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Shopping With... Lucille Lewin: Pure and simple, every time

LUCILLE LEWIN, owner and founder of the designer clothes boutiques Whistles is quite rigid about her bed linen. She likes simple, plain old- fashioned bedding and it has to be white or off-white. "I buy lots from a great market in Stanley which is a village on the south shore of Hong Kong island - beautiful cotton and linen sheets, and you can buy five sets for the same price as one over here." The plainest Egyptian cotton duvet covers - again in white or off-white - from John Lewis (enquiries: 0171 629 7711) are also favoured. Everything about JL is highly rated by Lewin. "It's fabulous - you can buy everything there. My (plain white) pyjamas I buy from the boys' department - if I'm not sleeping in my husband's cast-offs."

Lewin explains that she "goes through passions" for her home. She constantly takes things like cushions "out of play" and then puts them back in again. One passion which has endured is for huge napkins - "I can never find them huge enough". Lewin bought lots of plain white linen fabric in the Transki region of South Africa when she was there 10 years ago, which she has made up in to tablecloths in the Whistles studio. "I can make them myself but I'm not very good on the machine," she admits.

Despite constantly travelling with her work - to Italy, France, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Florence, Milan - Lewin tends not to go looking for presents when she is away.

"I hate having to buy presents when it's a chore."

The most successful gifts are the ones when she just gives something of her own away. Recently, Lewin gave someone who had really helped her with the Whistles production in Italy a necklace. "She really liked the necklace I was wearing so I took it off and gave it to her." So, where does Lucille Lewin buy this jewellery? "I don't buy jewellery, I inherit." Whistles (0171 487 4484) also carries some fantastic contemporary pieces.

A keen collector of recipe books (she owns more than 300) she counts herself lucky to be near Daunts (83 Marylebone High Street, London, W1; 0171 224 2295). "I love books - art books, poetry books, and photography books." In fact, the Whistles branch in Saint Christopher's Place (0171 487 4484) stocks a range of eclectic books reflecting the owner's tastes.

Not far away in the same area of London stands Divertimenti, the kitchen supply shop (45 Wigmore Street, London, W1; 0171 935 0689), which is highly favoured by Lewin along with Pages (121 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2; 0171 379 6334). "I'm a purist with things for the kitchen, so I always buy my crockery from kitchen supply shops." Lewin also buys her utensils from London's Chinatown. From one of the many Chinese supermarkets on Lisle Street, Ms Whistles buys lots of utensils at pounds 1 each which she uses for Italian, as well as Oriental, cooking.

Food is something that Lewin confesses she will search for "at any time, by any method from whatever shop". She gets lots of organic food delivered by a company called Swaddles Green Farm, in Chard, Somerset (01460 234387).

"I try to buy as much organic food as I can. Also, I go to Yoahan Plaza (now called the Oriental Shopping Centre, 399 Edgware Road, London NW9; 0181 200 0009) for Japanese food - it's in a huge series of Oriental shops in one complex in Colindale, north London. They are my favourite shops. I buy fresh fish meat and vegetables; even my two boys will come shopping there with me. When I go to Paris they give me a shopping list. I have to go to a Japanese shop near the Louvre and buy loads of Japanese comics and posters. That's their passion."