Monthly Archives: June 2011

7-Eleven Hong Kong – use your noodle

UPDATE: This is the post that got my Stitch pillowcase and my boyfriend’s hands forever immortalised on Buzzfeed – check it out here (#35!).

Oh 7-Eleven. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I love that you’re never more than 5 minutes away from any given location. I love that I can now buy crisps and ice-cream whenever the hell I want, preferably in my pyjamas. I love your cute collectible promotional toys that I will never spend enough to obtain all of (but I’ll lose my mind trying), and friends and colleagues will harass me for the tokens regardless.

I love that school kids frequent ‘Club 7’ to get their first illicit taste of alcohol, stand outside in the streets drinking it and that staff actually open their bottles for them. I love that we then do exactly the same thing in a loosely ironic fashion and it probably ends up being more fun than a night out in Dragon-I. I love that living it large outside Club 7 is practically a rites of passage in Hong Kong (see above photo for reference, taken in my second month in HK!).

But recently… I love your noodles. Not as much as my boyfriend does though.

Continue reading

Advertisements

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils review

I recently paid a visit to Hong Kong’s annual Make-Up Fiesta (combined with one of their mill-annual Wedding Fairs) at Wan Chai’s Convention & Exhibition Centre, hoping for bargain beauty buys and the appearance of some elusive hitherto unfound-in-HK brands (yes, Nfu Oh, I’m looking at you). However, the term ‘Fiesta’ was generous. I’m thinking more ‘intimate gathering’, ‘impromptu shindig’ or even ‘quick drink down the pub with mates.’ Amidst the crowd of wedding gowns, photographers and men pestering my boyfriend as to when the big day was, there were all of about… three make-up stalls.

Luckily, there was one that just about made the $20 entry fee worthwhile. NYX Cosmetics is a brand that I’ve not seen sold so far in Hong Kong, and judging by the storm of make-up hungry girls by its stand, not many other people had either. There were also plenty of bargains to be had, if you dared run the gauntlet of being without testers; I picked up… you’ll never guess… nail polish (what else!) at four bottles for $100, plus three NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils for $200. Having got these colourful chunky babies back to the safety of my own home, my only regret is that I didn’t pick up more!

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils are a very similar proposition to the recently-released Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils (see here for photos). They’re both chubby creamy crayons available in a rainbow of vivid hues, fat enough to use as eye-shadow but pointed enough to use as an eyeliner too. The crayon form makes it ultra-convenient, neater, quicker and simpler than getting your fingers and brushes dirty with powder or cream shadows, whilst the fatter-than-your-average pencil sweeps over the eyelid oh-so-easily in just one or two strokes. So for someone that (guiltily) uses her eyeliners as eye-shadows more often than she should, and for anyone who appreciates great make-up in general, they’re perfection.

In my opinion, these are actually softer and creamier than Urban Decay’s eye pencils – they glide onto the eyelid effortlessly, more effortlessly than the word effortlessly even implies, delivering a sweep of vibrant consistent colour that Urban Decay would be proud of. I don’t think they could be nicer about it unless they bowed and said ‘After you, ma’am’. Even after many hours wear, there was no sense of dryness at all, whilst the colour pay-off is so magnificent that it makes coating the eye-lid in a simple intense wash of colour easier than learning your ABCs.

Size comparison: NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils vs Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencils ends in a draw!

The only downside of the NYX Jumbo Pencils? They crease. A lot. It’s such a shame as the colour itself certainly isn’t going anyway but that’s one area that Urban Decay has them beat at. Obviously, this is less of a problem if you’re using them as a liner, and I’m yet to try them with Urban Decay’s Primer Potion underneath.

Many of the colours are named after foods, which sounds fun until you get to the reality of make-up named Black Bean, French Fries and Cottage Cheese (now sadly more famous for being name-checked in thousands of doctor’s leaflets about thrush), which just sound a little… well, icky. After all, I detest Horseradish in real-life, so why would I want to put it anywhere near my face!

Yoghurt is my favourite of the three. It’s a beautiful neutral, a shimmering glimmering pink-leaning champagne. A gorgeous versatile colour for everyday use, it also comes into its own glowing and glistening for special occasions, and should suit just about every skintone and colouring. It’s also pretty much an exact dupe for Urban Decay’s Shadow Pencil in Sin which, given that Sin has received far and away the most use out of my five Urban Decays, can only be a good thing! Looks nothing like any yoghurt I’ve ever tried, that’s for sure.

Then again, Lemon is my favourite too. This has sensibly been re-named Lime as it’s a vibrant vivid almost acidic olive-gold that leans way more towards green than the name Lemon implies. It’s zingy, zesty and a total stand-out, different to anything else in my (Urban Decay dominated) stash. I’ve compared it here to UD’s Shadow Pencil in Narc and their 24/7 Eye Pencil in Mildew, yet as you can see, they’re far darker and mossier than Lemon.

Lemon is the perfectly-pitched balance between green and gold, where green still comes out on top yet but where gold has made it a far superior colour along the way. This gilded green makes me think of Cleopatra for some reason, it just has something luxuriously glamorous yet flattering about it. Stunning and surprisingly versatile, it looks amazing paired with browns or adding a nuanced punch to neutrals.

My final pick was the imaginatively-named Purple. This is actually the exact colour of the outside of Urban Decay’s 24/7 eyeliner in Ransom, with a shimmering silvery blue iridescence to it. However, it’s absolutely nothing like the actual colour of Ransom itself, which does have that same blue-purple iridescence but is a lot more dark and a lot more purple with it. NYX’s Purple is the colour of dreams, the colour of butterfly wings and the colour of a precious stone I always hoped existed when I was little, a lavender moonstone. I do love Ransom too, and I think you now realise I just love purples full stop, so NYX’s Purple is an excellent addition to my collection, for swooning purposes if for nothing else.

I’d definitely buy NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencils again (let’s hope another make-up ‘casual get-together’ makes it to Hong Kong soon), as they’re such an obviously brilliant products. Far from competing against the Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencils, they sit happily alongside them, creasing issue aside – NYX currently have a greater range of colours (since UD just launched theirs) and they boast all the same virtues that made me fall for the UD ones in the first place. I’ve got big… or should that be jumbo-sized love for them all!

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils in Yoghurt, Lime (aka Lemon) and Purple, $200 for three at Hong Kong’s Make-Up Fiesta

Lush Cupcake Ice-Cream Face Mask review

Alas, chocolate not included

There can’t be a better smelling cosmetics store than Lush. Wandering past one of their shops, especially in the UK, is like getting a sniff of what nirvana must smell like. As a result, I’ve discovered that they’re terrible for impulse buys – catch you at a weak moment and the aromas practically suck you in and force you to cough up the pennies!

And so it was one evening on an innocent wander round Admiralty MTR, I found myself purchasing a Lush Fresh Ice-Cream Face Mask. These were laid out at the front of the store, in tubs with spoons just like ice-cream, and in hot humid HK, the idea of ice-cream just proved too irresistible – even in the shape of skincare!

I opted for Cupcake, the cocoa-rich option i.e. what I’d pick if it actually was ice-cream! The amazing chocolate scent wasn’t the only draw; Cupcake is the variety best-suited to oily and combination skin, and promises to deep-cleanse your face, preventing acne, purifying pores and removing blackheads (an on-going battle for me, as regular readers will know). Chief ingredients include Rhasoul mud which cleanses and soothes, cocoa and shea butters and linseed which soften and peppermint, spearmint and sandalwood oils to round off the relaxing experience.

Lush are famous for being an eco-friendly company; all their products are vegetarian (the Cupcake Mask is, in fact, totally vegan) and are never tested on animals. All their items are handmade and in a cute touch, most products even bear the name of their maker!

Although sold by weight, the smallest available quantity was 115g, which comes in Lush’s trademark 100% recycled black tub, and on current going looks set to be good for between five to eight uses. It’s kept chilled in the shop and due to the fresh ingredients (and lack of preservatives) found in the mask, you should do the same and keep it refrigerated at home too!

The consistency of Cupcake was extremely thick. I’d assumed it would be like other gooey but smooth mud or clay masks I have tried before, but the texture was sandy and grainy to the touch. This made it a little difficult to apply; I felt like I was trowelling cement on to my face!

