Alycia Smith Howard: Unvarnished truth

00:16 21 December 2011

Alycia Smith Howard: Unvarnished truth

Alycia Smith Howard: Unvarnished truth

Alycia Smith- Howard's New Year wish for Warwickshire women is a manicure, Manhattan style.

Unvarnished truth



Alycia Smith- Howards New Year wish for Warwickshire women is a manicure, Manhattan style.



FRUMPY, unkempt and lazy about grooming. That is how Tad Safran - a rather foolhardy American writer living in London recently described British women. To be sure, Safrans provocative article is laced with more than a few sweeping generalisations, however his words set me thinking about cultural differences in relation to beauty.



If, as Madonna surmised in her 90s hit tune, Express Yourself, Beauty is where you find it, I was initially in deep trouble when I first arrived in Warwickshire. In those early days, I was more often than not left feeling fleeced and outraged. I found myself daydreaming of Manhattan, where beauty is serious business, and the consumer quite literally spoilt for choice. For example, in my own tiny enclave in the West Village, there were four different nail salons in a five-minute radius of my apartment.



At my favourite, Gigi Nail, the staff did their best to make customers feel special. They offered a wonderful, two-hour spa manicure and pedicure, complete with back massage, and endless cups of steaming Ginseng Green Tea, all for just 14. Another firm favourite, Beauty Bar, in the East Village, offered a delightful Martini & Manicure special. For a mere 5, this pampering, after-work treat swiftly became a popular Manhattan girls night out.



By contrast, my experiences here have been frustrating, to say the least. One example has now become the stuff of transatlantic legend. The first hurdle to be overcome was finding a salon that was not closed on a Monday. Closed? An utterly novel concept in Manhattan there are nail salons open on Christmas Day! I did find one that was open, and the staff were very friendly and made me a cup of tea.



Thats where the similarities ended, abruptly. For my pedicure, I was placed in an ordinary armchair, and instructed to soak my feet in a scruffy, washing-up bowl. I thought they were joking. The manicure was even more of a shambles. There were no electronic drying devices available for drying my freshly varnished nails. When the manicurist started blowing on my wet nails herself, I asked for a hair dryer. She, in turn, looked at me in disbelief, as if I were insane. Of course, my nails were smudged and ruined before I even left the building.



In all, a complete and utter waste of time and money, an experience more akin to allowing a chum to give you a manicure and pedicure in her kitchen, because shes in her sixth week of Beauty School and needs the practice. If I did have a friend who was a Cosmetology student, I would gladly submit to her as a favour - but would certainly not expect to pay 100 for the privilege of being her guinea pig!



Thankfully, I have since found two establishments that have redeemed my faith in the Warwickshire beauty industry. Pardeep Bhachu is a diamond of a hair stylist, whose work consistently rivals (and surpasses) the efforts of my former stylist in NYC and for a fraction of the price! Thanks to his sheer brilliance, I was a glowingly confident bride on my wedding day. At his establishment, The Salon in Leamington Spa, Pardeep has taken a leaf out the NYC Beauty rule book, and offers a similarly fun, girls night out atmosphere, complete with champers and cosmopolitans.



When relaxation is in order, Rasphal at Beauty by Rasphal in Warwick, offers facials, threading, beauty treatments and the most amazing hot stone massages that make me miss the darling girls of Gigi Nail a little less every day.


0 comments

More from Warwickshire Life

Yesterday, 15:06
Charingworth Manor

Promotional feature: Wedding photographer Jenny Aston asks wedding co-ordinators for their top tips when choosing the venue for your big day

Read more
Wed, 18:43
Easter Bunny / Photo: Africa Studio

As spring arrives on our doorsteps gilding the grass with daffodils, Easter comes with it. As usual, there’s plenty to keep the family busy in and around the Cotswolds; here is our pick of 15 Easter events to get you out and about!

Read more
Tue, 16:36
Large Kilim Rugs

Promotional feature: Richard and Louise Harvey from The Richard Harvey Collection whisk us off on a journey to the Far East with their collection of Kilims, Swat Valley chests, Spice Boxes, Altar Tables and Honey Pot lamps, among other jewels to create a peaceful haven in your home.

Read more
Tue, 10:48
Many young people who have been in care or forced to leave home due to family problems  find themselves struggling to cope alone - could you help? / Photo: Julia Karo

Barnardo’s Warwickshire is reaching out for local people to become approved Supported Lodgings Providers, giving shelter and support to young care-leavers.

Read more
Tue, 10:06
The Cat in the Hat / Photo: Gary Lake

Katie Mitchell’s acclaimed stage adaptation of Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat will embark on its first UK tour in 2015, playing at Malvern Theatres from Monday March 30 to Wednesday April 1.

Read more
Mon, 16:55
Dinmore Manor locomotive at Toddington Station, Gloucestershire

While on work experience with Cotswold Life, Amy Woolridge of Cleeve School enjoyed a day out at Toddington as part of Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Tourism Day

Read more
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Francis Hamel painting on site at Giffords Circus

Oxfordshire artist Francis Hamel was struck by the glamour and alchemy of Giffords Circus when he took his children to a show. The result was time spent touring with Giffords and a series of remarkable paintings…

Read more
Friday, March 20, 2015
Piers Linney

At Juniper Network’s recent Innovation Showcase in Sunnyvale California, on March 11 2015, Juniper unveiled a range of new products that focus on transforming networks so customers can capitalise on new growth opportunities brought on by the connected world.

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP


Warwickshire's trusted business finder

subscription ad

subscription ad