FASHION | How to say ‘What? This old thing?’ and genuinely mean it

Belfast born image consultant, Ciara Lowe-Thiedeman now located in London guest blogs for us today about this season’s fashion trend “Conscious Consumption” – resurrecting the old, reducing the need for new!

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Clearly fast fashion is not a new issue but it has been catapulted smack bang into the public eye this past year, with massively increased media attention like Stacey Dooley’s doco ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secret’. But change isn’t happening fast enough and the shocking statistics behind the mass production of clothing is far from sustainable.  The problem is global but the solution is local. We need to stop and question our part in this... and what we can do to hit back…

A long time promoter and host of upmarket recycling charity events, I got a little giddy when I saw Cathy’s insta story about #TheKindnessCollection. Showcasing and promoting recycling and encouraging people to ‘bring it back’ is a key way stylists can effect change in the fast fashion crisis. And hats off to Cathy for doing it large on the @BFW stage. Educating people how to update classic pieces in your wardrobe through styling may seem ‘small scale’ but if it makes us stop before we shop, it can only do some good –for the environment and for the charities that stand to benefit too.

 It was my 40th birthday that first sparked my idea to do something with my guilt of excess and my passion for recycled fashion, so I decided to celebrate this milestone by raising money and awareness for suicide and mental health charities – a cause close to my heart. A little idea to dig into my privileged friends’ wardrobes for their unloved high end items that grew arms and legs and raised over £30K, generated two trucks full of donated clothing and spawned a little documentary into the bargain. We had Beyoncé’s costume designer, Ruth Tarvydas attend and top end stylists queuing to style up old pieces for the catwalk. It was clear this kind of fashion fundraiser provided an opportunity for people to do their part to help more than one growing problem – excess consumption and underfunded charities.

I have subsequently run smaller, more intimate ‘Bring and Buy’ events which I call “Excess Baggage Girls Nights In” where a group of 20 or so women gather at my house with their unwanted high end bags and clothes and we again rid ourselves of excess and buyer’s remorse while simultaneously raising funds and awareness for mental health. These nights always generate more than £2K and immense feedback about the opportunity to do good with our excesses – and bag a Balenciaga bag among other designer bargains!

 So it turns out Cathy’s decision to take action on dealing with ‘what to do with the old’ is perfectly timed. ‘Bringing it back’ and resurrecting vintage pieces sitting idle in your wardrobe (or someone else’s) is absolutely the new trend happening this season – bigger than ever before.

I look forward to seeing what Cathy can do with the pieces she has gathered for #TheKindnessCollection and how she’ll style them up.

But here is my top tip for SS19 season to help you resurrect the old and reduce the need for a constantly revolving new wardrobe:

 Invest in a stylist. The rewards will last you a lifetime.

 A good stylist will get to know you and won’t recommend you spend your hard earned money on cheap, eco-unfriendly items, but will teach you how to ‘shop your wardrobe’ and get better use from what you already have. You’ll learn to pair or fill in gaps with quality styles and colours that suit you and best match your personality. A good stylist will encourage you to consider buying secondhand and give you tips on how best to do that. Your investment in a good stylist will ultimately save you significant time and cash, and quite possibly be a positive step towards helping save the planet.

 Ciara Lowe-Thiedeman

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FUN | GALENTINES - THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR FRIENDS IN BELFAST

VALENTINES/SCHMALENTINES….

If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, and in fact, even if you’re not, why not celebrate the love of your friends and catch up in the city with some fun things to do?  This weekend I’m hosting the Cathedral Quarter’s inaugural Galentine’s event at the Merchant Hotel with some of my friends including Paddy McGurgan, Tiffany Brien and Fiona McCartan (Gluten Free Fi) and it inspired me to go seeking out some fun things to do with my gal-pals. Here are my top ten…

 

  1. THEATRE DAHLING!

Take in a show at the MAC, The Lyric or The Grand Opera House. Each of these venues provides a fab backdrop and interesting architecture as well as the shows on the stage. At The MAC, “Ubu the King” is grotesque, gruesome and hilariously absurd. Inspired by Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, which caused a riot in Paris in 1906, Tinderbox Theatre Company dares to bring the primal monster to life through a succulent feast of sheer inventiveness and fearless theatricality. A feast for the wicked.  

At the Lyric, Michael Cameron’s ‘RUBY!’ celebrates the life of popular 1950s singer Ruby Murray, who hailed from Belfast but enjoyed global fame as she became the only recording artist in history to have five songs in the Top Twenty in the same week. But there is more to life than pop songs it seems…

And down at The Opera House, the international, award-winning smash-hit musical based on the blockbuster film, THE BODYGUARD is back and features  three-time Brit nominee and X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke.  Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron (Burke)  from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

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 2. ARTY MARTY:

I recently saw the Leonardo DaVinci exhibition at the Ulster Museum, which is awe-inspiring when you think just how influential he has been on modern art and science, among other subjects….. but there is also a Game of Thrones Tapestry exhibition on at the Museum too. Weaving the story from Seasons 1 to 7, this impressive tapestry gives Game of Thrones® fans the perfect chance to reminisce over all the action that led to the finale of Season 7, with further panels depicting the story of Season 8 due to be added to the tapestry in June 2019. And even if you’re not a GOT fan, feel some pride in the fact that it was designed locally by hand but woven by a state-of-the-art machines and hand finished in Northern Ireland. The linen used to form the background of the tapestry has been sourced from Ferguson’s Irish Linen, one of the last surviving linen mills in Ireland – and as a former marketeer of Irish Linen, I am intrigued to see this piece of work.

