‘In the Art Room’ with… Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey

Ginnie is a sustainable fashion advocate, stylist, fashion writer and Founder of VCH Style. Her passion lies in balancing the desire for newness with a grounded understanding of how our consumer ‘purchasing power’ impacts the planet. ⁠

We are blessed that this wonderful and creative lady has taken the time to answer some questions on how her upbringing shaped the person she is today, as well as tips on how she brings art into her own children’s daily life. Read on to find out more…

“There is an urgent need to slow down our rate of consumption, yet we need to be realistic. As consumers we will always be tempted but we have a duty, to both people and planet, to shop with greater consideration. It is the business of responsible fashion that interests me”

What did you study at school/university? Was creativity and art part of your home life growing up? What did you dream of being when you grew up?!

I studied Art History at St Andrews University. I had done Art A Level (with French and English) so it was a natural progression. The biggest boost was doing the Peggy Guggenheim internship in Venice. I will never forget that experience and would urge any youngsters to try for it. Our final night was a party on the roof of Peggy Guggenheim’s Palazzo. Who can boast that?!

To be honest I always wanted to be a fashion designer….until I took a tour of Central St Martins and realised how competitive it was going to be! So I really am in awe of the likes of Roksanda, Christopher Kane, Erdem who have all made it, because the talent you have to maintain, term after term, season after season to get to the top is like no other.  So I stuck to my other passion; writing…and wanted to be Editor of Vogue…(didn’t we all?!) I somehow made it to Vogue…. but on the commercial trajectory, which I loved. If someone had taught me early on that creative industries have a commercial arm to them it would have saved me a lot of time! You can be creative and have a commercial eye and vice versa. Never pigeon hole yourself to either one.

How did your creative upbringing shape how you chose your career?

My mother is wonderful at painting. From painting birthday cards to illustrating weekly letters when I was at boarding school, to doing tapestry, she was the artist in residence growing up. My grandmother too. Every room in my childhood home has a framed work by either my mother or my grandmother. That’s enough to inspire a child. Fashion-wise, the pivotal fashion moment for me was Matthew Williamson’s 1994 graduation show at Central Saint Martins. I think we all fell in love with his use of colour that day. I certainly fell in love with the power of a great outfit.

How do you think a creative education gave you tools to be successful in your adult life? 

At school we were never necessarily pushed to be creative. (I went to a single sex boarding school, it was all about the grades). But we were pushed to believe we could achieve anything; be a bit gutsy, and at the same time be polite. So that was my approach. Brave, a tiny bit outspoken but with a thank you letter at the end! And I really was the person who constantly wrote to every magazine out there, and who bombarded Alexandra Shulman with requests for work experience at Vogue, and who thanked anyone, by handwritten letter, that would give me an interview. I guess I was trying to leave a lasting impression – never a bad thing. Working for myself now (vchstyle.com) you’ve got multiple strands; commercial, strategic, creative, authentic and damn gutsy.  It’s not easy, but if I can convince just one person to shop differently (with greater awareness) then something is working. It’s as if all those strands come together – like a great plait!

How important is it for you that your own children are inspired by the arts in their childhood and education? Can you give us your top 3 tips on how you add creativity to your own children’s lives?

I’m forever trying to remind them that Art is the best subject because there are NO wrong answers. ‘How cool is that?!’. But my eldest can’t get her head round that. She loves maths and a clear right or wrong scenario! So I very much encourage Art Club at school (they absolutely love it, it’s taught by one half of LoLA!) and they truly fell for Drawing Classes online in Covid (Draw with RobArt Hub for Kids).  When we can we head to galleries, and my youngest daughter is going to enter the Junior Summer Exhibition at the RA next year. Watch this space…. We always hang their art in the kitchen (don’t worry, we put a lot in the recycling bin too!).  My father recently professionally framed a painting one of my children had done for him; it’s hanging by his desk. This blew my daughter’s mind.  

My tips:

• Encourage baking or cooking (my husband fully embraces teaching them cookery,  a great form of creativity and a good release (…not for me, I hate it!)

• Encourage making cards for friends on birthdays, decorate the wrapping paper too (I never buy wrapping paper any more, just brown paper they can colour on – which can be recycled!)

• Encourage thank you letters – with pictures (I sound pedantic but I think it’s important that my children thank people for gifts and don’t rely on sending a video from my phone)

• As a simple first step, try to use the holidays to dabble in more creativity than usual – hence LoLA is a lifeline.

What artists/people/cultures have/still do influence you the most?

Oh my goodness….I love Ken Howard, I love Rachel Milne (a UK artist in Australia), I hugely respect Anna Mason the fashion designer, I am in awe of Edward Bulmer‘s colour palette, I love Roksanda’s use of colour, I love Nick Schlee‘s work (he lives in our village and I’m plucking up the courage for him to give my daughter an art lesson).  If I had to choose one country I’ve visited that blew me away for its colours and vibrancy it would be Mexico. (Which might explain my obsession with Pippa Holt’s Kaftans). So yes, it’s a myriad of influences, but ultimately rooted in a love of bold colour and vibrant expression. Absolutely no straight lines!

A children’s company or brand that you use that you feel particularly aligned to?

I donate my children’s shoes to Sals Shoes charity. They grow out of shoes at such a rate, at least Sal and her team help assuage the guilt! https://www.salsshoes.com/

One recommendation to other parents! 

Ivy & Bud flowers: send to a friend in need or treat yourself. Who doesn’t love small gestures?

Check out Ginnie here

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