Thursday, July 5, 2007

Looking nifty at 50

SITTING cross-legged in her room at the Balmoral Hotel, Bobbi Brown looks every inch the international make-up artist.

In fact with her glossy hair and perfect complexion she could easily pass for one of the celebrities who have come to rely on her for beauty tips.
It's only when she collapses into giggles at the disastrous affect the Edinburgh weather has had on her hair that it becomes clear that Bobbi's real appeal lies in her ability to relate to the concerns of the average woman.

"We spend a lot of our holidays in Edinburgh," she says with a smile. "And we always have a great time. But the weather hasn't been on our side this time. We went to the Castle yesterday to see the crown jewels and the dungeons and I got drenched in the rain. I looked like a little rat."

This sums up Bobbi - unassuming and down-to-earth. And at 50 she doesn't look a day over 40 and is far more stylish than most 20-somethings..

In fact Bobbi is the ideal advertising campaign for her new book, Living Beauty. The book is aimed at women in the 40-to-60 age range, and offers advice on how to look and feel good without resorting to drastic measures, namely surgery.

"Why cut your face when you can get a new haircut and learn to do your make-up properly?" Bobbi says with a smile. "Plastic surgery? Wear some concealer instead. I don't know why it's not okay to age. I think that a face

without lines and planes is an expressionless face - a face that lacks warmth and confidence. I want to get rid of the stigma that surrounds ageing - it really is just an evolution."

Bobbi wrote the book to celebrate her 50th birthday - and to show other women how they could feel better about themselves.

She adds: "I realised that one of the reasons I was okay about turning 50 was because I knew how to make the most of myself. So I wrote the book for other women who were experiencing a similar journey to me."

Bobbi has many strong female role models including the actress Helen Mirren.

"I was so happy when Helen Mirren was all over the news as finally there's a woman who's gorgeous and natural," she enthuses. "One of my friends did her make-up at the Golden Globes and she looked stunning. A woman changes as she gets older and the key is to evolve and stay modern - Helen has done that perfectly."

It comes as no surprise to discover that Mirren's make-up artist chose Bobbi's products for the actress's appearance.

Bobbi's unique blends have been the secret of her international success since she launched her beauty empire back in 1991. "As a make-up artist I had to carry around so many products with me," she explains her expansion from fashion make-up artist into cosmetics. "One day I realised that I didn't need to carry all these things - all you really need is the right taupe, the right bone, the best black, the best colours.

"Make-up was very artificial back then, like a mask. So I thought it would be great to have a simplified make-up range out there. I started with one lipstick after I met a chemist one day while doing a shoot. I had always wanted to make a lipstick that looked natural, didn't have an odour and wasn't greasy or dry - and he made it. It was the colour of my lips which is now called Brownie lipstick.

"At first I thought that if I loved it then everyone would love it. But of course not everyone wants a lip-coloured lipstick."

And so she created ten lipsticks, which could be blended to make new colours every time. "The response was really big," she smiles. "I thought we might sell 100 in the first month - we sold 100 in the first day. It was revolutionary. Everything was shipped out of my home - I never thought it would go further than that."

But it did. And Bobby realised that by relying on her instincts she had created a product that had captured the imagination of a generation of women.

"I went on my gut more than anything, to be honest. People would say that they loved the lipsticks but they needed [lip] pencils. So I would do pencils. Then we did eyes. Then blushers. We launched foundation sticks. Then eyes. And then skin care. The orders kept coming in."

And throughout this, Bobbi stuck to the same simple philosophy - that women just want to look pretty. "With the right knowledge, the right products and tools, any woman can be her own make-up artist," she says, adamantly.

"I'm really honest about skin care products and what they do," she says. "There is nothing that will get rid of wrinkles and lines.

"But so much of what is happening on the inside is shown in your skin. If you smoke, drink and don't eat so well you're not going to look so good."

According to Bobbi, after skin care, our biggest - and most cost-effective tool - is make-up.

"Make-up can help you look prettier and less tired, because when you get older you do need some things to make you look better."

So what is her top beauty advice for holding back the years?

"You want to plump (moisturiser), you want to smooth (concealer), you want to brighten (foundation), define the eyes (liner and mascara) and then colour and define your cheeks and lips (lipstick and blusher)."

And for those who are still not sure, Bobbi advises that they head to the Jenners counter immediately for a "free" makeover with the experts. "We don't charge for our makeovers - I always say to women that they should only buy something if they love it."

Or visit the new Bobbi Brown counter in John Lewis which launches on July 23. At a massive 400sq ft, this counter will be the largest in Edinburgh and will have six consultation areas allowing up to six customers to receive makeovers or advice at one time.

"I am excited about the John Lewis counter," she admits. "Women in Edinburgh have been very favourable towards the brand, and Edinburgh is a very up and coming fashionable city so it made sense to expand.

"So many people I know come to Scotland regularly on holiday - it's very civilised and beautiful, with lots to do, but it's not as intense as London. It's like Chicago compared with New York."

So what else is on the holiday agenda? "I don't know. But I will be buying the Evening News."

No comments: