Jean Louis Scherrer 1970s silk chiffon dress

by Katie on December 1, 2017

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I’m a massive fan of the less conspicuous couture houses that still reek of discreet, old-style glamour but have yet to be re-invented or re-imagined. Where there’s not a Kardashian in sight, nor a whiff of Alexa Chung or Rita (H)Ora.

Jean Louis Scherrer is one such house.

JLS was a former classically trained ballet dancer who then assisted under Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent (at Dior). His vision was one of elegance and fluidity, using sumptuous wispy chiffons and silks that skimmed or wrapped the body. Scherrer’s reign from 1962-1992 rivalled competitors such as Chloe and YSL , with the most feted of women of the day including Jackie Kennedy, Isabelle Adjani, Sophia Loren, Francois Sagan and Bianca Jagger wearing the label.

Jean-Louis Scherrer is also an extremely under-rated perfume house that still plods on in the background (which is no bad thing) awaiting re-invention. Jean-Louis Scherrer 2 is the most delicious, luxurious, old-school chypre that is my favourite fragrance of all time, so when I saw this piece on Ebay recently, I bid and won it. Yes, it was still an expensive buy and it is just the slightest bit too tight that awaits a ‘thin-day’ or rather ‘thin-evening’ for it to be worn. But oh, isn’t it gorgeous?

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LM Parfums Veleno Doré

by Katie on November 30, 2017

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Laurent Mazzone’s talent is undeniable. Expert in luxuriously relaying the sensory qualities of sensation, colour and pattern into his premium perfumes, Mazzone’s creations are resultantly addictive and sumptuous as any true indicator of luxury should be. These vials convey premium at a price, rich in expensive and rare ingredients with the perfumer’s artistry foremost relaying the perfume mood.

LM Parfums latest release, Veleno Doré, the second in the luxury Gold Label range, housed in black lacquer casing, is case in point.

The perfume’s visual is arresting and disturbing, as a black snake wraps itself around the juice – danger, forbidden fruit, this will bite, poison…are all the thoughts that come to mind. With an intriguing and underlying masculinity, Veleno Doré’s sensual beauty attracts the female. It takes a brave women to dive into this hedonistic, spicy chypre.

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A warm blast of a rich and robust tobacco leaf is mixed with the finest patchouli with heavy doses of rum, nutmeg and chilli to spice things up. There’s a smooth velvety vanilla and amber streak that runs through this poison, making the juice deliberately and deliciously narcotic. Mazzone’s inspiration for Veleno Doré lies in a legend: “In the depths of a remote forest, the powerful snake king lurks patiently in the shadows, waiting for his prey. When the king strikes, his victim is turned into gold on contact with his extraordinary venom. Veleno Doré recounts this ancient tale where, after death, something sublime emerges.”

It has to be encountered to be believed.

LM Parfums Veleno Doré will be available as Extrait de Parfum (£395 for 100ml) from 1st October 2017 from Harvey Nichols.

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What’s New

Estee Lauder’s new Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix

Look & Feel

A  sophisticated, ombre-toned, brown bottle with a custom-designed 360 degree massage applicator that should be rolled under each eye three times before massaging both above and below the eye.

What It Does

Promises to repair all signs of visible ageing including fine line and wrinkles, under-eye puffiness and uneven skin tone. Also, fortifies the thin skin around the eyes by increasing density as well as hydrating with deep, lasting moisture for a full 24 hours, prompting skin to naturally build more moisture from within.

Review:

As you’d expect from beauty giant, Estee Lauder, this newly launched re-worked product has been zsushed up with the addition of patent-pending 360 degree Matrix Technology – a blend of visco-elastic polymer and 2X concentrated infusion of two types of Hyaluronic Acid. proposed as an all-in-one solution for tired, dry eyes.

Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix feels cool and hydrating on application and makes eyes feel instantly refreshed. Long term results (plus 4 weeks) have yet to be recorded but the product is already a reach-for, instant boost of much-needed moisture for tired eyes. Please note that although Hyaluronic acid is moisturizing, it cannot address the look of ingrained under eye circles.

NEW Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix is priced at £49 and is available nationwide from Estee Lauder counters and on esteelauder.co.uk online.

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A must visit on my next trip to my former home town is the new 130sq feet stand-alone Tom Ford Store in London’s Covent Garden. A beauty vision of the visionary that is Ford, encapsulating all that’s sublimely chic. Launched only a week ago, the first TOM FORD beauty standalone store is a pivotal moment in the evolution of the brand.

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The new design of light and layered grey glass sculpture creates a visually arresting play on objects and space while highlighting his collection of makeup, skincare and fragrance for women and men. Tom Ford’s inimitable touch reverberates in every dimension of the store. Halos of light and floating white marble slabs showcase the exquisite product design, fully immersing the visitor in the convergence of glamour and technology for a luxurious retail experience.

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The ground floor colour room houses the latest launches, most wanted colours, and augmented reality, that allow customers to virtually try on shades from the highly coveted lip colour collection.

The fragrance room is transforming how consumers trial fragrance. The room features a dedicated interactive scenting installation where guests can digitally explore the unconventional scents that make up the artisanal Private Blend Collection. A dramming bar offers customized services from luxury sampling to scent styling.

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The make-up room is an intimate locale, offering personalized makeup services and demonstrations by a Tom Ford Beauty Specialist. For the first time, customers can record their makeup applications for use at home as a personalized how-to, sent with a shopping list of products used throughout the service.  On the lower ground floor, find the Private Make-Up Services Room, a Mens’ Grooming Room and a VIP/Event space.

Tom Ford’s stand-alone Beauty Store is located at 3 The Market Building, Covent Garden. All appointments are bookable online at tomfordbeauty.co.uk/appointments.

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Zarko Perfume Cloud Collection

by Katie on November 29, 2017

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Zarko is a new name for me. It seems that more and more niche perfume houses are developing ground-breaking fragrances and combinations to take on the big players. Smaller quantities produced, exclusivity to certain retailers and price (an all important niche factor) ensures that the general populace may not ever come into contact with these newbie beauties. Which is a pity, as they are more than worth seeking out. Aimed at a customer base who take their perfume as seriously as their off-beat designer shoes and clothing, this is the world of selective sought-out taste that defines the wearer.

Zarko Pavlov began his journey in perfumery in 2008 with his aim ‘to create fragrances that encapsulate Scandinavia….my approach is to fuse classic French perfumery with stringent, Nordic molecular science.’ The technique of composing the fragrance is as much an art as the left-field scent desire to create molecular stories based around themes such as ‘a love affair’, ‘the heartless one’ and‘farewell control’. A cerebral as well as emotional approach to encapsulating the essence of Scandinavian lifestyle.

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Zarko Perfume’s latest release, Cloud Collection, is a feast of delights. Firstly, there’s the design – a stripped back, round, modernist bottle with the name and perfumer printed on the top of the glass – un-showy yet distinctive. Then, there’s it’s make up: A clear juice with a tangerine coloured,  viscous, globular, oily matter suspended in water, that lies at the bottom of the bottle. Shake this and a cloudy, milky-white concoction results that when sprayed, releases a sweet, comforting blast of saltiness combined with a jasmine floral base. Not the obvious mix of ingredients I’d normally combine, but hey…Zarko is ‘out-there’ in his aim to create a point of difference.

This is an escape fragrance.  A defined choice to escape to a scene of chic, clean, Scandinavian beauty that you imagine in a Nordic noir drama. All vast, clean, contemporary apartments, clear blue skies and trips to deserted lake-side destinations or brisk sea shores. The unusual mix of sweetness with sundried driftwood and a hint of leather thrown in to up the unisex nature of the fragrance makes this further more quirky.

My bête-noir with this otherwise ticks-all-the-boxes niche offer is that it remains singular and one dimensional in it’s diffusion. Never changing or altering to catch the wearer off-guard with a surprise element in it’s die-down.

It’s  a concise choice for a complex, seeking-a-point-of-difference user.

Zarko Cloud Collection EDP (100ml) is available exclusively from John Lewis stores priced at £185.

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These type of posts are not my favourite. I love reviewing some newly (about to be released) make-up or skincare product or perfume. However, as a blogger, I feel that it’s only right to highlight a product which fails the customer on every level and disappoints, especially when it’s allegedly  ‘new’ and updated with a formula or colour change. If not simply to share the experience but to warn other consumers of the effects.

Consumers have a myriad of hair colour options foisted on them. Take a walk down the aisle of your local Superdrug or Boots store and see dozens of options from semi-permanent, to permanent and wash-in, wash-out choices, in simply hundreds of colours. Which is why, as a consumer, when you have carefully honed down your choice of colour (over years of trying and experimenting with various brands and colours), you remain true to a brand and shade, spending literally hundreds of pounds.

