The Pointe of Perfume: It’s all an act!

In truth this has been one of the most pleasurable features that I have produced in my many years in magazines, not only because it was about perfume, but also I was able to illustrate it myself – my very first passion & original career back in the late 80s – it went out of fashion for a few years – but now it’s back! It has inspired me to do more. I hope you enjoy looking and reading this piece.

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

The Pointe of Perfume: it’s all an act!
Fragrance really is a transformative tool: it’s a natural form of self-expression with the ability to alter your mood and character in an instant, making you feel more confident, sophisticated or sexier in seconds. Nothing else works that fast. Don’t believe me? Enter Lauren Cuthbertson, stage left, Principal Ballerina for The Royal Ballet, beloved by her audience for an extraordinary artistic talent as both a ballet dancer and an actress. Why, in a single performance she might turn from sweet ingénue one moment, to a seductive harlot the next, with barely enough time to unzip! Her resolve? To unearth a different perfume to enhance the unique personality and mood of her character throughout each and every performance. “Fragrance is so wonderful for art,” says Lauren. “It helps me ‘feel’ who I am in just one breath. Maybe I have a split personality, but you kind of have to in order to play out so many different people and emotions. Scent helps me identify who and what they are, and when; it throws me into the era. It even defines my posture.”

That first foray in to fragrance  ‘It all began from a single moment really,” says Lauren. “There I was walking up to the stage, about to be the Enchanted Garden Fairy in Sleeping Beauty: I was a young soloist at the time. As a dancer you’re always in and out of the shower, so I’ve always loved fresh, sporty scents. So here I was, aged 20, about to go on stage, wearing a big, vibrant, full on juicy fragrance of the time – DKNY Woman – and suddenly I stopped in my tracks. I didn’t feel right! Here I was, a fairy, about to offer a gift to Aurora in the 15th Century, wearing this 21st century perfume! In that moment, to my heightened senses, it was all so wrong. So I thought, ‘I’m not going to wear perfume any more!’ “A year later, while working with a devoted dance teacher on the opulent yet dreamy ballet La Valse. Her young character was a girl on the brink of womanhood: full of life, freedom and abandonment, yet poised, elegant and beautiful. “I wore a white dress with a white net and an amazingly elaborate tiara – really full on – so I instinctively thought CHANELI’d wear something to suit. My teacher always wore the classic Chanel No5. And in a flash I knew that for me, to be ‘that lady’ who went to ‘that ball’ in ‘that dress’, she had to wear No5! And even now, whenever I put that scent on the back of my neck, I grow an extra inch.” 
From that moment on, perfume became part of the performance/character process…who they were, what they were; where they were in time and place; manipulating character and emotions with aroma. “I truly believe scent can create any mood for any person, for any time.”

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

Next, Lauren found herself in the mythological ballet Sylvia – playing the Greek goddess (la nymphe de Diane). “I play a strong huntress in Act One, and she’s oh so manly; I really needed help fitting into this role. Then I thought, ‘well I have to wear PENHALIGON'S ENDYMIONaftershave!’ I popped on my trackies and headed straight to Penhaligon’s and bought a tiny bottle of Endymion, a men’s cologne that’s a bit ‘husky’. Instinct told me that nothing else would work! Now, whenever I’m struggling with a character, I create the whole picture of the person; highlighting something through scent helps me create that whole personality.” Whoah! Perfume really is so sensorial. It allows you to see with your mind’s eye. Nothing else brings back a moment and a memory with such clarity as scent – but mingle that here with a live orchestra, elaborate sets and costumes and we’re really talking potent stuff!






All change! In Act Two, Sylvia’s character becomes more feminine and alluring, as she needs to escape capture by performing a seductive dance. “It’s a snaky, slinky kind of movement using her whole torso, so I needed a really good, manipulative kind of scent. I wore Poison by Dior!”






