Monthly Archives: January 2011

Zoya Edyta nail polish review

Seems someone at Zoya is a Dancing With The Stars fan… they managed to sneakily name their entire Wicked Collection after its dancers – and even one judge! Edyta, a rich mix of blackened moss green and olive gold, is one such shade.

It’s an elusive colour that pictures don’t really do justice to. On first sight, it reminded me of the rainbow of shimmering golds, blacks and greens in an oil slick. On first application, this changed to a nugget of fool’s gold (posh name: pyrite) I had when I was little – a muted murky shade of blackened burnished gold. Finally, in daylight, it becomes a luxuriously dazzling pine green, shot through with ripples of metallic glittering gunmetal (the colour I managed to capture for the photo below).

Edyta is fascinatingly complex and really rather unique. I did have some problems with the formula, finding it pooled in strange places and that the threads of glitter streaked in funny ways, and it’s extremely stubborn to remove but the pay-off is intense and intoxicating. Although I’m not really one to abide by seasonal rules for nail polish colours, I’d say this is definitely one shade too dark and rich for spring or summer, and indeed for daytime in general. Forget pastels and primroses, this is definitely one to vamp up too!

Somehow, it wouldn’t quite have the same level of exotic mystery if it was named after our own Arlene Philips, would it?!

Looks good with: dark colours, cloaks, the witching hour
Drying time: 10 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +7 days

Zoya Edyta nail polish, Fall 2009 Wicked Collection, $80, Cher2

Make-Up Miracles: Atorrege AD+ Medicated Acne Spots Treatment review

‘I had got so used to anti-blemish products drying out and tightening up my skin that I’d assumed it was the only way; Clinique proffered a gentler, kinder path that actually produced results.’

That was what I wrote about my last make-up miracle, Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Foaming Cleanser. Well, it seems that good spot treatments are like buses, as after a long dissatisfying wait, another amazing anti-blemish solution turned up as well! The next inductee into my make-up miracles hall of fame: Atorrege AD+ Medicated Acne Spots.

Yes, the English name makes no sense (it’s from Japan). But I promise that once you use it, everything will become crystal-clear. It’s unmitigatedly absolutely brilliant.

As opposed to Clinique’s cleanser, which is as much a preventative for acne-ridden skin as it is a cure, Atoregge’s treatment is best used for neutralising hostile takeovers from the little blighters. It comes in a highly professional looking glass bottle, complete with a glass dropper to dispense the serum-like essence. Basically, this stuff means business.

Atorrege’s translation skills aren’t perfect but given how few Japanese products get translated here (it seems to be a badge of honour for Japanese and Korean stuff to remain unintelligible), we should be thankful we’re getting a translation at all. It promises to eliminate inflammation, prevent acne, inhibit bacteria and lighten blemishes, by way of ingredients like witch hazel, lavender oil, chamomile, soy bean and bark extract from a tree traditionally used in Chinese medicine, huang bo (黄柏 or 黄檗, known as the Amur Cork tree in English).

This seems a fairly ambitious mission statement but Atorrege completely make good on their claims. The essence is a light transparent serum (somewhere between gel and liquid) that glides on and sinks in easily, with application extra-easy thanks to the super-hygienic dropper. Once you feel that familiar tingle signalling a spot invasion, simply rub in a few drops of the essence to the affected area. Unlike so many other treatments designed to zap away acne, it’s completely non-astringent, non-drying and non-stinging, making it absolutely perfect for sensitive skin.

Also unlike so many other treatments designed to zap away acne, it actually works! Your spot will be gone before you know it. It’s not allowed to ferment and become a raging angry red mountain or yellow-headed monster, instead fading away with barely a sigh of resignation. If you’re really lucky, said spot might even wave a white flag and retreat without even making a proper appearance!

My only proviso would be to apply sparingly – only a couple of drops really is enough. The essence includes a whitening ingredient, meaning that if you go overboard on an area that doesn’t need it, you can get a bit of strange pale patch on your skin (don’t worry too much if this does happen, it quickly goes away!). Since you only need so little (and depending on how often you get spots), one teeny 10ml bottle can even last out a year!

Quite simply, it’s the most effectively method at beating the little blighters I’ve met yet, but with none of the trauma of the evil old ways. And who can argue with that?

Atorrege AD+ Medicated Acne Spots, $220 for 10ml, available from selected Watsons

Hong Kong Banksy?

If you’ve been in Hong Kong longer than oooh… twelve hours (and that’s a conservative estimate), the sign on the right will be very familiar.

A symbol of Hong Kong’s ceaseless quest for construction, the apologetic workman usually appears overnight on a sign next to a hole in your road. Apparently the touching of helmet is a gesture of apology for the fact that real-life workmen will be ruining your daily bus journeys and attempts at lie-ins for the foreseeable future.

The piece on the left appears to be a clever riff on the sign, in one of Hong Kong’s few examples of graffiti. Adorned with a pair of devil horns and the slogan ‘Sorry we come again’, plus Hong Kong’s international dialling code (the cool kids’ slang for HK itself i.e. ‘Holla! I’m back in the 852!’), it’s hopefully intended as a witty and searing critique on HK’s interminable schedule of building work. Or something like that. What with the stylised stencil-look of the piece, could we have a Hong Kong Banksy on our hands?

