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A-Gent of Style has written on the blog a couple of special features about his love affair for Gabriella Crespi, extolling the talents of the famous Milanese designer, artist and sculptress.

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In two weeks’ time, a rare and seminal event will take place in Paris for any collector and admirer of Gabriella Crespi. French auction house PIASA is offering the auction GABRIELLA CRESPI, Timeless with a selection of the most important pieces created by the designer, artist, socialite & fashion muse who has left an indelible mark on 20th century Italian design with her inimitable taste Italian high-end design.


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– Auction –

November 26, 2014 – 6pm

PIASA, 118 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris

– Viewing –

November 21, from 10am to 7pm November 22, from 11am to 7pm November 24, from 11am to 7pm November 25, from 10am to 7pm November 26, from 10am to 1pm

You can view the full catalogue here


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All of Crespi’s designs place as much importance on aesthetics as on functionality, or even multi-functionality: coffee-tables are raised in height, bookcases are transformed into partitions, chairs turn into beds. A fine example is provided by her ingenious, twin-opening Mr-Mme commode (€20,000-30,000). Other sale highlights include a bamboo and brass Fungo lamp from her Rising Sun series (est. €5,000-7,000), and her 1976  Tavolo Scultura coffee table (est. €20,000-30,000).

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She was born in 1922 and grew up in Tuscany, near Florence, before studying architecture at the Politecnico in Milan, where she discovered Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. She married into one of Italy’s wealthiest families, who owned the Corriere della Sera and a textiles empire. From Rome and Milan she hired the finest craftsmen to produce her designs. Most of her works were produced in limited editions and have been rare and highly sought-after since the 1970s – and are all the more so today. Her designs are rare and were mostly the result of special commissions. Several leading personalities were passionately enthusiastic about her work, including Elizabeth Arden, Thomas Hoving (former head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum), Greek shipping magnate Georges Livanos, Princess Grace, Gunther Sachs and the Shah of Iran.

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Gabriella Crespi has always conveyed an art de vivre in tune with her times, full of freedom and pioneering ‘bohemian-chic’: a mix of 1970s aspiration and Italian tradition.

Although her style goes perfectly with materials like wood, bamboo, mirror and plexiglas, Gabriella Crespi’s most characteristic designs are in metal – notably brass. The convertible, three-part dining-table, from her celebrated Yang Yin series designed in 1979, is a perfect blend of brass and lacquered wood (est. €20,000-30,000).

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 Other sale highlights include a bamboo and brass Fungo lamp from her Rising Sun series (est. €5,000-7,000), and her 1976 Tavolo Scultura coffee table (est. €20,000-30,000). Crespi also designed a collection of sculpted animals in the purest tradition of de luxe Italian metalwork, embellished with eggs made from Murano glass or, in the case of her elegant, hand-chased silver plated Ostrich, with a veritable ostrich egg (est. €2,500-3,000).

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At the height of her fame, Crespi had two showrooms, one on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, and the second one in the former Palazzo Cenci in Rome, where her furniture was set off against spectacular frescoes of Umbrian landscapes. But, in 1987, she decided to close her company and devote herself to spirituality: she would continue to spend several months each year in the most remote regions of India into her eighties. Back in Italy Gabriella Crespi remains a respected fount of inspiration, and Milan paid tribute to her with the exhibition Il Segno e lo Spirito at the Palazzo Reale in 2011: a journey through the languages of contemporary expression via Gabriella Crespi’s work and artistic output.

To mark the Gabriella Crespi sale, PIASA will be publishing Timeless – a monograph of her work by Anne Bony, authoress of numerous books on Design, retracing the career of the Italian Designer and, over and beyond her career, outlining her inspiration, spirit and style. Books published alongside major themed sales by PIASA Editions will offer a powerful record of 20th and 21st century creativity.

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– Imagery from the Gabriella Crespi archives and PIASA – 


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The talents of the multi-hyphenated David Collins and its manifestations in our lives have been storied in manifold articles on this blog since its creation, and today’s feature will reveal this time not the illustrious and magical bars, restaurants, hotels and stores Collins is associated and revered for around the world, but one of his residential projects. And a special one at that. His very own house and its ‘eclectibles’.

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On 4 November, 2014 at 1pm at King Street, Christie’s will be offering at auction the collection of renowned interior architect David Collins. Following his untimely death in 2013, the estate sale, aptly named “Luxury – Colour – Texture, The Collection of David Collins”, crystallises his subtle yet distinctive vision that now pervades the contemporary aesthetic and urban landscape. His imagination and creativity brought to fruition luxury interior design and architectural projects across the globe. The projects created by his eponymous Studio, that carries the designer’s name and keeps his legacy alive and prosperous, represent deeply-textured interiors that feel simultaneously contemporary yet established, rooted in the life and traditions of their respective locations and exemplifying the designer’s extraordinary capacity to reinvent and reinterpret the past. Comprising 200 lots and with estimates ranging from £300 to £60,000, the sale is expected to realise in the region of £1 million.


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The official preview being scheduled only this evening, A-Gent of Style was thrilled to be given an exclusive preview and private tour of the exhibition last night by Christie’s sales specialist Jeremy Morrison and Jodi Feder, Brand Manager of David Collins Studio – . As he walked up the main staircase into the Great Room and its annex on the first floor, A-Gent of Style couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder as the beautifully and meticulously curated room sets and vignettes unravelled before his eyes revealing for the first time the objets in situ – principally of or inspired by mid-century French taste, either vintage or manufactured by the Studio – that so far had only been available to see in print or online, and therefore permeated with a certain mystique.

This seminal sale and accompanying exhibition will provide discerning collectors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to, firstly, see the contents of mainly one unique house (Bramham Gardens, Kensington), to recognise the ultimate legacy of an aesthete before its dissipation to disparate new owners, and also to acquire exemplary works of art, pieces of furniture and memorabilia from Collins’s personal world.

Despite the undeniable sense of bittersweet feelings when the extra ordinary collection of an extra ordinary tastemaker such as David Collins is dispersed after a sale, the tangible sense of thrill and intrigue as to which appreciative acquisitors will win the bids and carry on his legacy and memory through his belongings and creations as well as the anticipation of seeing said objects resurface at auctions in the future (and then find out their new values!) only serve to make us realise that David Collins’s journey to enhance our lives is far from over.


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Among the furniture, lighting, works of art, photographs and pictures by major 20th Century designers and artists included in the sale are works by Marc du Plantier, Jean Royère, Fontana Arte, Christian Bérard, Line Vautrin, Ado Chale, Wolfgang Tillmans, Steven Klein (including two photographs from the series ‘Madonna Rides Again’, which were a gift from Madonna), Nicolas Aubagnac, and Mario Testino. These are complemented by works conceived by the late David Collins and his eponymous Studio, in their signature style.

Highlights include a pair of floor lights by Paul Dupré-Lafon (estimate £30,000 – 50,000), a glass coffee table by Fontana Arte (£8,000 – 12,000) and a portrait of an acrobat by the French painter Christian Bérard (estimate £40,000 – 60,000).

To view the full catalogue, click here.

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A special thanks to Christie’s and Jeremy Morrison, Senior Director and the sale specialist, and Jodi Feder at David Collins Studio for their help, trust and support.

– Photos by Christie’s, David Collins Studio and A-Gent of Style –

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In today’s feature, A-Gent of Style introduces the fifth participant of his interview series ‘We Need To Talk About’ .

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” Inspiration is a moment in time”

– Christine Van der Hurd –


Since his career change into the world of interior decoration in 2008,
A-Gent of Style has been fortunate to meet many esteemed designers over the years and has even had the privilege to know some of them personally. 
Christine Van der Hurd is one of them. Whether it is at Tissus d’Hélène,
Veere Greeney Associates or currently at Redloh House Fabrics, there hasn’t been a month in the last six years where A-Gent of Style has not been in contact in one way or another with Christine’s divine textiles or carpets, nor have her new products or collections failed to get unnoticed by his deco-dar. A-Gent of Style will also go as far as saying that Christine, with a few others, has somehow been instrumental in making him not only appreciate and embrace colours and patterns but more importantly not to be afraid of them, and for that, he is very indebted to her.