Softer now, in the final act, Sylvia finds her love. “I wore the very feminine Penhaligon’s Elizabethan Rose,” says Lauren, “however on reflection, that wasn’t really right: it was just too country garden and not exotic enough to transport you into another land. If I do it again, I will choose a ‘heat scent’.”





Now it’s Getting Complicated  The first time I met and watched Lauren perform was as Manon. “This is a ballet with three acts, about a young woman and her extraordinary, sometimes sordid life growing up, dominated by people and men around her,” explains Lauren.


“In Act One, she’s an innocent, so I chose Lanvin Eclat D’Arpege; a light, refreshing girl’s scent with lilac. I’d been sniffing around for a whole Sunday looking for this. On reflection I still don’t think it was perfect, but it is very feminine, gentle and not too ‘knowing’ – which is kind of how it is ‘in the beginning’ when you’re not so sure about so many things.”





As the character of Manon grows up, her character speedily evolves. “Manon is basically being pimped off to an old man by her brother for a better life, and this man gives her this elaborate floor length cloak that she puts on. This is the moment when Manon, enthralled, realizes what a LADUREEtantalising and alluring world she was entering. I had literally just bought a gift for a friend of a box of rather tempting Laduree macaroons, so I bought the Amandine room spray and smothered the big cloak in it to give an aroma of luxury, as if she can actually smell the money!”




At this time, Dame Antoinette Sibley, a leading figure at the Royal Ballet, who co-created the role of Manon, knew how Lauren loved to wear different scents for each role. “For Act Two there’s a moment when Manon joins civilized company at a salon. MITSOUKOAntoinette mentioned that she wore Guerlain’s Mitsouko and then presented a bottle to me at the dress rehearsal. It’s saucy but so charismatic. As a result my Manon elegantly walks into the party in an evening gown, looks a million dollars and everyone steps back in wonder. Mitsouko was such a match! It is a unique scent: you feel it and you wear it as if you’re the only woman wearing it, and only one wearing ‘that dress’, and every other woman is jealous.”



Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

“I remember every show I’ve ever danced. When you’re young, you do these big roles and get these extraordinary chances; you put your life and soul into every performance. Why would I not embrace the character even more?”

The Most Elusive Scent  The one ballet Lauren never found a scent for was Romeo & Juliet. “That girl goes through a rollercoaster of emotion,” she says, “starting out as one person, and ending as quite another; and because she was so young I didn’t want to overwhelm her.” Then Lauren met bespoke perfumer Anastasia Brozler of Creative Perfumers. “We have the most amazing connection. We have sessions where we plot and talk about the character form beginning to end; and she really gets my interpretation. She’s my ‘soul sister’; we even share the same birthday.” Now they work together on Lauren’s characterful scents.

“Lauren was struggling with what to wear,” says Anastasia. “It’s Prokofiev’s musical interpretation, so it’s doomed; hence I based one scent on poppy seed from Tuscany, POPPYthat’s highly addictive; it’s actually a poison. It starts off as an innocent pretty flower scent in the nursery, and evolves as it gets stronger and more impassioned, until it’s jet black by the end.” Ah that’ll be the last scene then! “When I think about the Final Act – the death scene – it breaks my heart,” confides Lauren. “There’s a really quick change – I can’t be fluttering around with these scents between acts – but my lovely dresser might hand me the scent or my stage manager might spray the tomb. But oh! Waking up is just terrible. Anastasia is like a little magician and evolved this delicate flower, until it smells of death: of being alone, dark and vulnerable. It’s so powerful. I can honestly feel it when I smell it, right in the middle of my chest.”

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

One of Lauren’s favourite moments in Romeo & Juliet is a very small scene in Act Two when Juliet goes to get married. “It’s such a short scene but it’s incredibly hard to get back into the character as it’s quite diverting backstage. So we came up with the idea of the emotive scent of a chapel. When I smell it I really do get that sense of where I am.”  Then for the wedding night, the bed was scented as a mixture of her scent and a naked masculine scent. “I remember my partner Federico (Bonelli) really liked that perfume: he said, “Oh, you smell divine!”