If we do, it’s safe to say he ain’t responsible for the “artistry” displayed below.

Pity the poor tourist who asks his taxi driver to pick him up from ‘Stoned Nuttah Lane’ (it should read ‘Stone Nullah’ but they’ve done a quite convincing job). What’s the reckoning this was done by some oh-so-hilarious international school kid en route home from a wild night at Carnegies?

I think I know which type of graffiti I’d prefer.

Update: I think this is the work of Hong Kong street art collective Start From Zero!

Elementary, my dear Watsons: my epic quest for Gosh Cosmetics

If you have been following my blog since its infancy (…poor you!), then you’ll be familiar with the term ‘Treg’s Luck’, introduced in my early post about the beautiful Waterfall Bay and the numerous misfortunes that occurred as we looked for it. Check out the post itself for a more detailed explanation (and some lovely photos), but it basically boils down to Sod’s Law – anything that can go wrong for me, generally will. Especially if until now, everything had previously been ticking along far too well.

My quest to find a certain shade of Gosh nail polish is a case in point. By now, you’re all well aware how my indifference to nail varnish has bubbled up into a full-on obsession, helped along by the multitude of nail blogs sprawled across the Interwebz. Having spotted a particularly lovely Gosh lacquer on such a blog, I remembered seeing the brand sold in Watsons (think Superdrug, but not as good) so set out to claim a pot of glittery goodness for my own. Alas, none of the colours in the Tin Hau branch took my fancy.

Having stopped off at every Watsons on the way back home from Tin Hau, it transpired that Gosh Cosmetics were only sold at selected Watsons stores. Specifically, absolutely none near me. Most people would shrug, sigh and move on to bigger and better things. Unfortunately, I decided that the most important thing in my life from that moment was getting hold of Gosh nail varnish.

So my quest got more professional. I found their Facebook Page, which helpfully listed all the Watsons stores that stocked their cosmetics line. In Chinese.

I can’t read Canto. God bless those Gosh folk, they’d tackled their task with gusto, listing at least one hundred stores and my auntie would probably have a breakdown if I presented her with such an essay to translate. But things were looking up – my boyfriend understands certain characters and was able to pinpoint the section sub-titled ‘Hong Kong Island’ i.e. area where I live (and obvious best area in HK, fyi). Once he’d gone to sleep and was oblivious to my raging obsession being put in action, I painstakingly copied and pasted each string of characters of around twenty locations into Google, who showed a map of each possible destination.

‘The ones with the star next to them’

I was thus able to narrow my quest down to Wan Chai, in order to disguise my mania with a trip to Marks & Spencers Food. Wanting to double-check the exact locations of the stores, I presented my auntie with this small section of Wan Chai stores, asking her to translate ‘the ones with the star next to them’ (the asterisk denoted Gosh Cosmetics were sold there, as opposed to Skincare). I even pointed for good measure. My auntie confidently told me one was at some China Insurance Centre that I couldn’t figure out her directions for, the other the Hopewell Centre.

First, to M&S, which, true to form, had barely any of the items I wanted to buy (I should have spotted the Treg’s Luck warning signs from here). We then plodded from Gloucester Road all the way to Hopewell Centre on Queen’s Road East, where pots of glittery goodness would be waiting to be snapped up by yours truly. On arrival… no sign of Gosh Comsetics. Argh.

My boyfriend has 3G on his iPhone so I brought up the Facebook Page to show him. Even his limited grasp of Canto was enough to tell me that my auntie, in her infinite wisdom, had wonderfully managed to translate every location listed UNDER each asterisk. ARGH!

Not wanting a wasted trip, I picked up some other toiletries at Hopewell instead. On reaching the check-out, I was presented with a plastic bag bulging with random stuff as a free gift. Normally, people use the word random when they mean anything but. No really, this bag was random. I presume it was a clear-out of Christmas stock they couldn’t flog anymore. Then the saleslady decided my bag of free crap wasn’t quite complete… she wanted to include some cereal bars too. Alas, this involved authorisation from the manager, eating up a further five minutes. I eventually emerged from Hopewell Centre with: three packs of my pill (sadly, not free), box of yoghurt berry flavour CelebritySlim snack bars (impressively not even past their sell-by date), mini bottle of Listerine, red Garnier mobile phone case/purse, Olay sample, overnight CracKare moisturising patch (no… me neither), strange but cute fruit/alien shaped shower pouff and masses of pent-up annoyance at auntie.

Initially, my plan had been to catch a bus home from outside Hopewell. But now my determination to get Gosh nail polish had intensified further. Another location was Johnston Road, merely a street away. Off we went.

Bizarrely, the folk at Gosh aren’t too keen on divulging actual shop numbers on their list. Luckily, I used to work in Wan Chai so had some vague recollection of which Watsons they meant, or else we could have trotted down the wrong side of Johnston for who knows how long. On arrival at Johnston Road Watsons… a Gosh concession! Hurrah!

