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POWDER ROOM: FROM ZERO TO AMY WINEHOUSE HAIR-STYLE TWIN IN JUST 30 MINUTES!

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Strolling around some of my favorite alleys in east London last november I discovered this iper-pretty little place that looked like a miniature Bugsy Barkley film set from the 30s: The Powder Room. A place of glamour and pamper for girls with a taste for retro-beauty treatments.

As I peeked inside, behind the large glass window, I saw women wrapped in tight pink & black uniforms completed with lovely black pillow-hats trasforming other women from plain looking ladies to classical hollywood goddesses.

It was such a beautiful sight that on a recent lazy sunday I decided to get back to the Columbia Road address to try out the wonder on myself, but what I found out instead was that the prettiest beauty parlor in town was on its last opening day. I bought a gazillion products on sale and walked home with a little disappointment staining the glamour-spot in my little girly heart.

Thank god, even though the beauty parlor closed down, the work of the Powder Room staff did not end: in fact they continue helping beauty spread across the oceans not only as a glamour task force anyone can book for private events and parties, but also in a “pop-up store” kind of fashion, by regularly treating costumers to their magic at the Hoxton Hotel and every saturday at Paper Dress the vintage-shop/bar/live-music-joint on Curtain Road, right next to the London College of Fashion.

As I walked into Paper Dress I immediately noticed that this is definetively a place where I would want to go back to buy a piece or two for my ever-growing vintage dresses & accessories collection, since it is the ONLY vintage shop in London that clearly does not overprizes items. Rare habit in this days and age where even old label-ess crap gets a fat prize-tag, in order to cater the bulimic appetites of the average fashion-monkey.
The fun in vintage garnments’ hunting relies on the power of random discovery, knowledge & recognition of that one truly rare precious piece and, above all, on the power of the impossible bargain, which is that childish feeling of over-excitement of having been so immensively cool and smart to have stolen candies from a child who did not even imagine the value of what he gave away for a small bunch of pennies. Otherwise it’s just another way to throw money into the burning furnace of fashion industry without getting much in return, not even a little fun.
Well, at first sight, I reckon that one could easily walk out of Paper Dress with exactely that inebriating feeling and new dresses (and a taste of good coffie and cakes and live music) on top of it!

Sadly, I did not have enough time to explore the shop in depth. I went to Curtain Road with only half an hour free time and a mission: getting myself be transformed in the fine coiffing hands of the Powder Room lovely girls!

A quick glance at the look book, illustrating styles spanning from the 20s to the 70s, and I left the choice to the pretty girl in pink, also known as the stylist who was about to work a miracle on my thick mediterranean wild long hair. And indeed a miracle is what she worked on me!
I sat on the Powder Room‘s chair an overworked, always in a hurry, wild-haired girl and next thing I know, 30 minutes later, I was transformed into the hair-style-twin of late singing queen Amy Winehouse! Daring one might say. YES! But it came out so good I had to revise all my prejudices about back-combed 60s heavy hairdoes. Only half an hour of pamper and I walked out a good looking happy camper!

Everything about the experience has been pleasant, from the care they took in styling me to the lovely time I had conversating with the Powder Room founder, who told me how she went from being a Film and Tv hair & make-up expert to starting her own business, spreading fun, style and beauty into the world with her posse of great professional stylists, known as the Powderpuff Girls.

I am now convinced that these girls can do it all: from Downton Abbey to Mad Men, all it takes it’s only 30 minutes in their hands!

Being so close to the release of Baz Luhrmann‘s new film “The Great Gatsby” promising to scream roaring 20s’ grandeur in every single detail, there is only one number in town to call to get tuned to the coming style new age of bobs and waves, thin lips and smokey eyes, take note:
Powder Puff Girls +44 844 879 4928 …they’ll deliver the style & glam 100% with a touch of fun!

to get a little inspiration, here’s the trailer for Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby”

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FASHION MAYHEM: CHANEL ACCORDING LAGERFELD

karl Chanel-printemps-ete-2013
Being fashionably late as I am, exactly a week after Paris Fashion Week I started looking into the “new old newness” of every fashion season from up close, and threw myself into scrutinising catwalk empire, where only one man is king and that man goes by the name of Karl Otto Lagerfeldt, otherwise known as simply Karl Lagerfeld, the german designer who ows it all, from Chanel to Fendi, and rocks it steady since his early apprentice days at Balmain & Patou‘s, back in the 20th century.

