Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Credit: farfetch.com“I never look at other people’s work. My mind has to be completely focused on my own illusions.” Alexander McQueen

If there’s one exhibition to put on your must-see list for 2015, it’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. From the 14 March to the 19 July, the museum will be home to the first and largest retrospective of McQueen’s work presented in Europe. I can’t wait to attend.

The infographic above, created by fashion website farfetch.com displays the creative breath of the designer’s work and how he continues to influence fashion today. The retrospective will show his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection of 1992, to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection. One of the things that I’m most looking forward to about the exhibition will be to see a wide range of his designs presented with dramatic staging and spectacle. It’s what people most associate with his runway shows. His work always evoked debate and a reaction. McQueen showcased beautiful collections with a strong underlying concept and message. It was as if he had his finger on an invisible social pulse, echoing the mood of the time that he showed his collections.

He pushed boundaries, made people feel uncomfortable and challenged convention, while creating things of beauty. McQueen didn’t shy away from darkness; in fact this was a key element of what drove him as a designer. He saw beauty in things that others found ugly or disturbing. It is truly sad that McQueen’s fashion genius and creativity is no longer with us, but often those who have the biggest impact, pass away before their time. These people bring an intense energy to move people and communicate their way of looking at the world. They don’t need decades to prove their talent, their light shines very brightly.

Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue sums up McQueen’s contribution to fashion perfectly, “He brought a uniquely British sense of daring and aesthetic fearlessness to the global stage of fashion. In such a short career, Alexander McQueen’s influence was astonishing – from street style, to music culture and the world’s museums. His passing marks an insurmountable loss.”

I think it’s going to be a very special exhibition.

Destination great nails

Climb aboard MWnails in Spitalfields Market, London and you will most definitely experience first-class treatment.

My best friend treated me to a manicure as a birthday gift and I loved every second of the experience. We had the 19 Rapid Rio treatment and we left with shaped nails, pushed back cuticles, a buff and polish and OPI’s Avoplex moisturiser. To make things even better, we sipped super tasty prosecco and had a good old catch-up.  Colour wise, Niamhy went for a festive red, while I opted for deep ochre to suit the wintry feel outside.

I love the interior of the shop and it’s the real deal for any aeronautical buffs, boasting 100% authentic Boeing interiors. You’ll see an ex American Airlines Boeing 737 that used to travel the west coast of California and sit in first class seats from Air France.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a rainy November Sunday and toast to birthday celebrations.

Thank you Niamhy, x

http://www.mwnails.com

20 things to start doing

This list struck a chord with me. We’re all belting around from one thing to another with deadlines coming out of our ears, so Monday-Friday, 9-5 can be a bit of a blur sometimes right?

Well reading the list made me slow down and take a breather. I had a think about the suggestions that were relevant to me. First off, I bought a box of green tea which I’ve been talking about drinking more of for ages. The first few cups have tasted like dishwater compared to a good strong cuppa but I’m sticking with it! It’s meant to be full of antioxidants and natural goodness so I’m envisioning radiant skin and feeling a million dollars!

I also made a list of ‘to do’ items that have been lurking in my head over the last few weeks. I think procrastination is one of the biggest stresses you can put on yourself so I’m taking little steps to get things crossed off bit by bit.

I’m days away from a hotel break with my family and I’ve been taking the time to enjoy the lovely feeling of the excitement building as it approaches. I love a weekend back in Ireland. I always recharge and to spend it with the ones closest to me is the best. Now that’s not a just a little thing to enjoy, it’s a big one!

What are you going to try to do more of from the list?

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Image: lifeiscrafted.com

These boots are made for walking

Image taken from WGSN
Image taken from WGSN
Oh my, it’s upon us, the time to invest in winter boots! Patent, leather, Chelsea, ankle, lace-up…I’m giving little whoops for joy as I write this!

I’ve been keeping an eye on the high street and Topshop, Dune and Russel & Bromley are doing some fantastic takes on catwalk designs. Don’t feel like you have to fork out a small fortune to get a good pair. I’ve found that the quality of footwear from the shops I’ve mentioned to be really hard-wearing and with great design detail too.

What’s my dream pair – I’m head over heels in love with these Chanel beauties!

Happy shopping people!

Square eyes

I’m a sucker for documentaries. I love them. It’s so great to be able to sit down and by the time the credits roll, you’ve learned so much. A good documentary gives you snapshots into people’s lives, different ways of thinking or makes you question or challenge what you believe. What could be better?

