Monday, 30 July 2012

TFK - The Fragrance Kitchen

A new perfume house has just launched – TFK, The Fragrance Kitchen by Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah.

Based in Kuwait, this perfume house combines the tradition of Middle Eastern perfumery with the French expertise of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, where scents are analysed, executed and bottled.

Fragrance is very important in Kuwait with families closely guarding secret perfume recipes which have been passed down from generation to generation. In the UK we may have grandma’s secret recipe for a pie, jam or cake, but in Kuwait it is much more glamorous with grandma’s secret recipe being for a fragrance. And Sheikh Majed’s grandma was no exception as she taught her grandson how to create scents by mixing oils bought at the souk markets with precious ingredients sourced from India. Discovering he had a ‘nose’ for perfume, he was able to take it out of grandma’s kitchen and in to his own ‘Fragrance Kitchen’.

Although the fragrances are all unisex, some are more feminine and others more masculine.  

There are 3 fragrance collections: Signature; Exclusive and the Limited Edition Handmade line.

Signature Collection:
Numbered rather than named, these 36 fragrances are meant for everyday use.  The bottles are of simple design. Approx €100

Exclusive Collection:
This line features more opulent scents which are narrative driven.  Sheikh Majed explains that it isn’t just a fragrance but more of a story or diary evoking memories, journeys and personal experiences.

The names vary from the straightforward ‘Kuwait’ and ‘Arabia’ to the tongue in cheek  such as ‘Gone with the Smell’, ‘At Your Own Risk’ and Musky Ever After’.

My favourite in both scent and name is ‘War of the Roses’. I love the floral heart note and the musky dry down.  Plus the name is quite apt for a Yorkshire lass.

Another one that caught my eye was ‘Mister Danger’.  The name intrigued me, especially when I was actually introduced to Mr Danger himself at the press event!  Yes that is his real name. Romain Danger works behind the scenes designing the bottles and graphic patterns.

The scents in this collection are stronger and more for evening use. This year the design of the flacon is black with white graphic patterns but this will change as the idea is to update it yearly, although the fragrance will remain the same.  At the moment there are 10 fragrances and more to come as Sheikh Majed has plenty of grandma’s secret recipes.  Approx €150

Handmade Collection
This is a collaboration with designers so the fragrance and its flacon become a work of art.  Dutch ceramicist Kiki van Eijik has designed the first of the line which will be changed every season.  Her inspiration for the bottle was a spice bag. She wanted to keep the Eastern romanticism. The fragrance was then blended and once she knew the ingredients used, she  designed a pattern for the packaging which included them. Approx €1,000

We can thank Tom Ford for inspiring Sheikh Majed to open his own perfume house.  In 2009, Tom wanted an exclusive scent for his new Kuwait boutique and who better to ask than someone who already custom blended his own perfumes? The scent was called Arabian Wood and is now part of the exclusive Tom Ford Private Blend Collection.  So thank you Tom for opening up the fragrance box that otherwise may have been kept just for family and friends to enjoy.

All the perfumes can be bought from their boutique in the exclusive Al Hamra Luxury Centre, Kuwait City. But if that’s a bit too far, there is always their website

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

QVC Facewalk

QVC put on a catwalk show with a difference at the Hospital Club – it was the first ever ‘facewalk’ – concentrating solely on makeup creations.

The show started off subtly as three models in nude body stockings wore the NUDE makeup look.

But the next looks soared the appliance of makeup to new heights with the theme of SKY and SPACE.  SKY’s face in shades of light blue was a picture of floating clouds and SPACE in black, a galaxy of planets and stars.

FLOWER power came next. Reminiscent of the hippie 70s era, the first look of painted flowers adorning the whole face was a great look for any music festival, especially when combined with the long tousled hairstyle.  The second FLOWER look had more of a couture feel to it with flowers and petals applied to the side of the face.

NU WAVE gave punk a softer glamorous look with golds and apricot shades and just a touch of sparkle. The birds nest hairstyle perched like a regal crown of spun gold, fit for a Queen Punk.

GEISHA mixed the traditional white face and red cupid bow lips of the Geisha girl with modern touches of feather tipped long lashes.

