FASHION | ONE PIECE SWIMSUITS

Wonderful One-Piece

Bikini be gone, I have moved on. Gosh, that rhymes and I didn’t even expect it to!

I’m not sure if it’s my age, or the fact that I am more often than not running after little ones on beaches or by pools, or the fact that I dislike my tummy (it’s my body part nemesis, the bit I dislike the most - and I know as a #bodyimage ambassador I shouldn’t say that, but it’s the truth!) or indeed the fact that the choice is now SO GOOD… that I have fallen out of love with itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikinis of all kinds and totally in love with one piece swimsuits. I mean, they’re just so much more handy and I truly believe they look super elegant when compared to bikinis. On me anyway.

 

I went looking for some the other night for my forthcoming holiday and didn’t go much past asos.com, which, I must say, had the most comprehensive selection anywhere - and from brands right across all price ranges and for various body shapes. This blog post is pretty much a summary of all my faves, and faves that I would pick if I had various different body shapes. I hope you like them and I hope you can manage to buy some of the best ones before they sell out (because I missed a few myself!!)

FOLIO | THE SWORD AND THE SAND

I’m literally just in from The Lyric Theatre where I watched The Sword and The Sand; a really gritty, aggressive and powerfully dark play by acclaimed writer Pearse Elliot, and I cannot seem to spit  the words out of me fast enough to express what I thought of it - my mind is whizzing and full of the kind of energy that only fear and adrenaline bring.

This was a black and scary play which was quite shocking in parts - but in a way that makes you realise it’s the kind of art which challenges you; theatre which makes you question who you are and wonder what on earth is going on in rough and tough corners of your city - never mind corners of the earth - well beyond your safe little bubble.

The Rawlife Theatre production was directed by Martin McSharry, whose first play for me was Clockwork Orange back in 2005 in the Potthouse, (with Marty McCann among others). The McSharry-Elliot combo has worked brilliantly here - the casting and the performances together make for pretty emotive viewing, even if the main character, Duff, a psychopath played brilliantly by Marty Maguire, is so excellently lacking in emotion and empathy…  (And Pearse told me afterwards that Duff is based on a real-life psycho who is alive and well in an Irish prison - eek!). Maguire’s character leads his impressionable protégées Cricky (Gerard Jordan-Quinn) and Lala (Bernadette Brown) down a path of delusional dreams and idealistic dead ends while also taking advantage of refugee Azir (Mark Asante) whose character deserves every ounce of the audience’s sympathy. And I’m not sure how he does it, but the handsome 6’5” actor has an excellent way of making stage presence feel meek and mouse-like for his role despite his grand stature.

The play is almost Shakespearean in its gore but with a dash of modern Tarantino and a good mash-up of all the seven deadly sins - especially avarice, lust, anger and envy in abundance in Maguire’s Duff.

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This is a go-see play. But not if you don’t like the C word. Or racism. Or misogynistic sexism. But that sh*t unfortunately happens in life and Elliot’s play shows it like it is.

Booking now at The Lyric here: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/event/the-sword-and-the-sand/

 

FASHION | UGLY TRAINERS

“Miss, I forgot my trainers.” We all cried. Every week. Until…

Well, until the teachers caught on and we were swiftly pointed in the direction of the sweaty, old shoes that made up the lost property pile. The bulky, unwanted, UNCOOL shoes that hadn’t in fact been lost but strategically disowned by teenagers mortified by their parents’ idea of suitable gym footwear.

Fast forward to 2018 and we’re willing to join lengthy (and rapidly growing) waiting lists and fork out hundreds of pounds to get our hands on the same trainers. This time calling it fashion.

These appropriately named “ugly trainers” are still making the rounds with at least one season under their belt and given their meteoric rise, constant controversy and ability to sell out in under an hour, I suspect they’ve got several more seasons in them. And yet, I’m still not entirely sold.

Dissect the street style shots and you’re met with supermodels off-duty and of course, the coolest of the cool kids roaming the streets of London and New York. While I can appreciate that the best fashion trends are usually the most divisive and that all trends are subjective, just how ‘user friendly’ is this trend? How does it translate for day to day wear and why on earth has something so conventionally hideous caught and held on to our attention?

Figuring out why the shoes are ugly certainly isn’t the challenge here. The colour combinations explain the “dad trainers” reference and bulbous soles and oversized tongues scream invasive.

 Acne Studios Manhattan leather, suede and mesh sneakers - £360

Acne Studios Manhattan leather, suede and mesh sneakers - £360

 Balenciaga TRIPLE S TRAINERS - £595

Balenciaga TRIPLE S TRAINERS - £595

 NIKE Air Max 95 leather sneakers - £150

NIKE Air Max 95 leather sneakers - £150

 NIKE AIR MAX 97 TRAINERS - £140 

NIKE AIR MAX 97 TRAINERS - £140 

 Prada Cloud Burst

Prada Cloud Burst

 STELLA MCCARTNEY ECLYPSE RAINBOW SNEAKERS £450

STELLA MCCARTNEY ECLYPSE RAINBOW SNEAKERS £450

 Stella McCartney Eclypse Trainer £450

Stella McCartney Eclypse Trainer £450

 ZARA MULTICOLOURED SNEAKERS £49.99

ZARA MULTICOLOURED SNEAKERS £49.99

 ZARA SNEAKERS £39.99

ZARA SNEAKERS £39.99

However, something about these ugly trainers draws you in, an undeniable air of intrigue surrounds the trend. When you take a closer look and appreciate the fact that Louis Vuitton’s, Nicholas Ghesqière spent 4 years designing Archlight (a top contender for leader of the ugly trainer pack) and acknowledge the statistics from Stylebop that reveal Balenciaga’s Triple S as the fastest selling item of 2017, a statistic echoed among those at Matchesfashion.com where the Triple S sellout was closely followed by Stella McCartney’s Eclypse and Acne Studio’s Manhattan trainers, you can’t help but feel you’re missing something. High street interpretations of the trend have continuously cropped up, bringing trends from the fashion elite to the masses - usually a pretty clear sign that a trend is here to stay and with both Zara and Nike making a case for the ugly trainer, my opinion could be swayed on the user friendly front.

Man Repeller went so far as to link our love of the ugly trainer to the current political climate, describing them as tools introduced to help ground us during times of unrest. With those thick, sturdy soles, we certainly can’t argue with their ability to ground us.

Refinery29 argue the popularity of the trend has risen in response to society’s growing demand for authenticity with writer Lisa Trautman claiming, “I’m at a point where I prefer something real to all of the selfies, avocados and minimalist apartments on Instagram.”

She’s got a point.

Clearly there’s a lot more to this trend than meets the eye and while I may remain skeptical, I’ll try most trends once.

The survival guide to the ugly trainer revolves around subtle feminine touches. Strike the balance with elegant accessories and dainty earrings. Embrace the clashing nature of a feminine, floaty dress against the masculinity of the shoe. If you dare, wear them after dark - LBD, low denier tights, chunky trainers and ankle socks worn proudly pulled up for all to see.

We won’t let this trend get the better of us. 

FASHION | MET GALA 2018 - PRAYING FOR FASHION

The Met Gala, the charity event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, is considered the highlight of the global fashion social season, attracting the biggest stars and fashion designers from across the world. It is known for its expensive tickets, ultra exclusive guest list and most of all, extravagant couture outfits that are based around a different theme each year.

This year, the theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, which showcases how Catholicism has influenced fashion throughout history.

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Celebrities hit the cream carpet sporting everything from papal-inspired gowns to religious prisoner-inspired chainmail gowns and, in Katy Perry's case, oversized angel wings - by Versace of course.

Every year there are massive hits and terrible misses, but here at the F words, we have looked at all of last night’s sartorial offerings and these are some of our most interesting picks.

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Anna Wintour (who hosts the event each year) looked ever-elegant and Holy Communion style white/silver by Chanel, but Versace was a popular designer of the night, with Blake Lively, Kim Kardashian West and Gigi Hadid all sparkling in the Italian house’s creations. Jennifer Lopez has showed she still can rock a thigh high split in a stunning Balmain gown.

Some more literal takes on the theme were from Stella Maxwell in a Virgin Mary adorned garment from Moschino, Rihanna arrived in her own “pope-mobile” in an jaw dropping outfit from Maison Margiela and, never to be out-done, Sarah Jessica Parker aced the theme with her stunning dress and headpiece from Dolce and Gabanna.

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Some honourable mentions have to go to Olivia Munn in H&M, Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren and Kate Bosworth who was breath taking in Oscar de la Renta.

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Share your faves with us in the comments here or on our Instagram!

FURNISH | ¡Arriba, Arriba!

Anticipation is growing for Frida Kahlo’s flagship V&A exhibition opening this summer (I am a massive fan and already have it firmly marked in my calendar…), so Mexico and Mexican motifs are firmly on my radar. Cinqo de Mayo marks the start of the summer season and offers the perfect excuse to look to the Central American country for dynamic decorating inspiration.  

We all know that super-sunny Mexico is known for hot temperatures, hot dishes, and hot, hot colours. Opting for a Mexican-inspired decor is a failsafe way to lift your winter-weary interiors, replacing staid Nordic noirs and minimalistic mid-century with vibrant vibes and a joyful positivity.

Cult Furniture is a perfect pit stop for bright furniture and fun home accessories required to catapult your home from Redcar to the Riviera Maya. Hot on my wish list is the Moda Rocking Chair in bright yellow. If details matter, then this chair definitely has it all! The ultra-bright yellow shell is placed on a criss-cross wire base with two solid-wood rockers creating a sophisticated and timeless piece that is every bit as stylish as it is relaxing! Oh and if you’re not quite ready to go all-in brights, you will be glad to know it also comes in a range of colours…

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www.cultfurniture.com

PS – if you love Frida as much as I do, check out my previous Frida Kahlo post HERE

FARAWAY PLACES | TROUBLE FREE TOWELS FROM TESALATE

If you’re anything like me then the long and seemingly never-ending spell of cold weather has got you browsing the internet looking for holidays while happily dreaming of warmer climes and mocktails on the beach… 

It’s official - I am now counting down the days until vacay-time and can’t wait to hit a golden, sandy beach! My little one V loves long days on the beach and we can often be found playing games and dipping in and out of the sea throughout the day when on holiday.  

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However one of my pet peeves when spending a day frolicking by the seal is sand - sand and I have a kinda love/hate relationship - I love the feel of it beneath my feet and one of my favourite things to do on holiday is to watch the sunset on the beach, however, I hate how everything in your bag ends up covered in sand – especially when you have little ones who seem to have a knack for getting sand everywhere! 


So when Austrailian brand Tesalate kindly sent me two of their sand repelling towels for me and V to use on our holidays my beach-tote packing certainly stepped up a notch!  

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Tesalate towels come in 30 variations and their 2018 collection will keep you totally on trend. They’re loaded with vibrant prints and gorgeous patterns, and look fab spread across the sand, rolled up in a basket bag or draped over a sunbed.  

Not only do they look the part, the other thing that makes Tesalate completely-irresistible is the AbsorbLite microfibre which means sand easily slides off the towel, making them perfect for everyone - even the most active of kids! Oh and if that wasn’t enough, they are also fast-drying too and dry faster than a regular towel (although each towel is still able to absorb one litre of water, meaning no more wet bags or car seats on the journey home - yay!).   

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Tesalate is also super light and comes with its own nylon drawstring pouch so you don’t need to worry about it taking up too much space in your bag – meaning there is even more room for those other beach essentials and there is no risk of them getting covered in sand (hallelujah!)  
For fabric care you can either tumble dry on low or do a cold machine wash - without the risk of fading.  

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I already have ours packed and ready to go – whether I am lounging by the pool or soaking up some rays at the shore, this is one essential I don’t want to be forgetting! Get yours here:  www.tesalate.com  
 

FACE | GLOW AESTHETICS OPENS

GET THE GLOW!

Whether or not you opt for that extra needle in facial aesthetics in the form of fillers and anti-wrinkle injections (AKA Botox),  the processes are here to stay, but as the industry grows it is important to consider where you have treatments done, and by whom!

This week I got the chance to pop along to the launch of the new GLOW Aesthetics clinic at the Culloden Estate and Spa and met with Emma Kennedy and William Trainor, both experienced hospital nurses who have been working in aesthetics for over a decade.

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Their new clinic, located in the sumptuous surroundings of the Culloden spa, offers Teoxane fillers for lips, cheeks and jawline as well as Botox for all the usual areas, should you wish to try it; plus a range of cosmeceutical Treatments to make your skin glow!

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And as I always like to try new things that I've not ventured into before, I have decided to give the derma-planing a go, and will report back in the coming weeks.

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Meanwhile check out the full treatment and price list here - and quote GLOW20 when booking to get £20 off your first treatment. Whoop! Call 07719326507 to book.

FURNISH | MAVERICK WITH FABRIC

In an era of all-beige and all-white interiors (or, if you’re me, all-grey), Swedish furniture and furnishings experts IKEA have partnered with Savile Row tailor William Hunt to create suits using IKEA textiles and fabric to encourage people to bring their personality and overall sense of style into their home with IKEA products. The really fab suits, (pictured below), are certainly  unique, and have been created using SOFIAROSENRIPSNEDJA and KUNGSLILJA fabrics, which mirror existing products by the retailer including POÄNG chairs, STOCKSUNDT sofas and bedding. 

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The Saville Row partnership comes hot on the heels of a new IKEA survey which shows NI as being one of the most confident regions in the UK when it comes to styling at home. In fact, 91% of shoppers in Northern Ireland are confident enough to express their personality in home interiors décor, making us the most confident region of the UK, with London proving to be the least (64%). However, those who were not so confident when it comes to decorating gave reasons such as not knowing how to include colour and patterns in the home that suit their style (64%) and not knowing what is on trend (10%). IKEA is now helping those who are curious about colour and particular about patterns to find out their personal every day style and bring it into their home, simply and affordably, using textiles.

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Carol McSeveny, Textiles Leader, IKEA UK & Ireland who started her career in IKEA Belfast said: “We’re seeing an increasing number of people playing it safe when it comes to decorating and furnishing their home. But, when the home can act as a canvas for self-expression, why keep things beige and boring? People use fabric in fashion to show off their personality and we want people to replicate this in their home through textiles.” Carol continued; “We are excited to be working with William Hunt as he is the ultimate “maverick with fabric” and has demonstrated, through the IKEA suits, how textiles can be used to express yourself and your home”

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William Hunt said: “I love the idea of people taking fashion and style and embracing it by taking it further into their homes. Our partnership with IKEA is important as we are encouraging the public to push themselves just a little, and to show off their character in their own homes. We create heroes out of ordinary men and women through our suits, and likewise the IKEA suits create heroes out of everyday textiles and furniture”.

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If you’d like to take the maverick personality test, and get inspired by IKEA’s textile style feed, including watching the latest clever TV commercial, just visit Be a Maverick with Fabric online. Plus, a limited number of the stunning IKEA X WILLIAM HUNT suits will be available for the public to get their hands via an online competition on the IKEA UK website: www.ikea.com/gb/en/ikea/threepiecesuit     Entrants must simply answer a question about how they express their personality in the home to be in with a chance of winning. #wonderfuleveryday.

FACE | OH LA LOLA!

As I write this there is a glimmer of sunset sunshine resting on the horizon and, being the ever-optimist, I am doing a little sundance and hoping that the never-ending winter may finally be coming to an end (well, a gal can always dream…)

So, as we start to look towards longer (and hopefully warmer) days ahead, I have been revamping my makeup bag with the help of my lovely beauty godmother LOLA by Perses.

LOLA by Perses first came into my radar when I was checking out their website (www.lolamakeup.com) and the pretty NARS-esque packaging caught my eye. A UK-based brand, the cruelty-free beauty line is the brainchild of a creative team of talented British make-up artists who created it with the aim of producing quality makeup at reasonable prices. So when they kindly sent me a few items to try I was more than a little bit excited!

So, without further ado, here are some of the Lola products I have been trying out this month;

LOLA PERFECT SKIN – ILLUMINATING BASE

The Lola primer comes in a small tube – only 15ml - but don’t let the size put you off, as you only need a small amount to cover your entire face. I added a pea sized amount to the back of my hand and the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous velvety texture. It applies easily to the skin and instantly reduces the appearance of any large pores and fine lines – meaning it automatically gets a thumbs up from me!
It also managed to keep my makeup in place all day (even through umpteen meetings and with the heating blasting in the office, which is no mean feat!)-  and it left my skin with a gorgeous subtle glow.
You can also use it as a highlighter making it the perfect multi-purpose product in one tube!

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LOLA MATTE LONG LASTING LIQUID FOUNDATION

The LOLA foundation was presented in a lovely frosted glass bottle and when I picked it up I was also pleasantly surprised by the weight – this definitely has the feel of a lovely luxury product so I was very surprised to see that it comes in at under £20!
The built in pump dispenses the correct amount of foundation so you aren’t left with lots of unneeded product, making it one of my favourites to date!

First up, the foundation has a lovely creamy texture and blended into my skin well using a beauty blender sponge. The soft-focus effect visibly reduces imperfections, fine lines and pores giving you an instant ‘gram ready complexion in minutes!
It also has oil-absorbing properties which helps minimise shine – perfect if you suffer from combination or oily skin.

I am extremely impressed by the foundation and it definitely competes with some of my favourites, and I don’t say that lightly! With the buildable coverage I was able to achieve medium coverage without losing the lovely natural finish which I love and it also feels super lightweight so you almost feel like you aren’t wearing makeup at all! 

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HIGHLIGHTING CONCEALER PEN

After applying my foundation I added this under my eyes to hide any dark circles (that may have appeared following the non-stop business of FASHIONWEEK where sleep was 4 hours pre night max…) and was instantly impressed. This liquid concealer was extremely light and blended flawlessly. Pearl-coated pigments left my skin glowing and the cream melted into my skin effortlessly. It is also perfect for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

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LOLA LONG LASTING INTENSE COLOUR LIP GLOSS

I am a big fan of lip gloss – especially in the summer, so I couldn’t wait to try these. I tried colours rose pink, pink shimmer and rose.
All of the glosses were highly pigmented and had long lasting water-shine; they also didn’t feel sticky on the lips, which I liked. All of these colours are tones I would normally wear and came up as soft feminine shades (The rose pink gloss had a gorgeous salmon pink hue, whilst the pink shimmer was a lovely peach tone – perfect for your holidays and lastly the rose was a subtle nude tone with high shine - great for everyday wear).
The glosses also contain hydrating Hyaluronic Acid which works in combination with an active vitamin complex to help condition lips and give a plumped appearance.

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VERDICT

I am super impressed with the LOLA products and they definitely compete with some of my favourite products – albeit at half the price tag! The creators of the brand had an aim to make it easier for women everywhere to apply makeup effortlessly - and with hundreds of products, shades and options, I think it is fair to say they have succeeded.

So, if you haven’t already tried these products I would add them to your wish list pronto! They are available via their website and have also recently landed in Menary’s stores across Northern Ireland too, which is handy for my local readers. Enjoy!

FOLIO | THE COLLEEN BAWN

The Lyric Theatre continues its 50th year celebrations with a fantastically funny production of ‘The Colleen Bawn’, Dion Boucicault’s exuberant tale of desire, duty and betrayal, based on an infamous true crime.  The Lyric Theatre and Bruiser Theatre Company are back together for the first time since The 39 Steps, for this madcap, melodramatic, musical co-production. Boucicault’s masterful interweaving of plot and character, comedy and suspense, has been captivating audiences since it premiere in 1860. The F words team LOVED the play - and you can check out my initial video review here too - but first, some words from Jimmy Fay and Lisa May.

Executive Producer of the Lyric, Jimmy Fay, commented: “Don Boucicault’s The Colleen Bawn is a masterpiece of melodrama. It is as spritely and lovely as any ballad and has proved to be a timeless engaging entertainment captivating audiences in its outrageous plots and musical interludes since it first premiered in New York in 1860. We in the Lyric are delighted to again partner with Bruiser and their distinctive style on this wonderful play. Our first collaboration was the enormously successful The 39 Steps and the vibrancy of that production is also well suited to the exuberance of The Colleen Bawn. In fact, Dion Boucicault and this play in particular had a huge effect on the young Alfred Hitchcock when he saw it at the theatre in London in the 1920s. This year we mark the fiftieth anniversary since the Lyric opened its doors on Ridgeway street we plan a year of celebration, surprises and fun.”

Director and Bruiser Theatre Company's Lisa May commented: "Bruiser is thrilled to be back at the Lyric with the melodious mayhem of The Colleen Bawn.  This classic is filled with all the trademark shenanigans of a bashful Bruiser show, and is the perfect follow up to our 2016 collaboration with the Lyric, The 39 Steps.  Audiences can expect the same type of madcap melodrama, as our mischievous and musical cast fill the stage with laughs, love, and live music.  It’s been an absolute hoot to rehearse this timeless piece, and we’re sure audiences will enjoy the fast-paced fun as much as we do!"

A co-production by the Lyric Theatre & Bruiser Theatre Company
Written by Dion Boucicault
Directed by Lisa May
Musical Direction by Matthew Reeve

The Colleen Bawn runs from 7 – 28 April
Tues - Sat: 7.45pm, Sat & Sun matinee: 2.30pm

CAST:  BRYAN QUINN, ENDA KILROY, JO DONNELLY, PATRICK MCBREARTY, CAVAN CLARKE, COLETTE LENNON and MAEVE SMYTH

07 - 10 April: £13
Off-peak (Tues - Thurs & matinees): £15
Peak (Fri & Sat evening): £24.50
Students, unemployed people, and under 20s any performance except Friday and Saturday night: £10.00
Over 65's any matinee: £10

www.lyricbelfast.co.uk
Box Office 028 9038 1081

The Colleen Bawn is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

FACE | THE ELIXIR OF LIFE

The word elixir usually conjures up images of a secret potion designed to prolong life or give the gift of eternal youth or beauty, and so it’s not a bad name for a clinic whose product can, essentially - albeit indirectly - do both to a certain degree.

 

I visited the Elixir Clinic in Wimpole Street, London just last weekend, and if you followed my Instagram stories on the day, (or now, in my highlights) you’ll know that, unlike the last time I had an IV vitamin infusion, I came to this one slightly dehydrated and fuzzy from a few glasses of wine the night before.

 

But I feel unfair starting with that info, because a hangover cure this is not, despite the rumours and hype created by Rihanna and Cara Delevigne, or previously by the Rolling Stones in their heyday when they enjoyed Dr Meyer’s famed vita-cocktails after a busy night rock n rollin’. Nope, this is a credible health and well-being treatment, and from a purely beauty perspective, it is akin to a super-facial or head to toe body treatment with all the work being done from the inside. (Although it does also make you feel wonderful, despite the night-before-wine, I have to say - curing headache, tiredness and nausea in minutes, as well as replenishing skin, hair and nails with zero calories, so it’s much better than a greasy spoon solution).

 

In short, it’s a 45minute treatment whereby a fusion of vitamins, minerals and amino acids are inserted into the bloodstream intro-venously. And just to cut to the chase, the results are bloody brilliant.  

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‘But why not just pop a vitamin pill?’, I hear you ask. Well, one of the problems with oral supplements is that they're not fully bioavailable - in other words, they're not fully absorbed. By delivering them intravenously, the bioavailability is 100pc; you're injecting it directly into the veins. The body absorbs exactly what it needs and no more - so there is no chance of overdoing it.

We don’t know exactly what the content and ratios of each of the VitaDrip formulae are, but there are medically pre-designed combinations for Adrenal Fatigue, Immunity Boosting, Mood Boosting, New Motherhood and Jet Lag, among others. The combinations were created by the clinic’s founders - two former Harley Street nurses - and they have locations in the Middle East as well as three locations in London (at The Ned Hotel in the City and within Harrods Wellness Centre, as well as the Marylebone clinic that I visited).  I plumped for the Fitness drip, but there is  also a bespoke option in which you can have a drip made to your exact requirements on  that particular day.  As you can imagine, the benefits are enjoyed and prolonged with a healthy diet  and proper hydration.

The downside? Needle-phobes may need to look away as the small cannula is slotted into place and hooked up to the type of IV stand often seen in hospitals. My left arm veins wouldn’t take, so we had to hook up the right arm, but it wasn’t painful at all, in fact the only disadvantage was that I couldn’t text or email as the arm has to remain outstretched and straight, so I was forced to lie back and just relax. Quelle Horreur!

And then, just an hour after entering the clinic with a dull head and feeling tired, I left with a spring in my step and slept like a baby that night.

So, to conclude, does the drip actually work - or is it money down the vein? In my opinion - it TOTALLY works. I felt fantastic and really rejuvenated and I would challenge anyone not to feel the same. Many people claim to see immediate differences in their skin and hair, although to be honest I didn’t, but then I wasn’t looking, plus my skin is quite well hydrated anyway.

The cost isn’t massively prohibitive either - the last clinic I went to charged around £500, but the pre-mix VitaDrip with pre medical screening at Elixir costs approx £200. One of my favourite slogans at the moment is ‘You think wellness is expensive? You should try illness?’ and this is a perfect example of prevention rather than cure, when it comes to health and wellbeing these days.

For a full price list and further information, please visit www.theelixirclinic.com

FACE | GOING GREEN

I have chosen to go ‘green’ this St. Patrick’s Day, but not necessarily in the context of the colour of the Emerald Isle… Instead, I have recently been given the chance to try out two brands, namely Inika and Evolve - Organic Beauty, which are green in the sense that they are cruelty free and vegan make-up/skin care ranges consisting of products for the face, eyes, lips and hands. 

The Inika products are 100% Halal and come in a luxurious, classy black and gold packaging which is made from recycled materials (and is also cruelty free). The Evolve product is hand made using 99.7% natural products. And as I love all things organic, I couldn’t wait to try out these gorgeous products with no nasties to harm my skin along the way. 

I got to try a gorgeous blush and two different eye products from Inika, along with a blemish serum from Evolve, all of which helped me look my best with less harmful chemicals applied to my face.

Inika Loose Mineral Blush – Red Apple (£23)

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Inika says: - ‘Containing light reflecting pigments to give cheeks a gorgeous glow, it will promote a healthy warm glow while adding texture and radiance for a natural finish’. 

As this blush is finely milled, it allows for a beautiful blend on the skin. It is free from oil, alcohol, fillers, fragrance - and preservatives too, prioritising the health of your skin (which we could all benefit from). For application of this blush you can apply to the cheeks as desired, however as it is highly pigmented - so a little goes a long way. This shade (Red Apple) in particular gives a deep rosy glow on the cheek adding life to your complexion. It was very slightly too red for me, but I’d wanted to try the shade anyway to test pigmentation depth, and in any case, there is also ‘Blooming Nude’ and ‘Peachy Keen’ which would be more my usual shades (check them out online, they are really fab colours). Additionally, if the loose blush doesn’t tickle your fancy, Inika also has a range of stunning baked blushers to help you achieve the desired glow in a way that is suited to you.

Inika Pressed Mineral Eye Shadow Duo – Gold Oyster (£22)

Inka says: - ‘Each shadow boasts a high performance mineral colour that is rich in pigment, crease-proof and long lasting.’

This gorgeous warm toned duo shade is the perfect ‘go-to’ eye shadow, as you can easily use both shades to create a simple yet stunning every day look (which you can also pop in your handbag). The shadows are great for sensitive eyes as there are no added harmful chemicals and as they are ‘crease free’, those of us with hooded eyes or matured skin can rely on these without fear of smudges or a dreaded patchy eye look. For application, Team Inika recommends that you use a base - the Inika Perfection Concealer, or simply your preferred concealer or primer, for best results. The pigment of this particular shadow is nice and natural, which allows for building the product’s intensity as you like it, plus it makes blending easy - mistakes are easily fixed.

There is a selection of seven shades available in the Mineral Duo Shadow collection, ranging from these golden warm tones to much more cool tones to achieve whatever look you wish. If you’re indecisive like me and don’t want to limit yourself to two shades, you can also opt for their ‘Day to Night’ palette which offers a variety of 7 (mostly warm toned) shades - perfect for the most natural look right up to the most intense look.

Inika Certified Organic Eye Pencil – Graphite (£14.50)

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Inika says: - ‘Handcrafted pencils with natural plant ingredients and mineral colour blends. Soft and creamy texture that wears all day without smudging’.

With coconut oil as the key ingredient of this product, it is hard to go wrong - and it makes this pencil so perfect for the most sensitive eyes. This shade, ‘Graphite’ is a gorgeous grey, which I think is perfect for everyday wear as it is not too dark yet still adds definition to your lash line. With a creamy consistency it gracefully glides on to the lash line with no drag when applying. I love that you can apply it to the lower lash line, above your lash line, or generally all over the lid for a more smoked-out dramatic effect. It is long lasting and smudge free, perfect for a long day at work or even for a special occasion. Paired with the duo shadows you can achieve a full glam look if you top up.

With nine shades in the collection, ranging from the darkest ‘Black Cavier’, or the most colourful ‘Pure Purple’ to brighten up your eyes, these liners are suitable for any time of day or occasion. Again, if the pencil liner doesn’t seem appealing to you, Inika also offers a liquid liner if that is your preference. 

Good news - at the minute if you subscribe to ‘The Healthy Revolution’ mailing list on the Inika website you will be first in the know about offers and new releases and you’ll receive £5 off your first order with FREE shipping.

Evolve Organic Beauty- Blemish Serum (£22)

Evolve says: - ‘This natural yet powerful skin treatment can be used on blemish prone and congested skin at any age as well as oily and combination skin to decrease sebum production and blemishes, leaving skin clearer and helping to protect skin from future breakouts’.

In other words, this can be described as handmade heaven in a bottle. It is recommended to apply this ‘rainforest rescue serum’ to clean skin morning and night, however if you have an unwanted spot that you need banished before an important event, you could apply this throughout the day as necessary for fast results. Within a day or two, your blemish will be visibly better with little inflammation. This serum is unlike other blemish care products due to its organic nature, and it does not sting or irritate skin making the little extra price worth it. As it’s a serum, I know those with oily skin will fret - however it is totally suitable as it is a non-oil based serum with a great consistency.

These types of organic products mentioned are definitely the way forward in skin care and make up technology, as they’re suitable for sensitive skin and also aren’t harmful to the environment. I most certainly will be going green with the help of these organic goodies in my beauty bag this St Patricks Day. Will you?

FASHION: I HAVE THIS THING WITH SHOES. WHITE SHOES.

I HAVE THIS THING WITH SHOES. WHITE SHOES.

 

Despite living in one of the wettest (and therefore potentially muddy) countries in Europe, I have this thing for white shoes. My First Holy Communion shoes were my first ever pair of really special shoes that I got to help choose myself and, looking back, wearing them that day was probably the first time I felt that now-common feeling with shoe purchases, ie, that they changed how I felt and looked at myself, in the way that a great pair of shoes can give confidence or a wee ‘I-can-do-anything’ boost to anyone, aged 8 or 80. So perhaps there is some deep link back to those wünder schuhe, or perhaps I just like white? I mean I wore white skinny jeans à la Elizabeth Hurley for pretty much all of the 90s...  Either way, these are my latest obsessions. 

 

I hope you like… (Click on the pics to buy) 

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1. Snakeskin Cowboy Boots, £229, Gestuz at ASOS.com - https://rstyle.me/cz-n/cy4ck5cevjp

 

If staying ahead of the fast pack is your end goal, let Western inspired cowboy boots be your weapon of choice this season. The subtle stud detailing of this Gestuz pair, show the world that you mean business while the ankle grazing nature of the shoe wins points for versatility - we’re talking worn with jeans, blouses, maxi dresses or leather. However, cowboy hats are reserved for fancy dress only. 

 

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2. Dxn Vintage Trainers, £75, Saucony at ASOS.com - https://rstyle.me/cz-n/cy4cqrcevjp

 

Stan Smiths set the standard high for the white trainer trend. So high that almost everybody has a pair and while they remain a classic, individuality is the driving force that keeps personal style alive, making saying no to these Saucony trainers increasingly difficult. I’m ready to reboot the ever-present white trainer trend with muted tones and retro runners. 

 

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3. Nike Air Max 95 Trainers, £120, Nike at ASOS.com - https://rstyle.me/cz-n/cy4cvicevjp

 

The Dad trainer, the ugly trainer, the ‘I really need to have those’ trainers - whatever you want to call them, there’s no doubt that the overblown silhouette trainer is taking the street style world by storm. Balenciaga and Gucci have given their two cents on the matter and as for the Louis Vuitton Turbo trainer - that’s a whole other matter. Nineties nostalgia is here to stay, especially when it comes to our footwear. 

 

Styling tip: Wear with an oversized hoodie, straight leg jeans, trench and these trainers - done and done. 

 

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4. Multi Buckle Heeled Western Boots, Miss Selfridge at ASOS.com - https://rstyle.me/cz-n/cy4dcycevjp

 

Fendi, Ganni, Armani and Calvin Klein all looked to the wild west as inspiration for their recent collections so it was only a matter of time before the high street followed suit and thank goodness they did. These purse string friendly pair of western boots serve as the perfect gateway to a trend everyone wants in on. Not far from the classic Chloé Susanna boots, these will allow you to subtly tap into the trend and create timeless looks season after season. 

 

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5. Leather Cowboy Ankle Boots, £99.99 at Zara - https://www.zara.com/uk/en/leather-cowboy-ankle-boots-p11121301.html?v1=5928509&v2=719531

 

No one does designer dupes quite like Zara so it’s no surprise that these beauties look familiar. Reminiscent of Phoebe Philo’s SS16 collection for Céline and at a fraction of the price, the angular features and sleek finish of these Zara boots make it hard to resist that infamous ‘Add To Basket’button. Whether leather or denim is more your vibe. there’s no deny thing that these boots were made for walking. 

FOOD | FIGHT FOOD ENVY AND ENJOY THE FINEST LOCAL PRODUCE WITH THE #IRISHFLIGHT MENU AT BELFAST’S CLOTH EAR PUB

Whether you’re visiting Belfast or a local resident seeking super food in the city centre, then I’d suggest you look no further than the #IrishFlight menu which has recently launched at the traditional surroundings of The Cloth Ear in Waring Street (part of the Merchant Hotel).  The affordable menu, which pairs three small plates of the finest local produce matched with three iconic Irish tipples, costs just £15 per person and features the finest of Irish ingredients.

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Created by head chef Ian McAdam in partnership with the flavour gurus from GUINNESS, Roe & Co. and Hop House 13, ‘The Irish Flight’ has been designed specifically for those who struggle to decide what to choose and invariably end up with food envy when plates arrive at the table. ‘The Irish Flight’ consists of three small plates each perfectly matched with carefully selected premium beers and whiskey which enhances the character and flavours of the food:
 

PAIRED WITH GUINNESS

Salted smoked oxtail potato croquettes
The rich beefy taste of the oxtail is an excellent match for the rich roast character of the iconic stout.

Vegetarian Option: Chilli and olive arancini
With salty olives and smoked Scamorza cheese from Toons Bridge Dairy in Co. Cork, this dish pairs perfectly with the smooth malty texture of Guinness.

PAIRED WITH HOP HOUSE 13 LAGER

Mini brisket burger
Made from 100% pure Irish beef from Country Armagh, topped with mature cheddar from Fivemiletown Creamery. The rich flavours perfectly complement the refreshing, aromatic extracts of Hop House 13.

Vegetarian Option: Tomato, basil and roast pepper bruschetta
The fresh crispiness of the Belfast-baked sourdough base pairs exceptionally with the sweet fruity aroma of this favourite tipple.

PAIRED WITH ROE & CO. BLENDED IRISH WHISKEY

Scotch Egg
Created with sausage meat and Cavanagh Free Range Eggs from Enniskillen, this luxurious mini bite pairs deliciously with the soft spice and warm hints of vanilla from Roe & Co.

Vegetarian Option: Panko crusted avocado
Light avocado with smoked paprika and Achill Island Sea Salt from Co. Mayo, matches superbly with the creamy textured notes of vanilla in Roe & Co.

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Seeking a unique way to present ‘The Irish Flight’, this quintessential Irish bar partnered with John Piekaar, a designer and craftsman from Co. Down to create unique handmade wooden serving boards.

Head Chef Ian McAdam said: “We are lucky to have phenomenal local produce in this part of the world and I feel a personal responsibility to champion that. For the authentically Irish flavour combinations in ‘The Irish Flight’ we use only highest quality produce from Moira, Enniskillen and Hillsborough to name just a few. This is an offering that we feel will be appreciated by local food enthusiasts and appeal to the many visitors of our city who would like the opportunity to experience the best of Irish produce. Open to international influences but inspired by local ingredients, ‘The Irish Flight’ offers a modern interpretation of an Irish menu. We look forward to indulging our customers in this special collection of great tasting food paired with premium beers and Irish whiskey.” 

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Speaking at the official launch event held last night, Jorge Lopes, Diageo Northern Ireland Country Director said, “We’re seeing record numbers of visitors arriving into Northern Ireland and only recently Lonely Planet named Belfast as one of the top travel destinations for 2018. This exciting new menu from The Cloth Ear offers visitors the chance to taste quality Irish produce at its best – the true taste of Ireland. We are confident that GUINNESS, much loved and known as the taste of home, coupled with the crisp and full-flavour taste of Hop House 13 Lager and the warming notes found in Roe & Co. Blended Irish Whiskey are the perfect match for this new menu. Chef McAdam has worked hard to create a selection of beautiful mini plates that will really tantalise the taste buds and compliment the rich character and flavours found in our drinks.”

This new dish compliments The Cloth Ear’s ever-expanding food offering following the recent launch of ‘The Vegan Supper Club’, another speciality menu consisting of three course vegan selection paired with a choice of vegan wine or beer.

 ‘The Irish Flight’ costing £15, is now available from 12noon until 8:45pm Monday-Saturday and 12:30pm until 8:45pm on a Sunday.

FASHION | COVETING THE KIDSWEAR AT M&S

It’s rare that fashion flips on its head and mummies are genuinely coveting kids’ clothes, but looking at the latest swimwear collection from M&S for girls, I am wishing I was 30 years younger right now. (And on a beach with lots of ice cream and sunshine it’s fair to say). 

Read on for my fave picks from this brights-done-right collection from one of the nation’s favourite stores. They look super cool for girls and I am pretty sure, having spoken to a few mummies this weekend, that the size 6 and 8 adults among them are definitely going to be trying to squeeze into the age 16 sizes.
Just click on the pics to buy - plus, remember there’s no VAT on kids’ clothes, so it’s a double whammy, win-win situation if you can fit into them!

Last Spring I worked on a fashion show for MaxMara, which had a tropicana theme with lots of palm leaves across printed fabrics throughout the collection. The theme was evident across a few international fashion houses and made it to some high street stores, notably Zara, for grown ups, by about September.  But it hasn’t gone away, and our recent weather makes dreamy tropical prints all the more attractive (along with aforementioned beach). I can just imagine these two swimsuit options with tanned limbs and tan sandals and an oversized hat plus shades. What’s not to love?!

And if I didn’t know that the M&S garment production lead time took longer than a few months, I’d be easily duped to think that their collection of rainbow swimwear came straight off Christopher Bailey’s AW18 final collection for Burberry. The stripes are bold, bright, sassy and strong and will make a statement on any beach or by any pool - and I cant help imagining myself in that stripe raincoat at a summer festival.  

  Striped Swimsuit £7 - £9

 Striped Swimsuit £7 - £9

  Rainbow Striped Swimsuit £9 - £11

 Rainbow Striped Swimsuit £9 - £11

One last style which would look super cute on a kid, but just as nice on a grown-up, is this Audrey Hepburn inspired sailor bow swimsuit. A classic style with handy pelmet peplum frills to avert attention from the hips, which little girls rarely have like we do of course, so we absolutely demand this style is replicated for us mummies!