My Home: Terry De Havilland, show designer

Terry de Havilland gets inspiration for his shoe designs around the kitchen table of his north London home.
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The Independent Online

Shoe designer to the stars Terry de Havilland lives in Islington, north London, with his wife, Liz, and cat, Tom.

Thanks to Miuccia Prada, my house had a complete overhaul two years ago. She copied one of my shoe designs, without asking my permission. And so, after much legal wrangling, we ended up with a settlement, which meant we could do up the house.

Soon after that I had a spread in Italian Vogue shot by Steven Meisel and the pictures were so beautiful, I had them framed. They now hang in a row above the dining table. I also have a poster of Lara Croft from Tomb Raider above the stairs in the hall since we made all the shoes and boots for that film.

It's quite a large house over three storeys. It is a grade II-listed building, dating from the 1620s. The biggest room is probably our lounge on the first floor. It has an original Seventies beige leather sofa and chairs and a silver Art Deco fireplace. Our taste is quite eclectic. I have a framed painting above the fireplace that looks a bit like a rainbow. I don't really know what it is, it's from my acid days.

From the lounge, you can go straight into the garden down some beautiful tiled steps. We have a great garden. It has its own dining table. Liz's parents made it for us as a wedding present. They were worried that we wouldn't maintain it properly, but I adore it. It looks quite Spanish and we have red and white geraniums hanging from the whitewashed walls and all kinds of herbs growing there.

Since the garden is right next to the lounge, it is very handy in the summer - it is a bit like having another room. I love flowers, and we always have freesias, lilies or roses in the house.

We have an open-plan kitchen and then a separate dining room upstairs, which I think is a real luxury in London. The house has fabulous old glass windows, and the original shutters. Because it's a listed building we aren't allowed to have double glazing, but the shutters work well in keeping out the noise. It's great to live so centrally in London.

We look on to Islington's Upper Street, and we are just around the corner from the Almeida Theatre and so many good restaurants. At some point you'll see practically everyone walk by.

We're gradually getting this house the way we want it. There is a bit of the old wood chip still to come down and one day we'd like to be able to see the floorboards again.

We like to entertain a lot and we've had some quite wild parties here. I used to make a lot of shoes for drag queens, and they used to come and party here and put on quite a show for the firemen across the road.

It looked like something from Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Once we had 16 people round for Christmas dinner, which was quite a push.

I have three children from previous relationships and we are all very close, they come round as much as possible. Our mantel piece is filled with photos of our children and grandchildren.

A couple of years ago there was a television programme about me, which strangely led to my being reunited with a son I never knew I had. He e-mailed me the very next day after the programme - he attached a photo of himself and asked simply, "Do you see a resemblance?"

He is now 32 and had a son of his own. It was so wonderful to discover him. It was extraordinary, but I was thrilled, of course. We keep in touch a lot now. We keep a dressing-up box for our grandchildren just beside the kitchen, which they love.

Although I have a studio, I tend to do a lot of designing on the kitchen table. The ideas start flowing when I am on the second bottle of wine after dinner. I love to have my shoes around me.

Some of them are quite ornamental: there's a nude that I designed recently, which is an image of a painting by Christian Furr. Her breasts are rather surreal in a Titian pose, and she is emblazoned over the wedge of the heel. I like looking at that shoe, and also the "engagement-ring" golden boot that I designed for Liz before we got married. She has a model size five foot, so is fortunate that she can fit all the samples, and she is a great muse.

One of the oddest things is that the house seems to be haunted by a cat. I knew about it for a long time before I broached the subject with my wife.

I was worried she would think I was loopy! But then she noticed it, and we've both come to terms with living with him. Sometimes you just see him dart past in the corner of your eye.

In the 17th century it was common to build into the walls of the house the mummy of a dead cat. We have a real cat who is nearly nine and doesn't seem to bothered by the ghost.

www.terrydehavilland.com

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