The Rules of Good Courtface


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When Nigella Lawson turned up at court yesterday looking unfeasibly ravishing, she demonstrated the power of good Courtface. Sali Hughes explains the rules of the game.



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1. Get Into Character

When Joan Collins testified in court to defend the suit filed by Random House, she was browbeaten and rubbished by the publishers’ lawyers. After several days of flailing, a friend told her tersely to stop testifying as Joan Collins and to channel Alexis Carrington Colby. She claims that the day Alexis entered the courtroom, all red lips, massive hair and shoulder pads, Joan won the case. Formidable, playful and wisecracking, Alexis-Joan played beautifully to the gallery and as ever, got exactly what she wanted.






Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.24.442. Show The Court Respect

Jurors have taken a fortnight out of their lives to deal with your bullshit drunk driving charge. At least respect their sacrifice and make some effort as payment. The moment the naturally beautiful Lindsay Lohan walked into court in acrylic hair, scruffy make-up and psychedelic nail art bearing the legend “Fuck U”, bitch was going down. Profane, tie-dye nails do not suggest a person in full control of their lives, nor a person who has any sense of appropriateness. Later on, the white Chanel suit and demure ponytail suggested important lessons had been learnt.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.26.173. Offer Your Face as Evidence

The brilliance of Nigella’s magnificent Courtface is that it demonstrably rubbishes any allegations that she has a drug problem. Skin like porcelain, perfect poise, soft, serene expression, glossy and abundant hair, immaculate blusher work. No one, much less someone in their fifties, looks that good if regularly huffing Class As. Irrespective of any ruling, Nigella has convinced the world before setting foot in the dock that serious, longterm drug abuse is a physiological impossibility. Charles Saatchi, meanwhile, with a face like a pickled walnut, is becoming more pantomime villain by the minute.





Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.27.434. Never Appear Too Rich

Looking good is important, but arriving at court dripping in furs and jewels is a sure way to lose public support, especially if you’re up for tax dodging. A mink stole and Chanel flap bag suggests you have money to burn that could possibly be better spent on school libraries and dialysis machines. It’s also unwise to turn up with court Botox, freshly injected for good photo ops. This will backfire horribly and you’re likely to end up in a cell, mourning for unreachable top-ups. Stupid Leona Helmsley.




Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.28.595. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When Winona appeared in court to face her unfathomable shoplifting charges, she pulled a Courtface masterstroke. Demure and wide eyed, lightly made up, hair scraped back simply in an almost wimple-like headband to face allegations that she had stolen some hair accessories from Saks, Winona appeared contrite and rightly appalled at her own predicament. People could relate to the embarrassment and shame and admired the visible lack of arrogance. Marc Jacobs was seemingly so impressed that he hired Winona to front his next ad campaign for which, one would imagine, she was paid in enough frocks to need never again go out on the rob.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.29.126. Know That Context Is Everything

Pitching up late to court in pyjamas, a sheriff’s badge and no discernible nose, Michael Jackson, is not the way to convince anyone that you understand the graveness of child abuse allegations. Jackson’s bizarre, almost comedic appearance marked the most ill advised court look since Maxine Carr appeared before the judge in a Daffy Duck sweatshirt (who the hell were her lawyers?). And let’s face it, Heather Mills’ Atomic Kitten hairstyle and extraordinary three-piece Harlequin suit apparently bought from the Rentaghost house clearance, made most viewers believe Sir Paul was best shot of her.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.29.307. Mean Business

Wendi Deng, while not herself appearing before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, owned every frame of the TV coverage. Sat behind her now-estranged husband Rupert Murdoch, in sharp tailoring, perfect make-up and a curtain of hair so healthy it seemed to be reinforced with carbon, Deng showed exactly who was the real muscle in the Murdoch operation. The day Murdoch was attacked by some dreary attention seeker was her finest moment. She dealt with him swiftly, fiercely and without so much as smudging her lipline.


8. Wear Make-up as Armour

Good court face isn’t only a defence tool – it can provide a witness with the courage to walk through the courtroom door. Many women will understand why, when faced with the man who admits to assaulting her, Nigella chose to paint on the most magnificent Screw You face – strong, regal and defiant on the outside whilst, one would imagine, she felt really pretty terrible inside. A full face of court make-up acts almost as a one-way screen behind which to testify. No one can see beyond your brave face when you’re wearing brows that could pick a safe lock. TEAM NIGELLA.



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