Monthly Archives: October 2011

Forgotten Fine Art: The Cityplaza Copper Suite

In Hong Kong, you can often find pretty things in the strangest places… which often means discovering fine art in the most mundane of anonymous corporate offices.

Such was the case with this stunning series of plaques entitled The Cityplaza Copper Suite by Australian sculptors Joan Walsh Smith and Charles Smith in Tai Koo’s Cityplaza complex of buildings.

I was taken aback by the level of detail in these – you could spend ages poring over these still find even more interesting and clever little vignettes revealing themselves in the copper artwork. The style reminds me a little of Jan Pieńkowski’s silhouette illustrations for the Joan Aiken books I used to read when I was little. Click on each photograph to enlarge and zoom in  and you can check out some of the detail for yourselves!

Each ‘Rondo-Progression’ has a different theme (unfortunately, I forgot to note them down, bad blogger, slaps wrist!) but I believe they were The Arts, Food, Leisure and Work. My favourite is probably The Arts with its striking centre-piece of the two Chinese theatre masks and loads of other dynamic pictures surrounding it – it’s almost like it’s alive with movement!

You can’t really tell from the pictures (which have distorted the light reflections weirdly) but these are made from copper, which is even more stunning and vivid in real life – and I loved the way the light reflected and bounced off these pieces, making them even more vibrant.

It seems a shame that these are tucked away in a place most people wouldn’t even notice so hopefully this post does its bit to show them off to the rest of the world!

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Chanel Graphite nail polish review

It’s been a while since I posted – but this is the perfect polish to break the rut… Chanel Graphite.

Oh, Le Vernis Graphite… j’adore.

After using Graphite, my first Chanel polish, I was completed consumed by the desire to buy as many of their lacquers as possible, without care for cost or availability or anything else similarly level-headed – THAT is how good it was. However effusive I am in the rest of this review, trust me, it isn’t enough!

Graphite is just amazing. I’ve seen lots of posts that make it look like a charcoal silver, which it most definitely isn’t. Instead, it’s a gorgeous glittering green gold, burnished blackened and utterly brilliant. In some lights, it flashes a shimmering silvery khaki but this dirty dazzling delicious fool’s gold is by far the more dominant colour. It’s simply a joy to behold and I make abslutely no apologies for the abundance of photos that follows as a result!

The other amazing aspect of Graphite is its finish. It’s a cross between a foil and a glitter but is obviously neither and yet more than both put together. It looks amazingly textured but is totally smooth to the touch. It’s Extra Special in a way that words that also name an expensive supermarket ready-meal just cannot do justice to. In my collection, it’s also utterly breathtakingly unique.

I was also blown away by the pure quality of it. I felt I didn’t need to do anything. It just flowed perfectly from the bottle to the brush and onto my fingernails in a neat perfect shape. I always hear the term on polish blogs ‘applied like butter’ and have never really had cause to use it – but this stuff really seemed to melt like magic onto my talons.

For those not familiar with Chanel nail polishes, the chunky square cap lifts off to reveal a small round screw cap that allows better grip for application. The brush itself is slightly short but medium-sized in thickness and I encountered no problems with it whatsoever. However, by this stage, I was in such a state of general giddiness that the brush could have been starfish-shaped for all I’d have known – I just could not stop staring at my nails!

If you look up images of graphite itself, it’s amazing to see how Chanel have managed to transform the mineral’s exact qualities and shading to a polish. It also reminded me of another mineral – pyrite, also known as fool’s gold – and the colour is just this wonderful textured mixture of gold, silver, green, charcoal and black, with shadows and shimmers in all the right places. It’s gorgeous from up-close, it’s gorgeous from far away… I imagine it would almost be gorgeous with your eyes shut too!

It’s so glittery, it pretty much glows in the dark but despite it’s glitz factor, it absolutely never feels obtrusive, ostentatious or OTT. It also reminded me of a shimmering sheath of snakeskin – slinky, glitzy, totally divinely luxe.

Wonderful colour, fabulous quality, a sense of sophistication, a luxurious glamour that’s still tasteful… It’s basically everything I ever hoped and expected from Chanel but had been afraid to believe was true. Well, it all was!

Looks good with: black, sophistication, The Look
Drying time: <5 mins
Coats required: 1-2
Chips: 2-3 days

Shimmering in the shade!

