Events: Home Sense Opening Manchester

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This morning amidst a rather long queue of eager shoppers, I went down to see the opening of the brand new Home Sense store in the Manchester Arndale. The store is right next to sister brand TK Maxx and true to the company ethos packed full of gorgeous things with reasonable price tags. The loveable Coronation Street star Anthony Cotton was there to cut the ribbon and declare the store open. No need for me to ramble on, I took plenty of photo’s so you can see for yourselves. I am sure there is something for everyone from lust worthy glass wear, cheerful garden ornaments, rugs, sculptures and even doggie shampoo!

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STYLEetc Magazine Spring Issue Launch

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Wearing: Vivienne Westwood Gold Label Gigot dress, union jack tights and Animal toe courts, fabulous Designer Earrings I got years ago at H Samuel which you can’t see due to my wild mane and my stunning Wendy Brandes ‘little woolfe’ necklace which you can just see as a tiny blip.

No I did not wear this for St Georges day. Yes I did think I was cool until I got into town and saw armies of drunken men wearing flags #fail. But it’s Vivienne Westwood and it’s fabulous lol.

Anyway I was out to celebrate the launch of STYLEetc’s Spring issue at Harvey Nichols, big pat on the back to Anna-Louise, Gemma and the STYLE etc team for making it happen. You will have to excuse the iphone photos, but I will share some of the official shots when they are available.

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Big woop to @anna0louise, @carnabytwenty1, @elthecool, @riannaphillips, @katekinsey

If you haven’t picked up our latest issue you can read online over at the STYLEetc website

and you can check out Rianna Phillip’s clutches on her website too. I just bought my second clutch from her, the green one pictured here, hand made in Manchester and the perfect size for your STYLEetc!

A Tale of Two Wedding Dresses

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Something which I have always been interested in, and that now forms part of my new job (I know, I know will tell you all about that soon enough), are the different ways museums and galleries choose to display exhibits. These two dresses might be the last things you would expect to find in an art gallery, but here they are in Manchester Art Gallery, Mosely Street. The small exhibition illustrates how the designer Vivienne Westwood took inspiration from the 18th Century by showing one of her dresses in a room full of period paintings and of course a dress from 1765. Designers often state times and places of inspiration, yet it is difficult to get inside their mindset without having prior knowledge of what they are quoting. This exhibit lets the viewer envelope themselves in the art work of the time, whilst also having the rare opportunity to compare an 18th C dress with a Westwood design it inspired.
I am particularly interested in peoples history, so was delighted to read that the Westwood dress was in fact the wedding dress of the museum director. How wonderful to see your wedding dress everyday in your place of work, than have it hidden in the back of your closet!

 Raiding History: Vivienne Westwood and the 18th Century

‘..it’s so important to look at the past. Because people did have taste, and they did have ideas of excellence, and those things are not going to come unless people look at the past.’ Vivienne Westwood

British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is famous for her re-interpretations of historic dress and textiles. Here we have displayed one of her couture gowns with a dress and portraits from the 1700s to show how the art inspires her.

Wedding dress 2010 designed by Vivienne Westwood (1941-)

Evening gown in printed blue and silver chine silk. The delicate fabric, pastel colours, full skirts and corseting of this gown recall the open and sack back  dresses of the 1700s. Typically of Westwood however, the dress is not a copy or pastiche. The past is combined with her own ideas to create new and original clothes for our time. This dress was worn as her wedding dress by Maria Balshaw, Director of the Manchester City Galleries. Dress on loan from Maria Balshaw to Manchester City Galleries.

Wedding dress (Open robe) 1765

(Sack back) gown or ‘robe a la francaise’ in pale blue and silver figured silk. The ‘Sack back’ gown was the most formal type of women’s dress in the late 1700s. It was reserved for official occasions such as receptions, weddings and appearances at court. Like many silk dresses from the period this example has been altered a great deal. The dress is said to have been worn as her wedding dress by Sarah Gamson from Gringly-super-Montem in Nottinghamshire. Sarah was born in 1750 and married age 15 in 1765. Manchester City Galleries 1947.137.

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Funnily enough, the day I saw this exhibition my friend Chris gave me these two books on historical fashion one including dresses from the 1700s!

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Chinese New Year, Manchester China Town

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Happy New Year to all my Chinese friends, may it bring you luck and prosperity. We went to see the celebrations in Manchester’s China Town, such a shame it was pouring with rain but nice to get to wish everyone a happy new year. Despite the rain it was still packed full, so I didn’t get to see the dragon dance. Luckily the people from the Chinese restaurant at the end of my road always have a dragon which they dance past my house so I will be waving to him later. Due to the weather people weren’t dressed up, but I did see a few cheerful Cosplayers. A lot of the teens were wearing flat or platorm Creeper style shoes, like the girl with the tail below. There is quite a trend for them at the moment and they come in so many styles, I’ve had my eye on a velvet TUK pair. I made sure to wear my red shoes today for good luck.

