Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival 2012

 Last weekend I was up in Sydney again for the 23rd Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival.  My friend Zoe and I decided to fly up the day before so we could have a little look around and a good nights sleep before the festival started.

We stayed in the amusingly-named Vulcan Hotel in Ultimo.  The hotel was built in 1894 and named after the Roman god of fire (not Mr Spock!).  It was renovated in 2006 and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone staying in Sydney - affordable, quiet, nice rooms, and the staff are very friendly.  Plus you get to make the "live long and prosper" sign the whole time you are there!

Me and Zoe having lunch at Darling Harbour.  Expensive and mediocre food, but the view was nice.  I still didn't get to see the Opera House though!

photo by Wheels & Dollbaby

I was dying to go and try on some clothes at Wheels & Dollbaby, which is a gorgeous Australian label worn by the likes of Dita Von Teese, Katy Perry and the late Amy Winehouse.  The shop is divine, with leopard-print carpet and the staff were so pretty and friendly.

photo by Wheels & Dollbaby

For some unknown reason they only have shops in Sydney and Perth, and I really wanted to try on their leopard-print cardigan before dropping $190 on it online.  Well, it fit perfectly and looked amazing on, and if I could have afforded it I would have bought it right then and there.  I consoled myself by trying on lots of other clothes.

 I tried on the Classic Satin Corset Dress, which is made of a heavy stretch satin and is suprisingly comfortable.  The cups are edged with a little black net ruffle, and the whole thing is cut so beautifully that it is incredibly flattering.

photo by Wheels & Dollybaby

I also tried on the Leather Pencil skirt, which cleverly only has leather at the front, and stretch black fabric
on the back so it won't go all baggy over the bum.

 photo from Holy Kitsch website

On the way there we went to Holy Kitsch, which sells Mexican ornaments and prints, lots of Day of the Dead stuff and Frida Kahlo pictures and ornaments.

I bought this pair of Mexican tin earrings, which will be great for my summer look, which is going to be Frida inspired I think.

Well, finally we got to bed and were up the next morning for the Middle Eastern Dance Festival, with workshops and concerts over three days. 

Here are Prue, me and Zoe posing cheesily with the lady on the poster at the Friday night concert.  We weirdly look like we all belong at Madame Tussaud's in this photo.

After doing six workshops over the three days, we were feeling quite tired, but we managed to put our last bit of energy into performing in the Student Concert on the Sunday.  We got such fantastic feedback on our performance, one dancer described our dancing as "tight, juicy and natural" which we loved! 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Real Techniques Starter Kit Brushes review

Samantha Chapman, one half of YouTube makeup channel phenomenon Pixiwoo, has a collection of makeup brushes in partnership with Real Techniques.  They are very reasonably priced, ($18 for the starter set) and Alice from WAMP-Nation and I decided to buy some and see for ourselves what they were like.

We both bought the Starter Set, which is for the eyes and contains 5 brushes:
  • Base Shadow Brush
  • Deluxe Crease Brush
  • Accent Brush
  • Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush
  • Brow Brush
The brushes have a purple aluminium ferrule and an rubber handle, which means they are light.  The bristles are taklon (a synthetic) which makes them cruelty-free.

They come in a little black folding case with elastic straps, which can be folded in half the other way to make a little stand.  I found it a bit difficult to get the brushes in and out of the elastic straps owing to their rubber handles - the rubber kind of grips on the elastic, so I can't imagine I'd use the case.

So far I'm undecided about how much I like these.  The fattest of the brushes is the Deluxe Crease Brush, with the Base Shadow Brush being a bit flatter and smaller, which seemed strange to both me and Alice.  I found the Crease Brush to be a bit too big to fit into the crease of my eye, and it just put eyeshadow everywhere.  I do have very small eyelids though!  I think I will probably swap them around.

I like the Accent Brush a lot, as it is quite small and good for putting highlights in the corner of the eyes or under the eyebrows.  The Brow Brush is pretty standard but works well.
 The most disappointing was the Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush.  It is quite chunky, and doesn't go into a proper point at all, so although it is fine for thick lines, I cannot get a nice point on my liquid eyeliner flicks, which is very important for me.  I'd be better off using a fine paintbrush really.

I read a review of these brushes on Klaire de Lys and she mentioned that the ferrules are not very tight around the bristles, which means water can easily get into the handle while you are washing them.  On comparing them with my Body Shop brushes, I noticed that the metal of the ferrule doesn't seem to have been pinched as tightly around the bristles on the Real Techniques brushes, which is a pity.

So all things considered, these are decent brushes for the price, especially if you haven't got many others, but if you want quality you are going to have to pay more.