Monthly Archives: May 2011

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, Wedding Fever

It seems even A-Listers weren’t immune from Royal Wedding fever, as several turned up at the Met Gala 2011 in gowns fit for a princess bride. And if it wasn’t fit for the bride, then it was fit for a bridesmaid (£1 wiggly worm optional), a guest (nut job headpiece included) or just a princess in general…

Chanel Iman in Dolce & Gabanna – Chanel was one of my favourites at this event, I just adore this dress. Who says white lace can’t be classy? It’s so pretty and lady-like but Chanel, despite the prim and proper chignon, is giving it so much oomph that it’s pretty damn sexy too. I can’t believe this is the same chick who rocked a gold lamé jumpsuit at last year’s Met Ball – talk about a style chameleon! This is a dress that would look fresh as a daisy all night long, whatever the decade. LOVE.

Miranda Kerr in Marchesa – Marchesa dresses always run the fine line between being amazingly beautiful red carpet gowns and amazingly beautiful bridal-wear; here’s yet another example. Admittedly, this is more funky bride working a ballerina/Tinkerbell vibe (helloooo awesome Nicholas Kirkwood shoes!) but Miranda’s got the youth, beauty and husband handsome enough to make it look cute and exuberant rather than sad and desperate. I imagine someone trod on her shoe or put out a cigarette on her skirt as there’s just too much prettiness going on here!

Jessica Alba in Ralph Lauren – Just like Kate Hudson before her, this also has the whiff of ‘pregnant lady getting married’. However, whereas Hudson’s at least seemed to have the various component parts of a whole dress, Alba’s just looks like a giant wedding veil.

Jennifer Hudson in Vera Wang – Jennifer’s devoted a significant amount of time recently to showing off her new bod, meaning lots of tight short form-fitting dresses, so it’s nice to see a more floaty princess look. And if you’re looking for floaty princess looks, you can’t really go wrong with Vera Wang! This is basically a wedding dress with a light grey overlay; alternatively, it’s basically Mila Kunis’ gown from last year’s Met Gala but with all the crazy embellishments ripped off. Either way, it’s still very pretty and Jennifer looks lovely.

Fergie in Marchesa – I chose this picture because Fergie just looks so cute and happy! However, this is just WAY too bridal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fergie struck a deal with some paps so she could take home some snaps, as she’s gone off the ones from her real wedding. An abundance of froth and lace, a big train, a man in a suit AND a headdress?! Too much, Fergie Ferg, too much.

Lily Donaldson in Erdem – She’s here mainly because her dress is lace and yes, it’s blue lace and it has a Peter Pan collar and it’s actually kind of see-through so it would never work as a wedding dress at all, apart from for those fashion-y types who are too cool for school and would probably wear Gaga’s meat dress for their big day given the chance. I admit to a bit of a style blind spot as far as Erdem is concerned because I tend to just blindly love all his designs because ooooh… aren’t they just so pretty?! And yes, this one is see-through and a bit Grandma’s tablecloth and I can see Lily’s sports bra but ooooh… isn’t it just so pretty?!


Serena Williams in Oscar de la Renta – Here’s where things veer into bridezilla territory. Was Serena sat at home, weeping copiously whilst watching Prince William saying his vows, screaming ‘It should have been me!!!’?! This feather explosion looks as if she said ‘Screw it, I’m just gonna wear the wedding dress I secretly hid at the back of my wardrobe years ago before the moths get to it’; the hideous fascinator says ‘Where the hell was my invite? I still could have changed his mind!’ Jokes aside, this kind of twee pretty stuff just doesn’t work for Serena; she needs to bring the fierce and I’m not sure anyone can ever do that whilst wearing a fascinator. Ever.

Demi Moore in Prabal Gurung – Another disappointed would-be Royal Wedding guest – just because you dyed it black doesn’t mean we don’t know your game, Demi! Black, white, purple with green spots… I honestly doubt there’s a colour that exists yet that would make this dress look good. Not only is it moulting down below, but there’s a parasitic sea anemone sprouting from her breast; meanwhile, the fascinator was rescued from a long-defunct cabaret show. It’s like Demi has been holding in this insanity for so long with all her tasteful flattering dresses all year and has just had a complete meltdown. Which makes it sort of amazing. That’s the Met Ball for you!

Rumer Willis in Badgley Mischka – Meanwhile, Demi’s daughter did an even better job at hiding her Royal Wedding guest-list aspirations. Seeing how ridiculous Mummy and Serena looked, she hastily pinned her fascinator onto one side of her dress instead! I actually think this dress is rather awesome, the detailing all over the gown looks like pieces of stained glass or a not very well fitted together mosaic, but in a good way. On any other night, this dress would be a show-stealer but sadly, because it’s boring black and she’s only Rumer Willis, it got lost in a fug of outrageous fashion statements, huge trains and crazy people wearing fascinators.

Dakota Fanning in Valentino –I don’t know if this dress could get any prettier unless fairies floated around it at all times. Can you imagine how cute this would be shrunk to miniature for little bridesmaids or flower-girls?! Adorable! However, I’m not impressed with Dakota’s make-up, which is so barely-there that it’s not at all. I do think neutral was the right way to go but it hasn’t been executed well; she looks pale and shiny rather than dewy and glowing. Her hair also has no style to it whatsoever – how about romantic waves or a classy up-do? At least we’re reminded that Dakota is still actually in her teens, as she looked scarily adult all dolled-up in The Runaways, but I find myself swooning over the dress and regarding her face as an afterthought.

Jessica Stam in Tommy Hilfiger – This pretty blush number would also be simple enough to look sweet on a bridesmaid, although it’s stunning enough to work as the main number too. Although there were far too many beige gowns going on at this event, this is just a winsomely gorgeous dress, being sold beautifully by Stam. Note the flawless makeup and the lovely half-up half-down hair, Dakota!

Ashley Greene in Donna Karan – And so we continue our tour round Switzerland i.e. the neutral zone. This is a big pouffy princess number, designed for waltzing round in Disney castles, and there’s no doubt that Ashley looks exquisite – I love how the earrings bring out the silver detailing and how a simple up-do stops it all from being overkill. But every time I look at it, I’m reminded of Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lopez doing the same look last year and absolutely slaying it in their respective princess and diva ways. As yet, Ashley just doesn’t have the star quality to make this any more than an absolutely breath-taking dress on legs.

Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera – Yes, this is a picture of Renee’s back. That’s because it was a whole lot more interesting than the front, which honestly could have been mistaken for slightly cobwebby looking skin. I just love the shape here – the plunging back, the sprinkle of silver fairy dust, the trailing train. Or perhaps I’m just won over by the composition of the photo – a moment of stillness and serenity amidst a scrum of screaming paparazzi. Even so, what does this say about Renee’s face that I’d rather stare at picture’s of her back?! [Incidentally, I read some amazing guff that the plunging back was inspired by McQueen’s low-slung, butt-grazing jeans. Well, OK Carolina, if you say so…]

Maggie Q in Tadashi Shoji – I frigging love Maggie Q and her kickass ways. My enjoyment of Nikita is entirely based around her being her badass self, breaking things, beating people up and blowing stuff up, all with just one swish of that glossy mane of hair. So this dreamy romantic concoction is a change of scene from her usual slinky sexy ways. The dress is gorgeous, a tumbling cascade of roses, and bar a little heavy-handedness with the eye make-up, Maggie’s pretty gorgeous herself. (Please click for an enlargement, Maggie will shoot you if you don’t look at her pretty up-close)

Emma Stone in Lanvin – Finally we come to the wedding guest section i.e. an excuse for me to shoehorn florals into this post. Since Emma’s dress looks neither like a tablecloth, curtains nor wallpaper, we can conclude that it is a reasonable successful take on a floral dress. I absolutely love how big and bold the print is, while the monochrome palette prevents it from looking too big and bold and the cut is doing all sorts of sexy things to Emma’s figure. Yes, the hair is still blonde and seems to be getting even blonder out of spite to all us non-believers but that pop of pink lipstick is an inspired touch.

