Without fear and reproach: an interview with Lucinda Chambers, former fashion-director of the British Vogue
Leaving British Vogue, stylist Lucinda Chambers found herself in a new role: she is building a clothing brand and is preparing to launch a digital platform.
Viscose dress, cotton skirt, all – Colville; Cotton T-shirt, & Other Stories
Lucinda Chambers never had big plans for the future. As a child, she believed that she had no special talents: she even dressed worse than her friends. The only award in school years Chambers received for a homemade Christmas card. In addition to drawing, she was fond of poetry – she wrote poems seasoned with teenage melancholy about the meaning of life and about God.
Mother Chambers was engaged in needlework, and in the 1970s, trying to earn money for the family, furnished one of the rooms in a London apartment with folding beds – in the spirit of modern service Airbnb handed over beds to visitors. At the age of 58, she had the idea to apply for a state grant and, together with Lucinda, to enroll in an art college – they were preparing their portfolios on the kitchen table. In college, Lucinda began to make massive plexiglass earrings. “I could not admit that I was making commercial jewelery, so I called my work the study of spatial figures,” says Lucinda. “In fact, I was selling them on Camden market.” One pair of earrings hit the pages of a fashion magazine. Lucinda was so amazed that she decided to call the London edition of Vogue to find out if there were any vacancies there.
Signet Gold Ring – Lucinda's Mother's Gift
So begins the story of Lucinda Chambers, one of the most respected stylists in the industry. For the British Vogue she wore Kate Moss in a pack of tulle, and Eddie Campbell's perfect face pasted over with cartoon stickers. Together with photographer Josh Olins, Lucinda shot the Duchess of Cambridge for the cover of the anniversary, 100th issue of the magazine.
Collection of vintage earrings
Once in Vogue in the early 1980s, Chambers began working as an assistant editor-in-chief, Beatrice Miller: “She saw something in me that I didn’t know about myself — it gave me confidence.” Faddish outfits that Lucinda sewed with her own hands interested the fashion director of the magazine Grace Coddington. Three years later, Chambers became her assistant. “That's the whole Grace: she can hire someone unfit for the job because she likes the way he looks.” In Coddington, Lucinda learned to look at the world with wide eyes and to see a potential subject for shooting in any scene: “For Grace, everything was as if new. The exhibition of Matisse or the album by Henri Cartier-Bresson – she looked at everything with the pure gaze of a child and knew how to transform it into a modern picture. ”
Cotton T-shirt, TOAST; cotton pants, Zara; sneakers, Carvela
A few years later, in the UK, ELLE magazine was launched, suggesting Chambers to become its fashion director. “I was very lucky,” she recalls. “My salary has quadrupled, although I still lived in a squat.” The London fashion party in the 1980s was a melting pot of talent: there was almost no money in the industry, but there were unlimited opportunities for self-expression. At ELLE, Lucinda stayed for two years and, with the appointment of her former boss, Liz Tilberis, served as editor-in-chief of the British Vogue, she returned to Condé Nast Publishing House. In 1992, already under Alexander Shulman, she became the fashion director of the magazine.
“Once my husband said that I was the most non-ambitious, but at the same time the most decisive person I knew,” Chambers says. – This thought helped me to understand why I completely intuitively refused from some works and agreed to others. Ambition is the lot of those who want to prove something to the world, and determination is driven by those who want to prove something to themselves. ”
In April 2017, Edward Enninful replaced Shulman as the editor-in-chief of Vogue. Due to personnel changes, Lucinda Chambers was forced to leave the publication, thus closing the 30-year chapter of her biography. “I could quietly retire,” she recalls, “and for many such an outcome of events would seem perfectly logical.” When asked if she herself had such an idea, the 56-year-old Chambers without hesitation replied: "No, never."
“I would never have thought that I would become involved in a digital project, attract investments and build a business from scratch”
Having gone free swimming, Lucinda made such a reload of a career, which very few people manage to. Today she is styling for American Vogue and the independent publications Rika Magazine and More or Less and in a small office in the Notting-Dale area is preparing to launch a digital start-up – he is scheduled for the autumn. “We conceived this platform with our former colleague from Vogue, Serena Hood, a year and a half ago,” Chambers opens the veil of secrets. “This is the turn of my career by 180 degrees and overcoming my fears: I would never have thought that I would become involved in a digital project, attract investments and build a business from scratch.” Lush green trees peek into the windows of the Chambers office in London, and a poster with the inscription Tech First hangs on the wall next to the desk.
Chambers recently had another office – this time in Milan. In the new studio, she and her partners Molly Molloy and Christine Forss are preparing the fourth collection of the Colville label. Named after Colville Road (here in the 1960s the first London housing of the artist David Hockney was located), this project was launched just two years ago and united the efforts of three people from the Marni studio: Forss, under the direction of Consuelo Castiglioni, was responsible for the work of the male studio, Molloy engaged in the development of women's collections, and Chambers was their permanent stylist.
“We got to know Consuelo and her husband Gianni almost 30 years ago while shooting furs made by their company,” says Lucinda. “Later they invited me to Milan, and together we began working on the Marni collections. It was an absolute symbiosis: they didn’t say no and were not afraid to do what seemed right to us. In Marni, the craziest ideas turned into commercial success. ”
Cotton Top, Colville. On the left hand: ring, yellow gold, RAM; ring, yellow gold, Pippa Small; on the right hand: a signet ring, yellow gold, – a gift from the mother
Lucinda likes this format the most: she has something to compare with. In the 1990s, before Marni, Chambers worked with top intellectual fashion figures: Miuccia Prada (she styled the Prada debut show) and Jill Sander. “I learned the profession right behind the scenes: before the show, Prada was terribly worried that I wouldn’t have time to change all the models, and was greatly relieved to find out that a whole group of women had been gathered for the backstage,” Chambers recalls with laughter.
“When new ideas come to mind, you need to go out of your comfort zone – and try”
Today, together with Molla and Forss in Colville, they ideally repeat the trajectory given by the four Castiglioni: “Our brand has a very strong identity, but this project is about us at the same time and not about us.” Freedom of action is evident: the day before the interview, the designers showed the matchesfashion.com online retailer team a part of their new collection: “We decided to sew a coat of recycled ship sails in full confidence that no one would ever buy them,” Chambers says enthusiastically. “And the guys from Matches accepted this idea with a bang.” In Colville, everything is done according to the call of the heart: recently their assistant Danny began to work in pottery, and designers are already seriously discussing the launch of a ceramics line with their clients.
Cotton shirt, Colville; cotton skirt, Comme des Garçons; wool socks, marni; earrings, plastic, vintage
“From the side it may seem that everything is easy, but this is not always the case,” explains Lucinda. – When new ideas come to mind and you start to believe in them, you need to face your fears, get out of your comfort zone – and be sure to try. For such cases, I have a phrase: “If you are plagued by doubts, just take it and do it. This is the best solution. ”
Text: Venya Brykalin
Photo: Virginie Khateeb
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. (tagsToTranslate) Lucinda Chambers (t) Vogue UK (t) british vogue (t) Serena Hood (t) Liz Tilberis (t) Grace Coddington (t) Alexandra Schulman (t) Venia Brykalin (t) Virginie Khateeb (t) Colville (t) Comme des Garçons (t) Marni