But oh, the smell!!! I know from experience that Lush’s chocolate products smell divine – I once bought my friend one of their chocolate shower bars and he was so taken by the scent that even though he knew it was soap, he still tried to eat it! I could have marinated in that heady chocolate aroma forever (I guess this is how Willy Wonka must feel); the Cupcake mask is definitely one for all the chocoholics out there, and even non-chocaholics might find themselves converted by the deliciously rich yet far from sickly sweet scent (it’s undercut by a refreshingly cool tingle of mint).

As you can gather, leaving the mask on until it dries is consequently not much of a chore! Lush recommends five to ten minutes, though I probably went closer to twenty, putting off the rinsing part for as long as possible! Unfortunately, that part really is a chore… the mask is too thick to dilute and wash off easily; instead, you may find yourself actually pushing and scrubbing clumps off during rinsing. Your best bet is to get your head deep in that sink and really work it off, with a flannel on stand-by to get rid of the (inevitable) residue at the end – and be prepared to clean off any Cupcake clumps that are left in the sink afterwards, unless you want people to think you went on a chocolate binge in the bathroom! Nevertheless, although a bit arduous, it’s nowhere near the messy chocolate explosion other reviews make it out to be!

I was reasonably impressed with the immediate results. My pores looked cleaner and my blackheads were thinner on the ground, whilst the rest of my face was noticeably softer and smoother and my complexion looked clearer. However, unlike the make-up miracle that is Bliss’ Triple Oxygen Mask, the effects were relatively short-lived – the next day, my skin was no longer as bright and rested looking, whilst my pores seemed to have reverted back to their usual freakishly large and clogged state.

Whilst a professional facial or Bliss’ Triple Oxygen Energising Mask might have this beaten in the long-run, I’d recommend Lush’s Cupcake Mask for the overall experience, which is gorgeous, relaxing and delivers good immediate results – and I’m looking forward to deeply inhaling more of that intense chocolate hit for a while yet!

Check out my review of another great face mask (plus bonus hideous picture of me wearing it!) here

Lush Fresh Ice-Cream Mask in Cupcake, $183 for 115g, Lush Cosmetics

Zoya Rica nail polish review

You may have worked out that I’ve been on a bit of a coral binge lately. And whilst probably not the truest coral in the colour wheel, Zoya’s Rica is too amazing not to include.

Rica didn’t even register with me when I looked at Zoya’s 2011 Sunshine Collection online. Yet in person, on a hot summer’s day, it proved irresistible. I don’t think it could get more summery unless it came wearing shades!

Rica is a super-sparkly, super-summery, super-super pink-tinged sunny orange topped off with a liberal dose of golden sunshine glitter. It just about fits into the coral scheme of things but when I gazed at its loveliness, all I could think of were ripe mouth-watering summer fruits. It’s like someone squeezed together the juiciest aspects of a watermelon, grapefruit, tangerine, apricot and mango, and the result was Rica.

Meanwhile, that golden sunshine sparkle is the trademark Zoya way of doing glitter. You can see further examples of it in my posts on Charla and Gloria, but it’s basically a very fine glitter that positively saturates the polish, but completely evenly and consistently, giving it an almost foil-like effect. It’s completely smooth to the touch and as such, is a very grown-up take on glitter – unmistakeably Zoya and unmistakeably awesome.

Such is the awesome sunshine of Rica, it practically glows in the dark! As you can see from this photo in the shade, that glitter really does look like sparkle directly transplanted from the sun – the sun shining down on a luscious tropical island, I think you’ll agree! In the shade, it definitely leans more towards a golden orange that reminded me of a goldfish!

As with most Zoyas, it was fantastically easy to apply; at first, the consistency seems a little thin but it’s easy to work with and I had a beautiful smooth even colour after just two coats. As ever with Zoya, it also wears like iron – totally chip-free after over a week.

I honestly don’t think I can sing Rica’s praises enough. It’s gloriously golden, fantastically fruity and so so stunningly summery that it could probably brighten things up in the depths of darkest Antarctica (or, as it’s usually known, a typical British summer in the UK!). Pure sunshine in a bottle – what more could you ask for?!

