VULPINE WOMEN

Hard to say which was more hotly anticipated – the new Vulpine women’s range or spring its actual self. Both kind of took their time but now, within a few short weeks of the launch, the Vulpine range is proving so popular it is surely heading for a waiting list ‘situation’.

When Vulpine launched their innovative destination cycling range a year ago (is that all? really?) the celebrations amongst the cycling community were slightly tempered by the fact that it lacked a women’s selection. But now the wait is over!  The new Vulpine womenswear range is noticeably colourful: I was sent this V-neck fern green merino and decided to celebrate its gorgeous colourfulness by photographing it somewhere colourful (I’m liking the colourfulness. Have you noticed?).

You can feast your eyes on more merino loveliness on the Vulpine site . Here you can marvel at the contrast zips! Gasp at the three rear pocket detail! Feel safe in the knowledge that merino is odour free and ultra comfy! Punch the air with delight that it doesn’t just come in black! And be reassured that while it may not be the largest range ever, this is only the start.

And get your order in quick.

Photos: Paul Mitchell


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Senti

Senti is a Wimbledon Village store and website dedicated to room fragrances, scented candles, perfume and bath and body products, including the beautiful Dr Vranjes range.

I dream of being the sort of woman who wafts around a delightfully scented home, plush with cream carpets and scatter cushions, in a cashmere track suit. Instead, I’m the sort of woman who arrives for an appointment to meet store owner Debbie Knight with the tail end of a cold. And when I go to remove a much needed tissue from my bag I discover that my youngest daughter has painted its wrapper with nail polish which proceeds to fling itself through the air in a thousand tiny fragments like confetti, garishly flecking the immaculate surfaces.

If I’d been Debbie I’d have handed me a hoover and gone for a lie down, but she very sweetly turned a blind eye to my chaos and instead explained how she’d come to set up the store: a skiing holiday, no snow, hopped on a train to Florence, loved the Dr Vranjes room fragrance at the boutique hotel, visited the brand, became UK distributor and Senti was born. As you’d probably expect, Dr Vranjes room fragrances are exquisite, high end blends of essential oils and natural ingredients. Room fragrance also contains alcohol and as it evaporates the bamboo sticks absorb the fragrance and project the scent into the room.

I loved the opulence of this range: there are over twenty fragrance  to choose from – Chinotto Pepe is very popular – and you buy a 100ml bottle (£28) or splash out on a supersize 5litre bottle (£540) – designed for large, hotel areas but seriously stylish (and fragrant!) on a sitting room shelf.

The store also stocks candles and perfume from Dr Vranjes, as well brands including Bodhi for bath and body, Timothy Dunn candles, Czech & Speake Aromatics, Savon Liquide Marseille (Verbena Liquid Soap is the most aromatic hand wash I have ever come across!), Bisoux Maison and Creme de Douche. They also sell photographs by celebrity photographer Brian Aris –  this one is David Essex and an adoring fan!

You can buy find out more about Senti and buy online here but if you can visit the store then do so: experiencing a smell that you like can improve your mood by up to 75%, in which case a trip to the Senti store is a bit like winning the good mood lottery.

Senti, 39b High Street, Wimbledon Village, SW19 5BY.


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LIMITED EDITION ELEMIS PRO COLLAGEN MARINE CREAM

We go back a long way, Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream and me.

I can reel off the stats about how Pro Collagen Marine Cream was launched 10 years ago, that one is sold every minute around the world, about how it reduces the appearance of wrinkle  depth by up to 78%, increases hydration and moisture levels by up to 45%, offers visible results within 15 days and has multi-award winning status.

Or, probably more convincingly, I can tell you that Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream has consistently been a favourite of mine since its launch. I’ve got through quite a few pots of it in the last decade and intend to get through quite a lot more in the future.

This silver topped limited edition pot – a massive 100ml of Pro Collagen Marine Cream fabulousness – was sent to me by the press office (thank you!). You can get your hands on one for £99 (worth £158) here.


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BRITISH CYCLING: INSPIRING WOMEN TO RIDE

This morning I went to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to hear British Cycling’s new initiative to get one million more women on their bikes by 2020. I also ate croissants and chatted about make up. But more of that later.

The initiative is a statement of intent to change the cycling landscape so that more women are cycling more often, more aspire to progress in the sport, more are running and governing the sport and everyone is getting the right support, from school onwards. But its not going to happen over night – Kirstie Moore, Advisor to the Board at British Cycling told me that the whole process was about ‘evolution not revolution’.

