Author Archives for Vicki

How To Apply Individual Eyelashes

July 24, 2014

day to night cinemagraph, jamie beck and kevin burg, french essence

cinemagraph via ann street studio

I wanted to know how to apply individual eyelashes.

For those special occasions when more is more.

Truthfully, I’m frightened of the process…  too complicated… but I have seen that they make all the difference.

Applying individual false lashes gives a more natural look than strip lashes.

The individual lashes mean you can add as few or as many as needed  and it almost impossible to tell that they aren’t natural.

I was assured that if I followed these simple instructions… I could apply them myself and … I would never look back.

The result… enough to say… I will be wearing them often… xv

The How

apply a natural eye makeup.

 curl the lashes using the shu uemura eye lash curler

 apply a slick of mascara and allow the lashes to dry

 place a pea sized amount of ‘duo’ adhesive to the back of the hand

** this is the secret… all the professionals use this glue and it is the gentlest

  with tweezers pick up the first cluster of lashes and delicately dip the base of them into the adhesive

allow the ‘duo’ to dry slightly for about 30 seconds on the lashes before applying.

this allows the adhesive to become tacky before application

using tweezers, gently place the cluster of lashes as close as possible onto the eyelid, working from the middle of the lash line outwards

to help the lashes stick, use a Q tip or cotton bud to press the lashes into place

if the adhesive is still visible this isn’t a problem as once it dries it becomes transparent

 Once all the lashes have been applied and the adhesive has fully dried (this should only take about 2 minutes),  add a little extra mascara.

Additional eyeliner can also be added if needed to blend the lashes into the natural eye lashes.

duo adhesive  //  mac individual lashes  //  shu uemura curler

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Olivia Palermo… Wedding Day Beauty

July 22, 2014

Olivia Palermo Wedding, Johannes Huebl, French Essence

“I wanted the makeup to be light and fresh and more focused about the lashes while keeping the eyes clean. My hair was in an uncontrived pony tail, one of my favourite personal looks.”

Olivia Palermo is someone who I have long admired for her fabulous style and fashion sense.

She recently married her long time partner, Johannes Huebl quietly and discreetly.. without the normal celebrity bells and whistles that accompany someone with such a high profile.

She is beautiful and her dress sense impeccable… classic with a twist of the unexpected.

What caught my attention was her philosophy towards dressing for her wedding day.

She wanted to look as she does, not different, not complicated.

Carolina Hererra designed an elegant cream cashmere sweater with scattered ostrich feathers and a satin and silk tulle skirt that cinched in at the waist.

 Her hair was a simple pony tail… a style she wears often and her shoes were her much loved blue silk satin Manolos.

She wore a natural make-up with emphasis on her eyes through the lashes.

This is a make-up strategy that can apply so well to women of all ages… a little on the lids, plenty on the lashes.

And that is what we want… an easy way to make all the difference… xv

Focus on the Eyes

lightly dust the entire lid with mac dazzlelight eyeshadow

apply mac bronze eyeshadow within the socket line, build the intensity towards the outer part of the eye lid

blend the edges of the  eyeshadow with the mac 217 brush

apply a mac smolder pencil eye liner along the top lash line and smudge using mac 219 brush

even if we can’t or don’t want to follow the steps above the last one is the easiest and makes all the difference in the world

*** curl the lashes and apply several coats of black dior show mascara to define the eye lashes and make them the focal point of the look

** for special occasions add a few extra ‘individual’ lashes… more about how to do that tomorrow

mac dazzlelight  //  mac bronze  //  mac 217  //  mac smolder  //  mac 219   //  dior show 

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Living in France… Feeling French?

July 21, 2014

Paris, Place des Vosges, Living in France, Vicki Archer

Living in France… What makes you feel “French”? What changes you?

Living away from your birthplace does re-align your thinking… it’s impossible not too… but I believe the revisions are positive… it’s important to adapt, to be open to new ways of doing things… otherwise we may as well stay put.

