Vogue Festival

I had a great day at the Vogue Festival yesterday and wanted to share a few photos -mainly of me, but you can read and see more about the weekend event on Vogue’s website (link below). It was my pleasure to join Vogue Beauty’s Funmi Fetto and Lottie Winter (pictured below) alongside gorgeous make-up artist Rachel Singer-Clark, to give advice at the Vogue Make-up Bag Surgery. Mary Greenwell, Terry Barber and Lynsey Alexander had all taken part, so we were in very good company.


It was interesting and inspiring to look inside women’s make-up bags – I think I took more notes than they did! What’s apparent is that women, young and ‘more experienced’, really know what they’re doing and buying. Most questions related to skin care and foundation, which is where beauty starts. My assistant Hannah Paul was also on hand to provide expert guidance (and take pictures of me) while Rachel dispensed advice generously, to us as well as the ‘patients’.

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The Vogue Beauty Team had organised the bar beautifully and I even had my own plaque with my Maybelline NY title, UK Director of Make-up. It was a democratic affair – we had a selection of the latest products from various brands to try out and demonstrate with, plus Rachel had brought the range from &OtherStories, which is covetable and affordable http://www.stories.com/Beauty. I was impressed to find out that Lisa Butler, one of the make-up artists I admire the most, had a hand in its creation.

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One thing kept puzzling me as women were approaching the bar, because they all looked perfectly made up. I told a few that whatever they were doing, they were doing it right, and they explained that the CHANEL specialists had just made them up for a Vogue cover shoot! For £10 you could be turned into a cover star and not surprisingly, the queue didn’t diminish all day. The make-up artists worked cheerfully and gracefully throughout a long day and the results made me proud, as I’d trained most of them!

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I took the opportunity for a wander around the foyer upstairs and buy a Vogue sweatshirt from the Vogue shop (I’m just as excited by the Vogue plastic bag!) when I saw a couple of my old Vogue covers and couldn’t resist a quick pose. All the festival goers were extremely well turned out and passionate about fashion, judging by the queues for the debates and talks. My favourite popstar, Lily Allen, was invited to participate in a conversation with Grayson Perry on the subject of  ‘Good Taste, Bad Taste: The Shock of the New’.


As always, Lily had lots of interesting and thought provoking things to say, which you can read at http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/vogue-festival-kim-kardashian-cover-3302953. She looked amazing and I have to show off a little here because I’d done her make-up that morning – she sports eyeliner and lashes so well! There were many fashion luminaries who took part, sharing their philosophies, insights and advice, which you can read on the Vogue post http://www.vogue.co.uk/special-events/vogue-festival-2014/vogue-festival-2014/sunday.

Vogue pamphlet

Finally, to top off an eventful day, I was invited to step on stage for a styling session with Vogue’s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, who is rightly regarded as one of the world’s greatest stylists. Lucinda demonstrated how she made outfits interesting for a photographer, sharing her inspirations and creative process in a dynamic half hour. Her assistant Lucy was on hand with belts, ribbons, flowers, socks and scissors and I was asked what make-up would work with each look. Our muse was the elegant and joyful model Alewya Demmisse from Storm. We were excited it had gone well and took a photo to capture the moment with Alewya’s polaroid camera. It made a change to have a print rather than a screen shot – maybe that’s why we still prefer reading magazines like Vogue than looking online, because you can hold it in your hands.







Art Holiday in Goa

I recently had the enormous pleasure and privilege of being taught basic art techniques by fine artist Mark Pearson in Goa. He and his wife Nicola have been running an art course there for the past five years (www.artholidaysgoa.com). It was a real adventure in colour and light and I’d like to share a little of my experience with you.


My first lesson was how to work with watercolour paints – apparently three washes are enough. Somehow I managed to make mine look like lipsticks, but I suppose old habits die hard! Later in the week, whilst painting figures and scenes, I learnt that it’s important to know when to stop – overworking can ruin a picture. Also leaving space gives light.


My second lesson was how to work with acrylics, which are a totally different medium from watercolour paints as they’re much thicker. I learnt that white is a body colour – you need a lot of it. “Don’t be tight with the white!” became our catchphrase. After this session I was walking around and identifying how many different hues exist within one colour – such an eye opener!


Mark paints from life and the environment – for the above studies he was inspired by moving figures on the beach but took the colours from a young lady’s sari. He helped me to look at the world through different eyes and reinforced my favourite mantra – ‘taking inspiration from the everyday is a powerful source of creativity’.


Mark told me that if you make a mess to start with, it can’t get any worse! Precisely the opposite of how I work with makeup, as I prefer to find beauty, create perfection and then f**k it up! It was quite hard to let go and be free with colour and form… I kept returning to my safe lines.


One exercise which helped to free me up was painting sunsets as we only had a limited amount of time (about 20 minutes) to capture the scene. We were joined by the lovely Lucys – Pearson and Tucker – and you can see our efforts above. Inspiration below (photo by my husband Tony Relph).

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On my last day, Mark suggested that we work on a big canvas so that I could attempt to express myself more freely, and I chose something small to portray. My husband Tony had collected some seashells for me to sketch and I’d done a few studies, but reverted to working small… they looked like makeup designs. This was my chance to make it big!


We tipped the shells out onto a sarong (featuring the deity Shiva) and set up on easels outside my beach hut. Mark helped me with the outlines and I got going with the watercolours. The paper was quite thick which enabled us to wash off the paint at intervals, a process which I greatly enjoyed. Perhaps I was missing the fact that you can remove makeup at any point and start again.


OK this is my first painting ever (unfinished) and I don’t think it will be my last. I’m not particularly proud of it but my husband insisted on bringing it home (where I’ll probably unfurl it and overwork it again!) At the point when the photo below was taken, Mark had advised  to “Give yourself something dark to react against”. He also said if you give a painting a title you’ll like it more, so this is called ‘Sea Shells on Shiva’.


Mark told me not to take my art hat off when I return home and to continue drawing in my sketch book. Like everything, it’s practice that pays off. Mark said that you’re opening new pathways in your mind and firing up new neurons, a notion that I love. I found sketching totally relaxing and a wonderful way to pass the time without realising!


Many thanks to Mark and Nicola for their fantastic tuition and organisation. Also heartfelt thanks to their daughter (and my assistant) Lucy for not minding her ‘boss’ coming on holiday! I thoroughly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in expanding their artistic abilities and to having a fantastic time in India. It was the best holiday ever and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.