My hair refuses to be tamed. Each morning brings a fight. And anti-frizz serum. Another one to make it smooth. There is a lot of sighing.
A hairdresser recently whispered to me “Sometimes, it’s all about the brush…”. Point taken. To be fair, having a 8 year old in the house meant a huge collection of Hello Kitty ones. I’m not even sure where they all came from. I can only remember buying one. The one I’m mainly using. It’s bright pink, the first I see when I am still on autopilot in the morning. If you’re a mum, you know. Some details you happily forget when you haven’t had a coffee yet.
Time to go hunting for a high tech adult version. Luckily, Ecotools, my beloved make-up brushes brand, has just launched a new range. Yes, you guessed right – 5 beautiful hairbrushes, each with a different skill. You’re sure to find the perfect one!
Why fall for these? Because they’re light but offer a good grasp, thanks to their ergonomic bamboo handle. Because the brand is eco-conscious (renewable bamboo forest, recycled and recyclable paper for packaging…) and yes, this is compatible with beauty. But also because they are equipped with an aerodynamic Eco-Vent system that dries hair 20% faster. Really? Yes. I have tried it and on still damp hair, do not even need a hair dryer any more. It’s brilliant!
Which one to choose? Depends on what you need. In order of appearance on the pictures… Styler and Smoother if you love styling your hair. Sleek and Shine finisher, ideal for longer hair, distributing the natural moisturisers nicely. For a brushing, two sizes of round ones: Quick and full volume styler. The first is better for short to medium hair, the other for more volume in the curls. And the magic touch, Smoothing Detangler, will make your hair knot free without tears.
The bonus point? Ecotools has created a synthetic versions of boars’ hair. Cruelty free but wow, what a shine!
Her father was a carpenter by trade. From him, she learnt to see space differently – lines, levels, a clear, precise vision. She uses fabric colours like others a brush, mixing textures, daring a bolder hue or pattern, breaking through the classicism of a room. She has 3 kids which to me would mean constant chaos (house and mind) but she creates superb contemporary rooms with a sense of inner light… Meet Esther Taylor.
Your father was, you say, your first inspiration. Tell us a few childhood memories, what did you learn from him?
I used to love spending time in his workshop. It felt magical and I remember the wonderful smell of freshly cut wood and I was mesmerised by all the machinery. From a young age, my dad would take me to the park and quiz me on my rules of perspective drawing always guiding me softly. I grew up alongside this creativity and spent many hours sketching my own designs on the back of envelopes and spare paper. My creativeness is all down to him.
When did you know this would be your life passion?
For as long I remember. I remember putting schemes together from such an early age and I knew interior design would be my passion as well as my vocation.
Your eyes sparkle, as if you were filled with constant inspiration. How would you define your style, your signature?
Clean and concise, I always like my lines and levels to be perfect when it comes to the structure. When it comes to the interior, I like to layer textures from a similar palette and I give it a pop with colour.
What kind of project do you prefer? A specific theme? The freedom to do anything you want with a room?
A specific theme. I love being challenged and being taken out of my comfort zone. I find I produce my best work when I have to adapt my taste to that of what the client wants.
How do you reinvent a room? Do you have a specific starting point – a feature in the room, a first piece of furniture?
I always try and start with a point of inspiration, be it a fabric, colour, texture or piece of furniture. I then look at that item and see what various directions I can take in terms of design, colour and texture. I will very often ask the client what they have in mind and work with that because ultimately it is the clients’ space. I once designed an entire master suite based on a pillow case!
You have three children – how do you combine design and children in a house? The theory is easy but practically… any tips?
Lots of storage is essential and make sure everything has its place. When the kids are in bed, I make sure that the toys have their own place so that it can all be cleared away in the evening to create an adult environment. There are many amazing wipeable fabrics out there such as vinyl wallpapers that look like silk so you can be clever with your finishes.
Which redesign are you most proud of?
