Saturday, 16 February 2019

How To Wear A Prince of Wales Suit (The Art Of Dressing)

Anna Wintour: The editor-in-chief of American Vogue talks to Jess Cartner-Morley





Anna Wintour: a rare face-to-face with the most important woman in fashion
 Anna Wintour editor-in-chief American Vogue. Photograph: Tyler Mitchell
The editor-in-chief of American Vogue talks to Jess Cartner-Morley about Michelle Obama, fake news and only spending 20 minutes at parties.

Portraits by Tyler Mitchell
Sat 16 Feb 2019 06.00 GMT

One morning last August, Anna Wintour was playing tennis with her coach in the 40-acre grounds of her Long Island summerhouse. She noticed he seemed a little distracted: “But his wife was about to have a baby, so I thought he was nervous about that.” Then it struck her that they had attracted an unusual number of spectators. The house was brimful with family, but it was earlier than most people get up on a weekend. (“I’m a morning person,” says Wintour, for whom anything later than 5am constitutes a lie-in.) As she prepared to serve, she heard a car pull up. “I am pretty OCD about guests and where they are sleeping. I thought, I’m not expecting anyone else, I don’t have any more rooms. Who is this? And then I thought – that looks like Roger [Federer, with whom Wintour is good friends]. And that looks like [his wife] Mirka. And that looks like their twins.” Wintour’s daughter Bee Shaffer, it transpired, had arranged for a Federer-Wintour family tennis tournament, “which was the best gift a daughter could give a tennis-mad mother. I got to play doubles with Roger for the first time in our very long friendship, against my two nephews.” Twenty-five floors above Manhattan, behind the ebonised mahogany Alan Buchsbaum desk from which she has ruled the fashion world for three decades, she leans back in her chair and smiles at the memory. “We won, of course.”

Of course. Anna Wintour plays to win in everything she does. She is editor-in-chief of American Vogue and artistic director of parent company Condé Nast, but her job titles do not come close to describing her iconic status. Vogue has been a launchpad from which she has powered herself to become a player in culture and politics. She is a fashion industry kingmaker, a Washington insider (Barack Obama’s fourth-biggest fundraiser in the 2012 campaign), an art world luminary (the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum was renamed in her honour in 2014) and a Dame of the British Empire. And her haircut alone – as preternaturally unruffled and impenetrable up close as it looks in photographs – is recognisable from space.

The Anna Wintour mythology is as much about power as it is about fashion. It owes a great deal to the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada in which Meryl Streep’s ice-queen editor, assumed to be a cartoonised Wintour, created a character that popular culture has thrilled to ever since. Such is her fame that a mere rumour of her departure is enough to send shockwaves through the fashion and media worlds. (Last summer, these rose to such a clamour that Condé Nast issued a statement confirming Wintour would remain at Vogue “indefinitely”.)

Her office has an air of ambassadorial gentility. No industrial styling, no modish succulents. Definitely no treadmill desk. The south wall is glass, diffusing the room with silver light bouncing off the towers of the financial district. Framed photos of her son Charles and Bee, as children and as the thirtysomethings they are now, are prominently displayed on her desk, on the window ledge and between a pair of topiaried miniature trees standing sentry on the limewashed sideboard. A cornflower-blue ceramic vase is filled with fresh ranunculus in Titian reds and coppers; a glass pot holds sharpened HB pencils. Only the lipstick mark on the grande Starbucks coffee cup and the Chanel sunglasses in the in-tray give the Vogue game away.

I am summoned to this inner sanctum 10 minutes before our scheduled 9am interview time. Wintour is wearing a calf-length Erdem dress in dark silk with a bright floral print, collared with two sparkling necklaces. A blush pink coat and a jade green scarf are thrown over a corner chair next to a small Victoria Beckham black leather tote. With characteristic briskness, she has already wrapped her portrait shoot with Tyler Mitchell, who last year became the first black person to shoot a Vogue cover when he photographed Beyoncé for Wintour’s September issue. “He’s charming, he’s intelligent – I’ve been impressed by what he’s said yes to, and what he’s said no to,” she says of Mitchell. “Also, he’s quick.”

Before the shoot, she was watching Andy Murray’s match at the Australian Open on television – his first after announcing his retirement. “So emotional,” she says, gravely. Is it true that she herself plays tennis every day at 5am? “I don’t play tennis as much as I used to, but I get up every day between 4am and 5am, and I work out every day.” (Her game is, she says, “terrible! But I enjoy it.”) While we’re on the subject, this seems an opportune moment to verify some of the other Anna Wintour myths. What about spending only 20 minutes at parties? “Well, it depends on the party. If it is fashion week, then most likely I will be in and out. But there have been many times I have stayed a lot longer, believe me.” She is smiling, but her folded arms semaphore impatience to change the subject. I am sorry to say that I chicken out of asking her if it’s true about eating medium rare steak for lunch every day.

