Ivy Reviews: Yalla 3a2belkon

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We hit up Empire Cinemas at Dunes Verdun to catch the much buzzed about newly released Yalla 3a2belkon on Thursday. I had two events that evening but I was happy to still be able to catch a movie that night, since Dunes Verdun’s cinema is the only one that runs across the 9:00pm segment which I personally favor since it’s not too early nor too late, so my night didn’t necessarily end after the show and I was still able to grab dinner afterwards. And let me tell you those leather seats at the cinema were like Lazy Boys, with two private arm rests and considerable leg space, we were sprawled across theater comfortably.

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The movie comedically touches on a subject that I’ve discussed regularly on this blog and I know many ladies in Lebanon and the Middle East face in their thirties, societal expectations and the profound pressure on a woman to get married and start a family and how that, regardless of her career will be pedestaled as the sole indicator of true success in her life; hence the name Yalla 3a2belkon a traditional phrase most people throw around at most single people, predominantly women, at weddings which translates into -If god’s willing your next-in line!

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Yalla 3a2belkon centers around the trials and tribulations of four friends and their pursuit of love with beautiful Beirut as the backdrop. First there’s Yasmina, played by in my opinion by one of the best and most underrated Lebanese actresses; Darine Hamze who left a lasting impression on me from her role in the controversial movie Beirut Hotel. Yasmina’s in a long-distance relationship was a mysterious handsome Egyptian man who’s relationship revolves around hot rompy weekend hotel sessions and who’s mother’s ( who embodies a very hilarious cliché ) main mission and agony in life will depend on Yasmina’s ability to find a man and produce children. Taline (played by Nada Abou Farhat who I also adored in the critically acclaimed play Reasons to be Pretty is not your average Lebanese woman, an outspoken, sexually-liberated art dealer, who treats men as nothing but toys. Layan, played by the writer and producer of the film Nibal Arakji, a fashion designer who’s in a vicious cycle dating a philandering married man with children. And finally, Zeena played by Marwa Khalil, a hopeless romantic doctor who will go on as many dates as she has to in order to find the love of her life.

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I loved how the characters weren’t cast as your typically beautiful movie stars, rather they were relatable and could have easily been any group of four women in Beirut. The story sheds light on the hypocritical and judgmental Lebanese society, giving real insight into a number of issues and taboos Lebanese woman face.

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And sure, the movie has been accused of taking inspiration from Sex and the City, but to be fair, almost every movie or series that focuses on women and relationships will definitely intentionally or not draw in reference from there, only because today Sex and the City has become the universal holy grail of our genre. Having said that, you can’t miss the conspicuous similarities between Nada Abou Farhat’s proudly- promiscuous character with that of the infamous Samantha Jones of Sex and the City both in personality and even fashion. And for someone who’s usually fed-up of our shameless borrowing of all things “Western”, I have to say, the big SATC fan in me was so pleased to see what the Lebanese version of Samantha would look like, only because Nada Abou Farhat hits this one right out of the ballpark. Her character was so shocking but she portrayed her subtly, none of that Lebanese over acting or cheesiness.

Whether you enjoyed the film or not, there is no doubt it’s one of the best and highest quality productions coming out of Lebanon.. From the screenplay, the meticulous sets and scenes to the intense character development. And it made us laugh, out load, something no Lebanese film has managed to do in a long, long time. I do however think the movie is a tad longer than necessary for a feature film, some scenes seemed to have dragged on unnecessarily.

Yalla 3a2belkon although fun and light-hearted is a strong film with a strong message and who’s strength lies in a powerful cast of 4 leading ladies who share so much chemistry on screen. Directed by Elie Khalife.

Yalla 3a2belkon is now showing Empire Cinema at Dunes Verdun. Book your tickets in advance at this number, 01-792123 and enjoy those seats. Parking is free in the center for moviegoers.

Golden Globes 2015 Best and Worst Dressed

The award season is finally upon us! And if you’re reading this too then you know the only award we’re interested in right now is the one on the red carpet. It’s been a cold winter and nothing is going to warm it up like some Hollywood couture and this Golden Globes was no exception. So many stars made it out and everybody was happy to give this fashion game a shot.

