In conversation with Lucy Cleland.
WEDS 27th MARCH, 5 - 6.30pm
One of the best things about being fabulous is when other people realise you’re fabulous. Particularly if it’s someone whose taste and style you admire.
Yes, I know one can be quietly excellent in one’s field in a low-key, taupe cashmere sort of way. But quite frankly, if I’m putting on a show, I like a round of applause. Nobody notices the quiet ones in this game.
So, when I do a display for Guinevere I want pizzazz (it’s a Diana Vreeland word) and I want plenty of it. Show stopping backdrops with beautiful furniture as center stage. Off-white walls and quiet good taste? Leave that for the estate agents brochures please.
Sir David Tang is the sort of client who understands this approach, no shrinking violet himself in the style stakes, he knows what he likes and if he likes it he tells you. Successful people don’t have time to faff about or be indecisive.
I’ve recently been using bold horizontal painted stripes as the backdrop for our window displays. I love the immediacy of paint and the transforming power of colour.
It started with two windows I did at Guinevere in collaboration with Interior designer Alidad. He has used stripes as a foil to his beautiful multi layered exotic schemes. Alidad’s stripes are controlled and meticulous, Alidad is controlled and meticulous. Now, about me.
Ask anyone who knows me and I’m actually very shy, but when it came to doing striped backgrounds, we are talking bigger and we are talking bolder.
Broad bands of darkest chocolate brown with gold contrasting with the softest ivory. Against this I placed a set of French gilt chairs upholstered in delicious red velvet and enough ormolu accessories to make Louis XIV blush. The other window was in the same broad stripes, this time café au lait, gold and the same ivory with a monumental pale grey painted ivory bookcase filled with plaster casts and a v.chic travertine centre table.
I think Alidad liked it, at least he said he did. I hope we managed an okay fusion of Alidad taste in the Guinevere style.
Sir David certainly did and he called me from Hong Kong on his mobile to tell me so and ask if we could replicate the effect in his “country residence”, a charming lodge within the grounds of Hyde Park.
Now, a lesser man might have gone down the chintzy, pale painted grey, shabby chic route with a lodge in the park but thankfully Sir David is more chic than shabby.
Working to a tight schedule of a looming party as our completion date we began the transformation.
Painting horizontal stripes is actually much trickier than you’d think, it all about proportion, getting the thickness right for the space and deciding on the sequence of colours, you just know when you’ve got it right, but it takes time. Luckily I work with Guinevere’s in house man Rafi, he manages to translate my ideas into reality, usually without too much complaining. Drawing out and masking up the lines takes ages but once the painting starts it was wonderful to see the Lodge’s library and sitting room assume a whole new character. When we finished I styled both rooms back up; the library took the chocolate and gold scheme which proved to be an excellent background for a book-laden mahogany round table surrounded by caned library chairs.
The sitting room looked incredibly glamorous with light wood mid-century modern pieces Sir David had chosen at Guinevere and a beautiful oil painting he already had.
The wonderful thing is that nobody would expect any of it from the outside, but when you walk through the door the effect is dramatic and that, of course, is the best of it.
I suppose that is what I aim for with the displays at Guinevere, to be predicable would be the worst thing in the world.