Autumn Beauty Done.

In a world where we are all too busy to sometimes text that friend back, post that birthday card or arrange those drinks with old colleagues. It is getting increasingly harder for brands to convince, engage and spend time with customers. Making in-retail events very hard to succeed at.

Do customers want to give over hours or even half an hour of their day to a brand, a store? What is the excitement for them if they turn up?

What is the magic algorithm to success? I’m sure there is a numbers geek out there that could apply some logic to the psychologies, but without access to this I would say after attending Selfridges recent Autumn Beauty Event they have come close to cracking the code.

A year to the launch of Selfridges Beauty Workshop concept, the store opened up the doors to the beauty set for an evening of education, make-up, fun, sugar and prosecco.

With a £10 coveted ticket price, which you have to apply in advance for. You are adorned with a golden wristband – the access to the fabulousness.

You are transported into Selfridges amazingly unique way of making events a must-attend show. With complimentary branded candy floss, pick-a-mix stalls (this guy had a queue as long as those for a launch of a new Chanel nail varnish!), snow cones (with real vodka toppings), DJ’s, manicurists, make-up artists, skincare gurus… Free gifts, free prosecco – lots of free prosecco. It was no wonder that despite the sheer volume of ladies – it was fun, giggly, girly, purely and unapologetically fun and frivolous. A night to dip in and out of brands you love, or those you want to discover without the pressure sometimes felt by stepping onto a luxury beauty brands counter.

A perfect launch platform for brands to start a relationship with new customers. Especially for the likes of Charlotte Tilbury whom was unveiling her new capsule make-up collection exclusively at Selfridges. However, with the economic downturn still pinching our pockets, the FREE aspect is key here, it was very interesting to see that even the big players joined in the fun. With super GWPs for high spending clients, juice bars, international make-up artists. Even Jo Malone had a lady making free felt brooches for those whom spent on counter. It was the apple version of a beauty event. Exquisitely planned, superbly executed. Dynamic and emotive.

This allows customers, myself included feeling more at ease at buying luxury products. We are investing in the quality rather than quantity but we do need to feel we are getting an amazing deal.

So as you can probably tell we had a great time. This may of course be down to the company I was in. However, looking around us all we saw and heard was excitement, giggles, smiles and good times.

Yes this is hard work to achieve, and without being privy to Selfridges bottom line, I dare say its an investment but I truly believe that investment in your key clientele is the best thing you can put your money on these days.

If your customers go away having had an amazing night that’s made them happy, chances are they tweeted about it, blogged about it, put it on facebook, instagrammed it. And even if they don’t pop back though your doors for a week or two the people they shared it with just might.

I have been to events, launch parties, make-up lessons, skincare workshops. You name it. With all of these things sometimes the fundamental element gets forgotten. Fun.

This was about a girly catch up, a bit of competitor snooping but ultimately celebrating what’s great about being a girl, make-up, trying every pinky red lip shade on every counter until we find ‘the one’ scouting out the hottest nail colours from the sea of choice. Daring to try a new look, a vamp goth lip a daring red…

Ultimately a night of escape with girl friends, of rewards with free goodies, a sense of enjoyment, a little chip away at re-claiming your ‘me-time’ away from family, work and other life commitments.

Whilst I think we’d all love it if these evenings happened more often, what is so special and desirable about them is their surprising arrival. Plus the effortless detail that does not go un-missed.

Thank you Selfridges. A pinnacle of light in today’s doom and gloom retail landscape.

Discover Selfridges Beauty Workshop concept in the Oxford Street store.

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A walk through ‘The world of CHANEL’ at Harrods

Ever wondered what it would be like to live inside a brand? If you could pick any brand why not the ultimate brand (in my opinion) CHANEL – well of course if any store could make this happen it would of course be Harrods…

Yesterday I took a walk through ‘The world of CHANEL’ in Harrods. It is a takeover of such immense scale it is amazing how it has been so cleverly kept secret until now.

Even from the walk along Brompton road you get a sense of what lays ahead as the Harrods flags have turned monochrome with just CHANEL fluttering away along the iconic building’s length, all it’s 23 windows along the stores front have been utterly transformed into Karl’s AW ready to wear catwalk show, suddenly walking along the pavement you can be front row of the ultimate fashion show. Take in the fantasy ethereal forest dream – where animals meet haute couture! I wasn’t even inside yet and it had taken my breath away!