I’ve watched two great ones in the last week that I had to share with you. The first was Bill Cunningham New York (2010). I can quite honestly say that it’s the best thing I’ve watched in years. The sheer obsessive passion and commitment that Bill gives to photography is fascinating. It follows the then 80-year-old photographer for the New York Times Style section. One of my favourite quotes was when he was asked if he had eaten that day. His response, “I eat with my eyes”.

He’s not just a street style photographer. This man has been documenting New York life with sensitivity and beautiful understatement for decades. You don’t only have to be a fashion lover to watch. It is a study of a man who has seen New York and its exotic and vibrant characters emerge from buildings, society parties or flit by him in the street for years. He’s a true trend spotter and the way he takes images will blow you away.

He’s the only photographer to sit to the side of the runway at Fashion Week. He’s not interested in the money shots , where the jostling crowds of photographers push for space. He’s interested in the clothes, the movement, the feel of what the designer is trying to convey. That’s why people fall over themselves to be at the end of his lens. Even Anna Wintour remarks, “We all get dressed for Bill”.

It’s a surprising documentary in that parts are extremely poignant. While  Bill interacts with people and takes photos,  he’s actually a very solitary character. He has lived in a tiny apartment in the famous Carnegie Hall for years and years. He sleeps in a single bed, there’s a bathroom in the hall and rolls of archived film are squeezed in cabinets lining the walls of his apartment. The city seems to be his lifelong companion. His contribution to fashion and documenting society is outstanding. I’m so happy that I’ve learned more about Bill. This documentary celebrates a quiet, creative hero.

Watch on Netflix or buy at http://www.billcunninghamnewyork.co.uk

Fat sick and nearly dead

I’ve been intrigued by the juicing craze lately. I’ve heard people try it and I’ve seen people buy juicers like they are going out of fashion! There’s no doubt that raw fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients for the body. Then I read that it’s estimated that the world will be consuming £8bn a year of bars, drinks and other supplements by 2017. We’re a world now looking to help our bodies before they get sick. John Lewis has seen a 60 percent rise in the sale of juicers and stocked 10 times more in store since 2013. Wow there has to be something to this right?

Meet Joe Cross, the star of the documentary Fat, sick and nearly dead. A man who should be in his prime aged 41, finds himself 100 pounds overweight and on a cocktail of steroids and medications for a serious autoimmune disease. This Aussie has had enough and heads to America, rents a car and buys a juicer. He pledges to only drink juiced fruit and vegetables for 60 days straight.

I really liked the documentary as Joe is honest about what led him to his unhealthy state and doesn’t claim to know everything. It was years of bad choices, late nights, working too hard and partying too well. He had pushed his body to the limit. What was fascinating for me was the power of good food and how it helped Joe to come out of his fog. He met people along his route across America, shared his journey, helped people and found purpose again.

I’m not sure I’ll be trying an extreme 60 day juice cleanse but the messages of Joe’s story hit home. Don’t take your health for granted, work hard to maintain a balance in your life and watch out for the danger signs when it comes to your well-being before they become too big to handle.

Watch on Netflix or buy at http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com

Smooth operator

Is it a Comic Relief red nose?…no! Has Rudolph visited our house early?..no! Well what is that little red sphere you ask?! Why it’s an eos Smooth Sphere lip balm!

I was given the Summer Fruit flavour as a gift from my friend Laura, who has just moved to Japan. She’s ahead of the game on products and I’m always keen to hear her thoughts on beauty essentials. This is a lady with very good taste!

The red ball of goodness boasts flavours of strawberry, blueberry and peach and I’ve been turning to it a lot lately as the air con in my office can cause havoc for my skin and lips. The balm doesn’t have a colour so it’s really good if you’re on the move and want to apply quickly and it lasts quite well if you aren’t having lots of hot teas or coffee (as I often am in the office!).

The product design is the real winner for me. No scrambling around in your handbag for this little dude. Want to know what’s inside? The balm is 95% organic, 100% natural, paraben and petrolatum free, with vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil to ease chapped lips.

Product images taken from http://www.evolutionofsmooth.com

Retail price: £6.50
http://www.cloud10beauty.com
http://www.selfridges.com/en/eos/beauty

Antonia Mariconda’s build a beauty blog workshop

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence.
Vince Lombardi

I can see why this quote is one of Antonia’s favourites. It’s an approach to life – an ethos of consistent hard work, attention to detail and ambition to strive for more in every task. I went along to ‘The build a beauty blog’ workshop in a hot pink fuchsia room in the Soho Hotel. The room definitely fit the theme. It was vibrant, creative and bursting with style.