It’s not about loosing who we are or where we have come from… home is always home… but more about growing and adapting.

Provence, where I have spent a large proportion of my time in the last 15 years has most certainly altered me.

What are the differences? What are the mannerisms that I have inevitably picked up?

I have learned patience.

France is a bureaucratic juggle at times… and as much as we love her… she can test even the most generous of natures.

I have learned to hold my breath, count to ten and wait… Waiting is the long suffering partner 0f patience… they are a necessary and essential team to draw upon when living in France.

The importance and the benefits of taking time.

This is different to being patient… this is about pleasure, about opening the eyes to beauty and appreciating the here and now.

Being in the moment.

It sounds so obvious and easy, but it’s not. How often we are involved in one activity only to be thinking of another.

Taking time for the simple pleasures is a lesson I continually learn from the French…and one that I am most grateful for.

Food has become much more predominant in life.

Lunch is a meal I rarely go without… or grab… eating on the run is not the French way.

Dining… the art of dining even if it’s two lettuce leaves and a shaving of carrot… is an experience, one to be savoured and a time in the day to stop, to enjoy.

On the flip side… Who would have thought that the name of ten varieties of cheese could roll off the tongue so readily?

That so much time could be spent discussing menus with butchers or that seasonal produce could become dinner party conversation?

Language changes… the way you speak and write.

It’s impossible not to be affected by the cadence of the French language, to become more descriptive… to embellish.

It’s inevitable that questions are ended with an answer. The French often do that… answer their own question with the negative, “non”, which really means yes.

Living in France can’t help but bring out the romantic in you.

France means Paris and I believe to this day that it is the most romantic city on earth.

Symmetry… French design has made me appreciate the classic… the relevance of the pair.

The simple is elevated to a whole new league in France… through symmetry, the simple becomes grand.

The eclectic in design… that new and old work beautifully together, that courage and originality is applauded.

The way French women dress and present themselves has influenced my sense of fashion and my thoughts on beauty and ageing in our modern world.

The French way has taught me self-confidence and an appreciation of what I have rather than what I don’t or can’t have.

And lastly…

Once upon a time my dream would be to play in Prada… now you will find me browsing in the French pharmacy, an Aladdin’s Cave for beauty… :) xv

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P.S… More From The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

July 20, 2014

A small aside

I couldn’t help but re-browse the online Nordstrom Anniversary sale, this morning.

Quite a few great buys have come on… or I missed them before in my excitement.

Thought you might like to see what I have been looking for… xv

Nordstron Anniversary Sale, Mac, French Essence, Vicki Archer,


burberry pea coat  //  burberry brit anorak  //  burberry leather trim taffeta  //  rag & bone slim boyfriend jeans  //  rag & bone tee  //  stuart weitzman oxford brogues

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale… Beauty Edit

July 19, 2014

Nordstron Anniversary Sale, Mac, French Essence, Vicki Archer, Google Images

Are you in the mood for beauty?

A delicious edition or a refill for your make-up bag…  aren’t we always in the mood for that.

I have some suggestions to share.

Nordstrom during their anniversary sale, is reducing so many of my favourite beauty items… those that I have already mentioned in The French Essence Beauty Edit.

Nordstron Anniversary Sale, Mac, French Essence, Vicki Archer, Google Images

bobbi brown nude on nude  //  diptyque feu du bois and tuberose candles  //  mac all about nude  //  skII hydrating boost set

 moroccanoil moisture repair hair set  //  mac basic brush kit  //  clarisonic collection  //  jo malone blackberry and bay

Until next week… have a fabulous weekend… xv

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Happy Anniversary… The Nordstrom Sale… My Edit

July 18, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, Vintage Images, French Essence, Google, Vicki Archer

I cannot believe that Nordstrom reduce all the new season’s merchandise before the cooler months get under way.

This just does not happen in Europe… If you live in the US or happen to have an account at Nordstrom… you are in for a treat.

SO much is marked down, I mean genuinely marked down.

It is the time to buy…

I have certain “sale’ rules.

I only buy what I know and what I need.

It’s not the moment to experiment… it’s the time to restock and refresh the wardrobe.

I have had a comprehensive search through Nordstrom this morning… and it’s amazing… I can’t believe it.

My choices are classic… those fashion staples that I wear all the time and that could oftentimes do with an update.

I thought you might like some of these.

For The Weekend

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, French Essence, Vicki Archer

1. Veda Leather Jacket  //  2. Dolce Vita Studded Bootie  //  3. Burton Moto Boot  //  4. Steve Madden Moto Boot  //  5. Rag & Bone Suede Bootie

6. Chuck Taylor “All Star” Leather Sneakers  //  7. Rebecca Minkoff Studded Tote  //  8. Chloe Leather Hobo (also in grey)  //  9. Majestic Turtleneck  //  10. Burberry Wool Cashmere Coat

Out And About

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, French Essence, Vicki Archer

1. DVF Lace Skirt  //  2. Theory Jacket and Pants  //  3. Vince Ribbed Pencil Dress  //  4. DVF Lace Blouse

5. DVF Shoe Bootie  //  6. Burberry Leather Sleeve Sheath Dress  //  7. Theory Stretch Sheath  //  8. Hallogen Peep Toe Bootie

And The Extras

the cashmere  //  the trainers  //  ** the longchamp pliage

It’s a lot to take in… too much to see and so much to think about… but if a deal is part of your day… then have fun, browsing… xv

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Paris… The Insider’s List

July 17, 2014

Au Printemps, Paris , French Essence, Vicki Archer

What is the latest and coolest place to eat and have a cocktail in Paris?

Where are the Parisians eating? Where are they headed to after work? I always want to know.

The best way to find out is to ask someone who is local and loves food and wine as much as I do… as we all do.

I have been wanting to explore the 9th arrondissement for ages…

The 9th is located on the Right bank,with many places of cultural, historical, and architectural interest, including the Palais Garnier, home to the Paris OperaBoulevard Haussmann and the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

Last week my daughter’s friend was visiting London, he has lived in the 9th in Paris for many years and as we chatted we inevitably talked about “where to eat” and the best places for a cocktail or two in his neighbourhood.

He has generously shared his list so we can all visit when we are next in Paris.

 That’s the next question… When are we going? xv

The Insider’s List

he suggests…

Petrelle –  a really exquisite place, with a beautiful candle-lit funky interior and farm/market-to-table food that is sensational.

Also a very strong and fairly reasonably priced wine list.

Really my favourite spot.


34 Rue Petrelle, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 42 82 11 02


Ito – the Asian hit of the 9th

Ito moved from a small fun interior to a larger more sophisticated space next door after only 6 months or so in operation.

Super friendly folks and terrific small plate Japanese tasting menus. Very popular these days, and it should be.


2 Rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 9 52 91 00

Buvette – building off the success of its NY West Village sister restaurant.

We really love this quaint and cute taverna.

Good small plates (salads, vegetables, cheeses, some sandwiches) served with a smile and some pretty darn good cocktails too.

Feels very New York, so of course it is popular in Paris!


28 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 44 63 41 71


Momoka – another fantastic Japanese tasting menu hole in the wall.

Momoka is so popular that they have opened a second location on the same street.

You won’t leave hungry, and will try many new things during the meal, all delicious.


5 Rue Jean -Baptiste Pigalle, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 40 16 19 09

Pantruche  – these are the darlings of the 9th, written up all over the world it seems.

A very parisian bistro interior, low-key and charming service and vibe.

Le Pantruche

3 Rue Victor Massé, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 48 78 55 60

Caillebotte -  even more so, and not (yet) visited by the tourists.

Definitely one of the hippest joints in the area and has great success with innovative takes on standard dishes.


8 Rue Hippolyte Lebas, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 53 20 88 70

Professore – if in the mood for some Italian rather than French, this is the coolest spot.

Good (not fantastic) food and a really fun, dark, noisy, warm environment.

