Thursday, 16 July 2015

High Society at The Old Vic

I am a die-hard musical fan. It’s been bred into me from a small age thanks to my mum’s love of The Sound of Music. One of my favourite musical is a lesser known classic, High Society. I still find it strange that it isn't very well known, considering the ridiculously famous and talented cast – Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong – not to mention a fantastically funny storyline and some of my favourite musical songs.

To say I was excited to learn that this wonderful musical was coming to my favourite London theatre, The Old Vic, would be as big an understatement as if I was to say that I was indifferent towards cats. So my swellegant brother (High Society pun) won some sibling points by buying me some tickets for my birthday. We had a long wait (tickets bought in January, tickets for June), but boy, was it worth it.

The Old Vic’s adaptation of this wonderful musical was spellbinding in every sense. The theatre has been transformed in recent years to be “in the round”, meaning that the stage is in the centre and there are seats for the audience all around the stage, rather than just in front of the stage. This immersive style was made even more special with the ‘household staff’ actors darting around as people took their seats. In the round theatre is very intimate and raw, as you are so close to the actors and the action, plus they are at ground level while everyone else is raised above them.

The entire ensemble is noteworthy, but I particularly loved Tracy, played by Grace Kelly in the film and by the refreshingly waspish Kate Fleetwood in the play (her cheekbones deserve their own blog post - wowsers!). It would have been so easy to cast a Grace Kelly-alike to re-enact the performance, but instead she was given a new lease of life and a new look. The same could be said of Mike, the character that Frank Sinatra made so charismatic in the film, who was given a slightly harder demeanour in the play, but whose comic timing was impeccable.

The opening scene also really gets the audience in the party mood and really involved with the cast. I won’t give any spoilers, but it was totally unique and fresh. We loved it and the singer Joe Stilgoe.

I don’t think I could advise you strongly enough to go and see this performance, it is the best theatre production I have ever seen in London (and I’ve seen A LOT!). But you best be quick, as it finishes on Saturday 22nd August and you don’t want to miss this swell party.

You can buy your tickets here.


By Carina Sullivan

Monday, 6 April 2015

Beauty in Review: IPL & HydraFacial at Cranwell House

As I've said before, there's nothing like your impending wedding to make you reassess and overhaul your lifestyle, diet, exercise regime, skincare, hair care, etc..., so I was thrilled when the beauty sanctuary, Cranwell House, contacted me and asked if I'd like to trial their IPL therapy facial. I liked the treatment, the clinic and the results so much I booked in for more treatments then and there!

Charlotte Nial is the owner and director of Cranwell House Skin Clinic in Ingatestone in Essex, and she brings her unique beauty and skincare expertise to all her clients, offering them tailor-made advise and skincare programs to everyone so they can achieve great skin. Charlotte's pure passion for wellbeing and skincare is always evident and easy to see. I've never met another skincare and beauty professional with a truer passion for helping people get the best for and from their skin.

Cranwell House specialises in skincare, laser and cosmetic procedures as well as offering many beauty and wellness therapies in a spa environment. All the staff are extremely friendly, professional and discreet. There is even a carpark and back entrance if you are sensitive about your treatment or appearance, They really have thought of everything to make your treatment as easy and enjoyable as possible.

So here's the science bit about the IPL therapy...

IPL (Intense Pulse Light) therapy is used to improve the appearance of photo aged skin by clearing superficial pigmented and vascular lesions. This advanced technology makes it possible for us to help you achieve perfect looking skin, helping to erase freckles, sun spots, age spots, sun damage, hyper pigmentation, thread veins, broken capillaries, facial redness, Rosacea. At Cranwell House, we use the E Light system, which utilises Elos technology, an exclusive technology, which combines pulsed light energy plus radio frequency energy. Both are delivered into the skin as a combined pulse resulting in a much more efficient and safer treatment. The treatment wavelengths raise the temperature of targeted lesions to a level required for destruction.

ReFirme™ skin tightening procedure is a non invasive wrinkle treatment that uses a combination of infrared light and bi-polar radio frequency to safely heat the dermis (deeper layers of your skin) which affects dermal collagen. Collagen and Elastin depletion in the dermis result in loss of dermal volume, presenting as lines, wrinkles, laxity and sagging in the skin. ReFirme™ skin tightening procedure stimulates long term collagen as well as shrinking existing collagen fibres to give an immediate, smoother, less wrinkled appearance.

The treatment also includes some before and after photos of your skin. The best thing is this isn't about the superfitial surface appearance, or what can be seen with the naked eye, but what the camera can see. This will highlight everything (you've been warned!) including brown spots from skin damage (bottom left) and and red patches which may show skin conditions or broken capilaries (bottom right). A shameless boast is that when Charlotte took my photos before the treatment she couldn't believe I was almost 30 and had so little sun damage, her exact words were it was the best she'd ever seen and I got a skincare gold star for my sun protection. I have to admit this is an important part of my routine and I religiously look for SPF and protection in my mousiturisers and make-up.

So the main issue I had was redness on the apples of my cheek, and this is what Charlotte targeting using the IPL treatment. If you've ever used an at home laser hair remover then you will know exactly what to expect with the treatment. If you haven't, it feels like a quick sharp ping with an elastic band. The good thing is the pain fades instantly and I have *extremely* sensitive skin and even I don't go red or blotchy. The treatment is not your traditional, relaxing facial treatment, but I think would work really well for someone with more sun damage or redness.

While I was there for my appointment Charlotte recommended a complete skincare overall and talked to me about diet, well being and my overall routine. This helped so much and she explained that while I have combination skin with very dry patches, by using rich facial creams I was clogging my sensitive pores and causing breakouts. She recommended a range of Priori products that I have since been using everyday and have noticed a big difference. I now use the Priori AHA Mild Cleanser followed by the Priori Barrier Repair and the all important Priori SPF30 Protector - I will have great skin by the wedding (fingers crossed!).

I also decided to treat myself to their famous HydraFacial, which is the ultimate deep cleanse for your skin. My skin felt amazing, inside and out, and just *so* clean. It's more relaxing and enjoyable than the IPL facial as well, and would be perfect before a big night out. I think the photo of my skin the day after, with no filter and only a CC cream later (above), shows the effects. Here's how it works...

The wet Hydra Facial begins with diamond tip dermabrasion to remove dead cells and impurities, tolerable for even the most sensitive skins. Serum softens, lifts and extracts sebum and impurities whilst cleanses and hydrates the skin. Vacuum suction extracts congested cells and impurities. The Hydra Facial is then concentrated on specific lines to add moisture to these areas, to soften the line or wrinkle, a natural alternative to fillers. Visible skin refinement and an even, radiant skin tone can be seen after just one treatment.

Find out more about Cranwell House, their services and their prices here.


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Lace to Love

I just can't get enough of lace at the moment, so it's no surprise that my Wednesday Wishlist consists of not one but three lace dresses. All three are from Topshop and I'm amazed how luxurious and high-end these beautiful pieces look.

Maybe it's the fact that I've seen one too many wedding dresses recently, but lace is just so romantic and girly - yet totally fashion forward and clean. The silhouettes from Topshop are just so freakin' good. I honestly can't pick a favourite.

From a delicate eyelash lace to a heavy, metallic brocade lace - it's all in the detail. I love the bardot neckline of the limited edition cold shoulder dress and the gently scalloped hem and neckline - perfect to wear to a summer wedding. The tasselled crop top and skirt is a killer combo of lace and fringing and would look amazing in a swanky cocktail bar or at a spring wedding.

Sex up eyelash lash with a bodycon shape and sheer sleeves like this lace bodycon dress - perfect for date night or when you feel like hitting the dance floor.

Do you love lace? Which dress is your favourite?


By Carina Sullivan

Monday, 9 March 2015

F&F spring/summer 15 collection will give you wanderlust!

The new collection from F&F for this season may be their most impressive to date. Moving away from basics that you may pick up with your milk, eggs and bread, they curated an on-point, sleek and covetable capsule wardrobe for summer.

The scene is set with this amazingly beautiful photoshoot, which took place in the Nevada desert with the golden Maja Mayskar photographed by the wonderful Frederic Pinet. I just can't stop looking at the beautifully elegant lookbook - high fashion at around £20 a piece is not to be sniffed at.

The collection is heavily based on an updated 70s traveller and ticks so may boxes of what we saw on the SS15 catwalks. It has an utilitarian appeal that is matched with an easy sexiness, something that only such stripped back basics can give. Sandy and khaki colours are partnered with seriously cool monochrome to create pieces that will slot into your summer style.

There are so many wonderful pieces in the collection, each one working with the other pieces, in a collection that has a wonderful balance and would create a uniform you wouldn't need to deviate from all season long. I particularly love the lightweight, relaxed fit khaki trench coat and the longline waist coat in sharp white. Both would look fab over a pencil skirt or go all out with the 70s and team them with flares.

The collection is in store and online at F&F from today. I'll be reviewing my favourite pieces from the collection very soon - so stay tuned!


By Carina Sullivan