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  • InBeauty, Lifestyle, Travel

    Celebrating Bastille Day with Katrina Lawrence

    If you’ve followed my blog from the start, you will be well aware of my quite obvious girl crush I have on Katrina Lawrence, the former beauty writer and now author and travel consultant at Paris for Dreamers. After the book launch of her first book Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick., Katrina realised she had much more to say on the subject of Paris, and was happiest when advising others on how to get the most out of their next Parisian jaunt. Which is why she wrote a book on walking tours with a difference — Paris for Dreamers: Whimsical Walks Through the City of Light’s Delights — as well as launching the website, to give other Paris dreamers the inspiration they need to have their dream Parisian experience.

    With Bastille Day coming up on Sunday, I couldn’t not speak with Katrina about everything Parisian, and of course her covetable french beauty staples!

    What does Bastille Day mean to you?

    On a personal level, I’ve been in Paris for Bastille Day numerous times: with my grandfather when I was young, with girlfriends when we were all footloose and fancy-free, and a couple of times with my young sons. So I have a variety of memories of this fun and festive day.

    But from the point of view of a Francophile — a lover of French culture, history, food, everything! — Bastille Day represents a celebration of the human right to a good life.

    Bastille Day might not at first seem like it should be a happy event. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison, a bloody siege that led to the Revolution and the so-called Terreur, a time of such frightening and indiscriminate violence that it gave the world the word ‘terrorism.’ But although the French Revolution saw some truly evil men commit atrocious acts, it was above all a fight by the people for equality.

    What I love about the legacy of the revolution is that it wasn’t about dragging everything down so much as elevating everyone up to a better life. Old aristocratic habits weren’t killed off by the guillotine. Restaurants boomed after the revolution. Opera kept playing. The fashion industry kept spinning. People continued to drink champagne. I adore that about the French, their firm belief that everyone has the right to drink champagne, that we should all be able to have a life worth celebrating.

    So Bastille Day is about saluting the freedoms and the rights that allow the French to live well. In France there is free education and healthcare. People are highly taxed for it, of course, and income is not particularly huge in France. But most people get by, and have the time and money to enjoy picnics with friends, long family lunches, holidays here and there, those seemingly small pleasures that end up being the big things in life. And when you’re in France on Bastille Day you see this, everyone out enjoying life’s little joys — the picnics, the pétanque, the macarons, the rosé!

    You were a beauty journalist for many years — what did the French teach you about beauty?

    Oh, so much. I loved interviewing the perfume ‘noses’ in particular. They’re such artists and I now really appreciate a beautifully crafted fragrance, especially one that leaves a lasting sillage — that scent trail that Parisiennes love to wear like an olfactory scarf!

    I also interviewed many beautiful French women, from skincare formulators to actresses and models, and what I soon came to realise is that the effortlessly chic look they do so well actually does require a certain amount of effort! But they know when to draw the line, so to speak — they’re not chained to their bathrooms. They know which beauty tasks require the most attention. So, for example, they’re ultra-diligent with their skincare, and regular facials, which means they can get away with a quick daily makeup routine of minimal foundation (if any), followed by a smudge of liner or swipe of red lipstick. Similarly, they use good-quality haircare, so that if they air-dry their hair, it will still look healthy even if messy. It’s like carrying around an old Birkin bag — it might be battered but, hey, it’s Hermès!

    A Parisienne once told me that she can’t spend too long on her beauty regimen as she would miss out on too many other things that are important to her, such as reading the newspaper or catching up with friends. The key for her was in knowing how to do the minimum work for maximum results.

    For most Parisians, looking groomed is a social duty — they like to live up to the gorgeousness of Paris. I love this about them, the pride they take in themselves as much as their city. Grooming is also a form of self-care here. After all, it was a French brand that came up with the tagline ‘Because you’re worth it’!

    What are your favourite French beauty products?

