Morwenna Lytton Cobbold
By Jaclyn Bethany
Photographed for Constellation by Lily Bertrand Webb
I met Morwenna in London several years ago through a mutual friend who thought we would hit it off. She was right. Over that initial tea, Morwenna and I discovered we had a lot in common. Although raised in England, she is half-American (more specifically, her mother’s family is from the Deep South—like mine—and her Southern grandmother lived in my building in New York). Morwenna and I got to know each other over a series of years and travels that spanned England, Europe, New York, Los Angeles, and even Mississippi. I always found her to be hard-working, determined, and inspiring. Upon graduating university, she curated and photographed an exhibition entitled Models and their Mothers to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nowadays, she is busy building a career as a producer, but still leaves time to express her creative spirit, whether through DJing or photography. - J.B.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Morwenna! Where you originally from and where are you based now?Morwenna Lytton Cobbold: I am half-English, half-American. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Knebworth, Hertfordshire. Now I’m based in London.
JB: Were you surrounded by creativity growing up?
MLC: My father is a screenwriter and my mum runs our family business, so I think I was surrounded by creativity—as well as lots of hard work! My mum gave me her Nikon film camera when I was a teenager, which I loved learning how to use, and I started making my own prints in a darkroom. At our house, there’s also a guitar in every room. I started learning how to play when I was six. I was in a band at school and started DJing when I was 18.
JB: Given that you started out as a model, did photography feel like a natural transition for you?
MLC: I was studying for a photography A level when I was scouted to model, so for me, they have always been connected. Modeling gave me the opportunity to travel to places I would never have gone, and I always took my camera with me to photograph the people I met along the way. I also had the opportunity to interact with some amazing photographers through my travels, which definitely inspired me.
JB: Tell me a little bit about your Models and their Mothers project. How did it start?
MLC: It started as personal project—photographing friends at home, with their mothers. I wanted to strip back the artificiality of high fashion images and do something that felt real. I ended up organizing an exhibition and publishing a book based on the series to raise money for breast cancer research.
JB: Was there a particularly memorable shoot from this project?
MLC: Definitely shooting Natalia Vodianova with her mother in Russia—she was in her hometown for 24 hours opening a playground funded by her charity. I cut short a vacation and flew straight there, knowing it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss!
JB: Now you also work as a producer. How did that start, and how do you balance it with your love of music? Do you think these various practices feed each other?
MLC: I started to DJ as a teenager and absolutely loved it. When I was modeling, DJing was one way I knew I could pay the rent every month. Currently, I DJ every week at the Sanderson Hotel Long Bar in London. I went from assisting photographers to working in production, and I’m now a fashion and beauty advertising print producer at a creative agency in London. I love that I still get to travel and use the knowledge I gained through modeling and photography. Career-wise, it’s not always easy to balance the creative with the commercial. You definitely need a bit of both!
JB: What songs are currently on your playlist?
MLC: So many! For DJ sets, I play a lot of house and disco/soul edits. Definitely some Claptone, Purple Disco Machine, and there’s a great remix of Candi Staton’s “Hallelujah Anyway” by Larse. I also grew up loving rock music and listen to a lot of Queens of the Stone Age and Alice In Chains! Growing up surrounded by festivals and concerts in Knebworth Park has definitely given me an eclectic taste in tunes.
JB: There are so many amazing British designers working today. Who are some of your favorites?
MLC: I wear a lot of black. I love Religion, Felder Felder, and the jewelry brand The Great Frog.
JB: What are your hopes for 2017?
MLC: I want to climb a mountain; I’m thinking Snowdon in Wales. I’d like the challenge— physically and mentally! ★
Morwenna wears coat by Joseph, sweater by Religion, dress by Topshop, Glass eye ring and skull necklace: The Great Frog, long necklace, vintage, shoes by & Other Stories