Category Archives: beauty

FAKE IT DON’T BAKE IT

Fake-tan, or self-tan it is often referred to nowadays, has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. Long gone are the days of radioactive orange, streaks, smudges and the overpowering biscuit scent.

Thank you to these recent developments in self-tan, I was finally seduced and treated myself to my very first spray tan yesterday. I am naturally very fair – an English rose, so unless I go on holiday for at least a month it would be wishful to think I will go any darker than a simple sun-kissed glow. Obviously living in England, where our winter far surpasses our days of sunshine (current heat wave aside), and working indoors doesn’t help my milky complexion either.

It wasn’t always liked this though, as a child I would tan like an apple browns. Then as soon as I hit my teens my skin decided it didn’t want to tan anymore, and my days of deep golden glows were replaced with heat rashes and lobster legs – I know, very attractive.

Therefore as I dusted off my shorts and summer dresses this week, I decided enough was enough. Now, I am relatively happy in my body, so when I start to pick outfits to cover up my pasty legs (when I actually like my legs), something is wrong. Plus, I am donning a little backless white number in three weeks time for my 23rd and I do not want to look like a complete milk bottle – all in all the perfect time to get initiated with self-tan.

I was definitely spoilt for choice when I came to pick my tan, from the breakthrough St Tropez, ever-popular Fake Bake, or new favourite Sienna X. In the end I opted for Sienna X because it was on offer at my local salon, however its huge celebrity following also swayed me, with the likes of Jessie J, Ellie Goulding, Harry Judd, and the rest of the Strictly Come Dancing crew as fans.

The first 12 hours were the best – I was finally a gorgeous deep brown, but after the 8 hour setting period wash off I turned a creamy caramel tone. Both shades looked equally as natural though, and most importantly natural to my skin tone. What I love the most about Sienna X is their grade system, you can choose between an 8 and 16 depending on how dark you want to go – I decided on a grade 8 as a beginner, and all tans fade naturally between 5 and 7 days. Although the darker you go more exfoliation and scrubbing would be needed to banish the stubborn leftover patches.

I have only used gradual tans in the past, but most of these have left unnatural yellow blotches, so kudos to Sienna X for converting me. I can firmly say I will be joining the ranks of self-tanning, starting off with occasion tanning and then if I am brave enough I might even give a home tan a try one day. Self-tanning is safe, and if it makes you feel good, then why not? We all know of the dangers of the sun and sunbeds, and whilst the sun can be good for you if you stay protected and take it in moderation (the sun gives out vitamin D), sunbeds are one area of tanning I will never be trying out.

I have always been one to protect and perfect my skin, remember prevention is always better than cure, and what you do with your skin now WILL affect you in the future. Don’t want wrinkles or damaged skin? Then don’t cook yourself; because you wouldn’t put your hand freely on a BBQ would you?

These developments in self-tan are likely to progress even more so in the coming years, and I am really excited to see where the market will go. Already self-tanning has become a huge part of both women AND men’s beauty regimes, so why should it be considered any different to make-up; it is in a nutshell make-up for your body? That is to say I still think we should steer clear of the umpa lumpa look, I am all for enhancing natural beauty, but orange is just not natural.

For more information please visit Sienna X

Five helpful tips when self-tanning:

1)   Exfoliate and de-hair 24 hours before tanning.

2)   Self-tan 24 to 48 hours before a special event to make sure your guide colour has fully washed off.

3)   All tans vary, but leave 8 hours for a Sienna X tan to develop before putting on light or tight clothing.

4)   Again during the development period avoid water and perspiration – it can cause drip marks down your tan.

5)   Moisturise daily to prolong the life of your tan and to keep skin hydrated.

Don’t want to self-tan, but don’t want to cook either?

Parasol Sun Care: Perfect for those who suffer from sensitive skin – a one day application lotion, which protects the skin from sunburn and prickly heat. This product saved my life last year on holiday, I didn’t burn or suffer from a heat rash once, and I still came home with a golden glow.