Sofia Vergara in Carolina Herrera – You all know I’ve been critical of Sofia ‘va va voom’ Vergara in the past and what do you know, she looks reassuringly lushly gorgeous once she puts the armoury away, back to the chest area where they belong as opposed to somewhere near her eyeline. This is a simple silhouette that works entirely because of the floral embroidery (even if it appears to have had pieces of sticky tape placed on it at random) and she just looks lovely. A stand-out for all the right reasons, this is probably the best she’s ever looked.

Randomer in Erdem – Yes, I know nothing of fashion. Tyra would be screeching at me and throwing me out of the model house after I gaped vacantly in one of her challenges after she asked me to pose like *insert obscure model’s name here*. But I had to put this in because this dress is soooo gorgeous. The very best illustration of how florals can look elegant and effortless, with not a hint of tablecloth, curtain or wallpaper in sight. I absolutely love how it works with Randomer’s milkmaid braid – such a pretty romantic look all-round. Good work, Randomer, whoever you are.

Kirsten Dunst in Chanel – Oh Snaggletooth, what happened? You used to be so cool and hip and now you look like a soccer mom. I dislike the dress (it looks like the kind of floral design people paint onto canal boats) but I dislike what Kiki is doing to it even more. Blowsy hair, puffy face, frumpy feel. This is Chanel?!?! Seriously?!

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, Stella’s Stars

The Met Gala 2011 was supposed to be in honour of Alexander McQueen… so of course, the greatest number of people chose to wear Stella McCartney. Stella was co-chairing the event… then again, so was Colin Firth… and even though I love a lot of these gowns, I don’t think any of them fit the theme of Savage Beauty. Do you?

Can you believe this is the same woman who was last seen out-slutting her teenage daughter by showing off her bare ass at a post-Oscars party? This is the best Madonna has looked in ages – classy, sophisticated yet far from being contrived or boring. This steely blue colour looks brilliant on her, especially combined with those perfectly-coiffed golden waves, and I love the silver stars that trail their way down her back and onto her train.

Iman looks a bit like Ru Paul. And if you aren’t a fan of high campery and heavy trashtastic-ness, then bling-covered jumpsuits probably aren’t for you. Then again, you’re no shrinking violet if you managed to snag Ziggy Stardust as a hubbie and you can’t deny she is working the hell out of it and looking fiercely Amazonian anyway. And what’s the perfect accessory to gold sequins, a blaze of golden hair and glowing golden skin? A gold belt buckle, of course. Duh.

I’ve long been a fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s red carpet style – she has an easy grown-up grace about her that doesn’t seem too try-hard – and this is another winner in my book. I adore the oceanic blue glitter and the unusual neckline, although I’m slightly concerned by the lack of bra and consequently, the nipple standing to attention that seems to follow my gaze. I know I applauded her lack of try-hardiness but there are limits…

This is such a standard Gwyneth Paltrow gown that it bores me to boring beige tears. A simple nude sheath dress, there’s no doubt it’s super-flattering and suits her but seriously, the carpet is more savage than anything in this look.

Eva Mendes is one of those people that just doesn’t excite me on the red carpet and this isn’t really any exception. This royal blue one-sleeved number has that whole 70s boho aesthetic that McCartney was channelling last season and I love the sense of movement and volume Mendes is bringing for photos, but it feels a bit too carefree and casual for *the* fashion event of the year. If what you really need to set your outfit off is a big floppy sun-hat, you know it probably just isn’t cutting it.

Another super-pretty dress, another complete lack of savageness. I’m gonna stop harping on about it now. I do love the ethereal fairy dust aspect of Naomi Watts’ gown but I feel like I saw it all before with Mandy Moore at this year’s Oscars.

