30 June 2011

Autumn Winter 2011 Collection from Littlewoods Ireland

This model shot is a good representation of the 3 main catwalk stories of the evening - 20s, 40s and 70s stylee.
Just before I set off on my hols (which you can read about here if you're so inclined), I went along to the launch of the Littlewoods Ireland AW11 collection in Fallon & Byrne. The new collection was available for scrutiny and stylist Cathy O’Connor talked guests through key pieces which featured as part of two fashion shows taking place on the evening.
I’ve never bought anything from Littlewoods before and I surprised myself by falling for several of the pieces out on display, including several little dresses, a couple of jackets and my two favourite pieces which I’ll show you in just a little bit.
When it came to the shows, I really liked the 40s inspired, pre-war ‘past voyager’ look which featured vintage inspired prints, peter pan collars and cape jackets paired with flat brogues. As a big Boardwalk Empire fan the 1920s flapper style also floats my boat with its embellished details and delicate colour palette of nudes, beige and off-whites.  A high-glamour Studio 54 inspired story also featured with the standout look for me being the floor sweeping pleated jumpsuit (far right, above) – but fret not, I don't plan to attempt this myself.
However, I do plan to invest in this lovely pleated midi skirt, below, and my friend Allsun and I will have to toss a coin to see who picks up this chunky knitted cardie – it was worn on the catwalk with little suede boots and to be honest I forget what else, but I want to say a little day dress because I think that sounds only gorgeous.
South pleated midi with concealed zip; €54. LOVE.

Chunky knitted cardigan with gold chain detail - €82. Yes, it is designed by Colleen Rooney. And yes, I still like it.
 Shop the collection now at http://www.littlewoodsireland.ie/ or view the social shots from the launch event on the fluff and fripperies facebook page.

29 June 2011

Elba and its Acqua dell'Elba

Image from Hotel Barsalini website

With its jaw-dropping-ly dramatic scenery and abundance of natural outdoor pursuits like cycling, horse-riding and kayaking, the beautiful Isola d’Elba is wildly popular with Italian and German holidaymakers. But it seems that most of Ireland and the UK have yet to succumb to its appeal: in the four days we spent on this beautiful Italian island, just 12 miles off the Tuscan coast, we didn’t hear a single other native English speaking voice. (This, you understand, is far from a complaint.)

Arriving in the afternoon sunshine we gleefully navigated our rented convertible around hairpin bends and winding panoramic cliff roads like a James Bond car chase (just, y'know, in slow motion, brandishing guidebooks and with TWN Rental painted on both sides of our blue Fiat Punto Cabriolet).   
We found the lovely - and surprisingly affordable - Hotel Barsalini on the edge of the shore, at the foot of the island’s largest mountains, which are greenly carpeted with oak and chestnut trees and a riot of Mediterranean shrubs.  The scenery is intense and soothing: crystalline water, dramatic rock formations and countless remote coves and inlets to be explored by boat – my favourite memory of the island. The weather was perfect and the air perfumed with the island’s wildflowers and the tang of the sea.

So we tried to bring home the scent of the island through the local fragrance, Acqua dell’Elba, made with island ingredients like flowering shrubs, citrus and, apparently, even seaweed makes the mix.

I fell hard for the eau de nil packaging and the bottles are lovely in their simplicity, but I’m a little wary of the perfume’s pale turquoise hue. Sure, it’s reminiscent of the sea, but do I really want to spray blue dye on my skin?

But the fragrances themselves are lovely: I have the classic women’s version which is light, fresh and not too sweet. Himself opted for Arcipelago which is richer and more musky. Both remind me of other scents, so they’re not terribly original, but they conjure up memories of warm summer days and nights regardless.
I would have learned more had I visited the lab where they’re made -  but I didn’t. I also didn’t get to the small archaeological museum in Marciana, the cable car on Monte Capanne or Napoleon's former residence in Portoferraio - but that’s all ok with me. They wait to be explored on our next trip back.  And until then, a spritz or two of my Acqua dell’Elba will take me right back in a heartbeat.

28 June 2011

WANTSIES! Chanel nail it, yet again

Sigh. No matter how many times I swear off Chanel nail polishes due to the arguably questionable quality/value ratio, they inevitably lure me back in with their new season colour offerings. And the Fall 2011 collection is no different: I pretty much want every one of these gorgeous earthy metallics, available now from chanel.com. Pictured L-R are Graphite, PĂ©ridot and Quartz ... which one floats your boat?

