As 2017 hurtles to a close, the party season gets into full swing and we navigate our way through deadlines, constant breaking-news alerts, and the pre-Christmas hullabaloo, it can be easy to overlook the act of winding down, taking a breath and enjoying the festivities.
I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that the past year has been particularly intense. In my case, I started a new job as Editor-in-Chief of ELLE, which has been both brilliant and undeniably demanding, as well as all-consuming. In other words, I haven't had a lot of time to really be in the moment. My slow-down epiphany happened in Paris during the most recent Fashion Week shows. There I was, in a feathered Prada dress on my way to the Alexander McQueen show, then on to a Louis Vuitton dinner at the Paris Ritz. Pretty damn fabulous, right?
But instead, I was feeling jaded and grumpy. All I could focus on was getting back to normal home life and a night on the sofa with a box set.
It wasn't until my eternally positive colleague Kenya Hunt said to me: 'Just stop for a second and imagine how excited your 18-year-old self would feel if she could see you now.' It was a gentle reminder to take a minute to appreciate how far I'd come. So, I took a breath and looked out of the window just as the Eiffel Tower was lighting up in all its twinkling glory (a spectacle I interpreted as a small reminder from the universe).
Yes, my 18-year-old self would have been chuffed. It's not easy to press the pause button, but my end-of-year promise to myself (and my only New Year's resolution, for now) is to do it more. Life isn't going to slow down anytime soon, but I can.
It's not easy to press the pause button...Life isn't going to slow down anytime soon, but I can.
Our cover star Daisy Ridley did exactly that when she sat down with writer Emma Brockes to talk through her meteoric rise as the heroine of the recent Star Wars installations. Full disclosure: I've never been into sci-fi, or space in general, and I had never watched a Star Wars film before this year. But Daisy's mesmerising performance as Rey in The Force Awakens converted me, and I found inspiration in her character's spark and force of will.
Off screen, I was impressed by her ability to maintain a sense of grounded calm, whether she was in the middle of activity on our photoshoot, or the whirlwind of work surrounding a major Disney movie franchise. And as we move forward through peripatetic times like this, we could all use a bit of Daisy's tranquillity and optimism.
Speaking of the future, what better way to spend the final month of the year than by looking forward to what's new for 2018? From the rise of new punk and the return of poetry, to fashion's growing obsession with tarot and the comeback of the iconic Burberry check, there's a lot to discover and get into. Not to mention the coming party season: revel in the many transformative lip colours, fragrances and skin perfectors (ideal for self-gifting) in our beauty gift guide, or one of the many fabulous dresses in Earthly Delights. If that doesn't get you feeling party-ready, I don't know what will.
Speaking of parties, Lotte Jeffs – ELLE's hostess with the mostest – shows you how to put on a party, with input from designers Simon Porte Jacquemus, Erdem and more. My favourite tip comes from radio presenter Clara Amfo: 'Don't be afraid to be the first one dancing.'
So, as you head into a month of slowing down on the work front, putting on your dancing shoes and embracing the festivities, why not take your cue from Diane von Furstenberg's insightful words: 'You know who's gonna give you everything? Yourself.'
However the past year has panned out for you, you've made it through and that is something to be celebrated. So, may I suggest giving yourself permission to enjoy the closing of 2017?
Take a breath, reconnect with your younger self, and consider how far you've come. And in the words of my (new) favourite franchise: may the force be with you.
The December issue is available on news stands now.