Here are my best and worst dressed

Diane Kruger Golden-Globes-Red-Carpet 2015

If this were fashion class Diane Kruger would always be that student with the full score. She never fails to embody that quintessential old Hollywood look and she nailed it again this year in this light silver metallic Emilia Wickstead gown. It fit her like a glove from the waist up and flowed so majestically down to that subtle train. She completed the look with those retro waves and a very natural contoured makeup and nude lipstick as not to compete with the shimmers on the dress.

Alison Williams Golden Globes 2015

Allison Williams was a beautiful surprise in this ruffled chiffon red Armani Privé. The off shoulder dress as you can see is intricately beaded on each layer also in red stones. She kept this super simple and was right to do so with just stud diamond earrings and again some more retro hair which we will see a lot of this year. This is most definitely one of her best looks to date and puts her on the best dressed list for this year.

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How amazing does Emma Stone look this year in Lanvin! I have not seen anything like this from anyone on the red carpet for years yet she manages to bring just the perfect amount of glitz and casualness to this look. I LOVED the strapless silver beaded bodice and the cropped trousers and the dramatic satin over-sized floor length bow that brings this pantsuit together. Add to that her tousled short hair and the strong smokey eye and statement violet red lip color and you’ve got yourself a red carpet champion.

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Lana Del Ray probably watched way too much Little Mermaid over the weekend because she decided to go as Arielle. Her turquoise pleated dress looks like it came from the dollar store and hair reminds me of a terrible middle school hair style I was hoping to forget. All that was missing with was little crab Sebastian by her side.

Noami watts golden globes 2015

She has earned her ranks s ared carpet royalty and this year was no exception. Noami Watts turned heads in canary yellow number by Gucci. But it wasn’t just the dress that got us talking but the way she daringly styled it with this one-of-a-kind statement diamond Bulgari snake necklace. I don’t think I would have given a second thought to this look had it not been for this piece. It all came so beautifully together. And if that wasn’t enough she completed the look with a dramatic red lipstick.

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She was on a winning streak with her flawless wedding week attire, but I guess fashion crimes can happen to the best people. Amal Clooney looked like she was attempting to channel her inner Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in this borderline boring Christian Dior Couture gown. But she managed to butcher it violently with these ill-fitted oversized white gloves that make her look like a little girl playing Cinderella goes to the ball. According to her husband George Clooney she sewed them herself. *face palm*

Juliane Moore

Julianne Moore brought the drama to the red carpet this year in this breathtaking Givenchy couture metallic beaded gown with a feather bottom and train. For her age, this gown was a huge risk but I’m so pleased she took it because she looks absolutely amazing. Her fiery hair was also perfection, the length and waves make me want to chop off mine too. And her makeup was also kept minimal. On my best dressed list.

KATE MARA GOLDEN GLOBES 2015

She usually brings so much fashion fire to the red carpet but sadly not this time. I wasn’t a fan of Kate Mara in this red Mui Mui dress this year. Although the bodice fit her nicely I’m afraid it was so meh on this usually dramatic dresser and the gold belt and ruffles reminded me of Santa Clause. Her hair added to insult to injury as I’m not sure what would prompt someone with that hair length to go for a half-up do. No major crime here but most definitely a fashion fail.

jennifer-lopez Golden globes 2015

 

Let’s talk about the vision that is Jennifer Lopez in this Zuhair Murad creation and mind you I’m not usually a fan of her obvious fashion choices. The dress from his Fall 2014 collection originally featured a plunging V-shaped neckline but leave it to Jennifer Lopez to give it that exaggerated cleavage factor. The gorgeous beaded gown featured a dramatic floor length cape that adds so much volume and drama. I would have loved to see this dress sans the thigh slit as I thought it was a bit of an overkill but all in all, this look is one of my favorites on her.

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Here’s another lady who almost always gets its right. Amy Adams stunned in this custom made asymmetrical ultraviolet Atelier Versace dress. She accessorized it with Tiffany drop earrings and a diamond bracelet and kept her hair in a loose retro wave. Again the barely-there makeup look which was a huge trend on the red carpet this year.

helen mirren Golden Globes 2015

She’s 69, yet Helen Mirren was still able to look every inch the vintage Italian leading lady in this age-appropriate long sleeved Dolce & Gabbana dress. The neckline was encrusted with the fashion house’s signature stones and it hugged her amazing figure in all the right places and she paired it with big drop earrings. She also paid tribute to Charlie Hebdo with that pin broche on her right shoulder.

