|Kate Moss. Take that, nanny state!|
Sunday, 26 December 2010
from Mistress Brown's point of view, at any rate! We conclude our Skool Advent Calendar with another hard-won little black dress from the Lanvin for H and M collection-- of which more shortly. (The Browns are recovering from a wonderful meal and an epic trek across frozen and Tube-stricken London.) Meanwhile, a marvelous twelve days of Christmas to all of you from Beauty Skool.
Saturday, 25 December 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
|Mr Mark Bolan's famous hair|
This wasn’t always the case. Let’s dial back to a time when ‘classic rock’ wasn’t yet classic, it was just ‘rock’ and punk had yet to be invented. I’m reminded of a small window of time during that era when my straight Valerie Bertinelli hair was convinced it might look cooler with a perm.
|Classic Don Martin|
At every reasonable opportunity I trimmed the fringe and looked forward to the full recovery of my smooth bangs. I found a way to accept the waviness elsewhere on my head. I told myself that it would look rather Joey Ramonesque. It would be okay. I’d make sure to supplement with plenty of heavy liquid eyeliner. And slowly, like a caterpillar shedding its unbearable David Lee Roth wigged cocoon, I would emerge with my lovely limp locks free from the bondage of 1970’s freakytown. Yes, free at last from the ridicule of my brother and his friends telling me not to go near any more light sockets. Free from my dad telling me that the school janitor called and said he wants his mop back. And free from being mistaken for Twisted Sister’s younger sister.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
|Linda in bed, shoes on, waiting for that call|
Linda Evangelista and I have much in common. So very much. It's spooky. There's the Canadian thing, and well, all sorts of stuff. Anyway, most importantly, we both refuse to get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. More with inflation; it's been a while since Linda drew our line in the sand. But since adequate offers have been a bit thin on the ground recently in my neck of the woods-- I swear there's something wrong with my phone-- Mistress Brown has been firmly planted in bed for quite a spell. As the days turn dark, you may feel the need to take up this position as well.
|pj parties of yore|
|Just add boy of your dreams|
With the proper decorations festooning your bed, tinsel streamers and the like, perhaps a yuletide scene on the headboard, you can easily stage your Christmas party from the comfort of that happy spot. Order in a team of these festive experts to pamper your nearest and dearest with pedicures, manicures, makeup, massage, threading; all sorts of things! Plus-- champagne. Yes. Just be ready to lay on breakfast; I don't think their packages include that.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Friday, 8 October 2010
This icebox inventory illustrates the factors that produce the punk rock pallor in all its empty nutrient splendor. As a result it was rare to see a rosy-cheeked punk and even harder to find a healthy glow. Sickly pale was the skin color du jour. We would never have darkened the doorway of a tanning salon; if we wanted more pigment in our skin, we opted for jaundice. We reflected the environment we lived in: up all night, sleep all day-- there was no sun-kissed look.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
The quest for beauty, Arabian style. Courtesy of Mattel.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
About a year ago, I read about how Kate Moss' old pal and hairstylist, James Brown, who she's known since her Croydon days, was opening a salon in a quiet spot off London's Oxford Street, the hugest and most frenetic shopping promenade in Europe. A big fabulous party was held, and Kate Moss did her best to help her friend promote his new business and line of hair products. Strolling along Wigmore Street (yes, Wigmore Street), I spied the salon and darted in on a whim. Why not get two big silver streaks at my temples? I said to myself-- in spite of what I wrote on this very subject not so long ago (see "London Hair Trends Redux").
|The picture that started it all|
|And here's Mistress Brown just last week.I mean, throw me a bone here, people!|
Friday, 3 September 2010
article and illustrations by Mrs Tami Thirlwell-Nicol
|Soo Catwoman graces the cover of the NME|
With the aid of Johnny Rotten screaming ‘fuck this and fuck that’ from the turntable and a hard day of pent-up teen angst, I hit the ground running. I sat at my vanity mirror in my pink-coated bedroom (to match the pink and red shag carpeting I had picked out for my 15th birthday) and tried to freeze my lobe with the ice cube. My fingers got too cold. I moved onto Step Two. With a shaky but determined hand I tried pushing the sewing needle in to my wiggly soft right ear lobe. It only wanted to accommodate the intrusive needle and stretched along with it as my ear wondered why it was being punished. Argh. It’s nothing personal, lobe, trust me, this is going to look cool. I had to stop and breathe. Okay-- let’s try this again. Finally, after a lot of snarling through gritted teeth on my part, it was pierced! A little blood, but I was smart enough to have some cotton balls at the ready – however, not so smart to know that hydrogen peroxide would have been beneficial.
