Sunday, 10 January 2010

An interview for Couture Lab

1. Can you tell me about your childhood, where you are from and grew up?
I was brought up in Wiltshire, with my Mother and Grandparents. My Grandfather was the film director,writer and producer, Sidney Gilliat. so film is essential in my life. I was given a country childhood and I still love nature from afar although I was born in Beirut as my Father was Foreign Correspondent to the Daily Mail, and had been Journalist of the Year in 1959. He was working in the days when the Cold War was terrifying. He lived with a gun underneath his pillow and was ready to kill at any time. My Mother who was then an opera singer, decided on a quieter life and moved me to the country in the Pewsey Vale in Wiltshire. I was taught to ride, sing and play the piano a Jane Austin existence.
2. What did you study in school and University. Did you always know that you would be involved in art, fashion and photography?
Although artistic and musical I didn't know I was going to be involved in the art world. Although I always had an eye for colour and shape all my friends used to ask me at school for help with their wardrobe. I used to sing in Bath Cathedral and enjoyed mostly the music of Handel, Purcell and Mozart. I loved singing requiems. I was interested in decorating, my Grandmother's house had been featured in House and Garden, and this always fascinated me. I suppose I wanted to do the same. I used to lie underneath the piano as she practised and listen. The sound was best there and I was left in peace. I loved my Mother singing to me, she had a beautiful voice. I was interested in stamps and my first job was working as a stamp dealer. I loved them, I am purely visual. I started to open my eyes to art when I was very young I loved Picasso and my grandparents had an amazing collection of art from Picasso to Michael Ayrton. I loved it and I wanted to collect it. I loved books too and love Shakespeare more than anybody else. I went to ALRA a drama school for three years, and studied acting at RADA and The Moscow Arts Theatre. I liked flowers, I trained at Winkfield which was a finishing school in Windsor. Although failing, I began a love of clothes, flowers and decorating. At the time I was quite porky and broke so I didn't buy that much. I could though make a pretty house, and this I did. With my first house we did a three bedroom house in Battersea. When Kenneth Turner, the florist,saw it - he was my then boss- he said "decorate to your character," and this I have done ever since. Conran taught me to love furniture, I worked in his furniture department. I like furniture designers Mark Brazier Jones and Oriel Harwood,they have a Baroque feel to them. I like maximilism not minimalism, I like the colours shocking pink, black and gold. Working also at an Estate Agent could have been a boring job but not for me, I loved it. I would dream of the houses I could own. It made me ambitious I suppose. I studied Photography with the Black and White Photography School, and had private lessons with the late Bob Carlos- Clarke and Michel Comte.
3. Can you tell me about the history of your amazing homes in Paris, London and Los Angeles and how you have added your personal style?
l like bricks, they live, they tell stories, they are alive with history. I am in love with Architecture, form and shape, Architects, Mallet Stevens, and Harald Levitt were favourites and I want to own one. Mallet Stevens was a socialite cum architect in the 1920's Paris who is now greatly admired by them. I also have a crush on Tamara Lempicka, by lucky lucky chance managed to find her artist studio. It has her original furniture by Prouve and her sister. Steeped in history I feel I can imagine her life. Hal Levitt is an Architect in LA who specialized in clean lines. Not so well known but should be I have found the house of my dreams there.
4. What is a typical day for you when you are in London, Paris and LA?
I only need four hours sleep roughly a night, if I need more I take it. Otherwise I live on a blackberry. I like to then go back for a quick kip at about 7am. Don't call me before 10am. I like to dream it is powerful to dream and I need peace for that. From the dreams I create a reality. I hate exercise but it is a necessity, so I will then do one hours yoga or have a tango lesson and have my hair done which is essential to my well being, when my head is massaged it relaxes me. I liked this from childhood. I will meet my friends for lunch but be warned I always have a struggle to keep my weight down. I do paperwork, bills see builders, my architect Mark Guard for my latest project. I like to go to two or three parties a night if I don't like them I can leave. I am sociable, I love people.
5. What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is a teapot set I received. I beautiful teapot set with butterflies on it.
6. Can you define what art means to you?
Art is anything made by someone else that moves you it must be personal, I don't like names, I like feelings. I wouldn't buy a name.However I love contemporary art but I also am a fan of furniture, music, and can be interested in almost anything.
7. You are traditional yet contemporary in the different art, photography exhibitions and projects. What inspires your exhibitions and what interests you in the old and new?
I am old and new, my brain likes both. I like youth but l like grannies too. Life can't be separated. I have 1950's values mixed with a wildness, underneath I am 1950's, the time when my mother was young. I was born in the 1960's when everybody was wild. I am a mixture of everything, and I try to be. I try to stay modern.
8. Your book Cloak and Dagger butterfly was written on your blackberry, what inspired you to write the book?
Love is the only thing that inspires me to do anything, love beauty and passion. I wouldn't get up if I weren't in love. an amazing love story can stir anybody into action.
9. Can you tell me about your inspirations for your other books Artists at Work and Made By Brazilians?
I was asked by Italian Vogue to write and photograph for Franca Sozzani a book of Artists in England. A book on their studios. I owe everything to her, her vision, her creativity and her belief in me at the time. She gave me a chance. No one else had except my then husband Johan Eliasch. He supported me entirely.
10. You are Fashion Editor of GENLUX, can you explain the concept of the magazine and who the GENLUX reader is? This is an up market Los Angeles magazine about Fashion with good photography. It sells clothes. The reader is very rich and can afford anything.

11. Your blog has something of a cult following- can you tell me about it?
Has it? I do it like I used to write my diary as a child. Dear Diary. Of course I have to be careful. I would really hate to hurt any of my friends. They are precious to me. But if it is cult how cool is that? I just write about anything that appeals to me that day.
12. Have you ever designed clothing or accessories or do you wish to do so?
I would like to design underwear. I love underwear. I love its feel, and I love to make myself look as good as possible.
13. I read that you are interested in working in Politics and started a party called the Truth Party. Is this an area you feel strongly about?
Aha did I say that? I was lying..

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