Current Obsession: Mad Men

I just can’t get enough of this American series set in an ad agency in New York, in 1960. From the enigmatic title character Donald Draper and the complex, interwoven relationships shared by their wives and secretaries (or “chickens” as they are so charmingly referred to in an episode) to the vision of a vanished world on the cusp of extinction, it’s pretty much perfect television.

 From a beauty and styling point of view it’s spot-on as well – the lipstick is that amazing, Technicolor orange red beloved by Grace Kelly and the nails are all perfectly manicured in that long, elongated 60’s oval shape. The sets are a sea of Dacron and you can almost hear those man-made fibres squeaking as they walk around.

 A word of warning – if you’re trying to give up smoking this ain’t the show for you since pretty much every character in every scene is smoking or drinking something. (Morning meeting? Let’s have a scotch! At the doctor’s office? You can both smoke there! Ooh, after 3pm? It must be Cocktail Hour.) Good times!


The Great Escape

Growing up in Sydney, Australia in the 70’s and 80’s was like living in a big glamour deprivation tank. It was the land of acid wash stretch jeans and scrunchies, in a time before mullet hair was even remotely ironic (hello Jason Donovan, I’m talking to you!) and a fluoro pink sweatshirt with a screenprinted koala on it was considered the height of chic. Even Kylie Minogue was daggy in those days, playing a teenage mechanic on Neighbours.neighbours1 And anyone who’s seen the Locomotion video knows she didn’t get fabulous until long after she left those sunny shores.

From when I first started getting pocket money I started buying makeup (baby blue Aziza eyeshadow of course, to go with my blue eyes, naturally!) By the time I was fourteen I was just a little bit obsessed with fashion, wallpapering my room with the supermodels at the dawn of their era. I yearned for a life where people pronounced ‘Chanel’ in the French way, not ‘Channel’, where the women were 8 feet tall with perfect whiplash hair and clad in skintight, dominatrix Versace. A world where white leather cowboy boots Did. Not. Exist.

So after doing an Arts degree at Sydney University, I left for London where I worked in marketing and fashion PR. turlongtonBut eventually the siren call of makeup became too strong to resist, and on returning to Sydney I decided to pursue makeup as a career.

Over the next few years I assisted in Sydney and Paris, and moved to London in 2007. Long having been an admirer of her work, I was lucky enough to be taken on as first assistant to the amazing Kay Montano whose extraordinary makeup skills and brilliant sense of humour make going to work every day a pleasure. And sometimes at work, surrounded by couture as I prepare a long-legged Russian beauty for the camera, I have to pinch myself and realise that those fuzzy koala sweatshirts are a long way away.

R.I.P Scott Barnes Beauty

It was a sad, sad day when I found out that Scott Barnes Cosmetics was no more. This was such a great range, one of my all time faves across the board.

To understand the range, you have to understand the creator – Scott Barnes is an American makeup artist who is best known for creating J.Lo’s signature glow. Remember Jenny from the Block when everyone was talking about her, the bronzed Latina goddess, and it felt like the whole world was non-stop J.Lo crazy? That was Scott who was making her look like a million dollars, and making every normal woman (even if you were 5 ft 3 with blonde hair, blue eyes and a bum that is flatter than the proverbial pancake, ahem!) feel like you would pay anything, anything to be a lush caramel and honey toned beauty for a day. Then Ms Lopez sacked Scott and spent quite a few months in the beauty wilderness, looking like an aging tranny in various unflattering shades of fuchsia lipstick and not quite right foundation, and then she and Scott made up again and she went back to looking like the fierce pop diva that we all love.


In 2004 he launched his own cosmetics line, which had gorgeous blushes in peaches, pinks and caramels, amazing bronzers (obviously), great brushes and lovely eyeshadows and eyeliner pencils. If you managed to get your paws on some of his fab products, hold ‘em tightly because sadly the line is no more. I believe that he will be re-launching the line sometime this year, including the cult favourite body makeup and shimmer cream, Body Bling.

