I still feel as madly passionate about my job as when I first stepped through the revolving doors of Country Life as an intrepid intern back in 2008. It was everything I didn't expect, and more. Exciting, forward thinking editors, a far cry from the traditional atmosphere some might assume, and yet a nurturing environment, made so by the Editor-in-Chief and his army of staff. Mark Hedges is still at the helm, thank goodness, and although having his fair share of Miranda Priestley moments, he is the most brilliant editor, and ‘going with one’s gut’ is a skill I have learned from him. A weekly magazine doesn't have the time to pontificate – decisions need to be made fast, and I often think the more decisions you have to make in a day, the more efficiently they will happen.
I am endlessly inspired by things around me, from London exhibitions (Don't miss Tim Walker at The V&A which is astonishing, and celebrates all things British) to nature and wildlife when I manage to escape back to the Northamptonshire countryside. Blackberry picking inspired a still life shoot dripping with berry coloured fine jewellery, then a trip to South Africa spawned a safari fashion shoot for Gentleman’s Life (shot in Kent, not Africa, sadly).
I have recently been lucky enough to host an event with Helen Brocklebank, CEO of Walpole, an organisation promoting, protecting and developing British luxury worldwide. The event was at Huntsman, the Savile Row stalwart, who count royalty and celebrities amongst their clientele. An inspirational brand, fiercely proud of their heritage (170 years is something money can’t buy), Huntsman are also brilliantly in touch with the modern market and technology – collaborations with brands like Adidas sit under their perfectly proportioned belt.
The luxury landscape has changed beyond recognition in my working life (eleven years and counting). The arrival of social media has created a platform and a voice for anyone who wishes to be heard. Luckily for me, old-fashioned media still very much has its place, something that Walpole’s CEO wholeheartedly agrees with. We all need some escape from the digital noise now and then, and a book or magazine will always be a luxury in itself, especially now we are all so terrifyingly busy.
I am obsessed with how ‘things’ are made, aged 12, I could be found beavering away at my sewing machine making skirts out of jeans and cutting up my father’s old shirts to make layered ruffles for them (I promise, this was cool in 2000). Ever since have always preferred to know where and how something is made, rather than just buying fashion for the sake of it. My Grandmother often springs to mind, having grown up in the war with her infectious ‘make do and mend’ tendencies, something I fully intend on passing to the next generation – who sadly won’t have those first hand stories of war time rationing to make it a clear reality.
When styling and art directing shoots, or writing features for Country Life and other wonderful luxury publications, I am dedicated to telling the readers how to put their best foot forward in the world of luxury. I am never happier than when tasked by a friend with a ‘help! What should I buy my godson/husband/naughty uncle/dog for their birthday’ and I will not rest until I have found the perfect solution, or at least come up with multiple options – although be warned I’m not famed for my budget options.
I am sitting here writing this after the Huntsman/Walpole event mentioned above, and I am wearing a beautiful silk dress from Beulah London (with Crockett & Jones Chelsea boots in fact). A British fashion brand with a social mission, Beulah provide employment for vulnerable women globally, and are doing their bit to help put an end to modern day slavery. Their clothes are incredibly comfortable too – I’m planning to wear it to another event with Stewart Parvin tomorrow evening, and then over the weekend in Mallorca at a dinner with Oyster – after all, luxury fashion and accessories should be a joy to wear, over and over again.