Sharp focus on quality key to beauty and style

By Zoe Walker

Bonnie Shanahan talks luxury cosmetics, treasured dresses and Prada.

Bonnie Shanahan. Photo / Babiche Martens
Bonnie Shanahan. Photo / Babiche Martens

Bonnie Shanahan is the New Zealand brand general manager for La Mer and Bobbi Brown, two beauty brands synonymous with luxury. That focus on quality translates into her own approach to beauty and style, from a love of lipsticks and fragrance to a dream of owning couture. But her idea of ultimate luxury? "Time, and clean crisp cotton sheets every day. Add to that a long soak in a bath with Jo Malone bath oil and candles. Heaven."

The most luxurious thing I have bought is my dark green leather Prada bag. I love the smell of the leather; it is a bag that I will have forever.

If money were no option, I would buy a Valentino couture gown just for the sheer beauty and craftmanship.

My all-time classic piece that endures throughout the seasons is a pair of nude Jimmy Choo shoes I have had for years, I wear them summer and winter. They are a classic shoe that has lasted. Although they are about to be retired, as I recently bought a replacement.

My shopping habits have definitely changed since I had children. I buy less and tend to buy overseas as I don't have time to shop, and go to stores I know design for my shape and lifestyle.

My style was shaped by international magazines I have been buying and reading for years, but also by my friends and people I have met and worked with. I have been in the cosmetic and magazine industry since I was 20, and have worked with many glamorous and stylish women. My best friend Nikki is managing director of a media agency and has a great style, I love the way she dresses. I know I suit more classic shapes, but I try to update with modern touches. I believe in buying quality accessories that will last and don't date.

My beauty routine involves quality products. I am fortunate to work for two luxury cosmetic brands and am passionate about good skincare. It is so important to find products that suit your skin. I use La Mer creme morning and night, and have done for probably the past 10 years. I cleanse with a mixture of Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil or Extra Balm Rinse. I also use La Mer Regenerating Serum every day, either Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Eye Cream or La Mer Eye Concentrate depending on how my skin feels. I never go to bed without taking my makeup off.

Working on Bobbi Brown and having access to our company's other amazing products, I am always trying something new. But my main go-to products are No Smudge Mascara, which never smudges or runs and makes my lashes look amazing; Long Wear Gel Eyeliner, I have a few shades but my favourite is Chocolate Shimmer, it looks great with brown eyes and Pot Rouge, a must for my bag, I can use it on my cheeks or lips so it's great for travelling and comes in some any gorgeous colours.

I love lipstick and always have far too many in bag, but my favourite and go-to colour (I must have three or four of them scattered everywhere) is Creamy Lipstick in Blue Raspberry, it suits everyone and is a subtle pink, natural lip colour.

My love for fashion began with my obsession for magazines as a child. My mother also used to love fashion and would take me with her shopping at the weekend. She also made a lot of my clothes growing up so we spent a lot of time in fabric shops. I then studied fashion and design at school, and loved it. I love fabrics and design and could happily walk though beautiful stores every day just looking at how beautiful clothes are made.

I feel my best wearing dresses with high heels. High heels just make you stand taller. At the opposite end of the spectrum, during the weekend you'll find me in jeans, ballet flats and a T-shirt for comfort when running after two little ones.

The most treasured item in my wardrobe, apart from wedding dress for obvious reasons, is a beautiful Scanlan & Theodore silk dress that I have worn to friends weddings, the brunch the day after our wedding and to the Melbourne Cup. I bought beautiful bright aqua blue Alessandro Dell'Acqua shoes to go with it. The dress still manages to look pretty, timeless and feminine. It holds so many lovely memories.

The most stylish city I've visited is Milan. Italian women not only look beautiful but have an amazing style and elegance.

My favourite stylish places are Depot in Auckland, such a great vibe and food. Ebisu at Britomart, the food is delicious. The Standard Hotel in New York, they also have a great restaurant and bars for people-watching. I love the Marc Jacobs store in SoHo, in fact the whole SoHo neighborhood is amazing. The boutiques make your head spin. Our Head Office is based there, so it's hard not to get sidetracked when you walk to the office from the hotel.

Bergdorf Goodman in New York has the most amazing shoe selection. Helen Ficalora in SoHo, for gold charm necklaces, or Tom Binns for costume jewellery to die for.

For hotel luxury try a villa at The Capella Hotel in Singapore.

- NZ Herald

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