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YOU can tour the Trafford Centre Christmas lights in our new gallery. To experience the UK’s first animatronic lights scheme, you’ll have to come down to the Centre for yourself!

MALLS: The hanging decorations on the Malls revolve all day to catch the light.

LIGHT FANTASTIC: Water and light meet at the Christmas Barton Square.

YUM: Hot snacks are freshly prepared for festive shoppers at Barton Square.

SWEETS AND TREATS: Continental stalls welcome you to try their wares at Barton Square.

CAROUSEL: The Victorian Carousel at Barton Square lights up the night.

SING-SONG: Over at Barton Square the Christmas Singing Bears Show entertains the crowds.

SPINNING: Baubles open to reveal revolving Christmas trees inside!

BAUBLE: Giant animatronic baubles open and close throughout the day.

SLEIGH: Santa flies his sleigh under the sky ceiling of The Orient.

FERRERO: The stunning Ferrero Rocher sculpture hanging from the Main Dome outside Selfridges.

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Looking for a novel Christmas present for a loved one? Why not consider doing your bit for charity at the same time, and invest in a copy of one the most stylish 2011 calendars we’ve ever seen!
Always Charity Calendar 2011

COVER STAR: Jodie in the nuddie.

The handsome rugby lads at Salford City Reds (sponsored by The Trafford Centre) have taken the plunge to become real models for the day. We’ve dressed them and undressed them, posed them and even covered them in make-up – and the results are astounding. See more pix here!

Retailers from across The Trafford Centre got involved in the calendar, from Debenhams to Selfridges, and from LEGOLAND to Mamas & Papas, giving us toys and clothes and props to help create each look.

rugby calendar

COLD: At ChillFactore.

All proceeds from the calendar go to our favourite charity the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Appeal. For this great cause, our buff models braved sub-zero temperatures at ChillFactore indoor ski-slope, acted like dummies in shop windows at John Lewis, and one was decorated as a Maori warrior by artists at the Selfridges’ cosmetics counter Illamasqua.

Each month stars a new player, and each is themed so you won’t get bored of looking at your calendar through the whole of 2011.

For more on the Always Charity Calendar, and to buy your copy online for £8:49, just click here – or, you can follow our progress on our Facebook fanpage.

rc

FACE IT: Jack gets serious.

You can also buy the calendar in the Centre from our friendly Customer Service desks in the Main Dome and on Peel Avenue. The price in person is just £6.99 – so don’t forget to pick up your copy next time you’re in the Centre. (Fans of the team can buy direct from the team store at the Willows stadium).

I must send a big thank-you to everyone who has bought a copy so far – your support is appreciated, and we know you’ll love your calendar!

And watch this space as we see how much money we can raise for this vital children’s charity…

* FOR more info and preview images, just click here!

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WHEN I saw these new images from cosmetics brand Illamasqua at Selfridges, I knew I had to share them with you; they are simply stunning.

They are part of the new Autumn Winter collection from this dramatic brand, and really exemplify the darker, bolder side of contemporary cosmetics.

I’m a big fan of Illamasqua – they are quite unlike any other cosmetics brand I know. Edgy, provocative and daring, the night-time products they create appeal to the counter-cultural woman – this is the direct opposite of “barely there”. And as we in the Northwest head into Pride weekend, I imagine quite a few drag queens will be lashing on these stunning products to amazing effect.

Illamasqua has created a series of characters to show off their new season range, from Mistress of Ceremonies, through Dark Angel Reaper, to the Queen of the Gypsies, devouring a juicy pomegranate like some latter day Persephone…

I think you’ll agree the characters are breath-taking – and not a little bit inspiring.

If you have a devil lurking inside you, this range could well be the one to drag her out. Enjoy.

JUICY: Queen of Gypsies

FAB: Queen of Gypsies


AVATARISTIC! Mistress of Ceremonies

* YOU can find Illamasqua on the ground floor of Selfridges, just enter via the Main Dome and look to your left. The Art of Darkness collection is released on September 16th. Watch the Illamasqua blog for more images as they are released.

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I was enjoying my daily envy-walk around the hallowed halls of Selfridges today when I was stopped in my tracks by the most eye-popping display of cupcakes I have ever seen.

Cupcakes, you say?

Not just any cupcakes.

SEXY: Which one's for you?

These rainbow delights are the tasty work of Sale bakery Jellytots and Dollymixtures, who have arrived at Selfridges on a mission to make cupcakes the most fashionable treat of our times.

Almost designed to appeal to the fashionistas, each cake has a unique style, a hand-made appeal, and just enough calories to count as fun – but not enough to ruin the line of this season’s LRD that you love so much!

COLOUR: To match any outfit.

Louise Jones, from the bakery, told me: “Our cakes and our branding slots perfectly into Selfridges. They look sophisticated and stylish, but maintain the fun aspect of cupcakes whilst having a home baked fresh taste with absolutely no artificial ingredients or preservatives’.