BIRD was a tropical species with a golden nose, circles of red and blue around sparkly eyes and of course the feather tipped long lashes.

Alongside were the more wearable looks such as Glamour and Earth Beauty but as with the regular catwalk shows it is always the more adventurous and outrageous looks that make a lasting impression.

Makeup brands used were Jemma Kidd, Bobbi brown, Smashbox, Laura Geller, Eyeko, Dalton Cosmetics, Karen Alder and bareMinerals

Curated by leading makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Paris Haute Couture AW12 Fashion Week

This is the ultimate in designer catwalks, gorgeous fantasy shows of some of the more expensive creations the designers have to offer.  Due to the costs these shows are usually by the more established houses, but here are two of the relatively new designers.

The international Lebanese designer Basil Soda launched his own label in 2000. The collection, titled Metamorphoses, focuses more on evening wear. Colour palette; a rich vegetation of dark moss and olive greens, fiery reds and pale to brilliant golds. Plus the classic black and white which Soda refers to as ‘a promising white future’. 

Textures included:

Fringed tassels that shone like glossy hair. Check out those yeti like ankle boots!
Gold stitching appliquéd over white silk tulle. And delicate embellishments of leaf details, feathers, beads and sparkling crystals. The finale dress: A white wedding dress of diaphanous tulle embellished with delicate embroidery, large petal like sequins, silver beading and strings of tassels with both ends fixed on to the bodice. Firmly wrapped around the face and neck of the model, the veil was decorated with white twig like embellishments as though covered in snow. More of a fairytale wood nymph wedding dress than the traditional style.

Paris based but Indonesian born , Didit combines the best of both these cultures in to his creations. Inspiration came from the orchid in the twilight. The models set the atmosphere with dark bobbed wigs, black lipstick, black nail polish and spooky moonlight white coloured contact lenses. Main colour palette: shades of purple representing the transition of night to dusk to morning with deep purple, dusky lavender and the pale lilac. Other colours were silvery grey and a deep red wine. Prints were a collaboration with Calla Haynes – patterns of orchids in fabrics of silk organza and soft velvets.

Textures included:
Chinchilla fur trimmings on wide sleeves, hems and on a back to front kimono style jacket which gave the impression that the model’s head had twisted around. Embroidery by the Paris based Atelier Lesage included amethysts cut in intricate beads and slivers for an organic flow. Ostrich leather with its unique pattern of quill follicles. Feathers hanging from underneath short skirts like the long dangly sepals of the exotic orchid. And the large ruche of the Duchess satin giving the illusion of a voluptuous and delicate flower in full bloom. Mystical collection with a few spooky elements but then I scare easily.

Headpieces were designed by Philip Treacy

All Images provided by Alexandre Boulais Communications 

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Murdock London launches body and skincare range

When Murdock London opened their first barbers store in Shoreditch in 2006, they brought the ‘old fashioned ‘male grooming experience back to the fore front and provided the man about town an alternative to the unisex hairdressing salons.  Here he could experience the luxury of a traditional wet shave plus the modern pampering facilities of facials and hairstyling.  The décor is masculine and reminiscent of the ‘Good Old Days’ when barber shops were thriving and making a ‘killing’ (especially Sweeney Todd).

Now Murdock have gone one step further and have launched their first body and skincare range this summer.  Like the concept of the Murdock stores, these products aim to bring a little masculine touch in to the world of pampering.

The simple packaging has quirky old fashioned sketches of quintessentially British sporting activities such as rowing and fencing, plus the sartorial British bowler hat and pocket watch.  This old style of ‘Britishness’ is continued in the inspiration for the range as the  ingredients used include English garden herbs like mint, thyme and rosemary. Plus quince, a fruit which was very popular in the Victorian times.

