• Hello! I'm a freelance fashion writer, editor, and digital media consultant. Here, you'll find my portfolio, projects and personal obsessions, as well as a healthy dose of shoes and sparkly things. You can read more about me here.
  • Latest Musings

    A follow up to my must-have spring beauty buys is a quick run-down of what’s on my summer beauty shopping list.


    sunfx-whiteout-self-tanner SUNFX WHITEOUT

    A few people are aware¬†that I started running a few months ago. I’ve completed two 10K races and hope to run a half marathon this fall – yay me. That said, it’s done absolutely jack for my waistline. Possibly because I’m Hungry. All. The. Time. So, in preparation for swimsuit season and a seaside escape to the cottage, I’ve embraced the idea that a sunless tanner is the quickest route to looking¬†slimmer. I read somewhere that the Australian-based company’s formula has only three ingredients (DHA- the active tanning agent- mineral water, and caramelized salt) which purportedly results in a¬†more natural glow (read: no orangey Oompa Loompa-like appearance). That’s the goal of a faux glow. Always.




    Asia-based friends of mine first introduced me to BB cream four years ago as the next new thing (totally right, obvs) so I paid rapt attention when clued me into¬†“the next BB Cream”: Air Cushions. They’re basically the next generation of BB and CC alphabet skincare and similarly come loaded with all those nourishing ingredients but packaged in a solid cream compact. The¬†pressed puff it comes with creates more of a shimmery, dewy finish and is designed to make it easier to layer on coverage (less is more, ladies) as well as being ideal¬†for touchups throughout the day (which I absolutely need since I suffer from acute melting-face syndrome). Sephora stocks Dr. Jart+’s BB Bounce Beauty Balm but since it received only so-so reviews and I’ve never been a big fan of their BB cream to begin with I think I’ll go with AmorePacific’s version. I’m also intrigued by their sheet masks (which are the “next-next” BB cream!) but at more than $25 per sheet, the cushion compact seems must more reasonably priced. Either way these are guaranteed to be everywhere – #trust.


    Hit me up on Twitter @ayamcmillan to let me know if you’ve tried any of these – I’m dying to hear a real review!


    Net-A-Porter BLESS business of fashion


    Even though it was a sponsored feature, I found this interview with Net-a-Porter’s HR Director in BOF of tremendous interest. In it she articulated the corporate culture and attitude that sets it apart – cleverly synthesized into the acronym “BLESS.”


    ‚ÄúBLESS‚ÄĚ stands for ‚ÄúBe the Best, Lead not Follow, Exceed Expectations, Smart and Stylish, and Service Starts with You.‚ÄĚ


    It’s imperative that an organization and its employees are aligned to a single vision and are able to clearly understand what that¬†is but it’s even more important that they actually deliver on it. I’ve worked for companies that printed their brand values on business cards but in reality embodied the complete opposite (I don’t know what was more pathetic, the fact that they didn’t deliver or that they failed to even see their failure) and I’ve worked for companies that had no core brand values to speak of (‘we are whatever our clients want us to be’ was the unspoken mantra), both environments caused unnecessary confusion, time suckage and an overall sense of suckiness.


    I think the most successful companies are the ones that best embody their brand. Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, for example, makes his company culture his number one priority. I may not agree with everything he says, or even ever shop with site, but I completely respect and admire how he has managed to deeply ingrain his vision and philosophy at every level, so much so that every single employee can rattle off their 10 brand values by heart Рand mean it.


    Further, a business ethos shouldn’t¬†simply be something you get behind. Ultimately, it’s a standard of excellence that is¬†best applied to yourself. Your best chance of success is to mind your own brand. And NAP’s values are a brilliant way to start.



    Confession: I’m a bit of a beauty slut.


    I’m neither loyal to a specific skincare line, tied to a particular cosmetic¬†product, nor do I play favourites with fragrances. As for haircare, well, that’s where I really whore it up.


    I suppose it’s the editor instinct in me – I’m always on the hunt for the next new thing and believe there’s something better if I just dig a little deeper. Of course, there are a few items¬†I tend to come back to over and over again (Neutrogena anti-residue shampoo, Dove clinical protection antiperspirant, and Missha BB Cream, if you must know) and while I certainly stick to¬†a regular beauty routine, colour palette and perfume bouquet, generally speaking, my vanity is always open to new visitors.


    Admittedly, it helps that, as an editor, I do get to road-test a lot of new beauty products. And I do. Gladly. But then there are those items that I haven’t been exposed to: the ones that repeatedly get mentioned¬†on social media, or some Asia-based friend has sent (bless them), or the ones that are whispered about within some secret prettifying society.


    These are the ones that I’m most intrigued by. I haven’t tried them, seen them or received¬†press releases on them, but I’ve made it my mission to tart it up with them. So, herewith, a compiled list:



    Bumble and Bumble Dryspun finish and Cityswept FInish


    Hair pro¬†Sam McKnight misted¬†this backstage at Isabel Marant’s fall 2014 show and called it “the key” to achieving that¬†effortless french girl cool coif that we all covet. While I’m at it, I’ll also pick up the Cityswept Finish¬†for comparison. Reportedly, it builds texture and shine and promises a broken-in kinda look (think: the perfect 90s-era flip). Sold!



