Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Craziest Piece of Jewellery I Have Ever Seen

I remember having conversations about men's jewellery in the nineties. Every now and then an actor would show up on the red carpet (Robert Redford springs to mind for some reason; was he famous for rocking a bit of bling?) wearing a non-religious chain, or a modest gold bracelet. This never failed to elicit sneers and jeers:

'Jewellery on a guy! Nuh-uh.'

Fast forward to 2008 and look how far we've come! Hip hop has exploded out of the ghetto and into charts, malls, high schools, designer collections and suburban teenage hearts. And with it, it's brought CHAINS. Men's chains. And pendants as big as your head. Check out 'Beautiful Girls' singer Sean Kingston and his iced-out crayon box!


Friday, January 4, 2008

For the Love of Colour

I love colour; I really do. I'm mad for it. Look at this image, what's your response? Your immediate emotional reaction?

Mine is... a giddy appreciation for the colours! Yes, the big-breasted, scantily-clad woman barely registers... maybe that just goes to show I'm a girl!

A red blooded bloke might respond differently but trust me, on some level he is enjoying the colour too. He just doesn't realise it. Colour kicks ass!


o you think it's too much? Dolce and Gabbana do colour the way everyone says it should be done: a splash of red somewhere (like a handbag) to brighten up a dull outfit, or a wild psychedelic belt to make a shift dress interesting. Check these out.

Notice the skirt on the left, the shoes in the middle and the bag on the right. D and G have used colour as a sort of icing on their sartorial cake. It reminds me of those blackand white photos where they keep the lips bright fuchsia for impact.

Forget that. I love a no-holds-barred colour-fest. Done right, it can be super-sexy. It's a mood-lifter, like a shot of coffee! People smile at you when you're colourful.

Here's a close-up of those shoes.

Show me a pouty, big-bootied girl gyrating on the dance floor wearing denim hotpants (frayed at the bottom, Britney-style) that leave her butt cheeks hanging out and a black tube top (old, dusty black; after a film of grey develops on top and it doesn't match your other black stuff anymore) and I'll watch disapprovingly.

Show me the same girl in super-cute pink hotpants and an electric green tube top, with bright lips and frilly socks and I'll think 'what a big, smiley ball of fun' and blow her a kiss! She can be showing even more cheek. It doesn't matter; it's not about skin, it's about colour.

Colour is a natural serotonin boost! It can cancel out sluttiness; such is its power.

 Now excuse me while I admire the colours in this shot.

Thanks to Charles Williams for these awesome images

No Ordinary Powder

Shade tried: (6) Fresh Rose
Every now and then you just have to invest in a luxury brand. Givenchy's Prisme Libre "Air sensation loose powder quartet" has luxury written all over it.

Pricey (50 US dollars), but this is no ordinary product. Not one chamber but FOUR, each with a different coloured powder (pastel pink, orange, beige and purple). They sift out together on the puff and combine on your face to create the most beautiful rosy hue. The smell is divine and the sifters are four little G shapes, so you are actually patting little Givenchy symbols onto your face! So extravagant!

Even when I wear this over matte makeup the finish is perfect, never heavy or flaky, and it lasts. An amazing product.

Verdict: Two Oases

Do you have the patience to be well-groomed?

I think a fashion mag is like an apple, because the first bite is the tastiest. When I read the latest glossy the pictures look better than they ever will again. ‘Pah!’ scoffs my boyfriend when I tell him, ‘that’s because it’ll all be out of date in a month, and you’ll want a new tiny, useless bag.’ He gestures at the clutch I’ve just dished a full pay cheque for. It’s lying on the couch, tipped to an awkward angle and clashing terribly with the upholstery.

‘You’re wrong!’ I declare, and I don’t mean about the clutch (it’s possible that I will want a new one in a month or so) but the magazines. It’s simpler than he says: they look their best at the start of the month because I’m seeing them for the first time. Every outfit is novel; every themed page (hats! girly! burlesque! techno!) is a sensory overload; every pose and pout in the spreads is unexpected (the way expressions should be when they jump out at you in real life). Even the details sing out, harmonising with each other to form a sweet melody that is… well, the season. Each mink capelet is a twist; every crystal-beaded lapel is a beautiful stranger; every shock of lip colour is actually a shock (especially this autumn. Violet lips at the shows! And orange!). I may even have seen them already on the web, but not arranged quite like this. It’s a visual feast.

When I was about seven my dad took me to my first Freddy Kruger flick (remember the guy with the striped jumper and knife hands? Actually, he’s back in vogue. I recently complimented a cute male friend on his red-and-brown striped jumper: Freddy Kruger chic!). I have never been so terrified in my life; I actually collapsed into the aisle at one point when those blade fingers burst through the wall and speared someone. When I saw it again and again (on video) it was still scary but… never quite as deliciously so. Fashion is the same: it loses a little of its punch if you know what’s coming.

