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

(This is me in my Honey days.)


  1. Thanks for sharing Sophie’s blog with us, Maggie.

    As for the “what if” theme, could be a book…?

  2. Maggie, totally rocking that pose! 🙂 What a “Honey”!

    Off to read Sophie’s blog.

    I bought a vintage silk trimmed charcoal wool blend sunray pleated skirt yesterday. Too old for pink silk, I fear! But I do love the look of it!

  3. Dear Maggie, lovin’ that hairbow and the shoulder pad tshirt! (had very similar myself)
    All good healing vibes from Tamarama to Sophie and all the other sisters in her position currently, wherever they might be.

  4. Dear Maggie,
    how ’bout I do the post and you can contact me after you have taken a look re edit, etc? Is that OK??? or … ?
    Sounds like last night was lots of fun. Go Sophie!
    Many thanks and hope to hear from you very soon,

  5. Nearly fainted when I read you worked on “Honey”. I remember when it first came out and my friends and I bought it from the first issue, so different from our mothers’ magazines which were all that were available till then. (Good in their own way but not for teenagers.) Shortly after, a weekly called “Date” came out which we devoured too. But “Honey” was sensational. Mary Quant, Tuffin and Foale, etc. – memories!

    • Honey pretty much shaped my life… Working on it was my dream from the age of 14 and eleven years later I was. Dreams can come true. And it was just as good as I had dreamed it would be too… Going out with another of my colleagues from those days tomorrow night. x

  6. I love this story! A few years ago I was out for dinner with my oldest friends when we noticed a group of six or so pretty young things come into the restaurant. They were all legs and high heels and lipstick and loud laughing and as they took their table we all looked at them and came to the same realisation you had last night. They were us, about 15 years ago. From the gawky-can’t-make-her-mind-where-to-sti one to the cruise-director one, we were covered and it made us feel warm and fuzzy. And old.

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