Thursday, 24 March 2011

It's National NO MAKEUP Day!!!

Did you honour this year's National No Makeup Day? Luckily for me and all those who would have passed me, I woke up oblivious to this momentous occasion. obstacle.

I learnt of it through Bare Minerals, who are vigorously supporting it on the basis that as pure, mineral makeup - "so pure you can sleep in it", they offer the perfect middle ground. I would agree: mineral makeup, and especially a little powder and the famous "Warmth" bronzer, goes a long way to faking the no-makeup look with true persuasiveness.

(my shade, "Fairly Light")

If forced to partake in a no-makeup day, I would certainly smuggle in my favourite blusher ever, which is Bare Minerals "Flowers", very sadly discontinued I hear. "Fruit Cocktail" looks amazing, and is next on my list when my blusher finally runs out (they last for ever!) I highly recommend looking into the blusher range in particular, if you are inspired to adopt a more minimal makeup look in celebration of this year's No Makeup Day but you want to resist the dreaded washed out look.

...Did you keep National No Makeup Day?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A strange and unique beauty (that we've all seen before)

Some aspects of beauty have been around since time immemorial and transcend all cultural divides: symmetry, long limbs, straight back. But there is no denying that now, as cultures and races intermix and stereotypes and assumptions progressively get waylaid by History's alleyways, definitions of beauty have been widened - but still - remain strictured.

And although it has always been the preserve of Fashion to shock and set flash trends, the inclusion of a new muse at Thierry Mugler is arresting and oddly beautiful. Tattoos have long been completely absorbed into the mainstream, but not like this...

Perhaps because the tattoo has a coherence of harmony and logic, and is almost poetic in its state of paradox: the inside, outside; the death vision on the life vision; the freshness of youth offset by a caricature of wormy decaying death... Somehow, it can be categorized as Beauty. Obviously not when he is pushing 40 and beyond (yawn yes yes we all know that) but for now, it is clear that "Zombie Boy" as he likes to be known, is getting mileage out of his creation. As WWD quips,

"Tattooing yourself to resemble a rotting corpse — complete with blackened eye sockets and insects crawling over your exposed brain — probably ranks low on the list of things a young man can do to attract attention from girls. Yet it seems to be working wonders."

It is impossible to mention him without citing his sponsor Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj - all portray a strangely post feminist version of Beauty. Fronting cosmetic campaigns [MAC/ OPI], they exude an equal parts mocking and desperate attitude towards Beauty. It might have started off as fun, now invariably appears horribly laboured.

Hip Hop and other music videos relish the exaggerated versions of money and ahem, 'hoes' - and the female pop stars play along, perhaps as a route to being empowered by what is essentially misogyny (much like the 'N word' has been adopted and turned into a term of endearment.) Lyrics that are saturated with far from witty double entendres pepper their pop songs, and they deliberately choose skimpy clothes and scandalous poses. All very tedious and staged.

It is always a struggle to create a modern, beautiful and arresting campaign - and although androgyny is old hat, the formula has been pushed to now include men playing the role of women: Lea T, a transexual model, and Andrej Pejic, a very feminised male model, both setting a new trend (pictured respectively below.) This article disregards these innovations,

"Of course, in fashion, things can always get stranger, but they rarely do anymore. Nudity, androgyny, sado-masochistic fantasies, an overtly gay sensibility — all these ideas have been expressed for years."

Individuality is prized to the point where it is ironically used to set off a cult (I believe Gaga calls her followers monsters?) and polished self-images mean tabloids thrive most when a celebrity can have a red circle or arrow drawn to alert the reader to their every flaw.

Is it a sign of freedom and advancement that there are these constant attempts to redefine beauty, even if it driven by a publicity campaign...? Or is it merely Plus ça change...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Can't touch this?

Make Up For Ever, fresh from their cameo in Britney Spears' latest music video, now have another publicity brainwave. And it is ingenious - what better way to prove HD really is different, than by a straight up photo?

