Monday, 21 December 2009

The Fax Of Life..

The Fax Of Life..

For many, the Filofax recalls memories of Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl or Michael Douglas in Wall Street. It was as much a symbol of aspirational 80's power brokers as having your own penthouse apartment, Porche and brick-sized mobile phone. Though the dominance of computers and Blackberrys may have rung the death knell for personal organizers in The Noughties - there's still a lot to be said for the Filofax. For a start, there's no risk of electronic failure, the battery will never run out (there isn't one) and you've as much chance of dropping it down the loo as you have of seeing Victoria Beckham wearing orthopedic shoes (and let's face it - that's far from likely).

So thank heavens Filofax have launched the Beauty Giftbox - the gift that literally keeps on giving. For a modest £40, you can choose from three stylish designs, a faux-snakeskin number in chic oatmeal (my personal favourite), hot pink leatherette for the Legally Blonde aspirants and a fresco design for the arty crowd. Not only does each one contain a 2010 diary, dividers, address pages and notepaper, it also contains a nifty perfume pen atomiser with spray concealed in the cap. Simply decant your preferred scent into the little bottle and spritz away at your leisure. It's so genius you know that Elle Woods would have used it in Legally Blonde - had she been able to get her hands on one. Sorry Elle! To give Elle even more organiser envy, they've even slipped a compact mirror into the Filofax, so you can discretely check your make-up while pretending to plan world domination - genius!

But what truly marks this out as a remarkable gift is the complimentary beauty voucher (worth up to £100) that comes with it. With the option of one of three treatments, the (very lucky) recipient may choose either a £25 beauty treatment (facials, massages and manicures are on offer), a £40 haircut and finish or a £100 fashion make-over (including hair and make-up) and photographic shoot.

This uber-gift is in very limited supply so snap one up while you have the chance. UK residents will benefit from free postage and packing! / 08705 143 702

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah..

Glory, Glory Hallelujah...

It's always music to my ears when Soap&Glory add to their roster of wonder-products. I have the privilege of testing all the latest skincare and cosmetics on the market. Though, in all honesty, too many brands deliver far more on the marketing spiel and packaging front than they do on the actual efficacy of their products. Not so with Soap&Glory. Indeed, this brand is "Glory" by name and glorious by nature. I reached the ripe but not-so-old age of 28 today. I've always been a firm believer in the mantra that prevention is better than the cure. With this in mind, my mother instilled in me from a young age the importance of looking after my skin. I celebrated yesterday with a slap up Sunday roast with my nearest and dearest. With parched skin dryer than the Sahara courtesy of my central heating and the hideous British weather, I needed some serious cosmetic TLC. So it was a case of "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" when I received four hot new products from Soap&Glory - especially as they all retail for under £12. My care package of sallow skin-busters included:

"You Won't Believe Your Eyes", a tired-eye soothing, brightening and de-puffing miracle in a tube complete with a tri-ball applicator. Suddenly that Garnier caffeine roll-on seems so last year! My fiancee practically ripped this little wonder out of my hands. He suffers from puffy eyes due to his anti-social work schedule. For someone who is a total alpha male - he seemed rather keen on the results. I have a feeling I'm going to have to hide this one. For under eye baggage to rival brand Beckham's Louis Vuitton collection, I used to swear by Hylexin. I have to say this beauty has me converted. It's priced at a wallet-friendly £9. That's a whopping £71 cheaper than Hylexin! Insert your "eye don't believe it" jokes here. With magic numbers like that, I think Soap&Glory should be running the economy! So what makes this miracle in a tube so miraculous? It's all down to the key ingredient LYCD (Live Yeast Cell Derivative), combined with some nifty light reflecting particles to diffuse dark circles. Fashion models have been using haemorrhoid cream to tackle under eye bags for decades - it contains LYCD. Don't ask me why they were using a product designed for derrieres on their eyes. I prefer not to comment - models are often the butt of journalists' jokes and it's time we stopped hating. Though, for all those who've seen Team America, that legendary line "We have lost all intelligence" suddenly springs to mind. I know, I know - meow!

"Night In Shining Armour" is a genius night cream - though use it twice a day and it's guaranteed to visibly smooth, plump and firm skin in just 28 days. A must-have for anyone who wants to say "night, night" to dull, sagging skin. It contains a superpeptide complex to smooth fine lines (clinically proven to decrease wrinkles by 44%), oxygen boosters to impart radiance and EFA antioxidants to tackle the ageing effects of sun damage, urban aggressors and free radicals head-on. Soap&Glory's tag line is "The Clean Of England" but this miracle in a jar gets my vote for the cream of England. Better yet, it smells good enough to eat. Though I think it's best you don't take my last comment literally - even if the skin guru Bharti Vyas does extol the virtues of beauty on the outside starting on the inside. I advise all girls to keep this one under lock and key after they've purchased it - husbands and boyfriends are bound to get their paws on it. Tell them to buy their own, it's only £12!

