Tiaras – Not Just for Princesses?

I always figured the best part about being a royal, or about getting married for us mere mortals, would be the chance to wear a tiara. They are perhaps the one remaining thing which remain traditional and have never quite entered mainstream fashion. The Queen’s tiara collection has a fascinating history as well as be strikingly beautiful. The Burmese Ruby Tiara has “96 rubies set into the tiara were a present from the Burmese people. The number of stones represent the number of diseases that the Burmese people believe can afflict the human body. They credit the ruby with prophylactic properties guarding the wearer not only against illness, but also against evil”. Whilst speculation was rife for week regarding which bridal tiara Kate Middleton would wear to wed Prince William. The tiara she did wear was the Cartier Halo Tiara, lent to her by the Queen, herself inheriting it from her mother on her 18th birthday. Today’s bride might not have a valuable heirloom to call on, but a stunning array of handmade and vintage tiaras can be found. Bejeweled hairbands, hair combs and facinators are also an option for something a little more subtle.

What started me off on this topic was seeing Vivienne Westwood in a tiara from her new Gainsborough Palladium collection using the precious metal. Yes Dame Viv can get away with wearing anything she pleases. In fact she is often seen wearing her little horn tiara. But I find myself wondering if it really is time for the tiara to make it’s way into more informal dress? Georgia May Jagger fronts the Palladium jewellery campaign, donning tiara, chandelier earrings and a slouch t-shirt, she looks cool and nonchalant.

Dame Viv wearing a horn tiara to collect her OBE at Buckingham Palace

Since our Viv’s Palladium tiara probably retails out of my price range – it available by special order, I can’t say I see myself wearing one down to the supermarket any time soon. I have pondered a pair of the horns a few times however so you might see me in a pair of those soon. I do seem to take any available opportunity to wear a tiara, I had a flashing tiara on my desk whilst I was doing my PhD which I would sit and wear around the office on a Friday – eccentric maybe. I also seem to go for the Halloween outfits which involve a bit of tiara action, hence fairy coming out a few times. Well who could resist a pink fluffy tiara and matching wings?

Being a fairy in 2007

(Image credits: all Vivienne Westwood courtesy of Vivienne Westwood Ltd, models wearing tiaras all Rosie Willett designs, Royals via Hello Magazine)

The Climate Revolution

What a crazy week this has been, I feel like it has ran away with me. I have been trying to sort out about 50 different things all at the same time, hopefully I can tell you about some of them soon. Last week Vivienne sent me this campaign badge, to support the ‘Climate Revolution’. I remembered I hadn’t yet shared with you my story of when I went to hear Vivienne speak at the Friends of the Earth conference in September.

The conference was held during the late afternoon of the second day of London fashion week. Having had a day packed with shows it was like escaping to another world getting the chance to wonder around University Collage London – so peaceful! The conference had all sorts of wonderful talks and exhibitions taking place, but since I had been working all day I didn’t get the chance to see any of them, I was grateful the rally was being held at 5pm. I arrived early, thinking there would be a massive queue to get a good seat but as it happens everyone else was running late so I started to question if I was indeed in the right place. Dressed head to toe in Westwood I started to wonder if I looked too much like a groupie, that was until I spotted a young man with bright purple hair also head to toe in Westwood, his name was Mike (Mike with the hair) and we decided we could relax, safety in numbers and all that. It wasn’t long before the lecture theater was full to the brim, everyone eager to hear what the speakers had to say on the topic ‘Seeing things differently’. The first speakers were Caroline Lucas, former Green Party MP and ‘freedom from debt coalition Philippines’ campaigner Lindy Nacpil who spoke of the devastation caused to her home in Manilla. They both gave really inspiring speeches.

