• What to buy

    Word of mouth is the best way to discover great beauty tips. So when model and gorgeous friend Jacqui Ainsley gave me a box of her favourite Fresh beauty products for Christmas, I immediately got stuck in.

    First up was the Brown Sugar Body Cream which has a ridiculously delicious lemon and mint smell. (Often new science based products seem to forget about the importance of smell - maybe because science can't quantify how scent makes you feel.)

    Next a Brown Sugar Body Polish - a miracle worker according to Jacqui. And boy is she's right; it sloughs of useless dead cells, leaving skin brand new and no need for moisturizer. A time-saving two-fer!

    Despite being given my box of Fresh treats, I didn't know much about the brand. But a trip to the Marylebone High St shop soon put paid to that, as the charming and knowledgeable store manager Caglar Odabasi, talked me through the Fresh story… which began in 1991 when Russian couple, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg opened an apothecary in Boston. They began making their own triple-milled vegetable-based soaps, which flew out the shop.

    Then came a collection of products using ingredients from their childhood (brown sugar that both their grandmothers' would use as an antiseptic to heal scraped knees), researched recipes (Crème Ancienne which had been used by gladiators in Roman times) or personal recommendations (Umbrian Clay that magically helped their friend's acne to disappear).

    There's nothing like being passed on a friend's beauty secrets. So here we go - I'm handing them on too.


  • What to know

    Over the last couple of weeks in London, there's been a big old house party going on. Whether it's post-BAFTAs, after London Fashion Week shows, brunch on Saturday… it's always been back to André's house.  Or to be more precise back to André's 'Firehouse'.

    The rumours have been circling for the last year, but finally it's here… The Chiltern Firehouse has arrived thanks to André Balazs, one of the world's masters at making chic hotels feel like home but with added twinkle (think New York's Mercer Hotel and Los Angeles' Chateau Marmont).

    Parked parallel to Marylebone High Street, the 1889 neo-Gothic building was one of the first purpose built fire stations in London. Thanks to Balazs' vision and the sensitive approach of Parisian architects Studio Ko many of the original C19th details remain; tiled walls in the stairway, floors in the restaurant and of course… the fireman's pole - which now takes centre stage in the middle of the restaurant's best table.

    With Michelin starred chef Nuno Mendes running things in the open kitchen, the restaurant officially opened last night. The 26 hotel rooms won't be open for business until March. And the glamorous, soft lit, golden-hued bar in the former fireman's ladder shed is for hotel guests only. But do what you can to get in there - try sneaking your way in with tales of top ping-pong skills (there's a table in the bar). Or beg a table in the restaurant. Or just slip on your best fireman's outfit. It's worth it. This Firehouse is hot.


  • What to know

    How to stay chic at London Fashion Week when it's blowing a hooley? Designer Christopher Raeburn has the answer

    Raeburn's 'thing' is working with old military fabrics including de-commissioned parachutes. And for this season he's been commissioned to dress the Amex Insiders - a flock of angels slash concierge service, on hand at Somerset House from today, to deal with every high maintenance whim or whinge.  

    The most-wanted piece will be his waterproof cape, specially treated wool with a design inspired by his upcoming collection 'Last Days of the Arctic'. So whether it's a reservation at André Balazs new restaurant/bar/hotel The Firehouse (more on that later), charging a hungry iPhone (come on Mac - sort the battery life out!) or fixing a sorry heel snapped on Somerset House's cobbles, the Insiders are right there offering the kind of snappy service that Amex card members are used to. And you can spot them from afar in their cool printed capes, looking smugly warm and dry.


    Amex Insiders offered all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win one Limited Edition cape by Christopher Raeburn (worth approximately £600). Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.