Hadley Freeman isn’t your usual fashion journalist. As a writer on the Guardian’s fashion desk for seven years she has been banned from catwalk shows, admits to regularly not brushing her hair and never takes the industry too seriously. To put it bluntly, when it comes to fashion, Hadley Freeman is, well, blunt.
We’ve cried with laughter reading her Ask Hadley column where she muses over everything from the ridiculousness of phrases like “muffin tops” to the importance of thermal tights and a great winter coat. She’s smart, funny and unashamedly loves both the craziness and beauty of fashion.
But – like us – it’s not just fashion that keeps her up at night and so, after leaving the Guardian Fashion Desk, Hadley moved to New York to try her hand at publishing a book on the wider world of a being a modern lady in a modern world. Enter, Be Awesome, a collection of candid essays about life as Hadley knows it. There are rants on the never ending body image debate, discussions on dating (including some cringe worthy personal experiences) and even a chapter dedicated to Topshop and why you’re never too old for it (we blush!). Regardless of the plug, we’ve been fans for a long time and after hearing her speak at the Fourth Estate Literary salon, where we laughed to no end, we’re convinced more than ever we’d like to be her best mate.
We love this book so much, we’re giving our Topshop fans a treat with a free sampler of the book that you can download from the iBookstore, just read our July Hitlist to find out more.We loved it so much, we spoke to lady behind that oh-so-memorable name about fashion, feminism and a Roberto Cavalli’s parties.
We read you initially started writing a novel but wound up writing Be Awesome – what made you change from novel to something a quite different?
First because I was somewhat put off the novel by an agent (not my agent I have now, I should add, who is a paragon of patience and encouragement.) Because I couldn’t find a single modern novel about a young woman that didn’t have a marriage ending, I decided to write one of my own. But I was pretty much told by this agent that a novel without a romantic ending for a female protagonist was impossible. This infuriated me so much I gave up on the novel and wrote a bunch of ranting essays instead that became Be Awesome.
How would you describe Be Awesome to those who haven’t read anything about it?
I guess it’s a series of essays about things that, in my experience, get women down, especially women in their 20s and 30s, and why they really shouldn’t let them. Really, it’s just an excuse for me to bang on about the Daily Mail, fashion magazines, chick lit films and why Katherine Hepburn is so much more inspiring than Audrey Hepburn.
What do you hope girls and women who read the book will take away from it?
I hope they’ll come away feeling good about themselves and maybe more able to laugh at ridiculous things like the Daily Mail and terrible Katherine Heigl movies.
You worked as a fashion journalist at the Guardian and still write a fashion column there, what would you say to encourage any budding fashion journalists?
Not to worry – people will tell you there aren’t jobs out there, but there really are. And never go to a Roberto Cavalli fashion party. You’ll never get out alive.
Alot of people would suggest you can’t be a feminist and love fashion?
That’s ridiculous. There’s nothing unfeminist about enjoying clothes. There is, however, something pretty unfeminist about sneering at an industry that is aimed at and dominated by women. There are plenty of awful things about the fashion industry but fashion itself is just fun.
What is it about fashion that you love and made you want to be part of?
I love how you can play with self-expression and try on new identities and looks – several times a day, if you want. It’s just really, really fun, and that’s a good thing. I also like how there are so many strong and impressive women who work in the industry, from Miuccia Prada to Anna Wintour to Jane Shepherdson. How many other industries can boast that?
What’s the best advise you were ever given?
To always walk on the sunny side of the street. But put on sunscreen first.
Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your teenage self?
Not to worry about everything so much – no one’s looking at you half as much as you think they are. And don’t get your bellybutton pierced because it will hurt like hell and it really won’t be worth it.