Friday, 21 December 2012

December in Paris

Paris just knows how to do December. The decorations are chic, never gaudy, and even if you don't go inside the stores, the window displays alone are dazzling. The incredible Dior display in the windows of Printemps beauty store (below) features hundreds of tiny marionettes wearing Dior fashion specially made by the fashion house's own atelier – they all move and dance and float. You have to venture into Colette though – push past the crowds of hipsters who spend hours thronging the pavement outside (even in the rain), perhaps hoping that some of the store's cool will waft out of the doors and infuse them – the beauty edit is brilliant, from US pharmacist brand C.O. Bigelow and English natural ranges REN and Burt's Bees to Topshop make-up. Also recommend Germain restaurant on rue Baci over by the Marais where you can follow your steak and chips with a banana split or comically large chocolate eclair. Staff are ludicrously good-looking – in fact everyone in there seems to have fabulous hair and a figure that you do not get from eating banana splits and comically large chocolate eclairs. But the food's great. Perhaps the most Christmassy thing to do, though, is stop for hot chocolate in Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli, where Chanel and Audrey Hepburn both hung out – it's legendary for good reason. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

At Liberty

Brown Thomas in Dublin ( is one of the loveliest shops we know – not as sprawling as Selfridges, but with a great fashion and beauty edit and friendly, helpful staff – but in London it has to be Liberty. For all of us who can't get there easily, there's £30 off on their website this weekend plus free UK delivery. There is really nowhere better to buy beauty, from Frederic Malle (try his candle, above, £58) and Byredo perfumes to cosmetics by cult brands such as Hourglass (the 'best of' box below includes their brilliant mineral primer) and Aesop. A set of glass tumblers (£6.50 each) by the brilliant North East shop Re-Found Objects, who have popped up in Liberty, makes a stylish gift, while the Ally Cappellino leather bags are practical and built to last.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Night fever

Gatsby Classic Cotton Pyjamas, £100

Love these cool classic pyjamas from, which have names like Bardot, Grace and Mitford to channel that idea of timeless beauty and glamour. They're made in India by ex-journalist Lucy Archibald who's now based there, and they're selling out fast – the cool striped nightshirt which has a gorgeously worn quality has already disappeared and we're really hoping they restock soon. This mannish style in midnight blue silk would make the perfect Christmas present....

Audrey Classic Silk Pyjamas, £200 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Karl for Shu

No humble HBs for Karl Lagerfeld - the designer uses Shu Uemura eyeshadows to colour his fashion sketches. Which is what's led to him creating a beauty collection together with the Japanese brand. It launches on October 14 in Selfridges, Harrods and Brown Thomas Dublin before going nationwide in November. Harrods, incidentally, will stock the only pair of false eyelashes made with real rubies. So if you have a spare £900 you're in luck.

The little manga comic-style motif of the collection, Mon Shu, dressed in Lagerfeld's own trademark black and white, is cutesy (though also a little sinister), but the make-up colours are as sophisticated as you'd expect from Shu. 

The eye colours are really silky with great strong colours, while the four lipsticks (including a fab pinky-red) are creamy and luxurious. I like the reinvented eyelash curlers – still the best in the business – and the fact the prices haven't been hiked up to cash in on the Karl link. It's a fun and collectable collection (we'd love the make-up box – which is pricey, but will last for ever – and the mini make-up brushes).

Shu are always so visual about their packaging – here's the Mamechiyo collaboration they did earlier this year:

And don't forget their brilliant Cleansing Oil, in a mini sample you can sometimes get from counters if they're in stock – if you've never tried it, you'll find it's the most lovely, gentle, pleasurable way of cleaning your skin. There are different varieties to suit your skin type. 

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Starting this Friday at 6pm, you can take part in the upcoming fashion weeks as never before: will be broadcasting live commentary on the shows as they happen, with panels made up of fashion luminaries such as Jane Shepherdson, Daphne Guinness and Colin McDowell. Colin will be kicking off with Mrs Beckham's show in New York on early Sunday evening. Don't miss it – this will be THE place to get the most informed, honest, opinionated and downright entertaining coverage of spring 2013's fashion as it unfolds. Can't wait...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tom Ford's take on florals

