Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

He errors who thinks Santa enters through the chimney.
Santa enters through the heart.

- Charles W. Howard, founder, Santa Claus School of Michigan

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Love Boat Has Arrived

This one comes from the vault of dating good-times (it has an echo in there):

A good friend was on Brisbane's preferred mode of transport - the City Cat - the other day, minding her business, thinking about the hard day of work ahead when her moment of solitude with her iPod was pleasantly interrupted by a City Cat operator tapping her on the shoulder, saying "the captain of the boat wants you to have this". "This" being his phone number on a scrap of paper. Gutsy, cool manoeuvre.

He whispers via text that he notices her every day, loves her style, how she dresses, her jewellery etc etc. Uber flattering. Cue further flirty texting.

They're having coffee this afternoon. She texts him asking how she'll recognise him. He replies "I'll smile at you".

Helloooooo sailor!

Another Beautiful Yellow Dress

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

I've just spent a headache inducing hour and a half in the perfume department of David Jones. My nostrils have gone numb - only a tub of Vicks can save me now!

I'm indecisive at the best of times, but I was under the added pressure of 15% off today ONLY! Despite several half-full bottles of perfume at home and in the drawer of my desk at work - I felt an overwhelming need for a new fragrance. It's not a simple matter this fragrance business: I've had to ditch a lovely fragrance (Euphoria, Calvin Klein) because despite buying it for myself, a certain ex-boyfriend coined it my "signature scent" and now I can hardly bear to smell it anymore. Weirdness.

Buying a new fragrance is hardly a simple matter though: first each of the dept stores (lucky there's only 2 here in Oz) have "exclusive lines, so you have to smell all of them to ensure full education as a consumer, and second there's the simply endless range of perfumes - there's a new fragrance any given week, let alone the newbies popping up just in time for Christmas! The cosmetics houses have their staples (Chanel No. 5 anyone?) plus limited editions (I wish Chanel would bring back its Gardenia limited edition - I can't throw out the bottle even though it's all used up... I loved it) then there's the celebrity endorsements (I think my loyalty to Britney can only stretch so far) as well as the snooty perfumeries. It's very confusing, and I'm seriously no expert on fragrance. Nor do I have much patience.

The beacon of hope at the fragrance counter of late is most definitely Bond No. 9 - the latest hot fragrance house. Bond No. 9 was established in 2003, and is based entirely on New York City: there are 34 fragrances for men, women, unisex each representing a specific down-town, mid-town or up-town locale or city-wide sensibility. So there's Chelsea Gardens (very florally and pretty), Chinatown (I love it - why the hell didn't I buy it again? Oh yeah - they're also expensive!), New York Fling, Central Park (grass-clippings-ish, if you can imagine it), West End, Park Avenue, Madison Soiree etc etc. All very cool, interesting-smelling and poured into a unique star-shaped bottle.

Bond No. 9 is the brainchild of the immensely talented Laurice Rahme who, at the ripe old age of 21 headed up Lancome's International Training division, and lead Lancome's expansion in the Middle East. Bond No. 9 was inspired by a perfume store she worked in (not surprisingly the address was 9, Bond Street, NYC) and "Yet, it is the events of September 11 that motivated me to make New York smell good again and take on the ambitious project of creating a fragrance for each of its neighbourhoods (this was done for Paris, my native city in the 20th century with a dozen fragrances made by a handful of companies created for Paris neighborhoods). Now, in the 21st century it is New York's turn to become the capital of fragrance."

I admire her ambition.

One of Bond No. 9's more widely publicised and highly prized fragrances is The Scent of Peace, which indeed is quite lovely (well.. I did buy it!). Does that make me a fashion victim? Perhaps.

It's like a more intelligent version of Anna Sui's Secret Wish (which I only just realised as I sat at my desk, sniffing away at my arm). I own Secret Wish which is a light, fruity, summery fragrance which I always forget to put on. It's possibly what attracted me to Peace. I'm half contemplating going back and switching for Chinatown - last minute, Christmas-haste induced purchasing is just plain silly, particularly when it's a fragrance which you have to live with for a good couple of months (and Bond No. 9 aint cheap!). Either way, these fragrances are certainly unique and multi-layered. As my housemate said when I brought home a pile of smelling cards: "It makes you smell so .... clever!". And it does. The fragrances are incredible, and I think the headache is definitely worth it.