Back in February, A-Gent of Style managed to catch the intrepid and itinerant Christine Van der Hurd, based again in London after many years in
New York, who opened the doors of her newly-redecorated, light-filled, white-walled mews house in Kensington one evening to talk to him about her life and career whilst they both savoured tasty Italian wine and delicacies.


Christine, ‘the VanderQueen”, gave A-Gent of Style a tour of her beautiful home adorned with 20th century antiques, her collections of covetable objects, Swedish ceramics, contemporary photographs, and of course some of her own creations – dhurries, cushions and upholstered furniture – all which evince an exquisite collector’s eye for detail, and let him into her fascinating textile design world, delicately suffused with patterns and colours.


Vanderhurd, the company, has evolved over the last thirty years from the inspired designs of a young student born in London’s Portobello from established antiques dealing parents into the internationally acclaimed design studio it is today. Within months of graduating from the esteemed Winchester Art College in the early 1970s, Christine Van Der Hurd was designing textiles for, amongst others, Osborne & Little, Liberty’s, Etro and Yves Saint Laurent. Her success as a textile designer followed her to New York City in 1977, where her work was commissioned by many designers, including Angelo Donghia and Jack Lenor Larsen. Then, in 1980, as Christine designed and produced a one-off carpet, she experienced a revelation that became an all-enveloping inspiration for what was to become her eponymous bespoke textile design firm.

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In 1981, Christine set up her atelier at Modernage, a seminal specialist gallery representing new internationally acclaimed designers, which she opened in partnership with David Hurd. Immediately, Christine received commissions from leading designers and architects such as Beyer Binder Belle, Pentagram and Gensler. These collaborations continue to this day, with leading architects and designers. Vanderhurd has designed and manufactured collections for the Italian furniture company Cappellini and for Liberty’s of London, and has produced a line of men’s carpetbags for the luxury house, Louis Vuitton. Recently Vanderhurd collaborated with India Jane Birley on the carpeting for Annabel’s, the famed London nightclub, as well as with hotelier/designer Kit Kemp, of Firmdale Hotels, for the Crosby Street Hotel in New York and the newly opened Ham Yard in London. Her creations grace public spaces such Claridge’s, the Federal Reserve Bank, Saks Fifth Avenue and Browns of London, to name but a few, as well as the private residences of an international discerning clientèle. Past collaborations include designs commissioned by Thomas Goode, Paul Smith and Browns. Some of Vanderhurd designs are part of the collections of several museums, including The Victoria & Albert Museum in London and are regularly featured in the international leading press. Christine is also a guest lecturer at London’s KLC School of Design.


With her constant experimentation in textiles and techniques and her search for perfecting new constructions and developing new designs, Christine’s bold, cutting-edge patterns and new trends in carpets and rugs have deservedly vowed the design world over now three decades. Vanderhurd have sought out the finest manufacturers in India (Varanasi, Jaipur and Delhi and their surrounding areas), Nepal (Kathmandu), the Philippines, New York and Europe, and can boast studios in London and New York as well as showrooms in cities worldwide servicing trade and retail customers.

Christine Van der Hurd, Jaipur, 2014

Christine Van der Hurd, Jaipur, 2014



Christine Van der Hurd’s unswerving passion for textiles, enthusiasm for life, charm, humility and generous spirit have won her many loyal admirers over the years, and this feature will hopefully turn any newcomers into new converts. 

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And for those of you who want to grab a piece, or several, of Christine’s “Vanderworld”, Vanderhurd invites you to their annual summer sale this coming Thursday and Friday. Don’t miss it!

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How did your past influence and shape what you do today? 

My parents were antiques dealers; I was brought up on Hamilton Terrace in a house full of antiques and colour. There were always fabrics, tapestries and ceramics which had a real influence on how I looked at things. My mother was a beautiful woman and she was passionate about fabrics. She used to take me with her to the sales at Liberty or Harrods, and she made most of her clothing herself, and she would always dress impeccably; she still does at the age at 98! Quality was so important to her. It is essential to me too; I suppose those things were instrumental in me wanting to do textiles; I never ever thought of doing anything else, only acting perhaps but I was too shy, and I was so passionate about fabrics and colour from a very young age that I decided to do a textiles degree. I’ve had tragedies, but textiles and creating pattern has always been a part of my life, and given me the ultimate distraction.

