Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Here's to 2008

Well it's been a year since I have been blogging, six months on Yahoo 360 and six months here on Blogger. I have had a ball; I have met some interesting people, made some good friends, read some wonderful and interesting blogs and learnt a lot. To think two years ago I didn't even know what a blog was and now it is a huge part of my life. I would like to thank everyone for stopping by my page and leaving great comments. More of all I would like to thank all my blogger mates for creating such wonderful blogs that are rich with creativity, originality and passion. That is what is so great with this genre that people are free to create a space where they can express themselves. I hope you had a fantastic Xmas and here to a wonderful 2008.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

How to be a Budget Fashionista

2007 has most certainly been the year of the fashion/style book. This year we have seen countless titles hit the bookshelves written by celebrities, journos, fashionistas and general Joe Bloggs that cover the experience of fashion. One book that caught the imagination of the public is How to be a Budget Fashionista, written by Kathryn Finney. You could say this book is very fitting considering the recycling craze that the nation has succumb to. Kathryn is a series fashionista who dies for her art and after moving to the East Coast to study she found herself flat broke. This experience inspired her to launch a blog in 2003 called The Budget Fashionista which gave women tips on how to look fabulous for less while learning a few things herself in the process. The success of her blog led to her getting a book deal and How to be a Budget Fashionista was born. This title has created a name for Kathryn Finney as she is now regarded as an expert savvy shopping and has appeared on shows such as Martha Stewart, NBC’s Today’s Show and Good Morning America. I set to task to ask Kathryn a few questions.

Describe the concept of The Budget Fashionista (TBF) in a nutshell?
The Budget Fashionista teaches women how to be fabulous for less. It's not about how much you pay, or your clothing size, or where you live, but it's truly about how you wear it.

So what made you decide to create the blog?
TBF was created out of a love of fashion, but a lack of cash. It was one of the first fashion blogs on the net.

We live now in a buy now pay today society, how do you think people can be more savvy with money?
Think before you buy. Ask yourself, is there at least three places I can wear this to? If you can' think at least three places then leave it on the rack. Look at clothes as more of an investment that just something you buy.

What advice would you have for someone who is in debt and does not know where to turn?
1. Stop spending
2. Take a deep breathe
3. Get your bank statement and record everything that you spent so you can have a complete picture of what's coming in and what's going out.
4. Take stock of what you can cut out (do you really need cable? Or that morning latte?)
5. Take stock of what you can sell
6. Look at other ways to make money - like a second job

Fashion blogging is huge now; fashion bloggers are even getting invites to Chanel headquarters. Name some of your favourite blogs.
Well definitely The Budget Fashionista. I'm also a big fan of The Fashion Bomb, because she really writes well for women of color, on the tech side I like Tech Crunch, and on the design side I like the Oh Joy blog because it's so beautiful.

Describe a typical day for you?
There isn't a typical day. This month I spent everyday inside, working 16 hours a day to get our Simply Good network up. Next month, I'm in LA working on a TV project.

What authors do you admire and why?
So many. I am a big reader... I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, and so many more. I have a lot of books and I loan them out to my friends.

Where did you do most of your writing? Garden, desk, coffee shop?
At my desk, while jamming to my iTunes.

What advice would you give to a budding author?
Don't talk about it, be about it. Start to write, even if it's in a journal.

What other projects do you work on?
Working on a TV show, my next book, and partnership deals with other internet companies...

Before you leave give me three tips on how to be fashionable on a budget.
1. Know thyself. Be honest with yourself and where you're at in your life. Don't buy a 16, if you really wear an 18. Don't buy a pair of uncomfortable shoes, if you're on your feet all day
2. Leave the credit cards and debit cards at home. you would be amazed about how much money you save when you do that.
3. Follow the cost per wear. The cost per wear is the cost of an item divided by the number of times you think you'll wear it in a given period. So if something costs $100 and you think you’ll wear it 20times, then your cost per wear is $5 everytime you wear it. Try and shoot for a cost per wear of less than $3.

How to be a Budget Fashionista is out now!

The Fashionista Diaries coming to the UK

2008 looks like being a very hot year in terms of TV entertainment. Not only have ITV 2 snapped up the rights to screen the fabulous, Gossip Girl. Rumour has it that Five are to broadcast a UK version of The Fashionista Diaries. Set in New York, the slick reality show followed the lives of six twenty something fashionistas taking on traineeships in companies such as CosmoGirl, Flirt Cosmetics and Seventh House PR. Roll on the New Year!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Love is Not Enough

Christmas is upon us where the nation eats and drinks to galore with no thought for tomorrow. People bombard the shops like they are possessed in search of the wonderful Christmas present for their loved ones. Then comes January when the credit card bills hit the carpet and people become aware of how much they have indulged themselves. With interests rates sky high and increasing number of home owners defaulting on mortgage repayment, it looks like 2008 will be a rocky year. If you are a woman then it is even more imperative that you get your finances under the control. More and more women are living alone and taking out mortgages in their name. There are also thousands of single mothers out there who are working hard to support their children. This means that women need to be on top of their game when it comes to their cold cash and a new book that has just been released has just the formula to do it. Love is Not Enough is a guide to personal finance written specifically for women, topics that are covered are how to reduce debt, invest with confidence and get onto the property ladder. Merryn Somerset Webb is the Editor of MoneyWeek and she writes this book with flair, imagination and with lots of chutzpah. By the time you have read the book, you will be so clued up on finances that you will also be able to write a book about it. I caught up with Merryn so she could give me some inside tips on money.

What inspired you to write the book?
I found that I was becoming increasing worried by the lack of thought women give to their long term finances. We are good at earning our own money these days but bad at leveraging our earnings into long term financial independence. I wanted to show in less than 200 pages just how easy it is. The financial industry has a huge vested interest in making money seem complicated and difficult (the more confused we are the more they can charge us) but it isn’t. It is very simple and the sooner we all understand that the better. I was also concerned about the connections we make between money and happiness. Lack of money can make us very unhappy but having money can’t actually make us happy – this was a theme I wanted to look at in more detail.

Why do you think some women are reluctant to talk about money easily like men do?
Education and upbringing. Fathers don’t talk to daughters about money and nor do mothers. Financial sections of the papers are generally written by men for men.

Your book is very frank and cuts to chase, which I find refreshing.
The title is very emotive, did you come up with it?
Thank you! Too many women – subconsciously I think (I hope) - are relying on a man to finance their long term future. They can manage the here and now but in most of their fantasy worlds a man is financing them as a family. But you can’t rely on this.. Men aren’t always all that with money and even if you find a good one you’ve a 40% chance of divorcing and being alone anyway. Love is not enough.

