Archive for the ‘TRIPS’ Category

Day Trippin’ with Aesop

aesop-bottlesIf Into The Gloss ever asked me to do a Top Shelf (ask me! ask me!) it would be repetitive but cool. That’s because these days you will only find products by three brands in my bathroom: Korres, Kiehl’s and Aesop – thoughtful companies that I admire because they use decent ingredients, appeal to the senses (nice smells, feel good on the skin etc) and have chic packaging. Yes, this matters.

I line up the Aesop bottles on the windowsill so the light shines through the sturdy brown apothecary glass, casting a comforting glow on the tiles. If it wasn’t for their ‘Resurrection’ handwash sitting by the sink, washing my hands would be a tedious chore. I am a firm believer in everyday luxuries.

So I was more than a little thrilled to be invited on a trip to visit the new Aesop store, out in lovely, leafy Richmond. And when I saw our transportation for the day – a jazzy little forest green 1938 bus which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Miss Marple film – I was speechless* with delight.


Off we went on our merry way on our Venga bus and my travelling companions couldn’t have been a more delightful bunch: there was my old xoJane buddy Olivia Singer, now doing amazing things for the likes of Into The Gloss, and the ridiculously talented make-up artist Emma Day who prettifies people for Miu Miu and Chanel and all the lovely faces you can think of, and dapper interiors editor Talib Chaudry, who tried to nick my bag (not really).


This wondrous pile of glossy green tubes is the new Resolute Hydrating Body Balm which in typical Aesop style doesn’t smell like your average sickly-flowery-soapy moisturiser. Instead essential oils of crushed Coriander Seeds, Black Peppercorns and Patchouli blend to make a scent that’s intriguing, complex and grown-up- quite masculine, very clean and bracing and slightly medicinal, like something you could imagine Brother Cadfael mashing up in his pestle and mortar. Yes at £25 for 120ml it’s not exactly a budget option, but a little goes a long way – this stuff sinks in like sexy, scented butter – and you really do get what you pay for.

meThe new Richmond store occupies a Georgian town house in the village and has scrubbed floorboards, a lovely old fireplace, panelled walls painted in a soft greenish-grey shade and a massive, cool sink in the middle of the floor. Here I am posing more woodenly than the woodwork in front of one of the windows. The store feels light, bright, fresh and welcoming – as if it’s always been there.

If you’re interested in skincare and/or architecture and aren’t already following Aesop on Instagram (@aesopskincare) do so immediately. Their stores are miniature masterpieces of craftsmanship, designed by interesting architects using beautiful materials to create spaces that manage to be both perfectly appropriate for the setting while also reflecting the Aesop ethos. Hey, maybe the Aesop ethos is fitting in with one’s surroundings, chameleon-like, while still being recognisable. It’s no mean feat and not something many brands pull off.


Oh and a final note: there is something endearing about the way outside every Aesop store you’ll find a couple of bottles of hand cream which are there to be pumped by any passerby. That’s a very cool, generous, clever gesture.

*A lie. I am never speechless.

Port Eliot in pictures part one


ImPORTant news…

After a little blogging-break due to day-job commitments, we’re happy to report that we’re taking Pamflet back to Port Eliot Festival this summer (as announced on Friday) after an unforgettable time there in 2011. At Port Eliot Fest everything is in place for the loveliest weekend ever – west country cider on tap, a glorious setting on the Devon/Cornwall borders in the grounds of the eponymous residence and with a mix of highbrow, surreal, curious and inspiring activities on offer… We aren’t any of these things, but are putting together a programme of book/fashion/party salons on Day 3 of the festival, Saturday 21 July back in the Wardrobe Department field (situated in the Walled Garden – too gorgeous) and hosted by Sipsmith gin. For a taster of what Port Eliot’s all about, check out this Fashion Dolls Teaparty preview, the Flower Show page and our reports from last year.

Now for some sundances!

The Impossibility of Snow: Expectation vs Reality in the Alps

SKIING: The preserve of the aspirational K-Mid set, old money types, wholesome outdoorsy-people and Eurotrash! What on earth was I doing in Morzine in the French Alps last week then?  

Erm, going on the most complicated short holiday (4.5 days) of my life. You don’t even really have to know French to visit Paris, but to go on a snowbreak you need to think about ski/snowboard lessons, kitting yourself out avec stuff, choosing accommodation, wondering if you’re allowed lie-ins, thinking of the least dangerous way to get up the mountain…

And if learning to snowboard is always tricky then starting when you’re 30 is even harder. Arse-hitting-piste, bizarre bruises, unsympathetic resort staff, moments of terrifying clarity on the edge of cliffs: these were just some of the trials I endured before sensibly switching to skiing on day two of my trip, a much more elegant, rational way of sliding down a mountain than awkwardly perching on a board.

Part of the reason that I didn’t take to snowsports immediately (in spite of having some beginner lessons at the MK Sno!Zone) was that I’d spent too much time before the holiday thinking about what to wear instead of prepping my legs. My research involved asking everyone I knew what they wore while skiing, buying 5 different jackets online (including Topshop’s terrible leopard one) and sending them all back, visiting Covent Garden’s outdoor sports alley with trepidation one evening and generally attempting to overcome my innate resistance to the idea of practical dressing along the way. If you look the part then you’re halfway there went my wayward logic.

‘Accessorise under your jacket,’ my friend Annette (a veteran of one NYE break in Val D’Isere a few years ago) advised, telling me to tuck my favourite sunglasses, a cute hat and a cool scarf into my many pockets, so that when I got to l’après, bruised and confused, at least I’d have some sartorial self-respect and be able to pretty up my thermals.

But I shouldn’t have let my snowy wardrobe worry me so – Morzine doesn’t really do slope-side chic, which one of my travel companions, Sara-Lee (above), and I realised shortly after arriving in the village (gnarly! baggy! beanies!). When we finally (on day 3) spied a shiny-haired lady with a metallic puffajacket and mirrored sunglasses gracefully approaching the lift opposite our hotel terrace we rejoiced with momentary glee that our ski-bunny fantasies had been fulfilled. Sadly she was the only sighting we got of someone who fit our somewhat quaint idea of what a skier should look like.

So the resort lacked that mythical piste-off glamour, but I was secretly relieved to be able to hide under a hoodie and pull on my Nikes for a few days of snugness and comfort (clothes-wise). Had my pre-trip research been more thorough I might have discovered a third way between glossy-skier and baggy-boarder: Morzine is the home of Retrorentals, a van-based shop (above) which hires out vintage ski-kit in some alarming 80s colour-combos (we spotted them from our balcony one morning unloading hot pink pieces). Several of our French holidaying counterparts looked like they’d been dressed by the Retrodudes as they swished around the mountains in their ancient onesies. Très thrifty! At least if you’re not proper old school you can pretend you are by renting out the gear. Maybe next time…

Le chalet-chic references/inspirations…

CHALET GIRL (2010) trailer: instant classic in the sporty teenromcom canon. Have not actually watched this but believe 2mins watching the trailer is sufficient to get the gist.

Les Bronzes Font du Ski (1979): like a French Carry On Up the Mountain

The Legs have It: Lovisa Burfitt Love

I enter a lot of competitions. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s rare to win one, especially when the prize is something that you want.

Two years ago on a weekend trip to Stockholm it was too cold and expensive to go outside. Everyone told me before I went that Sweden is really expensive, but I hadn’t realised that would mean everything cost about twice what it does in the UK: £40 for a bottle of house wine, £25 for a main course in a regular restaurant. Great.

The plus side of being on holiday broke and sober was that the our hotel was bloody cool and paid for in advance (including breakfast – load up on that buffet kidz!). Decorated with overlapping prints from Swedish affordable art store Wonderwall, the walls of the hotel are a kind of gallery for their artists and complement the modern-retro-minimalist yet comfy-kitsch interior.

I fell in love with a pair of legs* on the wall. There was one set in our bedroom and another in the dining room. They were just spindly black legs with a fluffy tutu at one end and scribbled pink stilettos at the other but the painting had an air of such artful glamour and simplicity I wanted it on my (decidedly plain) wall. (*these legs went through 50 different versions before the artist was happy with them. impressive).

When I got back to London the legs lingered in my mind for months. By the time I got my act together to buy them they were sold out. Instead I ordered ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, another poster pair of coyly bending legs decorated with little red bows (very Minnie Mouse!) by the same artist, the wonderful Swedish fashion designer and illustrator (for everyone from Elle and Vogue to Miu Miu and H&M – you might have seen her sweeping black outline-illos at their Oxford St west store) Lovisa Burfitt.

Then in October last year I got my occasional Wonderwall mailshot saying that a new Burfitt was ready for release and they were running a competition to name it. I instantly replied with my suggestion: ‘Take A Bow’ (referencing Madonna and making a pun on the huge bow that dominates the painting) and they responded saying thanks and that Lovisa was in the studio and liked the suggestion. I was pleased.

I waited. And waited. And in November got an email saying that I’d won. Oh – but some other people had come up with the same name (grrr) but I was the first (woo!). This week the poster  arrived and is now waiting to be framed and hung on the diagonal wall to its leggy sister.

Lovisa’s illustrations share the pure fantasy and joyous idealism of the best fashion imagery. (Who cares if it’s not real? It’s gorgeous!). She paints with the lightness and style of a cool young female version of David Downton or Rene Gruau. If she makes me nostalgic for a pre-digitalcamera, keyboard-less magazine age, then at least it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in the recent-ish revival of fash-illustration books and exhibitions.

I do like having her pictures on the walls.

All images copyright Lovisa Burfitt via Wonderwall.


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