Design: Jungle Style for the Home

Jungle Style for the Home

Animal prints don't just make for fabulous accessories, they can also be great accents for home décor. The risk is that, if you overdo it or pick the wrong items, your place might look tacky... Fortunately, West Elm has a slew of new items that will satisfy your inner Jungle Jane while still looking stylish and polished.

See more of my Jungle Style for the Home list at ThisNext.


Beauty: Spring 2008 Bobbi Brown Pink Raspberry Collection

Bobbi Brown is celebrating Spring this year with a splash of Pink Raspberry! A couple years ago, most of my makeup used to be Bobbi Brown. Recently, I have ventured away, exploring the wide world of makeup out there... But Bobbi Brown has officially recaptured my attention with the Pink Raspberry collection.

The Pink Raspberry look is fresh and sweet: the eyes are kept simple while the lips and cheeks get highlighted with a fruity wash of color.

The face palette is really wonderful. It contains 1 pale pink blush, 2 raspberry colored lip sheers, and 2 basic eyeshadows. The blush looks lovely and natural, imparting that just-so flush of color (this coming from a girl who's very picky about her blush). As for the eyeshadows, the first is ivory, which is perfect for highlighting the browbone, and the second is a crisp medium gray that can be used to create a subtle smokey eye.

The collection includes a slew of other items. The brush set is to-die-for: the brushes are of impeccable quality (like all Bobbi Brown brushes) in a carrying case that is lined with a pop of raspberry pink. I'm also digging the new multi-tasking pot rouge colors, which can be applied to the lips and cheeks for a stain of color. The only item I'm not too crazy about is the glitter lip gloss, which is a bit too baby-pink (rather than raspberry) and cutesy for my taste...


Design: Ego-tistically Fabulous Laptop

Forget geek chic, the Ego laptop is geek fabulous.

The Ego is for people who want a laptop that is as boldly fashionable and fiercely individual as they are. With a shiny chrome handle and a sensual, rounded shape, this laptop is meant to be flaunted like a handbag. The skins are handcrafted with materials befitting of designer accessories, like eel leather, pigskin with metallic foil, cow fur, and patent sheep. Not enough bling for you? They make special collections encrusted with crystals, gold, platinum, and even diamonds.

The laptop's unique design means that the skins are interchangeable, so that it can match any and every fabulous outfit. And of course, this being an exclusive luxury laptop, it can be tailor-made and personalized with initials or artwork.

So the Ego has style, but does it have substance? For the most part, it does: overall, the technical specs look good, but they're not as impressive as the outside. Being the geeky workaholic fashionista that I am, I almost choked when I saw the words "Up to 3 hours battery life". This laptop is definitely meant to be looked at, rather than used, when you're on the go.

It looks like I'll have to stick to my basic black Thinkpad X61 for now...


Beauty: Spring 2008 Shu Uemura Rebirth Collection

Shu Uemura's Spring 2008 collection is full of freshness, brightness, and optimism.

The 5 eyeshadows shades are pastel, but with a certain vibrancy to them. Some of the colors, like "Yellow Elation", "Pristine Green", and "Spring Breeze" (lavender), may not work for everyone. But the "Sun Stream" (rose) and "Earth Brown" are universally flattering. All of these colors can be layered with other eyeshadows for a beautiful, multi-dimensional look.

The bronzers (not pictured) are also bright and glowing, with a flawless finish.

Out of the 3 lipshades, the one that struck my fancy is the bright pink one, called "Pink Bloom". The color is just bursting with flowery freshness.

It is at once ironic and appropriate that Shu Uemura's last collection is was called "Rebirth". Shu Uemura passed on recently at the age of 79. If rebirth truly does exist, we can only hope that his next life will be as full of creativity and success as this one was...


Runway to Reality: S/S 2008 Badgley Mischka

Photos courtesy of Style.com

Other than a handful of looks that I found really striking, I would have to say that Badgley Mischka's Spring 2008 collection was unremarkable. Honestly, I found most of their looks, well, boring. But let's focus on the positives, shall we? My top 3 favorite looks are in no way representative of the collection as a whole, and, coincidentally, they all have ombré color on white...

Runway Highlights

My favorite look, of all things, is the one-piece swimsuit pictured above. A white swimsuit can be pretty unforgiving, but the graduated color around the waist has a great slimming effect. Not to mention, the monochromatic look is très chic. I also like the overall shape of this piece: the high neckline and straps show off the shoulders, and the sides are subtly cut-out. Best of all, there is a sash that ties around the waist and drips down the back (it's hard to tell in this picture). Now that is a couture swimsuit!

Some of the evening gowns were also really beautiful. The short dress, tinged with a shock of blue, is so evocative of summer and tropical seas... The shape is simple enough, but the top layer of fabric is free to float about as the body moves, for a lovely effect.

Finally, the long goddess dress is all elegant, flowing drapes and soft fabric. There are tiny black stripes at the bottom of the dress (they look gray from afar) that fade towards the top of the gown for a uniquely beautiful look.

Reality Check

Here are some real-life ideas:

- Look for swimsuits with a darker midsection for a slimming effect (I know I will be on the lookout for anything that looks remotely like the swimsuit shown here)

- If you're hesitant to wear all white for whatever reason, a dress that has a graduated color can be a choice number


Beauty: Spring 2008 Smashbox Green Room Collection

For Spring 2008, Smashbox will have you looking like a fresh-faced, effortlessly glowing Nature Girl. Their limited edition Green Room collection is both health- and environment-conscious: all the products are loaded with vitamins, formulated to be environmentally-friendly, and packaged in biodegradable or recyclable containers.

The collection features two unique "Hybrid 2 in 1" products. The 2 in 1 Luminizing Primer pairs Artificial Light, a tinted, oil-free, luminizing lotion, with Photo Finish, a colorless, complexion-smoothing primer that is really amazing. The 2 in 1 Lip Gloss pairs a luscious lip color with a clear, high-shine gloss. In both cases, a tube of colored product is completely encapsulated in a second tube that contains the clear product.

Although I do like the idea of 2-in-1 products that save you both time in the morning and space in your makeup stash, I'm not sure how these will hold up to use. The "tube within a tube" product packaging certainly looks cool, but I have yet to see whether or not it dispenses both products evenly and consistently.

The Eye Shadow Quad palettes, on the other hand, are a sure hit. The shades in each set are coordinated for a gorgeous, multi-tonal, eye "look". Honestly, I have never used a Smashbox eyeshadow palette that I didn't love! The Bronzers also look lovely, great for that just-so summer glow.

Here's the topper: for every Green Room product purchased, a Moringa tree will be planted in a developing country to serve as a self-renewing food source. Who can resist buying gorgeous makeup that will help build a more prosperous, greener future?


Beauty: Blue Satin and Midnight Poison

Much ado has been made about the new Chanel Blue Satin Polish, the limited edition edgy-yet-sophisticated nail color. Here's a thought on how to make it even more fabulous...

Rather than wearing the polish plain, I plan to show off my Blue Satin with a "dark French manicure", like Eva Green in the Midnight Poison ads. I know I'm mixing brands (Midnight Poison is by Dior, not Chanel), but I can't help it: the colors match too beautifully!

The Midnight Poison ad is so fabulous, it's almost unreal: it combines one of my favorite actresses (Eva Green) wearing a gown by one of my favorite designers (Galliano) with a great band (Muse) and a great director (Wong Kar Wai). And if you look carefully, you'll see that Eva is wearing a blue-black polish with white tips.

Blue Satin nails and a spritz of black rose scented Midnight Poison are enough to transform any girl into a sultry, dark temptress...


Runway to Reality: S/S 2008 Alexander McQueen

Photo Credit: Style.com

For Spring/Summer 2008, Alexander McQueen showed a collection that was bold yet polished, offsetting warm rainbow colors against cool neutrals. The looks were quite diverse: some seemed out of place (like a pair of black and pink dresses with fencing masks and shoulderpads), but most were beautiful and on the mark. As always, McQueen remains in my list of favorite designers...

Runway Highlights

The stars of this show, in my opinion, were the dazzling and ethereal "bird of paradise" gowns. The patterns, suggestive of feathers or butterfly wings, were beautifully organic while staying away from too-obvious floral designs. The avian reference was, of course, in honor of the late Isabella Blow, the flamboyant fashionista who discovered McQueen and helped to launch his career.

Also of note were the wearable tailored looks that McQueen does so well. Fitted ensembles in crisp neutrals were highlighted by touches of hot pinks and reds, making them very appropriate for spring. Some of the outfits also showed hints of lace in leggings, socks, or camisoles peeking out for a demure yet elegant look. The fabulous, statement-making headpieces, courtesy of Philip Treacy, were also an homage to Ms. Blow.

Reality Check

Sometimes, I wish I could wear all McQueen, every day, all day. But when that's not an option, consider this:

- Organic patterns don't have to be floral to be stunning!

- Liven up solid gray or black looks with accessories tinged in hot pink or red

- A touch of lace goes a long way to dress up a tailored outfit in a demure and elegant way

- Rock a bold, tropical color palette, especially for eveningwear, but don't overdo it -- keep the shapes simple and favor light, flowing fabrics like chiffon


Happy New Year from La Haute Vie!

New year, new blog: starting in 2008, La Haute Vie will cover the best of all things stylish, from fashion and beauty to food and travel.

Here's to a happy and fabulous year!