Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The night of amazing shoes

So last night I was invited to the launch of Saatchi's new book at the Saatchi Gallery, whicc would, of course, not be attended by Saatchi.
I don't get invited to such glamorous events very often, and in fact was EDF's plus 1. She was invited by her friend F, who apparently has the most incredible accessories collection in the whole world. EDF has been talking about her for ages, but you know how sometimes you have to meet someone to really understand why your friends have been going on about them so much? F was lovely and totally lived up to the hype. PLus she had on an Opening Ceremony dress, a huge Chanel ring that nearly made me cry with jealousy, a great studded black biker jacket, the ultimate Chanel flap bag and these amazing Miu Miu clogs...

In fact it was, generally, a night of amazing shoes. EDF spotted a few pairs of Proenza Schoulers while wearing her not new, but new to her, Chloe boots of love.

There was also some serious Burberry action, courtesy of C who works at Burberry HQ, and F's sister's gorgeous ankle boots.

Plus these rather lovely Russel and Bromley's, which belong to F and were busy crippling her firend who had to give in and take them off.

I drank rather too much chamapagne. The glasses were HUGE and it's impossible to keep track when they keep topping them up before you've had a chance to finish the first glass. I have been suffering for it today. Afterwards F and her entourage took us out for a very lovely dinner, before the sensible among us, which sadly included me, made our way home to bed. Everyone else stumbled off to Bungalow 8.

It was one of those evenings which suddenly make you realise that London can actually be pretty damn glamorous and fun every day if you hang out with the right people. And that those people aren't all vacuous and terrifying.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Unexpected product love

I am a sucker for expensive beauty products. A real sucker. I have a whole bag full of expensive make up that I rarely use.
I go through phases of loving a blusher or lipstick until it is, at most, half used and then deciding it is too pink/peach/orange/red/any combination of the aforementioned and hitting up the Liberty beauty hall for a replacement.
When I am panicking, Boots will also help, but it is less satisfying because the things do not come in stupdily nice packaging. A nicely finished cardboard box or matt plastic container will do wonders for the way I feel, although not so much good for my bank balance.
Sometimes, however, these products really are worth the money. One of those is Laura Mercier's mineral powder foundation.
For a long time I thought mineral powder sounded like it was for wimpy hippies who were scared of parabens, or people with too many allergies (I am actually a bit of both of those but try to give off the opposite impression through sheer force of will).
But then the recommendations started popping up all over the web, and I am also a sucker for recommendations. And honestly, it was worth every single penny.
It takes a bit of working in, but gives amazing coverage and doesn't mess up my skin - no clogged pores, random spots, dry bits or weirdly temporary red patches. In fact, if anything, it is actually helping clear up my skin which, despite being mercifully well behaved during my teenage years, has been bothering me for most of my 20s. It doesn't feel like I'm wearing a mask, which is how I usually feel with foundation. And everyone keeps saying my skin looks really good.
Plus, and this made me do a jolly heel kick in my head, despite my pale, pale face, I found a good colour match that wasn't even the palest option available.
But I have also discovered another product, one that came with no recommendations from my favourite bloggers. And one that is mercifully cheap. Dirt cheap. Poundland cheap.
Let's be clear here, I am not a beauty snob. I swear by cheap and cheerful classics like aqueous cream and Palmers Cocoa Butter.
But I have been on a long and arduously expensive mission to find the perfect shampoo for about as long as I can remember. I have long-ish, fine, hair that doesn't tend to hold hairstyles well. Its lack of volume makes it useless for top knots and it gets lanky and greasy very quickly.
I have tried all sorts of products from all price ranges - dry shampoo, expensive volumising things that make it feel sticky/heavy/crispy/gross, cleansing shampoos that were too cleansing, the very expensive Fekkai and similar products used and recommended by my hairdresser - all to no avail.
Then I discovered Klorane, which is expensive enough to satisfy my urge for lovely looking products (around £6 - £7 a bottle) but didn't seem too bad. And it was good for a while. But now I've found something better.
Alberto Balsalm Tea Tree Tingle shampoo and conditioner. No really, the stuff on the bottom shelf in the supermarket. It's roughly £1 a bottle and is making me ridiculously happy, despite not being in lovely packaging or making ridiculous promises on the label.
I'm going to sound like an advert fronted by a sickeningly well-paid celebrity here, which I am obvioulsy not, but it really does make my hair feel fuller, glossier and softer. And it doesn't go lank after a day. And it smells clean, but not in a creepy anti-dandruff and hospitals kind of way. It's minty and fresh and works as well for JFK as it does for me. I look forward to using it in the mornings, not something I ever though I would say about a shampoo. Or anything else for that matter - I kind of hate mornings and everything associated with them (except brunch).
Anyway, there you are, the unexpected product love.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Two exciting events

