What Not To Wear’s Trinny on her new makeup ven­ture

As co-host of one of the UK’s most-watched TV shows back in the noughties, Trinny Woodall told women what not to wear. Now she’s had her own rein­ven­tion. Louise Gan­non re­ports

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Trinny Woodall is sit­ting on a grey­blue vel­vet sofa sur­rounded by the cor­nu­copia of gleam­ing beauty prod­ucts that has taken over her chic Lon­don home. She is talk­ing – at the speed of Usain Bolt – about skin tones, high­lighters, her ‘vam­pire’ face lifts, a won­der vi­ta­min A cream from South Africa called Der­mas­tine, which she got her for­mer PA’s un­cle to send her from Cape Town (“I asked for 10 tubes. It’s mirac­u­lous for crepey skin”).

Her foren­sic knowl­edge of the 50 shades of red is ex­tra­or­di­nary. As for eye bags, we are talk­ing Mas­ter­mind spe­cial­ist sub­ject. But there’s a point to this tsunami of beauty tips. Af­ter years of co-host­ing BBC’s What Not to Wear, the style show that reg­u­larly had four mil­lion view­ers tun­ing in to see Trinny and her equally posh friend, Su­san­nah Con­stan­tine, give women make-overs, she’s trans­formed into a beauty guru as well as a style queen. Thanks to her blogs, In­sta­gram posts, YouTube videos, weekly Face­book Live ses­sions and her reg­u­lar ad­vice slot on the UK’s This Morn­ing show, Trinny now has some one mil­lion fol­low­ers in the UK, Amer­ica, Aus­trala­sia and Europe. With her lat­est project, Trinny Lon­don, she’s cre­ated a cus­tomis­able beauty range that will par­tic­u­larly ap­peal to older women. “I wanted to change the way women bought makeup,” she says. “So many get stuck in a makeup rut. And I’m pas­sion­ate about the over-40s mar­ket – no more solid black lines un­der the eyes!”

Since its launch in Oc­to­ber, Trinny Lon­don has swiftly earned a cult fol­low­ing among beauty afi­ciona­dos and writ­ers. Fea­tur­ing 56 prod­ucts, from eye­shad­ows to foun­da­tion to lip and cheek colours, it is not so much a makeup line as a beauty con­cept. With its easy-to-use in­di­vid­ual stack­able pots (“that click to­gether like Lego bricks”), her on­line-only range aims to stream­line your beauty rou­tine. Once you’ve reg­is­tered on the web­site, Trinny’s Match2Me sys­tem will ask you a se­ries of ques­tions, in­clud­ing hair and eye colour, and skin tone, be­fore match­ing you to your in­di­vid­ual colour pal­ette.

“Most women just buy a colour they like,” says the 54-year-old. “But I wanted to cre­ate an al­go­rithm that finds the colour that prop­erly suits you and can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence to your face. I also knew once you have your colours, you want them to be con­ve­nient – hence the stack­ing – and small enough sizes to fit in your bag. Also, they’re all cream-based, so you can put them on with your fin­gers; it’s en­tirely fuss-free.”

There was never any thought the brand would be sold in stores. “I wanted an on­line brand be­cause that way I could in­ter­act with my buy­ers through my blog and show how the prod­ucts can be used.”

