Count your Blessings

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I was given a sample of a heavenly (no pun intended!) frangrance called Blessings.  I was enraptured by the warm, vanilla tones and was impressed by its longevity – it was easy to see that this was a fragrance of superior quality.  I promised to share my discovery with you, as it is as heart warming as the fragrance itself!

Blessings is not the creation of a large multi-national, nor is it another celebrity endoreded offering.  Blessings was conceived by a fragrance loving mother and wife (she even wear perfume to bed), whose passion and vision led to her fragrance being retailed in one of the world’s most famous department stores – the exclusive Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie in Harrods.

Belinda Brown

The creator is Belinda Brown, a native of the nation of Nigeria.   An endearing love for a classic moisturiser called Stella pomade (a rich heady mix of lavender, jasmine and vanilla) that her mother would smother her in as a child and a chance meeting with the perfume connoisseur Roja Dove, resulted in the fabulous fragrance .

So what is behind the name?  Belinda – whose Christian faith is an important part of her personal and professional life –  states that the inspiration came from the popular bible story of Mary’s Alabaster Box (the Gospel of Mark, 14:1-11).

In his Gospel, Mark doesn’t actually mention the name of the woman, but the Gospel of John identifies her as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus – whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

Jesus is the guest of honour at a gathering, and as He sits and eats, Mary enters the room with an alabaster box of perfume. Scripture identifies this perfume as spikenard, which was a very expensive fragrance imported from India.  In verse 5, this small container of perfume is valued at three hundred pence, which was the equivalent of a year’s salary for a common worker.  Some believe that this perfume may have been Mary’s dowry.  If that is true, it was probably all that she really possessed.

Mary of Bethany with her Alabaster box of perfume

It was customary to wash the feet and anoint the head of a guest in your house, but Mary goes above and beyond.  John says that she anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. She then breaks the container, and pours all of its contents on Jesus’ head – an extreme act of love and devotion.

Belinda imagines that this loving act filled the house with an unforgettable fragrance and was thus keen to share her perfume and bring delight to others in the same way.

Blessings is  described as an exotic floral blend of  bergamot, lemon and mandarin with a heart of jasmine de Grasse and rose de Mai.  Cedar, sandalwood, tonka and vanillic notes create the warm dry down. The notes were personally chosen by Belinda in her private consultation with Dove.  A bespoke fragrance from Dove can take up to two years to create and prices start at £25,000!!

The expense was worth it, for once the fragrance had been created Belinda felt it was just to beautiful to keep to herself and asked Dove if it could be made available to other women.  Dove gave her his blessing and in early 2010 30 bottles of Blessing parfum went on sale in Harrods at £675…and sold out within a month!!

From this....

....to this! Blessings by Belinda Brown

Thankfully, for those of us who do not want to forsake a month’s rent to own this magnificent fragrance, an EDP is available at the more accessible price of £75 and can purchased via the Blessings Perfume website.

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Shala Monroque for NET-A-PORTER

St Lucian born, New York dweller  Shala Monrouque is one of four ‘Faces of Fashion’ for the British designer fashion e-tailer,  NET- A-PORTER.

Shala Monroque for NET-A-PORTER AW11

Shala Monroque for NET-A-PORTER AW11

Shala’s variegated yet elegant style has enraptured the fashion community and she counts leading designers such as Prada and Wu as personal friends.

Shala shares her style inspiration and AW11 must have peices here:

The muse of the moment – Shala has graced the pages of numerous glossy magazines including Australian and Italian Vogue and Essence magazine and she recently featured on the cover of the Fall fashion edition of the famous New York publication.

Keep abreast of this style mavens ruminations by visiting her blog: Shala’s Rabbit Hole 


Northern Star

In my first blog post I enthused about my love for the city of London…well I love London EVEN more during London Fashion Week!

This vibrant, cosmopolitan city plays host to one of the most famous of fashion weeks  – and the fun and frolics kicked off last Friday.

I had the privilege of attending a fabulous show hosted by Le Geneve North Events (LGN Events) in the sumptuous interiors of the Charing Cross Hotel.

LGN Events has a clear mission – the LGN team are dedicated to assisting emerging and independent designers from around the world – offering them a platform to showcase their collections to the public, press and influential buyers during key fashion buying periods, such as LFW.

The show is aptly named A La Mode (French for ‘in fashion‘), and the designers most definitely showcased fashion forward, unique and cutting edge styles.  It is in its 6th season and is going from strength to strength.

Anniss - A La Mode, LGN Events (LFW Sept '11)

My favourite designers included Polish born Anniss – who brought an avant garde flair to the evening and the debonair Omar Mansoor, whose collection of alluring evening wear was breathtaking.

Omar Mansoor - A La Mode, LGN Events (LFW Sept '11)

The success of the show and  LGN Events is down to its founder and CEO Yolande Letshou – a pioneering and enterprising young woman!

Yolande is a natural entrepreneur with a passion for all things fashionable!  She has a stellar CV – which includes working for blue chip corporations such as the John Lewis group and organising major fashion events internationally.   She was also recently featured in the OHTV  ‘Black Women in Media‘ series.

Miss Letshou is definitely one to watch!

I had a fabulous time at the show – and the goody bag was the icing on the cake!

The enclosed items ranged from hair care to make up brushes, however I was particularly struck by a small vial of fragrance called Blessings.  The juice was exquisite and upon investigation I discovered that it was developed by a client of the fragrance authority and aficionado, Roja Dove.  The story behind the fragrance is SO compelling… all will be revealed in my next blog post!


Saturday Night Belles

2 TV Stations!

2 Prime Time  programmes!

2 Beautiful Black Women!

The launch of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing (SCD) last Saturday was a fabulous taster of  what we have in store for the next few weeks – glitz, glamour, sequins and sass ..and the ever so lovely Alesha Dixion!  The winner of SCD 2007 is back on our screens as a judge for SCD 2011!  (SDC ’07 was the BEST season in my opinion – Alesha’s Cha Cha Cha was HOT HOT HOT!)

With Miss Kelly Rowland over on ITV1 judging the mighty X-Factor, it is wonderful to see two exquisitely beautiful black women headlining prime time TV shows which are viewed by millions across the nation – and indeed the world (thanks to Youtube)!

And what about the weaves!!!  Kelly has been rocking the most gorgeous Remy hair in a variety of looks (kudos to the stylist!) – from tumbling, tousled curls to sleek, sexy locks – Kelly has been looking ON POINT!

Kelly Rowland X-Factor 2011 Judge

Alesha is also a lover of her hair adornments and her début style was a winner in my eyes – an on trend side ponytail emphasised her flawless features.

Alesha Dixion - SCD Launch Show

SDC will return to the BEEB in 3 weeks time, so watch this space for a week by week update on the hair and make-up creations of these two leading ladies!


Back to Basics

I was recently contacted by the fabulous  Kay Montano (Creative Director of MyFace cosmetics and Chanel Make Up ambassador) via Twitter…yes little old me!

Kay wanted to know about the choice of foundations for darker skin tones here in the UK.  As I reflected upon her question I really was gladdened by the fact that the choice HAS got better over the years…

….I remember my first foray into the world of make up as a young and exuberant 14 year old – I bounded to the local chemist with my pocket money in hand to purchase a concealer.   Imagine my UTTER disappointment when I found  not a single brand suitable for my chocolate skin tone!

I soon realised I had to save a bit more pocket money to fulfill my desires.  I discovered  the department store brand Fashion Fair at my local Debenhams!  That marble pink compact (yes it was pink back in the day!) was my pride and joy…but the option to experience other brands were few and far between…times have REALLY changed.

Now there are a plethora of brands to chose from.  The beauty landscape has changed beyond recognition.  It may be still a challenge to get your hands on some of these brands ..especially if you live outside of London –  however most are only a click away.

The usual suspects – MAC and Bobbi Brown have a loyal – almost cult like following – but there are other brands that one can consider when choosing a foundation to suit your  beautiful black skin.

Illamasqua

Now I just had to commence my list with a British brand! Illamasqua is the brainchild of the founder of the ubiquitous GHDs and boasts an abundance of shades and textures of foundations.

Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation

The latest range to join the line up is the Skin Base foundation which is inspired by the cult Asian market Beauty Balm creams (also called BB creams for short!)

The BB phenomenon has traversed from the East and has exploded in the West! A number of  brands have recently launched BB creams – including  Garnier and Clinique – yet Illamasqua  is the only brand to have launched a ‘BB-esque’ product suitable for darker skins.  Skin Base comes in 18 skin loving shades – 6 of which are suitable for Black and Asian skin tones.

 Try before you buy at the flagship Illamasqua store, Beak Street, London, Selfridges Oxford Street, London,  The Manchester Trafford Centre, The Birmingham Bullring, Fenwick Newcastle, Debenhams Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff or shop  online at www.illamasqua.com

BECCA

Australian brand BECCA is like a treasure waiting to be unearthed.    With 34 concealer colours and 34 (yes 34!) foundation shades there is sure to be a colour to match your skin tone perfectly.

The brande is loved by stars such as yummy mummy Beyoncè , supermodel Alex Wek and the ever so lovely Kelly Rowland (are you loving the X-Factor as much as I am??).

BECCA Stick foundation

I became acquainted with the brand when it was retailed in Space NK (alas, this is no longer the case.),  and I love the philosophy behind the brand – to enable ‘ ALL women, regardless of age or ethnicity, to achieve a natural looking, flawless complexion’.

Visit the sumptuous Becca Boudoir at 91A Pelham Road London  or shop online at www.beccacosmetics.com

black Up

I first came across this Parisian brand in 2006 but unfortunately I was put off by the name – it reminded too much of the infamous Minstrel shows of 19th century America!

However I have recently grown to love  the brand, mostly due to the exquisite, aspirational  imagery.

black UP SS11 campaign

black Up SS11 campaign

Available at Debenhams, the range consists of highly pigmented colour cosmetics, as well as a comprehensive foundation collection.

NARS

I am totally besotted with the brand! The sexy packaging, potent colours and evocative product names (the best selling item in the range is called..err…Orgasm!) make it a pleasure to use.  Created by make up maestro,  François Nars  in 1997, the line up included a shade of foundation called Jamaica.  The story goes that this product was conceived for the supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is a close friend and muse for the artisan.  The family of shades suitable for darker skin tones has grown to include globally inspired colours such as Benares, Khartoum and Trinidad, to name a few.

NARS concealer campaign AW11

Also, the NARS Concealer used to be available in only four shades but the line has recently been expanded to included 10 different shades to accommodate a variety of skin tones.

NARS is available at Space NK, leading department stores nationwide and at www.narscosmetics.co.uk

News Flash!! 

I have heard the  one of the chicest makeup brand of all  – Chanel –  will be launching Perfection Lumiere, its newest line of foundation, this September – and it’s something to talk about! The line, will offer the widest range of shades for Chanel yet – a whopping 23 shades to suit all ethnicities. Ooh la la!

image via WWD

Perfection Lumiere by Chanel

The face of the campaign is the beautiful Trinidadian born model Alyssah Ali, who is of Indian and Spanish origin

Christine Dagousset, executive vice president of fragrance and beauty for Chanel in the U.S. told Women’s Wear Daily, “This foundation was designed to be universal. Chanel’s creative director for makeup, Peter Philips, counts perfect skin among the most important features a woman can have and, since joining the brand in January 2008, had made it his goal to create a ‘perfect’ foundation: one that adjusts to the skin needs of every ethnicity and stays in place with a flawless finish.”  The company’s current leading foundation line Pro Lumiere offers only 6 shades.  The new launch will premier in the U.S …hopefully Chanel will bring the range to the UK and Europe too!!

image via WWD

Alyssah Ali for Chanel AW11

This is SO exciting, as for too long many of the leading designer makeup brands have been inaccessible to women of colour.  In my eyes this launch will mark a sea change in the beauty industry.   I will certainly do a review on this product!

Until then, a bientôt!