Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It's finally reached that point. I bought ingredients to make cupcakes at Sainsbury's and actually gasped at the price as I handed over my card. £27. Twenty seven pounds for some butter, eggs, flour and sugar. A similar thing had happened in Ikea when they didn't have the shelves I wanted in stock so I just picked up a few random useful things on my way round, like spatulas.
It came to over £70.

And then of course having just been in New York you can't help, when confronted with the £27 for cupcake ingredients which you then have to actually go and make yourself, think: that's nearly $60...I could have flown some in from Magnolia Bakery for that price.

I know I am often wittering on about this difference in pricing when I go to Paris and I'm hardly an economics whizz, but today, I have figures!

In New York I had the lovely experience of careening round the Barney's beauty department grabbing anything that took my fancy. When it was all totted up the bill was less than a traipse around Boots to get some boring essentials.

A small sample of transatlantic beauty swag:

Kiehls' Olive Oil Hairpak - US price: $25, UK price: £23

Kiehl's Abyssine Eye Cream - US price: $30, UK price: £27

Kiehl's French Rosewater - US price: $13, UK price:£13

Chantecaille Future Skin- US price: $65, UK price: £49 - that is ridiculous, who has that kind of money?

I know, the pound is too high, and twenty five dollars to an American is the same to them as twenty five pounds to us. But is it really? (BB feel free to impart wisdom.) Kiehl's stuff basically reflects the exchange rate exactly so I'm thinking they're not exactly ripping us off on purpose. I have emailed them to ask what the deal is but I haven't heard back. But Chantecaille? Naughty. I was talking to a make up artist who said that it's cheaper for her to fly to New York for the weekend and re-stock her kit with Nars etc than it is for her to buy supplies in London.

So then how do British beauty companies whose prices are just as high justify that? They don't have to import the stuff, are they just keeping prices artificially high? I am determined to get to the bottom of this because British girls deserve to buy nice things without "skinting theirselves" as my car mechanic would say.

So there, I am living in a country where we're constantly stocking up on luxuries we can't afford here when we travel, then coming home and paying luxury prices for bog standard basics. No wonder American women look so well groomed compared to us.
So next time you see a typical British woman with patchy skin, parched hair and ragged nails take pity. She just hasn't been out of the country for a while.

I, on the other hand will be all moisturised and sparkly for the next month at least, or until the Kiehl's magic runs out.

And then we get onto the Marc Jacobs syndrome. I don't want to kick the poor guy when he's down (get well soon Marc!) but in London (like everywhere) everyone clamours for all things Marc. It is very exclusive and very, very expensive, like £800 for a mainline (oops, bad pun) bag.
MJ is basically, like all the beauty products I now have lined up in my bathroom from Barney's, out of most people in London's reach. And yet, it sells out, again and again. Compare that with New York where in both Barney's and Saks there were rails of MJ sale racks and the actual stores (the Bleecker Street ones) were just plain weird to girls used to it all being displayed beautifully. Racks stuffed messily with merchandise, then the accessories shop we thought was selling fakes at first, with big buckets full of Marc Jacobs mirror compacts for $10 each. "Why didn't you get me one?" you're thinking. Because they were all scratched and most of the clasps didn't work - all they needed was a Made in Taiwan sticker.

So there's the other side of the coin.

I was once having a conversation with a woman in Paris about why the shoes by a British designer I was buying from her were less expensive there than they were in London from the designer's own shop. She said that if the price wasn't high enough, London girls wouldn't buy it.
I told her she was mad (at least in my head I did, I probably just gave her a funny look).
I would love to think that I like things for the piece and not the label every time but when confronted with Marc Jacobs piled high and sold cheap in every style and size, honestly?
It was all confusing and jumbled and its allure was instantly lost to me.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Since I have nada for you, here are the blogs that have been keeping me going lately, on top of the insane amount I already read daily. See I haven't even added them to my links yet. Poor neglected blog. Sorry blog, love you. Back before you know it.


Simply Photo and Simply Breakfast by the super talented, makes anything look beautiful Jen.

Hygge House

Le Train Fantome

The adorable Fifi (nee Miff)


Sew Green (shiny new!) A collaboration featuring many of my favourite blogettes.

Happy clicking - actually adding all those links took just as long as it would have done to write a post but I am testa vuota I'm afraid. And please don't tell me about any of your current favourite reads, I cannot cope with any more. I will have to hire people to read them for me.

Oh, go on then.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


There was a pop song in Italy years ago by some guy with long hair whose name I just cannot remember, which was titled "I Miei Capelli Sono Bellissimi" (My hair is beautiful) - I swear, even though Google doesn't remember either. It was a ballad about his own hair, a serenade if you will. Someone help me out here, who was that guy? Long curly hair if I remember. That song tells you everything you need to know about the Italian male psyche in just the title. The thought of writing a whole long winded post about my own barnet made me feel a bit well, like the guy who sings about how great his hair is. But, after reading the hair stories of Bluepoppy and Gracia, neither of whom came off sounding at all like the Italian guy I found myself going, "Me too, I have a hair story!" But I still just might come off sounding like hair guy.

So, first of all I didn't mention that I had my hair cut at London salon du jour Taylor Taylor.
The interior has been done beautifully - sort of shabby grandeur; all oriental wallpaper and high ceilings. Frankly, I could've done without the birds in the big cage which look very lovely but for the bird poop all over the floor, "Oops I dropped my comb right in it, never mind I'll just carry on without washing it" scenario I witnessed when I was waiting for my stylist. After that I went all Health and Safety and found myself scanning the corners of the gold tiled hair washing chamber for signs of lax hygiene. As a friend later observed, "Too cool to clean."
That's my only complaint, might as well get it out of the way first. So, I had my hair trimmed a bit and just made a teensy change from having the universal sideswept fringe I've sported for about three years to a blunt fringe. To me it was a teensy change, although my hair, not used to being asked to fall straight decided to boiing up at a 45% angle for the rest of the day, which looked quite hilarious and meant I had to wear a woolly hat whilst eating in a restaurant.

But since I got the new fringe something strange has happened. Everyone keeps commenting on "my new hair." And men look at me. A lot. Especially in Paris. Was I channelling a young Jane Birkin? Francoise Hardy? I wish. The French appreciate being well groomed and now I suppose instead of having just hair I have a hairstyle. Maybe my forehead was displeasing them before? Anyway it's a long time since I've been flirted with, smiled at, given the once over as much as I have since cutting my fringe.

The BUT is that because I must pay more attention to my fringeal area; combing, keeping it straight etc I have noticed something alarming. White hairs, sprouting from my head, nestled amongst the brunette. Not just one or two either. I had one or two before, which I snipped out from time to time, not wanting to pull them out in case a forest of white grew in their place.
But these new ones, my nail scissors cannot keep up with their seemingly daily invasion. So what shall I do, accept gracefully that at the age of 30 I am going, not prematurely grey, but white and "make it work for me", or make an appointment with a colourist?