Until then, I have found where Scott’s secret personal stash of products is going to be sold – it’s the Beauty Closet in LA, and the lovely Shannon who runs this website is fantastic to deal with, and even better! She ships all over the world. But you’ll need to be quick because once they’re gone, there is no more.chic-palette

My Top 5 Scott Barnes Beauty Products

  1. Eye Ices – shimmery little pigment powders of deliciousness for high shine eyes.
  2. Chic Palette blush – in Posh, Samba and Honey – three different shade palettes of trio blush in pink, peach or apricot to make every girl look radiant.
  3. Lip Slick in Provocative – peachy nude gloss, because, well it is J.Lo.
  4. Illumineye Eye Shadows in Chocolate and Maharishi – tawny browns, are you sensing a theme here?
  5. Body Bling – for perfectly bronzed, glowing limbs. Apparently this is the formula Scott cooked up that meant he could instantly bronze Jennifer quickly for a job, and it would wash straight off afterwards, with no waiting around for self-tanner to activate.

The. Best. Red. Lipstick. Ever.

No really.

MAC's Ruby Woo
MAC's Ruby Woo

Why is this little red bullet of perfection so good? I love it for its dense matte color, and the perfect blend of orange and blue so that it looks amazing on every skin tone. I’ve seen it working on a shoot on seven different people, from the English blue-eyed beauty of Karl Lagerfeld’s muse Amanda Harlech to the olive gorgeousness that is Yasmin Le Bon. How many other red lipsticks can say that, huh?

If you’re looking for glossy it’s not that guy, although you can soup it up with a clear or red gloss to take it to a whole other place, where Michelle Pfeiffer waits for Al Pacino in a smoky bar. But I love it with a bit of MAC Cherry or Redd pencil underneath – real siren lips at their best.

Sick of waiting to find out what it is? It’s (drumroll please!) MAC’s Ruby Woo, the classy older sister to MAC’s brash Lady Danger which is also great, but younger and edgier as it’s more on the orange side. (The fabulous London makeup artist Andrew Gallimore used Lady Danger on Lily Allen who loved it.)

But back to our star, Miss Ruby Woo? Well you can take her anywhere.


Mac Redd Lip Pencil
Mac Redd Lip Pencil




Bin it – NARS mascara in Black Orchid

Nars Black Orchid Mascara  



Nars Black Orchid Mascara


I flat out hate this mascara (and that’s not a word I use lightly). It has a brush that looks like it escaped from 1985, and it performs so poorly compared to the rest of the NARS brand, I was quite staggered. OK, I think mascara manufacturers have gone a little OTT with all their rotating brushes, and fancy little combs, and rubber spikes and ones that look quite frankly like torture devices (hello Givenchy, I’m talking to you), but in 2009 something that low-tech just doesn’t cut it. Even Maybelline Great Lash (or Not So Great Lash as I like to call it) is fancier than this mo-fo.

In the interests of fairness, I’m just going to go and try it again: Nope, still made my eyelashes look like 5 little sticks. Its formula is thin and has an unerring ability to get at the ends of the lash and sort of clump, and then the crappy retro brush pushes your lashes together into aforementioned sticks. There is just no way to separate the lashes then to fan ’em out and get ’em fluffy. And we all know how much we love a full and fluffy lash!

In all honesty I wanted to love this because the square rubber packaging is so chic, and I have to admit to being a sucker for NARS in general (despite it’s excessively high price point). There’s just something about the witty names, gorgeous colors and the rubberized packaging that never seems to date that means a couple of times a year I find myself purchasing more sparkly eyeshadows and blushes I rarely use, but when I do, they make me happy (maybe because I’m actually justifying that hefty price tag? Not sure).

But this sad little mascara is one for the bin. Send it back to sing with Huey Lewis and the News – you know it wants to!

Bin it!