No attending was too loud, no colour too bright, for Edina Monsoon, but the woman abaft the fabulous fashionista prefers demure
BY Anna Tyzack | 21 December 2013
Gucci, Moschino, Gaultier, the best barnyard Versace: Edina Monsoon formed every Nineties appearance fad imaginable. "It's Lacroix, sweetie, Lacroix" was her tag-line. But Jennifer Saunders, who played the ageing PR exec in ball Actually Fabulous, wasn't appearance it aback she appeared hot and abashed on set. "Eddy wore some amazing being but it had to attending actual pinched, so aggregate was a admeasurement too baby for me," she says. "It was appropriate for the appearance but it was actual annoying for me."
Haute couture, decidedly the blatant array favoured by Eddy, isn't Saunders's thing. Her own style, which is added affected and abundant beneath constrictive than that of her adapt ego, is abundant admired by our bedfellow editor Miranda Hart. "I splash a bit of colour about but about I look for black. I anticipate it stems from the Eighties," Saunders explains, aback we accommodated at clandestine members' club Home House in London.
READ - Jennifer Saunders is abutting to penning Ab Fab: The Movie
She's stripping off as she talks - unfazed that we're in a allowance abounding of bodies - out of the aphotic fur gilet and blooming blouse she has been cutting for a antecedent shoot (she's spent the day announcement her book Bonkers: My Life in Laughs) and into a added adequate atramentous ensemble: a adapted T-shirt, billowing cashmere jumper and skull-print scarf, which she wears over atramentous tailored trousers and her admired biker boots. "I like cutting a admixture of structured and adequate clothes," she says, ruffling up her albino hair. "I could bandy a Belstaff anorak over the top or a covering anorak and I'd feel adequate and edgy." It's a dressed-down Hells Angels look, which works on Saunders, with her razor cheekbones and bedhead hair.
Jennifer Saunders, December 2013. Photo: Clara Molden
As a jailbait growing up in Lincolnshire and after in London - her ancestor was in the RAF - Saunders, who is a angel of Chicks, one of the Telegraph's three Christmas charities, didn't booty appearance admonition from anyone - atomic of all from her mother, a analysis teacher. "No way. Can you imagine?" she says, adopting an eyebrow. "Generations didn't mix in the aforementioned way and appearance wasn't such a big thing. You aloof bought things from M & S. I grew up either cutting academy compatible or benumbed gear, so I feel actual blessed in a uniform. Boots, jeans and a aphotic jacket. I like activity booted."
But in her backward twenties, aback she started to get noticed - aboriginal for her eponymous account appearance French and Saunders, which she wrote with Dawn French, and afresh for Actually Fabulous, which starred Joanna Lumley as her best acquaintance Patsy Stone - it began to amount what she wore to parties and awards ceremonies. She alleged on stylists for help, with bound success. "The botheration is they put you in things they anticipate you'd attending acceptable in. But unless they fit with your head, you feel ridiculous," she says. To accomplish affairs worse, these stylists would commonly belittle her dress size. "They say, 'Oh, you're a 12,' and I'm like, 'I'm cogent you I'm a 16.' And afresh they're afraid aback whatever they've called for me looks awful. I'd try to acquaint them that from the start."
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in a 'vintage' adventure of Ab Fab
READ: Joanna Lumley to bargain off 'Ab Fab' wardrobe
After afflicted forays out in accessible dressed in behemothic belts and ample collars, the amiss affectionate of shoes and multicoloured jumpers that were at allowance with her affection for aphotic hues, Saunders's acquaintance the artist Betty Jackson stepped in. Known for application a lot of atramentous in her collections, Jackson became her appearance icon, creating abundant apparel for her in the consecutive years. "She was the aboriginal being to say, 'Look, you've actually got to do article about yourself,' " Saunders explains. "She got me cutting abundant added tailored curve with attenuated amateur and proper-cut cleavages, which was abundant because if you've got big bosoms and you're actually angled what you actually charge is bluff curve rather than abounding stuff."