Of course, no fragrance worth its salt and pepper is without its gimmicks - Bond No. 9 frequently releases limited editions (only 400 of each design): there have been couplings with Swarovski to create super sparkly bottles for Bryant Park (home to fashion week tents), there was a limited edition Andy Warhol design for Union Square, which apparently captures the florally fragrance of the new spring, which is where the artist liked to go and smell the "first smell of spring in New York". Very nice. Invariably, it's the Union Square bottle you see in much of the press for Bond No. 9, which makes minimal sense to me, as there are only 400 bottles available. Or maybe it does make sense, creating that aura of exclusivity and a breathless sales assistant "I'm so sorry, it's just walked off our shelves. What about Chelsea Gardens?"

Rahme's final word on Bond's success is: "The market that's saturated is the one of the mega brands. The one of the niche brands to which we belong to is very small and is growing rapidly with less than 10 companies worldwide. I don't think we have too much competition. We have the unique story of being the only New York niche in fragrances and this is what accounts for our success. The success of New York City."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Nicole Debate

I have never really paid attention to the negative publicity before, blindly in love with Nicole as I am, but apparently she creates a dramatic division in society - there are lovers and then there are haters. Very few, it would seem, sit on the fence. The haters hate based on her insistence that she hasn't had botox or plastic surgery (while the physical evidence suggests otherwise), and their claim that she is devoid of acting talent. She also is apparently disliked for portraying herself as "perfect". So basically, they say she's a lying, talentless, fake. Meanies!!

Plastic surgery/botox/facial enhancement: who eff-ing cares? Looking gorgeous, youthful and skinny is her job! We as consumers of film and cosmetics demand beautiful young things to sell us things - Nicole is just doing her job. And like we have a right to know if she's had work done or not? No one's business but hers.

Devoid of talent... I'm a lover - y'all know what I think about that!

On the "perfect" point, I think that's an absolutely ridiculous allegation, considering she admitted her heartbreak in painfully real terms following the end of her mysterious marriage to Tom Cruise (remember when she said she couldn't get off the couch?); she discussed her miscarriage; hubby #2 went to rehab after just a few months of marriage etc. Doesn't exactly sound perfect to me. Just because she's a highly successful actress, her life is in order now and her career has until recently been going great guns, I don't think she could be labelled "perfect". Can you imagine how damaged she would have been after being married to control freak Tom Cruise for 10 freakin years?! Good on her for getting her shiz together and being at the top of her game all at once. Screw the critics!

Lately, Nicole has been branded a ratings-killer for any new film. From my biased view, I think people are angry that a woman of her age is still working successfully in Hollywood, when all the other actresses her age are washed-up rehab attendees. I also think people are angry that she hasn't opened up to the world in the manner in which we as celebrity-gossip consumbers have become accustomed: even though she has talked about heartbreak and challenges in her life, I think the haters might feel a bit ripped off that they haven't had the chance to really witness her demise (so I suppose in their mind - it's another lie) - call it schedanfreude (I'm sure I spelt that wrong). There was no headshaving, no nickerless partying, no tears. No solid, photographic evidence that her life fell apart. Being a strong female does not serve you well if you plan on being in the public eye. Lindy Chamberlain was hung out to dry for not giving the public their pound of voyeuristic flesh - her failure to cry in public convinced most of Australia she had killed her child. She's since been proven innocent. Julia Gillard has been lambasted in the media for failing to live up to the stereotype of the childbearing, fertile, occasionally-teary woman. Most of the haters of Nicole are women. Men say she's too skinny and looks like an alien, but they don't hate her. Sometimes, I think we women are our own worst enemy. Some women can't take real pleasure in other womens' - even their friends' - success: it's always tainted with envy and a need to reduce the success in their own mind (i.e. "I could do that standing on my head"; or "if I'd applied, I would have got it" or "it doesn't even look that good on her anyway" etc). By the same token, these women take unusual pleasure in other people's failure or nervous breakdown or financial struggles or break-up with seemingly perfect boyfriend ("I knew it was too good to be true!" shrill, triumphant squeal). Sometimes it's hard not to be jealous of someone else's success, and I think that's healthy - it inspires you to greater things. But to need to break that happiness or success down, or feel good about your friend's misery - that's just effed up!