By now I wasn’t even bothered about the original colour I’d set out for and just wanted any nice nail polish to show for my efforts. I had a few back-up choices courtesy of those damned nail blogs… my boyfriend immediately noted that the space labelled with shade number ‘541’ was empty. I felt a familiar sinking feeling in my stomach as I used his 3G to Google it… yes, 541 was the very number of my next best back-up choice, Gasoline. Treg’s Luck strikes again.

I was weary, frustrated and all tregged-out, ready to admit defeat and head home. But my boyfriend knew that if we left now, I’d no doubt be horrifically annoying for hours/days/weeks on end, wondering if the other location (Hennessy Road) had my shades in stock. So on we marched, continuing to walk further back on ourselves and our ill-fated trip to Hopewell, including passing where we had started off in the first place.

This time, Gosh had given us a shop number: 205-207. Do I need to tell you that we found ourselves at the single-digit end of Hennessy?! We plodded on and got to the place we really should have gone to in the first place, where an amply-stocked display of Gosh Cosmetics awaited us… and, what’s this, plastered in red stickers offering 25% off!

Gasoline was there… so was Golden Dragon (another back-up favourite)… so I grabbed my booty. Horrors! A sales assistant starting removed the 25% off signs but, after some badgering, she reassured me I’d still receive my discount. By now, I was fielding calls from my auntie asking when I’d be home since some friends had arrived and would like to see me. So, of course, it was destined that I’d be served by an assistant who looked like Tubbs from The League Of Gentlemen and was mystified by the workings of her till and how to do 25% discounts. Fifteen minutes and three failed attempts later, I’d finally paid for my haul (receiving some no doubt erroneous further discounts along the way) and my lip-biting, hand-quivering mania was quelled. By now, I was so exhausted, flustered and late that I cancelled out all savings made by hailing a taxi home.

My hard-fought Gosh haul is pictured above and thank God, they are worth it (even more so at discount, reviews to follow). My auntie is using the phone case, I managed a fleeting hello to the friends as they left and Tubbs learnt how to use the till. Needless to say, I have since discovered that the original shade of polish I wanted has been discontinued and was probably never available in Hong Kong anyway. Treg’s Luck strikes again!

[Banner photo: Tim Ellis’ Flickr]

China Glaze IDK nail polish review

One of the more unexpected nail trends to emerge for Spring 2011 is the unstoppable rise of glitters. It seems nail varnish companies have (finally!) locked onto the fact that their most bling-tastic of polishes go down a treat all year round, as opposed to just with lashings of festive spirit. In China Glaze’s case, this has meant producing a twelve-strong collection of glittering gleaming finishes for their 2011 Tronica Collection… a task that probably didn’t require too much work as it basically entailed reproducing one of their much-loved and lusted-after sets, the OMG Collection.

Alas, as with most awesome things, the OMG Collection is now preceded by the word ‘discontinued’. Like your favourite ever lipstick shade, your favourite ever childhood chocolate bar or your favourite ever Disney movie, brands seem to just love stashing away the good stuff to cause much stamping of feet and gnashing of teeth all-round. I don’t think I’ve visited a nail varnish blog where the OMG Collection isn’t talked about with a reverence more befitting of the Holy Grail. And bizarrely, I lucked out on finding two such mystical polishes kicking around in the bargain bin at a little toiletries shop down a side-street in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Having now checked out OMG in its entirety online, I have come to the conclusion that I found the obvious best shades (!) – IDK and 2Nite (the worst thing about the set was that they were all named in txtspeak).

Strong sunlight vs shadows (click to enlarge)

IDK is a lovely dusty lavender, a colour I’d love even if it wasn’t for OMG’s special ingredient – a holographic finish. This basically means it shimmers and glimmers in a whole rainbow of colours, like those shiny silvery stickers you used to collect when you were a kid. You know, they had a whole special page in your sticker book and they were the most prized possessions for trading with friends. [So, given the barter value of holographic nail polishes, not much has changed!]

IDK was a joy to apply, even in its two year-old, mouldering on a lonely shelf state (note: not actually mouldering, merely separated pigments and an air of being unloved). Despite having read you shouldn’t apply it with a base coat, my Nail Tek II and I are never parted and I had no problems. Initially, it looked like it was going to streak and pool in strange formations, yet it dried rapidly to a beautiful smooth and even finish with just the one coat. I applied another coat for luck and we were good to go!

Before I wax lyrical about IDK’s many other magical properties, I’ll mention the only downsides. Like many other holographic nail polishes, it chips easily and without warning. Secondly, the formula feels very thin, meaning when it does chip, it flakes away with abandon, peeling off like thin parchment. But even with these negatives, IDK is SO worth it.

It’s an absolute dreamboat of a colour, reminiscent of how you imagined butterflies to be when you were little – actually glittering, a light pretty lilac, flashed through with rainbow sparkles in the sunlight. In short, it’s a total ‘wow’. And whilst some might say it’s flat and dull without the holographic effect (which really does only show up angled against natural light), I even love in its plain old alter-ego as a pale dusty purple. An unusual subtle shade that I’ve not managed to find sans glitter, it’s right up my street.

Think of me as Rio Pacheco, torn between love for both flashy glamorous Jem and more grown-up Jerrica on favourite-ever cartoon Jem & The Holograms – alas, also now discontinued. Sob.

Looks good with: florals, childhood wonder, definitely not just Christmas
Drying time: 1 min
Coats required: 1-2
Chips: 2 days

China Glaze IDK nail polish, Spring 2008 OMG Collection, $80

Red Carpet Rundown: Golden Globes 2011, Part IV

The final red carpet rundown from 2011’s Golden Globes (and let’s not dwell on how many times I’ve mistakenly typed Golden Gloves) is a collection snappily entitled: stuff I wanted to talk about but couldn’t fit anywhere else.

Emma Stone in Calvin Klein – As soon as I saw this dress, I knew it was Calvin Klen. Sleek, chic, minimalist – it’s basically Diane Kruger’s Met Ball dress in peach. It’s also from the same collection as Claire Danes’ Golden Globes dress but Danes is just a bit blah whereas Emma is obviously fun and sparkly and cool, meaning I’d rather dedicate 100 words to her instead. Plus, there is the whole blonde hair thing to discuss… Yes, it’s for a role and yes, her PRs can keep spinning the whole she’s a natural blonde thing but she was clearly meant to be a redhead. If it’s true that Judd Apatow was the one that made her do it for Superbad, then that’s easily the best thing he’s done since Knocked Up. Red makes her look fiery, sexy and unique; blonde makes her look like just another cookie-cutter dead-behind-the-eyes starlet (I’m looking at you, Kate Bosworth). However, the peach gown would definitely not have worked with red hair but with blonde, it looks deliciously cool, refreshing and somewhat edible, like a melon sorbet. It’s a more grown-up, refined look for Emma and she pretty much pulls it off. That gold clutch is rather yummy too.

Mandy Moore in Monique Lhullier – I’m glad Mandy Moore made the transition from pop star to actor, rather than being stuck in the post-Britney/Xtina hellhole that Jessica Simpson currently inhabits. Her rich chestnut brown hair is far more becoming than the bottle blonde of old and this ballgown is sweepingly sophisticated, in a knockout royal blue colour. The only thing I’m not keen on is the transparent asymmetrical yoke thing, which is just unnecessary and spoils the lines. Otherwise, it’s positively dreamy.

Megan Fox in custom-made Armani Prive – It’s nice to see Megan not going straight for the groin with this gown. We’re used to seeing her clad in vampy colours with dresses that stick to her like a second skin, so this delicate breath of romance was rather unexpected and much appreciated. I love the intricate lattice-like criss-crossing of the bodice and the soft palette of creamy shimmery pastel pinks but what’s up with Megan’s face? She looks as if she’s been embalmed and whoever did it lacked some serious skills. And as ever, that hideous Marilyn Monroe tattoo shows up to spoil the party once again.

Jane Fonda in Georges Hobeika – I really adore this dress. It’s black without being boring and Jane shows she still knows how to work it with the best of them. While it’s an inspired choice for the more mature woman offering that element of upper-arm coverage Mirren is always sporting, I think it would work just as well on someone younger and would be interested to see how that panned out. Either way, it’s classy, it’s sophisticated and just a little bit sexy too. Nice work, stylists!

Scarlett Johansson in Elie Saab – It’s a shimmering, romantic and oh so pretty dress beamed down direct from Cloud Nine. So, of course it’s by Elie Saab! It would be an astoundingly beautiful dress whether worn by fairy queen or evil troll so that’s not the issue… it’s Johansson’s bizarre Bride of Frankenstein hairdo. I’ll leave you to mull over this strange experiment in back-combing and toxic amounts of hairspray…

Oh, hello Robert Pattinson. I’m not sure how you got here… think of it as my treat to myself after 4000 words of Golden Globes coverage. See you at the Oscars.

Red Carpet Rundown: Golden Globes 2011, Part III

And now for the third section of my 2011 Golden Globes coverage entitled, ‘Ye God, My Eyes!’

Julianne Moore in Lanvin – A former favourite who has lost her way. Gone are the gorgeous jewel tones and classic elegance from pre-2009, instead replaced by an uncanny knack for choosing the worst gowns from various designers’ collections. This time, her obsession with Lanvin, its weird cuts and its bizarre sleeve policy rears its ugly head once more. The bubblegum pink isn’t terrible flattering for Julianne’s colouring, the creases have me itching to iron and the strange sleeve seems to have come from not just one different dress (possibly American quarterback-inspired?), but two! An unmitigated mess.

Halle Berry in Nina Ricci – Halle Berry is one of the most beautiful women in the world, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. But over the past year, no-one has been more alert to this fact than Halle Berry herself. It’s been permanently tight, short and bangers o clock round Halle’s place. Here, she’s turned up in her (slightly bondage-esque) underwear complete with fetish cuffs, with a sarong tucked around as an after-thought by Berry’s disproving Dr. Jekyll side. As such, it’s oddly unsexy and makes her look a little desperate.

Michelle Williams in Valentino – Michelle Williams used to get it red carpet right all the time. Remember that mustard yellow Oscars gown, widely regarded as one of the best of all-time?! Sadly, she lost her red carpet mojo when she had her hair cropped and bleached for her role as Marilyn Monroe, but where the hairdresser was mistakenly given a picture of Pat from Eastenders instead. It’s made her look old, dowdy and frumpy and she has started to dress accordingly, wearing stuff that you imagine grannies picking out as misguided presents for their recalcitrant relatives. This empire-line dress with an unfortunate case of boob-squeeze has managed the quite incredible trick of making her look both bottom and top-heavy. The print was last seen in the reduced aisle of tablecloths and shower curtains.

Helena Bonham-Carter in Vivienne Westwood – Oh, that Helena Bonham-Carter, she’s so ker-azy, isn’t she? So wacky, a one-off, a true British eccentric… isn’t it cool that she doesn’t care what everyone else thinks?! However, this ensemble makes me think she cares very much indeed. Wearing mismatched shoes that are actually the same shoe in different colours that both happen to match the tones of the dress make it look like someone has put rather too much effort into looking ker-azy, hence turning the look from breath of fresh air to contrived drama-school project. I actually like certain aspects of the dress – the neckline’s classic uber-flattering Westwood, although it looks like someone slashed it to death on its way to becoming a halter-neck – and the colours and the print are pretty. But it’s so obviously Westwood that it’s very nearly a pastiche and then she had to go and wear sunglasses too… if it takes you this long to look this silly, why not try looking great instead?

Christina Aguilera in Zuhair Murad – Christina’s red carpet run for Burlesque has been pretty poor, where she’s generally looked old, plastic, washed-up and like she doesn’t know what dress size she is anymore. She continues in this vein here, with her wig-like hair, overdone make-up and oddly plump face, serving up a definition of ‘sexy’ so hackneyed and obvious that even Martians with no concept of the word would be telling her to put it away. It looks like the sort of a thing a blousy Mae West wore in her 70s, that Miss Piggy would wear in an attempt to seduce Kermit and even her own tacky perfume bottle. None of those looks is a good thing, by the way.

Christina Hendricks in Romona Keveza – Christina Hendricks is famous for her boobs. In case you hadn’t realised this, she’s taken to sticking something oversize and attention-grabbing in the vicinity just to make it that little bit more obvious. Big red hair, big red flower, big red boobs. At least it’s an improvement on the baby falcon she sported last time. I feel like we’ve seen this all before and would like to see Christina switch up her style before it’s too late.

Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad and Marchesa – J. Lo specialises in playing the diva. There’s nothing too overblown for her – feathers, sequins, beading, animal print, bling, cleavage, bring it on! To be honest, tt feels like a role for show (I’d love it if she really sat at home in trackies eating ice-cream from the tub) and here are two of her latest incarnations at the ceremony itself and then for the after-party: most creative way to wear a wedding veil (as a poncho) and better-late-than-never audition for Black Swan. If she gave me an Amber Riley-sized grin, it would look like just bit a fun but she’s taking it all far too seriously for me to not think she just looks ridiculous.

Sandra Bullock in Jenny Packham – This dress is actually beautiful, a glimmering cobweb of loveliness that’s utterly delightful, uncontrived and perfectly-accessorised. The problems begin and end with Sandie’s facial area. The heavy blunt black fringe hangs over this feather-light confection like a black cloud of doom, Emily The Strange having an even worse day than usual. It’s one of those things women in their forties get told makes them look younger, when in fact all it does it make their face look the size of a postage stamp. Secondly, she looks so very sad. I understand why she might be feeling sad at how much has changed since last year’s Golden Globes, but no one wants to see Sandra Bullock sad, do they? It’s like kicking a kitten. It makes me feel sad and it probably makes the dress feel sad. Which is a shame as it really is a lovely dress.

Red Carpet Rundown: Golden Globes 2011, Part II

I didn’t actually watch the 2011 Golden Globes ceremony, but I wonder if there was ever a time that a Glee cast member wasn’t in shot during the red carpet coverage. The whole cast turned up for the ball, even down to Becki, the cheerleader with Downs’ (where art thou, Howard Bamboo?!) and they made a surprisingly strong showing style-wise.

Dianna Agron in J. Mendel – Dianna has been one of my favourite newcomers to the red carpet as she has an exquisite elegant Wasp-y style that I’ve really taken too. She manages to take classic shapes and structures but make them look fresh and young, with a ‘modern-day Grace Kelly’ feel about her (now just watch her crash and burn in 2011, like my previous darling Marion Cotillard did this year, for which I’m blaming the pregnancy hormones). This gown is no exception to her tried and tested formula – it’s a little safe but it’s so pretty and ethereal and suits her so well that I really don’t care. Her flawless old-school Hollywood hair and make-up lift it (even if she does like a porcelain doll you’d be scared of dropping) but then there’s the edgy grunge of the nail varnish. Divine.

Lea Michele in Oscar de la Renta – I’m glad Lea’s taken to smiling again on the red carpet, as there was a period where she went all J.Lo sexy-face on us. This pale pink confection has a romantic innocence about it and I love the cascade of ruffles and asymmetrical neckline. OK, it does look a bit like pink bed-sheets draped just so and the colour really does remind me of frilly old lady loo paper but it has a sort of sweet drama to it that is quite charming. And the choice of the contrasting turquoise ring is inspired.

