Rambling Man

Jasper Conran Roams the "Country" of England

The name Conran conjures notions of Saarinen tulip tables and hyper-modern eateries serving neo-gastropub fare. But Jasper Conran—son of Sir Terence, a pioneer of contemporary home design since opening Habitat in 1964—throws these notions aside with his new book Country. Conran fils launched his womenswear label in 1978, catering to a well-heeled crowd, but this project was more of a rough-and-ready endeavor.  “In the city you know what life looks like, it’s all at your fingertips,” he explains. “It’s not in the country, and I thought, I’ll go and have a look, explore, see how people live, and how they entertain themselves.” Despite “running out of petrol money” before they could venture out of England to other regions of the British Isles, Conran—along with photographer Andrew Montgomery—travelled over the course of a year to uncover the idiosyncrasies and beauty of the countryside, enjoying some unusual encounters along the way. Of an interlude with some gypsies, he says: “We ended up having our fortunes told a lot—by all of the women in the caravans.  We had to cross their palms!” His fond descriptions of homes and locales illustrated by romantic photos often captured at dawn express the inspiration he found in everything from Mapperton, the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, to Tremedda Farm in Cornwall to wrestlers in Grassmere, Cumbria. “Their mothers embroider their kooky little shorts and tops through the winter— I love the whole visual,” he says of the latter. Some new traditions made it into the book as well, such as the music celebration Camp Bestival at Lulworth Castle on the Dorset coast. Brimming with national pride, Conran says:  “We’ve got an embarrassment of wonderful things in the country to look at and participate in.”

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