maggiealderson

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Rule: It really can be this easy

In Celebrities, Famous people, Mothers, Supermodels on June 28, 2011 at 9:15 pm

How hard does life need to be? Not that hard at all, as shown here by Claudia Schiffer on the school run on a wet day in London.

Very scarily for the other mothers, Claudia’s kids go to the same Notting Hill school as Elle McPherson’s, Trinny Woodall’s, and Stella McCartney’s. Just a bit of school gate fashion pressure, then.

The best accessory I can think of for that ordeal would be Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, but those girls have to do it under full fire of eyes from all the other celebri-mums – and the paparazzi. And then people like us ha ha ha.

Elle gave in to the fish tank pressure a few weeks ago, when we featured those pics of her school running in sprayed-on jeans and skyscraper Louboutin heels so torturous she was papped shortly after taking them off and rubbing her sore tootsies. She doesn’t normally go that far, but boy, does she look amazing. Imagine this sight greeting you in the morning. I’d never leave the house again.

 

Top marks to Claudia, though, for this object lesson in how to look mama chic in a completely relaxed way. She looks great, but she doesn’t look like she’s trying. Double win and all the more impressive as she doesn’t have a track record as one of the more instinctively stylish celebs.

She’s not a Kate, or a Sienna, with a natural born instinct how to throw together an outfit that’s original and inspirational. In all truth, Claudia generally tends to get by on the strength of having one of the world’s more perfect bodies – even after three children.

But that’s not the deal with this look. Of course, it’s always a sartorial advantage to have the physique of a semi-retired supermodel (rice sacks would look good, food wrap a daywear option…), but any of us could wear this with pride. Really.

The foundation of the outfit is that most classic item of outerwear, the trench coat, currently riding high as both timeless and totally on trend, something that really doesn’t happen very often.

And while we’re talking about the trench, please note how Claudia’s belt is tied, not buckled. I know I keep going on about it, but that detail is crucial to the throwaway chic of this ensemble.

But the real secret of this look is the overall simplicity of it. With all those flaps and buttons, the trench coat is a busy garment in itself and needs little more than a nice bag and a decent pair of jeans to look fabulous. The shades in the rain add a nice shot of glamour too.

It was clearly one of those warmish wet days, so familiar to the Aussie reader, where an open shoe is the best recourse and Claudia scores for choosing a pair in the same neutral palette as the coat and bag, but this outfit would look just as good for a cooler day with boots. It would even work with full-on wellies, on a seriously wet day.

(Pause for another gratuitous pic of Elle McPherson…)

Of course, as well as the supermodel genetic advantage Claudia has going on here (and also, obviously Elle, but this is about Claudia…), there is the noble ancestry of the individual items. The trench coat looks very much like an actual Burberry and the gorgeous suede bag is definitely Ferragamo, but the added glory of this outfit is that one just like it could be put together so easily anywhere down the fashion price scale.

So we can all afford a version of it – and it would look good on everybody. It’s a veritable fashion miracle. Could it be improved? A bright vintage silk scarf, Hermès or other, knotted at the neck and well tucked in would be a nice touch, and a bit of a comfort if it’s windy. And personally, I always wear the collar of a trench coat flipped up, more keenly to seek that elusive Parisienne insouciance.

But really, I think Ms Schiffer has nailed this look with her rational German practical chic. See you at the school gate.

And just for the record, here’s how Elle deals with extreme weather, in this case, snow. All together now: sigh…

 

Zen and the art of chain store shopping

In Clothes, Shopping on June 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm


Lily Cole, the model with a face like a Victorian painting of a flower fairy, skin like double cream and ridic long legs, has just got a Double First at Cambridge in History of Art. 


So she’s rich, thin, beautiful and clever. Probably also really nice and funny. But can she shop a chain store? Can she? Huh?

There is an art to it, but it can be learned. What has been surprising to me was realising that friends who can shop a flea market like a pro, are like rabbits in headlights when they walk into, say, H&M or TopShop, Oxford Circus, or even the lovely branch of Zara in Regent Street.

Dorothy Perkins £30

They wouldn’t even walk into a branch of Peacocks. I frequently do and sometimes come out with a gem.

For me it’s like surfing (or what I imagine surfing is like, having watched other people do it from the bar of Bondi Icebergs, in very high heels, nursing a mojito). You wait, you bide your time, then wheeee… jump on and ride your wave.

Zara £29.99

I’m trying to analyse why I can do it and others can’t and I can only assume it’s so many years of painful practice. If you subscribe to the 10,000 hours theory of expertise (read the book, Outliers, it’s brilliant…) I’ve definitely clocked up mine, stalking Chelsea Girl and Miss Selfridge – the only cool shops for young women in the 1970s – for anything vaguely wearable. The skill to search out the one good thing among hectares of shiny polyester, already splitting at the seams, has stuck with me.

I don’t want to be rude but I have noticed that chain store freak out is particularly prevalent among my Aussie gal pals, even among the most stylishly dressed. Especially amongst the most stylishly dressed…

TopShop £46

I think it must be because chain store culture just isn’t embedded there the way it is in the UK – the local market just isn’t big enough for the key economies of scale behind mass-produced kit to kick in. So I think my elegant Aussie pals are simply used to a much more exquisite shopping experience. With novel ideas like ‘service’.

I was bemused when I moved to Sydney in 1993 to find so many of my new friends, who I considered normal people with normal jobs, wore designer labels. Full retail!

TopShop £40

None of my friends in London wore them, unless they got to go the sample sales. But I soon came to realise that it was because the lower priced clothing offer was so limited in Australia, it was better to invest in a few good designer pieces instead and I started doing it too.

Zara £12.99

That is actually a much better way to dress, but as soon as I moved back to the UK (to be near my elderly mum…) I was immediately re-seduced by the chain store.

TopShop £5

And how they have improved! I shop right across the range from Primark and Peacocks at the lowest end, up through H&M, Next, Dorothy Perkins, River Island and TopShop, to the marvel that is Zara.

Ah, Zara… How I love it. All the Aussies who queued outside the branches there when they opened last week were right to do so. Such style, such élan, such quality – such prices.

Zara, floral blazer £39.99

But as my chain store-phobic Aussie friends tell me they find even that Aladdin’s cave bewildering – one texted me the other day, frozen with panic in a Rome branch – here is my guide to Zen and Chain Store Shopping.

Don’t go with any expectations
You can’t be looking for a particular thing, just be open and see what comes along.

Get into the zone
Switch your active brain off and just drift through seeing where your eye falls. It’s instinctive, there’s no method. Examine what you’re drawn to, then move on.

Don’t expect any service

If you’re really lucky some grumpbag might agree to go and get you another size, but don’t bank on it.

Never go chain store shopping at lunchtime
Every working girl in London is out looking for a new outfit for her hot date that night. Go morning, or afternoon, or you will have to queue to try on and to pay.

Rise above the other people
The place will be full of very annoying numpties. Just accept that as a given. Channel your inner Yoda and rise above it.

Buy and return
If possible, buy what you think you might like to try on at home/in your hotel room, with the right shoes, bra, jewellery, cardigan etc and return what you don’t like the next day. It’s a hassle but better than the heinous changing rooms.

Brace yourself for the changing rooms
If you do have to try on, be grateful they’re no longer communal as they were when I was a teen. That was hell. Remember the mirrors are tricked up to make you look taller. They deny it, but they are.

Put your handbag on the hook inside the changing booth
Even if the walls go down to the ground, hands can come through under the door when you’ve got a dress stuck over your head.

Check the fabric and trimmings
Don’t be entirely seduced by a cool and style, no matter how it flatters. Make sure the fabric, zips etc aren’t too cheap looking. Buttons can be changed but it’s a bit of a faff.

Check the seams and buttons
Make sure you haven’t picked one up that’s already been knackered by multiple try ons. Go back and pick up a fresh one exactly the same.

If you like it buy it
It won’t be there next time. Or not in your size.

Keep the receipt
Essential to return stuff.

