Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wild One

Real Wild Child..

As promised, I thought I'd give you guys a little insight into my favourite look of the moment. It's the outfit I wore to do make-up for my client in Kensington Palace Gardens last Saturday. It would be fair to say that my fashion personality could quite probably be described as schizophrenic. I can go from rude boy, to rocker, to chic urban sophisticate and back again in the space of a day but surely this is the joy of getting dressed. Clothes and accessories are more to me than mere adornments. They reflect the many facets of my personality given how I feel at any time, on any given day, or depending on the occasion.

I've always loved Rock and alternative icons. You could say it's the rebel in me, my inner wild child breaking free.

Nothing speaks of sex, drugs and rock n' roll more than the iconic black leather jacket. My personal favourites are a biker one I picked up for the princely sum of £18 from a guy in Portobello Market, a stunning double breasted, buttery soft number from Carolyn Massey (a gift from my former life as a fashion editor) and my latest love affair, a vintage Harley Davidson cropped affair I tracked down from a vintage specialist in Crystal Palace, South London called Bambino. I decided I wanted to reward myself with a present so I scoured the internet looking for vintage leather specialists and found a blog piece about this place. I read that Kate Moss had worn a vintage Lewis leather jacket from the emporium for a Vogue editorial and I was sold. I was a bit gutted when I got there because nearly everything on the racks was size medium to large and I'm smaller than male fashion sample size with my 36" chest. The only piece that fitted me is the one I'm wearing in the photos. It is cropped in style, which wasn't originally what I wanted - but I had to concede that it was love at first wear. Plus, I was going to be damned if I was going to trek all the way to this place and not come back with the goods. I asked the owner how much it was, adopted my best "fashion bitch" air of cool "froideur" and haggled him down to a price that was quite honestly a bargain to end all bargains given the supreme quality. And thus a love affair began.

The key to rocking a look successfully is partly down to knowing what suits you and running with it and partly down to attitude. To quote Harper's Bazaar's Laura Brown "you gotta drive it like you stole it". I think what makes this look cool is the mix of influences, textures and the layering. The chunky grey knitted beanie I stole from my mother. It has a hole in the back and I keep meaning to darn it before it gets out of control but I think it gives it a "lived in" hobo vibe. The vintage Harley Davidson black leather motorcycle jacket with zip details and rivets is from Bambino. It has some mud on the sleeves but I haven't bothered cleaning it because like Courtney Love, leather jackets kind of make more sense when they're battered. Underneath I wear a plain long sleeved black jersey top from GAP with an oversized black t-shirt layered on top. The t-shirt was a gift from a relative from back home in Ethiopia (my mother's side of the family - my father is Scottish) and features a massive silver foil print Ethiopian Orthodox / Coptic cross emblazoned across the chest. Religious iconography and beautiful woven cottons are as much a part of Ethiopian / Eritrean style and cultural heritage as tartan is to the Scots. I think it's cool to plunder your own culture (or cultures in my case) for visual references.

This is one of my favourite bags from London design duo Chris and Tibor. It is called the Clerkenwell Large Black Prarie Leather Tote. I have had it for years (another relic from my heady fashion editor days) and like all quality leather accessories, it gets better with age. It is big enough to fit my MacBook, books, my make-up brush belt, documents, umbrellas, keys, scarves, food and make-up. Essentially it's my Mary Poppins bag. The bag is so cool it has its own YouTube video. Sadly the male model didn't come with the bag (we can all dream). But I was told at the time of selecting it that the fashion editor of Esquire had also chosen it which, truth be told, did make me feel quite smug. I'm sure I have many faults but bad taste isn't one of them!

These are my favourite Cheap Monday black skinny jeans. I love the skull motif on the back, it's very me. Though I could do with buying bigger sizes (these are a 26" waist and I have several pairs) as I bought these when I was a hungry fashion waif and I virtually need a shoe horn, baby oil and a prayer to get them on now. They barely squeeze over my thighs and butt. If they didn't contain lycra I wouldn't have a hope in hell. The cool black leather and chain belt is from Donatella Versace's VERSUS line, a gift from my friend Jonathan.