Looks good with: SUNSHINE, ice lollies, summer prints
Drying time: 5-7 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +7 days

Zoya Rica nail polish, Summer 2011 Sunshine Collection, $80, Cher2

Going down the rabbit hole…

You may remember one of the very first posts I wrote on here was about Maison Moschino in Italy, a hotel whose interiors were based on fairy tales. Well, I’ve now found something even better – Alice In Wonderland restaurants in Japan! And we’re not just talking a few perfunctory playing cards here and there, these guys have gone the whole hog… or should that be, the whole white rabbit… and created a fantastical innovative world that’s simply magical. Maison Moschino can consider itself well and truly out fairy-taled!

Of course, if this kind of thing was ever going to happen outside of Disneyland, it was always going to be in Japan, a land where themed restaurants are no laughing matter (yes, I’m looking at you, randomly pirate-themed Satay King). The company behind the Alice In Wonderland restaurants, Diamond Dining, own several other such eateries – themes include vampires, Phantom Of The Opera and Japanese folklore – but the Alice restaurants are surely the jewel in their crown. Similarly, the design brains behind these beautifully-executed, original and playful interiors are the immodestly-named Fantastic Design Works Co. and their work on Alice is the creative highlight amongst their already impressive portfolio.

The photos speak for themselves. I love how truly immersive these environments are – every last detail has been thought of and just looking at these pictures makes me feel like I’m falling down the rabbit hole straight into Wonderland. The use of the old-fashioned illustrations from the original Alice In Wonderland books lends a classic feel to proceedings in a theme that could have easily tipped over into tacky.

The chandeliers in each restaurant (there are three in Tokyo and one in Osaka, all with different décor) also warrant their own mention. Teacups! Playing cards! Cascading red hearts! Cheshire Cat plushies! I couldn’t possibly pick just one favourite!

The theme doesn’t stop at the decoration though. You’re shown in by The Mad Hatter, served by waitresses dressed like Alice, your menus feature pop-up sections, your beverages come with a ‘Drink Me’ note and some dishes are plated up to look like The Caterpillar, The White Rabbit or even The Cheshire Cat! Check out some photos and descriptions on this blog, which just makes the whole thing sound even more wonderful… well, you’d expect nothing less of Wonderland, right?

This is the stuff fantasies are made of, the ideal imagining of the perfect place to have your very own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. And all the more fitting here, on Through The Looking Glass!

Images from and more information at Fantastic Design Works Co. and Diamond Dining

Found via We Heart and HomeDSGN

China Glaze TMI nail polish review

As you know, I’m really digging coral this season – so what could possibly be better than the eye-popping coral crème that was CND’s Poppyfield? Well, a holographic coral, of course! Skip forward, China Glaze’s TMI.

Yes, it’s another one of those oh-so-awesome colours from the OMG Collection. TMI is from the warmer end of the spectrum, a lovely pinky coral that glows in natural sunlight. Those enchanting entrancing rainbow-reflecting properties are still very much present (albeit slightly weaker than the other OMG colours I’ve tried to date), but this time it’s very much the summer end of the rainbow that gleams back at you – all golds, pinks, oranges and red.

For me, TMI is very much an instant winner in the daylight. It’s a really gorgeous colour, very flattering and there’s something about that rosy pink-toned coral that gives you the warm fuzzies inside. However, where it comes unstuck is in the shade or in yellow artificial light, where it turns into a weird dusty salmon, leaning towards rusty orange, which I found really rather nasty. Oh well, you gotta take the rough with the smooth and trust me, that first flush of rosy coral loveliness is definitely worth it.

More rainbows reveal themselves under white artificial light

Application-wise, I found TMI to be a little trickier than the rest of its OMG cousins. The consistency was a tad gloopier and coverage was initially difficult to get even. However, it’s worth remembering that these polishes are now a few years old and when I found TMI, it was sitting unloved, unclean and with a formula that had separated many moons ago, so all this could well be a factor. Add some TLC to TMI and after a careful two coats, it looked fine.

Although TMI is definitely not my favourite from the OMG Collection as it’s definitely a little tamer than its brothers and sisters, that might actually work in its favour for those of you who’d prefer an easily wearable, flattering colour that still boasts that holographic awesomeness. And let’s face it, rainbows are just irresistible, aren’t they?!

