Mimi Talks to Kathleen Baird-Murray Part 1

BATD ON May 20, 2009 AT 2:39 pm

Kathleen Baird-Murray

Kathleen Baird-Murray

Model, Beauty Journalist and now Author, is there anything Kathleen Baird-Murray isn’t good at? Here, she gives us the inside scoop on life as a Beauty Journalist, and we also get to take  a peek inside her make-up bag. Read on to find out more…

Is Face Value’s fictional journalist, Kate Miller, based on someone you know?
No. Unless you count me! I grew up in Maidstone, and when I first started writing about beauty I was probably a little snobby about it, just as Kate is.

The protagonist of your novel grapples with the idea of plastic surgery. What is your view on the subject?
Like Kate, I started out by being vehemently against it. But then I remember talking to Professor Ivo Pitanguy once, and he said I shouldn’t assume that everyone is like me. I think that was his polite way of saying I shouldn’t be so judgmental. Now I’m just against bad plastic surgery. Wind-tunnel face-lifts, rock-hard melons for breasts… truly awful, all of it!

Face Value by Kathleen Baird Murray

Face Value by Kathleen Baird Murray

How did you get started as a beauty journalist?
I started doing work experience on magazines when I was 17. I studied Law at Sussex University, when really I should have been studying English or History as I’d always wanted to write and had no intention of being a lawyer. After journalism college in Cardiff, the only jobs on offer were on provincial newspapers but I’d just spent six months in Cardiff, I wasn’t about to put off a move to London any more. I had a contact at You and Your Wedding Magazine – the editor there used to book me on jobs as a model when she’d worked at other magazines, and she was kind enough to give me a job as an editorial assistant. It was a great magazine – there were only five of us so you learned a lot very quickly, but after a couple of years I couldn’t look at wedding dresses any more. I was covering beauty for them as well as everything else, and I felt it presented a challenge, it also allowed me to meet other journalists. I got on well with the beauty director at ELLE, Anna-Marie Solowij and was shocked when she didn’t give me the job of deputy. But fate intervened as the person she hired left after a day, so I got the job by default!

Kathleen Baird-Murray

Kathleen Baird-Murray

You’ve worked at a number of publications throughout your career, what are your fondest memories?
Marie Claire in Australia was brilliant for the lifestyle it gave me – I lived a stone’s throw from the beach at Bondi. I also learned so much

from the editor, Jackie Frank. ELLE was fun because I worked with really talented people – my editor, Nicola Jeal was about two foot high and you couldn’t see her coming up to your desk and pouncing on you just when you were making a personal phone-call. Because she used to work on newspapers she’d often ask you to stop what you were doing and write 1000 words on riding a scooter and could you please file it in the next hour, so it was very exciting. Frank was amazing – you could call the top beauty experts or fashion designers in the world and they’d return your call straight away, they loved the magazine so much. But Tatler was probably my favourite. A three day week, amazing perks, I had really wonderful deputies and assistants who I had a lot of fun with, and as a writer it’s one of the few magazines where you can approach beauty from a slightly different angle or stand-point. Plus Conde Nast is a very civilised place to be. Everyone leaves at around 6, there’s none of that martyrdom you find on other mags where if you don’t stay late it’s frowned upon. All of this makes me sound like a slacker, but when you have kids, it’s good to be at home on time!

Click here to read part 2

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