May 18

2016

I went into London last week to visit my friend Silka Rittson-Thomas at her incredible flower studio in Mayfair. Silka is formally a private art advisor and curator, but she also happens to be my very chic neighbour in the Cotswolds – every time I see her she inspires me with her obvious embrace of personal style. I first had a look at her incredible vision for flowers when she opened a little pop-up flower shop – literally inside an old tuktuk (an automated rickshaw commonly used in India) – at the local Charlbury train station. I thought it was a brilliant idea, especially around Valentine’s Day or even just on weekends. Silka’s flower-filled tuktuk made it that much easier for women to pick up something to make the house prettier or for men to bring home something lovely for their wives. I was already impressed by Silka’s bountiful creativity, her motivation to take on a whole new endeavour in addition to the success of her art world career, and the charm with which she carried it off.

Then the next thing I knew Silka had a shop on Duke Street in London! I’d seen glimpses of what she was creating there – not only fresh flower arrangements but also incredible paper flowers ones as well. I had even sent some friends bouquets from her – I didn’t dare suggest what she send, knowing her ideas would be better than mine, so I just gave her a budget and let her do her thing. One friend who received them, Justine Picardie, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, commented that they were the prettiest flowers that had ever entered her office!

So finally last week I made it to see Silka’s shop in person, and it is so much more than just the incredible flowers. She had a show on called TulipFever, including an unbelievably beautiful array of dutch tulips arranged by German artist Nicole Wermers, displayed in antique Royal Dutch delftware tuplières, all shown alongside vintage indigo fabrics and hand-printed neckerchiefs from Howe, a textile shop on Bourne Street (instagram: howe36bournestreet). The space itself was equally compelling…..basically it’s a small corridor and a staircase – that’s it! – but with colourful old tiles on the walls and new cabinets made to match the floral pattern of the old tiles. Every detail is considered and charming, and even the workshop studio around the corner is a place in which you just instantly feel you want to hang out. It was my first visit but certainly won’t be my last.

The TukTuk Flower Studio, 73 Duke Street, London, W1K 5NP

Tel. 0207 493 5813, Email: flowers@thetuktuk.net, Instagram: @thetuktukflowerstudio, Web: thetuktuk.net


Apr 26

2016

I’m captivated by photographs of Lucian Freud. Over the last year or so, pictures of him posing with animals keep catching my eye – one of him in 2010 soon before he died clutching a fox to his chest on the cover of the FT Weekend Magazine, and then another of him (from the same article) leading a horse. I felt compelled to cut out both and post them on my inspiration wall. More recently I spotted a photo of him in the catalogue for the National Portrait Gallery – it’s from much earlier in his life – 1947 – and in it he is gently holding a pet sparrowhawk. In each picture, his ease with and tenderness towards animals is apparent, and the resulting images are profoundly moving.

So I dug further on the internet and found a wealth of inspiring photographs of Lucian Freud, the man. In his youth I am struck primarily by his good looks. What a handsome guy. He appears intense, but comfortable enough in his own skin. His clothes are good too, but overshadowed at this point by his looks. Later on, as his face is more intense, haggard even, it is then that I really notice his clothes  – the ever-present scarf, the denim shirt, the slightly rumpled jacket, the belt fastened over the loops – all to an elegant but effortless effect. What a character.



Feb 19

2016

My kids have their winter break this week so we are skiing in Méribel, France. I’m still getting used to the differences (mostly advantages) of skiing in Europe, as opposed to the slopes of New England and out west in America where I spent my winter weekends and vacations growing up. The mountains are bigger here so there is far more terrain to explore and discover; the food is hands down better than even the best of the ski resorts visited in my childhood; and perhaps most importantly, it’s not nearly as cold here – allowing for much more attractive and flattering ski wear. Last week in preparation for our trip, my friend Rose, who grew up skiing in Méribel, asked me if I needed to borrow anything to wear for our trip. Knowing that I hadn’t updated any of my own kit in over 5 years, I thought I would take a look at what she had. Staring at her cool, fitted racing jackets, and high tech, streamlined ski pants, I felt like there wasn’t even a possibility of me wearing anything I currently had in my possession. Skiing in America is so cold that everything I own is padded to the nth degree. It’s also all black – having made a practical decision when I last visited the Patagonia store that if I just bought everything in black that it would never go out of style. Well, guess what? It’s out of style! The look on the slopes now is Jean-Claude Killy, 1970’s version of classic sports style – mostly red, white and navy, classic, streamlined, pared down. Totally up my alley, and very in-line with what I borrowed from Rose. I’m also seeing lots of yellow and green skiwear – even with touches of brown! – also very 70’s. As usual, when a trend comes back around I like to look to the original source for inspiration. So with these pics in mind, I am setting out to update my own look. Hopefully it will still be chic next year. Something tells me this look will be around for a while. And even if its not, it still feels like me. ..


Jan 29

2016

I ♥ Your Style: Isabella Cawdor

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Isabella with her daughter, her husband, and the gamekeepers all in Cawdor tweed.

I first met Isabella Cawdor when she was a guest at my wedding. Her husband Colin was an old friend of Christopher’s and they flew over from Scotland to celebrate with us. I noticed Isabella because of her romantic, dark purple velvet dress with floral cutouts, and she had a fuchsia rose tucked behind her ear. She was the very first one out on the dance floor, twirled around by Christian Louboutin, and I thought “Who is that gorgeous girl?” We didn’t get to know each other properly until a year a half later when Christopher and I were invited, along with one year old Coco, to visit them at their shooting lodge in the highlands of Scotland. That’s when I was really taken with Isabella. Everything about her life – her house, her kids, her clothes, her posture – was beautiful, but done natural ease and warmth. These days, the Cawdors are perhaps best known for their supermodel daughter Jean Campbell – who stars in the current Louis Vuitton and Burberry ads – but it is Isabella’s down to earth, chic country style that has me reeling every time I see her. ..


Dec 16

2015

I ♥ Your Style: Beatrix Ost

 

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These colours are irresitible. And I love the mixture of formality in the architectural details and individual expression in her hair colour and shoe choice.

“I had to have the taste of city in order to appreciate the country.” – Beatrix Ost

Naturally I am drawn to any woman who leaves a thriving life in New York City to raise her children on a farm in the countryside. Artist Beatrix Ost (along with her husband) did just that in 1982, decamping from her creative and eccentric city lifestyle and re-creating the rural version of it in a 19th century Edwardian home on 500 acres just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. What I personally respond to most is how little her style – both in fashion and interiors – has changed in her evolution from city to country life. The turban remains in place, the leopard is ever present, and she wears skirts and dresses like she is on her way to a perpetual cocktail party. Her home has many elements of country life – a relaxed coziness, depictions of farm animals, and a kitchen right at the heart of the house – but also it is infused in each room with her signature color palette and evidence of an artful life throughout. ..


Nov 24

2015

For the last two years, every time I came across a photo of Laura Ferrara and her amazing farm Westwind Orchard in upstate New York, I have been so overwhelmed by what she’s accomplished that I have to look away. I first spotted photos of her farm-based pizza restaurant on Instagram, and then I noticed her homemade jam and honey with its perfectly designed packaging on Pinterest, and then Garance Doré was blogging about apple picking at Westwind and EyeSwoon was hosting a harvest supper there, and the whole thing just made me so impressed and inspired but also intimidated and terribly inferior. That was when I decided I had to avert my eyes. How on Earth did she manage to maintain her day job as a fashion editor, while her husband maintained his job as a photographer, and raise a child, and run this amazing farm with all these products and services and also have it open to the public?!? Just when I was starting to feel settled into my quiet, happy life on the farm and getting the feeling that I was finding a balance between work and pleasure and family and my occasional visits to NYC and my writing and my photography, Laura comes along and suddenly I feel that I am accomplishing absolutely nothing at all!!

Isn’t it awful how we beat ourselves up in this way?

Well, this little story I was telling myself about how she was doing everything and I was doing nothing lost some of its power when I found out that they actually bought their farm nearly 15 years ago. Somehow that made everything more relatable and achievable. Not that I see what they have as something I want for myself exactly, but it is my dream to resurrect the productivity of the farm. There are empty fields and abandoned barns dating back to 1860 that have long lost their purpose, and my ultimate goal for living here is to find a reason to bring them back to life. I don’t know what that actually means yet, but I am toying with many ideas, and have given myself until Zach is at boarding school a year and half from now to figure out what the vision and the goal is and to start to slowly work towards it. In the meantime, I am trying out every farm activity possible to identify what I most enjoy doing and how I would like to best use my time. And I am also envying Laura and holding her on a pedestal and admiring her for setting the bar very, very high. ..


Nov 17

2015

I ♥ Your Style: Florence Arthaud

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.31.22I was looking at my friend Didier Malige’s instagram earlier in the year and I noticed a photograph he posted mourning the tragic loss of Florence Arthaud, the french sailor who, among her many accomplishments, broke a world record in 1990 as the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic. At first it was her most excellent tomboy style, her athletic body and her natural beauty that caught my eye. But as I sought to learn more about her, her character and female pride impressed me equally.

VOILE - 1986 arthaud (florence) - (fra) - fonds n/b April 1979, France --- French sailor Florence Arthaud during preparations for the Double Transat boat race, abord the boat Biotherm at the Port Camargue. | Location: Port Camargue, France. --- Image by © Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis arthaud

After her epic trans-atlantic crossing a reporter said to her, “Florence, you’re a real man” to which she confidently responded, “I don’t feel like a man at all. I’m sure I am more delicate in my navigating, more sensitive. I think women project in me their desire for liberty. I have always sailed in order to be free, to feel completely free; on the sea I am totally independent, alone.” ..


Oct 26

2015

Now that I spend much of my day doing chores in and around the garden on our farm, I’ve been seeking a new style icon: a woman whose personal take on dressing for the outdoors can take me away from the pure practicality of wearing just corduroys, a wool sweater and wellies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that look, but sometimes I just want to feel a bit more inspired.

When I first came across a photo of novelist, poet, and gardener Vita Sackville-West, I was at first mostly attracted to her fantastic canvas and leather lace-up boots. Why doesn’t anyone make those anymore???? But as I dug a little deeper, I found inspiration in not just her English countrywoman-meets-swashbuckler clothes, but also her legendary house Sissinghurst Castle, her chic all-white garden and her iconic book covers. I even love the style she has inspired in others – like her granddaughter’s hand-painted 18th birthday party invite and a collection of white flowers assembled by a fellow blogger. VSW had style for miles.


Oct 09

2015

I did a little collaboration with Anthropologie the other day. I have always loved their home things – I recently bought the Italian Campaign canopy bed for my daughter’s room – and then discovered that their clothes also suit my life on the farm so well. So in celebration of my London launch of Always Pack a Party Dress with Anthropologie, I chose my favourite things from their store and worked them into my life here at Fairgreen. Since then, I’ve found myself checking their website regularly so I don’t miss good things that come up and then go quickly – like a set of copper colanders I bought last week. I’m into it!