My Home: Dress Designer, Julia Clancy

Kitsch art, ornate mirrors, a dressing table fit for a princess – can a home ever be too fabulous? Not for the red-carpet dress designer Julia Clancey
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Clothes take up a large part of my home. There's a railing all along the hallway from one end of the house to the other and it's packed full of dresses, ball gowns, tulle and jackets. It makes it nearly impossible to walk by without catching something in your trail.

I searched for a long time to find this house, and in my quest, I saw terrible places. I had certain criteria of what my ideal house should have. It should have a large garden (I had originally planned to put a swimming pool into this place) and I wanted high ceilings, a bathroom big enough to fit a Jacuzzi and a kitchen that would have space for a Smeg fridge.

I fell in love with a property at Chichele Mansions in Cricklewood and they accepted my offer twice but kept taking it off the market. It was infuriating, but I'm glad that I didn't get it as it didn't have a garden.

I was very lucky when I moved in here because it was a blank canvas. The walls had all just been painted white and the floors were freshly sanded wooden boards. Everything was new. Although the surroundings were blank, I didn't have any possessions to furnish it with, not even a bed. All I had was my brother's old black-and-white portable TV and an Eileen Gray Bibendum chair.

I didn't even have anything to cover the windows; the blinds arrived the wrong size, so I had to stick newspapers up. I would invite people back to my home saying I was having a party, but really luring them back to assemble flat-pack furniture. One of the first things I did was rip out the nasty PVC doors leading into the back garden and replace them with steel doors, which made the opening bigger. I detest PVC windows. I want to take the ones out that are in my bedroom now but the mess is a little off-putting.

My home is very playful-looking, like a little doll's house. Every piece has a story behind it. Many things I have found from travels around the world. I travel a lot. This year, I had to go to Brazil Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, The Oscars and the Cannes film festival. The only thing about visiting so many glamorous places is that it is heartbreaking returning to the Harrow Road. There is absolutely nothing glamorous about it.

But step inside my front door and I have created my own little world of glamour. The sitting room is the first room you reach from the long hallway. I have pink flamingos, a light-board installation that I found outside a shop coming back from clubbing one night and a fabulous open-glass cocktail cabinet on wheels. It is stuffed high with Absolut Vodka bottles, little crystal sherry glasses and flowers. It is what I call my own "party in a box". It looks incredibly decadent.

My bedroom is next to the sitting room, and is decorated in baby blue and pink. I had the cream repro Edwardian furniture spray-painted light blue so it looks more chic. Above my bed, I have a picture of the Madonna, and the cream dressing table beside it heaves under the weight of perfume bottles, which I collect, along with jewellery, scarves and old black-and-white photographs.

The main focus of my home is that it is set up for entertaining - even the garden has a stage that I am putting to use next week for my and my brother's birthdays.

I love my garden most of all. It is a new project that I have immersed myself in with great passion, and while the rain would normally drive me crazy, it has been fantastic for all my new plants. Some have just started flowering again. In a few years' time, it should look beautiful, when all the jasmine and clematis takes over.

But I love interiors, and if I hadn't become a fashion designer, I would have worked in furniture or interior design. Your surroundings have an incredible effect on your well-being. As a young girl in Yorkshire, I always loved working out the design for my bedroom, and kept changing it and restyling it.

I may have inherited something from my mother, too, who is wonderfully house proud and for ever clasping a bunch of swatches for redecorating. I love to collect things, and my kitchen is a shrine to the 1960s fantasist artist Tretchikoff - I love the way all his women have huge curves. One side of the wall is all given over to his paintings. The other side, where the kitchen units are, is spray-painted bright Ferrari red - I actually ordered the paint directly from the car factory in Modena.

My bathroom, although it doesn't have a Jacuzzi (they're cheesy, and they're always breaking), has a glitter loo seat and jewellery that I made in my first collection. It was photographed by Corinne Day for Vogue some years ago, hanging from the fireplace.

New York is one of my favourite places to visit, but purely for business. I am not really a city girl and definitely not a country girl. I am really more of a private-island kind of girl. I am working on the concept, but I fear I may have to put a few more years in. So my ideal home would involve an island, a lot of glass and a handsome window cleaner.

Julia Clancey's dresses are worn by Dita Von Teese, Mischa Barton and Cameron Diaz, and are sold in Harrods and the boutique Koh Samui. She lives in a one-bedroom garden flat off Ladbroke Grove, London www.juliaclancey.com

Comments