This is a pic of me from last summer, just after I sourced the Harley jacket. I miss my tan and my quiff. I wish it was warm enough to just wear t-shirts now but alas London in January is a rather cold and damp affair. Boo! My friend Oliver told me over lunch that I reminded him on the 80's Levi's model Nick Kamen (but prettier). I had no idea who the guy was so I had to get Oli to What's App me some pictures and I have to say I was pretty chuffed. My friend the designer Francesca Marotta said similarly wonderful things (and she'd met Nick up close in Notting Hill). Needless to say I was over the moon. Let's face it, there could be far worse comparisons.

A pic of my baby Harley in all its glory.

These are my Portobello Hi Tops in Black / Grey Marl that I bought on sale for £20 from Duffer of St George at JD Sports. I'm 32 and I am yet to own a pair of Converse. They seem to be as ubiquitous as All Saints clothing to wannabe London hipsters and I'm not really one for homogenous, identikit style. I have since gone on to purchase an additional black tracksuit from the brand. The tracksuit is seriously comfortable and designed in super-soft continental jersey. The hoody is perfect layered under leather jackets for extra warmth and urban flavour and the bottoms work equally well broken up and worn with other things. Style and comfort don't have to be alien concepts, I think when fused they make ideal bedfellows.

This is the soft-as-a-feather tribal print "Primarni" scarf my friend Laura gave me as a present last year. She knows I wear a lot of black and I loves me a print to keep everything from getting too sombre.

The VERSUS Versace black leather and chain detail belt my friend Jonathan gave me (thanks J - loves ya).

On the subject of VERSUS, does anyone remember this iconic "Donatalla Says More!" slogan t-shirt from the now defunct "Cool Britannia" fashion label House of Jazz? Damn it I should have bought one at the time.

To quote Rachel Zoe, "I Die!"

All my jewellery have stories to tell. The dragon claw ring is from a cool Rockabilly dude called Sean I met last year in Essex. We bonded over leopard print (seriously). I had borrowed a leopard print scarf from my friend Charlie to the point where she let me keep it (result) and Sean had a fondness for leopard print brothel creepers (no really). We kind of did that thing that people do where they admire each other's style. He appreciated my taste in jewellery and one day gave me this ring. It turns out he was in a rock band with one of the dudes from The Clash. Something to tell the god children right?? The thumb ring harks back to my teenage years ambling around Camden Market (before they turned it into a generic high street populated by mass market mainstream brands).

The silver and mother of pearl cross "Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll" ring set with pave sapphires is from Stephen Webster's flagship store on Mount Street (a gift from my lovely ex Matt). He also bought me the chunky silver ring on a trip to New York. It's from C'est Magnifique in the East Village. We were strolling through the city and I spotted this cool little family-run treasure trove. Once inside, I saw a wall of Press clippings with pictures of legends such as Johnny Depp, Iggy Pop and Keith Richards and I was in seventh heaven. It reminds me very much of two of my other favourite jewellery haunts, Wild Ones on the Kings Road and The Great Frog off Carnaby Street.

A close up of the Stephen Webster "Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll" ring. A total heirloom piece. Stephen has more celebrity devotees than you can shake a stick at. Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Christina Aguilera and Russell Brand to name just a few. He came onto the scene with his "Crystal Haze" pieces thanks to Madonna and his marine theme "Jewels Verne" collection remains one of my all time favourite jewellery collections. I also adore Shaun Leane for his supreme craftmanship, originality and cool collaborations with the likes of Daphne Guinness, Alexander McQueen and Bjork.

A picture of Johnny rocking some finger candy from C'est Magnifique NYC.

The C'est Magnifique NYC store.

C'est Magnifique's Alfred Albrizio III hard at work. This is literally what he looked like when he re-sized my ring for me. The lovely guy even gave me a special price on my ring.

Some of Alfred's cool skull designs.

Alternative Style Icons

Danish supermodel (and muse to everyone from Lagerfeld to Hedi Slimane) Freja Beha Erichsen.

Top American male model Bradley Soileau, star of Lana Del Rey's Born To Die and Blue Jeans music videos. "Hell is so hot right now". HELL YES. Between Brad, Maroon 5's lead singer Adam Levine and Prison Break's Wentworth Miller I'm starting to develop a serious fetish for body art. Watch this space.

Hedi Slimane, former designer for Dior Homme and now design director at the revamped Saint Laurent Paris did the coolest "special music project", selecting (and shooting) alternative 90's music icons such as Marilyn Manson (pictured in a Saint Larent biker jacket), Courtney Love and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon to front a campaign for the brand's Pre-Fall AW13 collection. All I can say is lucky buggers! The clothes, oh my god the clothes. Swoon.

Ariel Pink (also wearing the Saint Laurent biker). No I had no idea who he was before either but he looks a bit like Grunge icon Kurt Cobain (be it his slightly dorkier, less pretty cousin).

Marlon Brando rocking biker leathers and indigo denim in The Wild One. Bella Freud's iconic jumper says "Ginsberg is God". If this is true then surely Brando is the universe? Right??

The Clash. Just because.

Electro pioneer Gary Numan.

The bad boys from Grease.

Johnny Depp in Cry Baby.

So this is the 80's Levi's model Nick Kamen that I was told I'm a prettier version of. Oli, did I tell you how much I love you for saying that?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Young and Beautiful

Young and Beautiful..

On Monday 20th January something rather fortuitous happened. I received an e-mail from a high profile beauty industry insider saying "would it be possible to book a makeup session with you on the coming Saturday at 7pm? You are the best makeup artist I know and I always admire your work". So far so normal, I am a make-up artist after all.

As flattered as I was by the kind words and booking request, the only spanner in the works was that I hadn't worked in about a year. Last year I endured some serious health issues that nearly killed me. I was hospitalised for two months, three weeks of which were spent in intensive care. I was attached to several machines as I had suffered organ failure following major surgery on my legs. I was unable to walk and at one point it looked like I either wasn't going to pull through or that I'd have to have my legs amputated. So far so gruesome. So needless to say, I was somewhat nervous at the prospect of wielding my magic make-up brushes, given that I'd been in recovery up until December 2013.

Despite a serious case of jitters, I felt like this was the Universe's way of telling me to scrape myself off the floor and once again utilise the creativity that I've been blessed with. So I e-mailed the client back and said I'd be delighted to do the job. It turns out her daughter was attending a special birthday party and the make-up booking was for her. So I liased with her and discussed what sort of look she wanted. She said she wanted something "relatively sophisticated and not too out there" which was music to my ears as chic, glamourous beauty is most definitely one of my fortes.

So on Friday 24th January, I grabbed my make-up brushes (well some of them..I'm quite possibly the Imelda Marcos of make-up) and set about shampooing and conditioning them with my Aveda Shampure set (the most heavenly shampoo and conditioner) that infuses hair with one of Aveda's original aromas - a calming mix of 25 pure plant and flower essences. You just know Gwyneth Paltrow would approve. And besides, look after your tools and they'll look after you! I layed out my brushes flat on a towel to air dry overnight then edited and repacked my make-up kit to include everything I'd possibly need for my client the next evening. All my homework completed, I popped on Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and lost myself in Prada, Tiffany and F Scott Fitzgerald before indulging in some much-needed beauty sleep.

On Saturday 25th, I couldn't get Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful out of my head. She wrote the haunting track for Daisy Buchanan's character in the film and I spent most of Saturday listening to her album of the same name online. 

I'm very much inspired by films and music and I've no doubt a little Gatsby magic went with me to the job. The weather was vile, I can't abide the incessant drizzle in London, least of all when I have a make-up case to wield around town. So I went "back to black" and channelled my inner rocker, donning a layered black leather, denim and cotton jersey ensemble (very Rick Owens I thought and super practical for surviving the urban deluge). More of the look in a subsequent post.

So I headed to the client's house in Kensington Palace Gardens (aka billionaire's row). I've only been on the road twice before, once to the wedding of glamourous author and family friend Kathleen Tessaro at The Orangery (her tome Elegance was a New York Times best-seller). The only other time was for an event at the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal's house (the only time I have ever seen a Monet Water Lilie painting in a domestic setting). I got to High Street Ken an hour early, so stopped by Pret to grab a sandwich and hot chocolate. I was wearing a black sweatshirt emblazoned with a huge silver foil print Ethiopian Orthodox (Coptic) cross, a gift from one of my relatives. In my fit of nerves, I'd imagined my friend Laura singing Carrie Underwood's Jesus, Take The Wheel and figured I could do with some spirit, hence opting to wear him on my chest. I don't drive but I had no problem with the lord taking my wheel in the metaphorical sense. A beautiful Ethiopian barista served me and noted my t-shirt, asking me if I knew where it was from. I surprised her when I said "my mother is Habesha". Habesha is the generic term that people from my mother's country use to refer to what was once known as Abyssinia. I took this little exchange as a positive omen. Like Luke in Star Wars I had opted to use the force and apparently the force was with me.

This is a little make-up face chart that I made using the colours / products I used on my client. It's not the best. I did a couple when I trained at Dolce & Gabbana, NARS and MAC but that was a while ago now and I'm most definitely out of practice - but it gives you an idea of the overall look I designed.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, my client had e-mailed me a photo of herself "sans maquillage" to give me an idea of her facial structure and colouring, so I already had an inkling of what I hoped to create for her. She had the most gorgeous alabaster skin, high cheekbones and feline eyes - so I definitely wanted to enhance those features. 

I started by prepping her skin with NuBo's Cell Dynamic Velvet Cleansing Cream. This is my "go to" cleanser for clients and models because it plumps the skin up with peptides and calms with essence of rose. It helps of course that it smells of roses too, I always think that beauty ought to be a sensory experience.

I always have Caudalie's Beauty Elixir in my kit. I like to liberally spritz it over the face and neck after cleansing to hydrate and tone the skin prior to applying moisturiser. I also spritz the make-up at the end to keep everything dewy and radiant. This is another product that smells divine and it has a fantastically freshening effect on the complexion.

To hydrate and plump, I smoothed a couple of pumps of NuBo's Cell Dynamic Day Performance SPF 20 over the face and neck. I can't get enough of this lightweight yet uber-plumping and silky moisturiser as it really primes the skin for make-up and protects against urban aggressors. A smooth canvas is essential to creating beautiful make-up. Cosmetics can only do so much.

Post moisturiser, I smoothed a couple of pumps of NuBo's Cell Dynamic The Essence Bio-gold over the face and neck. This super-serum repairs, lifts, firms and plumps - a total "must have" for red carpet radiance.

The extremes of cold weather outdoors and central heating blazing indoors tends to reek havoc with the lips. To ensure my client's smackers were prepped to perfection, I slathered them generously in NuBo's Instant Lip Perfection SPF 15.

My canvas nearly complete, I applied Chanel's Le Blanc De Chanel sheer illuminating base with a foundation brush over the face and neck. This decadent  primer is the secret to that sought-after film star glow.

As my client was going to supper then out dancing, I knew I needed a base that would go the distance. I often use Chanel's Perfection Lumiere Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Makeup SPF 10 on celebrities for editorials as it photographs beautifully and remains immaculate even under intense studio lights. With foundation I usually blend shades together to create a bespoke match for the client. In this instance I used three, 10 Beige, 20 Beige and 12 Beige Rose.

I never go anywhere without my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. I have all the shades and to this day think that there are hardly any brands that can touch it in regards to coverage, blendability and longevity. I used SC-2 with a concealer brush on my client after foundation to correct areas of redness on the cheeks and nose and for minor imperfections (she had virtually perfect skin - more so after this little gem). I also adore this for cleaning up the lip line when doing a bold lip, which is exactly what I did on this occasion.

One thing most of us can relate to is dark circles. I adore By Terry Touch Expert Advanced, it's like Harry Potter in a make-up pen. I blend it under eyes after applying eye makeup to banish "sleepy hollows". It is also fantastic blended over eyelids to correct discolouration, on the brow bone for an instant eye lift and as a highlighter on cheekbones, down the centre of the nose and along the cupid's bow to enhance the perfect pout.

After concealing, a lightly dusted the tiniest amount of Laura Mercier's Secret Brightening Powder along the T-Zone, over the lids and under the eyes. I kept the rest of the face devoid of powder as I knew I'd be using highlighting and bronzing powder to lift and sculpt those areas. There is nothing more ageing than excessive powdering - it is the enemy of a youthful, dewy complexion.

