MY WEEK IN BEAUTY…

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Geraldine Howard – we will miss you
Stoke Park – Tuesday 3rd May – and I was invited to celebrate the life of Geraldine Howard at her memorial service. The founder of Aromatherapy Associates, Geraldine was someone I always loved to see on those rare occasions we could grab time to meet up, or interview, (as in this short piece for W magazine). She‘s best known for bringing aromatherapy, that previously misunderstood blending of oils imbued with special powers yet somehow tarnished with the same brush as pan-pipes, vegan nut roasts, and Guatemalan blankets, into the modern age. (I hope you appreciate the special Guatemalan blanket in the picture). Geraldine’s oils made aromatherapy easy, chic, without losing any of their potency. A personal favourite was the travel set of mini sized phials of oil, each promising to help you relax, or restore.
Geraldine passed away after a long illness in January this year, far too young to leave this world. At the memorial, I tried to work my way through the considerable number of guests to reach some of my friends and colleagues and – ever the klutz – straight away almost knocked over a picture of her, mounted on an easel. “Oh don’t worry about that,” said a man I later discovered was her husband, Peter Redman. “And by the way, have you seen this one?” He showed me others, framed in those white borders that instantly conjure up 1970s childhoods. He went on to make a very moving tribute to her, refreshing in its humility, warmth, and love. A woman so successful she sold Aromatherapy ASsociates in 2014 to a private equity firm for no doubt many millions – yet what was conspicuous by its absence on this very special day was any sense of ego. A lovely way to remember her.

Spring’s first jog
Richmond – Wednesday 4th May
We moved house. I couldn’t find a sports bra among the various unloved leggings and running tops that I’d packed, so off to Lululemon where I spend the same amount on two bras, a t-shirt and a pair of comfy knickers that I could have spent on the dress I told myself I couldn’t afford (but may have made me happier). I have the same approach to exercise as I did to my studies at university. As long as I keep buying the books, I figure I’m doing okay, I will absorb their contents through osmosis. So I buy the kit for exercise, and assume that’s enough – it will somehow do the work for me without my stepping into it and taking it for a spin. This time I have an App to keep me motivated – one of the many “from 0 – 5k” that allows you to build up bit by bit. Walk, Run, Walk, Run, with breaks for doing up shoe laces etc which I work in on an adhoc basis. They always tell you it’s important to take a break, right?

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Vogue 100
London – Friday 6th May – All the fuss about the new British Vogue cover and the Josh Olins images of Kate Middleton reminded me that I still hadn’t made it to the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, so off I trotted. I cannot recommend it highly enough – and by the way, you need to book in advance and it closes on 22nd May. Incredible to see Vogue, not just as a portal through which every fashion fantasy comes to life, but as a reflection of real/unreal life over the last 100 years, with all the people who mattered, be they models, politicians, comedians (one of my favourite portraits was of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, aka The Two Ronnies by David Bailey). Each decade was summarised with a commentary highlighting the key political, cultural, and social movements of the time, which neatly put the clothes and their models into context. I’d love to have had a bit more space to view, particularly in the earlier period of photographs, where one room was so crammed I by-passed it altogether vowing to return another time, but that just tells you how popular the exhibition is. And of course, coming from the perspective of beauty, I’d love to have found out a little more about the teams of hair and make-up artists, manicurists too, who were so key to the success of each picture; how they all worked together to create the incredible array of images. If you can’t make it down, Robin Muir has written a terrific book supporting it (I get a name-check – thrilled!): with most of the images from the exhibtion and several articles including gems by Virginia Woolf, Nancy Mitford, and a piece by Aldous Huxley – “Beauty in 1929” – “When they spend as much on their faces and their superfluous fat as they now spend on their alcohol and their motor cars, Europeans will be able to regard themselves as truly civilised”. How very Brexit…

Brow-Beaten – Saturday 7th May
I really thought I could escape brow products – my mother made me promise not to pluck my own until I reached 18, and I think I lasted until my mid-20s. (This, in a generation where big brows were acceptable thanks to Brooke Shields, might not have been so easy had this been 1923 say). This weekend’s column for the Financial Times’ Life & Arts section was prompted by the imminent launch of not one, but 13 new brow products from Benefit, forcing me to rethink the whole brow thing, now a £20million cosmetics category in its own right. My conclusion? Keep up the regular appointments for threading at Blink, and you can narrow it down to a tinted gel (try Bobbi Brown, Benefit or Blink) and an under-brow pencil, like Blink’s Highlighter (£16).

See you next week!

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