I would say my biggest highlight was designing a boutique hotel in North West London. The building had not been touched since 1874 and whilst I was tasked with creating a contemporary feel, I also had to be mindful of maintaining the Victorian charm which makes it so special. It was a big responsibility and I was extremely proud of the end result.
Monochrome or daring colours?
Definitely monochrome with a fab pop of colour.
Looking at pictures of your work, I have to admire the beautiful angles. How do you use geometry in decoration?
I always ensure that my lines are accurate and picked up correctly on various levels. I think about the point at which two textures, joins or levels meet which I call ‘junctions’ and work back from there.
If you could choose one iconic place to redecorate, which would you go for?
Every British home, I’m sure, has a bottle of Lea & Perrins in the kitchen. They may not use it everyday but it’s an essential. Ask anyone and they will answer: Cheese on toast and Welsh rarebit! Lasagna! It’s fruity, tangy and only a drop or two jazzes up a salad dressing, a pasta sauce. Oh, and of course, the Bloody Mary would not be the same without it…
But tonight I needed crunchiness. How about trying a savoury version of biscotti, mmmh?
You will need…
- 180g self raising flour
- yeast (if substituting plain flour)
- 10g sugar
- 100g sundried tomatoes
- Herbs, whichever you have in stock, thyme, oregano, basil…
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp olive oil (I used the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
In a large bowl, mix, well, everything really (my favourite kind of recipe!), keeping the egg, oil and sauce until last. Mix well, the dough is rather easy to make, dos not stick too much. Divide it in two and make a baguette-like shape with each half.
Put these two pieces of dough on some baking paper in the oven for 30 min at 180 C. Leave to cool – approx. 30-40 min – then slice thinly. Keep the crumbs, by the way, they freeze very well and will prove handy next time a recipe calls for breadcrumbs. You’re almost there, just a few more steps! Put these tartines back into the oven at 180 C, 10 min on each side. This will give them the super-crispy touch (bis-cotti: baked twice).
The tomatoes and sugar caramelise slightly in the process, the Lea & Perrins rebalancing it back towards savoury. Kids love these (and remember, mine are fussy eaters), calling them crunchy clouds. They’re gorgeous with a soup, Greek yoghurt with chives, or simply goat’s cheese…
More Lea & Perrins and Sorted Food recipes this way, presented with a lovely sense of humour too…
I prefer dream-like moments to last a little longer. After exploring the Saatchi Gallery, my mind was still contemplating parallel words, constellations of artistic details, tracing improbable lines between artists, opening drawers of memories, comparing, another filter on reality. Real life could wait…
Did you know that Gallery Mess, the restaurant of the Saatchi, also serves an excellent afternoon tea and even better, at quite a good price? Under the arches, you’ll see more art work too, eclectic, framed by a timeless spring. A neon cockerel, a bust made of stained windows, a giant, lonely shoe… The outside terrace makes it the perfect place for pushchairs and kids.
There will be delectable sandwiches: mini bagel with rich salmon, brioche-like bread with eggs and cress, a hint of salt, cucumber, mint and salted butter ribboned with pea shoots. On the second tier are the sweets, of course: lemon tart with a crème brûlée topping, mini chocolate/caramel macaron, so, so good… and in a box with a bow, two irresistible surprise truffles.
A seasonal treat had replaced the usual scones: hot cross buns, warm, rich in cinnamon, apple and raisins. Add clotted cream and jam – ah, pure happiness! Especially as all this is at £12.50/person. For that quality, it’s almost unbelievable in London… Count £17.50 to upgrade to a glass of prosecco (because it’s worth celebrating!)
*Scoop* Between April 12 and 27, this afternoon tea will be Easter themed. Cupcakes topped with chocolate eggs, shortbread covered in chocolate, rainbow bright macarons alongside the irresistible sandwiches and scones. Same price.
The Saatchi Gallery always seemed like an entirely different universe to me. An art work can invade an entire wall, a room even. It is allowed a different life entirely. It’s not the painting or sculpture finding a place in your world but you travelling into theirs.
For this new journey, Charles Saatchi has chosen Africa and Latin America. Memories of my childhood, those earthy tones, the soil thirsty for rain, dried out desert. A sudden cheerfulness, against everything else, in the fabric, the vibrant patterns of the dresses. The piling of rubbish turned into a fragile palatial architecture that looks about to fall apart yet holds on for years. Timeless. That smart understanding of transforming a few useless items into a practical tool or a child’s toy. An amazing wealth of ideas. Violence of life with war. Life, always winning, ever contrasting. The acceptance of a certain absurdity too. And faces, beautiful but haunting faces.
Go and see it. It’s touching in a surprising way that only contemporary art can be. Because it’s not necessarily supposed to look like something specific. But to provoke a thought, a feeling in you.
Actress. Author. Glamour Icon. Goddess. This woman has it all!
Joan Collins has just launched her first collection – Timeless Beauty. Because true Hollywood beauty is eternal, age defying. You could call it a lifestyle… It’s all about lining, framing a natural charm and giving that exceptional shine. I love, love her make up range, inspired by art deco design. One of those accessories you always have in your handbag: first because it fits you perfectly (some would call it a life saver), second because it catches everyone’s attention (and maybe a little jealousy too. Can’t hurt). Almost like wearing a beautiful jewel, it complements a lovely dress, perfect manicure. Look at this compact as dazzling as it is practical! Nice matte finish powder to light up your foundation, magnetic closure, a creamy rouge that hydrates deeply while brightening your smile… The names of the colours were chosen from the characters played by the stars. And yes, you can get the matching nail varnish.
Lots to discover. I have put on my wishlist, the divine rose lotion, Rose Optimise, rebalancing the skin pH. And the sumptuous night cream that erases tiredness. There also is a perfume, I am woman, quintessence of feminity, peach, bergamot, mandarin on a base of musk, tonka, vanilla… Just in case you want to put a spell on anyone on your way!
Easter is getting closer, time to add a sprinkle of cacao to your thoughts. The Duke of York Square will host a chocolate themed market this Saturday - time to stock up. Fancy something different? Don’t worry, we have no less than 20 more ideas to enjoy London this weekend…
1. Meet Pierre Hermé, king of macarons and Picasso of pâtisserie, at Selfridges on Friday.
2. Join a special Wes Anderson evening at the Riverside Studios Friday evening – they will screen two of his movies, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Hotel Budapest.
3. Fashionista alert – the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition has opened at the Barbican. A real catwalk of iconic dresses!
4. How about a Victorian Easter-themed afternoon tea at the Gilbert Scott? Child friendly too.
6. The kind of tour we like: old London then a cheese and wine tasting… This way for the Spring City Cheese Walk!
7. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich asked steampunk artists to recreate some rather amazingly genius technical inventions. Don’t miss Longitude Punk’d.
8. The BFI launches a new project, Cinema of Childhood with classic kids movies. On Southbank but also throughout the country.
9. Take the kids to Storystock, a children’s literature festival at the Saatchi Gallery.
10. Have a pint at the King’s Arms, an inviting pub dedicated to craft beers.
11. Love smoked food? Here are a few delicious addresses you should try in London.
12. Oh, oh, what a well balanced art piece at the Tate Britain.
13. Play croquet in Victoria Park on Saturday. So British!
14. See clouds of happiness at the Ronchini Gallery (Note: closed on Sundays).
15. On Sunday, enjoy a free jazz concert at St Pancras.
16. And while you’re there, have a look at the new piece of art, a Tetris suspended in the air.
17. The best donuts in London are by Dum-Dum, everyone says. Because they are baked not fried. See you there!
18. The butterfly house is back at the Natural History Museum. It will make your eyes twinkle no matter how young or old you are.