Ok I am a woman in my 30s who has gotten to grips with my finances but I want to go to the next level of stocks and shares. What would be your advice on getting into this area?
There’s a chapter in the book on it – read that and you should know pretty much all you need to know!

You did an MA in Japanese studies, how did you get into finance?
I was hired by a stockbroker in Tokyo when I finished my Japanese course there and things moved on from that.

Give me five tips on investment.
I have to refer you back to the chapter on investing in the book for this one but the key is to recognise that it is not complicated and to not be scared of markets.

How did you land your book deal?
My agent Rupert Heath contacted me after he read some of my columns in the Sunday Times and asked it there was a book I wanted to write. There was. I wrote a proposal and he sold the idea to Harper Collins. Simple as that.

What authors do you admire and why?
I have almost no time for leisure reading, any more which is awful.

The life of a writer must be a busy one. Can you describe a typical day?
My day job is editing
Moneyweek magazine so most of my time is spent in my office there. I get the baby up and leave home at 8. Into the office for 8 hours of talking, writing and editing and then home at 6 to give the baby her bath and reading before bed. No glamour I’m afraid!

Where do you do most of your writing, desk, garden, coffee shop?
Garden and coffee shop sound lovely but sadly not. My freelance columns are written in my tiny study at home after the baby has gone to sleep and the rest is done in the office at Moneyweek. That said I did write the book at my mother’s house in the South of France just after the baby was born so that was rather better!

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’m pretty busy. I’ve got Moneyweek to do plus columns in the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, The Sunday Post and Saga and a few other bits and bobs. I’m also doing increasing amounts of radio and TV work which I love. But I am hoping to do another book in the next year or so – I’ll keep you posted.

Harper Collins have given me five copies of Love is Not Enough for five lucky readers. All you have to do is email me your details and you will get a copy in the post.

The paperback issue of Love in Not Enough is available in January. You can check out Merryn Somerset Webb's website here.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Eric Bompard

Well it is icy out there and cold enough for snow, so it is time for me to stop being vain and put on a woolly hat. More than 30% of your body heat is lost from the head so it makes sense to keep it nice and snuggly. Out on the streets of London I have seem many a chic gal and guy sporting cool wool hats in all shapes and colours. There is the peaked beanie, the rope button baker hat, the trilby, the cable knit with a cute rose and of course there is the beret. I received a cashmere hat and matching gloves through the mail this week from cashmere brand, Eric Bompard and I admit I felt very privileged. I have never experienced cashmere first hand and I was interested to find out if it was as luxurious and indulgent as everyone said it was. I was not disappointed because the material was lush and as soft as a baby’s bottom and felt oh so good against my skin. Eric Bompard is one of the big boys of French cashmere; to some they are linked to figure skating as the company sponsors Trophie Eric Bompard, a skating competition that takes place every year. How do I know this? well I am a complete and utter skating buff. Eric Bompard also have numerous boutiques including one on the Champs Elysee; the brand caters for the crème a la crème. The company has been trading for over 20 years after its founder, the one and only Eric Bompard traveled to Mongolia and discovered the concept of global cashmere production. "So Cashmere, So French" is their cool slogan and as far as I am concerned, so appropriate.

Eric Bompard is offering readers who like to indulge 20% off on 20 scarves, stoles and hats as long as you place an order before 24th December. Shipping to the UK is free.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Life Style: How to Pin Down the Pin-up Within You

Ok I find this book very confusing. Glamour girl cum TV presenter cum Actress, Kelly Brook has penned a new book simply called, Life Style: How to Pin Down the Pin-up Within You. First of all I am getting a tad bit bored of all these super long titles that dominate style books. We have Victoria Beckham's, That Extra Half Inch: High Heels and Everything in Between, fashion journo, Hadley Freeman's, The Meaning of Sunglasses: A Guide to Almost All Fashionable and countless others. What's up with that?! Can't style writers just conjure up a simple title that sells the book? Anyway back to Kelly, Life Style tells us all about her life and displays all the influences that has played a part on her childhood and career. The book is divided into two sections; Part one is Life and Part two is Style. The first part depicts her experience at stage school, Italia Conti, her short stint at The Big Breakfast and her entry into Hollywood. The style aspect comes in shape of features on Kelly's Hollywood heroines such as Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. None of the names here are surprising as they are all buxom beauties like Kelly herself.

This book seems to be a bit of a jack of all trades but master of none. It can't seem to make up it's mind as to whether it is an auto biography or a style book. In the initial part we have Kelly harping on about being demonised by the press on The Big Breakfast and then she is talking about her outfits on Celebrity Love Island. I think the main problem is that Kelly, as popular and pretty as she is has not quite had the sort of career that warrents a riveting bio but at the same time she is not up in the style echelons to be taken seriously in the fashion stakes.

As noted in the press release it is pointed out that the book is 'packed with stunning, never-before-seen photographs.' Hmm well that is indeed true, although I cannot comment on the 'never seen before' aspect as I do not follow Kelly's career much. Rest assured that the publicist is true to her word about the photography, most of it is amazing and contains a lot of pictures of Kelly posing in skimpy attire. However while reading the book these images did make me feel like a bit of predator. No doubt there are plenty of males who would give their right arm to swap places with me. I think this book would make a great Xmas pressie for someone who is a huge Kelly Brook fan and I mean huge!!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Tokyo Look Book

I have only been to Japan twice that is if you can call a four hour haul at Osaka airport and an overnight stay in Tokyo a Japanese trip. I have always been fascinated by the place because to me it epitomizes the best in technology and total consumerism. Fashion in Japan is not something that I know a lot about but thanks to The Tokyo Look Book, you could say that I am now something of an expert on Japanese haiku style. This vibrant book is a pictorial account of fashion and fashionistas in Japan’s capital city. It is written by Philomeena Keet, a Brit writer, researcher and anthropologist who went to Japan at the age of 18 and totally fell in love with the place. “I have always loved clothes and fashion,” she tells us at a talk. “I went to Japan and become hooked.” The book is similar to the New York Look Book (which I blogged about here)in its approach but goes one step further by featuring the boutiques that the Tokyoites descend upon as well as speaking to fashion designers.

Reading the book is like taking a stroll through Tokyo’s stylish areas while stopping to speak to the inhabitants. You have cool and wonderful colour photography courtesy of Yuri Manabe, one of Tokyo's top photographers. The title is divided into five chapters; Shibuya Girls and Guys - the trendy teens of Tokyo, Spectacular and Subcultural – outlandish attired young people, Youth Street Fashion – daring street fashion, The Stylish Female – young ladies about town who lunch or work and Young Men at Work – working men in suits. This book is glorious and I was hooked from the first page. Even the introduction is banging – Phliomeena’s passion for fashion jumps out at every page. If you are a fashionista beware – this book is to die for.

