Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Truly Glorious Goodwood

In High heels, Men, Older women, People, Shoes on July 30, 2011 at 12:13 am

I’d always thought the name of Goodwood’s annual summer race meeting was rather self-congratulatory. Now I understand it’s simply the most accurate description.

I went on Thursday for Ladies Day and had what I can only describe as one of the most glorious days of my life. The weather was glorious, the setting is glorious, the racing was glorious – and the people watching was truly glorious.

Although it was Ladies Day and Grazia ’s lovely Paula Reed was out with her Channel 4 crew filming the ‘fashions in the field’ (to quote one of my favourite Aussie terms), it was the gents who caught my eye.

And they were ‘gents’. Gentleman of the old school, looking so happy and at ease in their natural habitat and their preferred summer plumage.

Not for Goodwood the painful morning dress of Royal Ascot’s Royal Enclosure.

Even in the smart bit of Gooders – the Richmond Enclosure, my new eden – the dress code for men is nothing more taxing than a suit and tie.


The ideal version being a linen suit worn with a panama hat. They all looked so happy in that get up. Feeling a bit jaunty, but not done up.

The relaxed but chic atmosphere of the event put me most in mind of Henley Regatta, with the big difference that Goodwood is not peopled by a superrace of breathtakingly beautiful love god rowers.

The young men at Henley can make you swoon away – in my early 20s, I could hardly stand it – at Goodwood, I enjoyed admiring the style of the more mature ones.

And it made me reflect, that one of the benefits of growing older is that there is an ever increasing pool of people to find attractive.

Of course it was also fun checking out the women’s oufits, and once again I found I was more taken with the seasoned racegoers, tearing to get to their favourite spot in the stand to watch the race, than I was by the fillies.

Those towering platform stilettos beloved of the under-40s do not look right for the races and they’re so unpractical. I saw a lot of sh’agony – shoe agony – as a result, because you spend your whole time at Goodwood milling about over very uneven terrain.

Over to the parade ring to look at the horses – the true beauties of the day – back to the Tote to place your bet, time for a quick drink, study the form, then over to the stand to watch the race, back to the Tote to collect your winnings, then off to the winners’ enclosure to watch the presentation and generally perve, queue up for some strawberries, listen to the band, and so on.

The whole event is one long passagiata. Which equals people-watching paradise.

I had a wonderful time, not unenhanced by winning on three races and going home £96 richer. Watching the beautiful Gifted Girl romp home, ahead for the whole race, coming in at least four lengths ahead (or so it looked to me…) was a moment of true bliss.

But watching Frankie Dettori, my absolute favourite jockey, collect his second trophy, for winning on a horse I hadn’t backed, was just as good.


I’m already planning next year’s visit. And, of course, I’ll be taking my lucky handbag.


I must add here that I went to Goodwood as a guest member of the press, but that’s not why I’m raving about it. This is my personal blog and I write what I like on it. I can’t be bought – as Giorgio Armani will tell you. He once banned me from his shows for writing a frank and honest review of one I didn’t care for. Not used to being told the inconvenient truth, he got the hump in a big way, but later forgave me.

I’ll be going back to Goodwood next year on my own dollar.


I took far too many pictures to post on here, so I’ve created a Flickr account if you want to have a look at the whole lot (and see what I was wearing ha ha ha).

I don’t really know what I’m doing on there yet, but it’s the ‘set’ called ‘Goodwood 2011’ and you click from shot to shot. They’re all captioned which takes you through the flow of the day.


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.)


Beautiful Strangers

In People on December 8, 2010 at 7:10 am

Here is your mid-week archives special, this one from 2002, when I was still spending a lot of my life at designer fashion shows.

When I was in Paris for the fashion shows in October I saw a little girl I don’t think I will ever forget. She was a pretty little thing, about two and a half I would say, and I noticed her when she was waiting with her mother for the lights to change at a pedestrian crossing near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

She was wearing little trousers and a fluffy pink cardigan and she had that French girls’ haircut, but none of that was the point. The thing that attracted my gaze was her excitement. She was literally jumping up and down, swinging on her mother’s hand and pointing. She was twinkling with excitement, like a human string of fairy lights.

I turned to see what was thrilling her so and it was a carousel. A real old fashioned merry go round with painted horses on gold and white barley sugar poles. I had just walked right past without really noticing it, because I have trodden that particular piece of road so many times getting back to my hotel from the Dior show, which is held just over the bridge.

I’m usually too wound up with thinking about what I’m going to write for my news story and whether I should wait in the ever lengthening taxi queue, or walk to the Metro. And my feet hurt and my bag’s too heavy and I’m cross that the person sitting in front of me at the show had big hair which has given me Wimbledon neck and I’m desperate for a pee. Much too preoccupied and grown up to notice the prancing white horses on a carousel with their flaring nostrils and golden manes.

But that little girl had noticed them and she thought they were the best thing she had ever seen. Her excitement was so palpable I forgot my feet and my bladder and my news story and stopped to watch her. She and her mother were now standing in front of the merry-go-round and the little girl was dancing to the music.

It was adorable. So charming to see a child reacting the way they are supposed to react to something and not with the kind of cynical ennui that too much TV and Playstation seems to have engendered in so many modern children.

I wanted to stand and watch that little girl have her ride – I knew she would wave to her mother every time she went past on her horse, because I remember doing it myself – but I had my news deadline and my full bladder and another show to get to, so on I went.

But as I walked to the Metro I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I knew there and then that I would never forget her and that made me remember other total strangers I have seen over the years and never forgotten.

In 1974, when I was on my first trip to New York, I saw a beautiful boy playing basketball on a court in Harlem one Sunday evening. We were driving through en route from the country club to the Upper East Side apartment where I was staying with family friends.

Gazing idly out of the car window there was something about him that caught my eye. He had such grace and elegance. Harlem looked pretty grim back then to a young girl from the English shires and he was such a thing of beauty among the concrete and the chain link fences and the grafitti, in his yellow shorts.

Then there was the beautiful willowy young woman in a polka dot sari I saw in Kandy, Sri Lanka in 1983 and another I saw in the big Biba store in Kensington in 1973. She was wearing red lurex ankle socks with gold high-heeled sandals, her jeans rolled up to mid calf. I had never seen anyone so groovy in my life. I still think ankle socks and high heels is the best look.

It’s so odd to think that these people I never knew are a part of my life forever, fixed in my memory like flies in amber. And even weirder to think that any of us might unwittingly be one of those beautiful strangers to someone else. Even you. Even me.

Me with Peggy by the Carousel in the Tuileries in 2004. She’s wearing a little coat my grandmother made for me. It’s lined with fabric from my mother’s wedding dress.

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