Looks good with: summer, natural sunlight
Drying time: <2 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: 2-3 days

China Glaze TMI nail polish, Spring 2008 OMG Collection, $80, Nail Concept Company

The Beauty of Lillian Bassman

I hadn’t previously heard of a fashion photographer called Lillian Bassman, yet when I came across some of her images in a Saturday Times Magazine a few months back, I wondered – why the hell not?! (Shown above: Anne Saint-Marie, Chanel advert, 1958)

Her work is simply exquisite. When I think of the golden age of fashion photography, I think of names like Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Lord Snowdon. Now I’ll also think of Lillian Bassman.

More Fashion Mileage Per Dress, Barbara Vaughn, 1956

Her photographs manage to feel both of their period, yet timelessly classic, yet also startlingly modern; it’s almost impossible to distinguish some of her earliest work from some of her latest. Working mostly in black and white, some have a noir-ish feel to them, others feel like they could be stills from an old movie or as if you’re intruding on an (immaculately-attired) personal moment.

It’s A Cinch,  Carmen, 1951

The underwear series is breathtakingly erotic, and you can barely even see the models’ faces; there’s something unbelievably wraith-like, ethereal and sensual about how the lines have been softened and blurred. And all this without distracting from the stunning beauty of the couture outfits photographed in her work, especially from the 50s (cue obligatory Mad Men reference), which are simply stunning.

Barbara Mullen, 1950

Bassman achieved many of the effects in her photographs by post-procesing manipulation in the dark room, blurring, burning and bleaching them, adding some details by hand later on (as in the photo above, hand-painting all the polka dots back in!). The use of shade and light is just phenomenal – after all, it has to be to get noticed and raved about by an art novice like me!

‘There are things that I think are marvellous and there are also pictures where I look at a particular crop and think “How awful. I couldn’t have done that. It’s mediocre”. But are you ever completely happy? No, thank goodness, or you’d stop. I think I’ll go on for ever’.

Incredibly, Bassman trashed many of her negatives in bin bags in the 1970s; they re-surfaced in the 90s, along with a greater appreciation of Bassman’s art. Even now, in her 90s, she continues to work, using digital technology and Photoshop to manipulate and make something new out of her old photographs.

Fantasy On The Dance Floor, Barbara Mullen, 1949

I love how she combines art with fashion – ‘For me, it was about the gesture, the neck, the throat, the arch of the back’. Here are just a few of my favourites (remember to click for enlargements) and hopefully now a few more of you will discover the beauty of Lillian Bassman!

Lingerie, 1951

Olga

The Line Lengthens, 1955

The Dressing Room

Wonders of Water, 1959

Paris: Dinner At Nine, Barbara Mullen, 1949

Barbara Mullen wearing Jean Patou, 1949

Across The Restaurant, Barbara Mullen wearing Jacques Fath, 1949

Barbara Mullen Blowing A Kiss, c.1950

The V-Back Evenings, Suzy Parker, 1955

Black And White, Mary Jane Russell, 1950

Golden Fox, Blue Fox, Marilyn Ambrose, 1954

Eve L Tripp Las Vegas, 1948

Dovima, 1954

Night Bloom, Annaliese Seubert, top gown Givenchy by Galliano, bottom by Christian Dior, 1996 (can’t believe these are so new, they’d fit right in with the rest, right?)

Silk Organdie, Embroidered And Printed, Barbara Mullen, gown by Irene, 1955

Untitled, Model in Gloves and Pearl Earrings, 1950

Betty Threat, 1957

Mary Jane Russell, 1950

Outtake, Harper’s Bazaar, November 1948

Polka Dots On The Run, 1960 (love the expression in the model’s eyes)

Back, Barbara Mullen, 1950

Touch Of Dew, Lisa Fonssagrives, 1961

Chanel advert, 1963 (despite the manipulation, there’s no mistaking that jacket!)

Untitled, 2008

And ending with one of my favourites… just captures a mood and movement so perfectly…Untitled, Model with Raincoat and Umbrella, 1950

For more of Bassman’s work, check out: http://f56.net/kuenstler/lillian-bassman/lillian-bassman/, http://blog.daum.net/sooy0098/7706383 (which makes my Antivirus have a fit but doesn’t seem to do any harm), this Lillian Bassman Flickr album and this Lillian Bassman Facebook fan page, from where many of these photos were taken from.

Quotes taken from Saturday Times Magazine, 17 May 2011.