    • Anything from the wonderful Bioderma. Especially their cult cleansing water, of course, but also their anti-redness skincare, which I find soothing for my rosacea.
    • An Embryolisse moisturiser followed by Embryolisse Secret de Maquilleurs — I usually need coverage on my cheeks for my aforementioned redness, and these two products combine for a great base.
    • Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt. I am nothing short of obsessed with this shampoo. I love the exfoliating action and how it makes your scalp feel so fresh, but also that at the same time it’s super-gentle on hair, especially of the highlighted variety. Also, the lather is exceptional for a sulphate-free product.
    • Suncare by La Roche-Posay. The formulations are as lightweight as they are high-coverage.
    • Guerlain L’Heure Bleue. I adore a thematic perfume, a fragrance with a beautiful back-story, and this is the ultimate for me. It was inspired by Paris’s famous blue light, that vaporous, violet-tinged twilight. Cue a powdery sparkle that dissolves into a seductive muskiness, with a potent sillage that takes you well into the after dark.

    Finally, can you share any Paris travel tips?

    Of course! It’s my favourite thing to do! I have thousands of them but if I had to pick out a few tops, they would be …

    • Just go. Whenever you can. Don’t think you must sync your holiday to a particular season if you have limited timing options. Of course, Paris is sublime in April, when the pink cherry blossoms are in full bloom. But it’s a city that is exquisite in every season. You just need to make sure you’re fully equipped for that season (say, pack Uniqlo thermals for winter), and tailor your itinerary to suit the conditions. In other words, don’t plan for late-night picnics by the Seine if you’re going to be there in December!
    • Pack walking shoes. Or a few pairs. Paris is for wanderers. It’s relatively flat in surface, it’s doesn’t take too long to criss-cross, and there are so many picturesque ways to get from A to B — there’s always something to swoon over, such as a pretty flower-laden balcony. This is how you find a Paris of your own. I always recommend leaving one day on the itinerary completely blank — this is the day for just walking wherever your fancy takes you. And in Paris, a city of so many portals to a past time and of so much beauty, that fancy will always take you somewhere amazing. Oh also, all the walking works off all the macarons and cheese!
    • If you’re heading to Paris in peak season, consider pre-purchasing tickets for the larger museums and more popular monuments. Just be aware that, with most of these, you’ll need to commit to a specific date, possibly even a particular time slot, too. That might be tricky at first, but you’ll be thankful for the forward thinking once you’re breezing through the fast lane.

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  • InBeauty, Interview, Lifestyle, Travel

    The Who, What and Where of Paris, France

    Paris is such an iconic destination and whilst I’m yet to visit just yet, I’ve enlisted two lovely women who are frequent visitors to share their experiences of what they hear, see and do to allow us to live vicariously through them. Meet Jill Healy-Quintard, a specialist in the Mind/Body connection, and Charlotte Ravet, LUXit Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist, for all the inspiration and #travelgoals!

    [ Charlotte & Jill ]

    FASHION + STYLE

    Jill: “I have been travelling between France and Australia for 20+ years and lived in the south as well and have noted since we are all only separated by perhaps missing a twitter, youtube update or a post on Facebook, that the fashion throughout the world, particularly with Gen X has become global rather than limited to a specific city or country, although each place tweak their own uniqueness. In Paris in the fashion districts and the tourist districts there will always be people dressed typically Parisienne style, but the young people could be from any country eg. in the hip hop music and dance scene the fashion is totally global and that is from Zimbabwe to Croatia and everywhere in between. My family and friends in Paris love our Australian style, but I do note that the women members of my family young and older tend to wear more make-up and are never seen without make-up or very coiffed hair. The perfume is much stronger and the shoes have a definite very good and well groomed style, if they are not wearing trainers and workout gear.”

    Charlotte: “The typical French uniform is usually a good leather jacket, slim jeans, a nice top, messy bun or loose hair and for the most adventurous a classic red lipstick. If you want to learn more about the Parisian look you could definitely look Ines de la Fressange’s book: Parisian chic. A “bible” for any French women full of tips, places to go, and best looks to wear. So French, so chic!”

    A big fashion trend in Paris those last years is the effortless style, to achieve this, there is the secret “rule of three”.

    Charlotte: “You never to do the three things at the same time: hair, makeup, clothes. You always have to leave one. For example, if you are going to a dressed up party and wear a cocktail dress with high heels, you can do your makeup but will drop the hair. Or look like you haven’t done much and opt for a “bed hair” style. If you have your hair and makeup properly done you will probably wear flat shoes. I never feel overdressed or too sexy in Australia but going out in Paris I always do more fashion details, instead of a full glamour look. A stylish handbags and a nice pair of shoes will always be noticed!”

    BEAUTY & SKINCARE

    Charlotte: “I always stock skin care going to France; Bioderma, Avene and La Roche Posay  are brands I always trust. I also buy a cream at the chemist call “Ialuset”. This cream is 100% hyaluronic acid and usually used for burns and ulcers on the skin. But it also does miracles if you apply before sleeping to plump your skin before a big day or after a peeling treatment. *This is just a tip and this is not the actual prescription for this cream, so I would recommend a patch test before use in case of reaction, as no prescription are required.”

    Jill: “I have relatives and friends in and around Paris and the South of France. My sister in law, who has recently moved from Paris to Cannes, is totally the opposite of the ‘How to Look Parisian Wherever You Are’ and speaking of, my Paris based sister in law found the article in a newspaper and said sadly that women are beginning to copy the Kardashian look.  Far too much botox and filler. My daughter said to me last year when visiting our relatives, that women in Cannes look the same- not just natives but tourists as well though. It is sad to see many of the gorgeous young girls smoking, although they certainly have the stunning French look, tres cool, while lying with their partner/lover/friends on the grass of the Place des Vosges (one of my favourite places in the Marais in the 4th) and just chatting or reading or embracing.

    “In the early 2000’s the way French women in my classes kept their weight down was to smoke, drink coffee and have 1 meal a day if any at all…….which is the real truth of Why French Women Don’t Get Fat!”

    Madame Quintard (my mother in law) and her sister were the invisible menders of incredible fabrics for all the designers in the exclusive Place Vendome, which (before bulk cheap clothing) was the center of Paris fashion in the 1st and she even had a dress made for our daughter by Chanel for her baptism in Paris. I always saw her as the epitome of Parisienne French. She never went out without having spent a long time grooming and always had everything immaculate, including her house.”

    Charlotte: French women are actually not wearing this much makeup, the French are more into skincare and hair care. A beautiful natural skin and silky hair will be the first step in the beauty routine. We like to see the skin under the makeup and are big fan of the “no makeup look”. Liner, highlights and false lashes are not a big thing in Paris, sorry!”

    SHOPPING

    Charlotte: “When I travel to Paris there is a few beauty places to never miss! Firstly, the huge Sephora in Champs Elysees. It’s definitely a beauty temple where I can spend hours looking at all the latest beauty products. If you go during the sales, products can be discounted up to 70%!

    For the luxury places, Guerlain which is next door to Sephora has one of the most beautiful perfumes and beauty shop, and don’t forget to stop by Laduree for a delicious macaron across the street! On the side of my classic Chanel N 5, I choose my parfum form Martin Margiela at Galeries Lafayette, the scents are very unique and delicate. For the professional makeup artists, there are two places to not miss; 1. Mac cosmetics rue des Saints-Peres, a professional Mac store with an extensive range of products, and 2. Maqpro, le maquillage professionel, a professional makeup store with a thousand choice of colours and textures. The company is family owned and products are made in France using luxury ingredients, and they also offer a range of convenient palettes and customisable products to suit all professional artists.”

    Jill Healy-Quintard is an Australian married to a Frenchman from Paris, and has trained and worked for more than 30 years in fitness and wellness for the body and the mind. Whilst running a range of exercise classes for her clients, she also writes for her fitness and wellness blog.

    Charlotte Ravet is an elite makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Her expertise spans bridal, editorial, beauty, commercials & celebrities alongside training, and if you’re interested in booking Charlotte to visit you for a service you can book at www.luxit.me.

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