I just went off topic. This became a rant. Sorry guys.

Back to topic:

I'm a lover of Nicole, so this hatred comes as an absolute shock to me. I think she's a great actress - she just happens to occasionally choose roles where she needs to play a restrained, cold person (particularly in The Others - but I actually thought she was great in that). Don't get me started on how great I thought she was in Moulin Rouge, but I now realise Nicole is not for everyone.

A recent survey of 1,000 Australians (that's not a very big sample!) found that 58% liked her, and 23% didn't! Slightly less than the painful Delta Goodrem, who is disliked by 24%.

Anyway - Nicole was recently nominated by Glamour magazine to be one of their Women of the Year. Damn right too. :o)

Here are some extracts (not authored by me) of the interview:
  • She is an ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), yet isn't photographed on the ground like Angelina Jolie despite making a point of visiting women's shelters in places like Kosovo when she can (she says "I feel dedicated to giving back to other women"). She also works to raise funds for breast and ovarian cancer (like Sarah Murdoch - and we all love her, right?);
  • She had to endure her new husband's stint in rehab in the face of a judgmental public but held her head high and is now positively circumspect about the experience ("the experience gave us deep honesty");
  • She was married to a crazy person, but has never spoken a bad word about Tom or Katie (unlike Jennifer Aniston), even joking with Glamour about her kids: "They're used to having a little one around, because of Suri. Bella is very maternal. Connor would like one of us to have a boy. Katie?"
  • She felt inferior as an actress when she was married to Tom: "I felt I became a star only by association. I didn't think [the early movies] were very good, which is why I would always cower in the background. I thought, I don't deserve to be here... I felt it was my job to put on a beautiful dress and be seen but not heard."
  • She was single for six years: "I went six years alone. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but it's better to be alone than in a lousy relationship. Work was my escape. I was existing more strongly in my creative world than in my own world... I had to find my own identity and reason for being here, and it couldn't be because of another person."
  • Even after winning her Oscar, she felt inferior, telling Glamour she went home early but if she could have the moment again would "stop being so shy and insecure, and revel in it... and go back to the Vanity Fair party!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

From the world's richest lady:
Fortune is an opportunity.
When one has received a lot, one must love giving - simply,
without ulterior motives, without calculation,
without waiting for a 'return on investment'.
And thus to give back freely to society a part of what one has received.

Behold Liliane Bettencourt, octogenarian and holder of a 27.5% stake in L'Oreal (interestingly, Nestle holds 26.4% of L'Oreal, with the remainder publicly listed). She is also reportedly one of the world's most generous philanthropists, recently handing over $2.3 billion to a photographer who photographs various celebrities and members of royalty (hmmm... interesting choice), and who was photographer to Liliane and her now deceased husband, Andre.

Not surprisingly, this little act of generosity (well, little in Liliane's terms - she is, after all, worth over $34 billion) has enraged her only child, daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (54) who has filed for "abuse of weakness" - essentially arguing that Liliane is making decisions without all her faculties in tact. Whatever.
Boring legal arguments aside, this is a fascinating family: the company was built up by Liliane's father on land that was confiscated from Jews during the second World War (the Bettencourt's are being sued for this, however it sounds as though settlements have been reached - another gift from the generous Liliane, perhaps?). Papa Bettencourt (Eugene Schuller) was thought to have been a Nazi sympathiser back in the day, and was apparently well aware that his company HQ (which he on-sold to the German govt some years later for $3.8 million) was on stolen land. Interestingly, Francoise - Eugene's granddaughter - married a Rabbi, whose parents died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. I wonder what granddad thought about that? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at their Chrismukkah celebrations.

Liliane has so far refused to take a physical examination (which includes tests for mental deterioration). She seems fine though - the quote above was taken from an interview with Liliane just a month ago. If I had $34 billion and an investment in a company that isn't getting any smaller, I think I'd be perfectly happy to give huge chunks of my fortune away to my dear friends. And if I was next in line for the family fortune... What difference does a few billion make?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Post: Colour-ific

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Oprah Winfrey is like a modern day Jesus Christ to a lot of people - her word is gospel, with millions across the globe eating up her guidance on books, movies or presidents as though it were the last word on everything. Splashed across the latest O magazine cover, we have Oprah circa 2005 looking athletic, toned and trim next to 2009 Oprah - pudgy and 40 pounds heavier. I have no idea how to convert pounds to kilograms, nor can I be bothered, but in physicality terms it makes a huge difference. I'm not surprised that she's asking herself how she let it happen. Didn't she notice she couldn't fit into her old clothes anymore?

