Sunday, 5 September 2010

Gap's 'Black Magic' Trouser Campaign: Is 'too small' the new 'fits'?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive fan of Gap - even more so now they've finally launched their EU shopping site (even if it is a bit half-arsed IMHO with a poor show on the accessories front and various other sections - underwear, sleepwear, shoes etc. - missing completely) - but seriously, this Black Magic thing... if you're advertising how amazing your trousers are, particularly pushing that there's a fit for everyone, would you not be well advised to give your campaign models trousers in the right size?? Check out their ads - is it me or could all these models could do with a size up? Groin ruching really isn't a good look.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

China CLANG: Designer Dining

Designer dining is big business these days. From collaborations like Vera Wang and Jasper Conran's collections for Wedgwood (available from Wedgwood direct and larger concessions in eg. Selfridges) to Sophie Conran for Portmeirion and firmly established, dedicated homeware arms of some of the world's biggest fashion houses - think Missoni Home, or Armani Casa - chic catering is firmly on fashion's menu.

Sadly. word has it Marc Jacobs will not be putting out any further ranges - crystal or china - for Waterford so I'm glad I snapped up these Mad Men style champagne saucers from Selfridges when I did, although there are the odd few pieces from his previous collections still floating about online (try eBay and sites like Crystal Classics).

British red carpet maestros Marchesa's latest china line for Lenox has just gone on sale at Bloomingdales (who, unlike Saks Fifth Avenue, unfortunately do not ship to the UK just yet so that's another one to keep a beady eye out for on eBay). Those ladies must be crazy busy at the moment as, china, awards shows and fashion week aside, they also have a capsule make up range coming out Stateside next month (available exclusively at Bergdorfs and Neiman Marcus) in conjunction with Le Metier de Beaute. No news yet as to where and when this will drop in the UK but hopefully news will reach us soon...

If you fancy something a little less labelly and a bit more quirky/urban, have a look at these pieces below or, for more pocket friendly couture crockery, check out the great lines on offer at Zara Home.

London scene plates (£29) and mugs (£12) by Snowden Flood, available from Liberty. Skull plates by Phoebe Richardson (£25), at Liberty and Shoe Butter dish by Jonathan Adler, from Heal's (£55)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Growing Up is Hard To Do: Sanrio Hello Kitty x Doc Martens 50th Anniversary Collection

I'm too old, aren't I? *sob*

(Available to pre-order now here; released on 1st September and yes - they are in adult sizes)

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Getting a Grip - Hallelujah for Hairbrushes That Don't Hurt Your Hands

This is more something for those of you with longer locks as anyone else simply won't understand the hand cramping and arm ache that comes with styling, or even just doing a proper blow dry on long hair. Armed with a hairdryer in one hand and a totally un-ergonomic brush in the other, you battle on but by the time your barnet is coiffed to perfection or at least in a passable state, chances are you feel like you've gone a few rounds with Amir Khan (with marginally less sweating).

I've always been a Denman girl until earlier this year when I arrived in NYC sans brush. Within half an hour of leaving JFK I was scouring the aisles of one of my favourite Stateside bargain beauty emporiums, the drugstore chain, Duane Reade, in search of a replacement (and stocking up on all the amazing US-only products like Neutrogena Healthy Defense super protective SPF moisturisers, Sally Hansen nail pens for when you can't get to WAH Nails, Secret deodorant... etc etc). Whilst picking up some of the awesome Neutrogent Professional Triple Moisture range of haircare products (why can't we have this here?? WHY???), I stumbled across some hairbrushes that are almost worthy of the tag 'life changing'.

American brand, Goody, had the bright, and long overdue, idea of introducing comfort, as well as style and function, into the design of their hairdbrushes. What followed was the amazing 'So Gelous' Plasmium Grip gel handles that can be found on their Start Style range of styling tools. These handles are soft and easy to hold without being squishy or slippy; they mould to your fingers as you're using them but spring back into shape again when you let go. They're an absolute joy to use and are incredibly reasonable too with brushes and combs ranging from £5-£10, available in the UK from Boots, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco.

