CHAN­TAL FOR­TUNE

Chan­tal For­tune (31) is an an­tique dealer, cu­ra­tor and en­trepreneur. In the past, she worked for Ir­ish de­signer Lainey Keogh and was known as one her muses. Born in Spain, she lives in Bray with her sons — Ruben (8) and Elvis (3)

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - WAKING HOURS - In con­ver­sa­tion with Ciara Dwyer

The alarm goes off at 7am, and about three snoozes later, I roll out of bed. I try and get up be­fore the chil­dren in the morn­ings. I find that if I do this, I cope a lot bet­ter with the rou­tine of get­ting them ready for school. I have two boys — Ruben and Elvis. I drink a pint of hot wa­ter with lemon ev­ery morn­ing, and then I have a cup of tea.

I drink a lot of loose-leaf tea, made in an Ed­war­dian sil­ver teapot. It’s so much bet­ter brewed in a sil­ver teapot. I drink it out of an old china teacup. I col­lect blue and white china, among other things. The past is my pas­sion. I think if you in­cor­po­rate it into the rou­tine of your day, it light­ens the spirit. Also, it’s a slight slow­ing down, for ex­am­ple, you have to wait for the tea to brew, and then you pour milk from a jug.

I cook por­ridge for the boys on school days; I’m very aware of healthy-eat­ing habits. I only drink cups of tea in the morn­ing.

I’m a sin­gle mum with two boys; it’s hard, be­cause life has been in a bit of tran­si­tion. Last year, I went through a se­ries of un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dents. I was heart­bro­ken. And then I lost the home that I was rent­ing, be­cause it went up for sale. That’s when I closed my an­tiques shop in Bray. All that hap­pened within a year. I loved be­ing a shop­keeper. I was very sad that the shop closed. It was ac­tu­ally do­ing OK within its first year, but I couldn’t cope.

I hit a brick wall, and I lost the will to live. And then at the end of it all, I had to have emer­gency back surgery. Now I’m out of pain, and, best of all, back on track. We’re in a comfy home, and I’m set­ting up a new ven­ture.

I bring the kids to school, and then, for those three hours when they are gone, I squash in ev­ery­thing that I need to do for the day — emails and so­cial me­dia. At the mo­ment, I am cu­rat­ing an an­tiques fair, which will be on at Wells House in Wex­ford next week­end. I’m de­lighted to be putting it on in a Great Ir­ish House. This will be the sec­ond year of this fair. My job has been to find a selec­tion of deal­ers with sell­able items; it will be a col­lec­tion of cu­riosi­ties. We’re also putting on fur­ni­ture-and-paint­in­grestora­tion demon­stra­tions.

I’m younger than most an­tique deal­ers, but I want to bring the past back to life for a younger gen­er­a­tion. A lot of deal­ers’ chil­dren are now work­ing in the busi­ness, here and in the UK. I sup­pose you could call it bril­liant old things from bright young things. I col­lect charm­ing old things like lace. I spe­cialise in china, vin­tage drap­ery and taxi­dermy. There is a charm to old things — the crafts­man­ship and the at­ten­tion to de­tail is huge. Maybe I was born in the wrong era: if only I could be strolling around with para­sols made of lace, and fans made of lace, and lace draped around my shoul­ders. I just love the deca­dence of Vic­to­rian fash­ions.

Col­lect­ing and an­tique deal­ing comes from both sides of the fam­ily. My mother is an ec­cen­tric col­lec­tor, and my fa­ther was a Span­ish art col­lec­tor. Even though I was born in Spain and spent the first few years of my life there, I didn’t re­ally know him very well. I come from a long line of col­lec­tors, but I’m the first per­son in my fam­ily to ever sell any­thing. I just have it in me.

I grew up in a house full of beau­ti­ful old things. I sup­pose I saw that there was a cre­ative out­let there; that I could make a ca­reer out of it. You don’t have to sit on these beau­ti­ful old things and hoard them. You are al­ways defin­ing your col­lec­tion, but let­ting go of pieces as well. My goal in life is to open a mu­seum. I’m in­ter­ested in things of a for­got­ten era and times past.

I had a very bo­hemian up­bring­ing. I started sell­ing stuff from a very young age — In­dian things and vin­tage shoes at the lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket in Grey­stones. I was very ea­ger. I went to board­ing school in Eng­land and In­dia — the lat­ter gave me a great sense of colour — and then, dur­ing my sum­mer hol­i­days, I worked for the fash­ion de­signer Lainey Keogh. I was sewing on but­tons for her, and I did some mod­el­ling for her, too. Back then, I would have been de­scribed as one of Lainey’s muses. She had a huge in­flu­ence on me; as well as be­ing highly cre­ative, she is a stern busi­ness­woman. Over the years, I set up a few busi­nesses, in­clud­ing a pizze­ria, and I stud­ied fash­ion. Then, af­ter I had my first son, I stud­ied an­tiques and fine art. That’s when I flour­ished.

Af­ter I pick up the kids from school, they have a quick snack, and it’s time for home­work. I make a spe­cial point of set­ting the ta­ble. It’s a rit­ual, and it’s just part of a process. I don’t mind if there is a pile of dishes — I don’t have a dish­washer — be­cause I use cups and saucers and cake plates. As long as the ta­ble is full of all these beau­ti­ful things that are on my kitchen dresser, they are there to be used, ev­ery day. Ev­ery­thing in my house is aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing to the eye.

We don’t have a TV at home, so I try not to be on the iPad and the phone when the kids are around. I grew up with­out a TV, and I sup­pose I chose not to have one my­self. But we have a com­puter and Net­flix, and I let them watch a movie while I cook. I like hav­ing the chil­dren around the ta­ble for din­ner. We can talk about the day. I’m quite tra­di­tional, be­cause I like to stick to the rou­tine of bath and then bed­time. Story time is very im­por­tant, and I’m al­ready in­flu­enc­ing them by read­ing the Af­ter I put them to bed, I spend some time on the com­puter, and do some re­search. Most nights, I’m quite ex­hausted by the time I go to bed. I try to go to sleep as quickly as pos­si­ble, be­cause a child might wake up in the mid­dle of the night. Then, be­fore you know it, the alarm is go­ing off and you’re think­ing, ‘Oh gosh, just give me an­other cou­ple of hours sleep’.

The past is my pas­sion. I was born in the wrong era. If only I could be strolling around with para­sols made of lace

Hor­ri­ble His­to­ries. Wells House and Gar­dens host an an­tique fair with fur­ni­ture-restora­tion demon­stra­tions in the Great House on Septem­ber 24 and 25. See well­shouse.ie

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