Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

A la Mode Appraisal has now moved home!

24 Oct

Dear readers,

Thank you so much for continuing to read A la Mode Appraisal and I hope that you find my reviews to be useful.

I have decided that my reviews for A la Mode Appraisal would be quite appropriate for my primary blog, Mixed Gems, and so I am now posting my reviews in a new A la Mode Appraisal column over there. You can visit Mixed Gems by following this link.

This website will remain active in the mean time and I hope you like my new home!

Lots of love,

Rosaleen x


Makeup Your Mind, Express Yourself by François Nars

2 Jul

Makeup Your Mind, Express Yourself by François Nars

All makeup artists are besotted with the power of transformation. Every time we take a brush to hand we are embarking upon the task of creating a whole new persona for a client and are responsible for making them feel like a new person, whoever that may be. Now, makeup artist and photographer extraordinaire François Nars, founder of Nars cosmetics, has decided to spill all of his beauty tricks and unveil his artistry secrets.

It is quite poignant to note the fascination between makeup artists and transformation, because Nars himself has actually transformed thisvery book. First  released some years ago as simply Makeup Your Mind, Nars has chosen to makeover his original guide with specific references to Nars products and techniques that will enable the reader to replicate looks exactly. In double page spreads, Nars provides his before and after shots of models that have recieved a pampering from him. In between each two-page spread a cellophane sheet- to be placed over the after shot- annotates the image and details exactly which products have been used. Featuring makeovers on people of all ages, races, skintones and of both sexes, this guide is an unmissable how-to for every makeup requirement.

Striking the perfect balance of theory and practical evidence, Nars begins the book by helping the reader to identify their own makeup needs. He provides information on how to assess their skin, how to prepare their skin for makeup, which tools to use for optimum results and other likewise essentials. He also gives his top ten makeup tips including: “10. Have some fun! It’s only makeup!”

Guarantee to instil a sense of confidence and ability in the reader, Nars proves in this book that all beauty lovers are capable of expressing themselves with makeup and encourages them to do so accordingly. “François Nars is an anti-depressant. There is an innate positivity in his message: adorn, enhance, attract, allure and express!”

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10 – a timeless manual for any makeup artist or lover of Nars.

Makeup Your Mind, Express Yourself is published by Rizzoli International Publications and will teach you all of the tricks of the Nars trade for $45.00.

If you liked this, you may also like Express Makeup by Rae Morris.

Style Yourself, Inspirational Advice from the World’s Hottest Fashion Bloggers

13 Jun

Foreword by Jane Aldridge

Since the internet was launched, fashion bloggers have taken the web by storm and created an infectious network. Perfect for supporting those in need of fashion inspiration and daring readers to explore the endless possibilities within their wardrobes, there are tons of style writers all over the world uploading invaluable fashion content every day. Now, 95 of the best bloggers, from the UK to Japan, from the USA to Norway, have joined forces to compile the ultimate guide in personal style.

In a guide that is both logical and whimsical, bloggers give their advice on all wardrobe essentials. The book begins with a guide to which  items specifically should make up your wardrobe, e.g. number of skirts, tops and shoes, and then as it continues each garment is evaluated in meticulous details. Styles and shapes for each piece are explored and suggestions are made as to which variety of each garment is most suited to each individual. Throughout this process, bloggers sprinkle in their in-depth features on how to style a particular part of your wardrobe. Whether you’re after some advice on which colour suits you best, what trousers accentuate your shape or what kind of purse will compliment your earrings, this book is not to be missed. The balance between creating attainable concepts and outlandish collaborations is incredibly refreshing.

For a glimpse at some of the contributors personal blogs, why not visit some of the following websites?

Susie Lau from London, England
Style Bubble

Carolina Engman from Stockholm, Sweden
Fashion Squad

Funeka Ngwevela from Johannesburg, South Africa
Quirky Stylista

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Style Yourself is published by Apple Press and will inspire you to play with your wardrobe for just £14.99.

If you liked this you may also like Style Diaries by Simone Werle.

Vintage Fashion Sourcebook by Emma Baxter-Wright, Karen Clarkson, Sarah Kennedy and Kate Mulvey

12 Jun

New Looks and Labels and Where to Find Them

It is always lovely to have a one-off piece in your wardrobe that stands out a mile and can’t be replaced. You are never going to turn up to a dinner party in the same dress as someone else if it was a hand-me-down from your grandmother, or be embarrassed that someone is wearing the same cuff links as you if you’ve spent an hour on your hands and knees rummaging through the accessories at a charity shop. This sentiment seems to have spread to the minds of the mainstream fashion consumer in the last few years, leading to an enormous rise in popularity of vintage clothing. With so many competitive sellers on hand to offer their designs, and so many frauds willing to charge a fortune for a modern replica, four industry insiders have decided to unveil all about the world of vintage fashion.

In a decade by decade guide to vintage fashions of the twentieth century, the Vintage Fashion Sourcebook allows the reader to absorb trends of a specific period in fashion and to trace exactly where styles originated. This is helpful on numerous levels; not only can the vintage buyer gain a clear indication of how old their garment really is, but they can style an outfit to replicate a specific era should they need to. All sorts of context is given to fashion as the decades are explored, for example the vinyl dresses of Paco Rabanne are compared to the “party atmosphere” of London in the 1960’s and the hip-hop music of the 1980’s attributed to a “passion for bling and sportswear”.

To conclude the vintage timeline, the Vintage Fashion Sourcebook then goes on to offer tips on how to choose a vintage garment wisely, how to care for vintage appropriately, and offers a number of suggestions in regard to the best vintage sellers in England. Most of the boutiques are based in London which is unsurprising but nonetheless annoying for people from other parts of the country, so the ladies have also included a number of online outlets to accommodate for those outside of the capital.

An enjoyable and easy to follow book, this short read would be a lovely gift to a vintage lover who is eager to learn about the origins of their favourite garments.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10 – great value for money.

Vintage Fashion Sourcebook is published by Carlton Books and is an essential buy for all lovers of vintage at a very reasonable £5.99.

If you liked this, you may also like Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox.

Drinkology, the Art and Science of the Cocktail by James Waller

11 Jan

In the name of animating the words from this book in an unbearably exquisite manner, I have chosen to feature some photographs of Piaget’s Limelight jewellery collection. The range includes a series of precious-stone rings that have been inspired by some of the most famous contemporary cocktails.

Picture the scenario if you will.

Your toes have surpassed the stinging sensations and are now comfortably numb in the oh-so-dainty looking heels you purchased with your grocery money. An already delicate waist is being cinched to distraction by an impossibly beautiful belt, creating an alluring hourglass silhouette at the expense of your ribs and, indeed, your breathing.  Those false eyelashes you spent so long in the mirror perfecting lay heavily on your eyelids, causing every blink to require the utmost strength and composure. But, naturally, you couldn’t care less. You’re at the bar, with one set of crimson polished finger nails clutching an exquisitely frosted glass, and elegantly sipping the most luxuriously blended cocktail you have ever had the pleasure of consuming.

This is the scenario of the girl about town who’s bartender has had the intelligence to familiarise himself with Drinkology.

A recipe book with a twist, Drinkology combines the art of creating a perfect cocktail with the fascinating details of how the cocktail came to fame in the first place. Divided into easy to read sections based on the key ingredients that you could use, the book manages to give context and insight to some of the most popular and established drinks that you could think of. Not just catering to the classics, the lovely thing about this book is that it explores cocktails that you could never even imagine had existed, and even acknowledges this sometimes and assures you to trust the unknown.

Here were some of the cocktails that sounded the most exciting to me:


  • Broadway: Combining lager and coca-cola for a cocktail that is “very popular in Japan”.
  • Cherry Blossom: “Color is decidedly unlike that of a blooming cherry tree” but very “nicely balanced” and “not too sweet”.
  • American Beauty: A fruity concoction, “the shockingly pink colour resembles nothing found in nature”.

Champagne and Sparkling Wine

  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie: A Drinkology original, the “herbal quality of the rhubarb bitters tartly contends with the strawberry liqueur’s sweetness”.


  • Beauty Spot: A pale concoction, this is described as “a pageant winner”.
  • English Rose: Just like it’s floral companion, the English Rose is “pink and ladylike”.
  • Snowball: A licorice flavoured cocktail, this is creamy and has a “vaguely disturbing greenish tinge”.
  • Banshee: I used to love the legend of the Banshee when I was younger so this creamy cocktail caught my eye.
  • Dreamsicle: A creamy and fruity number, this drink is described as “smashing”.
  • Pink Squirrel: Admittedly I’m not too keen on the recipe for this one, the name was just too good to pass by!


  • Caribbean Millionaire: Absolutely loaded with rich, fruity blends, and “garishly overproduced” in a good way.
  • Gorilla Tit: A powerful blend of three dark, strong flavours, and “cola-coloured”.
  • Scorpion: A lovely mix that will “sting if you’re not careful”; sounds identical to me, a fellow Scorpio…


  • Asian Pear: Does what it says on the tin and tastes “astonishingly like a tree-ripened fresh pear”.
  • The most hysterically named of all of the cocktails in the book, I thought it would be poignant (as a literature lover) to finish with this- the Tequila Mockingbird. A lime infused drink, the author himself notes that he would “love to make the acquaintance of the master punster who gave this unusual drink it’s name”.

Having contradicted my expectations that this would merely be a recipe book for the cabinet, I was pleased and excited to find lots of additional information in regard to bar tending and how to maintain your own miniature bar among the blend bible. Catering, too, for those who may be new to experimenting with alcohol, the book gives basic guides to things such as when to use what glass and also what phrases such as “on the rocks” really mean (with ice in that case). If you enjoy taking the time to enjoy the aromatic and sensuous side of drinking alcohol then this book is definitely for you. A la Mode Appraisal: 8/10 

Drinkology is published by Stewart Tabori & Chang and and is available now at all good book stores for £15.99.