At first when I read about this, I scoffed. Yes, a young and pretty model looks good in your makeup - Bravo. Show me a 40 year old and you might hold my attention. But, I must admit, visiting the website I really do admire what they have done. For the first time, I feel I can trust the lip and cheek colours - and seeing the instructions of every photo, it actually reads as true fact.

Is this a new trend? I must admit I like the vapid photoshopped alternate universe where arm wobble and stray hairs make no appearance. [I rely on blogs to give me the unglorified version!]

But perhaps the advertisers realise that in an age of manic papparazzi and bald twitter, there is hardly a point feeding us farcical visions of digitally manipulated beauty. I'll be most intrigued to see whether this becomes the "new thing." Many magazines have pushed this issue in celebrity features, so in hindsight it was only a matter of time - yet still, unexpected.

Thoughts? (+new poll above)

What do you think of the Make Up For Ever unretouched ads?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Interview with: Louise Young

Louise Young is fairly new as a makeup brand, but as a makeup expert she has long proven herself and has years of not only practical artistry, but also the teaching, to enrich her résumé. I have to admit that her session was the highlight of my IMATS day, as it is quite rare to find a makeup artist so knowledgeable about the historical side of makeup, not only the trends but even the packaging and the photographers of the day were discussed as she confidently but casually created a perfect 1940s face. I am very intrigued by the history and evolution of makeup fashions and techniques, so talking to Louise Young is always a great privilege.

Louise Young brushes and the eyeshadow palette stand as testament to her astute perfectionism; every angle is positioned just right, clearly in response to real makeup dilemmas. The now famous LY38 and especially the new version, LY38B, was created when she made up a lady with a very thin eye crease and realised there was no perfect brush, yet. Similarly, Louise Young tested the eyeshadow palette at every turn of its manufacture, until she eventually deemed the colours and packaging were exact. It is clear that the brand is destined to become a byword for high quality, essential products.


Interview with Louise Young

Watching your demonstration class at IMATS, “Retro Influences on Current Fashion” was fascinating, not least because as you worked you imparted so many useful tips and techniques! You are very involved with the academic side of makeup education, but do you plan one day to release a makeup book for the masses?

I am currently writing contributions to 2 educational books - one where I have carried out the make-up and the 2nd I am a contributor amongst other make-up artists giving a profile of my work. I am currently working on a complete book as well.

At IMATS, you mentioned that you admire and collect antique packaging and old magazines; do you think the level of 1940s glamour has ever been matched since? Have there been any modern makeup trends which impressed you?

I love the golden era of Hollywood and I think part of the glamour of that period is that the stars retained an air of mystery about them. With current celebrities being so much more accessible to the media via magazines, twitter and the internet I do feel some of this glamorous image has been lost. The old studio system - whilst flawed in some ways - did help stars to retain their untouchable image and would never have allowed pictures of their stars to appear in any less than a favourable light.

Regarding modern make-up trends I really love some of Pat McGrath”s work for Dior and also Val Garland always produces interesting creations.

You have a very broad base of makeup knowledge - as well as extensive lecturing you have built up years of experience working in a variety of mediums: Film, TV, Fashion and adverts! How do you find your makeup techniques change to suit these situations?

I make a conscious effort not to be typecast or pigeon holed in one area and to do this I make sure I can adapt to any situation. I listen carefully to the brief on a job and also make sure I understand exactly what the client is trying to achieve. Having a very wide knowledge of different styles helps and I keep up to date with new products, trends and also get inspiration from nature and the world around me.

Do you have any makeup “rules” or fail-safe tips for women to help them avoid any makeup disasters?

Well, number one would be to do your make-up in a good light - many women still try and achieve a good effect in bad lighting conditions.

I think as well it is very important to know your own face and understand light and
shade on the face as it is easy to make yourself look worse, not better.

Do you think men will start wearing makeup any time soon? Various ranges have tried to induce them...

I am not sure about this one - I think it is a fast growing market when presented as “male grooming” which is definitely an increasing trend. However I think we have a long way to go before we see the majority of men wearing make-up - though looking back at history it is definitely a possibility.

Do you have a favourite makeup period or an ultimate makeup icon?

My favourite make-up period would be late 30s into the 1940s. I think it is partly due to the way that the celebrity photographers of the time such as George Hurrell presented the stars - making them look like gods and goddesses. I love the clothes and styling of the 1930s as well so I think I am drawn to the the whole effect.

Your brushes have been praised by all and the first palette you brought out was equally fantastic. Will the Louise Young brand eventually include a full collection of makeup and tools? - Please could you divulge any future plans for the range...?

Yes, I have designed the whole range which we are hoping will be available by mid 2012. I take so much time to make sure each product is exactly right and choosing the right packaging takes me a long time. I am planning the book to coincide with the launch of the rest of the range.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Illamasqua Toxic Nature Collection: Review!

Illamasqua recently unveiled their Spring/Summer 2011 Collection, "Toxic Nature." Inspired by the ash cloud that wrecked havoc last year, and the general theme of nature being corrupted by pollution and natural disaster, the colours include a neon green inspired by the colour of toxic gas. But the general feel of this collection, masterminded by the charming David Horne, is of a natural, grungy palette. I loved the colour scheme and I think people who have previously written off Illamasqua as too avant-garde, will find a lot to appreciate here.

The 6 new Cream pigments (£17) are rather like MAC paint pots, but less dry and more adaptable to use on the hair (yes, really!), cheeks, lips, as well as eyes. The colour Delirium in particular, reminded me of my favourite MAC paint pot, Girl Friendly. The other shade I have is a very pretty, girly, soft pastel lilac - nothing remotely gothic about this delicate shade!

Described as:

A new matt formula that can either neutralise or dominate. Create the ultimate in textures whether it’s on your face, eyes, or body, bringing a flash of colour to a subtle contour. “The power of the products in this collection is evident in the intensity of the Cream Pigments they are intense, raw colour but blend down easily exactly like an artists paint palette.” Alex Box.

  • Emerge Peach (EU Exclusive)
  • Bedaub Mint
  • Dab Lilac
  • Hollow Toffee
  • Delirium Rose Taupe (EU Exclusive)
  • Mould Grape
The star item had to be the delicate nude sparkle Precision ink liner (£17), Glister, a liquid liner that can be used as an eyeliner or a highting pen. Alex Box's images had a cupid's bow outlined with this.

There are also two new lipsticks, a bright flattering and dare I say classic hot pink, (Atomic) and a modern but still very wearable orange coral. (Flare) (both £15.50) These are complimented by a soft sheer lipgloss each, Torture, a coral, and Divine, a hot pink tint. (£13)

For many, the most exciting will be the 5 new nail polish shades. Illamasqua has become known for its high quality formulas. Stagnate, the colour I was given, is yet another Chanel Particuliere, but, like skinny jeans, this is a trend that has become a classic. It has a high shine and wears very well. The other shades are:
  • Purity Peach
  • Bacterium Pearlescent Ash Ochre
  • Radium Acidic Lime Shimmer
  • Stagnate Grey Mauve
  • Gamma Neon orange
(£13.50)My favourite has to be either the shimmery yellow tinged lime of Radium, or the irresistable complexity of the almost silver duochrome Bacterium.

And finally, Illamasqua once again joins forces with nail impressario Mike Peacock to introduce the Toxic Claw (£35.) I am told that this nail set will not be a constant - next collection will be lashes! And apparently upcoming collections are set to shock us once again...

For now, enjoy the tame face of Illamasqua. Available online from March 10th, and March 17th at UK Counters. April 2011 at Sephora. My favourite thing about Illamasqua is that they are one of the only makeup ranges that eschew Limited Editions. All items will thankfully be available without the imminent threat of extinction.

P.S. Be sure to visit the Illamasqua website for the chance to win your favourites from the range - register and join the waiting list for your desired Toxic Nature shades. 3 winners will be sent all of the items from this wishlist.

Beauty from an ugly source?

As the fashion world reels from Galliano's fall from grace (Womens Wear Daily editor likened it to the shock of McQueen's suicide) and the top job is suddenly up for grabs, another question emerges - can beauty be gleaned from an ugly source?

Despite stylist Patricia Field's enterprising defence - that Galliano was simply exhibiting his trademark showmanship and was taken too literally, the video leaked by The Sun exposes a wine-swilling Galliano slurring, "I love Hitler ... People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed." When the woman recording him asks if he has a problem, he responds, "With you. You're ugly." She then asks where he's from, and he says, "Your asshole."

Natalie Portman, face of Dior Cherie perfume, her profile bigger than ever after her recent Oscar win, gave Dior an ultimatum. Dior dutifully sacked their golden goose. There is no doubt that Galliano refreshed the label and showed dazzling flair during his 15 year stint. Clearly the fashion world were keen to believe the allegations were defamatory, not least because Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano is himself jewish. But after the video footage, any hope was lost. Karl Lagerfield also made his disdain clear: ‘The image is around the world. It is a horrible image of fashion because they think every designer and everything in fashion is like this.’ And although the cynical may view Lagerfeld's attack as an opportunity to square up to his biggest rival Dior, the facts do remain. As he explained, in an internet age, bad publicity goes viral and is not easily forgotten.

The recent bloggers' campaign against MAC and Rodarte's apparent capitalisation of a raw theme seemed to imply beauty could not be invited on just any terms. In her statement, Natalie Portman made the rather pious observation, "I hope these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful." But, much like good music by hedonists, racists or worse; or good art by drunks, wife-beaters or worse, can we accept Galliano's stunning designs and ignore the designer?

At the Oscars, Dior had a very low profile - notably worn only by Nicole Kidman and Sharon Stone.

Open racism is not acceptable, therefore those in the public eye are quick to sever it like gangrene. And if beauty must be a victim, so be it. It will take years for this to tarnish and the beauty of Dior's recent collections to be seen once again through the dirt. Perhaps if rumours are true, Galliano will design Kate Moss' wedding dress and all will be forgiven. But Moss, who surely should be one to empathise with embarrassing videos and sackings, will probably not want this role. Fashion is fickle, beauty is transient, but moral outrage is tenacious.

What are your thoughts - is beauty an independent quality, or is it inextricably connected to its creator?

PS. Interestingly, one of the most immediate ways for the final Galliano Dior collection to be distanced from its designer was the absence of the flamboyant makeup we have come to expect from his shows.

*Poll added up there!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Oscars makeup 2011

Oscars makeup is always the most exciting - High fashion gowns that on the catwalk were invariably twinned with extravagant stylised makeup, now seen in a glamorous but real context. This year's makeup choices were as usual mostly within the confines of classic and natural, but thankfully the trend for true nude makeup was replaced by an abundance of smokey eyes in various shades. The absolute winner was Scarlette Johansson (in Dolce & Gabanna): the clashing orange eyes, dishevelled hair and burgundy purple dress worked in perfect (dis)harmony. The dress itself toyed between matronly doily lace and seductive cut-outs. The effect combined created a refreshing, modern twist on a classic. The eyes and hair made certain that she looked young and confident - the attributes most lusted after at these huge events.

There were a few other purple gowns in sight, and Natalie Portman came a very close second in her deep purple Rodarte gown and matching shoes, matching earrings and matching little bag (she does loves to match!) The rich shade really suited her olive complexion, and teamed with an aubergine smokey eye and purple toned blusher, her petite features were enhanced to their utmost.

Hilary Swank, who got it so wrong last year, chose a more resplendent gown, but the lack of jewellery and makeup really undermined her choice. With long earrings and a red lip or dark smoky eyes, this would have been exquisite.

Sandra Bullock, the woman of the hour last year, and notorious victim of the "Oscar curse" wore a defiant column of red, with a bright red matching lip and bag. Kudos to her for attending in a bold and lively outfit, rather than a mournful black remembrance dress.

