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Modern Day Icons


Defintion: “The ability to think independently and creatively.”


Editor of Sister Magazine Beccy Hill takes us inside the making of an issue of the original women’s zine in our Originality themed film. Lulu Guinness favourite Nell Gifford inspires us with tales of circus acts and extraordinary career paths. We also talk to super stylish Taiwanese influencer Judy Chou.

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Hers is a story that sounds like the beginning of a novel; a young girl runs away to the circus before heading to Oxford University and treks across America helping a troupe out, with her day-to-day duties including riding a horse in the show.This first taste of the circus would lead to Nell Gifford having a series of stints in different shows before founding one of her own. Gifford’s circus was set up in 1998 by Nell and her husband Toti, with no backing or investment. If there is one thing this Modern Day Icon teaches us, it’s that any dream is possible, no matter how unusual. We chatted to her about her extraordinary career path.

How would you describe a Modern Day Icon?
A Modern Day Icon is someone who remains three dimensional in a flat screen world. Someone with a bit of risk around them. I think risk is very important.

What is the greatest decision you’ve ever made?
The circus is in a way the biggest decision I have ever made and I feel like I have to keep on making it every day.

What is the source of your inspiration?
My source of inspiration is the streaming present - that’s where creativity and humour lives.

How would you describe your style in three words?
I think style wise I am walking circus, and I love uniforms with a passion. In fact I love uniformity. And any clothes made for a specific job.

What do you think you would be doing had you not pursued a career at the circus?
If l had not pursued a career in circus I would like to work in a big company finding interesting ways to communicate health and safety messages. I would also like to be a teacher.

What’s an unusual fact about the circus that many people may not know?
The circus is an English invention. People never know that.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given is that the circus will take care of itself — things have a life of their own. Don’t pick a fight - that’s a good one to remember. A really crucial and quite brilliant bit of advice.

What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
I was reading Tyger Tyger with my six year old twins and in thirty minutes of discussion they worked out that it was about creation.They are not scared of going in at the deep end with big ideas.That makes me very, very proud. Life’s too short for Thomas the Tank Engine.



Judy Chou is a Taiwanese icon who has been compared to Lady Gaga due her quirky and eclectic style. Her fashion choices are bold and original and have led her to a successful career as a stylist, a model and even hosting a hugely popular TV show in Hong Kong. We spoke to her about being fearless and flying the flag for originality.

What does it mean to be a modern day icon?
I couldn’t be any happier, I have always been the biggest fan of
Lulu Guinness.To me, it is like a dream come true.

What do you admire most about yourself?
I am a very positive person.

What’s your greatest achievement?
I’m not afraid to be different and always follow my heart.

What’s your favourite quote?
Life is too short to blend in.

Who is your style icon?
Catherine Baba.

Where is your favourite place to go in Taiwan?
Kenting.The most beautiful beach in Taiwan.


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Image credits: Rebecca Jane Hill Instagram; Andrew Crowley; Judy Chou Facebook