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Shop less, Kiss more!

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I already mentioned Vivienne Westwood’s Climate Revolution back in November when I got chatting to her. I am really pleased to hear that so many people are supporting her campaign. You don’t have to tie yourself to any trees (unless you want to that is), even small things such as having your heating on a few degrees less and recycling as much as you can will help. Three easy things you can do which the campaign promotes are:

DO SOMETHING
1 SHOP LESS KISS MORE – self explanatory, pucker up!
2 BUTTON UP – wear another jumper before cranking the heating up
3 TRAVEL LIGHT – think about taking a holiday at home rather than jetting off

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 One big supporter of the campaign is Lush, who will be hosting sign up desks in store this week (until 14th Jan). If you drop in you can add your name to the email list to be kept up to date with the campaign, find out more info and pick up a free badge designed by Vivienne which you can wear to show your support. You can see me wearing mine here.

You can also pick up some Lush bargains as they have their Xmas stock reduced to half price. I picked up a fab hat box full of goodies which will last me all year – very economical! Even better all the packaging is not just recyclable but the boxes are perfect for keeping stuff in. I’ve had my last hat box for a few years now and use it to store freebie samples so I always have a stock of mini’s for traveling. I will share some product reviews once I’ve dipped in, the only think I’ve tried so far is the Bubblegum lip scrub, which is amazing. Hmm what was that about all the kissing again?

Join the Climate Revolution

Bobbi Brown Studio Make Over

This week I got the chance to check out the brand new Bobbi Brown cosmetic studio located in Manchester’s Harvey Nichols. As you all know I am the worst person when it comes to make-up, I’m so impatient a bit of powder, mascara and tons of lippie and that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong I love a new product as much as the next girl, I have a stack of nail polish and fancy eye shadows I play around with for a night out but for everyday, I tend not to bother. My biggest nemesis is foundation, I really never got to grips with it, hating anything heavy on my skin. My other pet hate are product that don’t stay put, who has time to reapply their entire face after a few hours from crumbly eye-liners to clogged creases. With all this in mind I decided to take a look at Bobbi Brown, learning all about the brand from their easy to use, interactive website.

The tools used to create my look

The first thing I found intriguing was that Bobbi still works as a make-artist, many of the looks on the catwalks at New York fashion week at her hands. Bobbi first set out to create her make-up range after being left disappointed that there was nothing on the market that gave natural results. Her philosophy is still the same, make-up should enhance your natural beauty and it should be easy to do! At the studio you can pick from a wide variety of make-up lessons all tailored to suit your needs be it eyebrow styling, teenage beauty, evening drama or make-up facelift. I opted for the 10 step lesson which is designed to let you be your own make-up artist, a natural fresh everyday look which is easy to do, yes please! Bobbi is still the driving force behind her brand, she loves to interact with customers and is passionate about social media she tweets constantly @justbobbibrown and writes her own blog ‘Everything Bobbi‘. As part of the new studio there is an interactive blog wall where you can read Bobbi’s latest updates and learn all about the brand (or sit your boyfriend in front of it out of the way whilst you get your make-up done, it will keep any gadget geek entertained for hours).

My face map

Through out the lesson my make-up artist Kelly explained all the products being used and how to use them. Armed with a hand mirror I was able to see how she was applying the products so I could easily do it myself at home. My face was primed with the most divinely scented cleanser ‘Hydrating face tonic’ and moisturiser/ primer ‘Vitamin enriched face base’, each of these packed with essential oils which made it feel like having a facial, I could get used to this on a daily basis. The ‘eye repair cream’ was used on my eyes to sooth and hydrate the area and prep it for eye make-up. The first part of the make-up was concealer, hiding any discoloration under the eye by counteracting the colour. I have to say this made the biggest difference to me, my eyes always give away how tired I am and I had previously only used YSL Touche Eclat which brightens the eye area but doesn’t cover or conceal. I had always thought concealer would be too heavy under the eye but the Bobbi Brown formula was ever so light. The concealer was set with a tiny dab of powder, again something I had previously thought a beauty no-no but I was proved wrong, my eyes looked so bright and perked up my whole face. I tried out the new ‘Long wear even finish’ foundation which really feels very light and fresh whilst brightening the face for a dewy glow. The foundation itself comes in a fantastic range of colours, I have trouble finding a good match being so pale but here I was only the second lightest, not an orange tint in sight, all set with a light dusting of face powder. My eyes were further enhanced with the new ‘Uber basic’s collection’ eye-shadows Stone as the paler sand colour and Dark Chocolate as the deep, shimmering brown. My brows were swept with ‘Mahogany’ shadow and defined to perfection. A pop┬á of rosy pink blush and a deep pink lipstick in Mod Pink with Sailor gloss topped off my look.

