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Daisy Lowe: 'I am actually really shy and got so nervous doing Strictly'

Competing in Strictly Come Dancing was a huge confidence boost, says Daisy Lowe - who returns to the dance floor for tonight's final and also for the forthcoming tour. The Triumph ambassador spoke to Bairbre Power about stage fright, her style icons and why we all need to be kinder to ourselves

When model and actress Daisy Lowe returns to the dance floor of Strictly Come Dancing tonight, she intends to relish every last second of the show as the full troupe of contestants perform in a final night extravaganza.

"I'm really, really missing dancing so I definitely, 100% will keep it up because I've got the dancing bug now. I don't ever want to stop," says Daisy (27), from north London.

Eliminated after eight weeks in the competition, Daisy admits she hopes Louise Redknapp will lift the winner's glitterball trophy.

"I would love for Louise to win just because I think she's such a special woman, really warm, loving and maternal, such a great woman. I would love to see a woman win. Danny Mac (Mark 'Dodger' Savage in Hollyoaks) is brilliant too and I think it will be between him and Louise," she says.

A major ratings hit since it started in May 2004, Strictly is infamous for the number of romances that flourished on the sweaty dance floor. But for Daisy, the show is very special because of the many friendships she encountered.

"I've made friends for life with my dance partner Aljaz (Skorjanec) and his fiancée Janette (Manrara). They are wonderful and such a huge gift. I met them the day my gramps died. It was the first day of the rehearsals show and it was almost like I met two wonderful hearts that day. They are really special."

Chief judge Len 'It's-a-ten' Goodman retires this year, leaving Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli, and Craig Revel Horwood behind and the big rumour is that former Strictly dancer Karen Hardy will join the panel next year. Len (72) will always have a special place in Daisy Lowe's heart.

"I can't believe it's Len's last year and I'm very honoured that I got to be on the show his last year. I will forever hold it to my chest that he said mine was the best first dance he's ever seen. He gave me a nine."

Happily recounting her days on the show, Daisy says her favourite dance of all was the waltz which she dedicated to her late grandpa, Eddie Davis, who had been so excited about her being in the show. And just to make it extra bittersweet, she performed it to Unforgettable by Nat King Cole - Eddie's favourite singer.

Over eight weeks, the light-footed model, a princess of London's Primrose Hill set (Daisy counts Alexa Chung and Nick Grimshaw as besties), wore enchanting, gossamer-fine gowns. Her absolute favourite was her sparkly rumba dress in which she danced to George Michael's Careless Whisper on week four. The prospect of getting back to those wow dresses, and the troupe of newly made friends, is filling her with glee.

"I'm so excited to go on tour, it will be such a laugh, but it's really sad that they don't come over to Ireland," says Daisy, as we sit in a fitting room in Brown Thomas in Dublin, ostensibly here to discuss lingerie.

Famous for her killer curves, Daisy has modelled for Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Agent Provocateur and Chanel. This year she became an ambassador for the historic lingerie brand Triumph. Daisy certainly looks the part, confidently posing in her lacy smalls. Her career portfolio also includes acting, plus she's written a healthy eating cook book, Sweetness and Light.

The model says she inked the Triumph contract because she likes "how they support women, in every sense of the word".

"They approached me about being their face and I did research into the brand. I'm a big lingerie fan and I've worn their bras over the years. I'm a 32D so I need support and a good bra is like a good friend," she adds.

Opening up about how nervous she got before performing on Strictly Come Dancing, Daisy explains: "People see me as this confident, self-assured person but I'm actually really shy and get really nervous.

"On Strictly, my nervous system has never been more shot in my life. I suffer really badly from stage fright and always have done, so to have to dance in front of 11 million people on a Saturday night - you only get one shot, and it's live - it was absolutely terrifying. But I think I learnt so much about myself on the show.

"It literally took all of the eight weeks and it wasn't until I danced my last dance, my salsa, that it was the first time that I actually felt confident, that I could really do it. It was like I learned that lesson and then I got pulled out of the show."

The irony is rich but Daisy is fully aware that she has taken something personal away from her two months on the BBC show - that is, apart from a nice cheque and lots of girl crushes from fans.

She's used to that response and explains: "I'm a real girls' girl, I like supporting women and making women feel good and that is the most important thing. That's why working with Triumph was so lovely for me because I thought 'actually they really support women and make women feel good'."

Modelling highlights to date include working with Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld who she describes as "such a great visionary.

"Even to just to be in a room with him, you can really feel that and having my fittings with him were always extraordinary. I was young and nervous and I stood there like a mannequin. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I did the show with them in London and got the opportunity to write about it which was really lovely," she says.

"From that, I got my grandma (Lee Davis) a Chanel suit for Christmas because she always said that a glamorous old lady should have a Chanel suit. When I gave it to her, she burst into tears."

Daisy is a massive Christmas fan and declares: "What's not to love about Christmas? You get to spend time with your family, there's presents, games, sparkles and eating good food. I find receiving gifts really awkward but I love thinking about things that people are going to love."

The model's Santa list this year is, she maintains, "boring".

"As I'm so cold at the moment, I just want cashmere gloves, a cashmere hat and cardigan," she says.

The hardest-working items in her wardrobe are her combat boots and her eyes light up under that long fringe as she reveals that she's just treated herself to a pair of Valentino ones.

Despite her musical family - her mum is fashion designer Pearl Lowe who used to front indie bands Powder and Lodger in the 1990s and her dad is Gavin Rossdale, lead singer of the rock band Bush and now coach on The Voice UK - Daisy does not regard herself as rock chick dresser.

"I like to dress in quite a feminine way but with a bit of rough around the edges. It's a bit of a take on Parisien chic but then adding my Camden side to it," she explains.

Style icons include her "absolute goddess forever", namely Katherine Hepburn.

"I love her, so much," Daisy purrs, in a rich, husky voice that resembles dark chocolate and marks her out for a potential career on radio... if she ever decides to break away from modelling.

Other style icons include Monica Bellucci and Julianne Moore, and she admits to being "obsessed with Emma Stone and everything she wears, I just love her. She spreads so much light and joy."

Apart from her modelling, Daisy says she "loves acting. It gives me so much fulfilment. I like working hard, that makes me really happy. There is something so brilliant about that family environment that you enter when you do a film and I've been acting since I was 19. I've tried to do at least one acting role a year ever since then."

Named Daisy after Pearl heard a rap song called Daisy Chain the day she went into labour, the model explains: "I was supposed to be called Star, or Moon or Chelsea and then she heard Daisy Chain and I popped out and she thought 'that works for me'. The name means 'day's eye' and I like looking at the day."

Pearl and her model daughter are very close and Daisy says her 11-year-old half-sister, Betty Goffey, "has me wrapped around her little finger, big time. Betty is praying that she is the same shoe size as me so we can share shoes when she is older".

Daisy and her mum have been baking together since she was just two years of age and of all the celebrities she saw sitting in the Strictly front row, it was the sight of her baking idol Mary Berry that made Daisy giddy and so tongue-tied she managed just a shy wave across at the Great British Bake Off star.

Daisy's svelte figure is maintained with daily walks with dog, Monty, her white Maltese and visits to her "amazing personal trainer. She really kicks my a*** and I try and see her three times a week. I don't like to control what I eat. I think food is one of the greatest joys of life so I think it should be enjoyed. I eat loads of chocolate, biscuits, crisps - all of it. And I love comfort food like shepherd's pie and big baked potatoes.

"The whole time I was doing Strictly, I couldn't ever cook so I had zero energy. I had to give myself a pat on the back if I managed to put the toaster on. Being back in my kitchen and making myself a Sunday roast with my friends made me so happy."

Daisy acknowledges that with all the stage fright she experienced in her life: "I always thought 'Oh God, I could never do theatre' but after doing Strictly, I feel like maybe I could actually."

In a world where life, and social media, can trigger insecurities, Daisy advocates "the most important thing that we can do is really to be kind to ourselves on a daily basis.

"You know, if Instagram is making you feel a certain way, then maybe don't check it as much and maybe go and watch a great film that will make you feel good. Or go and hang out with a friend that will make you laugh, or do something creative that will make you feel great, or go help someone. I think it's really tough with social media because you get this fear of missing out constantly or the pressure of needing to look a certain way or dress a certain way. Actually, the most important thing that you can do is be completely authentic to you.

"My biggest advice to anyone is you've got to be kind to yourself. You've got to have your great mates on speed dial and go and feed your soul.

"It's taken me a really long time to realise that it's not about following the crowd, it's about just being really proud to be who you are and where you come from with the lessons that you've learned. No one else gets to be you and that's what makes you really special."

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