Chanel Le Vernis Graphite, Fall 2011 Illusion D’Ombres Collection, $180, Chanel

I wish all atlases looked like this!

One of my favourite Pretty Things posts on here is still my blog on the gorgeous travel posters by Brazilian illustrator, Fernando Volken Togni – the colour, the detail, the style, everything! (And I updated it to feature his most recent additions to the series so do check it out!)

Inspired by these, and also the somewhat similar Scandinavian postcards I featured from Ikea, I wanted to share with you these lovely pictorial maps by Canadian artist, Marisa Seguin that I discovered via Design Work Life – and just as I wanted Togni’s work on my walls, I want Seguin’s right up there with it!

What sets these apart for me are the strict but stunning colour palettes she has used for each piece. Again, it’s hard to pick a favourite – the icy cool blues and purples of Vancouver, the strikingly vibrant pinks and turquoise of Venice, the dreamy romantic pastels of Paris, the vivid riot of brights that makes up San Francisco or the dusty sepia tones of Seguin’s current base, Milwaukee.

I also love the level of detail that’s gone into illustrating each of the landmarks; sadly, I haven’t visited any of the cities in question (apart from Paris, which I honestly think looks far more charming here than it does in real life!) but if I do, I’ll be toting one of these and navigating my way in style!

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did – and you can check out more of Seguin’s work on her website or buy these as prints from her Etsy shop.

And I loved the Jellyfish one so much, I couldn’t resist sticking it on here too!

Essie Your Hut Or Mine nail polish review

Remember my coral craze from a few months back? I covered super-sparkly coral (Zoya Rica), rainbow-holo coral (China Glaze TMI) and stunningly-saturated colour-popping coral (CND Poppyfield, as recently seen at New York Fashion Week – yes, that’s right, I’m a trend-setter, as if you didn’t already know!). Well now it’s time for a hangover post from my coral bingeEssie Your Hut Or Mine.

Your Hut Or Mine is a classic coral. It’s warm, floral and perhaps even a little old-fashioned looking, leaning more towards a dusky rose or honeysuckle than the juicy fruity melon hues of CND’s Poppyfield or Zoya’s Rica. It has Essie’s trademark secret shimmer hidden deep within – often so deep that you don’t really get a chance to peep it! Even so, its occasional glimmers of pink and gold keep it just that winning wink away from being too dull, less like a faded picnic cloth that got left out in the sun too long.

Even though it’s a summery colour, it’s warmth would also play well into autumn; I wore it with OPI Stranger Tides (a cool pale khaki) and I absolutely adored the colour combination, which looked modern, fresh and brought out the best in both shades.

This had a smooth flowing consistency that made it super-easy to apply (like most Essie nail polishes I’ve tried) but I was surprised when air bubbles starting showing up once it had dried. Nothing as hideously bumpy as Orly Frisky but sadly, enough for me to know it was there. Hopefully I just shook the bottle too soon before application, as it’s not a problem I’ve had with Essie before – but it’s still a shame as otherwise, Your Hut Or Mine is a total gold-star performer.

I also stand by my previous comments that Essie’s smaller thinner brushes are far easier to control than the current fat brushes that are in vogue *cough OPI cough*. Those of you with smaller nails or who prefer having less to clean up at the end should enjoy using these skinnies as much as I do!

Bubbling issue aside, Your Hut Or Mine is a hard polish to have a problem with. I’m not entirely sure it suits my skin-tone (seems to bring out the pink in me) and wish the shimmer came out to play a little bit more, but I just love the warm prettiness of the colour. It reminds me of honeysuckle, picnics, barbeques, gingham and summer, which I reckon are all rather lovely associations to stir up.

So it ticks all my classic coral boxes… and judging by the fact it was sold out for quite a while at Cher2, it clearly ticks plenty of others’ – but how about yours? Let me know!

Looks good with: khaki, flowers, barbeques
Drying time: 3-5 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +5 days

Essie, Your Hut Or Mine, Summer 2011 Fair Game Resort Collection, $60, Cher2

Beauty Spot: Lush Christmas Factory, Christmas products sneak peek!

Lush has to be one of the most aptly-named cosmetics companies on the block! They LOOK lush, they SMELL lush and they just ARE lush, full stop.

Their image and ethos is also super-distinctive and uber-unique. I’ve talked about them before briefly in my Lush Cupcake Mask review but just to recap – their products are all handmade, their packaging is all recyclable and they have a firm animal-friendly eco-friendly stance, using mostly natural vegan ingredients in their gorgeous goodies.