Elemis Tan Accelerator: Prepare the body for sun exposure by stimulating its natural melanin production prior to your holiday. This is great for sun sensitive skin too, or for those of you who just want a little helping hand to prolong your tan. I haven’t used this as of yet, but have read amazing reviews; I cannot wait to try it next time I go away.

Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil: You may have read my review on this oil a couple of years ago, simply apply over the top of your usual sunscreen to aid tanning. Oil isn’t the safest way to tan, but this Hawaiian oil has an added SPF for extra skin protection.

Closet Charms is also supporting Fake Bake’s Save Your Skin Campaign. 

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SUNSHINE IN A BOTTLE

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If you could capture sunshine in a bottle, then Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Capri would be the result. The newest of Lauder’s Bronze Goddess collection, aptly named after the beautiful Italian isle, will brighten up any gloomy day that our British climate throws at us. With top notes of cassis, mandarin and lemon leaves, middle notes of jasmine and peony, and base notes of vanilla, patchouli and musk, it simply is paradise in one spray.

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Estée Lauder isn’t usually the first brand I would go to for a new fragrance, as I often stick to perfumes attached to labels such as Armani, Dior and Gucci, but there was something especially alluring about Capri. Whether it was the gorgeous bronzed model, or stunning two-tone bottle, which I believe imitates the sand and sea of the beach, I was hooked. The exotic scent also sparked memories of summers gone by, with hints of salt, coconut and even suncream tingling at my senses. Plus, the fragrance is limited edition so I just HAD to pick one up before it was too late. Since reading the excellent reviews of other Estée Lauder fragrances since my purchase, I will probably be investing in a lot more of their products in the future as well.

The rest of the Capri collection includes a shimmering make-up palette of gold, brown, turquoise and white, two eye crayons, an illuminating powder, lip gloss, nail lacquer and obviously a liquid bronzer. So, if the skinscent doesn’t quite grab your fancy, then I am sure another piece would add a little taster of Capri to your make-up bag. I am also a big fan of the names used for the entire collection – bronze sands, shimmering sands, white sands and molten lava, which I think conjures up images of the island perfectly.

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Bronze Goddess Capri Eau Fraiche/ Skinscent, Pure Colour Gelée Powder Eyeshadow Palette in Bronze Sands, Pure Colour Illuminating Powder Gelée in Shimmering Sands, Luminous Liquid Bronzer, Pure Colour Nail Lacquer in Molten Lava, Pure Colour Gloss in Shimmering Mirage and Intense Kajal Eye Crayon Duo in White Sands/ Molten Lava.

Have you tried anything from the Capri collection? What is your favourite product?

For more information, please visit Esteelauder.co.uk

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The little mermaid…

I have always loved the idea of mermaids, despite the myths about their cruel and evil behaviour. In folklore, it is believed that mermaids would use their beauty and charm to lure sailors to their deaths. However I am still not the first to be seduced by the little mermaid, after all, although wicked, they also present confident, sexy, headstrong women (ok, half women) that could teach us all a small lesson or two. Now, I am not suggesting we start to spurn or spark revenge on the male form, but if we take at least one thing from these mythological creatures – it would be that we should all be more confident in ourselves.

Perhaps this is why the runways of S/S12 also took inspiration from the mermaid? Versace adorned dresses with diamante starfish and sea shells, Giorgio Armani used a pearlesque palette of navy, turquoise and silver, which was accompanied by patterns of swirling water and ripples, whilst Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen topped her collection off with a showstopping tiered fish-tail gown. Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel even set his show ‘under the sea’, sending models down a runway of oversized oysters, pearls and bubbles, with coral reef shaped ruffles and encrusted shell clutches.

Versace 

Giorgio Armani

Chanel

Alexander McQueen

This has to be one of my favourite trends of S/S12, because it instantly takes me away to the clear blue seas of summer, but unfortunately my bank balance isn’t going to stretch to a Versace dress, or Chanel clutch (one can dream). Instead here are my favourite purse friendly finds, so we can all get some of that mermaid confidence into our wardrobes this season…

GET THE LOOK

Lipsy stud detail corset £45

Topshop animal jacquard shorts in mint £30 (also available in silver and pink)

Accessorize clam shell chanelier earrings £6.00

Accessorize ballroom diamante clutch £40

ASOS cupchain and cord statement necklace £15

River Island scallop hem top £30

River Island cream sequin mini skirt £60

TO FINISH

Bourjois little round pot eyeshadow in BLEU CANARD £5.49, available at BOOTS

*Don’t feel brave enough for a dramatic eye? Just add a sweep of BLEU CANARD along your lashes to act as an eyeliner.

Topshop nails in MERMAID £6.00

Charles Worthington front row rough and tousled salt spray £6.29, available at BOOTS 

*Spray onto wet hair and scrunch dry for natural off-the-beach waves.

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Ice cream sundae…

Finally the Christmas rush and winter sales are at an end, and despite the horrible cold spell of weather, I am beginning to get very excited about the S/S12 collections hitting the shops. Pastels in particular have really taken my fancy this season, from floral notes of rose, daffodil and daisy, zesty infused hues of apple, peach and lemon, to the sugared coated goodness of candy, marshmallow and almond. So if you have a sweet tooth, this really is the season to indulge in sugar and spice and all things nice.

For the little girl inside of all of us, these colours bring back memories of picnics in the sun, cream tea with Grandma and jelly and ice cream parties. Inspiration should be taken from the catwalks of Louis Vuitton, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Richard Nicoll and Chanel, who all showcased the most wanted shades of powder pink, sky blue, peppermint, lemon, peach, lilac and vanilla. You should also look out for fabrics such as lace, broderie anglaise, tulle and feather appliqué to embrace the ultra feminine nature of the trend.

Louis Vuitton

3.1 Phillip Lim

Richard Nicoll

Chanel

Here are a few of my favourite picks from the high street:

ZARA

Embroidered silk top £59.99

Coloured denim light yellow £35.99

Skinny jeans mid pink £35.99

TOPSHOP

Lilac lace strappy sundress £36.00

OASIS

Multi natural colourblock lantern dress £65.00

Mid blue lexi lace skater dress £65.00

ASOS

Sleeveless skater dress in green £45.00 (also available in pink)

Just add some bouncy curls, a sweep of pink lippy and a box clutch to complete these looks!

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Ooh La La…

Following the Galliano saga, Dior had a bit of moment last year. Had the alleged anti-semitic comments from the fashion extremist scarred the labels reputation? And would it still be able to hold its position as a classic fashion favourite?

Luckily damage was minimal after the label instantaneously cut ties with the designer, though there is still a question mark over the head of Galliano’s successor that looms in the house of Dior. However despite these troubled waters I still feel the label are as strong as ever, especially after recently announcing Mila Kunis as the latest leading lady for their Miss Dior handbag Spring/ Summer 12 collection.

Mila Kunis for Miss Dior Handbag S/S12

The 28-year-old actress is the second Black Swan beauty to be cast for Dior, stepping in the golden footsteps of award winning Natalie Portman. Miss Kunis’ pictures hold an air of grace and sophistication that I feel captures a true essence of the brand, but this isn’t the first time I have fallen in love with a Dior campaign. In the past, Dior’s campaigns haven’t really stood out or at least grabbed me, but Portman’s campaign over the last year has really caught my attention too.

Natalie Portman for Dior

The official commercial was directed by Sofia Coppola, and set against Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s “Je t’aime…moi non plus.” It is full of innocent girlish charm, encapsulated in the romance and sexiness of the city of Paris, as well as slightly mirroring the imagery of Audrey’s Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s (although set in a different city).

Here are some stills from the commercial for inspiration:

Please also have a look at these links for the making of, and the final commercial!

Enjoy!

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The memory in a scent…

If you were asked which of the six senses you couldn’t live without, I doubt on first thought your sense of smell would top hearing and sight. Off course you would miss the sweet scent of summer – flowers blooming, freshly cut grass, the salt of the sea and the smoke of the bbq, your Grandma’s baking on a Sunday, or even the tree, mince pies and melted wax at Christmas, but I am sure there are some pretty nasty smells you could easily live without too.

However I was recently clearing out my bedroom and treating it to a well deserved dust and polish, and my dressing table above my wardrobe surprisingly proved to be the biggest enigma. Not because it was the most overcrowded – my wardrobe will always win that battle, not because it had acquired a random mix of jewellery and make-up that I don’t even use – I am a girlie girl, but because of my empty collection of perfume bottles. I thought to myself while I maybe hoarding too many jewells, make-up or hair products, at least there might be a day that they could come in handy. As for the empty perfume bottles? I just couldn’t understand why I hadn’t thrown them out years ago. That is until I lifted off each of their lids and inhaled the nectar one by one, and was transported back to yesteryear.

It seemed that not only had I kept the bottles because of their beautiful design (I tend to keep anything beautiful whether I will use it or not), but mainly because of the strong link between their scents and my memories. According to Bioedonline.org there is an intimate link between our sense of smell and memories: “Odour memory seems to be the most resistant to forgetting,” said Jay Gottfried of the University College London, in an article by Michael Hopkin in 2004.

Our sense of smell is also a major aphrodisiac, while looks and personality may spark an initial attraction, a scent can actually play a bigger influence in a relationship. In Siski Green’s (Men’s Health magazine sexpert) book How to blow his mind in bed, she says: “A man whose aroma gives you the irresistible urge to dive nose-first into his neck is more likely to find you physically attractive too. And that’s because we use scent to ascertain whether someone has the kind of genetic make-up that would make them a good mate.”

Think about it, a smell can evoke feelings of happiness or melancholy, many of us can often shiver when we catch a passing breeze of an exes cologne, and are sometimes attracted to a partner who is not our usual aesthetic type. So maybe smell is more powerful than we first thought?

Here are the five stand out perfumes in my life so far, and the memories they hold…

1. Anais Anais

This was the first perfume I was ever given, and it is also the same perfume my Grandma and Mum have used at different stages in their life. It reminds me of my innocent yet confusing teenage days, before I had been kissed but still in the midst of becoming a young woman.

2. CK IN2U

This was my first grown up fragrance – I was seduced into trying it after seeing the supporting ad campaign. Glossy perfume adverts have always attracted me to the fashion world, and they still inspire me today.

3. Gucci Envy Me

My friend introduced me to this perfume in my first year of University, it makes me reminis of all the fun and happy times we shared, and of the first time I broke from my shell after moving away from home to study.

4. Armani Code

I instantly fell in love with this fragrance, and despite the price tag bought it after I Graduated last year to celebrate my new start. It probably conjures up the strongest memories (good and bad) because it reminds me of my six month gap between University courses, which was filled with happy times of making new friends, my first fashion internship in London, and an ex who was a big turning point in my life.

5. Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy

My current fragrance, which reminds me of my most recent boyfriend and fills me with feelings of freedom, hope and excitement for the next stage in my life. I was also introduced to Juicy Couture on my Christmas trip to New York last year, and therefore it takes me back to the city every time I catch a drop in the air.

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Does what I wear make me a victim?

AS THE FIRST SLUTWALK MOVES ACROSS THE OCEAN AND HITS THE UK FOR THE FIRST TIME, COULD WE BE ON THE VERGE OF RAPE LAW REFORM, ASKS CLOSET CHARMS

Last month I was meeting my friend at Knightsbridge for lunch. It was midday sharp. I was waiting inside the busy tube station for her to arrive, as I don’t like standing on my own. I was wearing jeans, a check shirt and pumps, nothing glamorous, nothing revealing. Three guys approached me, ‘hey honey’, ‘hey baby’ said one. The second whistling looked at me up and down. The third, shaking his keys asked if I needed a lift anywhere, or if I wanted to join the ‘party’. It was a busy station, it was lunchtime and I wasn’t dressed like a ‘slut.’ I was even surrounded with elderly couples and families, and yet I felt unsafe, uneasy and no one in the station even noticed I was being harassed. Luckily when I ignored them they left me alone, but this isn’t the case for every woman, incidents like this happen all too often.

On Saturday June 11th, the first slutwalk protest hit London. Men and women, from teenagers to the middle aged turned up in their hundreds to protest against the misuse of the word slut, and to challenge victim-blaming in rape. Some dressed in casual jeans and t-shirts, others in corsets, tutus or lingerie. Some guys joined in too going topless, or opting for fishnets and hot pants. They marched from the Hard Rock Café in Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square, chanting ‘hey ho yes means yes, no means no’ and ‘guns don’t hurt people, rapists do’. Placards read ‘my little black dress is not a yes’, ‘a kiss is not a contract’ and ‘we are all chamber maids’, in reference presumably to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

Anastasia Richardson, slutwalk organiser says: “Slut- shaming, fear mongering and disrespect are an experience that is unfortunately common to all women.”

London is not the first city to hold a slutwalk. It started in Toronto, after a Canadian police officer made a flippant comment in a personal security lecture. He said women should not dress like ‘sluts’, to avoid being raped or victimised. The backlash began and then spread all over America, before hitting the UK. In fact, London is just one of many slutwalks planned for the coming year, Leeds, Brighton and Birmingham aim to host their own protests as well as the rest of America, Europe and even Australia.

Harri Sutherland-Kay, co-editor of women’s news and current affairs service http://www.womensviewsonnews. org says: “It would be fair to say that the police officer’s comment in Canada, although explicit was not surprising. It shouldn’t have been said out loud, but I think it is implicit in a lot of police and popular culture.”

Cath Elliott, a trustee at Suffolk Rape Crisis adds: “The slutwalks are trying to reframe the language of rape and sexual assault, to protest against the narrative that says women are to blame for the abuses perpetrated against them because they drink too much, or wear the wrong clothes, or put themselves into vulnerable positions.”

These marches could easily be considered as part of a wider problem surrounding rape laws, and the stereotyping of women in the 21st century. Recent issues in rape law include a government green paper that proposes to give a 50% discount on sentences for those who plead guilty at an early stage. This would involve all crimes; however there has been a heavy backlash in attaching it to rape. MP Ken Clarke has also remarked: “Date rape can be as serious as the worst rapes, but date rapes, in my very old experience of being in trials, vary extraordinarily one to the other and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances.”

You might have heard of the case involving Alicia Gali too, the 29 year old who was working at a luxury hotel in Dubai and was drugged, raped and then jailed in June 2008, as a result of archaic laws stating that sex outside marriage is illegal – even in rape cases. While the men were caught and jailed, they were shockingly accused of adultery – not rape.

Lisa Longstaff, spokesperson for Women Against Rape says: “We have been campaigning for all rape to be taken seriously since 1976. Rape law and prosecution policies have improved, but implementation is still appalling.”

These attitudes towards rape are perpetuated in popular culture, creating a conflicting idea of sexuality. Think about the lyrics of this Enrique Iglesias song called Dirty Dancer, “She don’t want love, she just wanna touch, she’s a dirty dirty dancer, it’s a game that she plays, she can turn you into an animal, she got all the moves for you to give it up.” I doubt Enrique was thinking anything past recording a hit club tune when writing it, but no question the lyrics suggest a rather over sexualised image of a woman, a maneater, so provocative that she can cause a man to turn into an ‘animal’. Although popular culture is flooded with these sorts of lyrics and images, it is not an isolated event. Whether it is the music channel with barely dressed dancers shaking their booty along with the latest rap, the page three models on lad magazines or the representation of sex in the porn industry. It is no wonder society believes women are asking for attention, and trying to attract men.

Sutherland-Kay says: “The pornification of society shows us how to be sexy and what sexiness is. It’s all about how to make yourself as attractive as possible, how to lose weight, how to please your man. These images tell you what you have to do in order to be accepted by society, accepted in a relationship and accepted by your man.”

And yet there is a huge juxtaposition adds Aimee Claire, slutwalk organiser: “In the UK women already have the right to wear what they want, these rights were won years ago. It’s the fact that women are sold as sex objects, but shamed for displaying their sexuality in real life.”