Not your standard pastas and pizzas, but you will feel like you are part of the new hip wave overtaking the neighbourhood, especially if you duck into the back where there is a lounge/bar that is probably even better than the restaurant upfront.


7 Rue Choron, 75009, Paris,

+33 (0) 1 45 26 52 15

 L’Artisan – the New York cocktail bar explosion has hit my area too, and this place does it really well.

Fantastic attention to detail is shown at this VERY popular bar where small plates (I haven’t tried them yet) are also on offer.

From bourbon to vodka to gin, the barmen can suit your fancy and he knows exactly what he is doing (of course it takes some time if the place is busy, and it usually is).


14 Rue Bochart de Saron, 75009, Paris

( be early, no reservations possible)


Pizzeta and Da Carmine –  two very different pizzerias near the extraordinarily beautiful and peaceful Avenue Trudaine at the top of rue de Martyrs.

You will have those that will defend to the end one over the other – in fact they are both great.

Pizzeta is pizza chique with the staff and ambiance to prove it, Da Carmine is side-of-the-road Napolitan pizza shop done well, and let’s face it sometimes we don’t want to be at the coolest spot around…


22 Avenue Trudaine, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 48 78 14 08

Da Carmine

61 Rue des Martyrs, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 48 78 28 01


Glass Bar and Dirty Dick’s  – these two bars, across the street from one another have become major players in the rapidly expanding going-out scene in the 9th.

Dirty Dick’s is now a Tikki bar… feels like you are at a Hawaiian Halloween party with a bunch of other revellers looking for strong and fruity rum drinks.

Glass Bar is like walking into a small dark closet speak-easy that is hot and raw and usually very, very fun.

These two are my choices in the hood for a night out, often starting at one and then heading to the other.

Glass Bar

7 Rue Frochot, 75009 ,Paris

+33 (0) 9 80 72 98 83

Dirty Dick’s

10 Rude Frochot, 75009, Paris

+33 (0) 1 48 78 74 58

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Paris… All In White

July 16, 2014

Audrey Tautou Paris , French Essence, Vicki Archer

I can’t help but notice how the women in Paris dress.

Their street style is my most favourite and I am so often inspired by the way they manage to put it all together.

Of course, I want to find the same look for myself.

There is nothing better than seeing first hand what is elegant and stylish… and there is nothing wrong with emulating a beautiful woman… It’s the highest form of flattery.

Don’t you think?

There are several wardrobe essentials that French women hold dear, that are never out of place or out of date.

The white shirt is one of them.

A couple of golden rules… there are never too many white shirts to be had and they must always be in mint condition.

Super white and super crisp… man style, business meeting ready… even when they are worn casually.

I find that the white shirt is the answer when I can’t think of what to wear.

Worn with tailored pants, jeans or a skirt… under a jacket, a cardigan or alone… the white shirt never lets me down.

The white shirt is ageless, timeless and effortless.

What’s not to love? xv

All In White

the best of the white shirts

 halogen cotton and silk white  //  equipment kenton cotton white  //  burberry brit white  //  theory stretch cotton blend white  // j.crew boy shirt classic white

nordstrom have their big anniversary sale starting on the 18th… if you are an account cardholder it’s all ready, set go… it’s their biggest sale of the year on new season’s styles

net-a-porter are clearing out right now… they have some fabulous white shirts, but sizes are sketchy… really worth a browse

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Sleek And Shiny Hair… Coiffirst in Paris

July 15, 2014

Coiffirst, Paris, Hairdresser, French Essence,  Vicki Archer


When in Paris, I know that the majority of our thoughts are focused on architecture and history,  art and culture and of course where we eat and what we drink.

I have one little extra thought when I travel… and perhaps it is not something that even remotely enters your radar.

For me, my hair and the blow drying of it is an issue.

Shallow, fickle, silly… yes, yes… I am aware that my life would be so much easier if I could escape ‘hair prison’… there is no point even trying to dissuade me.