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Then just how vexing is it to be at the end of product development colour changes; often not particularly apparent. ie When colours are ‘updated’ or ‘improved’. To minimise marketing information changes & expense, hair dye boxes are almost always identical with indistinct copy changes and boasting replica claims even with the same colour hair swatch in the picture and the same colour shade names being used.

As a marketer, I know that the first rule of marketing, especially with a category such as hair colour, is to attract and retain customer loyalty. Thus, the reason why there are so many colour shade hair deals. ie. 2 for £11, introductory price offers etc.

Women who home-dye know the anguish of trial & error and also the time and energy this takes – and the expense of any mistakes. So, when they hit upon the right product for their hair type and shade, they are brand and shade loyal to the utmost – keeping any changes to the minimum. Go in. Grab the box. Take my money = customer loyalty.

And then…we have the dreaded new formulations.

At this point, with bright orange roots and with garish orange-red hair, I have had the tears and the shock . Now, I’m just angry. Annoyed that instead of my usual rich tones that L’Oreal’s Casting Mahogany (shade 550) have given me after years of loyalty, I now have horrid hair that will need serious work in time and money to sort out, neither of which I can afford, and especially when I needed a much-needed boost. And all because the L’Oreal Casting  product has inconspicuously changed to Mahogany Henna* (354). (*Please note the changes in tone and the disaster in the pics enclosed. From my usual natural feel shade to, well…this).

I say ‘inconspicuously’, as very little has changed re the box and information (see above). There’s ‘New’ printed in a small pink box and the name ‘Mahogany Henna’ giving the appearance that the product has been revamped a tad, especially as the same colour name shades are being used. Highly misleading to the consumer. 

There is no hint that this is a completely different shade and product – especially as there are various other ‘henna’ shades in the casting spectrum such as ‘chocolate’ etc. These are all being pushed and stacked high by in-store promotions. A simple ‘shinier, glossier’ look was expected by the customer with the word use, ‘henna’. Not a serious colour shift.

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And the horror! The most worrying aspect of this new ‘henna’ colour and updated product development has been the effect to the grey in my hair.

Be warned L’Oreal Casting customers, this new updated version does NOT “blend away greys” as it says (as it always has) on the box. Instead, it has turned any grey hair, bright orange in tone. Quite unlike the former 550 Mahogany shade which blended so well and had my undying loyalty.

I have spoken to two reputable hair stylists and salons about this who have both said independently that it appears that the base colour appears to have been diluted and altered (comparing the original 550 mahogany to the new updated ‘mahogany henna shade), which means that the brand is relying on the henna to add the gloss and colour. What this means, in effect, is that any grey or lighter shades become translucent and ugly. Not quite what you expect from a product that says it should ‘blend away greys’.

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At the time of writing, I telephoned L’Oreal SIX times (being sent all around the houses) and ended up in Customer Services – which took three of the six calls. The original junior who took the call simply put the phone down on me after advising that I use a clarifying shampoo for 10 minutes for a few times initially to dull down the colour.

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I finally spoke to a helpful and polite customer services manager. My main points being a) the usual product has changed using the same shade terminology without flagging the effects of this change to the consumer. b)  The product boxes are nigh on identical in terms of copy (from the old style 550 one to the new 354 version). c) The claim to ‘blend away grey’ is now clearly untrue as the henna addition simply highlights the massive difference in tone between grey and any colour density. d) That loyal consumers in their thousands (with greying hair) will go through this same experience and L’Oreal have a duty of care to clearly inform the customer of the difference in product – the same colour shade terminology should not be used for a vastly different product.

I noted to the customer services manager that I had also flagged this up in social media channels but have yet to have any response from L’Oreal. As L’Oreal Head Office have a no contact name, no call through rule, it’s been impossible to get in contact with a PR representative from the brand for a quote. And the social media shout-outs have been ignored (so far).

I’m putting this down to my nightmare Friday 13th experience.  My poor hair may never recover.

Have you had any similar experiences from product development changes and updates to your home hair-dye? Please let know, below, in the comments section.

 

 

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It’s a HUGE thing when Chanel launch a newbie to the Chanel perfume fold, with billions banking on its success. Years in development (five) for the bottle ALONE and you get the picture.

Created by Olivier Polge, Chanel’s in-house perfumer and son of blockbuster ‘Chance’ creator, Jacques Polge, the creation of ‘Gabrielle’ is meant to embody the free spirit, innovation and rebelliousness of her namesake. Surprisingly and piquantly, it has  resulted in a sophisticated dazzling little beauty, very much in the Chanel house style with shimmering distinction.