Charles and me

I t is too early to give sales pro­jec­tions, but clearly busi­ness is boom­ing. As we speak, women flit up and down the stairs of the home she used to share with her part­ner of four years, Charles Saatchi, un­til her stacks of prod­ucts, makeup chairs, makeup artists, and a pop-up makeup stu­dio took up ev­ery room of her three­bed­roomed Chelsea cot­tage, and they had to de­camp to his place. Ev­ery so of­ten, Trinny goes to check on the ladies who have ar­rived at her HQ to find out how to use their be­spoke bun­dle of colours (spa­ces are re­served with an NZ$85 de­posit, which is re­deemable against prod­ucts on the day). “I think you trust Trinny be­cause she knows ex­actly what she’s talk­ing about,” says one woman – a 40-some­thing mum of three – as she sur­veys the ef­fects of a cheek­bone shader. “And she looks fan­tas­tic. I want to look fan­tas­tic too.” Trinny and I move on to the sub­ject of Charles Saatchi, whose in­vest­ment helped Trinny Lon­don come into be­ing. She met Saatchi through mu­tual friends af­ter his highly pub­li­cised di­vorce from Nigella Law­son. “I wasn’t aware of any of the de­tails of what had been go­ing on, as I was out of the coun­try,” she says. “We just saw each other as friends ini­tially, then it turned into dat­ing. He lis­tens to me. He gives me good ad­vice. He’s been amaz­ing as far as Lyla [her 14-year-old daugh­ter] goes be­cause he has a great re­la­tion­ship with his daugh­ter, Phoebe [23, from his sec­ond mar­riage to Kay Saatchi]. He’s a very good thing in my life.” There’s an as­sump­tion her new suc­cess is down to the 74-year-old art col­lec­tor. She puts me straight on this. “Charles put in 4% in­vest­ment into my busi­ness. He be­lieves in it, but he is tough. The rest I got by go­ing to fi­nan­cial back­ers and peo­ple in the cos­met­ics in­dus­try. I pay my mort­gage and school fees, I buy my own clothes. I don’t spend as much money these days be­cause I don’t have as much. Ev­ery year I’ll buy a Ce­line coat, three pairs of Prada brogues and three pairs of Stella McCart­ney shoes. The rest of my clothes come from Zara and Cos. “I went out with a very rich man [her exes in­clude Con­stan­tine Niar­chos, the late ship­ping ty­coon] when I was an ad­dict,” says Trinny, re­fer­ring to the 10-year drug ad­dic­tion that be­gan in her teens. “He paid for ev­ery­thing and it added to my feel­ing of never be­ing good enough. Af­ter I went through re­hab [at 26], one of my vows was I’d never rely on any­one else. I pay my own way. If peo­ple think I live off Charles then that’s up to them. Peo­ple who re­ally know me, know how fiercely independent I am.” Trinny hasn’t al­ways been happy though. The real rea­son be­hind her quest to make the best of her­self, with clothes, beauty prod­ucts and ex­treme treat­ments, is be­cause she spent sev­eral decades be­liev­ing she was deeply unattrac­tive. “I felt so f***ing ugly un­til well into my 30s,” she says.

Ab-fab life­style

“As a teenager I had chronic acne and was com­pletely mis­er­able. I don’t think any­one re­alises how long that feel­ing of re­pul­sive­ness lasts. I spent years hid­ing my face or cov­er­ing it with thick, or­ange foun­da­tion. In my late teens I fi­nally had Roac­cu­tane [an acne treat­ment], which got rid of the spots, but left scar­ring on my face, which I was hor­ri­bly self-con­scious about. It com­pletely af­fected the way I lived my life. She spent a for­tune on beauty treat­ments and al­ways went to a par­tic­u­lar restau­rant to meet friends be­cause the light­ing hid the “bumps and flaws” in her skin. “When we were film­ing What Not To Wear, there would be nights when Su­san­nah and I would have a bot­tle of wine and 20 fags. [Trinny still smokes – and drinks – but has Bo­tox and a ret­inue of prod­ucts and regimes to tackle the ‘cig­a­rette lines’ round her lips.] “Su­san­nah would do her night-time rou­tine of Tril­ogy Rose­hip Oil and cleanser and wake up in the morn­ing with skin like a baby. I’d be in there for an hour [Trinny’s night-time rou­tine in­volves cleanser, soap, balm, ex­fo­lia­tor, oil and a skin roller] and wake up with skin like an an­cient wreck­age.” A few months ago, she sent the “very low­main­te­nance” Su­san­nah a pack­age of her

‘If peo­ple think I live off Charles, then that’s up to them. Peo­ple who re­ally know me, know how fiercely independent I am’

newly minted good­ies. “She sent me a pic­ture to show me she’d put ev­ery­thing on,” she laughs. “And there was no bloody dif­fer­ence. I needed to get down there [Su­san­nah, now an au­thor, lives in the ru­ral county of Sus­sex] and show her how to use it prop­erly. Clas­sic Su­san­nah.” The two women are as close and as loyal as ever. Su­san­nah re­cently called out Vic­to­ria Beck­ham on Twit­ter for ‘rip­ping off’ Trinny’s beauty videos, “and not do­ing them nearly as well”. Trinny’s on­line re­sponse was, “How much do I love you?” It is im­pos­si­ble not to like Trinny. She has re­tained that same blend of Ab-Fab glam and gung-ho en­thu­si­asm with an un­der­ly­ing core of a no-non­sense nanny, and will unashamedly hoist an­other woman’s ill­fit­ting bra or tackle head-on the is­sue of fa­cial hair. Re­gard­less of what you see on the out­side (the lovely house, the glossy hair, the posh voice and the Stella McCart­ney shoes), her views have never come from a po­si­tion of smug­ness but from vul­ner­a­bil­ity. The sixth child of the hugely suc­cess­ful banker Bruce Woodall – who died last year aged 88 – Sarah-Jane Woodall was sent away to board­ing school at the age of six, where her mis­chievous be­hav­iour earned her the nick­name Trinny (af­ter the St Trinian’s films). At 16 – largely due to her self­con­scious­ness over her acne – she be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with drink and drugs, and by 18 she was part of a rich set whose ap­petite for de­signer clothes, hard drugs and par­ty­ing had no lim­its. By 21 – af­ter nights of drink­ing vodka and end­less lines of co­caine – she did her first stint in re­hab, but was kicked out (for screen­ing a soft porn film). It took her five more years to get clean and to this day she fol­lows the 12-step pro­gramme. Three years later, af­ter work­ing as a com­modi­ties trader, she met Su­san­nah at a din­ner party thrown by her then-boyfriend, Vis­count David Linley. From their mu­tual ob­ses­sion with clothes came a ca­reer as style writ­ers for the Tele­graph. Six years later – in 2001 – they were the pre­sen­ters of one of the big­gest shows on TV.

