Grand designers: Inside the homes of Vivienne Westwood and Giorgio Armani

From the monochrome chic of Giorgio Armani to the blousy beauty of Vivienne Westwood, clothes have the power to delight us. But what of the houses that the fashion creators inhabit? They are, of course, as stylish and inspiring as you’d expect and, thanks to ‘The World of Interiors’, we can take a peek behind the front doors.

Saturday 03 November 2012 01:00

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani launched his first collection in 1974. Partially responsible in the 1980s for the women's power suit, with its extra-wide shoulders, he is also arguably the most radical menswear designer of the late 20th century. Armani has lived in his Milan home for 30 years, as he explains here.

"I moved into the house where I live in 1982, and since then I have never wanted to change home, not even for a second. It is the perfect shelter, a place where I can relax completely. I worked with the architect Peter Marino, entrusting him with the interior decoration of the house and the task of giving shape to my desires and ideas.

"The Armani architectural studio created the black metal staircase that unwinds towards a narrow vaulted ceiling. It leads to my favourite room: the third-floor study – my shelter within my shelter. The marble torso is an ancient Roman piece bought on one of my successful antiquing forays.

"I wanted to create a home customised for me. The colours I chose at the time – for example, parchment-paper beige and black – are still the same today.

"Dreams created my home, but daily habits subtly change it. In the beginning the house was radically bare, austere. Then I started adding objects that I found on my travels, and this created a marked difference, more than if I had actually renovated the apartment."

Vivienne Westwood

Since her days dressing the Sex Pistols, the long-reigning queen of punk has been embraced by the establishment, which made her a dame in 2006; two years previously, at the V&A, she was the subject of the largest exhibition ever devoted to a living British fashion designer.

In Westwood's home, the 1930s chintz tiles lining the basement kitchen were here when she and husband and co-designer, Andreas Kronthaler, moved in. A black-patterned Ermin print from a Westwood Gold Label show was used to make the curtains. Books and papers are much in evidence, along with a red Roberts radio – Vivienne is a great fan of Radio 4. Everywhere from the basement to the sitting room is crammed with bookshelves and a portrait of Bertrand Russell, one of Westwood's favourite writers, hangs on a door.

"I think reading is the most concentrated form of experience. It's culture, it's the thing we have in common, it appeals to us as human beings and informs the way we see the world. It is incredibly important … Some are a load of rubbish, so it's good if you read books that give you ideas. A person should be aiming to become what I call a fit reader."

Christopher Bailey

Snapped up fresh from the Royal College of Art by Donna Karan, Christopher Bailey went on to design for Gucci before joining Burberry as creative director in 2001, aged just 27. Here, the designer opens the door to his Yorkshire farmhouse.

"The house sits high on the hills overlooking the countryside where I grew up, and where my family still live. It's a perfect old Yorkshire farmhouse: solid and simple and honest. When we embarked on our restoration, our aim was to keep to the spirit of the place.

"With our architects, Fariba Pentland and Ian Hamilton at AND, we spent two years lovingly and painstakingly working on the house. We re-opened the fireplaces in every room, got the chimneys working again and uncovered all the old beams. As we took the house back, we discovered its long and hotchpotch past, with elements of the house dating back to the 17th century, and others to Georgian and Victorian times.

"While there's a sort of austere beauty to the surrounding landscape and to the house itself, which we wanted to hold on to, we also wanted a house which would be friendly and warm; warmth is what you need when the wind comes barrelling down off the moors, and it's a house which is, and always has been throughout its long past, all about big open fires."

Nicolas Ghesquière

After an internship with Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicolas Ghesquière joined Balenciaga in 1995, becoming the label's creative director two years later. Winning immediate acclaim from critics and public alike, he has maintained the house's clean lines and structured silhouettes, while adding a hard-edged contemporary femininity. The 41-year-old Frenchman strongly dislikes the limelight – but has agreed to personally photograph some favourite spots inside three different properties in his homeland.

He has two properties in Paris, a 1768 home, a property that was built in the early Seventies, and the Clock House, his place in the country. All feature classic furniture from different periods.

In Ghesquière's 1971 Paris property, a 1940s mirror is reflected in Sottsass's 'Ultrafragola' design from 1970, which sits behind Alessandro Mendini's plastic-laminated 'Ollo' table and chair.

See more designers' homes in the December 'Fashion Special' issue of 'The World of Interiors', on sale Thursday

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