Beyond the Pale

Modern Fairytales: The Whimsical Art of Chiara Santillozzi
September 26, 2012, 6:02 pm
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Ever the head-in-the-clouds romantic, I always fall for modern portrayals of Fairytale or mythological themes, so am quite naturally head-over-heels in love having discovered the work of Dublin based Italian artist, Chiara Santillozzi.


There is something to particularly admire in artists who convey characters while still retaining a modern simplicity, I think. That clean sweep of a brush or bold line can say so much in the right hands.


I especially like her use of mainly black and white with a great swathe of perhaps one vivid colour bringing the picture to life.


She really manages to capture personality, don’t you think? I really love this portrait of Frida Kahlo, proving that she’s equally able to portray people in the real world, as well as fantasy figures. Her work manages to be both gently humorous while poignant and completely conveys the mood of each scene or person within it.


They all look like they could be the illustrations from a lost book of Fairytales, I love them all and would certainly like to have some gracing my home. They truly are stunning, and at under £11 for an A4 print, I think they’re absolute bargains, too!


I definitely think this artist should be snapped up for all sorts of book covers and immediately commissioned to illustrate new additions of Angela Carter’s entire back catalogue, don’t you agree?


Chiara, though born in Italy and living in Dublin, has traversed afar, having also made her home in Venice and Japan. I really think she is very talented indeed, and am sure you’ll agree. You can see the work currently available in her online shop, Makissima.


Top Ten ‘Can’t Live Without’ Beauty Products I Swear By: #6 Posy Glow by Pink Quartz Minerals
August 17, 2012, 4:29 pm
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#6 Posy Glow by Pink Quartz Minerals

I long lived with the belief that bronzers/glows were only really for those strange, orange people (Z List ‘Celebrities’, Donald Trump, Christina Aguilera and other Oompa Loompa-alikes) who craved a product to desperately rub over their faces should a hint of natural coloured skin threaten to break through their carrot-tinged visage.


That was until I found Pink Quartz Minerals and fell in love with their Posy Glow.


It’s more of a gently blushed highlighter, really, and gives a hint of tenderly sun-kissed healthiness rather than attempting to look as if you fell into a vat of something you’d use to seal a fence.


As a semi-rehabilitated goth who still breaks out in a heat rash within seconds of glancing at the sun, I do need a bit of help bringing a bit of colour to my complexion. I generally wake up looking like something a cat coughed up, frequently suffering with insomnia and considering 5 hours unbroken sleep to be a luxurious night’s rest; therefore this doesn’t so much bronze me as infuse a sensation of life back into my face!


Many bronzers in days of yore suffered from a kind of Disco Fever, with their makers believing that you desired nothing more than to look as though you’d covered your face in glue before hurling yourself to the floor and rolling around in a mixture of Wotsits* and glitter. Perhaps you’re find of this look, dear readers, and should be receiving counselling, but it’s far more flattering to use a product like this, with the merest hint of a shimmer: Sophisticated Face v Basket Case.


I’m a big fan of mineral makeup and have tried many brands, big and small, but this is my favourite bronzing/glowing product for fair complexions I’ve tried so far. It’s well priced and lasts for ages, too. There’s a vast selection of blushes and bronzers to try in this range, so maybe pick a few and try the excellent sampling service to see which ones suit your skin tone best!

*[Cheetos for our Colonial chums; or any cheese-flavoured snack product will do].

Top Ten ‘Can’t Live Without’ Beauty Products I Swear By: #5 Tweezerman Tweezers
August 8, 2012, 11:18 pm
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#5 Tweezerman Slant Tweezers. For anyone who has spent time doubled up at unnatural angles, swearing at a reflection of themselves in the bathroom mirror as they ineffectively stab at their eyebrows with a pair of tweezers that couldn’t pull a candle from a cupcake… these, my friends, are for you.


I thought all tweezers were pretty much the same, some with fancy designs which you paid more for. I used to scoff at people who purchased these. Fancy paying over £10 for a pair of tweezers, I thought. What fools! I was utterly, completely wrong. Cheap tweezers are like cheap knives: they tend to be blunt, badly made and rarely do the job you want them to. Tweezerman offer a free sharpening service to keep your tweezers in tip top condition and are also covered by a guarantee. I can usually waffle on for England, but there simply isn’t much else to say, except do yourself a favour and invest in a pair!

