Friday, August 31, 2012

Best Bet: Clarisonic Opal

As a huge fan of Clarisonic's Mia brush (I wrote about it for Vitamin Daily back in January), I was very excited to try Opal, and it lived up to the hype. Here's the thing: it does take a while (2-3 weeks) before you notice results, and it does feel weird at first -- patience is required. 

A sonic infusion device that massages the skin around the eyes and helps eye creams and serums further penetrate the skin.

Sonic waves! (Opal does come with its own Anti-Aging Serum containing Kigelia Africana fruit extract, glycosaminoglycans, Canadian Willow herb and Oat Kernel extract.)

Before Opal, I was lazy when it came to applying my eye cream. I did it quickly, not taking the time to massage it into the skin. Using this gadget forces one to really take the time, devoting the timed 30 seconds (with 125 sonic movements per second) to each eye. I find that whatever cream I'm using (I ran out of the original serum, so I'm currently using one by Tata Harper) really penetrates the skin, allowing it do its job better. That means having well-moisturized, fresh-looking looking skin around the eyes, making those fine lines appear a little finer. Bonus: I find that it de-puffs by improving the blood circulation and draining fluid build-up under the eye. 

$185 at Spa Boutique. (I have the white one.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: FLARE x Aldo Oxblood Bootie

It will be another month before this shoe hits the shelves, but one can start planning early. This is the second season that FLARE's Fashion Director, Liz Cabral, has collaborated with Canadian shoe giant Aldo. 

design process in FLARE (October 2012)

Everything about this boot is exciting: the oxblood pony hair (it's not actual pony hair, of course) in combination with bright tomato red, the multiple straps (always fun!), and that tall, tall heel. 

You can read about the design process in October's issue of FLARE or and see the other two pieces in this capsule collection (you will probably want those too).

$155 at ALDO (available in October).

Images courtesy of FLARE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

WIN: $100 From Shopbop (New Shoes, Perhaps?)

Is there a better way to welcome the fall season than with some shopping? Whether you are heading back to school or simply expanding your wardrobe, I'm sure you could use $100 towards something, right? 

There are a few things on my list, mainly basics: Madewell jeans (the best jeans); T by Alexander Wang tees (the best tees); Eberjay undies (comfiest undies); and Melissa x Jason Wu flats (the cutout ones in particular) for a mid-fall Palm Springs getaway. 

Need more inspiration? Check out Shopbop's Pinterest

Leave a comment before Friday, September 7th at 11:59pm, telling me what your first fall purchase will be (in general). Good luck!

Congratulations, Jayna! You'll be contacted shortly. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Item of the Week: J.Brand Two-Tone Jean Jacket

I don't think I've ever featured a classic denim jacket. It's just understood as a closet essential. But when something with a little twist comes out, it's worth a notice. Obliviously, this one from J.Brand stands out for its two-tone fabric, which at first I thought was leather. Instead it's coated denim, but cool nonetheless.

$295 at eLUXE.

PS. Be honest, how many jean jackets do you own?

Friday, August 24, 2012

New & Noteworthy: Givenchy Noir Couture Mascara

This is my first Givenchy beauty product, if you don't count fragrances, and I'm happy it was a positive experience. Being incredible picky when it comes to mascaras, I'm a very tough critic. Basic criteria: 1) it can't be waterproof (except for your own wedding) because waterproof formulas tend to make your eyelids droopy and they are a pain to remove; 2) it has to be voluminous; and 3) it has to last all day.

Noir Couture does all those three things very, very well. You get luscious lashes that last all day, and  it can be removed just with soap and water at the end. But the best part is its tri-spherical brush that lets you really take control of the application (hence the name "couture"). For example, the first little sphere alone works wonderfully on the bottom lashes (a must for me) and for a subtle daytime look. When it comes to evening beauty, I make use of all three and layer the coats, so no falsies needed. 

$35 exclusively at Sephora.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Screen Style: Scarface (1983)

My entire life I've been hearing about what a great film Scarface is. It currently has a 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I finally watched it and it was terrible. I think it's terribleness is an intentional thing -- it was a pretty sinful, self-indulgent decade, resulting in a protagonist, Tony Montana (Al Pacino), that can be best described as a cardboard caricature of a 80s drug lord. I guess I prefer my gangsters complex and lovable: Michael Corleone, Tony Soprano, Stringer Bell, etc. Tony is none of those things. Scarface, directed by Brian de Palma, is ultimately a tale of greed in a world where nothing is enough and nothing is sacred. 

