I think it’s fair to say that the brilliant British fashion designer Jasper Conran is one of the reasons why I became a fashion editor. In the mid eighties he was the sine qua non – British Designer of the Year in 1986 – and I had images of his clothes pinned on my bedroom walls– Bodymap and John Flett may have made extraordinary & directional pieces that I admired, but I didn’t want to wear their clothes, I wanted Conran’s elegant aesthetic which spoke to the fashion history books in which I buried myself in the library.

I shall draw an aesthetic veil over his work as part of the High Street’s Designers at Debenhams group which, it’s fair to say, speaks to me not all. However the vast sums of money Conran has earned from his clever endeavours there have allowed him to indulge his passion for all things bucolic, instilled in him from an early age when he went off to prep school in Dorset.

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With the publication of his first book, Country, that passion is now documented in a book of photography charting the people and places of Britain outside its metropolitan areas. Astonishing in its breadth, the very large & weighty book is the product of an intense collaboration between Conran & photographer Andrew Montgomery who between them organized a staggering eighty shoots in just under a year to capture the book’s ravishing colour saturated images.

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Speaking to Conran last week, he told me that, “the central tenet of the book is answering the question what do people do and what do their lives look like (albeit through my eyes). How do you pass the time during the country? How do you convey what goes on in the country other than through green field and trees? “

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Comparing the process of putting the book together to that of editing a collection, Conran told me that he, “had more ideas than I could fit in” , although given the breadth of the subjects, it’s hard to think what he feels he missed. And then he tells me: “I wanted nuns frolicking, but we didn’t find any.”

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The publishers of Country have very kindly offered a copy of Country worth £50 to one lucky LLG reader. Simply leave a comment below to tell us what or where is your favourite thing or place in the British countryside.

(IGiveaway open to readers in the UK & in the US.)

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Usually £50/$60, it’s available on special offer for £35 on Amazon in the UK here and for $37.80 in the US here

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73 comments

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My favourite part of the British countryside is the England-Scotland border, specially when the heather is flowering. As a while, I fancied I could tell to the meter if I was in England or Scotland, just by looking down at my feet. And it was like being in a 19th century novel, even standing next to the car.

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You can’t beat Holkham Beach in North Norfolk for the sheer scale and desolate beauty. Holkham Hall, with its beautiful grounds, is just next door and, if you’re lucky, there is sometimes a game of cricket being played outside the big house. Combine that with a lovely tea and cake from the cafe, and an English summer’s day really doesn’t get any better.

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I still can’t beat the Yorkshire moors near Haworth, where the Brontes lived. It’s not difficult at all to wander up there and see something remarkable at work, to imagine yourself back in a Victorian age and to feel the chill wind creep around your throat. Riderless horses have roamed past me, I’ve knelt in the scratchy gorse as tourists wandered past, I’ve picked berries, seen the shifting pattern of clouds bruise the landscape and listened to the bleating of the sheep. (Actually, the sheep are quite annoying.) But what a place. It has more heart and soul to it than any leafy corner of Surrey. Give me the moors any day!

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What I adore most about the English countryside is the assault on my senses in the woods on early spring mornings; the liquid call of unknown birds, the fragrance of ephemeral woodland flowers, the sound of the wind in leaves so young you could eat them. And above everything else, the sight of pale lemon yellow primroses in familial groups along the banks and footpaths, serene and hopeful.

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Love the English countryside–all of it! As a visitor to England from hot, dry California it’s lush greenery and majestic country homes are stunning! The book appears to capture the beauty of the countryside and it’s homes.

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Bucolic dreams … to fall asleep to, book in hand, small smiles.

Lovely lovely lovely.

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My brother’s house in Camelford Cornwall. Or does that not count? Corwall is sort of a separate country is it not?

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I would say a walk along the River Stour makes you feel as if you are walking right out of a Constable painting…and it should as this was his inspiration for many of his paintings….idyllic green countryside that brings meaning to Blake’s “englands pastures green.”

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I would love to live in another country, but only for a while. I would miss England too much. In my part of the world the Thames is what draws me near every time. I’ve been lucky enough to live on the river and on lakes nearby and I adore watching the seasons change and the wildlife daily. Thanks for highlighting this book. Sx

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I love Painshill, especially the 18th century grotto. I don’t know that it counts as particularly “country” though!

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