Zara £29.99

Rule: all white is tricky

In Actors, Celebrities, Famous people, Fashion shows, FIlms, Weddings on June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

The white dress is a big fashion trend right now. In particular the white lace dress, which made the Dolce and Gabbana runway for this fashion season look like a cross between a convention of oversized girls taking their First Communion and a granma underwear parade.

But I can see the appeal. It’s a fresh idea and a welcome and witty change from the Little Black Dress to the Little White Dress and lady slebs have embraced it keenly (left to right: Kate Bosworth, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, Diane Kruger, LeAnn Rimes).

But there are very good reasons the LBD has become one of the all-time fashion classics. It suits everyone, is very forgiving, doesn’t show where you’ve accidentally dripped your dinner down the front and is generally hard to get wrong.

The only way you can really stuff up an LBD is to overaccessorise it. Or drop a lot of yogurty dip down the front.

But a white dress, which is the equivalent of carrying around a bill board saying ‘Hey! Look at me!’, takes a lot of chutzpah to carry off. Also a lot of dry cleaning. And a lot of control underwear, because any kind of white fabric is completely relentless about showcasing the tiniest boofle of flab. As you’ll know if you’ve ever spent time on a treadmill behind someone working out in white gym leggings.

The other risk with the white dress is of looking like you’ve lost your way on the way to the wedding reception. You may be surprised to hear that Elizabeth Olsen (sister of the more famous twins…), seen above, is not leaving the ceremony after just marrying the dude in the sand shoes.

He’s Sean Durkin, the director of her new film ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ and this is the two of them at its Cannes showing. (The film, a thriller about a girl getting out of a religious cult, sounds interesting and he won Best Director for it at Sundance.)

This bridal appearance becomes a risk when, as Ms Olsen shows here, you opt for a demure, full-length floaty version of the white lace dress. All that’s lacking from this picture is the lily of the valley bouquet. She’s even got veily things going on in her hair.

The other way to wear the white lace dress, to shift it from Here Comes The Bride, to The Girl Can’t Help It, is showcased here by Uma Thurman, also at Cannes, with fellow jury members, Jude Law and Robert de Niro.

Ms Thurman’s Versace frock is crisp Broderie Anglaise, rather than Olsen’s much more bridal soft lace and its fierce cut is worthy of Mad Men’s Joan Holloway.

Look at how she’s standing – caramba! – but it would be impossible not to sashay in a dress like that. It would also be impossible for most normal human beings to pull it off.

So that’s the challenge of the white lace dress. If you want to make sure you don’t look like a 21st century Miss Havisham, or a prissy 1960s bride (Rachel McAdams below, left), you’ll have to be up to looking like Uma Thurman.

I think even Uma looks a bit bridal in her all-white Chanel couture and Versace red carpet numbers, also at Cannes, below.

And I’ve put these pics in just because I love the body language between Uma and Robert de Niro. They so obviously had the best time judging together.

How I Live Now *

In Friends, Men, Older women on June 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

The other day I had one of those major Facebook moments. Rare for me as I’m not on Faceache much any more, being so addicted to Tweeting, blogging, breathing etc, there’s no time.

Anyway, I was looking through a very good friend’s friend list because he had specifically told me that a mutual was on there and I wanted to friend him right away because we’ve just met and we’re at that stage of a gay man/fag hag friendship where it’s like a bit of a crush.

(That’s me above right, with my BFF Jo at her stepdaughter’s wedding and below is Peggy at sports day.)

But before I found my new GBFF on the list I saw something that nearly made my tea come down my nose THE AGED FACE OF THE FIRST MAN WHO EVER BROKE MY HEART. And his name. A very particular name. It was definitely him.

(Not the bloke below, that’s me with my husband at Goodwood, at the races, hurrah.)

And the really annoying thing was that even though I haven’t thought about him for years and even then it was more with contempt than longing, my treacherous heart went pitter patter. Bastard.

I sent him a friend request just to see what would happen. He sent me back a reply I consider, in retrospect, indescribably arsey. Roughly: ‘Wow, hello, what a coincidence, those were the days, eh – but I’m thinking of coming off Facebook, so I’m not really taking on any more friends.’

But then with his email address. WTF?

