Lucinda Chambers is a living legend. As the former fashion director of British Vogue, she styled everyone from Kate Moss to Naomi Campbell, setting the fashion agenda for decades.
But what sets Lucinda apart is her eye for detail, her flair for color pairing and her ability to know how to make any outfit or decor scheme not just look good, but feel comfortable, too. This key understanding of interior design is why she has always embraced design, incorporating homeware into her fashion shoots.
Since leaving Vogue she has since co-founded Collagerie (opens in new tab), a beguiling mix of home and fashion product edited through her inspiring lens. Last year, she joined our editors to judge our first Livingetc Style Awards.
On what to focus on when designing a room
Pip Rich: Whenever I see you, I’m always struck by the attention to detail in your outfits, the little extra accessories that come together to make your wonderful and unique look. Do you approach rooms in the same way as clothes?
Lucinda Chambers: Definitely. I don’t see a difference between fashion and interiors at all - they’re both part of the same thing. I have a love of color, print and textiles and decoration is about looking at everything in a 3D world, figuring out how it all works. When I’m creating a fashion shoot, I give as much attention to the cushion and chair as I do to the model and her clothes.
PR: So what do you think about when choosing that cushion and chair? When decorating a room?
LC: As with an outfit, comfort is pivotal. Neither should be chosen through the lens of someone looking at them, but by how they feel to be in. You can’t be stylish if you’re not comfortable. If you’re sitting down, you need to be able to sink deep into the chair or sofa, if you’re cooking you need to be able to grab a plate easily. Wherever you are, you need a place to put your mug or glass.
On picking the perfect color
PR: After talking to you, I always feel inspired to embrace warmer color schemes - you use them so sumptuously. How do you choose the right one for a room?
LC: Choosing a color is like applying a filter, almost like a meditation. You let the noise settle and take it one step at a time, trying out different swatches and slowly eliminating the ones that don’t register with you emotionally. I’ve never done a house top to toe, but always go room by room. You have to have a starting point, and I recently did our downstairs powder room, taking inspiration from a tile I found in a market for almost nothing. It had a picture of a horse on it, and from that I built a palette using Farrow and Ball’s Caulke green, coming off the entryway which is brown. I’ve hung plates on the wall in all shades of green. I’m getting ceramic door knobs from Etsy (opens in new tab), and have green tiles from Topps Tiles with a thin black line of beading from Fired Earth.
Editor's note: we particularly like these green ceramic door knobs from Etsy (opens in new tab), in an Italian style.
On knowing where to look for bargains
PR: Your eye! You are always so good at knowing which pieces you can go slightly less high end on and how to dress them up. Collagerie (opens in new tab) does this so well. What makes a good product for you?
LC: It just needs to be surprising. The last thing I bought was a stripy cushion from Accessorize (opens in new tab) - they do really good homeware, a great edit - and it was made from 100% cotton. If you look at the materials used you can always tell how something will feel. I’m a huge fan of H&M bathmats (opens in new tab), which aren’t expensive. I just love product, and if something is beautiful then it’s beautiful, no matter where it came from.
PR: You say that, but when you’re placing seemingly eclectic things together, they just seem to work, and there must be a reason for this.
LC: There does have to be a through line. Diana Vreeland always said that the eye had to travel, and when you walk into my house there are always colours that link spaces. I have an electric yellow dining room, but in the hall there is a picture by Jack Davison with a tiny bit of yellow in it. This sort of creeping color is so unobtrusive the person won’t even register it, but it’s a connection, and it sinks in by osmosis.
On the best place for lampshades
PR: And I have to ask, is there anywhere you’d really recommend to buy home products from now?
LC: Dar Leone (opens in new tab). Their lampshades are beautiful - most of their pieces are inspired by designs found in Sierra Leone. I like to think local/global, to shine a line on the people doing the smallest crafts in a far off place and make those shoppable. That’s where design magic truly happens.
The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants. He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.
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