Friday, 30 January 2009

#88 Truly Unforgivable

I do not wish to be a chastising naysayer, nor do I intend on taking up the flag of the modern feminist (who, by the way, is a seriously dying breed) - but, something surely must be said about the range of fragrance-bath-and-body-garbage that now makes up a serious part of Sean John's avaricious arsenal. Why do today’s ‘stars’ feel the need to pump their questionable wares into an already-saturated market? Sadly, because they sell. And in the case of Sean John’s UNFORGIVABLE for men and women, both scents hit the tops spots across key markets within weeks of launching.

It is not the quality I am descrying (mass market, but of course Mr John had 100% control and tireless input into the scent), nor the scent itself – (a creamy floral with a hint of pina colada. Hey, who’s to say what should rock your boat?) – it is the grasping, ingratiating hands that flock towards the promise within the champagne-coloured (naturally) bottle. The women who fall for the hackneyed ideologies –

‘When she moves, I stop. When she speaks I am lost. She is desire. She is illusion. Elusive in her way. A beauty catching you off guard. Enticing and unnerving. She is control and submission. Intellect and innocence. Sensuality and strength. Capable of taking what you dream and making it real. Of making what's real the ultimate dream. She is the tease. The fulfilment. Only she knows the path between sensuality and strength. Able to entice and unbalance. She is everything that makes dreams real. Everything that pushes limits. Everything that makes this life sexy. She is UNFORGIVABLE.’

Perhaps it seems an obvious question, but what about the above description of a woman makes her unforgivable? Unforgettable perhaps, but to be deemed dangerous and unsettling – solely because one is wiser, bolder and more powerful than a man – implies an uncomfortable double-standard. Of course, double standards are rife here anyway – ‘she is control and submission’? Of course she is. The eternal struggle between the Virgin Mary and the Whore – the fuel firing the fantasy of many a straight man the world over... sexy secretary; naughty nurse; slutty school teacher.

For those who like a bit of role play and have long lived & loved the aspirational lifestyle sold via E!, OK and US Weekly, you’ll be pleased to know that Sean John has expanded the line to include an unguent bubble bath, which comes in a faux-bubbly bottle. Bubbles & bubbly – a nice, neat ploy – but in reality, the plastic bottle looks embarrassingly low-rent. But, there’s no doubting that the new addition will have some popping their corks, while others will roll their eyes in quiet judgement. As for me, the new launch coupled with the uneasy sentiment of the jarring, breathy adverts strikes an unsavoury note that is difficult to forget and, quite impossible to forgive.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

#87 Show-Faced

Diet features. Pah. New Year's Resolutions. Hmph. Gym memberships, swanky new kit, visions of a newer, svelter, less-jiggly-thighed you. Forget it. As this is approaching my 30th new year on earth, I have decided to steer well clear of big promises to myself, preferring instead to usher in a far more realistic and exciting era: The Age of the Experimental Me. Da-Da-DAH!

Yep. I've decided, not wholly unlike April Long in this month's US ELLE, to try out an entirely new look every week (she opted for a new hairstyle everyday for 21 days - kudos!) in an effort to shake myself out of my comfort zone AKA my recent descent into the sartorial wilderness. The root cause of my time-out? One word: Winter. This is my scariest season. Every year I imagine buying up cashmere, elegant scarves, new boots, a lovely coat, woolen Franco-centric dresses and dressing like a combination of a Russian Doll and Minnie Mouse. Yet... every year I find something else to spend my money on - this year a broken-into car and broken-down washing machine (groan) - and the fairytale image gets further and further away as I desperately recycle my summer dresses with long-sleeved jersey Ts underneath, spend weeks in my black & grey leggings (they're SO comfy)and long woolen tunics, and pull on my favourite baggy jeans with last season's Uniqlo knits and big scarves. Then, horror of horrors, my favourite Comptoir des Cotonniers skirt bust a zip & my APC coat lost a statement button. Things fall apart...

But, now that the year ends in a '9' (so, scarily, close to '10') rather than an '8' (I still have time to change), I'm determined to hurl myself out of the comfort zone. Not in an unrealistic attempt to get a new body, new man, new life - no cliche copy here - but rather to be able to look at my reflection in the mirror and think, 'Good for you. You look like you care about yourself. Change feels good doesn't it?'

And as with any new hair & make-up endeavour, my search begins in my desk drawers, unearthing the new shades and textures that will give my look an injection of 2009-worthy attitude. The things that caught my eye include:

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15 - a lovely water-rich formula that blends very well, leaves a dewy finish and really works wonders at covering uneven blotches. Best on just-buffed skin as it is not moisturising enough to rid you of dry patches, but works well at dispelling any rogue redness around noses.

From MAC, a bevy of exciting things: Creme Colour Base in Pearl Frost, a gold-based icy hue that really lifts & opens eyes, without making you look like the Tin Man. I wore it yesterday, slicked from lashline to top of lid, with a single coat of inky black mascara, and was asked for ID at my local Waitrose. God's. Honest. Truth.

Also from MAC, Mineralize Blush in Dainty, which is a tawny coral, almost terracotta colour, which I've learned from experience looks great worn high on cheekbones and swiped across the bridge of the nose. Easier to wear than a bright pop of pink & great for faking a flush on those who do not like using bronzer. Works well with MAC Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF15 in Petting Pink, with its glorious pink putty hue and candy scent.

Then, a bid to wear mascara more often - jammed deep into lashes and as inky black as possible - I really like Rimmel Sexy Curves with it's thin, grippy brush.

Finally, my love affair with lipstick continues with a shade that begs to be eaten. Korres Mango Butter Lipstick SPF10 in 45/Coral gives a shiny, wet look rather than that matte colour-block of paint effect that's also popular right now (try Sisley if that's the look you're hankering after), but the Korres colour is just so damn hot and the formula is foolproof.

Topped off with a headband - worn, hippie-style, over the hair, to compliment my new, choppy fringe. Don't write off ASOS for great hair accessories - and with the sale still on, I grabbed a gorgeous sailor-stripe bow band for just £2. Love it.

A tally of lovely treats that beat bog-standard New Year's resolutions any day of the week. Particularly on days when I feel nothing more than the urge to bury myself in the duvet. On those days, the whirr of the treadmill jars as acutely as a dentist's drill - but playful hair, a bright lip, shimmering eye and contoured cheek pull me out of my dystopia, shake me up and get me feeling like myself again - less defensive, less buttoned up... within or without the buttons on my APC coat.