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Our Creative Director, Veronique Henderson, on our latest book shoot

My name is Veronique Henderson (I was French a very long time ago!) and for the past 30 years I have had the best job ever as Creative Director of Colour Me Beautiful. Our head office is based in South London. We are a small team and we all wear many hats. One of my hats is that of co-writing all the Colour Me Beautiful books with my partner in crime, Pat Henshaw ( Hopefully they will have inspired many of you, wherever you are in the world, to discover YOUR style and YOUR colouring. It’s all about YOU.

You are all individuals with your own characteristics and preferences, however, in a book, we have to work with the main body shape and colouring groups. I think of our books as style manuals, really, with lots of images and easy-to-follow advice. So, we have this third edition of Colour Me Beautiful (Hamlyn) coming out in early 2014. This title has been a real journey. The first edition came out in 2006, the second in 2010 and every time we fine tune it to fit with our ever-evolving world. This time, we are going global with lots of skin tones to reflect our diverse world. We’ll also talk a bit about work wear and how to dress for various types of jobs.

So, to the shoot! The shoot was in Hoxton and I discovered a car park for £9.00 a day – a snip in this gorgeous capital city! A shoot takes weeks of preparation. For this shoot we employed twenty-one models, thirteen of them were Colour Me Beautiful consultants and the rest were professionals. We made the selection based on the following: their colouring, body shape, height, age, size, proportions, scale, length of hair, proximity to London (though one came all the way from Lebanon) and their willingness to put themselves through the experience. Organising all these lovely women was no mean feat. And then, of course, we had to shop!

We had a pretty good idea of who was going to appear on which page (we had to make sure that the same model didn’t appear on consecutive pages). Yasia, our lovely art director at Hamlyn, very kindly suggested we had the help of a stylist (Nikki Ahmed Niki spent five whole days calling the fashion PRs, shopping, carrying, hanging, dragging, whilst Pat and I did the same. We all finally met up on the day before the shoot at the studio. We had six rails of clothes arranged in colour order, within which the garments were arranged in size orders. Then we had to pray that we had the right clothes for each and everyone! And not only clothes but shoes (high, flat, dressy, daytime, sporty, sandals, brogues, boat shoes, etc.); handbags of varying styles and sizes and the jewellery too from pearls to metallic cuffs to colourful statement necklaces, I could go on and on. Lastly, we always bring some bathrobes so that the models can relax in between make-up and being photographed. I nearly forgot the tights this time and we need enough to suit a range of skin tones and in a range of deniers from 5 to opaque, to colourful to plain. You name it, we need it, just in case!

So, once we carted the whole lot to the 4th floor, we were ready to go. It was an intense five days with lots of people involved. We had two hair and make-up artists (Victoria Barnes, one make-up intern (the lovely Ruby); our lovely stylist Nikki and her assistant Rosie (who lovingly steamed every single garment – more than once sometimes), the fabulous Ruth – our photographer extraordinaire – and Julie her assistant, Yasia, the Hamlyn art director, Claire, our editing director, Henry, studio manager (who got sent out quite a few times when a lot of disrobing was going on!) and finally Pat and I who tried to remain calm and remember what we were trying to demonstrate with each picture. So, that’s twelve of us before the models arrived.

We were all there by 8.30 (I actually arrived earlier and found a coffee shop to read the newspaper in peace and quiet). The models were scheduled to arrive between 9 and 1.00 so that they each had their turn at hair and make-up without having to queue. However, before they got to hair and make-up, they had to be styled. I was the keeper of the lists of who was wearing what colours and styles so that no one clashed. The days were long days and we were on our feet all from beginning to end; we were lucky if we got ten minutes to sit down and grab lunch.

By 6.00 pm I was ready for the longish drive to my home in West London (the shoot was the same week as the Chelsea Flower Show, so you can imagine the traffic on the embankment).

So that’s it from this sexagenarian – I understand why there are not that many of us (sexagenarians) doing these kind of shoots, they are jolly exhausting! Following the shoot we had to return the clothes, the shoes, the handbags, the jewellery … and then Pat and I had to finish the copy too!

Over and out.