“Lauren is, for me, the most inspiring dancer I have met in the ballet world,” say Anastasia, “not only because she concentrates on her performance but because she IS that character. That wish to be embellished in scent. It takes away another element of illusion – the music, the make-up, the costume; but smell is so much more powerful!”

Recently, in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, a new interpretation for ballet, Lauren plays Queen Hermione. “The role takes me from dignified to wretched: from motherhood (I’m pregnant in the beginning), to a pleading wife on a prison floor, until finally becoming a statue covered in seven layers of powder and a cloth who comes alive right at the very end. The last fragrance we called ‘Breath’. As I come to life, the scent we captured was dignified yet had a note of forgiveness and enlightenment: it was so breathtaking, I almost wept. And you can imagine that as this big white cloth that is draped over me that gets whisked off, and with that you get this hauntingly beautiful waft of perfume through the air. Just magical.”

A True Artiste  Ballet is such a sensorial skill in itself, with that innate need to ‘trust’ one’s inner feelings. Guided by her senses in every aspect of her performance, listening to Lauren express her soul-felt passion is so captivating: pure olfactory choreography! Is she addicted in an ultimate quest for perfection?

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a complete obsession. I’m not neurotic or superstitious about it all, I just have an imagination. I find the power of scent so captivating; I have a natural appetite for it and it helps me rise to the challenge.”

“The ballet isn’t really a job: it’s a vocation. An addiction! You are constantly aware – every morning when you wake up and every night when you can sometimes barely stand from the strain it puts on your body; but we have massage, physio… and painkillers! You have to give it everything and sacrifice your soul; but when you lose yourself in a performance, or achieve something you’ve been striving hard for, the performance transcends that. It’s a euphoria that’s unmatched and worth all the hardship.”

“Lauren is pioneering. Artists are now taking fragrance into the atmosphere of performance expression: to create, paint and with music. It’s multi-sensory and very much en vogue.” Anastasia Brozler

Do fellow performers respond to her passion for perfume? “I try not to influence other performers; but I do remember when a friend was playing Alice – a role close to my heart – she admitted to me that she wasn’t ‘feeling it’ so to show her support I gave her Annick Goutal Petite Cherie; sweet scent for an innocent girl who is in among the rosebushes. I explained ‘it will relax you and put you in the perfect place’. She loved it, and said it really helped her too.”

“Who am I in all of this?” This is the one time Lauren is slightly lost for words “Personality wise I think I’m all over the shop; but I accept that feeling, recognizing those ‘places’ so that I have less anxiety and can be more open and more confident. I’m really happy right now. I was 30 this year. I’m listening to myself and open to doing the things that really matter to me.” But for all the angst’s of the ballet world Lauren is very grounded. “I grew up in Devon, surrounded by clean, salty air by the sea, and the lush garden surroundings. Yet I loved nothing more than lying in bed watching my mother get ready to go out. Her fragrance was Anais Anais; and layered with powder, lipstick and her Paul Mitchell hairspray…. I remember that smell as if it was yesterday!”

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

Illustration: copyright Jo Glanville-Blackburn

I publish this blog post with deep love and respect for dear Lauren Cuthbertson, Royal Ballet Principal Dancer who was due to perform as Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which replaces The Nutcracker for Christmas and opens 6 Dec; Unfortunately Lauren has injured her ankle, so please join me and wish her a speedy and swift recovery.  To celebrate the opening of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, on 6th December, ‘the Fete of Children’, Anastasia Brozler and her company Creative Perfumers are working on a children’s scent masterclass with Lauren that reaches out to less privileged children to create their interpretation of aroma for the characters in Alice: a wild rabbit, the caterpillar, the Mad Hatter. The fragrances will then go to a jury to select the winning fragrances.


A slightly shorter version of this article was published in the November 2014 issue of Woman & Home magazine (on sale until November 1st).


