Hetty dress with lace collar, £495, by Moloh Absolute gold feather Couture Millinery, £645, by Lock & Co Sling-backs (on floor), poa, by Aruna Seth Vintage jewelled bracelet, stylist’s own
Thursday, 14 June 2012

A real English rose

Famed for her role in Foyle’s War, Honeysuckle Weeks is the quintessential Englishwoman and the star of our glorious country-themed fashion shoot at beautiful Belvoir Castle

Written by Alison Jane Reid

This is the story of a spirited English rose. A fashion heroine who sets, rather than follows, fashion trends. She likes to dress romantically, expressing her moods and desires in the very best, exquisitely crafted, British artisan brands.

She cleverly mixes utility tweeds with wisps of precious lace, silk and satin, and flowing, tailored Scottish cashmere and wool with daring hats and twinkling, vintage treasures. Naturally, there are witty dressing-up references to Alice In Wonderland, The Famous Five and Little Red Riding Hood. Being a country girl and tomboy at heart, her accessories are also her animal playmates: the Duke of Rutland’s pet owl, Persil; her very naughty dog, Alfie; a fishing rod from Farlow’s of Pall Mall. Oh, and the infinite possibilities of a countryside English summer.

As Sam Stewart in wartime detective story Foyle’s War, 32-year-old Honeysuckle plays Michael Kitchen’s driver and serene Girl Friday. She never cracks under pressure, summing up the remarkable spirit of a nation in conflict – the latest in a long line of cool, calm action girls.

Lizzie military jacket, £395, by Browne & Daughters Corsage Couture Millinery, poa, by Lock & Co Vintage pearls, Dig For Victory ClothingLizzie military jacket, £395, by Browne & Daughters Corsage Couture Millinery, poa, by Lock & Co Vintage pearls, Dig For Victory Clothing

Fans will be pleased to know that there is to be a new series of Foyle’s War, set after peace has been declared. Honeysuckle joins the fledgling operations unit, which would later become MI5. In the meantime, it comes as no surprise to learn that she recently took the part of Nancy in an American radio production of Oliver Twist,

‘Playing against type, which was a lot of fun,’ she says.

And, of course, she knows how to  fish. ‘I’ve caught a pike for supper. The females living in still, stagnant water make the tastiest  fish. I took it home and cooked it in the Aga with white wine and lots of herbs and cream. It was delicious.’

fashion-jun15-01-590Left: 1950s embellished cocktail dress, poa, by Dig For Victory Clothing Cape, stylist’s own Butterfly heels, £675, by Aruna Seth Anna Karenina Couture millinery, poa, by Lock & Co Alana love heart pendant, poa, by Swarovski Belt, stylist’s own Right: Military coat, price on application, by Anita Massarella for Hainsworth Pie-crust-collar shirt, £65, and needlecord jodhpurs, £129, both by Cordings Butterfly heels, £675, by Aruna Seth Top hat, poa, by Lock & Co Buckle belt, stylist’s own

Honeysuckle is a modern-day Purdy. She is just as at home in Barbour wellingtons as a shimmering, golden couture gown. Given that the weather was tempestuous on the day of our shoot at magnificent Belvoir Castle, near Grantham in Leicestershire, she kept our spirits up brilliantly. She radiates chutzpah and charm.

One moment she is trooping off„ to the lake to tickle a trout, the next she is happily kicking o„ her butter†fly high heels to play the chatelaine in a duck-egg-blue and ivory silk day dress, amid the perfectly appointed, gilded splendours of the pink drawing room at Belvoir, with its tapestries depicting the story of Don Quixote. Later, she will dance her heart out with her beloved husband Lorne Stormont-Darling, on a stormy summer evening in the castle’s wild † flower garden, set high above a tranquil English pastoral scene.

Fashion-Jun15-05-590Embellished gown, poa, by Brian Rennie for Basler Vintage cape and bracelet, both stylist’s own Lorne wears: Suit by Ozwald Boateng

For over three centuries, Belvoir has been the seat of the Dukes of Rutland, with an intoxicating, bloody history bound up in the very fabric and fortunes of English history and its kings and queens. It is also the setting for the CLA (Country Landowners Association) Game Fair.

For the third time, the Belvoir Estate will be transformed in July, as many of Britain’s finest small food producers, bespoke fashion designers, hatters, furniture makers and craft companies set up their stalls and create the exciting atmosphere of a bustling country fair.

In an increasingly globalised world, it’s time to celebrate our heritage and what Britain does best. So let’s take an adventurous ride through the small, perfectly formed British artisan fashion and accessory brands. Names such as Barbour, Cordings, Moloh, Katherine Hooker, Browne & Daughters, Lock & Co and the Really Wild Clothing Company. Together they have a glorious, quirky history and pedigree, admired throughout the world.

Fashion-Jun15-06-590Left: Silk Chloe jacket, £315, by Cordings Bird-print shirt (just seen), £59.95, by Joules Joules Ditton skirt, £64.94, and boot socks, £35, both by Farlow’s Town & Country wellingtons (just seen), poa, Barbour Feather Couture Millinery, poa, by Lock & Co Vintage pearls, Dig For Victory Clothing Belt, model’s own Right: Fur-trimmed cape and peacock-print dress, both poa, by Brian Rennie for Basler Butterfly heels, as before Nera pendant, poa, by Swarovski

‘Dressing up has been like entering a candy stall,’ says Honeysuckle. ‘The textures, styles and exquisite craftsmanship are just divine. I don’t normally look forward to shoots where I am dressed by other people, but on this occasion I’ve had an absolute ball. Today, I got to play a shinier, more heroic version of myself.

‘I like this return to ladylike dressing. It has been the most fun I have ever had on a fashion story. In the Noughties, fashion went through a period of excess, where everything was on display and nothing was left to the imagination. Perhaps inspired by the new Duchess of Cambridge, we are entering a more demure, feminine and alluring age – one where we can be strong and marvellously sexy again. I rather like that ideal.’

STOCKISTS: Aruna Seth: 020-8773 7859, www.arunaseth.com Barbour: 0191-455 4444, www.barbour.com Basler: www.baslerfashion.com Browne & Daughters: 020-7603 1380, www.browneanddaughters.com Cordings: 020-7734 0830, www.cordings.co.uk Dig For Victory Clothing: 07779-657396, www.digforvictoryclothing.com Farlow’s: 020-7484 1000, www.farlows.co.uk Hainsworth: 0113-257 0391, www.hainsworth.co.uk Joules: 0845-250 7170, www.joules.com Lock & Co: 020-7930 8874, www.lockhatters.co.uk Moloh: 01666-500889, www.moloh.com Ozwald Boateng: 020-7437 2030, www.ozwaldboateng.co.uk Really Wild Clothing Company: 01491-672900, www.reallywildclothing.co.uk Swarovski: www.swarovski.com

Contributing Fashion Editor: Alison Jane Reid Photography: Jason Joyce, www.jasonjoyce.com Photographer’s assistant: Danny Graff Make-up: Vickie Ellis, using Dermalogica Hair: Heather Manson Fashion assistants: Maria Hazzard, Roisin Tierney Springer spaniels, Alfie and Tilly, courtesy of Vale House

CLA Game Fair is at Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire, from 20 to 22 July: 020-7460 7955, www.gamefair.co.uk

With special thanks to Belvoir Castle: 01476- 871026, www.belvoircastle.com and Vale House B&B: 01476- 879365, www.valehousebelvoir.com

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