What a total arse. (Not this pic, this is my mum, Peggy Senior.)

But of course I’ve been thinking about it ever since (largely, how I can work this arsery into a book plot ha ha ha) and after such an exquisitely insulting reply I concluded I would never contact him again NOT EVEN TO TELL HIM HE’S A BUMFACE but at the same time I could think of nothing but what I would say to him if I did.

(This is where I work.)

Finally, I decided, if I did ever send a message to that email address – and I so fucken won’t, A-HOLE – I would send him how I live now in pictures. Which would be something like what you see here.

And all the better for not having his mug in it. Bah!

(Peggy at a gymnastics competition thing. She loves gymnastics.)

How I Live Now is the title one of my favourite books of all time, by Meg Rossoff. They’re making it into a film, but do read the book first. So romantic. So original.

(The other place I work…)

Mrs Tannenbaum

In Accessories, Fashionistas, Older women on June 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Oh the joy of social networking.

Thanks to Facebook, my friend Stephanie Turner could show me this wonderful slideshow (link below, I can’t work out how to embed the bloody things in this blog…) of legendary fabulous oldie Iris Apfel’s apartment.

This is the stuff of John Pawson’s nightmares. I’m sure in one of the shots of the hall I can see pictures hung on pictures. I love it. Especially the mirror with the herons (I think they’re herons). I need that in my bathroom. Makes the two gold mirrors I have in there seem positively plain.

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/homes/homes/2011/06/iris_apfels_exuberant_apartment_article?currentPage=1

So I posted that on Twitter and emailed it to my friend William Petley, who sent me back the fabulous video here.

‘My mother worshipped at the altar of accessories…’

Oh, I love her. Oh, I wish I’d come out with that line.

Anyway, I call her Mrs Tannenbaum because when I met the amazing woman I am now sure was here, in a shop in Paris years ago she told me her name was Mrs Tannenbaum, which is German for Christmas tree.

I’m trying to find the column I wrote about that encounter, it’s around here somewhere on papyrus, or etched into a stone tablet. When I do, I’ll put it on here.

Iggy Pop

In Celebrities, Famous people, Men, Rock 'n' roll on June 13, 2011 at 9:52 am


Thanks so much to my Twitter pal @oneplanetmikey who sent me this video link, after I tweeted a reference to Iggy Pop last night – and now also Regina Pritchard and Naomi Lee for putting me on to the other version now at the bottom of the post – Iggy live on Countdown. One of the funniest things I have ever seen. Where are those children now? It would have changed your life forever…

On a very dreary, rainy Sunday night, with my husband glued to some ghastly Grand Prix, I posted: ‘I’m the Chairperson of the Bored’, as in Mr Pop’s genius song ‘I’m Bored’.

I’m sick of all the stiffs
I’m sick of all the dips
I’m bored.
I bore myself to sleep at night.
I bore myself in broad daylight.
I’m boooooored.
I’m the Chairman of the Bored.

It’s youthful angst distilled into one perfect three minute pop song.

Watching this clip reminded me of why I was fairly obsessed with the Igster from about 1977 on. And I needed reminding because I have been very very cross with him these past few years for doing those terrible insurance ads.

How could he sell out like that? The Ig?

I can’t bear the thought of those advertising wonks even listening to his music, let alone appropriating the anthems of my rebellion to advertise one of the more evil institutions of the SYSTEM.

I might have to put my Seditionaries anarchy shirt on to express how it makes me feel. Shame I sold it in a broke moment in 1980. (And it wouldn’t fit over my head if I did still have it.)

I wasn’t remotely surprised when John Lydon AKA Rotten, started advertising butter a few years ago. While I was a massive fan of the Sex Pistols back in the day, John was never cool. It was one of the things that made him so great.


He really didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about him – and watching him on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here a few years ago, he still doesn’t. I love him for it.

Iggy, however, was on a level of cool all his own. He didn’t have to try, he didn’t aspire to cool and work at it, he was born that way. He didn’t become cool, he defined how we now understand it.

I’ve been reading the very interesting oral history of punk recently, Please Kill Me, which is a collection of quotes from a very disparate range of people who were there, collated into a historic narrative.