There's a raft of new scents about to surface for autumn, and Tom Ford's four new Private Blend fragrances are (along with the new Chanel) the very best. Already on counter in Brown Thomas Dublin, they're due to launch officially in September. And they are stunners. Imagine these opaque black bottles, modelled on chess pieces, lined up on your dressing table, for a start....  The sultry hyacinth is one of the most intoxicating perfumes I've breathed in ages, with an earthy green top note that smells like the stems of the flowers and a gorgeous lingering warmth, while Cafe Rose is a blend of rose absolute cut through by coffee. There's also Lys Fume, a heady, smoky lily, and Jonquille de Nuit, which captures that addictive, almost jasmine scent of narcissi – you literally can't stop smelling it on your wrist. Ford describes these as "twisted florals" and they're certainly more sultry than so many rose or jasmine-based scents on the market. Several new launches from the biggest beauty companies, by contrast, just reek – there's a trend for sickly vanilla and overblown patchouli, and it tends to overpower any subtle floral touches entirely. I guess it depends if you like really sweet scents, which belong to the newer family of perfumes known as 'gourmand' – think Laura Mercier's creamy caramel and sugar-scented bath line in scent form. To me, this kind of 'edible' perfume is perfect for a teenage girl, but just too much on anyone else – the olfactory equivalent of eating too many marshmallows.  

Thursday, 19 July 2012

London calling

We've a sudden urge to hot-foot it to London – but it's got nothing to do with the Olympics. While everyone else is queuing for the diving or crazy golf or whatever, we'll be nabbing tickets for the Film4 Summer Screen to watch movies in the beautiful courtyard of Somerset House: film choices include The Birds (worth seeing just for Tippi Hedren's wardrobe and style alone) and Pretty in Pink. In an ideal world, we'd stay in the new Haymarket hotel, or trying to nab a room in Shoreditch House Hotel in the hip east end, for the rooftop pool. The next evening we'd have tickets to see Simon Russell Beale star in Timon of Athens – not a light choice, granted, but already garnering rave reviews – or Mark Rylance as Richard III over at the Globe. Last, but certainly not least, we'd be nipping over to the Chanel pop-up shop in Covent Garden: the new lipstick collection they're launching in September means anyone and everyone can find their perfect red. And their newest perfume, launching next month, is a real gem. It's top secret for now, but well worth waiting for...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Going dotty....

A first look at Marc Jacobs' new scent for summer, Dot, which launches in July in three sizes. The bottle's certainly no wallflower: that strange red football on top, the crazy black "petals".... Jacobs was working on the premise that polka dots are always in fashion, and Dot is intended to be a "sister" to previous scents such as Lola and Daisy. The scent itself? It's a full-on sweet scent of holidays – coconut, orange and musk, plus berries and vanilla. It's all there. One thing's for sure, if you're a chypre kind of girl, this one's not for you. A bold, playful statement, or a hideous tacky aberration? Love or loathe it, you can't ignore it. Dominating a dressing table near you come July....

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Here comes the summer....

Just had a preview of the summer collection from Chanel, launching 25 May. Here's a little peek....

Pretty doesn't begin to cover it. Particularly lovely is the limited edition 'Holiday' nail varnish in bright orangey-red, together with lip gloss to match. It's a really zingy colour that stands out brilliantly against dark colours and will look fabulous with a tan (fake, of course). Anything take your fancy?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Rose-tinted spring

You might have noticed a rosy glow to fashion and beauty this season. It's not just Tiffany that's going big on rose gold right now: you can't move for adverts of their new Rubedo metal. You'll find a take on rose-gold in a myriad of jewellery collections right now, from Alexander McQueen to Alex Monroe and Monica Vinader (all at net-a-porter) through to Dominic Jones (see his rose gold-plated Jaw ring, £140) and Alexis Bittar (available at Liberty). This Margiela cuff is the pick of the bunch for me – sturdy and chunky yet with a strange elegance.

Alexander Wang Prisma leather tote with rose-gold metal corners £575

The metallic glow extended to beauty on the catwalks for spring – in its most subtle form as a pretty, sun-warmed glow. There were burnished, bronzed eyelids at Pucci, for example, through to a shimmery iridescence at Armani. Make-up collections from Bobbi Brown and Chanel (the desert gold-inspired Las Vegas limited collection) to NARS and St Tropez (loads of the make-up artists use their rose gold body illuminator to get glowing, sheeny skin on the catwalks) are going for a rose-centred, glowing beauty – so much edgier than all the pastels that flood in come spring.

