I had a chat with Camilla Morton, London-based fashion writer and all round jolly nice person about her books, cats, fashion designers and blonde hair.
Camilla, we must have known each other for over 10 years! I seem to remember we bonded through our love of blonde hair, and in fact me commenting on my roots. Is that how you remember it?
I think it might have been longer than that - I was at St. Martins, working for Channel One TV and I was calling up all the designers to get biographies, press releases, anything to help prepare scripts in the days pre-google. I remember most PRs being quite snooty and not that keen to help a cable TV station that they had never heard of... Julien (Macdonald) was just about to do his first presentation at the Gallery, with the Sean Ellis photos... I had somewhat blagged my TV experience (nill), as had most of my team but on the fashion front I was determined to be the expert so each season I would compile these 'bibles' for the presenters on who was who... When I called you I started off with my posh voice on but you weren't remotely interested in cable TV and explained it was an installation, which was sort of a posh party and pretty soon we got onto what we would wear, who was going, and how you were working so hard you hadn't even had a chance to get your roots done! I had in mind that you were some high fashion type and were sat on a throne a la Sarah Stockbridge! Once we had discussed roots, hazards of heels and door policies of the shows it was like we had known each other forever...
You are a very, very successful writer and author, how do the ideas for your books come about?
I don't really see myself as a 'successful writer/author', I still see myself as that fashion intern with wide-eyed fascination at this glamorous and strange world. Its funny - the DVF book is my fifth book - I still don't really think of myself as an author though, I am more an observer, I get to go to these amazing spectacles, meet the most extraordinary people, I have been very very lucky. I have been able to meet and work with people like Isabella Blow, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and see the most beautiful couture and ready to wear shows... Its no wonder I ended up writing a version of fairytales because I was surrounded by fantasy. My trouble is I have too many ideas - this is my third published fairytale but I have about 6 currently spinning about in my head, jostling for my attention, its more a question of having the time to capture all the ideas and sculpt them to life. The next book I am going to work on is going to be a How to - as I think its time I brought out the next installment of How to Walk in High Heels, and it will give me the opportunity to explore a ton of new ideas as publishing as much as fashion has changed beyond recognition since we started (and indeed since How to Walk in High Heels was first published).
I love the designers you chose for your 'Fashion Tale Memoir' series, how did you select these?
Without meaning to sound to twee - they selected themselves. I went to designers that I admired and knew had magical souls. I am so grateful to dear Mr. Lacroix as when I went to see him the idea was very clear in my head but to no one else - I told him how I wanted to do his story as a fairytale, and for him to illustrate it. He said yes straight away. I went away and waited and waited. His company went into turmoil and I emailed and called and started to wonder where he was.... His assistant then emailed to ask when I would send the story - to which I replied no no I am waiting for the pictures - to which they replied they needed the story first so I just sat down, typed 'Once Upon a Time....' and it all started to come together. Once you let yourself slip into this fairytale like trance it is easy to pair the designer with the tale - and what I like is how each story weaves together with one of my favourite stories but also how it gives a new twist or a fairytale morale to both a classic and a modern dilemma.
Are the 'Fashion Tale Memoir' books suitable for children too?
They are suitable for anyone that loves fashion and enjoys fairytales... perhaps there are darker elements to some parts of the stories (as indeed there were with Grimm) but if mummies are reading the stories there are bold pull quotes on key pages so you can ad lib around these parts, also the illustrations I was very careful that for my younger readers the hook nose man always had the same hook nose, if our heroine had blonde hair it was always there and my publisher taught me how to play with illustration to tell the story with pictures as well as words. The week I would spend in New York on each book working with Lorie the Art Director putting the jigsaw together was always such an inspiring highlight of the whole experience.
You've had a very inspiring career so far, as well as your writing success you have worked with some amazing designers. What are the defining moments of your career so far?
I have loved meeting the people I have met - Manolo Blahnik, Mrs, Burstein, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Stephen Jones, Michael Howells, Pat McGrath - dazzling and inspiring geniuses that are warm lovely people as much as they are jaw-droppingly talented. Its hard to pick highlights - working with John Galliano and Steven Robinson will always hold a special place in my heart, as will all of the people who have collaborated with these books. Diane von Furtsenberg is a tour de force - she is such a visionary, so decisive and brilliant that she really transformed her book and made me up the writing as I wanted to have a story that was as empowering as her. I think life / destiny is full of surprises - I didn't think I would end up a writer - but through having my grotty hotel room in Paris ransacked I came up with the concept of How to Walk in High Heels that was my first book and a bestseller. I am always looking forward to the next adventure and challenge but also am very thankful for all I have seen and worked with so far - all great material for a memoir!
What makes you happy?
My friends, my family, curling up with my cat and a good book...
And, what is next for you?
As someone who has just been able to flit from one adventure to the next I don't like to look into the future - but I am ready for it whatever comes next! I am off to New York to do a book event with Diane von Furstenberg next Tuesday 11 in Bergdorf Goodmans, I have a LBD that makes me feel like a Christmas Fairy and then lets see what wish is granted after this.
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