Overnight Success? Think Again.


(Image: Pinterest)

We are living in the Now generation. We want instant gratification, whether that is on our latest Instagram post, getting the newest iPhone the day it comes out or being top dog in our field of work as soon as possible.

If like me you are graduating university this year, you are probably having an internal panic about what lies ahead. Am I going to bag my dream job? Am I going to earn a good salary? Am I going to be like *insert name of your #careergoals woman here*?

But we forget that the women we look up to were not where they are today when they first started out.

Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter, was not a successful business mogul from the get-go. After graduating from UCLA, she spent a year as a model and stylist, as well as doing stints as a receptionist and an assistant at Moda magazine. Net-A-Porter was set up in 2000, when Massenet was in her mid thirties, with all operations running from her flat in Chelsea. Her bathtub even served as a mini warehouse, accommodating the trademark black boxes. Of course, once Net-A-Porter took off, she was a force to be reckoned with, but it took over ten years after leaving university before Natalie found major success.

Designer Vera Wang wanted to be an Olympic figure skater but failed to make the team. She turned her hand to something else and became a senior fashion editor for Vogue in 1970. Wang then left Vogue after being turned down for the editor-in-chief position – which Anna Wintour currently holds – to become a designer. She was forty-years-old when she designed her first dress, proving that it’s never too late to discover your talent.

Melissa McCarthy is one of the biggest comedic actresses around, but that wasn’t always the case. She didn’t have her breakout role until she was thirty, playing Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls. What made her most famous, though was her part in Bridesmaids, which at the time of filming McCarthy was forty-one. You go, girl.

Countless successful women took a detour before arriving at their current destination. Oprah, Martha Stewart, Tina Fey, J.K. Rowling, Judi Dench, the list goes on. They are all human, despite how highly you regard them.

If you are not immediately where you want to be, don’t panic. Use it as time to work on yourself, hone your craft and figure out where your passions lie. A wise person once pointed out that it doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Don’t stop. Be enthusiastic, be interested, work hard and life will do its thing.

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Why I Stopped Writing


(Image: Pinterest)

Tell a lie, I didn’t stop writing completely. I wrote a dissertation and an entire magazine over the past six or so months. I just neglected to write on this here blog like a bad mother.  Other than the fact that I was busy with the aforementioned, there is a reason activity came to a halt.

In my first year of university, one lecturer told us that unless you’re Suzy Menkes no one cares what you think. In other words, don’t write in the first person, don’t voice your opinion. What a soul-crushing comment to make in front of budding young writers. Having this etched on my brain I endeavoured to write copy that was business-like, almost soulless to try and prove I was the kind of writer the said lecturer implied would be desired in industry. I might have taken the comment the wrong way but ultimately it slowly ate away at me.

This works in some instances, not every piece of writing requires an outpouring of personality and emotion. But what is the point of having a personal blog if you feel you need to filter your voice?

Although I have written some posts about the fashion I am interested in, matters that I feel strongly about and the people who have had a massive influence on me – the post on Nora Ephron, for instance – I started to feel like I was writing for the sake of it. I was often writing about things I thought I should be writing about – rather than what I wanted to write about. I felt like I had lost the enthusiasm I once had for writing. I just wasn’t satisfied.

One of the things I learnt during my final year of university is that I’m actually quite good at writing about the things I harbour a passion for and take an interest in. This might sound silly, but when your heart is not in it, more often than not the final result is less than fulfilling. For my dissertation and my magazine alike I wrote about things that I wanted to write about, topics that I guess you could say are embedded into my consciousness and are a part of me, meant in the least cringe sentiment possible.

I have slowly regained enthusiasm towards writing because I decided to stop trying to please other people and do it for myself, which proved to be a good decision judging by the grades for my dissertation and magazine.

Write about what interests you, whether it’s for your job or personal use. Everything is copy. Nora said so.

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2015 in Books


(Images: Amazon)

Judi Dench Behind The Scenes, Sali Hughes Pretty Honest, Shirley MacLaine What If…, Nora Ephron I Feel Bad About My Neck, Jane Wagner The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Nora Ephron Heartburn, Nora Ephron I Remember Nothing, Nora Ephron & India Knight The Most of Nora Ephron, Joan Didion The Year of Magical Thinking

2015 has been a Nora Ephron heavy year. It induces great pangs of sadness to think she’s been gone for over three years. All of her books follow a similar theme of analysing her life and telling us about what she’s learned with her sharp wit. It will be a heartbreaking day when I finish reading all of her work.

Sali Hughes and her beauty handbook for ‘real women’ has received much acclaim. If you have good knowledge of makeup and skincare already, I would say you don’t desperately need this in your life. Perhaps take a gander at Caroline Hirons blog to expand existing information. However, if you are a beauty rookie then Pretty Honest would be a good place to start.

Put simply, Dame Judi Dench’s illustrated memoir is a great flick-through coffee table book. It contains personal photos of her career and family life. Who doesn’t love a bit of Dench? If anyone saw her in A Winter’s Tale, just know I am mightily jealous of you.

I have also developed a strong affinity for Lily Tomlin this year. The Search, as it is referred to, is a play written by Tomlin’s partner of over 40 years, Jane Wagner. It was shown on Broadway and Tomlin won a TONY Award for her portrayal of…every single character in the play. “I worry if peanut oil comes from peanutsand olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?”

What If… is Shirley MacLaine musing over a range of subjects like religion, marriage and politics, and asking what if…? What if I could have banished Sachi Parker to a different planet and prevented her from writing a tell-all book about me as a mother? That isn’t in the book, but I imagine ol’ Shirl thought about it.

My last book of the year that I’ve just finished is Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. It is an account of the few short months in which she loses her husband and her daughter falls seriously ill. Didion examines pre-existing ideas she has about death, marriage, children and life itself. Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity. She revisits a version of this opening passage throughout the book as she goes on a exploration of her personal, yet ubiquitous, experiences. This, along with Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Blue Nights were gifted to me by Hannah for Christmas. I think 2016 will be a Joan Didion year.

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The First Lady of Stand-Up


“I could just sense there was something subversive about Jean Carroll, in an acceptable way.” – Lily Tomlin

Jean Carroll isn’t a name that automatically springs to mind when you think of women in comedy. But it should be.

Carroll was one of the first women to do stand-up on national television. During the 1940s and 50s she toured and made appearances on both The Ed Sullivan Show and on her own sitcom, The Jean Carroll Show which aired for only one season. She is acknowledged for having paved the way for platoons of female stand-up comics who came after her, including Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers.

Originally born in Paris as Celine Zeigman, Carroll moved to the Bronx when she was 18 months old. She began her career as a vaudeville dancer and in the 1930s formed part of a duo with her husband, aptly named Carroll and Howe. “My husband, he’s a wonderful man, a regular do-it-yourselfer. I say, ‘Honey, help me.’ He says, ‘Do it yourself!’”

In an era when comedy was a less than suitable path for a woman to follow, Jean held her own. Dressed in a party dress, choker and heels, her ladylike appearance was not an indication of what was to come from her lacquered lips. She lampooned married life, “The thing that attracted me to my husband was his pride…I’ll never forget the first time I saw him, standing up on a hill, his hair blowing in the breeze – and he too proud to run and get it.” She parodied child rearing, “Oh the women were so nice! We used to sit around and tell lies. They all brag about their children. ‘Oh my son is a genius! He talks and he’s only 30.’” And she made fun of suburban living, “In the country everything is done in groups. Two women meet up on the street, ‘Oh Agnes, I’m going to have a baby!’ ‘Oh, so am I!’ ‘Isn’t that wonderful! Who else can we get?’ Joan Rivers wasn’t the original maestro of deprecating family life jokes after all.

Her then insurgent material, which she wrote all herself, still resonates decades on. Carroll as a household name slowly subsided after the 1950s, rarely stepping back into the spotlight. She died in 2010 in New York at the grand old age of 98, proving that laughter really is the best medicine, “I developed a sort of a bronchial condition from the dampness so we were sitting around and this woman said ‘Gee you have a terrible cold, what are you doing?’ I said ‘I’m coughing.’ She said ‘Why don’t you take something for it?’ I said ‘Well, make me an offer.’”

And Then There Weren’t Two

(Images: wsj.com & varsity.co.uk)

(Images: wsj.com & varsity.co.uk)

On the same day, Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet and Asos’ Nick Robertson stepped down from their roles in their respective companies. Could this be just a coincidence or were their moves calculated?

Natalie Massenet is #Girlboss personified. As a former journalist at WWD and assistant to Isabella Blow, founder of Net-a-Porter and chairman of the BFC, she has done it all. Named as ‘fashion’s favourite self-made success story’ by The Observer, Massenet kickstarted Net-a-Porter with the help of her then husband in 2000 from her flat in London using her bath as a mini warehouse for the trademark black boxes. The idea behind the site was to be able to ‘click’ on an image of an outfit within a magazine format and buy it. Many said it wouldn’t survive and couldn’t imagine shopping for or selling goods void of a physical retail outlet. Adding The Outnet and more recently Porter magazine to the franchise, Net-a-Porter is now reportedly worth £350m. To coin a phrase, yaaaaas.

Nick Robertson, who started up the British online retailer Asos, has decided that after 15 years it is time to hang up his role as CEO. This Nick will be replaced by another Nick – Nick Beighton – who has been with Asos since 2009 as chief financial officer and, as of last October, chief operating officer. Robertson will still be involved in the company but as a non-executive director.

If suspicions are confirmed and the two of them have plans to join forces, the outcome will no doubt be epic and revolutionary to the highest degree. Watch this digital space.

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The Importance of Nora Ephron

(Image: nymag.com)

(Image: nymag.com)

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

Nora Ephron died in 2012 from pneumonia, as result of complications with acute myeloid leukaemia, at the age of 71. Arguably one of the best writers of her time, she left behind a deluge of work; books, essays, screenplays and films that have touched so many and continue to make us laugh.