When did Kate Hudson get this pregnant?! Last time I looked, it was a mere bump in the road but now it looks like she’s smuggling watermelons Phoebe-style. The long wavy hair, the embellished bodice and the fishtail train are saying one thing to me – mermaid. That and the sea-shell she stuck on top of her head. I guess there are worse things you can look like than a heavily pregnant mermaid on her wedding day and she’s doing her usual Goldie Hawn-inherited Kate Hudson thing by looking glowy and pretty regardless. At least it looks vaguely comfortable and easy to sit down and pee in, which were probably greater concerns for Kate than say… Daphne Guinness.

Thandie Newton is one of my serial style crushes and as ever, she’s giving me flawless face. I love the top half of this dress, with the deep V-neck with scalloped edging, but I’m not sure about the bottom half. I know it isn’t really her underwear I can see, but I still feel it’s improper of me to look.

I find Rihanna’s dress oddly unflattering, like a jumpsuit that someone has opened up the legs of – and you haven’t even seen the tacky see-through slit down the side yet, which proved lots of fun for the photographers when she bent down to fiddle with her train. Well, I say see-through, it looked more like support tights… Yet that isn’t my main issue. Even from here, through a photograph comprised of pixels on a computer screen, that braid boasts more synthetic material than a Primark sale. I’ve loved Rihanna’s flaming red tresses with some of her more colourful outrageous looks, but it just looks fake and cheap here. Pippi Longstocking would not be impressed.

The problem with everyone wearing the same designer is that things start to get a bit repetitive. So that intricate swirling lace pattern that’s providing interest on Kate Winslet’s gown entirely take over Hailee Steinfeld’s, albeit in a different colour (seen on Amber Valetta’s dress too). Meanwhile, the black lace aspect of Winslet’s gown is also reminiscent of Thandie’s and Rihanna’s outfits too.

Kate Winslet’s dress is elegant, classy and sophisticated but it must be the hundredth time she’s rocked this whole ‘simple black gown with random areas of interest’ look and I miss the Winslet who used to wear bright red Ben de Lisi or mint green Alice Temperley or electric blue Narsico Rodriguez. Guess the colour-loving part of her got airbrushed away with that last magazine cover.

Hailee Steinfeld swept everyone away with her sweet fresh style this awards season but this may be her first serious misstep. I think it would be pretty cute sans train but, overall, it just feels too heavy for her.

So it looks like Stella McCartney saved the most savage of her gowns for herself. Sadly, it’s just a bizarre Project Runway challenge – to make a dress out of a penguin costume. Seems there’s a reason I’ve never seen a neckline shaped like that before. I happily await the gif where someone superimposes a nun’s face over her legs.

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, All Hail McQueen!

The Met Ball is usually my favourite red carpet event of the year. It’s all about the fashion, daaahling, which usually means everyone forgets about playing safe and instead sets upon the dress-up box with all the unrestrained glee of a five year old child. The scene was set for the Met Gala 2011 to be the most craziest amazingest one of all, as it was held in honour of fashion maverick Alexander McQueen, with a theme of Savage Beauty. So what did the A-Listers do? Decide to play it safe, of course!

Given that style slideshows for the Met Ball usually number in the hundreds rather than the tens, is it not disappointing that only about a dozen of the attendees bothered to wear the designer they were supposed to be paying tribute to? Ciara (in Prabal Gurung) actually tweeted something about being excited that her dress was ‘very reminiscent of Alexander McQueen’ – why don’t you just wear McQueen then, you eejit?! At least she did better than most with a feathery gown that was just about dramatic enough to be reminiscent of McQueen – I’m yet to discover how boring beige or pretty princess dresses could be connected.

So it seems only fitting to kick off my red carpet rundown with the folk who bothered to wear the designer. Yes, on any other night, they may have looked like whacked-out mentalists yet here, they were just about the only ones who looked like they could read an invitation. And some even offer a telling reminder that McQueen wasn’t all about whacked-out mentalists in the first place. The most fitting tribute of all?

And chief amongst them, Gisele. She not only totally OWNED the event, she made everyone else wonder why? Why they’d bothered to make an effort, why they’d turned up at all, why they weren’t as beautiful as Gisele, why the hell they hadn’t worn McQueen, … all the above and much much more. There are no more words to describe what is basically perfection.

And how awesome is this photo of Gisele and Naomi Campbell?! ‘TA-DA!!!’ From one end of the McQueen spectrum, dramatic yet simple breath-taking beauty, to the other – ornate embroidery, avante-garde embellishments, this is haute couture that simply isn’t intended for mere mortals. Campbell shows it might not even work for models but I applaud her for trying. And if anyone else was going to try and pull off wearing a coat of arms on their boobs and streams of loo paper everywhere else, I’m sure as hell glad it’s batshit-crazy Naomi. She even manages to look almost regal.

Anna Dello Russo shows how to make mentalist work; admittedly, it helps if you’re renowned in the fashion community for making mentalist your uniform. So she’s wearing an egg on her head, a matador’s outfit on her body, the most beautiful pair of gold booties on her feet and her sleeves are detaching themselves from the shoulders – and she looks smokin’. If she got any cooler, Wintour would have to kill her. Maybe.

It was mostly left up to fashion folk to pay tribute so here’s Liu Wen (who?) and Constance Jablonski (who???) in McQueen designs. I love Wen’s sexy number, which is all about the striking neckline and immaculate cut. The smoky eyes, strong lips and fierce cuffs totally work as well, like some classy exceedingly well-dressed dominatrix. I’m less certain about Jablonski’s ensemble – the powdery mottled grey print is soft and lovely, she looks ridiculously long and lean and the metallic belt stops it all from becoming a drippy watercolour. But the elephant in the room is the ruff, which does make it look like Constance’s lovely face is being served up on a platter or has been Photoshopped on afterwards. Then again, she’s a model and ends up looking pretty great anyway.

I lurve Karen Elson’s gold gown with a tarnished antique effect that makes it look like it’s decaying – but in such style! Together with that gorgeous red hair teased over one eye and that flawless porcelain skin, she looks like she could give those 1950s screen sirens a run for their money. Though she’d need to grow some boobs first, obviously.

I also love love love Hilary Rhoda’s Victoriana-esque coat dress. It’s not the kind of thing I usually love and I’m dying to give her a top hat and whip but I just think it looks stunning. It’s something about that crisp white colour and the brilliance of the design and tailoring that makes what is essential a gentleman’s riding jacket… and not even one from this century… look exquisitely feminine, high-fashion and would never have ended up as anything else. And we’ve not even mentioned her Union Jack clutch yet, which is just so many shades of awesome it outshone most of the other red carpet walkers.

Daphne Guinness, Raquel Zimmerman and Coco Rocha all wore looks from McQueen’s most recent collection, designed by (obligatory Royal Wedding mention) Sarah Burton. As you can see, feathers may have been a prominent theme. Coco’s is obviously the most understated and I love the tribal feel of the gold embellishments. Raquel’s is next in the swan evolution line and although that’s a hell of a lot of dress, you gotta love the dramz; it truly is evil black swan princess territory. Finally, we have dear old Daphne, rocking two types of feather and only a few tweets away from sprouting wings – let’s not think how many birds are wandering around bald thanks to this collection – who looks some kind of fabulous. It’s totally outrageous, ridiculously flamboyant and yet it works. It’s more likely that she could lay an egg in it than sit down, but as far as fashion statements go, it’s so gloriously deliciously overblown that I can’t resist. We need more Daphnes on the red carpet – for the lolz if for nothing else.