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How did you discover textiles? Can you remember your first ‘encounter’?

I can’t really pinpoint one thing. Maybe my mother wearing an incredible emerald green thick silk satin dress one night. I saw antiques mixed with textiles all the time; every summer we used to drive to Spain and then Morocco and stop through all the flea markets on the way. I was always looking. It was an incredible education.

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Who were/are your design influences? Do you have any design muse?

Sonia Delaunay definitely. When I went to the Bauhaus exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1968 or 1969, that‘s what took me down a path I have been on ever since. I’d lived with antiques and suddenly saw this extraordinarily disciplined architecture and design from buildings through to textiles. I was just blown away. It was a revelation. This incredible movement that was a lifestyle influenced me hugely. And so did the Russian Constructivists and Mondrian. My work is very much about structure for I see things in lines and my work has also been inspired by Egyptian, Roman or Chinese cultures, as there are often lattices and layered patterns. There’s also flora and fauna; within that, you’ve got structure again; leaves and petals are formed by millions of tiny structures. My art work is very detailed, very intricate and it was only in my late twenties when I started in the carpet world that I became able to enlarge the scale I worked in. The first carpets I designed were large collages, similar in method to Matisse.


Sonia Delaunay, Electric Prisms, 1913


Lyubov Popova Scenic architectonics, 1918

Lyubov Popova
Scenic architectonics, 1918


Piet Mondrian’s Composition No. II, Composition in Line and Colour, 1913

Piet Mondrian’s Composition No. II, Composition in Line and Colour, 1913


The Snail, Henri Matisse, 1953

The Snail, Henri Matisse, 1953


How did Vanderhurd come to life?

After leaving college in 1973, I was based in Europe and created textiles under the name of Christine Van. I worked with designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Liberty, Osborne & Little and Biba. In 1980 when my daughter was born, I launched the company Christine Van Der Hurd, and that is when the carpet designs began. A major turning point was in 2003 when Jasper, my late son, joined the business and ran the New York studio whilst I worked in London. We became Vanderhurd, and unlike me he did all his designs on the computer. He really brought Christine Van der Hurd into the 21st C.

Jasper Van der Hurd

Jasper Van der Hurd



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Tell us a bit more about your life between London and New York.

London was an amazing place to be in the 1960s especially in the art and design world. I moved to New York in 1977, aged 25, and the city was one of the best places you could be at that time. It gave me the chance to grow; New York was accepting and unlimited for designers. In the 1980s and ‘90s people had faith in a young person, less so than in London. It gave me a very good grounding. My ex-husband and I opened a vintage furniture shop, mainly European, in Manhattan next to the 26th St flea market which was very popular. By 1981, we had relocated to Broadway, and opened Modernage. We focused on European modern furniture design and helped launch people like Tom Dixon, Ron Arad, Danny Lane with shows in our Gallery. Then we progressed and began launching other European furniture companies such as Cappellini, Moroso and Magis. My background concentrated on high-end modern aesthetics then. Later we opened the flagship store for Cappellini in SoHo but sadly this closed in 2003 after 9/11. With Jasper at the helm in New York, I returned to London.

Christine at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, c.1997

Christine at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York, c.1997


ICFF, New York, c.1997

ICFF, New York, c.1997


Christine, David Hurd, Rosi Levai Opening party Capellini flagship store at Modernage, May 1998, (Marlborough Fine Art NY)

Christine Van der Hurd, David Hurd, Rosi Levai Opening party Cappellini flagship store at Modernage, New York, May 1998, (Marlborough Fine Art NY)


Modernage, c.1999

Modernage, New York, c.1999


Vanderhurd showroom, New York, 2014

The Vanderhurd showroom, New York, June 2014


Vanderhurd showroom, New York, 2014

Vanderhurd showroom, New York, June 2014


Vanderhurd showroom, New York, 2014

Vanderhurd showroom, New York, June 2014


Vanderhurd at Redloh House Fabrics, June 2014, London

Vanderhurd at Redloh House Fabrics, London, June 2014



Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere! Inspiration is a moment in time; you look across the room, one colour hits the light or a structure in a room. It can be a photo, you could be walking down the street and you’ll see an extraordinary facade, a wonderful dress, it could be in a book. It’s never the obvious. If you want it, if you are receptive to it, it’s there. My problem is never ‘what shall I do next?’, but ‘what I shall not do next?’; in the studio they have to edit me. I don’t know when to stop!

