Musings of a self-confessed beauty addict from the heart of London!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Stylist Live - My thoughts

So, the first ever Stylist Live, an exhibition which in essence is the living embodiment of the magazine.

I am the hugest ever fan of Stylist. It's free, but very hard to get hold of as I never seem to be around when they distribute it. I usually end up with a 2nd or 3rd hand manky copy someone drops on the floor. That's how hardcore I am, I actually pick it up from the pavement in order to rifle through a copy. I used to have the app which downloaded the new issue straight to my phone but it ended up using so much memory I had to delete it. Anyhow, I like the paper version so much more; I can linger over the pages without squinting.

I was one of the first to secure tickets for this much-anticipated event back in the summer when they were first released. Could. Not. Wait.

On Friday morning I met G outside the Business Design Centre in Islington. We were there before doors opened along with other die-hard Stylist fans. We were given fabric 'goody' bags on entering and a voucher for free bubbly.

On entering we walked through a giant version of the Stylist front cover, presumably the effect is of one literally walking into the magazine itself. Clever.

The hugest sponsors of the show were right there at the front; Nars, Ford, Swarovski and Aveda (Aveda had a big stand in the middle of the hall). They undoubtedly had the biggest stands. Being such omnipresent brands this didn't interest us as much as finding more niche exhibitors.

I guess if I'm honest I was a little underwhelmed in what was on offer on the exhibition floor. There were some niche brands of clothing, jewellery and stationary, but I was expecting to see far more variation in products on offer. There was very little on offer in terms of homeware and food, and the price brackets for a lot of stands were pretty high. Fine jewellery, custom-made shoes, stunning stationary (gorgeous, but let's face it, a bit useless) and some expensive accessories boutiques. If there were show discounts or perks available then these were not advertised that clearly overall.

I bought one thing, a very pretty little necklace by Finchittida, a jewellery brand I'd never encountered before. The basis of their designs is perspex, except it doesn't look like perspex. The designs were imaginative, creative and extremely beautiful and I really wanted to try on everything. There was a gold perspex crown which I just HAD to try on. Crowns really need to become a 'thing'.... everyone needs a crown. I learnt that it was a huge injustice that I do not currently own a crown. I will definitely consider the possibility of commissioning Finchittida to make me one of their custom-made £150 crowns. Yes I will, Mr P.

Custom-made crown by Finchittida. I would have uploaded the photo of me wearing it but I look like such a goofball because I was so freaking happy that it didn't really do justice to the regality of the thing!

Food wise, I was somehow expecting to graze on lots of lovely samples, being the gannet that I am. There really wasn't that much on offer. I suppose I was at the wrong show for snacking! However, there were not many options for eating lunch, one main restaurant where the queue was ridiculous and one macaroni cheese pop-up where we ended up satiating our hunger with a huge pot of Anna Mae's bacon-topped mac'n'cheese. Yummy, but I didn't exactly feel as light as a fairy afterwards.

For me the main event was attending the talk by Pixiwoo. I love Pixiwoo. They (their videos, I mean) kept me company in the lonely Brussels days and formed the basis of my make-up obsession education. :) I couldn't believe I was finally going to see them in action!

I found the talk interesting and the sisters themselves are very engaging individuals, easy to like and actually a little bit shy. The problem was the layout of the staging. We were all seated on one level at the front, the stage was not that high and when they sat down they couldn't be seen. They needed to be on taller seats, like bar stools so they were raised up. I wanted to take photos of them together during the interview but my view was totally blocked by the sea of audience in front of me.

Sam Chapman explaining shadow sticks
I managed to get some photos during the smokey-eye masterclass, because, thankfully they had the good sense to place the model on a high chair and Sam was standing up. Perhaps because we spent most of the talk trying to see through the crowd to the stage, we left feeling slightly underwhelmed.

The main draws for the whole 4 day event were all the talks and demonstrations which were timetabled throughout the days.  Appearances by various authors, chefs, TV personalities and the Stylist team themselves. Quite a few of the 'learning labs' were filled up quickly as they were free events with limited space, proving just how much interest there was, especially on the journalism related topics. Next year perhaps Sylist should consider offering a multi-day ticket for those who want to attend talks which are scheduled on other days. I would have dearly loved to have seen Nigella and Lisa Eldridge but my ticket was only for the day they were not there.