Felicity Jones

I love statement gowns that are risky without showing skin. That’s when you know someone really dared. And we owe it to Felicity Jones this year in this beautifully tailored Cerulean blue ball gown. I loved the full neck and structured feel of the dress, and she styled it impeccably with those vintage earrings and that side parted hairdo. Not anyone can pull this look off easily but she worked it.

Seinna Miller

I missed this lady and all the amazing trends she brings to the red carpet. Sienna Miller looked AMAZING in this meticulously detailed Mui Mui number. The crème silky creation featured a plunging neckline that connected at her midriff and the floral embroidery was an absolute delight to look at. But make no mistake, the only person that can pull this look is Sienna Miller especially with that ankle hemline but the bohemian princess does. One of my favorites of the evening.

Kerry Washington

At first, I had mixed feelings about Kerry Washington in this Mary Katrantzou off the shoulder gown but then I decided I don’t like it at all. Too many risks going on, mainly the awkward length, the pink and navy color blocking and the metallic texture. It makes this otherwise beautiful actress look short and frumpy and let’s not get started with the hair? What is going on there? You can’t pull the effortless bun on thick hair, it just looks unkept. I did however like her makeup.

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Wearing Elie Saab to the red carpet is a no-brainer and Kate Beckinsale dazzled in this sequin light Elie purple-gray gown. She looked absolutely effortless down to the smallest detail and I absolutely adored her over-sized effortless bun.

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Keira Knightley makes it on my worst dressed list in this Chanel butterfly print dress. To be fair I can’t imagine this dress looking good on anyone, so I’m not sure why the pregnant actress thought she can pull it off. She looks like she is wearing an Amish nightgown from the 20s and the final blow was that matchy-matchy giant butterfly bracelet she accessorized it with. Terrible.

2014 Golden Globes Red Carpet

Oscars 2014 Red Carpet

Emmys 2014 Red Carpet

2013 Golden Globes Red Carpet

Oscars 2013 Red Carpet

Murex D’or 2014 Red Carpet

Murex D’Or 2013 Red Carpet

2012 Oscars Red Carpet

 

 

 

Le Royal Beirut Spa, A Piece of Paradise

Lebanon is not the most stress-free of cities to live in- and that’s putting it mildly. So every month or two, I make it a point to treat my man and I to a spa day, where we both take a good hour or so out of our busy schedules to turn off our phones and brains and just surrender ourselves.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool

My next spa stop escape happened to be at Lebanon’s luxurious hotel; Le Royal Beirut, a five star mammoth complex perched on a towering hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea just 15km from Beirut.

The award winning spa is not like many you’ll come across and an incredibly huge operation, stretching out over an astounding 3-floor complex covering 3.5000 m2. It also boasts a magnificent indoor swimming pool that’s looks like something out of a Roman fable, fit for royalty with botanical vines twisted across grandiose pillars looking out at the sea, surrounded by relaxing area to unwind after a treatment or fitness session.

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We were signed up for the duo Candle Massage, but first our lovely therapists escorted us to our changing rooms fully equipped with saunas and Jacuzzis intended to help us wind down before the treatment. Everything we needed was in our customized lockers waiting for us.

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After getting comfortable in our Le Royal robes, we made our way to our private massage room where the candle oil that would be used in our massage was melting into a perfect pool of massage oil and the entire area smelled of a natural fragrance that engaged our senses to the point of ultimate relaxation.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts candle wax

The lights went off and the room was now only lightly dimmed by candle light, as our therapists administered a blend of soothing oils and warm waxes to deeply moisturize, nourish, soften and hydrate our skin. For the next 90 minutes we each drifted to our own thoughts and zen states, as our bodies released all the built-up tension and our therapists worked their magic.

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Following our massages we were offered some herbal tea in a very stylishly-tiled oval shaped relaxation zone as we watched other guests about to embark on similar treatments before we headed out for some more down time in the Jacuzzi.

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Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool  ivy says spa

It comes as no surprise that Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Beirut was awarded with the title of 2014 Leading Spa Award as well as the certificate of Excellence from Travel Advisor. The place is nothing short of world class luxury and the staff leave a lasting impression with their attentiveness, professionalism, friendliness. This makes it on my top Must-Try Spa recommendations for 2015.