Gabrielle radiates light and luminosity with a sheer veil of tingling mystery that whispers ‘how do I do that?’. It isn’t rebellious or confrontational to the norm (as I’d wrongly assumed) but instead sneaks up to surprise with its playful yet ladylike chutzpah even when you’re wearing it. This is an uber white bunch of ultra modern florals in an architectural sculptured form that’s bang on target for the Instagram genre.

I’d call it young womanly, but that is probably viewed as a negative rather than a compliment. Not quite as gutsy as the Gen X’ers Coco, but a more sedate yet classy number that grows and takes time to develop. Just like its social media savvy little consumers. A whole new realm of tamed-down expression and inspiration that’s quite different from the dark, sexy and in-your-face originality of Coco. Still, as a marketing tool and spearhead for the new generation of Chanel lovers and fronted by Kristen Stewart of Twilight saga fame, Gabrielle does it’s job well and may yet appeal to their aunts and mothers.

Gabrielle struck me like a younger sister to 1990’s ‘Allure’ when it launched with its squeaky clean, new-look Chanel, sparkling, lean and punchy. The fresh first burst of clean orange notes almost overwhelms the white florals of ylang-ylang and jasmine. There’s a touch of tuberose in there (somewhere) but the beauty of this perfume is its second hit – there’s a warm creamy embrace of sandalwood and musk that’s been added to coat the white florals in what seems like soft kid suede or cashmere if not velvet. This approach makes Gabrielle so much more sophisticated than its hype that you wish it had kinda’ kicked off like this.

And the surprise? That delicate, powdery, stem-green freshness that manages to combine an old school charm with a  contemporary twist. In terms of hold, Gabrielle keeps going  – a pleasant surprise for this wearer when complimented on the fragrance and had to think ‘what had I sprayed that morning? Ah! Gabrielle!’.

As big hitters go, I’m certain that Gabrielle with it’s beautifully designed, golden hued, square bottle and it’s equally beautifully designed contents will be a smash hit for Christmas and on the top of younger consumers gifts list. It may not be the new No.5 but will certainly give Chance a run for its  money.

Gabrielle by Chanel is available in both 50ml and 100ml EDP versions priced at £79 and £112 respectively. Available from Chanel stores and counters nationwide.

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MUGLER Les Exceptions Hot Cologne

Mugler’s Les Exceptions range had completely bypassed my radar until I caught sight of an artfully minimalist  yet chunky bottle on social media a few weeks ago and tracked them down. These, I have to try, so I’m kicking off in reverse order with the 8th member of the range, Hot Cologne. A smooth, fresh beast of a perfume that is equally right for a contemporary man or woman.

The Mugler Les Exceptions collection, made in collaboration with  perfumers Oliver Polge and Jean-Christophe Herault, is an upmarket, tight range of couture perfumery with the name of each fragrance evocative of its olfactory direction.  The look and feel of the chunkily designed, heavy silver and glass Art Deco inspired bottle, says ‘statement perfume’ for a chic urban dweller. The weight of the bottle is decidedly masculine and made for bathroom shelf boast-posting and not tote handbag carrying – unless a girl would like to dislocate a shoulder. But the smell…oh blimey, the smell…

Hot Couture is as jagged and clean and fist punchingly spectacular as Mugler’s early, glorious design days.  With Hot Cologne, Jean-Christophe Herault has captured Mugler’s  1980s architecturally structured largesse and distinction with a sexy cleanliness that is under-written with a soft, purring green coffee note. This surprise element jars and juxtaposes with the sharp fresh of lemon, petitgrain and neroli heart eau de cologne. Green coffee mixed with spicy ginger and cardamom throws this otherwise sparring eau de cologne off balance in a bold move. Mugler’s Hot Cologne is a sexy, high-heeled wobble that you notice all the more, as it’s just a little off-kilter. Yet it’s reminiscent of classic, fresh, spiced masculine fragrances such as the exemplary Monsieur Balmain, still top of the list when it comes to downright clean sex appeal with a twist.

As my opening gambit with Les Exceptions, Hot Cologne has more than impressed, with it’s difference and staying power. I can only guess at the seduction of others in the range such as Chyprissme and Oriental Express. I’m on board.

Mugler Les Exceptions Eaux de Parfums are priced £135 for 80ml exclusively from Harrods, Harrods.com and Mugler.com

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Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka 50ml & 100ml Cologne

Perfume floozies all know that Jo Malone is synonymous with quintessential fresh English fragrances that encapsulate the best of British lifestyle. Whether it be urban living (as in the recent Bloomsbury Set limited release) or country, with its prolific use of garden flowers and herbs in its make-up – Step forward Lime, Basil & Mandarin, English Pear & Freesia and Pomegranate Noir, three of its global best sellers. However, it’s always when this Estee Lauder owned perfume house steps outside its careful boundaries and into the murkier waters of its Cologne Intense range that my interest is piqued.

Maybe its because I’m attracted to the dark side and to intensity (whether men, alcohol or perfume) that I much prefer these releases – often geared to a heavy scent loving Middle Eastern market. Or, perhaps it’s just because the brooding black bottles always hold such seductive Eastern promise within. Jo Malone’s latest release (January 2017) is case in point. Myrrh & Tonka is a grown-up hedonistic delight of a fragrance with its largesse and its come-hither’ness. A warm, cosy, sophisticated slap of olfactory delight in the midst of cold, hard winter sunlight.

Master perfumer, Mathilde Bijaoui, has managed quite a feat in this one. To make both a strong addictive fragrance that appeals to the hippie-loving  ‘them-heavy people*’ amongst us, while being subtly approachable to those scardey-cats who like to dip a curious toe-in-the-water of Middle-Eastern type fragrances.

Says Bijaoui, “There is an atmosphere of addiction and carnal richness to this fragrance which appeals to both men and women. At the top there is a hint of lavender and a floral note, creating a comforting and voluptuous opening. The big, rich heart and base note of myrrh is sensual. And the tonka brings generosity. It’s captivating and mesmerising.”

This is a warm hug of a smoky scent that envelops a soul and instantly makes one relax. Like wandering idly into a crystals and mysticism type store, to be seduced by its aura of incense, strangeness and the unknown. Myrrh & Tonka hints at sensuality and carnality in a ‘before the 9 o’clock TV watershed manner. “Be not afraid,” its big, rich heart and base of myrrh and tonka die-down says, “This way,  beauty lies ahead.” And oh, it does.

Myrrh and Tonka grows on the skin to a mesmerising beauty. It’s one that even the clean, light floral lovers may enjoy. Be brave! Test the water.

Available from January 2017, Jo Malone’s Myrrh & Tonka is available in 50ml (£74) and 100ml (£105) Cologne Intense.

*Lyrics from Kate Bush’s ‘Them Heavy People’, The Kick Inside.

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Trump Meets with LVMH Chief Bernard Arnault

by Katie on January 10, 2017

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Fashion Twitter was in a froth yesterday as news rolled in of yet another of President Elect Trump’s huge overblown statements. “We are going to have an unbelievable , perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars. All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for the inauguration.” said Donald J Trump. Then again, it could just be that Melania Trump’s search for designers to dress her is proving difficult with known American fashion stars like Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Derek Lam and Phillip Lim refusing to answer the call. The majority of the USA’s arts and entertainment industry being un self-consciously liberal and distancing themselves from the new direction of power in Washington.

Due to Trump’s constant stream of hot air, this gargantuan gem was nearly lost amidst his backlash against ‘Hillary flunky’ Meryl Streep’s beautiful, heartfelt plea to support American journalists and to stand up against the powerful, like Trump, who their positions of power to bully and undermine.

President Elect Trump naturally reacted to Streep’s speech in the only way known to this thin-skinned, over-tanned, non-statesman like wounded solider by brandishing her “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.” I’m sure Ms Streep is consoled by his hurt feelings whilst also being privy to every fashion designer and ‘dress shop’ she sets her heart on. And rightfully so. It takes a brave, righteous, Hollywood royalty actress to call out the most powerful man in the world when the world’s media is upon her. It’s a pity that fashion royalty isn’t doing the same thing. Hot on the heels of Trump’s claim that his inauguration would be a huge spectacle and that ‘the dress shops are sold out in Washington,’ Trump met with LVMH boss Bernard Arnault – HUGE in terms of the fashion industry and its potential repercussions

Meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, LVMH Chief Arnault is said to be looking at sites in North Carolina, Texas and the Midwest for LV production. Arnault’s son, Alexandre, was also seen at the meeting which could signal the beginning of a beautiful relationship. At least that would solve Melania Trump’s dress crisis. So which of LVMH’s designers could we see the next first lady sporting? Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Donna Karan, Fendi? Seems that Trump may have oiled the wheels behind the scenes to support his first lady.

It is the first time Trump has met with a high profile fashion executive and is said to form part of his campaign to bring more jobs to the U.S.

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