Monthly Archives: August 2010

GET EXCITED – THE OUTNET IS HAVING AN 85% OFF SALE

I’m literally about to hop on a plane bound for Ibiza, but just before I leave I thought I’d share this little nugget of info…

The Outnet is having a gargantuan clearance sale this coming Monday. We’re talking 80-85% off on over 900 items from designers including Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Chloé, Halston, Stella McCartney and McQueen.

To put that into perspective,  it’s like a £995 bag being reduced to £260, so if you lost out during their £1 sale earlier in the year this could be your chance…

I’ll be up and straight to the nearest internet cafe Monday morning, waiting with baited breath to see if Vanessa Bruno and Etoile Isabel Marant get discounted…

Good luck!

SUMMER BEAUTIFICATION AT THE CHAPEL, ISLINGTON

I’m not really a beauty fanatic. I’m rubbish at applying makeup, believe £35 is an absolutely extortionate price for lipstick (even if it is by Tom Ford) and until my recent dalliance with semi-permanent dye I hadn’t coloured my hair since 2004.

It’s not that I don’t care about my appearance, it simply comes down to a lack of time and funds, so when The Chapel in Islington invited me to review their Summerlicious package – an afternoon of pampering including a hair cut and colour, a manicure and a pedicure – I didn’t hesitate to accept their kind offer.

Situated on St John Street, just a few minutes walk from Angel tube station, you might have missed this inconspicuous salon. Housed inside an old pub (a favourite haunt of Adam and the Ants once upon a time) The Chapel has gone from strength to strength since it opened a couple of years ago, and has amassed an impressive group of devotees often willing to wait weeks for an appointment. The reason? This is a salon with a difference…

From the moment they greet you at the door the entire salon experience is tailored to your needs.

When I first meet the team of therapists we talk over a cappuccino and brownie about what they can do to revive my (embarrassingly-neglected) hair and nails. They ask me about my lifestyle, what I have in mind for my cut (a trim with light layers) and nail colour (orangey red – my beauty therapist Kay suggests Viva la Diva which is perfect, of course) and without further ado the pampering commences.

I’d forgotten how nice it is to have somebody else do your nails. Kay is incredibly friendly, thorough and willing to share her tried and tested beauty tips with me  - Lord knows I could use the help (She’s a Barry M girl all the way when it comes to affordable nail polishes by the way).

By the time she’s finished working her magic I’m confident I won’t feel nearly so concious of my frankly unattractive  feet, which today are ultra exposed – a fresh coat of easily smudged nail polish demands flip flops.

Next comes the dye job – this is where The Chapel really surpass the competition. As the package is all about achieving a seasonal look for summer it predictably includes highlights – a phrase that has terrified me since I was burdened with the most horrendous peroxide stripes at 14. But at this salon they’ve managed to revolutionize the treatment.

Co-owner Billie is an award-winning  colourist with a serious flair for the creative. ‘Floating Lights’ is her invention, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more thrilled with a hair colour.  Using Redken dye she tailor-mixes a shade just for me – Soft Butterscotch – then applies it strategically, blending in such a way that the colour transitions seamlessly from my natural rich brown roots to a warm honey at the tip. No regrowth, no maintenance, and it looks as if I’ve been travelling for six sun-filled months.

Finally it’s time for my hair cut in The Chapel’s ultra-spacious salon. Mark – who has styled hair backstage at London and New York Fashion Weeks – has my trust instantly. He actually listens to what I want and doesn’t try and persuade me to lose more of the length than the half an inch I request.

We talk weddings (he recently married the love of his life after 15 years of dating) and our favourite east London haunts, and before I know it he’s finished, and I’m left feeling really pleased with the precise cut and bouncy blow dry.

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to be so pampered by the team at The Chapel. I’m 100% a convert of Billie’s Floating Lights (umpteen compliments have already had me tempted to book in for a second appointment) – the woman is a genius!

It’s a rare thing indeed to feel so looked after and listened to at a salon. I never felt rushed and when I walked out three and a half hours later the results spoke for themselves.  Thank you so much to Kay, Billie, Mark, Ezara and everybody else at The Chapel for giving me such a treat. I’ll definitely be back…

The Summerlicious package including individually tailored Floating Lights, a hair cut and blow dry, luxury pedicure, express manicure, and make-up consultation costs £200.

Call 0207 5200 560, email islington@thechapel.co.uk or drop by the salon (394-396 St John St, EC1V4NJ) to book your appointment now.

Visit TheChapel.co.uk

IS IT POSSIBLE TO PULL OFF SHEER DRESSES?

Remember the episode of Sex and the City where the girls go to ‘Shirtless Heaven’ and Carrie befriends Oliver, the handsome Aussie who has a key to Bungalow 8? Do you also recall the outfit she wore in that episode?

It was a white, sheer, stretch-jersey dress with pink flouro underwear visible underneath. I loved it, even though I felt that I probably shouldn’t. It sparked a fascination with sheer dresses and noticeable (read blatantly obvious) underwear.

Actually, being purposefully conspicuous about flashing your underwear to the world must be the only way to pull off such a controversial look. At the onset of summer I noticed an unfathomable amount of girls in London who were utterly oblivious that their thong was on show underneath their little white sun dress. Oops.

So I’ve been pondering what makes it work for SJP, Anna Dello Russo and Jessica Biel and this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Be *ahem* ‘transparent’ about your intent to show your pants and bra, and do it with an air of nonchalance so that others will marvel at your confidence
  2. Wear nice underwear. Make it your statement as you might jewellery or other accessories. No thongs, no white or nude colours, nothing you’re at risk of slipping or spilling out of accidentally (that really ruins the aforementioned air of nonchalance)
  3. Be skinny. Unfortunately, like most women out there, this is not a look I should ever attempt, seeing as I’m larger than a clothes hanger. If you have curves you’ll look too sexy and people will only be able to focus on that when they look at you rather than noting your outlandish and daring sartorial choice (It’s the same reason models who go topless on the catwalk can still be seen as chic, as opposed to actual topless models who are viewed as hot at best or trashy at worst)

Not a look I’m going to be trying any time soon, but who knows…

When it comes to fashion I never say never.

BEST BUYS ON THE OUTNET

I’m 100% on board with the ideology behind TheOutnet.com – one cohesive designer sales site, or as Natalie Massenet words it; ‘a vibrant, fun and edited destination for the global sale shopper to call her own’ – but lets be blunt, it can be overrated sometimes.

People went crazy for TheOutnet’s first birthday sale – a one day, one pound bargain bonanza – which was basically the online version of that American Apparel sample sale on Brick Lane. The one where people rioted for a love of overrated jersey basics (if you missed that little treat you can watch the video here).

What I’m trying to say is, it’s great in theory but I rarely find anything worth purchasing. Every time I come close to proceeding to checkout I hear my voice of reason (aka my dad) asking me whether I’m buying that item because I actually love it, or because it has a designer label inside. Shamefully it’s almost always the latter, so I refrain.

But this week I discovered an exception to the rule – Vanessa Bruno. I’m absolutely in love with every piece. It’s full of classic designs with a Parisian flavour – every one wearable and every one affordable. Click to shop before I stockpile the lot.