maggiealderson

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

A short word to subscribers

In Ad campaigns, Beauty, Book on May 31, 2011 at 8:48 am

Dear lovely Subscriber people

Thanks so much signing up to get this blog delivered direct, but I’m a bit concerned about how horrid it looks in email form. A copy is always sent to me and I actually opened the email to have a look this morning and was horrified.

I put a lot of effort in making it look nice, but the version that comes in an email looks horrid – doesn’t show videos and doesn’t show the corrections I quite often have to make two seconds after I have hit the ‘Publish’ key. Like the small detail yesterday of spelling Kenickie wrong.

So dear subscribers, to get the full experience of the blog, with all its bells and whistles (which give me grey hairs to put on, it’s such a fiddle faffle…) please click on the link and read it on the actual website, not in the crappy email version, which looks like something sketched out on the back of the envelope.

Now, in other news… I’ve put these images on here not entirely as a gratuitous perve –  although they are by way of a thank you for subscribing – but because I wanted to share them with you.

It’s the Michael Kors spring/summer 2011 campaign and it’s all over the London Underground at the moment. I go up and down on the escalators gazing at. I think the pics – by Mario Testino – are so beautiful, so romantic and so sexy. It’s like a holiday romance caught in amber.

I’d like to think of it as like one of those old photo romance things of one of my books. And if any of you have read Cents and Sensibility, in particular, do you remember the bit where Jay hot wires the Vespa to get them back to the Eden Roc? That picture at the top is pretty much how I pictured it…

Maggie xxx

PS and please tell anyone you think might be interested that they can now read me weekly on here!

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A hickie from Kenickie is like a Hallmark card…

In Actors, FIlms, In memorium, Men on May 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

We interrupt normal service (I normally post a Rule on Wednesdays) to celebrate the life of Jeff Conaway, the actor who played the part of bad boy love god Kenickie in Grease.

He died on Friday from pneumonia – not a drug overdose as initially report. Although the official cause states that years of drug abuse had led to him not taking the condition seriously enough. You can read the whole sordid thing on Wikipedia if you really want to.

Such a sad stupid way to go, but strangely in keeping with his image in the film. There was a reason he played the bad boy so well – he actually was one.

Which is exactly why he always made the film for me. From the first time I saw him shaking it up in the ‘Summer Nights’ routine, I was smitten. The bit with the comb – remember?

John Travolta was utterly loveable in Grease. And while I find his religious beliefs beyond creepy, I still adore him as an actor – and a dancer.

The very particular way he says ‘I’m trying to iron here…’ and ‘How am I supposed to negotiate pleats?’ in the movie of the Hairspray musical, are two popular catch phrases in my house.

So, as slightly soppy Danny, John Travolta was perfect. But it was proper greaser Kenickie who stole the film for me – along with his gal, Rizzo, who has the best ballad in the film: ‘There are worst things I could do, than go with a boy – or two…’.

We’re gonna rooool the school. I could go on, as you can probably tell.

So I was very sad to hear about Mr Conaway, but it was interesting that it coincided with my just-add-hot-water instant mini crush on Rob Lowe – another bad boy.

I didn’t fancy Rob Lowe much when he first emerged. Too clean, too gay looking. When The Outsiders came out (adapted from the favourite book of my teenage years, by S E Hinton) like any other hot blooded woman, it was Matt Dillon who iced my cake.

I didn’t even start to get the point of Rob Lowe until he’d been disgraced a couple of times and it’s only now in maturity, when his face is looking, as my friend Barbie says, ‘slept in’ that I have realised he is a god of hot.

I wonder why bad boys have this appeal? I’m not sure I’m proud of it, but I think it might be quite healthy for us all to get our attraction to men who live on the edge out of systems in celebrities crushes, because in real life they’re no fun to be around at all.

So vale, Jeff Conaway. Farewell, Kenickie. You will always live on in our collective hearts – and in my much-viewed video copy of Grease.

I miss the Royal wedding

In Famous people, Men, Style icons on May 27, 2011 at 10:03 pm

 

I was just thinking today how much I miss the Royal wedding. Oh what a glorious couple of weeks that was.The anticipation, preparing things for the street party, putting up the bunting, starting my collection of Royal wedding newspaper specials and souvenir editons of Hello! magazine…

Then the amazing perfectness of the actual day.Our wonderful street party, with 78s playing on Don’s wind up gramaphone and the works. Talking to everyone you met about it for days after, even strangers at bus stops. Going down the Mall the day after just to sniff the atmosphere and finding it was still there. Middleton fever. Prince Harry crush. Adding to my collection of Royal wedding newspaper specials and souvenir editions of Hello! magazine…

Now I’ve got it down to two magazines and two newspapers. All the biscuits in the McVities celebratory tin are gone. The only thing that’s still up is my Wills ‘n’ Kate shopper, hanging on a hook on the back door, where I think it might stay forever.