More Reviews:

Four Seasons Beirut Spa

Ivy Reviews Bioskinspa

Shiseido Day Spa

New Year’s Eve Nails by Beauty Express

Sombré Hair By Georges El Mendelek

A Night at O Monot Boutique Hotel

A Night At Monte Cassino Hotel

 

The 7 Highly Unprofessional Habits of Retail Employees in Lebanon

I don’t mean to start the new year with a rant but I’m afraid I must. We all know the Lebanese economy has seen better days, so it baffles me that customers are being treated like a nuisance. Yup, it almost seems as though shop assistants and at times assistant managers have left their basic training behind and instead decided to show us how they really feel about our business; not much. In fact, we’d be doing them a favor if we just got lost. If you’re shaking your head and thinking “oh no not MY business” think again. Everyone’s doing it from the largest retailers in the world to stand alone stores.

 

1) No greeting. Basic right? Gone are the days where the shop keeper or sales assistant would acknowledge you with a simple hello. Ironically, they now give YOU a look as though you’re the one who’s supposed to welcome them into their own store and that’s IF they’re not ignoring you.

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2) When the shop assistant tails you to fold and arrange the items you merely touch, but not once asks you if you need any help. In fact you almost hear her grunt in annoyance. She couldn’t give it two minutes until you were at least away from the stand to rearrange it.

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3) The triumphant “we don’t have your size.” You could swear you almost see a smile. As though they’re relieved that they don’t have to lift a finger. No backroom double check or cross-sell. They may as well just tell you, “now LEAVE!”

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4) The changing room assistant that demands you bring back all the clothes and hangers when you’re done. This has evolved from a courteous request to a conditional downright barking order. I like to catch them off guard by asking them if they would like for me to leave what I’m doing and help them hang and put the piles of clothes away.

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5) When you realize you have the wrong size and ask the changing room assistant to bring you the right one. She may as well just spit in your face.

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6) The security guard who doesn’t inform you that he’s about to check your bag but simply signals you to open it up and then shoves his grubby hands inside as though he can find anything like that. I understand our security concerns but let’s take a moment to reflect on the effectiveness of this practice.

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7) That moment when you just completed your purchase and don’t get a mere thank you. Instead, you’re the one thanking the cashier who remains silent at this point. And then you ask yourself, “Wait? Did I just thank them for allowing me to spend my money at their store?” Damn straight you did!

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New Year’s Eve Nails by Beauty Express

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For my last pampering session of 2014, I wanted to get festive New Year’s nails that will go with my celebration outfit. So after some shopping I headed over to the newly opened Beauty Express branch at  Dunes Verdun to do just that. Beauty Express is a full service beauty institute across Lebanon that offers everything from facials, to makeup art and nail care. They also happen to be the exclusive distributors of China Glaze and Le Ciel, a French brand I tried for the first time and loved, so you can imagine what a range of colors I had to choose from.

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My aesthetician Sandy who also happens to be Beauty Express’s professional nail design artist started me off with a luxurious manicure followed by a soothing hand massage. She explained to me that in order to achieve perfectly polished nails and best results, it was vital nails were perfectly manicured first.

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But before she began painting my nails she applied a coat of their customer- favorite Le Ciel Ultra Hardener.

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I chose a color palette of hot red, black, white and silver glitter from China Glaze and Le Ciel. The base would be China Glaze’s Rouge Baiser and Liquid Leather.

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Next the fun began. Sandy carefully hand crafted two feline designs on my ring fingers, the first a cute black cat with big eyes and a diamond collar and the second, silver and white paws on a base of black.

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I have to say I’m absolutely obsessed, I already have a long list of designs I’m hoping to have done at Beauty Express soon and I promise to be sharing them with you. Also make sure you ask for Ivy’s Choice at their Dunes Verdun branch to get this design. Happy 2015!

ivy says new years eve nails

 

An Essie Affair

Holiday Makeup Must Haves from Beauty Concept

Benefit Gimme Brow Voluminizing Fiber Gel

Yves Saint Laurent Makeup Step-By-Step Review

 

 

A Makeup Look By Yves Saint Laurent

YSL Makeup Ivy Says shoot

For a promo shoot of my Ivy Says NRJ Radio show, I was delighted to collaborate with the beauty team at Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) who created this day-appropriate soft winged eye and hot pink lip pair on me using some of the latest from the YSL Holiday 2014 Collection.

