The World is Changing. Isn’t it Time the British Fashion Industry Collective did the Same?

There.  I said it.  But I certainly wouldn’t be the first.  It just needs to be reiterated a few times until it can marinate and eventually set in.  Well that’s the intention, anyway. Fresh off a protest staged outside London … Continue reading

Excerpt From “Heading South,” a Novel by Brucella Newman

Chapter One

“Get your arse back in here now, Alex! And hurry up with that wine!” Miriam’s shrill voice rang out from the sitting room. “You’re missing all the fabulous eye candy!”

“Alright, I’ve only got two flipping hands,” muttered Alex, under her breath. She called back in a singsong voice, “Be there in a sec!”

Alex plopped herself down on the sitting room sofa, next to her best friend, Miriam. Her quick pit stop to the kitchen had brought in more supplies by tray, in the form of tortilla chips, dips, a skilfully shattered, giant 70% dark chocolate bar and more importantly, wine. Alex shovelled some Doritos into her mouth, leaned over and squinted into the screen of the laptop perched on Miriam’s knees. Miriam was in deep concentration, trawling through an Internet dating website, which displayed a myriad profile pictures of men, in various colours, shapes and sizes. She stopped at one photo and tapped her perfectly manicured red talon all over his face.

“Hmm, he’s a bit short, Miriam, mumbled Alex, mid-crunch. You don’t suppose he could be lying about his height, do you?”

Miriam, examining the man’s image, was now reaching for her newly replenished wine glass, without even looking up. How she managed to focus so intensely on the screen, yet have such finely honed motor skills as to pick up the glass by its stem so swiftly without even looking at it was beyond Alex, who just seemed to be the epitome of clumsiness for as long as she could remember. Surely it couldn’t seriously be deteriorating with her age, seeing as she was only forty-three, just one year older than Miriam. Alex liked to blame a lot of things on her age recently. But if she couldn’t put it down to her age, she would source Sister Moon as the culprit. When things tend to go awry, always blame it on the moon.

“Alex, darling, all men lie about their height,” Miriam replied, ever so matter-of-factly. She had an annoying habit of making statements as though there could never be any other plausible alternative.

“Well, some women must lie about their age, then. You’re certainly not thirty-eight,” retorted Alex, shovelling some more Maltesers into her mouth.

“Nonsense. Wasn’t it George Burns who said, ‘You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old’,” corrected Miriam, justifying herself.

Alex helped herself to another tortilla chip, on which she dolloped a large helping of guacamole. “Okay, since we’re bandying about famous quotes, I can counter that one: ‘Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.’ Mark Twain.”

“Oh, but I do mind, and it does matter!” wailed Miriam impatiently, as her rapid scrolling was turning to desperation, as she continued to scroll through the man’s voluminous images. She stopped scrolling when she arrived at a body shot of him standing by a swimming pool, on what looked like a really low budget Spanish package holiday. He was attempting to emulate Erik Estrada by sporting gold-rimmed CHiPs style mirror shades, a pair of tiger-print Speedos that were two sizes too small and an uneven fake orange tan. It did not help that he looked more like the Tory politician Eric Pickles, rather than the TV California Highway Patrol officer.

“Eurgh!” They both exclaimed simultaneously, before bursting out laughing.

As Miriam finished off her third large glass of wine, Alex leaned over and gave them both a top up, but the bottle was now nearly empty. She got up to get yet another refill, but Miriam yanked her back down.

“Sit down!” she growled. “You’ve got to be more serious about this. Internet dating is like looking for a job. It’s alright for you, you already have your man.”

It suddenly occurred to Alex that Miriam really was taking this whole Internet dating thing a bit too seriously. Miriam was being very business-like about the entire process, as if she were looking for the perfect personal assistant. Perhaps she was. Someone not only to be a listening companion, but one who also had to have the right credentials for the job!

Alex gaze drifted through the sitting room doorway and her eyes rested on the hallway wall opposite. There was a large black and white, silver-framed photograph of Alex with a good-looking man, her partner of ten years, Tristram. Alex was positioned slightly lower than Tristram, his arms wrapped around her protectively and her head was leaning into his chest.   They were seated on a large rock by the sea. She looked very content. She looked young, tanned and fresh. They were both laughing at the camera. A few wisps of hair blew across her face. A famous photographer friend of Tristram’s had taken the photograph several years ago, at the beginning of their relationship.   The photographer, Wolfgang, had invited Tristram and Alex to stay at his beach house St. James, in Barbados. Alex started to wonder when the last time was that she and Tristram had taken a photo like that together, let alone had a romantic break. Ever since they had bought the house in Kensal Rise, it seemed like every penny had gone into it. The house seemed to be in a perpetual state of redecoration and there never seemed to be time for a luxurious holiday, or even a weekend getaway. Alex began to drift further into her happy memories of that holiday on the island – the island life, its music, freshly caught fish every day, moonlit skinny-dipping…

“Uh-oh,” Miriam’s voice interrupted Alex’s thought abruptly.

“What is it?”

Miriam started slowly scrolling back a page. “What the hell is going on? Alex, please tell me I didn’t just see who I think I did.”

Alex thought she had just caught a flash of a familiar face, or was it her imagination? “I can’t, Miriam… What did you see? I’m thinking we might have just seen the same thing. Wait – go back… no… further up. Stop there!” Miriam stopped at a small black and white image of a fair-haired man’s profile. Alex’s pulse began to race. “Click on that one.”

Miriam obliged and both she and Alex leaned right in to take a closer look. The black and white image seemed far away. But the photograph looked extremely familiar now. Wasn’t that…her Tristram? Her Tristram’s picture? Her Tristram’s profile picture was on an Internet dating site!

(Adapted from the Screenplay ‘Heading South’ by Brucella Newman and Catherine Donaldson)

© Brucella Newman 2013

Becoming a Model – Taking Care of Your Appearance

cu face
Well, now that you have been introduced to the different genres of modelling (please see previous links to posts) – and if you are still prepared to give it your all – the next key aspect to focus on is appearance.

There is a very well versed quote, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. It is arguable as to whom this quote can be attributed to, whether Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain, but the fact remains that whoever qualifies, they certainly raised an excellent point.

In the same way that we might attend a regular job interview, we would naturally be expected to prepare for that interview as best we can. There is positively no exception where modelling is concerned. Admittedly, there are times when we might be expected to attend our first casting call of the day, having been told specifically to dress casually or to look sporty. This might be immediately followed by a mad dash across to the other side of town, where a client might require you to look smart, sophisticated or business-like – with heels… or a suit!

This is where our versatility skills would come into play and so also would a certain degree of canniness. But we shall leave the subject of versatility for a later episode in the ‘Becoming a Model’ series.

Let’s get back to first impressions. We are aiming to make an impact and hopefully, a lasting impression on the client, so we have to do everything we can to stand out from the crowd at the cattle call, in order to get the job – modelling is, as with all lines of work, a competitive world. If we really want to make a success of our modelling career, it is important to take in and listen carefully to what the client’s brief is asking of us.

 model-close-brunette-up-face-girl-hair-woman-427160

If a client is seeking his or her ideal male or female model to promote a hair product, it would be futile turning up with unwashed, scraped back hair, tucked under a hat or bandana, so that the client cannot make an accurate judgment as to whether the model would be ideal candidate to promote said hair product. Believe it or not, I have seen the odd model do just that, expecting the client to get an idea of the model’s abilities just by looking at their portfolio.

Well, I can tell you right now, that is not only a waste of the client and the model’s own time, energy and money: the agency might as well have just sent over images of that model via email, or forwarded a link to its website! The point of a model turning up in person is for the client to see just that – how the model appears in the flesh, as pictures – particularly edited ones – can hide a multitude of flaws. In a similar way, for a beauty product casting, the client would not want to see a model either caked in makeup or staggering in, unprofessionally, looking as though he or she has been up all night, partying until 6am that very morning.

(The same would go for turning up for a modelling job, but again, that comes under yet another episode in this series, that relates to maintaining good standards and a good name – for yourself and for your agency.)

