The Vegan Who Ate Cheese

It’s almost like the monk who sold his ferrari, except there are more calories involved in this scenario.

I’m going vegan for six weeks, and only kidnapping haloumi and camembert for the ride.

Here’s the deal, my best friend is getting married in six weeks, on a beach, and during Indian summer. There isn’t just a necessity for me to survive an Indian summer after eight years of not knowing what it entails, but I somehow have to make my body appropriate to wear rather revealing clothes for three days in a row. The agony doesn’t just end there, on top of all this, Netflix is single-handily ruining my life. Continue reading “The Vegan Who Ate Cheese”

Tips on Finding Your Signature Scent

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Holding the power to flash memories from the past, ignite feelings you were hoping to forget and poking nostalgia through the mere sense of smell, a whiff from a perfume strip is mightier than anticipated.

A spritz on the wrist was traditionally done to camouflage bad smell from the body, but over time, it’s become a symbol of status and personality.

We wear perfume to complement our own odour, rather than to mask the natural essence of our skin. But what is the smell that we want to leave behind? Do we want perfume to add character to our existing self or are we looking to recreate a new individual? Almost, like an alter ego.

choosing a signature scent

History of perfumes

Egyptians get a big chink of credit for making perfumes part of their lifestyle around the 6th century. They used real flower petals, food spices and cooking oil to create various scents that were applied by both men and women on their body, pre and post bath.

Then Cleopatra came into the picture and gave perfumes an equation of pure luxury and class, by laying in the bathtub and soaking herself in aromatic essential oils.

This craze for a splash of liquid spread to Syria, Lebanon, Italy, England and, of course, France where Marie Antoinette took serious notes on what she wanted her signature scent to be.

About 200 years ago, inspired by the flower garden of Palace of Versailles, Marie Antoinette got Parisian perfume-house Lubin to put together a custom-made scent for her and keep it a top-secret (now back on the market as Black Jade).

But in the world of fashion, it all commercially started in the 1920s, when Ernest Beaux created Chanel No.5 for Coco Chanel. Coco was famously quoted saying that a woman should wear perfume whenever she hoped to be kissed.

Truly so, perfumes are a tool of allurement; a scent ignites the fire of sex and sensuality – both in men and women. A perfume should entail a scent that makes you feel sexy and wanted. Its initial inhalation needs to levitate to a cloud of pleasure and contentment, a place where the mental metaphors go wild. A perfume should make you want to daydream two seasons ahead, the crispness of spring needs to come alive on your skin, while you should also be embraced by the dead warmth of autumn.

Rise of celebrity perfumes

So, this brings us to how to choose a scent: your signature scent, so to speak.

Do you stick with classics from the rulebook or let a celebrity dictate your senses?

Elizabeth Taylor launched the celebrity-fragrance phenomenon in 1991 with White Diamonds, and ever since, it’s become a ritual to launch a perfume for every big screen star. They don’t even have to be a superstar to do so.

Till date, Jennifer Lopez has released 16 perfumes, Celine Dion is close at 15 releases and Paris Hilton has 11 perfume titles to her name (with three for men). These numbers provide evidence for celebrity perfumes not being an alien concept anymore, be it a boy band or a mega Hollywood star.

As a consumer of pop culture, are we inclined to buy a fragrance that is bottled with fame? Surely, the prolific perfumes are attached with an aura of entertainment. Obviously, we don’t expect a tall bottle to burst out in a song, but we do relate them to a music album or movie. It reinstates our faith in the said celebrity and the bottle on the dressing table gets an image.
How could you not trust Justin Bieber to launch a top-quality perfume?

Luxury brand perfumes

But in all seriousness, where does this leave mainstream luxurious brands? Fashion houses like Elizabeth Arden, Christian Dior, Tom Ford and Gucci, who’ve been the trendsetters in the fragrance industry, are now competing in a market inundated with Disney kid stars with anime-shaped perfume bottles. Their exquisitely styled and photographed campaign images with the season’s top model, might get the consumer roaring towards their individual counters, but it still gets down to solving the dilemma between Beyonce’s latest and Chloe’s top-seller.

Has the perfume industry lost its niche with an avalanche of options readily available at airport counters? Would swimming in a sea of Chanel No. 5 still be considered a novelty? Or would you rather pick an obviously chosen scent, so when next time you walk on the street, people recognise you as Rihanna’s doppelganger?

Build your own perfume personality

A fragrance really needs to be about what you want to smell like, as opposed to who. Be it freshly cut grass, a vanilla milkshake or your Grandparent’s ancestral home, the linger in the air needs to be about the top, middle and bottom notes in the fragrance, not the name on the bottle.

