Visual Dictionaries and Vintage Threads with Stylist Lucinda Chambers

Here, Chambers divulges the best vintage shops and dining spots in London, speaks on the merit of shopping around hotels every time you’re in the same city (she fancies herself as a Connaught staycationer, FYI) and, of course, waxes lyrical on her latest love, Colville.

“As a child, I always had to have a memento of the place I had
been to. It didn’t have to be much, a stick or rock would do –
actually, a stick was great, as I love a stripe – just so long as
it was something for the memory bank.”

Trust Lucinda Chambers, former British Vogue Fashion Director
and co-founder of Colville (a new fashion brand created in
partnership with Marni alumnae Molly Molloy and Kristin Forss) to
find charm in the mundane. To typify her is a wasted effort;
Chambers is beyond genre, and in any case, skips delightfully over
each – from flea markets to the theatre – uninhibited. It all adds
to her visual dictionary. “Eclectic and definitely decorative” in
taste, her aesthetic is a testimony to her kaleidoscopic interests
and inspirations.

Anyone who has ever travelled with 25 trunks knows how to travel
in style. From country life in
southwest France
to photo shoots in
in northern India (Cindy Crawford and Patrick
Demarchelier in tow) it seems there is nowhere Chambers will not
venture in the name of creativity. While her Ladakh peregrination
was hotel-light (the trio slept in tents for 10 days and didn’t
bathe) Chambers shows little prejudice when it comes to lodgings –
be they opulent landmarks, boutique six roomers or more

Here, she divulges the best
vintage shops
and dining
in London, speaks on the merit of shopping around hotels
every time you’re in the same city (she fancies herself as a
, FYI) and, of course, waxes lyrical on her latest
love, Colville.

Tell us about your line, Colville.

is collaborative, energetic, a bit anarchic, spontaneous and
uninhibited. It’s the opposite of “good taste” and in that way, it
feels fearless. It’s from all three of us – myself, Molly Molloy
and Kristin Forss.

How did your partnership with Molly and Kristin come

We worked together at Marni so we knew we all loved each other.
Molly and Kristin got together first and then asked if I would join
– “Of course!”. At the risk of applying a very overused word, it
feels “modern”. To have each other to bounce ideas off, to each
have a strong point of view but but listen to others feels new and
exciting. We have a lot of fun together.

Tell us about the genesis of the name Colville…

The name Colville came about as we are all huge fans of Hockney
– we love that bit of Notting
and it looks brilliant written down. Graphically it’s a
really lovely word.

How would you define your style?

I’m never sure how to define my style except that it’s a work in
progress. A labour of love perhaps; I love so many things. I like
decoration, that includes earrings and ankle socks, scarves and
hats and belts… There are a few days where I am minimalist, but
those are rare. I love colour and print too so I think that makes
my style eclectic and definitely decorative.

What items should a stylist always have to hand?

I always have safety pins on me and I’m a big fan of sewing so
tend to have a little kit around and about. For work, I use a lot
of pins and clamps. I like the process of pulling clothes around
and making shapes where they didn’t exist. I think a part of my job
is to always give the photographer something interesting to
capture; a strong, strange shape is a good place to start.

Favourite places to stay in New York, London, Milan and

After years of staying in the same hotel, it started to feel a
little like Groundhog Day. Nowadays, I tend to shop around with
hotels. In
New York
, it’s always on the Lower East Side – The Bowery,

The Ludlow
, Crosby
. In Paris,
it can be anywhere from somewhere huge and opulent like the
Shangri-La to a tiny boutique hotel that I just stayed in Pigalle.
It depends on the budget. I do really like trying new ones out
though; I like surprises. I don’t stay anywhere in London
obviously, but if I did, I think it would be somewhere really
civilised like The Connaught.

The best restaurants in each…

We were in Paris last week for Colville and stumbled across a
squirrelled-away restaurant, called Robert
et Louise
, that all of us loved – quite rare as we are a mix of
vegan, meat eater and no dairy. It had a great family vibe and was
utterly delicious; the roast potatoes were bliss. In London, our
go-to family treat restaurant is The
. It just is always a wonderful experience and it
represents family celebration. It never changes and never
disappoints. If it’s with friends then we’ll likely go to Laylow –
the prettiest club in Notting Hill.