There are lots of other galleries and art-filled places to see in the city too – and a personal fave of mine is at the Ulster University art/textiles students’ shop at the Belfast campus too.

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3.  BRUNCH BUNCH

I haven’t even been here yet and I’m recommending it; such is my trust in so many foodie friends’ judgement. Brunch at Freight Belfast – formerly Pot, Kettle, Black - is reputedly delicious with a capital D.  Located in the C.S. Lewis Square in east Belfast, five converted shipping containers house one of Belfast’s most talked about eating spots and I am most definitely making a date to eat there this weekend myself.

 Another great brunch venue, but back in the city centre, is AM:PM. Positioned at the epicentre of all that happens in Belfast both literally and metaphorically, AM:PM is unique, quaint, chic, cosy, opulent, and funky. These descriptions almost-but-not-quite describe how fab this place is. You will find the shabby chic rubbing shoulders with the classically demur.

 Brunch or lunch at Café Parisien is definitely dining with a view, although I’d recommend it anytime from dawn ‘til dusk for the truly wonderful French cuisine – from delicious morning crepes to bistrot dishes and succulent steak au poivre. And the house wine isn’t bad either!

Finally, Brunch at Babel in Builltt Hotel’s rooftop bar and garden offers panoramic city views, mouth-watering cocktails and delicious food. Accessed via its own entrance on Ann Street side of the hotel. Babel’s creative shrub cocktails use ingredients and garnishes inspired by its living walls which contain over 300 plants. Babel prides itself on its home grown botanicals, subtle sophistication and innovative ideas. If you’re tee-total, it’s important to note that Bullitt serves arguably the best coffee in the city, if you’re an aficionado like that…

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4.  ON YER BIKE:

For some physical activity, why not hire Belfast Bikes or let your feet do the talking and take to the towpath or the seafront paths – breathing in some fresh air while you’re at it. If the weather’s bad (and it’s kinda likely, considering this is Ireland) then pop into Flow Yoga studio in Hill Street for a stretch and some zen time.

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5.  SHOP TIL YA DROP!

Visit Victoria Square, CastleCourt, Donegal Place and out of town areas like the Lisburn Road or  Bloomfield Avenue are great places to soak up some retail therapy.

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6.  MANI/PEDI/SPA DATE

My personal favourite in the city for a girlie get together, spa-style, is the Merchant Hotel Spa, where the therapists are highly trained and super knowledgeable. Plus, the sauna and relaxation areas are perfect places to really get away from it all. But having said that, there are loads of great salons and spas across the city, and getting a booking for a group shouldn’t be to hard if you plan in advance.

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7. JUNGLE BOOGIE:  

Be a tourist in your own city and take a tour of The Tropical Ravine and The Palm House in Botanic Gardens. The Palm House contains a range of tropical plants, hanging baskets, seasonal displays and birds of paradise, and is one of the earliest examples of a Victorian style glasshouse made from curved iron and glass. The building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, who also helped design parts of nearby Queen's University. Across the paths lies the Tropical Ravine, which contains some of the oldest seed plants around today, as well as banana, cinnamon, bromeliad and orchid plants. The listed building dates back to 1887 and has been restored with many of its original Victorian features reinstated and preserved. The ravine is split over two levels with an open reception area on the ground floor, and the building has been modernised to make it more energy efficient with new triple-glazed windows installed to retain heat and create the right environment for the tropical plants it is home to. Visitors can learn about the conservation work and plant collection through interactive and digital exhibits. And, final point on both these places? They’re both fab backdrops for insta-perfect pics!

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8.  COFFEE AND CAKE:

I’d recommend Patisserie Valerie on Donegall Square West, where you can enjoy the unique café atmosphere including the now famous Toulouse-Lautrec style cartoons by Terron. In their havens of self-indulgence, you will discover only the best quality cakes and patisserie, continental breakfasts, lunches, the finest teas and coffees and an atmosphere that is unique to each location. Across the road, Hotel Chocolat offers wonderous chocolate treats and hot chocolate drinks while out of town and up the Lisburn Road, you’ll find Miel et Moi, which is inspired by classical French patisseries… This truly is a little bit of Parisian Paradise in the city with its enchanting afternoon teas, delicious dishes, scrumptious cakes and delightful cocktails.

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 Even though I rarely eat bread and cakes myself, the ultimate afternoon tea experience for me is at the Merchant Hotel. Set in the sumptuous splendour of The Great Room Restaurant, Afternoon Tea in The Merchant Hotel is a truly elegant and utterly delicious experience not to be missed.  Complete with a bottle of Krug Champagne and Royal Beluga Caviar, it really is the height of indulgent luxury.

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9.  MAKE ME UP:

A group lesson or make up application at Paddy McGurgan’s Make Up Pro store is the perfect experience for anyone who wants to gain an insight into their own makeup routine or just get ready for a night out with friends.

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10. COCKTAILS:  

The Perch Rooftop Bar is located on the fifth floor of a historic building and has a beautiful large centre bar, surrounded by original window features, original brick clad walls and adorned, of course, with birdcages and similarly themed artwork lending itself to the name. Nip up in the original sliding door lift and find yourself looking over the sights of Belfast whilst sipping a cocktail in the outdoor area or take a perch at the bar and sample some delicious beer and gins.

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FASHION | A DECADE OF IRISH DESIGN

Last week, F Words contributor and all-round stylist-slash-model- slash-design-queen Melissa Elliott took to the launch of the tenth Irish Fashion Innovation Awards, an annual event which celebrates the ever evolving Irish fashion industry by showcasing the newest and most innovative Irish designers, alongside Ireland’s most established designers.  Check out her report here:

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 The Morgan Hotel in Dublin City Centre was the setting for the tenth anniversary press launch, and guests were greeted with delicious breakfast nibbles, fresh juices and warming coffee by the gallon, while we previewed some of the upcoming collections and had a chance to meet a few of the designers showcasing at the main event. There is nothing I love more than being in a room filled with passion about Irish design, sustainable fashion, craftsmanship and creativity.

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 Knitwear made a strong statement, particularly in the work of Colin Burke who has featured in Elle magazine. He showcased an array of highly skilled hand crochet and knit alongside innovative design development. An exploration of texture is always a winning trend and Colin has unsurprisingly been named in the One to Watch category alongside Charlotte Lucas, who showcased part of her elegant, effortless and luxurious bridal capsule. A beautiful mix of flirty feathers and bespoke tailoring.

Credit: Colin Burke

Credit: Colin Burke

 In addition to the several competitive categories in Fashion, Accessories, Millinery and Jewellery, the evening will feature “The Perfect 10” – which will comprise of ten leading Irish designers featuring their unique designs. Meaning this ten-year anniversary is sure to be a stand out night with a spectacular display from Ireland’s more promising designers, a platform to showcase to the industry experts whilst most importantly generating public support that will last for years to come.

 It is one of the highlights of our fashion calendar and this year  - on 14 March - it will be showcased at the stunning Galmont Hotel & Spa in Galway City.

 Tickets are on sale now via https://galwaynow.com/irish-fashion-innovation-awards-2019-tickets/

FACE | PUCKER UP THIS VALENTINE'S DAY!

 ORMEDIC Lip Enhancement Complex Will Give You Perfect Lips for the Perfect Kiss!

Whether you’re spending some quality alone time, attached to a special someone or “it’s complicated,” Valentine’s Day is a good time to focus on one of the hardest-working parts of your body: your lips.

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ORMEDIC balancing lip enhancement complex 7ml (€26.50) which quenches lips with hydration while calming and soothing damaged or sensitive areas. The ultimate anti-ager for lips, this non-sticky, clear and glossy solution can add up to 40% of moisture volume if you use it consistently.

It also diminishes fine lines as well as helps reduce irritation after lip injections. Using this product can also enhance the effects of professional dermal fillers!

 (This amazing lip hero is also available in a subtle pink. With every purchase of ORMEDIC sheer pink lip enhancement complex, we donate $1 to the Care for Skin Foundation, which provides medical skin surgeries to those in need.)

Here’s the three ingredients inside our lip complex worth noting:

Peptide complex: A messenger peptide for collagen renewal, retinoic acid like activity without irritancy. In vitro collagen stimulation by 350% and stimulation of glycosaminoglycan synthesis by 146%.

Avocado oil: A nourishing, emollient organic oil that contains high amounts of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

Ubiquinone: A super-powerful antioxidant that helps regenerate aging skin.
May your lips be pouty and your kisses be magical!
 

To locate your nearest IMAGE Stockist please visit www.imageskincare.ie/find-a-pro

FACE | HYDRAFACIAL AT CATHEDRAL AESTHETICS - THE PERFECT KICK START TO SPRING

February comes from the Latin Februum, which has several meanings around the notions of cleansing, purification, renewal and regrowth. Although it is still cold outside, February also  signifies the start of spring - with early daffodil buds popping up across roadsides and roundabouts everywhere. It is not surprising then, that many people come out of the wintery hibernation which is the month of January (granted, they’re probably all broke from Christmas and New Year festivities, plus they’re detoxing their livers after festive overindulgence) to begin their own kind of spring blossom - and a good old skin pamper after the wintery weather, central heating and dehydration from overindulgence is just the ticket.

I went for a Hydrafacial at Cathedral Aesthetics recently and I think it is the perfect facial to kick start the skin’s new year regime, even if it is after a month of hibernation and recuperation from December excess. Check out my video review here:

 To book, call Cathedral Aesthetics on T: 028 9026 2785 E: clinic@cathedralaesthetics.com

GOLDEN GLOBES - MY TOP FIVE RED CARPET DRESSES

As Business of Fashion so brilliantly put it earlier today, last year’s #GoldenGlobes were something of a coming out for the #MeToo movement, with women eschewing the usual red carpet glitz for all-black ensembles to draw attention to Hollywood’s mistreatment of women. The campaign, plus fiery speeches at the ceremony from Oprah Winfrey and others, brought unprecedented attention to the problem and emboldened victims and activists to take on some of entertainment's most powerful men.

One year on we saw some powerful and empowered women serving up strong looks on the red carpet.

For me, Lady Gaga completely stole the show in her lilac gown by the house of Valentino - an homage to Judy Garland’s dress in the original A Star is Born movie back in 1957. I also loved Lupita Nyongo’s purple/electric blue number which looked stunning with its touch of sparkle. Julia' Roberts’ caped trouser suit and Susan Oh and Constance Wu’s dresses were worthy of note.

FACE | Emergency Post-Christmas Skin Fixes With IMAGE Skincare

HELP! If your skin hasn’t been able to keep up with your holiday spirit, please rest assured that you’re not alone! The end-of-year period can cause your complexion to get rough or lacklustre thanks to the sheer amount of hectic activity, processed food, central heating, travel and lack of sleep. Fortunately, the team at IMAGE skincare – a personal fave of mine as many of you know - have fast-tracked solutions for some of the most common pesky post-Christmas skin issues. Read on and get your glow back on!

For Stressed and Fatigued Skin: I MASK biomolecular mask (€9.00)   Caused by: Unusually high quantity of late nights, jet lag or overbearing relatives(!)

For Stressed and Fatigued Skin: I MASK biomolecular mask (€9.00)
Caused by: Unusually high quantity of late nights, jet lag or overbearing relatives(!)

Apply this remarkable sheet mask that traps moisture with its special 3D design and helps potent active ingredients penetrate deeply into skin. With a refreshing and comforting hydrogel technology, this mask infuses volcanic water, brightening botanicals, peptides and antioxidants to reinstate your skin’s most relaxed, plumped-up look, while increasing hydration, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, brightening and rejuvenating skin. A perfect pastime this January when you’re bingeing on box sets! .

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For Post-Holiday Breakouts:

AGELESS total resurfacing masque (€42)

Caused by: Excess aeroplane time, stress and exposure to weather changes

This micro-exfoliating masque features powerful alpha hydroxy acids that resurfaces and refines skin by gently sloughing off dead skin cells, clearing out pores and polishing skin without irritation. It’s like having a mini spa-like peel right at home! A blend of glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids tackles impurities and excess particulates while vitamin C helps brighten, reduce the appearance of dark spots and strengthen skin.

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Dehydrated & Dull Skin:

ORMEDIC balancing antioxidant serum (€68)

Caused by: Colder temperatures and harsh winds, lots of travel and excess alcohol consumption

Restore balance to your skin with this ultra-hydrating serum that brings back the equilibrium to your complexion. This luxuriously silky formula contains lactic acid to moisturize and refine skin, and with organic Japanese green tea, polyphenols and a copper-complex peptide to reclaim your healthy, dewy glow. Layer under your regular moisturizer or sunscreen for a revitalising boost.

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For Spontaneous Blemishes:

CLEAR CELL restoring serum oil-free (€49.50)

Caused by: Jet-setting, exhaustion and holiday stress

Whether you need to address an anomalous pimple or feel like you’re popping up with blemishes more often than usual, you can use this lightweight serum to help rebalance oily skin without dryness. This oil-free formula helps restore balance while providing a mattifying effect and minimizing the appearance of pores. Aloe and allantoin help calm skin so your winter skin woes aren’t exacerbated. Use this as a spot treatment on areas that tend to pop up with breakouts and moisturise over it for added protection against winter temps.

I’m lucky in that I don’t really get spots or blemishes, but I do trust IMAGE and religiously use the ACE serum and Vitamin C oil on my face, I hope, whatever skin issues you’re having in this month of healing and hibernation, that some of these products can help you

ALICE: THE MUSICAL AT THE LYRIC IS A TRULY WONDERFUL TAKE ON WONDERLAND

I didn’t see Paul Boyd’s Alice: The Musical at the Lyric twenty years ago, but I can’t imagine it was anywhere as camp and colourful as this year’s take on the original Lewis Carroll tale - which was my favourite theatre experience this Christmas - because after touring the world for two decades, I can only guess that this production gets better with every performance.

 Alice: The Musical tells the story of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and her attempts to escape the clutches of the notorious Queen of Hearts (Allison Harding). Tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice (Ruby Campbell) in pursuit of the elusive White Rabbit (Christina Nelson), to discover a fantastic realm where nothing makes sense. On her journey Alice meets an assortment of strange characters, including the famous acting duo of Tweedledum (Rea Campbell-Hill ) and Tweedledee (Adam Dougal), the unpredictable and hilarious Caterpillar (Mark Dugdale), the Mad Hatter (Mark Dugdale), and members of his underground political movement the Tea Party including the March Hare (Adam Dougal) and the Dormouse (Rea Campbell-Hill), and the seriously mad inventor The White Knight (Adam Dougal) – overseen at all times by the enigmatic Cheshire Cat (Charlotte McCurry).

Just seven actors covered all the roles in this massive musical revival - and I have to compliment the nanosecond synchronicity in the choreography (well done Deborah Maguire)  as well as truly West End-worthy singing and acting across the board. And although Ruby Campbell’s Alice and the icy /slash bonkers Queen of Hearts played by Allison Harding were both amazing, it was Mark Dugdale’s Mad Hatter and his caterpillar which enthralled me most. Both were absolutely en pointe. Christina Nelson also delivered a brilliant White Rabbit too, along with a few other roles between costume changes.

 

And on that note - THE COSTUMES!! As a fashionista first and foremost, I totally loved Gillian Lennox and Erin Charteris’ interpretations of the original illustrations, with a bit of Studio 54/Rio carnival thrown in for good measure. Stuart Marshall’s set was pretty spectacular too, especially when you consider the same stage delivers the ‘grown up’ theatre performance Bah Humbug each night after Alice.

 

All in all this is a truly Broadway-standard production and the big number finish left me baying for more.

 

Alice: The Musical will run at Lyric Theatre 29 November – 5 January. Tickets prices are Children: £12.50 Adult: £17.50, Family: £55.00. Discounts available for school bookings. For more information and tickets visit:

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HUMBUG IS HILARIOUS - THIS YEAR'S LYRIC THEATRE PRODUCTION IS FAB!

Grimes and McKee’s modern day Christmas Carol opening couldn’t have been more timely for me as, just weeks before, I had battled with my otherwise amazing other half because the last quarter of the year turns him completely business-obsessed and easily-impressed by the power of clients - some of whom are property moghuls who put profit before people.  All that ‘networking’ until 4am at the Merchant or Malmaison rather than coming home meant that Michael Condron’s Ebeneezer character touched quite  a sore nerve.

The story in brief is that Ebeneezer Scrooge (played fantastically by Condron) is the richest property developer in Belfast and, like in the original Dickens’ novel, he is visited by ghosts of the Christmas past, present and future in an effort to show him the error of his selfish, miserly and profit-focused ways and to encourage him to share his time and resources with those who matter.

Condron is brilliant as Scrooge - just as great on stage and in character as he had been earlier this year playing the twisted Pastor in Sinners. But each of the other actors (Grimes, McKee, Roisin Gallagher and Sophie Harkness ) was amazing in their myriad roles throughout the play, delivering script and form as varied as they come - and packed with jollity too.

In short, Ebenezer is a real Scrooge type whose only gods are money and success and who abandoned his only family (a niece borne of his beloved sister who died in childbirth) in favour of these. The same miserly figure treats his staff abysmally, and swans around the city in his brand new Range Rover not giving a proverbial f*%k about culture (there were some good Cathedral Quarter jibes in there which went down with the Lyric crowd).  The play tells the same story as the original, but with local relevance as well as a global (and important) message. There is plenty of great music too, with lots of rehashed classic Christmas songs and the odd 80s number. [And on this note, my only critique was the choice of the Conga as the whole ‘mood change’ music in the second act. It was kinda lost on me and I wished it had been different/better/something else, but that might have changed by the time Christmas comes around].   

Sometimes I get bored of Norn Iron humour - and not because I’m one of those snobby arts people, but I just think we can do better than the clichéd ‘aye right, love’ // ‘yer da, my ma’ kind of script. However when it’s done right, à la Jimmy Young in his 1970s peak, our humour is frickin’ hilarious and Bah Humbug sets this tone brilliantly.

Bah, Humbug! runs at Lyric Theatre Belfast from 17 Nov 2018 – 05 Jan 2019 8pm (17 & 18 Nov: £15).

Tickets: £22.50, Concessions (Students, Unemployed & Under 20’s): £15, over 65’s any matinee: £15.

For further information and bookings visit: www.lyrictheatre.co.uk

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FURNISH | AN INTERVIEW WITH SUPER CREATIVE GEMMA BAUDEVILLE

Just in time for Christmas, our editor Cathy caught up with NI export and super creative Gemma Baudeville who looks after some of the most chic shopping windows across the world…  Harrods? Check. Dior? Check, check, check!  

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Gemma, tell us a little about yourself:

I’m Gemma, 34 years old and living in London. I’m very single (it’s impossible to meet men in this city!) but like it that way.

I grew up in Belfast and then Newtownards, in a naturally creative family, (we get it from my mum),  I have always been very committed to anything fashion - making quite a few bad sartorial decisions in my time! Right now I am Head of Creative Retail for Millington Associates – a design and production company in London specialising in creating brand experiences – creative moments to inspire consumers.  We work with the world’s biggest brands, Nike and Burberry are two of our biggest clients and  I personally manage the likes of Harrods and Christian Dior.

 

Where did you go to school/uni?

I went to Our Lady and St Patrick’s College in Belfast, and dramatically decided uni wasn’t for me 1 week before I was due to start. I had fallen out of love with Art at that point and the way it is taught in the curriculum. I don’t feel as though the opportunities in creative careers are discussed as widely as they should be and I found it all too traditional.

 Where do you live now?

I moved to London to pursue a dream 6 years ago, that dream was simply to make something of myself that my parents and I could be proud of and to wake up every morning wanting to go to work! I am living my dream now and loving it. And am glad to show that university isn’t always the path.

 Tell us the career path - what took you to where you are now?

I went from job to job trying to find my way, anything from a phone shop, a fashion retailer, to a bank, learning customer service as I went.

An old friend and previous manager called me to ask me to apply for Apple and that’s where my understanding of superbrands really developed. Living and breathing their ethos everyday was invaluable to what I do now, applying myself to a brand’s mindset. I never did it for the technology- I admire Apple and how they have made their mark.

I took the opportunity to move to London and I haven’t looked back - ready to forge my way back into a creative career, I spoke with various recruiters and kept turning down interviews in I.T. and finance until I landed in my dream role @ Millington Associates. I do genuinely believe the stars aligned for me somewhere and my graft was recognised. After 3.5 years at Millingtons, I am now Head of Department and sit on the Board of Directors – it can happen if you commit!

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Any highs or lows in there?

So many! I wasn’t a traditional student, I guess I was a bit of a rebel in the eyes of my teachers as I didn’t want to follow the career paths they suggested for me. I had no one to turn to for advice on achieving ‘crazy’ dreams like becoming a textile designer or working in window creation. When I ditched Uni I felt like I was letting everyone down.

I do now think there was a path for me, I had to learn lessons along the way before I was ready for a job like I have now.

I think my proudest moment was standing on Hans Crescent outside Harrods this Christmas – it was 2am, pouring with rain, and I had just watched our Christmas Tree be lit up, our windows revealed, I had a pop up being installed for Dom Perignon and the grotto was knee deep in installation. It was 5 months of hard work but hey, did I achieve a dream come true!?  

Advice for anyone new starting out in this area?

Study the brands you want to work with, learn their aesthetic, what makes them tick, what makes them unique. Contact production companies like ours and show your passion – a well written email and CV goes a long way. What can you do to make yourself stand out? Start as crew/ an assistant and work your way into the area you want to be.

No job is too big or too small for any of us, I’ve climbed in many a window to fix some snow and made 1000 cups of tea but I will say this: DON’T WORK FOR FREE - you are a creative and you deserve to be paid for your work.

 

Favourite creative project?

Working in collaboration with Harrods and the paper artist Zoe Bradley we created a chandelier to hang high above the heads of Harrods visitors for their ‘Social Butterflies’ campaign.

This is a complex and nerve wracking task but it was a joy to work on, Harrods are a super supportive client and Zoe is an amazing artist, because of Harrods fire regulations Zoe couldn’t complete the design in paper so they commissioned us to create her work for the very first time. It looked sensational!

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Best Christmas window ever? Not necessarily your own projects? (Or top 5 if you cant narrow it down)

I may be biased but I think Dior Parfum @ Harrods nailed everything we love about Christmas this year. I could feel the excitement building when it was being built in our studios and when I see people taking photos and videos outside Harrods my heart gets fuzzy! [Cathy: And this is how we connected, I did just that and shared a video of the Dior j’adior window in Harrods on 30 November!].  The whimsical nature of using paper like structures, the glint of gold, movement in the London Eye and for me the subtle gifting aspect is what Christmas windows are all about, white is unforgiving so the finish had to be perfect.  As a consumer I don’t want to take pictures of a window that feels product heavy, these windows perfected that- making the product a part of the magic. It evokes emotion in Londoners and visitors with the iconic buildings yet feels like that peaceful Christmas day in a city.

 

What are your top tips for decorating a chic home this Christmas?   

  • Switch up your lights, add a few different size sets to really add magic. I have one set that twinkles and another that is static so it doesn’t feel as much like you are at a rave! The new style of little lights on a thread go a LONG way. I decorated huge blossom twigs with them to close in the living room and make it feel like a winter wonderland.

  • If you are doing a colour theme, keep pictures of your already purchased decorations on your phone to marry up the colours, I bought one bauble that was way too pink in haste so that’s gone to the back of the tree! Switch up tone, I have some coral in there and then paler champagne.

  • Buy a bauble every time you visit a new destination, your tree will be full of memories of good times and each decoration will tell a tale. I only started this recently but I am so excited for my tree in years to come. My parents’ tree gives us all that feeling of home due to the stories that hang from its branches.

  • I’m hosting my first Christmas dinner at my gaff this year, and my table dressing has sent me in to over drive! I’m mixing up the metals and using winter foliage with tiny fairytale touches- toadstools are my mums favourite! Antique pattern bowls balance the modern with the traditional and I absolutely hate a cracker! (The hat has never fit me!)

  • I learnt from my sister that eucalyptus makes a Christmas so fill your house with it, tie your napkins with a sprig and add it to the bows on your gifts. A few days before Christmas rinse your local florists of foliage and berries, add these into your tree for a really fresh look.

 There you go guys - get ready to sparkle!

Merry Christmas, love Cathy xo

FURNISH | Romantic and Cozy Living Room Ideas for Winter Season

As temperatures drop outside why not add some warmth into your home this winter. Our guest blogger Tracey Clayton shares her top tips for revamping your living space this season…

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Cold weather, snow and grey sky – that doesn’t sound so inviting, right? But, a warm and comfortable living room where you come back after hard day’s work – that surely sounds delightful! You don’t need to spend big money to turn your living room into a comfortable area for hibernation during weekends. Even though it’s cold outside, you can add a few romantic and warm touches and turn your living room into a magical wonderland!

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Light your living room

Along with low temperatures, snow and wind, winter is also known for grey days, when the sun is stubbornly hiding behind the clouds. That’s why you will need some extra lighting in your home. However, be careful not to use too many or too bright lights! Your living room should be like an oasis where you can relax, drink a cup of coffee and nibble on chocolate while you are watching your favorite movie on TV. Therefore, consider getting warm light bulbs or even put string lights close to your couch. String lights are not just New Year’s decorations – they can be a great way to set up the atmosphere for a romantic dinner with your sweetheart. And, if you want to make your living room more alluring, then light up a few candles too.

Celebrate the winter with DIY decorations

The Christmas tree and decorations are back in the box and you can’t help but feel a bit blue about it. Who says you have to take all the decorations down? Actually, you just need to adjust them a bit. Fake snowballs can look beautiful hanging in garlands over your firelight mantel or inside the basket on the table. Put some cinnamon sticks, pine cones and vanilla grains inside a Mason jar and you will have a timeless decoration with a wonderful scent for your table in the living room! Wrap a piece of cloth at the end of a fir branch, tighten it with a silver or gold ribbon and place those tiny ornaments on your shelves.

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Bring in the softness

Nothing feels better than having your feet warm all day long. Underfloor heating is a great option, but just isn’t visually enough, right? If you have wooden floor tiles, then half the job is already done. Now all that is left to do is get yourself a few fluffy, soft round rugs and spread them all over the floor. The best part is that you will be able to sit on the floor as well and enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fireplace while you’re comfortably leaning on a couch.

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Play with the colors

If your living room is painted white and you can see snowy hills from your window, it is time to break that frostiness with some colors! Get vibrant blue, red and gold pillows and spread them on your couch. Add a light beige, soft blanket at the edge of the couch so you could keep your feet warm while you are munching on popcorn and reading a book.

A piece of tradition

If you are a book lover and have quite an impressive collection on your shelves in the living room, then it’s time to give some final, traditional touch to it. Bring in an upholstered armchair and place it in front of your home library. You can make it even more beautiful by having a small pillow and a blanket in the same color close by. Once you choose a book for this afternoon, sit down, sip on warm tea and relax.

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Knits all around

One of the things that remind us of winter and the holiday season the most is a knitted sweater, but who says that it has to end with that? Surround yourself with knitted stuff in your living room as well! Instead of an ordinary blanket, snuggle under a knitted one. When you are sitting in your armchair, rest your tired feet on a knitted pouf. And, by all means, wear your favorite knitted sweater!

Even though it feels that winter will last for eternity, it just isn’t so, and if you do all the things mentioned above then you may actually enjoy it and prolong that holiday atmosphere until spring comes around.

About the author:

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”

 

THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE PANTO IS THE GRAND DAME OF CHRISTMAS THEATRE IN BELFAST… OH YES IT IS!

Jack and the Beanstalk at the Grand Opera House is so good I’ve seen it twice.
Jack and the Beanstalk is SO GOOD, I’m writing this twice!

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I’m literally just home from watching the Grand Opera House’s panto for the second  time in as many weeks and I was delighted to see many regulars from the GOH Panto stage take to the boards again this year. John Linehan’s May Trott character is of course the comedy hero - and this is his/her 29th consecutive panto. What a run! Joining May is the double Olivier award-winning actor David Bedella as pantomime’s ultimate baddie, and the giant’s henchman, Fleshcreep. David played the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan last Christmas, seen by over 75,000 people during its six week run (and I loved the jovial jibes from May and co when she teased him as he sang ‘My Way’ just before his on-stage demise, saying he sang it last year). I cant fail to mention Paddy and Simon, also, who were both wonderfully present and very funny on stage too.

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My six year old and friends absolutely LOVED the music - some Greatest Showman numbers mixed with the usual bouncy pop classics, perfect for kids full of delish Dale Farm ice cream and mums seeking a bit of nostalgia in the score. They also loved the characters, the lights, the sounds, the animals, the big choreography as well as the splashing and the audience cam.

But as a wordsmith by trade, I must say that it is very cleverly written too; my favourite part is the tongue-twisting dialogue about Susan (or was it Sharon?) selling Sushi on a Saturday, which makes no sense on its own, but which is woven into the script perfectly. As usual with panto, there are multiple levels of humour, plenty for the kids and some most definitely for just the grown-ups. And proper order too.  I also loved the totally slapstick ‘If I were not in Pantomine’ skit towards the end, again superbly well written and choreographed to nano-second-synchronicity. The kids sang it all the way home, adding in  their own future jobs with actions.

I shant say any more for fear of spoilers, but in short this is West End worthy theatre in the heart of Belfast - all wrapped up with pyrotechnics and a big chopper like I’ve not seen since Miss Saigon plus a wonderfully 3D scary giant who had little kids around us screaming.

As for me, I’m one of over 1000 people to have booked for December 2019’s Beauty and the Beast already. The Grand Opera House panto really kicks off Christmas for me and I hope it’s a tradition I never give up.

 Jack and the Beanstalk, sponsored by Dale Farm, runs from Saturday 1 December 2018 to Sunday 13 January 2019. Tickets can be booked at goh.co.uk.

FACE | GETTING SCIENTIFIC ABOUT CHRISTMAS SKINCARE SHOPPING WITH ACADÉMIE SCIENTIFIQUE DE BEAUTÉ

From the age of 14 until I was about 18, I spent most of my summers in France; and I think, by a process of some kind of weird osmosis, I fell in love with French beauty brands which were exclusive to pharmacies and small boutique beauty salons - and totally unheard of back home. You cant help feeling like you have the key to a special secret when you discover one of these brands and its ability to work wonders on your skin. I felt this way about Academie Scientifique when I recently discovered its Seve Miracle cream and the Intense Age Recovery Cream, so I will definitely be giving someone the gift of silky soft skin this season with one of the brand’s gift boxes.

The Parisian Radiance Box (€38) is perfect treat for anyone looking to rejuvenate their tired skin during these cold winter months. The Radiance Aqua Balm (50ml) banishes the signs of fatigue and brightens the skin with this treatment rich in apricot extract that delivers an immediate burst of radiance. The Eye Contour Cream Dynastiane (15ml) lessens the appearance of wrinkles leaving the eye area supple. Amazing for revitalising tired dried out skin.

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With the Parisian Youth Box (€46) no one will see all that partying catch up on you this festive season! The Nourishing Cream Sève Miracle (50 ml) nourishes and softens the skin reducing the appearance of lines. The Eye Contour Cream Dynastiane (15ml) lessens the appearance of wrinkles leaving the eye area supple. A wonderful gift for anyone wanting to maintain their youthful glow.

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The Derm Acte Prestige Box (€65) is the ultimate stocking filler for any skin care lover this Christmas. The Intense Age Recovery Cream (50 ml) fights against the signs of ageing. Helps boost and revitalise the skin by toning and firming. The skin appears brighter and visibly younger looking. The Ultimate Eye Corrector(15ml) is a complete treatment specifically formulated to correct visible signs of ageing, that reduces deep and fine lines leaving the eye area firmer and smoother. It also helps to thicken eyelashes and stimulates their growth.

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Académie Beauté's stable of visage products are here to nourish and prolong the skin. Each skin care product of the brand is the result of an uncompromising scientific research in terms of quality and know-how set up by their "beauty artisans". Académie was the first in the world to use collagen (1936) & jojoba oil (1979) in their products and this pioneering & innovative spirit is still a part of the company’s philosophy today. Packed with active ingredients, the products are results-driven but still a pleasure to use.

 

 

 

The Académie Beauté range is available from select professional salons nationwide, for your local Académie salon, please contact 016205493

FACE | KOREAN HAND CREAM FROM EBORIAN...

As some of you know, I’m just back from 10 days in China where I trekked the Great Wall and conquered some pretty big challenges.

On my last day I was let loose in Beijing and discovered some fab beauty emporiums (much needed after 7 days in the dust and wilderness) and these beauty meccas were led by Korean skin experts - I was in heaven!

When I returned I found a sample of the fab new Erborian This is the Hand hand cream, which launches this month. This new hand cream from the Korean-Parisian house of Eborian is perfect for colder winter days as it is packed with anti-ageing, nourishing and smoothing ingredients including White Ginseng Complex and Shea Butter.

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Of all  the ginsengs, White Ginseng is the most exceptional. It is known to prevent he appearance of signs of aging, moisturise and repair even the most fragile skin. The cream also contains liquorice root, wild yam root, kigelia fruit and horsetail to protect the skin.

A perfectly affordable Christmas gift or stocking filler at just £9.50.

FACE | WET N WILD FOR CHRISTMAS…

It's finally OK to talk all things Christmas and get started on our shopping lists. It can be challenging finding the perfect gift for that special someone in your life, whether it’s your bestie, work friend, Secret Santa or your sister, but make up brand wet n wild® has launched FIVE amazing Christmas Gift Sets at affordable prices.  Read on… and remember, wet n wild® is available in select pharmacies nationwide, so it’s super easy to pick up, wherever you are.

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wet n wild®

Liquid Catsuit Lip Color Collection 4 Piece Mini Catsuit Lip Set (€12.95/£11.50)

This set is perfect for the lip lover in your life, including 2 mini MegaLast® Metallic Catsuit Liquid Lipsticks in shades Life’s No Pink-nic and Acai So Serious AND 2 mini MegaLast® Catsuit Matte Lipstick in shades Rebel Rose and Berry Recognize. These shades are the perfect for Christmas and ideal for your handbag! 

wet n wild® Eye-conic Glam Collection (€14.95/£12.95)

wet n wild® Eye-conic Glam Collection (€14.95/£12.95)

Make a statement this Christmas with a party ready eye look using the Eye-conic Glam Collection. This set includes Lash Renegade Mascara, Color Icon™ Eyeshadow Quad in shade Silent Treatment and Pro Line Felt Tip Eyeliner. This trio is all you need to create a stunning eye look!

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wet n wild®

Midnight Goddess Collection (€14.95/£12.95)

Midnight Goddess Collection will bring you from desk to dancefloor with just three products! This set is also the ideal gift set for any makeup fanatics on your shopping list. It contains Color Icon™ 10-Pan Eyeshadow Palette Rosé in the Air, MegaGlo™ Highlighting Powder Precious Petals and MegaLast Lip Color in shade Sandstorm.

wet n wild® Ultimate Brow Set (€14.95/£12.95)

wet n wild® Ultimate Brow Set (€14.95/£12.95)

We are all about brows for Christmas, no look is complete without them! The Ultimate Brow Set includes Ultimate Brow Mascara, Ultimate Brow Universal Stencil Kit, Ultimate Brow Highlighter and Ultimate Brow Retractable Pencil.

wet n wild® Essential Brush Bundle (€19.95/£17.50)

wet n wild® Essential Brush Bundle (€19.95/£17.50)

The Essential Brush Bundle is perfect for anyone new to makeup, or for the budding makeup artist in your life. This set includes 7 essential cruelty-free brushes – 4 face and 3 eye brushes. You won’t need any other brushes if you stick with these! These brushes have an exclusive design and handles aimed at guaranteeing total comfort and control over your makeup. They’ll brighten up your makeup bag!

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