call 0207 318 1358 and for Frasers, call 0141 221 3880, extension 2036.

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