Archive for January, 2011

Aston Martin Cygnet

The latest news from Aston is that their concept city car the Cygnet will go into production this year. A small city car unlike anything they have ever produced (you may have seen it featured in one of the Harrods Christmas window displays for a while). I’ll bring you more on the Cygnet in later editions.

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Aston Martin – Track Day

It’s fair to say that it is almost every man’s dream to sit behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. So an invitation to experience not one, but five of their current models on a closed circuit was an opportunity not to be missed! I was invited to join a small exclusive group of people to spend a day putting all the current models through their paces. The cars were the V8 Vantage SportShift, V12, DB9 Touchtronic, Rapide and DBS Touchtronic. What a dream line up.

Millbrook is a 40 yr old test facility originally set up by General Motors and now used by nearly all the manufacturers. Featuring a high-speed bowl, two and a half mile hill route, city routes and standing mile, it enables hard testing of cars and drivers in a safe and controlled environment. Although I did wonder why they wouldn’t allow us to use the off-road and water bath routes. Aston Martin have their own facility here where prospective and confirmed buyers can get some hands-on training in their dream cars. Aston still remains in the old tradition of custom building to every customers spec. You can’t just go and buy a new car from a showroom, so every vehicle is slightly different as you can choose the colour, interior finish, trim etc.

A short two or three laps in each vehicle was not enough for an in depth report but an overall impression of these luxurious vehicles capabilities. The V8 Vantage Sportshift was for the standing mile on the circuit. With the vehicle’s amazing acceleration it was time to brake almost as soon as you got the speed up. A very steady and well balanced car that almost kicked you in the kidneys as you changed gears up and floored the throttle!

Taking the cars on the hill circuit was an eye opener, having driven the circuit many times in the past on SMMT test days. Plus having one of Aston Martin’s own professional instructors on hand certainly improved my perception and speed on the hill. The cars are all very similar inside; deep luxurious leather trim and well finished facia and instrument clusters. The touchtronic gearbox was simple and as one would expect, well positioned for ease of use. The surprise came with the 4-door Rapide, which from the outside looks almost identical to the other models. And when the instructor asked me to sit in the back, I was rather apprehensive as you can imagine since I stand at over 6.7ft! But much to my (pleasant) surprise, it was fairly comfortable, especially when compared to similar 2+2 sports cars. It wasn’t knee knockingly tight, but I wouldn’t want to travel all day in the back.

So to our final test; having driven the bowl at Millbrook we were not really allowed on the lip top lane. Each lane is designed for certain speeds, so after careful instruction we did the lip circuit at 100mph with no hands on the wheel. I can tell you, it takes a bit of getting used to driving at such high speed and putting your trust in the centrifugal and gravitational pull to hold you on line. All in all a thrilling day and can’t wait to get the chance to drive one of the cars on a proper road test.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX2 DB9 Transponder

So what can you possibly buy for the owner of one of the finest and last remaining pieces of British engineering?
Well, Aston Martin have their own range of luxury goods, but the ultimate must-have has got to be the latest incarnation of the AMVOX Transponder watch from luxury Swiss watch maker Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Following on from the DBS and Rapide, the AMVOX2 DB9 Transponder is a third generation luxury timepiece, which in true James Bond fashion, can be used to open the DB9 by simply pressing on the sapphire crystal of their watch. When first launched two years ago, the Transponder was the first mechanical watch that allowed you to control access to your vehicle using the built-in micro transmitter.

This is the latest collaboration between the two companies, and one which takes luxury merged with technology to new heights. Understated elegance at its best. The watch is available to order from the Aston Martin dealership network and priced at £12,426.

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MAZDA 5 – UK launch

Press launches are a rare occasion to be a passenger as well as a driver. So a 2-day trip down to Devon and Cornwall to try out the improved latest version of the Mazda 5 was just such an opportunity as well as a chance to get to sample some great food and lifestyle down there. Lunch at Jamie Oliver’s 15, a restaurant run to help young people get a job opportunity and a career, was a splendid opportunity to relax and eat as we watched the surfers and half-term holiday crowds on the wide beach at Watergate bay.

Then it was off into the cars for driving across the moors and the winding small roads of Devon and Cornwall. So the car was a people carrier of which we had two different models to try. The two petrol vehicles we tried (2.0litre and the 1-8 litre) were underpowered (diesel models will be available later in the year in the UK).

