Autumn Fashion Special: National Treasure Suzanne Paul Takes Us Through A Parade Of Fabulous Clothes

By Dan Ahwa
Suzanne Paul’s iconic Suzanne Clip makes a cameo. World blazer $899. Seventh & Figg headpiece (POA). Photo / Guy Coombes

What better way to usher in a new season of joyous fashion than with some help from Suzanne Paul, an equally uplifting style icon?

When we were thinking of who to photograph for our autumn fashion special, we looked to a name that has contributed so much to our style

If you were a child growing up in the early 90s, Suzanne Paul’s face was omnipresent.

Her combination of warmth, glamour and that distinctive voice by way of Wolverhampton has made her a beloved national icon, lending her charisma to a diverse range of career highlights that includes everything from launching her own clothing range for petite women, to releasing a campy hit single Blue Monkey, explaining to Metro magazine at the time that she did it to show she was more than “the intense over-the-top woman who sold things on television”.

Whether it was shelling Natural Glow makeup and its thousands of luminous spheres or her now legendary Suzanne Clip, an accessory that could transform any old scarf from a piece of fabric into a work of art (including a halter top), Suzanne is someone who (at least to us) represents much more than fodder for women’s magazines — she’s a style doyenne.

She’s someone who has always been interested in fashion and beauty, so naturally, we took our style cues from Suzanne for this seminal shoot, photographed by Guy Coombes. Exploring several key wardrobe themes that have emerged from Suzanne’s style playbook over the years, scarves were one obvious inclusion.

To assist, we asked Suzanne to resurrect her trusted Suzanne clip, a wardrobe accessory that found fame in the early 90s. Is it time to bring it back? We think so, but for now this small petition will hopefully inspire the joy found in accessories and how easy they can transform a look.

For example, we saw several street-style figures during fashion month in February tying their silk scarves around the handles of their bags, while others fashioned them through the loops of skirts and trousers as makeshift belts.

Whatever inspiration you take from our tongue-and-cheek shoot, the moral of the story is don’t forget to have fun.

In a sea of “quiet luxury” and sophisticates-about-town in their tasteful black and cream blazers, don’t be afraid to tap into your inner peacock too. Because as we’ve ascertained by the challenges of the modern world, there’s still value in the power of fashion to lift your spirits on a dismal day.

Photo / Guy Coombes
Photo / Guy Coombes

A pretty frock can take you everywhere

Preferably something romantic

Suzanne loves a good frock, and who can blame her? It’s one of those easy outfit solutions that doesn’t require the superfluous fuss that comes with trying to pull together an ensemble made up of separates. One great dress to rule them all, it’s the day-to-night dressing fashion trope that makes a great dress outshine everything else in your closet. For something with a little movement, Suzanne was drawn to this vintage number with plenty of flounce and frill to dance in. Dress, $199, from Painted Bird Vintage. 9ct yellow gold and pearl drop earrings, $590, from Walker & Hall. Meadowlark pearl necklace $799. Mi Piaci heels $280.

Photo / Guy Coombes
Photo / Guy Coombes

Invest in the eternal appeal of a well-cut trench coat

A reinvented icon worn by a reinvented icon.

An ode to Suzanne’s British heritage, the Ferrari of trench coats, Burberry’s, has been reinterpreted in myriad ways over the years by countless creative directors. The brand’s current CD, Daniel Lee, has maintained the sense of whimsy and irreverence of the brand in its 168th year. Here, we see the iconic Burberry tartan reworked into a magnified print in a rich forest green. Burberry trench coat $6500. Levi’s jeans $110. Mi Piaci boots $560.

Photo / Guy Coombes
Photo / Guy Coombes

There’s always time for feathers, darling

Frou-frou textures are a fast track to fun.

It’s no accident Suzanne looks like a Kiwi here. The adopted Brit adds some glamour to her style arsenal with this vintage maribou cape from the 1970s, so make like Kate Moss and add some rock ‘n’ roll glamour to a feather jacket or cape with a T-shirt, jeans and boots — a timeless outfit formula that will segue into winter easily. Vintage maribou cape, $229, from Painted Bird Vintage. Levi’s jeans $110. Hills Hats hat $175. Dries Van Noten neckpiece, $1310, from Zambesi.

Photo / Guy Coombes
Photo / Guy Coombes

Scarf prints will never date

... especially if they’re Versace.

If it’s opulence you’re after, you can’t go past an iconic silk baroque print blouse. This one’s the real deal, but if you head to your local vintage store you’ll likely find something similar for a fraction of the cost. You’ll want to match the kaleidoscopic printed blouse with a crisp pair of bottoms, but rather than basic black, give a pair of white trousers or a white skirt a chance. It may be high-maintenance dressing, but in this day and age, a little effort can make a surprising impact. Versace shirt $3040. Carla Zampatti trousers $602. Painted Bird vintage earrings $69.

Photo / Guy Coombes
Photo / Guy Coombes

A co-ordinated set is an easy way to look pulled together

Preppy staples with an irreverent twist.

There’s nothing stuffy about this tailored skirt suit from Burberry. At first glance, you might think this was another skirt suit that harks back to the mid-century ladies-who-lunch set, but on closer inspection, the louche jacket is almost like a collarless bomber jacket matched with a high-waisted pencil skirt — a co-ordinated set made even more contemporary with a fresh take on a traditional print, a magnified houndstooth. While we pay homage to that iconic 60s film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?), that pokes fun at the fashion industry and all its quirks, Suzanne lends her humour to an otherwise prim take on this ensemble that references everything from 60s op-art and the queens of new wave cinema. Burberry cardigan $3450 and skirt $2990. Twenty-seven Names blouse $490. Mi Piaci heels $280. Carla Zampatti rose brooch $273. Prada headband $860.

Photographer / Guy Coombes. Fashion director / Dan Ahwa. Makeup / Claudia Rodrigues. Hair / Newton Cook. Fashion assistant / Annabel Dickson.

More autumn fashion

Update your wardrobe with our considered shopping edits and wardrobe tips.

These New Zealand brands make nice clothes for short people. Where to shop when you need to pay attention to your hemlines.

15 waistcoats and vests that are sleek, sleeveless and perfect for the season. Invest in these vests (or waistcoats) for when you feel inclined towards professional that doesn’t feel conventional.

The best loafers to shop right now, from sleek styles to chunky lug soles. Stomp into autumn with these loafers you’ll want to live in.

How do you actually wear a beige blazer? we have tips. Writer Julia Gessler sports a beige blazer in the name of neutrals.

You can wear these long shorts now and into winter. Who doesn’t love a pragmatic, transeasonal wardrobe solution?

Unlock this article and all our Viva Premium content by subscribing to 

Share this article: