Friday, 30 October 2015

Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Exhibition

There seems to be a trend happening in London, and I very much approve! Some of the world's biggest and brightest fashion houses are coming to London with wonderful exhibitions showcasing everything from the brands history and famous designs to how designers take their abstract ideas and take it to the catwalk. Following the launch of the fabulous Louis Vuitton exhibition, Series 3, Chanel have created the wonderful Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Exhibition at the stunning Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.

Mademoiselle Privé, a journey through the origins of CHANEL's creations capturing the charismatic personality and irreverent spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld.

This autumn, Karl Lagerfeld and CHANEL will present an enchanted journey through the House's creativity. The "Mademoiselle Privé" exhibition will highlight the Haute Couture, the re-editions of the High Jewellery "Bijoux de Diamants" collection created in 1932 and CHANEL N°5. Opening the doors to reveal a dazzling experience and immersion into the origins of CHANEL's creations, "Mademoiselle Privé" will capture the charismatic personality and irreverent spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld.

Installed on all three floors of the Gallery, the enticing adventure will bring to mind the House's essential elements: audacity, freedom and innovation whether it is the history of Gabrielle Chanel's inspirations or Karl Lagerfeld's inimitable take on CHANEL's codes, symbols and icons.

This exhibition is a must for any Chanel obsessives like myself, but you have to be quick. This free exhibitions last day is Sunday 1st November, so hotfoot it to the Kings Road, treat yourself to a big dose of style, glamour and beauty.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Five must-have pieces for your autumn wardrobe

Summer has abandoned us. It’s true and the sooner we all come to terms with that the better. Autumn isn't all that bad, especially if we focus on all the shopping we can do to get through that tricky transition period where it’s hot and sticky one minute, then freezing and drizzly the next. So here are my top five essential items to ease you into cosy autumnal-ness.

The Blazer

I can’t live without my blazer at the moment. Not only does it effortlessly transform even the most basic jeans and t-shirt into a sleek look, it’s also easy to take on and off and carry depending on the ever-changing British weather. I go for classic black, but it’s worth investing in a whole range of colours. Grey, khaki and navy are personal favourites and will go with absolutely everything. My favourite blazers this season are from Zara.

The Ankle Boot

I live in black ankle boots come winter time, but they’re also perfect for autumn. Go for a neutral colour like tan, as these will look equally good with bare legs on warmer days as they will with tights as it gets drearier. It might be sad that we’re packing away our sandals, but at least we’ll have dry toes again! I’ve long been a fan of ASOS’s leather ankle boots – good quality, mix of styles and half sizes and wide fit available.

The A-line Skirt

The skirt shape of the season is definitely the A-line, whatever the length. You can go mini and 60s or knee length and 70s. The most hardworking and trend withstanding styles are in suede or denim, ideally with buttons down the front. I’m particularly fond of the folky print minis and have fallen hard for the sold out H&M number. It will be mine!

The Lightweight Knit

Never underestimate the value of a good quality lightweight knit in a natural fibre. It’s the best way to add warmth without bulk and if you spend a bit more will last you for years (if you follow the washing instructions, mind). For everyday luxury I swear by jumpers from GAP, but you need to check the labels to see what fabrics they are, and for a real treat you can’t beat J.Crew.

The Scarf

One of my favourite pieces for any season, a scarf has the ability to transform and add polish, but also can help you wrap up warm when it gets nippy. I love a statement scarf, my absolute favourite being a colourful animal print scarf in a lightweight fabric. Getting too hot and bothered on the train? Then just tie your scarf to your shoulder bag – voila – you still get a pop of colour, but without the heat. Like good quality knitwear, it’s worth spending a bit more – you’ll make your money work with the great cost per wear.


Saturday, 8 August 2015

My English Country Garden Wedding in Cornwall

For those of you who don't know, I got married three months ago to my best friend and fellow troublemaker, Mark. To not sound like a total cliche it was the best week of my life. I loved every, single second of it and it was even better than we could have predicted or planned. Sorry it's taken me so long to post about my vintage inspired, English country garden style wedding, but it's been an incredibly chaotic few months since the wedding and honeymoon.

The day wouldn't have been as memorable or as fun without all our wonderful friends and family who came down to Cornwall to celebrate with us. We extended the celebrations to a full week with our loved ones that included fun days on the beach, holing up in local pubs and having gigantic house parties.

We knew immediately that we wanted to have the celebrations in Cornwall, as all of my mum's family are from the small village of Kingsand and I've spent so much time there over the years.It's also the place that Mark proposed and over the seven years we've been together has also become a special place to him. While looking at venues, it was quite an easy decision to go with Mount Edgcumbe. I've been rolling down the hills and eating ice cream in The Orangery for as long as I can remember. So while it might look like another stately home in the UK, it was my ultimate setting for our wedding.

