Harper's Bazaar (UK)
MY LIFE, MY STYLE
Inside Alice Naylor-Leyland’s Chelsea home
Alice Naylor-Leyland’s London home lies behind a pale blue door, wedged unassumingly between two boutiques on the King’s Road. Crossing the threshold, it is as though you’re following Alice’s namesake down the rabbit hole into a Diptyque-scented wonderland of exotic prints, sequins and feathers. The fashion and lifestyle consultant divides her time between Chelsea and Stibbington, a picturesque Regency manor in Cambridgeshire, which she shares with her husband Tom, a hotelier, and their two small children, Billy and Nancy. ‘I’m in town for two or three days a week,’ she says, ‘and when I’m here it’s non-stop meetings. By the end, I can’t wait to just sit on the sofa and look at sheep.’
It was when the family relocated from the city to the countryside that Alice set up her influential fashion blog Mrs Alice in Her Palace, the name inspired by a love song that Tom wrote for her when she was 18. ‘I used blogging as a way to stay connected with my friends and family,’ she says, ‘and then it evolved into a fashion and lifestyle edit.’ Last
year, her whimsical style caught the eye of Jane Winkworth, the founder of French Sole, and a sell-out collaboration was born.
Starting with the classic Hefner smoking slippers and the pointed-toe Knightsbridge style, Alice added grosgrain trims, glitter bows and leopard-print appliqué. Fans of her shoes include Poppy Delevingne, Princess Beatrice and Laura Bailey; even the shoe designer Charlotte Olympia has been known to swap her own vertiginous heels for one of Alice’s flamingo-embroidered flats. A brand-new collection is launching in February, which she promises will be even more fanciful. ‘They’re a little bit mad,’ she says, laughing.
Alice is not afraid to make a statement with her clothes, such as the crochet Peter Pilotto flower-appliqué maxi-dress that she wore to the Serpentine Summer Party. ‘I’d like to be remembered as a risk-taker. I’ve bicycled all over Tuscany in floor-length dresses.’ Indeed, the long wooden clothes rails in her dressing-room are jam-packed with elaborate gowns from designers such as Erdem, Alessandra Rich, Marchesa, Alice Temperley, Vilshenko and Matthew Williamson. ‘I take great joy in dressing up,’ she says. ‘The only mistake I’ve ever made is not being brave enough.’
When it comes to interiors, she is equally willing to follow her own tastes, and, inspired by her favourite motif from the Beverly Hills Hotel, she picked a striking palm-print wallpaper by Meg Braff for the hallway, accented by a teal velvet Soane chair. In the main bedroom, the backdrop is a beautiful bird pattern designed by Lewis & Wood. ‘I love the mayhem of wallpaper to wallpaper,’ she says. ‘I think it’s a throwback to my boarding-school days, when I would buy magazines, pull out all the pictures, and stay up until two in the morning sticking them on the wall until they reached the ceiling.’
The playful decor continues throughout the apartment, with flamingo-print ceramic lamps by Rosanna Lonsdale, leopard-print armchairs, velvet Talisman curtains, Bordallo Pinheiro cabbage
plates, and vases overflowing with hydrangeas. Alongside her volumes of fashion books, handbags fill the shelves, including a sparkly Jimmy Choo clutch, and other unapologetically fun offerings from Chanel, Fendi, Sophia
Webster and Edie Parker, while a pile of red soles stacked up in the fireplace is testament to Alice’s penchant for Louboutins. There is fabulous art at every turn, including Slim Aarons prints, illustrations by Tanya Ling, a Bryan Organ painting and a neon piece by her godmother, the American artist Rachel Lee Hovnanian.
Also framed on the wall is a Suzanna Garrett drawing that served as the invitation to Alice’s 30th-birthday party. It depicts Stibbington with multicoloured balloons cascading out of the windows, and is just a hint of the Tim Walker-style fantasy land that she created for her guests. She remembers dancing the night away in a kaleidoscopic Gucci dress, surrounded by a menagerie of pastel-coloured sheep (dip-dyed by a neighbouring farmer), and miniature horses bearing trays of macaroons. ‘It was like a dream,’ she says, ‘I never wanted to wake up.’