Belfast Telegraph

My 2011 calendar girls’ year of highs and lows

By Frances Burscough

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, here’s my line-up of feisty femme fatales as reported on these pages over the year 2011, for the sake of auld lang syne ...

January the month may have been dreary and dull but January Jones the woman was anything but. This blonde ex-model rose to fame in the series Mad Men, in which she plays the prim and proper housewife and mom Betty Draper. In reality, however, she is anything but prissy and proved it in this month by stripping off completely to become the new “muse” of the iconic fashion/lifestyle label Versace ... but for a pair of killer stilettos and a gigantic, hugely expensive leather handbag.

February was, as always, Oscars month. Looking back I’m very proud and smug to note that my predictions came true. One thing I couldn’t have predicted, however, was how atrocious Nicole Kidman would look on the red carpet. Her Galliano gown looked so much like a tablecloth that when she was asked the big question “Who are you wearing?” I was expecting her to say “Harry Corry”.

March and congratulations were in order this month as the Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding announced her engagement to the dashing financier Tom Crane. But in my humble opinion it was her incredible transformation from a bottle blonde bimbo to a raven gothic goddess that was far more worthy of our congratulations. Now she had gone black she should never go back.

April was the month when we were all glued to our TVs watching Belfast’s pride and joy, the locally made Game of Thrones. We weren’t to be disappointed. I predicted a whole new wave of celtic/tribal fashions for both men and women would start appearing in shops as a result of this groundbreaking series. And was I right? Yea verily!

May and we were all aghast at the sight of Cheryl Cole in ‘that’ outfit! In the shallow world of reality game shows, all it took was one hideous ensemble for her popularity to go into freefall. This was the be-all-and-end-all of Cheryl’s short-lived American odyssey and many commentators pin-pointed the “porange” catastrophe as the final nail in her career’s coffin.

June began with another story about my favourite imaginary friend, Jennifer Aniston. As a long-standing fan I was delighted to note that that even now, at 42 years of age, she is still up there on top form and racking up the headlines as regularly as so many starlets half her age. At the MTV Movie Awards she unveiled a brand new boyfriend, the tall, dark and handsome Justine Theroux, to the awestruck crowds.

July saw the rise to prominence of the actress Mila Kunis. The Ukrainian/American star of the summer ‘bonkbuster’ movie Friends with Benefits was universally praised for being as beautiful as she is talented. Before appearing at the Berlin premiere this month she underwent a special facial peel where her skin was exfoliated with ground-up rubies and diamonds. Talk about extravagant!

August brought yet more “news” about that annoying ginger spice Gerry Halliwell. Right on schedule, in August she launched her own collection of dresses for a high street chain (Next), possibly in the hope of following in the footsteps of her former posh colleague, VB. Well, she didn’t. It was a complete flop.

September was the month when Tamara Eccleston (elder daughter of Bernie, the diminutive billionaire) tried in vain to convince us that she has never been spoilt and was, like the rest of us, just “normal” and “grounded”. But it was revealed that she and her fiancé were planning to spend “upwards of $100m” on a new home in LA. This was in addition to her London home, which cost £47m and includes a hand-carved Amazon-sourced crystal bath which alone cost £1m. But no, she insisted she’s not spoilt at all. Just completely normal and grounded ... er, like any other billion-heiress.

October and the video that caused all the fuss and countless headlines around the world was finally released. Yes, I’m talking about Rihanna, of course, and the now notorious film sequence where she ran topless around the most Presbyterian cornfield in God’s own Ulster. As it turned out, the offending clip only lasted a few seconds so all the furore was making a mountain out of a molehill. Nevertheless it hardly showed Norn Iron in a good light, did it?

November This month will be remembered forever as the time when MTV came to town, lock stock and bling-encrusted barrel. My favourite moment was when I was standing with my lovely friend Grainne Maher (the Belfast designer) at the MTV party at Ten Square when she saw that the presenter Selena Gomez was wearing one of her own distinctive necklaces. Her mouth dropped open and she mouthed “OH MY GOD! LOOK!” whilst dancing on the spot with sheer glee. It was a moment of such joy and pride that everyone around her — even total strangers — were affected by the ripple of excitement and started cheering and applauding. What a coup!

December Hats off to another local lovely, the beautiful Belfast model Tracey Hall who celebrated the memory of our recently departed friend Gurty by dancing her socks off in the Celebrity Come Dancing competition at La Mon Hotel. Tracey and her dance partner, the hairstylist Maurice Hughes, wowed the judges with their sexy samba, won the trophy and made a small fortune for Children in Need in the process. Arriba! Arriba!

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