And while you’re choosing that signature scent, you need to acquaint it with your natural scent. Adding your own personality to the perfume is, somehow, more valuable than letting a luxurious label introduce itself to the crowd. When you’re stuck in an elevator, would you want people to say, “Oh, she’s wearing CK One,” or would you rather have them insinuate the fragrance in an embrace?

It honestly comes down to a personal choice of letting your aura decide who you want to be for the day. You could pick the most expensive bottle on the shelf, but it’s all about the scent honoring your style, personality and lifestyle.

You need to pick a scent, whose tantalizing whiff can be associated with you and your skin. Be it patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, vanilla, musk or spicy wood, you need to decide who you want to be that day and what you want to leave behind you.

Over the next few weeks, will take you on a beautifully scented tour of perfumes. We’ll feature season’s top fragrances, do perfume reviews and help you find your personality via a simple spritz. Do come back for more.

Five tips to picking a scent

  1. The Perfume Jargon: These are difficult to understand, without a doubt, so here’s your perfume counter cheat sheet. Ranked from strongest to lightest – Parfum, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne and perfume mist. Parfum is the richest, most authentic form of perfume with 15-20% of aromatic compounds, while Eau de Toilette is the most commonly worn type (5-15% of aromatic compounds).
  2. Try it on your skin: As tempting as walking around a departmental store with 20 differently scented paper strips sounds, you need to try the perfume on your skin before heading to the checkout counter. Every person’s skin pH is unique; you won’t get its true flavours unless you let the fragrance seep through your skin.
  3. Give it time: It takes at least five minutes to smell more than the top notes of the fragrance, and about 20 minutes to get to the bottom notes. Spray it on your skin and walk around the store (or airport), if needed. No rash purchases here.
  4. Keep the Coffee Beans Close: Remember that perfume shopping can get overwhelming. Don’t be like a child in a toy store; slow down with testing perfumes on your arm. It’s also advisable to keep the container of coffee beans handy; it’s crucial to neutralise your senses every now and again. Smell the coffee beans.
  5. Go outside: The aromatic oils in perfumes react to the heat on the skin and your surroundings. If you’re testing them in an air-conditioned room, you might not get the real sense of how the perfume reacts on your skin. If possible, head outside for a few minutes and get used to the scent on your skin. Even better, if you come back the next day to finalise your purchase.

‘Hat’ she known!

Pippa Middleton, Prince Harry, the permanently-shocked Grace – kindly step aside. Even though you all may look glorious on a magazine cover, post-wedding, Princess Beatrice’s wedding attire is still on everyone’s mind. No one can seem to get enough of it.

Philip Treacy designed hats for the majority of women present in the wedding chapel. I bet he wasn’t expecting one of his creations to be the laughing matter for the world. Especially when the media is talking about where Will and Kate are honeymooning (or whether Kate will sport a bikini), the public is busy photoshopping a toilet seat, an octopus, a cat, a horse and even Osama’s face on Beatrice’s poor choice of accessory.

Initially, I felt sorry for Beatrice. Her quirky style was obviously not being acknowledged. But not after I saw this ebay page. Her atrocious hat is being auctioned on ebay! And would you believe, it’s for a good cause. The money raised from the highest bid goes to UNICEF and Children in Crisis.

Interestingly enough, it has already got 64 bids with £18,400(GBP) being the highest till now. Can’t wait to see who nabs this one.
Maybe Lady Gaga’s stylist has her eye on it?

Image Credits – Google Images

Stealing your Blush

Remember the time when your mum didn’t let you wear eyeliner to school. Not even a subtle dust of black kohl.

I don’t know about your mother, but mine made sure that my high school memories were make-up free. I was appreciative of the ‘anti-foundation’ movement for 20 years of my life. Almost 20. Babies don’t wear make-up, right? Unless you’re watching Toddlers and Tiaras.

I didn’t know what an ‘illuminator’ was until two year ago. My first attempt at applying a liquid eyeliner resulted in several tears. Several. I am yet to perfect GHD curls. I’ll never know the correct way of washing make-up brushes. It was only three weeks ago when a rosy-red lipstick peeped from my beauty cupboard and smiled at me.
We are currently standing on a giant beauty intersection. Look right and there’s a beauty blogger. Look left and a make-up counter with a fountain of products is glaring at you. Look up and there’s a beauty editor waving at you. Look down and you’ve shit your pants with beauty-related anxiety. There is so much information for our tiny brains that no matter how many hair masques we apply, majority of us will undergo pre-mature balding.
However, women will always be women. We still want someone to tell us what perfume to spritz on a crisp autumn day. We just can’t get enough.

Which is why, I am joining a very talented crew and adding my shrieking voice to the beautified conversation.
Ladies (and gentlemen, who are interested in our world), I am The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide’s brand new Beauty Intern.

Sparkling new. Just rinsed myself with Spray n Wipe. Fresh out of the oven.

This unexpected gig landed in my inbox over the weekend and it surprised the bronzer out of me. I have been a MWSG reader for over two years now. I was one of those annoying, unlucky readers who commented on every post and entered every competition. The kind who never win anything but retweet every post.

Today, I’m chuffed to be a part of the website. The Beauty editor, Jo Davy, and I share a similar vision for the website and its beauty department. We look forward to bringing the very best of beauty to your computer screens/iPads/iPhones/dodgy Sony Ericssons.

All you have to do is, ‘like’ the Facebook page, so you can stay updated with all the Modern beauty yarns. Duh. I’m not trying to promote a prize giveaway here.

Then send me some macarons, so I can start researching about…. how macarons assist in beauty writing.

Read my bio OVER HERE.

Work Experience Explosion

Raise your hand if you want to grab one week worth of work experience in Australia’s top-selling fashion and lifestyle magazine? I don’t see a single hand down. I thought so.

Raise your hand if you were fortunate enough to get a few months of internship in the beauty or fashion section of Australia’s top-selling fashion and lifestyle magazine? There are quite a few hands up. I knew it.

Thanks to Lauren Conrad, Emily Weiss, and more recently, Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl – the entire concept of ‘work experience’ and ‘magazine internship’ is revolutionised. It is not just something that is recommended to university students who are studying a Journalism or Communication degree. It is a dream of every Sportsgirl-clad, magazine-hoarding, still-living-at-home girl. Excuse my stereotype, but it is the ultimate truth. Every one wants to be part of the glossy pages. The fictional character of Anne Hathaway in the infamous The Devil Wears Prada, added more fuel to the fire. She made us believe that every employee/intern gets free stuff from the fashion cupboards. If only. Every one wants to be one of the characters from The Hills. Truth be told, I never watched that show. Mainly because they bring nothing fresh or exciting to the world of reality television. They are cliché, dumb and badly scripted. Nothing “real” about reality TV is portrayed. It is overpowered by Jimmy Choo wearing blonde bimbos who think they know everything about fashion and journalism. Leave aside their Hollywood-styled attire, I can place bets on their incapability to have a minute-long intellectual conversation. It breaks my heart and burns my degree to see them strutting down magazine offices.

When I was told to look for work experience in my first year of uni by a very humble lecturer, I hunt down the community newspaper’s office and wrote about cows, income tax and army barracks. I got free coffee and tea. It counts, right? I knew getting a spot at a magazine HQ in Sydney would be close to impossible. But had I known that it would be SO high in demand, I would have asked my mum to book me in when I was learning how to crawl.

Zoe Foster – one of my favourite writers – her journey to the world of shiny pages is induced with luck. Mia Freedman got in after she harassed the life out of the magazine’s editorial coordinator. But luck followed her. And so it tailed behind Paula Joye, Sarah Wilson, Elizabeth Renkert… I can keep naming names. A nice blend of luck, shiny networks, an outgoing personality, 52-weeks of free work and great hair is what you need to get into this industry. It’s not always about the hair though (I bloody hope not).

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not mocking the idea of working for free in magazines to get my foot in the door. I am pro-work experience and internship. Always have been. I did some last year and I fully intend on doing more in 2011. But you can say that I am disappointed with the mind-blasting competition that surrounds us today. Every girl in a newsagency wants to be part of the masthead. Every girl on the train wants a cupboard full on free clothes and products (dream on, baby). And going with the latest trend, every girl wants to be on the set of Arena‘s new reality show – Park Street. Wait till the show is aired, I’ll pray for all the five magazines’ editorial coordinators. Their phone and inbox will ring off the hook. Just you wait and watch.

This post is a follow up to my recent email/phone conversation with [insert Australia’s top-selling women’s fashion magazine title]’s editorial coordinator. Since I’m moving to the city of dreams in four days (eeeeekkkkk), I am trying to organise some work experience. The reply I received was ridiculously unexpected. I was told – “I’m sorry but we’re booked till January 27, 2012. There isn’t a single week free”. Now that means two work experience girls per week for 52 weeks. You do the math – but that sounds crazy to me!

If only I had the courage to look beyond my local community newspaper when I started uni, I would have a pretty heavy resume as of today. And if only someone had told me to watch The Hills.

Damn you all trashy TV addicts!

Image Credit 1. 2.