    RMS Beauty Living Luminizer


    You know those  dewy cheekbones that you see in just about every J. Crew catalogue? This little pot is the gleaming force behind them. Highlighter hussy? Thy name is moi.


    Bareminerals Bareskin foundation


    Fact: I was obsessed with bareMineral’s¬†makeup when it first hit shelves¬†two decades ago (er, not to age myself). It was totally unlike anything else on the market – like a powder foundation, but not actually powder, but rather¬†crushed miracles – and completely changed the way the average woman viewed her makeup. So, leave it to the genius peeps at Bare Escentuals to revolutionize cosmetics¬†again with their new liquid foundation. Instead of introducing your average liquid makeup, they’ve done one with a serum¬†form derived from coconut¬†(the ingredient du jour), so it’s designed to be healthy for the skin.


    And, along with¬†the Bareskin foundation, they’ve also introduced this specially designed¬†brush (did I mention I’m a brush buff, too?) It has this kind of “reservoir” (like a little indent within the bristles) where you add just two drops of the liquid and then buff it on to your skin. I’m digging the less-is-more approach to makeup (especially in the warmer temps) and the video tutorials, I’m not going to lie, make skin look ah-may-zing. I definitely want to pick this up, if only to give all my tireless BB & CC creams a break.



    Restorsea skincare


    This super luxe skincare brand (her Goop-yness,¬†Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan) uses an enzyme found in the waters of salmon hatcheries in Norway. I’m not exactly clear what makes that’s supposed to offer¬†but seeing all the buzz on Twitter about how soft and clear your skin is with use¬†has me convinced I need to give it a whirl.




    John Frieda colour refreshing gloss


     I only just started colouring my hair again after a five-year long hiatus but quickly remembered why I took such a long break: maintenance is a bitch. I heard these restorative glosses boost intensity and prevent fading. And for a under $10 bucks, it seems entirely worth a try.



    Biologique Recherche Lotion P50


    I read about P50¬†in a¬†NYTimes profile on writer Jill Kargman’s beauty routine¬†where she revealed¬†this lotion makes skin look like a fetus. Enough said, sign me up.


    How much I’m going to end up spending on all of these goodies is an entirely different matter, so if anyone has any views on some I should pass on, please let me know!



    Nicolas Ghesqui√®re’s debut for Louis Vuitton was, by all accounts, a rousing success but it’s only on closer inspection¬†can you fully appreciate¬†how much he culled from the luxury giant’s archives. WWD’s recent interview with the designer rounds up the key pieces¬†from the collection and¬†contrasts them with LV’s legacy items. Here are a few of my favourites:


    The Petite Malle box clutch is a modern update to the trunk.

    The Petite Malle box clutch is a modern update to the trunk.


    Louis Vuitton Alma bag Fall 2014

    A vintage trunk’s quilted lining inspired a mini Alma bag on the runway.


    Ghesquiere's leather belts were inspired by the cloth strapanchoring books in this library trunk.

    Ghesquiere’s leather belts were inspired by the cloth strapanchoring books in this library trunk.


    If¬†Ghesqui√®re’s brief is to build on the¬†brand’s 160-year long history, then it his inaugural collection was a clear win – and in clear¬†contrast to his predecessor, Marc Jacobs, who focused on the shock of the new by reinvented the LV look every season.


    Legacy. Codes. Heritage. Craftsmanship. These are the defining¬†characteristics of a¬†luxury powerhouse, and inevitably,¬†are what¬†differentiates themselves¬†from the drivel. In a world that’s full of stuff, I as a consumer want to surround myself with things that stand for something. That have meaning. That convey exactly the kind of person I am or at least the person I aspire to be.


    Positive brand equity, I believe, is the clearest strategic advantage an organization can have, and by hiring a visionary like¬†Ghesqui√®re, the executives at LVMH¬†clearly recognize this as well. But beyond¬†that, wearing clothes that signify¬†something authentic, something beyond just function or necessity: well, isn’t that the bloody point of fashion anyway?


    There are many glorious things about fashion: the creativity, the excitement of novelty, the thrill of the imagery, the pleasure it can give. But one of the many decidedly unpleasant aspects of it is the way certain parts of the industry confuse an immature desire for controversy with edginess. This is certainly the case with the Vogue Italia shoot that depicts Prada-clad models imitating famous film heroines being threatened with weapons. Chic! Hilariously, the magazine claims that it is not glamorising violence against women ‚Äď who could ever think such a thing? ‚Äď but drawing attention to domestic violence so that women who suffer from it “can feel our nearness”. As the feminist website Jezebel pointed out, survivors of violence might feel the magazine’s nearness better if the editor had simply released a statement promising to stop glamorising violence, as opposed to doing precisely that, but how would that help the magazine feature the requisite number of Prada credits? Will somebody please think of the needs of the advertisers here? -The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman on tasteless topics becoming high fashion