A couple of weeks ago I was asked to style a shoot for Penguin Books’ Young Adult imprint, Razorbill. They are publishing a new romantic series for teen readers called Girl Heart Boy and were filming extracts from the books to make video blogs or ‘vlogs’ to post weekly on Youtube. I love playing dress up styling (see ‘Dress the Ed’) so immediately started calling in clothes from BooHoo and ASOS for the actress who was going to be playing Sarah – the heroine of the story.
The clothes rail of dreams.
Now I know you all secretly (or not-so-secretly) love reading Young Adult fiction, so while Girl Heart Boy isn’t officially intended for an adult readership, I have a hunch you might be interested, so here’s Penguin Editor Rose Gardner on how the books came into being: “Girl Heart Boy is about pushing all kinds of boundaries – both in publishing terms (being a multi-platform experience) but also in content terms. We’re gatekeepers at Penguin and publishing risqué content for young adults is always difficult and potentially contentious – but we felt we had something important to achieve.
Me pinning a tiny typewriter badge from The Literary Gift Company on Iona's cardigan ready for the first scene
“We grew up with the sexual and emotional honesty of books like Judy Blume’s Forever, and shows like My So Called Life, whereas teens today either have unrealistically edgy depictions of their experiences, or simply a retreat into fantasy (hello, vampires). Girl Heart Boy was meant to fill that void, giving young adults real, honest stories about first relationships and sex.” Having been a 'saddo' teen, obsessed with reading, listening to music and writing to the penpals (boys!) me and my best friend Jen found in the back of Select, rather than a wild crazy cool Skins kid, this makes a lot of sense to me.
Iona's hair was expertly braided by Rose (who has amazing pink talons which she's going to write about soon!)
We filmed over three days in a house in south London, one corner of which had been styled to resemble a teenage girl’s bedroom (remember the bedroom of your youth – did it have dodgy wallpaper your parents chose that you tried desperately to cover with posters – in my case Eric Cantona, the Lightning Seeds and Keanu Reeves?) I’d brought along props to add ‘authenticity’ (because I’m stingy and stuck in the ‘90s so have lots of original ‘pieces’ ie. tacky plastic friendship bracelets and the like).
I knew hoarding everything from the '90s would come in handy...
There are going to be 12 vlogs published over the summer, so I put together 12 different looks using the samples I’d called in mixed with our own crumpled, worn stuff to make it more accurately resemble a teenage girl’s wardrobe. Our actress Iona was irritatingly gorgeous and amenable, so styling her was easy and fun.
I think I'm going to buy this ASOS shirt...
We wanted to keep the look very ‘normal’, as Sarah is the ‘everygirl’ character in the books, but it still had to feel cool and aspirational. I was neither cool nor aspirational during my teenage years so had to use my imagination here. However, the ‘90s are ‘in’ right now (which incidentally makes me feel ancient) so I went with a Angela Chase-y vibe - little flowery dresses, grungy jumpers and battered sneakers - with a bit of Cher from Clueless and a dash of Joey Potter.
Angela Chase meets Cher meets Joey Potter, with a 21st Century twist
There are lots of behind-the-scenes pictures here and you can watch the first webisode here: (I love the bit where she says “does a lack of experience make you ‘uptight’ or merely discerning” – hell yeah! And she’s wearing my beloved aeroplane necklace from Hobbs NW3!)