Aware of his greatness and having loved more than a few of his past collections, the Lagerfeld super-powers were never so blatantly clear to me as in the spectacle of his Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture show at The Grand Palais in Paris, where a forest (as in wild plants and tall ancient trees!) was moved to the venue and re-arranged as backdrop set to the infinite show of display of the richly diverse collection The Keiser (as he is nicknamed in the industry’s corridors) designed for once-upon-a-time divine Mademoiselle Cocos fashion brand.

Moving a forest, that is probably one of the many underlying concepts hidden in Lagerfeld‘s statement to the  New York Times saying that “They let me do anything I want…” referring to the Wertheimer brothers, Chanel’s owners. They give Karl free range, Karl gives back solid revenues (mainly coming from perfumes… yes, because the whole shebang of fashion glits&glam, fine couture and pret-a-porter dreams made of pretty dresses and starstruck liaisons is maintained by and built for the sake of perfumes’ top sales).

But what about the actual collections?

As Lagerfeld became more and more capable to claim full freedom and more and more exploring his creativity in just about every field it can be exploited in (the only artistic field in which King Karl is not involved is music, but I bet he is working on it!), his work grew into a sort of fashion design mayhem where anything goes all at once and in one single collection. The last Paris show in the displaced forest under the Grand Palais gracious roof is no exception: plumage & sequins, lace & flowers, chiffon & leather cuissardes, all in one outfit, time all the exits in the show, makes quite a lot to digest for the strongest of stomachs, even when, as in this case, the manufacturing is finer than fine (but we cannot expect less than hand-made perfection from a true Chanel Couture, can we?). Also the style ranges simultaneously from romantic girl to goth vixen, from countryside edwardian lady to classic Chanel’s tailleur-ed woman …in short: just too much to chew, sorry.

Traditionally Chanel brought to the surface the strong idea of a new woman, one that Mademoiselle Coco could well grasp and understand. A self-made woman, chic with a touch of glamour, feminine and strong, claiming new grounds in society without giving in to the temptation of becoming too masculine or too cold. Trademark of that style was the juxtaposition of pearls and pants, suites and fine tweeds graced by jewel-like buttons. In one word the Chanel touch.

But today what woman the iconic french maison has in mind? I fail to understand.
Instead it resonates loud and clear what man Chanel is talking about: its exceptional demiurge, Karl Lagerfeld himself.

In conclusion:
Dear Chanel, we love Karl, but next seasons please CHERCHEZ LA FEMME!

here is the Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture show

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POWDER ROOM for all your retro-beauty parlor needs

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Back in 1961 the legendary Holly Golightly casually declares in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to take 50$ from her generous dates each time she goes to the Powder Room, today in 2012 at the POWDER ROOM on Columbia Road in London for that same price one might get treated to a “Jiffy Make-up” a “Speedy Hair Do”or a fast manicure. In the hands of pretty pin-up girls, stylishly dressed in pink & black uniforms, in a 40’s interior screaming retro-glam in every detail, the ladies fancying to pop in this charming little shop can have a complete make-over Hollywood classics style while sipping cocktails & tasting pretty puffy pastries. In the 1944 film by Vincent Sherman, Bette Davis firmly says in the words of Mrs. Skeffington  “A woman is beautiful if she sleeps 8 hours every night and goes to the Beauty Parlor every day…” well, next time I decide to follow that piece of advice I exactly know where I should go: 136 Columbia Road!

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KATE 3D and the fine art of slow motion.

The Fashion Film movement has found its new prophet and its lavish muse! Ballie Walsh and Kate Moss have once again teamed up to create magic. After the much talked about Olographic film for Alexander McQueen (RIP) in 2006, the pair got back on the same film set to deliver enthralling beauty in the KM3D-1 film for AnOther Magazine.

but what’s so special about it?

first and foremost the slow motion, that warps the pace of time to an everlasting ode to timeless beauty. The result is mesmerising. So much so that one forgets even about the 3D effect, which in comparison to the slowmo trick, becomes just another gimmick, only good for PR purposes.

In fact, it seems that slow motion is the must of the season in Fashion Film land. YSL new promo, also makes large use of it, but not with the same results.

In KM3D-1 the slowmo effect brings the whole aesthetics to a new level. It almost captures the essence of beauty, which is by nature suspended in time, between earthy transience and godly impenetrable semblance.

The trick here lays in the advanced technical features of the state-of-the-art Phantom cameras and the use of an old movie technique called “overcranking“, which involves shooting at a higher frame per second rate and then playing the film at the normal speed. In this case the film was shot at 1.000 frames per second; considering that the normal rate is 24, the resulting speed is so slow that movement is almost imperceptible.

KM3D-1 goes straight in my top 10 greatest film slow motion moments (right along with Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai, the first Matrix and the amazing explosion scene in Scorsese‘s Casino!)

here goes Kate M, the slowmo goddess:


and the making of:

and a bonus: the Ologram Kate, 2006 (for Alexander McQueen)

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NEW YEAR GLOW

Philips Design Probes - image curtesy of Philips

For a fashionista, victim of her-own-little self, and high-tech curious as myself the idea of illuminating dames sensible to the mission of making – not suffering – style, by veawing fiber optic, LED lights and any similar device to fashion items is the next galaxy to explore…starting from the coiffeur all the way to the shoes, eventually making little incursions in the home decoration & design department.

So, as I said, let’s start from the hair. On the most simple level, it could be a good idea to flash luminence products for the new year: fabulously glowing threads that will make hairdoes shine in the dark and even in plain daylight. Sublime blaze will shine from your hairdoes, loads of little pearls of  light enameling your locks will surely be a fun diversion from usual and dull hairstyles. I’ll try them on for sure!

As I will definetively try to sport some of the following:

1) The Climate Change Dress
absolutely brilliant concept (althoug on the fashion design side some improvement could be made) by Danish Design School and Forster Rohner embroidery company, and sponsored by Carlsberg’s ”Idé-legat” and Alexandra Institutes research fond. The dress main point of attraction are its finely embroided LED lights that – mesdames and monsieurs! – will lighten up only if sensing the presence of high CO2 concentration in the air, that’s right: the more the air is polluted, the brighter your dress will be! To put it in the words of its creators: “Let’s give Power to the dress”.

2) Philips SKIN Dresses (or just ANY of the Philips Design Probe project!):
Shining Clothing pieces designed to sense emotions and give them a different shade of light, literally!
There are just 2 Prototypes: Bubelle that reacts to mood swings and emotional imputs and Frisson that turns into lights sensotions caused by external factors, for instance by the wind on someone’s skin. Soo forward you’d wish to be already in the Future to see the day evryone will wear such a garnments!

Art director on yet another of Philips Design amazing projects is Lucy McRae (click on her name and you’ll be prompted to her blog, which is really worth a look!)

following is a video showing Bubelle dress:

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Parfumes en vogue

harajuku_gwen_stefani-fall-fragrance-500x363.jpgI have to admit, my sense of fashion resented from my decision to spent more time in provincial south of Italy. Just a few days ago I decided to dust it off and sport my american apparel two color pantyhose in the town’s main street, the black&white retro look caused such a commotion that I had to laugh about how people, caught by supreme surprise, were so shameless to not even hide their comments – “look at it! one socks is black and the other one is white!”– shouting them at loud as I was happily gliding through the street. Two colored pantyhose is definetively a radical way of life at this latitude! Let’s hope it’ll be not as radical as embracing the Harajuku’s faith, starting from a small step: Harajuku Lovers Snow Bunnies limited edition Perfume. Cute as fluffy pink rabbits with huge manga starry eyes, 5 perfume bottles shaped by none-the-less than Pop Star Gwen Stefani, who signed the serie already last year: the new Snow Bunnies are the same characters with a change of clothes…ever-cuter little dolls to lighten up our bathrooms and beauty stands!

My personal favourite? Baby & Love.

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ECO-FASHION STRIKES BACK

Getting back on the issue of sustainable fashion, I found an address worth a check: Folets Arte e Cuoio based in Fano, Italy. Andrea Traina, the artisan behind the brand, decided to start an entirely hand-made collection of leather objects…so far nothing too out of the ordinary, what is really exceptional is the decision to avoid the use of anything that might pollute the environment, including electricity. Yes, I did say electricity! Mr.Traina found and repaired an antique “analogue” machine to help him in his work, he makes his own tools and tans the leather only with natural substances. Everything seems Green-elicious, but what about the prices? There is no trace of the rates on the company’s website…I am curious, could someone let me know if even the check for such artifacts is as friendly to the wallet as it is for mother earth?
 
 

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