It’s been ten years since Camilla Morton’s witty and eye-opening How to Walk in High Heels hit the shelves to guide young women on anything and everything. Her latest book Make Life Beautiful encourages readers to go back to basics and be creative through multiple how-to guides from some of the world’s biggest names in fashion.
“If you just
really do what
you love and
what you believe
then I think
Bake shoe biscuits with Manolo Blahnik, design a scarf dress with Matthew Williamson, create a personalised jumper with Bella Freud or construct a fashion statement apron with Roland Mouret. Jemima Forbes interviewed Camilla about her latest book and what’s next for her at the Sole of the Party shoe celebration at Selfridges Exchange Square.
Make Life Beautiful seems like quite a different concept from your other books. How exactly did the idea come about?
The whole book is basically about ‘turn off the internet, turn on your imagination’ rather than spending evenings googling something or shopping or not engaging with people. It’s just about doing something unexpected and being a bit creative. I just went to some designers with these funny ideas and was very lucky that they got on board and thought it would be a fun thing to do.
Do you feel this book is suited to a wide age group?
I’d like to think it is. I think it’s just about using your imagination and I don’t think imagination has a sell by date or an age limit to it. I don’t think it matters and I also think with each of the projects there are different elements that could inspire you. Some of these things could be fun to do at girl’s parties, hen nights or in a group as much as on your own. I think anyone can find some joy in them and it’s just how you chose to apply them and whether you want to do them. The world’s your oyster really.
Which designer ‘how-to’ is your favourite in this book?
It varies every day and every time I flick through it because I think of the people as much as the projects. I love them all because I love the people and I love the projects. I mean I love shoes. I love the Manolo Blahnik biscuits and I love the Piers Atkinson project where you load your Barbie shoes up and make a geisha headband. It depends each day what I’m in the mood for.
When you write your books, do you usually have several designers in mind that you would love to include?
With magazines and show reviews you’re dictated by where you’re sent or what your story is but with books you’re able to be quite self-indulgent and you pick people that you like and the people that you think are magical. For this book in particular, because it’s called Make Life Beautiful, I wanted to pick the people who were the most inspired.
What are your future plans? Is there another book coming soon?
I’m actually working on a few books at the moment. I really liked doing the series of fairy stories- I’ve written a few more of those and I might continue in that series. Make Life Beautiful was quite a feat to organise with this many designers. In How to Walk in High Heels I think I had six quotes and here I’ve got 57 contributors. Rather than going to a show I think I put on a fashion week there! This book is really inspiring and it kind of did make life beautiful for me again because it took me in a different direction and now I’m working on commissioning and nurturing other people’s books. I also have a fiction which I’m working on that will be a little bit further down the line.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion authors?
I think honestly, go for it. Read everything you can and then find your voice and your style of writing. Nowadays everybody is a critic but if you’ve got a real opinion and a real voice than you can create authority with it. If you just really do what you love and what you believe then I think anything is possible. Writing is quite a solitary thing and can be quite a lonely occupation. If you surround yourself with amazing people that inspire you, and fashion does have a lot of extraordinary personalities, then it can really spark you to do things that you really didn’t expect.