It is so good that the publisher Kodansha Europe Limited has given me five copies to giveaway. All you have to do is drop me an email at and The Tokyo Look Book will be yours.

If you find yourself so obsessed with the book and craving for more then you will be delighted to know that there is a Tokyo Look Book blog.

The Tokyo Look Book is out now!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Little Black Dress Books

Early this year I discovered a fantastic new range of chick lit books called The Little Black Dress Books. Set in modern cities such as London, New York and Paris, Little Black Dress Books consist of titles that are about chic and cosmopolitan women who have great jobs and fantastic lives and make an entertaining read. Small and chic, they are the sort of books that you can slip into your handbag while you are on your way to work, a night out or travelling around. Despite only being a relatively young series, Little Black Dress have a very powerful brand, what with clips on youTube, a very dynamic website, funny blog, a great and quirky logo as well as a group on Facebook. It does not take a genius to work out that all the stops have been put out on the marketing side, I caught up with Little Black Dress associate publisher, Catherine Cobain to get the lowdown on the books.

What is the concept behind Little Black Dress?
The concept of Little Black Dress is to provide sassy, entertaining and romantic fiction to the young women’s market. We love books that are modern, page-turning and fun, with clever, sparkling writing, zippy, original plots and of course, great heroines.

What is your role?
I am the Associate Publisher of Little Black Dress.

Little Black Dress reminds me of Mills and Boons – would you say there was any similarity between the two series?
I don’t think that there is a huge similarity between the two. I’m a HUGE fan of Mills & Boon and what they do, but I think the ethos behind Mills & Boons and Little Black Dress is slightly different. They are of course alike in that both are series publishers, focussing more on the brand than on individual titles or authors. But Mills & Boon are I think (if possible) more purely romantic than Little Black Dress. Some of their lines are more traditional than ours, and have more structured themes. Because we are very young and new as an imprint, we have a lot of scope to experiment with our books and in taking on writers – which is how we can publish such great quirky comedies such as
She’ll Take It, a hilarious rom-com about a kleptomaniac in NY.

Where are the Little Black Dress titles sold?
In mainstream bookstores such as Waterstones and Borders in the UK, on Amazon, and in supermarkets like Tesco and Asda. We are also gearing up to start selling direct from our own site in the future, , which will be very exciting as it will make them more accessible to readers who like to shop online. Plus we love our website! It’s a whole lot of fun.

I really like the viral marketing tactic that you took with Step on it, Cupid especially the youTube video. Do you plan anymore marketing activities like that? We didn’t actually do the viral marketing for Step on it, Cupid. We focus all our energies on promoting the Little Black Dress brand rather than individual authors, as we have more impact when we do it like this, and also we want to keep it fair for everyone on the list. However we always think it’s fantastic when our authors, who as you can imagine are all very clever and creative and savvy, create their own campaigns. That’s what happened with Step on it Cupid – the author worked for an advertising agency, who were able to help her in experimenting with a viral campaign in this way. We thought it was great too.

What sort of stories do you look for when signing up titles for Little Black Dress?
We look for original authorial voice, a fantastic story-telling talent, and often a good sense of humour – a lot of our books are romantic comedies. We love how inventive our authors are with their plots – we know that readers want to be entertained and diverted with original spins and angles on traditional themes. We like to keep our options open however – we don’t say ‘This is what we want’ or ‘This is what we don’t want’ as to do so would be to possibly limit our authors creatively, which we never want to do. It’s safe to say that our books are short, fun, very commercial, and usually – but not always! – have a strong love story in them somewhere.

Describe a typical heroine from the series?

We have all kinds. Clever ones, sassy ones, sexy ones, girls who need to discover themselves, women who’ve discovered themselves already and realise their life needs to change. Women looking for love, career girls, ladies who’ve just been dumped, funny girls, shy girls. This imprint is all about entertainment for the modern young woman, so we are always open and ready to receive new, original heroines who strike a chord with readers and who can be taken to the peoples’ hearts. I often think that a good heroine should be like a good friend – not necessarily perfect or saintly – indeed, often not – but the kind of woman you like and you care about and you want to go and have fun with on a Saturday afternoon or Saturday night.

The heroines seem to be based in the UK or US are there any plans to expand the countries?

That’s really because that’s where our submissions seem to come from. We’d love heroines from more countries, although unfortunately we don’t have the capacity to translate at the moment, so titles must be submitted in excellent English. Things featuring strong on our wish list right now include an Indian heroine and someone from Australia or New Zealand.

So how does it work? Do authors specifically write a book for the series or do you buy in an all published title that fits the brand?
We do both! If we buy a finished book from an author, we often buy another one or two unwritten titles from them as well, so that their writing career is assured for the next couple of years. However we don’t usually buy first-time authors on partial manuscripts and never on proposals.

What advice do you have for budding authors who fancy the idea of penning a book for Little Black Dress?
The most important think I ever tell an author is that you have to write primarily for yourself in the first instance. If you don’t love, care for, and believe in your heroine yourself, it’s unlikely anyone else will. Also, the publishing world is a tough one (even though we give our authors a lot of tlc) and it’s inevitable that any author anywhere will at some stage have a rejection, or a bad review, or even just meet someone who doesn’t like what they write. In order to have the self-assurance to survive this tough business, you have to be able to believe in yourself and your book.

Other useful pieces of advice are: read a lot! Try to analyse the way your favourite author has put his or her book together. Don’t let too many people critique your work – although it’s helpful, you don’t need to write by committee and you run the risk of entering the ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ scenario. Plot your books meticulously and write synopses, even if you hate doing it! It will help you shape and fix your plot, and highlight any weak spots or bagging areas. Also, many people subscribe to the ‘write every day, no matter how you feel’ school of thought. Although I do agree with this to an extent, there’s also a time to give yourself a break. Sometimes you might need to give yourself a time out, as much to give ideas time to germinate and develop in a natural way as anything else.

Check out Little Black Dress's fantastic blog

They also have a fantastically funny email newsletter which comes out twice a month, you can sign up for at

Check out the brilliant advert for Step On It Cupid written by Lorelei Mathias below.

Branded Beer

Imagine the scenario, you are getting married and you are deciding on the beverages to serve at your wedding reception. The usual suspects are selected such as wine, spirits, champagne and of course beer. I have stumbled across a fantastic little gem called; bottles of beer that can be personalised with any message or image. Yup, you get bottles of beer with your cute mug on them with any message that you wish. I think the idea is amazing, at Nigerian weddings it is traditional for the happy couple to give the guests quirky gifts such as key rings, plates, ladles and bags and some have their picture on them. So the branded beer would be perfect. This ingenious idea was created by two young Scottish Entrepreneurs called Stuart Ebdy and James Watt and the ethos behind it was to provide men with the ultimate gift for Xmas. For those of you who cannot wait to place an order this is how it works:

  1. You go to and pick the kind of beer you want.
  2. You upload a photo of the person the beer is for, (or anything else for that matter).
  3. Add a funny personalised message to the front and back labels.
  4. You can view a 3d visualisation of your beer bottle before you buy.
  5. Complete your order.
  6. Wait a day or two for it to arrive Then give it to someone or glug the lot yourself.