Hastily I grabbed my new piece of ‘jewelry’ and inserted it into my freshly pierced ear. Closing the safety pin was a little tricky (read painful) but eventually I got it. Pride doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Try ‘warrior.’ Move over Sheena, the Ramones will be singing about me next! Ya, sure my ear lobe was red and throbbing and felt violated and betrayed but I was going to show off my new adornment at school tomorrow and nothing was going to stop me. Not even the fact that when I woke the next day, the victimized lobe was blazing hot and a tad puffy. I assured myself that my ear was simply adapting to the foreign piece of metal and eventually it would calm down.
|Miss Thirlwell rocks the halls|
I swaggered through the halls of my high school in a way that suggested, “I have just reached a new height of cool – ask me how.” Unfortunately, nobody did, so I had to go the extra mile and flick my hair back nonchalantly to unveil my handiwork. This was met with exclamations like “what the hell is that?” “does that hurt?” and “freak.” “Anarchy, baby,” I replied, “ nah” (yep), and “thank you.” It was obvious that my high school was not very progressive. The outlook was chronic Jock Nifty Journey with a sprinkling of Jethro Tull Stoner. By the time I got home from a long day of ‘show and tell’ and more teen angst, my ear lobe was the size of a golf ball. There was nothing safe about that safety pin. The next few days were pus-filled.
The second time I attempted to become pierced was in the doorway of a market on a small Greek island. It cost about five dollars to get the job done. My lobes became infected within 24 hours.
The third and last stab at giving pierced ears a go was at a community college. I was nervous about the lump of scar tissue that had formed in the lobe from the first two procedures but I hoped for the best. Surely the cosmetology program would be supervised with sterilized tools. I lasted about a week before my ears fully rejected the generic hoops. That’s it. Like a lady whose only choice is to adopt, I would spend my life wearing clip-ons. Although they fulfill the same desire they still aren’t really your own.
So maybe when multiple piercings came on the scene it only reminded me of my failed attempts. I wasn’t bitter. And when people explored new territories of punctuation I knew I would only be a spectator. And a listener: nothing says sophisticated like the impishly sweet lisp one acquires after having had their tongue pierced. Aw, you sound just like little Cindy Brady with that big fat dumbbell sticking through your tongue, how cute are you?
I mean edgy. Plus there’s the added bonus of the quasi-sexually suggestive distraction of said tongue-pierced talker spicing up the delivery of their words while playing tongue tag with their new slab of mouth metal. I know that for me, as an audience member, this is a mesmerizing way to spend an afternoon.
Are some of the other pierced areas of the body meant to be a type of code for things one would rather leave unspoken? For example, the barbell through the eyebrow, the dangling bellybutton chains, the hoops through nipples and places where no jeweler should have to venture.
Piercing for decoration can be a little confusing. I nearly made the faux paus of letting my local video store clerk know that she had a Tic Tac stuck to her chin. On closer inspection it was, in fact, ‘jewelry.’ I’ve always marveled at how people manage to get some of their piercings in what seem like tricky places. Did that dead bolt enter through your eye cavity in order to come out of your eyebrow? How does that work? How about those kids with shower curtain hoops in their earlobes stretched to the size of radial tires? And why am I so tempted to hang my dry cleaning from their ears while standing on the bus?
It seems the safety pin, like a collection of K-Tel hit-makers, had its fifteen minutes of fame and adoration and has been relegated back to its humble origins. No longer a statement of rebellion, now it mostly represents a lack of motivation for getting out the needle and thread to replace a button. But if, down the road, I’m feeling sentimental for that old punk rock feeling, I can take solace in knowing that when it comes time to wheel out the Depends, I can go the old school route and use a safety pin to secure them.
Friday, 28 May 2010
interview by Miss Alexandra Oliver
bonus: book review by Miss Justine Brown
our esteemed guest
AO: Ms. Mellor, first of all I would like to welcome you to Beauty Skool. We're all tremendous fans of yours.
CM: Thank you, I am so honored and happy that Beauty Skool has invited me to gab about my new book. And just generally shoot my mouth off. Fire away.
get the book! http://www.facebook.com/l/
AO: Well, that book really is a humdinger. I have to hand it to you. Finally, a manual for the over-20 set that respects our uniqueness and inner quirkitude! I find a lot of beauty books for gals of our level of elegance and experience to be either of the "throw in the towel and wear neutrals" variety or of the "you go, girl!" fierce post-Sex and the City variety. This was a like a drink of cool water, I have to tell you. What first tipped you off that the world was in need of a book like this?