Jayma Mays in Alberta Ferretti – I absolutely get the intentions behind this Art Deco-style dress and applaud them wholeheartedly. Yet, for me, it just doesn’t work. Firstly, Jayma is so perfect as the cardigan-wearing, colour-popping Emma Pilsbury and she seems so damn perky in real-life too that my mind can’t quite process this sudden drastic change in style. It’s not that it’s smouldering, it’s not that it’s black, it’s not even that it looks like it could have come out of Granny’s attic – all looks I feel that Jayma could have pulled off individually (and has done in the past) – it’s that it’s all happening at once and has been laid on thicker than a copy of The Yellow Pages. Too much, too soon, and that’s before we’ve covered the spider’s sneeze of eye make-up. However, I want that fan clutch bag very badly indeed.

Amber Riley in Oliver Tolentino – This is just fabulous. Silver is a great colour for Amber (I daresay this is the best she’s looked on the red carpet… ever) and it feels like proper, expensive, heavy silver rather than cheap spangly tat from Primark. The belt is a nice twist that makes the whole look more interesting, the one shoulder works surprisingly well (I’d feared major spillage and squeezage the other side) and most importantly, she looks super confident and genuinely happy. No Zoolander-pouting here and when you see how wonderfully a real smile sets off an outfit, you wonder why A-listers got so addicted to the Blue Steel in the first place.

Jane Lynch in Ali Rahimi – The top half is near perfection, a lovely unusual shape that’s supremely flattering. It loses its way towards the voluminous bin bag bottom, with random nipple tassles scattered about with abandon, but it’s neither tracksuit nor trouser suit and is therefore, a stroke of brilliance.

Jenna Ushkowitz in Rebecca Taylor – Another role reversal. This time, the bottom half is a rather lovely fluttering of tulle ruffles, the top half slightly cheap-looking diamante-encrusted satin. But the cornflower blue is a lush colour, all too rarely seen on the red carpet, and works a treat on Jenna.

Heather Morris in Lorena Sarbu – Another confident grin works wonders with what could have potentially been a one-note outfit. It’s relatively simple, letting the sparkles do most of the talking, but they’re facing competition from just how naturally sparkly Heather seems to be in person. Her body’s absolutely smoking too. Those short butterfly sleeves are just immensely flattering.

Harry Shum Jnr in Kill City suit and Anto shirt – What’s this, a man?! Men don’t really have much choice when it comes to the red carpet – it’s either conform to black tie or be mocked forever after. You can’t really go wrong with a plain black suit and they do often act as an instant elixir to a male’s attractiveness, so normally I’d advocate the sheep mentality. Here, however, Harry shows how to do it different but get it so so right. By keeping to the black-and-white palette, he doesn’t look too weird and wacky, and by bow tie-ing it up, he’s still the right side of formal. But the checked shirt is a masterstroke and the smallest detail (the black line detail behind the buttons) saves it from the clutches of the Topman masses. Effortlessly cool, just the right amount of quirky but still utterly swoonsome. Nicely played my twinkle-toed friend, nicely played indeed.

Naya Rivera in Douglas Hannant – It must be hard to be as intrinsically sexy as Naya. She’d probably make a nun’s habit look shaggable. January Jones was probably put out when she saw that someone else was showing almost as much boob as she was, but the sweetness of the blush colour and floral detail very nearly offset the banger effect. And then the figure-hugging va-va-voom nature of the dress kicks in and it’s a bit of a lost battle. But it was nice while it lasted. And she still looks very lovely.

More men! Have I lost my mind?!

Well, here we see where else trying to be different can land you. Darren Criss negates all the class of an expensive Armani suit by wearing cheapo stag night comedy glasses. I imagine he thinks it adds character, but only if the character you were aiming for is ‘twat’.

Kevin McHale very nearly gets different right, with this spotted suit jacket. However, it just veers a little too close to bad lounge singer, the type bashing away at a piano although no-one’s listening, with slicked-back hair, cheesy grin, a permanently sweaty brow and car salesman patter (I may have put too much thought into this image). Close but not quite (I liked it the first few views), I applaud the effort. * Insert obvious where’s the wheelchair joke here *

Justin Bieber – Brownie points for spotting the non-Glee cast member. Further brownie points for spotting the cardinal sin committed here, aside from having a face like a smacked arse. If sneakers aren’t good enough for a tacky nightclub in Newcastle, why would they be good enough for the Golden Globes?!

Red Carpet Rundown: Golden Globes 2011, Part I

You know awards show season is starting to hot up when there isn’t a Kardashian in sight.

The Golden Globes is usually one of my favourite red carpets of the year because of the intriguing intermingle between movie stars and TV actors. The former still have more prestigious ceremonies to come, often opting for more unusual, less safe outfits this time round but for the latter, it’s the glitziest and most glamorous awards show of their year and probably the pinnacle of their red carpet season. They tend to grab their moment in the international spotlight with big ballgowns, statement dresses and demeanour set to dazzle, especially given the unpredictable nature of American television networks, which means they might not be around to enjoy it the year after.

