Emilia Wickstead talks personal taste: Part Two

The designer rounds off her list of likes with Lucian Freud, her mother’s spaghetti bolognese and the effortless chic of Diana Vreeland

Emilia Wickstead at home in London
Emilia Wickstead at home in London | Image: Trent McMinn

My style icon is Diana Vreeland. She made good but simple pieces look amazing by adding one or two very individual accessories; for me she was the definition of effortless chic.

A recent “find” is De Winter, a wonderful home furnishing fabric shop in Kensington. I find patterns and prints very inspiring and in my new house I have transferred my love of clothing fabrics to curtains. 223 Kensington Church Street, London W8 (020-7229 4949; www.dewinterlondon.co.uk).

Diana Vreeland
Diana Vreeland | Image: Getty Images/Moment RM

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose New York’s Upper East Side, which is home to some of my favourite stores anywhere. Michael’s Consignment and Encore are secondhand boutiques that have been there for over 60 years – and, being where they are, they always have exceptionally high-quality clothes. There’s Fivestory New York for cool urban-designer brands in an elegant boutique setting; Dean & DeLuca, which is so much more than a deli; and Ralph Lauren Children, which is irresistible for dressing my daughter. Dean & DeLuca, 1150 Madison Avenue (+1212-717 0800; www.deandeluca.com). Encore, 1132 Madison Avenue (+1212-879 2850; www.encoreresale.com). Fivestory New York, 18 East 69th Street (+1212-288 1338; www.fivestoryny.com). Michael’s Consignment, 1041 Madison Avenue (+1212-737 7273; www.michaelsconsignment.com). Ralph Lauren Children, 878 Madison Avenue (+1212-606 3376; www.ralphlauren.com).

The people I rely on for personal grooming are my hairstylist Snowden Hill and make-up artist Emma O’Byrne. I’m very low maintenance, but there are times  – like shows or photoshoots – when I need to look good and it’s great having two people I know well who will come to me. Snowden learnt his craft from Guido Palau and does a lot of work for celebrities and other private clients. We all get on really well and enjoy working together. Emma O’Byrne, www.emmaobyrne.com.Snowden Hill, www.snowdenhillhair.com.


An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Venice. I had been before but my husband hadn’t, and to see his wonder and delight was very special. We stayed with a friend on her boat moored right in the city centre, so to be on the water amid that spectacular scenery and then to be able to step ashore into it really was unforgettable.

An object I would never part with is my Bose Acoustimass speaker system. The sound is great quality and I love playing music loudly, though it’s years since I got into trouble for making too much noise. From £319; www.bose.co.uk.

Gondolas on the Grand Canal, Venice
Gondolas on the Grand Canal, Venice | Image: Getty Images

The last meal that truly impressed me was my mother’s spaghetti bolognese. My grandmother was Italian and passed on her secret recipe to her daughter; although I know how to make it in theory, it never tastes the same. The secret is almost burning the meat, making it very dry, before you add everything else. It has such depth of flavour; I don’t eat it often but when I do I am forcefully reminded of wonderful ripe ingredients and Italian sunshine.

The beauty staple I’m never without is Sisley’s Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50. It’s very light but effective and I always wear it, even in the UK. Being antipodean I am very aware of potential sun damage. I also love Sisley’s black rose oil, which isn’t greasy and works wonders. Black Rose Precious Face Oil, £136 for 25ml; Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50, £109 for 40ml; www.sisley-paris.com.

Michael’s Consignment, New York
Michael’s Consignment, New York

One artist whose work I would collect if I could is Lucian Freud. I love portraiture and his work is so honest and real. The brushstrokes look almost hurried, though I’m sure it was all carefully planned.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York. I find it the most exciting place and there is so much I love about it. Firstly the museums, especially the Met for its unrivalled fashion exhibitions, of course, but also its art and precious objects. Then the many fabulous places to eat – my favourites are The Lion in the West Village, for its traditional decor and people watching, and Eli Zabar’s lovely Eat on the Upper East Side for amazing salads and really good, simple cooking – and the wonderful bars. If I had to single out one, it would be Bemelmans at The Carlyle, a beautiful and historic art-deco original with witty murals of city life by the artist who gave it his name. The Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street (+1212-744 1600; www.rosewoodhotels.com). Eat, 1064 Madison Avenue (+1212-772 0022; www.elizabar.com). The Lion, 62 West 9th Street (+1212-353 8400; www.thelionnyc.com). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (+1212-535 7710; www.metmuseum.org).


The books on my bedside table include Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. She isn’t a particular idol of mine but she has very interesting theories on how to balance professional success with bringing up a family. And then there’s Gina Ford’s Top Tips for Toddler Tantrums – required reading for anyone with a two-year-old.

My favourite room in my house is the living room. It’s painted a deep chocolate brown and has a big fireplace and an even bigger sofa – it’s the perfect spot to shut out the world and just be cosy, especially in winter.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a project manager for a real-estate development involving lots of interior design. I’m a perfectionist and like to be in charge.  

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