Tailored jackets, which can be befuddled over anything, now anatomy the base of her wardrobe, forth with the billowing cashmere jumpers, jeans and boots she wears aback at home on Dartmoor, breadth she lives with her husband, Adrian Edmondson, and her three daughters Ella, Beattie and Freya. She's additionally invested in a clamp of Diane von Furstenberg blanket dresses to abrasion at the red-carpet contest she afresh declared as "insane adorableness pageants". "They consistently ask you whose dress you're wearing. It can't be your dress. It's got to be addition else's," she says. It's alone aback she apparent DVF dresses that the accomplished acquaintance has become hardly beneath traumatic, she explains. "They've apparent me through so abounding of those occasions. I aloof abrasion the aforementioned one afresh and afresh and dress it up with altered shoes and jewellery."
Did all those years arena Edina access her appearance in any way? "Not really, although sometimes I'd put article on and think, Wow, I attending actually acceptable in this affectionate of thing," she says. "I bethink some admirable Moschino jackets and some attractive Gaultier: a billowing abstract cottony baseball jacket, which was to die for. I admired it so abundant that I bought one but it's absent now. I affirm I lent it to one of my daughters but no one has owned up."
In contempo years the girls accept become her appearance gurus, decidedly Freya, who studies appearance at Kingston University. "She's actually up on aggregate and I assurance her. I acquaint her what I'm cerebration of cutting and she'll assignment it into a style." Her daughters can additionally be relied aloft to breach in her shoes and abate her of any appearance faux pas. "When I accomplish a abhorrent absurdity in Zadig & Voltaire I acquaint myself that if they abrasion it for a bit I ability alpha affection it," she says.
Saunders with Ab Fab co-star Joanna Lumley in the 20th ceremony special, 2011
SEE: Preview of Kate Moss's about-face in Actually Fabulous
The one breadth in which Edina does assume to accept infiltrated Saunders's anima is internet shopping. She's addicted. "I've apparent Net-A-Porter and it's dangerous," she says. Contempo purchases accommodate a Donna Karan absolute polo abutting and a Margaret Howell bathrobe gown. "It's authentic absolute and will aftermost forever." There accept been some mistakes, however: jumpers that adhere to the bum and a brace of Frye boots that were too small. "You charge to bang with attention and anticipate adamantine about the fit," she warns. "It's a altercation biking aback to the UPS depot."
Top of her Christmas account this year is an colossal Stella McCartney jacket. "If I was thinner, I'd abrasion Stella McCartney all the time," she says. "I can't get abroad with it at the moment. Perhaps if I lose weight in the new year."
Jennifer Saunders (centre left) at the Betty Jackson appearance at London Appearance Week, September, 2010. Photo: Jane Mingay
But admitting all this allocution of artist labels, Saunders insists she's not too aloof for the aerial street. She consistently buys clothes in Exeter, and while in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, a few weeks ago rediscovered Next. She's yet to acknowledgment to her old backyard ground, M&S, however. "I'm hardly put off by the adverts," she says. "There's article a bit ailing about them, mainly because they didn't ask me to be in them."
Any Christmas appearance admonition for her acquaintance Miranda? "No. I anticipate she looks actually great. She's developed into her stardom," Saunders says. In fact, abutting anniversary she will be afterward Miranda's advance and donning a Christmas jumper for the aboriginal time. "It's red with a reindeer on it. Let's achievement I can backpack it off," she says.
Q & A
Best appearance tip? Don't abrasion Spanx and apocryphal nails at the aforementioned time. Disaster.
Christmas affair look? Nothing long, as I attending like Mrs Pepperpot. Probably a anorak dress and trouser.
Secret weapon? A tailored jacket.
Fashion faux pas? Low-cut jeans.
Leather or lace? Leather.
What wouldn't you be apparent asleep in? A onesie.
Piercings or tattoos? I accept two little stars on my ankle.
Botox or not? I haven't yet but I'll accede it if my eyes alpha to abutting up.
Bonkers: My Life in Laughs is accessible for £15 £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books on 0844 8711514 or books.telgraph.co.uk. To accord to Chicks or any of our Christmas charities alarm 0151 284 1927 or see telegraph.co.uk/charity