I had googlemapped her house very carefully and ahead of time. I had sussed out the trains I was meant to take and the direction I was supposed to walk in, A to Z map clutched to my chest. I figured I needed about half an hour to get to her house and by the time I got there we would have at least two hours of day light to shoot. But one hour and three agonizing train rides later I panic! Where is this place?? I am pretty much in tears when I hurl myself into a black cab. The driver almost refuses me because I am in a state of near demented frenzy. But the good man knows exactly where I need to go and explains to me, rather facetiously, that Marble Arch (by my hotel) is just two stops on the Central line from Mary’s house. Bloody googlemaps! I ring the doorbell in defeat and sheepishly apologize.
Mary Charteris has the house to herself. Her mum is in India for a month and her brother just moved out. And soon Mary will be Mrs. Robbie Furze – he popped the question last September – and if all goes according to the 5-year Master Plan she’ll be “married and living in LA in the hills or on a ranch in Austin with chickens and pigs.” Because that’s just the kind of girl she is: a ball of energy, talking and laughing a hundred miles an hour, enjoying her blessed young life and plucking the fruits of a pleasantly insane family tree, with Aunt Daphne Guinness as the catalyst of her daily inspirations. “When we hang out we basically just talk for hours about everything, give each other advice, share ideas,” she says with a sense of pride. “Of course I raid her wardrobe whenever I go over to her house. Or just stare at it in amazement.” And like the rest of her family – there also Tom Guinness, former Burberry model and editor of L’Officiel Hommes and his wife Rachel Chandler, a Vogue photographer and Rebecca Guinness, a fashion editor and writer – Mary’s no sitting duck. She’s modeling for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Terry Richardson, designing bikinis for Pistol Panties, and contributing to Lula Magazine. She’s even got plans to sing on her fiance’s records.
Mary and I buzz through the town house like frantic chickens. We have to make up for – my pitiful – lost time and rush through outfits. Luckily there is no shortage of fun stuff in Mary’s closet. She’s somewhat of a vintage fanatic, collects head dresses and never throws anything she loves away, “even if I’m too old to wear it. I’m saving it all for my kids!” (Part II of the Master Plan!) If her wardrobe is any indication of her current state of mind and life style, I’d call it eclectic with an edge. She mixes whimsical with studded, delicate with dangerous and tries to get away “with wearing anything and everything” as long as it doesn’t look like it came from a giant clothing chain. “I go on tour with my fiancé’s band around America mainly so I can go vintage shopping in all the random spots they play.” Just this past weekend The Big Pink played at Coachella, where thrifting is a religion. Mary reports that “Coachella was great. It rained the first day which was a bit sad. The band played really well on the Saturday which put everyone in good spirits. We ended up at Jeremy Scott’s house party dancing with Snoop Dogg. It doesn’t get much better than that!”