Becoming a public figure in a way no other Vogue editor ever has been “wasn’t a conscious path”, she insists. “I don’t work for Anna Wintour, I work for Condé Nast. I don’t have any kind of social media accounts or look for personal recognition.” But Wintour is instantly recognisable, thanks to a style that has remained almost unchanged since the 80s. Her sleek bob teamed with a sharp wit has often been a power combination, channelled by Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction, by the diminutive Edna Mode in The Incredibles and by Taylor Swift at her most sassy. But the style was “not a strategic decision”, Wintour insists. “I feel comfortable with it, that’s all. I am a creature of habit. Honestly, Jess, it’s not something I spend any time thinking about at all. I come to the office and do my job.”

Wintour’s image of cool, impermeable authority has become a blueprint for successful female leadership. I am sure I even caught something of Wintour’s staccato delivery in the sardonic crispness of Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins. The notion raises a smile, but Wintour has a politician’s sleight of hand when it comes to answering questions she doesn’t like, segueing to her preferred talking points. She steers the conversation away from her own image and on to how Vogue is championing women in political leadership. “I was very encouraged by our midterm results on that front. I believe women are taking control and standing up for what they believe in. We are in a moment of huge change.” She reels off an impressive list of female politicians who have appeared in the magazine recently, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Klobuchar, Lauren Underwood, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris.




For the best part of two decades, Wintour’s Vogue was closer to the White House than Vogue had ever been. Hillary Clinton became the first first lady to cover Vogue in 1998 – an honour not bestowed, even, on Jackie Kennedy – and in 2016, Vogue endorsed her presidential candidacy, the first time the magazine had ever been publicly partisan. But it is the mention of Michelle Obama that sends Wintour into raptures. “What intrigued me and the rest of the world about Mrs Obama from the beginning was her poise, her intelligence, her grace, how articulate she was, and the sense that she gave of being a true partner to her husband. She was remarkable in so many ways – and still is, look at the incredible success of her book – and I was thrilled to see how she embraced fashion in such a democratic way. She would wear leggings one day, a designer gown the next, and look comfortable in both. She wasn’t locked into one idea of how a first lady should dress. For Vogue, she was a gift.” When the Met’s Costume Institute was renamed in recognition of Wintour’s work as a fundraiser and cheerleader, Michelle Obama cut the ribbon, saying, “I’m here because I have such respect and admiration for this woman, who I am proud to call my friend.”

Since Trump’s election, Vogue has found itself in opposition, a position it has embraced with unexpected relish. The September issue included a profile on Stormy Daniels (the adult film star who had a hush money deal with the president) which saw Daniels resplendent in evening gown and Tiffany diamonds, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. “Today’s audience – not just Vogue’s audience, every audience – wants journalism to take a stand,” Wintour says. “People want to know what you believe in and what you stand for. In this time of fake news, when there is so much disregard for truth and value and for supporting those less fortunate than oneself, we have a moral obligation to stand up for what’s right.”

While Michelle Obama starred on three Vogue covers as first lady, Melania Trump is still waiting for Wintour to call. Will Melania be in Vogue, I ask? “Melania has been on the cover of Vogue,” Wintour fires back without missing a beat. Indeed she has, in her wedding dress, in 2005, but not as first lady, representing the White House. “We do report on Melania consistently, on vogue.com,” says Wintour. “Which is Vogue.” Her inflection puts the emphasis firmly on the full stop.

She picks up her mobile phone. “I’m going to ask someone to bring me another coffee. Would you like one?” I say no, and wait for her to make her call, but after a few seconds she raises an amused eyebrow at me. “Go ahead. I can type and think at the same time, you know.” She has texted the coffee request, I realise. As perfect as Wintour’s manners are, I do not get the impression it would be wise to put them to the test by boring her. I try not to think about the scene in the 2009 Vogue documentary The September Issue when Stefano Pilati, then designer of Yves Saint Laurent, withers under her stony-faced appraisal of his latest collection.

Born in London in 1949 to a British father (Evening Standard editor Charles Wintour) and an American mother, Wintour moved to New York in her 20s. She returned to London in 1985 to edit British Vogue, but was back in New York two years later. Her first issue as editor of American Vogue, in November 1988, featured a model wearing jeans, which famously caused the printers to call Vogue’s office to check they had the right picture. It was an early signpost of the shift from fashion being “something that was directed at a small group, to becoming something that speaks to everyone. That has been the most extraordinary change that I have seen.” As fashion has swelled to a powerful force in culture over the last three decades, Vogue has ridden the crest of that wave. A Vogue cover has become an official stamp not just of beauty, but of relevance. For Amal Clooney, Serena Williams and others, a Vogue cover has signalled a change in gear from success in their field to general superstardom. “Vogue stands for quality,” Wintour says. “To be recognised by Vogue always has an impact.”