Psst, a little beer tells me that soon you will be able to order champagne, wine, lager and whiskey as well as water. Talk about living large.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

I Lick My Cheese and Other Notes: From the Frontline of Flatsharing

Face it, house sharing can be a right pain, queues for the bathroom, that rotten bugger pinching your milk, arguing over whose turn it is to do the cleaning and don’t even get me started on the washing up. For some people house or flat sharing can be a fate worse than death. So how do you deal with this? You shout and scream abuse or maybe resort to violence or you could take the other route of leaving notes. Designer and fashion lecturer, Oonagh O’Hagan’s book, I Lick My Cheese and other notes from the frontline of flatsharing, depicts the trauma that goes with sharing a home with friends or strangers. Over the years she has collected notes from numerous house sharers and they are all on show in this witty and hilarious book. I caught up with her to discuss whether she licks her cheese.

As a designer and former alumni of St Martin's - you are a bit of a fashionista, what were the reasons for writing this book.
I never really think of myself as a fashionista and if you saw me on most days you would agree. The book might seem an odd outcome from my background but I have always been very interested in people, how we live and what we desire and want out of life. I love photography, drawing and having ideas, so fashion was a natural progression for studying. Though latterly after my MA I got more interested in trends and social dynamics. Thus the book was just an extension of my research and interests.

Who is the book aimed at?
Everyone! The most obvious reader is the student but nowadays people are renting for much longer (I think the average age for a first time buyer in London is 33) so the book works well on lots of levels and would appeal to lots of people. Why? Well everyone has to communicate with other human beings. At some time in your life you will have or have already had to share your personal space so hopefully everyone will relate to and laugh at this book.

Tell me about your strangest or funniest house sharing experience.
I have an awful lot as I have lived in many flats. Some are too disgusting, I have several poo/vomit cleaning up stories but I will miss them out. One of my own stories was I used to have to dry my clothes by hanging them out the window (poor students, no tumble driers) I had lost a bra and a couple of weeks later while one of my flatmates was walking past the rear of my flat that looked up at my 3rd floor window to see my bra hanging from a tree. Thankfully they let me know. I also had a flatmate who never ever did his washing up, I always did it and it use to make me very angry. Then one day he came in and mentioned I had done the washing up. I naively thought he was going to say thank you but alas he told me I had stacked it too high on the draining board as he had knocked a glass and smashed it. That was weird as it seemed as though he genuinely thought I was his maid.

The title of the book is very quirky, who came up with it and what was the concept?
It is actually a note in the book, the strangest thing about it is it has appeared more than once. Apparently licking your food is a common trick to stop food thieves doing their stealing. I wish someone had told me some of these clever tricks when I was sharing.

What was the idea of launching the website?
Initially I collected the notes through friends and word of mouth (I am a Lecturer so see lots of students etc) I started collecting in 2002 but recently wanted to see if I would get notes from other places so set up the website. The website also had the function that you can film your own advert to advertise your room or for a flat mate which should be really fun. I have just added this facility, it should make flat hunting a bit more fun.

How did you land your book deal?
It took a very long time and a lot of people saying what a weird idea. I eventually got a fantastic agent which was such a relief to have someone say, “I think this could be great.”

How does writing compare to designing?
It is strange as my first language is a visual language. I would often paint images of the people in my mind and talk out loud about them as I typed. The book has all the notes photographed though as I thought it was important not just to read them but see the handwriting and the weird things they were written on.

Which authors do you admire and why?
Martin Amis. His books always evoke such clear images and characters. He taps into the parts of your brain that you never talk about or realised that everyone has. Frighteningly good and frighteningly clever. Never a light read.

What advice would you give to budding authors out there?
Only listen to the people who you know, know what they are talking about. Lots of people simply didn’t get what I was talking about but then it might not have been their field. For instance, friends and family might not be the people to take advice from. I eventually realised that talking to some people was totally destructive to my confidence because they couldn’t think conceptually. Interestingly when these people have seen the finished book they often say “Aaaah, I see what you mean. Oh it’s really good.”

The life of an author must be a busy one; can you describe a typical day?
No day is typical and that is a difficult thing to get used to. The one bit of continuity in my life is lecturing, which I do at St Martins and UCCA. If I am not teaching I am working on future ideas such as Flatmates Anonymous which is now a whole brand with future projects. I also do a bit of consulting, trend watching and art direction. I have a major amount of ‘To do lists.’

Where do you do most of your writing? Desk, garden, coffee shop?
I have my ideas when I am out and about at shops, exhibitions and talking to people. I write always in my flat with the TV on. If I am struggling I will book a train journey to see friends or family and take my computer with so I have a few hours where I can’t escape getting on with writing.

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?
Hopefully there will be a follow up to I Lick My Cheese, I would love to give people the opportunity through the website to have their notes published. I am also working on some more ‘straight’ design books. One on photography and portraiture and one on contemporary jewellery. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

You can check out Oonagh's website here.
I Lick My Cheese is out now!

Monday, 19 November 2007

This Christmas

Christmas is a season when all the cheesy films are put upon us, duds like Jingle All The Way, Home Alone and various sequels of sequels all come out for an airing. Frankly Christmas is a time when I avoid the cinema like the plague. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel due to the release of a film called This Christmas. Before you turn your nose up, hear me out. This Christmas is a warm film about the Whitfield family who for the first time in four years are set to spend Xmas together in their LA family home. The Whitfields are a large clan and like most big families they come with their dramas. The head of the family is Shirley 'Ma'Dere' played by Loretta Devine who awaits the emotional gathering of her beloved three daughters and three sons. Eldest of the clan is Lisa played by Regina King is an unfulfilled housewife who has sacrificed her own happiness for her family. She is married to an ambitious businessman who is pressuring her to persuade her family to sell the dry cleaning business that their mother runs. Eldest son, Quentin played by Idris Elba is a talented jazz musician who is on the run from gambling debts so seeks refuge at the family home. Kelli played by Sharon Leal is a hard nosed business women who comes to blows with Lisa and her husband. Claude played by Columbus Short is an active duty Marine who is harbouring a dark secret while younger brother Baby played by R&B singer, Chris Brown longs to break out of the family nest and pursue a musical career of his own. Youngest daughter Mel played by Lauren London is an unfocused college student who brings home her boyfriend, Devean played by Keith Robinson. Then there is Joseph played by Delroy Lindo - Ma'Dere' long time partner who clashes with Quentin on several ocassions. With the secrets and tensions at bay you wonder if the Whitfields will ever sit down and enjoy a Merry Christmas.