"No Clogs Allowed Deep Pore Detox Mask" is the face mask that will go where no mask has gone before. Sadly it doesn't banish Crocs - but for a mere £10 and 5 minutes of your time, when massaged onto the face, this self-heating grime-buster will slough off potentially pore-clogging dead skin cells with salicylic acid, to reveal a brighter, fresh-faced you. Possibly the only face mask on the market that shares one similarity with home pregnancy testing kits - it turns blue when it's ready, letting you know it's time to wash and go. It gives a whole new spin to "Here comes the science"!

"Bright Here Bright Now" is like one of the kids from the TV series Heroes, in the sense that the cheerleader girl's super-powers rival those of her parents. In this case, the parents could have been the pricey Clarins' Beauty Flash Balm and Chanel's Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base. This instant radiance energy balm is priced at just £10 and is ideal for anyone suffering from sleep debt. It will become your best friend during the festive period, it's the perfect pick-me-up for the morning after the night before. Apricot kernel oil provides essential moisture (no doubt stripped from your skin by one-to-many glasses of bubbly), together with skin-soothing aloe vera and the face-firming Instantight2. On the cosmetic front, light diffusing particles offer a complexion-enhancing sheen to add some subtle radiance - taking you from Death Becomes Her to De-Lovely in seconds. In a nut shell, this gem is essentially a face serum/primer hybrid - and a wondrous one at that. Apply as a moisturizer throughout the day whenever you need a complexion pick-me-up or mix a little in with your foundation for a glow-getting gleam.

"The Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser" is the BFF for anyone on a beauty budget - and unlike Paris Hilton, this one won't say "TTYN" (talk to you never) and is guaranteed to stick around (if only in your beauty arsenal). At a modest £9, it's approximately £38 cheaper than the best-selling Eve Lom Cleanser and comes with a muslin cloth included. Those who swear by Eve Lom have to pay an additional £12.23 for a pack of three muslin cloths, which works out at approximately £4.08 for each cloth - far from cheap and not remotely cheerful! This 3-in-1 cleansing balm melts away grime and make-up, while the natural blend of revitalising aromatic essential oils smooth away fine lines, imparting dewy baby-soft skin. What's not to love? Pore blimey, if you ask me, this one's a winner!

The Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser - £9
Bright Here Bright Now - £10
No Clogs Allowed Deep Pore Detox Mask - £10
Night In Shining Armour - £12
You Won't Believe Your Eyes - £9

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

From Tiny Acorns Mighty Oak Trees Grow

From Tiny Acorns Mighty Oak Trees Grow..

