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!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Why Did I Get Married?

Sometimes you see a trailer for a film and you just know that is the one. The film that you have to see and will love for the rest of your life. It was like that for me with Waiting to Exhale, The Devil Wears Prada, Titanic and I KNOW it will be like that for the Sex and the City film. Thanks to black popular culture website, Brown Sista, I have just come across a film that is in the same boat. Why Did I Get Married? revolves around nine best friends (four couples and a single) who meet up for their annual reunion where secrets are revealed and sparks galore fly. We have everything here infidelity, emotional abuse, STD and a tragic death. Why am I so excited about this? Well for one it is produced by and stars Tyler Perry who has a long list of hit films behind him such as Diary of an Angry Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion and Daddy's Little Girls (which I blogged here about a few months back). He is supported by a stellar cast of Janet Jackson, Jill Scott and Richard T. Jones and this eclectic combo has proved to be a lucky charm because Why Did I Get Married is now the number one film in America.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the story of Carmen (America Ferrera), Bridget (Blake Lively), Lena (Alexis Bledel) and Tibby (Amber Tamblyn); four friends who have been together all their lives. Their mothers met at an ante-natal class when they were expecting them and the rest was history. Now at the age of 16 the girls are about to be separated for the first time in their lives and embark on their individual adventure. While shopping one day they buy a pair of jeans that magically fits the different shapes of all of them. The four girls make a pact that they will stay in touch all summer by sending the pants to each other with a note. For the athletic and zestful, Bridget this means soccer camp in Mexico where a cute coach catches her eye. Lena, heads off to Greek to spend time with her grandparents, a talented artist she learns how to open herself up to love as well as her talent. Carmen flies to North Carolina to visit her estranged Father only to get more than she bargained for and rebellious Tibby fuels her boredom of being stuck at home by filming a documentary where she meets a person who will change her forever. The film follows these feisty four girls in the different locations and watches their rites of passage as they experience a summer they will never forget. The film is based on the very popular novel by Ann Brashares and excels where a lot of girly chummy films fails. It does not matter what age you are, you will love it. The lead actresses are all delightful and have amazing chemistry together.

The Author
Ann Brashares spent several years working as an Editor for a publisher where she describes her role as pulling books apart. This experience taught her a lot about what made a great book and she used this valuable information to craft her first novel. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants was published in 2001 and became an international bestseller. Since then she has written three other titles, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girl in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood and Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood. The fourth one is planned for release January next year and Ann is also thinking about writing a fifth title which will be the last in the series.

The Screenplay Writer
Delia Ephron is the sister of the great Nora Ephron who produced iconic rom coms such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Bewitched. Delia is no slouch herself and actually wrote the scripts for Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Bewitched. Together the Ephron sisters have made a massive mark in Hollywood particularly where the romantic comedy market is concerned which is due to their style that is warm and endearing and uplifting. Delia provides her own light and wispy touch to this film which is so reminiscent of movies in the 40s.

The Actresses
These actresses have gone on to make huge names for themselves on the small screen. America Ferrera, we all know simply as Ugly Betty and there is Blake Lively who is now starring as Serena van der Woodsen in the ultra glossy, Gossip Girl. Amber Tambyln appeared in The Grudge 2 but is best know for her role in Joan of Arcadia and Alexis Bledel is currently in the Gilmore Girls. I am really looking forward to seeing the sequel when it is released next year.

Watch out for director, Ken Kwapis whose next film is He’s Just Not Into You, which is based on the popular book.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

The Dutchess by Fergie

I have never been a fan of Fergie, I have always blamed her for ruining Black Eyed Peas and turning them from a cool, undergroud hip hop band with a soulful conscience to a commercial outfit whose main prerogative was crossing over. It was of no surprise to me to hear that she released an album last year and to be honest, of no interest. However ever since Gossip Girl made it's debut a few weeks ago with Fergie's song, Glamorous in the background, I have been totally addicted to it. So when a work colleague lent me her album, The Dutchess, I decided to give it a spin.

First of all, I was not impressed with the cover which has Fergie in a kneeled position wearing what seems to be a black negligee. I personally think she looks like a high class hooker. Anyway to the music.

Top tracks:

The album gets off to a poppin start with the catchy Fergalicious. You could be forgiven for mistaking this for a Black Eyed Peas track but not surprised as Will i. am is the producer. Think of My Humps with a psychedelic spin and you are on the right track

This is reggae like with a ska (ish) vibe and probably the sort of song that Sean Kingston would have released as his second single if Fergie had not got there first.

London Bridge
Hey I really like this especially the chorus. This song is very vibrant and the kind of tune that you would gyrate to in the morning.

All That I Got (The Make Up Song)
This is a lovely melody that you can imagine Mariah Carey singing but unlike Ms Carey, Fergie does not over sing it.

The signature of the album and without doubt the best. This is simply a pop tune that does not pretend to be anything else. Fergie’s dulcet tones are very suited here.

I actually really like this, it is a slow one with a piano accompanying it but it works well with her voice. It very melodic and very uplifting.

Get Your Hands Up
This might as well be another Black Eyed Peas tune, they feature on it and it is so the groups style. Very high energy and pulsating.

Could have really down without:

The most significant aspect of this song is the beginning, which starts off with the lullaby, 'London Bridge is Falling Down.' Other than that it is an average R&B track.

Voodoo Doll
This is an attempt of Fergie to do some Lovers Rock but failing miserably.

Here I Come
Nothing to say about this apart from the fact that it is Fergie rapping over the best of Get Ready Here I Come by Eddie Kendricks and The Temptations. Not bad but a big fat zero for originality.

If you are finding it hard to sleep than play this track and I can guarantee it will send you off.

Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal)
After doing R&B and hip hop, Fergie tries her hand at rock. This is not my cup of tea at all; I find it very bland and middle of the road. When I first heard it I thought it was Pink.

Mary Jane Shoes
Nice name as I am a fan of those type of shoes. But is is just another pitiful attempt from Fergie to master reggae. Give it up girl, it ain't happening!

Losing My Ground
She sounds like Britney in the beginning, I got totally spooked. This is an ok track and nothing really special.

Wake Up
Another rock song which is very forgettable which is a huge shame because the last song on the album is supposed to make the artist go out with a bang and this is more of ploff.

R&B, hip-hop, reggae, singing and rapping, Fergie tries it all. However, the phrase ‘Jack of all Trades and master of none’ comes to mind. There are some really good tracks here like London Bridge, Glamorous. Finally and Fergalicious which are mixed with some very bland ones such as Wake Up, Big Girls don’t Cry and Velvet. Overall this album is surprisingly good and I would recommend it.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Style A to Zoe

Well here it is at last - Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty & Everything Glamour - the much awaited book by Rachel Zoe. I have been really looking forward to getting my hands on this book and was delighted when it came through the door, compliments to Little Brown Book Group. At 36, Rachel (pronounced ‘Zoh’) with her ultra petite frame could pass for at least a decade younger. If she walked down the street in London no one would recognize her yet today she is one of the most powerful names in fashion and quite an important one too. Her ‘Nicole Ritchie’ makeover, created the Zoebot look of 2006 with the smock dress, skinny jeans, flat ballerina pumps topped off with the over sized sunglasses and over-sized bag. Since then she has built up an amazing array of clients who range from who’s is who of Hollywood. Keira Knightley, Mischa Barton and Lindsey Lohan are just a few clients on a tip of a very large iceberg. Before her days of commanding a £6,000 fee, Ms Zoe (real name Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig) spent her time at YM magazine where she honed her craft as a stylist. After serving there for three years, she went solo and picked up clients like Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys. She eventually decided to drop her surname and become simply, Rachel Zoe and then swapped the Big Apple for the sun filled LA. Rachel hit pay dirt in 2004 when she teamed up with Nicole Ritchie who had recently gained fame in the reality show, The Simple Life. The rest and I will cheesily say is history!