The catwalk show was great fun and was definitely one of the highlights. It was a catwalk of affordability, ie, high street fashion, creatively put together and pretty inspiring. They showcased five trends, my favourite being the Period Drama trend because obviously that's what would go best with the crown I'm going to may one day purchase.....

The Sweet & Sour trend, pastels and neons
We were in the front row, or FROW, so I got some good images (well, good-ish, I'm pretty inept with any camera if you haven't noticed that already).

Anyway, the inner tart in me wants these shoes....

 The even bigger tart in me wants these ones.....

I wish I could pull off cropped trousers but I'd end up looking like a dumpling that got dressed in the dark.  Love the colour palette here though.

I fell crazy in love with this Topshop silver dress, but sadly would have no occasion to wear it and probably would chicken out of wearing it even if I did. I have an inner exhibitionist who likes to remain.... hidden!
Topshop silver dress

One of the more fun, slightly gimmicky experiences on offer was the Swarovski photo 'booth' experience. We got to wear lots of gorgeous Swarovski jewellery and pose for a 7 second film which was turned into a tiny flickbook. G and I mucked about for 7 seconds and came away with an adorable memory for a lifetime. It was a pretty cute way to close our day, which despite the small niggles, was really a fabulous day out.

Here we are on the cover of Stylist!

Hahaha....not really!

One day though, one day...... and when I am I will be wearing that crown!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Laura Mercier Masterclass @ Harvey Nichols

Darling readers!

Is you ok? IS YOU? Good, coz I wanted to know!

Sorry to go all 'ghetto grammar' (a phrase of my coinage.... you're welcome) after my long absence (again!) but I'm obsessed with Glozell right now and her customary introduction.

Anyway I'm back (yes I am), and with a stonkingly awesome thing to write about. Remember I told you about this lovely girl I encountered back in February who encouraged me to get back into blogging? No, of course you don't, but I won't hold that against you. ;) Well, the lovely Vicky works for Laura Mercier and leads the team at Harvey Nichols, which, if you haven't been, is a cute little corner shop down Knightsbridge way where you can pick up a pint of milk and .... um, Prada.

Gorgeous Vicky invited me to this very exciting VIP event they were holding upstairs in the fifth floor restaurant which was a masterclass with some of Laura Mercier's top make-up artists. There would be make-up, bubbly and canapes. Hel-lo???

The event was last Wednesday 7th October, so I'm writing about it now while my mind is still fresh (well, I've had a coffee this morning so that'll do).

When I walked into the room on the fifth floor of Harvey Nics, I was greeted with prosecco and was immediately struck by how beautiful the place looked. Stunning floral displays, a long beautifully-dressed table laid out for the select few attending, and the impeccably neat and tempting displays of make-up in the numerous mobile units the artists were using. I refrained from diving in and swatching everything, mainly because I had prosecco in one hand, my phone camera in the other and a misguided sense of dignity (yeah, right....)

The inimitable Laura Mercier

I just loved this illustration of Laura at work!
The biggest surprise came when Vicky asked if I would mind being their model for the masterclass! Terrified at the thought of being bare-faced to start with, I knocked back my prosecco and then agreed to be cleansed of my current make-up in preparation for the artists to work their magic. I did explain to them that my face was 'weird' and perhaps not the best example to work on but they shushed me. To be honest, I feel that I know what looks best with my strong features and I'm always fascinated to see how the professionals view my face.
Base products laid out ready for my face!
 I was to have 3 artists work on me. The first, Sasha, was to work on the base, ie foundation, contour etc. The second, Trevor, would do my eyes, and then finally Chris would do my lips.

Sasha explained very clearly what she was using and why she was using it at every stage.  On my face went the Radiance primer, Silk Creme foundation, Secret Camouflage, Secret concealer around my eyes mixed with eye serum, cream contour from the new contour kit, a bit of blush from a cream stick, and some setting powder.
Sasha answering questions from the table.

Working her magic....
By the time she had finished, my skin was incredibly even and, yes, radiant. I had told her that my hugest bugbear was always being able to see my dark circles, whatever I happened to use. She had only used a teeny bit of concealer, and even that was mixed with serum..... I had my doubts about how much that could cover. Although I could still see my dark circles, the overall effect of me looking ill and tired was less noticeable, I think also due to the base being so perfected.