Having said that, I was a little disappointed with 2011’s Golden Globes. There was a little too much beige and blah happening, some of my usual favourites have seemingly lost their red carpet marbles and finding nine unmitigated favourites to write for this first post was tricky. Here goes anyway…

Green Goddesses

The most noteworthy trend for this red carpet was green, a bright bold choice for stars who definitely didn’t want to go under the radar. Thank God.

Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace – I was beginning to wonder if the world’s most famous vampire found wearing colour as scary as wooden stakes and garlic. Had Angie’s clothes all gone in the wash with a rogue black sock of Brad’s? Thankfully, this stunning emerald green number proved this wasn’t the case. It’s sparkly, it’s flattering, it’s elegant and it takes absolutely years off her. A simple (even dowdy) shape made stunning through a bold colour choice. Angelina looks positively invigorated and this is the best she’s looked in ages. Can you guess that I approve?

Catherine Zeta-Jones in Monique Lhullier – This sweeping ballgown has had a Marmite effect across the Interwebz but I love it. I love the classic shape, the kind of dress CZJ was surely born to wear. I love the colour, a deep forest green that complements CZJ’s porcelain skin and dark hair perfectly. And I love the attitude, the big ostentatious chandelier earrings, which just totally work with this big ostentatious dress, which just totally works with CZJ’s diva persona. The brocade-style texture is a bit much – making the dress sit somewhere between a roll of turf and Scarlett O Hara’s curtains – but I’m willing to let it slide for the overall effect. She looks like the star she’s never quite lived up to being.

Mila Kunis in Vera Wang – After watching Kunis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I was all ready to elevate her to coveted ‘girl crush’ status, alongside my all-time fave, Rachel Bilson. Unfortunately, unlike Bilson, who looks absolutely adorable both on and off red carpets, Kunis has racked up appearance after appearance of screen-smashing mediocrity for her promo tour of Black Swan. Seems someone had read one too many Angie vs Jen style showdowns, as she was either clad in boring blacks or even more boring beiges (see here for exhaustive evidence). Thankfully, just as Jolie woke up to the world of Technicolour, so did Kunis – alas, the pair of them picking the exact same shade of the rainbow. Jolie steals Kunis’ thunder but there’s still plenty to recommend this dress. There’s something a little crepe paper-esque about the texture but it gives the whole thing a lovely fluidity and the emerald green complements Kunis’ colouring perfectly. More of the same please, Mila!

Other Loves

Anne Hathaway in Armani Prive – Just when you thought there wasn’t a princess dress Annie would turn down, she does a style 180 on us all. A modern shape (well, if by modern, we mean Dynasty rather than Regency inspired), an edgy colour (bronze rather than gold) and even a little bit of sex (unlike Jolie’s similar style, this had a cutout back, albeit with severely unsexy nude material covering the back). She looks stunning – from the front anyway.

Olivia Wilde in Marchesa – Wilde is still scrambling up the tv to film transitional wall, which I think explains her all-out double-or-nothing bling-tastic ballgown, in a year where these big pouffs of romanticism were mostly left on the stylists’ racks. She looks like a princess. I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me the gown was magical – it’s the kind of dress that makes you believe. It’s like someone draped the night sky (you know, when it still had stars in it) over Wilde’s body, fluffed it up, then sprinkled some additional fairy dust for good measure. And let’s just have a moment for her bewitching Louboutins, presented in all their gold glittering glory below.

* Dramatic pause, longing sigh * OK, on we go…

Jennifer Lawrence in Louis Vuitton – The first time I saw this dress, I loved it a lot more than I do now. It’s flamenco flouncy, it’s romantic ruffly and it has those wide straps that I loved so much from that whole 50s-inspired Vuitton collection (see Rachel Bilson and Maggie Gyllenhaal). However, it is essentially pretty papier-mâché and as such, reminds me of this dress on Veronica Mars, whilst also looking like something Dolly Parton might have worn in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Oh well, we’ll always have my love at first sight to remember, Jennifer…

Some Slightly Half-Hearted Love

January Jones in Versace – This is doing the reverse Jennifer Lawrence on me. I’m sure that at least half of the population aren’t even aware she’s wearing a dress at all but I think this is one of those times that January’s edgy ‘I’m not Betty really!’ style has really worked. The fascinating cut-out details of the top makes it look like someone turned a superhero outfit into a red carpet dress, the fringing of the bottom suggests it was at the height of the 1920s that they decided to do so and the scintillating vermillion suggests they were going for the pure sex jugular in the process. We’ve seen January channel her inner bizarre superhero before with disastrous results but this a super-sexy superhero I could get on board with. Hell, it’s more convincing than her look in the new X-Men movie. Her classic hair and make-up, meanwhile, is flawless.

Amy Adams in Marchesa – That this gown was a Marchesa was a no-brainer. Interesting structure, highly romantic, hugely flattering – all the typical trademarks of the best Marchesa gowns. Alas, it’s all a bit Marchesa by numbers, meaning I feel like I’ve seen it all before even if I haven’t. I do still like the gown, certainly wouldn’t kick it out my wardrobe given the chance and there’s no doubt that these rich jewel tones complement Amy’s colouring nicely (they match her eyes perfectly!) but it’s just lacking a bit of spark and dynamism. Which is how I feel about Amy Adams in general recently. She needs a trip back to Andalasia stat. Here’s hoping the Muppets fix her red carpet mojo.

