Work+Play at Malmaison – A Girly Night In

Last week I was invited to enjoy a girly night of food, pampering and cocktails at the very stylish Malmaison. It was strictly ladies only as we were treated to manicures, blow dries, makeovers and arm massages, whilst the prosecco flowed and food was served in the guise of the new Malmaison menu. If all this wasn’t bliss enough, we also had the chance to create a special cocktail that matched the colour of our nail polish.

Malmaison is home to the lovely La Petit Spa, a haven in the heart of the city where you can enjoy full spa treatments, as well as manicures, pedicures and make overs. On the evening espa were offering hand cocktails that left your skin smelling divine and feeling silky smooth and soft. There was also the opportunity to have a manicure using the new CND Shellac and Vinylux colours, adding a nail colour of your choice. My nails were in particularly bad condition, but they were shaped beautifully and my trademark red shade was added – it proved to be very popular on the evening.

Once the paint on my nails had dried it was time to create a cocktail to match the colour. Thankfully, there were no Bloody Mary’s in sight as I opted for a raspberry martini styled cocktail that contained a lot of vodka, including Absolut Raspberry. It was very sweet, totally delicious and it looked amazing too, although, as a Mojito fan, I did wonder whether I should’ve opted for a green shade, just to create my favourite cocktail of them all.

Cover FX make up, who you can find in both Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in the city, were on hand to find your perfect foundation and also introduce their brand and hero products. I love the fact that their custom enhancing drops can be added to your moisturiser or foundation to create a new dimension to a base product, whether it be to add a metallic glow, a sunkissed look or even to highlight your cheekbones. Custom FX really is a brand of beauty innovation, a brand I was not familiar with, but already love.

With nails and make up sorted, hair was next on the menu, with blow ltd on hand to create the perfect express style look. Blow are sometimes referred to as the Uber of the beauty world, as they will come to your home and sort all your beauty needs. On the evening we were looking at the fast beauty to go menu, and I was so pleased with the beachy waves that I was treated to.


And, of course, there was food. I loved the chargrilled chicken breast and crunchy Thai salad – a perfect summer dish, whilst the desserts were to die for, particularly the fresh red berries and vanilla marscapone (pictured below) and the warm steamed summer pudding. I love a good dessert and these rated really highly on the pudding-o-meter.

I left Malmaison feeling totally relaxed and pampered, with gorgeous hair and shiny nails. It was a wonderful night in a fabulous destination.

*With thanks to Malmaison and East Village PR for the invitation.

Talking Careless Memories with Denis O’Regan

Denis O’Regan is a rock legend. The tour photographer on some of the key tours in music since the 1980s, this week Denis was in Birmingham to launch his new coffee table book, ‘Careless Memories‘, which chronicles his time on the road with Duran Duran on their Sing Blue Silver tour in 1984. The book is also accompanied by a wonderful exhibition of his Duran Duran tour photographs at Birmingham’s Malmaison, which starts on April 23rd.

I was lucky enough to have a chat with Denis at Malmaison, where we talked about the book, exhibition, and all things Duran Duran (and, as a Duranie, please allow me a swoon at this moment.) I also got a sneaky look at the exhibition as it was being hung – quite a moment.

Duran Duran backstage 1984

Fashion-Mommy: Can you set the scene for Careless Memories?

Denis O’ Regan: Careless Memories is a high end, coffee table book covering the Sing Blue Silver tour of Japan, America and Canada. Seven and the Ragged Tiger had been released just before the tour, and in the middle of the tour The Reflex was released and went to number one in America. The band became huge, this was exactly 20 years after Beatlemania had hit and the band were christened the Fab Five by the American press. It was also the beginning of the MTV era and Duran Duran were one of the first video bands – both press and fans went crazy for them.

FM: The story starts in 1984 when you joined the Sing Blue Silver tour – what had been your rock background before then?

DO: Well, the previous year to this tour I had toured with David Bowie on his Serious Moonlight tour in Europe, and before that I had also toured with the Rolling Stones on their Tattoo You European tour, so I had experience of the rock tour.

FM: 1983 was the height of Duran Fever, how did it feel to be part of that?

DO: Incredible. Of course, none of us knew that this was going to be the pinnacle at the time.It was just an incredible time. I was a Beatles fan when I was younger but was too young to have experienced Beatlemania, but this felt like something similar. It was 5 star hotels and private jets and huge crowds and audiences all the way.