This film is extremely heart warming and really portrays what Christmas is like for Black families in the US and UK. The main elements are drama, food, laughter, music, dancing and more food. The film is written and directed by Preston A. Whitmore who also has a short part in the film. ER star, Mekhi Phifer is an Executive Producer here and plays a love interest to Lisa. This Christmas is very enjoyable and if you are a Tyler Perry fan or like classics such as Soul Food and Love Jones then you will adore this film.

This Christmas is released on 30th November.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Raw Gaia

Every girl needs some chocolate in her life. The delight of the smooth brown stuff melting in your mouth is too addictive for words. Well now you can wear chocolate as well as eat it. The first raw chocolate face pack hits the shops this month and leaves you with a smooth and toned complexion. The product is created by Raw Gaia, an organic skin care company who are based in Brighton. The face pack is made from natural ingredients such as red clay, organic tumeric, organic fruit powder and raw chocolate powder. The pack will nourish and beautify your skin and draw out toxics.

Raw Gaia was set up by Lisa Lennon through her frustration of finding good quality natural products for her dry skin. She started off making her Daughters Living moisturiser which was made with cold-pressed butters and essential oils. Now Raw Gaia boast a portfolio of quality products such as facial cleanser, face toners, massage bars, lip balms, body butters, eye oils, cold-pressed oils, floral waters as well as a range for babies. They are also the only company in the world to produce hand made products using only organic, vegan and unheated ingredients. Well I tried it and I found the texture to be great quality, the pack is like a facial scrub so really cleanses your pours. The only downside is that it smells so yummy that I had to stop myself from tasting it.

You can buy the Raw Chocolate Face pack directly from Raw Gaia as well as selected health food shops and online stores in the UK and abroad.

Check out the Raw Gaia website

Monday, 12 November 2007

The New York Look Book

What do you get when you put together a gypsy, a park ranger, an opera lover, a hedge fund manager and a real estate broker? The answer is the New York Look Book: A Gallery of Street Fashion. Published by New York magazine, this opulent book captures some of the city's finest dressers. The celebration of style in NYC is something that has been celebrated since 2004 in the iconic New York magazine in it's weekly feature, The New York Look Book. This consisted of contributing editor, Amy Larocca and photographer, Jake Chessum setting up an impromptu studio on street corners in hip areas in Manhattan like Soho, Nolita, Lower East Side, East Village, west Village, the Meatpacking District, Chelsea and Union Square. Brooklyn is no longer seen as a no go area as places like Carroll Gardens, Boeum Hill, Cobble Hill and Williamsburg get their props.

My first impression of this title was that it was a great looking style book to flick over while chilling out on the sofa. However after a few pages it becomes clear that this is no coffee table book. The New York Look Book has hidden depths in terms of its photography and its witty observations by residents of the Big Apple. It is not just a book, it is a window into people's lives and voyeurism at its finest.

Written by Sylvia Ade

Lipstick Jungle vrs Cashmere Mafia

I finally got to watch a sneak preview of Lipstick Jungle last night. Don’t ask me how but I managed to find the whole pilot episode on a website and it is just as good as I envisioned it to be. Lipstick Jungle is based on the fourth book by Sex and the City author, Candace Bushnell. The glossy drama features the lives of three 40 something women who more or less run Manhattan. The stars of the show are Brooke Shields as Wendy Healy, a hot movie exec who is succeeding everywhere apart from her marriage, Lindsay Price as Victory Ford who is an independent and sassy fashion designer who gets embroiled with a powerful millionaire and Kim Raver as Nico Neilly, the lethal editor of a top glossy magazine who embarks on a dangerous extra-marital affair with a younger man. I read the book a couple of years ago and I was surprised by how good it was and I fell in love with all three female protagonists. The TV series captured the warmth that the women hold towards each other and each character oozes of charm.

Coincidentally or not – there is another show hopping about called Cashmere Mafia that has been produced by Darren Star (good buddies with Candace Bushnell for 20 years both pictured above) who is infamous for bringing S&TC to life on the small screen. The series stars Lucy Liu and is based on four successful NYC ladies who happen to be best mates. Of course it has been dubbed the thinking woman’s S&TC. Now let me give you the lowdown here. According to The New York Times, Bushnell had written parts of the book in Star’s house in East Hampton. Star put in a bid to secure the rights for Lipstick Jungle only to lose out to NBC. Jubilant about the impending thought of having another hit series on her hands, Bushnell threw a mini celebratory drinks party while receiving congratulatory phone calls from family and close friends. Everyone apart from Star. She was perplexed and confused, why hadn’t her close buddy and TV spar, Darren called her? So she put in a call to him. It turns out that Star had news of his own; he also had a show that had been picked up. It was called Cashmere Mafia and very similar to Lipstick Jungle. Needless to say Bushnell was shocked – she knew that Star had tried to buy the rights to Lipstick Jungle but she had no idea that he was working on a show of his own. Oh yeah, the two of them are no longer so tight.

Coincidence or total plagiarism? Read the whole article in The New York Times and tell me what you think?

Feast your eyes on clips from Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia and see how they measure up.

Lipstick Jungle

Stars: Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan), Kim Raver (24), Lindsay Price (Beverly Hills 90210)
Location: New York
Writer: Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City)
Producer: Lisa Melamed (Party of Five)

Cashmere Mafia

Stars: Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal), Frances O’Connor (The Importance of Being Earnest), Miranda Otto (The War of the Worlds), Bonnie Somerville (The OC)
Location: New York
Writer: Kevin Wade (Maid in Manhattan, Working Girl)
Producer: Darren Star (Sex and the City, Beverley Hills 90120, Melrose Place)

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Audrey Hepburn

She was a complete and utter fashion icon and turned the Tiffany's store into the famous establishment it is now. Few fashion bodies would argue about Audrey Hepburn's place in the history of fashion. Her films, Roman Holiday, Funny Face, Sabrina and the wonderful, Breakfast at Tiffany's are renowned for their wardrobes as well as the storyline. The Movie Icon series have released a photo book that is a visual biography of Hepburn, titled simply A.Hepburn, it captures her career from her teenage years to maturity. The book is A5 sized and is divided into five sections; Audrey Hepburn:Incandescent, Visual Filmography, Chronology, Filmography and Bibliography. Our first introduction of the book is a wonderful image of Audrey looking doe eyed and vulnerable on the cover of the book. Her hair is cut into the elfin cut that she made chic and she is wearing a touch of eyeliner and red lipstick. Open the book and we have a emphatic picture of Audrey as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's lying back in a chair saluting you in THAT black dress.

