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Finola Hughes: Style Savvy

In her hit Style Network show, How Do I Look?, Finola Hughes is saving unfashionable lives one stylish episode at a time – taking them from drab to fab. She’s not quite the fashion police, but she’s pretty close. And I do mean pretty. A Brit by birth she simply exudes a cool, funky style. Hughes loves fashion and has continuously looked chic in her own career as a star of the two biggest daytime dramas, All My Children and General Hospital. She’s bringing her style to the Hospice Austin luncheon, The Beauty of Life, this month. Here, we catch up with her to learn about the New York collections, vintage jewelry, and helping others.

Lance Avery Morgan: I’m so excited we are doing the luncheon together, Finola. You’re a busy lady these days – with your series, covering fashion for Good Morning America and writing books. Tell me about why fashion is important to you.

Finola Hughes: Fashion has always been a part of my life. When I was growing up in London, my mom and I would go shopping all the time. We’d go to lots of vintage stores – in the Portabella market, which is a huge antiques market, and find some really great things.

LAM: How did you find your niche as a fashionista expert?

FH: You know, I’ve really made a conscious effort. When I was leaving All My Children, I decided to pursue fashion. I had been thinking of series ideas and took them to the Style network. They didn’t like the ideas, but they liked me. They then came back to me with an idea, which turned out to be How Do I Look? And, we’ve been on for three years.

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LAM: Your show is fun to watch. It’s like a Cinderella story in one exciting hour - where your guest goes from grim to glam in a short time. Why do you enjoy it so much?

FH: I love finding out about people. It’s just a natural curiosity since I’ve been experimenting with fashion my entire life. The popularity of the show ranges from viewers aged 13 to 70 and girls just love to watch it with their moms. The point of the show is to delve into a person’s life and we try to find out why they let themselves go… or least stopped dressing to celebrate their lives. Everyone can relate to the problems each woman has.

LAM: What about the show’s payoff when the slipper fits, so to speak?

FH: I love the moment when that happens. By that time, we have talked to the guest’s relatives to get their view points, the guest has gotten their hair done and are looking great. It’s the moment where they think ‘Oh my God, I’m never looking back at the way I used to be.’

LAM: Did you ever have a guest on the show that seemed, well, hopeless?

FH: I see hope in every single person. Where it might fail is only if there’s a misunderstanding within the family that appears with the guest. It’s important to me that everyone get along and I feel good about what we accomplish.

LAM: You’ve also developed an eclectic jewelry line for QVC inspired by your travels to the fashion capitals of the world. Which are your favorite pieces?

FH: I find things in antique markets from around the world and modernize them. I have so much fun doing it. I have many favorite pieces… one is a two antique keys on a long chain, Also, I love the silver chain with a locket, cameo and crystal charms. Most of my earrings are popular – they are substantial, but not heavy.

LAM: And this month you focus on the Spring collections for Good Morning America. Is that fun for you?

FH: I’ve also done some Emmy and Oscar coverage, too. But, Fashion Week is my favorite. You get to see so many brilliant new ideas… it’s a fantastic way to see how fashion looks for the future. The shows are a lab for ideas.

LAM: Which designers do you love?

FH: I follow Marc Jacobs because he understands what people want. It was the same when Tom Ford did Gucci. In Europe, I love Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Lagerfeld’s lines.

LAM: Speaking of fashion, you wrote about the very fashionable world of soaps in your book, Soapsuds…

FH: When I was acting in them, I was always jotting down things about life on the soap. About funny things that would occur and people would take it their jobs so seriously. The book contains an outrageous scenario and characters. I’d like to do a style book next.

LAM: How do you shift from the role of mother of two to that of fashion career woman?

FH: My two boys, Dylan and Cash are five and two. And you know, I just don’t take my work home with me. I’ve always been like that. I’ve been involved in this business since I was a kid, so I know by now how to separate the two worlds.