Tuesday, 27 April 2010

What Would Gwyneth Do?

In my ongoing series on things I will pass judgment on without ever reading/watching/clicking/buying, I would like to dedicate this post to Gwyneth Paltrow's unabashedly sanctimonious crapbag of a website, goop.com, which I've never actually read. But I know the gist of it (see blog post from March 2009 http://thechicstorm.blogspot.com/2009/03/goop-this.html). Just as la Paltrow lights up her subscribers' lives via a daily reminder of how blessed she is to be To The Manor Born and then tells them how to be just like her, so will I give you the skinny on what I love and which makes me...well...unemployed with no future prospects in the autumn of my professional life, but if nothing else on the receiving end of some sweet swag.

Better than Botox

I don't often align myself with one brand, but I love Kiehl's. Their products are amazing and the company is truly commitment to the environment. Plus, their stores are so inviting and warm — I used to spend hours in the 3rd Avenue flagship in New York when I was avoiding deadlines. The new Kiehl's store in Yorkdale Mall, which opened last week, is no exception. Filled with repurposed materials, like aeroplane scrap metal that lines the entrance, vintage medicine cabinets and pop art-inspired neon signs, it sucked me in immediately. But it's the product that keeps me coming back for more. If there's one Kiehl's item I simply cannot live without, it's their Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. With a high concentration of 10.5% pure vitamin C, this miracle product virtually erases fine lines to take your face back to a time when bad decisions and feathered bangs were your M.O. Admittedly, I have pretty good skin for a 3*-year-old gal (on a good day I'll still get asked what grade I'm in....by an octogenarian with severe cataracts, but whatever.) Even with my good genes and a Cullen-like avoidance of direct sunlight, the last three decades are starting to imprint themselves on my forehead and I'm none too pleased about it. With Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, however, those lines are a thing of the past...or future...or...oh whatever, they just go away, ok?

The new Kiehl's store in Yorkdale Mall

 Better than botox: Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, $77

Lock Talk and Two Smokin' Broads

A few weeks ago my friend in frippery asked me to be her date to the Genie Awards, which she was kindly invited to attend by the good folks at John Frieda. Although our party days ended around the same time as the halcyon era of glossy magazine journalism took its last ostentatious bow, we still can't resist an opportunity to get dolled up and try to catch Scott Speedman's eye. (For better or for worse, we ended up spending the evening chatting with three gentlemen and didn't actually see Speedy.) But we did see some incredibly cool 'dos by the hands of the John Frieda experts on Canadian celebs Karine Vanasse and Carine Leduc. Although I didn't take the John Frieda stylists up on their offer to coif me — and coif me good, I presume — I do turn to Sir Frieda regularly to ensure that my curls remain as bouncy and frizz free as is humanly possible. [This is where I switch on my brand spokesperson voice]: For shiny, bouncy and frizz-free curls I use John Frieda Frizz-Ease Dream Curls Conditioner in the shower. To style, I squeeze excess water out of my hair, run a dollop of John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum through my locks, twist individual strands into ringlets and dry with a diffuser. In less than ten minutes I have gorgeous, manageable and frizz free curls! [Stacy London eat your heart out.]

 My must-have hair products: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Dream Curls Conditioner and Hair Serum

I will now step down from my product pulpit and go back to the sofa. Because telling you people how to be awesome like me is exhausting. And I've got some soaps to catch up on.

Friday, 23 April 2010

French women don't get fat. Could that explain why they're so bitchy?

Surely you've heard of the book "French Women Don't Get Fat". I won't lie, I haven't read it. Nor do I have any intentions of doing so. The title annoys me on so many levels, and not just because I've seen plenty of corpulent dames walking the streets of Paris. I have a sneaking suspicion that the book reeks of the kind of nauseating superiority that has given the French such an unsavory reputation the western world over. And doesn't that make it, how do you say, un cliché? It's not that I dislike the French (entirely) or that I disagree with their lifestyle. I mean, we are talking about a people who have given us champagne, camembert and Chanel. They can't all be bad.

"Plus-size is not flattering to fashion"

There is one in particular, however, who really ground my gears this week. Garance Doré, a Paris-based style blogger of dubious influence, went on the record with British Vogue to comment on fashion's recent trending toward plus-size models. "It's not such a good thing to show plus-size because it's not really physically healthy and not always flattering to fashion," she said. I'll give her this, at least she stands behind her blog, because the only intrinsically stylish on-the-street people she shoots are ones who look like they just walked out of a casting for a Jean-Luc Godard film. It bears mentioning that the following day she tried to recant by telling the Huffington Post: "...what I said is that I will be happy to see [plus-sized models] on a runway on a regular basis, just mixed [in with regular models] and not [walking] all together at the same time." That doesn't sound like much of an apology to me, but maybe the mea culpa was lost in translation. Because I refuse to believe that she actually said plus-sized models are fine to put on a runway provided they're interspersed with skinny ones. I bet she's the type of woman who goes on coffee-and-cigarettes diets five days before a big event.
There was a time, I admit, when I would spot a stick-thin girl on the street and stare at her longingly, while quietly cursing my genetic lot and the thighs that came with it. And despite a recent ceasefire between me and the skinny bitch who lies within and keeps telling me to step away from the bread, it's not over between me and my thighs. I really want us to be friends, but I'm afraid if people like Garance Doré keep telling me that thin is in, it's never going to happen. The reality is that the thinness obsession that has been perpetuated by the fashion industry (okay, and continues to be, for the most part) is really starting to seem outdated. If the sweeping obesity epidemic has taught us anything, it's that proper nutrition is paramount to looking and feeling great. And if Esquire, the men's magazine dudes come to for the scantily clad women but stay for the articles (or is that Playboy?), is going to crown Christina Hendricks, a bombshell whose curves make mince meat of 32-25-32, the best-looking woman today, it seems pretty clear that we're ready to toll the death knell of skinniness.     

Maybe Garance Doré should put down her camera and take a break. She could go to the South of France and work on other fashionable pursuits like increasing her nicotine intake and working on her tan. 

Friday, 16 April 2010

The last of the mean girls

I think I'm a dying breed. [Note: I'm not actually dying.] I'm just saying that me and my kind are slowly but surely becoming extinct. Or at least as far as Rita Wilson is concerned: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/magazine/feature-articles/being-nice-is-fashionable-0310. In her recent Harper's Bazaar story on how "nice is the new black" (her words, not mine), it is painfully clear that there's no room in this new sugar-n-spice world for vitriolic curmudgeons like me. I guess I had it coming; society at large would stand for my brand of caustic commentary only so long.

"I hope [it's] here to stay. Nice is the new black."

Maybe it's nice that nice is back. (Although, between you, me and the lamppost — and the other two people who read this blog — I've always hated the word "nice." Shocking, I know. It's so bland and blah and bloring. See what I just did there?) If nothing else, there are sure to be a whole lot more people smiling out there. And let's be frank, with unemployment rates steady at shit-outta-luck levels, a continuously depleting ozone layer, melting polar ice caps and Lindsay Lohan's new clothing line, a smile is just the kind of emotionally-stunted hands free hug we could use right now.    

But should anyone decide to invade my personal space and close in for an actual hug (God help them), Scope and Crest have got my back. Or my mouth, to be more precise. Last week, the good people at P&G and MS&L PR invited me on "A Date with Shaun Majumder," a cast member from This Hour Has 22 Minutes and one of the best stand-up comedians I've seen in a long, long time. It's testament to his talent that he managed to seamlessly incorporate plugs for Scope's new Outlast mouthwash and Crest's Extra White Plus Scope Outlast toothpaste without coming across like a corporate shill. (Just a note to P&G execs, I have no problem shilling for a multinational corporation, if you're ever looking for someone new. I'm not as funny as that Majumder guy, but I do a spot-on Ralph Wiggum impersonation.) The Outlast technology in these two new products claim to keep breath fresh up to five times longer than your regular routine. Which is good, because the poor schmuck who tries to give me a hug is bound to get an earful that will last up to five times longer than their regular talking to. 

I'm not sure if P&G has been chatting with my mother or if they just know I haven't been on a date since the Bush administration, but a couple of days ago they introduced me (and a bunch of other beauty writers) to some new Crest and Oral-B products presented by none other than Olympic gold medalist Jon Montgomery. Although the dreamy ginger with the startling light jade-coloured eyes dropped the word "girlfriend" about 50 times in his presentation, he quite literally had me at hello. I think he mentioned some stuff about a new 3D White collection that encompasses Whitestrips, toothpastes, toothbrushes and a rinse that whiten and help protect against future stains, but I'm not entirely sure. I was too busy swooning over his slick suit and shiny shoes. Afterward, he was polite enough to indulge us with photos and let me hold his medal (literally, not metaphorically), which is really heavy with a super cool Native-inspired design embossed on it. I got to ask him how he ever came to participate in skeleton, a sport where you lie down on a narrow sled-like device and throw yourself head first down an icy ramp at, like, 140,000 kilometres an hour. His response: "I saw someone do it once and thought it was cool." (Well, I think that's what he said. I kinda got lost in his eyes while he was talking to me.) 

Here we are with Jon "dreamboat" Montgomery

I'm not so sure what all this means in terms of making me a nicer person. If nothing else, at least the people I yell at will get a minty fresh burst from my mouth, in addition to scathing criticism punctuated with profanity. I will say this, though, I look forward to putting my Scope and Crest samples to good use. That way, if I ever have a chance at another tete-a-tete with Jon Montgomery, he can get lost in my dazzling smile.   

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

And now for a little shameless self-promotion

It took me a full 48 hours to come up with a new year's resolution this year. I had already quit smoking and I hate gyms, so the ol' faithfuls were out. I gave up on trying to be a "better person" years ago, as my friend[s] and [estranged] family can attest, so that wasn't even a consideration. And looking on the bright side of life seemed like it would take a whole lot of concentration and effort, especially when a neat little pill can take care of that for you. After ruling out more facetious resolutions — like, buy more shoes and be judgmental — I settled on "2010: The Year of Self-Promotion." Sure, it's self-involved and selfish and self-centred, and there's no "i" in magnanimous (wait a minute...), but I realized that the humble writer angle I've been working all these years is the reason bookies (aka. VISA) are after me. And hell, if Lauren Weisberger is getting million-dollar book deals while I'm publishing zines out of my parents' basement there's something seriously wrong with the world and it's up to me to correct it. 

I considered posting a YouTube video of me lighting my high school diploma on fire and rhythmically chanting "I am so smart. Smrt." But then I remembered that's been done. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhrfhjLd9e4

Instead, what I'll do is post recent links to the LG Fashion Week coverage I've done for the Fall/Winter 2010 shows. (Of course what I'd really like to post is a story about what a shit show fashion week was this season. How the venue felt like a Eurotrash nightclub; how the the media was treated like second-class citizens; how it was teeming with people who have nothing to do with the fashion industry; and most of all, how the guy who tells us to take our seats needs to stick to emcee'ing weddings in suburban banquet halls because we're well aware that when the lights dim it means the show's about to start.) But I'm not going to write about that. Instead, I'll write this:

Style snub 
What does it mean when some of the country’s biggest fashion designers decide to boycott their very own fashion week? 

The It List 
ELLECanada.com brings you the top five trends for fall 2010-11 from the runways of LG Fashion Week. 

FASHION WEEK HAIKUS: Poetry in motion

As my last order of self-promotion for today, I'd like to recount for you a thrilling email exchange that took place on Saturday between me and Jessica of GoFugYourself.com fame (http://gofugyourself.celebuzz.com/), whose acrimonious witticisms on celebrity fashion are unparalleled in the blogosphere today.

Jessica to me:
I just checked out your blog and it's GREAT! I could not agree with you more about "fashion sweatpants." I mean....seriously, people. THEY'RE SWEATS. JUST SAY NO. I've totally bookmarked you and can't wait to read more!

me to Jessica:
Wow, thanks so much! I'm so flattered you like my blog!! You just made my week!!!
P.S. Though we see eye-to-eye on the fashion sweats issue, I feel the need to admit to you that I love peg leg trousers (or hammer pants, as we both know I'm afraid to say out loud) and wore them to an event last night to rave reviews. I'm not sure if this means we can't be friends, but I had to let you know before you learned it from someone else. Phew. I feel so much better now.

Jessica to me:
Well, how boring it would be if we agreed on EVERYTHING, right? :)

me to me and anyone else who will listen:

And for one blissful day, I was a better person who looked on the bright side of life.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A message to fashion sweats: Cantstandya!

A famous comedian once remarked (on his namesake show that ran to critical acclaim for eight years) to his short, stout and unemployed friend (who never really made it anywhere after the show ended and is now fronting a new Jenny Craig campaign presumably so that the weight loss company can start duping chubby, insecure men, because as another fading comedic actress known for her role as a sexy, smart-talking business woman on another defunct but equally relevant television sitcom already proved, the diet don't work!): "You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, 'I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'"

 "My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents."   

I firmly believe this is what designers were thinking when they put "fashion sweats" on the runways two years ago. It started with Isabel Marant and Alexander Wang, and quickly spread like an STD to the design studios of Michael Kors, Thakoon, Bottega Veneta, Jean Paul Gaultier and Rag & Bone. It would seem that Seinfeld's summation was right on the money, as it were, especially when you consider the aforementioned sweatpants slouched down the runway around the same time that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lost their shirts. The luxury market took a fairly serious blow — a setback so dramatic it sent even the most fastidious fashion plates to seek comfort in fleece-lined pants. And, presumably, a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. (Remember how in Mean Girls one of their rules was they could only wear sweatpants on Fridays and then Rachel McAdams shows up in sweats on a Monday and when one of the other mean girls tells her she can't sit with them she says that they're the only thing that fits? Because, of course, Lindsay Lohan was tricking her into eating these high calorie bars her mother used to feed to starving kids in Africa.) I rest my case. Convoluted though that last point may be.

 Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone s/s 2010

Well, not quite. It may be that I'm getting old or that I'm alone too much engaging in existential discussions with my dog or that as a writer I spend far too much time in my head versus, say, interacting with society and people and stuff, but I swear this is a conspiracy fronted by the fashion industry and secretly financed by beauty companies and celebrity hairstylists to make us wear shit that we'll look back on in six months and cringe (or what my brilliant friend Lindsay once called shameafreude) and be forced to run out and buy new clothes and, naturally, get a new haircut and new makeup because if What Not To Wear has taught us anything it's that no one who wears sweatpants to work can possibly have good hair and be aware of their amazing bone structure and eyebrows most girls would kill for. And I'm SO ON TO THEM.  

And for the record, much as I may resemble George Costanza these days — short, stout, unemployed — and the cliché of the freelance writer means my gainfully employed friends always picture me in sweatpants scarfing cookies as we chat on the phone about global warming and Robert Pattinson's hair on any given morning, I don't even own sweatpants. Fashion-y or otherwise. And as God is my witness (and boy, has God ever witnessed pathetic shit over at my house) I will never, ever wear fashion sweats!

The prosecution rests.