Kate Moss was recently quoted as saying "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels". Had she attended the Oak Jeans fashion show at Whisky Mist a few weeks ago she'd probably have said "nothing tastes as good as Oak Jeans feel". Launched in 2006 by British designer Scott Rogers, the label has slowly gained cult status in a heavily saturated market via the patronage of A-List stars and style leaders such as Kirsten Dunst. Kirsten was spotted on the street wearing her Oak Jeans with the supermodels' favourite brands, Marc Jacobs and Christian Louboutin. The word on the street is that her Oaks had made their way into her wardrobe via an editorial shoot - she nabbed them from the shoot's stylist because she loved them so much. Given that she invariably rocks Chanel Couture on the red carpet, Scott's obviously doing something right. So what is it about Oak Jeans that knocks other popular brands such as J Brand, Seven For All Mankind, Ksubi, Acne, Nudie and Cheap Monday out of the water? For a start, Scott's jeans are priced very competitively. Averaging at £45 a pair - but with hot styles such as the Bristol Grey Acid Wash coming in at a wallet-friendly £40, it's no wonder hipsters the world over are making Oak Jeans their denim brand of choice. The one thing that elevates good jeans to great jeans is undoubtedly the fit. Scott designs all the patterns himself and as a fashion expert, I'm all too aware of the time and effort involved in creating garments with a superb fit. A successfully fitted garment is partly down to an ingenious cut - but a great cut is nothing without the right textiles. Scott painstakingly sources the best textiles from around the world. Many designers manufacture in China, partly due to the cheaper costs and partly due to the seemingly limitless choice of Chinese textiles. The Chinese have a great knack for being able to create (or re-create) virtually any garment, fabric or finish - and all at minimal costs. During my tenure at The Arcadia Group, it was common place for the brands' designers to go on buying trips to the hottest fashion destinations around the world and purchase the cream of the crop of the world's design talent (for inspiration naturally). These carefully sourced garments would then find themselves on a rack, with carefully cut out squares, which in turn found their way to the brands' manufacturers in China, where the Chinese would be instructed to recreate the sampled textiles at a fraction of the cost of the original designer garment. Thankfully, Scott doesn't resort to such low-level tactics when creating his own designs. In every sense, he is a designer's designer, he relies on nothing more than his own innate skill, creativity and resourcefulness. Furthermore, in the interest of bolstering the brand's British heritage, he has actively been seeking out UK textile suppliers and manufacturers, which in turn supports the UK economy. It is these qualities that will undoubtedly see Oak Jeans continue to gain prominence on the fashion stage worldwide. When I asked Scott who his ideal muse would be for an Oak Jeans ad campaign, he replied with the less than obvious response of "Zooey Deschanel", adding that "there's something about her eyes". LA's reigning queen of kook was born into a Hollywood family (her father was a cinematographer) and had a quirky and nomadic lifestyle, growing up in locations as varied as the Seychelles and Yugoslavia. With so many experiences to draw upon, it's no wonder she's carved a niche for herself in the acting world with interesting supporting roles in indie classics such as Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. Kirsten Dunst is already a fan Scott, so I've no doubt that Zooey will be rocking her Oaks in no time at all. As the saying goes "from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow".

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gold Rush

Gold Rush..

Why not treat yourself to a 24 karat Christmas by indulging in some super-luxe cosmetics from the Dolce&Gabbana make-up collection? Not only is the packaging of each product gold plated, there are some key hero products that have been getting the beauty press into a real tizzy. The Sunday Times Style magazine featured the shimmering Lipgloss in Gold and Nail Lacquer in Desert last Sunday in their list of the most sought-after gifts for Christmas. My current favourite from the Nail Lacquer collection is Stromboli, a deep olive flecked with gold. It works especially well on shorter nails and is the perfect shade to channel this season's of-the-moment Deco Grunge look. They say that all that glitters ain't gold - I guess they were wrong! Stylist magazine featured Dolce&Gabbana's Rose The One Shimmering Powder yesterday in The Style List for the festive season. All the products can be snapped up at the Dolce&Gabbana Make-Up counter in Selfridges, London. / 0800 123 400

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman..

Those of you who have been following my blog will know that I'm an ardent fan of Illamasqua cosmetics. Maybe it's the kaleidoscope of colours on offer, the densely pigmented products, the hi-tech formulations or the brand's ethos of "makeup for your alter ego" - whatever "it" is, it's addictive! Illamasqua's Creative Director, the international and highly sought-after make-up artist Alex Box, headed up the creative team for the House of Blue Eyes Spring / Summer 2010 catwalk show at London Fashion Week. Picking up on the trend for metallics (it just won't die!), she and the Illamasqua team treated the models to a liberal dash of gold dust, all be it via the art of make-up. Alex Box cited Cleopatra as her inspiration and gave the iconic Egyptian queen's signature make-up look a 21st Century spin for the show. The models were reminiscent of Jill Masterson, the girlfriend of Goldfinger in the eponymous Bond film. The actress Shirley Eaton played Jill Masterson and her body became an iconic image of the 60's when she was photographed covered in gold body make-up for the cover of Life magazine in 1964. Jill died a golden death in the movie when Goldfinger ordered her death and had her covered in gold paint.

Get the look with Illamasqua's bestselling Liquid Metal in Solstice. It's priced at £16 and is available to purchase via the Illamasqua website:

Due South

Due South..

Last Friday my two page Christmas style feature was published in The South London Press. It was accompanied by a mini profile piece on me. The publication's circulation is 20,000 so naturally I'm thrilled. They've asked me to do another style feature for Spring 2010 and wanted to know if I was interested in doing a regular column for them - result! I'm also thrilled to be working on the next issue of Blackhair Magazine. I'll be working on a style feature for them but the nature of the feature is top secret - you'll have to buy it to see what it's all about! They would like to collaborate with me on future issues of the publication, so watch this space! I'll keep you all posted via my blog and my Facebook and Twitter updates, so you'll always be the first to hear my news. The link to my Christmas style feature in the South London Press is below. I've also copied a link to Blackhair Magazine so you can get a subscription and see what all the fuss is about!

Sophie's Choice

Sophie's Choice..

On the 11th August 2007, 20 year-old Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were kicked, stamped on and left unconscious - for nothing more than looking different. Sophie later died from her injuries.

Illamasqua is a cosmetics brand that prides itself on promoting the right to experiment and self-express through the way you look. It is also committed to changing attitudes towards subcultures.

In tribute to Sophie, Illamasqua has commissioned "Dark Angel" - a short film by award-winning French Director, Fursy Teyssier. It is a haunting rendition of Sophie's story, featuring the music of iconic British band, Portishead.

The aim of the film is to raise awareness of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and generate £500,000 to help educate young people about tolerance. Since Sophie's death, the foundation has been working with behavioural experts Huthwaite International, to put together an interactive youth workshop that does just that.

But this essential education programme can only be delivered with YOUR help.

Please, please show your support and watch the film - it's embedded below.
We're hoping to reach over 1,000,000 hits, so forward the links below and help us spread the message. If you have your own website, blog, Facebook, MySpace or You Tube page, or a Twitter profile, please display a link to the film. For added impact, download a specifically designed web banner from Illamasqua's website - the link is copied below.

As well as being available to view online, the film will also be running on MTV from the 26th November (today) - Sophie's birthday.

Stand up for Sophie - act now and buy an Illamasqua S.O.P.H.I.E. pencil and wrist band. Or make a donation. £3 from each S.O.P.H.I.E. pencil purchased and all proceeds from the wrist band sales go directly to the foundation.

Together, we'll help to stamp out prejudice, hatred and intolerance everywhere.

This cause is especially close to my heart. As a mixed race and gay man, I suffered immense cruelty throughout my youth and adolescence. Having moved from Oman in the Middle East to rural Newcastle at the age of 5 in the mid 80's, it took me a long time to gain the acceptance of other children in my town. I was called a Paki (even though I'm in fact half Scottish and half Ethiopian). I was beaten up and it was a long while before other children would allow me to play with them. Things took a turn for the worse when I was sent to Croftinloan, a Scottish boarding school in the tiny town of Pitlochry, Perthshire at the age of 9. I recall my first day at that school as if it were only yesterday. On my first night, another boy in my dormitory called me a nigger and told me to go back home to my own country. I tried in vain to explain that the United Kingdom was my country - I was a British citizen after all.

Things went from bad to worse - my entire school experience was about as close to living hell as you could get. Croftinloan had a tradition of celebrating Bonfire Night. Kids would take turns to stand up by the bonfire and tell jokes to the rest of the school who remained seated on the ground. A series of children stood up and told hideous jokes about Ethiopians. Favoured jokes included "what do you call two Ethiopians in a body bag? - A KitKat" and "how do you get a thousand Ethiopians to jump off a cliff? - throw a can of baked beans over it". I was horrified by these jokes. These kids knew that my mother was Ethiopian and yet they relished the opportunity to humiliate me in front of the entire school and all the teachers. I remember complaining to my headmaster about the jokes and I'll never forget the way he callously explained that it would be no different if I were fat or had red hair. I was mortified by the injustice of it all. In my mind it wasn't right - these jibes hurt me so badly and they definitely wouldn't have been appropriate if aimed at people with red hair or weight issues for that matter.

You'd have thought that after a while, the jibes would have subsided - but they carried on at Loretto, my boarding school in Musselburgh, East Lothian. Every single day of my three years at that school included some form of hatred and harassment. I can say hand on heart, there wasn't a day where I didn't have to suffer at least one pupil calling me a puff, gay boy, faggot, nigger, wog or bender. I recall one particularly gruesome incident involving the most popular girl in my year group, a girl called Lucy Holt (who incidentally is now a successful model and actress on the books of Models 1). Lucy and I shared a few classes and in one French class, she thought it would be hilarious to stand on a table in the middle of a French lesson, in front of my entire class, and lead a shouted rendition of "he's gay, he's bent, his arse is up for rent, he's Ian Brown". I ran out of the class in tears and not one person considered coming after me to see if I was ok.

Other incidents included students shouting SNP at me - it was considered cool to support the Scottish National Party. On another occasion, a star player in the school's rugby team cornered me with a mob of boys, got me in a head lock and wrestled me to the ground. I told the school's headmaster about it and I'll never forget the incident because my headmaster said to me "what would you like us to do?" I felt so alone, so totally helpless. How wrong is society when a defenceless pupil is beaten up and then is asked "what do you want us to do about it?" by the headmaster of his own school?