Entering through Door 6 and into the stores Colour Hall (formerly the Lifestyle room) I discover a new pop up neighbour for MAC a PINK, yes you read correctly, CHANEL beauty boutique offers itself like a grown up sweetie shop – that you just have to discover! From giant 900ml bottles of No5, which yes you can buy money permitting, to a gorgeous EXCLUSIVE Collection created by the master, Peter Philips – Creative Director of CHANEL Makeup just for this installation and named ‘The Harrods Collection’ the star of the collection, none other than a pretty pink powder blush compact ‘Brompton Road‘ for £46, this is a great way to own a little limited edition piece of this fantastic take over.

But if that is not all, the space plays host to a whole 3 weeks of celebrity makeover events, I was lucky to spot Mary Greenwell and Sophy Robson who were giving expert makeovers and manicures respectively using the CHANEL new AW collection. Once made over I could not resist indulging in some CHANEL photobooth fun (not only is there an in-built wind machine, so you can create that hollywood glamour pose, but the miraculous booth even airbrushes you so your photos arrive picture perfect in a lovely CHANEL folder) now if only all my passport photo posing experiences where that good!!

A stroll along the ground floor and suddenly I feel and see tweed underfoot and I know I have entered something special. If like me you have ever felt a bit too intimidated to enter a CHANEL boutique now is your chance to experience the absolute wonder and awe of it. Another pop up boutique this one on a grand scale for the Ready to Wear Collection, Handbags, Accessories and Les Exclusif CHANEL fragrances. It is a little CHANEL curiosity shop – there is no other explanation for the dream you will feel you have entered. You will indulge your eyes in some of the ultimate visual merchandising you will ever witness as well as being able to touch, see and feel iconic CHANEL products. As well as some EXCLUSIVE products that you may recognise….

The iconic Harrods tote has been pimped up CHANEL stylee with a uber luxe chain, golden CHANEL logo and quilting effect. CHANEL’s biker boots have been given a wash with Harrods green as well as their classic overnight holdall. For those with slightly more disposable income there are also limited edition Classic handbags too!

The pure attention to every detail is brought to your attention at every turn, and no more so as you take in the mural wall and ceiling hand drawn in chalk to create a CHANEL forest backdrop to the latest AW fashion pieces.

With my eyes already starry and feeling like I am in the best luxe dream I went further into the world of CHANEL….. up another 2 floors to the 3rd Floor in Harrods, past illustrated maps of the world, to the entrance to ‘Une Promenade’ the most stellar installation and creation of a brand yet.

Through a wall of pearls you disappear and enter another world (I can only imagine that this is what stepping through those fur coats in Narnia would have been like – had it been real) but thanks to Karl & the CHANEL team sometimes fiction and dreams obviously do come true!

You move through the promenade with a CHANEL guide or alone if you prefer, through the making of 2.55 handbag – watching a multitude of screens as the Ateliers work their magic to create the dream handbag for girls worldwide.

My favourite room has to be Karl’s CHANEL doll house, hosting CHANEL Bearbricks – which if you follow the cult of Bearbrick life you will instantly want to own but alas they are not for sale! They stand over Harrods bears in their hand-made CHANEL suits (and boots) and you just wish that Karl Lagerfeld had designed your childhood bedroom.

Then onwards to Gabrielle’s apartment, featuring printed Coromandel screen walls, Haute Couture dresses, replica furniture from Gabrielle’s original apartment – you can feel like you are in 31, rue Cambon, PARIS.

No CHANEL world is complete until you see and even feel a bit of TWEED, and this world does not disappoint – enter the 54 room (named for 1954 – the year of Gabrielle’s return post war and the entrance of the tweed CHANEL jacket) stand and take in the hand drawn jacket designs on floor to ceiling scale on none other than tweed canvas by Karl himself. I never in a million years thought I would come face to face and touch one of his hand drawn designs.

A CHANEL world also naturally must pay homage to the world’s most iconic fragrance – that of course is none other than No5. A fragrance that is a brand in itself, step inside Andy Warhol’s famous prints of the mystery bottle. Watch the No5 films played on none other an immense No5 bottle.

There is of course lots more – such as a 2.55 handbag the size of your double bed (you could literally live in it and to be honest I would be more than happy to do so)…

Why not enter the world of CHANEL at Harrods too… explore from 5 – 24 September at Harrods, Brompton Road, London. I think I need to go again just to check I have not dreamt it!

