"I moved from New York to England with three suitcases of clothing. Not three for one season, with plans to bring another three over for next season. Just three suitcases. Total." The intro to ex-Barneys fashion director, Amanda Brooks' essay for Vogue UK's July 2013 issue. While the article is apparently rather hard to come by on the web (an implicit vote for online-based publications, which serve as a vault, so to speak, of past issues), I have come across some excepts to explain what the New York Times referred "a yearlong move with her family to a farm in Oxfordshire, England, that is owned by the family of her husband, the artist Christopher Brooks." The paper, which wrote about Brooks quitting Barneys after only a year as fashion director, also suggested the following: had she "somehow soured on fashion shows? Or, as some in the news media speculated, was the move in support of her brother- and sister-in-law, Charlie and Rebekah Brooks, charged with perverting the course of justice (the term in British law) in the News of the World phone-hacking case?" Brooks says it is "the idea of having a career on your own terms, anywhere.” Also, she had a difficult time at Barneys; “I lost a lot of weight ... It was the 14-hour days and then all the traveling.”
You probably know the story by now, but in case you don't, Brooks and her husband, leased out their Lower East Side apartment, took their two children (Coco, then 10 and Zach, 8), and moved to their country estate for what has come to be known as a "creative sabbatical". As for what Brooks has been doing: She's been cooking, gardening, and riding horses. She got her blog, I Like Your Style, up and running again. She contributes to Vogue UK from time to time, including a relatively recent piece on making jam. She is also reportedly tapping into some "ambitious writing plans."
Photographer Todd Selby paid the Brooks family a visit and has just shared an array of photos of their new digs. Catch our favorites below (and see the rest here), as well as some excepts from Brooks' "The Farm-Girl Fashionista" essay for Vogue, explaining her move ...
"In my twenties, I started becoming noticed and acknowledged for the way I dressed while working at the Gagosian Gallery, where my outfits caught the eye of photographers and editors. At first the attention seemed no more than an ego boost. But, as I left the art world and went on to design accessories for Frederic Fekkai, I realized that having recognizable style -- and a presence at parties with people I admired -- had real currency."
"There was nothing to complain about in our New York life. We had an industrial-sized loft on the Lower East Side that afforded us more space than most New York families could expect. The kids were happy in school and they had lovely friends. Christoper, an artist, and I had success in our careers and in our home life spent both in the city and at our beach house in Long Island. But it was if we were living four separate lives in the company of one another ... At the farm, we all felt like one unit."
"Life on the farm would afford me time to think about my next career move. It would also allow me to take the focus off buying and wearing clothes all the time and focus instead on my family."
"I'm sure my less fashion-jaded friends would be shocked to learn of my $350 T-shirts, but I love knowing that even when I am being my most casual self, I am still a girl who loves fashion. Today I dress in a way that most people would deem anonymous, and deliberately so. After years of arriving at my kids' school on my way to a fashion show and completely overdressed, I find it a relief just to fit in. To the untrained eye, I wear jeans, a sweater, a classic wool military-style pea coat and winter boots. And even though I look like a typical country mum, there is a certain pleasure taken from knowing that my jeans are J Brand, my sweater is Phillip Lim, and my coat is Balmain."
"I made a beeline for a girl I saw at a local party wearing an Isabel Marant blouse and carrying a neon Céline box bag. I had to know who she was. It turns out she's a London girl who comes down to Oxfordshire on the weekends and is an avid hunter. We've become friends."