This is the first time in ten years that I find myself not only lucky enough to celebrate Mothers’ Day with mine, but living and working together. In many ways this lockdown back in London with my mother has been anything but familiar. It’s the first time I’ve seen and followed all four seasons in the same spot on our daily dog walk. It’s the first time I’ve not spent Sunday nights or early Monday mornings hanging out at an airport or train terminal. It’s the first time I’ve cooked. Or cooked something beyond lovingly arranged charcuterie and cheese boards. Hell it’s the first time I have baked a cake. It should be said that it’s the first time I’ve cooked with my mother... which is a little like watching two alarm clocks go off at the same time. I ignore sage advice and gentle words of experience. World War Three tensions are then diffused with a glass of wine and playing music very loudly as we cook.
I left my job in Paris this December. The plan was to move to Florence in March; the dream to learn Italian and to draw from life. Lockdown, Brexit, Visa applications have stalled this plan for the moment. It feels like I am off-road driving without a map… and have decided to move up a gear on the mother-daughter flatmate situation. It’s the first time we’re working together and for the moment, it’s less dangerous than cooking together. Thank goodness it’s somehow easier to take constructive criticism or rethink a strategy when it comes to a creative concept than it is on your pesto recipe or chocolate souffle.
I have loved the opportunity of working together and her close-knit Connolly family. Growing up with creative parents, I’ve never known anything other than a very blurred family, social and work life. What could be a better example of this blur than the fact that we live above our shop at Clifford Street? Or that the first floor gallery and salon where we show artist exhibitions and antiques also doubles as our living room?
So on Monday I found myself at 4 Clifford Street for a photo shoot with Harper’s Bazaar. The human contact, creative energy and joy of working with such a talented team was invigorating. And wearing a sneak preview of our Connolly autumn winter collection, fresh from our studio, was thrilling. All I can tell you is that the two outfits I chose to wear are Connolly’s designer Marc Audibet’s homage to the pinstripe suit. I felt transported to eighties Italy, ready to take on the world both in the board room and on the dance floor. But my favourite is a super lightweight dark blue oversize pinstripe shirt and matching drawstring trousers. In essence, a really cool pinstripe pyjama suit. Think Gianni Agnelli meets Julian Schnabel…The cut of the shirt and trousers immaculate yet relaxed and the fabric ever so soft and fluid. The pinstripes bring us back to our home off Savile Row, but the silhouette is forward-looking. It’s kind of our dream of how we want to dress, and live coming out of this lockdown. But apart from inspiring future dreams, what’s really special to me about these trousers is that they are inspired by a pair of my father's Connolly trousers from over twenty-five years ago.
And I think what can be very beautiful about working in a family business, and what I have found with Connolly, is that heritage is never far away from its horizon. I love working with my mother and her team. It is always very personal. And I think it’s because of this that there is this family dynamic of all hands and generations on deck. And it’s exactly why I so loved being the face of Connolly on this shoot. It’s made me feel connected again, as part of a family business, a creative vision, and on better days, to humanity and the enduring power of the matriarch.