With its grand proportions and minimalist lines, the London home of fashion maven Lucille Lewin is a calm and compelling space. Alongside her husband and business partner Rick, Lucille has gradually expanded an initially bijou apartment into several floors, resulting in a Marylebone townhouse that is to-die-for…
Despite her pint-sized frame, there’s nothing diminutive about the way in which Lucille Lewin lives her life. Her curious nature and irreverent attitude have stood her in good stead against the vagaries of the fashion industry for more than a quarter of a century. As the creative force and founder of Whistles, the famous fashion brand she launched in the mid-1970s, it was Lucille’s own earthy sensibility and love of artisan qualities that came to be the hallmark of the store.
It’s a sensibility clearly evident in the 1820s Regency townhouse in Marylebone that Lucille shares with husband and business partner Rick. The grandeur of its high ceilings, “nothing”-coloured walls, chevron-striped oak floorboards and views out to the leafy square are matched only by Lucille’s signature mix of art, ceramics, furniture, botanicals, curiosities and personal, precious pieces.
Pieces such as the above; ‘The Tree Gives Life’ – a beeswax, pen and ink painting by Simon Lewty that leans artfully against the kitchen work island. “I bought it in my mother’s memory, soon after she passed away,” notes Lucille.
It’s a subtle addition that ties a wide open space together. Don’t be fooled by the subdued grey-green Sanderson colour palette in the open-plan kitchen, dining and living room areas, there’s a lot of detail to be found, from the beaten up metal table by Clark and Relley (in the foreground) to the collections of ceramics that line the shelves. The dining room table is by B&B Italia, and the chairs are an assortment that Lucille picked up from junk shops, left over from neighbours and taken from her office.
Quite the contrast to the seating arrangement in the living room, where an armchair by Clark and Relley and an old Victorian welder’s table sit beneath a collection of gouache paintings that Lucille bought years ago from the Royal College of Art. For someone so enamoured with beautiful things, Lucille’s home is not the crowded, cluttered space you’d expect it to be. Instead, it’s refined and grounded, contemporary yet resonant, minimalist but eclectic, as seen in another angle of the living room below.
Lucille attributes a good part of this to her South African roots. “I didn’t come from a highly industrialised society, so I’ve an eye for all things naïve and earthy.” Those earthy tones are present in the open-plan kitchen, which also manages to feel like a scientific laboratory.
“It’s very serviceable and easy to cook in,” says Lucille. “We spent more money than we should have on a thermador cooker and fridge from Sub Zero but we have loved every minute of owning them as they are so efficient”. Architect Seth Stein‘s idea of hiding the work area of the kitchen behind a raised plinth keeps dirty dishes out of sight, while open shelves keep everything in easy reach.
Lucille’s love of cooking and entertaining means there’s a real a sense of comfort to her home, with lots of little quirks dotted throughout. “I’m a complete magpie,” she laughs. “I’m always creating little cameos of things or making narratives around objects I find inspiring. It’s a source of constant amusement to my sons.” Observe the surroundings of Lucille’s study below, where a wall, windowsill and desk are given over to inspiring quotes, photographs, sketches, leaves, and bits of fabric that she incorporates into her ceramic designs.
After selling Whistles in 2002, Lucille went on to work as creative director at Liberty of London before launching her current fashion collective, Chiltern Street Studios. She’s also back at the Royal College of Art, doing her masters in ceramics. “It’s strange that I’ve found myself trying to create in this medium – far from it being a recent interest, I’ve realised I’ve been a passionate collector of ceramics for most of my life.”
It’s this curiosity and lust for learning that has enabled Lucille to constantly reinvent herself. We can only watch and wait to see what she does next.