The Gentlewoman


Way back in November, I got an email from a magazine saying I’d been recommended for an interview. As I skim-read the message on my phone, I assumed it was for a job. Although, I thought it was a bit strange that they were asking for my age and a full length portrait.

I sent back a response with details of what I’d been working on, and attached a rather hideous photo of myself mid-ramble at a conference. I didn’t expect to hear anything back, but a few days later I got a smart-looking magazine through my door and an email arranging a date with a photographer, writer and a stylist.

Cover of The Gentlewoman
Issue 3, with Adele on the cover

The magazine, named The Gentlewoman, had just published its second issue. It looked very stylish. The cover had a matte feel, almost like leather, the headings were in Futura against big photographs. There were interviews with women including Yoko Ono, and at the back of each issue, a feature on a “young gentlewoman”.

“The Gentlewoman is a new biannual style magazine for a new decade. Featuring inspirational, international women, it pairs ambitious journalism with a sartorial and intelligent perspective on fashion that is focused on personal style — the way women actually look, think and dress.”

Anyone who knows me well will appreciate that I’m a bit of a disaster area when it comes to fashion. There’s not a lot that stresses me out more than shopping for clothes, especially shoes, and I apply makeup like a 4-year-old on a sugar high. Being a developer and working from home means I don’t have to worry about looking nice. So someone asking to put me in a physical copy of a high-brow magazine felt very bizarre.

Yet here it is.

Article from The Gentlewoman

I was photographed by Clare Shilland, my stylist was Beth Fenton, Annabel Callum did my makeup and the text was written by Katrina Dodd.

We did 2 shoots altogether; one in a studio in London (in the snow), and one in my flat and on the streets of Brighton. I had my hair and makeup done, and Beth picked me out a gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana skirt suit, as well as a lovely pair of heels (which you can’t see in the shot). We rearranged the furniture in my flat, pushing the sofa up against the white wall, taking advantage of the natural light from windows.

It was surprisingly hard work. I was pinned into my clothes so they’d fit properly, and holding positions without looking tense wasn’t easy.

After doing a few rolls of film indoors (no digital here), we headed outside. It was freezing and I walk like C-3PO when I’m wearing heels, even when my skirt isn’t pinned up. Clare took a few more photos, and the girls kindly wrapped me in my coat every time the sun went in.

Eventually I had to change back into my geek uniform and get back to my code.

I’ve been waiting for my copy of the magazine with nervous excitement. It will probably arrive on my doorstep while I’m visiting the States, but I’ve been sent a preview of the article while it’s being posted. I still can’t believe I’m in a magazine that’s featured Yoko Ono and Adele Adkins, and that I can pick it up at a newsstand when I visit New York later this month.

Its definitely changed my attitude to fashion. I’m making a bit more of an effort with clothes, I even bought a pair of heels. And wore them. My makeup bag has makeup in it now, although I’m still pulling on my hoodie and slippers when I’m working from home. And no, I couldn’t keep the suit, but the fact I’d worn it was enough. To a developer anyway.