Needless to say, I left that school after my GCSE's. I'll never forget a stream of kids coming up to me on my last day and asking "why are you leaving?". These were the same children who had called me names each and every day of my school life and who had moved up along the benches of tables in our dining hall so that I couldn't sit with them. I remember more than once, having to sit at an empty table that could seat roughly 12 students in a dining hall filled with approximately 1000 children and teachers, simply because my peers didn't consider me good enough to sit with them. No-one ever batted an eyelid. Not the teachers, nor the students. To make matters worse, I'd then have to endure them coming up to me after the meal and asking "why were you sitting by yourself Ian?".

The same pattern of bullying and abuse continued at Dulwich College in London, which I attended for my A-Levels. I ended up having to study from home in my final year because I was so scared of going to school. I ended up not sitting some of my A-Levels - the kids had basically succeeded in destroying not only my self confidence but also my education. The headmaster at Dulwich had wanted me to study English Literature at Cambridge. I had the potential to do so but any hope of an academic future had been destroyed by my tormentors.

I developed anorexia and bulimia as a direct result of my experiences - and later dabbled in drugs as a means of escaping my emotional pain. I have had to fight tooth and nail to reclaim my career potential and indeed my self worth. It's been a long, bumpy road. But with the help of my closest friends, my family and my fiancee, I'm now a happy young man who is flourishing in every respect. I am enjoying success in my life and it's all the more dear to me because there was such a long period when all I ever wanted was to die.

So now you've heard a little bit about my own personal story - I urge each and every one of you to do your bit to support Sophie's cause.

To find out more, please visit

Follow the Sophie Lancaster Foundation on Twitter for daily updates on the Charity's work at

The S.O.P.H.I.E. pencil is priced at £12, the S.O.P.H.I.E. wrist band is priced at £2 and both can be purchased online via Illamasqua's website:

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes..

After a joyous six months as a Colour Coach for The Body Shop, I've moved on to pastures new. As of Monday 16th November 2009 I will be the new Business Manager for Dolce&Gabbana Cosmetics in Selfridges, London. To celebrate the lovely team of people I'll be leaving behind, I've put together one last Body Shop make-up tutorial. The Body Shop is currently riding the wave of the 80's revival. For a limited time, the hero products that the late Dame Anita Roddick favoured back in the 80's are available to purchase in store. Better yet, they're available to purchase for a very modest £3.99 - the price they were in the 80's.

To celebrate the limited re-release of "Anita's Favourites", all Body Shop stores held 80's themed parties. Staff dressed in 80's clothing and sported 80's make-up. A special compilation CD of 80's music was played in all stores and the rest as they say is history! So good was the music in fact that I discovered "Misfit" by Curiosity Killed The Cat - a truly genius track and one that certainly got me in the full 80's swing.

Never being one to miss the opportunity to dress up, I opted for a fusion of New Romantic and Punk - though tempered with a little Noughties subtlety. So on went the leather biker jacket, together with some fierce smokey eyes, nude lips, contoured bronzed cheekbones and a hint of punky fuschia blusher blended high across the cheeks into the hairline.

Smokey eyes never go out of fashion and were the look of choice at the Dsquared2 and Marc Jacobs AW09 shows. I've always been partial to a little glitter, so softened my smokey eye look by blending a glittery emerald green shadow with a peacock green and black shadow for my own personal take on the look.

To create the look, I first primed my skin with the Skin Primer. Blend a pea sized amount over the face and neck to create a flawless canvas for your foundation. Next, blend the Oil Free Foundation SPF 15 (I used Shade 07) over the face and neck with your finger tips. One pump is more than enough to give you perfect coverage. Next, blend a little concealer (I used Shade 05 in the Crayon Concealer) onto any remaining blemishes or imperfections to create a truly flawless matte base - it's the perfect contrast for the metallic eyes. It's worth blending a little concealer over the eye socket up to the brow bone and beneath the lower lashes - it will act as a great primer for your eye make-up, ensuring it lasts well into the evening. Define eyebrows with the Rich Brown Eye Definer (ensure it's sharpened), use short feathery strokes, following the direction of your hair growth for a strong brow - it will frame your eyes perfectly and give a feeling of 80's authenticity.

