Zac Posen pays extreme attention to detail. I know this to be a fact. Not from the fashion designs which brought him fame. The 38-year old New Yorker hand-crafts clothing for beautiful women — Uma Thurman, Claire Danes — to grab best-dressed headlines at the Met Gala and the Oscars. Whereas I’m a not terribly fashionable man.
Instead, I gleaned his commitment to precision when I tried to follow the chocolate chip cookies from his debut recipe book, Cooking with Zac. The first indication was that I had to brown the butter in a pan until it looked like “deep mahogany with a hazelnut scent,” he writes — a necessary extra step because “with so many cookies in the world, it’s the fine touches that count.” The second indication was that I had to hand-press the chips into the top of the dough to achieve “a polished and professional look.” Clearly, this is not a recipe for a lazy baker.
Charles Spencer as a young man
Earl Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s baby brother and the father of royal fan-favourite Lady Kitty Spencer, is a busy man. He just became a great-uncle to Prince Louis, had a golden ticket to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and, one week later, was at Toronto’s Kennedy Galleries to unveil a new set of furniture for the Living History collection based on antiques from Althorp Estate, where he and Diana lived as children. Here, he talks about being raised in a Downton Abbey-esque manse, and updating heirloom furniture for modern bums.
Growing up at Althorp as a young boy, were there any rules about playing on the furniture?
Yes, my grandfather was a formidable figure. He was relic of the pre-First World World era, and he cared more about the house than people. He would give very strict lectures. We basically couldn’t touch anything. It was quite scary to be honest. But when I took over as a young man, at 27, I let my children have the run of the place. Of course I didn’t let my kids play with porcelain or things that would break. But actually, for the house, I think it is better if it is enjoyed as a home.