Many of the community of inspirational women needed to help make this happen were in the room: Olympian Jess Varnish and double track world champion Becky James spoke but it wasn’t all about medals as I met a volunteer Breeze network ride leader from Surrey as well as Kirsty Medlock, editor of Total Women’s Cycling and Jools Walker of cycling blog Lady Velo and soon-to-cycle round the world cyclist Liz Dimmock.

Over tea and chocolate croissants, we quickly became living proof that women cyclists like a good chat. Within ten minutes we had managed to sort the whole of women’s cycling, admire the bicycle necklace (below, on Jools) by Alex Monroe  that three of those present had worn to the event, and discuss the best options for lip balm and mascara on a ride. Let me tell you that when Liz Dimmock - who has also cycled the Tour de France route – recommends semi-permanent eye lashes as the way forward, you take note.

There were bigger policy issues to discuss, but everyone also agreed that looking feminine on a bike matters. As someone pointed out, nail polish is no inhibitor to performance and if you wear mascara every day, why shouldn’t you wear it on a bike. Then again, if you never wear make up then that is okay too.

Of course what we’re really saying goes much wider than the colour of our lip gloss: the issue is that we want to be able to ride on our terms and not those dictated by a sport that has been dominated for too long by men in lycra. Fingers crossed (and if our voices are heard), we are on the way.

You can follow the debate on Twitter at #getwomenriding


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BEAUTY & THE BIKE: MATRIX FITNESS RIDING ACADEMY TEAM LAUNCH

I was really excited to be involved with the launch day for women’s racing team Matrix Fitness Riding Academy. Each of the five team riders present was paired with a blogger and photographer and we were sent away to create an image that would be displayed at the launch party that evening. I was assigned Hannah Walker and Nick Hussey from Vulpine (who are also backing the team) was my photographer du jour. I took my camera too, and my images below sum up the day.

The idea was to get away from the typical ‘women’s cycling team’ image of a group of girls standing in a line, in full kit, grinning. Hannah trains for three hours everyday and I really wanted to create an image to celebrate her fitness and dedication and make it something that other women would relate to. As I recently posted on Cycle Love, this  is such an exciting time for women’s cycling yet we’re often ignored or sidelined in the cycling media: this shoot was a chance  to show women’s cycling in a positive, thought-provoking light. So I conceived a kind of idealized image of Hannah, always on her bike, doing what many women like to do – a spot of beauty shopping. In short, cycling can be as much a part of our lives as going to a beauty store and buying a mascara.

Space NK in Wimbledon Village offered us their store and it was a brilliant location. What’s more, they didn’t bat a beautifully made-up eyelid when we walked in and parked a racing bike.

Julia Spittles, one of the store’s professional make up artists, gave Hannah a fanastic natural, glowy, fresh look that was perfect for this shoot. My hunch that Hannah would enjoy a spot of pampering proved correct (frankly I’ve never met a woman who hasn’t enjoyed having her make up done by a professional) and there was much talk of primer, eye liner and blusher application techniques….

…followed by gasps of admiration from Julia and I (Nick wisely chose not to join in) when Hannah emerged from the changing room in her cycling kit: she’s a walking advertisment for the good things that cycling does for your legs.

Although Hannah is no stranger to media attention (she starred in Adidas Women all in for #mygirls campaign) she’s by far a bigger star when she’s riding. Aged 20, she competes in both road and track events and is National Derny Champion as well as having a string of top ten finishes to her name in UK and European events. When she isn’t riding (or appearing in swanky photo shoots) she works in cycle store Sportive Nation and her local pub in her home town in Cheshire, or hangs out with her boyfriend who is also a cyclist.

She dreams of being a full time professional like her heroine Marianne Vos and Matrix team manager Stefan Wyman tells me that it is a long term ambition to develop the team – which is already one of the ten most significant women’s teams in the UK -  at fully professional status, which means salaries, back up and return to sponsors. Wyman, who is married to European Cyclo-Cross champion Helen Wyman, recognizes that the way to do this is to create the right buzz around the sport and this innovative launch is part of that process.

Here is a selection of some of Nick’s final images that have been distributed to the gentlemen (and ladies!) of the press : I think we nailed the brief.

First set of photos by me, latter three by Nick Hussey.

Follow the launch – and take a look at all of the images from the day on Twitter at #matrixfitness


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SWEATY BETTY ‘THE FIT CROWD’ LAUNCH

I’m thrilled to be part of Sweaty Betty’s new online collective ‘The Fit Crowd’: read on to find out how you can take part too (and win Sweaty Betty gear!).

It’s no secret that Sweaty Betty lead the way in fashion and fitness for women. The Fit Crowd is their innovative project to inspire a new community of fitness-focused women and draw attention to Sweaty Betty in-store fitness classes and stylish technical performance wear.

The Fit Crowd bloggers were selected because of our passion for fitness and to get the ball rolling we were invited on an after-hours spree at the SB King’s Road store where we got to select new gear from the new spring summer ‘13 range. It was trying-on heaven!

I love the English National Ballet range and picked up the Piroutette Dance Hoodie and Barre Dance Tee (not that I can dance – but I can dream!).

I also stocked up on a pair of running capris and coloured bra top: perfect for a bit of workout layering.

This event was all about fitness so once we were kitted out we were introduced to Barrecore, in a class led by founder Niki Rein. Fresh from the US, this is a high energy and low impact workout, using high repetitions of small movements and your own bodyweight as resistance to create a leaner, stronger body shape. Not going to lie here: it’s tough  – but of course that means you get results, and fast!

Feel inspired to get involved with The Fit Crowd (and win Sweaty Betty gear!)?  To celebrate the new fitness community, Sweaty Betty have launched an online Sweat & Snap photo challenge. All you have to do is:

  1. Take a photo of yourself wearing your favourite workout outfit (doesn’t have to be SB!).
  2. Tweet the picture to @SweatyBetty_UK
  3. Include the hashtag #TheFitCrowd

The person who submits the most inspiring and creative picture will win Sweaty Betty and Cowshed Spa goodies and you have until 31st March to enter!

Read more about The Fit Crowd here.


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Review: Velobici cycling wear

Why I’m slightly in awe of this fabulous Velobici kit.

The best cycling clothes are the ones you don’t know you’re wearing. They don’t make you sweat, you’re never too cold, they don’t ride up, or flap, or get caught on the saddle. They’re just effortlessly comfortable no matter how steep the climb or breezy the descent. But they need to look good too: this counts because, dare I say,  if you think you look good you ride with more confidence. And confidence makes you a better rider. Yes, I think I think I dare say that.

Velobici is a Midlands based cycling brand that understands this passion for style and comfort so I was very excited when they sent me Performance arm warmers and shorts from the VB Ella Women’s range as well a Van-Abel jersey from the men’s performance range. Velobici was keen to stress that this top fits women too: I’m a size 10 and 5’9” and the top I’m wearing above is size small (its available in sizes XS – XXL). The fit is perfect.

The range is made in Nottingham and Leicestershire using traditional (ie merino) high quality fabrics and Velobici’s newly developed VB/PRO-VR1 fibre, a performance fabric that is super soft, offers moisture management to keep you cool and dry, is light and windproof, incorporates stretch for comfort, offers ultraviolet protection and is odour resistant and quick drying. And it feels amazing.

There’s so much attention to design detail. The Van-Abel Jersey has a full zip adorned with a vb logo zip puller. There’s white reflective piping on the sleeves and hem plus silcone gripper on the sleeve cuffs and hem. There are five pockets, two of which are zipped and waterproof. It features red detailing and a vb jacquard (knitted into the fabric) logo across the back and on the side panel.

The armwarmers – for me the unsung heroes of cycling comfort – fit snugly (as armwarmers should) thanks to Lycra that stretches to five times its own length. The shorts (not on view here but detailed below!) feature a lightweight unisex pad and are designed to be worn beneath winter tights or on the commute (the knit is a little too fine to be worn on their own) with a Velobici jacquard logo on the back.

Its just lovely, lovely gear and if you value performance and quality, and ride often enough to benefit from a long-term cost per wear equation (this range isnt cheap!) then Velobici is the way to go.

Van-Abel Jersey  £140, VB Ella pants £40, VB Ella armwamers £30

Visit Velobici here

Picture by Paul Mitchell


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THE VULPINE CHRISTMAS CYCLING FETE review

The Vulpine Christmas Cycling Fete at Balham Bowls Club was a celebration of all things cyclopolitan, and a chance for people who ride bikes to get together and do a spot of cycling festive shopping over a beer.

The Fete took place last Saturday in the gloriously faded decadence of the Balham Bowls Club. It was organised as a fundraiser for cycling charities by Nick Hussey of Vulpine, which is a UK based and very stylish cycling apparel label (this is Nick being interviewed by The Bike Show).

From 3- 9pm you could happily browse the stalls of cycling brands, artists, photographers, innovators, kit designers and bikes that were hand built by Men with Big Beards. Several hundred visitors were eased into a party atmosphere (think laid back House, not Russ Abbott) thanks to the bar, a playlist by DJ Euan McGrath, and a spot of Rollapaluza roller racing. You could buy clothes from Vulpine too – including their rather fabulous new and limited edition Harrington jacket.

I have never met so many friendly purveyors of cycling equipment: amazingly, they could readily make eye contact and even say hello, something almost unheard of in the parallel world of mountain bike sales (when I’m not beauty editing, I like to ride a mountain bike). In return, I learnt to stop asking “but how much does it weigh?” as it seems urban cycling is not all about Strava times, but is far more about hand crafted excellence. In short, you don’t want to be going so fast that people fail to notice the refined cut of your musette,  the sheen of your mud guard, or your bling-tastic golden handlebar tape (the latter from Michaux Club who also make rather lovely all-weather bicycling bags).

But it wasn’t all about town riding: Pannier is a new website dedicated to cycle friendly places to stay and rest along major routes. Mountain bike trails are coming on line soon and I can see me planning a few girls’ trips away from home as a result.

You can find out more about all the stallholders and Vulpine – and contact Nick if you can recommend a venue in your town as he is planning on taking the fete nationwide next year - here.

Photos: Paul Mitchell


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LACOSTE TOUCH OF PINK GIRLS’ NIGHT IN GIFT SET

The Lacoste Touch of Pink Girls’ Night in Gift Set makes a very cute Christmas present indeed.

Who amongst us isn’t partial to a girl’s night in kit? Add your favourite TV show (I’ll have Modern Family) and there’s never been a better excuse to hog the bathroom then settle down on the sofa for the mother of all pedicures.

Lacoste Touch of Pink is a fresh, fruity floral fragrance and this kit offers the perfect opportunity to fragrance yourself good and proper with shower gel and body lotion, before slipping into the spa-style pink slippers and toweling headband (great opportunity for a facial –  but you’ll need to supply your own face mask!).

The nile files and toe separators give the green light for that sofa-pedicure in front of the TV, and you can spritz on the EDT and go to bed smelling like a Touch of Pink princess.

And there’s even a little bag to keep your kit in.

Go on, you know you want to.

You can buy the Lacoste Touch of Pink Girl’s Night In Gift Set at Superdrug stores or online here for £60.

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WILD ABOUT BEAUTY

Wild About Beauty is a new make up range and collaboration between Louise Redknapp and international make up artist – and Louise’s good friend – Kim Jacob. The make up look below was created at the counter and, I think, perfectly sums up ‘Wild About Beauty’ style: feature enhancing, fresh and glowing.

I met Louise Redknapp and Kim Jacob at the Guildford launch. Louise explained that their range is designed for busy women: its flattering, soft, smudgy shades and textures are easy to apply – even with your fingertips – when you’re in the car on the school run, or on the train in the morning. Each product is also designed to care for and condition the skin and the ingredient list name-drops Organic Winter Cherry Extract, Green Cavier Extract and Sea Whip Marine Extract, for instance, whilst being free of parabens and petrochemicals.

I’ve tried all the products above and like them so much that I use them everyday (in place of make up that cost a lot more!). The Eyeshadow pencils (£13.50 each) above are ‘Annie’ and ‘Marjorie’ (the latter recommended to me by Kim for creating smoky eyes). Also pictured is Nutrilips balm ‘Lorella’ (£13), Nutrilips Gloss ‘Loulabella’ (£14) and Botanical Skin Prep Serum  (£21) which conditions the skin and acts as a make up primer. I really like the Smooth Cover Concealer Kit (£19.50) too – a concealer/powder duo that blends easily and gives effective but subtle cover.

The launch was laid back and busy: while Louise took a turn at serving customers and handing out champagne, Kim demonstrated how to use the range – this shot of her busy counter, packed with eye colours, blush, and concealer shades – hints at what’s available.

Incidentally, the launch event was well attended (and impeccably dressed!)…

…and a special mention goes to Louise’s gorgeous patent brogues (photographed as we chatted!).

See the entire range at Wild About Beauty counters in selected Debenhans and House of Fraser stores, or on line here.


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