Archive : January 2011

18 Jan 2011
avatar Author: Nicky Haslam

I was recently interviewed by Ronda Carmen for her blog All The Best (, stylebeat ( and Canadian House and Home ( and was asked what my favourite possession is. Without wishing to sound too gushy and sentimental I kept the answer simple and honest, a fan letter from the doyenne of interior decoration, Nancy Lancaster.  

Nancy wrote to me to congratulate me on the decoration of a village hall for a wedding and I treasure the correspondence card with the telephone number of Great Milton 360, if only people still answered their telephones in such a manner nowadays. Nancy Lancaster became business partners with John Fowler who set-up Colefax & Fowler with another matriarch of interiors and society Sybil Colefax. Nancy and John ran the shop from Brook Street and it was during this time that John Fowler bought the Hunting Lodge, which has been my country bolthole for the past 30 years.

 Another treasured possession is John Fowler’s address book as it reads like a Debretts of the now sadly deceased great and the good. Each entry written in pencil and the below shows John’s entry for Nancy, it is quite remarkable what a humble address book can say about a person, with Johns well thumbed torn pages, personal notes and amendments and even the Butler’s name (essential!).

When residing in London John Fowler lived on the Kings Road, Chelsea but sadly the house has long gone, a victim of 1960s planning and was where the Chelsea Fire Brigade are now housed.

Almost directly opposite John was Argyll House once owned by none other than Sybil Colefax who having a severe aversion to the colour of the property (feeling the house was too brash in its prominent location) employed two perfect strangers off the street to wash the house in a mixture of soot and water to tone down the brick.


Now that is positively Shabby Chic!

14 Jan 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

I have just finished reading ‘Shocking Life’, Elsa Schiaparelli’s autobiography, which she writes both in the first and second person – a method I find rather endearing. She’s not a consistent writer, but there are some gems to be found and I learned a sweet story about newsprint.

Shocking Life cover

It reminded me very much of how things ‘happen’ in our office creatively – and also the importance of looking at everything with an open mind and sense of humor!

Ladies at a market in Copenhagen

‘We crossed Sweden by canal, stopped to have seaweed baths, and went to Copenhagen.  There Schiap went one day into the fish market, where old women sat for hours on the banks of the canals amidst waves of silver-scaled fish that were still alive and shimmering.  These women wore on their heads newpapers twisted into queer shapes of hats.

Schiap stood and looked for a while.  Back in Paris she sent for Colcombet, the most daring of the textile men.

‘I want a material printed like a newspaper.’ She said

‘But it will never sell!’ exclaimed the terrorized man.

‘I think it will.’ Said Schiap.

She clipped newspaper articles about herself, both complimentary and otherwise, every sort of language, stuck them together like a puzzle and had them printed on silk and cotton.  This has been replicated again and again, as we know, but it’s still delightful!

Madonna at Ashcombe, influenced by Cecil Beaton's self-portrait

Hamish Bowles and Tim Walker did this legendary shoot of Madonna at Ashcombe, influenced by Cecil Beaton’s self portrait in bed clipping newpapers.

Stylebeat blogAnd Stylebeat – one of my favourite blogs – just posted this adorable stylized newprint topiary the Schiap might have found amusing.

Newspaper outfit

But never mind all that, because in 2003 my then-brilliant-Australian-nanny, Charmaigne – quiet little thing who I did not take for a creative type – all of a sudden whipped up this newpaper outfit for my daughter one day! Check out the shoes please!

Not at all unlike a Petitot I might add!


13 Jan 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

I’m just back in London and thought I’d share one last Barbados post with you.

Pistachio is prominent on Barbados island, largely due to Oliver Messel, I imagine – though I can’t confirm. Ronald Tree‘s book suggests that most larger buildings were primarily coral stone and that smaller huts, I imagine, were largely left unfinished.  In fact, the island still is littered with unpainted or half-painted buildings…something to do with property taxes not being charged in full on unfinished buildings? Go figure…

Samuel Ward cartouche off the Abbott and Holders website

Another Samuel Ward cartouche pinched from Abbott and Holder‘s website (though i’ve changed the colour to suit my needs – is that naughty?)

Glitter Bay watercolour rendering by Nicky Haslam

You can see how Nicky used touches of Pistachio when he worked on Glitter Bay, note the painted picture frames and the chairs. Subtle.

French interior designSurely though, Pistachio comes into its own in France where despite Madeleine Castaing and Ladurée it still doesn’t seem overly cliched to me.

Fustic House Barbados. Photo by Colette van den ThillartThis vignette I took of Fustic House is classic Bajan Messel – a delight. Wicker, trellis, ironwork…he put it on everything and everything – the repetition of which keeps it ‘quiet’.

Colette van den Thillart's faux Giacometti white plaster lampMy faux Giacometti white plaster lamp bought on the island looks great seen through a haze of Pistachio.  (Looks pretty good in real life too, though less convincing!)

Voile d'Or in St Jean Cap FerratNicky and I fell in love with the Voile d’Or in St Jean Cap Ferrat years ago….it’s not to everyone’s taste but it’s a small jewel box of old world charm.  At the moment I only have access to this small internet photo but you get the gist. We did enquire about the decor, which, if I remember correctly was executed by the clever owner and is comprised of limed furniture, Pistachio palettes set off with gold highlights, and a glamorous bar expressed in masses of clear and green tinted mirror. Rooms are not luxe so depending how your tastes run, evening drinks on the terrace may be more the thing.

Al Sultan restaurant. Photo by Joe VesteiYears ago, all London Lebanese restaurants were like MY favorite…Al Sultan, sporting white tablecloths, black-suited waiters, bright lights, a rather chilly formality and the optional (but desireable) extra of faux-classical pillars. Al Sultan is firmly old school and is often where I dine before heading to the Curzon cinema in Mayfair.

sun-bleached pistachio verdigrisThis shot only to say, despite my 80′s hangover when it comes to things verdigris (eeewww)  I’m actually rethinking this finish when it comes out sun-bleached Pistachio like this, rather than those wretched cheap shades of false teal.  Hmmm – yes indeed.

Susie Macmurray vedigris feathersAnd lastly, love love love Susie Macmurray, in fact I am the proud owner of one of her pieces, though not these terrific vedigris feather pompoms. So utterly up my alley!! She executed these in Peacock ‘side sword feathers’ -  and I’m sure she wasn’t thinking pompoms…but of course I am!!

11 Jan 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

Many people wonder WHY Nicky and I decided to start this blog. One of the reasons is that we thrive on creative exchange, and the other is that we adore meeting new people – and as a result of this endeavour we have made many new international friends.

Recently we had lunch with Ronda Carman who writes the famed All the Best blog, and for the New York Social Diary.  Ronda sent me this picture of us looking amusingly like long-lost sisters, and wrote a terrific profile on Nicky and NH Design, and a new friendship is born! Thank you Ronda…see you soon.

Ronda Carman and Colette van den Thillart

10 Jan 2011
avatar Author: Nicky Haslam

Pink Full moon MoonTown

All this talk of Barbados has prompted me to share some photos from last year when I visited. We made a stylish sojourn to Moontown (also known as ‘Half Moon’ ) located in the northern Parish of St Lucy. I couldn’t find a pic of a pink half moon so this full one will have to do!

The place is completely bare bones, so we packed a picnic basket with finest(?) white linens, hurricane lamps, silver cutlery, Colette made some flower arrangements for the table and off we went. Cilla Black – being the REAL DEAL – showed up in an uber chic black pencil skirt and sky high Jimmy Choo’s.

Mismatched vinyl clad iron chairsSpiced rum and ginger beer were on tap (well our tap anyway)…and its a wonderful colour too.  Even mismatched, vinyl clad white iron has a certain charm.

The Belle White Iron Wall SconceBasically, its perfect though a few of these white iron Egyptian revival wall sconces from the wouldn’t hurt would they? (Great colour brick too, and it matches the vinyl on the seats, but now I’m getting carried away…)