At the start of the week I was feeling a bit flat and after a while I realised that was what it was. The after the party blues. Normal service resumed. The only thing that’s given me a bit of lift since has been the massive amount of publicity Rob Lowe has been doing for his autobiography.

Hubba McHubba.

I’d forgotten how utterly gorgeous he is. And I have to say the mature man is even an improvement on the youth (see below).

Have you seen the Vanity Fair cover? (well, you have now…). And there was another almost as good on the Sunday Times mag last week.

 

I do admit that I dreamed about him all last night. Not like that – sadly – but he was very much there for the whole thing and it was like watching a rom com with me and him in the starring roles.

Bring it on. When do we start shooting?

Then today I had another filip. I turned on Radio 4 (the UK’s famous talk radio station) while I made my cup of tea before starting work after my morning yoga class, to hear the unmistakeable strains of one of my favourite Velvet Underground tracks: White Light White Heat.

This isn’t a track you hear very often on Radio 4…

Now Friday morning is Desert Island Discs day – a legendary programme that has been going on the BBC since 1942, where celebrities come and explain their choice of the eight ‘discs’ they would take with them to a Desert Island (plus one book, they’re given the Bible and the entire works of Shakespeare), telling their life story through the music.

The minute I heard that track I remembered that this week’s ‘castaway’ (as they are traditionally called…) was non other than the wonderful Debbie Harry.

 

She chose two other tracks that move me profoundly: Strange Fruit by Nina Simone and the 4th movement of Mahler’s 5th Symphony in B Sharp Minor, which we all know as the amazing music from Death in Venice.

Then she chose my favourite book: War and Peace.

Then she chose exactly the same ‘luxury’ that I have always said I would choose if I was ever on the programme: a never ending supply of paper and writing implements. She chose colours, I wouldn’t care as I long as I could write and draw. She is my soul sister.

If you missed it, here’s a link, although I’m not sure you can do play again outside the UK. You can see her full set list anyway.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/desert-island-discs/castaway/0bddfe9c

So between spending the night with Rob Lowe and having my morning tea with Debbie Harry, what started as a dull week ended on a high note. Which reminded me you don’t need constant high days and holidays to be happy. There’s always something uplifting out there if you keep your radar open to it.

And I don’t miss the Royal wedding any more.

Rule: some trends become new classsics

In Accessories, Celebrities, Famous people, Scarves on May 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

The long soft scarf, worn loosely looped around the neck, is not a hot new look – but it’s not a tragic démodé one either. In fact it’s right in the middle of making a rare transition from key trend to wardrobe staple.

It all started a few years ago when the black and white keffiyah scarf, came back as a youth fashion. These traditional Arab scarves – as worn most famously by one Yasser Arafat – first became trendy among the young and radical in the 1970s, when they were taken up as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian uprising.

This political message quickly became submerged as the scarves were taken up as generic youth cool signifier and I’m embarrassed to admit I got about in one for months in my late teens with no idea what it was broadcasting. Until a man in Paris took issue with me and explained.

I’d just thought it was a nice scarf which looked great worn tied loosely round the neck with the point in the front. I was mortified when I found out the rest – not because I had committed views on either side of the Middle East situation, but because I hadn’t known my scarf did.

But there were clearly plenty of other people who had no idea about the semiotic message of these comfortable pieces of loosely woven cotton – or didn’t care – and keffiyahs were still very much the go into the early 1980s (Bananarama were big fans).

They disappeared mid-decade and weren’t seen again – outside news bulletins from the Gaza Strip – until their recent re-emergence around the necks of young people clearly as ignorant of their implications as I had been.

This time, though, the message seemed to get round more quickly (the internet?), but while you rarely see that very particular black and white weave now, the softly draped big scarf has remained a key look.

The Alexander McQueen skull print scarf was the next stage, an instant cult hit, worn in the point-front keffiyah manner.