A beautiful example of this theory is Tony's trophy wife Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer in her breakthrough role). Here is a woman that lost her soul (and all traces of personality) somewhere along the way into her drug addiction. She is a Hitchcock-ian ice queen, if you sucked all the personality out of them. That is not to say that she is not a fascinating character. She is probably the best representation of a villain's trophy wife, a lifeless yet glamorous character. 

Much of the character's success is in the costumes by Patricia Norris, who also did beautiful work on Twin Peaks. Elvira wears a uniform of countless halterneck numbers and appears to have waged some kind of a personal wars against bras. She slides through the film like a beautiful ghost, smokes a lot, and occasionally spews a good Tony Montana insult or two.

The simplicity of her dresses is astonishing. The beginning of the 1980s hit that sweet spot between Halson's disco beauties and Armani's power women, and Elvira possesses both those qualities (in this case, power equals sex). At night she is in a slinky halter gown, dazzling in jewels, and during the day she could almost pass for a real lady in a white, impeccably tailored silk suit, topped with a matching hat and femme fatale cat-eye sunglasses. 

She is delicate and tough, interchangeably. A real enigma that sails through the lives and bedrooms of Miami's gangsters. Her ultimate fate is left to the imagination of the viewers. I like to think of her somewhere in the Caribbean, with Tony's millions, free of her coke habit, sipping a Mojito by the pool -- in a halter swimsuit, of course.

Further reading: 
Scarface: Dress and Excess, Clothes on Film

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Cheap Monday Ankle Boots

I'm not sure when Cheap Monday started producing shoes, but I like what I see. And I also like the price point. On the first glance, I was sure these were Acne or maybe even Ann Demeulemeester (in black, of course).

They look crazy good in white. Are white boots too impractical?

$145 at Shopbop.

PS. Bought the white ones!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Item of the Week: Acne 'Mape' Moto Jacket

It looks like Acne will continue to produce this jacket season after maybe I'll get it one day. Last spring, they released it in electric blue suede and it was breathtaking. But this forest green lizard-embossed version might just be a little more versatile (especially for rainy climates). 

It's pretty much the perfect perfecto (ha!) jacket: ideal shape, not too bulky of a silhouette, something that would go as great with a pair of jeans as it would with a little black dress. I wonder what they'll do next season....

$1,200 at Net-a-Porter and Acne.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catwalk Beauty: Burgundy Lip

Rochas F/W 2012

We are slowly trickling into Fall makeup trends. I've been wearing this one for the last two weeks and don't plan on stopping for the rest of the year. A clean, fresh face with a very dark burgundy lip. This look is from Rochas, although it was all over the runways, including Gucci. 

Clé de Peau #R1 lipstick ($65 at Holt Renfrew)

What I love about Rochas is the matte-ness -- it gives the face less of a vixeny look without the shine. Makeup artist Lucia Pieroni used a brand new colour from Clé de Peau (#R10, a dark mulberry) and then blotted the shine with a tissue with some powder (you can just use your blotting papers). 

Train Bleu Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($30 at NARS)

While I adore Clé de Peau lipsticks, they are also one of the most expensive on the market (it will set you back $65!). A lip product that I've favoured lately is NARS' Velvet Matte Pencils.  (Here's me, wearing the lighter shade in Never Say Never.) It's brilliant: a pencil moisturising enough to be a lipstick. The deep aubergine of Train Bleu is dark, creamy and luxurious, plus no blotting required.  

What are your favourite burgundy lipsticks?

Backstage image courtesy of Rochas. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Pour La Victoire 'Aeesha' Pump

I have two pairs of shoes with this type of a heel. One of them is COS and the other Dries Van Noten, from his S/S 2011 collection. I call this heel shape "Dries" since I think he was the first to design it (please correct me if I'm wrong). 

It's great, right? A pump/wedge hybrid, that goes great with just about anything. And so comfortable to walk in. 

$250 at Shopbop.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Style Icons: Sloane Rangers

Princess Diana (my favourite picture of her)

I have several fantasies, and one of them is growing up in the English countryside, preferably in an abbey that I charmingly refer to as "my humble country home" (its real name would probably be something like "The Pomeroy"). I'm Lady Mary Crowley, but like in the '80s when she would have definitely been a Sloane Ranger. Does that paint an adequate picture? Not yet. My '80s version of Lady Mary prefers cozy Shetland wool sweaters to Edwardian frocks, Wellington boots to spool heels. She has at least two beautiful sisters, a handsome brother that rides horses, and several Cocker Spaniels that follow her every move. In short, she's Princess Diana, before and for the short period after she became a princess.

