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.
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.
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? “
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.”
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.)