It is hard not to like Fie Lucan. The dour, moody world of fashion, with stern looking front rows at catwalk collections, is very rarely punctuated by the kind of perpetual jollity that you get from spending even five minutes with the country’s most cheerful Countess. Lady Lucan’s joviality aside, there are serious matters at hand about which she is the architect. The topic in question is country clothing and Fie is making remedial steps to restore what has become a slightly staid genre of clothing with little inspiration garnered from it by any major fashion brands.
First, we must look at the state of play with regards to country clothing. For the last century, the British countryside was awash with tweed, and the landed gentry reflected this on the crimson seats in the House of Lords. This was always going to condemn the fabric to stereotypes of pipe-smoking, strict men who smell of their Labradors. Peers of the realm were never going to make it sexy. Over that time, despite pursuits like shooting being ever more popular, the producers of clothes for it weren’t that bothered by silhouette; after all, it was a practical garment and utility always superseded shape. “Seeing it in the city is enough to put you off going to the country in the first place,” says Fie. “I used to look at country clothing and say, ‘No way’. I don’t even wear wellies because they are so boring, so I try to find alternatives. It is almost as if, if you buy traditional country wear, you are being stuffed into a box of cartridges so square, there is no contrast to it. Nothing that makes it stand out. Outerwear was actually quite inventive between the 1860s and the 1920s. They were fun, and that kind of glamour is what I am trying to bring back.”
In fact, dishevelled garb whilst shooting is something of a badge of honour on the peg, indicating an old hand who can notch up several shooting days a year without too much concern for bank balance. There is an ironic snobbery for gents who show up in something brand new, generally stemming from the fact that the British aristocracy has never been big on ‘flash’ and too often these days is lacking in the resources to refresh their wardrobe.