The fashion designer and editor of Luncheon magazine tells Adrian Joffe about one of her most beloved heirlooms
“My great uncle Oliver Messel wore this costume himself, and it fits me perfectly. He was tiny. He was a renowned set designer. I never met him – he died before I was born – but he introduced my father, Tony Snowdon, to people like Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward, and he photographed them. It’s how he started off. One of the things I love and find interesting about Oliver’s work was that there were no extravagant materials. He would make all sorts of things out of pipe cleaners and tin foil. He had a beautiful sense of colour. It was originally a 19th-century butler’s costume from Poland – he tweaked it and made the yellow britches to go with it. It’s very heavy to wear. I have lots of things from my ancestors. Whoever your family are, that sense of history in objects is so nice to have.”
I first encountered Frances and her husband Rodolphe at a dinner of Paolo Roversi’s, whom she assisted for many years. She invited me to her father Lord Snowdon’s photography studio. History is palpable there. So I said, “Let’s just transpose this whole studio to Dover Street Market” with the coat collection she had designed. It must be intimidating to have her family background, but now she is coming into herself with her magazine, Luncheon. The connection and disconnection between past and present is what makes Luncheon feel so good. I really believe in everything in its right time, and right place. Synchronicity. It’s quite rare when you meet someone and feel like that.
This article appears in the A/W16 issue of AnOther Magazine.