2016 Favourites

As a consumer who gullibly believes the claims of beauty companies, I have dabbled in various products and their claims to determine what is and isn’t mere puff.

To celebrate the beginning of the new year, I would love to share the products that proved exceptional, that I will continue to use throughout 2017!

Skin Care

Clinique Anti Blemish Solution

2016 was the year of acne.  Vicious, aggressive and unyielding acne. Quickly I learnt that  teenagers are not the only ones to fall victim to the curse of cystic hormonal acne.

Thankfully, with the assistance of the Clinique Anti Blemish Solution Range (review available at: Clinique Anti-Blemish Solution Review), my skin has been afforded the opportunity to clear up. I recommend these Clinique products to those struggling with their skin, yet do not want to use harsh chemicals or reach to prescribed oral or topical medications.

Frank Coffee Scrub

When it comes to ensuring soft luxurious skin, coffee scrubs have been all the rage this year. Every Tom, Dick and Jane have released their take on the humble coffee scrub. Meanwhile, I have been the foolish consumer who has purchased dozens of coffee scrubs in an attempt to knock the most popular of them all, being Frank. Unfortunately, said venture has led me to some skin issues. Some of the scrubs have been too coarse, causing grazing and irritation, some have had far too many chemicals, causing mild allergic reactions, whilst the others were bluntly underwhelming. Through my hundreds of wasted
dollars and my many skin issues, I have come to the final determination that Frank is not at all overhyped and that it is about time I show fidelity to the original coffee scrub brand.

The Frank: Peppermint and Coffee Scrub has established itself as a staple of my beauty routine. Beyond the fact that I am a stickler for anything peppermint flavoured or scented, the scrub has an incredible ability to penetrate the skin’s surface to leave a luxurious sheen to the skin (of oil), whilst relaxing tense muscles. I particularly appreciate this particular coffee scrub for post-workout relaxation (as discussed in my first point in 16 Lessons Learnt throughout 2016!).

Makeup

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Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

There is a reason why the Double Wear Foundation is the number one selling makeup product from the internationally acclaimed skin care brand. The medium to high coverage buildable foundation is incredible for both day-to-day wear and for special occasion makeup.

It is no secret that a wide range of influencers speak glowingly about this product (to be fair, I was late on the bandwagon), but repurchasing on multiple occasions throughout 2016, I would not enter 2017 wearing anything else.

p.s I recommend wearing the matching pressed powder on-top so not to look caked. 

Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer

I originally purchased this product purely on the premise of price. Cosmo Cosmetics in Sydney was clearing their Giorgio Armani range (still in date) for a fraction of their retail cost. As a constant fake tan user, I was recommended the fluid sheer in shade three, which is a luminous colour corrector that I mix with my foundation. I love the natural highlight that the fluid sheer provides and the fact that it alters to my individual skin tone.

It is also worth noting that the product packaging is stunning and can easily be used as a decorative piece (as discussed in Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: Budget Friendly Luxury Design).

Too Faced: Better Than Sex Mascara

One coat of the carbon black, collagen-fuelled mascara formula and lashes are full, defined and stretched to unbelievable lengths. Two coats and lashes are even more luscious, curled and dramatic. Three coats and achieve the most intense black, oversized, multidimensional lashes possible! A mascara so amazing it’s Better Than Sex!

Mecca Details

…took the words out of my mouth.

Physicians Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Liquid Eyeliner 

I struggle with liquid eyeliner. Watching me create a winged eyeliner somewhat resembles a scene from the Trojan War. The Physicians Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Liquid Eyeliner is an incredibly thin brush that is easy to control, which is always a positive when working with carbon black eye products.

Mac Lipsticks: Angel and Honey Love

Considering actions speak louder than words, let us appreciate the fact that I have repurchased the Frost Lipstick Angel six times this year!

Angel is a stunning hybrid of glossy pink and nude that provides medium to full coverage on the lip. Whilst I begun using Angel without a lip liner, I soon determined that the shade suited a slightly darker nude lipliner (currently using one from Nude by Nature). Surprisingly, I recently wore the shade without the lipliner and came to the determination that the colour was slightly too pink and youthful without a darker undertone (which might suit those with lighter coloured features).

At the same stage I started reaching past Angel, I was inspired by the infamous lip combo of my favourite blogger and YouTuber, Lydia Elise Millen. I was gifted Honey Love for Christmas 2015 but did not wear the colour as I am not a fan of Matte lipsticks (seemingly unlike the rest of the world). Lydia prompted me try the shade and have not put the lip product down since!

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Hair Care

For as long as I can remember, my best friend has tooted on the horn of BioSilk silk infused hair therapies (which fell upon deaf ears).

Whilst sailing through the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, my hair became dry and brittle due to the effects of the harsh and unyielding elements. In returning from the ocean, I fell into the habit of running the BioSilk treatment through my hair after I washed it. In no time at all my lifeless mop turned light, luscious and felt nourished – somehow my hair looked and felt far better than it did leaving Australia.

Since returning back to Australia, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that Priceline Pharmacy has decided to stock BioSilk therapies, which were previously only available from the American or in Europe.

The entire BioSilk collection including the shampoo, conditioner and leave in treatment  has revolutionised my hair care routine. I would unreservedly state that this find was the find of the year.

Fashion

Monogram (Hot Stamped) Leather Goods

Up until 2013, it was rare to see an everyday working woman sporting hot stamped leather. Whilst some were lucky enough to get their hands on hand painted Louis Vuitton, the rest of us were left googling images of celebrities showing off their initials.

Irrespective of how common and ‘on trend’ monogram has become, there is still a wow factor about someone taking their wallet to bag to the next level. I personally believe that people look at a hot stamped speedy and appreciate it first and foremost for the reason that it is a genuine Louis Vuitton piece. The initials take a backseat to the name behind the brand. TDE and Monpurse have branded solely around the complimentary hot stamp service. The fact that your bag isn’t mass manufactured for millions of people to wear worldwide adds a sentimental value to your item.

Personalising a Trend: Monogram

From phone case, laptop cover, cosmetics bags, pencil case, pouches, card wallets, purses and everything in between – I purchased it in 2016 and I will continue to love it in 2017!

Miscellaneous

Zara Home Car Air Freshener

Having a immaculately clean car is a must for me. The most commonly used phrase said in
my car from friends is generally “wow, your car is so clean!”, to which I hide an inconspicuous smile well-knowing that I vacuum it multiple times a week. I pay just as much attention to the scent of my car considering how many hours I spend in my vehicle in the week.

Zara Home in Sydney stocks beautiful car air fresheners that are beautiful and luxurious smelling. My favourite scent that I continue repurchasing is the wild berries scent that resembles my favourite triple scented candle.

BOSS The Scent for Her

THE FRAGRANCE

INGREDIENTS:

TOP NOTE: ATTRACTION
The fruity and floral Honeyed Peach and Freesia meet in an exquisite, head-turning combination that creates an irresistible attraction.
HEART NOTE: SEDUCTION
Warm and voluptuous heart notes of the oriental flower Osmanthus connect the top and base notes in an initially light and delicate allure that evolves into a darker, heady quality.
BASE NOTE: ADDICTION
Locked together and powerless to resist, the fragrance unleashes an irresistibly rich base note of Roasted Cocoa. An enigmatic element with strong hidden qualities, it offers an addictive boost that arouses the senses, making the protagonists relinquish control in the moment.

Hugo Boss

The fragrance is stunning and no description can honestly pay it justice! I was lucky enough to be gifted this fragrance for Christmas (features in my Christmas Gift Guide: Women who have Everything!) and I am certain that this will be the scent of the new year!

Clarisonic Mia 2

My boyfriend generously gifted me the pink Clarisonic Mia 2 in the baby pink after I dragged him through Sephora on a summers day.

I love the fact that the Clarisonic cleans six times deeper than washing your face and body with your hands, moving at more than 300 movements per second to deeply clean the skin. Unbeknown to the Clarisonic company, their product is also a vital and effective part of my fake tan skincare routine and preparation. The Mia 2 is waterproof and the cleansing head is wide enough to be used for the rest of the body surface making it multifunctional (also ladies, we are getting our cost-per-wear down).

The only downfall of the Clarisonic is the fact that the charger isnt made for Australian powersockets, thus it requires an adapter which can be bulky when travelling.

The Clarisonic has been a constant companion in my self-care routine and I am certain that it will continue to do so in the new year.

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16 Lessons Learnt throughout 2016!

Following the cathartic experience of constructing and publishing Sticks and Stones: 15 Lessons 2015 Offered, I figured what better way to welcome the new year than to share the trial and tribulations of 2016, for the benefit of 2017 (hopefully).

1. Enjoy the small luxuries in life

Whether it be a triple scented candle, decadent body wash, visiting the salon, meditating or using luxurious self-care products – spoil yo’ self.

When you are content with the bare essentials of life, small indulgences can lift your spirits and be a source of gratification.

Luxury is in the eye of the beholder, to some what may seem menial can be lavish to another – indulge in what makes you feel nourished, maintained and worthy.

2. Love your friends irrespective of their life choices

Irrespective of how abhorrent their decision-making skills are, how poorly they have managed a delicate situation, or how much you want to slap some sense into them – a true friend offers nothing less than unconditional love and a willingness to understand.

Never forget, that everyone deals with heartache differently. It is difficult to sit at the bed of a friend falling apart, accept their vices and not cast judgement on their actions; how they’re dealing with a situation, in comparison to how you would deal with the situation.

Sticks and Stones: 15 Lessons 2015 Offered

3. Take every opportunity and up-skill with time

Say yes to every opportunity and learn on the job.

No one is born all knowledgable and powerful – even the most successful people relied on mentors and the assistance of others to perfect their craft.

If an opportunity is offered to you, appreciate that said individual or company is communicating belief in your current abilities and your future potential. Mirror the trust on offer to you and take a leap of faith.

4. Body transformations should be fuelled by love

Physical transformations should be undertaken with nothing but self-love as the primary drive.

If you fail to love yourself through the various steps of the process, you are less likely to appreciate the final result – neglecting all that you worked for. If you are genuinely putting in the hard yards, take a step back and appreciate the ride.

5. Travel often

You return to that adult life, a little poorer, a little more tanned and with a lot less phone memory – but you return with something money can not buy. You return with experiences, memories that you can hold dear and reminisce about and your return with practical experience. You travelled to a different continent and survived. You return with beautiful images of unspoken places imprinted in your head and memories or the drunken conversations you had with people whose names you can not recall and memories of the scent in the air. Somehow you have changed but the world continues around you. Whilst I wouldn’t say no to a designer bag or a car upgrade, experience trumps every imaginable material object said money could have paid for.

I return home empowered that I am an independent adult, proud that I was frugal to enough save the funds and impatiently awaiting the next stamp of my passport.

I assure you – if you are in a position to and there is something you should do –

travel!

Honestly, Is Travelling In Your 20’s Really Worth It?

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6. It’s okay to take two steps forward, one step back!

There is no shame in accepting that you bit off more than you could chew, or that your chosen path has proven unfulfilling to you.

7. Purchase with the ‘cost per wear‘ formula

Cost per wear is the magic formula of shopping. Whilst many dismiss the notion as a ploy sales people use to up-sell, I genuinely believe in the cost per wear merits.

Cost per wear is effectively conceputalising your potential material good as something that can be rented. If the GG Blooms Dionysus Bag retails at $2805AUD and I was to theoretically wear it on 250 occasions within the year, the cost per wear ($2805 ÷ 250 = $11.22) – meaning you are paying $11.22 everytime you wear your bag. The more you wear your item, the lower the cost per wear is, meaning you made a successful purchase.

I correlate this formula with a ‘renting’ scenario , as I compare cost per wear to the renting dress and luxury goods market. Yes, you can pay a handbag connoisseur $300 for the weekend to borrow their Chanel – but at the end of the day you are paying off their purchase.

Whilst I love this business model and would be the last person to criticise it – why pay off another persons item, when you can pay off your own?! Likewise, I would rather pay slightly more and own my own home, rather than someone else’s investment (again, I’ll probably live at home until I’m forty-five, so no worries there).

Buying into Luxury?

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8. Dont let people plant doubt in you

Yes, the blogging industry is over-saturated.

Yes, the legal profession has a high rate of graduate unemployment.

Yes, houses are ridiculously expensive.

So what do you propose I do about it all?

Delete every remnant of my online presence?

Drop out of law-school?

Live with my parents until I am old and grey? (likely to be the case)

Give up on everything I want in life because statistically certain things are hard to achieve? 

Be realistic and appreciate that these are statements of fact, however, an unwavering work ethic, determination and a genuine passion to be successful in your chosen field is a formula without fault. Keep working in silence and have faith in yourself and your hustle.

9. Know how and when to pick your battles

Be antagonistic only when you can afford to be antagonistic.

If you are travelling through a rocky part of your friendship of relationship, be self-reflective enough to know when to back off.

10. Empower, do not compete

Confident women do not hate or compete with one another. These women help one another with guidance, mentoring, love, support and above all – respect.

Confident women better themselves for their own sake, whether they achieve more than other women in that process is secondary to self-growth.

I cannot speak for confident men (for the obvious reason that I identify as a woman).

11. What others think of you is none of your business

You’re darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

Do not preoccupy yourself with the views of others.

12. Write about your goals

Make a habit out of writing what you are grateful for, your goals and how you plan to achieve said goal on a day to day basis. For me, it is a battered diary, full of scrawls, lists and ideas that have either blossomed into something bigger and better, or have rightfully never seen the light of day.

The ability to reflect and foresee how you are progressing is an effective way of holding yourself accountable for your action and/or inaction.

13. The ‘Social Media Self’ is merely a guise 

Instagram has been used as a simulacrum of ones’ life, where over stylized, overly glamorized and deceiving images are used to create an online story that isn’t necessarily representative of the person’s life. For some, these identities have become invaluable with their content winning over vast audiences and attention from companies who are willing to monetise this following, by paying for plugs. Those who work tirelessly on their media presence, often leave their jobs and live off audience engagement and the monetary benefits associated with doing so. It is no wonder why the 21st century lay person is so preoccupied on over-glamorising their lives and sharing it with the world.

I do not hastily point my finger at others, without first looking at myself and how I have engaged in this practice. I am a self-confessed lover of Instagram and I do undoubtedly engage in this process. I could think of nothing better than to put my law degree on hold to post pictures of myself on the internet in lavish places, with beautiful people, wearing the newest and most sought after clothing.

Quasi-celebrity status is what we are all after, whether you are honest enough to admit it or not, is another story.

Looking at Myself: Social Media and the Quantified Self

14. Take pride in ‘breaking the mould’

Be multifaceted; offer different views, opinions and talents to those around you.

Do not try to fit yourself neatly into a box or a stereotype, it is a disservice to the complicated and individual being that you are.

My primary fear in pursuing my blog was how I would describe what I write about in twenty-five words or less. Isawisniewska.com is a springboard for the many thoughts, inspirations and passions that I have. I am multifaceted, as are the topics that I write about. Own the fact that you are full of light, shade and various gradients of grey.

15. Know when to swallow your pride (and be transparent about it)

For the sake of a long-standing friendship, for the sake of your partner, for the sake of your family, or for your own sake – own up to your shortfalls (we all have them after all).

16. Old-school romantics are still out there

Perhaps romance isn’t dead – perhaps, through various disappointments and experiences, we protect and condition ourselves into thinking romance is dead.

Like scorched bushland, our minds become blinded by the desolation of ash and smoke and ignore the potential for renewal.

Similarly, when you find yourself cynically wondering when romance died (and why you didn’t get the memo) – breathe. Allow your childhood innocence to take a front seat and guide you, after all, you never know what is to come next.

Is Romance Really Dead?

Wesołych Świąt!

To the Poles, much alike other Eastern Europeans, Christmas Eve (Wigilia) is one of the most important days of religious observance in the year.

The meaning and traditions of Wigilia are representative of the Roman Catholic faith, the significance of family, the perseverance of traditional customs and carb-laden hearty foods.

Wigilia along with the rest of the festive season is a time of year that I always idealised and continue to look forward to. I distinctly recall as a child my mother  preparing beautiful and indulgent foods in the kitchen, whilst the rest of the family obediently cleaned the house (including the dreaded windows). I have come to value these menial tasks and memories with age and hope to uphold these values in the future with my future family, in hope to preserve the Polish culture in my life and in hope that my children will love the festive period as much as I do.

With that said, I would love to share with you what Wigilia looks like at my home and how traditional European customs and the modern life we live in Australia intersects, creating our hybrid ‘Wigilia’.

Oplatek

Breaking oplatek with your beloved family and friends is an ancient tradition, whereby
communion bread is broken by the head of the family (traditionally the husband to the wife) and well-wishes are shared between the couple, to be continued with the rest of the table. These well-wishes are strictly to take place before the sharing of the Christmas Eve supper.

The Christmas wafer symbolizes the unity of the family,[8] which many consider to be the main pillar of society. According to beliefs, the bond of unity should exist between family members. The father is seen as the link in the unbroken chain of One Body, One Bread, One Christ, and One Church, while other family members join him in this eternal procession. The wafer also symbolizes forgiveness and reconciliation.

Oplatek

Whilst my best-friend and I dreaded the awkwardness that the oplatek brought, and the
inevitable “I hope you get good grades at school” line – I have come to appreciate these moments as an adult, as honestly, how often do we take time out of our day-to-day lives to appreciate our families and wish them well in their future endeavours?

eucharist

Christmas Eve Supper

Tradition dictates that there is to be at least twelve (12) meals at the Christmas table, representative of the Twelve Apostles, the twelve days of Christmas and the twelve months in the year.

Wigilia dinner is to be strictly meatless, influenced by the practice of fasting to show respect. As a result, seasonal foods such as boiled potatoes, pickled herrings (sledzie), mushroom soup, beetroot soup, kompot (recipe available at Eastern European Christmas Classics: Kompot) , beans and sauerkraut (groch i kapusta) and other heavy food groups are used.

Polish people also are to prepare spare cutilary, cups, plates and enough food for an extra visitor. This empty place at the table is to represent those who are far from us on this special day, the less fortunate and those speding wigilia alone.  My favourite memory is when a man dressed as santa walked through our neighbourhood wishing everyone a Merry Christmas was invited into our home to share in the Christmas Eve dinner and celebrations.

Bombki

Hand painted and designed bym-iw-bombkaaubles play a significant role in Bombek.JPGaccessorising Wigilia and the family Christmas tree.

This year my partner surprised me with a personalised hand-painted bauble with our names on it. This gift is something I will always hold close to my heart due to the strong cultural influences of hand-made bombki, and the fact that this is a sentimental object that we can continue to use into the future. He further outdid himself by both reading and gifting me the Zimmermann Circular Link bag I discussed in both Christmas Gift Guide: Women who have Everything! and the Luxury Addict Tag (lucky me).

Zimmermann.JPG

….

Niech czas Bożego Narodzenia upłynie w atmosferze radości i miłości, a Nowy Rok spełni wszystkie wasze marzenia.

Luxury Addict Tag

As a lover of luxury goods, evident within my previous luxury goods post, I thought it about time to publish my ‘Luxury Addict Tag’ post.

1. What was your first designer piece?

My buy-in luxury brands was the Australian label, Oroton.

From the ages of sixteen until eighteen (16-18), I accumulated a vast array of both bags and small leather goods (SLG’s) from the company. Luckily, Oroton have not deviated from their style roots, meaning my bags are still trendy and easily recognisable.

My first ‘international designer’ purchase was the Gucci GG Blooms Pouch (as pictured in Work Christmas Party Outfit).

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2. What do you consider your best investment?

In accordance with the cost-per-wear formula (described in Buying into IMG_3477.JPGLuxury?), my Louis Vuitton Speedy 35 in Damier Ebene has paid off exponentially. I use the traditional luggage piece as an everyday bag, a travel bag, an overnight bag and anything in between.

Whilst the Speedy is a common bag that near every Tom, Dick and Jane of the luxury community have, I appreciate the durability, the agreeable price point (in comparison to other bags) and how versatile the design is.

However, if I were to apply a traditional ‘investment’ approach, whereby I consider whether I can resell my bag after it has appreciated in value, my Louis Vuitton Capucines MM in Noir was a fantastic purchase. Whilst I somewhat regret not choosing the Capucines in the BB size, I appreciate this bag is considered to be the new ‘it’ icon bag for the company.

The signature bag may look simple, but it’s anything but. The bag is a marriage of two leathers: rounded, strong bull-calf leather alongside supple, silky calfskin. The combination adds a level of discreet elegance that is hard to ignore.

Consumers have turned away from monograms as a whole, from luxury designers and contemporary brands like Coach alike, and clearly Louis Vuitton listens to its shoppesr. Sure, some may still want to buy the classic monogram bags, but many prefer the timeless elegance that remains part of the brand’s heritage.

PurseBlog

Considering Louis Vuitton is arguably attempting to incorporate higher price point bags that compete with designers such as Chanel, I would not be surprised in Louis Vuitton introduces price rises at corresponding times.

3. What is your criteria when looking to buy a piece?

Questions that I pose to myself when looking at a possible addition to my wardrobe, are as follows:

  1. Determine whether this item is a trend driven piece (if so, does the trend correspond with my long-term personal style?)
  2. How versatile is this piece and can it be worn with your current wardrobe?
  3. What are the main materials of the potential purchase? Personally if I am paying more than $500 for an item, it generally will have to be leather (with the obvious exception of the Speedy 35).
  4. How are the finishes of the item – is their attention to detail? is the stitching neat? is there fraying? how will the item wear over time?
  5. What or who inspired you to consider the item? If it is an individual who you idealise, are you merely interested because you appreciate their personal style?
  6. What will the cost-per-wear be?
  7. Does the item fit into your lifestyle? For example, my lifestyle does not allow for micro or small bags. As a result, it would be a waste to purchase smaller bags.
  8. Are you genuinely passionate about this item?
  9. Question whether you are merely interested in the item because of the brand? If you removed the logo, would you appreciate the raw design?

4. What has been your stupidest/most regrettable purchase?

$200 aud (two-hundred dollars)  for a gold-plated glass ring. Yes, I was foolish img-thingenough to spend that type of money for the Yves Saint Laurent Arty Ring.

In my defence, I purchased the ring as I knew demand for the discontinued ring would rise, so why not purchase the ring second-hand, from a reputable seller who was offering a receipt.

I distinctly recall being underwhelmed when I opened the postage box. Thankfully, I did not struggle to re-sell the ring, although I broke-even on the purchase.

My second most regrettable purchase was the Louis Vuitton Trunks Bandeau in Rose Poudre.

Whilst Bandeaus/Twillies are glorified in the luxury lovers community, I regret purchasing mine for the simple fact that I struggle to justify $220 aud (two-hundred and twenty dollars) on a strip of fabric.

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5. If you have sold any of your luxury goods, have you ever had sellers regret?

Yes. I hope to God that my mother never stumbles across this tag and reads this response, otherwise I will be instructed to move out.

I frequently list my luxury goods online to recycle my funds to newer and more desirable products. However, there was a huge error of judgement when I both listed and sold a Louis Vuitton backpack that my mother passed down to me. After purchasing the classic monogram bag from a second-hand store in the early 2000’s, my mother never used the bag. During a wardrobe clean-out, my mother gave me the bag to wear. Unbeknown to me, the bag was actually an authentic piece that retails on the luxury second hand market from $800-$2,000 aud. Unfortunately, I sold the piece at a slight fraction of that cost, with the belief that it was a replica piece.

Sorry mum.

I still kick myself about that decision. As a result, I ensure that I engage a certified authenticator before I sell luxury goods that are vintage, or purchased and resold on the second-hand market.
6. What is a piece that you think everyone needs/should have?

I am not a great believer in dictating what material goods people should or shouldn’t have, as luxury goods are just that – an opt-in, opt-out system.

However, I do strongly recommend hot-stamped leather goods, such as those from The Daily Edited (TDE) or Monpurse.

Whilst some may not see these small leather goods (SLG’s) as ‘luxury’, the concept of luxury is highly subjective. I personally conceptualise hot-stamped leather goods as luxury items, as you would not be hard pressed to find similar items, that are of similar quality (without inscriptions) at a significantly lower price. My previous blog post, titled Personalising a Trend: Monogram, further details why monogram leather should be on every luxury lover’s radar.

7. What is a piece that you think is over-hyped?

I echo the sentiments of near all YouTubers and bloggers who have answered this question – anything that is commonly peddled by bloggers and online influencers tend to be over-hyped.

The Gucci Dionysus, Celine Trio and Chloe Faye are some examples of bags I would veer away from.

Further, I would not recommend investing in Louboutin. I struggle to reconcile a designer who openly affirms that these expensive shoes are not to be worn frequently. On the basis of both comfort and your hip-pocket – veer away.

8. What is next on your wish list?

I adore and have been eyeing off the Zimmermann Circular Link bag. What I appreciate most is the quality of the leather, the attention to detail with the finish and the fact that I am yet to see another sporting this bag.

Further, I am seriously considering the Valentino Rockstud Heel. Whilst I
recognise that I am incredibly late to the Valentino party and that to some they are so ‘three seasons ago’, I would love to expand my luxury shoe collection with these beauties.

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Work Christmas Party Outfit

Tis the season ladies and gents.

With every candy cane and Christmas carol comes another right of passage for this time of year –

Christmas work parties!

Having attended my Christmas party in the week past, I encountered the ever so common conundrum of deciding what to wear. In my pursuit of trying to put together the perfect outfit, I came to the conclusion that outfit choice is actually pretty important.

Whilst colleagues are accustomed to one another in  corporate wear , Christmas parties allow you the opportunity to express yourself and your love for fashion.

Having conceptualised the significance of choosing a fun and playful outfit, I too dug through my closet and put together an outfit that I really enjoyed wearing. I would encourage you to dig through your wardrobe and pair items that you are passionate about, yet never had the opportunity to wear.

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Shop my look:

Dress: Romeo and Juliet Couture dress available at Trade Secret and/or online.

Bag: Gucci ‘GG Blooms’

Shoes: Furla (available at Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre)

Bracelet:  Hermes ‘H’ Cuff

 

Other outfit inspiration I put together are also available here:

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Happy experimenting (and merry christmas), xx.

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Whitewashing Hollywood

Hollywood film is a vehicle in which sociocultural context can be examined by the roles, or lack of roles, offered to actors of diverse backgrounds, effectively commenting on the social mores of the day. The representation and roles of cultural groups, such as the ‘blacks’ (including the Negro, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and darker citizenry) within Hollywood film, speaks volumes about how ‘white’ America views the contributions and role of others within society. As the “white self is still endowed in today’s world with much of the privilege achieved during the colonial era, the way in which white people are presented [and their interactions with other races] in the media is important for everyone, not just for whites” (Vera & Gordon 2003, p. 2). Influence of casting directors, writers who create hegemonic characters, film studios and agencies, critics, audiences and Hollywood award academies, can be held accountable for oppressed culturally diverse voices and experiences within film. Pigeon-holing of coloured actors into certain formulaic character roles that are deemed suitable for only black actors proves that there is limited opportunity for diversity and black representation within the white hegemonic film industry, that is Hollywood.

America’s greatest cultural export and widely recognised cultural commodity is the film industry. “Hollywood can be read as an ethnographer, reinforcing the hegemony of whiteness onscreen by producing experiences of the black racial types it creates” (Negra 2013, p. 1).  Hollywood has framed the ‘black’ protagonist into certain moulds, such as the ‘magical black’, the thug figure, the athlete with super-human strength, the charismatic sidekick, the ‘help’ or the token coloured detective. “Onscreen and off, the history of the Western culture has typically denied blacks… of historical reference, except as former slaves or savages” (Snead 1994, p. 3). Pigeon-holing actors into roles exploring the history of slavery and colonialism has proven to be an enslavement of black artists in a post-cultural context. Too often the black actor will play the antagonist, challenging the hegemonic community, protected by the white man.  Mixed-race protagonists are typically tragic figures, self-loathing beauties, who rarely find solace or love in the black community in which they are a part of. Said actors are rarely the subject of romantic film, nor do they play roles representative of intellect, power or influence.

“Black skin on-screen became a complex code for various things, depending on the social self-conception and positioning of the viewed; it could as easily connote white superiority and self-regard as black inferiority” (Snead 1994, p. 2). Whilst these roles provide an avenue for a more diverse representation of people in Hollywood film, the pigeon-holing of coloured actors is detrimental to the plight of black artists in Hollywood, seeking work and representation in universal film. Herman Vera (2003, p. 8) concedes “many white male moviemakers are relatively liberal in their personal politics; yet when it comes to racial matters…they still offer up a mostly sanitized and whitewashed view of the racial and other social history of the United States.” This whitewashing in Hollywood has of recent been criticised, with roles created for black actors played by actors of white heritage, creating an inauthentic representation of the protagonists’ experience. Inauthentic castings include Emma Stone in “Aloha” as a partially Chinese character, Jake Gyllenhaal as “The Prince of Persia”, both of which are examples of the black voice and experience being pacified by the white actor.

Whitewashing has been further proliferated in film with the re-emergence of nineteenth century blackface practices. A form of theatrical makeup, where non-coloured people are painted black to feign a stereotype such as the “happy-go-lucky darky on the plantation” and representing the black citizenry as jovial and unaware of the second-class slave treatment they received. The inextricable relationship between whitewashing of casted actors and blackface can be evidenced in the culturally appropriated role of Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl in ‘A Mighty Heart’, outraging black campaign organisations.

As an internationally acclaimed white woman who campaigns for various social justice causes, Angelina Jolie engaged in mild blackface by being lathered in body paint to match the mixed-race skin tone necessary for the protagonist. Whilst Mariane Pearl expressed an indifference to this process, questions have been raised about the appropriateness of casting and whether an opportunity was taken from a budding young coloured actress, who has limited options in the Hollywood film industry. Further, actors of mixed descent are rejected for the binary roles of white or black, as they fit into neither category. As a Dominican with Puerto Rican heritage, Zoe Saldana was criticised forquote-i-ve-witnessed-racism-all-my-life-and-of-course-there-s-racism-and-discrimination-in-zoe-saldana-143-92-60 playing famous performer within the civil rights era, Nina Simone. Saldana was directed to darken her complexion with makeup and wear a prosthetic nose to liken her appearance to the iconic figure. Many groups opposed the film, arguing that this performance was a subtle reincarnation of blackface, whereas others praised casting directors for offering a woman of colour a role that a white starlet, stripping women of African descent of limited roles available.

Founder of Black Entertainment Television, Robert L Johnson who played a role in casting Saldana, compared the blackface campaign to the offensive and belittling practices of the “brown paper bag test”, which saw the use of a paper bag as a colour comparison to the negro community. Outcome of said tests would determine how what social class and institutions the individual would be able to access. “To say that I’m gonna cast a movie, I’ve gotta hold a brown paper bag up to the actresses and say, ‘Oh sorry, you can’t play her.’ Who’s to decide when you’re black enough?” Johnson said (Child 2016, p. 1). Actress Eva Longoria criticised that she was unable to extend her acting repertoire past the over-sexualised Hispanic woman. Increasingly she was denied Hispanic roles as she was said to not be Hispanic looking and acting enough. “Some white male casting director was dictating what it meant to be Latin. He decided I needed an accent. He decided I should have darker-colored skin… so they don’t understand you should be looking for way more colors of the rainbow within that one ethnicity” (Stump 2016, p. 1). Both Zoe Saldana and Eva Longoria alike are representative of a trend denying artists access to roles that they are culturally akin to, uncovering the entrenched biases black actors encounter working in the whitewashed Hollywood film industry. Thus, the Hollywood film industry communicates a limited role for African-Americans or those who are not white, reflecting the social mores and status within the United States.

Few black actors have been able to transcend the influence and oppressive nature of their race and colour, when seeking roles. Leading actors such as Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Shemar Moore, Eddy Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson and Forest Whitaker are examples of this minority, who are considered actors and not merely “black actors”. Gaining this status in Hollywood is considerably more difficult for leading women. In the case that coloured women are offered a leading role, it is too often attributed to their sexual prowess such as the case of Halle Berry or Vanessa Williams. Upcoming English star Idres Elba this year stars in four notable films as a lead protagonist, yet his face and physical attributes will not be visible in any of them. In Zootopia, The Jungle Book and Finding Dory Elba plays a voiceover role, whereas in Star Trek he is painted a different colour and is unrecognisable with facial prosthetics (Buchanan). It has become the norm and easiest way for coloured actors to star in blockbuster films, where their skin tone or physical attributes are unrecognisable. This concerning trend can be compared to white actors and how rarely notable actors are painted another colour or altered physically until they are unrecognisable. Consequently, Elba recently addressed English Parliament about Diversity in the media, recounting “when a script called or a black man, it wasn’t describing a character. It was describing a skin colour. A white man or a Caucasian – was described as a man with a twinkle in his eye.” Calling for a vaster representation shed light on the unconscious biases through the empirical experiences of a man who left Britain for Hollywood, not because he was after greater roles and recognition, but because there were no more roles he could play. Thus, the impact coloured actors can make in the media industry, irrespective of their heritage is limited significantly merely by the physical attribute of skin pigment.

There is a shared responsibility within the Hollywood film industry in keeping film directors accountable for the decisions that they make and how they frame the experiences of the oppressed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (OSCAR) Awards is one the most acclaimed and prestigious awards, dedicated to discussing and acknowledging the contributions of American film to the international community. Over the past eighty-eight years of the Oscars have lacked diversity by those nominated and the honorary members of the Oscar Hall of Fame. For the second year in a row there has been minimal recognition of the creative work and stories of racial minorities in film. Whilst multiple films were released within the past two years following the lives, history and experiences of black people, no black actors or work of black directors and visionaries were nominated for a major Oscar Award. Over the past five years, merely nine non-white actors have been nominated for Academy Awards, with six percent of nominees being non-white actors within the history of the Academy operating (Gray 2016, p. 1). Whilst few actors have been recognised for their work, many fear that these nominations are tokenistic in nature and only occur when the nominee’s performance is so memorable that the Academy has no other option but to nominate, otherwise a major public outcry and investigation could uncover the inherent racism taking place in the body. Further, it was uncovered in 2012, that “honorary members of the Oscar Hall of Fame… that “of the around 6,000 members, 94 per cent were white and 76 per cent were male, the paper found” (Alexander 2016, p. 1). Hegemony within the most prestigious and highly recognised Hollywood award is reflected within which actors, directors and film themes are explored and awarded.

Furthermore, earlier this year, #OscarsSoWhite trended worldwide in response to the omission of black and mixed race nominees in the top four categories of awards, irrespective of the countless films released last year about the history of blacks. The controversy shed light on the institutionalised and entrenched racism and the lack of acclaim given to an actor of a vast backgrounds. In protest, many white and non-white actors vowed to not attend the Awards in the future, until a further investigation and steps were to be adopted to encourage diverse representation. The Academy counteracted the internet sensation by claiming that by Chris Rock hosting the event, this displayed a dedication to appreciating black artists. Jada Pinkett Smith refused to attend any further Oscar Ceremonies, proclaiming “people of colour are always welcomed to give out awards…even entertain, but we are rarely acknowledged for our artistic accomplishments” (Latif 2016, p. 1). Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards Ms Cheryl Boone Isaccs, herself an African-American woman, committed to “increasing the diversity of voices, opinions and experiences” of those who are nominated and awarded (Alexander 2016, p. 1). The Academy further invited a record number of diverse artists to join in June of this year, to counteract the negative feedback within the twitter-sphere and beyond. Whilst the new 322 annual members shows a willingness to allow access to diverse groups, Academy members are still overwhelmingly white, aged males. It is evident that bias towards whites within Hollywood that historically deflected from the plight of diverse groups, has come under scrutiny, in the hope of allowing diverse groups more artistic freedoms.

Hollywood markets itself as an elite cross-section of society, a group of uniquely diverse and talented individuals representing all in film and other art forms. By alienating and oppressing large sections of the American society, the heteronormative, white, “All-American” figure is being represented to the rest of the world as what it means to be an everyday member of the Western world.  It is essential that there is a variation of individuals and actors within Hollywood film, to safeguard the voices of the non-white experience in America and to offer talented actors, playwriters and directors equal opportunity and a chance to achieve the American dream.

Reference List:

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Is Romance Really Dead?

Between my best friend and I, I was always the realist between us.

I distinctly recall us as bright-eyed pre-teens, laying on her bedroom floor speculating about our futures. We spoke excitedly about what our husbands would look like, what shape we dreamt our engagement rings to be and how miraculous and joyous welcoming our first-born would be. We meticulously planned our futures, accounting for when we would graduate University, meet our ‘Soul Mates’, travel the world, get engaged, married and welcome 1/2 bundles of joy.

Much alike any child, we were idealistic and thought our futures were like play dough – with some gentle kneading and rolling, we could create the lives we so dreamt of. With age, came the wisdom that you can not foresee when you will meet a brilliant person, or when you decide to commit you life to another. It just, well, happens.

Heartbreak after consecutive heartbreak, I learnt that my timeline was bullshit. My twelve-year-old self had imposed unrealistic expectations on my adult self, that just wasn’t going to eventuate the way that I had hoped. Rubbing salt into that wound, it became apparent that they no longer make men like they used to. Long behold, the average Joe won’t buy you flowers every payday, he isn’t really into dancing with you (unless it’s at a club), it is highly unlikely that he will post you love letters or use you as a muse for poetry. Shame really.

My bitter realization led me to an adamantly that romance is dead.

Dead. Cremated. Gone.

Luckily for me, a wonderful and ever so gallant young man walked into my life at the peak of my ‘I don’t need no man’ phase of my life. This wondrous creature held my hand and led me back from the ‘I don’t need no man’, to the ‘men are okay sometimes’, to the ‘men can do decent things every once in a while’, ultimately to ‘I’m okay with men…sometimes’.

My partner has taught me that traditional romantics are still out there, hiding amongst
the rest of us. The type of romantic that follows you half way across the world to surprise you (in a non-creepy way), the type of partner that will pay incredible attention to detail and go out of their way to make you feel cherished and the type of partner that thinks highly of you, even after you binge eat a block of chocolate in your sweats.


Whilst I recognise that the average man isn’t as sentimental as my Yian, the moral is you will never really know what another has to offer unless you give yourselves a chance. Our friends and colleagues who have known my partner for many years, are shocked that this romantic side hid within. Similarily, you never really know how another will show their affections and sentiments; romance might just be hidden behind deep within.

To my girlfriends, with whom I sat on the floor talking about the future with – do not lose 14095725_10206608732284927_8936328763877716736_n
hope. Whether you find that one person, who proves to you that romance is alive and raring now, or in a decades time – have faith and be patient. You do not always have to look for special people, sometimes they lay undiscovered.

I can not wait to see some lucky man fall head over heals in love with you (even if it is at the point in our lives where we hoped to already have kids).

Perhaps romance isn’t dead – perhaps, through various disappointments and experiences, we protect and condition ourselves into thinking romance is dead. Like scorched bushland, our minds become blinded by the desolation of ash and smoke and ignore the potential for renewal. Similarly, when you find yourself cynically wondering when romance died (and why you didn’t get the memo) – breathe. Allow your childhood innocence to take a front seat and guide you, after all, you never know what is to come next.