Tuesday, 30 October 2012

This week's recommendation

Dear readers,

today, just a short note... (Wow, that will make a change after the über-lengthy article I wrote about Frakenweenie!)

Recently, I went to I am Harlequin's gig at the Strongroom bar. I had never set foot into that place in Shoreditch but it was like home straight away.
My type of venue.
Not too hip, not full of chavs or bling bling people.
I felt at ease with the people there. I think I'm going to hang out there more often. It might become my new HQ.

'I am Harlequin', a.k.a Anne Freier, is from Germany and has written her first English song at the age of 7. Her music has featured on the UK hit series Skins. In my eyes, she has a very original voice, which reminds me of Kate Bush's or Florence Welsh's. Personally, I am much more drawn to that kind of tone than voices calibrated for musicals; you know, the crystal-like voices that are so pure and reach so high... Blah. 
She also conveys tons of emotions when she sings, a skill that even myself as a singer find hard to possess. 
Anne was accompanied by talented musicians and sang a few of the finest songs in her repertoire.
Tonight I want to recommend to you WILD ONE, my favourite track by her.
Her live version performed in Bethnal Green is utterly superb:

A song that will certainly be the soundtrack of my long winter months...

She also has a really cool track with a 80s vibe called 'Something else' which is very dancy live. I even got caught on camera 'shaking that ass', as Groove Armada once put it. So my little boogie was immortalized on film and I got to talk with the singer who's really sweet. She's an artist who communicates with her audience. I really value that. 

Please check her website, guys!  And if she's got a gig in your area, make sure to attend. By the end of the night, you'll be enchanted!


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Frankenweenie is franktastic!

On Wednesday, I decided to give another chance to two things that had disappointed me previously: 3D cinema and a film by Tim Burton. Mister B is one of my favourite directors but I didn’t really rate highly the movies he had released in the past seven years. It was actually one of his productions, Alice in Wonderland, which I saw in 3D and made my stomach churn. I kept readjusting my glasses but to no avail. I felt almost seasick and it gave me a headache. I was longing for a clear and smooth image and since that experience, I have stayed away from 3D films. But last week, I thought I would give a try to Frankenweenie because even though I didn’t read the synopsis, the animation looked cute and the black and white atmosphere was an appeal. Initially I wanted to see in 2D but my friend Katia wanted to watch it at the Rich Mix, a cinema in East London and at night, the showings were only in 3D. So I accepted and I don’t regret it.

First of all, the Rich Mix has a lot of charm. It’s that kind of art house cinema combined with a gig venue and gallery which I hadn’t come across in England yet. I guess it’s normal to find such a place on the land of hipsters (Shoreditch).
Secondly, this time, the 3D didn’t put me off at all. I think it helped that it was a stop-motion film, because the image was not supposed to be as high definition and sharp as a normal film. No headache, no queasiness. Result!

And as for the movie in itself, I am not going to write a whole review about it, but I wanted to share with you the elements that made it superior to its predecessors in my eyes.
Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Charlie, Alice did not pull at any of my heartstrings, but as a lover of animals and especially dogs, I was particularly touched by Frankenweenie story and thought it was poetic and heart-warming. Weirdly enough, it reminded me of the feelings I felt when I watched E.T or Wall-E.
The grotesque of some of the characters and their idiosyncratic behaviours were at times hilarious. I particularly loved the scary blond girl with her equally scary fluffy cat. They looked alike with their tiny eye pupils. Their mere appearance cracked me up.

The direction was remarkable, probably smoother than Nightmare before Christmas.
I guess what really won me over is that there were so many cultural references and cross-references to Burton’s own films. It was like playing a game ‘Spot the reference’. The film buff in me jumped with excitement.
This part is going to contain a few spoilers so don’t read if you haven’t seen the film yet, but if you want to step into the screen with an eagle eye, read on, and please let me know if you’ve noticed more references. I am sure my friend Emilie, who has written her Master’s thesis on Burton’s works, will have noticed a few more allusions.
Tim’s obsession with the beautifully arranged and trimmed suburban streets, which featured in Edward Scissorhands, finds its way into the animation film. And of course, there is an outsider, a little kid with jet black hair and a pasty complexion, who does not have any friends. This is as Tim Burton was as a child himself, and a figure he has used in many of his films. Edward is the embodiment of the Outsider, and weirdly enough, Victor finds refuge and builds his laboratory in the attic, just like Edward’s shelter. There is also a reference to Edward’s cutting skills with the mayor trimming his bush in front of his house with big shears.