In 1998, Renée Zellweger became the first non-model to cover an all-important September issue of Vogue (traditionally the biggest of the year). As the era of the supermodel waned, Wintour coached and coaxed a new generation of actresses to take their place. “The supermodels led us to celebrity,” Wintour says. “The generation of models who came after the supers just wanted to be models, and didn’t want that spotlight. Meanwhile, celebrities were starting to engage with fashion, realising the power of fashion to build their personality, to express who they were, on the red carpet or the front row. So the supermodels ended up being replaced by celebrities.” The alchemy that happens when fashion meets celebrity is at its most potent at the Met Gala, over which Wintour (who has chaired the event since 1995) will once again preside on the first Monday in May.

But today Wintour, who rarely gives interviews, seems less interested in talking frocks than in establishing her place on the right side of history. “I hope I have been able to use the platform of Vogue to do a little bit of good in the world,” she says. She mentions the CFDA Fashion Fund, launched in the aftermath of 9/11 to support young American designers. “It has been wonderful to see Condé Nast and Vogue taking leadership in championing diversity. As a company, we want to stand for positive change. I personally take that very seriously, but it’s not just about me. Edward Enninful was such an important appointment at British Vogue, and he is leading the way on diversity.” I ask who her mentors and allies have been, and she namechecks Condé Nast luminaries Si Newhouse and Alexander Liberman, and designers Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, before landing on Kay Graham, publisher of the Washington Post during the Watergate era. “She was a great friend of my father’s and became a great friend of mine. I admired everything she stood for, how she represented the progress of women, how she stood her ground against the White House. She believed in her editors, she had wonderful women friends and was a deeply good person and had a lot of fun. And [she] was a great tennis player.”

It is a year since the New York Times published allegations of sexual misconduct against Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, two star photographers of Wintour’s Vogue. Wintour has faced criticism for having failed to use her power to better protect the vulnerable in fashion. “We take very seriously events that happen in the industry, whether in or out of our control,” she says today, “and after so many unfortunate incidents came to light, we took a strong stand.” Testino and Weber were banished from Vogue. A new Condé Nast code of conduct forbids the hiring of models under 18, and requires images involving nudity, swimwear, lingerie or suggestive poses to be approved in advance by the subject.

How long Wintour will remain at Vogue is impossible to predict, because Condé Nast is itself in turmoil. Having lost an estimated $250m over the past two years, the company recently announced plans to merge US and international operations, and is searching for a new CEO to replace the departing Bob Sauerberg. Wintour enthuses about the digital age as “a golden era for journalism, because we have the luxury of being able to talk to more people than ever before”, but digital has undoubtedly eroded the might of Vogue. The magazine’s Instagram account has 21.5 million followers but that sounds less impressive when you note that three of the Kardashian family – Kim, Kylie and Kendall – have more than 100 million followers each.

Wintour insists that she believes print magazines will be around “for ever”. Really? “Yes, for ever. I really believe that. Print remains the jewel in the crown.” Does she think of Vogue as a magazine, these days, or is it now a brand? “I don’t care for the word brand, to be honest,” she says. “It makes me feel like I’m in a supermarket. But I love Vogue – very deeply.” She types a few words on her phone and the door opens to signal our time is up. She walks me to her door, shakes my hand, bids me a warm goodbye and turns to her assistant. “I asked for a coffee,” she says. There is no discernible hint in her tone that this is a sackable offence. But then, Anna Wintour doesn’t give much away.


Sunday, 10 February 2019

Baftas 2019 / VIDEO: 2019 Baftas: Joanna's jokes, Brexit jibes and the best speeches





 Baftas 2019: The Favourite reigns – almost – supreme as Roma takes best picture
Olivia Colman’s win for best actress is among seven gongs for the period romp, but Alfonso Cuarón is set fair for Oscars glory as Roma takes best picture, best director, and two more

Mark Brown Arts correspondent
Sun 10 Feb 2019 21.32 GMT Last modified on Mon 11 Feb 2019 04.42 GMT

Olivia Colman’s performance as the unstable, self-pitying and hilariously bad-mannered Queen Anne won her Bafta award success on Sunday evening – one of seven awards for the 18th-century comedy The Favourite.

The film was easily the biggest winner at the glitzy Royal Albert Hall ceremony, picking up prizes including including best British film, best production design, best supporting actress, best original screenplay and best costume design.

Colman followed up her success at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice awards by being named best actress – a category pundits predicted would feature a close race between her and Glenn Close, nominated for The Wife.

 “We are having an amazing night aren’t we?” said Colman in her speech, which met with a standing ovation. “We are going to get so pissed later.”

It caps a stratospheric rise for the actor who early in her career struggled for parts and was best known for comedy, becoming a regular in Mitchell and Webb television and radio sketches and Peep Show. Later came career-changing dramas such as Broadchurch and The Night Manager – up next: the middle-aged Elizabeth in Netflix’s The Crown.

Playing a queen of England does not guarantee Bafta success, but it unquestionably helps. Colman follows in the footsteps of Katharine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Judi Dench (Elizabeth I and Victoria), Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth I) and Helen Mirren (Elizabeth II) in winning for a royal turn.

Both her co-stars, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, were nominated for best supporting actress, with Weisz winning out. Weisz paid tribute to her co-stars, saying: “I salute you! Didn’t we have an extraordinary time. Hats off, ladies.”

It was a terrific night for The Favourite but it lost out to the widely lauded tear-jerker Roma in the best film category. Roma’s director Alfonso Cuarón was named best director, beating Yorgos Lanthimos, Spike Lee, Bradley Cooper and Paweł Pawlikowski. It also won best cinematography (by Cuarón himself) and best film not in the English language.

Cuarón thanked Netflix for having the “faith and courage to get behind a black-and-white film about a domestic worker, subtitled from Spanish, and bring it to audiences around the world.

“To see a film about an indigenous domestic worker embraced this way in an age when fear and anger propose to divide us means the world to me.

“Reverting back to a world of separation and isolation is not a solution to anything. It is simply an excuse to hide our fear within our basest instincts.”

If there was an underlying theme of the evening – apart from the odd jibe about Brexit – then it was diversity in the industry. Or the lack of such.

One of the biggest cheers went to The Favourite’s production designers Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton when they dedicated their win to “every woman and working mother who keeps it together and makes it happen”. And screenwriter Deborah Davis said: “Thank you for celebrating our female-dominated movie about women in power.”

The Favourite’s costume designer, Sandy Powell, described it as a dream “to design for three powerful female protagonists played by three powerful female actresses”.

Earlier in the evening, the film-maker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, accepting the best documentary award for Free Solo, which follows rock climber Alex Honnold on a remarkable, heart-stopping free solo climb, thanked National Geographic for “hiring women and people of colour … because we do make the films better”.

Bohemian Rhapsody won two awards, including best actor for Rami Malek’s remarkable portrayal of Freddie Mercury. “This is totally extraordinary,” he said. “Thank you for this generous gift.”

The film’s success is striking on several levels, considering some fans were unhappy at what they perceived as liberties taken by the plot, as well as the mixed reception it got from critics, and the unceremonious firing of director Bryan Singer before the film was finished. Last week, Singer’s name was removed from the nominations list because of sexual misconduct allegations against him. Malek did not mention Singer in his speech.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? star Richard E Grant continued to enjoy his award-season party, grinning constantly and posing for photographs, but he failed to win best supporting actor, losing to Mahershala Ali for Green Book.

It was a brilliant night for The Favourite, but the Bafta record of nine awards – set in 1971 by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – remains intact.

Other awards included best original music for A Star Is Born, and outstanding British debut for the film-makers of Beast.

This year’s awards were the first to take place since Bafta introduced new rules to increase diversity in the films it honours. But although change is happening, it is too slow for many observers, who point to the all-male shortlist for the best director category. The only woman to ever win is Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009.

Bafta contends that the lack of women director nominations is a reflection of wider problems in the industry. On the red carpet, Dame Pippa Harris, Bafta’s chair, said only 10% of the films entered this year were directed by women. “It needs to be 50%.” She acknowledged there is “still much more to be done” and praised the “4% challenge”, which encourages people in the film industry to commit to working with a female director within the next 18 months. “It seems so low as a bar you think, ‘Really? Is that all we are aiming for?’ But I think it’s great to have something concrete that people can pledge to do.”

For the second year running, Joanna Lumley presented the awards – probably down to her not being on Twitter, she joked. In truth that was one of her better lines, as many of her scripted gags were met with groans or, worse, polite chuckles.

The ceremony’s in memorium section paid tribute to figures such as Albert Finney and Nicolas Roeg, accompanied by the young saxophonist Jess Gillam playing the title track from Love Story.

The only award voted for by the public, the rising star award, went to Letitia Wright, the Guyanese-born British star of Black Panther, who revealed from the stage that she was deeply depressed a few years ago and was considering giving up acting. Her faith in God and Bafta got her back on track, she said.

The evening’s highest honour, the Bafta fellowship, was given to film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, a three-time Oscar winner and one of Martin Scorsese’s closest collaborators, who has worked on 22 of his features.

Ahead of the award, Schoonmaker revealed to the Observer her plans to publish the diaries of her late husband, the director Michael Powell.

Another of Bafta’s special awards, for outstanding British contribution to cinema, was presented by Bill Nighy to husband-and-wife producers Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen, whose films over four decades, from The Crying Game to Carol, have been nominated for a total of 52 Baftas.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The Rebirth of an English Country House: St. Giles House by Earl Of Shaftsbury (Author), Tim Knox (Author) VIDEO:Lord Shaftesbury's Extensive Estate Restoration


The Rebirth of an English Country House: St. Giles House
by Earl Of Shaftsbury (Author), Tim Knox (Author)


The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, 39-year-old Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, invites the reader into the house that his family has called home since the fifteenth century. In recent years, his award-winning restoration has brought the house back to life, transforming exquisite spaces that honour the past while being suited to twenty-first-century living. English country-house splendour, through the hands of some of the world s top artisans and craftspeople, returns to the house in the form of re-created wallpapers, customized paints, revived furniture from the Georgian and Victorian periods, reworked antique Brussels tapestries, restored plasterwork and textiles, and a complete overhaul of the landscape, with its sunken garden, woodlands, avenue of beeches, lake, and shell-encrusted grotto. With stories of noteworthy architecture, beautiful interiors, and centuries of a single family s involvement in British and world history, this book will appeal to devotees of country living, the aristocratic life, historic houses, and English interior design.

Above: Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, and his wife, Dinah. Top: The exterior of St. Giles House.
Photo: Juston Barton

In 2012, Nicholas Edmund Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, and his wife became the first people to live in St Giles House, Dorset, since the death of his great-grandfather in 1961. The Grade I listed building had been the family home since the 1400’s, but like many English country houses, it fell into disrepair following World War II. Lord Shaftesbury’s talk will explain his sudden inheritance, as well as describe his personal trials and tribulations, and eventual successes with the renaissance of St. Giles. He will show dramatic before-and-after photos, from the interiors to the grounds and gardens, which offer a front row seat into the house’s dramatic transformations. The result is a testament to his resilience to honor his family’s past while embracing 21st century living.




The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury Relays a Family's History Through Its House
In a new book, the earl reminisces on St. Giles House and the drama that unfolded within it

By Mitchell Owens
December 12, 2018
The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury Relays a Family's History Through Its House

“Houses are exactly like gardens,” Nick Shaftesburytold AD PRO recently. “You leave a garden for summer or six months, and it’s just gone wild. A house is the same: left to its own devices, it unravels so quickly without humans stroking, caressing, tending, fixing, and constantly keeping the thing going.” In his case, the “thing” is St. Giles House, the redbrick seat of the Ashley-Cooper family for nearly 400 years, and home to the Manhattan DJ (he was then known as Nick AC) turned 12th earl of Shaftesbury. It’s also the subject of an engaging, intimate, and surprisingly honest book, freshly published by Rizzoli: The Rebirth of an English Country House: St Giles House ($55).

Written by Shaftesbury and Tim Knox (now the curator of the Royal Collection) and photographed by Justin Barton, The Rebirth of an English Country House traces the trajectory of St. Giles, located near the Dorset village of Wimborne St. Giles, from splendor to dilapidation and nearly back again. (More on that strategic “nearly” in a few moments.) That narrative is interwoven with the brutal 2004 murder of Shaftesbury’s flamboyant father, the 10th earl, by his third wife’s brother, and the death, six months later, of his 27-year-old accountant brother, the 11th earl, of a heart attack during a holiday in New York. Three years after that, Shaftesbury broke his back in a riding accident. (He has since healed and is now a marathon runner and ambassador for Wings of Life, an Austrian-based international spinal-cord research foundation.) These episodes upended the present earl’s life, personally and professionally, and thus might have understandably been entirely skirted in the new book, but Shaftesbury and his family agreed that enough time had passed. In any case, it’s not as if the story of St. Giles could be told without them.

“My siblings and my mother were affected by those events as much as I was, but they have been really supportive, and I shared with them what I had written, and they were comfortable with it,” says the 39-year-old, sleeve-tattooed aristocrat, who married veterinary surgeon Dinah Streifeneder in 2010 and has three children, Anthony, Viva, and Zara. “Each of us has dealt with it in our own way,” he continues. “Sometimes you see tabloid articles that are kind of distressing, and other times you give interviews, but some of them have been lovely, actually." Ultimately, he says, "the book was cathartic.”
The Rizzoli deal also gave Shaftesbury a singular opportunity to honor his late father’s own youthful efforts in preserving St. Giles, which hadn’t been occupied since the 1940s. “It’s easy for people to focus on a man who had spiraled out of control, and mist over all the years he had put into his family and into the house,” he explains. “It’s also nice to highlight my brother’s contributions. What we’ve done is finish off work that had been started off many years before.”