CM: Because I was in need of a book like this! Maybe it was one too many "I'm forty and FABULOUS!" magazine covers sporting those ferociously toned, done-up women who all look like they're staring down middle age. They rarely look truly glamorous, and they often look like a caricature of "glamour," like they were dressed by a five-year old who dreams of being Miss America. When I wrote The Three-Martini Playdate, I had the same feeling about those mad parents... "If my child gets into the right preschool and is enrolled in nineteen enrichment classes, he'll end up at Harvard! Quickly! You must learn Mandarin!" I'm seeing the same kind of "I can FIX this" attitude with a lot of women, regarding their own aging selves. Also, I'm going through a number of changes myself, but I never seemed to see myself represented anywhere. And I knew that if I felt that way, then there had to be others. I think there are a lot of women out there who are edging toward that certain age, and they're not really sure exactly how to present themselves anymore... so they either recede into the background or they take a staunch stand against the inevitable with a barrage of injections and denial. But there's a lot of middle ground in there, don't you think?
AO: I definitely think so. The media is so youth-driven, and that creates a climate of uneasiness that's hard to ignore. And I think those extremes you speak of reek of that uneasiness, both the beige-and-elastic-waisted pants attitude and the hot, supercougar attitude. I think a lot of ladies are free and adventurous spirits and what makes them so, stylistically speaking, can be maintained in their lives as they press on into the more elegant years. My philosophy is this: one gets more confident about life, about love, about work and ideals and being a parent and all that. One gets a thicker skin and (hopefully) develops a sense of humor. Shouldn't that translate into maintaining one's personal style? Anyhow! I waffle! What has the response been to this book thus far, both amongst your friends and in the wider world?
CM: So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. (Other than the fact that there seem to be two camps when it comes to the "waxing" question.) But overall, I'd say the response could safely be called "enthusiastic." I especially love hearing things like "coffee came out of my nose," and "hilarious" from people who are not close friends or relatives. (The coffee in question was not scalding, by the way, and it apparently came out by way of an abrupt guffaw, in case you were worried.) So, yes, to all of the above. I hope my book will encourage more of the free and adventurous spirits to feel more free and adventurous. And to find and embrace our elegant maturity. But you're right... with a sense of humor. We mustn't lose that. And if we never had much of a sense of humor about ourselves, it's a perfect time to develop one.
By the way, did I mention how much I love "inner quirkitude?" Delightful. I wish that had been on the back cover.
AO: Why thank you! Neologisms are very handy! And coffee did, in fact, come out of my nose, too. Tell me, how did the research process for this book differ from, say, your research for the other books?
CM: I'm pretty sure the research for this book has been unconsciously going on for at least a few decades. The impetus to write it came more recently, but it may have started festering when I first noticed that various cosmetic procedures were no longer the purview of aging actresses-- it was trickling down to younger and younger actresses, then the female population in general. Until now it seems many women think nothing of rebuilding themselves from the ground up at the first sign of a laugh line. People's idea of "beauty" has gotten narrower and narrower, and I'm sad about that. Although there seems to be a little bit of a backlash. I love some of these big-girl models who are starting to show up on the pages of high-fashion magazines. Even if they are considered "plus size" at size 10 and 12! What a world. But back to your research question... the research for this book was the MOST fun kind of research. When I wasn't reaching back into my brain for stories, I was looking up bad plastic surgery on the Internet, ogling lipsticks and experimenting with homemade scrubs and face-masks. Whee! I've always envied those women whose jobs require them to endure countless facials and beauty treatments and massages, and then report their findings. How does one get a job like that?? I ask you. Sheer heaven.
AO: One thing that blew me out of the water about your book was the sheer volume of marvelous tips. I have personally been rejoicing in the olive oil and sugar face scrub recipe. Have you culled any fabulous beauty tips since the book's appearance that you wish you'd managed to shoehorn in?
