A fash­ion­able life

Mid-cen­tury heir­looms and African finds make a homely west Lon­don sanc­tu­ary for Sarah Crook, the pow­er­house be­hind some of Bri­tain’s top de­signer la­bels

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - HOME FRONT - pho­tog­ra­phy: in­grid ras­mussen

Lots of peo­ple claim to ‘work in fash­ion’, but few can have been so in­stru­men­tal in the suc­cess of beloved Bri­tish fash­ion brands as Sarah Crook.

‘I was lucky enough to be of­fered a job straight from univer­sity with Club 21, which worked with many of the su­per­brands of the time, in­clud­ing Ar­mani, Donna Karan and Prada,’ she ex­plains over tea in her North Kens­ing­ton home. ‘I was very much thrown in at the deep end, but it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence.’

That ex­pe­ri­ence lasted 10 years, be­fore she joined Stella Mc­Cart­ney, be­com­ing vice-pres­i­dent be­fore mov­ing on to Christo­pher Kane as CEO. Right now she’s work­ing on the launch of a new la­bel, Dun­das, with for­mer Pucci cre­ative di­rec­tor Peter Dun­das, which prom­ises to over­turn tra­di­tional fash­ion busi­ness mod­els.

With all the travel that her work re­quires (‘ the best and worst part of the job’), her base­ment flat in a con­verted Geor­gian house has been de­signed with re­lax­ation in mind. It’s a small but per­fectly formed sanc­tu­ary where Sarah un­winds af­ter fash­ion mo­ments (‘a pri­vate gig by Paul Mc­Cart­ney and Chrissie Hynde af­ter one of Stella’s shows was a high­light’) and busi­ness brain­storms.

‘A pri­vate gig by Paul Mc­Cart­ney and Chrissie Hynde af­ter one of Stella’s shows was a high­light’

What was the flat like when you moved in?

I wasn’t orig­i­nally look­ing to buy in this area but I put an of­fer in as soon as I walked through the door, be­cause the flat had a lovely feel and, most im­por­tantly, a 70ft walled gar­den. It was a well thought-out blank can­vas, so I didn’t carry out ma­jor ren­o­va­tions, but I did change the over­all look quite sig­nif­i­cantly. I im­me­di­ately light­ened the colour of the floor, as light is the most im­por­tant fac­tor for me, par­tic­u­larly as the flat is lower-ground.

How would you de­scribe your dec­o­rat­ing style?

It’s a mish­mash of mid-cen­tury and Dan­ish with African in­flu­ences, par­tic­u­larly in the ce­ram­ics and tex­tiles. I usu­ally work with vari­a­tions of white on the walls and add tex­ture and colour through ob­jects in each room. The most im­por­tant thing for me is a home­li­ness that I hope ex­tends to ev­ery­one who spends time here.

Where do you look for in­spi­ra­tion?

My pas­sion for mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture stems from my grandma. She was very stylish, and had some amaz­ing pieces, which I in­her­ited, in­clud­ing my cof­fee ta­ble and a 1950s side­board, which is on its way to my new house in

‘Buy a piece you love and not a piece you need. Iconic fur­ni­ture is time­less, and you will never tire of it’

Ibiza. My love of Africa comes from time spent in South Africa, where my par­ents have lived for the past 15 years.

Your best dec­o­rat­ing ad­vice?

Buy a piece you love and not a piece you need. An iconic item of fur­ni­ture is time­less, and you will never tire of it. And if you do, you can ap­pre­ci­ate some­thing anew just by chang­ing its lo­ca­tion. Buy­ing chairs is a pas­sion, and my hall­way could of­ten be mis­taken for a doc­tor’s wait­ing room while I try to work out a home for each of them.

Do you have a favourite?

A Pierre Jean­neret Lounge Chair. Ac­tu­ally, it’s still on my wish list.

Are you dis­ci­plined about de­clut­ter­ing?

No! I’m a ter­ri­ble hoarder, but mak­ing sure my liv­ing spa­ces aren’t too clut­tered is es­sen­tial for a re­lax­ing feel.

Was clothes stor­age a con­sid­er­a­tion?

Ac­com­mo­dat­ing my wardrobe is a work in progress…

Where in your home are you hap­pi­est?

Cook­ing in my kitchen with the ra­dio on. I cook more in the sum­mer as I love do­ing leisurely gar­den sup­pers.

What’s the pos­ses­sion you would never part with?

My set of Nel­son Man­dela lith­o­graphs and a pho­to­graph of my grandma when she was young.

If you could change one thing about your house…

I would knock through to the flat above, which I bought five years ago with the in­ten­tion of do­ing just that. It would give me space to have a huge bed­room over­look­ing the gar­den with its own fire­place: true lux­ury.

Right A retro host­ess trol­ley and lamp add warmth to the sleek white kitchen. ‘I was lucky in that the house al­ready had very good stor­age,’ Sarah says. Below Although the room is com­pact, she had a range in­stalled as she en­joys cook­ing

Left The bright mas­ter bed­room is pep­pered with vin­tage finds, such as a re­uphol­stered 1950s arm­chair. ‘I love the process of hunt­ing out vin­tage pieces,’ Sarah says. ‘ When it comes to dec­o­rat­ing, I’m not a plan­ner and al­ways end up buy­ing some­thing I...

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