Iggy and the Stooges feature right from the earliest late 1960s genesis of what we came to call Punk Rock and it’s fascinating to read about the young James Osterberg (his real name). He didn’t adopt an on-the-edge persona, or lifestyle, he lived it. It’s just who he was.

I’ve also read about his later LA years in Danny Zuckerman’s gripping drug memoir Wonderland Avenue (which I am eternally grateful to Mia Freedman for putting me on to years ago).

Although I must say here, that Iggy’s drug abuse and dependency was always the least interesting thing about him. That was never what made him interesting to me – he was amazing despite the drugs, not because of them. And for surviving the stupid things he did to himself.

That aside, reading about the early years confirms that what you see when Iggy is leaping around isn’t some kind of stage persona, it’s the direct expression of the his life force. He was born with that body (and allegedy the biggest donger in rock and roll…) and he was born with that style.

And you just have to look at the blokes in his band in the live clips, to be reminded that was what even rock ‘n’ roll dudes looked like in the late 70s – so dorky – and to appreciate just how radical Iggy was by comparison.

So watching those clips has reminded me why I hitchhiked round Britain following him on his 1979 tour, to be right at the front watching him roll around in broken glass.

And I’ve forgiven him for the insurance ads. Just.

PS Note the non-sock action with the lace up shoes and suit in the top video clip. Guys doing that now think they’re radical…

Now here’s that famous Countdown appearance. I’d love to hear from any of you who saw it when it was on TV and hear the effect it had on you. I think this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s like an insane labrador on coke, then the total lack of pretending to sing live, with the microphone down the pants. Heaven. His body reminds me of Nureyev. He could have been an amazing dancer, all that natural strength and bendiness.

Rule: Your choice of outfit can be a lovely compliment to your hosts

In Celebrities, Famous people, Hats, Older women, Royalty on June 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I’m very grateful to Arjie for her comment on here, telling me to loosen up and not feel I have to do set things on set days… 

It’s just all those years of deadlines and production schedules bearing down, but here we go, caution to the wind with a Rule from a while back. It’s been a while since the historic state visit to Ireland, but these pics still make me smile.

Plus, I just love Her Maj. She’s been the Queen all my life and her style which used to seem so fusty, has become iconic. She’s living proof that by choosing a look and sticking to it, over time you come to own it.

Putting aside, for a moment, personal opinions about the role of Her Maj in relation to Australia (which should be a Republic, oops, I said it) and just looking at her as a random head of state: didn’t Queen Elizabeth totally nail it in the clothes department on her recent trip to Ireland?

When I saw the footage of her in the St Patrick’s Day special pictured above, visiting a market in Cork, I whooped with delight.

Not only is she wearing Kelly green, her hat has more than a nod to leprechaun couture. No wonder she got such a great reception. She got off the plane wearing green from head to toe and back on it four days later in an outfit that wouldn’t have been out of place in The Gnome Mobile.

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Good on her for seeing an opportunity to make a grand sartorial gesture and grasping it. I’ve been entertaining myself ever since imagining the pre-trip conversations with her dresser, Angela Kelly.

Ms Kelly: ‘I’ve starting laying out some outfits for the tour of Ireland, ma’am, and wondered if you had any preferences?’

Her Maj: ‘Well, one thought it would be rather fun if one were to give a go to the wearing of the green…’

Then off to the Royal couturier Stewart Parvin to order a wardrobe of bright green coats and to Rachel Trevor-Morgan for one’s Kermit-coloured hats. Stellar stuff.

As well as a master class in colour blocking – a trend we’re all just getting the hang of, Her Maj has been working it for years – it was a reminder of just how powerful a gesture the choice of clothes can be.

Way beyond referencing the latest looks from the Paris catwalks and celebrity styling, or showing your financial status, these very deliberately chosen outfits show how a few metres of fabric can instantly broadcast a message of intention.

And when you’re one of the most recognised people in the world and know that images of the outfits you’ve chosen for the occasion will be beamed all around it – it becomes seriously powerful stuff.

