A few other odds and sods - including a gratuitous inclusion of the greatest billboard ad since time began.
Pick a link, and party on!
Really, this page is just an excuse to print a photo of Sophie from 2013 that I really love, but I thought I would use this page to give some detail about the history of the site and why it looks like it looks. I am not a web designer, as if I were, this site would have a proper “dot com” address!
The site was started in 2003 via a website building package that was offered, free, on Freeserve. You signed up with an email address, and they allowed you to have a website or two. You picked the design you wanted from a list, and then you simply added pictures and text into wherever it let you do so. Each site was restricted to eight pages, but that was enough - at the time - to cover the magazine covers, diary entries and a few other bits and pieces that I wanted to detail.
I had several email accounts, so was thus able to get several “sites”, and the micro sites were thus developed via this method, as it allowed you to expand beyond the eight page max. The homepage had links to these micro sites, and once the eight pages of the main site got full, there would be a link added to “part two” of the main site. This explains where the multiple “Sophie-ography” pages came from.
By 2008, Orange had taken over and started by firstly, charging for the web builder, and secondly, changing the functionality of the whole program. You could add photos as a sort of gallery, which worked OK for a couple of the microsites, but didn’t really work too well for the main site nor the diary pages. A work colleague told me about Blogger, and with some experimentation, I was able to rebuild the main SDR pages via Blogger, and a new version of the Diary Pages, eventually with added images. Links were added to direct you to the revamped “Orange” versions of the Covers and Modelling pages, but eventually Orange abandoned the whole web builder concept, and these had to be redone via Blogger as well.
The original Freeserve site worked quite well - it was menu driven and although it did have one minor flaw, was quite neat. This is, at heart, a reference site - not a photo site - and so it did the job. Blogger does it not badly, the main issue is that each menu, often, is identified by the date the page was published, which usually has no relation to the date of the material included within that page! So it looks a bit DIY. But as long as you press the buttons it tells you to, it does actually work.
Blogger has other quirks. A few years ago, going back and amending published pages could see the text “un-align”, and rather than have to re-do that problem every time I wanted to add to the page, I decided the work around would be to publish a follow on page - “Sophie’s Books 2”, and the like. This does at least mean that some pages thus don’t seem too long winded, maybe it is good to spread the info around for ease of use and clarity. The only issue is that any page which I decide to me is thus “frozen” could well have some spelling mistakes, or in the case of the Music Videos page, a great big error, which I am too frightened to try and go back to change! But come on, we have all read a newspaper or magazine with a big grammatical mess in the middle, have we not?? There were also some “problems” via photo alignment a few years back, there are a couple of pages where you can see this ‘error’ in all it’s glory!!
The other oddity is, pages published at the end of a month have a big blank section if you keep scrolling down. This is designed to stop you scrolling down. And if you don’t? Well, the next “post” thus appears on screen. In other words, the website is designed to be driven by the menus, but Blogger is for people who like to churn out streams of consciousness, so is designed to show page after page en masse unless you try to fiddle it. You can’t, I don’t think, actually fiddle it to stop it from doing this, but at least I can try and stop you from finding this out by adding big sections of blank screen!
I like to think that, whatever the technical flaws of this site, it is at least kind of good at what it does - it does have some sort of design element, and is built with an admiration and love for it’s subject. SD, we salute you!
Yes, I know, there is a photo of it elsewhere on this site, but I couldn’t really not at least highlight what remains Sophie’s most famous advert, could I?
Sophie’s ad for the “Opium” fragrance is probably her most well known. Not only that, but it is also one of the most recognized adverts of all time, despite being famously “banned” on release and later becoming the eighth most complained about advert of all time during a 2012 poll.
You don’t really need me to explain why. The photo should do it for you. Sophie, naked but for some high heels and bling, legs (sort of) akimbo, it’s publication in late 2000 saw the moral majority get up in arms, who figured that a nude woman plastered on a billboard was more shocking than the latest blood splattered shoot-em-up movie they’d seen in their local cinema.
The photo was shot by Steven Meisel, best known for his work with Madonna, during Sophie’s brief ‘red hair’ phase in September 2000, and published soon after. Opium was an Yves Saint Laurent perfume, and it’s creative director, Tom Ford, hoped the advert would recall the golden age of glamour, giving “a nod to it’s history of sexual provocation and female liberation”. I can still remember seeing it on a massive billboard outside the tube station at Upminster Bridge, but I was not one of the 948 people who complained to the Advertising Standards Agency - instead, I was one of many men (and women) whose jaw dropped instead at the sheer beauty of it, and then simply went about my daily business thereafter.
It was only really banned from being on display in public, officially because it’s sexual overtones were deemed “unsuitable for children” although there were stories of the image being too distracting to motorists, who were rumoured to be crashing their cars whilst gawping at Miss Dahl on the side of the road. Fashion magazines were given the nod to run the ad, and it appeared with great regularity throughout 2000 and 2001. For a so-called banned advert, it was seen more times than - say - her Jennifer Nicholson shoot.
Officially, the image runs “right to left” - in other words, Sophie’s head appears on the right of the photo. The Opium logo appeared in different positions in different versions, sometimes below Sophie’s head, sometimes above her knees. The version above, showing it in reverse, was published like this in the 2004 book “Tom Ford : Ten Years”.
Magazine versions often were printed in landscape, across two pages, but if the advert was only to take up a single page in portrait mode, it would thus be spun round so Sophie’s head appeared at the top of the page - again, the logo would then be printed wherever appropriate, usually at the bottom of the ad.
As mentioned on the “Ad Campaigns” pages, a hyper rare alternate second shot was also published overseas at the time, but I still can’t find it on the net again! Sophie herself has commented on the iconic image, saying “the photograph is beautiful. It was seen as being anti-women, when in fact I think it is very empowering to women”. Anti-sex campaigners out there, take note!
So, apart from a bit of modelling and some cooking, Sophie post-Noughties was really now an author, both of the fiction and food variety. The days of music videos and movies seemingly over. As such, this page - which may or may not be chronological - is designed to feature the next section of books, plus anything else that may be oddball enough to mention here because there is nowhere else to mention it - which shouldn't really be that much. So, if she does a one woman play and then releases it on Blu-Ray, this is probably where it will go. We shall start by going back in time!
Playing With The Grown Ups: Audio Book
Now, it took me some time before I decided to include this one. This is a 2008 6-CD Audiobook edition of Sophie's 2007 novel (BBC/Chivers CCD1406). But, as with most audiobooks, the author does NOT read it - it's actress Finty Williams who does this one. What this means is - we have a novel with no image of Sophie (but one of the reader instead), and no actual printed words - so it could really be anybody reading anything! But I figured that it is still at least Sophie's book, so finally, here it is on this here website. The image above is a "squashed" image that appeared on the Listening Books site, where you could "rent" it like it was in a Library, the actual package itself is more of a square, and the image thus less rectangular than what you see here. My copy is an ex-library edition, so if there was a booklet inside, I don't have one. The discs are housed in pairs of slide-in wallets, so the box is bigger than it probably really needs to be, and if you want to listen to it all in one go, it will take you 7 hours and 11 minutes to do so!
And another one. This is a German audiobook (Edel 978-3-7857-3629-6) featuring three actors reading one short story each. Andreas Frohlich reads "Dancing Eyes", presumably, in German!
Cooks And Kids Too
Published in May 2014, this is a book full of "recipes for kids" (Graffeg ISBN 9781909823051). Basically, a number of celebrity chefs provide recipes that are printed in such a way that it makes it easy for youngsters to follow - with many of the recipes featuring photos of said chefs actually helping to create the food. One or two chefs provide a recipe for another chef to cook, and Sophie is one of those guest providers, so the only photos of her in here are from an old photoshoot, used purely for illustrative purposes. Sophie's involvement seems to stem from the fact that the proceeds go to the Place2Be charity, an organisation that Sophie has worked with for many years (see those London Carols Concerts).
Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory
Published in September 2014 (Penguin Books ISBN 978-0-141-35077-6), this book is a 50th anniversary celebration of Roald Dahl's "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" kids book. It is full of photos of memorabilia, including images of different front cover editions of the book, photos from the various movies, and even a section about Chocolate in general, and features a short intro about Roald by Sophie. No contemporary pictures of her, but there is a photo of her when she was a child, as previously posted on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Published in April 2014 (Assouline ISBN 1614281890), this is another one of those cookbooks with various celebrity contributions. Sold, possibly exclusively, on the Luxury Collection store, where it was described as a "culinary treasure trove" with tips and stories from "high profile global explorers". Sophie is one of them. The image you see above is the slightly ridiculous limited edition gift set version, with five free spice jars!