Leighton Meester in Burberry Prorsum – This is growing on me, in the manner of some murky fungus rather than a pretty flower. I feel that filming Country Strong may have infected B’s mind, as this does have a hint of country pilgrim feel to it. Like she should be in Big Love. That being said, it’s striking just because it’s so different from everything else that night and she’s still blinging it up via sandals, earrings and gold inkpot-looking bag. The beautiful hair, soft make-up and Leighton’s dreamy expression also make the whole look feel fresh and rather lovely, as opposed to Mormon and dowdy. Queen B’s selling it and I’m just about buying.

Barbie: still the Best

Obviously, if I had known about this calendar instead, Heiner Meyer would be sitting gathering dust in a bookshop in Hong Kong.

For those of you too lazy to click the link, the coveted calendar in question is a Barbie one. No, wait, come back! Not just any old Barbie calendar but one featuring gorgeous fashion sketches of everyone’s favourite blonde bimbo. Except she’s not always blonde and her outfits are way too classy for anyone to be calling her the b-word. [Banner picture: 50th Anniversary Glamour and Generation Of Dreams Barbies – the latter’s skirt is a collage of images of Barbie throughout her fifty years.]

My absolute favourite – The Artist. Totally my colours, totally my style… If only I could look this good in a beret!

They’re by Robert Best, a former Project Runway contestant, who has been designing outfits for Barbara Millicent Roberts for the past 15 years. He is the main designer behind the highly coveted Silkstone Collection (also known as the Fashion Model Collection), which use the retro face, hair and make-up style of the original 1960s dolls, and the occasional special edition Barbie, like those in the banner picture, too. The beautiful couture outfits and attention-to-detail are amazing – these certainly aren’t dolls for practising your hair-cutting and decapitation skills on!

Violette & Tribute Barbie (celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Silkstone Collection)

I am absolutely head over heels for these sketches. I tend to love the style of  girlie fashion sketches anyway but these are even more stunning than most. Firstly, the clothes are amazing and the detail is exquisite. You can feel every ruffle, see every flower. The sense of movement, texture and weight created by just pencil and watercolour (I think!) is astounding. We’re not just talking about the dresses though – it goes as far as fabrics, shoes, hair accessories, jewellery and just about everything else you could think of. Everything just goes together so wonderfully. I want Barbie’s wardrobe!

Second favourite – Market Day Barbie. Love the colours, love the flowers, love the eyeshadow!

Secondly, lots of fashion illustrations skimp on the face, often omitting eyes, nose and mouth all together. Not Best. As you can see from some of the gorgeous close-ups, there’s more expression going on in some of these sketches than in Nicole Kidman’s last few acting roles. A tilt of the head here, a seductive pout of the lips there, a sultry sweep of the eyes – these drawings give a better modelling masterclass than Tyra herself! I love how he even does matching eyeshadow too – Best does a better smoky eye than me!

I do have some history with Barbie (my parents were beginning to despair of the sight of her when I was ordering collectible ones on a near weekly basis from Ebay) but she has literally never looked better than when drawn with Best’s pencil. It’s something about the perfect slant of the eyes and the way their hair falls just so. In fact, I think most of the drawings look prettier than the dolls themselves and I’ve thrown in a few like-for-like comparisons for you to make up your own minds!

The Siren – drawing vs doll comparison

Finally, there’s just some magic about them. The below sketches of Hollywood Honey and Red Hot Review (“On The Set”) best epitomise how evocative Best’s work is; you just know these are glamorous divas from the Golden Age of Hollywood, with just a few strokes of the pencil. All of these sketches feel like they’re from some other time but without looking old and dated, settling for supremely classy and elegant instead.

I think I’ve banged on enough. All of these pictures are taken from mawphoto.com’s excellent Flickr set ‘Robert Best Illustrations’, where there are hundreds more drawings for your viewing pleasure. You could be a cheapo and frame pictures from the calendar once 2011 is over but if you can’t wait that long, you can buy framed limited edition prints here and here. Now I’ll try and keep schtum whilst you enjoy the rest of these beauties and remember to click for enlargements – it’s worth it!

Third favourite. This is getting silly now…

Delphine (the first proper Silkstone Barbie) from a sketchier drawing to a more polished one. This dress reminds me of the one Grace Kelly won her Oscar in.

Parisienne Pretty drawing vs doll, round 2. I want these shoes!

Haut Monde; Southern Belle

Garden Party & Barbie as Betty Draper from Mad Men (I can totally see Betty working the other look too!)

Secretary; Tout de Suite; Nurse. I really love how stylised all these looks are (and does anyone else think sexy Nurse looks a little Chinese?!)

Black Enchantment – this dress with Parisienne Pretty’s shoes. Please?!

Fashion Editor, Showgirl, Fashion Designer

Stolen Magic, In The Pink (hello Liz Taylor!), Stealing The Spotlight

Capucine in 3 ways

Congrats! You made it to the end of my most picture-heavy, time-consuming post since the Qi Pao. You have my permission to eat a chocolate digestive as reward.