Trust Sarah Jessica Parker to show everyone how it’s done. To all that thought McQueen was all tartan, spikes and outrageousness, here she showcases classy elegant shimmering sophistication. It’s little unexpected touches like the cowl neck and three-quarter length sleeves that make this even more stunning than your average glittery gown, whilst the ice blue shoes are just so so right. And I get the feeling you don’t often get to say that about ice blue shoes so let’s all wallow in that.

Salma Hayek is a brand ambassador for McQueen so it’s no surprise she turned up wearing the label, even if I’ve never been convinced of the match-up. McQueen often seems too edgy for Hayek and the elaborate designs a little too busy for her short curvy body but this gown is lovely. It’s soft, romantic, flowing and languorous, the draping just so. The colour is a little too close to her skin-tone to make it an unqualified success but the dress itself is beautiful.

And then there’s Chloe Sevigny. I don’t get Chloe’s signature much-feted style and frankly, I’ve given up trying. This is exactly the sort of unflattering frumpy outfit I’d expect her to turn up in, McQueen or not. Her boobs couldn’t get more saggy-looking if you hung weights on them. The iddy-biddy tie is an unnecessary afterthought from a designer staring despondently at the image of Colonel Sanders on his KFC bucket. The hair is just… there. Flatly malevolent. Much like the whole ensemble. Sorry but no.

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style

China Glaze DV8 nail polish review

As you’ll know by now, I try and avoid nail polish jargon – largely because I don’t understand it myself! I made a recent exception for flakies, although I prefer my  more descriptive term ‘amazing shreds of rainbow awesomeness’, and now I’m going to make another exception for ‘holos’ – basically because I’ve become obsessed with the things! So here goes with my first holo, China Glaze’s DV8.

… Actually, it’s my second. I stumbled upon China Glaze’s IDK on a dusty shelf in a little shop in Tsim Sha Tsui and bought it on a whim, only to be instantly spellbound by the hidden rainbow hues which came out to play in the sunlight. Little did I know, I had happened upon a much-sought-after holo from China Glaze’s discontinued OMG Collection, which nail bloggers still discuss misty-eyed although it was launched (and withdrawn) two years ago!

Holo is basically shorthand for holographic – and that clicking noise you hear is the sound of me “getting it”! It basically refers to an elusive type of glitter that reflects the whole rainbow right back at you when you hit a magic angle in strong light. It’s the kind of effect you may remember from stickers you used to collect when you were little, the rare shiny sparkly ones that would often have a special page in your sticker book and as such, were worth big stakes when trading amongst your friends. Well, you might have grown up, but nothing changes! Bloggers practically devour holographic nail polish, are constantly on the hunt for new and stronger holos and dream of rare swaps… and now I’ve become an addict too!

After hitting up the afore-mentioned shop in TST to claim whatever stock of the OMG Collection they had left (not much), I was still hungry for more. I thought I could wait until China Glaze released its much-anticipated Tronica Collection this spring, which was allegedly chock-full of rainbow goodness, but reviews started filtering in reckoning these weren’t proper holos at all… so I decided I had to source the OMG Collection whatever the cost! Hence how I got ripped off ridiculous amounts of money at a shop in Causeway Bay instead.

But it was so soooo worth it. A good holo is a thing of rare enchanting beauty and a danger to my personal safety as I find myself staring at my nails when I should be concentrating on things like crossing roads. And DV8 has to be one of the best of the lot.

A strongly-pigmented teal colour, it’s a pretty amazing aquamarine even without the rainbow shimmer, which is highly visible under strong sunlight or artificial light. Such an intense bright colour is actually pretty rare in the strange magical world of holos – it seems easier to make them in pale silvery shades, which are consequently much easier to find. Factor in the spectrum of multi-coloured hues that flit your way when the mood takes them and this oceanic stunner becomes one of the seven wonders of the nail polish world.

Under artificial light

The rainbow rays in here seem to reflect a much more mermaid-themed palette of glittering greens, blues and golds as opposed to the usual full ‘shine a crystal in sunlight’ kaleidoscope of colours, but that just suits the magnificent marine theme even more. DV8 feels like a treasure unearthed from the deep, guarded by sirens but rescued for your wearing pleasure: glowing, glittering, gorgeous.

