‘The pa­parazzi out­side were all fast asleep’

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Sur­rounded by shamanic drums and an earth gong, Lindka Cier­ach may seem an un­likely can­di­date to be a clothes de­signer to the stars. Her client list in­cludes roy­alty and ac­tresses, in­clud­ing the Princess Royal and He­len Mir­ren. But she is most fa­mous for de­sign­ing a sin­gle item: Sarah, Duchess of York’s wed­ding dress. When mil­lions of view­ers tuned in to watch the Duchess walk down the aisle in her ivory silk gown and 17½ft-long train in July 1986, Cier­ach’s place in fash­ion his­tory was ce­mented.

Yes­ter­day, it was the turn of her younger daugh­ter, Princess Eu­ge­nie of York, to tie the knot. Cier­ach, with a mug of hemp milk tea in hand, is keen to rem­i­nisce about the fa­mous dress, and her home that she has put on the mar­ket. Born in Le­sotho, Cier­ach spent her early years in Africa be­fore mov­ing to a con­vent school in Lon­don. She later en­tered ntered the pres­ti­gious Lon­don Col­lege e of Fash­ion, from which she grad­u­ated ted top of her class.

Her first bridal com­mis­sion, for a Bahraini princess, rincess, brought her to the at­ten­tion of f the rich­est fam­i­lies in the Mid­dle East, t, and then the royal fam­i­lies of Europe. pe. One day, the call from the Duchess ss came. “I was com­pletely gob­s­macked. smacked. I couldn’t be­lieve it,” she e re­calls. “The day we were due to o con­firm, I ac­ci­den­tally locked d my­self out of my house and nearly missed the call. I ended up hav­ing to climb over my own fence.” nce.”

Cier­ach lists the se­cu­rity mea­sures she had to take to keep the Duchess’s wed­ding dress a se­cret cret un­til the big day. “The press ress bought up win­dows all ll around my house to spy in; I had to put film over the win­dows, change the locks and check ev­ery dust­bin for stray sketches.

“Once I was work­ing through the night and a bit of the veil flew out of the win­dow; I ran out fran­ti­cally think­ing that pic­tures would ap­pear all over the front pages the next day. Luck­ily all the pa­parazzi out­side were fast asleep.”

Cier­ach ex­plains that she wanted the Duchess’s sense of fun to come out in the dress. “Although I did have to turn down her re­quest to have teddy bears and he­li­copters em­broi­dered onto it,” she laughs. “We agreed on this­tles and bees for her, and an­chors for the Duke.”

The Duchess sung Cier­ach’s praises for the huge white dress. “Lindka was a ge­nius; I knew she could make the most flat­ter­ing gown ever, and she had,” she wrote in her mem­oir. “It was amaz­ingly boned, like a corset. We’d cho­sen duchess satin be­cause it is the creami­est ma­te­rial in the world. It never creases. It is smooth as glass and hangs beau­ti­fully, with­out a sin­gle bulge; it made my re­duced fig­ure look even bet­ter.” As well as be­ing a fash­ion de­signer, she has also taken part in re­al­ity tele­vi­sion, in­clud­ing tu­tor­ing foul­mouthed young women on ITV’s Ladette to Lady. “Teach­ing those young women how to sew gave them in­cred­i­ble self-con­fi­dence; it trans­formed them,” she says.

Cier­ach has put her South Kens­ing­ton prop­erty on the mar­ket for £3.5mil­lion. The home-cum-stu­dio has three bed­rooms, and is cur­rently flooded with light, thanks to big win­dows and sky­lights.

Zen and Zafie, her two sand-coloured whip­pets, run around and ta­bles are over­spilling with crys­tals. It looks right into the Royal So­ci­ety of Sculp­tors next door. “My house used to be a sculp­tors’ stu­dio for the blind, so it had a cre­ative his­tory even be­fore I moved in,” Cier­ach adds.

Next to the Chi­nese gongs in the sit­ting room stand racks of fab­u­lously em­broi­dered vel­vet cloaks and beaded red car­pet dresses, also on sale along­side Cier­ach’s house. One of the most out­landish cre­ations from the de­signer’s port­fo­lio is a £3,500 dress made from 1,000 Lin­dor choco­late balls – much more ap­petis­ing-sound­ing than the “meat dress” sported by Lady Gaga at the 2010 MTV Video Mu­sic Awards, although, at 79,000 calo­ries, per­haps worse for the waist­line. “Strangely enough, the choco­lates kept ‘dis­ap­pear­ing’ as I was work­ing,” Cier­ach adds. “Luck­ily, Lindt kept send­ing more boxes.”

The cou­turier’s love of ex­quis­ite de­tail and vi­brant colour shines through in the in­te­ri­ors of her stu­dio, from the in­tri­cately peb­bled bath­room with its huge basin carved from In­done­sian rock, to the pow­der blue chaise longue in the liv­ing room of­fer­ing a view through the panoramic sky­light to a gar­den roof ter­race.

Kitschy items from Por­to­bello Road junk shops sit next to mod­ern art pieces, and fos­silised squids adorn the walls. “Grow­ing up in Africa had a huge in­flu­ence on my style, both in my home and my work. From there I got my love of bead­ing, colour and light,” she says.

One of her favourite as­pects of her home is the sense of be­ing far re­moved from the noise and bus­tle of the city. “It’s so quiet here,” she says. “Within the walls it’s like you’re in your own pri­vate world. I of­ten host large par­ties where we play the gongs and drum. My neigh­bours never hear a thing. I also love the house’s en­ergy and want to pass that on to some­one else.” Cier­ach’s home is on the mar­ket with Strutt & Parker and Harding Green for £3.5mil­lion

Lindka Cier­ach’s home, £3.5m with Strutt & Parker and Harding Green

The Duke and Duchess of York’s wed­ding in 1986

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