Mov­ing on

T heir books sold in the mil­lions – “The first book we did sold more than Nigella and Jamie Oliver’s cook­ery books,” Trinny says – and Oprah se­cured them as style ad­vis­ers on her show. In 2006 they switched TV chan­nels in a $2.2 mil­lion deal to front Trinny and Su­san­nah Un­dress… but af­ter its ini­tial suc­cess, they left two years later to take their show around the world. This co­in­cided with Trinny’s split from her mu­si­cian hus­band, Johnny Elichaoff, the fa­ther of Lyla. By 2011, Trinny had se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial is­sues and in 2014, Johnny – strug­gling with ad­dic­tion and fi­nan­cial prob­lems – took his life by jump­ing from the roof of a build­ing. Trinny, who’d re­mained a close friend, was dis­traught. They had mar­ried in 1999 and been through nine cour­ses of IVF to­gether and two mis­car­riages be­fore hav­ing Lyla. Asked if she had any idea about her ex­hus­band’s state of mind, she says “No. but if some­one is on a mis­sion to take their own life, no one around them has a clue. They hide it be­cause they don’t want to be stopped. There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween some­one who is do­ing some­thing as a cry for help and some­one who is hell-bent on sui­cide.” She pauses. “It’s only later you start to link lit­tle signs to­gether. It is a dev­as­tat­ing thing to deal with. My life is one of con­stant ups and downs. From go­ing through re­hab to los­ing Johnny, there has been so much that’s hap­pened in be­tween. But one thing I’ve learned in life is you just have to get through stuff. “There are times in your life that are amaz­ing. When our show was one of the big­gest on tele­vi­sion, we had fan­tas­tic mo­ments. Then there was the joy of earn­ing a huge amount of money. I liked the fact peo­ple knew who I was. I like it now. Most peo­ple treat me as if I’m a friend.” Af­ter the show left Bri­tish TV screens in 2008, Trinny and Su­san­nah spent sev­eral years do­ing spin-offs in coun­tries from Poland to Aus­tralia to Is­rael. “It was ex­haust­ing. We worked five days a week be­cause we in­sisted on be­ing home at week­ends – un­less we were in Aus­tralia. We spent our lives on planes, but we just couldn’t keep liv­ing like that. Su­san­nah wanted to write books, I had this germ of an idea for a makeup brand. We de­cided to just stop.” But her route to Trinny Lon­don has not been straight­for­ward. She be­gan work­ing on the project in the midst of a le­gal bat­tle with her ex-hus­band’s cred­i­tors for his debts (she re­cently won her case), and in or­der to fund her­self and her busi­ness, she moved out of her large Lon­don house and rented a smaller one. She sold all the clothes she had amassed over her TV days. “I kept a few pieces I loved and some I’d like Lyla to have,” she says. “But to set up a busi­ness I needed money. So I sold them and raised £70,000 [$133,500].” Her 50s are, she says, her ab­so­lute prime. She looks great. Long and lean, she’s lost that uber-thin look of the What Not to Wear days. She nods. “I used to weigh around 9st [57kg], which was too thin for my height. Now I’m just over 11st [70kg], which is my Christ­mas weight. I have boobs and a bum.” She con­tin­ues, smil­ing: ‘As soon as I hit my 50s I started to feel great. I had a very early menopause which made my late 40s com­pletely trau­matic. I think my IVF treat­ments brought it on early, but it robbed me of my con­fi­dence and my emo­tions were all over the place. The best thing was com­ing through it. I’m still hav­ing Bo­tox – I started at 35 – and I love it. I’m not ashamed of want­ing to look my best and of want­ing other women, of any age but par­tic­u­larly of my age, to look as good as they can. “I’ve al­ways paid for my treat­ments and so when I write my blogs they are com­pletely hon­est. My prod­ucts are the re­sult of years of try­ing to make the best of my­self.” Mis­sion ac­com­plished, we’d say.

‘I liked the fact peo­ple knew who I was. I like it now. Most peo­ple treat me as if I’m a friend’

Clock­wise from left: With Charles; with for­mer co-host and close pal Su­san­nah; al­ways stylish.

Stacks of colour...

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