The first section, Audrey Hepburn:Incandescent consists of an introduction written by screenwriter and critic, F. X. Feeney that has been translated into different languages. The next section is Visual Photography which consists of numerous stills of the petite actress in her films and magazine covers. Visual Photography is sectioned into three sub sections; Girl has pictures of her from her early acting days in films like Laughter in Paradise, Portrait, Young Wives Tale, The Lavender Hill, The Secret People, Gigi and from the delectable Roman Holiday. Growing Pains has more images of Hepburn from films such as Sabrina, War and Peace, Love in the Afternoon and Funny Face, transformation has a selection of images from films like Green Mansions, The Nun's Story, The Unforgiven, The Children's Hour, Charade, Paris When it Sizzles, My Fair Lady and of course Breakfast from Tiffany's. Woman features Hepburn ripe in her 30s in films such as How to Steal a Million, Two for the Road and the thriller, Wait till Dark. There are also footage of her in her later years in the last film she ever made, Always.

This poetic visual section is followed by a chronology of her life on a personal and professional life. There is also a wonderful filmography of her body of work which has the artwork from movie adverts and this is followed by a short bibliography. The book ends rather similar to the way it started with a double page spread of Hepburn as Holly Golightly but this time with her eyes closed. A rather fitting ending I might say.

I am a complete Hepburn fan and have been ever since I saw her sashaying down Fifth Avenue, in Breakfast at Tiffany's wearing those over sized sunglasses and stopping to peer into the windows of Tiffany's. How I love that film, I was enthralled when I saw it for the first time as a 19 year old and I drool when I hear the song, Moon River. If you are Hepburn fan like I am then you really need to get this book.

Audrey is part of The Movie Icon series and is out now!

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Meaning of Sunglasses and a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable

Not content with doing the ghost writing thing for people such as Victoria Beckham, uber fashionista, Hadley Freeman has gone and written her own book. The Meaning of Sunglasses and a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable is a book that covers the humour, eccentricity and joy of fashion. Freeman who is The Guardian’s deputy fashion editor co-wrote Ms Beckham's style book, That Extra Half an Inch, High Heels and Everything in Between. In her own book she goes beneath the mystique of fashion and the cliquey culture and more or less brings it to the masses. However, take note, The Meaning of Sunglasses is not meant to be an A-Z of fashion or a guide to wearing clothes. Its USP is its irreverence. So there you go, another one to add to my long list. Boy is that coffee table is getting heavy. Hadley’s book is expected to hit the stores next February and is published by Viking.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Cover Girl

Nabbing a super hot, A list star for your cover is no longer a big deal for glossy magazines. Check out the women's magazine rack and you will see famous personalities like Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera and Rhianna peering out at you. Publishers are now pushing the boat out and going that one step further. To go with that lavish cover shoot is the cover shoot video where behind the scenes footage of the star is screened. This is viral marketing at its best as this video is plugged in the Editor's letter and posted on the magazine's website as well as YouTube. Practically every magazine worth it's salt has followed suit such as NYLON, Marie Claire, Elle and InStyle. Check out the shoot with Queen of cool, Gwen Stefani during her cover shoot for the November issue of InStyle.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

From Here to Paternity

Nick Hornby, Mike Gayle, Matt Beaumont, Ben Elton and John O'Farrell have all played their part in shaping the image of modern male writers. Hornby and Elton have even had some of their books made into films. Enter Matt Dunn, a former hack who managed to bang out his first novel, Best Man while sunning himself in Spain. His second novel, The Ex Boyfriend's Handbook was so good that it bagged him a shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy. The Margate native's talent lies in creating believable characters who are aggravating, fascinating but also very funny. His latest title, From Here to Paternity introduces us to Will Jackson, a general lad about town who is determined to become a Dad by hook or by crook. He employs very dramatic tactics to fulfill his dreams while entertaining us along the way. After totally falling in love with his last book, The Ex Boyfriend Handbook, I decided it was time to take Mr Dunn to task.

It isn't everyday that you read a book about a guy who is desperate to be a Dad. How did you come up with the idea?
Because while several of my female friends were desperate to have kids, none of my male friends were (or would admit to it), and the fun in writing for me is to take some of those traditional male/female dilemmas and flip them around, so I started thinking, if there was a guy who actually felt like that, how would he behave? What would he do to achieve his goal? And it developed from there, really.

Modern fiction aimed at young women is obviously massive over here and in the US. Where do you think the male version fits in?
Well, judging from the emails I get, my books are read both by women and men, and I've been told that women read my books to get an insight into the workings of the male mind, while men read them just to take comfort in how pathetic we are when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex.

A few authors I have spoken to find the term Chick lit insulting, what do you think of the term, Bloke lit?
It's less insulting than Dick Lit, I suppose! I don't really mind how I'm classified, although if there's a possibility that it excludes part of your readership then that's obviously not a good thing. But these novels are hard to classify anyway - read the classic lad-lit novel, High Fidelity, and you'll see how that appeals to both men and women. Similarly, something like the Shopaholic series is so well written and funny that it has a much broader appeal than the pure 'chick lit' market. It's always other people who want to categorise, rather than the writers themselves, so there's not a lot you can do about it. Plus it's a bit strange that if blokes or lads can never talk about their feelings, then why should books about how they feel be classified as bloke or lad lit? All I try and do is write as good a book as possible, and hope that it doesn't exclude anyone from wanting to read it.

Your books tend to convey friendships between guys and how they behave towards each other. How do you manage this in your books?
By reproducing the kind of interactions I have with my friends. It's really how we are, you know!

The lead protagonist, Will is certainly a character. Do you know anyone like him?
Most of my characters are composites of people I know. It makes it easier to write them, and hopefully they come across as more realistic characters. And there's perhaps more than a little bit of me in him too.

How did you get into fiction writing?
I always wanted to do it, ever since I wrote something at school, read it out in front of the class and they laughed. It just took me longer than I'd planned before I actually decided to sit down and start writing a novel.

What authors do you admire and why?
There are so many, but in particular, Nick Hornby, for showing me there was a market for the kind of thing I wanted to write. David Mitchell, for being perhaps the most brilliant novelist today - I'd pay to read his shopping list. Will Self, simply because Great Apes is a work of genius.

What advice would you give to budding authors out there?
Start typing. It really is as simple as that. If you can manage a thousand words a day, you'll have finished your first draft in a few months. Read everything you can in your genre to give you an idea of the level required to get published. And edit yourself mercilessly.

The life of an author must be a busy one; can you describe a typical day?
Er... I sit at my laptop and write. For a couple of weeks a year it's busy, when you're involved in promotion and so on, but most of the time it's just you and your computer.