But it was the Stephen Sprouse-archive leopard spot number by Louis Vuitton (as modelled at the top by la Moss), which heralded the arrival of the long looped scarf as a new fashion staple.

These lightweight stole-length scarves were snapped looped loosely around all the key one-name celebrity necks – Kate, Sienna, Kylie, Nicole, Liv, Coleen, Ashley, Kiera and so on (and not forgetting SJP, who is one set of initials…) and suddenly no outfit felt right without something similar.

Anyone who adopted the look soon discovered this trend had a lot more going for it than your average celebrity style steal. It’s astonishingly flattering. Softening necklines and the harder lines of tailoring. Skirting over inconvenient body issues like muffin tops and PMS bloating. Generally softening down and loosening up any outfit, adding instant confidence. Looking equally good with jeans, tailored pant suits and summer dresses.

What’s more they’re incredibly practical, providing the perfect trans-seasonal layer for the days when there is just that uncomfortable nip in the air – but instantly removable when it heats up. Take it off, stuff it in your tote.

For warmer weather, they’re great in loose cotton and linen weaves, but come the colder winter days, bring out the wool and cashmere and you won’t need a coat.

And here’s a wizard wheeze. Worn looped around the neck in this way, you’ll find a whole new lease of life for those 90s pashminas you never thought you’d wear again.

Slap for chaps

In Beauty, Book, Famous people, Men on May 20, 2011 at 11:54 am

 

I’ve come back to this subject first aired yesterday, as I have a little bit more to say about it.

And I’ve finally remembered, after wasting hours yesterday flailing around and swearing, how to embed the video of Ollie Locke and his make up tips (see above) properly.

What has been pointed out to me since I posted this yesterday, by my lovely Twitter pal @breeplayer, is that I predicted this trend towards men wearing make up in ‘real life’ in my book Handbags and Gladrags, which came out in 2004. Oooh!

The heroine’s (ghastly) image-obsessed husband is a brand manager fora major cosmetics line called Slap and there is a plot point around the idea of ‘Slap for Chaps’ – make up for meterosexual men. I’d completely forgotten about it until Bree reminded me. (That’s normal for me. I forget everything about my books the minute I’ve finished them. Odd.)

Here’s a snippet from it: ‘Slap for Chaps was having a stand at the selling exhibition as well and he’d probably be parading around wearing it, I realised, with a sinking heart. I knew it had done amazing things for the precious ‘brand’, but I still didn’t enjoy seeing my husband got up like Hugh Grant from the neck down and Eddie Izzard fromt he neck up.’

What makes it even more thrilling is that the horrible husband’s name is… wait for it…. Ollie! How spooky is that?

 But I have to say, this has happened with most of my books – something I’ve made up becomes an actual fact at a later point. It’s very odd. I’m not saying I have the power of prophecy (if only – Lottery numbers anyone?), but it fits in with Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious, which I’ve always found compelling.

Certainly, when fiction writing really starts to flow, you feel like you aren’t so  much making it up, as having it fed to you.  It’s most peculiar and other novelists have confirmed the same feeling. The less you think it, the more it happens. This is the mechanism by which plots seem to work themselves out.

I don’t think it’s some supernatural phenomenon, I think it’s allowing the bit of the brain we don’t actively operate – the subconcious – to do its thing. So thanks to Bree, for pointing this one out to me.

Now, back to Slap for Chaps (and resuming yesterday’s post).

Last week we wondered whether men can wear skirts and judging by the comments the majority view is: Yes, why not, and please do.

Then along comes Ollie Locke, from the guilty pleasure joy that is the new British TV show ‘Made in Chelsea’. Along comes Ollie with his bronzer

Ollie wears make up every day and thinks all men should. He’s straight by the way. As he exhorts from the opening moments of this video clip: ‘It doesn’t make you any less manly…’

Actually, I think it does. I think it makes him look like a big girl. A rather mixed up lady boy.

Oddly, a girl it particularly makes him look like is Gabriella Ellis (lounging casually below), who features in the same show, which is in the ‘scripted documentary’ format, of real people in contrived situations. It’s made by the same company which came up with the first UK version of that genre, cult hit ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.

To get back to Ollie’s face slap, I’m confused by my reaction to it, because I do heartily stand by my belief that men should be allowed to wear all kinds of garments – just as women wear trousers, tuxedos etc. I’m all for freedom of self expression.