I blended the two lightest shades of Hourglass' Ambient Lighting Palette over the brow bones, down the centre of the nose, along the cupid's bow and across the cheekbones to lift the face. It is the secret to skin that looks as if it is lit from within.

I contoured under the cheekbones, into the hair line, down the sides of the nose, through the crease of the eye sockets, along the jaw line and down the sides of the neck with NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder. There's nothing quite like it for sculpted sophistication.

My client had very fair brows, so I used MAC Fling Eyebrow Pencil in little feathery strokes to mimic the hair growth, define and frame the eyes. I brushed through with a brow grooming brush from Daniel Sandler to blend and keep everything flawless.

I applied the NARS Eyeliner Pencil in Iceberg to the water line to open up my client's eyes. It is brilliant on fair complexions and especially to create a fresh "wide-eyed" ingenue look on more feline / almond eye shapes. 

I knew I wanted to sculpt the eyes but keep to a sophisticated neutral palette, so I blended the NARS Eye Shadow in Edie in the inner corners and across the lids to open up the eyes and really make them "pop".

I blended NARS Lola Lola Eye Shadow through the crease and along the outer edges of the lower lash line to contour, sculpt and add warmth. My client had stunning blue eyes and this rich, earthy brown shade really enhanced them.

For extra intensity, I further enhanced the crease with a little NARS Eye Shadow in Mekong, and again, smudged a tiny bit along the outer edge of the lower lash line. I didn't bother with liner as my client had recently had semi-permanent black liner tattooed along her upper lash line and didn't need it. 

I curled her lashes with my Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers (or instruments of torture as she endearingly called them), again to really open up the eyes for maximum flutter.

I "zigzagged" one coat of NARS Larger Than Life Volumizing Mascar through the top lashes from root to tips, then turning the wand vertically and using what was left to lightly enhance the fine lower lashes.

Using a little Duo Lash Adhesive on the back of my hand, I applied some individual false lashes to the outer corners of the top lashes to enhance the client's dreamy cat eyes, finishing with an extra slick of mascara once the glue had dried.

To compliment my client's killer LBD and skyscraper Louboutins, not to mention her crimson manicure, I filled in her lips entirely with NARS Lip Liner in Jungle Red, slightly over-drawing the lip shape to cheat a fuller pout. Filling in the lips with a colour-coordinated liner before applying your lippy is the way to make your lip colour last all day / night and can be done in any shade.

The final touch was a slick of NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Jungle Red. I blotted the colour after the first application, then applied a second coat (both with a lip brush to really push the pigment into the lips). I left her the lipstick to take in her handbag just in case she needed touch ups. Red lipstick is super glamourous when done right but with all bold lips, it can be high maintenance. Plus I knew there was supper and drinks (and possibly kissing) on the horizon.
A final spritz of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir was the "piece de resistance" to keep everything fresh and glowy. My client looked gingerly into her mirror to see the end result and said "I look like someone from The Great Gatsby". 

"Is that good?" I asked and she replied "it's amazing!"


NuBo Velvet Cleansing Cream 100ml - £39
NuBo Cell Dynamic Day Performance SPF 20 30ml - £120
NuBo Cell Dynamic The Essence Bio-gold 30ml - £200
NuBo Instant Lip Perfection SPF 15 - £38

Caudalie Beauty Elixir 100ml - £32


Chanel Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base - £31
Chanel Perfection Lumiere Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Make-Up SPF 10 - £36

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage SC-2 - £26
Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, No.1 - £18.50

By Terry Touch Expert Advanced - £32
Hourgalss Ambient Lighting Palette - £56

NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder - £26
NARS Iceberg Eyeliner Pencil - £16
NARS Edie Shimmer Eyeshadow - £18
NARS Lola Lola Shimmer Eyshadow - £18
NARS Mekong Shimmer Eyeshadow - £18
NARS Larger Than Life Volumizing Mascara - £18.50
NARS Jungle Red Lip Pencil - £16.50
NARS Jungle Red Semi Matte Lipstick - £18.50

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler - £20

MAC No.30 Lashes - £10
Duo Lash Adhesive - £10