Duran Duran's Roger Taylor & John Taylor USA 1984

FM: You followed the band to Japan, North America and Europe, where were the fans the worst/most hysterical?

DO: The UK tour came before Japan and America, and at the end of that there was a press tour of Italy. It was completely crazy, everywhere the band went they were followed by hoards of fans on their little mopeds. It was hysteria. But of course the band should’ve gone onto bigger stadium tours in North America as they were huge there. Maybe it was a direct result of the pressure, but it never happened. There were the splinter projects, and then Simon almost died on Drum which made the band ask a lot of questions. It also caused friction with the management as one manager had suggested and encouraged the Drum trip. So the big stadiums they could’ve played in the USA never happened.

Duran Duran Vancouver 1984

FM:You say you clicked with the band pretty early on – why do you think that was?

DO: I was used to being around famous people and when I first started to photograph Duran they were bigger in Europe. At that time most UK music press was black and white, but Europe had colour magazines which were great to showcase New Romantic bands, so these sorts of bands were attractive to the Euro press. I shot the band quite a few times for European publications, and then started to bump into them socially and we got friendly. Plus I had shot their hero David Bowie, and also punk which the band were also into, so all this helped.

FM: Which member of the band do you think you got on with best?

DO: John Taylor. We just clicked the first time I shot them. They weren’t that big at the time, I think they were supporting Hazel O Connor, and I was shooting them for the NME. John just came over and started talking about different images I had taken of bands that he liked and had remembered. We remain big friends and still meet up. My nearest neighbour now is Simon, and on the tours I went out most with Andy to party. So lots of different relationships.

Duran Duran's John Taylor live USA 1984

FM: Nick Rhodes talks about the ‘constant humour we survived on’. What did he mean by that?

DO: A tour is a really pressurised environment, especially with the extent of adulation Duran Duran was experiencing. You just have to have fun sometimes, but still need to look after the things that need doing, but there was still a lot of sitting around and laughing.

FM: You describe yourself as a ‘packrat’ what do you mean by that?

DO: I just hung onto everything. Rooming lists, tour itineraries, phone numbers for rooms from the days before mobile phones, even the pseudonyms that band members had to use in the days when they certainly couldn’t use their own names. I remember on the Rolling Stones tour Keith Richards often used the name Dr Ugs as his pseudonym – spelling drugs! I just decided I could put this stuff into a really special book.

FM: You talk about laughing a lot, but what about the downside – the downtime?

DO: For me personally it was the soundchecks. Sometimes you would be literally flying in that morning, and all you would really like to do is get to the hotel room and sleep, or have a meal. Instead it could be right to the venue for a soundcheck – no chill time, no sleep time, and a lot of hanging around. Sometimes it was made worse if, after the show, you were literally flying back out again to the next venue. Charlie Watts once said when asked about 40 years of the Rolling Stones that is was 8 years playing, 32 years hanging around – that’s so true.

FM: Heading back to Careless Memories, how do you feel about giving away some of your own personal memorobilia with the special editions?

DO: Good question. I’m giving up some of it, but hanging onto some, so may put it in a book for myself and my son. Simon Le Bon said he wants a copy to show his children that he does actually work, and if you look at the images in the book they do show the band working, hardly any images are just off duty enjoying themselves.

FM: Do you have a fave memory from the tour?

DO: My fave moments are usually during shows, you can get a certain vibe from the audience. It could be a certain song where the audience just erupts – I just love those moments. It is the combined sense of community that you just don’t get anywhere else. But there were some great moments. The American tour mostly took place during Winter, it was terrible conditions, going from strange place to strange place. They played New York in 10ft snow drifts, but then moved onto Florida and it was 80 degrees heat. That was a nice moment, you can see that from the pictures in the book. But then it was back to snowy Detroit or wherever. There was also great moments with people who turned up on the tour, like Andy Warhol who turned up unexpectedly.


FM: The band seem to love the book, that must mean a lot?

DO: They were involved. Nick was heavily involved, and they provided extras and made a video etc. I think they are pleased, it’s part of their legacy and sums up a moment in their lives.

FM: You’ve chosen Malmaison for the launch and exhibition – why Mal?

DO:We actually approached Mal – we thought they were a cool brand and we wanted a brand that we thought fitted the ethos of the book. Malmaison is a luxury brand and this is a luxury product so it fits together so well. We also wanted a hotel that we could visit in other UK cities like Manchester and Leeds as we continue the tour. It’s a good fit.

FM: Do you have a fave Duran Duran track?

DO: I love Hungry Like a Wolf. It’s a rock song and I remember them saying the riff was inspired by Marc Bolan and T-Rex ‘Get it on’. I also love New Religion. Careless Memory is not so well known but it is a great title for the book – the perfect title. I think it’s great we can use the name of a song.

FM: And finally, you’ve worked with some of musics best – from the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Queen, right up to Coachella – how does your time with Duran Duran rate?

DO: Well, each of the tours was great for different reasons. The Stones was my first big tour, David Bowie was someone who I think is just amazing. Duran Duran were not a band I’d grown up with, but it was like experiencing Beatlemania with all the hysteria. All the tours were so great for different reasons, because Duran Duran were younger, it felt like we were all in it together. They didn’t know they would become so big on that tour. The press and fans just went mad.


A sneak preview of the amazing exhibition


Denis O’ Regan with Careless Memories at Malmaison

*With thanks to Denis O’Regan for his time and memories, and Tara Tomes from East Village and Lisa Smith from Prepared PR.


Sampling Brunch at Malmaison Birmingham

The Sunday Brunch at Birmingham’s swish Malmaison may well be one of the city’s best kept gastronomic secrets but this will not be the case for long. Put quite simply, the delicious delights available on both the chef’s table, and the menu as a whole, mean that this is one meal that foodie’s definitely need to sample. Proudly boasting to being the biggest Sunday lunch in town, the unlimited Sunday treat is both great quality and great value.

With fellow bloggers Lisa and Emily Jayne in the Wine Cellar at Malmaison.

With fellow bloggers Lisa and Emily Jayne in the Wine Cellar at Malmaison.

I was invited along to Sunday Brunch last week, and was really interested to go along to sample it. I often pop into the Birmingham Mal for meetings, grabbing a coffee or a quick glass of wine, but I had never actually eaten there. This was a good opportunity to see what both the food, and the general atmosphere is like.

The lovely Tara Tomes of the East Village agency was there to meet all the guests with the Nation’s favourite hangover tipple, the proverbial hair of the dog that is the Bloody Mary. I must admit that I am not a fan of Bloody Mary’s, mainly because I hate tomatoes, but what I can say about the Malmaison version is that it is packed with fresh tomatoes, and has quite a kick to it, especially if you add an extra splash of Tabasco sauce!

The Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary


Bucks Fizz

Next it was onto one of the most eagerly anticipated parts of the brunch, a specially selected chef’s table and pancake station. This was, quite frankly, amazing. There were a range of cold cuts, from Chorizo, honey glazed and Serrano ham(absolutely gorgeous), ham hock, Duck and Pork Terrines and many more sumptuous delicacies. I loved the Caesar salad, the extremely tasty cous cous, and the choice of many different breads. For those who required something sweater, there was the pancake station, where you could have a freshly cooked pancake with many choices of fillings, including Smarties for those with the sweetest of sweet teeth.

Photograph credit Ryan Phillips

Photograph credit Ryan Phillips


Photograph credit Ryan Phillips

The Chef's table

The Chef’s table

For my main I decided against a brunch option of Eggs Benedict or brunch because I’m not a fan of eggs. Instead I opted for the classic ‘Steak Frites’ which is a marinated rump steak with skin-on fries. This was just delicious. The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked (I like my steak medium – pink, but not with blood running). The portion size was just right and the skin-on fries were crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy in the centre.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

Despite the fact I felt pleasantly full, the dessert option is just too good to miss. My choice was Sticky Toffee pudding. This is always a favourite of mine, but one which is sometimes spoiled with the addition of dates. The Malmaison version is just so mouth-watering good. It has the appearance of a real comfort dish, but is surprisingly light and delicate. The toffee is flavoursome and I loved the ice cream, which was served in a separate dish. The addition of chopped walnuts on the top added a crunchy edge to this already amazing dish.

Sticky Toffee pudding - so delicious!

Sticky Toffee pudding – so delicious!

I really cannot enthuse enough about the Malmaison Sunday offering. The choice, value and service is all second to non, and the relaxed, but definitely buzzing atmosphere makes dining a really pleasurable experience.

The Mal on Sunday unlimited option costs just £19.95 per head for adults, £7.95 for children.

You can view a full menu here.