Readorama Fashionista


Uber-cool author girl, Sarra Manning has created a brand spankin’ new series about four models/celebrities who share a flat in London.

The first book, Laura, is all about the winner of reality TV show Make Me a Model.
Laura thinks that by being pretty damn gorgeous and beating over 12,000 girls to get onto Fierce’s modelling books she will gain insta-access to a super-cool modelling career, turns out, not so much.

Her friends and boyfriend aren’t being as understanding as she’d like, her new flatmates are crazy for fame and her booker thinks she’s too fat.

Pretty soon, Laura stands to lose everything (except possibly weight…)

If you think you already know all you need to know about the fashion industry, think again! Sarra is a totes original when it comes to storytelling, and while this book is a li’l less deep and dark than her previous books, it still delivers a killer behind-the-scenes insight – we find out more about Laura and the books from the author-girl herself…

sarram.jpgFashionista? What’s one of them exactly?
Well my handy Microsoft word dictionary reckons that a fashionista is “somebody who is a devoted enthusiast of the fashion industry.” Whatevs! I like the definition I came up with for the series:

fash_ion-is-ta – Noun

Pronounciation: [fash-uhn –ee-stuh]


1. Someone who eats, sleeps, breathes and lives for fashion.
2. Someone who works in the fashion industry.
3. Someone who would never be seen dead in last season’s looks

Is this fabulous new series prompted by your behind-the scenes knowledge of all things glam and fabulous?
The series was definitely inspired by my days on Ellegirl and What To Wear as hordes of gangly girls would troop in and hand me their portfolios so I could look at photos of them transformed into these unbelievably beautiful, sparkling visions. Which actually wasn’t so glamorous and made me want to lock myself in the fashion cupboard with a family-sized bar of Dairy Milk. I did a lot of ‘research’ by clocking up many hours watching every single foreign version of Next Top Model ever recorded. I also got some great stories from my fashion friends though they were way too scandalous to use in a teen series. I was worried that some of the things that happened to Laura were too far-fetched but actually they didn’t even come close to what really goes on.

As an ed-girl and writer for some major fashion magazine titles, would you give yourself the title ‘fashionista’ and what does it mean to you?

As I’m currently wearing Uniqlo leggings with a big hole in one of the knees and a £4 tunic from Primark probably not so much! I would maybe call myself a fashionista because I love the infinite possibilities of dressing up and the way I can express and transform myself through my clothes and accessories. I’m totally with Virginia Woolf when she said, “You are what you wear.” So I think ‘fashionista’ is like a pair of jeans. You take the word and customise it to suit you.

What is your ultimate style bible and why?

Well, I adore the fabulous website my friend Erin runs because I believe in the power of the dress above all other garments. Fashion magazine wise it would probably be Vogue Italia because their photo shoots by amazing photographers like Elaine Constantine are so inspiring rather than slavishly telling their readers what they should be wearing. It’s fashion as high art. And I would also give a nod to Fabulous Nobodies by Lee Tulloch, which was a great book that every girl should read. Seriously it should be on the national curriculum. Quite simply, it’s about a girl who’s in love with her clothes and she has a closet full of fabulous frocks with names like Gina and Dolores and when she opens the door they beg her to wear them.

We heart accessorising – what’s your favourite accessory and why?

I sound like such a fashion bitch but I want to be buried with my massive Marc Jacobs, limited edition, multi-pocket, peacock blue with red top-stitching handbag. It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought (apart from my house) and it’s given me RSI but when I sling it over my shoulder, I feel so wonderfully fabulous. Hey, they don’t call them It-bags for nothing! But at the other end of the spectrum, I don’t think a girl can ever have enough hair-clips and cute canvas pumps from New Look.

Tell us what a typical day in the life of Sarra is like…
I’m definitely not a morning person. I get up about 9.30 and it takes many cups of coffee to get me kick-started. I do about four hours writing a day, whether it’s articles or working on a book or whatever but that’s interspersed with too much time faffing about on the interpipe. I don’t think there are many writers that can bang away at a keyboard for eight hours straight. I usually go to the gym in the afternoon so I don’t start speaking in tongues and then I come home and do a bit more work before I close Microsoft Word down at about 9.30 in the evening and proceed to veg until I go to bed at about 2.30. Though I should point out that I do sometimes leave my nabe and I do have a social life too, though I do worry that I’m too busy creating fictional lives to properly have one of my own!

If Fashionistas had a soundtrack – what tracks would it have on it and why?

Each book starts with a song quote so I’d definitely pick those four songs (copyright approval permitting!) which are:

Dress Up In You
 by Belle And Sebastian because it’s so appropriate for Laura’s story, especially the verse:

I always loved you
You always had a lot of style
I’d hate to see you on the pile
Of nearly-made-its
You’ve got the essence, dear
If I could have a second skin
I’d probably dress up in you

For Hadley, a child star fallen on hard times, I chose The Auteurs’ Bailed Out. Irina got Beautiful Freak by The Eels because she is one and Candy’s theme tune was Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain for the line, “You’re so sheer, you’re so chic/Teenage rebel of the week.”

What else would be on it? Last Bitter Song by Hello SaferideCountry Mile by Camera ObscuraGo Ahead by Rilo KileyWe Get On by Kate NashAin’t Never Been Cool by Lucky Soul and Hurricanes by Au Revoir Simone. I think the series is about four girls who appear to be living this glamorous life but beneath the surface each of them has secrets and feels like they don’t belong. These songs really drive that message home for me.

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