In this case: “I’m really thrilled you’re giving me the opportunity to visit your lovely country and try in even the smallest way to make amends for all the years of cacky cacky mine visited upon you.”

That’s a much bigger statement than any of us normal citizens will ever be in a position to make (which is a relief…), but it’s an object lesson in how our choice of clothes are telling the host of any event about our attitude to them, from the moment we arrive. Even before we’ve even opened our mouths to say, Hello, how are you, where’s the bar?

It’s something to bear in mind on the days when it seems like a massive effort, if not a gross imposition to have to get changed at all, let along comb the hair and scrub the food stains off the front of your t shirt.

So when someone makes the effort to invite us to an event, be it a morning tea, or a historic reconciliation between two sovereign states, it’s worth remembering that we can pay them a lovely compliment simply by turning up in something that shows we appreciate being asked.

Rule: It’s time to release your inner boufhead

In Actors, Celebrities, Hair on June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

My original idea for the name of this Rule was a little less catchy: ‘extreme looks herald a fundamental trend shift’. So you can see why I went down the boufhead road instead, but that rather up-itself sentence above, is the point here.

What I’m trying to say is that when there is about to be a radical and long term change to a key element of the way we all look – and to the collective aspiration for the ideal – it takes a slightly crazy version of it to help us make the mental adjustment.

That’s why the clothes we see each season on the catwalks in Paris and Milan always look so nuts. They’re pushing taste forward into new territory and it takes extreme looks to provide the momentum for change. It can take the real world a few years to catch up, but it always does.

Remember Alexander McQueen’s bumster trousers? He first showed them in 1996 and there was universal outrage at the notion of pants cut so low, you could see the top of the buttock cleavage. Builder’s bum style.

But those outrageous pants led directly to the global fad for low-cut jeans, and then to all pants being cut to sit below the natural waist, which is still with us fifteen years later.

In fact, it’s still only the most fashionable who have embraced the high-waisted pants which were re-introduced at the designer level several years ago.

Exactly the same process is going on with hair and, when you think about it, the first person to parade the new/old massive bouffant was someone as radical in her field as Alexander McQueen was in his: Miss Amy Winehouse.

She started the process that has led directly to SJP’s wild hairdo here. It’s so big it needs its own zip code – and she got ridiculed for it. As did UK singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, when she wore her massive country music legend-style bouffant in LA recently.

Well, we’ll see who’s laughing in a couple of years time, when it will be absolutely normal for us all to be embracing big rollers, setting lotion, backcombing, hair pieces, and gallons of hairspray, to get our hair the way we want it. Humongous.

When it comes to hair, big is definitely going to be beautiful again.

It has to happen. After the messy high hair obsession of the 80s (different to the more sculptured 60s looks coming back in now – fear not) the default ideal went to the extreme of smooth flatness, in what I now think of as the Hair Straightener Age.

Remember when we all thought it was absolutely normal to roast our hair (and accidentally our scalp and ears…) on a daily basis to make it lie against our head like it was laminated on? Remember the Christmas when everybody wanted ceramic hair straighteners as their present?

Watch any of the mid-to-late period episodes of ‘Friends’ and you’ll see just how dated that looks now. And as fashion is all about reaction, it just has to go to the other extreme first, to find a new sense of ‘normal’ somewhere in between.

And what we are all about to rediscover, is just how flattering huge hair is. It frames the face and makes the entire body look smaller by comparison.

Now, where’s my setting lotion…?

 

While researching pics for this post I came across some truly marvellous big dos. I’m particularly taken with this one, below, which is the cover of a (slightly pervy) book about massive Texan-style boufhair. I want that book. And I want the hair.

 

These are some legendary boufs I just adore. First, Brigitte Bardot, giving Bed Hair Bouf.

 

Classy Bouf: hair styled by Alexandre (the greatest hairdress of all time IMHO), picture by Avedon.

Big Hair Elegante. My favourite up do of all time, in My Fair Lady.

Through the looking glass

In Beauty, Clothes, Friends, People, Youth on June 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm


Last night I had an experience that reminded of those whatif? films like Sliding Doors, Seventeen Again and Groundhog Day. It was like seeing myself as I was 25 years ago, but as though as I was living it now. Does that make any sense? Well, here’s what happened.

I was at the award ceremony for the P & G (the artist formerly known as Proctor and Gamble…) UK Beauty Writer Awards, which I judged this year.

My fellow judges were the supermodel Marie Helvin (who is so lovely and so un-diva-ish), St Martins fashion MA legend Louise Wilson (after five minutes I told her I actually loved her) and my old mucker Kim Hunt, who I worked with at Honey and later at ELLE, where she was my fashion director.

What a great gang of homies. We had such a laugh.

The first thing Louise asked Marie was whether it was true that she and Jerry Hall used to shave their legs with Johnson’s baby oil, because she’d read it in Jackie magazine in 1974 and when she tried it she’d cut her legs to ribbons.

The answer was definitely ‘no’. Neither did they use Johnson’s baby powder on their faces, as claimed in the same article.

Which was a very good start to a morning of assessing beauty articles and blogs. That’s how bad it can be – utter lies. We were looking for the good stuff and we certainly found it.

For me, the standout entry was in the blog section – and that leads us to my point. I judged the shortlist for that category and was blown away by particular entry, Sophie’s Feeling Better (link is at bottom of piece).

It’s by Sophie Beresiner, the beauty editor of LOOK magazine about her experiences going through treatment for breast cancer. The first time I read the blog – it made me laugh, it made me cry and it told me something I didn’t know about (semi-permanent false eyelashes).

The writing style is light and direct, like you are chatting to a girlfriend and Sophie is honest and up front about what she’s going through and how she feels about it, without ever being mawkish. It’s also full of the kind of expert professional information that would be so useful if you were another young woman going through a similar experience. Like how to wash a wig.

A pic from Sophie's blog of her with her chemo nurses.

I’ve had my own experience of the bald head thing – although only a half head, because I only had to have radiotherapy, not chemo – and how I would have loved this blog back then. So the one person I was really looking forward to meeting last night was Sophie.

I took my seat in the BAFTA viewing theatre (a very fun place to have an awards ceremony) accompanied by my best friend of thirty years standing, who is now a legendary beauty writer, Josephine Fairley of Beauty Bible fame. Who happened to be editor of Honey when Kim Hunt and I worked there 25 years ago…

Four young women took up their seats a couple of rows in front and I was immediately fascinated by them, they seemed so alive, so well dressed and such good fun.

Sartorially, they looked like the living embodiment of the style pages I devour in the weekly fashion mags – rocking every hot trend from that cult pink sunray pleated skirt from Whistles, to Zara’s spot on colour-blocked maxis, via crazy fruit jewellery, Topshop playsuits, neon lips and bouffant hair. And getting it all spot on.

I got an immediate style crush and wanted to know who they were.

Can you guess? One of them was Sophie Beresiner, right in the picture at the top. The one next to her is Katie Selby, LOOK ’s beauty writer. The other two were Sinead O’Donoghue, the mag’s online beauty and fashion assistant and Samantha Freedman, the beauty assistant.

After the awards I went and found Sophie so I could tell her myself how much I admire her work. Then, after a bit more milling around, swilling champagne and chatting, Jo and I decided it was time to head off. Who should get in the lift with us, but the four girls from LOOK

So there I was with Jo, who I worked with twenty five years ago on Honey (where my fellow judge Kim Hunt also worked, remember), at IPC magazines in Southwark.

And there were these four lovely young things, all working together on a IPC magazine in Southwark. They were the us of now.

It made me a little poignant – I would so be wearing all those things if I were their age – but mostly it made me really happy, reminding me of good times and of how lucky I’ve been to have a career in magazines. Where you have such a good time and meet such great people.

If I had been in my film, the scene would then have shot forwards another 25 years, to see me and Jo being helped out of the lift, by the mid-life version of those four, all still friends, with the new wave of 25 year olds in the background.

And so the baton is passed.

Find Sophie’s blog http://www.sophiefeelsbetter.blogspot.com/

(This is me in my Honey days.)

 

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