09 June 2011

5 Holiday Make-Up Essentials: "We're all going on a summer holiday"...

I’m flying out to Italy tomorrow and the only part of packing I can tolerate is playing with all my lovely new holiday makeup. Pared back, protective and waterproof are the order of the day; here’s what’s coming with me in my suitcase:
Nails Inc polish in Orange Candy
This bright and juicy shade is the perfect summer colour and I love it all the more for being free with this month’s InStyle magazine. (There are lots of other great freebies on offer at the moment too – Karen has the lowdown.)  Orange Candy looks ever so slightly muted in the bottle but goes on vibrant and glossy; will look fab with a bit of a tan.
The Body Shop Big & Curvy Waterproof Mascara, €16.50
Big & Curvy has gone waterproof for summer and promises up to four times more volume, thanks to its sculpting, fibre-twist brush. Ophthalmologist tested, this claims to be waterproof, tear-proof and smudge-proof – I’ll be wearing it at a friend’s wedding in Italy, so I’m sure I’ll test out all three claims!
NYC Liquid Lip Shine in Fashion Avenue Fuchsia, €2.29
NYC is relatively new to Ireland and has seriously impressed the beauty blogosphere by providing big results at teeny tiny prices. These Liquid Lip Shines are a snip at €2.29 and a slick of this glossy, super pigmented pink will hopefully deliver the perfect poolside pout.
Laura Mercier oil free tinted moisturiser SPF 20, €48
This product is suitable for all skin types and provides lightweight coverage, absorbing oil while also hydrating to prevent dryness. With this price tag it had better be good,  but I’ve only heard great things; in her column for The Guardian, Sali Hughes wrote: “I don’t know what to say except, buy it”. And so I did.
The Body Shop Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser SPF 30, €17
The first SPF 30 product from The Body Shop, this lightweight, easily-absorbed daily moisturiser offers UVA/UVB protection and contains camu camu berry and moisturising Community Trade brazil nut oil. Promises to revitalise the skin, leaving it soft, smooth and radiant.
So there you have it. Along with the requisite sun-creams and bug repellent (those pesky little blighters in Italy feckin’ LOVE me), I’ll also be bringing those lovely Kiehls and Clarins lip balms I told you about recently, a nice bright cream blusher and a cooling facial spritz. And that’s about all I’ll need for the trip...but I’ll still chuck half of the bathroom into my suitcase right before I leave, and not use any of it while I’m away. Look, that’s just how I roll.
I’ll report back on all these products when I’m back in two weeks’ time.
Laters, lovelies!

Oh and listen, why not enter my competition while you're here?

08 June 2011

Top Ten Tips for Beautiful Brows and Win! A Threading Session and Consultation at Elysian Brows

Libby Ryan, salon owner at Elysian Brows on Dawson Street, Dublin 2
I’m still delighted with the results of my recent visit to Elysian Brows, and now you can experience the effects for yourself as salon owner, Libby Ryan, is offering one lucky reader of fluff and fripperies a FREE consultation and threading session at her plush Dawson Street premises. To win, you just need to be a fan of fluff and fripperies on Facebook and leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on the Facebook page on Monday, 27th June (when I get back from holiday!).

Libby is also sharing her considerable brow know-how here, with her top 1o tips for beautiful brows:

“They say that the eyes are the window to the soul.  If this is true, we should remember that the eyebrows frame the face and when shaped correctly can enhance our appearance.  Some say it is the closest to a facelift without the surgery.  At Elysian Brows we believe that everyone has a unique brow structure and we strive to create perfectly groomed, defined brows with precision.  Here are our Top Ten Tips...

1.       Cleanse and exfoliate your skin regularly, especially around the eyebrows, to prevent blocked pores and maintain a healthy looking brow shape.  Never back-brush your brows as it could damage the hair follicle and some may fall out, especially if your brows are sparse to begin with.

2.      Always avoid your brows when applying foundation. Apart from not being pleasing on the eye, it’s tricky to remove and dries into the hairs, which can cause a build-up of bacteria.

3.      Don’t over-pluck.  Once a week tidy the obvious strays.  When plucking your brows yourself always use a good quality stainless steel tweezers; slanted ones work best for getting the short hairs.

4.      Never use wax on your brows, as it can cause saggy, toughened skin and droopy eyelids.  The skin around your eyes is very delicate, so needs to be protected.  Waxing can cause irritation, inflammation and the occasional ingrown hair.  Methods like threading are far kinder than using hot wax on such delicate skin.

5.      Let your brows breathe once in a while.  Try not to pluck for a month or so: not as easy as it sounds but it does them the world of good to grow them out every now and again.  

6.      The summer is a great time to let your brows grow as Vitamin D helps strengthen and stimulate the hair follicles.

7.      When maintaining brows at home, only pluck one hair at a time, in the direction it should be growing in.  Stretch the skin and grab each hair at the base, ensuring you pull the root also.

8.     Never pluck above the brow.  Threading is the only safe and recommended method above the brow as tweezing or waxing those finer hairs can snap and break the hair causing the follicle to split and separate which can lead to split, ingrown or darkened hairs.

9.      Massage the brow area with deep circular movements to stimulate the follicle to grow. This also aids with facial muscle tone.

10.  Always consult a brow specialist before you even consider tattooing your eyebrows.  Expert advice is essential as there are so many options, good AND bad.  The bad can leave you looking permanently shocked or with unsightly and uneven brows which can take years to fade.”

There are some great tips here: personally, I’m going to try and let my brows grow out a little while I’m (hopefully) sunning myself in Italy next week. What about you, any advice here that you weren’t aware of or will be trying out for yourself?

07 June 2011

NOTD: Thinking of Blue, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure

After much, much consideration and review I have decided that my absolute favourite of all the gorgeous Sally Hansen Complete Manicure shades is this one, #460, Thinking of Blue. This has really surprised me: I’m generally not a massive fan of blue nail polishes and in fact till about a month ago there wasn’t even one in my collection. That’s all changed with the addition of Catrice’s Blue Cara Ciao and NYC’s Pier 17 – both beautiful blues, but there’s something about the Sally Hansen shade that I find absolutely mesmerising. When it’s on my nails I keep drifting off mid-sentence, lost in admiration and trying to work out the best way to describe this stunning blue creme polish. Having spent more time than I should have googling shades of blue I’ve decided that Indigo or French Navy Blue are probably the most accurate descriptions but, whatever you call it, I call it love. Two coats of this is all you need to get a gorgeous opaque finish and, like all the colours in the Complete Manicure range, there’s no need for a separate base or top coat.  With Thinking of Blue, I really have achieved the best finish on my nails that I’ve seen outside a salon.  I’m swooning.
It’s obviously a clear favourite with one Mr Paul Weller, too, who’s even more effusive than I am: “I'm thinking of blue/And the things you do to me/That make me love you/Now I'm living in ecstasy”.
That’s what he’s saying, right? Maybe you’d better listen for yourself:

Review of Clarins Colour Quench Lip Balm in 06, Sweet Papaya

The 8 new shades in the Colour Quench range - Sweet Papaya is 3rd from the right.
This lovely lip balm, my new favourite, delivers both colour and care in one pretty gold-topped tube. The Clarins Colour Quench range has been around for a while but the formula has been enhanced and new colours added to the line as part of the brand's Mosaique collection for Summer 2011. I have completely fallen in love with shade 06, Sweet Papaya, which is a beautiful coral shade that looks and feels divine. 

It has a lovely creamy texture which, coupled with a delicious fruity taste and smell, makes it an absolute joy to wear. My lips feel nourished and hydrated with a gorgeous glossy sheen  -  and no stickiness, a personal bug bear of mine (and probably any woman with hair long enough to get stuck to her lips!).  With this product you get the shine and colour payoff of a gloss with the conditioning qualities of a balm – it’s packed with high quality ingredients like mango oil, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to hydrate and protect. A lovely product all round and at 15ml a generous size too, so well worth the €20 price tag in my opinion. While I was sent this one to try out, I’m already planning my next purchases from the range – peach nectar and strawberry sorbet, I’m looking at you!

06 June 2011

Yes, Nicola Roberts, I *will* dance to the beat of your drum...

…and so will a hell of a lot of other people, I’ll wager.

Never a Girls Aloud fan, I have a soft spot for Nicola Roberts nonetheless. There’s the fashion thing of course, and her business smarts with successful make-up line Dainty Doll, and the way she shed that permatanned girl band look to not only embrace her naturally pale skin but to speak out against the dangers of tanning. Being an eyebrow fanatic, I also love her increasingly fuller face framers, too. Nicola took a lot of abuse in the early days of Girls Aloud – being dubbed the ugly one, the ginger one – but didn’t let it stop her, emerging as a strong, successful, talented and yes, sexy, woman in her own right.

So I really hope her new single, Beat of My Drum, is a smash hit for her. Released yesterday from her forthcoming album Cinderella’s Eyes, the track is produced by Diplo and has drawn comparisons with MIA. The album has also been contributed to by Dimitri from Paris, a favourite of mine, along with Dragonette and Metronomy - so I'm expecting good things. 

I'm rooting for her even more now I've heard the clearly autobiographical lyrics to Beat of My Drum:

Once upon a time I pressed rewind
Two left feet, I had no beat
Baby in the corner learning quick
Keep up, keep up, keep up
Graduation take a bow
See how strong you’ve made me now
Two steppin’ all over me, then cha cha cha cha I’m in!
Oh don’t it make your heart go wow
Oh how I’ve turned this whole thing round

And you know what? It really does. Make my heart go wow, that is. Fair play to you, girl. From now on, nobody puts Baby in the corner.

But now the all important question: what do you think of the track itself? Tell me what you make of it in the comments...