Marie Claire Prix D’Excellence De La Beauté Awards 2011 winners revealed…

What better way to end a Monday than a glamorous Awards ceremony at the Claridges Ballroom for the annual Marie Claire Beauty Oscars Prix d’excellence de la beauté awards 2011. From champagne and beauty gossip with the beauty pack to the award winners acceptance speeches, hosted by the very glamorous Christine Bleakley from Daybreak and the lovely Trisha Halpin, Editor in Chief Marie Claire UK.

The Awards themselves were split in two categories best International Winners – as voted by both Marie Claire International judges and the creme de la creme of beauty journalists across the globe; from Marie Claire – Lisa Oxenham (UK), Ariane Goldet (France), Ying Chu (US), Ana Serrano (Spain), Antonella Bussi (Italy) and representing the beauty journalists vote: Emmanuelle Demarest, Marie-Francoise Dubillion, Dominique Garnier, Aurelie Lambillon, Emmanuelle Lannes, Genevieve Murat, Brigitte Papin, Marie Pouzol, Alexandra Raillan and Zoe Zhang.

Plus our very own best of the best British winners as voted by a panel of UK beauty journalists: Lisa Oxenham (Marie Claire’s very own award-winning beauty journalist and stylist, Hannah Betts (Writer and columnist for British Broadsheets and magazines) Annabel Jones (who has over 10 years experience as beauty journalist) Sarah Vine (Beauty Editor and columnist for The Times) and Alice Hart-Davis (Award-winning writer and creator of Good Things Skincare)

So the winners for 2011…

International Winners….

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector – this wonder product has been rushing off our high street and online store shelves faster than the Clinique consultants can utter the words ‘miracle serum’ with its clinical proven results of a 53% improvement in dark spots after 12 weeks use this potent skin solution of Vitamin C and Salicylic acid is sure to become a true icon!

Lancome Teint Miracle Foundation – a foundation I have yet to try but is coveted by a number of my friends who swear by its multi tasking properties and barely there effect – it moisturises, gives SPF and long-lasting coverage.

Guerlain Abeille Royale Youth Serum – The power of honey harnessed in this youth serum, every skincare brand on the market has their version of a youth fighting serum and the masters at Guerlain prove to strike gold with this fab product infused with Royal Jelly and honey to help skin self repair, despite it reminding me of buying my grandma Royal Jelly as a child I’ve tried this product and do think it’s really worth the investment!

Roc Sublime Energy range – I am not that familiar with the Roc skincare range but this sounds like science in a tube… the range itself was designed to harness electricity as it passes from cell to cell within our bodies and utilise this power or skin energy to turn back time (time travel for your skin!) with that claim it is one worth trying especially at such an attractive price starting at just £29.99

Garnier Ambre Solaire Golden Protect Oil SPF30 – With all the sunshine today I decided it was time to dare to go bare-legged after months and months of opaque tights, I am not convinced it was quite the right decision but it has got me in the swing of feeling summery so it was fab to see one of my favourite sun protection brands winning an award. Plus it’s fantastic to see an oil with such a high SPF – I have very pale skin (thanks to my very blonde hair and English complexion) so a high SPF is a requirement even in the slightest ray of sunshine!

So on to my favourite part… The British beauty winners!

Best Beauty Care product goes to – Olay Regenerist 3 Point Super Serum, this products predecessor generated a waiting list of over 20,000 women so it’s not surprising its made it to the top spot. However that said I had real problems with this product – I tried it’s predecessor and had the worst reaction to this serum resulting in a month of just using Aqueous cream on my face it was so sensitive after using it…. so unfortunately it doesn’t get my seal of approval – but thousands of others seem to love it!

Highly commended in this category also were: L’Oreal Youthcode, La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Serum and Skinceuticals Pigment Regulator.

Best Make up product – Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick. I’m a huge lip junkie from glosses to lipsticks and even balms I love trying and using new textures and lip products and this is a fantastic lipstick – the colour pigment is strong on application and truly has a great long-lasting wear – I can highly recommend it!

Highly commended in this category: Garnier Youth Radiance 2 in 1 Tinted Eye Roll on Concealer, Burberry Make Up range, Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick.