I heartily recommend these as I can honestly say that, thanks to my Start Style paddle and radial brushes, I no longer dread drying my unruly, bleached, bust-line length hair.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

On the (iPhone) Case

I surrender. Last night iPhone number 6 (at least - to be honest, I've lost count) slid off a bar onto a hard, stone floor and has had the white screen of LCD death ever since so, another insurance claim later I'm giving in and finally getting an iPhone case for the replacement. I've had iPhones for years now but have always found cases were either clunky, awkward, inconvenient or just plain ugly.

When I first switched to Apple a few years ago, I decided to buy a couple of iPhone skins just to distinguish the ubiquitous casing so that mine was easier to spot. I bought a couple of city design skins by pixel art collective, eBoy; these are basically just giant hard wearing stickers for the back of your phone that help prevent scratching and have a little hole for the camera lense. They are transferable and, although I lost the London one along with my first ever iPhone which some bastard stole out of my pocket at the backstage bar on day one of that year's Reading Festival (*sob*), the New York one has seen me through five (or more) handsets since then and has drawn numerous admiring glances and comments from total strangers. You can get the sold out New York design from the site (check out this fabboombox one too) and can buy other city designs from the eBoy store, here, but maybe they'd be better stuck onto a hard cover rather than onto the actual phone.

So. While I wait for my new handset I've taken another look at what kind of cases are available now. Special mentions to Cath Kidston for her cheery, retro designs and GreyMobiles for their twinkly pink crystal cover beloved of my Essex chums, but my favourite by far is the super cool American brand Incase. Their simple, stylish designs and various designer collaborations including Gareth Pugh and the Dutch artist, Parra, are a far cry from the dreary IT guy look (NB. Paul Smith, don't think adding your signature stripes to a bad design makes things any better) and, pleasingly, there's not a belt loop in sight. I can't decide between the high tech chic of the perforated metal snap cases, the summer fun of the brightly coveredfluro slider covers or the aching cool of the chrome finishes, although I suspect the inevitable fingerprints on those would drive me MAD. UK stockists include Flatspot and the Apple Storealthough eBay may be cheaper and also carries more from the full US range but, as ever, watch out for those Hong Kong fakes.

Pictures, from top: Incase fluro slider, Incase chrome covers, Incase perforated metal covers, a couple of Cath Kidston cases, eBoy New York iPhone skin

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Ice Ice Baby - It's Frappuccino Time!

Starbucks' bottled Frappuccino mixes - coffee, mocha, vanilla, all the classics - have long been available in grocery and drugstores across the US, but - much to the annoyance of the loyal UK Frappuccini - never here. Every trip I take to the States reignites my indignation over why exactly they are allowed these, but we're not. Well, although it's not a patch on the American range, our patience has finally paid off.

Earlier this year Starbucks launched it's Starbucks Discoveries range and, although they're not marketed as official pre-mixed frappuccinos, I'm pleased to report that if you take them home and blitz them up with some ice, they do the same job. They're made from the same 100% Fairtrade and arabica espresso coffee they use in store and I find half a Seattle Latte Discovery plus twice as much ice whacked in a blender makes a great 'coffee' frappuccino at home.

Discoveries are currently available from various supermarkets (and for a lot less than you pay to buy them instore at Starbucks which is weird... my local Sainsburys charges around £1.49 each and I can get two frappuccinos out of one serving) and comes in three flavours: Seattle Latte, Mocha Latte and Qandi Latte which is more caramel-y. And just like getting the a new gym kit when you start a health kick, there are some brilliant * accountrements * for the hardcore homemade frozen coffee fan available in Starbucks stores - from the various flavoured syrups and squeezy caramel to a reusable Frappuccino mug (well it's not quite a mug but I'm not sure what you would call it - pic below - any suggestions??). Brain freeze, here I come!

From top: USA bottled Frappuccinos - we can but dream..., Frappuccino mugs (?) - WANT!, Starbucks Discoveries, available from supermarkets now.