Antonia kicked off the three-hour event by welcoming a 40 strong blogger audience and gave a background to what led to her to become an award-winning beauty writer, blogger, presenter and beauty expert. Her path into the industry was a real surprise. A serious car accident aged 22 changed the course of her life. After enduring multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to get back to full health, Antonia developed an interest in the beauty and cosmetic industry. A plan to study media law took a different turn and the rest, as they say, is history. Antonia has carved a career by commenting on the immense power of the consumer beauty and cosmetic industries and she has created a niche lobbying for more transparency and safety around cosmetic procedures and ethics in the industry. She gives honest opinions on products and lends her expertise as a consultant to brands and commentary in the media. She is a voice that people listen to.

Tweet, tweet away
Antonia boasts more than 41,000 followers on Twitter and it was fascinating to hear how she has built her business and continuously engages with her audience. Dip into her feed and you’ll learn insights about the beauty industry, upcoming events, quirky facts or honest opinions and thoughts from the lady herself. Antonia’s personality is her power and Twitter is another platform to invite, capture and engage. In Antonia’s words, “success will only grow if you share it”.

Find your identity
As I blogger this really resonated with me. You need to find what you are passionate about and share it with your readers. Develop a way of communicating and be clear. Antonia has three blogs embedded in her website http://www.thecosmediccoach.com , each with a different slant or level of detail in a post, depending on what the content focuses on. “Find out what you want to say. I’m a business, blogging is just my medium. Find your niche and then you can become and ambassador the subject”.

Build your brand
Another lasting lesson that I learnt from the workshop was the responsibility that you have over your own brand and how people view you. Antonia warned of the pitfalls, the pressure to build followers, coping with freebies and maintaining integrity through your work by staying true to what you believe in. She has endured bumps along the way and made errors of judgment but has moved forward. I really admired her upfront honesty on how she has built her brand. “It’s making mistakes that allow you to become better”, she encouraged.

Content is king
An example that Antonia gave was a blog piece that she wrote that challenged the popular cream Cult 51. Her own list of 51 reasons as to why she wouldn’t use the product was grounded in fact and research and has become a post that has continued to generate comment and traffic. It still ranks very highly on Google rankings if your enter a search for the brand. Rather than being a throw-away negative review, Antonia made a case for her argument. An engaging post will lead to feedback and interaction – a self-perpetuating circle. Her message to bloggers was to review products with integrity. If you like a brand say why and it if has failings, list your opinion but back-up your opinion with fact. Open up questions with readers and invite comment. Your readers and companies will thank you for your honesty and you will build trust with readers and within the industry.

You are your brand
Bloggers are a powerful force. A well-researched piece can be easily repurposed for use in the press. You can become someone who people want to hear from. Antonia’s collaborator, aesthetic and beauty freelance PR consultant, Jenny Pabila spoke about her journey working in the PR and beauty industry. It was so interesting to hear the reality of what a PR company or brand will be looking for to help them communicate their message. They need competent bloggers to interact and try products. With more than 16 years of experience in public relations, marketing, communication and brand building she imparted some gems, and had a great sense of humour too. “Bloggers can force a subject and give an opinion. Your opinion and expertise on a product or industry is key, that’s what makes you valuable to a brand. Become the best at what you do and then tell people about it, identify your market”, advised Jenny. Her energy and passion shone through and you could see that she loves her work. “People gravitate towards happy people. Go over and beyond and communicate with efficacy. It comes back to you”.

Get technical
Mark Bugg from the company Web Marketing Clinic, which works to enhance digital presence for brands, gave advice on how to increase online security, get as much out of the WordPress platform as possible and how to move your blog from a beginner to savvy user. I now feel more confident about what is on offer and how to buy a domain name, personal hosting and investing in themes and taking my blog further. We learned about content presentation, the power of the visual and making our blogs responsive.

Pearls of wisdom
There was top-notch advice at this event and all speakers really knew their stuff. What made it stand out for me? I came away energised after listening to people who love their work. Antonia’s passion is infectious and how she conducts her business and builds networks and rapport with people is inspiring. We left with fantastic goodie bags of high quality products supplied by brands that Antonia has fostered relationships with. She is without a doubt a keen business woman who has learned the power of communication and she is most definitely the epitome of living her brand. Together with Mark and Jenny, they are a slick team.

Find out more about Antonia, Mark and Jenny
http://www.thecosmediccoach.com
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/antonia-mariconda
http://www.webmarketingclinic.com
http://www.outspokenbeauty.com