Q&A about the Wedding

Entrance music: Glenn Miller - Moonlight Serenade
Readings during ceremony: The Hands CeremonyMarriage Joins Two People
Favours: Sunglasses were handed out at the drinks reception and a mix tape (well, CD) of our songs from throughout the day was everyone's place setting at dinner
Menu: Antipasti, roast lamb and a trio of desserts
First Dance: Louis Armstrong - La Vie En Rose (as a nod to our New Orleans honeymoon!)
Funniest moment: That has to be between the photobooth madness, the 'Red Wine Bandits' on the dancefloor, going to the reception on a golf cart or the best man's speech, which involved a flip-chart with Mark's fashion crimes!
Favourite moment: There were so many, but it has to be when everyone had the left and we made our way to the honeymoon cottage on the grounds. We were the only ones left in this huge park and just strolled through the moonlight while stargazing
What was worth the headache: The DIY photobooth, the sunglasses and the CD favours
What wasn't: I can't think of a single thing!
Planning advice: Do your research! I was planning a wedding 300 miles away from where I live, so didn't ever meet a few of the suppliers face to face. Take time to find suppliers you like and plan in as much as you can. My day was made even more amazing by all the wonderful suppliers who worked together to create exactly what we'd asked for.
Honeymoon: New Orleans and Mexico - both thoroughly recommended!


Venue: Mount Edgcumbe Country House and The Orangery
Flowers and theming: Escential Blooms
Photographer: Richard Skins
Videographer: Electric Weddings
Hair & make-up: Rosie Finnigan from SalonX
Bride's dress: Silk + Satin
Groom's suit: Reiss
Bridesmaid dresses: M&S
Ushers suits: M&S
Stationary: Maya Moore
Cakes: Juicy Lucy Cupcakes
Lights: Glow Love Lights
Balloons: BubbleGum Balloons


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Warehouse Summer Sale

A good sale is harder to find than a tasty Pinterest recipe for a flourless and nut free keto brownie, but fear not, for I have found one. The Warehouse Summer Sale is it. A wonderful mix of key summer pieces and even a few gems that will take you through to the next season and now with up to 70% off. I've picked out three of my favourite pieces from this unicorn of a sale.

Wear it with Mary Janes or block heels now, and then trade up to opaque tights and patent ankle boots for an autumnal look that's bang on trend.

Denim skirts are so having a moment, and button through skirts even more. At this great sale price you could even buy two - keep one as it is and chop one down to an A-line mini. Voilà - you have two denim skirts for every outfit!

This dress is a tangerine dream for any holiday wardrobe - cold shoulder detail, relaxed fit and *fringing*. Need I go on? I didn't think so. Buy it, pack it, wear it!

Have you found a summer sale steal this season? The sales really do feel better than usual, so get out there and treat yourself to something pretty!


By Carina Sullivan

Thursday, 16 July 2015

High Society at The Old Vic

I am a die-hard musical fan. It’s been bred into me from a small age thanks to my mum’s love of The Sound of Music. One of my favourite musical is a lesser known classic, High Society. I still find it strange that it isn't very well known, considering the ridiculously famous and talented cast – Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong – not to mention a fantastically funny storyline and some of my favourite musical songs.

To say I was excited to learn that this wonderful musical was coming to my favourite London theatre, The Old Vic, would be as big an understatement as if I was to say that I was indifferent towards cats. So my swellegant brother (High Society pun) won some sibling points by buying me some tickets for my birthday. We had a long wait (tickets bought in January, tickets for June), but boy, was it worth it.

The Old Vic’s adaptation of this wonderful musical was spellbinding in every sense. The theatre has been transformed in recent years to be “in the round”, meaning that the stage is in the centre and there are seats for the audience all around the stage, rather than just in front of the stage. This immersive style was made even more special with the ‘household staff’ actors darting around as people took their seats. In the round theatre is very intimate and raw, as you are so close to the actors and the action, plus they are at ground level while everyone else is raised above them.

The entire ensemble is noteworthy, but I particularly loved Tracy, played by Grace Kelly in the film and by the refreshingly waspish Kate Fleetwood in the play (her cheekbones deserve their own blog post - wowsers!). It would have been so easy to cast a Grace Kelly-alike to re-enact the performance, but instead she was given a new lease of life and a new look. The same could be said of Mike, the character that Frank Sinatra made so charismatic in the film, who was given a slightly harder demeanour in the play, but whose comic timing was impeccable.

The opening scene also really gets the audience in the party mood and really involved with the cast. I won’t give any spoilers, but it was totally unique and fresh. We loved it and the singer Joe Stilgoe.

I don’t think I could advise you strongly enough to go and see this performance, it is the best theatre production I have ever seen in London (and I’ve seen A LOT!). But you best be quick, as it finishes on Saturday 22nd August and you don’t want to miss this swell party.

You can buy your tickets here.


By Carina Sullivan

Monday, 6 April 2015

Beauty in Review: IPL & HydraFacial at Cranwell House

As I've said before, there's nothing like your impending wedding to make you reassess and overhaul your lifestyle, diet, exercise regime, skincare, hair care, etc..., so I was thrilled when the beauty sanctuary, Cranwell House, contacted me and asked if I'd like to trial their IPL therapy facial. I liked the treatment, the clinic and the results so much I booked in for more treatments then and there!

Charlotte Nial is the owner and director of Cranwell House Skin Clinic in Ingatestone in Essex, and she brings her unique beauty and skincare expertise to all her clients, offering them tailor-made advise and skincare programs to everyone so they can achieve great skin. Charlotte's pure passion for wellbeing and skincare is always evident and easy to see. I've never met another skincare and beauty professional with a truer passion for helping people get the best for and from their skin.

Cranwell House specialises in skincare, laser and cosmetic procedures as well as offering many beauty and wellness therapies in a spa environment. All the staff are extremely friendly, professional and discreet. There is even a carpark and back entrance if you are sensitive about your treatment or appearance, They really have thought of everything to make your treatment as easy and enjoyable as possible.

So here's the science bit about the IPL therapy...

IPL (Intense Pulse Light) therapy is used to improve the appearance of photo aged skin by clearing superficial pigmented and vascular lesions. This advanced technology makes it possible for us to help you achieve perfect looking skin, helping to erase freckles, sun spots, age spots, sun damage, hyper pigmentation, thread veins, broken capillaries, facial redness, Rosacea. At Cranwell House, we use the E Light system, which utilises Elos technology, an exclusive technology, which combines pulsed light energy plus radio frequency energy. Both are delivered into the skin as a combined pulse resulting in a much more efficient and safer treatment. The treatment wavelengths raise the temperature of targeted lesions to a level required for destruction.

ReFirme™ skin tightening procedure is a non invasive wrinkle treatment that uses a combination of infrared light and bi-polar radio frequency to safely heat the dermis (deeper layers of your skin) which affects dermal collagen. Collagen and Elastin depletion in the dermis result in loss of dermal volume, presenting as lines, wrinkles, laxity and sagging in the skin. ReFirme™ skin tightening procedure stimulates long term collagen as well as shrinking existing collagen fibres to give an immediate, smoother, less wrinkled appearance.

The treatment also includes some before and after photos of your skin. The best thing is this isn't about the superfitial surface appearance, or what can be seen with the naked eye, but what the camera can see. This will highlight everything (you've been warned!) including brown spots from skin damage (bottom left) and and red patches which may show skin conditions or broken capilaries (bottom right). A shameless boast is that when Charlotte took my photos before the treatment she couldn't believe I was almost 30 and had so little sun damage, her exact words were it was the best she'd ever seen and I got a skincare gold star for my sun protection. I have to admit this is an important part of my routine and I religiously look for SPF and protection in my mousiturisers and make-up.

So the main issue I had was redness on the apples of my cheek, and this is what Charlotte targeting using the IPL treatment. If you've ever used an at home laser hair remover then you will know exactly what to expect with the treatment. If you haven't, it feels like a quick sharp ping with an elastic band. The good thing is the pain fades instantly and I have *extremely* sensitive skin and even I don't go red or blotchy. The treatment is not your traditional, relaxing facial treatment, but I think would work really well for someone with more sun damage or redness.

While I was there for my appointment Charlotte recommended a complete skincare overall and talked to me about diet, well being and my overall routine. This helped so much and she explained that while I have combination skin with very dry patches, by using rich facial creams I was clogging my sensitive pores and causing breakouts. She recommended a range of Priori products that I have since been using everyday and have noticed a big difference. I now use the Priori AHA Mild Cleanser followed by the Priori Barrier Repair and the all important Priori SPF30 Protector - I will have great skin by the wedding (fingers crossed!).

I also decided to treat myself to their famous HydraFacial, which is the ultimate deep cleanse for your skin. My skin felt amazing, inside and out, and just *so* clean. It's more relaxing and enjoyable than the IPL facial as well, and would be perfect before a big night out. I think the photo of my skin the day after, with no filter and only a CC cream later (above), shows the effects. Here's how it works...

The wet Hydra Facial begins with diamond tip dermabrasion to remove dead cells and impurities, tolerable for even the most sensitive skins. Serum softens, lifts and extracts sebum and impurities whilst cleanses and hydrates the skin. Vacuum suction extracts congested cells and impurities. The Hydra Facial is then concentrated on specific lines to add moisture to these areas, to soften the line or wrinkle, a natural alternative to fillers. Visible skin refinement and an even, radiant skin tone can be seen after just one treatment.

