One of the biggest revelations for me from my recent sojourn to London was getting to try Top Shop’s range of makeup. One of my very first (in fact embarrassingly fast after we landed) trips was to the Top Shop flagship store on Oxford St, where I was, literally, like a kid in a candy store. The nail polishes are like yummy gum drops, the range of lipsticks is to die for, and they have all these cool lip markers and chubby lip and eye crayons in all sorts of amazing colours.
So I picked up quite a few pieces whilst I was there and then as soon as I got home I did some fancy rearranging and muscled them into my kit, and now with summer shoots coming up, they are doing me proud.
My absolute favourites are the nail polishes and the lipsticks. When I was in London I was on a job with a top manicurist – I won’t say their name as they have a contract with another company, but they were raving about the staying power and the colour selection of the Top Shop polishes, comparable to some much more expensive brands on the market.
I snapped up the nail polish in Late Show, a bright purple which for some reason reminds me of Willy Wonka (don’t worry, that’s a good thing!) as it’s the exact shade of his jacket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
“She wore blue velvet, bluer than velvet were her eyes…”
I couldn’t tell you why but for the last couple of months I have had two obsessions – deep blue eyeshadows, and David Lynch. Maybe it’s from being hypnotized by Isabella Rosellini’s performance in his extraordinary film Blue Velvet at an impressionable age (not to mention her blue eyeshadow in the movie!) or maybe it was my recent purchase of NARS Outremer cobalt eyeshadow that sparked my latest obsession. Whatever it is, it’s got me channeling Blue Velvet. Unfortunately the scene where Isabella Rossellini sings Blue Velvet has been deleted on YouTube for copyright reasons (SO annoying when that happens!), but this video gives you an idea of why I’m so inspired:
And these are the shadows I’ve found to give me the velvety blue goodness I’ve been after. Just to be clear, it’s not a baby blue, or a pastel blue (although Lord knows I dug up enough of them when I was rummaging in the makeup Vault for this story), it’s rich, decadent otherworldly blue eyeshadows, from inky navies to brighter sapphire shades. Here are my picks:
Tom Ford Cobalt Rush – Tom Ford shadows (here I’m going to wax lyrical again) are absolutely beautiful. Soft, buttery-smooth, pigmented and come in quads of four colours that are gorgeous individually or used together. Cobalt Rush is his quartet of blues with a navy, a teal, a shimmering white and a beautiful grey-blue. Like all Tom Ford products it’s sophisticated and luxe. Do be careful when applying though as I find there’s quite a bit of shimmer fall-out, but the finish is so beautiful it’s well worth it. Pop a tissue under the eye whilst you’re doing your eye makeup to catch any fall-out.
Revlon 16 Hour Shadow quad in Serenity – Sky blue, glittery black navy, pale blue and a surprise pale gold for a highlight (which is what I love about it) make up this quartet of lagoon lovelies. Revlon’s new shadow quads come in all the colours of the rainbow and give long-lasting, crease-proof wear.
NARS Outremer – This is the shadow that got me on the Blue Velvet tip. It’s a bright, beautiful deep blue that has to be seen to be believed. It’s not like any other colour I’ve seen and makes other blues look flat and – just not blue enough. NARS China Blue is another of my favourite ways to sing the blues.
MyFace EyeTouch Eyeshadow Trio in BellBottom Blues and Silk Screen Art duo eyeshadow in Pop Culture – I’ve been a fan of the MyFace Trio eyeshadows since they were released, and I love this new addition to my collection. A beautiful shimmering cobalt, a pale white-blue and a navy Blingtone make this indispensable in my kit.
MyFace also have new Silk Screen Art duo eyeshadows in gorgeous colour combos dreamed up by celebrity makeup artist Kay Montano. Pop Culture is a bright vivid blue and a chartreuse green, and these are great eyeshadows for makeup artists to have in their kit as the colours are lovely but ones that are quite hard to find. Plus there is the ever-attractive MyFace price point – they aren’t expensive compared to a lot of other similar products.
Laura Mercier Eyeshadow in Deep Night – I think this was my original navy shadow in my kit and one I still use to today. Just a beautiful, deep matte blue with a hint of black, so perfect for a smoky eye or for lining (if you’re so inclined). Her cake eyeliner in Bleu Marine is also gorgeous.
Chanel Eyeshadow Quad in Bleu Celestes – Ah Chanel I can’t do a job without you so it’s only fair I talk about my first blue eyeshadow quad that despite my plethora of other options, I can’t bear to part with. Bleu Celestes has a deep navy, grey-blue, a brighter blue and a shimmering white with that perfect Chanel finish that I can’t go past.
“You wore blue velvet, bluer than velvet were your eyes…”
Ah my hair – what a saga that is. When it’s well behaved it looks like this:
When it’s badly behaved it looks like this:
(Although David Lee Roth looks a hell of a lot prouder of his luscious locks in this video than I am of mine).
And that’s how it’s been my whole life. The only difference between the two is the products I use, and I have learnt through trial, and much, much error which ones work for me (Answer: Not Many). And just to give you an idea of what my barnet is like to deal with, let me tell you this – it’s long, it’s blonde, there’s lots of it and it has natural wave to it, which can be a good or a bad thing. Put it this way, my husband calls me “The Tree” on bad hair days. Not a desirable nickname. Too much product leaves it looking flat as a pancake and voluptuous waves soon become hideous 80’s rocker frizz. Did I mention it’s dry? So very, very dry that usually I use masks for black hair as conditioner. My hair is one freaky place, let me tell you.