Where do you do most of your writing? Desk, garden, coffee shop?
Desk, staring at a blank wall. It's the best way. Distractions are a bad thing.

What project are you working on now?
My new novel. Sort of a sequel to my second book, The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook.

From Here to Paternity is out now. You can check out Matt Dunn's website here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Pure Thoughts

It looks like everyone is going au natural these days because every time I look round a new organic skin care has launched. Even the big boys are getting into the act; cool, hip nature company, Origins has launched an organic range and funky homeopathic company, Neal’s Yard Remedies have just introduced a new holistic facial. From the opposite side of the radar is Pure Thoughts; a tiny company that makes skin care with natural ingredients. Dubbed innocent indulgence for the skin, they offer alternative skincare for women without all the nasty chemicals. The company was set up by Leanna Doolin and Michael Houlden in 2005. They are based in an idyllic cottage in Derbyshire where they produce hand made soap, skincare and bath products. Pure Thoughts might be tiny but they are certainly sweet.

I received a sample box last week that was wonderfully packaged in an oat coloured box with a pretty seal. I tried out the peppermint lip balm, I love my lip balm and have used brands such as The Body Shop and Lush and this one is pure bliss. It has a wonderful texture that is not too creamy or oily and the peppermint leaves a wonderful tinge on your lips that so so yummy. The soaps are not bad either and the various oils that they contain do not strip the oils from your skin like some products, instead they moisturize it and leaves it feeling soft and dreamy. The soaps are divided into five collections; Essential Collection, Infusion Collection, Herbal Collection, Cleansing Collection and Working Hands Collection and contains bars such as Lavender & Chamomile, Pure Gardeners Delight, Tea Tree & Nettle and Honey & Oats. For a real special treat you can indulge in a wonderful bath spa with a Luxury Bath Bomb in Peppermint & Rosemary, Lavender & Chamomile or Patchouli & Orange. Or you could relax in a Herbal Spa Soak or chill out to music with a Luxury Bath Melt in either Lavender, Lemon & Lime or S.Wood & Ylang & Ylang. You can also go the whole hog by using a face mask in Yoghurt & Green Clay, Strawberry & Pink Clay or Banana & Yellow Clay. To complete all that pampering you can use a Body Butter Bar in Orange & Mint, Lavender & Chamomile, Fennel & Mint Foot or you could try a Shea Butter Whip in Lavender or Peppermint. Pure Thoughts is also the ideal place to look for the perfect gift; you can choose from the Fresh Herb Collection, Calm Collection, Cook’s Collection, Facial Collection and many others.

All products are available to buy online.

Check out their website

Monday, 29 October 2007

The Jane Austen Book Club

I never read this book, this along with The Nanny Diaries must be one of the popular chick lit that I did not manage to get through. The idea of being part of a book club has always fascinated me; how do you decide who joins, what topics do you discuss, do you just talk about the book only and nothing else and do you socialise with the members outside of the book club or is that a complete no no. The Jane Austen Book Club is the tale of six members who meet up to discuss and debate books by the iconic author. Each member chooses a title that they will prepare a presentation on and coincidentally the book that the member selects happens to bear huge similarity to their own life. Founding member, Bernadette (Kathy Baker) is a hopeless romantic who despite six failed marriages has not given up on the idea of love. Her close friend, Jocelyn (Maria Bello formerly of ER) is a free spirit and independent woman who lives life to the full and takes pleasure out of match making even though her own personal life is void. Sylvia (Amy Brenneman from Judging Amy) is Jocelyn's best friend and is bought into the club after her husband of 25 years leaves her for another woman. Then there is her daughter, Allegra (Maggie Grace formerly of Lost) who only joins the club to support her mother but finds herself engrossed by the themes in Austen's books. Prudie (Emily Blunt from Devil Wears Prada) is a French teacher who has never been to France in a very unhappy marriage and uses the book club to fuel her loneliness and frustration. Grigg (Hugh Dancy) is a cute geek who takes a fancy to Jocelyn and joins the club to get to know her better but she is hellbent on setting him up with Sylvia.

This film is really enjoyable and exemplifies chick film at it's best. These characters are all very well developed and easy to relate to. While Bernadette is the key that holds the group together, it is Maria Bello's Jocelyn who is the main character in the film and the former ER star, simply sizzles in each scene. Amy Brenneman is great as the abandoned wife but she is way too young to play Maggie Grace's mother. Talking of Maggie Grace, the depiction of her character as a fun, gorgeous girl about town who happens to be a lesbian as opposed to the normal Hollywood mantra of a lesbian who has these qualities is welcomed with open arms. It is so great to see a gay character is a major film who just is what she or he is without a big hoo hah being made out of it. Robin Swicord takes the credit here for the wonderful work but then judging by her previous films it is no surprise that she came up with the goods. She is better known as a screenwriter where she penned Memoirs of a Geisha, Little Women, Matilda, The Perez Family and Practical Magic. The Jane Austen Book Clubs is a great and fun film that everyone should go out and see whether you are into Jane Austen or not.

The Jane Austen Book Club is released on Friday 16th November.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Prick Your Finger

Like it or not knitting is the new cool pastime. Thousands of people are picking up their knitting needles and wool and yarning sweaters, hats and scarves. Prick Your Finger is a modern haberdashery shop that is capitalising on this new trend. Founded by Uni pals, Rachael Matthews and Louise Harries, this cutesy kitschy shop based in Bethnal Green aims to take handcrafts to the masses. I took a trip down to East London to check out the store.

What is the concept of your shop and how did you come up with it?
I worked in fashion designing for companies like Hoxton Boutique, Gucci and Gap, being involved from yarn sourcing to factory production. This means I am a bit obsessed with textile machinery, yarn processing, and the journey from sheep to shoulder.
Rachael: I ran Cast Off knitting club for boys and girls, making events to promote knitting and handicrafts as a constructive pass time. It gathered column inches and made woolly chaos all over the world. Out of the chaos came kits, books, films and a completely knitted wedding. Cast Off mixed with the stars including Englebert Humpledink, Rikki Lake, Vanessa Felts, BBC Breakfast crew, Christopher Biggins, Robin Cousins, Vinnie the Ferret, Wayne Hemmingway, and Sharron Osborne.

Your shop is very boutique like and also very welcoming, how do you go about conveying that feeling when you started decorating?
Louise: Our shop has everything you need to be an ornamental hermit or to make the best party costumes. We believe an original look well worn is priceless. Old books teach us new craft skills. We built the shop fittings ourselves, and laid the parquet flooring. If William Morris were alive today, he would take us to the pub.

Knitting is very cool these days, why do you think it is so popular?
Louise: I think the resurgence of knitting is to do with the rediscovery of how good it feels to make something yourself. In an age of mass production and short-cuts you (don't even have to wash and chop your own carrots these days, armageddon is surely around the corner. Knitting is time consuming and skillful - these things are luxuries - also a lot of people never see the end result of their daily labours, so knitting is solves that.

