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As a gender, women spend a lot of time tearing down their fellow sisters, although this trait is mostly propagated by the haridans at the Daily Mail, (wizened old prunes that they are, oops, there I go again). So as an antidote to the Moirs and the Bricks of our fair planet, I thought I’d put forward my list of women (six in total, although it will be five usually!) who I think deserve plaudits this year. Rather than celebrate celebrities, I thought I would acknowledge the women of my acquaintance who I think have really been rather marvellous this year and so without further ado and in no particular order, I give you the inaugural Lili’s Ladies 2013.

Sophie Orr.

Miss Sophie Orr

In a year which has seen family bereavement, advertising executive, (Evening Standard dontcha know!) Sophie threw her time and resources into organising quite simply the best charity ball that the City of London has seen for an age. A long time supporter of our Armed Forces, Sophie created The Poppy Rocks Ball and raised a fortune for the British Legion. The ball is returning to The City in 2014 and I strongly suggest that you fight for a ticket and support The Poppy Rocks Ball, (there are men in Mess dress, they had spurs. Spurs!!! Honestly, you could have scooped me from the floor!!). Sophie is also the Godmother to Rafferty-Baz and my husband and I couldn’t have chosen better.

Heidi Bang Tidy

Heidi Bang Tidy

This year, burlesque has come under fire from various angles and one of the most high profile was Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival being denied permission to use the town hall in Hebden for their gala show. The council deemed  that burlesque is ‘demeaning to women’. I’m not sure that the 90% female audience felt the same. Heidi gave them both barrels with protests and petitions and raised huge awareness with reach well beyond the boundary of cabaret and burlesque. The town council looked like fools and Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival now have their Gala at the Todmorden Hippodrome and have attracted a star-studded line-up including Banbury Cross and Frisky (of Frisky & Mannish fame). Hurrah for Heidi.

Jacqui Tomkins & Mal Soomessur
I had my first baby, at home, in January and I couldn’t imagine doing it without the help of these amazing wise women from the London Birth Practice. I have written extensively about Independent Midwives and the troubles they face with future Government legislation, Mal and Jacqui have been at the forefront of the fight for insurance and they are still fighting for their right to provide gold standard care to women. I will support them all the way.

Jack Monroe

Jack Monroe
Where do I start with Jack Monroe? It hardly seems worth it for her to be one of my women of the year as she has already achieved an armful of far more prestigious awards and accolades this year. I started the year reading her amazing blog (at it’s best when she gets cross – she’s like a literary hulk and she can tear the Daily Fail to shreds in 300 words) and if you haven’t read it, where have you been? Do it. Now. As the year slips away, she has written a book, appeared on various news/politics shows, presented a petition to Parliament and demanded that they debate food banks, ranked at number 19 on the Independent’s Pink List, been nominated for a Groucho Award, been invited on to a comedy panel show, been subject to at least three hate articles from the Daily mail (idiots!) and so much more. Also, like me, she comes from Essex, which is a cause for celebration in itself when 95% of the rest of the county are orange and hardly clothed. Go Miss Jack, it has been awesome watching your ascendency.

Jema Hewitt

Miss Jema Hewitt

Costumier extraordinaire. Jema has made costumes for me for the last few years, and it is always exciting to see what she creates for me. She created my lime green Chinese silk hosting dress, which is one of my favourite gowns ever. She also finds time to write books on Steampunk frippery and make tricorns and we all know how much I adore a tricorn. Such a talented lady. If you haven’t checked out her Etsy shop, you absolutely should. I’m already looking forward to seeing what Jema and I create together in 2014.

And with that, my ladies for 2013 are done. I’m looking forward to seeing more awesome stuff created, written and produced by even more ladies in 2014.

Yours, in celebration,


[photos by Deborah Selwood, Louisa Reid Russell, Neil Kendall]