Selfridges: The Beauty Project

Anything that asks the question ‘what is beauty?’ is going to get my attention.

Being an opinionated sort, I have my own ideas, but it’s always good to question them and listen to other people’s ideas. After all, we learn as much about ourselves as the outside world when we question.

And I like to consider myself an explorer.

So imagine my excitement to hear about the latest event with Selfridges that does just that. Looking at the themes Men and Beauty, Age and Beauty, Adornment/Extreme Beauty, Global Beauty, Androgyny and Natural Beauty, The Beauty Project intends to both celebrate beauty and question our definitions, in an event running from 1 May to 2 June.

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These themes are are illustrated by a new and un-retouched advertising campaign shot by German photographer and filmmaker Norbert Shoerner showing selected members of the public next to the line Hello Beautiful. One of the real-life models chosen to appear in the campaign is Richard Smith, a 29-year-old piercer from Manchester.

Anything not using an overly airbrushed ‘perfect’ person already has my attention.

Both Selfridges Exchange Square and Selfridges Trafford involving some of the biggest beauty brands in the world.

Selfridges Exchange Square will be launching the ultimate in personalised beauty care; a resident bespoke beauty expert in the form of celebrity make-up artist Armand Beasley.

Loved by the A-list and media alike and having worked on the Oscars, BAFTAs and numerous high profile shoots, Armand will be bringing his expertise and knowledge of make-up and all things beauty to Selfridges customers.

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Shoppers can book in for individual consultations with Armand in the Bespoke Beauty Service Lounge (Lower Ground Floor), where he will advise on their needs and take them around the store to pick their perfect products.

One-on-one consultations will be available from 7 May for a redeemable £75 booking fee.

Selfridges Trafford will invite its customers to enjoy a groundbreaking new way to shop for fragrance. Fragrance Lab enables customers to claim their signature scent, having experienced a one-of-a-kind retail journey that is both immersive and entertaining.

Rather than choosing from a selection, each customer who visits the Fragrance Lab will have a scent created specifically for them – based on their physical presence and responses to different stimuli and questions.

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Created by Givaudan perfumers, industry-leading sensory experts, each scent will reflect the customer’s character and personality – and comes complete with a ‘fragrance prescription,’ that will outline the key findings from the experience and how that has influenced the final scent choice.

Launching in Selfridges Trafford from 8 May, the Fragrance Lab experience will cost £55 per person and this will include a 50ml bottle of the scent created.

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And for those of us who want to examine the idea of beauty, Selfridges Exchange Square will host a number of inspiring and thought-provoking talks, looking at different aspects of what it means to be beautiful and the beauty industry.

Talks include:

Thursday 8 May:

Journalist Bim Adewunmi talks to actress Zawe Ashton (best know from Channel 4’s Fresh Meat) in ‘Carefree Black Girls’: Beauty Ideals, Cultural Aesthetics and Creativity – discussing the narrow standards of what constitutes ‘black (and mixed race) beauty’ in the media, the tentative return of TV’s ‘Carefree Black Girl’ and how beauty translates across different audiences.

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Thursday 15 May

With 64-year-old Jessica Lange starring in the new Marc Jacobs Beauty campaign and 68-year-old Charlotte Rampling set to be the new face of Nars, is the time of women over 50 feeling ‘invisible’ to the beauty industry over? Fashion industry expert and diversity campaigner Caryn Franklin hosts a conversation with Helen Walmsey-Johnson (The Guardian’s Invisible Woman) and Jody Furlong (one of London’s top casting directors) about the relationship between beauty, brands and the older woman in Who are You Calling Invisible? Beauty and the Older Woman.

Wednesday 21 May

An exploration of the transformative powers of make-up and the role of beauty work in the creation and expression of gender and identity  – with Dr Sally Hines (Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Leeds), Grace Oni Smith (make-up and drag artist) and Cheddar Gorgeous (drag performer, visual artist and Manchester academic) in We’re Born Naked, The Rest is Drag; Identity, Fantasy and Beauty Beyond Gender.

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Wednesday 4 June

In The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful, journalist, broadcaster, Guardian columnist and founder of the award-winning salihughesbeauty.com, Sali Hughes will be in conversation with writer Emma Jane Unsworth and fashion historian Amber Butchart, discussing the rituals, history and effects of beauty work and examining its place in modern feminism.

Tickets are priced at £15 – which includes a glass of wine and tasting plate of San Carlo’s signature dishes. Tickets can be purchased online or in store (Services Lounge, LG).

Whatever your ideas on beauty and make up, stereotypes, airbrushing or age, there’s bound to be something to suit you, or question your ideas.

Come and have your say.

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