The 2007 TV film Consent sums up the attitudes and opinions of our society in regards to rape. The scenario – work colleagues Becky and Steve get drunk at a work party and end up in a hotel room having sex, however Becky claims she was raped, but Steve claims it was consensual. A mock trial ensues, although using real ordinary people for jury duty to hear the resulting case – these people honestly believed they were doing jury duty – they were not actors. The jury’s deliberations were filmed, with comments of ‘look what she was wearing, she was asking for it’ as the motive. At the end of the film they deliver their verdict, Steve is acquitted but it turns out that he did indeed rape Becky.

These sorts of perceptions have a damaging affect on the real victims, because it leads to a fear of reporting the assault. Victims don’t believe they will be taken seriously, and think they are going to be judged or accused of lying. What society seems to forget though is that women get raped when they are wearing jeans and t-shirts, burqas, or within their family. Plus men can also be victims. It has nothing to do with what each victim wears, who the victim in question is, or whether a victim is being promiscuous or flirtatious.

Elliott says: “Rapists choose women based on their vulnerability not on their physical appearance, hence women of all ages are raped, from the ages of three to ninety three. Women are not magically protected from rape and sexual violence if they ‘cover up’ or if they make themselves less attractive to men.”

Sutherland-Kay adds: “There is a lack of understanding when it comes to rape, and who rapes. For example the law doesn’t deal with women who are being raped by family members and being incarcerated into guilt their family members put on them in those situations.”

Slutwalks are a good start to protesting against these attitudes, but do they give out the right message?

Julia Long, organiser of the Reclaim the Night marches says: “I am committed to raising awareness about rape myths, but I cannot give my support to an event that promotes the use of the word ‘slut’. It is an extremely offensive, misogynist word. The march has had the counter-productive effect of focusing attention on women’s sexuality and women’s sexual behavior.”

We do not live in an ideal world, and these marches glorify promiscuity. This isn’t a safe image to promote when the streets are only becoming a more dangerous place.

Fifi Belle, editor of modest fashion blog www. fashionbelle.com adds: “Men are generally sexually stimulated by the sight of women in revealing clothing, so precautionary measures should be taken. For instance, by not walking alone in deserted city streets at night or not going near the house of a strange man who invites her inside.”

Although a woman can take all these precautions and still fall victim to assault.

These slutwalks definitely seem to have garnered enough support to bring about new reforms in rape law, but only if the cracks in opinion do not widen. At the end of the day though yes still means yes, and no still means no – victims need support not scrutiny, and this is something that will never change.

Images by myself, AFP/ Getty and Jonathan Warren.

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Ads that keep it real…

Move aside models; your spotlight is dimming as everyday civilians are picked to front top advertising campaigns instead of the professionals.

The use of real people in advertising isn’t a new topic; Dove created its campaign for real beauty back in 2004. Typically known for its soap, the campaign re-energized the brand into a company that provided products to enhance, and not mask natural beauty. They used plus size women, women with freckles, and women with scars, as a reaction to the overtly skinny and airbrushed models used in magazines and on the runway.

After a global study in seven countries, from New York, to Toronto to London, just two per cent of women described themselves as beautiful. This was the turning point for Dove, instead of serving up unrealistic images like their fashion and beauty rivals, they would now dedicate their work to improving their customer’s self-esteem and making their products accessible to the everyday consumer.

Tom Collard, strategy planner at Saatchi and Saatchi says: “When you see someone in an advert similar to you, you will instantly feel tied to that brand or product.”

Christian Hartmann, account executive at Saatchi and Saatchi adds: “If you are being told to try something by someone you can identify with then you will find it approachable.”

This is now a growing trend as the list of brands using non-professionals has evolved. American Apparel’s provocative campaigns have been infamous in using its attractive young sales advisors to sell the brand. While Levis visited an underachieving town called Braddock in the USA, using real town people as the inspiration behind its campaign last year, and LK Bennett selected real working women in a number of different professions for its latest ad campaign.

However, it is Parisian brand The Kooples that has created the biggest stir for the individual and artistic lifestyle, by featuring everyday couples to front the label. Again that means non-models, and non-actors, so not quite the gloss and glamour you might expect from billboards and magazine spreads.