But while I loved David Bowie and Boy George as much as the next 80s kid – and totally get the Keith Richards/Jack Sparrow bad boy eye liner, I just don’t fancy a man in day make up. Although I do find Ollie a terribly engaging character. I think he’s got great comic timing in that clip.

I think it’s the idea of sharing a bathroom with one. My husband uses moisturiser, but imagine having to fight with your bloke for the hair straightener? Or even mirror time. Reckon that would be in short supply for anyone else in Ollie’s gaff.

One thing I am with Ollie on though – the time-saving marvel that is dry shampoo.

So what do you think about straight men wearing make up?

PS: This is really Saturday’s post, but it came along today and one thing I learned over years on newspapers is – never sit on a good story.

So this is instead of Saturday’s in case another choice item comes along.

And another thing – I do have to keep saying this – I have a new book out. Lots of columns. Marvellously good fun and all that.

 

Men in make up

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Last week we wondered whether men can wear skirts and judging by the comments the majority view is: Yes, why not, and please do.

Then along comes Ollie Locke, from the guilty pleasure joy that is the new British TV show ‘Made in Chelsea’. Along comes Ollie with his bronzer…

Ollie (above) wears make up every day and thinks all men should. He’s straight by the way. As he exhorts from the opening moments of this video clip: ‘It doesn’t make you any less manly…’

Actually, I think it does. I think it makes him look like a big girl. A rather mixed up lady boy.

http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/news-features/TMG8521938/Make-up-tips-for-men-by-Ollie-Locke-the-ultimate-fauxmosexual.html

Oddly, a girl it particularly makes him look like is Gabriella Ellis (lounging casually below), who features in the same show, which is in the ‘scripted documentary’ format, of real people in contrived situations. It’s made by the same company which came up with the first UK version of that genre, cult hit ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.

To get back to Ollie’s face slap, I’m confused by my reaction to it, because I do stand by my belief that men should be allowed to wear all kinds of garments – just as women wear trousers, tuxedos etc.

But while I loved David Bowie and Boy George as much as the next 80s kid – and totally get the Keith Richards/Jack Sparrow bad boy eye liner, I just don’t fancy a man in day make up.

I think it’s the idea of sharing a bathroom with one. My husband uses moisturiser, but imagine having to fight with your bloke for the hair straightener? Or even mirror time. Reckon that would be in short supply for anyone else in Ollie’s gaff.

One thing I am with Ollie on though – the time-saving marvel that is dry shampoo.

So what do you think about straight men wearing make up?

PS: This is really Saturday’s post, but it came along today and one thing I learned over years on newspapers is – never sit on a good story.

So this is instead of Saturday’s in case another choice item comes along.

And another thing – I do have to keep saying this – I have a new book out. Lots of columns. Marvellously good fun and all that.

 

Rule: unrelieved black can make you invisible

In Famous people on May 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

 

In the historic and noble tradition of stagecraft it has long been understood that you can make people virtually disappear on stage by dressing them from head to toe in black.

Many are the mime acts and puppet troupes that have made this their signature technique, dazzling audiences by making things appear to move magically on stage. The all-black get up is also used by stage hands to minimise the intrusion of them moving furniture and props around on stage between scenes.

Here Vanessa Hudgens is showing how the same trick can be used on the red carpet.

Swamped by a huge black wrap dress, she’s like the Cheshire Cat – a grinning face, not apparently attached to a body. Of course, it didn’t help matters that this particular red carpet was actually black, but even on the normal scarlet variety this ponderous black frock would have made her hard to get a fix on. Not ideal for a film star.

Were she a woman of more generous proportions, this choice of artful camouflage might be understandable – curvy Kirstie Alley looked pretty good(if a little dishevelled in the hair area) in black at the same event (the LA premiere of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides’).

But High School Musical’s Hudgens is a tiny slip of a girl drowning inside this giant sea monster of a dress. Even the coquettish flash of toffee-coloured thigh, doesn’t alleviate the disaster of the upper half of it. She could have been storing a few ferrets in those voluminous sleeves.

Adding to the optical illusion weirdness, while perfectly on-trend (everyone seemed to be wearing them at the Royal wedding…) her flesh-coloured ultra-platform shoes blend seamlessly into her legs, just as the dress blends into her hair. She appears to have hooves.

Half close your eyes and she looks like some kind of alien mini-monk, that could have featured in a Star Wars prequel. Glamour Yoda you are.

