Nestled between the glossy pages of South Africa's best selling woman's magazine last month, there was a familiar face - I had a number of surprised friends contact me and most of their comments revolved around those killer heels that I was wearing.
How it all started.
Woman and Home have a Facebook page and one morning I saw a request for stories from women who had gone in a different direction or done something new. I was on my way to work but took a minute to send them an article that I had written about going east for the first time (when Sean lived in China) instead of my annual migration north to see my UK family. I literally went in a different direction! They responded quickly saying that they liked what I had written and would get back to me. Would I be prepared to travel to Johannesburg for a photo shoot? Hello! Is the Pope a Catholic? A date was set and flights booked.
What they wrote.
I had a tele-interview about a week later by appointment, where they asked me questions about my travels. They were specifically interested in the angle of women travelling alone so much of what they asked me was based around my experiences in China when I went off alone when Sean and Nadine were at work. Most of what they wrote in the feature was spot on but they omitted to mention that I had other children and that Sean is now living in Australia (soon to return to these shores).
Before leaving PE I was asked what my size was and told to bring 3 sets of undies in white, beige and black. I had no idea what they were going to ask me to wear so I packed my favourite red dress - just in case! I had my hair cut and coloured, a French manicure and dressed with care on the day in one of my Fudge classics outfits as I didn't want them to think we were style challenged here in PE! I was nervous but my style guru Janine gave me the best advice. She told me to imagine I was on the red carpet when I got off the plane and to believe that I was a celebrity. I stayed on that red carpet the whole day convinced that I was a super model! I took the Gautrain to Sandton and then a cab to Parkmore, where the studio shoot was. I changed out of my comfy sandals and into my nude heels in the cab. We pulled up outside huge metallic gates and the taxi delivered me right to the door. I was so glad it was a white Mercedes! I strode up the red carpet and to the door opened - "You must be Sue from PE."
I was made so welcome and introduced to everyone. The Woman and Home team raved about what I was wearing - they loved my Fudge outfit and demanded to know where I bought it and the 'divine' jewelry that I was wearing (it was also local from Fudge and Oliver K in Main Rd Walmer). The first lady was already being photographed, Caroline had successfully completed a wine diploma. She looked so gorgeous and posed so naturally, I thought she was a model! Lady number 2 was in make-up - Ilse had realised her ambition of getting involved in amateur theatre. I drank coffee and took it all in!
Then it was my turn - my hairdresser, Renata, restyled my hair to give it body and lift. I was passed on to Khosi who had an amazing collection of potions, lotions and cosmetics. She applied my makeup with feathery brushes and the lightest touch - quite differently to how I do it. Smokey eyes and nude, glossy lips. I relaxed and just decided to go with the flow.
Onto the clothes! Browns are not my usual choice but I had no choice. Everything for the shoot was arranged meticulously in order on a rail with my details attached. I had three outfits from Country Road - all in browns and rich autumn shades. I am summer not autumn but I quite enjoyed the novelty of wearing something different. They were finished with Ilse and I was called over to the photographer to strut my stuff - I was terrified! Antonio took about a hundred photos and told me I looked gorgeous - lovely - stunning - beautiful - perfect!!! In between wardrobe changes I was fastened in and out of the shoes - 'them shoes were not made for walking'! My stylist - that sounds so good - the lovely Sarah-Adriana Butler dashed on and off the shoot to arrange my jacket, hands, jewelry and other fiddly bits. I relaxed and enjoyed the whole shebang!
What I learned.
Woman & Home operate under the UK W&H banner and are quite strictly quality managed to protect the brand. They take the British magazine and adapt it to include local content.The shoot was basically a replica of an article that was featured in the October 2011 UK Woman&Home. The women featured and the brand of clothes we wore were local but the set, colours and even the style and wardrobe palette were identical to the UK feature. They do it this way to save them time conceptualising and to keep uniformity in their brand. I wandered if it was restrictive but the image editor and those on set seem to welcome this.
I also learned what hard work goes into a photo shoot and how time consuming perfection is. The magazine feature was over 4 pages and took a whole day to shoot - not to mention the editing and photo-shopping that must have taken place afterwards.
I learned how young people are who work in the magazine industry. Any thoughts or fantasies I may have vaguely fostered about writing for that market are not going to come to fruition - everyone on the set was about 3 or 4 decades younger than me!
I learned the value of confidence and how it shows when you are in the spot light!
I learned that brown really doesn't suit me! Seeing the photographs I would have looked much prettier in my red dress!!!
I learned that all good things come to an end and after the shoot, the make up came off and I changed back into my own clothes, the taxi came to collect me and, after cheery goodbyes, I was whisked back to the airport on the Gautrain and came down to earth with a bump as the aircraft landed in PE. The red carpet dissolved and I was just Sue from PE again! Quite happily Sue from PE! I had a lovely day - Thanks to Woman and Home.