Given their shops are usually piled high with their colourful bath-time products and they always look and smell good enough to eat (although, as also previously mentioned, do not actually try eating them like my friend did!), the theme for their Lush Christmas Factory – where they introduced their entire line of upcoming festive products – was Willy Wonka-inspired… right down to the Golden Ticket invite that dropped into my inbox!

It was a totally awesome event, entirely befitting of Lush’s fun, quirky and creative identity! I went with my friend Mirander (on hand for translation duties) and had an absolute ball! Everyone was in fancy dress (there was even a magician!) and all the products looked AMAZING.

There are three key themes for their Christmas range. Candy Cane Delights are generally pink, girlie and super-sweet. I loved the Magic Wand Bubble Bar ($89) – an enchanted sweet-scented star that you waft around your tub (for up to three uses) to create a truly magical bubble bath!

You can also see the super-cute citrusy Satsumo Santa Bath Ballistics ($55), the scrumptious-looking Candy Mountain Bubble Bars ($55), which reminded me of marshmallows and produce tonnes of vanilla foam, and the peppermint Candy Cane soap bars ($55).

Gold Rush is pretty self-explanatory! Lots of festive golden goodness – and something that looked really disturbingly like a delicatessen sausage (not pictured, freaked me out too much).

My favourites here were the Melting Snowmen Bath Melts ($49), which melt into your bath to create softening vanilla, cocoa butter and almond-infused water, and the utterly adorable Gingerbread House Bubble Bars ($55), straight out a fairytale and with a scrumptious ginger snap scent!

Finally, To Infinity And Beyond, space-themed stocking-fillers for all the little (and big!) boys out there. Trying to resist all out-of-this-world puns…

The star product here is the Rocketeer Bath Ballistic ($55), which zips around the bath like a space shuttle set to zoom! I’m also keen to try the Australian Igloo Sugar Scrub ($59), a body buffer made with sugar, coconut oil and eucalyptus – no prizes for guessing that this smells totally delish!

All their gift sets look absolutely incredible and beautifully-packaged (basically everything you see in a box or gift-wrapped in my photos is a set)  and they’re great value, total no-brainers for Christmas presents. A few of my favourites are shown above *hint hint*

Lush also encourage wrapping their items in scarves as opposed to wrapping paper for a more eco-friendly – and adorable! – approach. I have to mention the Penguin Knot Wrap (just $19) that makes me coo with its uber-cuteness, and re-using these lovelies would certainly make me feel less cheapskate than saving up used wrapping paper!

There was fro-yo on tap and Lush even managed to theme the flavours around their products – I suppose it’s the nearest we’ll come to getting to taste those scrummy smells!

We also got to make our own bath ballistics. It was interesting to see all the ingredients that went into it (they really are au naturel) and I stuffed mine with loads of lavender and rose-petals. It smelt more gorgeous than it looks, trust me!

Alas, a future as a Lush Bath Ballistic maker probably doesn’t lie in wait as mine disintegrated at the slightest touch! Hence why it is still sorrily entrapped in its mould.

We also got to take home a goodie bag of some products of our choice. Here’s the goodie bag bar in a rare moment of peace and quiet. Lesson of the day: never come between a beauty writer and free product! There was a massive scrum there for near-enough the entire afternoon (not helped by inclement weather ensuring that all the lovely stuff outside had to be bubble-wrapped up to stop thousands of dollars of stock being ruined and a huge bubble bath engulfing the place); Mirander said most of the Canto chatter she heard was discussing how and when to pick up all the freebies!

Most of the stuff on offer was bath stuff and, as we learnt from the last time I won something from Lush, I don’t actually have a bath… so here’s what I managed to bag.

Actually, a few words just for the gift bag! So cute! So colourful! Love it!

In addition to the Magic Wand Bubble Bar I already mentioned (yes, I know I don’t have a bath, but it was TOO pretty to pass up), I picked up a big bottle of Glögg Shower Gel ($249), some Jilted Elf Shower Jelly ($79) and some pretty Celebrate and Snow Fairy Lip Tints ($89).

The Glögg is inspired by a traditional Swedish festive mulled wine drink – it smells of cinnamon and sweet beer, an unusual but not unpleasant combo! Meanwhile, I was told the Jilted Elf jelly (and it really is jelly, it looks like that silly putty stuff you played with as a kid!) contains vodka – needless to say, I can’t wait to try it! Apparently, you can even freeze it for future use, which is pretty cool. If you click for the enlarge, you can see it even has some gold glitter sprinkled in it, plus it has an awesome name (no enlargement required).