The magic is in the little things… that flash of colour; that unexpected touch; that little bit of perfection, like a gorgeously manicured hand. You might not notice it at all until you’re about to part ways and someone offers you their hand to shake, complete with chic black nails. It’s a footnote that says: ‘you know I’m hot!’

That’s what this season’s girlie makeup trend is all about: details. Prepare to rediscover your perfectionist streak. You’ll need it to achieve the Dita Von Teese look. It’s not like a false eyelash can just be slapped on: you cut it into sections, you apply glue carefully to each one, you hold your breath and fiddle until it’s perfectly aligned with your natural lashes, you press until the glue is dry, you draw a neat black line to conceal the base. Is it gorgeous? If not, start again. If so, repeat for the other sections.

Presto! You’re ready to move on to the right eye. After that: concealer, foundation, highlighter, lipstick, body-moisturiser, etc, etc, moving all the way down to your feet, which must be clean, buffed and lacquered. And don’t forget your hair! Have you heated up the curling iron? No? Oops, you’ve just lost ten minutes…

It’s not an everyday look - by the end of the season you might throw up your hands, shriek ‘I’m over it! Kate is my muse again!’ and burst out the door with a scrubbed face and bed hair, a la Miss Moss. But if, like me, you’ve seen the runway examples, you’ll be trying it at least a couple of times a week. Gucci sent models out with barrel curls, crimson lips and matte skin; the forties had returned in all their prim glory. Clothes were well tailored (forget last season’s voluminous shapes - girly dressing is all about clean, sharp lines): fitted blouses, wool tights and tiny, belted waists. Chunky shoes and adventurous details (such as alternating tweed and leather, embroidered shoulders and even the odd plunging neckline) brought the designs into the twenty-first century; a modern take on ‘ladies who lunch’. It’s neo-girly; everyone from Von Teese to Christina Aguilera has embraced the look.

I’ve mentioned that it’s time-consuming, but done right, it’s oh-so-worth it! When I leave the house dolled-up (false lashes, red nails, blow-dried hair) it’s a whole different universe. Men stare, women gawk, shop assistants drop everything to help you, skittish types scurry aside to give you more room on the footpath. It’s a look that says, ‘I’m somebody. I’ve succeeded. Acknowledge me!’ I walked into my first college maths class done up like this: full makeup, set hair, olive pants and singlet. By the end of the class I had a date. A few weeks later the guy showed me a poem he’d scribbled about me that day (instead of absorbing the lecturer’s rant about probabilistic axioms). It was called ‘The Girl in Green’ and it went something like this: ‘she walks in and yet she is separate/ a soldier for class in a class for maths. Every head turns to stare/ each regards her as an outsider’.

Well, I caught his eye, but this reveals a side effect of perfectionist dressing: people may stiffen up a little around you. It isn’t a relaxed look, so prepare to be tiptoed around (it might not be relaxing for you either- resist the urge to fiddle with that belt, tug at that scarf or adjust those loosening curls). This was how my poet-boyfriend felt; I’m glad he asked me out anyway. After dating for a while we started studying together. I’d show up without makeup- just moisturiser, lip-gloss and washed hair. ‘You look great’ he’d tell me. ‘I mean, I like the makeup too, but when you’re done up I feel like I can’t touch you. Like I have to be careful and stay a bit further away. It’s artificial. This way you seem more like… a person.’

Ok, well, that sounded bad, but I wasn’t put off. A look can say a lot, and I got some pretty encouraging looks from him when I was made up. You know when a shock wave of desire comes over and hits you? I love that from my guy! Guys say they like women natural because that’s when they can get physical, but I’m convinced they love a work of art just as much. Make yourself a girly work of art! That’s what the season is about.

Anything else to watch out for? I don't think the look can be done by halves. When I put on just a false lash, or try just a red lip, and leave the rest of my face relatively bare, it looks wrong. I don’t look like I have ‘a touch of forties sensibility’, I look like I was going for a forties look but I only got halfway there. Like I didn’t finish getting ready. It’s not just me; I’ve seen this on other women. A lady with the chunkiest fake nails I’d ever seen (hot pink ones - thick as teaspoons - with the cuticles filed red-raw; ouch!) recently handed me a steak sandwich in a cafĂ©. The rest of her was unkempt; she’d obviously leapt out of bed, pulled her hair into one of those rushed scrunchie-knots, and bolted to work bare-faced.

Her hands hovered above the bread like helicopters. ‘There you go love, you want me to cut it in half?’

‘No, no!’ I said intensely, and she gave me a look. I gazed around and didn’t explain - maybe I could pass myself off as one of those people who is passionate about everything (you know the people - every topic makes their blood boil, from globalisation to censorship to family loyalty to religious freedom, and even small fry like sport results, the amusement factor of The Simpsons, eighties fashion and - yes - the prospect of having one’s sandwich bisected). It must have worked, because she ignored me and proceeded to bag my lunch.

I went into a semi-hypnotic state, watching those hands dart around. An extravagant detail can look pretty silly by itself; the whole package has to be right. . I hope your fashion muscles are well toned, because getting ready this season might just be a marathon. But it will be worth it!