Sophie Dahl (born Sophie Holloway; 15 September 1977) is an English author and former fashion model. She was notable in the 1990s and early 2000s for her heavy physical appearance which she used to her advantage on the international fashion stage. She also fronted a series of ad campaigns on behalf of designer brands and fashion magazines. As a writer, she completed her first successful novella in 2003 entitled The Man with the Dancing Eyes and followed this with Playing With the Grown-ups in 2008. In 2010 Dahl wrote The Delicious Miss Dahl, a cookery book which featured recipes that were recreated for a six-part BBC 2 series of the same name.
Born in London, Dahl made her debut on the English catwalk in London's Fashion Week in the Autumn of 1997. That year, she was discovered by Isabella Blow, who was then a stylist for Vogue magazine. Blow introduced her to the management at the Storm Model Agency in London who signed her to a number of modelling campaigns for Versace, Alexander McQueen, Patrick Cox and Pringle, among others.
Dahl is the daughter of actor Julian Holloway and writer Tessa Dahl. Her maternal grandparents were the children's author Roald Dahl and the American actress Patricia Neal. Her paternal grandparents were the actor Stanley Holloway and the former chorus dancer Violet Lane. Sophie Dahl was the inspiration for Sophie, the main character in her maternal grandfather's book The BFG. She is married to the singer Jamie Cullum.
Dahl was born Sophie Holloway in London to the actor Julian Holloway and the writer Tessa Dahl. As a child, Sophie led a turbulent lifestyle; she attended 10 schools and lived in 17 homes in various locations including London, New York, and India. Dahl often sought solace and stability at her both her maternal and paternal grandparents houses in Great Missenden and Angmering respectively.
Discovery and modeling career
Dahl first formed an ambition to become a model as a teenager. She decided to travel to France to achieve this, but the plan was scuppered by her parents who wished for her to become a secretary instead. The differing opinion caused Dahl to fall out briefly with her mother. Dahl made her modelling debut on the catwalk of Lainey Keogh's first major show, in London Fashion Week for Autumn 1997. Keogh had asked various personal friends, including Dahl, to model for the show, alongside established models such as Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen. This led to Dahl being discovered by Isabella Blow, then a Vogue stylist, who introduced her to Sarah Doukas of the Storm Model Agency in London. Under their management, Dahl appeared in campaigns for Versace, Alexander McQueen, Patrick Cox, Pringle, and Gap, among others.
Dahl has worked with numerous iconic photographers, including Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel. Over the course of her career, she appeared in many editorials for high fashion magazines such as Visionaire, French and German Vogue, W, ID and V magazine. In 1997 she appeared with Kate Moss in the Elton John music video "Something About the Way You Look Tonight". In 2000, Dahl became the face of Yves Saint-Laurent's Opium. The ad, art-directed by Tom Ford and shot by Steven Meisel was a photograph of Dahl with cherry red hair posing nude on black satin. It was removed from UK billboards after complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority. Accused of sexually objectifying women, it became one of the most complained about ads of all time.
Dahl has written extensively for Vogue, and in November 2012, she won a Jasmine award for her column about scent. In 2003 Dahl published her first book, an illustrated novella and Times bestseller, The Man with the Dancing Eyes. After this she began writing regularly for publications such as American Vogue, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Observer and the Saturday Times.
From 2005 Dahl was a contributing editor and regular columnist at Men's Vogue, prior to its closure in 2008. Dahl is the author of three other books: Playing with the Grown-Ups (2008) and two cook books, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights (2009) and From Season To Season (2011). She was a contributor to an anthology, Truth or Dare edited by Justine Picardie, which included works by Zoë Heller and William Fiennes. Dahl provided introductions to the Puffin Classic new edition of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the Virago Press re-issue of Stella Gibbons' 1938 novel Nightingale Wood which was released in April 2009, and Nancy Mitford's "Don't Tell Alfred", reissued by Penguin in March 2010.
During March and April 2010, Dahl wrote and presented a six-part cookery series entitled The Delicious Miss Dahl, which was broadcast on BBC 2. The following year, she wrote and presented a documentary about the Victorian cook, Isabella Beeton which was also transmitted on BBC2.
Family history and personal life
Dahl comes from an artistic background, owing to her notable grandparents on both sides. Her paternal grandparents were the actor Stanley Holloway and the former chorus dancer Violet Lane. Her paternal linage on her grandfather's side has been associated with the stage since 1850 with her ancestor Charles Bernard (1830–1894), a leading Shakespearean actor and theatre manager of the day. Bernard's son, Oliver Percy Bernard OBE MC (1881–1939), was an English architect and scenic designer, who designed sets for Sir Thomas Beecham's Ring Cycle at Covent Garden. Her maternal grandparents were the author Roald Dahl and the American actress Patricia Neal.
On 9 January 2010 she married singer Jamie Cullum. Dahl and Cullum had their first child, a daughter named Lyra, on 2 March 2011; she was followed by a second daughter, Margot, on 4 March 2013. The family live in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
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- "Truth or Dare: The First Boy I Loved", pp. 105–117.
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- Holloway and Richards, p. 74
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- "Ooh, I think I felt the little Dahling kick: Just a month to go until Sophie and Jamie's big day", Daily Mail (online edition), 30 January 2011, accessed 26 October 2012.
- Holloway, Stanley; Richards, Dick (1967). Wiv a little bit o' luck: The life story of Stanley Holloway. London: Frewin. OCLC 3647363.
- Sophie Dahl's website
- Vincent Graff meets Sophie Dahl (The Guardian)
- Interview with Kate Lauer[dead link] (The London Paper)
- Jenny Tucker reviews Voluptuous Delights (so Feminine)
- Announcement of BBC cookery series (The Telegraph)
- Announcement of 'Miss Dahl’s Guide to All Things Lovely' (The Bookseller)
- I'm a bit of a dork: Kira Cochrane talks to Sophie Dahl (The Guardian)