Described as Karl Lagerfeld’s “outside eyes”, the stylish multi-hyphenate recounts her work day in Paris.
Lady Amanda Harlech models Chanel’s iconic tweed jacket in the tome, The Little Black Jacket.
20 years as a close collaborator with Chanel.
60 minutes practising yoga.
7:30AM I wake up naturally to the sound of traffic outside my apartment. Paris is very noisy. Maybe the French are very noisy. I haven’t got any curtains in my apartment in the seventh arrondissement, so there’s ample light. After all, I’m in the City of Lights so even if there’s rain, it’s beautifully lit. It’s a wonderful apartment. If I’m making tea, there’s a little back door that leads to an inner porch of the terrace where I can go and sit. It’s so very free, you know? It’s that freedom to choose when to do things that’s such a luxury. 7:45AM I’m a bit of a disciplinarian. I start my day with lemon juice squeezed into warm filtered water. There’s also a bit of meditation and yoga. If I don’t practise yoga in the morning, I’ll do it at night. If I’m having a bad night and I’m awake at five in the morning, I’ll do yoga. 8:50AM Breakfast time is one of the most joyous moments of the day for me. They grow the most fantastic peaches and nectarines in France, so it’s that with a little bit of goat yoghurt with some maple syrup because it’s very pure. Then it’s a cup of tea, or a turmeric cold-pressed juice, which is pretty good to start the day with. Turmeric’s really good at cleansing your body of toxins. 9:15AM If I’m back home in Shropshire, England, I’ll ride my horses. It’s very routine. But in Paris, there’s no horse riding and minimal exercise. I kind of miss that. But it’s okay, I do a lot of mental exercises here. I speak to Karl in the morning when I’m in Paris. Always. He’ll be mapping out a pattern of work for the day, such as when he’s heading to Chanel, or what he’s thinking of doing if we’re working on a shoot. Once I’ve got this pattern, then I’ll decide if I’ll go to Chanel ahead of him. That’s what I end up doing most of the time, but I also have the tremendous freedom to go and explore Paris for one or two hours. 10:00AM I don’t dress up, really. I believe if you are self-conscious about what you’re wearing then it’s probably where you could go wrong. I don’t have a uniform for Paris either. You’re talking to an English girl who’s all about logic. I think that’s also very Coco Chanel. For me, you wear what’s right for the moment you’re in. 1:05PM I eat to live. I’m very aware that you are what you eat. Lunch is a moveable feast for me. If I’m with Karl, he has the most extraordinary chefs who create the healthiest food out of the simplest ingredients. For example, I don’t know what they do with the mushrooms but those turn into some kind of souffle-like thing that goes underneath a fish. It tastes amazing. You’d expect nothing less from Karl. But I also enjoy peasant food. It’s like the song of the country that grows from the earth—produce that is cooked with pride and love and that’s what makes it taste so good. It’s about the fine balance between great techniques and a great aesthetic, like at Chanel. And I really like that. It hasn’t been polished to the point where you don’t recognise it. You still taste the flavour, but it’s balanced and very refined. I’m not really into food that’s disconnected from food, like when you expect something to taste like chocolate but in fact it is beef. Maybe I haven’t got a sense of humour. 2:45PM Two days before a show, we refine and define the collection in the Chanel studio. Each outfit is accessorised on the model who will wear the piece. The final balance is decided by Karl. It is a moment of precision—every detail must be perfect before her photograph is taken for the final running order of the show or the vital dossier de presse shoot. It is an intense and high-octane effort, from the team led by Virginie Viard (Chanel’s studio director) who styles the runway shows, to visits from Michel Gaubert with the soundscape tests. Editors and friends drop by to catch a glimpse of the collection, too. It is always incredible to see the refinement of Karl’s artistic vision come to life. The next step is the show itself. Sometimes we finish in the early hours of the morning of the show. The whole studio erupts in applause when Virginie lays out the final running order on the floor. 9:00PM I don’t knock off from work at a fixed time—it could be around this time or 11 at night. I’ll have dinner with Karl if he invites me, but otherwise I’ll have a meal with my friends. It’s so important for me to have contact with them because I can be at a hotel for two weeks and there’s something about the hotel’s lobby or force field that makes me feel like I am drowning. I almost feel a little bit lonely in the room, no matter how beautiful it is. I need some sort of contact again, like feeling my foot on the pavement. 11:00PM I’m fussy about having a bath and cleaning my face. I use Chanel, of course. It’s for sensitive skin and it’s a clear liquid that takes out all the grime. I don’t wear makeup, but there’s the routine of greeting people by kissing them on the cheeks in France, so at the end of today you’re bound to have some makeup on your face, too. When that happens, my skin needs to have a super-cleanse. I use a product from Clinica Ivo Pitanguy. It’s like a white powder that creates a foamy soap when you mix in two drops of water. That’s my next stage of cleaning. Then I’ll either use pure jojoba oil by MV Organic Skincare or a Norwegian skin serum that Karl gave me. 12:15AM I don’t have a TV in my Parisian apartment and I’m very happy not to have one. Karl once told me: “You want to write, you want to paint. But don’t watch television because there’s something about the screen. It removes something.” He’s right. For me, I’d never watch television in the day unless there’s some major news like a disaster. I don’t really know if I’m good at unwinding. That’s the truth. A bath always helps. I know that if I were better at unwinding, I’d be doing my evening yoga more and reading more. I read in bed. The book I’m reading now is titled The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. I can’t understand people who don’t moisturise. That is a definite ritual for me. I use coconut oil. It is really good. I have jars and jars of it and it goes everywhere with me. Then I say my prayers. I’m a pantheist. I pray for love, it’s really a moment about being loving, about not being judgmental.
The finale at Chanel haute couture fall/winter 2016.
Chanel haute couture fall/winter 2016.
“It’s that freedom to choose when to do things that’s such a luxury. ”