And on the edgy note, I have to mention Tom Ford's small but perfectly formed spring collection – his first – which features four nail lacquers (31) including silver, gold ('Guilt') and a delicious burnt red, Illicit, that seems to glow like hot coals. He's also done a gold lipgloss (31) – fabulous as a glam top coat though unforgiving by itself – and cream eyeshadows in dusky metallic tones (36). Reminiscent of Chanel's stunning Illusion d'Ombres, these have a great colour kick and staying power, and they're typically sultry. Only downside is they don't come with a brush, as Chanel's do, though it's easy enough to smudge them on with a finger. Ford's beauty collection – with the weight of Lauder's expertise and research behind it – is not only standing up to the hype, but maintaining its hold over us with the quality of its colours, formulations and heavyweight, retro-style packaging. And boy, wait til you see the stunning bronzers he's got in store for May... madly expensive, but so luxe. You'll also find the divine Neroli Portofino as a 'body splash' (102), which is lighter than the edp. I'll post some photos of the nails and eyes in due course...

Nars lipgloss in Dolce Vita, £17.50
Tom Ford Bronzing Powder, 77 (available from May)

Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Silver Smoke, €31
Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Burnished Rouge, €31
Neroli Portofino Eau Fraiche Body Splash, 102

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Blue Shoes

I wanted to show you these vintage Christian Louboutins. Midnight blue fabric with a low heel, size 38. But these aren't ordinary Louboutins. Their previous owner was Elizabeth Taylor.

The shoes were Lot 1788 in the recent Christie's online auction of Taylor's possessions. In a mad romantic gesture my other half secretly entered the bidding fray, deciding this was a one-off and an heirloom.... He likes to think of David Beckham bidding online somewhere and being disappointed to lose out (though these heels would be a little low for his wife). I was blown away by it all. Elizabeth Taylor was a figure of such passion and character – somehow I can't imagine a current actress inspiring such fascination, even those who are lauded for their fashion sense. I watched Giant a few weeks ago and her presence on screen was just magnetic. To own even a pair of wellies she'd once stepped out in would be a thrill!

It feels rather strange and magical to hold them and think of the hands that held them last – and to try and imagine the vast and treasure-filled wardrobe they used to live in (a far cry from mine, I can tell you!). I'd love to know more about when they were made and worn - for some reason I think the 1990s (Louboutin opened his first boutique in 1992). They look to me like they were hand-made, to go with a particular outfit for a one-off occasion, perhaps – they are barely worn, their red soles immaculate. I've contacted Louboutin's head office to try and find out.

So the question is whether to put them up on a shelf, and keep them pristine for my daughter one day – or to enjoy them to the full, as they're my size. It feels a little cavalier to actually wear them. But the temptation is to walk tall – what better way to channel the feisty spirit of Elizabeth Taylor on a day when you're feeling a little timid....

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Lip service from YSL

The best bit about Saturdays as a teenager was buying a new lipstick. I've mentioned before how this mainly involved hours in Miss Selfridge, stocking up on Running Bare and other pale frosted delights. I may have moved on from Miss Selfridge, but the lipstick obsession has stayed with me, and I stockpile as many different colours, types and textures as I can. Recent standouts are Chanel's Rouge Allure Velvet – wonderful pigments, classic shades – and Guerlain's Rouge G is hard to beat, in its bullet-shaped silver case with integral mirror. And this month, exclusively at Selfridges, and Brown Thomas Dublin, a great new lip line has landed: YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain (£22.50). I'm pretty fussy about lipstick, but I reckon this is the best new formula for a fair old while. There are 20 shades, from rich sultry raisin browns to light nudes and beiges – with this fabulous orange (above), a key colour for the season, somewhere in the middle. And they have a unique light texture: not too sticky, not too glossy, but pigment-rich and long-lasting. One coat gives a subtle stain, the second a richer finish and sheen. So they're both glam and easily wearable – love the chic little square bottle, too. Creative director Lloyd Simmonds is bringing a dynamic edge to YSL beauty right now, with fabulous colours and the latest technology: these, for example, harness polymers usually used to make food look glossy! While you're at the counter, check out YSL's newest skincare range, Forever Youth Liberator, which includes an excellent serum and a rich day cream that's ideal for winter months. Though you may not necessarily associate YSL with luxe, efficacious skincare, this could change that perception. Just launched this month, also in Selfridges and Brown Thomas exclusively.