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Where and how do you work or get your inspiration?

I need to be really private. Running the business takes a lot of energy so right now I have less creative time. All of my work is painted or drawn by hand and requires a great deal of concentration. When my little cocoon upstairs is finished and when I have my beautiful photographs on the wall, I will go there to paint and draw.

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What or who is inspiring you at the moment?

So many designers are frightened of using colour. It doesn’t have to be like that, you need to incorporate colour; what frightens me is a beige room; when you walk in the bazaar of Morocco or Istanbul, it’s atmosphere. My house is not bombarded with ridiculous colours but it has injections and flashes of colours. It’s quite toned down actually. There is a balance; it’s relaxing here. We are lucky enough to work with many inspiring designers on extraordinary projects around the world, and recently helped complete some of the suites in Kit Kemp’s Ham Yard project. Jonathan Reed, for example, has incredible colour sense and a unique eye for texture and detail. As a young designer Faye Toogood is also amazing. She’s not frightened of mixing different textures with structured colours. She’s not formulaic. One of my heroes since I was young, is Jacques Grange, who I have been lucky enough to work with on a number of projects recently.

Ham Yard Hotel by Kit Kemp, Firmdale Hotels, London

Ham Yard Hotel by Kit Kemp, Firmdale Hotels, London


Jonathan Reed

Interior by Studio Reed


Faye Toogood

Faye Toogood


Jacques Grange

Jacques Grange

Who are your icons?

John Miles. He was my tutor at Winchester School of Art and later became Professor of Textiles at the RCA; he is an amazing man. I had a tough term at art school and considered dropping out. If it wasn’t for his encouragement and faith in me, I might have not carried on with this career.


Fabric design by John Miles, 1969; with help and kind permission from Heal's department store and the University of Brighton Design Archives

Fabric design by John Miles, 1969; with help and kind permission from Heal’s department store and the University of Brighton Design Archives

Which three interior designers or artists of the past would you invite to a dinner party?

Gio Ponti! I’m so inspired by him, and I have been since I was 30. It’s once again the structure and the colours. My new collection is inspired by him. He was an amazing man. One of my early rugs, from 1993 I think, was called ‘Ponti Pucci’ after Gio Ponti and Emilio Pucci; the border was like a key border and very much like one of his ceramics and the centre is Pucci’s free forms, but I did mine in black. Helen Mirren would be there too; she is such a versatile actress. And Leonard Cohen of course!


Parci dei Principi hotel, Sorrento, designed by Gio Ponti, 1961

Parci dei Principi hotel, Sorrento, designed by Gio Ponti in 1961


Vanderhurd Azul collection inspired by Gio Ponti

Vanderhurd Azul collection inspired by Gio Ponti


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The Ponti Pucci rug

The ‘Ponti Pucci’ rug by Christine Van der Hurd



Dame Helen Mirren


Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen


What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Seeing my girls happy, my “Vanderbirds”, seeing them inspired and excited. They’re such a wonderful group of people!

The 'Vanderbirds', London

The “Vanderbirds”, London, June 2014

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What do you attribute your success to? And what’s your proudest career achievement?

To still being here! After 40 years, I’ve managed to survive. I never ever betrayed myself, I have never compromised myself or been overtly commercial. I enjoy doing what I do and being able to make a living and make people happy because of what I create for them.


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You already have a few of your pieces at the V&A. How do you feel about leaving a legacy?

I’m hoping that one day people will look at my work not just as a product but as an archive that will be important to other people who want to see it, and who can benefit from it.

Watusi rug, V&A museum ,1996

Watusi rug, V&A museum ,1996


Watusi rug, V&A museum ,1996

Watusi rug, V&A museum ,1996


Annabels', London

Rug by Vanderhurd, Annabels’, London

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Do you have any advice for young craftspeople or designers today?

Patience! Never lose your confidence, keep trying even though you may be knocked back; experiment, just be true to yourself that is more important than anything, don’t compromise your ideas too much, be open to advice. And always, always listen.


