For the past 10 years of my life as a glossy magazine editor, I have been immersed in the world of celebrity. Not only do I live through the production of an A-list cover shoot every month, I am also involved in the annual celebrity fest that is the Elle Style Awards (and numerous other famous name-filled events throughout the year).
This month, for example, I have chaperoned Claudia Schiffer at Graduate Fashion Week, hosted Viktor & Rolf’s gala party at the opening of their Barbican exhibition, and co-hosted The Edge of Love’s London premiere with Sienna Miller, our July cover girl, and Keira Knightley.
I suppose I have become an accidental expert on celebrity, and this much I know – it is like herding cats. Nothing ever happens in the way it has been planned, and you are always surprised by what does eventually occur. You need three things to deal with this particular tribe: Patience, patience and more patience.
There are a few simple rules to follow. Number one, never be star-struck and never be lost for words. Like a mother of the bride, you have to make the people (in this case famous ones) feel comfortable from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave. I read all the interviews they have done before meeting them so I am armed with small-talk ammunition, and I make sure I have seen their most recent work.
Rule two, you have to have a thick skin. More often than not, the star you meet – whose persona has been projected by her publicist – is not the diva-like demon you expect; you simply have to deal with the hard sell and tough negotiations of the agent knowing that usually ‘the talent’is much more down to earth than you have been led to believe.
Generally, the more famous a star is, the easier the whole project will be – it’s those nearer to Z-list who cause the most trouble. For example, Kylie Minogue, Kate Hudson, Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller have been my most favourite recent covers – these women were so much fun and such hard workers on the day that I would happily have removed all the blue Smarties from the tube for them. There are other less-stellar names who make shoots or events feel as though you’re dealing with a two-year-old.
Rule three, you have to remain open-minded about what you may witness. If you’re easily shocked then step away from the famous person.
And, finally, if you can’t keep a straight face when someone tells you that the client is three hours late because their pet newt got lost in a famous New York underwear store, your career in the world of celebrity is over.