Who is Beauty Queen Stephanie Darling?
Stephanie Darling, one of Australia’s most accomplished beauty writers and journalists is a true luminary of the beauty and publishing world. I have grown up reading Stephanie’s stories, through the 1990’s and 2000’s and recently. At a time that the beauty world is saturated with beauty “influencers” and amateur “experts” on YouTue and Instagram, Stephanie Darling offers decades of experience, glamorous stories and insider knowledge of the beauty and publishing industry.
Australian beauty addicts have grown up reading Stephanie Darling’s stories, through the 1990’s and 2000’s and beyond. As a beauty junkie myself and been lucky enough to work in beauty marketing for a long period, I have devoured Darling’s articles, recommendations and road tests in Mode, Harper’s Bazaar Australian Vogue, Madison, and currently her own column in the Sun Herald’s Sunday Life Magazine through my teen and adult life. If Stephanie Darling has mentioned a beauty product, chances are I will have scoured David Jones, Mecca, Priceline, Sephora or online to check it out.
The Book – “Secrets of A Beauty Queen“
This morning I spotted a beautifully typeset sunset peach coloured book called “Secrets Of A Beauty Queen”. Having worked with beauty queens, as a makeup sponsor for Miss World Australia, my interest was piqued. I fell in design love, as the title was set in fashion editorial-style Bodoni bold, italic, uppercase in gold foil. It took me a few seconds to realise it was written by beauty queen, Stephanie Darling.
I’d been working on an article, “Q and A” with Stephanie Darling, prior to the release of this gorgeous book to coincide with its release. I thought I’d better get my Q &A into gear. Stephanie was kind enough to work with me as part of the promotion of her book.
Q and A With Stephanie Darling – Beauty Queen
Q (Di Kennedy): The lovely Kat Lawrence [another of my beauty writer idols] mentioned that you are launching a new book. Can you tell me a little bit about the book’s goals and focus?
A (Stephanie Darling): Secrets of a Beauty Queen is really two books in one. It is part memoir and part [beauty] tip driven. I document my amazingly lucky working life in my role as Beauty editor/director on incredible titles like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Madison and relate relevant beauty tips back to each chapter.
Q. What was the trigger for you to write your book?
A. The trigger was when Madison was closed and I was forced to reinvent myself to a degree. I always thought that I had a book in me and so I wrote a sample chapter and an outline for the rest of the book and found the most amazing agent who agreed to take me on. She then shopped the outline out to publishers and Penguin came back with the best offer. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
Q: I understand you have no issues with using injectibles to fight ageing. How do you feel about plastic surgery? Where would you draw the line in fighting ageing?
A. I have a whole chapter in my book devoted to Ageing Disgracefully. I am pretty experimental with treatments but I always make sure I have done my research and that I trust the providers of the treatments. I have a pretty good nose for finding the best in the business. As far as plastic surgery is concerned I might consider a lower facelift in the future.
Q: You say “Always experiment with fragrance to keep them guessing about your signature scent” Do you have a top three fragrances you return to and why?
A. It is so hard whittling down my favourites. If I had to at the moment my top three would be Chanel No 22. I keep returning to this fragrance time and time again but that is because it is part of my past and present, and will always be in my future. Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady is a killer scent with its blend of rose essence, patchouli and smoke. Dyptique Philosykos reminds me the amazing times I have spent in Paris.
Q: If you had to choose three nude lipsticks can you tell me the brand and shade name of:
- a chemist brand lipstick
- mid-level brand lipstick
- high-end brand lipstick
Which brands and colours would these be?
- Maybelline Color Sensational Lip in Pink Sand
- M.A.C Twig lipstick and matching lip liner
- Dior Addict Ultra Gloss in Nude Fizz
Q: What was the first beauty product you used?
A: Chanel No 5
Q: What was the weirdest beauty product you’ve used?
A: I think the most outlandish product I have used is the Black Pearl Gold Cleopatra Mask that is worth $2000
Q: Who was/were your first beauty “crush” idol as a teenager (mine was Boy George – he had that yellow matt shadow down)?
A: Michelle Pfeiffer. She was so flawlessly beautiful with a touch of vulnerability.
Q: What inspired you to follow a career in beauty writing?
A: I have always been obsessed with fashion and beauty and I got my lucky break when I was working as a sub-editor on Mode Magazine. The beauty editor position became available and I pounced on it. My love for beauty writing grew from there.
Q: I have a [first world] problem with women applying their make up on the ferry or coming to work -with wet hair (unless a new mum or have just been to the gym). Do you have any pet ODC beauty peeves?
A. People filing their nails in public. [note: shudder]
Q: Do you “match” your skin care products or do you mix a variety of beauty product brands in your routine?
A: I am always test driving new products so I mix it up quite a bit. At the moment I am trying a targeted beauty prescription though.
Q: Does packaging play a part in your choice of beauty product use?
A: Packaging is very much a part of the whole beauty picture. Anything Tom Ford or Victoria Beckham produce is an instant winner inside and out.
Q: Name 3 biggest beauty blunders (doesn’t need to be yours).
- Not exfoliating regularly
- Not wearing SPF 50+ every day come rain or shine
- Not smiling.
Q: What are some key ingredients you look for in products?
A: For a night time routine you really need to include a Retin in your regimen; for day SPF 50+ preferably in a mineral form like titanium dioxide; hyaluronic acid in your moisturiser.
Q: Just a contouring/sharp brows etc were a “thing” from Instagram, what trends are coming through for 2017/18 that you have seen?
- Kooky non-permanent hair colours
- Flawless air-brushed skin
- Anything Kardashian
Q: How has the world of social media influencers changed the beauty industry?
A: I think there is just so much information out there. Some of it good some of it not so good. At the risk of sounding old school, I still think the best information comes from the beauty editors who have runs on the board in both print and online.
Q: What are your favourite skincare/makeup/accessory products?
A: I think you will need to buy and read my book to get the answers to this. In my last chapter, I have rounded up my top 100 in The Ultimate Edit. These products are the cream of the crop [note by Di Kennedy: Book purchased and currently devouring it. If you buy one beauty or bio book this year, and love jet setting and beauty, this book is a must-have].
Q: What brief advice would you give to a woman aged: 20 / 40 / 70
A: The best piece of advice I can give for all of these ages is to wear and SPF 50+ sunscreen on all the exposed areas of your skin every day to help keep ageing at bay.
Q: Can you name the “next big thing” in beauty?
A: The lower facelift is trending at the moment.
Q: What is your number one tip for accomplishing beauty at any age?
Q: How do you accomplish a healthy work /life balance?
A: Now this is a difficult one. I have such an amazing time with my work and my beauty colleagues are my dear friends so the balance often blurs. I do try to get away for a month each year with my family but invariably I am posting for Daily Life during the time I am away.
Q. What have been the most pivotal moments in your career as a beauty editor/editor and now author?
A: Again there are so many as I have had more than 30 years in the magazine business. My book is a memoir that documents so much of my life in this amazing industry.
Thanks so much for your answers Stephanie, I sincerely appreciate your time answering my questions. I wish you all the luck in the world on your beautiful new book, which will no doubt be a firm favourite in my bookshelf. I am 23 pages in and totally hooked.
“Secrets of a Beauty Queen – How to look good and have fun doing it” is published by Penguin Random House Australia.