An obi (with or without the Wan Kinobi ha ha ha) style belt in bright colours, lots of beads, bling brooches and cuffs could all have jazzed it up, but really, it’s just too much droopy dark fabric beneath too much droopy dark hair.

Alley’s dress, by contrast, although also unrelieved black (apart from a matt/satin texture contrast) was a one-shoulder number, revealing a crucial shot of flesh near the head, to anchor her in the onlooker’s gaze, set off all the better by her long blonde hair.

And it’s not just blondes who can successfully work the flattering lines of full-length black, while remaining visible to the naked eye. On the same carpet of fame, most brunette of stars and very recent new mother, Penelope Cruz, dazzled in a black fishtail dress.

This one worked because it had a most flattering off-the-shoulder neckline and bare arms – crucial upper-body flesh revealed – and was sumptuously ornate, with embroidered brocade patterns down the dress and fabulous floaty feathers round the neckline and hem.

But the clinching detail which made Cruz the belle of the black carpet that night, was that she worked her long black dress with a high-ponytail up hairdo, exposing maximum elegant neck.

A blingtastic pair of dangling diamond earrings and an equally dazzling bracelet round one wrist and you had the perfect premiere look. Chic, discreet – and unmissable.

 

My new book, Style Notes, a final collection of the columns I used to do for that magazine – oh, what was its name again? oh yes Good Weekend – is out now.

The rending of cloth

In Men, Uncategorized on May 14, 2011 at 7:47 am

 

I have to share this with you. Go to the point 2.08 minutes into this clip of the Greek entry  for Eurovision and tell me it isn’t INCREDIBLY SEXY.

Yes yes I know Eurovision is totally naff (that’s why I love it…), but when I saw Loucas Yorkas in the semi-finals last night it sparked an instant lust crush.

It’s the moment where he is so impassioned by what ever deep and meaningful Greeky words he is singing he has to REND HIS CLOTH in the most attractive manner. He doesn’t just undo his jacket, he ravishes it. Get this restricting cloth away from my pounding Greek heart!

I swooned and have watched it many times on YouTube since.

Later in the clip there is another marvellous bit where the chaps doing the thrilling macho Greek dancing around him tear off their jackets and just throw them in the air.

It’s as though they’re saying: get this mere garment away from me, I am a man in a fury of passion.

I’m also very impressed with the way Loucas stands, with his long legs in a wide-spaced manly stance, as though he has to hold himself firm, while being swept by the storms of fate. It’s all terribly Homeric.

There’s a grandeur to their gestures I find terrifically affecting. It feels like something that has been lost in a world where love affairs are conducted via text message and I’m hoping Loucas and his patriotii will help to bring it back.

Zorba lives! And Shirley Valentine knew what she was on to.

Men in skirts

In Designers, Men on May 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm

 

 

There’s a man in the small coastal town where I live who likes to wear mini skirts. He’s not a crossdresser in the Little Britain ‘I’m a lady!’ manner, he’s not a trannie and he’s not a drag queen. He just likes to wear skirts.

He’s got great legs.

When he’s not working his tight jersey minis, his favoured attire is dancer-style leggings, with a singlet and a short jacket. He usually wears a straw hat, quite often with ivy and the like twined around the crown. On his feet it’s ballet shoes or flip flops. He’s got long dark blond hair. And a beard.

One item of clothing he doesn’t care for is the underpant and as, to quote my husband, ‘God was quite generous to him’, you can imagine the display in a pair of white stretchy nylon leggings. The full deli counter. Even in the pale pink mini I saw him in the other day you could clearly make out the contours of his man dangles.

He’s one of several eccentric dressers in this eccentric town. I saw a new one today, to add to my mental collection. He looked like an Impressionist painter from central castings, in white suit-style trousers, full-sleeved shirt, cravat and waistcoat. Splendid beard and moustache, wild woolly hair. No shoes. Just walking around. Doing his groceries. Five bananas please.

There’s another one who wears very short leather lederhosen which display his butt cheeks and if he sees you notice, he turns to ‘display’. He’s a certified pervo and no one’s seen him for a while.

Skirt man isn’t a pervo. Maybe a little bit of an exhibitionist, but I think it’s more about expressing himself. He spends a lot of time walking in the woodland on the edge of the town and is clearly a bit of a Hello Birds, Hello Sky kind of a chap.

What I find surprising is not so much what he wears, as how people react to it.

I was waiting for someone (my mother, who was in with Ronnie, the hairdresser) when he strolled along the main pedestrian thoroughfare in that pink skirt the other day, so I was at my leisure to watch his progress (my phone didn’t work inside the salon).

The reactions followed him down the street like a Mexican Wave, as the people sitting in the pavement cafes looked surprised, amazed, amused, shocked and disgusted.

I find this pretty amazing, because there are so few things left which shock people, but a harmless little hippie dude who likes to be comfortable and show his tanned legs is regarded as a freak.

It will change someday, surely? It’s been so long coming it’s ridiculous and the arguments in favour – women can wear any man’s clothing item/kilts/Ghandi/David Beckham in a sarong/Boy George – are so well rehearsed I can’t even be bothered to go over them again.

Just Google ‘men in skirts’ and up come pages of articles, going back years, about how it is finally going to happen, it really is going to be fine for men to wear manskirts, if they want to.

But still it hasn’t happened and I don’t get why not. Manwoman models were the big story last fashion show season, so it was deemed fabulous for men to model clothes designed for women – but it’s still not OK for men to wear a particular shape of clothing because it’s traditionally considered a girl garment in our culture. Nuts.

A couple of years ago, chainstore H&M even released one as part of their mens’ collection (see main pic). And there were masses of the things on the Milan catwalks in the last round of menswear designer shows. So will it finally happen soon?

Marc Jacobs (above and left) is certainly putting his stylish heft behind the notion and I think he looks great. So does this guy, below, captured by The Sartorialist.

What do you think of men in skirts?

Rule: if you’re going to be scrutinised, seek expert advice

In Fashionistas, Royal Wedding, Uncategorized, Weddings on May 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

 

I completely forgot to post this for Wednesday. So sorry (or ‘soz’, as my daughter says). I’m crap. I think it was probably because I’m very deeply stuck into the germination of a novel and my hold on the real world is even more tenuous than normal.

*

I’m so glad I’m no longer editor-in-chief of an international fashion magazine. Back when I was a front row fixture at the European and New York designers shows (I was heading up British ELLE and it was an awfully long time ago now..) I found it fiercely stressful getting the magazine out, while being away from the office for four weeks at a time, twice a year, attending the shows that turn the wheel of fashion.

If I’d also had to have been picture perfect every second of those fashion weeks as well, I would have blown a gasket. In those days photographers only took pictures of the models on the runway and the odd celeb in row A, and there weren’t even many of those.

There was one chap – New York snapper, Bill Cunningham, so legendary they’ve just released a feature-length docco about him – who would grab pictures of the audience as they arrived, but that was it.

But while I didn’t have the pressure today’s editors have to look red carpet ready while turning up for work each day, I did have to look reasonable. The front row was always a big deal. Then there were all the crucial advertiser parties and lunches and dinners and breakfasts to attend.

Although the reason I’d been given the job was because I was quite good at coming up with ideas and finding the best writers and photographers to make them into something special, once I became an editor-in-chief I was rather surprised to find I was suddenly also the public face of the magazine as well. Brains weren’t enough any more. I also had to look the part – eek!

While I’ve always been obsessed with fashion and style – that’s why I wanted to edit a fashion magazine in the first place – it’s always been on quite an analytical level. I can tell you the exact structure of a Chanel jacket and date Dior launched the New Look (February 12th, 1947), but that didn’t mean I was expert in dressing myself for my very particular new role.

So what did I do? I asked for advice.

The person I asked was my Executive Fashion Editor, who was always perfectly dressed and groomed. Her job was to schmooze advertisers and PRs, so the talent to look right was a large part of what got her hired in the first place. And she’d been dressing to impress fashion industry insiders for years.

Her advice was brilliant. Invest in the best tailoring and don’t worry about being on season. If you stay away from anything to quirky, the good stuff lasts.

In particular, she told me to buy a ‘le smoking’ tuxedo jacket and never travel without it. You’ll always be prepared for a surprise invitation. I did exactly what she told me and that tux was my best friend for years. In fact, I still have it (although sadly, I didn’t look like this in it…).

That wise counsel served me well through my years of fashion show front rows, lunches with Yohji Yamamoto and dinner with Jean Paul Gaultier.

So if I’d ever been invited to an event that was going to be watched by a third of the world’s population and had a role in life that meant my outfit was bound to be intensely scrutinised, I would once again have sought advice from an expert.

If only Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie had done that.

Maggie Alderson’s new book Style Notes is out now (in Australia) published by Penguin.

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