Next Trevor would do my eye make-up. I had pre-warned him that I had wonky eyes and was used to wearing more make-up on them to try and counteract this. For the purposes of the masterclass he wanted to do a very natural look using the 'sunrise' effect of going darkest at the lashline with colour gently bleeding out to almost nothing at the brow-bone.

He used the Eye Basics primer in Buff (which, if you read back on early posts used to be my eye primer of choice), and then followed with shadows (Buttercream, Fresco & Deep Night). The colours were incredibly natural and the focus was really at the lashline where he tight-lined with black cake liner. Interestingly he didn't line my waterline which, to be honest, I ALWAYS do as I feel naked without liner there. He said he didn't think I needed it. The jury is still out on that one! The huge revelation came with the brows. I normally just whip a bit of tinted gel through them as they are pretty low maintenance for me. Trevor used the Deep Blonde brow powder and Brunette eye pencil on them. By the time he had finished I had PERFECT arches. The best eyebrows I ever had in my life! I only hope I can try and replicate it, although it wasn't a quick process.... might have to save that for special occasions.

Chris was on lip duty and I was surprised that he was going to go for a vibrant deep purple lip..... something I would never even consider wearing.... until now!

Oh my days, when I saw the colour he would use (Lip Paint in Fuschia Mauve) I panicked a bit..... I do not consider my lips to be good enough to highlight, but for some reason everyone else does. Isn't it funny how we see ourselves? So on went the paint, and then a collective exclamation of admiration as my lips were filled with fuschia and my face came to life. I could not believe how daring it looked and yet, how refreshing and instantly brightening. Paired with the very natural eyes it worked so well! Chris really spent time perfecting the lip line with a pencil AFTER applying the lip paint and the result was just awesome.

Laura Mercier Lip Paint in Fuschia Mauve
He added a teeny bit of gloss to the bottom lip at the centre as the lip paints are not overly shiny, and I love the effect! Seriously, my lips don't normally look like this. I need this guy on speed-dial! My camera has problems picking up colours correctly so in reality there is more purple in this colour than the photo shows. Here is another one in a different light.

Still not great, but you get the idea. It's an instant teeth-whitening colour as you can see!

Oh God, you're going to want to see the whole of my face now, aren't you? Well, as you know by now I'm pretty shy and don't do photos of moi..... but seeing as you asked nicely, here I am with Vicky post-makeover.

It was almost impossible to get a decent photo of the make-up... my phone camera distorts everything, both colours and shapes so all the photos I tried to take did no justice whatsoever to the amazing work the team did.

After the masterclass everyone got a chance to try out the products and have their make-up done by the other make-up artists whilst I chatted with the lovely Laura Mercier team. I discovered that there was huge love and respect for the grand dame herself who had visited the store in person earlier that same day. The whole team were so dedicated to Laura and her ethos that this energy shone through in bucket-loads. You really get the impression that they are not there for the hard-sell, but to help women (and men!) achieve the best version of themselves through the confidence-boosting power of great make-up and skincare.

I've spent a lot of my life trawling around beauty halls and talking to staff there, and I can whole-heartedly say that it's rare to find such knowledge, passion and belief in a brand. Except really, these artists do not believe in a brand, but in a person and her life's work. I came away feeling uplifted by my evening there and so eager to try out everything again myself. If there is ever a chance for you to take part in such masterclass I would urge you to go!

Oh, and there was a goody bag too!

I was begging silently that something Almond Coconut would be in there and it was! The mini body souffle was still sealed and yet the perfume arose from the bag like ambrosia of the Gods! I could wax lyrical about this scent, but I won't because you all have lives to get back to. Also in the bag, was a mini lip glace, a mini blusher, a caviar eye stick in Amethyst (gorgeous, I used that the next day!) and the Radiance foundation primer.

I really hope you enjoyed this post (not sponsored, by the way, in case you were wondering)..... I loved every second of my time at the masterclass and can't wait to try out products I may have, ahem, 'acquired'. Write-ups coming soon (nudge me if I go quiet again!).