Once a “New York fashion darling”—with a résumé including the Gagosian Gallery, Tuleh and Barney’s, where she was Fashion Director—Amanda Brooks decided to trade in “City” for “Country” in 2012, leaving behind her busy Manhattan life in favor of a more rustic existence. Intending to stay only for one year, Brooks relocated with her husband—an artist—and their two children to Fairgreen Farm, his family’s estate in the Cotswolds. Seven years of full-time farm life later, Brooks has become a charming and influential voice in praise of the simpler and more wholesome—yet still immensely stylish—habits of living in the country, which have also informed the ever-growing trend in hospitality towards the pastoral and the organic, championed by premier brands like Soho House, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Noma, Heckfield Place and others.
When she’s not riding horses, making jam from scratch, taking walks with her retriever, Ginger, and her favorite sheep, Juice, or maintaining her cottage home and its gardens, Brooks has continued to evolve her career in the creative world, publishing two books, contributing articles to Architectural Digest and, most recently, opening a lovely and eclectic boutique in the quiet town of Stow-on-the-Wold (a 45-minute drive from Oxford). Equally inspired by its British home base and by global travels—with a dash of New York intuition—Cutter Brooks displays its founder’s unique (and spot-on) tastes, with a curation of mostly European artisanal objects sourced “for your closet, your home and your hostess.” Here, Brooks shares some of her secrets for shopping around the globe, as well as her hidden-gem picks for the Cotswolds—and what’s she’s learned from becoming a modern farm girl.
Have you seen the Cotswolds change since you first moved there? If so, in what ways?
I’ve been coming to the Cotswolds since 1997, and it has changed a lot—mostly for the better. Many more Londoners come down on weekends than they used to, so now there are charming pubs, lovely hotels and great shops, garden centers, yoga studios…I rarely go to London anymore because I have everything that I need here. But the natural beauty of the area has remained protected despite the development, because the Cotswolds have very strict building laws; it is very hard to build anything new here, regardless of how much land you have.
Are there any ways in which living there has changed you?
I’ve developed a more defined sense of self since moving here. Life is slower and simpler, and that has allowed me to get to know myself better.
How does exploring England influence your work as a designer and curator?
I’m often looking for things that English people are bored of or no longer appreciate, so when I travel to antique shops in, say, Yorkshire, I can find lots of lovely items—like vintage fair isle sweaters, botanical prints, match strikers—at great prices.
From a design perspective, what is unique and distinct to the Cotswolds?
Dry stone walls and laid hedges are two of the most impressive country crafts that still exist and thrive here.
What are your favorite aspects of the local entertaining and hospitality tradition?
People cook for you at home all the time, which I think allows you to get to know them better than if you were meeting in a restaurant.
Related: Home at Last: Heckfield Place
What are some can’t-miss experiences in your area, Oxfordshire?
What are some of your favorite hidden gems in the Cotswolds?
There is a Japanese pop-up restaurant called Kama that is hosted in Bloxham, once a month, in the living room of a Japanese-English couple’s home. It serves some of the best Japanese food I’ve ever had, anywhere—including in Japan. I always take New York friends there to blow their minds.
Related: The 14 Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the World
What’s the best memento for a visitor to bring back home from your area?
My friends always stock up on the tomato vine candle from Daylesford, our local farm shop.
You can follow Amanda’s farm adventures and world travels on Instagram @amandacbrooks.
You can meet Amanda Brooks for a special reception and shopping at her boutique, Cutter Brooks, on an Insider Journey to England that explores London and the Cotswolds, hosted in partnership with Architectural Digest (dates to be announced). Click here to learn more and reserve your spot today.