Something good for your brain, something good for your body. That’s what Ruby Assembly’s Beauty and the Book is all about – a way to honor that wonderful brain of yours while giving your body a treat or two along the way. I come from a world that values ideas and cerebral pursuits, where being informed on our political environment and being able to talk thoughtfully about literature is key. Sometimes individuals who have interest in, say, fashion or beauty or or a special shade of Chanel nailpolish are considered to be flippant and silly. Myself, I fancy a Liberal Party spill just as much as I favour a beautiful fragrance – and can speak about both eloquently. Beauty and the Book comes from a place of inclusion and possibility: you don’t have to be only clever or only attractive. You can be both simultaneously, with each element of your personality making its counterpart more powerful.
With that in mind, I’m so pleased to share with you my favorite makeup palette inspired by the upcoming a/w collections: oxblood and leather, highlighted by the rich gleam of pearl. Here I’m wearing a matte, vanilla-scented Stila lipstick from Mecca Cosmetica (sorry – this shade is no longer in stock but I’m sure you’ll find something comparable), Nars blush in its popular Orgasm shade, Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Foundation (added SPF 30+, bonus) and my favorite eyebrow pencil by Rimmel in Hazel.
Borrowed from our extensive library at The CoWork Co, The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a series of short stories by Susanna Clark who wrote the popular Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Focused on female mastery of the dark arts and set in the same world as Strange, The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a thoroughly funny, feminist and intelligent mixture of familiar fables retold and fresh tales. The book itself is a pleasure to hold, in a grey linen with pressed letters – and the stories are accompanied by very beautiful illustrations which remind me of the tales of Rackham. I much prefer it to Strange, as it has a lighter touch and is not as self-important in a way.  Clever and knowing without being smarmy – a winner.
A new fragrance is a fine thing: particularly when it is brought home to you from the mystical island of Capri via the small and famous perfume distillery of Carthusia. My kind sister-in-law remembered how I remarked upon a distinctive perfume she wore, and brought me a vial of the very same concotion – Ligea. This fragrance is exotic – a kind of powdery, deep scent mixed with a limey citrus and something else. It lasts for hours on the skin and smells rare and special, just like the Carthusian family crest on its bottle.
Some years ago, I was in the large, foreign city of London on a creaky bunkbed – crying into my tissues while sucking voraciously on Vicks Vapor Drops and attempting not to let my hacking cough wake up the three other people in my dorm at the giant youth hostel I was staying at. Oh, it was ‘orrible. I was sick, in another country and feeling very sorry for myself. At some point, I managed to get myself out of bed and stumble to a Waterstone’s bookseller where I happened upon a copy of Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang. Reader – this book comforted me so. Even picking it up off the shelf to photographer for this post brought back a feeling of  ‘aaahhhh’. To be honest, I can’t really remember my response to the book other than a palpable sense of relief, familiarity comfort – learning about a local folk hero whilst so far from my homeland. I do enjoy Peter Carey more generally, and this was an intelligent-but-accessible read. This is going back on my bookstand for a revisit.
Lush is famous for its soaps: they make a beaut array of products, but their soaps (to my mind) are their best offering. Fresh from Lush’s new collection, these two soaps make your morning shower substantially more luxurious – Parsley Porridge soap (green) is an antibacterial soap with thyme, tea tree oil and fine milled oats which lifts dry skin while an aloe gel cools and revives. Magnificent Soap (orange) is ripe and juicy with uplifting mango, lemon, mandarin and neroli oils. A treat to self that’s pocket-friendly, natural and kind to the animals too – something to keep in mind next time a pep-up is needed but prosperity is lacking. (PS note to self – how pretty do these bright soaps look on my Yiayia’s cut-glass cake stand?)

Wearing Country Road knit top and Sportsgirl accessories.

Are you going on a little plane journey soon, or even a long train trip? Take this along as a sweet little distraction on the journey. The thoroughly romantic and delicious-to-look-at The House In Via Manno by Milena Agus won me over with its beautiful cover art and charming tale to match. A best seller internationally, The House In Via Manno is a story set in Sardinia about a grandmother’s search for love post WW2. Far from being misery-lit, it is a playful and deeply sentimental tale about the hopefulness of love which springs eternal – without being cloying or saccharine. A little bit Isabelle Allende, Like Water for Chocolate.
Other treats for your beautiful self from Lush: African Paradise Body Conditioner which is an in-shower body conditioner packed with African oils, butters and fruits. I’m a sucker for additional moisturising (I’ve got psoriasis and any additional moisture improves this condition dramatically) so why not try a self-preserving in-shower body conditioner? Use it just as you would your hair conditioner: apply to damp skin in the shower and lightly rinse to skip a moisturising step drying off. Perfect for the blistering hot days which await us. D’Fluff shaving cream is indeed an improvement on the canned shaving gel varieties you might be used to: fresh strawberries, coconut oil and maple syrup create a marshmallowy texture that is a delight. It smells good too: Fair Trade Vanilla, sweet wild orange oil and rose absolute. Last but not least is Zest Orange Hair Jelly, giving your hair great hold without grease. Moisturising and thickening, you can get punky with this product or comb it through to create a neat bun – pulling the hair off your face in summer is a wonderful way to highlight makeup as your outfit feature. Zest gets rid of the distracting hairline flyaways that can make achieving a very pulled-together powerful look difficult to achieve. Easy done!