Best Ethical product – Clarins Gentle Beauty Soap – I was really pleased to see this product win, Clarins work tirelessly at their ethical responsibilities when using exotic plant ingredients by replanting and supporting local communities without shouting about their green ways, so it’s lovely to see them recognised with this gentle little soap – which itself has an Ecocert organic certification. I am a huge soap fan so very happy to see soap taking centre stage in the beauty elite once more.

Highly Commended – L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Nature Range, Une Make-up Range, Aveda Control Force Firm Hairspray.

That’s it for this year… time for one more quick glass of Champagne to celebrate the winners and a read of Marie Claire on the tube home!

The one where MAC goes all Surf Babe…

MAC Surf Baby Model Shot
From the Northern line to the Pacific Coast Highway… this morning was no normal commute!
I arrived this morning at MAC HQ and found myself on a mini holiday up the Pacific Coast Highway, as I sipped lemonade and sat amongst the sand and seashells… and a surf board! It could only mean one thing… it was time for summer MAC style.

I’d seen snippets of the MAC SS Surf Babe collection awhile ago so I was very excited to see and play with the new products, and get really into the holiday spirit! It’s a really fun vibrant collection that just gets you dreaming of endless summer days on the beach, people watching or just poolside posing.

My standout products have to be the return of the Crushed Metallic Pigments – which are just fabulous to play with to create that real ethereal make up glow on your skin and eyes. SUMMER STASH – Light pink champagne (Frost), Light white pearl (Frost), Light violet with silver pearl (Frost), Brown bronze with gold pearl (Frost). SURF THE OCEAN- Frosty platinum (Frost), Light yellow green (Frost), Gold bronze (Frost), Dirty graphite with silver pearl (Frost) RRP: £25.50 / EURO 34.00

MAC Mineralize Pigments

I loved the new Skinsheen Bronzer Sticks, a really easy fun way to apply bronzer – the best bit is that they are water based so gives a real refreshing feeling on the skin with a fab bronze sheen glow, I can see this being a summer make up staple! (Available in three gorgeous shades TAN-TINT Soft suntan bronze, BILLIONAIRE BRONZE Warm golden tan, GILTY BRONZE Coppery bronze with gold shimmer RRP: £23.00 / EURO 35.50)

For those opting for the more traditional bronze powders you won’t be disappointed with the Solar Riche or Refined Golden Bronzing Powders. (REFINED GOLDEN Finely spun golden with soft pearl finish SOLAR RICHE Mid-tone deep orange brown RRP: £19 / EURO 25)


With spring being all about pop brights this collection warms up but continues this trend with some really wearable but high trend limited colours, as a bit of a nail varnish addict I love the aqua shade – just perfect for tanned toes to wear proudly (ooooh I dream of the return of flip-flop & sandal season!) The Nail lacquers come in HANGIN’ LOOSE Dirty pink nude and OCEAN DIP Mid-tone creamy aqua RRP: £10.00 / EURO 13.50


The Five limited Ed Eye Shadows continue the warmed sun shades mixed with surf and sea tones and are great to wear sheer or layer for a more intense pop of bright colour. The Frosty white acts as a great highlighting and brightening eye colour SHORT SHORTS Eye Shadows available in Frosty white champagne (Frost) SUN BLONDE Dirty yellow gold (Frost) SAFFRON Deep coral caramel (Satin) SURF USA Frosted teal (Frost) SWELL BABY Mid-tone grey (Satin) RRP: £12.00 / EURO 15.50

MAC My Paradise Cheek Powder: A warm coral tone blush with a hibiscus golden embossed flower adding just a subtle shimmer to the skin when applied with a brush  RRP: £19.00 / EURO 25.00


No MAC collection is complete without some iconic Lipstick shades and of course Lipglass, for that water shiny effect; LIPSTICK – NATURALLY ECCENTRIC Creamy white nude (Lustre), HIBISCUS Bright orange coral (Cremesheen), BUST OUT! Dirty mid-tone violet (Lustre), MOCHA Peachy yellow-brown (Satin), RRP: £14.00 / EURO 18.50

LIPGLASS – GIRL ON BOARD Pale white gold, GOOD LOVIN’ Soft peachy pink, STRANGE POTION Soft coral pink, KRAZY KAHUNA Warm mid-tone brown RRP: £13.50 / EURO 18.00


My official countdown to June 2011 has begun.

Images courtesy of MAC Cosmetics.