Sloane Ranger Handbook

In 1981, writers Anne Barr and Peter York identified a group of blue-blooded gals in their Sloane Ranger Handbook (the name comes from Sloane Street and Sloane Square, the Rangers' hangout spot). These twenty-somethings "are upper-class men and women who come 'up from the country' to live in London after finishing school or university. Their object is marriage." That quote is courtesy of a 1984 New York Times article, "On the Trail of London's Sloane Rangers" -- one of the greatest things I've ever read. The Sloane Ranger Handbook is very specific. It uses two fictional characters Caroline and Henry as model Sloanes. 

"Caroline will have a mane of thick (but manageable) hair, held back perhaps by a 1960's velvet-covered hairband. There will be a Hermes scarf somewhere in evidence (perhaps tied around the strap of her shoulder bag). In winter, she will be wearing a Loden coat; in summer a dress (probably Liberty print). The sportif Caroline will wear a lambswool crewneck sweater in a clear colour with the lace collar of a blouse turned over it. She may wear jeans or a skirt in navy, burgundy or olive with coloured pantyhose and low-heeled Gucci shoes."

Charles and Diana

It's basically Lady Diana Spencer, the Mama Sloane. Who could forget Diana's wholesome ensembles, before she became the glamazon princess-in-the-wrong? V-neck sweaters layered over button-up shirts, trousers or "proper" knee length skirts, for lunching at Menage a Trois (her favourite, serving only starters and puddings), and Barbour jackets and Wellies for country getaways with her family. 

Daphne Guinness

While couture-clad Daphne Guinness prefers to shock and awe everyone in her sight in the present day, back in her Sloane Ranger days, she was much more modest. (Other famous Sloanes included Charles' other mistress Dale Tryon and Jimmy Choo's former CEO Tamara Mellon.) The Sloanes would never be caught in something so decadent: that would be of poor (and rather unladylike) taste. 

"Sloanes do not believe in high fashion, but they will occasionally allow themselves to be led astray at Joseph. She will shop for dressy dresses at Rodier and Ib Jorgensen. Whole wardrobes are bought at Jaeger. A Loden coat at Gordon Lowes ranges from $182 to $266 depending on whether the removable lining is wool or fur."

Lady Sarah Spencer (Diana's sister)

Other than being a proper preppy lady, Sloanes developed their own speak, like "Hohmygod (an exclamation following banal piece of gossip) or "Sweetiedarls, what's the goss?" (How are you?). Let's practice, shall we?

Lady Di and Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson: Sweetiedarls, what's the goss?
Lady Di: I'm literally dying. I suspect darling Charles is still seeing Camilla.
Sarah Ferguson: Hohmygod!
Lady Di: I know! And the worst thing is that she is not even a top totty (an attractive young woman)!
Sarah Ferguson: Oh Sweetiedarls...
Lady Di: I'm devastated; I think I'll be off-roading it (in the country) this weekend. Too bad, I really wanted to go to Annabel's gala. Are you going to attend?
Sarah Ferguson: No, it's GLO (guest list only).
Lady Di: Oh Sweetiedarls, soon you'll be a Duchess so you'll be on all the GLOs. 

Charles and Diana

William and Kate

So excuse me while I retreat to my Abbey, eat Jello with a fork and organize my Hermes scarves.

Further reading: 
"The Sloane Ranger Rides Again," The Daily Mail (In recent years, Kate Middleton has been credited for reviving the Sloane Ranger style.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Item of the Week: H&M Peplum Dress

I love the peplum. I'm glad it returned for fall. Hope it stays for a while. I like what it does to one's shape, accentuating the waist, making it appear smaller by adding volume just below it. I've heard some concerns about whether it makes one's hips look wider. I don't think so: if it fits you properly, the peplum should fall just above your hipbones.

Lanvin F/W 2012

I've seen a lot of peplum dresses on the racks, but this freshly arrived H&M little red number is a true steal. It's made from breezy cotton rather than some weird spandex material. It doesn't hurt that it kind of reminds me of Lanvin's F/W red stunner (also masterfully worn by Charlize Theron at the MTV Movie Awards). 

$59.95 at H&M.

Lanvin image courtesy of

Friday, August 10, 2012

Best Bet: Lafes Roll On Deodorant

Antiperspirants are some of the most potent things we put on our skin. You've all read horror reports linking aluminum-based compounds found in antiperspirants to breast cancer. While it's not 100% scientifically proven (you can read the US National Cancer Institute factsheet here), a year ago I decided not to put myself at risk, just in case. Thus, the search for a more natural solution began. I found "the one."

Deodorant (not antiperspirant)

Mineral salts, hemp oil, aloe vera, lavender oil

While it won't prevent you from sweating, Lafes Roll On Deodorant does work remarkably well at controlling the odour for at least 12 hours. Using this natural alcohol and aluminum-free option means that you might have to re-apply throughout the day, but same can be said for a whole slew of beauty products. In case you do perspire, however, an aluminum-free formula will help you avoid the unsightly yellow pit stains on your clothing, thus way less drycleaning will be needed. Win and win. 