Top Ten ‘Can’t Live Without’ Beauty Products I Swear By: #4 Jemma Kidd I-Perfector Prep & Brighten
August 5, 2012, 11:41 pm
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“I don’t like Mondays” Bob Geldof famously sang, and one got the feeling that it was but the start of a very long list of Things he didn’t Like. I wholeheartedly concur with the sentiment, though, and I think most of us would agree that we may need some extra help on Monday mornings.


Step forward the best kept secret in the beauty business – Jemma Kidd’s Makeup School range, a supreme collection of products I’ve fallen in love with and could have chosen many items from for this Top Ten series. Having been a top model for many years, Jemma has had all manner of brands smeared over her face, but was inspired to create her own because she’d never found the one perfect example of what she was looking for.


This isn’t some vanity project, it’s the real deal – I’ve stumped up the cash and tried these products for myself and can honestly say they are fantastic. My ultimate must-have, without a doubt, is the I-Perfector Prep & Brighten Duo (phew, bit of a mouthful!)


I could waffle on about the fantastic one-swipe crayon end that conceals redness, discolouration and acts as the perfect eyeshadow base, and the genius flesh-coloured inner-eye liner end for instantly popping open your peepers; but in a nutshell: it MAKES YOU LOOK ALIVE! No, honestly, it really does. I’d post a before and after version of myself, but I’d be reported for including Offensive Content.

This is the perfect weapon to banish tired, red [shhhhungovershhhhh] Monday morning eyes, and the flesh tone eyeliner is a revelation. No more white-eyeliner 1980’s flashbacks (because really, ladies, that doesn’t make you look as though your eyes are bigger/whiter, it makes you look as though you’ve gone crazy with a pot of Tippex). You can use this all around the eye area, it’s anti-ageing, waterproof, long lasting and contains vitamins C & E for further soothing properties. What’s not to love? Get it, try it, thank me later. Mine’ll be a Gin & Tonic. You’re welcome.

Where Liberty [print] is, there is my country…

“Where Liberty [print] is, there is my country.” – Slightly adapted from a quote by Benjamin Franklin.


One is supposed to harbour a seething hatred of the monstrosities one is forcibly dressed in as a child, though it’s easier to live with when your mother was a fashion buyer, I suppose, and therefore seemed to escape the deepest realms of hideousness that several of my contemporaries endured while growing up in the 1970’s.

– Page from the Liberty Book of Home Sewing.

One of my favourite items of clothing as a child was a Liberty Print pinafore dress, which had puffed ‘leg o’mutton’ Victorian style sleeves. As I rather fancied myself a Victorian Urchin at the time (one of my favourite games, being already obsessed with the era, though perhaps for authenticity’s sake, urchins of any era tend not to have access to legally obtained items from Liberties of London); it quickly became my most beloved dress. I still have a hankering for most things Liberty Print, and I especially like the way many contemporary designers and clothing brands have incorporated the prints into their ranges.


I just adore everything about this satchel by Dr. Martens, featuring the iconic Strawberry Thief print. It’s a design classic and VERY much on my Want List.


Again by Dr. Martens, these floral Liberty Print boots take me right back to my days as an English student, swishing about the bluebell woods in long skirts, flower pattern DM’s, white shirts, pinstripe waistcoats and a huge silver fob watch I worse on a long silver chain around my neck. I was obviously a neo-Steampunk. ;P


I’m not generally a fan of trainers, but would definitely wear these beautiful Nike ones, exclusive to Liberties. They manage to be pretty without being twee or reminiscent of the kind of trainers that sports brands bring out imagining all women want to look like Barbie while playing sport/working out. Or at any other time. I don’t require everything to be pink just because I’m female, thank you, because I’m no longer 4 years old – and I didn’t much like it then, either. I can feel my Disposable Razors Aimed At Women rant coming on, so shall gloss over the topic and move swiftly on.


Talking of trainers, Nike have designed a pair of their Zoom Victory Elite trainers exclusively for Team GB Olympic hopeful, Perri Shakes-Drayton, who’ll be proudly wearing them for her 400m hurdle event on Sunday. Combining ultra-modern design with a striking heritage ‘Mirabelle’ print first introduced in the 1960’s by Liberty, they form part of an ongoing collaboration between the companies that goes from strength to strength. I’m always drawn to the designs that happily mix the the old with the new, and the work Nike and Dr. Martens are doing with Liberty is an outstanding example of how it should be done. Bravo!

“Life without Liberty [print] is like a body without spirit.” – Slightly adapted from a quote by Khalil Gibran.

Top Ten ‘Can’t Live Without’ Beauty Products I Swear By: #3 Ultrasun Glimmer
August 3, 2012, 10:05 am
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Q. What should you always remember to wear when exposing your skin to the sun? Apart from a top hat, of course…

A. #3 Ultrasun Glimmer 20. This is my favourite product, but I highly recommend all the Ultrasun range, really. As someone with sensitive skin and a tendency to break out in prickly heat while merely peeping out the window at the sunshine, I do struggle to find sun protection products that don’t actually aggravate the problem rather than helping. Most of them still seem obsessed with making us smell of coconut (not my favourite smell at any time) or leaving you slicked up like a vein-straining body builder. Hardly attractive.


The Ultrasun range is especially for highly sensitive skin, sinks in easily and – oh glorious rapture – only needs to be applied ONCE a day, and is waterproof to boot. Usually I wear a far higher factor in the summer, but this shimmer is just beautiful and really makes your skin glow. It’s noticeable but not tacky – you look as though you’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust rather than dipped in a pot of glitter. In fact, I tend to use this as a kind of highlighting body lotion rather than for the sun protection factor alone – it looks amazing when smoothed over the décolleté.

“Oh no! I forgot the Ultrasun!” [Still taken from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane]

The chap is a big fan of the Sports Spray in this range, which is completely clear and is spritzed onto the skin in seconds. And it doesn’t have glitter it, which I think is a shame, but the chap is quite relieved about.

Top Ten ‘Can’t Live Without’ Beauty Products I Swear By: #2
August 1, 2012, 8:46 am
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[Ginette Leclerc in Le Corbeau, directed by GH Clouzot, 1943]

The image of a woman painting her nails has often been used in films, glossy magazines et al to denote a glamourous, sexy vamp readying herself to trap a man. Often pictured in a boudoir, or atop a satin bed sheet draped in a froth of lace, ostrich feathers and silk (as, you know, all women are), it is a scene that crumbles at the edges somewhat when held up to the cold hard light of Reality.

The awful truth, dear readers, is that I am generally not draped in ostrich feathers or languorously reclining on a satin-topped bed while I paint my nails. No. Generally I am stuffing a piece of toast into my mouth as I attempt to find my door keys and find a matching shoe to the one I’m desperately hobbling around the room in as I try to get ready for work/to go out, all the while slathering a hasty coat of whatever nail varnish was nearest to me at the time I so wisely decided that NOW would be a great time to re-paint my nails. I never learn.

Step forward my saviour…

#2 Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat. Another must have – yes, it’s more costly than many top coats you can get in supermarkets and such like, but I’ve tried practically all of those and found them lacklustre in almost every respect. I’d seen this reviewed in so many magazines and it’s won oodles of awards, but still I resisted, because to tell the truth, it’s just not that exciting, is it?

A fabulous lipstick or a divine smelling perfume I can work myself into a lather for, but a clear nail varnish? Nah. Until my fiancé tired of hearing me withering on about it and (bless his heart) purchased a bottle for me to put in my Christmas stocking. The first thing to note is how incredibly thick and gloopy it is – completely different to anything else I’d tried. They suggest you put it on top of nail varnish that’s still wet – another point of difference – and when they say it dries fast, my god do they mean it!

From application, it’s sealed and dry to the touch in well under a minute. It makes your colour pop like nothing else and is fantastic at protecting nail art/textured effects. If there were a top coat that did the same job at half the price, I’d buy it, but there isn’t (unless you tell me otherwise), so I use this.

My fiancé loves it because it means he doesn’t have to wait (quite) as long for me to get ready & I’m far less likely to scream “Oh for GOD’S SAKE, now I’ll have to do them all AGAIN!” as I think my nails are dry but discover they aren’t quite, as I pull my hand from my bag/pocket/brushing my hair to find them all smudged. He’d probably buy me another bottle if it were three times the cost, to be honest. It’s a good investment.