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Taylor Made For Modelling

Supermodels and the fashion industry were a bit of an obsession for me when I was in my early teens. I was on the brink of becoming a young woman and suddenly clothes, make-up and looking super hot in order to bag the boys was all that mattered in life! It’s no wonder I looked to the supermodels for inspiration (weird considering I’m as far removed from ‘supermodel as you can get – but still no harm in trying!) I still find it hard to decide who my fave supermodel was but American model, Niki Taylor was most definitely in the top ten.  So naturally, I was thrilled to see an article featuring Supermodel of the nineties, Niki Taylor in the British press yesterday as the cover girl and mum of four made an appearance at Badgley Mischka runway show during Mercedes-Benz  Fashion Week.

Despite having the Cindy-style mole, Niki Taylor didn’t have the same level of Cindy-style fame in the UK and was probably one of the least known of the supers on this side of the Atlantic despite having started modelling at the age of thirteen and going on to grace the covers of Seventeen and Vogue. However, along with her late sister, Krissy Taylor, Niki was definitely one of my favourite models. One of the things I liked about Niki was that even though she was stunningly beautiful, she still had this earthy naturalness about her. She was beautiful but she could have been any girl on the beach or on the street (though obviously the girl who’d be attracting the most attention!) Although she was as equally beautiful as the other 90s supermodels – incidentally a term Cindy Crawford is quoted as saying she hated – she didn’t overdo the glam factor as many of her modelling contemporaries did. But then again, she didn’t have to do so; she had this unique girl-next-door beauty that was all her own. Niki looked at home sashaying down the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week as she did rollerblading down the sun-drenched streets of her Florida home.

In Britain, Niki is best remembered as being the first spokesmodel for Cover Girl Cosmetics – a brand that was very short-lived over here although it is still going strong in the States. As a young girl entering her early teenage years and beginning to develop an interest in make-up, my favourite supermodel’s association with Cover Girl is partly the reason why I favoured their products. Furthermore, after it was revealed that Niki swore by Beverly Hills Toothpaste to keep her pearly whites glowing, guess who started using the same brand of toothpaste? I used it religiously for years, and still use it occasionally today.

I also remember Niki’s role as a fashion/style advisor in Looks magazine – a magazine I purchased every month religiously. Readers would write in with their fashion and beauty dilemmas and Niki would solve them. After a few years, this role was then passed on to another model (Caprice, I think) but it just wasn’t the same and I missed Niki.

Although her career has constantly been on the rise, the model’s personal life has been a series of highs and lows (but then, who’s hasn’t!) She surprised everyone back in 1993, when a few months after graduating from high school, a nineteen year old Niki married  former Miami Hooters line-backer, Matt Martinez, after a whirlwind romance. The pair eloped to Las Vegas although they did eventually have a more traditional ceremony in 1994. Niki was already pregnant by then and when on to have twin sons, Jake and Hunter.

 

Unfortunately the marriage didn’t last, and along with the collapse of her relation with Martinez, some low points in Niki’s  life included a near-fatal car crash, and more tragically, the sad passing of her younger sister Krissy.

But life today for Niki gives her good reason to flash that megawatt smile. Now married to NASCAR driver, Burney Lamar, Niki is also mum to four year old daughter Ciel and toddler Rex, as well as Jake and Hunter who are now big strapping lads of nineteen. It’s hard to believe as Niki has lost none of her teen model looks!

I’m so glad that there’s still interest in Niki even though she likes to keep a fairly low-profile. The nineties supers always bring back very happy memories of flicking thorough fashion mags; experimenting with hair and make-up and shopping trips with my friends. And I have Niki and co. to thank for that.

 

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Bella! Where Did You Go?

Dear Editor of Bella

One of my absolute favourite magazines was Bella. I first started buying it when I was twelve, back in the 1990s (yes, twelve) although I would always pretend it was for my mum so that I didn’t get a ribbing from my mates. The truth was Mum was lucky if she even got to see the front cover. It was on sale every Thursday, and I have fond memories of popping over to the paper shop that was across the road from the school at the end of the school day and buy a copy. I couldn’t wait to get home and read it from cover to cover. I can’t quite explain what the appeal was. There was something quite grown up about buying a magazine aimed at women at such a young age – and let’s face it – we all want to be grown up when we’re in our early teens! The crafts and cookery pages appealed to the creative side of me, and I loved collecting the recipe ‘cards’ – a page which contained cut out and keep recipes.

bella-logo

 

There were certain features I would read religiously. Precious Moments, where readers wrote in describing touching moments in their lives; Talking Point always raised interesting topics such as remaining a virgin until you were married or not being hired because you were too attractive (hmmm… come to think of it, the lady in that feature did look a lot like a young Samantha Brick…) My Own Story, which was a double page feature detailing a heart-rending moment in a reader’s life. I liked reading about different issues relating to friendships and romantic relationships on the Relationships page. I collected all the top tips and the Overheard part of the letters page – where readers would write in with things they had overheard while they were out and about – always made me laugh.