I had no problems in applying this over a base and the formula was easy to work with – two thin coats and you’re done! Holos are also renowned for chipping fairly quickly (IDK flaked off into papery pieces without notice) but incredibly, DV8 lasted well over a week in picture-perfect condition. Maybe it’s to do with that stronger colour pigment but seriously, is there anything about this nail polish not to love?!

So forget about the pot of gold at the end, it’s all about the rainbow. And DV8 deserves to be celebrated with all the delight of a double one!

Looks good with: summer, bright colours, high contrast
Drying time: 2 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +5 days

China Glaze DV8 nail polish, Spring 2009 OMG Collection, ridiculous sum of money, Senda Salon


Hong Kong: Creative Ecologies @ HK Heritage Museum – Like peas in a pod!

During our trip to the Pixar: 25 Years Of Animation exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, we had a quick scoot round the rest of the place. Emphasis on quick – you’ll have noticed my usual grumble about crappy café quality (see Museum of Coastal Defence, History Museum and Botanical Gardens posts for further moaning) was missing from the Pixar write-up… because this time there wasn’t an eating facility at all!

Sadly, nothing was as awesome as the colourful display of Fei-Fei’s plus-sized cheongsams we stumbled upon when we visited the Age Of Couture Exhibition (a greater aesthetic juxtaposition you could not imagine!). Yes, HK ‘affectionately’ nicknamed their much-beloved actress cum singer cum media personality Lydia Sum something that translates as ‘Fatty’!

This time, we happened upon the Hong Kong: Creative Ecologies exhibition – or what of it had been placed in the foyer of the second floor. Dozens of identical ‘Tin Tin’ figurines, all decorated, styled and re-imagined in different ways by various home-grown artists and designers.

It was fascinating to see how so many people could take one identical thing and end up with something so different yet still recognisable. Designs ranged from the beautiful to the comical to the bizarre to the slightly macabre (I didn’t take a photo of the one that had been mocked up to look like a see-through human body, with all the vital organs glowing inside, as it freaked me out too much), whilst many had a uniquely HK flavour – one had a map of our MTR system, another had silhouettes of our trademark bamboo scaffolding system with workers hanging out un-harnessed and causing heart attacks to Western Health & Safety bodies.

My favourites were the ones who thought ‘outside the box’ and mixed it up a little. I noticed that whilst many of the fashion and accessory designers decorated their models, the artistes chose to do more abstract things – like one completely encased in a steel box, with just that recognisable pointing finger sticking out, or the one that appears to be melting. I was engrossed by the one that seemed to have sprouted alarmingly naturalistic-looking roots and was even growing foliage up top!

The only HK artist whose work I recognised instantly was Prudence Mak. That distinctive bright patchwork style couldn’t belong to anyone but the founder of cute quirky local brand, Chocolate Rain, who you will hear more of later…! Apologies for the picture quality – I haven’t figured out how to minimise the reflections caused by the glass cases – so I’ve compared it with a nice HQ photo from the Heritage Museum’s website so you can see it in all its detailed technicolour glory!

Hopefully these will be kept together as a display once the exhibition has ended and housed somewhere else, as they’re far more powerful and dynamic as a collection rather than if they were split up. It’s certainly nothing to warrant a special visit to the Heritage Museum (though apparently there was a Creative Ecologies gallery that I was too hungry to visit), but it’s a cool little diversion nonetheless! Enjoy!

Hong Kong: Creative Ecologies, 5 Feburary-11 May 2011, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, 2180 8188. See Hong Kong: Creative Ecologies Website for further details.

$10 admission, free on Weds. Opening hours: 10am-6pm, 7pm on Sunday and public holidays. Closed Tuesdays.

Make-Up Miracles: Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream review

*UPDATE: I have since discovered some even more miraculous hand creams – check out my post here to find out more!*

You may have picked up from previous posts that a year at kindergarten dealing with adhesives, snotty children and copious amounts of antibacterial hand-wash on a daily basis left me ravaged, dry, scaly and flaking – and that was just my hands! Or should that be hooves. Seriously, I had the hands of an 18th century scullery maid… in her 60s.

I went through numerous hand creams, body butters, lotions, potions and prayers without any making much of a difference – and some even seemed to make it worse! But one day, reading through the SCMP’s Young Post section (and, in my opinion, the only readable part of the paper), I saw Sebamed’s Hand & Nail Repair Cream receiving a glowing recommendation. I’d had previous success with Young Post recommendations – it was they who put me in the direction of previous make-up miracle, Atorrege AD+ Spots Treatment – and the product didn’t seem too pricey, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I’ve not looked back since. I’ve since discovered that Sebamed is a bit of a hidden gem, a no-frills brand with plain packaging that gets great word-of-mouth Stateside. Their products are formulated to a neutral pH of exactly 5.5, the precise pH of healthy skin (soap, for instance, is a different pH and this is one reason why it can dry out and break up some skins), and this strengthens and stabilises the ‘natural barrier function of the skin’s acid mantle’ (I presume this is make-up speak for protects the skin so your skin can protect you!). Meanwhile, their gentle mild formulas are perfect for sensitive skin.

Their Hand & Nail Repair Cream was no exception. The medium consistency of the lotion seemed nothing to write home about but it absorbs super-quickly and is not at all greasy or oily, like some of the richer lotions on the market. There is a slight ‘bathroom cabinet’ scent but nothing unpleasant, instead vaguely reassuring, and it disappears quickly anyway. The cream also contains ingredients like allantonin, which regenerates the skin and makes it soft and supple, and bisabolol (the active ingredient from camomile), which alleviates irritation.

Although the packing might not be fancy, some of the claims Sebamed make certainly are! They reckon this cream will increase the skin’s capacity to retain moisture, restore the elasticity of the skin, smooth relieve and soften dry chapped hands and strengthen the nails, preventing them from breaking. And for once, each and every single one of these claims came true!

My hands were so dry and flaky that snakes probably mistook them for scaly skin they had shed earlier; my fingers were so cracked that my fingerprints no longer match the ones saved on my HK ID card. But after weeks of regular use (that’s daily, nightly and whenever else I find myself anywhere near the bottle), they slowly started to improve. My hands do indeed feel softer, my dry patches have indeed been healed and my nails do indeed seem stronger and haven’t broken once (also thanks to my trusty Nail Tek II, no doubt!).

My ultra-chapped areas are recovering at a promising rate and are completely smoothed and softened immediately after use, with normal levels of flakiness more ‘too many washing-up sessions with strong detergent’ rather than ‘just endured a trek to the North Pole’ or ‘may be regenerating into fish scales’. I also rub the lotion into the rough patches on my elbows and it seems to do a better job than the much-lauded Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.

My 300ml bottle with a pump dispenser – which, bear in mind, I use like it’s going out of fashion – lasts me between 6 to 10 months. You can also buy a smaller squeezy tube that’s perfect for on-the-go use to keep your mitts permanently moisturised, especially in HK’s inescapable blasts of sub-Arctic air-conditioning. One thing that could be improved is the amount of excess packaging – the bottle comes in an unnecessary cellophane-wrapped cardboard box, whilst there is also another unnecessary plastic case around the head of the pump.

Overall, my hands are somewhere back to the plump, soft, never-seen-a-day-of-hard-graft status that they were at before my stint with a class of wild five year olds. And it’s solely down to Sebamed (I suppose Young Post could get a biscuit too). So welcome Sebamed’s Hand & Nail Repair Cream into your gallery of make-up miracles too – your hands, and anyone else who has to touch them, will be forever grateful!

Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream, available from Meka and selected Watsons