Darren Howells, account manager from PR agency BPCM, who worked on the campaign, says: “It is a way of making the brand accessible and feel real to the everyday person. It also gives it an edge, it’s more about the collection rather than the person that is fronting the campaign.”

French brothers Alexandre, Laurent and Raphael Elicha, the sons of the founders behind successful womenswear chain Comptior des Cotonniers, created the label in 2008. After proving a massive hit in France they crossed the Channel and brought the label to the UK market. They now have three stand-alone stores in London, a concession in Selfridges, as well as two stores in Birmingham and Manchester, with plans for more on the way.

Howells adds: “Using a real couple is an interesting way to promote the brand and makes them stand out, a brave move that seems to have worked in their favour.”

The couples were selected at random in bars, clubs and high streets all over the world, for their chic yet edgy aesthetic, however whilst they are captioned as ‘real’ they are still achingly beautiful, with perfect chiseled features, oozing an aura of mystery – just like a professional model. In fact, every ‘real person’ used in the Levis and LK Bennett campaigns are admiringly attractive too, there are no plus size women, with freckles and scars on show. No question this is leaps and bounds away from the sorts of real people we have seen at Dove in the last seven years?

Collard admits: “I didn’t even realise The Kooples couples were real until last week, there is nothing to differentiate them from professional models. I mean if you are going to use real people, at least make them real.”

Hartmann also stresses: “I am pretty sure they would have gone through the same screen processes as any other campaign to get the couples right. At the end of the day when it finally comes down to who you pick, they are not real people anymore.”

Unlike Dove who used real women to help quash the size zero debate, this new wave is different because these brands are using non-professionals to create an image and lifestyle for their consumer.

Hartmann says: “Using real people helps to identify with your target consumer, it allows you to go down to their level. However, fashion is still all about dreaming and in the long run you need to have that fantasy. The second it is believable it dies.” The Kooples couples therefore present more than just the clothes; they showcase an alternative lifestyle, mixing fashion with music, and Parisian romance with British rock ‘n’ roll. Howell asserts: “It was about portraying a lifestyle, a way of dressing and how the brand can compliment both men and women.”

This is continued by the online blogs for the couples, as well as listings for music festivals, cinema and exhibitions, allowing consumers to fully immerse themselves into The Kooples life.

Hartmann adds: “There is a few things we say to clients, and number one is you have to be interesting for your target audience, like letting a customer participate. You almost have to let go to let people be part of your brand.”

Meanwhile, the Braddock “Go Forth: Ready for work” campaign promoted what Levis originally stood for. In the last few years they had moved away from the pioneering spirit of the workforce, and stepped into a fashion bubble.

This campaign helped them return to their roots, working with the blue collared workforce to rebuild a struggling town. Levis even assisted in renovating a community centre and developing an urban farming programme for the town, so it represented more than just the jeans.

As for LK Bennett they used career high flyers, like Anna Dawson a geophysicist as one example, to present headstrong working women for their customers to look up to. London’s bespoke womenswear boutique Britt Lintner shares a similar story, by photographing and interviewing their clients and putting their stories up on its website. These are all independent highflying working women, who balance successful full-time jobs with a family; someone a potential customer would aspire to.

LK Bennett’s ‘Life is the occasion’ campaign.

Catherine Patha, creative and commercial director at Britt Lintner says: “Every brand has their own type of real woman or customer, and are probably drawn to a specific look. We have a different look to The Kooples, which has a different look to Levis and so forth.”

All these brands wanted to create a specific image, or lifestyle to aspire to; it was more deep-rooted than just popping a celebrity on an advert to sell their products. Every brands definition of ‘real’ was different to the other.

We have moved a long way from Dove’s mission to make every woman feel beautiful, and while we can spot a trend for the use of real people in advertising it is not characteristic of the size zero or airbrushing debate. These brands may not be using professionals but they are still looking for people with the right look to sell their brands lifestyle. If you possess the right image though, perhaps there is a place for you on a billboard or two, could you be the next Koople?

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THE ‘IT’ DO…

I doubt I am the only girl who has suffered from their fair share of bad hair days, and in an attempt to keep all the natural goodness of my hair I do my best to stick to washing it every other day too. So how do I keep my hair tidy, out of my eyes and on trend on these bad hair in-between-wash days? Well the topknot might be the perfect ‘IT’ do, answering all of our quick and easy hair needs this season.

A breath of fresh air from the scruffy bun, and a welcomed move away from the tiresome ponytail (yawn), the topknot is suitable for our inner sartorial slacker, a casual yet stylish weekend look, or for an uber special event. And what I also love about this hair do is how effortlessly it can be adapted to many an occasion, from work to home, and day-to-night, the edgy or polished, anyone and every one of any age can have fun, and look good with this style.

INSPIRATION:

Audrey Hepburn

Keri Russell

Annalynne McCord

TOPKNOT HOW TO:

Simply put your head upside after brushing your hair and make a loose ponytail on the top of your head, then wind the ponytail around until it forms into a bun and tie. Then shake it out if you want a relaxed look, or secure in place with hairpins if you are going for a smarter look. Finally finish with a spritz of your favourite hairspray.

CLOSET CHARMS TIP:

Why not add an Alice band, bando, or wrap a scarf around your head to add a bit of individuality to your topknot, and finish your outfit off with a personal touch.

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GET THE ‘BLACK SWAN’ LOOK

CLOSET CHARMS Rating: * * * *

Every little boy and girl dreams of writing their name in the stars, whether it is as a footballer, popstar, or actor/ actress. I dreamt of becoming a ballerina after my mum signed me up to dance lessons when I was extremely little, and I took ballet, tap and later character alongside ballet. I worked my way up the grades and passed many an exam, and loved every minute of it. I even bullied my younger brother into putting on dance shows with me for my family in our living room – who else would be the male lead?

That is until my high school homework took preference over my extra curricular activities, and I did a total one eighty and dedicated my career path to saving the animal planet instead as a vet (which as we know has also since changed to fashion media). I briefly took up ballet again at University as a member of the classical dance society, which was a welcomed escape from the four walls of my bedroom I was sentenced too during my dissertation days. However no one would have thought I had passed ballet exams with distinctions and honors in the past, with my good toes being replaced with two left feet – I stick to freestyle now.

So with my love of dance and in particular ballet, I couldn’t wait to hit the cinema last night to see new release Black Swan.

The Bafta and Oscar nominated film falls predominantly into the psychological thriller genre, and explores the dark side of the New York ballet scene. We follow the pure and innocent ballerina Nina Sayers who wins the part as the new Swan Queen in her company’s version of Swan Lake. Her white swan dance is perfect, but her black swan solo lacks the right technique and in finding it, is seduced by the persona of the black swan, which leads to tragic consequences.

Although I was rather shocked at some of the twists in this film, and no lies I did find it hard to understand what was going on at times, I can’t fault Natalie Portman’s performance, and it definitely deserves the coverage it is receiving in the press. I also loved the film’s clever use of metaphor, and the costumes (designed by the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte) are exquisite. The film has so much to offer and whether you are a dancer, film buff or fashionista I guarantee you will find something to take from the film. Although just a quick pre-warning for anyone who is squeamish, there are a few unexpected jumps and rather gory scenes that may need some eye coverage. But I don’t want to give anything else away, so head down to your nearest cinemas and see what you think for yourselves.

To celebrate the release of the film here are some top high street picks to get some ballet inspired dressing into your wardrobes this season. Will you chose the path of the white or black swan?

WHITE

ASOS swan long pendent necklace, £8

River Island pink ¾ sleeve top, £14.99

River Island pink block stripe socks, £6.99

Miss Selfridge cream single pocket shirt, £32

Topshop grey spot floaty contrast waistband skirt, £35

Topshop vestry pink leg tie ballet pumps, £18

BLACK

Rimmel 60 second nail polish in Green with Envy, available at Superdrug, £3.69

Topshop lips in Hazard, £8

Topshop black feather and stone headband, £18

Topshop black cut out back shirt, £38

ASOS premium weave mesh leggings, £30

Miss Selfridge black ¾ sleeve lace bodysuit, £20

And to finish with here is the film trailer for Black Swan:

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