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The Cobham raised fashionista Louise Roe tells Emily Davis about her career in L.A. and who to watch at this month’s Academy Awards
The Oscar season is well and truly upon us and, when it comes to giving the great and the good of Hollywood a real dressing-down, nobody does it quite like Cobham raised fashion reporter Louise Roe.
Having served her time as Glamour magazine’s Fashion Editor at Large, the fashion writer turned TV presenter has been popping up on our radar since she guest judged on Britain’s Next Top Model and Project Catwalk, and hosted Style Network’s 10 Things I Hate About Me and Make Me a Supermodel back in 2008. The following year she hosted The Clothes Show for UKTV Style and, with a face for television and dress sense for the runway, it wasn’t long before Louise was snapped up stateside.
Now living in Beverly Hills and a regular fashion correspondent on the red carpet, Louise hosted Access Hollywood’s coverage of both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards last year, and she will be leading the Oscar fash-pack once again this year.
"I'll be on the red carpet at the Oscars for NBC’s morning show Access Hollywood, commenting on all the best (and worst) dresses," says Louise. “The Oscars are definitely the most important awards ceremony to look amazing at. They are the big kahuna! I’m looking at dresses to wear at the moment – I feel very lucky that it’s officially part of my job!”
Well, when you are fronting a show that draws in 30 million viewers, looking awesome isn’t optional. Still, we reckon the 32-year-old – who has been known to throw caution to the wind and ask her dedicated Twitter followers to vote for what she should wear – will look amazing whatever dress she chooses.
“I really enjoy the interaction that comes with being online; it’s so immediate and very honest,” she says, adding, “That said, I truly believe magazines will never go out of print. It’s a different experience to sit down with a cup of tea and carefully leaf through a copy of Vogue, than it is to quickly scroll through today’s showbiz gossip online. Plus, Vogue carried on being published through both World Wars, so I don’t think it will give up easily!”
As for the task at hand, picking the best dressed at the Academy Awards this month will be no small task; especially when the nominations for Best Actress include Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep. But, says Louise, there’s a new kid on the block who may well be stealing their thunder.
“Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) is my name to watch – both in the fashion and acting stakes. She was numero uno at the Golden Globes in January – she absolutely nailed it in her bright red, spectacular Ralph Lauren dress. The dress was super fitted and had a cape, which she teamed with matching bespoke velvet heels. It was dazzling. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to wear this time round!”
Louise’s job is not all ball gowns and Balenciaga though. When not analysing the threads of the big screen’s elite, she enjoys helping out us normal folk. As the presenter of Plain Jane on MTV International, the show that claims to transform one ‘ordinary, awkward and forgettable’ woman into a ‘sexy, confident’ woman each week, Louise effortlessly slides from reporter on the fashion frontline into her role of fairy godmother extraordinaire.
This, however, is a beauty reality show with a difference. Unlike the programmes Ten Years Younger and Extreme Makeover, Plain Jane steers clear of surgery and focuses on confidence-boosting techniques alongside a style overhaul.
“Ultimately, self esteem is the most important thing. It’s crucial. There’s no point putting a beautiful dress and make-up on a girl if she doesn’t have the confidence to pull it off. The difference in the women I work with by the end of the week is unbelievable – I love making Plain Jane, it’s very rewarding.”
And it’s not just those on the wrong side of fashion who have come under Louise’s eagle eye. Last year she replaced Elle Macpherson as host of NBC’s hit competition show, Fashion Star, appearing with the judges Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and designer John Varvatos. The series sees talented, aspiring designers compete to have their creations bought by major buyers, with one competitor being voted off each week (think X Factor for clothes).
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my favourites,” says Louise, speaking about the competitors. “But my role was to host, not to judge, so I had to keep my mouth shut on that front! The talent by the final few episodes was incredible.”
And with divas Jessica and Nicole on the panel, was it all plain sailing behind the scenes?
“It was,” confirms Louise. “From day one they were all so welcoming and kind. Jessica gave me a huge hug when we first met – she’s a doll. They’re all such dynamic, successful people with completely different backgrounds and it was fascinating to hear their different takes on each designer.”
But as glamorous and fast-paced as Louise’s new L.A. life may be, she still pines for her old stomping ground in Surrey.
“I came home for Christmas and I am back in Cobham a lot,” Louise assures me, adding, “I miss the cosy fireplace at home, the pubs, the Indian takeaway (you can’t find decent Indian food in L.A.), PG Tips, and my family. I can’t think of a more gorgeous place to have been raised. I grew up right next to the woods, and could hear horses galloping up the bridal path as a kid. I still love that sound, it reminds me of home.“
So, was Surrey where Louise’s romance with shoes and bags started?
“Well, my mum says that as soon as I could talk, I was fairly dogmatic about which outfit I wanted to wear – picking the little dress, the tights, the shiny shoes – when I was barely big enough to open the wardrobe door. So I guess fashion has always been important to me – but my main interest was writing.
“I would watch my Dad, who is a travel writer, put articles together in his study at home, and I was so inspired. My school in Guildford (the independent girls’ school Guildford High) had a couple of brilliant English teachers, who really nurtured that love I had for writing. Plus I pretty much lived in the Guildford Topshop on weekends too, which maybe had something to do with my shoe addiction now!”
Topshop may have been the epicentre of hot local fashion in Louise’s formative years, but a smattering of glitzy boutiques opening their doors in recent years has upped the anti somewhat. Louise agrees:
“Well before any of them were around, Bernard in Esher was always a treat to visit. But I have to say, Cobham’s boutiques are getting pretty chic! ”
High praise indeed, from our home grown red carpet queen.
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