Dame Vivienne began her speech by describing how she had come up with the idea of sneaking her ‘Climate Revolution’ banner into the Paralympics closing ceremony. If you missed it, Vivienne arriving as Boudicca on a chariot, whipped off her gown, wearing┬á below tights over boxer shorts and chunky platform shoes, to reveal a hidden banner, the TV crew and organisers didn’t know what she had planned so her message was aired, what a success! Only Vivienne and her husband Andreas knew of the plan, they had to get her students to applique the banner in secret, without knowing what it was for. The letters were sewn on to the inside of a cloak dress which was 7ft long, it wrapped around Vivienne’s body like an elegant taffeta gown. Hidden pockets were sewn into the ends, so when her accomplices (Andreas and son Joe) inserted spears into them, Vivienne untied the ribbon under her chin and the cape was lifted into the air to form the banner. Smart, dramatic and with a prominent message.

“There are only two types of people in the world: Eco Warriors and idiots” Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne’s message is quite simple really, get people to stand up and listen, do something, even one thing to make a difference. She noted how young people like to have something to fight and rebel against, well maybe they can get rallied up and fight for something so worthwhile like this. You can read in depth about the Climate Revolution on Vivienne’s blog but in brief here are some easy things which you can do to make a difference:

How to join the Revolution

Many people are changing their way of living. The more this happens, the greater the Revolution, the greater the chance of saving our planet.

1) Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. ÔÇ£I never waste money I spend itÔÇØ- Oscar Wilde. Maybe youÔÇÖll give a donation to an NGO or charity. You can give your support in other ways. Just by following one you will learn a lot, this is support.
2) Quality v Quantity
3) Buy less, choose well, make it last (we donÔÇÖt want the ÔÇ£latest thingÔÇØ just for the sake of it.)
4) Prepare and cook your own food.
5) Cut out plastic.
6) Inform yourselves.
7) Consider the responsibility of not having or having children. Chances of survival will be clearer by next Olympics.
8) Take an active part in events of the Revolution as it starts to build.
9) Engage in art and culture.
10) Your own idea.

– Vivienne Westwood

There are other small things you can do such as turn off unnecessary lights, pick out the fruit and veg in the supermarket which doesn’t come wrapped in plastic. The plastic thing really get’s me, during my work I have carried out analytical chemistry on the effects of plastic wrappings on organic museum objects and just having something in a plastic bag over night allows plasticizers to contaminate. It doesn’t necessarily do you any harm so far as we know but just the thought of it I find very scary.

After the rally Vivienne had to rush off, I was disappointed not having chance to ask her a few questions. But luck must have been on my side as I bumped into her int he bathroom! Thank you Vivienne for taking the time to have a chat with me when you were so busy. I happened to be wearing my beloved Gaia tree dress which I got in the sale, it has the family tree that Vivienne drew on the front. It represents out world, what happens when Mother Earth marries Science, they have two children Quantity and Quality, which are represented as the right and left branches of the tree. When Quantity marries Progress however they produce unlimited Profit and unlimited Consumption and lead to disaster. We need to shift the balance back to Quality and Stability. The back of the dress shows a map of the world and the parts of it which will become uninhabitable if the climate is raised by +5 degrees, these countries are listed on the skirt – it is food for thought. I changed my own habits a long time ago, I stopped shopping for cheap, bad quality clothes which I would do on a weekly basis only to still be left dissatisfied. Now I save up for less, well made things be it designer or a charity shop find. I also recycle clothes on eBay and donating them. You don’t have to change your entire life to help the environment, but just changing one small thing can really make a huge impact. Vivienne uses her power as a celebrity fashion designer to give her voice a platform, she infuses her fashion with her messages and slogans.

Here I am wearing the ‘Gaia Tree dress’, pink suede boots and accessories of beaded ‘Africa’ collection clutch bag and ‘AR’ cap, all Vivienne Westwood.

One last word, Vivienne asked me to tell you. It would be her ‘honour and pleasure if you could read her blog Vivienne Get A Life

Smashbox Review – Primer’s and O-Glow, O-Plump

To celebrate the opening of Smashbox at Boots, Manchester I took the chance to share with you some of their ‘Hero’ products. I’d never tried Smashbox before but hear good things about their innovative products all the time. The brand was created by brothers Dean and Davis Factor, the great-grandsons of the one and only Max Factor – beauty was in their blood. They set about designing a cosmetics range which would create a photo ready look. Each product is artistically created based upon the view from behind the camera, for a flawless look as perfect as a finished photograph. I tried out four of the brands leading products.

Photo Finish Primer SPF15: One of the products Smashbox is famous for is primer, they don’t just have one but a full range so there is one suitable for everyone.┬á I used the one with SPF 15┬á and Dermaxyl complex which is an advanced peptide treatment to target wrinkles – you can never start too early! The primer is a dry-gel consistency, as soon as it hits the skin it feels velvety soft. Though it looks a peachy shade in the tube it does go on clear, leaving skin with a soft even surface. What really surprised me was that I only used half the amount of foundation I usually do. The primer creates an even surface and a barrier between the skin so you don’t need to use as much foundation. The foundation also glided on with ease and I was left with a smooth, silky finish.

Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer:┬áIf I had to choose I would say this was my favourite product. I always have shadows under my eyes so anything to help is most welcome. I’ve tried plenty of eye products, many ineffective others too potent for my sensitive skin, some making make-up worn on top crease. Like the foundation primer, the eye primer went on smooth and comfortably. The brightening pigments really gave my eyes a lift and helped eye make-up glide on smoothly. My brown eyes seem to really pop. What’s better is that it is reported to go on working with improvement in puffiness, dark circles, appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, texture, radiance and skin clarity in 8 weeks. I am looking forward to seeing these results.

O-Glow Intuitive Cheek Colour:┬áI was wondering what the ‘O’ stood for as I squeezed a blob of this product out of the tube. Oh wow oooooh! It changes colour!! Designed to come out clear and adapt to your skin tone, producing a natural blush. Just like the primers this is a velvety soft product that goes on smoothly, creating a natural rosy glow. I tried this alone over the foundation primer and also on top of make-up and it gave an equally pretty effect.

O-Plump Intuitive Lip Plumper: The lip plumper is also from the ‘O’ range, it applies slightly minty and then develops into a tingly warm feeling as it plumps up lips. Developing with your natural skin colour to give a natural flush. This is strong stuff mind, so if you are suffering from chapped lips I would recommend applying a lip balm first and using O-plump sparingly, this is what I had to do.┬á I think it would make a great gloss to wear over lipstick too.

The final verdict? All these products are designed to be worn under make-up or alone. Here you can see all the products worn with only concealer around the eyes and nose, nothing else. I tried to take the photo in as natural a light as possible but I still think the camera took out some of the colour, in real life I found the blush and the lip colour to be a little more noticeable. What I do think you can see is how bright the eye area looks and how soft and smooth my skin is – it looks like I am wearing powder I think, a real air-brushed effect. The lines on my forehead and and around my eyes appear erased too. I’ve said before how lazy I am when it comes to make-up and for days when I don’t want to wear any these products are perfect for giving a fresh and natural appearance. The two primers I have been wearing under my make-up and I would really recommend them as great bases. Below you can see how the foundation and under eye primers and the O-Glow blush look with make-up on top. I am also wearing Bobbi Brown concealer kit, Extreme Party mascara bronzing powder, Starry night eye-shadow; YSL lipstick; Chanel Mat Lumiere powder.

Smashbox have loads of innovative products, just reading about them you can see the ideas and creativity which has gone into creating them. Other products I would like to try include the Halo colour correcting hydrating powder which contains gold as an ingredient and the Limitless 15 hour wear cream shadows come in a gorgeous array of colours such as rich gold and deep purple.

Are you a Smashbox fan? Which products have you tried / would you like to try?

Brand Focus: Deadly Ponies

Things that I like: Bags, dogs, old photos, funny animals, nature, New Zealand (well I like my friend Aimee and she is from there, never been myself), jewellery.
Things which Deadly Ponies are made of: Bags, dogs riding bikes, old photos, funny animals, nature, New Zealand, jewellery.