19. Get yourself a Jean Paul Gaultier éclair.
20. The so very famous Parisian Bar Hemingway has a week’s residency at the Connaught. Vive les cocktails!
♪♫♪♫ Click on the map to locate the events ♪♫♪♫
Fan of the haut-couturier? To match The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, the retrospective of his work at the Barbican, indulge in THE most hyped sweet treat. Yes, PAUL has created a Jean Paul Gaultier écalir, celebrating his famous white and blue Breton stripes… Thin, crunchy chocolate layer, a touch of ganache, traditional chou bun filled with a rich white chocolate cream.
Who needs macarons? The new edible fashion accessory is the éclair…
Limited Edition Jean Paul Gaultier éclair
Available from 9th April in all 32 UK PAUL boutiques
Jean Paul Gaultier. L’enfant terrible de la mode.
What a carreer. 61 years? The age shocked me. This genius of haute couture never seems to age, always dynamic, a contagious smile and sense of humour. Thinking about it, can you pinpoint one year without hearing of him? Punk collections, skirts for men, extraordinary muses from Dita von Teese to Beth Ditto, the Parisienne reinvented and oh, who used to watch Eurotrash?
A restrospective of his work opens at the Barbican. No less than 165 spectacular designs. “Have you realised,” asked Nathalie Bondil during her introduction, “that it is easier these days to see a Van Gogh up close than a haute-couture dress?” Yes, they will seem familiar. You have seen them a hundred times in the magazines, on television. But how best to appreciate the incredible talent and work (by the creator but also his team) than to approach them in person, see the hems, the details, the textiles? Jean Paul Gaultier will admit to having resisted the idea. Museums are, well, for dead people, aren’t they? Yet, he has to admit… it is nevertheless a pleasant feeling.
What did we learn from his interview with the curator of the exhibition, Thierry-Maxime Loriot? Memories. Like his first trips to London. School trips, strange sandwiches (Britain was not renowned for its cuisine which has thankfully improved), loving the English Breakfast. Coming back late. Biba, the shop playing with vintage when the trend was barely born. Cruising the clubs. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the play, not the movie, smiling at the poster on King’s Road, just red lips on paper. This happiness, the colours, the punk movement, the experimentation with fashion. The strong contrast with Paris where everything had to be serious. London streets? Pure vitamin.
Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the boudoir, passion and obsession. JPG’s grandmother was a faith healer, read Tarot cards and people alike. She would offer comforting words, a beauty mask, tell the future. She definitely had some talent as she predicted her grandson would be very much loved. It is in that slightly magical room that he saw his first corset, learning how women used to drink vinegar to make the stomach contract, fit into this object of both torture and beauty. Of course, he didn’t fit in, was no good at football like the other boys were. He watched the Folie Bergères with his nana, started drawing in class. The teacher, meaning to humiliate, pinned it to his back (a safety pin, already a punk, he jokes). Everyone however noticed his talent for drawing instead, making him realise there might be something there…
But back to the show. The mannequins were created by the Joli Coeur company. They are not static: a video of a face singing, speaking… is projected on the heads. Very realistic and a way to pay a tribute to the people he loves. Surrounded by a coven of strong women, Jean Paul Gaultier admits to have been taken aback by top models not speaking much, having been to told to be beautiful and shut up. Here is the answer to that stereotype of beauty without brains! The male mannequins are more on the homme objet side, roles reversed. Beauty can be so many different things and that value is clearly important to him. He remembers watching Guess who’s coming to dinner - where a young girl presents her black boyfriend to her parents. Not really the norm at the time. Years later, he would be the one presenting a black boyfriend to his parents. But their only care was whether he was in love. And this is reflected in his fashion, this acceptance, multi-culturality, this humanity. Transcending age, size, shape, nationality and colour. Beauty is everywhere, he concludes, if you open your mind.
This exhibition is… like a walk through the artist’s mind. He loves telling the stories, created in fabric and accessories, mixing styles and pieces. Rather than a chronological presentation he favours themes dear to him. The famous marinière, punk, ethnic, boudoir and so many more. His creativity seems limitless – and consistent, it is impossible to separate decades! The word phenomenal was repeated quite a few times… Tweed and denim progressing to angular leather. Camouflage in urban wear. The corset, dominating rather than oppressing, worn on top of the clothes rather than under, a choice not an obligation. His virgins and saints are deeply touching, closer to goddesses, mermaids even sometimes, Joan of Arc like too. Most dresses are hyper-sexualised giving women power over masculine vulnerability. It was supposed to be a tribute to him, he made it a tribute to us.
Oh, and Odile Gilbert’s work on the hair and wigs is simply astonishing, giving an extra spacial dimension to the mannequins.
- The free application created to better enjoy the exhibition. Lots of behind the scenes, insights. And a video introduction by JPG himself.
- The Gaultier pop-up bar, a special martini one. Check it out, the furniture was designed by the artist with Roche Baubois. Open everyday until the end of the exhibition, 17.30 to 21.30.
- A splendid program of screenings, JPG’s favourite movies. including Falbalas on May 22, which inspired him to be a couturier. He will be answering questions on the day.
- Striped éclairs, a collaboration with PAUL. Available in their 32 British shops from 9th April.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier - From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
9th April – 25th August 2014
Barbican Art Gallery
Silk Street, London
A quiet street near La Madeleine. Baccarat, Caviar Kaspia, Mariage Frères, La Maison de la truffe, Fauchon. Discreetly luxurious boutiques, jewel boxes for gourmets.
The Hotel New Roblin is woven into the elegant fabric of the neighbourhood. The welcoming lounges remind me of a distant era of travels, as if we had switched to a sepia photo album. Everything is new – recently renovated - but they still succeed to recreate this amazing atmosphere. Gentlemen’s black leather armchairs, studded with gold against vases of fresh white hydrangeas. Butterfly collection neatly pinned. Hunting trophies. Chemistry bottles. A mirrored chest of drawers was inspired by vintage trunks, down to large leather handles. Chandeliers are theatrical, framed by metallic circles. A fire is burning in the hearth. It is easy to picture travellers about to depart for other colonies. Extraordinary safaris being planned. Long boat trips to be taken to reach other continents. Whisky and half smoked cigars…
Leave the modern lift aside, appreciate the vintage one with its elegant wrought iron. Narrower but ah, for a minute you feel in another century. A Jules Vernes novel about to start. The stairs are superb too, circling around the different levels, intricate, nostalgic charm of which only Parisian buildings have the secret. Oh, to run down these steps with a mousseline skirt, as if about to fly away!
The decoration of the rooms was influenced by the various arrondissements of Paris. Ours certainy retains the chic of the 16th district. The shape is unusual, absolutely fascinating, reassuring too in its way: oval. Ivory and light blue hues, tiny flowers on the wallpaper thoughtfully included for the morning light, when the sky is still grey, waiting for the first rays of sunshine. A room that wakes up slowly, then the diamond crystals of the chandelier suddenly catching a line of silver. Delicate. I spent a long time, feet on the cushions, supine, head right under this lamp, admiring it. Crystal-therapy! It almost calls for a David Hamilton artistic blur to explain the dream like effect. Times flows by, appeasing.
In the bathroom, the shower is dynamic enough to gently massage your shoulders and oh, is that lovely. Soft cotton robes await, towels warmed on the heated railing. The toiletries are chosen from the gorgeous Hermès à l’écorce d’orange verte range, leaving a fresh, tonic note on your wrists, at the base of the neck.
On the side of a table, you will find a smile, a sweet palet by Jean-Paul Hévin and a divine square by Ladurée. It actually is quite hard to leave and go down for breakfast (although the buffet is rather impressive, down to a cheese platter and oeuf coque!). No, choose romance instead. On second thought, if I could stay there again, I would definitely have it in the room, languid, princess against a mountain of cushions, Jasmine tea and croissant, a book maybe, the window half open, a slight breeze making the light curtains dance…
New Hotel Roblin
6, rue Chauveau-Lagarde