Test Driving the Brit Celeb Makeup Artist’s Line at Selfridges

 

I had a mission in London. The beauty industry had been buzzing about celeb makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s new line. The mascara was said to be next level. The concealer able to camouflage a decadent night of partying. And, the Wonder Glow Primer able to deliver a lit-from-within effect that filled in wrinkles creating an anti-aging optical illusion. With a cadre of celeb clients that range from Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham and the new Mrs. Clooney, I was intrigued. Especially because this makeup is tough to find stateside.

 

I hightailed it over to Selfridges and challenged the talented Oliver Simpson to transform my fatigued complexion into something resembling Sienna Miller. The counter was MOBBED. We found a stool and got to work. Charlotte’s Magic Cream infused my jet-lagged visage with verve,  brightening the complexion and adding a dewy glow. Next, the Wonder Glow Primer evened out my skin tone. The foundation added another level of luminosity. I have a zillion blushes at home. But, I found the Cheek to Chic Swish & Pop Blusher alluring. The effect was sun kissed and natural. Finally, what girl can resist a lip gloss at the end of the day? We finished the look with a moisturizing swipe of Sweet Stiletto Lip Lustre.

 

I may not be Sienna Miller, but, damn, I felt good!

Light Wonder Foundation: $45, Nordstrom + Wonder Glow Primer: $55, Nordstrom
 

Here’s what I bought:

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Magic Cream Moisturizer, $100, Nordstrom + ‘Cheek to Chic’ Swish & Pop Blush: $40, Nordstrom

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‘Lip Lustre’ Lip Lacquer: $22, Nordstrom + ‘The Retoucher’ Conceal & Treat Stick: $35, Nordstrom

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Makeup artist Oliver Simpson & Amy Tara Koch at the Charlotte Tilbury in Selfridges


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Scent Décor: It’s a Thing

Scent plays a huge role in style. A woman’s fragrance is an extension of her look. Upscale hotels (like the Plaza Athenee in Paris) often boast a signature parfum that symbolizes the property’s luxury status. Even retailers (think Abercrombie and Fitch) use aroma to define their brand. This concept carries over to décor. A home is yet another style platform to personalize with scent.

My Chicago apartment embodies my eclectic style; a mix of contemporary and mid-century modern furniture punctuated with offbeat knickknacks culled from travels around the globe. Art is everywhere: photography, sculpture, graffiti paintings and zany African head dresses as wall hangings. And, drapery is treated as jewelry, each room’s piece de resistance. There is a lot going on but, somehow it all flows perfectly. Smell plays a role in my home. There is always a hint of French lavender (I tuck sachets everywhere) and fresh flowers to counteract the frigidity of winter. To channel my Miami upbringing, I saute orange and lemon peels for a whiff of tropical citrus.

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When Unstopables reached out and asked me to test drive their new scent décor, I signed on. My favorite? The in-wash scent booster. With two active daughters, the laundry baskets are always overflowing. This product (just add it to the wash at the beginning of the cycle) adds a subtle, pleasant fragrance to clothing. Though it won’t reduce the amount of laundry, it makes the experience more pleasurable!

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ATK Chats Parenting Issues with CNN

Is it OK to Spy On Your Kids?

 

Spying on your kids. It’s a divisive issue. But, like it or not, monitoring your kids is all a part of parenting. I was asked by CNN’s Kelly Wallace how I felt about the issue. Here is what I said. And, below, is Kelly’s entire piece published on Cnn.com this morning. What do you think about spying on your children?

Spying. It depends on your kid and his/her age. Intellectually, I can understand the nanny cam. First time moms are anxious about leaving their precious babies with a stranger. So, the camera is more about keeping an eye on the nanny versus the baby. But, I don’t approve of spying-type cameras for older kids. There needs to be a certain level of trust established. Kids need to spread their teenage wings and start having experiences outside of the parental realm. However, if my daughter (I have two daughters, 9 and 12) started acting out in a way that signaled a problem, I would need to re-think this stance. Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with this issue. Yet.

Social media? That is another story. I prefer to use the term “monitoring.” Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are virtual feeding grounds for all types of illicit behavior. I constantly talk to my 12 year old about privacy and the presence of perverts online looking for innocent girls. I monitor her content (she’s into Instagram) but also her privacy settings to make sure that perverts (and cyber bullies) can’t access her accounts. I really believe in establishing a high level of trust. In order to have access to a phone (she claims to be the last of her friends to get a phone) my daughter had to prove that she could follow rules (my husband had her write an essay!) and commit to limits on phone/social media use. She has really followed through so I do not read her texts.

