Monday, 27 June 2016

INTERVIEW: Kitty Moss on art, inspiration and not being too hard on yourself

Kitty Moss very much proves the old adage that you shouldn't meet your heroes can sometimes be utterly incorrect.

An Irish illustrator and designer extraordinaire, owner of one famous pooch (veritable star of Kodaline's music videos for “All I Want I” and “II”, which were directed by her husband) and all-around great human being, she is one of those effortlessly cool people that are made more charming by how genuine and self-effacing they are. Humble is a good word for Kitty though her background is anything but. She has studied and worked in both fashion and art, attended NCAD (Ireland's leading university of art and design), worked with John Rocha, has had her own (spooky and wonderful) clothing line and has worked on illustration projects for Dublin's most important retailers and publications.

I first became aware of her work through an exhibition in Irish luxury retailer Brown Thomas called“Art and Style”, which brought the designer garments on sale together with artwork by Irish artists. Her self-described as “spookily sweet” drawings, though modest in scale and less flashy than some of the other work on display, immediately caught my attention. I was dying to know more about her and we first met a year ago when I requested an interview for my blog. When we eventually coordinated our schedules, I ended up chatting to her while sitting on her couch, sipping prosecco and eating homemade cake. We clicked immediately and chatting to her this time around was more of a catch-up than a formal interview.

Since then, Kitty has undergone some major life changes; she got married and moved to L.A. with her now husband, Stevie, and dog, Digby. “We moved here last May and it's been great. We love it. We miss everyone but it's pretty sweet to just live in each others pockets and be creative every day. We have the little fellow too so it's all very idyllic at times, but spooky as hell other times. I've concentrated on just illustrating since we've been here and I'm half way through a kids book. That's going really well and I have also had the pleasure of working on oodles of wedding invitations, which has kept me busy, but really I would prefer to just work on personal projects like the book.”

News of a Kitty Moss book had me fan-girling and I wondered if she could share any details about it. She laughed at my cautious inquiry. “Nothing's hush-hush!...It sounds silly but it's called The Oinking Horse and it's about a little horse that doesn't fit in and needs to find his place in the world. I'm mulling over a new one too, about a girl with a ghost in her heart...I want to do something spooky next - I miss the spook - but feel the need to do something slightly more commercial first. The plan is to get it published this year, so I've to do a few more pictures then I'll send it out [to publishers].”

Discussion of the necessities of being more commercial sometimes, lead us onto the topic of when your passion becomes your job and how it changes your relationship with the craft, which Kitty acknowledges is inevitable but is “a good thing in a way as, apart from the obvious joys of being paid, it makes you realise more and more what you want to do in life” and doing it all day, every day “will make you even more brilliant”. In fact, she's very good at being wise and giving great, soothing advice for young creatives. She notes that it all “takes time” and not to worry about age or having it figured out – something I needed to hear!

Of course, you can't be a creative without talking influences and inspiration. Her favourite artists include Hughie O'Donoghue - especially his bog images - Van Gogh, Bacon and Harry Clarke and she is, of course, also partial to Rocha, particularly his accessories and hats, show pieces, the styling of the shows and his textiles which she says, "send me swooning". A more obscure influence that she notes, however, are Japanese-inspired willow plates that were in her family home growing up. “When I was younger, I used to get lost in them. I loved the little bridges and the hats. I think they may be the first thing that inspired me.” When I note that her work seems to mesh well with a traditional Japanese art aesthetic, Kitty replies that others have said the same thing but that she doesn't see it herself. We agree that influence and perception are magic things that are formed over a lifetime of experiences and memories, making us who we are and every outlook so unique and different. It is, indeed, a beautiful thing. Kitty's words are more poetic than mine. “I love how everything weaves its way in without you noticing. Like a dream. I still feel those willow plates working their magic.”

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An example of Kitty's pretty, witty and spooky work


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Some of Kitty's design work


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Digby himself

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Primark AW16 Press Preview

Forget all the carefully cultivated minimalism that you have been perfecting for the past few seasons, Primark is serving up the same opulence and decadence that was all over runways for AW16. Think seventies slinky metallics, luxurious faux fur and suede, embroidery, sequins, animal prints, volume and rich colours.

One key fashion story pays homage to rock and roll and glamour and will have you feeling like an extra in Almost Famous. Another is the sleek but richly detailed Athleisure that has taken over Asia and is a little more luxe and colourful than the version that we've been working with over here up until now. However, you'll also find some very nineties vibes running though in pieces such as a denim jacket (the most instagrammed piece of the day, for sure) with "C'est La Vie" emblazoned across the back, bringing up back to our B*witched days; tiny, impractical but uber-cute backpacks; enamel pins of smiley faces, lips and speech bubbles; and chokers.

Of course, elegance and simplicity hasn't completely disappeared, you can also expect some incredibly elegant accessories that look far more expensive than they are: pointed black patent pumps with exceptionally sexy curves; geometric jewellery; Chloe-like saddle bags; clean brogues with wedge heels that remind of Stella McCartney; and ring-handled shoppers.

The whole preview made me remember why I love AW dressing. There is a scope for building up outfits, mixing textures, prints, colours and styles that the warmer months don't allow and while I'm not ready for winter yet, I can't wait to start playing with the layers in my wardrobe once more....

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Friday, 17 June 2016

OVERVIEW: Artistry Summer 2016 Line - Limited Edition Pacific Lights Collection

Artistry is a brand I have been discovering over the past year. I first tried their skincare and, more recently, tested out some of their makeup, beginning with their Little Black Dress Eyeshadow Palette and then the Exact Fit Longwearing Foundation. The skincare was flawless and the foundation gave pretty results but was initially a little bit of a struggle to work with. Nonetheless, I was happy enough with how it looked to be curious about more of their makeup products.

Happily, I got a chance to sample their summer line: the limited edition Pacific Lights collection.

When I first received the press release for the products, I was immediately taken in by the colours and how bright and fun everything looked - really a perfect summer collection. While I never really experiment with different colours in my makeup, the images of the line suddenly gave me a boost of inspiration to try something new.

As it turns out, Artistry are the perfect brand for those wanting to play with colour but who are a little afraid. They are experts in creating subtle, immensely pretty, undeniably wearable shades. I mean, they made a blue eyeshadow that actually looks good...need I say more?

The 3D Face Powder (RRP €28.80) is a solid shimmer brick that looks like many others that you have probably seen before. However, upon swatching the individual five shades and a swirl into all the colours together, you discover that they are particularly pretty iterations of those familiar tones. The shimmer is subtle, the browns and golds remind of dreamy sandy beaches and the pink shades are perfectly peachy. It could do with being a little more finely milled to blend more readily but it is a great multi-tasker that offers perfect highlight, bronzer and contour shades as well as others that could be used in lieu of eyeshadows - the ideal product to chuck in your bag if you need to pack light this summer!

The Signature Color™ Eye Shadow Quad (RRP €40.90), meanwhile, is one of the stand-out products of the collection. The four shades are designed to evoke a summer sunset: a large pale gold highlight shade, a grey, a turquoise and a violet. But calling them these colours doesn't do them justice. The grey is an oil-spill that reflects the light and paints a rainbow when applied to the skin, the blue sparkles like water and violet blossoms. They apply a little sheerer than one would imagine, as well, and this makes shades that might frighten me normally much more wearable. They are buildable, pretty and subtle and the perfect intro to more vibrant hues. The highlighter is a nice touch as it is without shimmer and is just the thing for those (like myself) who have an arsenal of uber-glowy highlighters but nothing a little more demure.

My biggest delight and disappointments, however, are connected to the Light Up Lip Glosses (RRP €21.00). They come in five shades - Tropical Blue, Orange Citrus, Wild Berry, Pink Grapefruit and Red Cherry - and have, perhaps, the coolest packaging of a gloss that I have ever seen. At first glance, they look normal, mundane but they have mirrors built into the side and, get this, when you twist the lid off THEY LIGHT UP. I took them out to show friends last weekend and they screamed in excitement while the dudes in the room looked confused. But, really, what nineties kid doesn't love anything that lights up? Those runners that lit up when you moved come to mind. Kind of branded as a feature that might come in handy at festivals or other summery outdoor excursions, it's really a big gimmick but I LOVE IT all the same! The glosses are nice, not too goopy, with a mintiness to them that is very pleasant but I was disappointed that the blue shade swatched pretty much completely sheer. Would I have worn it if it were actually blue? Probably not but it was a little bit of a disappointment all the same.

Overall, however, there's a real sense of fun in this collection that kind of reminded me of when I first discovered makeup. My friends and I had a blast playing with them and they really do give off good summery vibes. I still think the eyeshadow quad is great for those looking to play with colour but if I were to recommend one thing from the line, it'd be the lipglosses. The idea of blowing some tipsy chicks' minds with them in a bathroom on a night out is too fun!

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(These products were given to me as press samples but I have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.)

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

REVIEW: Lancôme Énergie de Vie Liquid Moisturiser

Up until about a month ago, my skin was incredibly dull, lifeless and sad after the long winter months of little-to-no sun and central heating. A combination of skincare targeted at brightening the skin, trying to force myself to drink more water and some controlled and protected contact with the sun, has seen colour come back to my face, a sprinkle of freckles across my nose and a general, but noticeable, glow to my skin.

While I always battle acne, the main thing I was looking for in skincare products lately was anything that might brighten or revive my skin. Which was why Lancôme's Énergie de Vie line intrigued me upon hearing about it. I popped along to the Irish launch a little over two months ago and was gifted a sample of the Liquid Moisturiser (€37 (30ml), €55 (50ml)). After a couple months of use, I feel as though I am now ready to properly give my opinions on it.

The whole Énergie de Vie line was developed in Lancôme's Korean research labs which was an immediate bonus to me as, if anyone knows skincare, its Korean scientists. Made from natural anti-oxidants such as goji berries, lemon balm, gentian root and others, the range is designed and targeted at a younger audience - millennials with busy and hectic lives, building careers, meeting friends, exploring the world and finding their place in it - and is designed to give your skin a burst of energy and moisture – leaving it glowing, healthier, brighter and energised. This new audience, the next generation of loyal Lancôme fans, have been also considered in the packaging, which is sleek and chic, as one would expect, but also bright and colourful, in vibrant green shades that evoke the natural ingredients found in the products. Furthermore, the line is at a somewhat lower price point, as well, taking into consideration the age and earning power of the customers.

All of these things were expressed to us at the launch and I was impressed by just how considerate they were in the making, designing and selling of the line. The campaign, too, was impressive; fronted by the beautiful Lily Collins, who looked so great in the ads that it convinced me to finally bite the bullet and cut my hair shorter.

Aside from all this, though; what did I really make of the product?

Immediately, I really liked the design and enjoyed how luxurious and pretty it looked on my bedside table. The first impression of the actual product was good, too, with a pleasant smell and instantaneous visible brightening of the skin when I tested it on the back of my hand. The difference between the two hands was actually kind of staggering. Day to day, it does become difficult to notice minute differences in your skin and, as I mentioned, my skin did come back to life but for a variety of reasons. However, I do think its safe to say that the moisturiser played its part. It leaves the skin looking dewy and glowy immediately after use and it lovely as a base for makeup. During the day, it is a perfect moisturiser and I often use it at night as well. When my skin was feeling a bit drier, however, it didn't quite cut it and I think if you have very dry skin, it would need to be layered under something else, at least at night.

If you're after glowy, summery, healthy-looking skin, this might be what you've been looking for. It's not too heavy, absorbs quickly, provides a good base for makeup and makes you look like you definitely drink enough water and sleep a lot better than I do.

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(This product was given to me as a press sample but I have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.)

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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Photo Post - May 2016

I said I make these things more regular, right?

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At the beginning of May, I was slumped in exhaustion. My diary accounts for the first two days are merely a lot of the letter "z" spread out across some otherwise empty pages. Over the May Bank Holiday weekend I napped two days in a row, an incredibly unusual thing for me as I sleep so poorly, in general, and have napped during the day perhaps twelve times since the age of three or four. 

Yet, by Wednesday, I was already going to a gig with friends and had plans for the following three evenings. Sadly, I have no photos from the gig as I've been having trouble getting my camera out around others. I've mentioned before that I stopped photographing everything last year in an attempt to live more "in the moment" but, by the beginning of this year, I realised I direly missed it and that it was something that brought me great happiness and fulfillment. While I am never without a camera once more, I managed to lose the ease with which I used to record moments with my loved ones in those camera-less months. Now, I feel as if the act of taking out my camera and pointing it towards our shared joys is so awkward and clumsy, that I make people uncomfortable and, more often than not, don't bother. It is only later that I realise it would have been nice to have images of the laughter and smiles. And so, I have no photographs of that gig or the people I went with.

The next evening I went to Flormar's first birthday, which was in the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral and featured hip catering, cocktails, nail art and a performance by Alesha Dixon. It was fun but, perhaps, the event that best summarised how surreal blog events and blogging can be. Once again, however, exhaustion set in and I ended up bailing on a nightclub launch the following day. 

Over the rest of the month I went to see works by Da Vinci IRL for the first time in my life with two great friends of mine, went for dinner with friends on multiple occasions, found a bar we want to make our regular, spent lazy weekends at home playing tennis with my dad and hanging out with my parents, enjoyed the reappearance of the sun, read three novels, went to the cinema thrice, got called up for jury duty and lamented the loss of my childhood, felt snubbed by family, consoled a friend, survived a sibling's exam stress, tried to get my sleeping pattern under control to no avail, battled imperfect skin, met kindred souls who discussed said battle at a launch, went to a conference and learned new skills, felt my heart drop in terror and reconnected with people I thought I would never be close to again.

It was a month of serious ups and downs. A month in which it seemed as if not much happened but where a lot of very emotional moments were had behind closed doors, between lines and in eye contact with the people who matter most to me. And it all made me realise that, as much as I may feel utterly alone at times, I am surrounded by people who will do anything for each other.

I don't have images of a lot of the formative moments from the past month, instead I have pictures of things that looked pretty or that made me happy; sunsets, food, beer on a night out, my puppy, clear skies and the beauty of Dublin. I present just these images here, not to ignore the bad or negative or hard moments, not to pretend my life is perfect or easy but because even if a loved one's pain makes my heart ache too, it is not mine to record, because even if plans have fallen apart and I find myself alone, I nearly always relish the freedom and simple joys of being independent and an adult and because even when things are hard, I am loved and supported. 

So, yes, I'm going to be a little bit Renoir and focus on the beautiful things in life.

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