From “ugly duckling” to high-fashion magazine model, Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle’s wild ride continues with a glam photo spread in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar.
“The idea behind the shoot was a very, very simple one,” Laura Brown, Harper’s special projects editor, said on the TODAY show. “It was to take gorgeous, glamorous and sensitive portraits of her. This was her first magazine photo shoot, so you can’t do too much too soon.”
A made-over Boyle will be featured in various designer outfits in a spread called “Susan Boyle: Unsung Hero.”
Overnight sensationBoyle, 48, has become an inspiration to millions of people around the world, Brown said.
She shot to fame after her jaw-dropping performance in April of “I Dreamed a Dream” on the television show “Britain’s Got Talent” became an Internet sensation.
The show’s judges and audience were skeptical when the frumpy, “never-been-kissed” Scot took the stage — but were stunned when she started singing.
“She came onto the stage and just transfixed us all. She’s become a hero to a lot of people with dreams of stardom, or who maybe have a talent but have been too scared to express [it]. And I think everyone’s heart soared when they saw her sing that day,” Brown said.
Boyle recently told Meredith Vieira on the TODAY show that her sudden fame hit her like a “demolition ball.” She was briefly hospitalized for a reported “emotional breakdown” after placing second in the “Britain’s Got Talent” finale in May.
Comfortable and confidentStill, Brown said Boyle was comfortable and confident during the shoot, which took place at the famed Cliveden House Hotel just outside London.
“I think Susan is getting more and more used to being in the spotlight and being on television and being photographed,” Brown said. “Since April, you’ve seen her look just day to day become more polished and refined. And she’s growing in her confidence with what she’ll wear and how she’ll be perceived.”
Brown added that Boyle has “such a presence” and a good sense of humor. “She actually did a little bit of moonwalking in her Giuseppe Zanotti heels at one point,” Brown observed.
Since April, Boyle has freshened up her appearance — shaping her eyebrows, having her hair trimmed and wearing more fashionable clothing. Brown said Boyle didn’t undergo a radical makeover for the Harper’s photo shoot.
“What we did on our shoot was give her a little bit of a haircut, and that was it, and a little bit of a curl. And actually the shape of her hair is great. She’s got a really lovely curl to it. So we just tidied it up a little bit and paired it with some natural makeup, and she looked great,” Brown said.
Boyle was dressed in a “mixture of designer and sort of high-street clothing” to reflect her style and personality. “You don’t want to put her into a crazy couture dress. I think she would feel very uncomfortable and it would look fraudulent,” Brown said.
‘I feel like a knockout’In the most glamorous shot, Boyle sits at a piano wearing a full-length black Tadashi Shoji gown.
“Another one of my favorite pictures has her in a really classic, beautiful purple Michael Kors long-sleeved dress with a really groovy, fun J.Crew necklace,” Brown said. “And you can tell from the photograph that she looks really confident and she feels really great.”
Boyle was also photographed in a bright blue classic trench coat over a silky green top and black skirt, and a long-sleeved, black sequined Donna Karan sweater.
“It was great to see Susan so excited when she saw the clothing; she was thrilled there were so many options for her to play around with and try. And when she settled on her look, she said, ‘I feel like a knockout in this,’ ” Brown related.
A smiling Boyle joked on the photo set, “It really made me feel like a Hollywood actress. Had my hair done up.”
Brown said Boyle is the first to crack a joke. “Her laugh is quite genius, actually; she’s got a real robust Scottish cackle to it. When you hear that laugh, I think everybody just lights up.”
It appears Boyle won’t be leaving the spotlight behind anytime soon. Her debut album, produced by “Britain’s Got Talent” and “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, is expected to be released soon.
Boyle’s fame also proves that beauty can be defined in many ways.
“I think Susan Boyle’s greatest beauty strength is a twinkle in her eye, honestly,” Brown said. “She is so excited to be doing what she is doing, and I think that enthusiasm was so infectious to all of us who watch her and will continue to watch her and listen to her in the next few years.”