The 'invisibility cloak' that descends over women's shoulders in our fifties tends to mean that we forget that there are very many amazing and capable women who have made a really significant contribution to the lives of others in various ways. Women's working lives are often complicated by domestic responsibilities and child care in a way that most men's are not, so I am always full of admiration for women like LFF Ambassador Lady Justice Anne Rafferty who has reached the top of the legal profession as an Appeals Court Judge despite giving birth to four girls, one of whom tragically died at 2 years of age. And LFF Ambassador Elizabeth Bessant who built a successful couture design business whilst caring for an autistic son single-handedly.
Our latest ambassador, Clarissa Farr, has also combined motherhood with a demanding career and has reached the very top of the teaching profession as high mistress of St. Paul's Girls School.
Clarissa is a customer of LFF who sent me a delightful email saying that our makeup tutorials "have been brilliant to give me new ideas and new confidence with my makeup even though I am a different generation to my fashion-conscious pupils."This email pinged into my inbox one Sunday and I replied immediately not realising that Clarissa was high mistress of St. Paul's, arguably the best school for girls in the country. When she told me, I suggested that she might like to become an Ambassador for us and was really happy when she said she would.
Clarissa's teaching career began in 1981 as an English and drama teacher at a sixth form college in Farnborough.
Over the next fifteen years, which included a three year stint in Hong Kong (see above), she progressed through the ranks until she achieved her desired goal of running her own school. At the age of thirty-seven and with a one year old baby, she was appointed as head at Queenswood, a boarding school in Hertfordshire. Clarissa moved to St Paul's in 2006 as High Mistress, a role she has fulfilled for ten years and from which she is just about to step down. It is interesting that Clarissa has decided to leave a job she loves whilst still at the top of her game. However, as you will hear in the interview, at the age of 58, Clarissa is keen to find a new direction and new ways to explore her many obvious talents.
What I loved about Clarissa when I met her at the school to interview her was how approachable and down-to-earth she is. I don't know what I was expecting, but thoughts of the forbidding and steely headmistress of my own time at school and also as the parent of two girls at boarding school in the 1980's, made me somewhat wary. Clarissa is warm, charming and vivacious and, as you can see in the photographs, elegant and attractive. I kept thinking 'I bet the girls here all respect and admire you enormously!' Having spoken to Clarissa it's apparent that she has had a huge impact on the lives of the girls who go to the school.
For a start she wanted to lessen some of the terrible pressure that she felt every child at the school was under to achieve at the highest level. Clarissa was at pains to tell her pupils that 'we all fail from time to time and that making mistakes is a part of life.' She also set up parenting classes to help the high-flying parents of her pupils to give their daughters the best possible support with things like exam stresses, the pressure of social media and how to stay safe online.
Clarissa's is a hugely demanding role and she regularly works 60 to 70 hour weeks. Meetings with parents can often start at 7.30 am. She still teaches English to the first years so that she gets to know each girl as she becomes a pupil at the school and it is, no doubt, an excellent opportunity for the girls to get to know her. And now Clarissa has decided that she has gone as far as she can go as head of the school and is leaving St Paul's at the end of this school year in August. As you would expect she has had many offers, but is taking her time to decide what the next stage of her life will bring. She is a relative youngster (certainly compared to me!) at 58, so I am sure that she still has a lot more to give to any of the people lucky enough to have her as part of their team.
I do hope you enjoy my interview with Clarissa and agree with me that, once again, we have chosen the perfect Look Fabulous Forever Ambassador! I do hope you enjoy my video interview with her.
Have just watched the video of Clarrisa and what a surprise! I actually went to school with Clarissa when she lived down here in Somerset. She was also a good friend of my younger brother. What a delightful lady she has turned into and what a high achiever and what an inspiration to her pupils! She is a worthy ambassador for LFF and I also wish her well in the future.
A really interesting and enjoyable conversation with the country's leading headteacher. I can vouch for her ability to inspire the students in her care, having seen my granddaughter flourish and become a delightful, independent and successful Paulina.
What a wonderful woman to choose as a LFF Ambassador.!!
I went to boarding school (in South Africa) way back in the late 50's/early 60s.
Our headmistress was undoubtedly a worthy woman, but in our eyes she seemed ancient. To have had someone as up-to-date as Clarissa Farr would have been wonderful, and a role model for us all. Thinking back our head, Mavis Kitto, who died some years ago, I now realise she was not very old, but by her demeanor/dress/appearance (make-up) she seemed ancient to us back then.
When we are very young we take our cues from the women arround us as to how we should look at certain stages of our lives, which is why it is SO important for people like Ms Farr to be in place.
She looks amazing and is a worthy choice of LFF Ambassador.
I have just viewed this interview and what impressed me most of all, was the easy and natural attitude of both yourself, Tricia and Clarissa Farr.. It did not n any way feel staged or awkward with pertinent questions and answers.
I particularly agreed with the wonderful teaching videos on how to apply makeup which looked very natural and not in any way, heavy. I have mentioned before, how much I have appreciated those videos as I am very new to wearing makeup at 82 years.
Clarissa Farr is a worthy LLF Ambassador.
What a great interview.
Clarissa was so eloquent and has obviously been very successful at what she has undertaken.
I was very impressed with her policies and her thoughts and it came across that whatever she does next she will be successful.
She looked great
How rewarding to see two such charming, articulate and glamorous women in conversation. You both inspire me to look better, aim higher and experiment more in my own life. This interview is a beautiful gift, Thank you so much, Tricia.
Enjoyed the interview with Clarissa Farr, such an inspirational lady who will have inspired, I'm sure, all the girls she has taught throughout her career. She still has a lot to offer, and lots of ideas she wants to pursue, and I wish her good luck, and all the very best for the future. Thank you Tricia for interviewing such inspiring women.