The 10th Lord Shaftesbury started the ball rolling in the early 1970s by demolishing Victorian additions that had transformed the 1650–51 house, constructed for the first earl, into a castellated, elephantine sprawl, picturesque in silhouette but with unwieldy results. “Unfortunately, the Victorians did that a lot,” explains the present earl, who larded the stylishly produced book with family photographs and staggering "before" shots (think collapsed ceilings and black mold). “We live in an era where you can’t touch anything or make any changes, but my father’s removals made the house more practical and more aesthetically pleasing," he opines.

The biggest contribution was the 10th earl’s brilliant decision to remove the disintegrating stucco that had been slathered on the exterior in Victorian days—it was fashionable at the time—to expose the original 17th-century brick. (He also got rid of a disfiguring 19th-century tower.) Says Shaftesbury, “The result is a charming, softer house.” Still, the restoration stalled because of money issues, and the family continued to live at another Ashley-Cooper property. Then came 1999, the first of several anni horribiles that came in swift succession. The 10th earl, shattered by the death of his adored mother, relocated to the South of France, divorced his Swedish second wife (the present earl’s mother), and succumbed to drugs, alcohol, and sketchy romances.

Though St. Giles had returned to its original form under the 10th earl’s ministrations, the house, still shuttered and crumbling, eventually ended up on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk list. Roofs leaked so badly that buckets were positioned all over the house; windows rarely kept out the elements; giant holes allowed one to peer into the basement; and all manner of disintegration abounded. “Dry rot is a particularly sinister phrase, isn’t it?” Shaftesbury says. “It’s even more sinister in real life.” In 2015, though, he and his wife proudly accepted the Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s Restoration Award for their enthusiastic efforts in turning back St. Giles’ decline in just five years. They also settled into a sprightly, easygoing apartment in the south wing (it’s featured in the book, too) and revitalized the 5,500-acre estate as a business—farming its fields, raising cattle for dairy and beef, running commercial partridge and pheasant shoots, and renting out portions of the house and outbuildings for weddings and the like. The book also generously highlights the works of the artisans and craftspeople who have helped the Shaftesburys in the restoration, which ranged from the reproduction of antique wallpapers to the restoration of the park and its grottoes, as well as the restoration grants and other funding that helped bring St. Giles back to life.

Curiously, though, it’s what the Shaftesburys haven’t done at St Giles that rivets the visitor’s eye. The Great Dining Room, which is pictured on the book’s cover, is still missing a goodly portion of the 18th-century paneling, revealing the underlying brick walls in full view. (Yes, dry rot was the culprit.) As a result, an earlier era’s doors and windows, sealed up when the room was remodeled in the 1700s, are plainly visible—and it was the Shaftesburys’ inspired idea not to re-create the grand space as a period piece. “When you try something different, it’s nice when people don’t always get it. Sometimes they ask, ‘When are you going to finish?’ Or ‘Did you really take off all the paneling?’” Shaftesbury explains. “What I love about that space is that your imagination is allowed to run wild. A lot of houses are grand and beautiful but there’s often no surprise or thought-provoking element. It’s lovely to feel that we can contribute something to the house and not be entirely slavish to what happened before.”

Enraptured by the story that Nick Shaftesbury tells in The Rebirth of an English Country House? Then get thee to South Carolina’s Charleston Antiques Show: On March 16, 2019, the earl will be talking about the revival of St. Giles. The trip to America is also a bit of a homecoming—the first earl, the man who built St. Giles, was one of the Carolina colony’s original lords proprietor, and namesake of the state's Ashley and Cooper rivers. Whether his DJ descendant spins any discs, though, is anybody’s guess.




How To Wear A Waistcoat/Vest (The Art Of Dressing)

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Dior and His Decorators: Victor Grandpierre, Georges Geffroy, and the New Look – September 25, 2018 by Maureen Footer (Author), Hamish Bowles (Foreword)












Dior and His Decorators: How Two Interior Designers Created a “New Look” for the Home
Dior and His Decorators is the first work on the two interior designers most closely associated with Christian Dior. Like the unabashedly luxurious fashions of Dior’s New Look, which debuted in 1947, the interior designs of Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy infused a war-weary world with a sumptuous new aesthetic—a melding of the refined traditions of the past with a wholly modern sense of elegance. Author Maureen Footer recounts the lives and work of this influential trio, illustrated with a trove of evocative vintage photographs. Grandpierre designed Dior’s first couture house, creating not only the elegantly restrained look of the salons but also the template for the Dior brand, including typeface, logo, and packaging. Both Grandpierre and Geffroy (who worked independently) designed the interior of Dior’s townhouse. After the couturier’s untimely death in 1957, Grandpierre and Geffroy went on to design salons for other couturiers, as well as homes for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Marcel Rochas, Gloria Guinness, Daisy Fellowes, and Maria Callas.

“With her latest book, on Christian Dior’s decorating legacy, design historian Maureen Footer gives us a private tour of her couture quarters.”
—Veranda

“Maureen Footer spins a terrific story … [a] rarefied world of passementerie and peau de soie. The stories bowl you along on a puff of pink chiffon …”
—House & Garden

Design historian Maureen Footer holds degrees from Wellesley College, Columbia University and studied French eighteenth-century decorative arts and design at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. Her previous book, George Stacey and the Creation of American Chic, chronicled American design as the country came of age culturally, politically, and socially.  Ms. Footer and her work have received notices from the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Le Figaro. She has lectured at the Sorbonne, the Institute of Classical Architecture, Winterthur, the Huntington Museum, and the New York School of Interior Design. A lifelong balletomane, Ms. Footer sits on the board of the New York City Ballet.

Dior and His Decorators: How Two Interior Designers Created a “New Look” for the Home

SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 10:30 PM
by HAMISH BOWLES

This piece appeared as the foreword to Vendome Press's Dior and His Decorators: Victor Grandpierre, Georges Geffroy, and the New Look by Maureen Footer, with a foreword by Hamish Bowles.

When Christian Dior created his first collection, in the frigid winter of 1946, his vision was escapist. In a Paris assaulted and traumatized by the years of war and the Occupation, Dior imagined a bouquet of flower women, of full corolle skirts and melting shoulders, hand-span waists and plumply buttressed bosoms – the silhouettes of his Edwardian infancy, before the vicissitudes of conflict transformed the world order for the affluent classes.

Dior’s vision for décor ran along similar lines, for although he came of age as a purveyor of avant-garde art, by the time he reached his forties Dior thought not of a brave post-war modernism, but Les Rhumbs, his family’s pretty pink house nestled in rose gardens on the cliffs of Normandy, symbol of the affluent bourgeois life that the Diors had led before the crash of 1929.

To realize a vision in décor that would match his concept of fashion, Dior turned to the talents of his two friends Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy.

As an unusually fashion obsessed little boy I found a copy of Dior by Dior, the designer’s elegantly written autobiography, in a jumble sale and had devoured its riveting contents, and therefore knew of how Dior had distributed the decorating of his opulent town house in Passy between Grandpierre and Geffroy, two men as steeped in fashion as their friend and client. Grandpierre had been a fashion photographer, and Geffroy a designer for Jean Patou, a forward-thinking rival to Gabrielle Chanel in the 1920s.

In a world that was looking to reinvent a post-war aesthetic in architecture, furniture, automotive, and fashion design through innovation that focused on practicality, speed and labor-free invention, this triumvirate created a parallel modernism. Their brave new world of fashion and design was steeped in the past – the world of Sem and the Comtesse Greffulhe (who came to witness Dior’s debut collection looking as though she had stepped from a Lartigue photograph in a Merry Widow picture hat and lavish fur stole).

Just as Dior’s ateliers found themselves reviving Victorian dressmaking techniques to bring his elaborately constructed clothes to life, his couture house drew on techniques honed over generations to provide their perfect setting. Chez Dior, the well-heeled denizens of café society, the stars of screen, stage, and the cultural firmament who came in droves to admire the couturier’s creations were enveloped in melting dove grey, and perched on the sort of Louis Quinze revival sofas and Louis Seize oval-backed chaises on which the sitters of Boldini and Helleu had posed half a century earlier.

When Dior’s young protégé Yves Saint Laurent inaugurated his eponymous haute couture house in 1962, the dauphin created a tabula rasa - a spare white décor that suggested the promise of the Youthquake era and provided a neutral foil to the mannish pantsuits and hippie de luxe evening extravaganzas that redefined the way women wanted to look.

By the time I made my own debut in the perfumed world of the haute couture in the early 1980s, however, Saint Laurent’s mood was elegiac rather than revolutionary. He had moved his haute couture establishment to a Haussmanian townhouse on Avenue Marceau, where, nostalgic for the spirit of his master Christian Dior, he had summoned that designer’s accomplice in décor, Victor Grandpierre, to create an environment that evoked both Dior’s couture salons and private residence.

Underfoot, carpet swirled in whorls of moss and bottle green like the shimmering pools of a bolt of watered silk; the high-back sofas were tufted in crimson damask and shaded by potted palms. The cabine mannequins, dressed in stockings and heels and their uniform starched white wrappers as they waited to be fitted by the master, looked like Toulouse Lautrec houris in a maison de passe – although admittedly an establishment with royal and imperial patrons.

It was the perfect backdrop to the Saint Laurent clothes of the era – clothes of impeccable construction executed in a breathtaking gamut of colors. It was haute couture for the home and it seemed to me then and now to represent the giddiest height of high style. At home on the Rue Babylone, meanwhile, Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge worked with Jacques Grange – inheritor of the spirit of Geffroy and Grandpierre – to create a wonderland of eclectically arranged treasures. The dining room, however, like the Avenue Marceau salons, was a direct quote from Dior, Grandpierre, and Geffroy. The rock crystal droplets that hung from the chandelier, the eighteenth century tapestries on the pale walls, and the fall of emerald damask at the windows evoked the defiantly mid-century look of Dior and his co-conspirators in design, nostalgia on nostalgia, a look that swept the world, then and now.
This piece appeared as the foreword to Vendome Press's Dior and His Decorators: Victor Grandpierre, Georges Geffroy, and the New Look by Maureen Footer, with a foreword by Hamish Bowles.

When Christian Dior created his first collection, in the frigid winter of 1946, his vision was escapist. In a Paris assaulted and traumatized by the years of war and the Occupation, Dior imagined a bouquet of flower women, of full corolle skirts and melting shoulders, hand-span waists and plumply buttressed bosoms – the silhouettes of his Edwardian infancy, before the vicissitudes of conflict transformed the world order for the affluent classes.

Dior’s vision for décor ran along similar lines, for although he came of age as a purveyor of avant-garde art, by the time he reached his forties Dior thought not of a brave post-war modernism, but Les Rhumbs, his family’s pretty pink house nestled in rose gardens on the cliffs of Normandy, symbol of the affluent bourgeois life that the Diors had led before the crash of 1929.

To realize a vision in décor that would match his concept of fashion, Dior turned to the talents of his two friends Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy.

As an unusually fashion obsessed little boy I found a copy of Dior by Dior, the designer’s elegantly written autobiography, in a jumble sale and had devoured its riveting contents, and therefore knew of how Dior had distributed the decorating of his opulent town house in Passy between Grandpierre and Geffroy, two men as steeped in fashion as their friend and client. Grandpierre had been a fashion photographer, and Geffroy a designer for Jean Patou, a forward-thinking rival to Gabrielle Chanel in the 1920s.

In a world that was looking to reinvent a post-war aesthetic in architecture, furniture, automotive, and fashion design through innovation that focused on practicality, speed and labor-free invention, this triumvirate created a parallel modernism. Their brave new world of fashion and design was steeped in the past – the world of Sem and the Comtesse Greffulhe (who came to witness Dior’s debut collection looking as though she had stepped from a Lartigue photograph in a Merry Widow picture hat and lavish fur stole).

Just as Dior’s ateliers found themselves reviving Victorian dressmaking techniques to bring his elaborately constructed clothes to life, his couture house drew on techniques honed over generations to provide their perfect setting. Chez Dior, the well-heeled denizens of café society, the stars of screen, stage, and the cultural firmament who came in droves to admire the couturier’s creations were enveloped in melting dove grey, and perched on the sort of Louis Quinze revival sofas and Louis Seize oval-backed chaises on which the sitters of Boldini and Helleu had posed half a century earlier.

When Dior’s young protégé Yves Saint Laurent inaugurated his eponymous haute couture house in 1962, the dauphin created a tabula rasa - a spare white décor that suggested the promise of the Youthquake era and provided a neutral foil to the mannish pantsuits and hippie de luxe evening extravaganzas that redefined the way women wanted to look.

By the time I made my own debut in the perfumed world of the haute couture in the early 1980s, however, Saint Laurent’s mood was elegiac rather than revolutionary. He had moved his haute couture establishment to a Haussmanian townhouse on Avenue Marceau, where, nostalgic for the spirit of his master Christian Dior, he had summoned that designer’s accomplice in décor, Victor Grandpierre, to create an environment that evoked both Dior’s couture salons and private residence.

Underfoot, carpet swirled in whorls of moss and bottle green like the shimmering pools of a bolt of watered silk; the high-back sofas were tufted in crimson damask and shaded by potted palms. The cabine mannequins, dressed in stockings and heels and their uniform starched white wrappers as they waited to be fitted by the master, looked like Toulouse Lautrec houris in a maison de passe – although admittedly an establishment with royal and imperial patrons.

It was the perfect backdrop to the Saint Laurent clothes of the era – clothes of impeccable construction executed in a breathtaking gamut of colors. It was haute couture for the home and it seemed to me then and now to represent the giddiest height of high style. At home on the Rue Babylone, meanwhile, Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge worked with Jacques Grange – inheritor of the spirit of Geffroy and Grandpierre – to create a wonderland of eclectically arranged treasures. The dining room, however, like the Avenue Marceau salons, was a direct quote from Dior, Grandpierre, and Geffroy. The rock crystal droplets that hung from the chandelier, the eighteenth century tapestries on the pale walls, and the fall of emerald damask at the windows evoked the defiantly mid-century look of Dior and his co-conspirators in design, nostalgia on nostalgia, a look that swept the world, then and now.