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ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore Collection

ila spa is a British spa and beauty brand that has a special place in my heart, so when I was invited to visit the ila barn in the Cotswolds, I jumped at the chance.

I spent the afternoon with ila’s magnetic founder Denise Leicester who I’ve met a few times at ila spa events in London.  Not only did I get a rare glimpse of these luxurious, natural creams and oils in production, but I was treated to an exclusive preview of ila spa’s new game-changing Gold Cellular Age-Restore collection.

After a short drive from Charlbury through the rolling Oxfordshire countryside, I was warmly welcomed by Denise at the peaceful ila barn, framed by seemingly endless green fields.  Over a healthy snack of dates filled with cashew nut butter and warming cardamon and saffron tea, we chatted about the hotly anticipated collection and Denise’s extensive travels.

ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore is the result of three years of experimenting and fine tuning.  The innovative anti-ageing ritual harnesses the power of ethically harvested frankincense from the Garden of Ethiopia and three types of naturally occurring gold.  Its unique BosTriWell formula combines three different kinds of frankincense to reduce inflammation while 24-Carat Gold, Homeopathic and Colloidal Gold boost the production of collagen.

A plant-derived hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin completes this powerful trinity of active ingredients working to promote radiance and reduce the signs of ageing.  Denise explained that the range was formulated in partnership with a world-renowned German pharmacy to achieve the best possible results while staying true to ila’s natural, ‘beyond organic’ philosophy.

First on the agenda was a tour of the ila spa workshop where all of the organic face and body products are hand-blended, bottled and packaged up.  It’s such a unique, pleasant environment with exquisite aromas filling the air that I found myself daydreaming about packing up for the Cotswolds to be an ila apprentice.

The work stations are adorned with a golden sri yantra to channel good energy into the products and every product is blessed with a positive affirmation by its creator – truly made with love.  I tried my hand at blending ila’s best-selling Body Oil for Inner Peace, mixing heady top note oils jasmine, sandalwood and ylang ylang with a base of argan oil and rosehip seed oil.

I then took a reflective walk around the special wedding labyrinth at the back of the barn with a lighted candle in hand while being watched intently by the flock of sheep in the adjacent field.  I’m guessing they’re pretty chilled out sheep with all the Ayurvedic aromas flowing into their field.

Already feeling serene and revived by the fresh country air, I was set for further relaxation with a signature ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore Facial.  Expert therapist Jo performed the most fantastic healing and rejuvenating facial in the warm, tranquil treatment room.  She thoroughly cleansed and exfoliated my skin and intuitively massaged my head, shoulders and face using lymphatic drainage techniques.

A paper sheet drenched in a zingy mask was pushed deep into the skin using the ila Sonic Wave Therapy, leaving my skin feeling tingly and taut.  The treatment finished with a light application of serum and face cream and I was gently awoken from my trance-like state.

The treatment was made even more relaxing and effective with a soundtrack of hypnotic, tribal music composed and sung by Denise.  After the treatment, we sipped on Radiance Cleanse detox juices and Denise led us in a meditative sound therapy session, chanting and playing crystal singing bowls in harmony.  It was the perfect end to an afternoon of wellbeing and I left feeling truly inspired by Denise and her soulful, holistic approach to skincare.

I’ve been trying out the collection since visiting the ila barn and am already hooked.  My skin was terribly stressed out with a new type of breakout that I had no idea how to tackle and it was getting me down.  The Gold Cellular Age-Restore has dramatically helped calm and soothe my skin, reducing the bumps with its anti-inflamatory properties and re-balancing the tone.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Cleanser is my hero product and an absolute joy to use.  The oil-based cleanser is made up of Babassu oil, Boswellia Extract, Jasmine and vitamin-rich Sea Buckthorn to purify and nourish the skin.  It’s just the right texture to give the face and decolletage a good massage and turns into a light milk when emulsified with water.  It leaves my skin feeling comfortable and clean and most importantly leaves no greasy residue.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Toner is distilled from the purest organic orange blossom (instantly taking me back to summer in Provence) and helps revive and tighten skin.  I don’t usually see the benefit of toners (unless they’re acid toners to exfoliate) but this one is really rather special.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Serum is the ideal product for getting a good dose of those effective ingredients without overwhelming the skin.  For best results, it can be massaged deeply into the skin with the ila Sonic Wave Therapy device.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Cream is a rich, indulgent face cream with collagen boosting 24 Carat Gold, White Gold and Gold Dust to boost cell oxygenation and eliminate toxins from the skin and White Lily stem cells to target fine lines.  I find the texture a little heavy for everyday use on my combination skin, but I love using it at night and on lazy weekends to thoroughly nourish and repair my skin.

ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore is a truly luxurious, results-driven organic range that enhances the brand’s excellent offering.  Priced at the higher end of natural skincare it’s certainly an investment, but believe me there’s much more to the products than simply the decadence of 24 Carat Gold.

The ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore collection is now available exclusively at Harrods and is priced from £40 to £180.  For more information and to buy online, visit: and

Chérie City was a guest of ila spa

Photos by Chérie City and ila spa




Penhaligon’s Vaara: Inspired By Jodhpur

This summer, Penhaligon’s launches Vaara, a stunning fragrance inspired by the Royal House of Marwar-Jodhpur in Rajasthan.

The story of Vaara began when Penhaligon’s visited Jodhpur and met His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II, known around the world simply as Bapji.  Charmed by the culture and history of Jodhpur, Penhaligon’s wanted to create a fragrance that paid tribute to the city’s exotic aromas.  Oxford-educated Bapji, who lived for some time in England, named the fragrance to commemorate the birth of his granddaughter Vaara.

Master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, who also created Penhaligon’s Amaranthine and Sartorial, toured Jodhpur’s historic forts, palaces and markets, finding inspiration for the fragrance in the gardens of Bal Samand Lake Palace and Gardens.  The intoxicating aromas of champaca, jasmine, frangipani and rose found in the gardens characterise the fragrance.

At first glance, the bold sun-kissed orange, bright aqua and opulent gold colours of the packaging led me to think that Vaara might be spicy, warm and sultry.  However, Vaara is a delicate, oriental floral perfume that alludes to the sensory delights of Jodhpur’s palaces and idyllic gardens.

The fragrance opens with a fresh burst of quince, fragrant rosewater, carrot seed, coriander seed and an intense hit of saffron.  At the heart is a floral bouqet of heady Moroccan rose absolute, Bulgarian rose oil, uplifting freesia, Indian magnolia, peony and iris.  It then develops a slightly powdery muskiness with notes of honey, white musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, benzoin resin and tonka bean.

Vaara is a sophisticated, luxurious fragrance that subtly evokes the romance and glamour of Jodhpur’s palaces.  It’s a beautiful addition to the Penhaligon’s collection and the closest thing to feeling like an Indian princess.

Vaara is available in Pehaligon’s boutiques and stockists on 8th July 2013, priced at £85 for 50ml and £120 for 100ml.  Vaara will also be exclusively available in India at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Collection Shop.  For more information, visit:

Sketches by Bertrand Duchaufour

PR sample


Jimmy Choo Launches Second Fragrance FLASH

Jimmy Choo launches its second fragrance FLASH this month and as you would expect from the iconic brand, it’s glamour and seduction all the way.

Created by perfumer Christine Nagel (Christian Dior Miss Dior Chérie, Dolce & Gabbana The One and numerous Jo Malone fragrances), FLASH is a fresh, sparkling yet intense solar floral fragrance that exudes luxury and decadence.  As suggested in the name, the inspiration for the fragrance comes from the thrill of the red carpet, fabulous international nightclubs and high octane glamour, with the paparazzi fighting for the Jimmy Choo girl’s attention.

Jimmy Choo Creative Directors Sandra Choi and Simon Holloway designed FLASH to be part of the ritual of dressing up to go out – another covetable Jimmy Choo accessory to match the perfect shoes, bag and dress.  They said: “FLASH is about the cool rush of excitement and the sense of power a woman feels when dressed in a pair of sexy shoes”.

Perfumer Christine Nagel looked to stylish, urban women in the world’s style capitals to find inspiration for the scent.  She said: “I imagined the sounds of heels, clicking on the streets of New York, London and Paris”.

While Jimmy Choo was all about the snakeskin for its first fragrance in 2011, the FLASH packaging reflects the look that Jimmy Choo is currently best-known for – glitter luxe.  The glass bottle is inspired by a modernist chandelier from the 1970s, however, the circular shapes also reference a retro camera flash.  The cool blue-silver colour is a nod to the ultraviolet lights of a nightclub and the flash of paparazzi bulbs.

FLASH opens with top notes of pink pepper, strawberry and leads to a heart of Tuberose, Jasmine and White Lily.  White woods are at the base and as the fragrance develops, it leaves a warm, complex, spicy vanilla trail.

It’s a powerful, alluring fragrance for a night out, beginning with sparkling vibrancy and becoming more sultry and seductive as the evening goes on.  I have been wearing FLASH for almost two months and it has become a firm favourite for winter evenings out and when I need a bit of extra polish and confidence during the day.  It’s effervescent, heady, captivating, sophisticated and an absolute joy to wear.

Natasha Poly is the glamorous face of the campaign, shot by Steven Meisel with a Studio 54 meets Tamara de Lempicka vibe of excess and hedonism.

FLASH is sure to appeal particularly to Jimmy Choo’s younger customers who identify with the brand’s fun, daring, free-spirited side.  However, it shouldn’t be overlooked by more classic, understated perfume enthusiasts, as the fragrance is surprisingly timeless and complex.

Jimmy Choo Flash will be available exclusively at Debenhams from 14th January 2013, then nationwide from 28th January.  Prices start from £36 for 40ml and the range also includes a body lotion and shower gel.

