Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Backstage at London Fashion Week: Rachel Freire

Rachel Freire is a hot talent to watch: her live and interactive presentation "Future Noir" was thrilling. The models cascaded down the runway with equal parts glamour and grunge. And the hint of renaissance frill that marked her previous collection, was sharpened into a more futuristic and abstract interpretation of femininity. There was something overridingly girly about the collection, with elements of 1920s (the headdress; the long swishing gown), 1990s (the catsuits; the gothic leather) and intangible sci fi and naturalistic overtones. I definitely found myself mesmerised by the synthesis of so many diverse influences. This was heightened by the magic accents of reflective fabric, which means in photos or lights the outfit comes startlingly alive. I would totally wear the creations: the clothes are dramatic but not at the cost of becoming impractical. My personal favourite was the sequinned bolero.

I was lucky enough to be backstage and had a chance to talk to the Head Makeup Artist, Jack Saundercock, and his wonderful team.

Jack talked about his inspiration for the makeup, which included looking at ancient armour! The look was matte but natural skin, and nude lips, with all the drama on the eyes - a dark black and silver kind of 80s but kind of Space Age concoction. To hear his thoughts in depth, click here for the video.

I talked to the Key hair stylist, George Akkad (Toni&Guy Art team) who informed me that the hair was 1920s inspired and side swept. I also talked to the marvellous Lako Bukia who designed the fantastic shoes.

And I managed to grab the star of the show herself, Rachel Freire (pictured left with her models below)
Here is our conversation. Unfortunately I left my dictaphone at home so have to rely on memory and notes...! (But as I did not partake in the skull beverages I feel reasonably confident.)

Your designs seem to revolve around a contradiction between the flowy renaissance hyper feminine, and caged, S&M, masculinity and functionalism. You have been compared to early McQueen. Who are your inspirational designers/ Fashion Houses?

My favourite designer is Thierry Mugler. I'm inspired by all sorts of things: films, comic books, classics, theatre. And, you know, my friends - I have a lot of wacky friends, just strange everyday characters. I get inspired just looking around and seeing immediate things.

There’s something very wearable about your designs, almost in spite of the creativity! But, do you have a specific idea of the type of person or the type of ensemble your clothes should go with?

Daring people, definitely. I grew up in Liverpool where over there it's the norm to want to really fit in, so someone who wants to stand out. I am happy for people to wear my clothes and adapt it: wearing one of my jackets just with T-Shirt and jeans is fine. Look at me (gestures to her black ensemble, replete with mandatory reflective leg straps)

What do you think of the trend for High Street collaborations with High Fashion designers/ celebrities; Should fashion be an elitist art form and an investment, or can it be made for the masses?

Well I don't think that's the way it can be brought to the masses - it's been watered down, with all the marketing and everything - it's not anything like the real thing. I'd rather buy one piece than buy into all the High Street marketing. Making it direct and at a competitive price takes all the art out of it. I'm in this position now myself, and the closest I can get to a making a T-Shirt is a leather threaded top, or combining things, not just a simple T-Shirt. I find it really hard [to constrict my creativity].

How involved are you with the makeup your models wear on the catwalk; Do you allow the makeup artist free rein, or do you have set ideas? – Your clothes can go either way, as they have both the ultra feminine and the ultra androgynous: what is your personal makeup preference?

I pick a person who fits, and trust them. Jack has been really great - we were totally on the same wavelength. I gave him free rein. I'm really picky so it's rare for me, but he just nailed it. We had the test shot and it was exactly right, I just told him to make it dirtier and that was it, he got it exactly right.

P.S: My outfit, and the queues outside before the show started.

EDIT/// Check out these spectacular shots from the photography prodigy, Grant Thomas!


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Size Matters

As I mentioned in my last rave, Boots No7 Highlighter might be a gorgeous find, but don't call it "drugstore". This pitches itself as above Estee Lauder and more in line with Chanel and YSL. I had to buy 2 compacts to get as much product as EL gave me, and what is more, the No7 compact is kind of tacky. Added to this is the trend set by MAC, giving us less product but keeping the price static. Or putting Dazzleglasses in huge tubes but in fact reducing product. It is patronising and irritating, making beauty shopping a stressful exercise whereby we must - for we must, PLEASE, show we are aware by our shopping habits- calculate how much they are giving you, and what they are charging.

I often justify buying "high end" because the quality, and often quantity, is greater. I often relinquish lemmings and head to a drugstore to take advantage of a more justified pricetag. But these erstwhile categories are no longer clear set. A new trend has begun: drugstores come out with "revolutionary new biospheres voted No1 etc etc" so no no no, this one can't be £5.99 honey, this one is £18.99. Oh and this is our "Pro" range, so no no no that one can't be £6.99, it's £11.99. And suddenly MAC is same price, but whoosh, it's less product. And EL, Chanel, YSL are relatively stagnant. So hmmm how does one compute the better deal???

Have you noticed a trend in makeup sales? Has it affected you? Will you allow it to intrude on your spending habits?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Things I'm loving, and some disappointments...

So it's that time again, to take stock of my favourite makeup. Certain basics will never be given up or compromised, namely Estee Lauder Double Wear, and Lancome Effacernes, and Lancome Hypnose. But other areas are a free for all. And these are the winners and losers.

For eyes, I have been enjoying loose minerals. I resent their messiness but appreciate the pleasure that the colour in the case is the instant colour on my lid. Not all mineral makeup is created equal though, and if the payoff is not equivalent to the promise, then of course they are a waste of time. My favourite is by Calypso minerals, the Rainbow stacker. But recently this "company" has fallen the way of previous individuals, with customers not receiving their orders amidst puny excuses of family crisis etc etc. Aside from that, judged on its own merits, these colours are pure and vibrant and only need a swipe to show at full force.

But as to whether you can get one of your own, it is a disorganised mystery; the Calypso Minerals etsy store is no more.

So, luckily, I have another - more reputable - company ready to take on this mantle. Naked Cosmetics. I had my makeup done using their range at IMATS and can highly recommend their foundation, however I must admit that even the lightest shade is too orange for me. But, coverage wise and texture, these are smooth and beautiful full coverage powders, with all natural ingredients. They are very similar to Bare Escentuals, just with more limited colour shades unfortunately. Hopefully their shade range will increase, as these would be perfect for me when I want a, ahem, "no makeup" day. You see, once on, the foundation really is imperceptible! Their stacked eyeshadows range from natural office-friendly colours, to all out drag queen colour overdose. My favourite is the Ebony stack. It has deep shimmering smokey blues, purples and green. All Naked minerals are brilliantly pigmented and fun to use. They go on creamy and the fallout is minimal. Sierra Nevada is another great set.

I also have found a VERY EXCITING HIGHLIGHTER!!!! I always adore highlighters, afterall they grace you with instant dewy vitality - who can resist? But MAC MSFs, despite their popularity, always leave me cold. MAC's By Candlelight, their most recent offering, as usual was too metallic and made my pores look huge and my face look older and more blemished... no, thanks. But Boots No7 have brought out a LE Spring Collection and the Natural Radiance highlighter in there is smooth, sophisticated beige gold. It is like my lovely Estee Lauder Opulent Shimmer powder, but with less sparkle. Perfect for everyday wear. I am not usually a particularly big No7 fan, though I always think of them as quite high quality. It's just that their prices are not competitive, with this highlighter for instance being £13 for 6.5g. EL Opulent shimmer powder was £24.50 for 13g. Therefore gram for gram the No7 is more expensive. But despite the plasticky packaging (and no mirror) well, these do have gemstones in them I suppose. I bought 2, as this is just so stunning on cheeks - you MUST pick one up. My counter had completely sold out after just three days. There is a great GWP on right now too... Go for it! I did see last season's highlighter on special half price offer, but that one was a garish yellow gold. Trust me, this season's offering is very pretty indeed.

EL Opulent shimmer next to Boots No7 Highlighter:

Swatch: No7 on left, EL on right. I don't know if you can tell, but the No7 hass more sheen, whilst the EL is more sparkle. The EL is more golden and er, opulent. The No7 is more glowy and natural. Sorry image quality not the best.

Gift with purchase: Very cute bag, with zips, compartments, great size gifts - lots to play with and enjoy. A nice substantial GWP.

My mud powder brush is so soft and perfect, I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on it...

I also LOVE this cute lipstick by Hard Candy, a frosty pale pink. Makes lips look full and elegant. In fact frosty lips are a new love. For years appropriated by porn stars, I now think frosty pale lips are the way forward. Another delightful one is MAC Front Lit (LE, and discontinued)- that one is amber coloured frost with multicoloured sparkles. This Hard Candy one is cheap and wonderful, and the packaging is just adorable.

And, I have found the perfect nude lipliner - finally! Not too brown, too peach or too pink. It has been a struggle, but finally, I present you... Paula Dorf Goddess.
The return of Snog, Marry, Avoid has made me happy. Any beauty addict knows there is a fine and dangerous line between loving cosmetics, and letting them make a mockery of you. It's always amusing to see these hapless characters abuse makeup. I like Jenny Frost as presenter too, even though she has had plastic surgery herself of course.

Disappointments lately - hmmm, aside from my gym deciding to put up my contract by £120 since last year (no, I have not renewed, but need to find somewhere - ugh, stress! Any inside knowledge much appreciated). The other ones have been Diesel Fuel for life - wanted this for ages, but the price seemed pitched too steep for what essentially is a jeans company, but I grabbed it in the sale. Alas, the staying power on this is very underwhelming. Another let-down has been MAC Vanilla pigment, for me this is very yellow, too warm to be the best highlighter, and too shimmery to be a useful lid colour.

All in all the beauty landscape is shaping up well. I liked seeing at IMATS how the boundaries are being pushed and retailers are responding to the consumer's ever more demanding expectations.

Have you found any delightful new makeup loves?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

IMATS... Reporting back...

The whirlwind IMATS experience has now been and gone. IMATS is positioned as a makeup carnival travelling the globe - "Five Shows. Four Countries. Only one... IMATS", as their slogan has it.

I went as merely a makeup enthusiast and blogger, rather than a true makeup artist. Nevertheless the astounding work couldn't fail to impress. There was, for example, a man made up like a snake - replete with glistening scales. It literally chilled my bones! (Koren will probably feature this picture as he happily posed with said snake creature). Here is me with some friendlier masterpieces:

I was plucked from obscurity to front the wonderful Enkoremakeup's Educator role for Naked cosmetics. He chose to do a coppery look on me, very natural, and pink lips. I must say I am very impressed with Naked's mineral foundation - it gives spectacular coverage! The HD camera used in the session has ravaged my confidence though. I don't think anyone really knows HD until they see THAT! Koren and I came early and caught the end of Eve Pearl's bridal makeup session, and I saw how close-up it was... I joked to Koren, "Oh no, that'll be me!"and waited in vain for him to assure me he wouldn't be so cruel. Ditto the hope that my minor concealer and blusher would remain undetected and undisturbed... He cleaned it all off  with Embryolisse, which I found way too heavy for my oily skin. Anyhow, for someone who will hesitate before even opening the door to my postman sans macquillage, I must love Koren a LOT to let him reveal me in "all my gory". I saw pores I never realised I had, and anticipating the inevitable video evidence, fills me wih dread.

I chose to attend Sunday's IMATS. I am new to IMATS but I have attended beauty trade shows and knew roughly what to expect. It also seemed reasonably predictable that Saturday would bring a huge, frenzied crowd! I am glad I chose Sunday. The atmosphere was jovial and intimate, there was a makeup museum with various impressive latex figures; there was body painting - each wondrous design outdoing the last; there were talks; a selection of stands from cheap (Crown brushes)to more specialist lines (MAC/ Make up For Ever). There was a deliberate emphasis on makeup and brushes, which dwarfed any hair or skincare presence. This was the preserve of makeup maniacs, that much was clear. The venue, the Nation's beloved Ally Pally, was reasonably simple for me to get to - and indeed conjured up fond memories of ice-skating as a child. I felt it provided a good space in which to wander and browse.

There were of course some items which had sold out, but conversely on a Sunday there are more discounts, as stalls hurry to clear their decks. I really enjoyed the chance to meet up with so many professionals, and get a vision of the extreme makeup landscape. My loot was predictably mundane: some Naked stacked pigments, (which look so pretty even just in their tower), and some Naked foundation. The creator of Naked was there and was so friendly! It lent the whole range the impression that here was a line that had been carefully assembled with true devotion. I am looking forward to seeing YouTube personalities test it out further. I also managed to get some MUD brushes. I had been hoping to get the MUD Handbook, but alas no luck, these had not been brought in. I did come away with a sumptuous powder brush and a nice crease brush though. I also (thanks to being with Koren!) managed to get the last OCC lip tar, in Hush. So far this seems great.

I would recommend a visit to your nearest IMATS, as it is easy to forget just how much power makeup has to transform even the meekest canvas, into a dramatic Pièce de résistance.

Plus, you get to meet all your idols....!


Eve Pearl