The Lip Tints were flying off the shelves quicker than they could keep them in stock, so I’m betting these will be extremely popular stocking fillers for girls of all ages come Christmas. They smell super sugary-sweet and look as if they’ll be pretty pigmented too. Even just after touching their products for just a few minutes, my hands smelt divine so I can’t wait to try them properly. As ever, in what is fast becoming a catchphrase for my blog, expect some full reviews soon.

It was a totally fab event and hopefully I’ve shared a bit of the adventure (you can click on any of my photos for enlarged versions, which pick up some more of the finer details and vibrancy of the colours). Big thanks to Lush for inviting me and I CANNOT wait to go on a major Xmas shopping spree soon!

Deborah Lippmann Today Was A Fairytale nail polish review

Here’s a polish to appeal to everyone’s inner magpies – Deborah Lippmann’s Today Was A Fairytale.

Today Was A Fairytale is an absolutely breathtaking silver glitter that leaves all other silver glitters in the dust. Featuring tonnes and tonnes of small silver glitter and larger hexagonal silver glitter suspended in a transparent base, this polish has ‘Virgin Diamond Powder’ amongst its ingredients (how that differs from non-virgin diamond powder, I’m not sure!). I don’t think things could get much sparklier unless this used actual whole diamonds, right?!

One thing’s for sure – Ms Lippmann certainly knows her way around glitter! Across The Universe was nothing short of spectacular and this is every bit as amazing. It’s so beautifully blingy, so sensationally sparkly, that it just looks like you’ve dipped your fingers into a bowl of crystals. It’s just jewel-drippingly gorgeous.

Today Was A Fairytale is also entirely befitting of the name (a Taylor Swift song, since you ask) as it does have an exquisite fairytale charm to it. Even though it’s such a show-stoppingly glamorous polish, it’s still pretty rather than overpowering, ethereal rather than overblown; the perfect polish for princesses, fairies and other magical beings. It’s also not just a silver glitter – from some angles, the silver takes on an enchanted steely blue cast that’s totally bewitching.

What’s great about Today Was A Fairytale is that you get lots of bling for your buck. Unlike many other glitter polishes, the sparkles here are plentiful so you can get opaque coverage pretty easily (and the consistency of the varnish itself is pretty thick), although it could be easily used a layering polish too. The nature of the glitter pieces means that you’re better off with thick coats, so that the glitter sits and swims nicely in the transparent base as opposed to sticking out all over the place.

The difficulties with chunky glitters such as these are always the same however. They’re uneven, rough to the touch and chip and flake off easily without a top coat, which I never use! And they’re absolute hell to remove scrub off – although you will definitely want to keep this stunner on for as long as possible!

Despite this, Today Was A Fairytale did perform better than expected. Many glitter polishes seem to gobble up their base liquid, meaning they look sort of dull and flat without a glossy top coat. But, if you can cope with quick tip-wear and snagging bits of glitter on your tights occasionally, Today Was A Fairytale does look absolutely divine just on its own, which is how it’s shown in all my photos.

Gorgeous enough for ten nail polishes, romantic enough for twenty and dazzling enough for at least fifty, Today Was A Fairytale looks like someone distilled a magic spell into a bottle. Like all the best fairytales, it’s a certain case of love at sight. As for a happy ending? Well, with a polish this beautiful, that was never in doubt!

Blurry for mega-watt sparkliness!

Looks good with: tiaras, magic wands, princess dresses
Drying time: 5-7 mins
Coats required: 2 (thick)
Chips: 2 days

Deborah Lippmann, Today Was a Fairytale, Holiday 2010 Collection, Joyce Beauty

Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon high tea set review – one sandwich short of a picnic?

One of life’s laziest pleasures has to be high tea. Being able to enjoy a mid-week afternoon tea set basically signals ‘Hey, I’m a jobless slacker!’ but that’s all part of the fun, right?

My BFF Mirander (studying so not a jobless slacker btw) and I (freelancer, so technically not a jobless slacker either) have a fondness for long afternoons spent shopping with occasional – and even longer! – dessert pit-stops, so we decided to check out the Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon after I heard lots of good things about it on Twitter.

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