If I was on a desert island, the last thing I would relinquish would be the blow dryer.

I’m not going to justify my addiction to sleek, smooth locks but I will tell you… a professional blow dry once a week is my therapy.

I have been having my hair washed and dried for years .. and I don’t want to live without this luxury.

My hair isn’t that easy kind of hair… it needs pulling and yanking… twisting and torturing.

It is how it is.

Where to have hair done in Paris?

I don’t have my hair cut or coloured in Paris but I do have a regular blow dry when I am there.

I found a chain of salons called Coiffirst, that do a really good job and don’t require any advance notice.

They aren’t inexpensive, nor are they over the top… but it is Paris.

Most importantly, their hairdressers do a fabulous job.

** A little tip… In Paris, the prices can run away at the basin of all places.

The price for the blow dry will not include conditioner or any other masques that might be applied to the hair.

When at the basin a “special” treatment is often suggested… be aware… as the massage lulls you into the never-never… the final bill at the cash register will certainly wake you up.

 I am sure you are all so much more sensible than me… or are you locked in with the locks, too… xv


52, rue Faubourg Saint Honoré

75001 Paris

+33 (0) 1 40 07 11 01

44 rue du Four

75006 Paris

+33 (0) 1 45 44 84 39

40 rue Marbeuf

75008 Paris

+33 (0) 1 42 25 08 50

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Place des Vosges… Le Pavillon de la Reine

July 14, 2014

Le Pavilion de la Reine , Place des Voges, Paris, French Essence,  Vicki Archer

 le pavillon de la reine


The ‘where to stay’ in Paris is the hardest question of all to answer.

There is no one solution to this delicious dilemma.

Apart from the obvious requirements of numbers, timing and budget… there are other considerations.

I am hesitant to suggest hotels, not only because we all have very different expectations but also because they can change so quickly.


Location is my number one priority… and my reasons for being in Paris are not always the same.

I enjoy the left and right banks equally and can’t truthfully admit to a preference.

I experiment with new hotels and also frequent a few of the familiar.


Paris, like London, is an expensive place to spend time. Hotels are not always good value and more does not always mean more.

I have stayed in horribly expensive places that were ordinary and cheaper hotels that were fabulous.

Paris accommodations are sometimes trial and error.


Living in Europe I have come to accept that many hotels are space challenged.

Old buildings that have been converted don’t necessarily offer the most modern of facilities.

Rooms are small, bathrooms tiny… and never make the presumption that there will be air-conditioning.

This does not apply to the major name brand establishments, but these comforts do come with a hefty room price.

I believe if you are prepared for a different experience to that of home, then the disappointments will be less.

That’s why we travel isn’t it?


Le Pavilion de la Reine , Place des Voges, Paris, French Essence,  Vicki Archer

le pavillon de la reine


The Places des Vosges in the Marais, the 4th arrondissement of Paris is a fabulous location.

One of the best… It’s very busy and popular yet the Places des Vosges has a serenity of it’s own.


Places des Vosges is an excellent launching point whether for the right bank or the left bank.

It’s not far to cross the river and it’s a straight walk up the rue du Rivloi if the Louvre and the Jardins des Tuileries beckon.


I stayed at Le Pavillon de la Reine and enjoyed it very much.

Not too big, not to small… helpful service… a good concierge is a bonus for restaurant bookings, taxis and advice.

The decor is beautiful…  strong, bold and chic in the way that Parisians have mastered.

The rooms are very comfortable and the wifi speedy… can’t live without that anymore.

Le Pavillon de la Reine is all about the location, not so much the restaurant and bar.

They serve breakfast and offer room service… there is also an honour bar… but it’s more club-like as opposed to foyer/lobby like.

That works for me because I want to be out and about most of the time, yet feel cosy when the tiredness kicks in.


The best part is the location… Places des Vosges… is a hop, skip and a jump outside.

Carette is the best for breakfast… and lunch… and their macarons.

We all love Ladurée and Pierre Hermé… but these are pretty special too.