* PR sample

Beauty, London, Stores

Roja Dove launches Blessings for Belinda Brown

The contemporary perfume industry seems to be saturated by two types of products; fragrances by designers and those by celebrities.  Renowned perfumier Roja Dove specialises in bespoke perfumes, which he develops over a long period of time of a customer who want the ultimate luxury; their own unique fragrance, bottle just for them.

For the very first time, Roja Dove is releasing Blessings, a perfume created for his client, Belinda Brown.  Feeling that the perfume was too beautiful too keep to herself, Belinda asked Roja if she could make it available, with a limited run of just 30 bottles, for all women to experience in Harrods at Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie.

It is certainly revolutionary move to commercially release a fragrance for someone without a background in perfume or celebrity status, but when you meet Belinda, which I did over breakfast at Claridges, you instantly understand why Roja was enchanted by her.

Belinda is warm and expressive, with an inspiring life story, which moved her to tears during our meeting.  The story behind her fragrance is intertwined with her history of growing up in rural Nigeria and it is these triggered memories that characterise her unique perfume.

The inspiration behind the fragrance came from Belinda’s early memories of using Stella Pomade, a body cream with heady jasmine and vanilla, as a child in Nigeria.  Perfumes were scarce in her village at the time and she happily recounted that the girls at her school were so enthralled by the sweet scent of the balm that they all wanted to be her friend.

Once the perfume was complete, Roja, as a perfumier, was intrigued by the promise of an unknown, intoxicating balm from a faraway land and Belinda was moved to rediscover the scent of her youth.  She made a pilgrimage to the small village in Nigeria where she could source it and managed to bring a giant pot back to London – an expensive voyage for a pot of cream to the equivalent of £1!

The process of creating a perfume with Roja began very organically, with their consultations taking place over dinner, drinks and in various different times and location.  Each ingredient can have a different effect on you depending on your mood, surroundings or the time of day.

Roja insists on his clients smelling the spices and flower oils before revealing their names.  This is to avoid subconscious prejudices against certain scents and to really feel and experience them properly.  Similarly, Roja won’t reveal the potency, quality or cost of an ingredient until a judgement has been made, as knowledge of the price can contaminate intuition.

Blessings is a real treasure, from the hand-cut crystal bottle made by artisans in the Czech Republic to the sumptuous ribbon-tied box in regal purple, both Belinda and Roja’s favourite colour.

The fragrance is feminine and classic yet intriguing and opens with fresh Bergamot, Lemon and Mandarin with a heart of Jasmine de Grasse, Rose de Mai and Ylang-Ylang, on a warm base of Vanilla, rare Orris and Sandalwood.

Belinda’s enchanting, sensitive and passionate character is distilled in Blessings and the fragrance provides a rare insight into the life of a women with a hundred stories to tell.  Another convention-defying triumph for Roja Dove.

Blessings by Roja Dove for Belinda Brown, available now, is priced at £675 for 100ml and is exclusive to Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, 5th Floor, Harrods.

Beauty, London, Stores

The Organic Pharmacy launches first fragrance collection

Coinciding with London Fashion Week next month, The Organic Pharmacy launches its first collection of premium natural perfumes, Organic Glam.

The four 100% organic scents are very distinctive and represent contrasting perfume types, so there is a fragrance to suit all.

Developed and perfected over three years, The Organic Pharmacy searched the world over to source exotic and rare ingredients that would work all together to create a desirable niche fragrance, with its natural properties as a secondary benefit.

Oriental Blossom is one of the lighter and more wearable fragrances, blending citrus notes of Sicilian Bergamot, Lemon and Mandarin with spicy Cinnamon and Cloves, floral Rose and Neroli, warm Vetiver and Pepper and the sweetness of Vanilla and Ylang Ylang.

Jasmine is a much more intense, pure fragrance and you really have to love full-bodied floral chypres to carry this one off.  It immediately transports you to the Mediterranean; humid, moonlit evenings in glamorous Capri.  It combines the heady florals of Egyptian Jasmine and Ylang Ylang with a twist of Sicilian Bergamot and Sandalwood.

Citron is a clean, fresh but sophisticated scent that evokes the zesty aromas of Southern Italy. It is an intoxicating blend of Sicilian Lemon and Bergamot, Moroccan Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and Neroli.

My favourite of all the fragrances is Oud, which reminds me sipping mint tea at midnight in Moroccan gardens among clouds of incense – think Yves Saint Laurent in his Marrakesh period with a contemporary twist.  Oud is a heady mix of Cedarwood, Indian Oud, Sandalwood, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Rose, Vetiver and Tonka Bean.

The Organic Glam perfumes fuse 1920s vintage style square bottles and a cut-glass stopper with a modern, chic logo and golden charm.  The bottles are large, heavy and very decadent and they will add a touch of glamour to your dressing table.

All of the fragrances are free from artificial fragrance colours, phthalates and animal ingredients.

Each 100ml fragrance is priced at £110 and is available to buy online and at The Organic Pharmacy from mid-September.