The steep hills and tight turns of the small roads of this part of England showed this, with a lot of driving resorting to 2nd gear. The other major fault on the six-speed gearboxes is the reverse gear. No lock or gate meant as I changed down on a tight steep hairpin it easily dropped into reverse! My other gripe was with the front passenger seat where I was constantly rubbing my knees on the dash, so not ideal for the taller person. The rear seats can be configured in several ways depending on loading and passengers, with seating for up to 7, in three rows of 2-3-2 configuration. The side sliding doors mean easy access for rear passengers from either side when the car is parked in tight spaces, with doors opening to 686mm and barely standing out from the side of the car at 160mm. The rear seats can also be flattened in various configurations giving a large flat space for big loads.

But if you are tall be aware of the tailgate which is at eye /head catching height when opened up. The dash has a large selection of buttons 13e switches of which 5 are blank possibly for fog lights etc. The driver’s side has no less than 10 switches, but the one thing missing was the sat-nav! None of the models we tested had any fitted, which these days is a standard and not an extra in most cars. However, the 2.0 comes with i-stop which is becoming another standard in many vehicles as petrol prices soar, so there was a little saving grace. After a night in Rick Stein’s delightful hotel/restaurant, including a cookery demonstration in his cookery school followed by a sumptuous meal in the restaurant, we woke early for a drive up across Bodmin Moor. It was raining and the vehicle didn’t like the strong winds. The difference between the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines is not very noticeable and still the gear ratios of the vehicle are not very well suited to a people carrier. All in all not the best of the people carriers although a gourmet tour of Devon and Cornwall did make it a worthwhile road test…

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The Art of Guerlain

As an artist, you may not be familiar with her work, but chances are you have worn a fragrance or used a cosmetic product bearing her family name!

Marie Guerlain is a sixth generation descendent of the legendary Guerlain perfume and cosmetics dynasty. Having studied fine art at the prestigious Parsons School of Design, Marie is now settled in London, where she is juggling her art with motherhood and her humanitarian pursuits. A gentle soul by nature, Marie has that rare fragile quality that you can’t help but instantly warm to. You are drawn to her down-to-earth demeanour, a trait which belies the determination of a woman who clearly knows what she wants out of life. The passion with which she speaks of matters close to her heart, and the warmth of her personality, shine through immediately and endear her to you even more.

Art is Marie’s first passion in life. “I’ve always wanted to be an artist ever since I could hold a pencil. And when I left art school, I immediately began working as a professional artist” says the surrealist painter, who counts Picasso, Matisse and Frida Kahlo amongst her heroes. And it is with her art that Marie is looking to involve and inspire others through the humanitarian causes she is involved with, namely Innocence in Danger, a children’s charity which is already established in many countries worldwide. For the past few years, Marie has been busy in her Chelsea studio producing paintings for future exhibitions. As well as these, Marie is using her
celebrity name to raise much needed funds and awareness for the IID, which will no doubt bring her to the public consciousness even more.

Woman pretty and grooming 2010

As Chairman of the UK arm of Innocence in Danger, Marie is actively involved in the setting up and running of the operation in the UK; which helps rehabilitate sexually
abused children using art therapy. “Innocence in Danger is an organisation that operates in 29 countries. Our aim is to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation which includes child trafficking, paedophilia and child images of sexual abuse on the internet. I chose to work with this organisation because it’s something I felt a real connection with.”

The charity works closely with the families of abused children, as well as leading
psychologists, doctors and artists to provide a support structure in a trusted and safe environment. Creative therapies like art, drama and music are used to aid with the healing process of affected children. “As a mother it is deeply upsetting to know that there are approximately 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys being sexually abused before the age of 16. I have a strong urge inside me to help affected children recover from their experiences.”

The charity is already getting a lot of attention including the backing of luxury jewellers Adler, which is holding a two-week exhibition of her art in their Bond Street shop in February. Expect to see more of Marie; the Guerlain girl who’s calling in life is perhaps a lot more than just skin deep…

For more information on Marie Guerlain or Innocence in Danger, log on to: or

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Melvita men’s shaving range

The men’s shaving range from Melvita is definitely amongst some of the best products we’ve tested to date!
Used in conjunction with one another, the shaving cream and after–shave balm leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated. With active ingredients including birch sap, shea butter, cypress nuts and olive leaves, the skin is left feeling refreshed and invigorated. Highly recommended.

Shaving Cream £14.00
After shave balm £15.00
Available from Harrods and John Lewis, as well as their new flagship store in Covent Garden.

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Nougat Cherry Blossom bath range

For a truly pampering bathtime experience, try these products from Nougat. With active ingredients including bergamot, cherry blossom, sandalwood and musk, you will feel intoxicated with the light fragrance and left with skin as smooth and soft as a baby’s bottom!

Soothing Bath Pearls in Cherry Blossom: RRP £25.00
Nourishing Bath Velvet in Cherry Blossom: RRP £25.00
Available from the Nougat Spa and Salon:

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Sustainable Property Developments

Eco-Conscious Investment opportunities with pazazz…

GEORGE Clooney hangs out at an eco resort so exclusive its name dare not be mentioned. Leonardo di Caprio’s a fan (he owns an eco island), Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt too. Even Manchester United footballer Gary Neville is trying to build an eco home in the hills outside Manchester.

Yes, green has become the new luxury it seems when it comes to our homes. So fashionable have eco homes and products become, Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin of Bridget Jones and Mama Mia! film fame, has opened a shop called Eco in trendy Chiswick in west London. The 41-year-old, mother of two boys, started the business Eco-Age nearly three years ago, and it has become a de-rigeur place to shop for west London eco-aware ladies. Anwar Harland-Khan, CEO of Sustain Worldwide, which is a collective of the world’s leading sustainable property developers and professionals, said: “The sustainable homes of today are stylish, beautifully finished,
invariably with warm and light spaces for living. They are also where the smart investment money is being spent these days – it stands to reason. Not only will properties be cheaper to run – because they will require less heating, will be better insulated and fitted out with energy saving applications – they will increase in value faster because the homes are more ‘future proofed’ than a conventionally built existing house. This means costly retro-fitting to bring the property up to standard will be avoided.”

A recent survey by leading estate agent Knight Frank found that 32 per cent of the 142 senior housebuilding representatives polled, believed there will be a value premium for sustainable homes built to the highest standard. (And those guys are the ones who know what’s going on in the housing market.) But if you’re still not convinced, figure in that the house that you live in says as much about you as the car you drive and the clothes you wear. Whether you are male or female, owning a sustainable first, second or investment property demonstrates that you are socially responsible, ahead of the curve and can afford to purchase a state-of-the-art home.

What’s more, sustainable homes are the cutting edge of architectural design: they look and perform like a million dollars. Invariably constructed using sustainably sourced materials, the contemporary sustainable home is often a cool glass, timber and render edifice, which shouts stylish modernity. These homes demand to be looked at and their performance ensures they are taken seriously. Harland-Khan said: “We are at a moment in time when sustainable properties represent great value for money. Right now they don’t necessarily cost any more to buy than a conventional house because the market will not bear a price premium – much to developers chagrin – although they cost more to build and perform better. In time, I predict there will be a price uplift for sustainable homes over and above the market. It’s inevitable. And turning a blind eye to sustainable homes is not an option. It’s the future. It’s as simple as that because sustainable, eco or green (call it what you will), is the way all residential and commercial property is being developed worldwide – whether through government legislation, or because we are all slowly but surely becoming more environmentally aware. So don’t get used to it. Get ahead of it”.

Why sustainable homes are investible now

Five reasons why your next property purchase should be a sustainable new one:

1 – They look a million dollars, baby!
Sustainable homes are the cutting edge of architectural design: they look and perform like a million dollars. Invariably constructed from sustainable sources the contemporary sustainable home is often a glass, timber and render edifice, which shouts stylish modernity. These homes demand to be looked at – their performance ensures they are taken seriously.

2 – Investment uplift – show me the money!

A US study of rental rates and selling prices of Energy Star and LEED-rated (two robust, independent certification methodologies) commercial buildings versus conventional control buildings, 10,000 buildings altogether, found ‘green’ rental rates were 3% higher. Actual selling prices were 16% higher.

3 – They perform well too.
Well-constructed properties will out last poorly conceived and badly built ones, which will maintain and even increase the property’s value for longer at less ongoing expense. Furthermore, properties which are designed and fitted out with appropriately specified and procured renewable energy technologies will have a built in ‘future proofing’ of the asset, providing a competitive advantage.

4 – They save you money and hassle.
Better-constructed properties require less cost-incurring maintenance than poorly built ones. Those that are built to rigorous energy efficiency and environmental standards additionally perform better in energy efficiency and water consumption, which will furthermore save money in operational phases for property owners.

5 – They make you look good – honey traps!
Purchasing a sustainable property demonstrates that the buyer is socially responsible, and ahead of the curve – because he is attuned to sustainability issues, and can afford to purchase a state-of-the-art home. Much like driving a Prius car, owning a sustainable home is a badge of honour for the clued up, forward thinking, urban professional.

This article was written by Gordon Miller, who is the Sustainability & Communications Director of Sustain Worldwide. He also works as a journalist, writing for The Financial Times and Sunday Times, amongst other publications, and is founder of eco homes website
For further information about investing in sustainable properties or any of the properties featured in the article, contact Sustain Worldwide on: +44 (0)20 7754 5557 or log on to the website:

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The Sustain Worldwide Luxury Collection

By Gordon Miller at Sustain Worldwide

AlmaVerde Village & Spa, nr Lagos, Western Algarve, Portugal
AlmaVerde is a pioneering luxury eco resort, located in the underdeveloped and unspoiled Western Algarve. AlmaVerde’s stylish villa properties’ eco credentials include adobe bricks and the innovative Coolhouse cooling and heating system, which reduces energy consumption by as much as 94 per cent over conventional air-conditioning.
Prices start from €550,000

L’Amandier, Atlas Mountains of Marrakech, Morocco
L’Amandier is an exquisite boutique resort development of just 15 exclusive villas, located in a lush valley overlooked by the snow-peaked Atlas Mountains. The project was conceived by award-winning London-based architect Nick Gowing, and has been developed as a low-density and authentic contemporary vision of traditional Moroccan riad-style architecture.
Prices start from £319,000

Porto Heli Collection, Peleponnese, Greece
The Porto Heli Collection features branded Aman, GHM and Nikki Beach Villas and Residences, and unbranded Golf and Sea Front villas. Already available for sale, are the Aman Villas at Porto Heli, which feature a limited number of exclusive, spectacular designer residences for sale, each with elevated vistas out to the Sea. Sustainable resource management minimises energy and water use,
emissions and waste production.
Prices start from €2m

Joia das Dunas, Santa Cruz nr Lisbon, Silver Coast, Portugal
Joia das Dunas is a collection of 18 Contemporary Eco Villas serviced by a 5-Star Boutique Hotel & Spa. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the luxury resort utilises geothermal heating and cooling technologies. Designed by the renowned architect Vasco Vieira, the
units have three en-suite bedrooms, a pool, barbeque area and terraces.
Prices start from €625,000

PGA Catalunya, Girona, nr Barcelona, Costa Brava, Spain
PGA Catalunya is a master-planned resort of striking architectdesigned, floor to ceiling glass ‘wall’ contemporary sustainable houses. Set in 300 hectares with two golf courses – the Stadium course is ranked number two in Spain, third in Europe and 88th worldwide. The double volume, pavilion style villas, townhouses and apartments are exemplars of dynamic bioclimatic design.
Prices start from €320,000

Medina Palms, Watamu, Indian Ocean, Kenya
Medina Palms is an exclusive collection of luxury apartments and villas, all with direct access to the beautiful white-sand beaches of the Watamu National Marine Park and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The properties are built from locally sourced stone block, concrete and steel, with palm thatch roofs. Water conservation is practiced – dual-flush wcs and aerated showers – and rainwater harvested for irrigation use.
Prices start from £188,000

La Reserve, Annecy, Haute Savoie, France
La Reserve, in the beautiful French lakeside town of Annecy, in the foothills of the Alps, comprises just two stylish apartment blocks. One is home to four apartments and the second housing seven, including a penthouse on each. All the apartments have balconies with stunning lake and mountain views. The interior materials used include materials like stone and timber, sourced from nearby quarries and sustainable forests.
Prices start from €536,000

Minthis Hills, nr Paphos, Cyprus
Minthis Hills, a collection of stylish open plan, glass, pavilion-style villas, located in the hills 20-minutes’ drive from Pafos, creates a harmonious balance between contemporary design and the environment by carefully integrating the development into the landscape. The private residences, situated around an elevated 18-hole golf course, have a passive solar design, and low e-glazing to repel UV rays and prevent overheating.
Prices start from €1.1m

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All For Eve

All For Eve – The Colour & Bath and Body Collection

We love ‘Eve Red’ lipstick, created by make-up supremo Daniel Sandler, which is perfect for this spring/summer’s signature red lip. Team this with a matching ‘Eve Red’ nail polish, created by world class manicurist Sophy Robson, to really finish and perfect the look.

‘All for Eve’ bath and body has been created by our favourites at Urban Retreat. The range includes an award winning hand cream, refreshing cucumber bath and shower gel, body lotion and body butter, and a richly moisturising body scrub, with jojoba beads, for silky smooth skin all over. Good for you, and for a good cause!

For pricing and more information go to:

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Jason Shankey

Jason Shankey Expert shaving range

Grooming maestro Jason Shankey has just launched his ‘Expert’ line of shaving products, which are designed to make the ritual a little less painful and a little more pleasurable!

We tried the Exfoliating Face & Scalp Scrub, Smoothing Shave Cream and Skin Soothing Moisture Balm, which did the trick. Active ingredients include cocoa, margosa leaf, sesame extracts, olive stones, pumpkin seeds and beet extracts across the range for a clean, refreshing finish to the usually mundane process of personal grooming.

Exfoliating Face & Scalp Scrub £15.00,
Smoothing Shaving Cream £14.00
Skin Soothing Moisture Balm £16.00

For stockists and further information, visit:

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Liposonix – non-invasive liposuction

The Cadogan Clinic, one of the leading day hospitals in London, is the only clinic in the UK offering the seven most effective forms of liposuction. We recently got excited about one of their new treatments; Liposonix – the non-invasive liposuction treatment, which uses ultrasound to destroy the underlying fat in those stubborn areas that no amount of exercise can fix. ‘As part of the body’s natural healing process the destroyed fat tissue is eliminated via the liver, which processes the fatty acids as energy. Targeted fat is permanently reduced. Good for abdomen, hips and loins’.

It sounds great on paper, but when we tried this the results unfortunately did not quite hit the ark (our subject was female, late 20s and physically very active and fit – a gym goer at least 3-times a week). We were told it’s a one-off treatment, and that the results would be seen almost immediately. However, any noticeable reduction is yet to be seen following treatment. “This may well take a bit of time”; our subject was informed by one of the nurses. “Also it might be a course of treatments before you see a difference”.

The treatment itself was painful. There was bruising in the abdominal area where this was applied, including on the ‘love handles’. As far as treatments go, we’re on the fence with this one, however, we will let you know if something happens after we’ve gone to press with this edition.

The Cadogan Clinic 0207 901 8500

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Trevor Sorbie

Trevor Sorbie – Shu Uemura Intensive Treatment with a cut & blow dry

Being able to put aside a couple of hours in a day for a visit to the salon is one of life’s little luxuries, and something that every woman (and man) should do on a regular basis.

And, Trevor’s team don’t do things by half! The Shu Uemura Intensive Treatment included a head massage using essential oils (you get a choice of two or three), which lasted for around 30/40 minutes (who can keep a track of time when you’re in bliss?). This is followed by a shampoo and conditioner wash, then a cut and blow dry. Both Juan and Lee were amazing and made it all look so effortless.

The salon also offers a whole host of other treatments, including aromatherapy treatments to facials and waxing, which means we’ll definitely be back for some more…

Shu Uemura Intensive Treatment – from £64
Cut & Blow Dry – from £55
0207 379 6901

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The Queen: Art and Image

National Portrait Gallery – 17 May – 21 October 2012

Lightness of Being by Chris Levine

2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Her Majesty, The Queen. And to celebrate the occasion, the National Gallery is organising a unique touring exhibition which will showcase 60 of her most iconic images, some of which will be on public display for the first time.

The exhibition starts with the National Gallery Complex in Edinburgh in June, followed by the Ulster Museum in Belfast, the National Museum in Cardiff and finally ending up at the National Portrait Gallery in London in May of next year (2012). On show will be a
wide selection of mixed media images; official portraits, photographs and media pictures, including a significant selection of unofficial portraits of the British Monarch by some of the 20th century’s most important artists. From Beaton and Leibovitz to Annigoni and Warhol, The Queen: Art and Image will be the most wide-ranging exhibition of images in different media devoted to a single royal sitter.

NPG: Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding

Collectively, the exhibition celebrates and explores the startling range of artistic creativity and media-derived imagery that The Queen has inspired. It also probes the relation of this imagery to a world of changing values during a reign that has engaged the attention of millions. Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “The Queen is the most portrayed person in British history, reflecting her long reign and also the respect and affection which is felt towards her. The Diamond Jubilee is a wonderful celebration and the National Portrait Gallery is very pleased to be sharing this exhibition with our other national partners in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue featuring over 60 portraits, with essays by historian and writer Sir David Cannadine and curator Paul Moorhouse. Published by the National Portrait Gallery, London, priced £30 (hardback). Available June 2011.

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Green People

Green People’s range is inspired by nature, and suitable for all skin tones and types. Our favourite products include the superrich Volumising Mascara £13.99, which contains almond oil to condition the lashes and it’s non smudge formulation lasts all day. Their Pure Blush £18.99, highlights cheeks naturally, giving the perfect rosy glow, without clogging the pores.

For more information visit:

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