Find out more about Cranwell House, their services and their prices here.


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Lace to Love

I just can't get enough of lace at the moment, so it's no surprise that my Wednesday Wishlist consists of not one but three lace dresses. All three are from Topshop and I'm amazed how luxurious and high-end these beautiful pieces look.

Maybe it's the fact that I've seen one too many wedding dresses recently, but lace is just so romantic and girly - yet totally fashion forward and clean. The silhouettes from Topshop are just so freakin' good. I honestly can't pick a favourite.

From a delicate eyelash lace to a heavy, metallic brocade lace - it's all in the detail. I love the bardot neckline of the limited edition cold shoulder dress and the gently scalloped hem and neckline - perfect to wear to a summer wedding. The tasselled crop top and skirt is a killer combo of lace and fringing and would look amazing in a swanky cocktail bar or at a spring wedding.

Sex up eyelash lash with a bodycon shape and sheer sleeves like this lace bodycon dress - perfect for date night or when you feel like hitting the dance floor.

Do you love lace? Which dress is your favourite?


By Carina Sullivan

Monday, 9 March 2015

F&F spring/summer 15 collection will give you wanderlust!

The new collection from F&F for this season may be their most impressive to date. Moving away from basics that you may pick up with your milk, eggs and bread, they curated an on-point, sleek and covetable capsule wardrobe for summer.

The scene is set with this amazingly beautiful photoshoot, which took place in the Nevada desert with the golden Maja Mayskar photographed by the wonderful Frederic Pinet. I just can't stop looking at the beautifully elegant lookbook - high fashion at around £20 a piece is not to be sniffed at.

The collection is heavily based on an updated 70s traveller and ticks so may boxes of what we saw on the SS15 catwalks. It has an utilitarian appeal that is matched with an easy sexiness, something that only such stripped back basics can give. Sandy and khaki colours are partnered with seriously cool monochrome to create pieces that will slot into your summer style.

There are so many wonderful pieces in the collection, each one working with the other pieces, in a collection that has a wonderful balance and would create a uniform you wouldn't need to deviate from all season long. I particularly love the lightweight, relaxed fit khaki trench coat and the longline waist coat in sharp white. Both would look fab over a pencil skirt or go all out with the 70s and team them with flares.

The collection is in store and online at F&F from today. I'll be reviewing my favourite pieces from the collection very soon - so stay tuned!


By Carina Sullivan

Monday, 16 February 2015

The quest for the perfect wedding shoes

One of the hardest things I've found about all this wedding planning malarkey is searching for wedding shoes. After you've found the perfect wedding dress, you have to find some beautiful shoes to match. You may think you have ages to do this, but alas you don’t. If, like me, you’re having your dress made to measure you’ll need your shoes when you order the dress and even if you don’t you’ll need them for your first fitting.

I thought it would be easy to find any amazing pair of wedding shoes to go with my dress, but from the start I decided I didn't want ‘wedding shoes’. You know, ivory satin monsters that look like something your granny might wear? Yeah, those. But here’s the tricky part. Those bloody shoes have something many other shoes don’t have – they’re designed with extra comfort features so you can wear them all day.

Wedding shoes aren't designed to be worn for a few hours on car-to-bar nights out, but to be worn all day long while you’re constantly on your feet – walking down the aisle, during the ceremony, hugging everyone and then dancing the night away. They’re equipped to handle that shit, they’re quite literally built for that. So when you start looking for cooler, quirkier, colourful alternatives on the high street you may have the same issues I did.

What the high street heels have in style, design and finish they lack in comfort and staying power. Plus, can we talk about insane heel heights for a second? I’m not exactly challenged in the height department – I'm 5’10” – but even average height girls who wear heels all the time surely don’t want to do their entire wedding day in 5 inch heels!?

I’d be a grouchy, moany cow before we’d finished the photos! So herein lies the dilemma. It is nearly impossible to find pretty, mid-height heel shoes that are comfortable enough to wear all day as a bride if you don’t want to go for bridal shoes. After looking everywhere from Oasis and M&S to ASOS and Topshop I hit the jackpot.

LK Bennett has a huge selection of shoes in different heel heights and as well as pretty bridal inspired heels, they also have a pretty amazing selection of fashion heels, in loads of colours and heel heights. I ended up going for Karim pink ombre glitter heels with a low kitten heel and an ankle strap. I love them like a fat kid loves cake and I'm so happy I found them. The best thing is they're leather, so will stretch to fit my foot and be comfy all day.

Since I got them and have told fellow brides-to-be that I found my wedding shoes at LK Bennett they've all dashed in there to see the collection themselves. If you quality, colour and a great choice of styles and heel height, you should take a look too. Beats ivory satin any day.


By Carina Sullivan