Gwyneth Paltrow stuck to her reliable gold slinky numbers, and middle parted straight hair. Something about her face has changed recently but I am not sure what... However she looked reliably sleek and her Oscars Calvin Klein dress highlighted her enviable physique. The cool toned gold sheen was offset by the effortless hair and makeup. Heavy makeup and gold dress would inevitably become old fashioned, so it was perfectly pitched. Gwyneth rarely gets it wrong.

There were, of course, those who chose to look as natural and unpolished as possible. Halle Berry has been universally upheld as one of the best dressed. I thought, like Demi Moore last year, that the nude fairy wisp gowns should be left to those under 35. I know this is harsh, especially in a celebrity landscape which for the first time, is riddled with over 40+ screen sirens on every magazine cover [a good thing of course, especially as people's life expectancy gets longer, and women have no desire to give up their rights to attractiveness at nature's appointed moments.] And yet, I do think a sense of austerity should be consulted once one is no longer a young starlet. Either in the form of a nod to bold makeup, or a deeper coloured gown, or even a big necklace. I think the pixie cut is wonderful on her though!

Helen Mirren once again chose a brilliant dress. Her pixie haircut is an inspired move, and coupled with the dashing Vivien Westwood gown and the natural makeup and diamonds, looked superb.

Cate Blanchett and Michelle Williams also went for very angelic natural makeup. I think Cate has indeed made that her trademark - and with her unusual features, it works well. She doesn't need to rely on interesting makeup to look stylish. I am trying very hard to like her dress, as she wears it with such panache, but somehow that 'bib' just prevents me from praise. Michelle William's Chanel gown on the other hand, is easily my favourite of the night. It is equal parts elegant, uncomplicated and graceful. Her pixie haircut is yet another example of how flattering this style can be.

Making that Dior backwards tuxedo a distant memory, Celine Dion looked fabulous. Warm toned smoky eye makeup and nude lips meant the simple dress and her trim figure were the centre of attention.

Sharon Stone looked rather too sombre in draped black gown with 80s style bouffant and red lip, but there's no denying that she always looks her best.

Reese Witherspoon channeled the same style hair but her 60s dark eyes and nude lip, as well as the simplicity of the gown, kept it crisp.

Joan Collins apparently ended up in hosital due to the tightness of this dress. It is not hard to imagine, fitting into that is quite a feat! However I applaud this resilience. Admitting defeat and plumping for a demure gown and nude makeup is not as impressive as looking to Dynasty for your inspiration. Joan is dressing her age, but in a traditional way - indulgently embracing sumptuous overbearing glamour.

Madonna, on the other hand, is quite a confusing prospect. This is hampered further by her daughter - who looks inevitably sheepish next to her exhibitionist companion. Madonna's makeup is perfect - it always is (even if her face has been twisted and pinched) but the lace leotard was a gamble too far.

Tori Spelling probably had a bit too much makeup on, but I loved the combination of unapologetic makeup and glitzy dress. And thanks to the conservative cut, it didn't look overdone.

Hayden Panettiere revealed that she definitely suits a dark vampy lip. The dress was edgy yet still unmistakably grecian inspired.

Kim Kardashian did what she does best (no, not that!) and squeezed herself into a curvy dress. Her makeup suits her, it is heavy but it is always flawless. Her nose seems smaller than ever, but I am sure that is ahem, just makeup.

Kelly Osbourne has lost so much weight, and although she will never be winning any beauty contests, she looked the best ever. The light hair and pink lip ought to be her signature. She plays around with her image so much that it would be good to see her ease into a semblance of a signature look. This is such a pretty look:

Jennifer Hudson has also lost so much weight and looks amazing. The vibrancy of the dress and the glossy lips make her look so glowing. And even if she falls into the trap that so many women who lose weight do (ill fitting clothes that are just fractionally optimistically small) it still was one of the best looks of the night.

And the surprise of the night has to reluctantly be awarded to Jordan / Katie Price. Her hair suits her better blonde, and her makeup was beautiful. The dress was not quite within the realms of vulgar, either. Top marks!

PS. I didn't feature Anne Hathaway's makeup as it was too straightforward. I liked it though. You can read all about it here.

What did You think of this year's Oscars makeup?

*images via Google