When I was a kid my parents definitely spied on us via a low-tech intercom system. HA! We always heard them tuning in and modified our conversations accordingly.

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Read more here

2015-01-06_11-54-07 Video from CNN.com

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My Kind of Town, Chicago

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The food. The sports. The art. The theater. There is a lot to love about the city of Chicago. And I have the good fortune to report on all things fabulous in the third coast for Travel + Leisure Magazine.

With the holidays upon us, everyone is talking about what to do over the vacation. So, herewith, I am spilling the cultural beans on some excellent activities guaranteed to keep siblings, best friends, parents and kids engaged and happy. Below is my segment on ABC’s Windy City Live. And beneath that is a link to my local expert’s guide to Chicago for Travel and Leisure.

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WCL

 

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Check out my local expert’s guide to Chicago for Travel + Leisure here!

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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How to Layer for the Holidays

layering guide pics Amy Tara Koch with Darlene Hill

layering pic 2Perfectly layered bangles

 

The Holidays are all about drama, yes. But does that mean women need to run out and invest in a new wardrobe? Good Day Chicago’s style expert Amy Tara Koch says NO WAY! You can create a big style statement by mixing and matching what you already own (or filling in your accessory blanks with some new holiday baubles). Translation? Toss the matchy-matchy mindset and pair your accessories in unconventional ways to create texture, add contrast and introduce color.

 

LAYERING TIPS

    1. Mix vintage + new
    2. Pair opposites for high drama
    3. High/low is a recipe for high style. Think: H&M and Hermes!

 

    Watch video here!

    FOX 32 News Chicago

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    COOL MATERNITY JEAN ALERT!

    ITEM:  DL 1961 Angel Maternity Ankle Jean, $168

    Denim Brand DL 1961 is known for its ability to magically shape and lift a woman’s most stubborn body parts. How? The jeans are infused with “4 way stretch” denim featuring a blend of supremely high quality pro modal fibers, lycra and American cotton. These “high performance” jeans are comfortable and easy to dress up or down. Yes, they are expensive. But, flattering jean are a maternity must-have.

    And, since you very well may wear them 5 days out of 7, they are a solid investment.

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    Egg Maternity App

    I love the idea of an App that allows you to test drive maternity looks.

    New Zealand’s EGG Maternity have invented the The Look at me Pregnant app that allows you, your partner-or your husband-to try on outfits in the desired setting. The images can be saved, instagrammed or sent to your style loving bff to help make critical pregnancy fashion decisions.

    The Look at me Pregnant app goes live at www.eggmaternity.com on the 5th September 2014

    EGG has a global website so products can be easily ordered.

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    On Trend, Not Trendy

    How Real Women Should Use Runway Trends

    I love fashion shows. And celeb gawking.  But, these directional, dramatic  looks can be sported by the rarefied few that do not dabble in real life scenarios often.

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    Runways shows are designed to inspire. They are barometers, not checklists. Stylists look at seasonal trends and dissect them. Then they incorporate thesee lements of style-midi skirts, animal print, pops of orange, graphic prints, pastels- into an existing wardrobe. An elegant minimalist wardrobe + trendy accents = polish.

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    Amsterdam with the Family

    hadn’t been to Amsterdam since my post college graduation Euro-railing days. I remember flea markets, cheese, canals and a youth hostel. But, I had to pick a European destination on the Air Iceland route and the flight dates and times worked seamlessly with my itinerary. Epiphany: Amsterdam is what Paris used to be pre-Euro nose dive/Francois Hollande econo-nightmare. Translation? Vibrant, artsy, fashion-forward and above all, happy!

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    A Gouda Paradise, A Canal in the Nine Streets

    We stayed in the Nine Streets neighborhood, a shopper’s paradise tucked into a maze of canals and super narrow bridges within walking distance to all of the museums. The Dutch have imposed a law in this district: no chain stores. The result is, again, what Paris used to be: a super local series of independent, shops, art galleries and boites that exude a singular Dutch style. Within moments, I fell in love with au courant designer Tony Cohen and profited from the end of summer sale. My kids only tolerated my shopping because they knew that there would be a reward. Amsterdam is known forPannekoek, fluffy mini pancakes dusted in powdered sugar. We used these light-as-air treats as bribery material every time I needed a fashion pick-me-up.

