A room of my own: Fashion designer Jemima French opens the doors to her home studio

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


Jemima French launched her fashion line Frost French with childhood friend Sadie Frost in 1999. Since then, Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Jerry Hall have all modelled for the label. French, who is 44, lives in Camden, north London, with her boyfriend, Francis Ridley, and her four daughters, who are aged between seven and 19. Frost French has two London shops, in Islington and Soho. For details or to shop online, visit frostfrench.com

Our home is pretty civilised up to the third floor, and then it deteriorates. There are six bedrooms in all, spread over five levels. The house starts with the kitchen in the basement, which is all cool limestone floors with big doors opening out on to a large garden. But by the time you reach the top floor where the kids reign free, it mutates into a scene of teenage horror. Occasionally I pop up there, have a nervous breakdown, and retreat.

My studio has a tall main window overlooking the street. The space is divided into three work areas. The main space is the desk against the window, where I do most of my design, and spend hours gazing out at passers-by. Then there's the area for my computer and techie stuff, where I tend to the business aspects of the job; and finally, there's the floor. I spend a lot of time here, lying on my stomach, surrounded by fabric swatches, drawings, books and all the different things which melt into whatever I'm designing at any given time.

This room has a number of original features, including the cobwebs. But at some point there has been an attempt to update the grate of the stone fireplace, which I have cleverly disguised by propping up pictures and bits of bric-a-brac. The bust of Queen Victoria there was always in our family home when I was growing up. I went to my parents' house recently and found it had been relocated outside to a corner of the vegetable patch. I was so horrified by this drastic demotion that I cleaned her up and took her home with me.

Francis rather fancies himself as Serge Gainsbourg and me as Jane Birkin. He's always buying me romantic portraits of couples in love. There is plenty of Jane and Serge in this room, including the 'Cannabis' film poster in the corner. Behind that is a loving photo of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Then, in the fireplace, I keep June and Johnny Cash. In another nod to romance, plastic figurines of the Barbapapa cartoon characters have pride of place on the mantelpiece. There is something so adorable about the familial set-up. I had to go to Paris to find them, but I think they look happy to be here.

Sadie [Frost] and I are both on the toilet in the big black-and-white framed photo of the two of us which stands in the grate, though you can't tell. I gather photos, paintings and oddities in this room. Among these are a small Louise Bourgeois print, a tea-cup wine glass, and an empty packet of Vishwa sandal incense on the fireplace. I was given the incense by a receptionist at a hotel in India. Sadie and I were on holiday there and spent a week trying to work out what the nice smell was inside the lift. The staff thought they knew exactly what we meant and came back one day with a present – a bottle of Brasso which they use to clean the parts of the lift. Eventually we worked out that the smell was actually the incense wafting in from the hallway. Once we explained, the receptionist gave me a packet of the stuff, which now stands over me as I work.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border