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Lolly Brights Collection by Butter LONDON




FAST GLAMOUR Watch out for these super hot, tropical bright & high shine lips and nails (plus eye pencils too) from the new Butter London Lolly Brights summer ’14 collection: easy wear go sheer for day on the beach or in the city, then layer up for a bolder, more opaque finish over cocktails.

Butter London Lippy Lip Gloss, £15 each, three shades; Nail Lacquer, £12 each, six shades; Wink Eye Pencil, £14 each three shades – all out in UK in June at

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Devilishly beautiful: Angelina Jolie in MAC Cosmetics Maleficient Disney collection



We haven’t seen Angelina Jolie in a role like this – EVER! Devilishly beautiful as Maleficient – Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty” – with cheekbones to die for (using MAC Sculpting Powder in Sculpt, a soft matte taupe with a touch of MAC Prep + Prime Highlighter in Bright Forecast on the very top of the cheekbones); a nod to an A/W14 inspired super defined thick black eye line (using MAC Penultimate Eye Liner in Rapidblack); and the prerequisite red lip as worn by every siren and seductress throughout history (using MAC PRO Longwear Lipglass in Anthurium, as shown, worn either as a matte stain or super gloss). This limited edition collection also includes a four Maleficient colour eyeshadow palette, as shown, red nails and false lashes too. Out May in Selfridges & – sign up now online at to be one of the first to shop the look! Oh I’m feeling kinda naughty!

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Apologies to all new and existing readers of my blog! I generally prefer more beautiful imagery on my blog – but …

It’s been a ghastly six weeks after trialling a body firming fat reduction treatment called Vanquish by BTL Aesthetics, for a magazine article, that left significant blisters on my abdomen that are only now, after six weeks and a course of antibiotics, beginning to heal. So, here is a taster of the damage done 24 hours after the treatment was carried out: believe me I do not bare my pale Celtic tummy lightly! Forewarned is forearmed!





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Alicia KeysMulti-Grammy award-winner Alicia Keys, super singer/songwriter and a powerful presence in the philanthropic global fight to cure HIV and AIDS, is to follow along the line of celebrity beauties for Parfum Givenchy including Amanda Seyfreid (Very Irresistible) and Liv Tyler. “Givenchy has long been one of the world’s most iconic luxury fashion houses, and a personal favourite of mine,” says Alicia. “To be a part of their prestige and elegance is a thrilling moment. I’m honoured to introduce the world to the newest scent by Givenchy” Out September – more to follow!


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Love These Lippies! Barry M Cosmetics ‘Loud Mouth’



Intense, majorly pigmented and uber long-lasting, I love every one of these new Loud Mouth Extreme Lip Colours by Barry M – and just £3.99 each!

Out in June – perfect for summer, super lasting & a tiny blob goes a long way; wear them as they are, applied just with your fingertips, or blend together with a brush to create more shades.

My fave colour? Am totally torn between Tell-Tale (bottom right) – your perfect nude lip; and Screamer (top right) a vibrant coral.

PSST!…I even popped the residue from my fingers onto my cheeks! Sssh! 😉



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Teen Queen Beauty


My teen daughters having a facial selfie together xx

My teen daughters having a facial selfie together xx
















Confused about what skincare best suits your teen? From my experience it’s as hard for our kids as it is for us to find a regime we truly suit day in – day out. My advice?

Take it easy. Pure, young skin needs very little to keep it looking its best – even if or when hormonally challenged.

+ CLEAN IT Go for the simplest cleansers – low on sulphates (such as SLS) that often strip delicate skin too much. Once the balance of your skin’s natural protective oil barrier is disrupted through harsh cleansing (very typical in oily, blackhead prone teens – AND adults alike) then angry spots, redness and patchy dryness may well become more of an issue than if you simply cleanse once a day, just in the evening to rid the skin of the day’s grime. Choose cleansers by Elemis FreshSkin (the only facial wipes I ever give to Liv to use), Balance Me and Emma Hardie if prone to redness; or if spotty, try Philosophy, Clinique and Dr Nick Lowe.

