L’Oréal Blackett takes a look at the fashion veteran's 'post-Vogue' collection
“We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continue buying…” says departing Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers in an interview with Anja Aronowsky Cronberg. It’s one of the less controversial statements in the now widely circulated article.
Chambers has stepped down (or, in her words 'fired') from her illustrious role at Vogue after 25 years in the post and 36 years at the magazine. It’s been a fashion career of a lifetime; one where she fed loyal readers dream-like fashion shoots and had us lusting over clothes we admittedly could never afford. True to Vogue, her renowned cover story looks were more aspirational than attainable.
“The clothes are just irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive,” she was also reported to have said.
Her recently launched high-street collaboration with John Lewis now feels decidedly post-Vogue.
Before she departed to pastures new, Chambers, British Vogue and John Lewis came together to share stories of style with shoppers across the country, including John Lewis stores in the Trafford Centre and Liverpool.
I know glossy magazines are meant to be aspirational, but why not be both useful and aspirational?
The ‘Vogue Recommends’ looks have been carefully selected by Chambers, who spent time in John Lewis shops choosing timeless, quality items that can transcend seasons and together serve as the building blocks of any wardrobe.
A far cry from glossy magazine covers and editorial spreads, the muted capsule wardrobe features everyday staples rather than luxury standouts.
Chambers recommends luxe-leather jackets, good quality white t-shirts, flattering wide leg trousers and floral dresses that all work to a minimal, urban safari colour palette. So yes, there is nothing here to reinvent the fashion wheel – in truth you’d be hard pressed to not find similar items in the average wardrobe already.
Yet the Chambers' sartorial lesson is clear: buy fewer, simpler clothes at a better quality to wear far more stylish outfits.
“The brilliant thing about fashion, and in particular clothes, is to re-look, re-invent and then re-use," says Chambers on the John Lewis collaboration. “Building a wardrobe full of clothes like these I have curated means that it’s exciting to see each morning, effortless to wear and is also affordable…. that is one of the pleasures of life.”
Many committed fashion enthusiasts fail to enjoy and benefit from a minimalist, streamlined wardrobe. In other words, gorged and overflowing closets tend to be the norm. The churn of trends from the catwalk to the magazines is usually to blame for the excess. Chambers calls this a shopping 'anxiety'.
"I know glossy magazines are meant to be aspirational, but why not be both useful and aspirational? That's the kind of fashion magazine I’d like to see," remarked Chambers in the frank interview.
The fashion director's collaboration with John Lewis certainly aims for useful fashion. Chambers has provoked a thoughtful, passionate debate about the fashion industry, the frequency of our consumption and how style is dictated to us by the fashion media. Her simple yet effective collaboration with John Lewis feels like a fashion freedom - though a little boring.
The ‘Vogue Recommends’ selects include over 50 key pieces of clothing and accessories, available in branch
● ‘The Shirt’ – Modern Rarity palmer//harding Shirt, £130
● ‘The Bag’ - AND/OR Tassel Cotton Hobo Bag, £59
● ‘The Earrings’ – Toolally The Peacock Drop Earrings, £45
● ‘The Jacket’ – Parka London Britt Jacket, was £175 now £87.50
Though Lucinda Chambers makes way for another bright fashion talent to take the covetable position, throughout the summer John Lewis will announce further ‘Vogue Recommends’ collections selected by British Vogue’s Executive Retail Editor Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey and Fashion Features Editor Ellie Pithers respectively.
And the John Lewis personal stylists are well versed in Chambers’ fashion rules. You can book them for free so they can tailor all the Vogue recommends looks to your body type and personal styles.
Exclusively for John Lewis Liverpool customers this August, Ginnie will showcase her selections at Stories of Style, a customer event giving shoppers the chance to receive first-hand style recommendations, hear about the latest trends, how to shop the new season collections and interact with the iconic title’s Fashion Feature Editor to receive personal styling tips and advice.
You can find the limited 'Vogue Recommends' collection in Trafford Centre and Liverpool John Lewis branches.