The celebrity beauty juggernaut show no signs of slowing down: the latest additions being Dita Von Teese perfume, Kate Moss lipsticks, Rachel Zoe lipsticks (in the US) and the rumour of a Coty created Madonna perfume.
Trust MAC to subvert it all by co-opting haute-eccentric-heiress and couture-buyer-extraordinaire Daphne Guinness to dream up some pre-Christmas make up products for them. Gaga perfume is apparently arriving next year and I can’t help wondering if she will live up to her image and make something along the lines of Commes Des Garcons Odeur 53 (the smell of dust and metal and glass) or if she will go for the bubblegum synthetic pop of her music (which I personally dislike in general) and fashion something saccharine and obvious.
Of the other new launches around I’m particularly enamoured of Biba make up – great palettes, bright colours – I’m a sucker for a dinky little box. What’s more it’s reasonably priced and I’m so over obscenely priced beauty products. Frankly I’d rather spend the money in Cos‘ new online store.
It’s actually the third time Biba have launched their make up. The first time, in the early seventies it was only available in the store and they were famously the first brand to provide testers – and they did wonderfully weird shades such as black lipstick. The brand made a brief reappearance in the mid Nineties – prompted by the seventies fetishism of that decade – but sadly fizzled out. And now it’s back again, accompanying the revived fashion line.
I do hope it survives but in all honesty I’m not sure what the identity of Biba is any more. I know what it stood for in the early Seventies, but I fear it has been so diluted and corrupted there’s not much of the original spirit left in terms of fashion or beauty.
As with gourmands (edible fragrances), I can now admit that I have been somewhat prejudiced towards celebrity fragrances. This wasn’t without reason; a lot of them genuinely were cheap, formulaic, derivative, overtly saccharine and obvious. Like gourmands, I reasoned they were often created with a young, uninformed, unsophisticated demographic in mind. There was very little artistry involved in the creation of these perfumes. But of course the minute you dismiss a genre of fragrance (or well anything in life really) something comes along and narkily disproves you. In this case it was Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely – which is really such a classy fragrance that it could be Chanel – and that’s a compliment indeed.
Anyway that was a few years ago now and hundreds of celebrity offerings have debuted since then. I can now admit there are one or two that I quite like – they are not all execrable. Namely Kate Moss’s Vintage Muse, which came out last winter. If you look at the notes on paper it does not bode well: plum, rhubarb and chocolate. It sounds like another sugary confection aimed at impressionable pre-teens. However when you actually smell it it’s really quite sophisticated – you get the tart, sour facets of rhubarb and plum rather than the juicy plumpness and it’s actually quite recherche.
It actually reminds me of how a stylist friend of mine used to smell – she blended her own oils – in other words not obvious and sweet but something a fashion insider might like. The other perfume that landed on my desk recently and that’s really okay, but maybe not great is Kim Kardashian’s debut. Now I had expected to hate this, not being afan of Kardashian herself (another fake tanned talentless wannabe famous for no reason) but it’s actually quite nice. What you get is a huge dose of tuberose – reminiscent of Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower or Michael Kors’ eponymous offering. I love tuberose as much as the next person – what I’m slightly ambivalent about is the chocolate note used to underscore it which make it a very rich, dense sweet tuberose. I might have preferred a more translucent take on the tuberose, but then that might have been a bit too derivative or Kors and Malle.
In the early hours of Saturday 28th August 2010 British photographer Corinne Day died after a long battle with cancer. Born in 1965, Day became known for her raw aesthetic and documentary-style. She first picked up a camera while working as a model, recording the everyday lives and struggles of her colleagues – and returned to the UK with a prolific body of work. In 1990 The Face magazine gave Day her first editorial commission – an eight page story featuring the scrawny teenage beauty Kate Moss, styled by Melanie Ward and entitled ‘3rd summer of love’. The resulting collection of black and white shots of a freckle-faced, squinting Kate Moss launched the careers of all three women.
Corinne Day’s career has been punctuated by controversy – not least for her 1993 Vogue shoot of Kate Moss in her Soho flat wearing boyish underwear and framed by fairy-lights. Yet it’s her hard-edged, grunge style that made her so influential. Like her contemporaries Juergen Teller and David Sims, Day helped to distort, disturb and reinvent the glossy face of fashion photography. But by the late Nineties she’d became disenchanted with the stale and airbrushed look of magazine editorials, turning instead to reportage. This body of work was collected in the book ‘Diary’ published by Kruse Verlag in 2000 – her anti-fashion antidote to the world of glamour.
Honesty was at the heart of Corinne Day’s life and work. On discovering her terminal illness in August 2009, she insisted on recording her entire hospital experience – combating despair with documentary. In her own words: “Photography is getting as close as you can to real life, showing us things we don’t normally see. These are people’s most intimate moments, and sometimes intimacy is sad.’’