My little sister came to stay last week.

She’s starting university – reading law, for her sins – and this was our last hurrah before she becomes bound to her books. Cocktails were downed by the dozen sipped. Gossip was shared. And she remains, without question, my one true soulmate.

The best kid in the world.

Always beautiful, the past two years have imparted a maturity, a womanly assurance – nascent and delicate, though it is still – to amplify her existing beauty.

It has taken me by surprise.

In my sister, I behold a sprog with pigtails and a droopy diaper – the little girl, forever decorated in Wotsit dust, to whom I would read bedtime stories and sing to sleep as she squeezed my hair – and yet, to the world, she is a woman. The legs have grown. The braces have come off. The shutters from my eyes, too – and look, see what we’re dealing with.

A younger, prettier Elle Macpherson.*

Sassy and intelligent, she’s the kind of girl who could wear every piece from the new Balmain diffusion line, Pierre Balmain – whose lookbook is pictured here – without risk of them wearing her.

In leaving for university, my sister reaches another milestone on the road to adulthood.

It is difficult to let her go – my instinct, as the eldest sibling, is to protect and continue to hold her close – but I couldn’t be more proud of all that she is becoming and know that the next three years will be amongst the happiest of her life.

Good luck, little lobster, I love you.

* Such are the perils of having a sister ten years younger. For the record, I’m a shorter, rounder Dawn French… ;0)

|Pierre Balmain|


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Green-eyed World

I wouldn’t say that I was jealous of Joanna Hillman – Market Editor at US Harper’s Bazaar – but, yeah, I’m definitely in that neighbourhood.



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Service Interrupted

* Exclusive 10% discount for Style Souk Readers *

This might seem a little left of field.

We’ve become accustomed to talking shop around here and, by shop, I mean fashion. There may be the occasional vignette about the jejuneness of my personal life – or, even, a political tirade – but, otherwise, the party line is toed.

Frocks and Slacks.

On the recommendation of model, Ruth Crilly, I recently discovered organic skincare brand, Pai. It seemed a timely introduction. Late nights and stress have taken their toll on my skin, but the final straw came with an allergic reaction to a Dr Sebagh moisturiser. Naively, I had thought the £95 price tag of his Extreme Maintenance could alone induce tears… until the rash developed.

I shan’t bore you with evangelical details about the company or their ethical approach – for risk of sounding in the pay and play of a PR contact and, besides, you can read about it here – but, what I can say is that, within a week of using the Camellia and Rose cleanser, my skin was clear and calm.

Four weeks later, it is even better.

I also bought the Chamomile and Rosehip moisturiser (Natalie Portman’s favourite!) and, though lovely, it is the cleanser that has really blown me away. Enough, in fact, to interrupt our normal service of fashion… and organise an exclusive treat for readers of Style Souk.

For one week only, the good people at Pai have agreed to offer an exclusive 10% discount on their entire skincare range. That’s right, anything that takes your fancy! All you have to do is type stylesouk at checkout. I will not benefit or profit for any sales and make this recommendation for a simple reason: It’s genuinely beautiful. It genuinely works.

You can order from Pai on-line here:

And, hey, the creator is a girl called Sarah. She studied history. At Nottingham University. The exact – insert music for the Twilight Zone – same as me.

If that ain’t reason enough to support a sister, what is?


* The discount for Style Souk readers will close on Sunday 25 September 2011 at midnight. Open to UK and international customers.


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The constant house guest. That stubborn bubble of fat on your inner thigh. Boris Johnson.

Some things simply will not go away.

Despite doing all within my power – from mainlining vitamin C to furtively leaning over and coughing on Napoleon whilst he sleeps – this flu is determined not to bid adieu.

I get it, really, I do.

A wise-cracking Yorkshire girl, I like to make people laugh. I will indulge conversation on topics diverse as the historical development of the Eurozone to the X Factor. I’m a good listener. If that’s your bag, my companionship is not too shabby.

The flu is lapping it up.

I have taken to a new hobby – having, as I do, little more for entertainment than the occasional thrill of a sneeze – to stave away the delirium that comes with being kept bedbound. It’s fun. You’d like it.*

With the central heating whacked to its farthermost setting, I sit in bed – propped amongst discarded tissues and Strepsils – and browse the internet, where I daydream over wintry, cosy clothes. Jumpers. Scarves. Long Johns. The tin foil section on

Anything to keep the warmth in, frankly.

I have revisited these Burberry Prorsum coats more than most. There’s something of the Nancy Mitford heroine to them: I imagine draping myself grandly and – with a large, theatrical flourish of their tails – hamming my part as the sickened martyr.

Well, come on… I could act that better than Boris does being Mayor.

* You won’t. No one, with a life, would.



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Too Much

Rattling with Nurofen, I ventured outside this morning – for the first time in a week – to gather oranges, the October issue of Vogue, and a gargantuan bar of Dairy Milk. I have the flu, you see* – not a sudden case of agoraphobia – and these artefacts are vital to my recovery.

Yes, even the chocolate.

Seeing Adele on the cover – a young Sophia Loren, incarnate – I smiled. Witty and gifted with a voice to rouse every and all emotion, it is a percipient celebration for Vogue to make. In this woman, after all, we have a valid female icon to remind that beauty can come in body and song – not simply the bones of a model.

Returned home to the quiet company of my death bed, I looked again. More closely, this time.

The portrait of Adele is beautiful in print, but it is – and let’s not coat this with sugar – predictable, even a little patronising, to be offered another head shot/decapitation in which her body is obliterated from view. A large, curled tendril of incarnadine hair goes further, seemingly positioned to obscure her lower face, and – well, what exactly? – the potential shadow of a double chin?

The strapline ‘Adoring Adele’ should perhaps then, more accurately, read Adoring ‘Some of’ Adele.

It is timely and commercial for Vogue to feature Adele, because – from the music to her laugh, surely the dirtiest this side of a Carry On film – there is, indeed, much to adore. Through her, there was opportunity to do something genuinely democratic – to celebrate and garland a new body silhouette.

So why the cynical effort to dismember and reduce everything that Adele, literally, embodies?

Use the woman. Use all of her, or do not use her at all.


* ‘Tis true. I have the flu. In summer. My immune system is that good.


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Nineteen Seventy

These images are unsuitable for work unless, that is, you’re employed by Playboy.*

* So, is it true that old Huey boy can still, uhm… get it up?

|Fashion Gone Rogue|


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Emmanuelle: A Retrospective

I’m a terrible self-publicist.

Thrown into the bear pit of a job interview, I will generate more anxiety, sweat and tears than compelling reasons for my employment. The comprehensive school kid in me – with her disdain for the pomp and pretence of those more boastful – would struggle to be any other way.

Recently, I wrote a guest piece for ‘I Want to be an Alt’. A retrospective of Emmanuelle Alt’s editorial career with Vogue Paris, it is impossible to say whether it makes for a good read or otherwise; in the very least, Alt’s pictures are f-cking amazing.

Might you take a look and tell me what you think?

Right, that’s quite enough blowing of my own trumpet.



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