Giant cupcakes

Louise and her talented team have branched out from the traditional vanilla sponge cake, into flavours of the month, and weekend specials. They can even create a jaw-dropping giant cupcake, to create that stunning birthday party centre-piece, or a treat for a loved one they will never forget.

All their cupcakes are hand-created, fresh every morning – and as you can see from the images they sent me, there is a fair amount of artistry and fun going into these cakes, as well as vanilla pods and sugar strands.

The big question: do they taste as good as they look?

FRUITY: One of your five-a-day?

Well, I buckled immediately and bought myself a cake at only £1:80 a pop – and I have to say, it was delicious; moist, fresh as a daisy, and almost too good-looking to eat.

You could muster an army of these little beauties, piled up into a wedding display. Or scatter them on cushions and light them flatteringly with fairy lights. Or you could box them individually into bijou little gifts for your office pals.

Or you could do what I did. Which is demolish one in double-quick time.

* Selfridges have a special opening offer on for Jellytots, buy any cake and get mini-cupcakes thrown in for free! Cupcakes start at £1:80 for one, 6 for £10 or 12 for £20.

HAVE you tried a cupcake from Jellytots and Dollymixtures yet? What did you think?

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We’ve had an exciting week here at the Centre, with the opening of the amazing Thai restaurant ChaoBaby in The Orient, a stunning new Pandora store at the Dome – and the Aerial Extreme adventure course just around the corner.

But as well as brand new attractions, I’ve seen some facelifts going on in some of our old favourites, as retailers invest their cash in creating an ever more enticing environment to shop in.

LUSH: The new-look store.

LUSH: Bright and inviting...

The lovely Lush store on Upper Regent Crescent re-opened yesterday after a make-over, offering a much simplified lay-out with a country kitchen table consultation area, where customers are encouraged to sit down and discuss their skincare needs with one of Lush’s expert consultants.

The store says: “This new look really takes things ‘back to basics’, encouraging a laid-back shopping experience, with friendly expert advice.”

Refreshed

We love the staff at Lush, and their enthusiasm for their great products – what better way to set all that off than with a fresh new store that makes the customer king, and highlights the best products for them?

PINK: The new Shoe Room at Next.

HEAVEN: One of the new Next Shoe Rooms...

And over at Next, we’ve seen the opening of their fabulous new Shoe Room. The overall look is “glamorous, feminine, inviting and fun – featuring round display tables and undulating display units, with super-comfortable curved seating in bright girlie pink. The same pink shade is used for the display blocks on which shoes are presented. ”

So that will be for the ladies then!

Everything is now presented right at the front of the store, which is a new thing for Next and certainly focuses the mind on their incredible shoe ranges.

But once again, a store is not a store without its staff – and Next offer really well-trained and fashion-savvy staff who can offer you ideas and inspiration, as well as measuring your feet perfectly.

Which goes to show once again, it’s not just good looks but great service that makes you popular with Trafford Centre shoppers!

HAVE you seen the new-look stores at Lush and Next? What do you think?

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FISH: Your Mall Rat gets a nibbling.

I finally managed to take 10 minutes away from my desk to pop into Appy Feet today – and enjoy what must be the most bizarre pedicure in the world!

Appy Feet (in case you haven’t seen the news) is the brand new concept in footcare at The Trafford Centre. The attractive temporary store on Upper Regent Crescent contains a host of fishtanks, next to which stand wooden benches. There are two stages to the process – first, you sit on the bench and plunge your plates of meat into the cool waters of a spa bath, to clean them of chemicals and sock fluff – before then spinning round on your bottom and plunging your feet into the actual fish tanks on the other side.

Immediately, schools of Garra Rufa fish crowd around your toes and ankles, looking for a spot to latch onto. The sensation is quite a shock, and I have to admit I screamed and pulled my feet out straight away!

But after some gentle encouragement from the staff, we were brave and plunged back in again.

Screams

At first, I couldn’t watch the fish at work, as I was trying to take my mind off what was going on. But after some minutes, I relaxed into the treatment and the screaming stopped. By the end, I could see why people have become firm fans of these finned therapists – with some shoppers going weekly, or even more often.

As a talking point, I don’t think I can imagine anything better than getting a pedicure from these amazing creatures. The fish were fed – and I will dine out on this story for months to come!

After ten minutes an alarm went off to tell our helper Michael that our time was up. A quick squidge of foot cream to rub into our feet, and with shoes and socks firmly back on we headed back to the office – giggling all the way.

Foot treatments start at £10 for 15 minutes, and you can also have your hands done for 5 minutes at just a fiver. Christina White, the business brain behind this new arrival at the Centre, told me the fish are particularly good for people with skin complaints like psoriasis.

But even if you don’t have dry skin, or psoriasis, you must have a dip at Appy Feet – if only to say you’ve been eaten by fish, rather than the other way around.

Read my previous post about Appy Feet here!

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