In an exclusive shoot in the private apartments of her grandmother, Patricia, Countess of Harewood, Imogen Lascelles models party wear from Next. They talk to Stephanie Smith. Pictures by Simon Hulme.
She has a poise, a quiet confidence and a serene beauty that belie her 17 years – and in these qualities, Imogen Lascelles clearly takes after her grandmother.
Imogen is the granddaughter of the 7th Earl of Harewood, who died in 2011, and his widow, Patricia, Countess of Harewood. The middle daughter of their son, Mark Lascelles, Imogen is following in the footsteps of her grandmother, who was a highly successful fashion model in her younger days, celebrated in photographs on walls and in books scattered about her stately yet homely private apartment at Harewood House, near Leeds.
The apartment became the perfect backdrop for our exclusive fashion shoot with Imogen, teaming up with Next, which provided all the the clothes and accessories from their Christmas party ranges, including the prestige Premium collection. Proud grandmother, Patricia, Lady Harewood, looked on and cast a professional eye as Imogen modelled, and the two of them sat down together before a crackling fire in Her Ladyship’s cosy sitting room to chat for our behind-the-scenes video of the day’s shooting.
“I think she’s made a wonderful start,” Patricia, Lady Harewood, said, turning to her granddaughter and adding: “I’ve been watching you working this morning and you seem to me to have everything it takes, including the most important ingredient of all, patience.
“I said to Imy, when she was asking about this as a line of work, that five per cent is lovely, with all the clothes, etcetera, and the rest of it is mostly boring, standing still wearing the wrong clothes at the wrong time. I’ve tried to put her off … but not enough, I’m happy to say.”
Imogen said: “We’ve been looking through what she did when she was in that period of her life, modelling, and seeing how different it is, in the modern society now, how different the fashion industry is.”
Her grandmother agreed: “I know it’s a much tougher world in every respect and in some ways, I hate to use the word ‘nastier’, but it can be – the whole world is rather nastier and this goes along with it, too. But it’s enormously competitive. I think Imy is sensible enough to realise that her education is really the most important thing, and that this career might well help her to a very good education. I keep quoting the example of Lily Cole to her, who got herself an incredibly distinguished degree at Cambridge and is way up there with the supermodels, and I don’t see any reason why Imogen shouldn’t do the same.”
It was Imogen’s idea to recreate the pose of a beautiful black and white photograph of her grandmother, taken when she was a model in Australia.
“That was taken by my first husband, Athol Shmith, who was a really wonderful, great photographer in Australia. All his work is now in the National Gallery in Victoria. That picture, he took in the art gallery in Melbourne. I remember who made the dress – it was French couturier who worked in Melbourne. If you look at that picture, his eye was so extraordinary,” said Patricia, Lady Harewood, pointing out that her pose echoes the picture she is placed beside. “It’s a marvellous photograph and reminds me that I once had a waist – and that was a real waist, it wasn’t a corset.”
Imogen freely admits that, off-duty, like most teenage girls (and most models), her own style is rather more casual than the sleek, embellished partywear she is modelling for The Yorkshire Post, although she loves the elegance of the Next collections. “I’m not as sophisticated,” she said. “I’m not girly, but I spend my life mostly in jeans and plaid, if that makes sense, kind of punky.”
Her mum, Andrea, who was also proudly watching her daughter model (and stepping into the usual fashion shoot madness to help her change) said Imogen rarely wears make-up.
Katy Edwards, managing director of Catwalk Model Management in Leeds and London, is helping Imogen and her supportive family plan her modelling career carefully. “At the moment, we are focusing primarily on step-by-step, and concentrating on her education, bearing in mind she is 17 years old. She’s had a lot of interest and unfortunately we’ve had to decline quite a few opportunities,” she said, adding: “She has fantastic poise. She’s nearly 6ft at 17, so by the time she’s a 21-year-old, I would imagine she’ll be gracing our catwalks in no time.”
But for now, Imogen remains a hard-working student and normal teenager, looking forward to Christmas. Patricia, Lady Harewood, said: “I’m happy to say that all our grandchildren don’t arrive at the same time, as there are 17, but we are all celebrating in our own way, and getting together and having fun, around the fire and opening presents.
“The best present opener is this little dog,” she said, indicating Minnie, one of the two family dachshunds who also followed the fashion shoot with great interest. “She doesn’t care about the presents, it’s the wrapping.”
All clothes and accessories by Next, in store and online at www.next.co.uk.
Pictures: Simon Hulme. Styling: Stephanie Smith
Hair and Make-up: Anna Stephenson, www.annastephenson.co.uk
Fashion assistant: Claire Schofield
Model: Imogen Lascelles at Catwalk Model Management in Leeds and London, www.catwalk-uk.com.
Location: The private apartments of Patricia, Countess of Harewood, at Harewood House, with thanks to Patricia, Lady Harewood, and all the staff.