There are a myriad ways to maintain your hair, skin and nails (yes, clients do ask to see your hands and nails, too, so keep them scrubbed, well manicured, clean and neat!) and it is really all just a case of finding which regime or technique suits you (and your wallet) best.

frizzy-hair-help

 Hair Care

A good approach upon joining an agency would be to investigate how to become a house model at a reputable hair salon. If you are unsure, ask your booker for advice. Many model agencies send their models to a few respectable hair salons they are in contact with to maintain their hair for their work, particularly if the model’s hair looks like it could be quite a good selling point and quite a few models do become house models for some of those salons. This would mean that in return for getting your locks primped, trimmed and pampered, you might have to take part in some of their hair shows or do some photo shoots to promote their salon. This is a win-win situation, because you get exposure and practice on the runway and photo shoot as well as acquire a new look and pictures for your portfolio, whilst the salon gets their chosen model to work with for a fraction of the price.

If you can’t find a salon with which to become a house model, aside from getting a basic trim at your local hairdresser or barber, there are plenty of effective over-the-counter products on the market, as well as natural home remedies to treat the condition of your hair and scalp.

Finding a good shampoo and conditioner for your hair type should be standard procedure, whether your hair is thick, fine and flyaway or has a tendency to frizz. You are the one who knows and understands your hair’s behaviour the best and your hairstylist – should you be fortunate enough to find one who can bring out the best in your hair, with deep conditioning treatments, colour and toning expertise – would also be able to advise you on effective ways to manage your style with minimal fuss.

On the other hand, some salons can charge an awful lot of money for a cut and colour and when you’re just starting out as a model, maintaining regular visits and upkeep can therefore become problematic. The solution to this would be to keep things as simple as possible. It’s certainly not the end of the world if things are a bit of a financial struggle; most of us have already been there. Keep your hair clean and well conditioned, with a regular weekly deep conditioning hair pack (guys too), which you can purchase from your local chemist or supermarket.

products

Walking through the supermarket’s personal care and hygiene section is akin to walking into Aladdin’s Cave of toiletries. Today, we are so spoiled for choice when it comes to products to help maintain and treat our hair. Find the product that is right for your hair type. It can be a case of trial and error, but in the end, when you find that product that is not too greasy for your flyaway hair, or that manages to tame your frizzy locks, it is worth the investment, especially if money is tight to begin with and you cannot make it to a salon. You never know when that all-important hair casting might pop up out of the blue, so always be prepared. As a popular teacher I know often says, ‘being prepared is half the battle’!

But by the same token, try not to get too carried away with the over use of one particular type of styling product for too long, or you might have really have a battle on your hands. Many hairdressers will tell you that over use of styling products can cause what they call ‘product residue build up’ and result in your hair looking dull or losing its shine.

If you have access to a local gym or sports centre, then after your work out, swim or exercise class, just dollop some of your favourite conditioner through your hair, cover it with a shower cap or towel and sit in the steam room for 15-20 minutes. Not only will your hair will thank you by producing optimum shine and a bouncy, healthy looking condition, but your skin will too, as you would have also just removed the city’s grime and given yourself a glowing facial, unblocking the pores that become clogged up by oily sebum and pollution, the excess of which can lead to blocked follicles and unwanted spots and blackheads.

steammale steam

For those of you that can’t make it to the steam room, there are quick and cheap home remedies to bring back the lustre and moisture to your hair – simple food products from your fridge will do the job just as efficiently. Raw eggs are wonderful for your hair and have been used as a treatment for many, many years. But whilst egg whites are great for treating oily hair, containing enzymes that consume any bacteria and excess oils, egg yolks are good for nourishing and moisturising dry, brittle and thirsty hair. Just apply a mixture to clean, damp hair and leave on for about 20 minutes. Use cool (not hot) water to rinse off and then give it a shampoo and light conditioning. Use the yolks once a month and the whites once a fortnight.

Simple plain yoghurt will bring back the hair’s natural shine that has been dulled from city pollution and excess hair styling products. Massage a healthy dollop (about half a cupful) of yoghurt into damp hair, leave on for 20 minutes and rinse off with cool water, then shampoo as normal. Repeating this once a fortnight can save you a lot of money on expensive hair treatments.

remediesFor an itchy, dry or flaky scalp, mix together 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water. Massage this solution into damp hair, leave on for 20 minutes, rinse out and shampoo. Do this every two weeks.