The bleeding heart, don't-make-people-feel-bad-for-being-overweight council has come out swinging, wailing that Oprah is endorsing an unhealthy body image and encouraging yo-yo dieting when she makes comments to the effect that she feels "mad at herself ... embarassed" for letting herself gain so much weight in the past year, and that "I didn't just fall off the wagon, I let it fall on me" (that's funny!). She explains she took herself off her own priority list, stopped exercising and meditating (this is the word of the O) and started to eat badly. Who hasn't been guilty of that, multiple times?

I don't know where they of the it's-ok-to-be-fat class get off: obesity is a serious issue in our world today. The majority of Australia's population is overweight. We're fatsos, we just don't want to admit it. Sticking our head in the sand is not going to resolve what is now becoming a global epidemic - being overweight increases the incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and all sorts of other unpleasant illnesses. The current generation of children is the first ever to have a shorter life expectancy than their forebears, simply because they are fatter and less healthy than previous generations. We exercise less, eat more, drink more and everything we stuff into our face is probably a lot less healthy than it was even 15 years ago.

How can you accuse Oprah of endorsing unhealthy body images when she is promoting health, happiness, security and well-being in an honest, brave and forthright manner? I don't think we could ever accuse the Big O of being anorexic, and she's a smart enough woman to know that no food in the belly doesn't exactly give you the energy and tenacity to create the next media empire of the world (although it may be enough to launch a clothing line a la the Olsen twins).

Personally I think it's time people stopped apologising for our inability as a generation to look after ourselves and to accept the consequences of the unhealthy world we're creating. Climate change, obesity - all symptoms of the comfortable, convenient world we've manufactured for ourselves and our children without any thought toward mitigating the ill effects of the lifestyles we've created.

In our modern age when everything is laid out on the table, I don't think it's fair for people to be criticised for discussing topics that might make people feel uncomfortable or insecure about a truth in their life. And Oprah, who is unapologeticly frank about her lifelong war against the pounds, is probably one of the better placed people to discuss the issue of struggling with your weight (there's nothing worse than a size 6 moaning about her thighs as she picks at her lettuce and celery lunch). And at least she's doing something about it: Oprah is taking immediate action, with her first 5 episodes in January devoted to healthy eating, spirituality, financial wellbeing and general happy glowy-ness. I like it when people can admit their failings and run off and fix things of their own initiative. It's enough to make me want to chuck a sickie for the first 5 days of January just to get her 10 Commandmants for healthy living. I think the fat council needs to spend some quality time on the couch with Oprah for that one. 10 hail Oprah's and a virgin mary all round!

Not that I can talk. All the Christmas cheer I've been indulging in of late, I think I'm going to resemble a champagne bottle soon. You are what you eat, after all.

If only drinking champagne made you look like Grace Kelly

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Queen Madge Conquers King Louis (Vuitton)

Madonna, yoga-holic Kaballah enthusiast and mega pop star, is the latest in a long line of celebrity models to front a Louis Vuitton advertising campaign. Among previous Louis luminaries include Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Connery, Andre Agassi and Mikhail Gorbachev (less of a celebrity, but still a shining star - questionably so or otherwise).

The latest campaign is less of a luxe setting, with Madge perched in a quintessentially Parisienne cafe, legs akimbo shot by photographic star Steven Meisel. It's not the first time for Meisel to get up close and sepia-toned with Madonna - he shot her in her highly controversial (at the time - it was the '90s after all..) pictographic, Sex.

Marc Jacobs, the creative brains behind LV at the moment was adamant that Madonna be his latest model, noting "I wanted the campaign to be very bold, very sensual and very atmospheric. To carry off all these references and all this sophistication, we needed the ultimate performer - and for me, that is Madonna." (He watched her performance in her latest Sticky & Sweet tour before making the offer). The collection is said to incorporate African tribal and Parisian chic influences.

Apparently the fishnets were Madge's idea. What a surprise.

Certainly, Madonna is still huge even after about 20 years in the limelight. As a performer, yes she's definitely got it, but after so long in the game, so much exposure (we've seen her nude several times over) and publicity - good and bad - I can't see her being as iconic a "face" as someone with a little more mystique which was certainly captured by previous (particularly female) stars at the time of their career in which they were shot - J.Lo was in the early stages of her relationship with Ben Affleck and had that untouchable star quality, despite her insistence that she was still "Jenny from the block"; Uma Thurman had just completed Kill Bill to considerable acclaim and unsubstantiated rumours were flying about her marriage breakdown and muse-relationship with Quentin Tarantino; and Scarlett Johansson was at the start of the peak of her film career - just in the early days of Woody Allen discovering her and, like Tarantino-Thurman, developing a mystical muse relationship. I can't help but think that Madonna is well past her use-by date, despite her desperate attempts at yoga-induced youth. Maybe the 1940s-style shots will resonate as gloom circles the globe, and we pretend not to be quite such material girls. Perhaps the African tribal look will emerge (egads!). I'll watch with interest.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ruby Red

On Pedder is a haven of accessories, shoes and bags located in the heart of Central in Hong Kong and funnily enough, on Pedder St.

The store changes their window display every month and they are always amazing either focusing on a particular designer or a particular theme. Having just read Wicked and having the Wizard of Oz top of mind, I was pleased to see the theme for this month's window is "The Kansas Project".

The project celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz film and features shoes from 17 designers (the likes of Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, Marni etc) who have designed their own take on Dorothy's ruby red slippers. The shoes are up for auction in a silent auction and all proceeds go to the HK Cancer Fund.

The shoes are sooo pretty! See for yourselves...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Funnies

Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) is one of my favourite celebutards - she is a snappy dresser, sets many a trend (whether people will admit it or not!), she's a classic Pom, a walking stage-show and, despite being shamelessly over-exposed, I still love her. Plus, she is married to one of the hottest men in the cosmos - super inspirational. Even the way she dealt with his philandering was admirable - she staged a photo-op, a "suffer in yer jocks" to Rebecca tarty-pants-will-sell-my-mobile phone's-inbox-to-trashy-tabloids Loos, who lucked out in the end: she didn't get the guy, and in this Jane Austen world of ours, that's really all that matters. And, David appears to have learnt his lesson - his penis doesn't seem to be available to other women other than in big billboards for Armani underpants.

As well as the obvious superficial goodness of Posh, she always has the most hilarious quotes, which feeds my long-held suspicion that she is wickedly funny, self-depracating, and not the dumb-arse twig that she is oft-times portrayed as. And here we have some quotable quotes from Vicki B:
  • I’m quite spiritual. I’m very good at visualisation. I was talking to Gordon Ramsay and David about this and they’re the same. Gordon visualises a meal, then prepares it. David visualises the goal. I’ll lie in bed and think, what kind of look do I want tomorrow? Then find pieces in my mind to create it.
  • If you haven't got it. Fake it! Too short? Wear big heels. But do practice walking!
  • Is my dress too short?
  • I don't know much about football. I know what a goal is, which is surely the main thing about football.
  • On hearing that Tamzin Outhwaite (I have no idea...) wouldn't mind a night with husband, David: "Firstly, Tamzin who? Secondly, I think it's disrespectful. And thirdly, as if, love".
  • These people are amazing. It's so emotional, I was thinking about wearing water-proof mascara.
  • I think they have this impression that I'm this miserable cow who doesn't smile. But I'm actually quite the opposite. I'm going to try and smile more for America.
  • On David's penis: "He does have a huge one, though. He does. You can see it in the advert. It is all his. It is like a tractor exhaust pipe!"
  • I want a big house with a moat and dragons and a fort to keep people out.
  • My Spanish is improving and I can now ask: 'Dónde Gucci?' ('Where is Gucci?'). I also can say: 'Tienes un Bentley?' ('Do you have a Bentley?').

This is a girl who isn't afraid to say she loves the finer things in life with her tongue firmly wedged in her cheek. God love her.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We Know We're In A Recession When...

In times of economic downturns, sales of bronzer and blusher go up. I'm a big believer in the lipstick index.
- Napoleon Perdis