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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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TWINS: An inspiration.

Last night’s premiere of Varekai from the famous Cirque du Soleil left an audience of thousands stunned by the sheer captivating magic of what must rate as one of the best shows of its kind in the world.

For more than two hours, we sat pinned to our seats as performers lead us through a wonderland story of forest imps and sky sprites, neon dragonflies and fiery creatures of the imagination. Act after act slithered, rolled, jumped and sprang onto the stage of the Grande Chapiteau, to perform some of the most sublime aerial acrobatics, juggling, and gymnastics I have ever seen.

In an evening of highlights, two elements stand out in my memory; the ‘clown’ element of the show is brought to us by Mooky Cornish and Claudio Carneiro, and I literally hurt my lungs through laughter as the two of them flounced and gooned about the stage in a series of routines that brought the house down. So successful is their ability to portray pathos in a pratfall that a single fleeting appearance by Mooky later on in the show brings a huge cheer from everyone.

CLASS: The level of skill is awe-inspiring.

The second act to leave a lasting impression was the twin aerial dancers Andrew and Kevin Atherton. Dressed in black feather corsets and head-dresses, looking like mirror-image blackbirds as they soared around the big top, the precision and beauty of their act is just jaw-dropping. I was inspired to think how two lads from Wigan can fly as high and as far as Las Vegas, Moscow and Milan with their unique ability – and return triumphant to Manchester last night to show off in front of their friends and family at The Trafford Centre.

Everything about this production is massive. From the eye-popping costumes to the haunting live music that runs throughout the show, each element is world-class, and honed to perfection.

The whole office is talking about Varekai this morning, comparing notes and reliving their best bits! We’ve discovered that there was much more going on around the stage than we realised. Today, people are remembering snippets of drama taking place in the wings and in the shadows at the back of the stage, half-seen and half-remembered like slivers of a dream. There’s a depth to Varekai that would justify a second – and even a third – viewing.

And this Mall Rat has already got his tickets booked.

HAVE you seen Varekai? Tell us all about it, or upload your photos to our gallery of images from the show.

YOU can buy your Varekai tickets without paying a booking fee from their stand under the Main Dome at The Trafford Centre (outside Selfridges on the lower floor), or from their on-site box office at Le Grand Chapiteau in the over-flow car park at the John Lewis end of the Centre. Alternatively, buy online here.

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THE spectacular main dome of The Trafford Centre will light up a bright yellow next month, to mark the start of the national Great Daffodil Appeal.

Daffodil badge

DAFFODIL: One way to support the appeal.

This annual month-long event aims to raise more than £5million for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity – a vital organisation that employs thousands of doctors and nurses to provide care for terminally ill cancer patients, whether at home or in hospices.

About 70% of the charity’s income comes from generous donations from people and businesses. That will be added to this year, organisers hope, with the proceeds from the sale of daffodil badges.

But selling those badges and winning that public support relies on awareness. People need to know about the Great Daffodil Appeal before they will support it – and that’s where The Trafford Centre Dome comes in!

With many thousands of staff and customers passing under the dome each day, and hundreds of thousands more passing the dome on the motorways just outside the Centre, it remains one of the most iconic and best-recognised land-marks in the city.

We know that people really do notice when we change the colour of the dome lights (Gallery) – and we couldn’t think of a better cause to switch the lights for than Marie Curie Cancer Care.

So on March 1st, the start of the Appeal, we will be bathing the dome in yellow lights to remind everyone to take part and support this fantastic charity.

You can help raise funds by buying your daffodil at participating stores – Café Rouge, Barbourito, Pesto and Space NK. Take a look at the Marie Curie Cancer Care website for more details.

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MASTERCLASS: At The Beauty Theatre.

THE fantastic miniature theatre we’ve created on the Malls had a very special premiere this week – with the help of some eager students from Warrington.

The class of eleven media make-up students were the first people to experience The Beauty Theatre, there to learn tricks of the trade from uber-cool cosmetics house Illamasqua.

Illamasqua come from a very theatrical background – its roots lie in club culture, and the alternative scene. This means Illamasqua make-up is brighter, bolder and a little more outrageous than other labels – and the perfect product to show make-up students how dramatic they can be.

Phillip, the talented artist from the Illamasqua counter at Selfridges, gave a great masterclass in the application of different colours and styles.

The course tutor Debbey told me afterwards the presentation was ‘inspirational” – which is exactly what Illamasqua aim for.

So if you fancy some top tips for creating a wow look, pop to the Illamasqua concession on the lower level of Selfridges – you’ll never look at make-up in the same way again.

YOU can check out my press release on this story here.

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When we first came up with the theme for this year’s beauty week at The Trafford Centre, a million ideas sprang to mind – and now the best of those ideas are turning into reality!

We chose the theme of “Beauty Theatre” – partly because the Centre is such a dramatic place, and partly in response to the cosmetics trends coming from the catwalks this season, which predict theatrical make-up in bold colours and styles.

DRAMATIC PLANS: How our Beauty Theatre might look...

One of our funkier ideas was to create a miniture theatre on the Malls, to host presentations for our customers. As you can see from the original drawings, we’ve gone all out to design a fantastic looking space that really makes you feel like you’re at the centre of something special.

The Theatre has a front-stage area which seats 30 people, each of whom will have pre-booked their tickets (hint, hint). Here, make-up mad shoppers will get to hear the beauty secrets of the rich and famous, every day from Feb 1st to 7th. All the techniques used by actors themselves will be explained, at set times through-out the day. (Download our Beauty Theatre Guide for full info).

BACKSTAGE: For one-to-ones...

Then, round the back, we have the back-stage area. This is the star’s dressing room, where customers will receive exclusive one-on-one sessions with consultants, helping you achieve that million-dollar Hollywood look – for FREE!

The Beauty Theatre will be dressed by the super-talented people over at The Royal Exchange Theatre (link), who will use curtains and props and lighting to great effect. I can’t wait to see the finished thing, and then see it in action.

The “premiere” of The Beauty Theatre is February 1st, and we expect it to be a sell-out show, so book your tickets now to avoid missing out.

And if you are lucky enough to get a seat, tell me all about it!

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HISTORY: A No17 advert from yesteryear.

I had a really interesting meeting yesterday with the archivist from Boots the Chemist, who is planning to open a very special exhibition here at The Trafford Centre.

Our ‘Beauty Theatre’ event starts on February 1st, and to celebrate the festival of beauty and style, we are creating a free exhibition on the Malls – with some fascinating exhibits taken from the store cupboard at Boots!

Boots has been trading for more than 150 years, and in that time they’ve witnessed a lot of changes – not only in drugs, cosmetics and gifts, but also in the way they run a business and treat their staff.

Luckily, bosses there have had the foresight to squirrel away much of their history – including adverts, products and even staff training manuals.

The archivist brought some amazing old cosmetics to show us, from the famous Number 7 range, as well as postcards and clippings. Incredibly, the famous No7 line was launched in the 1930’s, and although it looks very different today it’s still a staple item on many a mum’s dressing table.

The Boots Exhibition will open for one week only (Feb 1-7) and will show a variety of documents that reveal the evolution of the brands – especially in Manchester, which boasted an enormous Boots long before this Mall Rat was even born.

Why not pop down during Beauty Theatre to see how many of the old products you can recognise? Keep an eye on our website for opening times, and where to find the exhibition.

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