$7.99 at and Whole Foods

Thursday, August 9, 2012

If I Were Rich, I Would Buy... Salvatore Ferragamo 'Rainbow' Platforms

I'm pretty sure these are the greatest shoes ever designed. It's not because they are the most beautiful -- let's face it: they look kind silly, but in a good way -- but because they were kind of "game changers." Salvatore Ferragamo designed these in 1938 for legendary diva Judy Garland, except that she wasn't a diva yet, but the young star of Wizard of Oz (the shoe is named after "Over the Rainbow").

photo by Garance Doré

I've looked at this shoe in various design books before, failing to notice that the date of creation was 1938. I mean, I knew this was Ferragamo's most famous shoe, but I always thought it was designed in the 1970s. That chunky rainbow platform is so ahead of its time, and it's remarkable how much so (most 1930s women's shoes looked like these examples). 

Last week I had a chance to purchase the limited edition re-issues of the Rainbows. They are available here at the Ferragamo flagship in Vancouver, along with other Ferragamo's Creations designed for Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn (I wrote about the collection and the exhibit for In person, Rainbows did not disappoint: they are plush, luxurious, and sky-high (just the way I like them). But -- oh, sigh -- to make them mine would've cost $2500. 

So unfair.

$2500 at Ferragamo, Vancouver (918 Robson Street), until August 16th.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Sigerson Morrison 'Walda' Flat

Did you read the Sigerson Morrison article last week in the New York Times? Riveting stuff. You should read it, but in case you don't, I'll quickly summarise it for you. Two talented designers, Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison, created a successful shoe label but made a bad deal in order to expand the business, and in the process lost control over their namesake label, Sigerson Morrison. It's a heartbreaking read, and a cautionary tale for many young designers. Sometimes selling your label works out (Valentino buying Proenza Schouler) and sometimes it doesn't (Halston licensing to JC Penney comes to mind as one of the worst decisions of all time).

There's been a few comeback stories where designers were able to buy their own labels back (Stuart Weitzman, Robert Clergerie, Azzedine Alaïa). I hope that will be the case with Sigerson Morrison. In the meantime, their namesake shoes are currently owned by Marc Fisher Footwear, with Taylor Tomasi Hill acting as a creative consultant (that woman surely gets a lot of work!) starting this fall season. Unlike the spring season, which was a total bust, this collection retains the label's original DNA: in words of Ms. Sigerson, "simple, clean and modern.”

$395 at Shopbop and Sigerson Morrison.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Item of the Week: Samma Double Sphere Ring

While browsing La Garçonne (favourite pastime) I came across Samma and was immediately struck by the sculptural shapes and intricate craftsmanship. After some research I learnt that Samma is a founded by a young sculptor, Hanna Sandin, who does delicate Alexander Calder-like installations. This ring has one of those serene compositions that one will never tire of. 

$81 at La Garçonne (picture source) and $85 at Shop Standing Up

Friday, August 3, 2012

New & Noteworthy: Clinique Even Better Hand Cream SPF15

Have you ever met a person whose hands don't match their face? Of course you have! Flawless skin, wrinkly spotted hands (paging Nicole Kidman -- thanks, Lainey!). Okay, sure: it happens. We work with our hands, we touch stuff, we wash stuff... it all adds to the damage. But nothing damages the skin more than sun exposure. Like our faces, our hands are the only body parts that are exposed to UV rays all day long. Only recently have brands been adding SPF into our hand creams, and this one from Clinique is the latest to hit the shelves.  

Beyond SPF15 sun protection, the Even Better line is designed to brighten the skin with a healthy combo of Vitamin C and Advanced Yeast Blend, helping to reduce the appearance of age spots and discolouration. One of its other admirable features is its ability to absorb into skin extremely quickly, so no sticky, sticky hands. 

$42 at Clinique.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Alexander Wang 'Lina' Pump

I totally regret not buying the 'Liya' pump back in March. It disappeared with lightning speed. Ah, the one that got away! So here we are, half a year later, and look: it's Liya's little sister Lina! Alexander Wang is smart like that, reissuing similar successful designs back to back (think Coco and Rocco duffel bags).

There is something about the pointy toe that just makes the leg look like it goes on forever (something Manolo Blahnik knows very well). It also has that strange ability to look elegant and dangerous all at the same time. With its two-tone colour combinations and slim shape, Lina is pretty much perfection. 

$485 at Shopbop.