What is your take on newer fashion cities like Copenhagen and

has a really good fashion week. I think anyone coming from
Copenhagen has inherently good taste.

The best institutions worldwide to study fashion include…

I don’t think there is such a thing as good or bad schools, more
that it’s the right fit for you. I know people who have flourished
at the London College of Fashion and the same at Central Saint
Martins and others who haven’t, but I do think access to
inspirational mentoring is vital; you need the fire in your belly
to ignite.

In the 1980s you joined Vogue as secretary to Beatrix Miller
and at Elle became
Grace Coddington
‘s assistant. What wisdoms would you pass on to
those starting out in the fashion industry?

I don’t know if I have “wisdoms”, but do I think it’s important
to always keep your eyes wide open. Notice everything about and
around you. Everything you look at is to build a visual dictionary,
a Rolodex of images – literally anything can make a picture. If you
want to be a stylist, having a very visual sense is a powerful
tool. With that in mind, go and see any exhibition you can, any
dance performance, any form of theatre. This will be your memory
bank and nothing will go to waste. When you intern or join a new
company, always be the last to leave. Go the extra mile and don’t
be afraid to ask questions. You would be amazed at how many people
leave on time and aren’t curious. The ones who are really stand out
and more often than not I have given them jobs or opportunities.
Bring things to the table that are outside your remit. I always
like to learn about new things, places or people but don’t always
have the time, so if you can bring that to the table, great.

Where do you go in London for inspiration?

I go anywhere and everywhere for inspiration. It’s all around us
in London (and beyond) – it’s really is never-ending. From Sadlers
Wells to TATE Modern to Kettle’s Yard and of course all the vintage
markets. London never ceases to delight.

Born in Notting Hill, as a child you moved around West London a
lot. Some of your favourite spots in the area are…

for the market; Fridays for vintage and Saturdays for
food. I love the Gate Picturehouse and, tiny bit further afield,
the Olympic Studios Cinema in Barnes (which has the most
comfortable seats and a really nice restaurant attached). I love
Relik for vintage clothes, always great for Comme des Garçons and
Yohji Yamamoto if you are feeling extravagant. I can also never
exit Daunt Books in Holland Park with less than five books.

Where’s next on your travel list?

New York and then on to
Palm Springs
(which I’m very happy about as I seem to remember
there are great vintage shops there).

Your record for suitcases brought on a trip is…

I’m quite rigorous about editing my stories as I hate excess. I
like to see exactly what I’m going to shoot with very little over.
It focuses my mind and makes me feel calm. I think by now I’m not
bad at knowing what’s going make an interesting picture and what I
can leave behind – but I have to say on one shoot I had 25 trunks.
Never again, before or since.

Most impressive place you’ve ever travelled to in the name of

in northern India was the most incredible place I have
ever been to. I took Cindy Crawford and Patrick Demarchelier. There
were no hotels when we visited so we slept in tents (with all our
clothes on) for 10 days without washing. I wouldn’t dare to do that
now, besides, no one would have that amount of time to spend on a
trip these days, but back then it just felt exciting. It was so
spectacular to be surrounded by
the Himalayas
, remote and utterly unspoilt, Buddhist
monasteries built into the mountainside and the gold palace of the
Dalai Lama.

Where do you consider your home away from home?

France. We are lucky enough to have a remote farmhouse in the

, miles from pretty much anywhere. We have real fun
there – it’s a happy place where you can really switch off and the
most you do in a day is cook a lot.

A pragmatic packer should include the following items in their

In my case, there are always at least three books and a
flat-pack Parker.

What books are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends,
which I loved. I really like being recommended books and films; I
enjoy being taken out of my comfort zone and this book certainly
did that. I don’t tend to read modern fiction but I loved her
sparse writing which lacks high emotionality yet simultaneously I
found it very moving. I then immediately read her next one, Normal
People. I tend to do that – it’s a bit compulsive. If I like an
author I want to read everything they have written. I am slightly
addicted to WWII books too, especially about spies – I find them
more thrilling than thrillers. Ben MacIntyre is a real master of
this genre. I’m currently reading his 2012 publication, Double

Discover More
Oriental Carpets and the Ultimate Travel Trophy According to Rug Designer Luke Irwin