CM: Strawberries! If you have any smooshed ones you won't be eating, mash them up with a little salt or sugar, maybe a drop or two of olive oil. There are a lot of good fruit exfoliants -- oranges, papaya. Maybe I could have stressed how easily you can incorporate some of these tips into your life. For instance, you're mashing avocados for a lovely party guacamole? Just scrape off a few teaspoons' worth of avocado and rub it all over your face. (In your hair, too, if you're planning on a pre-party shower.) Continue your party preparations with a green face, and simply remove with a warm washcloth before getting dressed for the evening. Oh! And for a great mask after cleansing, smash some banana in with a little honey and olive oil. It's messy, but so good for your skin. This one is best done while you're soaking in your bath of asses milk, or lying down in a bed of lavender flowers. It gets drippy. Yogurt and honey is a nice combination, too. I don't think I mentioned that one in the book. Did I? Maybe I did. Oh! Rub an orange slice on your face and neck, it's a fruit acid exfoliant. You know, I just had a thought--my sons like to eat seaweed, so we always have sheets of that toasted nori in the kitchen. I'm thinking that a sheet of seaweed, dampened and placed over the face might make a nice mask. Perhaps not the toasted kind. Hm, I'll get back to you on that.
AO: Summer is almost upon us; we at the Beauty Skool are filling out report cards, cleaning off the desks, rolling up the maps of our glamour empire and generally preparing for the summer holidays. How does your beauty regime change in the summer? How can we all look resplendent at all those barbecues and garden parties and beach sing-a-longs?
CM: I don't think we want to be laden down with too too much makeup during the hotter months. And it's kind of nice going bare-faced. Within reason. You want your skin to look beautiful and glowing, so use whatever it is you like to even out your skin tone, but just use it in spots. Find a comfortable, cool summer shift. Wear a straw hat. Put your hair in braids, or slick it back into a bun. Try out some orange lipstick. It may look awful, but try it. And if it looks awful, just try a red that's brighter than what you're used to. Or fuchsia, it really looks better on than it does in the tube. Just for fun. Or a bronzing powder on your face paired with dark red lips. Or bare lips and lots of eyeliner. If it's muggy and hot where you live, you'll find you want less of everything on your face, but think gels and stains rather than heavy foundations and powders. I need a little powder on my shiny parts, but I don't want so much that a little shine can't show through. You want to see skin and a few freckles in the summer, I think.Big gold earrings, a straw hat and flip flops, a cotton shift. And a big, sunny, lazy smile. Now, go find a hammock and a good book. Maybe have a little nap before that big party. I hope I got an A in Beauty Skool! (goes out singing "Teacher's Pet... I wanna be teacher's pet...")
AO: Tan or no tan?
CM: Well, too much sun really does do terrible things to your skin. And there's something to be said for being the pale lily-skinned lovely with the wide-brimmed hat, parasol and gloves. I really try to avoid the sun -- although a little romping around in it should really be done more often by everyone. And (gasp!) without sunscreen. We're not getting enough vitamin D! Just don't lie down in it for hours on end. If you are going to be out in it for hours, wear a hat and protect your skin. I have a bathing suit with fabulous three-quarter sleeves and a zip down the front. It's from Australia, where they make fantastic sun-protection clothing, because they have a big hole in their ozone. I feel very Bond Girl in it, and it keeps my shoulders from getting sunburned. But I do like the look of a tan sometimes, so I like to find a nice bronzing powder. A little dusting of bronze with some nice dark red lips, there's a good look. You don't need to go for the whole orange-y faux-tan, please. There's a reason why faux tans usually look so faux. When a person actually gets "tan," it's a very painterly combination of colors (depending on what your skin type is, of course) -- but pinks, Indian reds, and various golds and bronzes are often involved. And the color is never distributed evenly. So the best plan for making your color look as natural as possible is to dust a little bronzing powder on the bridge of your nose, your cheeks, your forehead and chin, your collarbones. Maybe your shoulders. Don't go overboard, and let your skin show through. If you're an overly shiny person, as I am, I usually need to tamp down the excessive shine on my forehead, for fear of blinding passersby. But leave a little shine on your cheeks and a bit on your forehead, so you don't look too powdered. Mix a little blush with the bronzer dusted on your cheeks, and maybe a swipe on the bridge of your nose. You want to look as if you just ran down the beach. And then quickly went back under your big umbrella.
AO: All right, you have your tan (or not), your hat, your red lipstick, your amazing sundress. What sort of shindig do you like to throw at this time of the year? And what's the de rigeur drink of the season? I long, personally, for my father's Pimm's cup.
AO: Enough said! I hereby declare this summer open! (Cuts ribbon, smashes champagne bottle.) And thank you, Ms. Mellor! You're welcome at Beauty Skool any old time!