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What exciting new projects do you have on the horizon?

Well, I think the interesting thing going forward for me will be collaborations. I’m doing a collaboration with a painter called Cipriano Martinez and I’m going to interpret his paintings into silk flat weaves. He has very similar aesthetics to me; he thinks in lines. He’s Venezuelan and he’s brilliant. I am excited as I haven’t made carpets for other people before; this is going to be something different. We currently create a bespoke fine weight silk dhurrie textile for the New York designer Wendy Nichol. She is incredibly talented and individual, and her products are made entirely by hand in New York. She has recently launched a new Wendy Nichol x Vanderhurd Bullet bag exclusively for Net A Porter.

Cipriano Martinez, Untitled (From the Series Colour Testing), 2013

Cipriano Martinez, Untitled (From the Series Colour Testing), 2013


Vanderhurd Bullet bag exclusive for Net a Porter

Wendy Nichol & Vanderhurd Bullet bag exclusive for Net a Porter


Why India and Nepal? Why not keep all your production in the UK and support the British economy?

The reason we make our carpets and dhurries in India and Nepal is because I have 25 years experience of working closely with them and training them. The Vanderhurd fabric collections are all printed in the UK. Why is ethical production so important to you? Our weavers and embroiderers are the most important people to me, and they have to be paid fairly and looked after well. The workforce in India can be fickle and I am confident that due to the care we show, and effort we make means they thoroughly enjoy their work. Everytime I visit I can see their pride in their work. You get what you give.




What do you like to do most in your spare time?

I love cooking and entertaining for my friends and family, and discovering new worlds through reading.

Home cooked lunch by Vanderhurd at Redloh House Fabrics, February 2014

Home-cooked lunch by  Christine Van der Hurd at Redloh House Fabrics, February 2014

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I’m obsessed about photography; since I was a child, I’ve always taken photos of my friends and family. I’m surrounded by them in photographs. I suppose I live in the past and the present and not so much the future. Photography is the one thing I definitely would have loved to have explored. In my new studio at home, they’re doing an entire wall with all my photographs. It will be my “Vanderworld”! I also speak several languages; French [Christine has a perfect French accent] as I went to the Lycée français from the age of 4 until 18, and Spanish as I spent every summer in Spain until the ages of 9 and 45. I wish I spoke Italian, I stumble at it and I find it frustrating as I have many Italian friends. But I’m trying!


What is your most cherished possession? Do you collect things?

My personal photographs are my most cherished possessions.

What was your favourite holiday?

What is your dream holiday destination? I don’t have a favourite spot as such or certainly not anymore. Baja in California is exquisite, the beach is so beautiful there. I love the Caribbeans where the water is so clear. I used to be a fish; I loved swimming, any time of year. I guess I love being with my family together in a warm climate where there’s water.

Baja, California

Baja, California

What is your favourite natural scent or perfume?

Perfume sounds awful to me; I like something that no one knows. I like a mixture, something complicated; I mix scents together. A natural scent would be jasmine or ‘rakirani’ in Indian.


What would be your ‘last supper’ like?

What a dreadful thought…there’d be lots of vegetables, beautifully cooked, with freshly caught fish, cooked by son-in-law who’s an amazing cook, in a warm climate near water with all my friends and family.

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Home-cooked lunch by Vanderhurd at Redloh House Fabrics, February 2014

What books are currently on your night table?

I love reading; I can go from novels to biographies, it really varies. At the moment I have ‘Chatting with Henri Matisse The Lost 1941 Interview.’


Do you have any current favourite TV shows?

I don’t watch television; I love movies which I watch mostly when I fly. I was brought up at the Lycée in the 1960s and a lot of directors at the time were people like Buñuel, Fellini, Bergman, and we used to go to the Curzon and watch these incredible films on a Sunday afternoon.


Describe a really good day in the life of Christine Van der Hurd.

Being with my kids, dancing, flirting, beach sun, water…heaven!


A-Gent of Style would like to thank Christine Van der Hurd for letting him into her fascinating “Vanderworld” and also her ever so lovely “Vanderbirds”.

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– Imagery by Vanderhurd, A-Gent of Style and as otherwise stated –

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