The range shows an easy grooming routine:

Cleansing Facial Wash -for every day.  Includes extracts of basil, mint, rosemary, thyme and wheat.  £24

Exfoliating Facial Scrub - once or twice a week to deep cleanse the pores. £24
Anti Aging Eye Serum – with concentrated cucumber distillate to hydrate and soothe the eye area. £36

Daily Facial Moisturiser - extracts of horsetail, pine, and rosemary £26

Lip balm – a fruit cocktail of extracts of apricot, avocado, cranberry and peppermint £8
Hand & Body Wash – basil, honey, peppermint and thyme £18

Moisturising Hand Cream – shea butter, cocoa butter, macadamia nut and sweet almond. Scent rosemary. £24

I must admit it must be quite daunting for a guy to enter in to the female orientated beauty section of a department store looking for facial washes and moisturisers especially if he hasn’t used them before.  So to be able to wander in to a male orientated environment and ask for advice on skincare products must be a less challenging experience. 

Available soon in the Murdock London stores and the Shop at Bluebird Kings Rd

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky 

Monday, 2 July 2012

London College of Fashion BA Season 2012

The London College of Fashion put on a great catwalk performance last week under a Big Top setting at Shoreditch’s Hackney House. Unlike the usual runways, a circus ring was the catwalk with the exit and entrance a maze of giant mirrored columns - a sophisticated take on the funfair’s House of Mirrors. It set the scene and anticipation for the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.

‘Acts’ entered the arena thick and fast – 25 in all totalling 36 designers of menswear, womenswear, jewellery, accessories and sportswear.

The first act was a combination of menswear by Rory Parnell-Mooney, womenswear by Loko Yu and jewellery by Claire Pugh.

Rory’s collection titled 20XX had a feel of samurai warrior meets urban inner city. Although rich fabrics of leather and furs were used next to the less refined raw edged denims and cottons, the collection had a sense of minimalism as these luxury fabrics were used in a way that spoke of necessity against harsh elements rather than as an adornment. Colour palette serious taking no prisoners black.

Loko’s collection had a 3D dimension with the jackets and leotards being larger than life.  Shoulders on both were extremely wide from the straight sharp edged to the soft curved which undulated down the sleeves creating an hour glass silhouette. The collection mirrored body art growing out from the wearer as spiky beading sprang out of waistbands; tattoo patterns engraved the leather and piercings adorned the seams. 

Claire’s jewellery collection based on sustainable up-cycling was worn by both the male and female models. Although it had been created from old TV parts, it had a futuristic savage look with necklaces including shoulder pieces and nose rings covering mouths.

At the end of the show three awards were presented. Ashleigh Downer won the Barnett Lawson Award for the Best Use of Trimmings. Titled Crystallography embellishments took the form of rock crystals. Blood red crystals dripped from snow white faux fur garments singed with pink sending an anti fur message. Test-tubes with milky water hung off sleeves and adorned skirts like tassels. As though frozen in time under layers of ice, clusters of embellishments were trapped in the diaphanous white gauze fabrics. Strips of metallics glistened on jackets like the multi coloured layers of rocks with patches akin to moss and algae - all made magical in candy colours.

Rose Irwin for fashion design technology (womenswear), Diana Auria Harris for fashion contour (swimwear) and Lili Colley for fashion jewellery were awarded the Fashion Innovation for a United Vision.

Rose Irwin - A patchwork of thin rectangular strips on trousers and tops are offset from each other bringing an illusion of the bright colours bleeding in to each other like a hazy mirage. Sport orientated with boxer shorts, track suits, t-shirts and knee length ski suit. All worn with matching visors or coloured scarves also designed by Rose. Colours were eye popping shades of lime, orange and bright blues. Fabrics used silk and cotton.

Diana - Swimwear with retro silhouettes of high waist bikini bottoms and cut out sections were modernised with the use of clear PVC. Pop graphic prints designed by Margot Bowman

Lili - Jewellery of Deco and spiralling geometric shapes in neon fluorescent LED colours

The Collection of the Year was the most coveted award and went to Sebastiaan Pieter Groenen for his Bespoke Tailoring menswear collection.

Here sharp structured tailoring juxtaposed with the fluidity and femininity of the knee length chiffon vests.  Suit jackets gave the impression of being in the final stages of completion with lapels, collars and sometimes sleeves missing. Raw edged gaps around the waist or down the front of the jackets exposed the contrasting coloured diaphanous vests underneath. Black was matched with pastel pinks and blues.

After leaving the Big Top the entertainment didn’t stop as we all moved to the atmospheric exhibition area for the private viewing  of footwear, accessories, jewellery and more clothing collections. 

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky