This morning I attended what is perhaps the best conversation on fashion and style that I’ve ever heard; an interview between Lisa Armstrong, The Telegraph’s fashion director (and award winning fashion journalist) and Lucinda Chambers, fashion director at British Vogue (she’s been at Vogue for 30 years, and recently created her 100th cover). These two members of British ‘fashion royalty’ have known each other for decades, so the conversation between them was easy and honest. There was so much information and too many funny anecdotes to write here, but I’ll recount the things I thought were most relevant to me, as a style-obsessed woman of 45.
First, I found it particularly interesting to hear how Lucinda works creatively. If Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, tells her they are going to do a fashion spread on oversized, cocoon-like coats, for example, she lets this idea percolate in her head for a few weeks (she described it as a “pleasant headache”) and then creates a little back story to provide some context for the shoot. She imagines, what kind of woman would wear these coats? Most likely an older woman… so Lucinda wants to use a slightly older model like Guinevere van Seenus, someone with womanly curves (fashion curves, not real life curves), instead of a young waif. Getting the right model to tell the story is crucial. So what about this older woman who wants to cocoon herself? Maybe she is having trouble in her marriage? She goes away on her own to escape, to wrap herself up in her thoughts and in her coat. Lucinda happened to go on a train journey out of London, and passed a lake surrounded by birch trees, and thought ‘Wow! That’s where my fictional lady might go to escape,’ so the shoot location was sorted. These are a few photos for you to see how her thought process led to these beautifully moody images. Also, she said what she wants you to think when you see images like this is not necessarily “I have to go out and buy a Celine coat” but rather, “I have something like that in my closet already”, or “I could get that look by adding a soft belt to one of my old coats”. Mixing old and new is much more original than looking like a mannequin.
Vogue images from Fashiontography
The other aspect of the conversation that I liked was Lucinda’s take on personal style, which she has buckets of, obviously. She says she has no anxiety now, in her mid-50’s, about what to wear every morning. In her early days at Vogue, when everyone else was wearing Chanel or fake Chanel, she was wearing Doc Martens and tutu skirts, so it is hard to imagine that she ever had any anxiety! She enjoys creating characters, and finds a lot of things on Etsy and Ebay (a woman after my heart) to create her looks. Finding style takes a lot of trial and error, and you have to be willing to take some risks and to get it wrong sometimes… this from Lucinda, a woman who has worn a wicker wastepaper basket as a hat! She feels you can wear absolutely anything you want to, as long as you feel comfortable and as long as you are saying who you are. I love that. That is what the Sequinist encourages; to hell with what anyone else thinks; it is about you being happy in whatever reflects and projects YOU.
Lisa Armstrong pointed out that when she looks back through Lucinda’s shoots over the past 30 years, it is hard to tell what years they came from, because her knack for styling is so timeless and never features head to toe looks from one designer. She is a master of the mix. In fact, for the talk today, she wore jewelled Dior trainers, a vintage floral dress that she had cut up and re-styled, and a black bomber jacket from Topshop… “something from each of the food groups” she quipped.
It was amazing to hear such an icon of style to discuss her hits, her misses, her mistakes, and how sheer perseverance and confidence in her craft led her to the place she is today.