“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.
In terms of clothes, I was the opposite when I moved to our farm. I immediately evolved my look from an Alaia-wearing fashion director into a J Crew-wearing country tomboy. Of course I still get decked out for the occasional shoot dinner or party in London, but on the whole I’m too scared of getting mud on my precious designer clothes to subject them to the muddy, windy, rainy elements of English life. I also like not spending so many of my waking hours thinking about what I am going to wear. But I do have a fantasy that I will find a more inspired way to combine my two opposing styles. That ultimately I’ll uncover a way to wear a skirt in my daily life and find a shade of lipstick that enhances my look without making too much of a statement on the school run. Even though Beatrix’s style is more noticeable than my own, I will keep her in my mind as my country style evolves. Or not.