Benefit Cosmetics’ Curls Best Friend Pop Up

Nestled in the heart of Theatreland, Benefit’s Curl’s Best Friend pop up parlour is a warm, welcome respite from the grey wintery weather outside.

benefit curls best friendThis isn’t the first pop up venture that Benefit have launched in London…I was devastated to be moving to London just a couple of weeks after their world cup bar closed its doors. So this time, I booked myself a table as soon as I saw it on Twitter. Gladrags on, I hopped on a tube straight back to the 1950s.

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I took a bunch of serious versions of this picture, but liked this accidental shot better. Some girls just aren’t meant to pout.

I got that skirt for £2 in an Oxfam shop. Can we just take a second to appreciate that? And our awesome Six Nations setup, of course. Paired with my Kate Bush t-shirt and the patterned tights I bought for the Gossip Girl party.

Benefit have dolled up their pitch on Greek Street in full 1950s glamour, with pink tables and plush sofas straight out of Grease, hairdryer themed lights and a big, bright bar serving all manner of delights.

benefit cosmetics curls best friend benefit cosmetics curls best friend benefit cosmetics curls best friendWith staff as bubbly as the drinks, Francesca and I immediately made ourselves at home and set about sampling everything the menu had to offer.

benefit cosmetics curls best friend benefit cosmetics curls best friendHow gorgeous are those cocktails? Now refusing to drink anything that doesn’t come in a milk bottle with a stripy straw. Also, they serve popcorn as a bar snack along with the drinks. I might ask if I can move in.

After a few hours putting the world to rights over many glasses of bubbles and even more jars of popcorn, we were whisked away by the gorgeous Rachel, who was playing the role of Benefit’s Honest Leah for the evening.

benefit cosmetics curls best friendTo be honest (Leah), if I looked like that, I’d dress like that all the time. Just doing my shopping in Tesco in a sequinned Jessica Rabbit ballgown.

Anyway.

The pop up is actually in honour of Benefit Cosmetics’ new mascara, Rollerlash. Ohmygod, if you haven’t tried this yet, get on it. It is genuinely life changing. I’ve got a mascara post coming up in the next few days and you can bet your ass it’s playing a starring role. So, in honour of the new mascara, the second floor of the parlour is dedicated to heaven.

Sorry, did I say heaven? Slip of the tongue. I meant Benefit makeup.

benefit cosmetics curls best friendThe beauty parlour offers a range of treatments, including brow shaping, makeovers, faux blowdrys, fabulous discounts on Benefit products (yes, including Rollerlash. Get on it) and a photobooth to enjoy the fruits of the team’s very hard work. This tiny pink room is what dreams are made of. I may have shed a silent tear.

After gawping at the parlour for a good ten minutes, we headed back downstairs for a final glass of champagne to toast Francesca’s birthday. And Rachel confirmed her status as national hero by bringing us some cupcakes for the birthday girl.

benefit cosmetics curls best friendBasically, go here. Get a cupcake. Try both cocktails. Take a selfie with the Rollerlash sign. I command it.

I had an absolutely amazing time at the bar, it was the perfect way to while away a very rainy Saturday afternoon. In fact, I’ve already booked a table to try out the late night third floor Noir Bar…

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Nine.Six.One Boutique Launch

I walk past the door at first, looking for a sign. You can tell I’m still getting used to this London life. After a couple of steps I stop and backpedal. I look again at the open door, black paint bubbling and peeling, stairs leading down a scarlet corridor inside. I check the address. I’m in the right place.

This week saw uber cool Mayfair haunt Cafe Kaizen throw open its doors for the launch of pop up fashion boutique Nine.Six.One. I enter the venue through the heavy door at the foot of the stairs and am met with a strange and wonderful sight. The room is dimly lit, the fairy lights strewn around picking patches of colour from the bright walls. The roof is a knotted mass of exposed piping. An enormous blossom tree stands in the centre of the room, clothes and jewellery hanging from it like fruit. A bar stands to my right, laden with cupcakes and cocktails. And all around, I’m surrounded by beautiful clothing, jewellery and accessories.

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Nine.Six.One aims to showcase a unique and eclectic collection of work from exciting up and coming designers, and do they deliver. From the stunning fusion handchains of Trousseau Jewels, to the incredible boxy handbags from Peau Feroce, there is enough on show to please the palate of any discerning fashionista…as well as the imposters like me, of course. But there is one¬†designer who knocks my little socks off: Nour Najem. Nour is one of those women who is almost too beautiful to look at. I finally understand what Carly Rae Jepsen was on about. And if it sounds like I’m fangirling, it’s because I am.

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Nour was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and uses this cultural identity as inspiration for her designs. In an industry absolutely rife with cultural appropriation, it is amazing to see a culture being represented in such a subtle, authentic way, inviting us to share in and appreciate it. Nour’s whole ethos is about preserving and celebrating her local heritage. In fact, she has set up an NGO, Kenzah, which aims to make sure that traditional artisanal crafting skills are passed down through generations of women in Lebanon. Where these skills were traditionally honed by men, Nour is inspiring marginalised women to develop them, and using their skills to add accent and heritage to her collection. And what a collection it is. Both the colours and the fabrics clash and contradict beautifully. Rough wool is layered over fine satin layered over pretty chiffon. Burnished gold lattices and details lift the inky tones of the clothes. They are wonderfully unusual and oh so gorgeous.

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This is my absolute favourite piece from the collection – I’m pretty sure it’s the dress that Nour herself is wearing at the launch event. It’s basically perfect in every way, and I am devastated at my Broke Girl status, which sadly puts it well out of my price range. Some day. Some day.

As a bonafide angry feminist, I love to see women empowering and supporting other women…and when that support results in clothes this beautiful, you better believe I’m on board. I’m still amazed that I’m being invited to events like this…I keep expecting someone to turn around and be like “Hey, are you lost?”. But everyone is so unbelievably lovely, and I leave with a handbag full of business cards and a head full of pretty pictures. Thanks for having me, folks.

Did any of you make it to the Nine.Six.One event? What was your favourite thing from the night? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.