+ TREAT IT For a skin clearing treatment: a clay mask is a natural skin purifier that gently but effectively draws out dirt from blocked pores and helps to clear blackheads. Favourites as used by my youngest Phoebe, are Korres Cinnamon & Natural Clay Deep Cleansing Mask super cooling mask that takes just 5 minutes; or Ole Henriksen Blemish Attack Purifying Mask with oil controlling salicylic acid to clear pores and help control breakouts. But do give it time as it needs to stay on your skin for up to 30 minutes.  

+ SOOTHE IT Always great to have on hand to calm redness, any mild irritation or even a minor rash is Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Calming Mist, with refreshing cucumber and soothing chamomile. And time after time, I always trust Clarins Skin Beauty Repair Concentrate, rich in balancing soothing lavender oil, which I have always treated all of my children with the pure essential oil whenever they had a cut knee; or 4 drops as a soothing bath additive at the end of a day with nothing else in the water.  Equally, dilute a small basin of warm water with 2 drops of lavender oil and one drop of chamomile oil, and use with a clean muslin as a calming, soothing face compress.





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Looks Like Summer!

imageI’m sitting in the garden right now & it’s so beautifully hot it feels like summer! Even more so as my arms and legs are super sun- kissed – coated in self tan bronzers and all things gleaming!

So here is my new little collection of sunshine beauty – especially for those days when we least expect it! Now we can all be prepared!!!

For the body: bare legs and arms and a tantalising cleavage? Rimmel Sunshimmer Instant Tan BB Skin Perfector is a fabulous, non-transfer wash off cream you buff in (quickly with a mitt) and it just stays in place, leaving skin looking incredibly soft and beautiful until you wash it off! While the same must be said for the incredible Calze Spray ‘Spray on Tight’ by Diego Dalla Palma, a spray on tinted body foundation that gives amazing cover to veins and blotchy skin, while making you look quite beautifully tinted and glowy – my new body must-have & I am no big selfie-tan fan!

For the face: Lancôme SPF50 Soleil Bronzer Sun BB Cream is like your ultimate flawless, tinted, complexion perfector! And believe me, I am Mrs Pasty – but today I am a sun goddess in this! Apply with fingers for a divine sun-kissed look, you can also apply throughout the day – unlike when you’re wearing such a high SPF under a foundation – it’s almost impossible to reapply sunscreen in the day! Alternatively, try mixing a little Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster in the palm of your hand with a blob of your face cream! Every day for 3-4 days, this builds up to such a pretty golden tan that looks very natural. Next, contour cheekbones and make them pop with a bit of this sheer shaping Bronzing Skin Perfector by Becca. Just sweep with a foundation brush or fingertips, under the cheekbones and up into the hairline at the temples – think Raquel Welch meets Gisele. I find pursing my lips as I go really highlights where my cheekbones are!

Finish With: A tantalising spritz of Autograph Shimmer Bronzing Dust will add a gleam to the collarbone, length of the arms and along the skins; then two coats of the must-have orange coral for 2014: Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Mirabella – perfect with a tan!

Gotta go! The sun’s still out – come join me!



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Oscar 14 Hair: a side parting & quick tong…

photo[1]…matched with a nude lip and a smoky defined eye: the best award-winning Red Carpet look for  2014…goes to (from top left) Olivia Wilde, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett (Best Actress) and Julia Roberts

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All Matte at Marc Jacobs AW’14 by Francois Nars


“The makeup look was really inspired by the collection, which is very MATTE,” says Francois Nars. “The models look like mannequins. There’s nothing too silky and I wanted that to translate to the makeup: the eyelid is a pale neutral grey and we made it look bigger by foregoing mascara. The lips have a touch of frosted metallic silver. We used a lot of powder for a matte, porcelain finish.”


FACE: Francois used,

 EYES: Francois used,

LIPS: Francois used,

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