2000s Archive

England’s It Girl

continued (page 5 of 5)

The cupcakes at 11 Downing Street are a big hit, but Nigella fizzles on Have I Got News for You. No one understands the Delia T-shirt. No matter. The next few days are crammed with more book signings, another television taping, requests to lend her name to some new range of garlic tweezers for some exorbitant amount of cash. There’s dinner at The Ivy; planning Cosima’s “Come As Your Favorite Pop Star” birthday party; and the emergency appointment with Vaishaly, the one woman in London Nigella allows to thread (as opposed to wax) her bushy eyebrows. Two publishing companies have called about Nigella, the magazine. There’s serious talk of a tabletop line, called Nigellaware, for the stolid British retailer Asprey’s, and negotiations are in the works for selling her show to a network in the U.S.

Ed Victor, Nigella’s book agent, is worried about overexposing her; some of her friends are getting tetchy because she hasn’t made time for them. The irony, of course, is not lost on Nigella: What started out as a food column for women who were pressed for time has grown into a juggernaut that commands all of her time.

As I watch her remain gracious while being pulled in many directions, I wonder if her brainy, busty, messy beauty will play in the land of Emeril and Martha. “People will respond to the whole package: the looks, the personality, the food,” says Victor. “Women that beautiful or brainy are usually removed. Nigella is totally approachable, and because of that, she will cut across borders. She’s the perfect export.”

As her agent, Victor is paid to believe. Nigella, of course, is more sanguine. “I don’t want to have to live up to my own image. I don’t care about being the third most beautiful woman in the world. Nor do I want to be turned into some super-duper domestic personality. I want to grow in a slow way. I don’t want this to eat me up.”

I mention that yesterday I spotted, in a magazine that writes about her regularly, an ad featuring a buxom, lustrous, dark-haired model who could have been her twin. There are now Nigella wannabes.

“I can’t control these things.” The phone rings, and she lets it. “I can take responsibility for my presentation, but I can’t control everything. If there’s one thing in my life I’ve learned, it’s that.”

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