How To Spend It editor Jo Ellison
How To Spend It editor Jo Ellison © Marili Andre

It’s December, and there is simply no stopping How To Spend It. I hope you are as thrilled as I am to see Anja Rubik on this week’s cover. The 38-year-old Polish model and businesswoman has long been a formidable force in fashion and an exceptional catwalk presence, but in recent years she’s become a powerful advocate for human rights as well. In July, she launched The Equaversity Foundation alongside the Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk and Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski to raise money for LGBTQ+ rights groups in Poland – a country where a conservative government and the Catholic church retain a powerful hold. Within her own industry Rubik dedicates more and more time to social justice, but for this issue she has picked a less complicated cause. Working with photographer Nathaniel Goldberg and our style director Isabelle Kountoure, Rubik offers nine ways to update one’s winter wardrobe; from a twist on the trenchcoat, laminated in a slightly saucy latex, to a fresh take on the tracksuit (you know, for evening), it’s a masterclass in how-to-work-it style.

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello latex trench coat, £7,770. Tabayer gold and diamond Oera earring, £12,450 for pair
Anja Rubik wears Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello latex trench coat, £7,770. Tabayer gold and diamond Oera earring, £12,450 for pair © Nathaniel Goldberg
Arthur Parkinson in Oxfordshire with a Blue Pekin bantam hen (on his shoulder) and a Chamois Poland
Arthur Parkinson in Oxfordshire with a Blue Pekin bantam hen (on his shoulder) and a Chamois Poland © Max Miechowski

Are you part of the groundswell of people who have decided to raise chickens in their back garden? When Arthur Parkinson contacted me to suggest we might be interested in the trials and tribulations of keeping fluff-footed Cochins and Cotswold Legbars, I assumed his was probably a niche interest, little realising that some 1.4m people now keep chickens in the UK alone. In fact, Parkinson is something of a poultry pin-up; a writer and gardener (who often works with Sarah Raven), he commands an audience of 75k followers on Instagram, does charming chicken illustrations and looks a bit like Peter Pan. Naturally, we had to meet him. Clare Coulson joins the hen party to find out what makes keeping chickens so fulfilling, while Max Miechowski shoots a set of images that conjure the spirit of the late Deborah “Debo” Devonshire, the duchess who inspired Arthur’s first entry into the world of Buff Cochins, and was arguably the greatest chicken fancier of them all.

The kitchen of the Ashton House dolls’ house
The kitchen of the Ashton House dolls’ house © @ashtonhouseminiatures

Maria Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, takes us into the world of the dolls’ house, another fascination that has seen a recent boom. Maria’s own interest was sparked by her grandfather, who built dolls’ houses in his garage, and she has lately begun creating mini dwellings of her own (although she says they’re for her daughter). Her passion is indulged by Instagram and online forums, where tribes of miniaturists discuss how best to “cultivate” tiny tubs of bougainvillea, operate working water fountains or make teeny-tiny cocktails bedecked with slices of polymer-clay fruit. And who can blame them? Small is beautiful, especially when a miniaturist has got a mania for Hermès. Who needs the metaverse when you’ve got the miniverse instead?

Sophie Wilson in the Green Drawing Room of her Lincolnshire house
Sophie Wilson in the Green Drawing Room of her Lincolnshire house © Michael Sinclair

There’s also something of the dolls’ house about the home of Sophie Wilson, albeit one with gigantic proportions and several dozen rooms. As Aimee Farrell discovers on a visit to the Lincolnshire manor in which the ceramicist lives with four of her children, the house was built in the Elizabethan era, but despite some 17th- and 18th-century renovations has essentially remained splendidly untouched. Sophie is now undertaking a slow and, some would hazard, rather painful restoration (it takes a certain constitution to inhabit a house with a flooded cellar and no electricity on the third floor). But, for all the modern discomforts, it remains quite magically authentic – like living in a film set, or a castle lost in time. I found the story, and Michael Sinclair’s pictures, totally bewitching. I hope that you are just as enchanted, too.

@jellison22

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