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My Secret Life: Lulu Guinness

Interview,Charlotte Philby
Saturday 23 May 2009 00:00 BST

The home I grew up in ... was a lovely house in Hampshire, down a lane, next to a church. I didn't spend too much time there as I went to boarding school at the age of nine.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... an actress, ballerina or singer. I was always searching for glamour.

My greatest inspiration ... is Elsa Schiaparelli – a 1930s couturier in Paris. She brought an unexpected twist and a sense of imagination to whatever she did.

My real-life villain ... is anyone who doesn't have a sense of humour.

The moment that changed me for ever ... was when the Victoria and Albert museum put one of my handbag designs in their permanent collection, in the early Nineties.

I drive ... a black Daimler, which I bought third-hand, and was originally owned by Jackie Stewart. That always goes down very well with the AA rescue team.

If I could change one thing about myself ... it would be my legs: I'd make them longer.

At night I dream of ... a muddled version of the day's events.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... All the saggy bits, and then I get to work.

My style icon ... is Diana Vreeland. I like people who create a style to suit themselves. The shop I can't walk past ... is any museum shop. Wherever I am in the world, I hunt them out. These are the places to find things that other people won't have.

A book that changed me ... was 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith. It is about a very unconventional family; it opened my mind.

The last album I bought ... My musical tastes tend to come from my children; we've been listening to Florence and the Machine.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Sandy Toksvig, she absolutely cracks me up.

It's not fashionable but I like ... This is a hard one to answer, as everything is now ironically fashionable. I'd like to say Twiglets, but maybe these are all the rage?

My favourite work of art ... I love Andy Warhol's work from the days when he was a commercial illustrator. A few strokes with a pen is the thing I most revere.

My favourite item of clothing ... is being made as we speak, by Giles Deacon. It is purple, with two eyes sewn on the front of it.

You wouldn't not know it but I'm very good at ... team sports.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... wearing jeans; it's been 30 years now.

All my money goes on ... my children: their clothes, computer games, holidays.

If I have time to myself ... I think I'm going to read a book, but end up zoning out and staring at the ceiling.

My house is ... tall and in Bayswater. I bought it 20 years ago as a series of bed-sits. The building works never ends.

My most valuable possessions are ... my old family photo albums.

My favourite building ... is the Hoover building in Perivale, Middlesex. It's charming and not too big, with clean lines. I love Art Deco architecture.

Movie heaven ... is any Alfred Hitchcock film. I also love musicals. There is no shame in singing along from start to finish at the top of your voice.

The best invention ever ... is Radio 4.

I wish I'd never worn ... Anything that shows off my arms is usually a mistake.

In 10 years' time, I hope to be ... alive.

My greatest regret ... is not spending more time with my girlfriends. There's nothing like having a really good laugh with a group of pals you've known for ages. I miss that.

My life in six words ... live in the now, if possible.

A life in brief

Lulu Guinness OBE was born in May 1960 in west London, where she now lives with her two daughters. Having started out as a handbag company, the Lulu Guinness brand now includes a range of accessories and celebrates its 20th birthday this month. Visit the London store at 3 Ellis Street, SW1 (020-7823 4828)

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