Paris Fashion Week – Whelmed

It has taken me an entire week to get enough enthusiasm together to write something about Paris Fashion Week. It is usually the high point for me, where creativity and wearability collide with some happy bonkers moments too. I don’t know what is going on at the moment with regards the amount of fur being used by fashion houses. A few years ago, it was sporadic, tiny bits would pop up, perhaps on a collar or a cuff, but all 4 weeks have been awash with it, thousand and thousands of beautiful animals have been electrocuted and skinned alive because of people’s ignorance or refusal to face up to the horrors of the trade. Even friends seems to be jumping back on the bandwagon in the shape of little real fur pompom on a wooly hat or the dead rabbit gilet which ‘came from China’ as if that somehow makes it alright. It revolts me, it is a disgrace and anyone who buys into this evil trade needs to get over themselves and show some compassion.

As a result, I’m only going to show looks from houses that had no fur. As far as the rest goes, if you are interested; Dior had several mustard coloured catsuits – which, lets face it, will never be seen on anyone, Rochas, usually beautiful, had strange frilly, ill-fitting, boob covers on most of their dresses,  YSL was horrendous. The look was ‘Britney during breakdown with added Pat Butcher;’ ripped fish nets and pvc mini-dresses with zips that rose above your crotch, covered with a leopard print jacket. There is nothing innovative or high fashion about that. It is lazy and frankly an embarrassment to the famous name it is designed under. Do I sound angry? That is because I am. Even old misery features; Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel collection was hideous. Of fur he said: “I’m very sympathetic. I hate the idea of killing animals in a horrible way ………. It’s horrible, no? So I prefer not to know it.” He may not have shown any fur in Chanel’s show that I could see (Fendi however, was awash with it) but it looked like this:

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Missoni on a bad day. Point made.

So, here are some looks by Stella and Vivienne, both unique and incredibly talented women who refuse to use fur, vegitarian and leaders in fashion. Who needs anything else?

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One beautiful winter coat and a wicked pair of platform boots (faux leather too – hurrah). Something slouchy, warm and chic to wear to the office:

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And a (Westwood-esque), super-structured dress to wear in the evening:

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Sure, these are all black/white or grey but hey, they go with anything.

Wonderful Dame Vivienne Westwood showed looks for both men and women. It has long been a gripe of my husband’s that men get such a short straw when it comes to fashion, their choices are so limited and they are forced to wear entirely pointless items such as ties in order to look acceptably ‘smart’. This is Vivienne Westwood’s perfect response to that:

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This coat looks amazing. There is no reason why men should be forced to wear only ‘masculine’ shapes. What the hell does that word mean anyway? Express yourselves and free yourselves from the boring world of men’s fashion! Set asside the polar fleece gilet and puffa jackets. Let’s get coat sharing! Apart from the possible size issues, I’m 100% for it!

Two gorgeous pieces:

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I love this top, it is classic Westwood, drapey and cinched at the waist. The trousers look great too, there isn’t enough grey pin-stripe in the world and turn ups can also become handy secondary storage areas if your pockets get full… And finally:

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It may not catch on but I am a much happier person for having seen it. The end.

(all photos from vogue.com)

Handmade Naturals Sensitive Face Cream – what a find!

Someone recently said to me ‘I would never put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat’, and I’ve thought about it a lot since then. If our skin is our biggest organ then we should be far more mindful of the chemicals we allow it to absorb through cosmetic use. When you read the ingredients list of your make up and facial creams, how much do you actually recognise? People now understand the benefits of eating healthy, fresh food but this is only part of the battle.

Due to my feelings about animal testing and the use of animal derivatives in products, I have almost stopped visiting shops like Boots. So this led me to search more widely on the internet and also ask questions on relevant Facebook boards. When I asked about plant-based, beauty for sensitive skin types I was recommended Handmade Naturals. I will be forever grateful to the person who did. It is a truly natural skin care range, using many of the oils I have been reading about as alternative antioxidant treatments. They are a small UK business and all their items are made here too. They are also 100% vegan and cruelty free.

I always try new products with some trepidation as I get reactions so easily. I was able to try their Unscented Sensitive Face Cream in a small travel sized bottle so I could check whether it was a great as I hoped before buying a full bottle.

