Jan 30, 2015

Sunny Days. Sephora. The Met Store.

And then there was sun.  Loads of it.

Which made it so  much easier (and more pleasant) to be out getting things done.

I reckon I must have spent at least half of yesterday simply looking upwards without my sunglasses just to get almost blinded by the light.

Denim jacket - Zara, black shift - Next.

I started the day with a jacket on but by mid morning, I was down to short sleeves and a whole lot of sun on my bare arms.

In honour of it being a day of action, resolution and self indulgence, I debuted my Naked 2 palette.

The Urban Decay Naked 2 palette open.  Those smiling faces reflected in the mirror do give away the fact that this was not a photo taken in the semi professional studio of a beauty blogger...
It was embarassingly difficult trying to choose which of the 12 shades to use for a quick daytime eye.  I usually work with the same four MAC eyeshadows and have their application down to a precisely timed sequence so I was a bit lost with all the new names and colours.  I finally picked two of the light shades and one of the mid tones but will need to have more of a practice, I think.  Urban Decay have a different texture to MAC and a bit more shimmer.  And that's about all I can say about the most hyped range of eye shadow palettes in the world.

Sephora, Westfield Sydney.  Behold, the lack of queue.

Speaking of hype.  I finally went.  To Sephora.

And it was ... interesting.  I'm going to preface my review with a warning that I generally felt underwhelmed about the store.  Especially with all the hype and promises about brand diversity and competitive pricing that heralded the entry of Sephora to Australia.  I don't like to harp on the negatives in this blog but I am going to try and be fair.  As the only store in Australia and given all the hype I've been guilty of in this blog, I would like to give a balanced picture to those who may be placing a visit to the store high on their list of to dos when next in Sydney.

Physically, the store is trademark Sephora with its distinctive black and white features, banks of make up chairs and witty visual merchandising.

The store is set over two floors and the upper level overlooks the Pitt Street Mall.  I took the photo above from a hair product counter where you could try various appliances and styling aids.

This is a view of the ground floor.  And yes, it does look the goods with tester stations and and individual brands easily identified from one another.  But notice how few staff there are on the floor?  If you've been to a Sephora overseas, wasn't the number of make up artists and sales staff on the floor the one thing that differentiated Sephora from department store beauty halls for you?

There were maybe 20 customers in the store on Thursday afternoon and it was pretty difficult for most of us to find staff to ask questions about products and their availability.

Apologies for the poor photos.  This is a display of Sephora's own brand of masks, they're $4 each and are apparently best sellers in Australia.
And we did need their help because so many things seemed to  be unavailable or out of stock. I won't go into the whole Urban Decay and NARS thing but the display units for products that the store was meant to stock were quite bare in places.  Many of the house brand make up accessories weren't available and the same was the case over at the make up display.  Which wasn't as pristine as stores overseas.

The Sephora equivalent of the chocolate and mags selection at the supermarket register did look familiar and reassuringly well stocked but sadly, the range of travel sized products was quite limited as was the range (many sections contained the same product).

I did leave with what I intended to buy - some Glasshouse mini candles for gifts ($19.99 each) and my holy grail Sephora 12 hour waterproof eyeliner pencils ($13 each so not too ridiculous a mark up from the $10USD without tax price over in the US) but that was it.  I couldn't even find a pencil sharpener nor a pack of travel sized products to impulse buy.

But I'm saving my biggest gripes for the end.  How can I be subtle about this. My bag contained only what I purchased and nothing more.  Not a single sample.  I know, I should've asked but I'd already asked about the VIP points programme (not available yet) and had thus used up my questions at the counter quota.

So, it wasn't the greatest retail experience but I  love those Sephora eyeliners so much I'll be back for more.

How did you rate Sephora Sydney?  Am I being harsh?  Would it all have been much easier and more popular with the punters to simply have rejigged the overseas websites to allow Australian orders?

For interest, these are the new eyeliner pencils I bought.  I love the shades (black and greyish black) but I love the names even more - 5th Avenue and Galaxy Girl.

I left Sephora and took my underwhelmed self to lunch, looking a little wistfully at the bright lights and abundant stock of Priceline as I did so...

I really should've treated myself to one of these Kronuts (it was treadmill sprints day at the gym)....

but somehow spent $20 on this sushi lunch instead.

I made a long overdue trip to the Met Store over at the QVB.  I've been running dangerously low on note cards and desperately needed to restock.

Klimt and Monet are now the official artists of SSG gratitude.

And other salutations will now be conveyed via golden dragonfly.

Have a lovely weekend and I'll be back soon.

Jan 26, 2015

Thank You, Australia.

Happy Australia Day, everyone!

After the energy depleting heat and humidity over the last couple of days, Australia Day Monday is turning out to be a cool and grey one in Sydney.  The patriotic pork pie hat one of us was planning to make another one of us wear today is still lying flat on the bedroom floor.  Resting gently on a pillow and blankie that are going to be getting a lot more use today.

Plans for a day out embracing the sun, the water, barbecues and lamingtons to a soundtrack of great Australian music have been put on hold.  Instead, quiet music is streaming from my ipad and my kindle is sitting fully charged in anticipation for a day on the sofa reading, reflecting and trying to stay away from the Australia Day online sales (which seem to have gone global this year).

This Australia Day, my gratitude and love for my country is also an ode to my adopted city, Sydney.

I love that I'm never far from the water, wherever I may be relative to the pulsing bridges and motorways that somehow get us all from A to B, often with detours and drama, but always onwards to the B...  The water calms and strengthens me whenever I gaze at it.  No matter what my frame of my mind when approaching it, I leave in awe of a greater presence that has guided me well through life so far.

I love that your festivals and concerts cater to Australians of all ages, tastes and attention spans.

Epsecially on days after a less than optimal night's sleep, I adore the multitude of ways in which you enable us to enjoy our morning coffees.  From rustic cottages in the middle of urbania,

to soon to be opened and keenly anticipated converted 'facility blocks' like this one that happens to be across the road from my work.

I love that while I can walk the streets of Sydney and have a strong sense of the past and the people who toiled to give us what we effortlessly enjoy today, I can also be caught up in the frenzy of global retail, even if it is only as a window shopper.

And as an aside on the global shopping point, I am deeply appreciative of our efficient and friendly postal service.  That we don't have to worry too often about things going 'missing' and that our fellow Australians in regional centres get their post and parcels in a timely manner.

But most of all, I'm most grateful today for the space we have in and as Australians.  The intellectual space to dream and create without political repression.

The physical space to explore and experience the new.  Immediately.  Unfiltered.  Safely.

And the personal space to be both Australian and human.  To be united in grief and also tolerant of individual religion and sexuality.

Thank you, Australia.  For everything.

Jan 23, 2015

Friday Fashion. Remembering Dubai.

Sometimes, when you're underwhelmed with the prevailing winds of fashion, you just have to go it alone and sail off on your own.

Bangle - Lovisa.  I'm on a roll with $5 finds there right now.

Currently at SSG Manor, we are embracing blue and bold prints.

Blouse- Uniqlo, pencil skirt - J Crew.

Preferably worn together.

Toddler SSG wearing legging as pants.  He's only just young enough to still get away with it.

It was Toddler SSG himself who set the forecast.  He was happy with the blue striped T I chose for him yesterday but not so much with the khaki shorts I'd chosen for him.  Instead, it had to be his crab print PJ leggings.

Despite the heat, he wore them all day.  As he played hop scotch, as he ran across the back of the dinosaur in the play area, as he climbed the fridge (don't ask...) and out in the garden as he watered the plants.

In other news, the SSG bedside table has been reunited with an old friend - L'Artisan Parfumeur's Premier Figuer Extreme. 

Technically, though, its official place of residence is on the second shelf from the top of the built in wardrobe.

I have Strawberrynet to thank for my new bottle of perfume.  They recently had an extra 10% off promotion in honour of Australia Day for Australian orders which meant I no choice but to buy it.  And a backup supply of my favourite soap.  I also scored this free CK mascara which I haven't tried yet.

It's Friday afternoon and I'm feeling like a bit of an armchair trip somewhere, to get into that long weekend frame of mind.  How about Dubai?

I bought my first bottle of Premier Fig in Dubai way back in 2012.  It was at Bloomingdales at the Dubai Mall.  I'll always remember the way fragrance defined Dubai for me on that trip.  Heady citrus, amber and wood noted perfumes would waft past me on a regular basis as immaculately dressed locals sailed past me.   Because everyone seemed to sail rather than walk or run.

Perhaps it was the obsession with creating an oasis in the desert that gave everyone a fluidness to their movements.  No one ever rushed.

With the temperature regularly hitting an inhospitable 40C or higher, life was best and most comfortably lived indoors.  Where you barely heard the traffic 20 or so floors beneath you as it swarmed down six plane carriageways alongside the slightly Star Trekian trains.

There were man made tributes to water everywhere despite the desert location.

And luxury was often not too far behind.

One shopping mall featured a Hermes exhibition in much the same way a western shopping centre might use a forecourt for the performance of Five Seconds of Summer or the young Justin Bieber.  Only with much less chaos and visible security.

High tea was literally taken at high altitude and with plenty of champagne on hand.

Gold tones highlighted everything from furnishings to mosaics.

And there was always something jaw dropping to look up at.

 Something that made me smile was seeing how much Dubai embraced American institutions.

There was a Bloomingdales that out Bloomied anything I've seen in New York.

A Magnolia Bakery more spacious and inviting than its big sister back home.

 And a Dean & Deluca where you didn't have to jostle with crowds for a table or service at.

Melbourne has also left its mark in Dubai in the shape of a Brunetti's.

Complete with an impressive bank of espresso machines.

And Paris.  It's a city that can't help but leave its mark on every other big city around the world. 

 Its fashion, its food, its particular aesthetic. 

And in return, the rest of the world has now united with Paris in a stand for freedom of speech.

All this remembering of favourite trips and cities and given me the travel bug again.  Something to think about over the weekend.

Take care and have a lovely Australia Day!


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