Well, they're exciting if you are me. The first takes place this weekend at the Kilburn car boot sale in north west London. I shall be getting up in the wee small hours of Saturday morning (my inner teenager is reminding me that I used to actually stay up til that time in the morning on a fairly regular basis), loading up my cousins car with enough clothes to fully furnsih two other people's wardrobes and then flogging it all off at bargain prices.
Please do come along. There will be cakes if you get there early, and alcohol if we get cold and bored.
Kilburn car boot is actually where I get most of the super-cheap second hand designer loveliness that I so often talk about on this blog, and there are an awful lot of bargains to be had if you don't mind a rummage. It opens to the general public at 11am, costs a measly 50p to get in, and is actually more like two car boot sales as it is split between two sites, one on Quex Road and one on Kilburn Park Road.
Among my goodies are a vintage camera, a full length pitch black satin strapless evening gown with tiny buttons up the back, dresses, hats, scarves, a LOT of jewellery and a basket full of fabrics and other craft and sewing bits and pieces. Mention you read my blog and I'll give you a hefty discount too.
The second exciting event is one I have told you about before, but the invitation has actually arrived now. Yes, it's the Margaret Howell sample sale. Be still my beating heart.

See that bit at the bottom where it says 'credit cards accepted'? That's the really dangerous bit. Or it would be if I was silly enough to allow myself a credit card.
Anyway, myself and Layers&Swathes will probably be there after we finish our respective jobs on the Thursday and will be grabbing a coffeee somewhere afterwards. Come and say hi and show us the practical-but-lovely things you've bought that we wanted but couldn't afford.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

All change

I know we're only a few months in, but I have to say that 2010 has been resoundingly shit thus far. I don't usually swear, but here it seems appropriate.
Nearly everyone I know has had a tought three months - there have been family tragedies, collapsing finances, businesses in trouble, arguments and infections. Honestly, it's like the 90s all over again, and not just on the catwalk. In my family, the 90s was not a good period - messy parental separation and breakdown, the repercussions of which we are still dealing with, and the deaths of my much loved maternal grandparents who I still miss every day.
When life is a mess and at the beginning of every day you wake up scared of what might happen next, it's the little achievements that keep you going. A lovely dinner with JFK, deciding to get rid of lots of clutter and finding new homes for things you can't bear to sell to a stranger, getting rid of shoes you really don't wear anymore, meeting your work deadlines, getting through an evening without killing your mother. These are all things to feel pleased about.
And, inevitably, I find solace in fashion. The new injection of minimalism in fashion really does appeal right now. When your life is a mess, a few well cut, clean pieces can make you at least look like you're in control. It's also time to start wearing a little bit less black (que sharp intake of breath). When you're miserable, only wearing black doesn't help improve your mood.
To that end, recent aquisitions include a pair of men's Burberry trousers in a perfect pinky-sand hue, soft and worn and perfect for wearing low on the hips and rolled up to sit just above the ankle, rescued from a pile of mens trousers at the car boot sale; a soft, pale grey, long vest from Cos; nude coloured suede ankle boots with a chunky cone shaped crepe heel from the really-quite-good-this-season River Island; A khaki green Rag and Bone cardigan with elbow patches and pockets, another carboot sale find; the perfect, 'difficult' length, Celine-beige, high waisted A line skirt (50p. At the car boot sale again); sand coloured, high waisted, deep pocketed Ralph Lauren shorts (yes, car boot sale AGAIN).
I feel like I need to show you at least some of these, but having spilt tinned peach juice on my precious beloved laptop I no longer have the facilities to do so.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Quote of the week - Alex Fury

"Celine is so expensive - you can pay two grand for a camel coat - but you look at the camel coat and think, this is the best fucking camel coat I've seen in my entire life." fashion director Alex Fury perfectly sums up the appeal of Phoebe Philo's immaculately cut and so beautiful it hurts collection for Celine.

(images via

This is the collection that pretty much defines everything about the coming spring/summer season - nudes, camels, navy blues and blacks in fitted, sharp military shapes or relaxed cocoons with the odd soft bow or waterfall drape. And lots of leather. It's going to be one that is super hard to emulate on the highstreet because it relies so much on the quality of the fabric and the cut being so precise.

But that hasn't stopped them from trying.
(Leather t shirt, £75, Wallis)

I've never wanted a leather t shirt as much as I do right now. I won't be buying this Wallis one, obviously, because it is brown, but the general idea is good.

Certain people have mentioned that I have singularly failed to acknowledge the existence of the Milan and Paris fashion weeks. No, I am not pulling a Wintour, I'm just taking my time. There's been an awful lot going in the life of the Magpie recently, and my head doesn't have enough room to process all the shows and decide what I think about them all right now. These thoughts need time to percolate.

Also, A/W11 seems a terribly long way off right now given that we're all still in A/W10 rabbit fur snoods (I wish), huddled up in long coats and layers against this persistent cold weather. The fact that it is a bit sunnier at the moment is certainly helping everyone's mood, but it isn't doing much for the temperature. Even just the suggestion of a bare leg makes me want to seek out 100 denier cashmere-blend tights in Fenwicks...