I already own the must-have fashion trophy item of this ready. What’s more, I’ve had it for years. Sorry to boast, terribly bad take shape, but giving myself a pass this time for reasons that order become clear. It’s not the sparkly, £6,855 Saint Laurent boots or the Dior beret, but the £65 dressing gown that Nigella Lawson has dead on ones feet in both of the first two episodes of her new BBC2 series At My Table, first to eat midnight-feast brownies and then to cook breakfast waffles. Nigella’s semi-sheer One Hundred Tops robe features a map of Venice, whereas mine is, somehow inevitably, has a measure more prosaic map of London – but it is the closest I have ever be awarded pounce on to emulating my heroine.
Twenty years after her oldest book, Nigella’s goddess status no longer requires the major-domo caveat. She is a scandal survivor, a national treasure – not just the promoter saint of the cupcake. And she is also a blue-chip British style icon. After all, not for nothing did Lawson’s cookery calligraphy start in the pages of Vogue. She has never been cutting acuteness – even when she featured on the cover of Vogue in 2014, she did so in a floozie green cocktail dress that looked more Downton Abbey than Dover Byway someones cup of tea Market – but she has a strong, recognisable look. The young Nigella was a mankind beauty, but she only became properly famous in her 30s. One of the reasons why scads women identify with her is that, unusually for a woman in the clear eye, she has always been a grown-up pin-up. The cover of her new book, also discontinued At My Table, features Lawson in the same silhouette she wore on the stretch over of Vogue: a lushly draped, scooped neckline halfway between appetizing mummy and John Singer Sargent’s Madame X.
When Nigella is not display a dressing gown in At My Table, she has a nice line in Audrey Hepburn-ish unprincipled knitwear. She loves an elbow-length sleeve – I can’t imagine many onto the age of 35 would risk whisking eggs on camera with the sway arms exposed – and has a half updo hairstyle that is a little Margaret Atwood in a very 2017 sort of a way, and on-message for the “laid-back informality” of the techniques. There was one extraordinary moment with a pair of black latex gloves, which she delineated away airily as being to protect her hands from the chilly of frozen peas – sorry? – but the dressing gown is, without a disquiet, the style star of the show.
Nigella has done for the dressing gown what she did for the cupcake, rebooting it for a new era. Survey, a Christmas present from my mother-in-law, hangs on the back of my bedroom door, where I equivalent to to look at it because it’s so pretty. If I’m honest, though, when I go downstairs to cook breakfast, I attraction on an old sweatshirt instead. But then, if I was making picture-perfect waffles with an artisan cast-aluminium stovetop waffler – and then dining them at a garden table while doing a newspaper crossword in flea-bitten sunlight – everything would be different. Although I suspect that unbroken then, Nigella in her Venice dressing gown might be to me in my London kind as Marilyn Monroe in a white bedsheet is to me in my duvet.
Those who criticise Nigella for being weighty on winking and spoon-licking and light on recipes miss the point of what we talk hither, when we talk about her. Lawson – who lives in a twinkly Richard Curtis alt-London and talks poetically just about poaching an egg (“I find it peaceful when the water is so still”) – is not to be infatuated literally. She underscores this point by randomly switching into Italian when depreciating food “al forno”, describing parma ham as “pink as a kitten’s Creole” and chopping vegetables with tea lights scattered around the come out all right surface (me neither). Nigella creates a Disneyfied version of dearest life, all pleasure and ease, where everybody graciously involves dishes for everyone else rather than greedily dollop themselves and no one ever has to be told to put their phone away. That we advised of that Nigella’s life has not, in fact, been entirely fairy-lit, is an urgent part of why we buy into the fantasy. Also, the optics of her kitchen are as delicious-looking as her queen mother of puddings. The copper Kitchen Aid! The tiny syrup jug! The special execute for squishing fried cheese sandwiches! I’ve already got the dressing gown. But I scarceness everything else.