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The ingredients are: purified water, virgin organic shea butter (butyrospermun parkii), unrefined rosehip seed oil (rosa moschata), golden jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis), peach kernel oil (prunus persica), emulsifying wax, aspen bark extract, vegetable glycerin, vitamin E oil (tocopherol).  I would happily eat it all!

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I used my small bottle within a couple of weeks and my skin absolutely loved it. No flare ups, no dramas. Jojoba oil, shea butter and rosehip oil are all well documented as being of great benefit to the skin and are also not irritating (though it is very important that every person tests their own skin’s reaction to new things). It is absorbed quickly, leaves the skin felling silky smooth and calm.  The creams come in pump-action bottles which are fantastic as they protect the cream from contamination (avoid buying anything to put on your face that comes out of a tub!) and stop you from using too much. One pump covers my whole face.

I have just bought their Unscented Plum & Avocado Face Cleanser and Unscented Hand & Body Lotion with Almond, Plum Kernel and & Virgin Cocoa Butter as I am hoping the rest of the range will be equally talented. If it passes the face and hands test then I an a genuinely very happy (and not itchy) person!

 

 

 

Lush’s Luscious Vegan Lipsticks

So my eternal search for a great vegan, lipstick seems to have reached its conclusion, or certainly found two options which leave most bases covered. The first is from Lush. When I mentioned my love of Lush lipstick to a friend the other day she  told me that she wouldn’t go in the shop ‘because it smelt like a granny’s knicker drawer’. I know what she means, it can be a bit overpowering but from a vegan perspective it is pretty great.

There is a wide range of colours, each with a name which represents the feeling a person may get when wearing it. I now have 4, from left to right: Strong, Confident, Passionate and Glamorous.

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The ingredients are as follows: Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis) , Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia cerifera) , Talc , Rose Wax (Rosa damascena) , Titanium Dioxide , Tin Oxide – along with whichever mineral colour the lipstick requires. Jojoba oil is fabulous for the skin because it is substance that is very similar to human skin oil. It is also not irritating to the skin. The talc content can be problematic to some though so this is worth noting. I also know very little about the rose wax. Lush claim it is good for soothing irritated skin and I feel I should do a little more research into this.

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‘Strong’ is my favorite colour, a orangy red which compliments my pale but slightly peachy skin tone. I’ve discovered that the trick to longevity is to use a good base of mineral foundation underneath it. I use a thin swipe of lip oil (usually rosehip oil) over my lips, once absorbed I use a concealer brush and pat my Lily Lolo mineral foundation into my lips. This protects them and stops you from getting those awful little bleed lines around your lips.

I love the colour ‘Confident’ too, it’s my Lourde lipstick but it is the least inclined to stay put so takes a fair bit of upkeep through the evening. The two pinks are great fun and the paler, ‘Glamorous’ has good staying power. If I’m honest I have only worn these for a few hours at a time, mostly due to the terror of rashy clown-mouth, my usual reaction to lip colour (in the bad old days when I didn’t realise I was allergic to carmine). I would be interested in other people’s experience with this, especially over an entire day.

My other big lipstick discovery has been from M&S and I will post about that in the next few days..

 

Milan Marmite Week AW 2015

After the lightheartedness of London Fashion Week I found myself in a bit of a fug at Milan’s offering. Ok, so they have some super big names but really, although it had its good moments it was awash with bad. And fur. Ugghh, so much fur, popping up in places where, dammit, it really took the piss (fur shoulder bows at Prada anyone?)

So, I’ll start with the good. Alberta Ferretti is always beautiful. A gorgeous warm looking cropped jacket and in white. I also can’t resist a Victorian looking white shirt or velvet over-knee boots it seems:

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She showed some beautiful brocade fabrics, I loved this suit:

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And my old friend the pinafore, this time almost medieval looking but beautiful non the less:

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Fendi was a bit all over the place but it started well. I think a large white winter coat is in order for next year:

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And a beautifully cut white winter dress:

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Prada was so wonderful for colour, shape and freshness and had no need for the endless fur additions. Many gorgeous dresses and jackets were ruined by random fur panels which I refuse to show. There was also a fascination with ostrich skin leather which was a bit much for me I’m afraid. However, here are some of the lovelies that got away without them:

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This may be kinda crackers but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate its many lovely aspects.