For dehydrated or sun-damaged hair, massage half a cup of honey into your hair, leave for 20 minutes and then rinse out with warm water. If the honey is too sticky for you, you can add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture, to help it spread more easily.

Instead of paying a fortune on a keratin treatment to tame frizzy hair, purchase a more affordable version from your chemist or supermarket, or simply smear fresh avocado all over your hair, then rinse and shampoo as usual. The protein bonds that have been damaged by the sun and heat can also be restored with this inexpensive home remedy.

To get rid of product residue build up, every two weeks, mix a couple of tablespoons of simple baking soda (the very same product that sits in your kitchen cupboard and with which you can also clean your teeth!) with enough water to form a thick paste. Massage this into your damp hair, leave for 15 minutes, then rinse and shampoo.

Finally, it is always important to remember that the hairstyle and image that you choose to go with and take your new portfolio photographs with, must be one that you will be happy and comfortable with, as well as being a style that you will be sticking with for a while. There is nothing more confusing and frustrating for a client who wants to book you for a job specifically because of your long hair, only to find out that you have decided to go for an elfin crop instead! Think carefully about the style you choose. Make sure it is one that still has versatility and enough scope and movement to create a few different styles, because having versatility will be an important element that marks the difference between getting the job or not.

 

Skin Care

 
water splash faceman splashmix skin

In this industry, it would not be uncommon to come across the term, ‘your face is your fortune’. As long as we recognise this and do all we can to maintain our looks for as long as possible, there is no reason why a model cannot remain a working model for many decades to come.

It is equally important to maintain a healthy internal system as well as an outward one. When we are constantly told that we are what we eat, we really are. What we take inwards will consequently reflect outwards, and that does not just mean what we ingest by way of food and drink, it is also what we take and hold by way of feelings, emotions and tension. Sooner or later, signs of stress or poor diet will eventually manifest itself in our skin, eyes and nails as well as on the surface of our tongues.

How many times have you taken the subway or walked around the streets of the city during the day, come home, blown your nose and been shocked at what you find in the tissue? The city grime you see has become ingrained into our skin as well as pollution having been ingested via our lungs. Furthermore, free radicals and over exposure to the elements – particularly the sun and wind – also cause skin cell damage. How we counter those effects seems to require more and more time and effort and in extreme cases, going under the knife.

Today, general skin care is no longer just about the so-called holy trinity of regimes we would once religiously perform last thing before bed and first thing in the morning – cleanse, tone, moisturize, or as Clarins would have it, cleanse, tone, clarify, moisturize. It is about applying lotions, potions and scrubs, eliminating dead cells and free radicals, regenerating new growth, countering UVA, UVB rays and pollutants, raising SPFs, AHAs, retinol A… you would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you are undertaking some sort of covert secret service operation!

The key here is not to get caught up by the excessive marketing techniques used by some advertisers. Now this may seem ironic, seeing as we are operating in the very business of looks, fashion, beauty and their respective products. Marketing rule number one is this: a beauty marketing company will find an inadequacy in us, or make us feel like we have one. Uneven skin tone, lines, wrinkles, spots, greasy skin, dry skin, pale skin, patchy skin, open pores, the list goes on. It will then produce a ‘solution’, claiming that this miracle product will solve all your problems – but if you listen very closely to their carefully selected words, you will hear phrases like, ‘this product will give you the appearance of glowing skin, even tones, visible blur, closed pores’, etc. Many will be careful never to claim that their creams can make your skin younger or give you a facelift, only the appearance as such. This is where it is important to know and understand the industry you are getting into.

waterdrink watermix drink

This is also where you need to get smart and make sure that you take care of yourself as much as you can by eating healthily, drinking plenty of water and doing the right things to maintain good, clear, healthy skin. Getting enough sleep – roughly 8-10 hours per night, dependant on whether you are a teenager, in which case, it’s closer to 10, but generally, even doctors will tell you that 8 hours is a good amount of hours in which to be fully rested and refreshed by morning. Drinking plenty of fresh water – 1.5 to 2 litres per day. Not all in one go, naturally… just as and when.

Starting your day (as soon as you have swished your mouth and cleaned your teeth and tongue) by drinking a cool, fresh glass of water on an empty stomach will help rehydrate you after 8 hours of fasting in your sleep and thus dehydrating yourself. Another great way to start your day is to drink a cup of tepid water mixed with the juice of half a lemon. This is ideal, as this solution alkalises your system, eliminating acidity, which ultimately is said to prevent cancer. Not only does this miracle solution do all of this, but it also cleanses your kidneys and liver, kick-starts your immune system into action mode for the day and eventually leaves you with beautifully flawless and glowing skin. (It is generally recommended after drinking water on an empty stomach to wait for half an hour to an hour before eating)

Along side keeping our skin clean, exfoliated and moisturised – and this does not mean just starting at the forehead and stopping at the chin – we need to pay special attention to moisturising what beauty experts refer to as the décolletage. This refers the neck and upper chest area – which also ages sooner, especially when perfumes (alcohol based) are perpetually sprayed on this point or if it is not taken proper care of by moisturising on a daily basis. Add to these areas your elbows and knees (which are usually the first body parts said to lose elasticity over time) and particularly hands and feet – parts that are frequently exposed to the camera, client’s inspection and also to the lovely audience sitting at eye level to the catwalk, as you walk it.

There are plenty of reasonably priced clay, moisturising, deep cleansing and even anti-ageing face packs and further natural products that are available from your local chemist, supermarket or health food store. Alternatively, you can make your own face packs from vegetable or fruit pulp (scraping just beneath the skin is best and is where the fruit contains the most nutrients).

Whilst you are making your morning smoothie or green smoothie for breakfast, what is stopping you from taking a couple of strawberries and literally squishing and smearing them all over your face? You think I’m kidding? My friend swore by this and I laughed when she told me all about it over the telephone, but I wasn’t laughing anymore when I next saw her in person. Her skin looked like she had just come back from an expensive spa break!

coconut oil

There are plenty of age-old skin treatment methods and remedies for smoother skin, exfoliation, cleansing and lifting and tightening the skin, by using simple food products such as oatmeal, honey, lemon juice and fruit and vegetable pulp. Don’t forget one of the most versatile products of all – coconut oil.  Pure coconut oil is not only delicious to add to cooking, it is wonderful for the condition of your hair, skin and for what is known as oil pulling.  Oil pulling is a technique used to pull and remove plaque and particles from our teeth, as well as whitening them.  It is done by swishing oil in the mouth for around 20 minutes and then spitting it out.  (If you are environmentally conscious, you might want to spit it into a tissue and flush it, rather than clogging up your drain).  There will be more on oil pulling in a later episode on health.

Fruit and vegetables contain vital enzymes that nourish the skin, as well as taking off dead surface layers to promote new growth or produce polished spa-looking skin, all for a miniscule fraction of the price of a weekend away.

In conclusion, how we look after ourselves determines what we eventually become. We can eat properly to nourish, not just fill ourselves; we can keep well hydrated. We should get plenty of sleep – at least 8 hours per night. Take regular exercise and keep moving frequently, undertaking powerwalks or activities such as yoga or swimming.   All of these activities and more utilise deep breathing techniques, promote energy by oxygenating our blood stream that ultimately feed our skin and cells. As you breathe in, you generate energy, or what is known in Yoga as prana. As you breathe out, you push out all the toxins. Yoga and meditation are also great ways to remain stress-free and therefore healthier, both inside and out. These are also topics that we will explore in more detail later in the series, so that you can find and develop a practice that fits into your day and suits you best.

With all of these simple and affordable techniques and regimes, we really cannot go far wrong. In return, our body will repay us by staying younger longer, because we are giving it a fighting chance to regenerate itself. That is what we are built to do. Regenerate. We just need to recognise this and be kinder to ourselves.

 

Written by Brucella Newman

 

 

 

Crystal Cups Yogawear and Kundalini Yoga – A Match Made in Heaven

crystal cups lifestyle wear

The first time I tried on the Crystal Cups Om Yoga top and Kali leggings, I found myself revelling over how soft they felt next to my skin. More to the point, I had no idea that this was how bamboo clothing would feel! Crystal Cups Yoga and Pilates wear comprise of 95% Bamboo and 5% Elastane.  When I tried the yogawear on, it felt extremely comfortable – so much so that I could liken it to a very comfy second skin. Everything both clung and supported in all the right places and really flattered and enhanced my shape, which gave me even more confidence that I’d finally chosen the right gear!

So I decided to test run my new Crystal Cups outfit during my Maya Fiennes Kundalini Yoga class and was pleasantly surprised at how they appeared to self regulate with my body temperature. Its natural thermo regulating technology kept me warm when I needed at the beginning of the class and cool when I became overheated as I became more physically active, after my warm up.

I chose the Om yoga top because I was drawn to its empire neckline style with the keyhole opening, which I found really attractive. The loose panelling gave me freedom to move just as I wanted and the top didn’t keep flapping up, become static (which can often be the case with some workout wear) or get caught on something whenever I bent over. It simply ‘swung’ back into position. I also liked the fact that I could adjust the sleeves up or down by preference, without compromising the look of the top.

kali-leggings

My favourite aspect of the Crystal Cups Om Yoga top is the ingeniously placed discreet panel, especially designed for me to place my little crystals next to my heart chakra, as I did my Kundalini Yoga session. It brought some comfort knowing that my little crystals were safe and doing their work, whilst I worked on the rest of my chakras!

During a work out, some leggings have been known to do unspeakable things at the most inopportune moments, resulting in one having to hitch them back into place as discreetly as possible. But with the Kali leggings, I didn’t have any issues at all. They felt like a second skin, gave at the right points, whether I was in lotus, crab or downward facing dog and I never had to adjust them – not once.

I have been working out in various forms for many years and have never – until now – found workout gear that makes me feel as good as my actual workout! I love my Crystal Cups yogawear and would happily recommend them to anyone who is looking for the perfect combination of comfort and style, along with a unique and special place to keep their crystal securely, whilst enjoying the optimum Yoga experience.

chakra healing crystals

For me, the combination of practicing Kundalini Yoga and wearing Crystal Cups Yogawear couldn’t form a more perfect synergy.  In this day and age, it is vital to find an outlet to counter life’s daily stresses that can, if you allow them to, take over your life, eventually culminating in toxic build up, leading to health issues, stress and fatigue.  Working on unblocking your chakras through these practices helps your energy to flow freely, as it was always meant to, whilst improving your life in more ways than you can ever imagine.

Ladies, if you’re interested in the Crystal Cups concept and finding the perfect Yoga and Pilates wear for you, Crystal Cups Lifestyle will be appearing and exhibiting at the Om Yoga Show in Manchester (Manchester Central) on 10th and 11th May, 2014.  They will also be in London on 24th, 25th and 26th October 2014.  Check out http://www.omyogashow.com

Crystal Cups Lifestyle also design lingerie, daywear and loungewear, with the same discreet crystal cups pocket theme running throughout their line, so you can keep your precious little crystal next to your heart all day and night long!

Check out all that Crystal Cups Lifestyle has to offer at: http://www.crystalcupslifestyle

Also, check out Maya’s Kundalini Yoga at her Maya Space website at: http://www.mayaspace.com/kundalini-yoga.html

 

carry-om-large

 

By Brucella Newman

 

 

Excerpt From “Tell Me, Dr Grace,” a novel by Brucella Newman

Chapter One Dr Vanessa Grace Dr Vanessa Grace swept into her sleek contemporary office, dropped her leather Gucci briefcase down by the side of her desk and picked up her messages that her assistant had, without fail, left for her … Continue reading

Read the latest exclusive and candid int

Read the latest exclusive and candid interview with former “Bomb The Bass” vocalist, Loretta Heywood, who is back on the music circuit with her brand new band, “Five Shades.”

https://brucellanewman.com/2014/01/20/this-girl-an-exclusive-interview-with-singer-songwriter-loretta-heywood-by-brucella-newman/

This Girl: An Exclusive Interview with Singer-Songwriter Loretta Heywood by Brucella Newman

This Girl: An Exclusive Interview with Singer-Songwriter Loretta Heywood

After a two decade-long musical hiatus, Loretta Heywood is back on the music circuit with her brand new EP, 5 Shades of Blue, which was taken from her first series of recordings, entitled The Boy Across The Road.  Loretta also … Continue reading