What sort of products do you stock?
Louise: We don’t like synthetic materials, and we don’t panic when our clothes get holes in because we can mend them. We are passionate about all forms of textiles, from current fashion to heritage, and couture to make do and mend.

How did the two of you meet?
We met at Central St Martin’s college in the canteen where we took own flasks. I am from Wales and Rachael is from the Lake District.

Tell me what your average day is like.
Louise: An average day is like this; I cycle to the shop from Dalston, we drink tea and sort out the records we need to play that day. We go through the weeks work and on going projects. We do a lot of events and Rachael has quite a few exhibitions coming up so lots of emails and phone calls. The shop opens at 12pm then we get customers and friends coming in all day. Lunch is very important. I am into home made soup at moment. We shut at 7pm and then its off to meet friends, private views, improving talks or gigs.

What other shops do you admire and why?
The shops I admire are Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's 'Let it Rock' and 'Sex.' They weren't just shops but whole scenes and a way of life, like Prick Your Finger.

What are your plans for Prick Your Finger?
Louise: Plans phew! Our own range of yarns is currently in production, we have sheep at my brothers small-holding. We are moving the studio further back so we can expand the gallery and event space; we have some really good exhibitions coming up. We plan to take over the whole street and turn it into the first knitted museum/bauhouse style factory and space!

Prick Your Finger are based at 260 Globe Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 0JD

Monday, 22 October 2007

Roisin Murphy

I love my R&B and it is deeply rooted in my soul. I like other genres of music such as hip hop, reggae, raga, jazz, pop and even rock but R&B just does it for me. It is the variety; we’ve got jazz funk, electro funk and good old fashioned soul. Singing diva, Roisin Murphy has had a varied life; born In Arklow, moved to Manchester, lived in Ireland for a bit then back to Manchester and then to Sheffield and all by the time she was 17. It was in Sheffield where Roisin met Mark Brydon and the outfit known as Moloko was born. Between 1999 and 2001 Moloko released cool dance tunes such as Sing it Back and The Time is Now and established the fact that British artists could make refreshing music that was commercially successful. Roisin Murphy is now back with her second album which is heavenly and full of electronic dance beats accompanied by great melodies which she has co-written and co-produced. One of my favorite tunes on the album is Let Me Know which is a brilliant jazzy R&B track that has a fantastic video to go with it. Roisin looks amazing in it with her razor sharp bob and 60s make up. Check out her wicked dance moves. That lady is agile, Madonna eat yer heart out. Check out her mySpace account here and don't miss her on The Jools Holland Show on Friday 9th November.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A Girl for all Seasons

Serious fashionista, Camilla Morton received critical acclaim two years ago when she released her first book, How to Walk in High Heels: The Girls Guide to Everything. Dubbed an encyclopedic guide to a lady, this title advised you on everything from setting up your PC, how to take a great photo and of course how to walk in high heels. Her follow up book, A Girl for all Seasons guides you through the months with ideas on culture, fashion and goals. There is plenty of input from fashion icons such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Erin O'Connor and Mathew Williamson. Life is pretty hectic for Camilla as she divides her time between London and Paris but she took some time out to answer a few questions.

A Girl for all Seasons is an interesting concept and very different from How to Walk in High Heels. What was the inspiration behind the concept?
I didn’t want to simply continue where How to Walk in High Heels finished – to just copy the same formula. It would have been dull to read and even duller to write, and since writing How to Walk in High Heels there are quite a lot of versions on the market. A Girl for All Seasons is meant to be a month by month round the world guide so that as well as the 'how tos' there is a bit of culture, a bit of history and a bit of trivia. With all the postcards, contributors, book clubs and muses each month the year would pass in a flash if you followed all this! This was a year to finding your own Utopia – the paradise the original Man for All Seasons so sought. I think that this book is a really interesting weave of different nuggets of information – a real dip in and out of book. I wanted to have a book that you could flick to the date of the day and see if anything around those pages inspired you.

You launched 'A Girl for all Seasons' at London Fashion Week as you did for your last book. Did you get to see any of the shows? If so which ones did you like the most?
I was lucky enough to launch the new book at Browns and so many of my friends from the fashion world came. I didn’t really go to that many shows this season as I was really hectic with the book and running back and forth to Paris. I did see Paul Smith, with it's Vanessa Bell vibe as well as going to Luella, Stella and Matthew’s shows – I only did friends this season, and of course went to the amazing V&A Gala opening with Galliano.

A Girl for all Seasons features quotes from fashionistas such as Gisele, Paul Smith and Antonio Berardi. Quite an illustrious list, how did you go about selecting people to be in the book?
When you work on magazines you get to meet many designers – and I have been covering the fashion shows for about ten years now. But as this was a book and not a magazine article I was very spoiled – it was not ruled by advertisers, I was the boss, so I just asked my friends and people I admire to contribute. A book is a labour of love, and a bit like planning a dinner party you only want to have people at the table that you genuinely adore and find inspiring.

How do you get into writing?
I am not really sure. I went to St Martins (of course!) to do Fashion – and I changed from design to journalism as I was so hopeless with the sewing machines and then from styling to writing as I had no time for the egos and drama that happens on a shoot. I then went to assist John Galliano and he makes you feel invincible and he actually helped me come up with the initial concept for How to Walk In High Heels and backed me off to do this.

Which other authors do you admire and why?
So many – I like nothing more than to rummage and get lost in a library or a bookstore, some of my favourite authors and books are actually the bookclub suggestions in the new book. I love biographies as I like to know how real characters lived as well as the make believe.

What advice would you give to budding authors out there?
Give it a go – you only live once so do what you want to do – live with no regrets and don’t give up till you give it a go… but take heed, as the very great writer Truman Capote said ‘writing is hard, and you get depressed’. Maybe start with a blog and see where this takes you?

The life of a writer must be a busy one. Can you describe a typical day?
There is no such thing as a typical day, there is no such thing as impossible. If this is what you really decide you want to do try it. I don’t know where I am from one day to the next, I haven’t worked in an office for over seven years. You have to be disciplined and organized – you are your own boss and you are the only one that is going to meet that deadline. You can leave it till panic sets in (its amazing how much faster you can type!) but its best to try and pace yourself and research things thoroughly. Books need much more research than articles – remember newspapers are tomorrows chip wrappers – books have a longer shelf life. Always have a notebook or laptop with you, whichever you prefer. Be ready to write when inspiration strikes.

Where do you do most of your writing; desk, garden, coffee shop?
I write anywhere, but mostly hotels and on the Eurostar – which is where we are now!

A Girl for all Seasons is out now!