Ephron was dealt some tough hands but self pity was never on the writer’s agenda. Even when her husband cheated on her at the same time she was expecting, she turned the situation on its head and conceived a best seller, Heartburn – which was later made into a film with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson – as well as a son. What a woman.

She taught a generation and their daughters how to be stronger, ballsier women, imparted wisdom on a variety of topics made up of ageing, fashion, parenting and food, including how to make a key lime pie fit for throwing at your deceitful spouse. Boy, did the lady love food.

Nora, we miss you.

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Donna Karan Departs From Her Label

(Image: makers.com)

(Image: makers.com)

After 31 years, designer Donna Karan has announced she is stepping down from her current role as chief designer of the LVMH operated brand, Donna Karan. There will be no replacement meaning Donna Karan International will suspend its collections and catwalk shows. Farewell to the queen of the capsule wardrobe.

Before starting her own label in 1985, she was the assistant to the American sportswear designer Anne Klein. Karan quickly showed gumption when two days after giving birth to her daughter in 1974, the entire Klein studio was moved to her bedside so that she could carry on designing. Klein sadly died a few days after and Karan succeeded her.

Karan’s vision revolved around form, function and designing for the modern woman. She never wanted to dress women up like pageant girls, instead she wanted to cater to working women who’s desire was comfort and style in clothes that would take them from the office to dinner. Her Seven Easy Pieces was a profound attempt to challenge high fashion. The starting point was her famous black bodysuit which could be worn under skirts or trousers. It was a piece that you could wash and wear or stuff in your carry-on luggage and pull out uncreased at the other end. A timesaver for many women.

Unlike many designers, size zero was not in Karan’s sights. Admitting that she had issues with her hips and thighs, she knew how hard it was for women to find clothes that flattered them, covered the bits they didn’t like and accentuated the bits they did. Her “cold shoulder” dress, worn by Hillary Clinton, was designed around her theory that shoulders are one body part that women feel confident about as they age. If in doubt, get your shoulders out.

Donna Karan’s decision to step down is a loss for many women. She is a reflection of their wardrobes. DKNY isn’t going anywhere, but it’s not much of a consolation as she distanced herself from the brand a while ago.

All that’s left is the feeling of comfortable pants that, even after a long day and a three course meal, still allow you to breathe.

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Diane Keaton



Who wears turtlenecks better than Diane Keaton? Or oversized belts? Or ties? Or pantsuits? She’s been a style icon for forever and a day, namely since Woody Allen’s 1977 masterpiece Annie Hall – Meryl Streep’s hair flip though – and paved the way for androgynous dressing along with Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn. The film is said to be based on Diane’s life and her relationship with Allen. Many of her character’s outfits came from her personal wardrobe.

Now well into her sixties, she is defying the ageist stereotype about women over 50 in Hollywood as she continues to play intelligent, funny and poignant characters. Keep doing you, Keaton.

Side note: The First Wives Club might be the most underrated film ever. Girl power at its finest.

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Call Me Caitlyn

(Image: vanityfair.com)

(Image: vanityfair.com)

The whole world and his wife has seen the Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn Jenner, so it needs no introduction. But, of course, with a cover as controversial as this it was bound to divide opinion.

Celebrities turned to social media in record time to give their two sense about the image shot by Annie Leibovitz. Daughter Kendall Jenner tweeted, ‘be free now pretty bird.’ Tissue, please. Comedienne, author, actress (is there anything she’s not?) Lena Dunham also expressed her opinion on Twitter tweeting, ‘I just want Caitlyn Jenner to take me out and teach me how to drive a stick shift in heels.’ You and about a million other women.

Perhaps the best commentary came from Orange is the New Black star and activist Laverne Cox via her tumblr. She ended her post, I hope, as I know Caitlyn does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us. The struggle continues…

Not everyone had a positive response to the cover. PBS NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill wrote, ‘Let me get this right. Asserting one’s femininity means posing in a low cut swimsuit. OK. Got it.’ while former Drake and Josh star Drake Bell tweeted, ‘Sorry…still calling you Bruce.’ Rude.

Those who deem it fit to chastise her transformation are the reason it has taken 65 years for Jenner to muster up the courage to be who she really is. We should celebrate our ever evolving society and support those who choose to be their true self, whether that be through sexual orientation, profession or otherwise.

On a lighter note, one of the most popular look-a-like comparisons, along with Janice Dickinson and Brooke Shields, is Jessica Lange who upon learning of her new doppelgänger graciously commented, “Oh Really? That’s so wonderful. Well, now I’m going to have to look for that picture.” As cool as ever, J Lange.

Taking the fact that she is a part of the Kardashian craze out of the equation, Jenner’s transformation is one of great significance and will help others find the courage to be who they want to be. Appearance isn’t a reflection of who you are on the inside; plastic surgery and makeup does not make her the definition of a woman, but if that makes her feel more like one then Caitlyn, you go girl.

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