Using the Black Eye Definer, fill in the eye lid from the lash line to the crease and define the inner rim of the eye and below the lower lashes. Gently smudge with the Line Softener. Using the Eye Shadow Blender Brush, sweep the Soft Black eye shadow over the lids from lash to crease and beneath the lower lashes. Repeat with the Peacock Green shadow and finally with the Velvet Green shadow. Using the Brilliant Blue Metallic Eye Definer, gently draw a little line from the inner corner of the lower lashes to where the lashes start - you want to stop the line just before the middle of the lower lashes, it's just a subtle accent to make the eyes "pop". Finish by curling lashes with the Eye Lash Curler and apply two coats of Black Super Volume Mascara.

Using the Bronzing Brush, sweep the Nature's Minerals Bronzer in Bronzed Ochre beneath the cheekbones up towards the ears. If it helps, look in a mirror and suck your cheeks in - you want to sweep the bronzer along the hollow part of your cheeks for a sculpted effect. Blend a little bronzer across the temples, down the nose, under the chin and beneath the jaw line for an even finish. A little fall out beneath the eyes from eye shadow is normal when using powder eye shadows. To tidy up the under eye area, brush a little Lightening Touch concealer (I used Shade 04) in the inner corner of the eyes and blend beneath the eyes and up towards the hair line. Dab your finger onto the Magenta Glow Colourglide Lipstick and blend in a circular motion high on the cheekbones and blend up into the hair line. Repeat if necessary for greater colour intensity. Lastly, finish by dabbing a dot of the Party Pink Hi-Shine Lip Treatment onto the centre of lips, press lips together and "voila" - you have a sultry, sexy, 80's make-up look with a Noughties twist.

The Make-Up

Skin Primer Matte It - £9.50
Oil Free Foundation SPF 15 (Shade 07) - £11.70
Crayon Concealer (Shade 05) - £8.30
Lightening Touch £11.70
Rich Brown Eye Definer - £7.30
Brow & Lash Gel - £8.80
Black Eye Definer - £7.30
Eye Colour (Soft Black) - £7.80
Eye Colour (Peacock Green) - £7.80
Eye Colour (Velvet Green) - £7.80
Metallic Eye Definer (Brilliant Blue) - £6.00
Super Volume Mascara (Black) - £9.75
Hi-Shine Lip Treatment (Party Pink) - £9.25
Nature's Minerals Bronzer (Bronzed Ochre) - £14.65
Colourglide Lip Colour (Magenta Glow) - £8.00Concealer (Shade 05) - £8.30

The Tools

Line Softener - £7.30
Eyeshadow Blender Brush - £8.30
Eye Lash Curler - £4.85
Bronzing Brush - £14.00

Back To Black

Back To Black..

November has arrived and you need look no further than Amy Winehouse for inspiration. I’m not suggesting you tie a scarf around your head and invite Pete Doherty over for a booze up. You should however, consider going back to black. If the prospect of wearing black head-to-toe brings you out in a cold sweat, fear not. It may indeed be the preferred colour of undertakers, nuns, goths and Halloween enthusiasts but it can also look incredibly dapper when approached in the right way. There’s a reason historical designers such as Coco Chanel, Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent often featured black in their collections. It’s the same reason A-List stars such as George Clooney, Daniel Craig and Brad Pitt opt for a black tux when they want to create a paparazzi storm on the red carpet. When cut, fabric, silhouette and texture are considered, a black ensemble can go from being sombre and dull to sexy and powerful. Unlike wearing colour, it’s a failsafe option. To make an impact, go for a unique design detail and razor-sharp tailoring. Mix textures to create visual interest. Combining different textiles such as wool, brushed cotton, cotton jersey and patent leather will add depth to a look.

I’ve hand-picked five key pieces from that will have you reveling in your dark side:

1.McQ Alexander McQueen Black Asymmetrical Zip Wool Blouson - £390

This edgy jacket is proof that men’s fashion can be just as interesting as women’s. A future wardrobe classic, the asymmetrical zip creates a Winter-friendly funnel neck. When unzipped, the lapel falls on one side for a more casual take.

2. B-Store Black Jersey Collarless Balham Shirt - £95

Cotton jersey is superb for Winter layering. Thin enough to be worn under a snug jumper and jacket, it’s also breathable and soft on the skin. Layer a white vest or T-Shirt under this shirt and unbutton the top two-to-three buttons for a look that’s pure Johnny Depp.

3. Day Birger et Mikkelsen Tapered Brushed Cotton Chino - £89

These trousers are so fashion forward that they’ll earn you instant style credentials. The low-rise waist band and tapered leg are the rocker approach to dressing for dinner. Less width in your trouser hem means more of your shoes will be on show so it’s a great chance to flash your footwear.

4. D&G Dolce&Gabbana Black Patent Leather Lace-Up Shoe - £270

There’s smart shoes and then there’s smart black shoes that are so suave that they’ll make your feet the talking point of any party. It’s often said that one of the first things women notice about men are their shoes (or appalling choice of). These beauties will earn you bonus points with the ladies - guaranteed.

5. Vivienne Westwood Black Abstract Orb Scarf - £80

Inject a little anarchy into your attire with this graphic print scarf. Well-chosen accessories can elevate your look from simple to superb in seconds.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Burn Baby Burn

Burn Baby Burn..

I had the chance to catch up with Gill Sinclair, co-founder of at the recent Monty PR press day at Liberty. She saw me lurking beside the glittering display of candles from the A-List's favourite brand Votivo. Votivo candles are loved by the likes of Madonna and P Diddy (ie the uber-rich and uber-famous). Loved for their ability to scent a room exquisitely, there's a new Christmas Collection to lust after as the nights grow longer. Actually, who needs the excuse of long nights and cold weather? These beauties are worth splashing out on simply because they smell divine and will make you the envy of Martha Stewarts the world over. Votivo candles were previously only available to buy in the UK via Liberty, however, have snapped them up, so get clicking! Gill confided that most of her candle deliveries end up being squirelled off to her own home. If Gill Sinclair is burning Votivo candles then you know they're a winner - this woman is like a walking beauty bible. Her favourites from the new Christmas Collection are the Red Currant and Christmas Sage candles. Consider going native with the Christmas Sage candles - Native American Indians burn sage sticks to clear their homes of negative energy. I can't vouch for whether this works on annoying in-laws and relatives but you can always try! Alternatively, have a very berry Christmas with the Red Currant candles. They're a gorgeous festive red and also double as the perfect gift.

Votivo Christmas Candles are £34 and available from

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Boxing Clever

Boxing Clever..

Ok so I just got back from The Annroy Gallery, a stylish component of the legendary photographer Rankin's new development in Kentish Town. I was at the launch of Alex Box The Make Up Artist - a photographic collaboration between Rankin and international make-up artist Alex Box. Alex has worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Gareth Pugh and Stella McCartney and is creative director of the hot new make-up brand Illamasqua. It was definitely an A-List fashion affair with guests including super stylists Karen Binns and Johnny Blue Eyes, leading designer Gareth Pugh, supermodels Erin O' Connor and Anouck Lepere, Dazed & Confused editor Jefferson Hack and presenter George Lamb. Most importantly, the photos themselves were truly inspirational. One of my favourite shots on show was a series of portraits of a female model, in the style of Leigh Bowery. Her make-up morphs from totally white in the first shot to black in the last. However, it's the series of images in between that are truly remarkable. Using the model in the way a painter would use a canvas, Alex had layered pigments, textures and colours in such a way as to create an avant garde 3D living sculpture. Elsewhere, the lines between art and photography were blurred further still, with some portraits featuring intricate illustrations applied on top of the image in post production. Digital photography has paved the way for a new generation of image makers, with the latest technology allowing artists to push the boundaries of creativity. If you're an art fan you have to see this exhibition. It is beyond inspirational. If you can't get to the exhibition, all is not lost. Alex Box the book is available to purchase via the link below.

Alex Box is published by Turnaround (£50) and the exhibition runs at the Annroy Gallery, Kentish Town from 23 October - 22 November.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

In The Pink

In The Pink..

Six years ago my mother was experiencing tenderness in her right breast. Fearing the worst, she tried in vain to book an appointment for a breast screening at Guy's & St Thomas' hospital via her GP. She endured a lengthy wait - so lengthy in fact that she decided to seek private attention at the Lister hospital. There, her worst fears were confirmed. Not only did she have breast cancer (she had a cancerous growth 4cm in diameter), the nature of her cancer was particularly aggressive. Thanks to the swift excision of the lump and the chemotherapy and radiotherapy she received at the Royal Marsden hospital, my mother was given a second chance of life. My mother handled her illness with tremendous grace and dignity. Though her treatment left her perpetually fatigued and robbed her of all her hair (including her eyebrows and eyelashes), she never once complained. Having my mother in my life means the world to me and I'll be forever in debt to all the wonderful medical staff who tended to her in her darkest hours. It's therefore with great pride, that I draw attention to the Breast Cancer Campaign and their collaboration with clothing retailer Damart. Feisty Strictly Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff models this year's ultra-cute (and cosy) limited edition pink cami with over the knee socks from Damart. The cami is available in sizes 8 to 24 and is priced at just £14. The socks retail for £10, with £3.40 being donated to the cause from ever item sold. Women all over the world continue to battle breast cancer. It's for this reason that I urge you all to help Breast Cancer Awareness by snapping up the fabulous limited edition cami and socks. They'd make an ideal Christmas gift for friends and family, so splash out and do your bit to safeguard the lives of women the world over.

To order your limited edition pink cami and socks, please visit or call 0871 882 1111.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Sui Dreams Are Made Of This

Sui Dreams Are Made Of This..

Move over Mukluk. This Autumn/Winter a new footwear star is born. Say hello to the Shakoha boot, the creative offspring of Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss, Soap & Glory and FitFlop and the designer Anna Sui, New York's reigning queen of boho-luxe. Available exclusively from in black, chocolate and teal, these darlings will ensure your tootsies are suitably toasty this winter. Supermodel Agyness Deyn adores Sui's designs, hailing her as "the queen of rock n' roll", while Cameron Diaz and Renee Zellweger are ardent fans of the FitFlop. Given the track record of these two prolific creatives, it's probably safe to say that the studded suede, shearling lined Shakoha boot will swiftly win its very own legion of devotees. Not only does it effortlessly fuse style and comfort - it improves your posture and tones your legs. They've certainly found a fan in me - the black pair have Ian B written all over them. Fusing two huge trends for AW09, black and studs, they're an easy way to inject a little rock n' roll into your wardrobe.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Land of Soap & Glory

Land of Soap & Glory..

When it comes to skincare, the world has its leaders and its followers. Marcia Kilgore, the founder of Bliss, the FitFlop and now Soap & Glory, is most definitely the former. Having brought her own style of humour and irreverence to the world via her catchy soundbites (she writes all the copy for the product packaging herself), she has re-invigorated the cosmetics industry, which at times, can be prone to taking itself far too seriously. Soap & Glory was born from Marcia's desire to make highly effective skincare and beauty products available to the mass market - but without the hefty price tags and ridiculous claims of other brands. This October sees the launch of Soap & Glory For Men, building on the considerable success of the Soap & Glory women's range. The latter has spawned a series of cult products, including body butter and a face serum (beauty editors and journalists e-mail Marcia constantly to request more samples of this age-defying wrinkle buster). Every product in the men's range retails for under £5, which is incredible value given the premium grade ingredients and painstaking research that goes into developing and producing these super-effective products. I've reviewed the range on my new You Tube "guru" channel. To hear my personal thoughts on this fantastic men's range and for prices and stockist information, just watch the video below:

Penelope Cruz Vanity Fair November 09 Make-Up Tutorial

Penelope Cruz Vanity Fair November 09 Make-Up Tutorial..

If you haven't seen the November 09 issue of Vanity Fair, I suggest you hot foot it to your closest news stand and buy it now. The super-hot photographic duo Mert & Marcus shot Penelope Cruz for the cover. The shoot images evoked the old school Hollywood glamour of sultry screen icons such as Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Gina Lollobrigida, Ursula Andress and Marilyn Monroe. It was all about tumbling waves of "bed hair", heavily kohled feline "bedroom eyes", come-hither lashes, strong defined brows, sculpted cheeks and a luscious nude pink pout. I created my own interpretation of the look for a make-up tutorial on my new You Tube "guru" channel:

Marc Jacobs AW09 Catwalk Make-Up Tutorial

Marc Jacobs AW09 Catwalk Make-Up Tutorial..

If like Calvin Harris you've got love for the 80's, you'd be as enamoured as I am with the retro-tastic make-up looks Francois Nars created for the Marc Jacobs AW09 show. Traditionally, models tend to sport a relatively uniform make-up look in a show - but Nars pushed the boundaries by creating unique looks on every single model. Citing punks and club kids as his inspiration, Nars took us on a visual journey that referenced with the signature looks of Boy George, Toyah Wilcox, Grace Jones, Steve Strange, Siouxsie and the Banshees and A Flock of Seagulls amongst others. With a kaleidoscopic colour palette that could have been inspired by Skittles (enter your taste the rainbow jokes here), there was a huge emphasis on fun and creativity. Surely this is what we've all been clamouring for, what with the media sounding a seemingly endless death knell with their sensationalised reports of the demise of the world economy? Skin was flawless and matte throughout, with emphasis being placed on bold smoky eyes, punk-style winged eyeliner, dramatic blusher (sweeping up into the hairline), bold lips and contoured cheeks. I created my own interpretation for a make-up tutorial on my new You Tube "guru" channel: