News, Culture & Society

Amanda Patell column on Dame Natalie Massenet

What is there not to admire about Natalie Massenet, the founder of successful online, fashion website Net-a-Porter, valued at £950 million?

Honoured for her services to fashion and retail, she is now a Dame. The former fashion writer, 52, began her business with a £1.2 million loan from her former hedge-fund husband Arnaud Massenet and created her empire from their Chelsea flat.

Everyone said it would fail. But Natalie was undeterred. She understood that many women — six million a month, as it happens — would prefer to shop online rather than suffer the ignominy of walking into a designer shop to be sneered at by an assistant earning less than they pay their nanny.

Given her drive, it’s hardly surprising that the woman who seems to have it all has now upped the ante.

Natalie Massenet attends the “Icons of Style” dinner hosted by Michael Kors and Vanity Fair on May 14, 2015 in London. The Net-a-Porter founder has announced she is having a baby

The mother of two daughters, aged 11 and 19, has just announced that she and her second husband Erik Torstensson — who at 38 is 14 years Natalie’s junior — have a new baby.

‘Erik and I are so proud and happy to welcome our much longed-for first son — Jet Everest Torstensson,’ she said. ‘He came into our lives with the most generous support from our surrogate.’ I have the utmost admiration for Dame Natalie’s achievements. But surely she’s living in la-la land. Doesn’t she realise that, to many, it will appear an utterly selfish choice to have a child at 52?

It’s not like buying a designer frock online. You can’t return it if it doesn’t suit you.

You would have expected a smart businesswoman like Natalie to have done the maths — she’ll be in her 60s when Jet starts secondary school and 70 when he goes to university.

She shows no signs of slowing down. ‘My entrepreneurial drive is as strong today as it has always been,’ she says.

The difficulties of introducing a child into a family which already has two girls, a dad and a stepdad and where a career mum vows she’ll work on, are immense. Unless you have help on hand.

But if you employ nannies to look after the longed-for newborn, then what’s the point of motherhood?

I wish Natalie well. But I can’t help thinking that, after the surprise success of Net-a-Porter, a new youthful marriage and now a new baby, she might have been be lulled into a false sense of security that she can have it all. Nobody can, however rich or successful they are.

X Factor’s Simon Cowell says the great joy about his son Eric, three, growing older is that ‘suddenly you can talk with them and they’ve taken on your mannerisms’. What a terrifying thought.

MP is wrong on the royals  

Days after republican Emma Dent Coad’s questioning of the point of the royals comes a picture of Prince Harry at the Invictus Games, kneeling beside Mark Ormrod. 

The former Royal Marine is Britain’s first triple amputee to survive the war in Afghanistan. He’s now a double silver medal winner. 

Thanks to the Games, he says: ‘I’ve completely taken charge of my injuries and got my life back.’ The royals pointless? There’s more point to them than to chippy sourpuss Ms Dent Coad. 

After being filmed in a street brawl and arrested on suspicion of ABH, England’s peerless cricket star and vice captain Ben Stokes will now almost certainly not take part in the Ashes, the most important date in any cricket fan’s calendar. I suspect foul play. Only an Aussie would have passed on that video. 

Veteran stars are a cut above   

To all those who are sceptical about the pros of cosmetic surgery, take a look at the picture of Jane Fonda, 79, and Robert Redford, 81, posing for their new movie Our Souls At Night. Well done Bob for ageing gracefully (with a little help from the knife). But the real prize goes to Jane — she looks like his daughter.

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford walk the red carpet ahead of the 'Our Souls At Night' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford walk the red carpet ahead of the ‘Our Souls At Night’ screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival

More than a decade since it first aired on our TVs, The Apprentice is back. We have the usual 18 contestants who couldn’t run a whelk stall between them. More tantalising now is that we also have their revealing social media profiles to consider. In the case of Jade English (a self- proclaimed ‘passionate’ PR queen) and James White (who’s ‘motivated by intimidation’), they’ve both posted semi-clad snaps on Instagram.

Jade and James have hit it off romantically, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase bang for your bucks.

Weigh to go Kate 

Good on the comely Kate Winslet for saying she is not a slave to the weighing scales and hasn’t stepped on them for 12 years.

Who needs scales when you have Spanx? I swear the Titanic star has been wearing six pairs of them when she has stepped out on to the red carpet recently. 

A Bradford school has banned children from bringing unhealthy food such as sausage rolls in their lunchboxes — prompting parents to say their precious children are fussy eaters and have to be allowed to eat what they wanted. I’m afraid ‘fussy eaters’ just means indulgent parents. When I was a kid, you ate what was put in front of you — or went hungry.

Pictured,  Audrey Hepburn in a black sleeveless dress, circa 1955. The Belgian-born actress have just had her possessions sold through Christie's auction house

Pictured, Audrey Hepburn in a black sleeveless dress, circa 1955. The Belgian-born actress have just had her possessions sold through Christie’s auction house

Audrey Hepburn’s children have sold her possessions through Christie’s for more than £4 million. Included was her Breakfast At Tiffany’s script, with her own handwritten notes. Odd that. Rummaging through my Mum’s old papers recently I found my ‘birthing book’, given to new mothers to provide advice, with her diligent scribblings in the margin.

I wouldn’t sell that for a million pounds. 

The head of MI6 writes a letter to the Economist saying his secret agents are more like John Le Carre’s breathtakingly ordinary Smiley than Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Alex Younger, known as ‘C’, says: ‘We break the rules, we do not break the law.’ Enough already. We don’t want to know our glamorous spies are dullards! Our top spy boss should rename himself ‘S’ . . . for silence.

Westminster wars

  • I was struck by pictures this week of Hugh Hefner and Jeremy Corbyn: two old guys with outdated ideas popular 40 years ago, surrounded by young girls who should know better.
  • A snake owner who fell asleep next to his pet boa constrictor was found suffocated to death. So no late night conference drinks for Theresa May if she’s in the company of Chancellor Philip ‘the serpent’ Hammond.
  • n After a hideously anti-Semitic conference, here’s further proof of Labour’s innate cruelty. Their rising star Emily Thornberry says her family was so poor when she was growing up they had to ‘put the cats down’.

Stepping forward as an ambassador for the British Heart Foundation, the Duchess of Freeloading, sorry York, offers some homespun wisdom. ‘A table goes best with four legs. A table can’t stand on three legs, really, so the Duke and I have the two girls.’ Surely that should be eight legs? As the accountants who have helped save her from bankruptcy on a number of occasions might testify, Fergie never was good with sums.

Good golly, Holly

The newly slimline daytime TV presenter Holly Willoughby says her gorgeous good looks have hindered her career, as she’s had to work harder to be taken seriously. She laments the fact that her lovely, long, blonde locks meant people judged her unfairly. So appalled is Holly by being rated on her looks that she regularly furnishes her millions of social media followers with alluring pictures of herself, including a bikini shot this summer. Now that’s what I call brainpower.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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