Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Make Life Beautiful!

make life beautiful

This isn’t my usual choice of book – but I have just joined Bournemouth Libraries [I’m already signed up with Dorset] and grabbed my first half dozen books at the end of a shopping trip last week. I knew nothing about  Camilla Morton, I confess, but the title of the book intrigued me.

CM is a London-based fashion writer and author of How to Walk in High Heels – a book which “advises young women on everything from appreciating wine to understanding modern art, placing a bet to playing poker, wearing a hat, to finding the mains, and generally helping women to navigate life's challenges with style.”


Here she is with designer Matthew Williamson, one of the contributors to Make Life Beautiful. This book has contributions from 50 different people in the world of fashion; dress designers {Williamson, Ozbek] Shoemakers [Blahnik, Kirkwood] Bag-makers [Guinness, Cambridge Satchels] stores [Harrods, Liberty, Anthropologie, TopShop] milliners [Stephen Jones] Homewares [Kidston] and many others

They have each added an idea for making something inexpensive and ‘beautiful’ which the reader can copy. Harrods show how top dress a teddy bear in a Balmain outfit; Cath Kidston gives instructions on making imitation cakes with felt, sponges, and embroidery; Paul Smith customises a bicycle by wrapping the frame in coloured electrical tapes, Jasper Conran puts an orange felt lobster on a plain black cushion cover. Manolo Blahnik decorates biscuits to look like exotic shoes. There are ideas for personalising sweaters, making jewellery, turning a scarf into a dress…

blahnik biscuitchinti and parker sweater


Some of the ideas are fun, some quite crazy, most are colourful and made me smile. I have to say that none are particularly original – decorating biscuits, making sock puppets, or folding a paper hat out of newspaper, or making a mock Faberge egg are things which craftspeople have been doing for years- but the book has a certain quirkiness.

Anya Hindmarsh has a recipe for pretzels – and warns that you need rubber gloves and goggles! I notice that Paul Hollywood’s recipe on the BBC Food site is very similar, but doesn’t carry any safety warnings. Mary McCartney has a recipe for grinola [it’s ordinary granola, but she calls it grinola because it makes her smile]

Is this a serious craft book? well, no – many of the instructions are incomplete and require guesswork – and some of the ideas are too stupid to bother with. Does it give you ideas for making and creating and personalising things? yes it does.  Like Edith Schaeffer’s “Hidden Art” it works on the premise that we can make even everyday items interesting and beautiful – even if they are only flimsy and to be enjoyed for a brief time [like the paper “Hermes Handbag” or the straw scarecrow]

It was a fun read, and I did enjoy it, even if I doubt I shall ever copy many of the ideas.  I rate this ***  Will I search for How to walk in High Heels now? I doubt it – I was born in Essex, and high-heel-walking is in my genes!! [and playing poker is not my game at all]


  1. My Essex-genes lack the ability to walk in heels! It sounds intriguing if lacking in originality.x

  2. Would you believe that I have read the high heels book! On a worthier note I am trying to re-read hidden Art- it is beside my bed with Jane Brockett's Domesticity one. Unfortunately my brain seems to have utterly lost the capacity for concentration and thought. Hmm.


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