You will have to excuse the harsh lighting I took the reveal photo’s under, I did these when I got home and there was no natural light left. I did get my photo taken by Manchester based photographer Sven Eselgroth who was there to shoot the evenings events however so will share that one when I get the press release. The light is striping the warmth out of the pink lipstick and disguising the blush. But I do think you can see how perfect the finish is on my skin, it looks airbrushed. My favourite part of the look is how dramatic my eyes looked from the under eye concealer to the defined brows.

Am I am Bobbi Brown convert? Yes I am! Will I put my money where my mouth is? I certainly will, products I will be buying are the foundation, concealer and eye-brow taming shadow and brush. With winter coming too my skin will need all the help it can get so I would also like the cleanser and moisturiser. The price points? Most products are around the ┬ú20-30 mark, whilst not cheap I have never been one to scrimp on beauty. Whilst you can pick up cheaper brands for nail colours, eye shadow and lipstick I personally think it is worth going for higher quality where the essentials are concerned. I really liked the pigment rich eye shadows from the ‘Uber basics’ range too, I usually run a mile from glitter but this was more subtle yet still enough to make an impact. There are also some other Bobbi Brown products I would like to try out too such as the BB cream, Long wear gel eye liner and a wonderful turquoise blue eye shadow that caught my eye.

You can see more photo’s from the evening on in my Face Book album

Have you tried Bobbi Brown? What are your favourite products from the brand?

Events: Forever 21 Launch, Manchester

This morning I was invited to the Manchester launch of US store Forever 21. I first visited F21 when I was in the States, there seemed to be one in every mall and it was the go to place for a reasonably priced fashion hit. What I liked about it was that even though the prices were low the products were good, no direct runway rip just cool, trend led designs. I was also really impressed with the boutique feel of the store which I was pleased to see brought over to the UK, checker board tile floors and ornate tables stacked with jars of bright coloured accessories.

It seems I wasn’t the only one keen to check out the new store, as people camped out over night to be first in line, with a chance for the first 300 customers to receive a free surprise gift card – ┬ú10-┬ú200 up for grabs. By midday the check out queue snaked all around the store, proof that everyone was impressed with what they found. My top picks were the faux-leather and denim bustiers – perfect over shirts, a printed pair of orange and blue chunky heels and the stacks of costume jewellery, spiked bracelets and statement collars. I didn’t have time to joint the crazy queue but I will be returning soon to pick up a few pieces.

You can seem lots more in my  FaceBook Album! Forever 21 is also available online.

Have you been to Forever 21?

Events: Inside Live at Manchester Arndale

The Great British Summer trend

I mentioned the Inside Live event happening at Manchester Arndale earlier in the week and popped in today to get some shots of the action. The event brings to life the Inside magazine with huge pages showing all the latest trends and mannequins wearing the best of the collections. You can call in over the weekend to find out about all the hottest trends, have your hair and make up done. Then hit the shops with all the money off vouchers they have waiting for you. There are lots of competitions going ton too. Well worth a trip down there, they really have me in the mood for Summer now!

A customer gets a make-over from No 7

All the No 7 colours for this season

Charlotte, Fran and the style team on hand to help and showing how to work the Prints Charming Trend

Inside magazine and the discount vouchers from all your favourite stores

This Weeks Fashion Events in Manchester

For one weekend our spring/summer INSIDE magazine is coming to life!

Our team of fashion and style experts are taking over Exchange Court, outside Next with our pop-up shop 4-6 May. Bringing you all the latest looks and hottest trends straight from the pages of our INSIDE magazine.

Why not visit inside ÔÇÿLIVEÔÇÖ and get some top tips; whether it be our make-up experts giving a spring clean to your beauty bag, our style team advice on what to wear this summer, or our hair heroes transforming your hair into luscious locks, find out how you too can create the latest looks from head to toe.

As well as showing off all the sizzling summer trends, pick your favourite trend on the day, scan the QR code on the stand and youÔÇÖll be able to enter our competition and be in with a chance of winning the real thing! T&Cs apply

With lots more prizes and discounts from all your favourite retailers on offer over the three days, come down, and see whatÔÇÖs INSIDE the centre ÔÇô and youÔÇÖll find out how to look as fabulous as the models in our magazine!