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I love camel coloured coats and I have no idea why this works, who puts metallic lime, scarlet and pink together and gets away with it. Fab.

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Maxmara was a bit of a snoozefest, but at least it was wearable:

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Ditto Armani. I actually couldn’t find anything I was mad about, masses of identical trousers, some with flaps (!) and some without. Plus it went on an on…

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Dolce & Gabbana was pretty much exactly the same as it has been for every show for the past 6 or so seasons. All very spanish in feel, lovely shapes and lots of very wearable pieces, however, with slightly overwhelming themes of mothers and roses.This was pretty ravishing:

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There was also some really quirky child-drawn fabric at the end.

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Now for the less great. I’ll start with Gucci. I have nothing good to say about this collection. It felt lazy, self-important and just didn’t work. And don’t start me on the dead-dog shoes.. My evidence:

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Not even Alexa Chung would wear this (cue Alexa Chung proving me wrong).

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Ok, here is a nice print. But honestly, I really had to think about whether to show any of them given the shoe, fur situation and the ugliness of it all.

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Missoni was equally ugly. It felt like a bunch of cheap knits and matchign leggings you’d buy on Kat Moon’s stall on the market:

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Versace still think they need to plaster their name on EVERYTHING in order to get people to wear it. Really?

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I’m a Scorpio so I should love this but I don’t. Its hideous. Thanks Pucci:

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And finally. A whole lot of WTF. Am I missing something. The irony? The fact that it is so utterly awful that its brilliant?? Explain PLEASE!! Moschino:

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Not

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Even

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KIDDING.

(all photos from vogue.com)

 

Rosehip Seed Oil – a one stop antioxidant choice for itchy people

I began to get interested in facial oils when I realised how many seed and fruit oils were used in my (then) favorite brand, Paula’s Choice – who I hold responsible for the turning me into a personal skin detective. Her ‘Skin Recovery’ range was a revelation, none of it irritated my skin and I particularly loved her moisturizing serums which made my skin keel silky and smooth. After examining the ingredients, along with other items in her range I realised how much of it stemmed from plant and seed oils; grape, olive, raspberry, cranberry, evening primrose, the list goes on.

My skin reacts horribly to any fragranced essential oils and although many companies produce natural cosmetic products using these oils as their base they so often add this killer ingredient which makes it immediately unusable for me. So I decided that I would learn as much as I could about these simple oils and make my own.

I contacted bloggers, and people who sold the oils online to get the best feel for what could work for my skin. They all invariably started with Rosehip Seed Oil.

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The first thing it is important to know is that oils are not bad for your skin. It is a common held belief that applying oil, especially to acne prone skin will cause breakouts, clog pores and generally cause greasy havoc. The reality is that oils protect the skin’s lipid barrier and are great at preventing moisture from evaporating from the skin. Most natural oils are easily absorbed, not greasy, and noncomedogenic; that is, they have a low potential to clog pores, which makes oils perfect for all skin types, even mine.

Rosehip Seed oil is extra special because is a ‘dry oil’ meaning that it soaks into the skin easily and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. It is high in fatty acids and rich in vitamins and antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, Vitamin A (retinol), and linoleic and linolenic acids which are all great for your skin’s health. It is particularly good in the fight against dry, weathered, and dehydrated skin which at this time of the year is my main problem.

I was nervous the first time I tried it neat from the bottle  and was fully prepared for the nightmare of face-rash breakout. To my surprise, my skin drank it in like water. Since then I have worn it under my night-time moisturizer and also used it as a super gentle make-up remover which it does brilliantly.

I bought my little bottle from Rejuvenoils, a small family business who sell through eBay. There were really informative while I tried to decide which oils to buy and the product is of a very high quality.

 

Tata Naka – a lesson in colour, pattern and quirkiness

Back in 2000 when I started knitting and only dreamed of doing it for a living, Tata Naka had just launched their label and had shown at London Fashion Week for the first time. It was a beautiful, whimsical collection which mixed modern shapes with vintage fabrics from their birth place Tbilisi in Georgia. I particularly coveted a pale pink, hand knitted jumper in a batwing shape where one sleeve had been replaced with beautiful, delicate lace.