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    Nemo Science Center

    WHAT TO DO

    Amsterdam is made for wandering. I planned a cultural activity per day and we spent the rest of the time meandering through the canals and side streets enjoying the architecture. A canal cruise is the perfect way for families to get their fill of the city’s vast history. We took the blue boat tour which, at 75 minutes, is the perfect amount of time. Boats are small and pleasant equipped with headphones so guests can listen to the guided schpiel or tune out and enjoy the scenery. Art lovers are ecstatic over the re-opening of the famed Rijksmuseum. Hours can be spent exploring the furniture, decorative objects and bevy of Dutch and international masters. To perk up the kids, head outside to the Museum Gardens where fourteen massive Alexander Calder stabiles and mobiles are displayed surrounding an interactive fountain that invites kids (and adults) to run in and out of the water stream. The groovy Renzo Piano designed Nemo Museum is paradise for pint sized science lovers. While my kids enjoyed four floors of hands on science exhibits, I chilled out on the rooftop “beach” that proffered a killer view of the city.

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    Nemo Science Center,  Fountains at Rijksmuseum

    The Dutch are up front about the atrocities that befell the Jews in World War II. It is mentioned often on tours and numerous Holocaust memorials are peppered throughout the city. For a real feel of Nazi occupied Amsterdam, we visited the Resistance Museum. Exhibits document the political upheaval of 1940-1945 with authentic household artifacts, propaganda posters, documents and behind-the-wall hiding spots which echo the chilling feel of the period. There is a special exhibit for kids which showcases the painful reality inflicted upon Jewish children. We were all emotional. But, reality was reality and I felt this museum was important to visit.

    The food in Amsterdam was excellent; honest, innovative and fabulously fresh. Personally, I love fish for breakfast. Caffeine + pure protein =sightseeing energy. Of course, the coffee shops in Amsterdam are world famous. I avoided the ones with grassy offerings on this trip. But, we did indulge in the café culture. Like Paris. Amsterdam has outdoor cafes in the town squares and in front of the canals where people have a coffee or a beer and simply luxuriate in the moment. If you are in the mood for a trendy meal ( I always am), chic restos are plentiful. We loved the Lion Rouge and Café Daalder, an adventurous gastropub. After dinner each night, we strolled back to the hotel basking in the golden Dutch sunset. Sublime.

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    Inspired! The Marvels Of Marrakech

    I have just returned from a family trip to Marrakech and my head is exploding with color, print, flavor and ideas. Visiting the souk in the old medina is a visual experience like none other. We watched leather being tanned, fabrics being woven, herbal elixirs mixed, lanterns constructed and donkeys carting products throughout the narrow alleys.  These items are beautiful, yes. But how they are made is fascinating. Furnishings, decorations and all types of clothing are hand crafted  by artisans  on site in the exact same ancient  manner as their ancestors.

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    The souk is tough to navigate (there are no signs and multiple entrances and exits, so we hired a guide.) Mohammed helped us weave through the maze and led us to some incredible artist cooperatives that required a secret knocking sequence to gain entry. Housed behind massive wooden doors,  these spots had the feel of Aladdin’s  Cave; with row upon row of copper pots, pottery, jewelry, tea sets, leather bags and shoes. There are no price tags in the souk. Fierce negotiation skills are required.  If you ask the price of, say, a small dish, the response is always the same: “I make you good price! You are my first customer!” When your lust list is piled up, a ridiculous number  is written down. You laugh and say this is way too high. They ask what you want to pay and you offer half of that price or less. And so it goes for about 15 minutes until both parties are satisfied.  As the items are wrapped, a small gift was offerered at each stop  for my daughters.

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    I went a bit mad on the pillow and pouf front. At the Maison du Caftan. I stocked up on a rainbow of stunning decorative items for my house. The furniture is what  really made me swoon: carved, inlaid wooden tables, punched copper chairs, mother of pearl mirror. Obviously these items can’t be stuffed into luggage so I had to walk away empty handed. I am already dreaming of my next trip to Morocco. Rest assured I will be  organizing a container to ship pieces home.

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