Style A to Zoe is certainly a glamorous affair, it is roughly A4 sized and the cover is a gaudy gold. Inside the book, Rachel dares you to release your inner goddess and get glammed up for all occasions. We are not just talking about parties, black tie dos and weddings here that also goes for hanging out at weekends and lounging round the house. As far as Rachel is concerned there is no excuse for being sloppy and ladies should look slick at all times. The book is divided into eight sections which consist of excessories, life on a red carpet, the day after, jetset, lipgloss and mane, behind closed doors and entertaining. There is also a directory for art of glamour called glamour a to zoe. We are also treated to contributions by the uber stylist’s designer chums such as Donatella Versace, Michael Kors, Diana Von Furstenberg and many more who I do not have the space to mention. Boy I had no idea that little lady was so popular. Opulence is the word I would use to describe the book and it reminds me very much of the look of the 70s of being immersed in luxury materials like gold jewelry, fur and silk. The pictures in the book are lovely and the illustrations of Rachel herself with her long flowing blonde mane and skinny bod are certainly eye catching. Still at least she is very aware of what she looks like. I am sure you will not be surprised when I tell you that this book was co-written by a journalist. Rosie Apodaca, a pop culture and style connoisseur who writes for Harpers Bazaar, Elle and Paper also plays a part in this title. I would give this book 9/10 for coffee table appeal and 6/10 for readability. I am not sure how long the Zoe bubble will last because as we all know, fashion is a revolving door. For now Rachel is enjoying the ride while it lasts.

Style A to Zoe is published on 1st November.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Farewell to The Fashionista Diaries

Sob, sob, The Fashionista Diaries is over. Finished, caput, done. The show came to a fantastic climax last Friday with all the teams preparing for New York Fashion Week. There were two shows, Just Sweet, a label that is owned by Jennifer Lopez who Flirt Cosmetics were doing the make up for and the main one, Charlotte Ronson which everyone was working towards. Bridget and Laurie who are just getting tighter by the minute were in charge of the goodie bags and collecting all the props to make the place look pretty. Our Rachel had the meaty job to interview people backstage for while Andrew was given the task of quizzing Cosmo readers about their outfits and their personal style. Sounds like a pretty interesting job to me but Andrew was not happy with that and thought that his skills could have been put to better use. Meanwhile Janjay and Tina were backstage assisting the make up artists with all their needs. Both fashions show went exceedingly well, apart from a nail biting moment when Janjay forgot to bring the face chart for uber make up make up artist Charlotte Tillbury. However, the Gods must have been smiling down on that girl because a co-worker managed to run back to the office to get hold of the face chart in the nick of time. Of course Jennifer Lopez made an appearance at the end of her show which was full of A-line dresses and skirts in floral colours. Charlotte Ronson's collection was more slim line with lots of over the knee dresses and plenty of orange, grey and whites. Seeing the show was a culmination of all the assistants work and anyone who has worked on a big project can identify how all the fashionistas felt during the show. Everyone was very happy at end and full of smiles and I am even talking about Mandie! At the end of the fashion show she even came over and hugged Bridget and Laurie and thanked them for all their efforts. Awww, she is growing on me. The quintets spent the evening grooving at the after night party where Charlotte Ronson's sister, Samantha Ronson was DJing.

Ok, judgement day, this is where the fashionistas will be finding out who will be staying and who will be going. At the CosmoGirl headquarters it was a thanks but no thanks to Andrew. It seemed that Editor, Susan Schultz had a problem with his work and mentioned his missing deadlines. He got a pat on the back and was shown the door. It was totally different story for Rachel though, she impressed Susan so much that she was offered a position as a senior writer. Needless to say she was delirious. At Flirt Cosmetics , Tina was heaped with praise upon praise by Kathleen who then turned round and questioned her commitment to Flirt. I think Tina was just as shocked as I was, from what I have seen of the young Miss over the last 10 weeks, she seems to throw herself into everything she does. Janjay's evaluation ended with tears of joy as she landed her much coveted position at Flirt Cosmetics. She almost had me crying as well.

At Seventh House PR, Laurie was praised by Mandie and Mark for all her hard work but she commented that she felt the pressure to be another Bridget. Mandie replied that she never wanted her to be another Bridget and the world can only can take one Bridget. I agree totally. Now to the madam herself, she thanked Mandie for giving her the opportunity BUT turned down a position as a PR Manager because she has always wanted a career in magazines!! Mandie was gob smacked, I don't think anyone saw that one coming. Mandie promised to help her achieve her goals. Well there we are, the end of a scintillating 10 weeks of fun, tension, fall outs, glamour and fashion. So what next for the fashionistas? I can see Andrew finally finishing his designer line, Laurie getting snapped up by a PR company, Tina definitely getting a gig in cosmetics or PR and Bridget working on the fashion section of a magazine. It looks like my hour of pleasure is no longer but thank god that I still have Gossip Girl and bring on Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Tea and Philosophy

Now I just love my tea just like any other person and although I have had a slight distraction to coffee, I can think of nothing more comforting than curling up on the sofa with a nice warm cuppa. My taste in tea varies from Twinings, Tazo, Lancashire Tea and good old PG Tips. You can imagine my pleasure when I came across a new brand of Tea but with a purpose. Tea and Philosophy is created by organic tea company, Today was Fun whose prerogative is to get as much out of life as possible and have a damm good time while doing so. The company was set up by Sharyn Wortman, both CEO and Tea Lady in her floating barge in South London six years ago and since then has gone from strength to strength. Now to the tea – the product is created with five hand blended, loose leaf tisanes and carefully wrapped with a little of their philosophies.

Which is a fragrant blend of Hibiscus flower Rosemary and Cardamom. Use this to bring more joy in your life.

Expectancy Tea

Treats pregnant ladies to blend of Raspberry leaf with a hint of Peppermint and puts you in touch with the miracle of a new life while helping to ease the physical pain of being an expectant mother.

Friendship Tea

Has Sunny Marigold flowers and Hawthorn berries teamed up to celebrate the beauty of friendship and that warm feeling of intimacy.

Inspiration Tea

Has a unique blend of lemongrass, orange and peppermint that reinvigorates the spirit and refreshes hope.

Sleepy Tea

Contains a dream blend of Lemon Balm and lime flowers with a hint of lavender that relaxes the mind, induces calm and of course sends you off to sleep.

All you need now are some cupcakes.

Tea and Philosophy is available to purchase online and stores around the UK and Europe.

For more information check out their website

Lagerfeld Confidential

Even though the fashion season is coming to an end, I am still in haute couture and ready to wear mode. So when an invitation arrived to attend the screening of Lagerfeld Confidential, the documentary about Karl Lagerfeld, I could not turn it down. Partly because I needed another injection of fashion and also out of curiosity. Designers such as Donatella Versace, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs have some sort of media presence but very little is know about the man behind the ponytail and sunglasses. Lagerfeld Confidential is an inside and intimate look into the life of one of the most enigmatic and iconic fashion designers the world has ever seen. Lagerfeld is famed for his work for Fendi, Chloe and Chanel. Mr Lagerfeld whose real name is Karl-Otto Lagerfeldt (he changed it because he thought Lagerfeld sounded more commercial) opens up his home, work and heart to director, Rodolphe Marconi in this remarkable documentary. Over 90 minutes he shares with us stories about his childhood in Germany, his relationship with his mother and their move to Paris when he was 14.

Filmed over two years, we are treated to the sight of Lagerfeld preparing for his collection, collaborating with Nicole Kidman and relaxing and maxing with his friends and chilling amongst his beloved books. The German native will always be known for his shower dress, car dress, his wide collection of eccentric hats and more recently his diffusion collection for H&M. His love for music is demonstrated in him designing pieces for Madonna for her Re-invention tour and also for Kylie Minogue’s Showgirl’s tour as well as owning around 70 iPods. As well as being an amazing designer, he is also a talented photographer and there are a lot of scenes in the film showing him shooting for an ad campaign. The film was not the glossy show piece that I was expecting and is probably more suited for TV as opposed to the big screen but it is irreverent and funny and a must see for all fashion enthusiasts.

Check out the site to view the trailer.

Lagerfeld Confidential is released on October 26th