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Lady Catherine St Germans, founder and director of the annual festival in Cornwall, southwest England, reveals her picks from this year’s line-up.

Interview by Jane McFarland.


Founded in 2003 by Lady Catherine St Germans (pictured above), Port Eliot festival hosts some of Britain’s brightest creative talent from literary names to burgeoning musicians. Located in a sprawling walled family estate, dating back more than 1,000 years, the festival attracts both music and food lovers, and also the fashion crowd, who head to the sleepy Cornish surf town in southwest England each July.


‘Claire Ptak will be bringing her Violet Bakery (violetcakes.com) from East London to Port Eliot’s Orangery, which is really exciting. Claire has been coming for the past two years. She trained with Alice Waters in California and I think her food is just the best. She was recommended to me by Skye Gyngell, who has been coming to the festival since day one. Food has always been an important part of Port Eliot, and I realised how into it our guests were when I invited Moro to come and cook on a camping stove. I wanted to eat something local and delicious and I realised everyone else did, too – people were fed up with bad food at festivals. Now we have an amazing range of producers and a whole stage. This year’s line-up also includes Gizzi Erskine, Thomasina Miers and Russell Norman. We will also be doing a new series at the festival called Campfire Stories, where you will be able to sit around a fire with the chefs and exchange stories at night.’

Left: the Orangery, Port Eliot. Right: delicacies by Violet Bakery.


‘Outside the festival, I would recommend eating at a new pub called The Carew Arms (carewarms.com), which focuses on farm-to-fork, seasonal produce. The consultant chef is Emily Watkins, who is a friend of mine. She already runs a successful pub in Oxfordshire and her brother-in-law has now opened The Carew Arms. I love Emily’s food – it’s not what you would expect – and I love supporting women.’


‘During the festival, it’s really important to stay on the grounds – once you leave the campsite, the magic goes. Some of the best bits happen after hours. The best way to experience it is in a yurt, tepee or Airstream trailer. If you want to extend your stay after the festival, I’d recommend staying at Botelet Farm (botelet.com). It has really beautiful cottages and B&Bs owned by the Tamblyn family. The cottages are nicely finished and are situated in the middle of a buttercup field. They do great massages, too.’


‘George Stoy (georgessurfschool.com) has been coming to the festival every year and if you’ve never been surfing before, or surfing in Cornwall, he’s the best person to go with. He’ll take you to Polzeath and lots of secret beaches. It’s almost like a bespoke surf school.’


‘We get a bit dressed up at Port Eliot. Luella Bartley has been coming to the festival for years, and her vibe is exactly right. Understated and glam. I am so excited that Zandra Rhodes is coming to take part at this year’s festival for the first time. Her book, The Art of Zandra Rhodes, was my first fashion book when I was about 10 years old. I pored over it and her work was one of the influences that led me to do fashion at Central Saint Martins. We are going to recreate her apartment as a hang out at the festival, and she will be doing print masterclasses and talking about her work and amazing life. Stephen Jones is an old friend and festival regular and will be staging an anniversary show, Ashish will stage his Glitter Resistance takeover and Matty Bovan will represent his winter show with festival-cast kids. There will be Molly Goddard, Louise Gray, and much more. The Wardrobe Department becomes a fashion hub for young designers, students and everyone who wants to get creative with making, drawing and talking. Sarah Mower, US Vogue’s chief critic and British Fashion Council ambassador for emerging talent, is responsible for curating the fashion programme. Author of London Uprising, Mower will be discussing the London fashion movement that changed the city, and why it happened.’

Port Eliot Festival, 27-30 July; porteliotfestival.com



The Style Report
The Style Report