A fresh chapter
We catch up with anti-ageing expert, stylist and now mum-to-be Nicky Hambleton-Jones on fashion, family and life after 10 Years Younger.
The organic juice bar in London’s leafy Clapham where I’m meeting Nicky Hambleton-Jones, is a Mecca for pram- pushing ladies who lunch – and Nicky, in her new incarnation as yummy-mummy-to-be, seems to fit right in. She’s got the perfectly groomed hair, the on-trend maternity maxidress and the obligatory neat, six-month baby bump, but appearances can be deceiving. Nicky might be stylishly pregnant, but it’s not all bugaboo pushchairs and home-made baby food – she is determined not to become one of those mothers who loses her own identity as soon as baby is born.
‘I’m absolutely going to carry on working, I have to, and also I’d go crazy if I was with a kid all day,’ says Nicky.
‘When you’re self-employed you don’t have the luxury of taking a year out and the thought of being a housewife for the rest of my life fills me with dread. I also love what I do – I’ve worked really hard to get to this place and I don’t want to put that all on hold.’
It is this passion for her work that has seen Nicky’s career go from strength to strength – and since leaving the show she presented for five years, Channel 4’s 10 Years Younger, she’s been busier and more in demand than ever.
Her latest project is fronting the Glam Show (www.glamlive.co.uk) at Earl’s Court at the end of October. ‘It’s a new consumer girlie exhibition,’ says Nicky. ‘The whole premise of it is to have the ultimate girls’ day out. It’s all about feeling good and women making the most of themselves. It’s going to be split into eight zones such as Glam Beauty, Glam Lifestyle and Glam Bridal. Normally when you walk into big exhibitions, there’s just a sea of stands but everything at Glam is going to be draped, so that the experience begins immediately.
Each zone is going to have a different theme and different feel – for example, there’s going to be an underwear section called Glam Passion, which will have big, red velvet beds that you can lie on and drink champagne. It’s all about having a glam experience, not just turning up and loading up on freebies. There’ll be lots to learn, too, with dance lessons and beauty master classes. I’ll be hosting the catwalk, meeting competition winners and giving lots of advice and tips. I’m also looking for the new face of Tesco Photo-Me booths – I’ll be announcing the result at the Glam Show.’ (Visit www.photo-me.co.uk to enter.)
What’s more, Nicky still finds the time to run her successful style consultancy (www.nhjstyle.com) and style academy. ‘NHJ Style is still going strong,’ she says.
‘I think in the current economic climate there’s more competition than ever to stand out and look good. And when there’s so much doom and gloom around, people want to start feeling good about themselves again. They don’t want to get dragged down by the media headlines anymore. While a lot people have lost their jobs, there’s a lot of people who haven’t. And I think once you’ve got over the shock of the fact that you haven’t lost your job, and that you’re not going to lose your job, you start to feel more confident about spending money on yourself again. On the other hand, if you’re back on the job market it’s even more important to look your best.’
So with her stylist hat on, what trends does Nicky think we should all be investing in this season. ‘Autumn/winter 2009 has a lot of tailored clothes. There’s a very big 80s influence – shoulder pads are back in a big way,’ she says. ‘There’s also a lot of black on black – a sort of a gothic feel – as well as crazy monochrome prints. There’s a nod to damask and velvets coming back, as are silks and other luxurious fabrics. The blouse is one of the key must-have items this season, particularly a ruffled one. And the gladiator sandal is going to evolve into a sort of gladiator-style boot, with lots of buckles. My must-have for the season is a scarlet dress.’
And what about beauty advice – are there any developments in the world of anti-ageing and cosmetic surgery Nicky recommends? ‘I think the future of the cosmetic industry is in non-invasive treatments. Most people will want to avoid the knife if they can. There has been such progress in the results you get from non-invasive treatments that more and more people are getting them. There aren’t that many new types of treatment coming out but everything’s getting better – lasers are more effective, fillers now have anaesthetics in them – everything’s getting much more sophisticated.
So keeping on top of the ageing process with relatively minor treatments can stop you having to take more drastic action in the future? ‘Absolutely. I think the key to looking young is to look after your skin – the minute you start to see a change in your face do something about it then. Some people have such a sense of pride they don’t want to admit they’re ageing. But I think, get over that, start having your peels, start resurfacing and people won’t notice any drastic changes – you’ll just always look fresh.’
Nicky is so animated when talking about fashion and beauty, surely she must miss styling the public on TV? ‘This may come as a surprise but I’ve really enjoyed having time away from the TV world. Filming is so all-consuming that it zaps all your creative energy in a way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to do, and I’ll definitely go back to TV but it’s also nice to do something different,’ she says. ‘Everything’s been really positive since I left the show and I’m still getting emails from people saying how much they miss me. And even though I’m not on telly, people stop me more and say: “I feel a compelling need to tell you how much I miss you, and it’s not the same without you.” So I don’t feel like my profile has changed since I left the show, even though it’s been a year since I did any filming. But I’ve done so much else in that time and I don’t think I would have done those projects if I was still doing the show.’
Such projects include Nicky’s new book How To Be Gorgeous – a styling guide due for publication on 7 January 2010. ‘It’s based around 10 iconic looks,’ she says. ‘It breaks them down into the key ingredients you need for each look – kind of like a styling recipe book.’ Nor would Nicky have got pregnant if she was still doing 10 Years Younger. ‘I would have been too busy and exhausted. So the break has actually been great in a lot of ways.’
Nicky is clearly excited about becoming a mum for the first time. ‘I feel ready for a new direction in my life,’ she says. ‘Up until now I haven’t felt like having kids at all, I’ve been very much enjoying my life – work hard, play hard, go on nice holidays, but now I feel that I’m ready for another dimension and I think it will be a really positive experience.’
But she’s aware of the realities of new motherhood, too, and isn’t afraid to admit it’s more than a little daunting. ‘It’s going to be a real challenge having to worry about an extra whole person,’ she says. Her honesty is refreshing. ‘I mean, as it is, I don’t have much time in my life to worry about just myself and my husband. Now I’m not going to get any downtime, it’s going to be a constant routine of feeding, changing and bathing. In some ways that really freaks me out, but I’m sure it’s something you develop stamina for. After spending a day with someone else’s kids, you’re absolutely exhausted. You’re just like, oh my god if that is one day there’s no way I’m going to survive this 24/7! But you must get used to it – your body must get over that shock otherwise all mothers would be walking around absolutely knackered and practically suicidal.’
And what of the pregnancy itself, how’s Nicky coping? ‘I’ve found pregnancy probably better than I expected,’ she says. ‘You hear these dreadful stories and everyone puts the fear of God into you, and actually I have to say I’ve found it pretty easy. I’ve had no nausea, no cravings. I found it really exhausting in the first few months, and I was a bit hungrier than normal but other than that completely fine. The biggest challenge has just been adapting to my changing shape.
But so far so good, it’s actually been, dare I say it, pretty effortless so far. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when I can’t see my toes anymore and I’m not able to paint my nails and keep everything in trim shape order.’
Maintaining her style during pregnancy is a topic close to Nicky’s heart, and something she actively encourages other mums-to-be to pursue. ‘It’s vital to keep your shape as much as possible,’ she says. ‘If you can keep toned then it’s much easier to work around the bump rather than having to wear things that you wouldn’t normally wear. And I think the most important thing is to not forget to still look and feel sexy. I mean, if you’ve got to wear different underwear make sure it’s sexy underwear and as much as possible wear figure hugging clothes that really show off your curves and your bump. Don’t try and hide everything under baggy clothes. For a lot of people it’s all about comfort but I think wear those heels – keep normal don’t just automatically zone into comfort until you really, really need to.’
Nicky has advice for losing that baby weight, too: ‘To be honest I’m not planning on putting on loads of weight if I can help it. I was training hard before and I’m training throughout – a bit of kick-boxing, light weights, toning and lots of walking – so hopefully the weight will just drop off but if it doesn’t I’m not going to starve myself. It’s really important to maintain your health.’
Nicky’s belief that anything is achievable if approached in the right way – with the perfect combination of glamour and practicality – means that by the end of the interview she gives the distinct impression that motherhood, for her, might like everything else she tackles prove to be a breeze. If anyone can achieve the perfect work, fun and family balance Nicky can – all while looking groomed and gorgeous from head to toe – and yes, implausibly young.