Penny Martin of The Gentlewoman tells the story of the makeup/tube shoot!

26 September 2011

The Gentlewoman Magazine cover issue #4

We squealed with delight when we first saw the editorial in the new season Gentlewoman - the fabulous biannual magazine for modern women - of four top flight fashion editors applying their makeup discreetly on the tube. Of course, us fashion fanatics are just as fascinated (nosy parkers you say?) by our heroes in magazines as we are by the designers and models - (just think of Anna Dello Russo) so this feature really captured the collective imagination. We noticed that in the subsequent pick-up on the blogs (like Disney Roller Girl for example) were comments and speculation over the likelihood of the likes of Paula Reed (Grazia) and Penny Martin of The Gentlewoman et al, travelling on grubby London public transport, let alone taking the opportunity to touch up thier makeup en route. Well, Grazia Daily happened to know that although fashionistas DO use their Oyster cards to get around just like mere mortals; but, on the makeup front, we couldn't really picture it to be honest. Chaotic people like Grazia Daily are much more likely to indulge in a spot of public plastering than these grown-up creatures of poise.

Penny Martin applies makeup on the tube

There was only one with for it. We tracked down Penny at the shows to find out the story behind the story . . .

Grazia Daily: It's such a familar concept to London-dwellers. What gave you the idea to make it into a fashion shoot?

Penny Martin: We're always thinking of different ways to approach classic editorial genres: I guess you could say this is our 'make-up story'. But of course, it's much more fun to do something like this with real women - especially editors of fashion magazine who aren't exactly known for travelling by Tube. I can't say I was thrilled at the prospect of being photographed myself initially, but with something like this, where you're asking fellow editors to have a laugh at themselves, it felt important to be part of the joke. I'm totally thrilled Paula, Holly [Shackleton of i-D] and Sophia [Neophitou of 10] were game.

Our fashion director Jonathan Kaye came up with the idea. He and I both use the Piccadilly Line and were telling Jop, [van Bennekom] our Creative Director, about these women that put on a full face of make-up on the Tube. But of course, he's Dutch and cycles everywhere and so didn't really believe us that women are that brazen. I'm afraid to say I spent about two weeks taking illicit snaps during my commute to convince him of the portraiture potential: there are some real beauties on the east-bound Piccadilly! One of the reference snaps is reproduced in the reference section at the back of the magazine.

GD: Are you personally, a pro-public-makeuper, or anti (we ask because it's been known to ignite quite a fierce debate between us in the Grazia office)

PM: My mother comes from the Isle of Arran in Scotland and she's a big stickler for manners – chewing in public, that sort of thing, so I'd always considered the idea of turning something so private into a performance utterly verboten. But since the shoot, I've had a go with the odd mascara application and it's actually quite fun.

GD: AND – on a practical level, was it hard for each  of you and the photographer to get the shot, for instance, did you go in the middle of the night, or on a Sunday to have enough space?

PM: Considering the fact that it's rare for me to get a seat on the way into work in the mornings, it was actually really easy.

How kind you are for answering our questions!

-Naomi Attwood


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