It was my first shoot wearing the foundation game changer; Fusion Ink Foundation which was applied with the also recently released Perfecting Polisher Brush, one of the most innovative softest and most lightweight formulas I’ve come across to date. The texture felt like a silk matte veil with an ultra-matte finish, somewhere between a liquid and powdered state. It gave me the ideal coverage for a day shoot sans the layered, heavy, cakey look that tends to come with foundation. They also highlighted my face with the iconic Touche Éclat which I reviewed here.

Ivy Says YSL Beauty Review look makeup

To draw the perfect winged liner, I recommend you use intense and carbon-black bestseller Eyeliner Effect Faux Cils. If like me, you get a little jerky when applying eyeliner, then the pen-like grip and tip on this will make your experience a less intimidating one. It’s also waterproof. They finished off my eyes with the award-winning Volume Effect Faux Cils Mascara in high density black which you can also view here

Beauty Blogger Lebanon YSL IVY

And finally, my obsession YSL’s Baby Doll Kiss and Blush in Fuchsia Desinvolte, read about this amazingly air whipped matte mousse and blush here.

Yves Saint Laurent Makeup Review

Shot by the very talented Patrick Sawaya.

Print Louize Sweater by Ted Baker

Sunglasses Prada- Minimal Baroque

Belt- Hermes

Ivy Beauty Blogger YSL Fashion

Yves Saint Laurent Makeup Step-By-Step Review

Beauty Review: YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation

Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara

Clarisonic Plus Review

Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro

Essie Nail Polish

Benefit Gimme Brow Voluminizing Fiber Gel

Too-Faced Lip Injection Gloss

Ivy Reviews: The Shogun Lounge

If there’s something I love more than shopping, its shopping and sushi together, in the same place. So after doing some heavy Christmas retail therapy at Dunes Verdun on Tuesday I headed over to dinner at The Shogun Lounge, my favorite sushi spot in Verdun located on the 1st floor of the mall.

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There are many things I love about this place besides just the sushi. For starters, the authentic Japanese ambiance which has garnered its fair share of loyal neighborhood regulars who dine there on a weekly basis. The friendly waitresses are sharply dressed in beautiful traditional Japanese kimonos and the sushi chefs behind the bar look like a scene right out of Tokyo- a thing I really miss at the newer lot of sushi joints popping up all over the city. I also appreciated how knowledgeable and mindful staff were about the menu, walking us through our selections meticulously and most importantly, patiently.

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We began with the Crunchy Salmon Salad, this has to be by far one of the best I’ve had in Lebanon; diced generous chunks of salmon sashimi in a fantastic spicy mayonnaise sauce with flakes of crunchy panko topped with nori.

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But the Shrimp Tempura was beyond perfection, fried golden succulent giant shrimps fried just right. The combination of crunchy warm batter on the exterior with the soft shrimp inside dipped in the hallmark thin sauce, was absolutely delightful.

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Their sushi selection was quite original and since we were feeling experimental, we went for the Fuji Maki, something I hadn’t tried before; savory cooked salmon in a spicy sauce with rice, nori and sesame, which I totally recommend. the showgun lounge dunes 4We also tried the delicious signature and my personal favorite Shogun Lounge Salmon; a layer of rice and nori topped with smaller diced salmon sashimi bits. The Sheyen Special Maki did not disappoint, and although I’ve had shrimp tempura maki many times before, this one was actually topped with a thin slice of salmon sashimi which I thought added a lovely touch to this otherwise classic roll. Last but not least we had the scrumptious Shogun Maki a lovely mix of crab and shrimp.

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And of course no Japanese meal is complete without a wonderfully seared cut of tenderloin marinated in a teriyaki sauce to share. I like my meat cooked medium-well with just a hint of pink. The stir-fried spinach and fresh mushrooms were the ideal side dish for this plate.

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Price: A meal for two like this (20 pieces of sushi in total) with soft drinks will cost you an average of $65 per person which in my opinion is very reasonable considering The Shogun Lounge is considered an upscale sushi restaurant.

Verdict: You can’t go wrong. The place definitely continues to earn its spot as one of the most reputable and iconic sushi lounges in Beirut and the best part is if your friends don’t like sushi, they serve a full blown Chinese menu.

 

Casper and Gambini’s New Menu

Cannelle’s Finest Desserts