Dammann is my very favourite place to buy tea.

If you prefer Mariage Frères and their luxurious tea room, then that’s only minutes away.

A short walk over to the 3rd and you are shopping inside Merci or perhaps ordering a wood fired pizza at Grazie.


Places des Vosges… A great location… Have you stayed there? xv


Places des Vosges

Le Pavillon de la Reine

28 Places des Vosges

75003 Paris

+33 (0) 1 40 29 19 19



25 Places des Vosges

75003 Paris

+33 (0) 1 48 87 94 07



15 Places des Vosges

75003 Paris

+33 (0) 1 44 54 04 88 


Mariages Frères

30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg,

75004 Paris

+33 (0) 1 42 72 28 11



111 boulevard Beaumarchais

75003 Paris 

+ 33 (0) 1 42 77 00 33



91 Boulevard Beaumarchais
75003 Paris
+33 (0) 1 42 78 11 96


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When It Is “So Chaud”

July 13, 2014

So Chaud, Mac, French Essence, Vicki Archer

Last weekend  one of my daughter’s had friends to stay… an all girl weekend.

So often, the best fun of all.


With no time to spare to get ready for dinner one night, I quickly added a dash of “So Chaud” lipstick from Mac.

Best thing I ever did… the compliments made my evening.


I forget how great a good strong orange can be as an alternative to the bright reds and pinks.

Brightens the face, feels super summery and makes you feel party ready.


Have you tried “So Chaud” from Mac? It’s my very favourite orange and seems to suit all skin types.

Not too citrusy and not to deep in colour… Just right.


There is nothing like a new lipstick to make you feel re-energised beauty wise.


 Have a wonderful weekend and see you next week… Shall we talk about Paris then? xv


 ps… the nordstrom anniversary sale is up and running if you are lucky enough to be a cardholder… otherwise we have to wait a few more days.

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The Word According To Socrates

July 10, 2014

Socrates, Wisdom, French Essence, Vicki Archer


Wise and profound words from Socrates.

I was reminded of this on a more superficial level… but still an important one.


Our discussions at French Essence on beauty and life always inspire me towards one thought or another.

Conversation is so important to not only confirm what we know but also to open our minds to new possibilities.


We are all changing, whether we are heading towards 20, 50 or 80 years of age.

It’s a learning curve and a steep one… nothing sure and nothing guaranteed.

A path full of surprises and not always the ones we would like.


Often when I look in the mirror or catch a glimpse of myself, for a moment I am startled, shocked even.

It is as if I don’t recognise the woman staring back at me.

Who is she? There is something familiar and comfortable… yet in ways she is a stranger.

It lasts for only a moment and then we are united once more.


Inside nothing has changed… I am the same person but physically I can feel a visitor in my own body.

In the words of Socrates, rather than fight the old , I want to build the new.

This is something to be savoured, to find liberating and to cause reflection.

I don’t want to waste precious time wishing for what has been or can’t be, I want to focus on the future and the happiness and joy that will come from that.

Right now is our prime… in the moment and of the moment.


I feel healthier, more energised, more fulfilled and happier than my earlier years.

Yes, decidedly softer around the edges, with greying hair and an abundance of lines… but in the grand scheme of things what does it matter.

The appearance might be different but there are compensations.


I have the self confidence and experience of age to dress as I please, to experiment and to love fashion even more if that were possible.

I can grow my hair as long as I want… I can cut it short… I can do as I want. Age is no longer a deterrent to fashion and beauty.

I am inspired constantly to create a bigger and brighter French Essence world... I adore what I do and I can’t do it fast enough.


I am finding my own way, forging a path without the restrictions of youth.

Nothing is impossible and “too old” is not in the vocabulary.

Don’t tell me that’s not luxury.


Are you with me? xv


The Best Kept Beauty Secrets

#1  //  #2  // #3

ps. the nordstrom anniversary sale starts today for cardholders… so many genuine reductions across the board.

everything that you could ever imagine… and reduced… love that… :)


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