 

Bella in the 1990s

Bella in the 1990s

 

 

The Secret I Must Share was an absolute drop-everything-and-read feature where people talked about secrets they probably wouldn’t even tell their best friend. The very first one I read was about a mother who had encouraged her young son to steal before he could even walk – at eight he had become a real handful. Then there was the woman who had been having an affair with her American colleague for twelve years. People often used to say that the stories in the ‘Secret’ pages were made up. I don’t know if they were or not but I do know that they made very entertaining reading.

And oh my goodness, I LOVED THE FICTION PAGES! There would always be two stories each week. One would be a longer length romantic story and the other was my ultimate favourite, Mini Mystery which always featured the silhouette of a man with a magnifying glass as part of it’s logo and was typically a tale with a twist – which is my favourite type of tale. When I was fifteen, my English teacher read a short story I wrote and said that that was exactly the kind of ‘tale with a twist’ that she was trying to get out of her sixth formers. Well, perhaps they should have started reading Bella at twelve too!

 

Bella, as I used to know and love it.

Bella, as I used to know and love it.

 

I loved Bella‘s ‘realness’. It didn’t overdo the celebrity phenomenon and contained just the right amount of celebrity news. Bella was primarily about real people with real stories. Another plus point was that the cover star was always an unknown model rather than a famous face, which indicated that this was a magazine for ‘every woman.’ When I first started reading Bella, it was very much a non-colour magazine, with many of it’s features in black and white but nonetheless the magazine was far from bland or dated, although the introduction of colour photos was a welcome addition and for years very little about the magazine changed. Bella stuck to the format that readers knew and loved.

I can’t remember when I stopped buying Bella. It was definitely more than a decade ago. I know I remember thinking that it just wasn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong – I know that change can be necessary in order to keep things fresh and exciting rather than to stick to the same old format and allow things to go stale. But when the old format is a winning one, are so many changes really necessary?

Nostalgia took over last week when I decided to buy the latest copy of Bella. The first thing I noticed was that there were photos of five – that’s right, FIVE – celebrities on the cover alone. This proved to be telling. The first thirteen pages were dedicated to famous faces. This was then followed by several more pages of celebrity related features. True there were some real life stories but not nearly enough. All of my favourite features were long gone and worst of all, so were the fiction pages. In the ‘old days,’ I’d spend a good proportion of time reading Bella cover to cover. Now I could read it in well under an hour. The glossy, revamped version is definitely a far cry from what it used to be. Even the paper it’s printed on is different and there are way too many advertisements. I suspect that the main aim is to appeal to a more younger audience rather than those who have faithfully read Bella for years. But remember, I started buying the old-school Bella when I was twelve years old. How much younger would you like your audience to be?

 

The copy of Bella I recently bought

The copy of Bella I recently bought

 

The Bella I used to know was from 20 years ago so I understand that magazines have to reinvent themselves a little according to demand and changing times. However, Bella is now almost unrecognisable: it has gone from having varied content containing a bit of everything, recipes; readers stories; fiction; crafts; health; beauty; home design and more, to -and I’m really sorry to say it – a bland, uninteresting, watered down version of a celeb magazine. In fact it is now like every other women’s magazine out there and no longer stands out from the crowd. It’s lost it’s unique charm and appeal and has nothing different to offer.

I’ve read reviews concerning the ‘new’ Bella and it seems as though a lot of ex-readers are echoing my sentiments. It would be fantastic if you could bring back at least a few of the old faves and I would definitely love to see the fiction pages back where they belong. This may seem hard to believe but not everyone is interested in what celebs are getting up to or what they’re wearing. Most of us are actually bored with celeb news. Don’t believe me? Just check out the reviews. The irony is that magazine sales must be good otherwise the magazine would have folded a long time ago. But I’m pretty sure that many of those purchasing Bella are not the older readership. Anyone who has read Bella in the past and compared it to the more modern version will definitely see the difference in quality.

 

Bella from 1988. Bring it back Ed - you know you want to!

Bella from 1988. Bring it back Ed – you know you want to!

 

I was inspired to write this letter after a reader urged fellow (or former) readers to write to the editor and complain in a bid to bring back the old look Bella which we miss dearly. However, as much as we want that, I can’t see it happening which is very sad. Publishers seem to think that fashion and celebrity sell and maybe it does… but it’s not for everyone. I’m so glad I grew up in an era where we weren’t all so celeb-mad and our every move wasn’t dictated by what famous people we were never likely to meet were doing. I’m from the school of if ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ so the total revamp, in my opinion, was unnecessary but clearly not everyone feels the same way. This letter is just my way of letting you know how much your old readership miss the old Bella… and how we have treasured memories of our once favourite read!

Angel

gingham-apron-pie-lady2

 

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