Fast forward 15 years and they are still as innovative as ever, using bold colours and patterns in wearable shapes, often with a wink to their heritage or an interesting period in time.

On the 11th February, Vogue.com posted this mood board from their upcoming collection:

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This glimpse into the story behind the upcoming collection, showing, amongst other things, a little nod to Asian styles and shapes, shown through the multitude of images of classic Asian actresses and the Chines dragon print. It is no secret that I love colour and especially appreciate it when used in AW collections. This all made me more than a little bit excited and the resulting show was not a disappointment. These prints are mouth-watering, as is the colour palette:

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I also love a good, bold monochrome print and in a long-sleeved, maxi-length dress it is a complete winner

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Why not throw it together with another pattern? Bingo! The pleated multi layered skirt can cover a multitude of sins as does the polo-neck cut top.

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To me this is a garment for our (generally not very warm) English summers, to a wedding or party when you really can’t face uncovering your arms or permi goose-bumped legs:

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And if you are self-conscious about revealing your stomach (which is pretty much all of us) then:

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Their prints are pieces of art, it’s as simple as that. Who doesn’t want a suave, cravat wearing man on their skirt?

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Did I mention warm? Actual, warm looking winter clothes. For winter! And crushed velvet! Oh, you’ve come a long way since the early 1990s..

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And lots of white too. It just gave it such a fresh and light feel. Nothing dour here..

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And finally – no collection loved by me would be complete without a mullet relating item, seen here as a side-mullet top…

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This last one might just be overkill but so what. It is fashion fun at its best and not a dead animal in sight.

(all images from vogue.com)

Urtekram – Danish Organic Hugs for your Hair and Skin

My local health food shop (Well Natural in Salisbury) is small but manages to cram a lot into its shelves, stocking everything from vitamin supplements to vegan chocolate and even a little coffee shop. The staff aren’t particularly knowledgeable, especially when it comes to being vegan (I’ll probably have a little rant about this in another post). But it has been a life saver over the past few newly vegan months.

I’ve been able to research brands they supply to see which would be suitable for a vegan with über sensitive skin like mine and was excited to see a new brand: Urtektram on the shelves in the shampoo section. The excitement came, not only because it was cruelty free and vegan but because it have ‘NO PERFUME’ in bright yellow on the front of the bottle – score!

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In the days prior to my enlightenment regarding my allergy triggers (fragrance/SLS/lanolin etc) I had to wash my hair wearing rubber gloves. This has been a source of great hilarity for my friends and family.  I still do in fact, many years of bad reactions has left me nervous of risking days of steroid ointment and white cotton gloves as my poor hands recovered. I’m very fond of my yellow marigolds! However, in order to test how gentle a seemingly ideal product is, I give it the no gloves test over a week. It has been a revelation. The only other shampoo that I have found as good as this has been Jason Naturals Fragrance Free. However, I think this beats it hands down. I have super-fine flyaway hair and it leaves it clean and residue free. It also foams which makes it easier to ensure you have cleaned it thoroughly. I used to wash my hair every other day but this easily adds one more wash-free day which in the long is better for you hair. You can see from the water on this bottle that I have just used it!

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In the last few months I have been researching the positive effects of certain natural plant and nut oils on sensitive skin and it is really interesting to see that the main ingredients of this shampoo are Sodium Coco Sulphate ( a mild, non irritating surfactant made from coconut oil) and aloe vera. There are lots of interesting articles around Sulphates on the internet, most around the negative effect of Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate which are irritants and often both toxic and carcinogenic. But it is not ‘Sulphates’ that are the problem as there are many that are useful and not harmful to you or the environment, the issue is the word that comes before it. If you see a sulphate that you don’t recognise – check it before you buy.

Urketram is a brand that has been around in Denmark since 1972, selling herbs at a time when awareness about the environment was “an idealistic matter of the heart to a few people”, they pioneered the use of organic and fair trade produce. In the 1990s they led the way in bringing organic products into the mainstream and their stockists are ever-increasing. Their name is a clever play on the traditional Danish word for a herb seller, “urtekræmmer” and the work for a hug: “kram”.  They have a new fan in me. My local shop only stocks their shampoo and conditioner so I will need to look online for other products in this range and see if they are great as this.