The first I saw of accessories brand Deadly Ponies was their gorgeous handbags, big ones, little ones, squishy ones, zippered ones, framed ones, ones for boys, ones for girls, coloured ones, bright ones, dark ones, all with an air of luxury. The jewellery is something special too, all inspired by nature, silver bone rings, bronze hawks claws, twisted rope knots, foxes wearing dicky bows… always a touch of playfulness to contrast the stark wilderness.
The deadly ponies website is like a Cabinet of Curiosities full of Victoriana. Designer Liam Bowden wanted to create a fairytale, an enchanted forest world where Deadly Ponies lived. A place where childhood dreams come together with sculptural arts and crafts.
Each piece is designed and made in New Zealand. Each piece is entirely hand made. Each piece is unique.

For the current collection Bowden cites influence from “Nature’s carnage… We were drawn to the idea of random objects being discovered in the strangest places – quilt’s in hedges, rug’s in trees – you get the drift.” You can read the full Deadly Ponies interview on EverMe, to find out what their favourite design is, how they decide on colour ways and what they carry around in their handbags.┬á A full list of stockist can be found on www.deadlyponies.com.

Style Inspiration: Tony the Tiger??

Tony the Tiger, cute cartoon of the popular cereal Kellog’s Frosties, childhood memory yes, style icon? No, well not usually. As it happens Tony turns 60 years old this year and to celebrate designer Philip Armstrong has created a new scarf for him. Adding animal print purple stripes to Tony’s classic red neckerchief for a 2012 twist. Did you know Tony was a fellow Mancunian? Yep Kellog’s is a Manchester company. Tony was born in 1952 after the company ran a mascots competition, we very nearly had ‘Katy the Kangaroo’, ‘George the Giraffe’ and ‘Newt the Gnu’! You too can make like a tiger as a limited number of 500 scarves have been produced. Try your luck on Tony’s birthday Facebook page where 50 are up for grabs or head on over to the pop-up eBay shop where you can buy one for a bargainous ┬ú6.99. All proceeds will be donated to Fareshare food-banks, who provide food to 12,000 school children across the UK.

Ruby Dog got particularly excited about the scarf, jumping all over the place like a loon trying to steal it. Crazy dog. So I had to let her have a go, doesn’t she look pretty, shame she wouldn’t sit still long enough to have a brush and a nice photo taken!

What do you think of the scarf? Will you be trying to win one / buying one?

Outfit: How to Wear a Crop Top!

Wearing: Vivienne Westwood Gold Label ‘Wild’ jumper and lace skirt, Vivienne Westwood Limited edition ‘Bag’ boots.

┬áThis is the second part to my last outfit post, revealing what I wore beneath my sweeping cloak … it’s a crop top! Oh yes, I can’t say I would ever have been convinced that my 31 year old self would ever wear anything that could be called a crop top. When I was 14 I wore crop tops and mini skirts all the time alas I’m not a skinny little thing who doesn’t feel the cold any more. What I do like however, are very high waist skirts and trousers, the higher the better – but not quite as high as Simon Cowell. What goes well with high waists? Crop tops as it happens! The trick is, to just have the top sit on the waist band, so only half an inch is bared. You can even wear a body underneath for the same effect without baring any skin – essential in colder months. If like me you don’t have abs of steel, try layering another, looser layer over the top too such as a shirt or coat. Or vise-versa, wear the crop top over a longer top. Another way to try the look is to go for an asymetric or hi-low jumper, anything which hit at the natural waist. Autumn Cashmere have some perfect hi-low knits, whilst Moschino do some cute cropped cardigans.

I bought the top and skirt in World’s End, the top is called the ‘Wild’ jumper, its beautiful soft mohair and from the current Gold Label collection. There is a dress version too which Dame Vivienne herself has been wearing, here she wears it to receives the Harper’s Bazaar ‘Inspiration of the Year’ award accompanied by husband Andreas. The skirt is from a few collections past, it is gold lace over black wool so pretty as well as warm.


The Wild dress and jumper on the runway, AW 2012.

Worn by Stella Tennant in this seasons campaign.

Do you crop top? Bare all or bare an inch?

You can check out my Pinterest board for some crop top inspiration!