Burton reuses his common aesthetics of black and white (cf. the makeup and clothes in Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood…) and portraits once again characters with pale, unhealthy and lunar complexions. Victor Frankenstein – named after the inventor in the illustrious Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – looks like Johnny Depp’s previous characters, especially Edward. His neighbour, a little sullen girl, is definitely a copy of Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice, Lydia, with the same kind of sad eyes and clothes. And guess what? She’s the voice of the character! She’s got that perfect jaded-full-of-angst teenage tone. In one way or another, Tim has managed to insert his cult actors in the film: Johnny, Winona, Vincent Price (whose face inspired that of the science teacher), Martin Landau (who dubbed the aforementioned teacher). Christopher Lee, who he adores, as the most famous Dracula impersonator, and who features in many of his films such as Sleepy Hollow gets a cameo on the TV screen playing in the living room of the Frankensteins.

Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice

Vincent Price who inspired the science teacher

As I explained before, Victor Frankenstein is the main character of the extremely famous 19th century gothic novel, and people often confuse Frankenstein, the creator, with his creature. The plot of Frankenweenie is inspired by that story but there are also a few original additions to it which doesn’t make it a simple remake done for the umpteenth time.

There is an allusion to the novelist on a tomb in the graveyard, Shelley, which we later find out is the name of the dead turtle of the Japanese kid. One of the classmates of Victor is actually the spitting image of Boris Karlof in his role of the creature in the 1931 film. Of course, there is the resuscitation of the dog with the machine and the lightening and the famous little screw referring to the cliché we’ve got of the creature, but there’s also a part in the film in which Boris Karloff beseeches his dead animal to “rise”, which echoes the ‘rise’ of the Emperor Palpatine when he begs Darth Vader to stand after his transformation into the armor-clad dark lord. I am certain it’s in another film, where a mad scientist creates a monster, but I cannot remember which one. If anyone could help me in the comments, I would be eternally grateful ;)
There was a sequel of Frankenstein entitled Bride of Frankenstein. The creature finally gets a partner whose electrified uprising hairdo is famous for its white streak. Victor’s dog gets closer to the neighbour’s well groomed poodle, and when their noses finally sniff each other under the fence, the electricity from Sparky runs through the poodle’s body, leaving her with the same recognisable hairstyle as the Bride of Frankenstein.

I also noticed the recurrent theme of Dutch influence that was also present in Sleepy Hollow. The village where the characters live is called New Holland. In Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane sets foot into a Dutch colony. Both places have a windmill which will play an important part in the story. In both films, characters fight on the windmill, especially holding onto the sails. The windmill catches fire and Sparky is prisoner of the flames. This is a direct reference to the ending of 1931 Frankenstein, in which the creature finds himself in the same tricky situation.  Burton finally names Winona’s character “Elsa Van Helsing”, a mix between Elsa Frankenstein, the daughter of Doctor Frankenstein who appeared for the first time in the horror film The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), and Van Helsing, Dutch name and surname of Dracula’s nemesis and slayer.

The different windmills:

The children’s creatures are also references to famous monsters: Shelley the turtle, after being resuscitated by the Japanese kid, becomes gigantic and has a face of dragon. It starts causing havoc and chaos through the city, stomping around, destroying things on its way and scaring the living lights of the villagers. This is clearly a reference to Godzilla, the Japanese monster which first appeared in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film. The sea monkeys created by the fat kid are extremely similar to the Gremlins. They also and gorge on sugary treats and explode when they have a certain food… A massive rat roams the streets of the town, the kind of monster that feature in many horror films. A mummy hamster is supposed to be terryfing but it's actually ridiculous.

The bat that Victor uses with kites to attract lightening is an obvious nod to Burton’s Batman films. In an accidental experience, the fluffy cat ends up merging with the bat he was holding in his mouth and becomes like a gargoyle or one of those monsters you would see in children’s books for Halloween.

The last reference I can remember is more of a cultural one. One of the tombs has the epitaph “Goodbye Kitty” which reminded me of the famous David and Goliath t-shirts featuring an unfortunate cat which always ends up being killed, either by falling into a blender, being stuck in a microwave etc. I giggled when I saw the inscription in the graveyard!

Before I wrap up this article, I just wanted to mention Danny Elfman’s score. In itself, it makes references to the music of Burton’s other films. Obviously, since Danny Elfman created all his soundtracks! The angel-like voices and little bells evoke Edward Scissorhands’ main titles and Ice Dance, the music during the scary moments echoes the strident strings in Batman. Even ‘A premonition’, one of the tracks has a sound which is similar to the alien-like notes in the Mars Attack soundtrack. The thing is with Danny Elfman is that he is an immensely talented composer but it seems that his scores are all the same. His style is instantly recognisable and very pleasant indeed, a bit like Rachel Portman (and they have both made several of my favourite scores) but I guess Hanz Zimmer is more gifted as he produced eclectic tracks depending on the films and I find it hard to put his name on a score whereas I quickly find out with D.E, R.P, or even Thomas Newman.
Tim Burton pays homage to the cult horror films of his childhood, to illustrious monsters and to his own films. If you have spotted any other reference, please leave a comment! I would love to share that game with you and to be enlightened by other film buffs! Moreover, the story and the animations have melt my heart. The whole time I was watching the movie, Sparky reminded me of Gino, my friend Litzie’s dog, and it made me dog-broody again. This is an adorable collaboration between the Master of Gothic films and Disney Studios, the monarchs in the children’s movies kingdom and you should head to see this film in the cinema in this bitter wintery cold. You’ll come out all warm, inside and out.
Update after a few days: I've just remembered another cinematographic reference! When the characters find shelter in the telephone box and the monsters throw themselves in flocks at the box. This is a reference to The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock :)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

La leçon d'érotisme

Today, my post won't be too long because my parents are about to arrive. They are going to stay for five days in my new flat. They haven't seen it, so this is very exciting! They've come all the way from Bordeaux to spend a few days with me, and they are going to help me finish the decoration, so I will take pictures of the rooms afterwards. I'm sure my friends abroad will be delighted to see my little nest. :)
Anyway, today, I'm going to tell you about the show I saw last week:

My friend Litzie, an extremely dancer, used to be in the troupe and performed in Paris and Las Vegas for years but unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to go and see her.
At her wedding recently, I met one of her best friends, Laurianne, a.k.a Diva Novita, one of the pillars of the Crazy Horse Paris. Diva has danced for seven years for that show. She started there when she was only 19, and believe me, being part of that troupe is a massive achievement for a dancer in France or even worldwide. This is a very prestigious spectacle, which exists since 1951, and has been in full swing for numerous decades. They've exported to Las Vegas, Moscow, St Petersbourg, Madrid, Barcelona with their "Forever Crazy" show, but this time, they're in London, and it's groovy, baby... At least, their illustrious act "God save our bareskin" was particularly relevant in this city.
Laurianne was not supposed to dance in the London troupe because she is retiring from the Crazy on Sunday 21st October. The end of an era...
I really wanted to see her perform before she leaves, and fortunately for me and her, but sadly for her colleague, the latter was injured and had to rest so Laurianne replaced her for a week.
I was over the moon to meet her on my soil and I asked her if there was some way that I could attend the show. I don't have much money at the moment, so I couldn't afford the full price...

Amazingly, she got me two complimentary tickets for my friend Sarah and me.

This is us, at the very front row, waiting for the show to start.

Ok, I couldn't finish the post before my parents arrived so I am resuming today, on the very day Laurianne is doing her final show.

There are numerous acts during the show. One of them is the title of this post 'La leçon d'érotisme', which takes place on a Dali lip sofa. I know Sarah really enjoyed this one. My favourites were (not in order):

1)'Scanner' - where girls danced around poles and are not very lit apart from an horizontal light which goes up and down (hence the name).
2) The one where they use a mirror to create reflections of their dancing legs, hands, arms... It reminded me of Dali's 'Swans reflecting Elephants' :)

3) The one where the lights follow the girl's hand over her body and, as she strokes herself, they reveal lace on her skin. The soundtrack for that act is a song by Anthony and the Johnsons and this adds a very emotional note to the whole thing.

Some songs got stuck in Sarah's and my mind. There's this mini act that keeps re-ocurring entitled "Zou bisou bisou", and the theme tune is so cheesy and catchy that you will sing it for days. During the finale, the girls chant "you turn me on, you turn me on", which I have been humming almost once every day.

This is Laurianne in 'Zou bisou bisou':


The dancers are in a fantastic shape and so limber. Their skin seems flawless, thanks to intelligent lighting and foundation all over their body but you cannot deny that their actual limbs are properly toned. Their bottoms are so perky, and they keep using them against the poles, the creepers, the mirrors... I am not into women but I think all the females in that venue had their eyes riveted on those dancers' bodies and found them fascinating.

The Crazy Horse has been such a temple of erotica that famous pin-ups have made some guest appearances for a little stint: Carmen Electra, Pamela Anderson, Dita Von Teese, and the latest one, now in London, is Kelly Brook.
Her collaboration was announced early this week and guess what? I knew the exclusivity before, because when I arrived to watch the show on Thurs 11st October, I saw Kelly just in front of the venue. She was 1m away from me, saying goodbye to some people, and straight away, I thought "hmm hmm, maybe she's going to make a guest appearance". Then I saw Laurianne the following day and asked her: "I saw Kelly Brook in front of the venue yesterday. Is she going to work with you by any chance" and she nodded.
I think it's going to be a massive draw for British people as Kelly is considered a huge sex symbol over here.

Finally, before wrapping up this article, I wanted to show you a few pictures of my 'Crazy Horse Look' I have tried to recreate.

I am not used to wearing fake lashes and I felt like I had butterflies over my lids. I found it really hard to stick them on as well, but it's probably a technique I have got to master. Those are the ones made by Nadine from Girls Aloud.

The eyeshadows are from Urban Decay Naked 1 Palette and the lipstick is Gabrielle by Chanel. It looks orangey on my pictures but it is normally a beautiful Marylin Monroe red.

What do you think of this look? I think it's very dramatical. It's beautiful but I don't think I will have many opportunities to wear it.

I am leaving here the link to the Crazy Horse in Paris: Le Crazy Horse Paris

And I want to conclude by saying:

Photo by Antoine Poupel

Monday, 15 October 2012

Let's plant the tent...

Hi guys,
today I had to go shopping for blouses or shirts because I have to dress in a very smart/business way for a job on Thursday. You might wonder why I don't already own one of them in my full to bursting wardrobe. It is because 1) I hate ironing and I will avoid anything that needs to go under my decrepit iron (and I haven't even got an ironing table...) and 2) the blouses which have invaded all the shops in the last few years are not fitted and billowy. They have that vintagey look; most of them are in chiffon and would be perfect on Florence and the Machine or any girl who's really skinny and trendy. On me, they remind me of my middle-aged, blind piano teacher when I was a kid. Madame Barrière was a brilliant teacher. She taught me everything I know about piano playing, but she was definitely not a fashion icon and looked rather matronly...
Whenever I try on the previously mentioned shirts, it also transforms me into the Governess from the Chase, Anne Hegerty.

Not sexy, I'm telling you.

What I would like designers to realise, it's that girls with an hourglass figure like mine really struggle with nowadays fashion. So I decided to try loads of the shirts that were in the shops and took pictures of myself. For once, you are going to see clothes that don't fit, and that makes (some) people look hideous. Not just the usual blog shot of "look at me, I've put together this amazing outfit in five seconds, faster than Rachel Zoe and her team of stylists reunited".

First of all, the "col qui dégueule" which means "barfing collar" in French. The one that droops over your boobs.... I look so top heavy and fat, it's disgusting.

Then there were others which make me look like a tent:

All of them are too puffed and billowy around the waist.
I found a couple that were okay. However, one was so see-through that I didn't get it (I might later when it's on sale and I will put a vest underneath)

And this one (but now that I look at it again, I am not sure about the draping over the skirt waist)
But, FINALLY, for work, I found something!!!!
I bought this dress which is a combo of a blouse and a skirt:
And I have also bought a shirt and a skirt which were really cheap, because on sale, at Vero Moda (but those, I don't think I will be able to wear them in a very proper working environment, as the skirt is a bit short). At least, I can put them on when I intend to go out or just during a normal day.
What do you think, peeps? Do you like it? How do you find shopping for blouses/shirts? I am waiting for your comments!

The image of Ann Hegerty comes from this website:

Saturday, 13 October 2012

My essential skincare

Today, I have decided to write about my favourite brand of skincare. French women have this little beauty secret called AR457. AR457 is the fruit of a Bordeaux-based company, La Maison de l'Argan. My home region is the birthplace of a few skincare brands, banking on vinotherapy, but La Maison de l'Argan have decided to use Argan oil at the core of their products. They work in partnership with a Moroccan cooperative which produce the precious oil on its original soil. AR457 has a sister called Katima'A, which also revolves around Argan oil, but these products are a bit too rich for my combination skin. I haven't tried every single item of AR457 range. I have never had the opportunity to apply their bodycare, but I have put to the test a few of their skincare products and I have stuck with four of them for my beauty routine.

1) Well - being Care Moisturiser [DWLB]

The creamy texture glides well on the skin and you can feel it being absorbed properly by the skin. When you touch your face afterwards, it feels replumped, completely hydrated. It is not taut at all, nor greasy. It perfectly suits my combination skin.

2) Long Lasting Eye Contour [Look]

Since I started using their very hydrating eye contour cream, I have noticed that the skin around my eye has become smoother and less crepey (I don't have wrinkles, but sometimes when I don't sleep well, I can notice that the skin under my eye is purpley and grainy). Puffiness and dark circles are kept at bay now, and my dehydration lines disappear as soon as I apply this product.

3) Elixir serum [LYF]

Something I particulary like about all AR457 products I have tried is the smell. No, I'm stopping you there. It doesn't smell of the typical Argan odour, that roasted nut aroma that I'm not a big fan of (or maybe in my salad ;)) For me, the predominent smell is that of linden. They might not have put any of that aroma in their skincare, but this is what it reminds me of. And it's like the Proust's madeleine for me. In my house back in France, I have spent all my summers in the shade of linden trees, and I absolutely adore that smell.
But this is not the only virtue of this serum. The texture glides easily on the skin, and as with the moisturiser, you can instantly see the skin getting plumped up and hydrated. It is a bit greasy since it is a rather rich oil, so you need to apply it only at night, but when you wake up, your skin is completely rested and like a peach. Karen Alder, a famous makeup artist, who's worked with Pixie Lott and Kylie, said that it's like ten hours' sleep in a bottle and recommends it to her clients.

Finally, I advise you to use the regenerating care moisturiser [ny-t] when you feel that your skin needs extra attention and hydration. Sometimes, in the winter, or when my skin has been a bit mistreated, I apply this moisturiser day and night for a couple of days and my pores thank me for it :) Dehydration lines get replenished; my skin gets his elasticity back.

I have been using all those products for a couple of years now. I'm thirty and I still don't have wrinkles as I mentioned before. I think that the anti-ageing, antioxidant and regenerative virtues of AR457 ingredients have really helped me prevent the appearance of the first signs of ageing.

In England, if you want to buy AR457, you can order the products from Lookfantastic: http://www.lookfantastic.com/brands/ar457.list

I know it's available in a lot more countries (France, Italy, Greece, USA...) and if you want to have a look at their website, please do:

And now I'm off to my bathroom to get ready for a lovely day of friends, shopping and pampering (I will blog about it later). And of course, I will apply my AR457 products as a base for my makeup. I feel a CRAZY HORSE inspiration today, as I went to see the show yesterday. I might tell you about this experience very soon....

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Well, I had to start somewhere....

This is my first blog post ever! My dear friend Jenny has prodded me into launching my own blog as she totally believes in me and has always been a great supporter of mine.

She's the cute brunette with me on the picture! 

This is going to be a window to my world, and will therefore be neither pretentious nor über-fashionable nor trend-setting.

 I have decided to entitle it "My Life as an Hourglass" because one of my biggest pet peeves is struggling to find clothes that suit my body (which is in an hourglass shape). In the recent years, the Evil Fashion World has decided that they would make people like me resemble potato bags with their creations!
There aren't many clothing items that are fitted or cinched. Almost everything is cut for people who don't have big breasts and who are very thin. I guess that when they start drawing, they think "Ah Kate Moss, you're divine..." and there you have it: my worst nightmare. Clothes that make me look like a tent/pregnant woman/60 year old. :(

Ok, I could raid a vintage shop and start dressing as a fifties pinup, but I don't want to look as if I had stepped out of a Marilyn Monroe movie. Plus I don't like smelling of moth balls :p Sorry vintage lovers, I do have a great respect for you, but my nose really doesn't appreciate the smell in vintage shops.

I will need your expertise, dear readers, to direct me to places where I will find clothes that make me look my best. Believe me, sometimes resorting to personal shoppers who are supposed to be trained to understand your needs and body shape does not lead you anywhere. I remember an appointment with a lady in Oasis who kept offering me blouses and tops which were so unflattering and drowned my figure into an ocean of unshapely material.

Maybe I will take photos of how poorly most fashionable clothes fit me. You'll have concrete examples of what I am talking about!

However, be reassured, if you don't really care about fashion, my blog will not just tackle this sphere. I will talk about make-up, skin care, music, films, celebs, food, decoration, art... Anything that makes my heart beat or my tongue stick out in disgust.

And please be indulgent regarding the look and style of the blog, because, as Robert Pattinson says in 'How to be', "it's a work in progress". ;)