Shampoo and conditioner are paramount for me. If they’re right, it’s Blake Lively time. Get it wrong and it’s all about the 80’s soft rock/heavy metal tribute band (think Van Halen, but more ghetto). But now I’ve discovered OriginalMineral’s UNBELIEVABLE range of natural haircare, every day is a good hair day. I’ve tried natural hair care before and it often leaves a strange residue in my hair, weighing down the ends. The result would be less than flattering, so it was straight back to the hardcore chemical numbers that did the job. But I’d stand in the shower wondering how much of those lovely chemicals my body was ingesting, and it did make me feel uncomfortable (not enough to risk having bad hair mind you, a girl has her limits). But now with OriginalMineral my days as a wannabe David Lee Roth are over – OVER I tell you! I can have organic haircare and hair that can be seen in public. I can’t rave enough about this brand.
The CEO, Jose Bryce Smith, developed the line after her husband had contact dermatitis, and they were trying to find products without ammonia. O&M was born in Australia in 2007, and since then it has stealthily worked its way out of the salon and is now heading around the world (I believe they have just hit the States with a bang.)
Let me tell you about my new O&M Hair Heroes, which are Hydrate and Conquer Shampoo and Conditioner. They contain Tasmanian Sea Kelp, Vitamins A,B,C & E and amino acids – and more importantly they took my hair from heavy metal tragic to Gossip Girl in one wash. ‘Nuff said.
I love the scent of the products as they aren’t too heavy, and the packaging is super cool as well – very 70’s retro (I can totally see these in Dustin Hoffman’s shower in Kramer vs Kramer) and it’s recyclable. I’m also gradually testing out some of the styling products which are just as fabulous as their haircare. So for a little less Miss Lively and a lot less Whitesnake, you need some O&M in your life.
Perhaps it’s because it reminds me of a time when women weren’t just women, they were the ultimate glamazons – wearing Versace and Alaia whilst they were photographed in a power suit, or a swimsuit, looking incredible with massive hair and perfect makeup (or at least Vogue would have us believe). It was the time when more was never enough and there was no such thing as excess. Models like Elle McPherson, Stephanie Seymour and Cindy Crawford had the bodies that women (and men) admired. They had boobs and hips and waists and muscles and looked like they could crush a small car without flinching. Or without crushing their Christian Lacroix taffeta ball gown in the meantime.
I love them because their faces encapsulate my youth – a time when my bedroom walls were plastered with their faces. Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington in Chanel in St Tropez. Claudia Schiffer’s tiny waist was clad in acid wash for Guess jeans and the lens of Ellen Von Unwerth, Cindy C cavorted on the beach for Herb Ritts and Arthur Elgort, and Elle McPherson was on the cover of Time. I loved them then because they were the ultimate in all that a woman could be – strong, and powerful and beautiful in an Amazonian but still attainable way. There was a wholesomeness to them, a girl next door quality that also promised a life beyond your wildest dreams. They were business women, who built empires and fortunes and offered a world where your wardrobe was Chanel and Gaultier, and you partied with Madonna at Gianni Versace’s mansion. They were the original superstars, the top models who reinvented the glamour of the celebrity world we know today.
Having been lucky enough to work with a lot of them whilst in London (Claudia, Yasmin Le Bon, Kate Moss, Elle McPherson, Kristen McNenamy), I can attest to the fact that getting older does not mean losing anything in any way. If anything, it’s about gaining – wisdom. Self knowledge and grace. And designers and advertisers are listening, as the original Supermodels speak to us in a way that a fourteen year old never can. Harpers Bazaar UK has five of the original Supers on their latest cover – and let me tell you, if I look anywhere near that good at forty five I won’t be complaining.
And now as we all grow older, and women my age look ahead to their middle thirties and beyond to their forties and even fifties, middle age is being completely reinvented by them too. They are still beautiful, and powerful, and strong. Their empires have grown and away from the camera they now helm massively successful businesses and prove that women can have children and fortunes and wealth and beauty. They provide a stunning antidote not only to traditional notions of what happens as you age, but also to the legions of undernourished teenagers that currently populate our magazines and runways. May the tide turn permanently and bring back real women. Maybe we can have a return to the ideal of the amazon woman from my girlhood, where women had power and strength and beauty and grace. Long live the Supermodels.
Here is a beautiful trailer from the 1991 film by Peter Lindbergh, simply entitled “Models”. The Supers at the height of their beauty: www.peterlindbergh.com/#FILMS/10
This is my favourite Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg song, and I just think she’s so beautiful in this video of them frolicking in Europe in the late ‘60’s. That whole period has got me riveted again – maybe it’s because it started cropping up again on the catwalks in the last spate of shows (thanks Pat and Guido!) or maybe it’s just because I’m sick, OH SO SICK of the 80’s now. Please put them away people, and give them a decent burial. They were great but leggings and Bananarama skirts have had their place in the sun again and it’s time to let them go. Forever, hopefully.
Jane was the quintessence of cool back in the day with her gorgeous natural beauty and her affair with her much older French lover, Serge Gainsbourg, one of the most admired artists of the time. Together they collaborated on many songs and films, the most controversial being the fabulous Je t’aime… Moi non plus. The French side of my family always call me Jane Birkin when I speak French, but that is sadly only to do with my terrible French accent, not my effortless cool and striking resemblance to the brunette beauty.
So this season I want long, beautiful hair and a natural radiant glow (with a little gap in my teeth), a groovy wardrobe of flares and just the perfect onionskin thin t-shirt. A bit like Jane really.