High Brow

It’s not often that I get the urge to blog about beauty tips but this week’s photo challenge, “selfie”, has inspired me to demonstrate the amazing art of eyebrow shaping. I’ll be honest, bad eyebrows make me cringe. Far too many women (and beauticians) over-pluck their brows. Ouch! Why? Over-plucked brows make you look tired, old and in some extreme cases, permanently surprised. And what’s with the eyebrow tattooing? There’s absolutely no need for that! I know they say beauty is pain but it doesn’t have to be torture!

The best piece of beauty advice I have to offer is, find yourself a great brow artist. A great brow artist is not your beautician. She is a specialist and she will probably tell you to grow your brows as much as possible before she gets her hands on them. She will then shape your brows with military precision, tint them and maybe even pencil in an imperfection or two. When I leave my brow artist, I look like I’ve had a brow lift, she’s just that good.

So, here are my selfies, with and without a surgery-free brow lift from the lovely Jazz Pampling.

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The Canvas Exposed

This week’s photo challenge (The Hue of You) inspired me to tell a story about a photograph of me that I love. Clearly the hue in this photograph is a striking, glamorous, vibrant, perfect red…

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Obviously I didn’t take this photograph. It is the work of an amazing Australian fashion photographer by the name of David Gubert. On this occasion, I spent a solid two hours with Brad Mullins (hairstylist extraordinare) adding layers of extra hair section by section before moving down the production line to Katrina Raftery, who effortlessly and expertly applied my glamorous make-up . I was also lucky enough to be bathed in spectacular lighting before the rest of my flaws were seen to by a few hours of retouching. The girl in that picture isn’t me at all, she’s an artwork produced by a brilliant team of professionals, I was merely the canvas.

Last weekend, I took the following self portrait…

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This is me after a day at the races. I’m happy, relaxed, my long wear hot pink lipstick is nowhere to be seen and my freckles are no match for what’s left of my foundation. The hue in this photograph is a far cry from striking red but I like to think it’s still pretty. It’s an elegant, pastel pink, the canvas stripped bare. Ok, almost bare, there’s a definite hint of mascara that’s in it for the long haul.

By the way, that’s Meb in the background being quietly amused by me taking a “selfie” with a DSLR camera.

The Art of Modelling Lingerie

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Image by Claudio Raschella

Lingerie shoots are never easy. I always leave a lingerie shoot feeling like I’ve just done a pilates class. I can’t speak for all women but for me it’s a natural instinct to engage my abdominal muscles with all my might when I’m getting around in lingerie. Add to that the fact that I’m wearing heels to make my legs look longer and slimmer, and it makes for quite a workout.

It’s very rare that the garments fit perfectly, they’re usually too big and that’s fairly easily fixed with silicone fillets, pins and toilet roll (stylist’s secret weapon). Actually, there isn’t much that can’t be fixed if the garment is too big, but when it’s too small we run into trouble. This usually happens when the client is expanding their range to include plus sizes (no pun intended) and they don’t have access to the larger samples in time for the shoot. When garments are too small, the scissors come out and in one particular horror story, the stylist and I were dealing with a too small g-string.

The offending g-string was snipped in two places. Now I ask you, how does a g-string stay on when it’s been snipped in two places? Gaffer tape, that’s how. The stylist had no option but to tape what was left of the g-string to my derrière and I was good to go…sideways, with my back to whatever wall I could find.

I don’t want to frighten anyone who has an upcoming lingerie shoot. This scenario is very rare and, as far as I know, has only happened to me. Having said that, it’s a good idea to approach all lingerie shoots with your sense of humour intact and, if you see fit, say a little prayer to the retouching gods on your way out.

NB: No gaffer tape was used in production of the above image, just an awesome art director, a fabulous make-up artist, a lovely client, and did I mention the amazing Claude..?

“Get your fat hoof into the designer shoe”

Said the stylist. In all fairness, she was being facetious, not abusive and my long skinny hoof may as well have been fat when I took on those designer gladiator heels. They were a small size 41, I am a large size 42. Yes indeed I have very big feet but I’m 6’ (183cm) tall, what do you want from me? Nevertheless, the show would not go on if the shoe did not go on and so began the battle of Alana vs Gladiator.

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While this is not an image of the offending shoe, it does bear a very strong resemblance and serves the purpose of illustrating the degree of difficulty in getting it on.

It started out ok, with the soft leather welcoming my toes and the ball of my foot, but when Gladiator saw how much more foot was to come, he tightened up a little bit.

“Stop, you’re going to stretch me! Nobody told me I would have to stretch! No, please, I haven’t limbered up! Does anyone have any oil?”

If this shoe were a party, there would only be room for 41 very slender guests and there were 42 not so slender guests on their way in. This wouldn’t do, it was going to be uncomfortable but we couldn’t leave anyone out in the cold…or could we?

“Ok, we can get 42 in but some of you will have to occupy the deck and a couple of you will have to hang over the edge. Apologies.”

It took a solid 15 minutes but with subtle manipulation of the leather straps, a little more than a peep toe protruding from the front and abundant perseverance with a very stubborn zipper, the shoe fit…enough.

Now I like to think of myself as the ultimate professional, I walk well in heels even though I very rarely wear them. Alas, these gladiators defeated me. The 6” heel, coupled with the cramped accommodations had me walking like an old drag queen. I was in too much pain to be embarrassed and I was thanking my lucky stars that this was just a photographic shoot and not a runway show.

Then came the news that I would be wearing the same shoes in every shot so I may as well just leave them on. Awesome. I spent two hours straight standing in those heels. By the end of the shoot I couldn’t feel my toes and my calves were so stretched out that I found it hard to walk flat footed. Still, we got the shots, they’ll be beautiful and women everywhere will covet those fabulous gladiators.

I fought the gladiator and the gladiator won.