Saturday, 31 July 2010

Beauty Top Ten

After three years being holed up in various Conde Nast fashion cupboards - unpaid - I decided to call it a day. Enough was enough and I made the decision to leap from the World of fashion into beauty.
I didn't have to travel far and landed an internship in the Tatler Beauty department. Unlike the huge fashion department's I'd worked in, 'Beauty' was tiny. There were just three of us. This meant that I was allowed to do something other than repetitious 'returns' for once.

I was assigned two of their existing monthly columns; Tales from the Powder Room and New Best Friend. Definitely my career highlight to date, my first published work!

I'd never been that into beauty. My first piece of makeup, a clear mascara from Avon, had been a resident in my make up bag since I waseleven years old.
However, there was one time that I can still feel the excitement as if was yesterday. One Christmas when I was nine years old, some family friends gave me a hamper from the Body shop, full - so full it couldn't close - of every product imaginable from their teenage range. My friends and I were obsessed with the Dewberry, White Musk, Ananya and Satusma ranges and now, I had the whole lot. The soaps, scents, scrubs, flannels, oils...everything.
I'm actually getting butterflies remembering it now.
But apart from the Avon mascara and the hamper, beauty products had never really been my thing. Until my first day in the Tatler beauty department, that was. I'm not really sure at which moment I flipped from wanting to fritter my money away on a pair of Chanel clogs to happily shelling out a weeks wages on organic rose serum, but I was hooked.
Suddenly, I was having hamper moments every day. I would arrive at work and couldn't sit down for all the new potions and lotions waiting to be sampled.
I quickly learnt which products were a total waste of time. Most creams that promise youthful beauty and wrinkle reductions do bugger all. They just sit around on the top of our skin as the mollecules are too big to be absorbed into the dermis. ie total waste of money.
My placement there was quick - seven months - but it fueled my love and interest in all things beauty.
Im on the constant look out for revolutionary new products that actually work; state of the art spas, the best beauty therapists, waxers that leave you in-growing-hair-free and the longest lasting nail polish.

I hope that my finds make you as happy as they do me!

According to a renowned Harley Street dermatologist, some of the best products on the market today are Skinceuticals. For dry skin the B5 Hydrating gel really does makes skin softer and the fine lines much finer.

Smelling of Roses

My current fixation is from organic brand ILA. I'm a huge devotee of all their products so am not that surprised by the gorgeousness of my latest find. Ila hydrolat toner is a divine smelling, moisturising toner made with distilled water from organic Damascena rose petals.
Another similar and equally as gorgeous creation is Chantecaille's pure rosewater spray. There's something very luxurious about the simple yet solid glass bottle that manages to make me cough up the extortionate £40 each time I stumble upon it.

Ila and Chantecaille rose toners. £28 and £40 respectively

Secret St Tropez

Jas de Roberts

Every sunday outside the village of Grimaud at you can find the wonderful flee market/brocante, Jas de Roberts.
There are a couple of stalls that I head straight for each week. One where I find ribbon; still on their original spools and for a bargain 2 euros, I cant resist buying them every time despite having no actual use for them.
Another lovely lady always has a great selection of vintage ticking, grainsacks and random bits of fabrics she's syphoned off from crumbling French Chateaux that I cant seem to live without.

Parking is surprisingly free and make sure you go early as the stall holders start packing up by midday.


This is my favourite shop in St Tropez. Stocking all of my favourite French designers under one roof; Isabel Marant, Ginnette ny, et vous, Antik Batik and Vanessa Bruno makes leaving here empty handed virtually impossible. It's owned and run by the lovely Jean-Pascal and his ultra chic girlfriend Isabel, who buy the best pieces of each collection.

Trinity, 50 rue Allard, St Tropez, VAR, France
Tél. : 0033 (0)6 77 81 51 06

Friday, 30 July 2010

...Pick and Mix...

Below are some of my hand-covered books

'Pick and Mix bar'

Each book is made to order. First you can choose which sort of book you want - Either a plain paged notebook, an address book, diary, visitors book, photo album - any book you like really...
Then, choose your fabric.
melange them together et voila!

...Setting up shop..

Positive reactions from the notebooks made me want to create more.
I was on a mission to track down beautiful, rare and vintage fabrics and spent my days trawling through local brocantes, weekend Provencale markets and overpriced vintage boutiques.

I found a great shop in my local village of Cogolin called 'Maison de Julia'. One half is full of antique furniture and the other, much to my delight, full of antique fabrics. Julia has spent most of her life collecting a treasure trove of antique visions; exquisite slips of lace, 100 year old striped linen napkins, grainsacks in immaculate condition, embroidered lace collars and faded floral numbers alongside the occasional bit of Edwardian underwear - of which I admit I have a slight addiction to...
She would let me sit on her floor for hours, rifling through the cupboards, pulling out pieces that made my head spin with excitement, in return for tidying her shop. More often than not she couldn't bare to part with something I'd found and would prise it out of my hands and keep it until one day she felt ready, and then of course, she promised, I would be the first person she'd let have it.

Birds of Paradise fabric, found on my first trip to Maison de Julia

Thursday, 29 July 2010

..Let the crafting commence..

Every sunday, come rain or shine there is an incredible 'brocante' called 'Jas de Robert' down the road from our house. It was here that I found my first scrap of vintage french fabric that inspired me to begin my business. There wasn't much of this fabric but I loved it so much I had to find a use for it; I could either frame it or cover a notebook in it. I did the latter. After days trying to work out the way to cover the book, covered in Copydex, I finally found the best way to do it as neatly and professional looking as possible.

The first collection of my handcovered notebooks.

Life begins in France

The area I moved to in France is very seasonal. During the summer months you can't move for tourists and come winter it's a ghost town. This meant that finding creative, well paid, full time work was like searching for a needle in a very big haystack. I worked in a fashion boutique called Trinity in St Tropez for my first Summer. There weren't many shifts I must admit but the fact that my parking cost more than I was paid and I could never leave without spending my days wage on anything Isabel Marant, meant that I wasn't destined to be there that long..

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Willow Rose Boutique

Willow Rose is the business I set up in 2007 when I moved to the South of France. After graduating from the London College of Fashion in Fashion Promotion I worked on various magazines in their fashion
and beauty departments.
I grew up dreaming of working for Vogue but after years of placements here and there and empty job promises left, right and center, I decided it was time to stop dreaming and realise it was never going to happen.
Around that time my boyfriend of 3 years (now husband) decided to up and leave London and move to a tiny Vinyard just outside St Tropez in the South of France.
Six months after he left, I finally decided that maybe France was the place where I could become a hugely successful, multi-millionairess fashion writer/stylist/boutique owner/artist extraordinaire
and booked my one way ticket.....

My new life in the vines.