Does how we dress ourselves resemble how we dress our homes?


A few weeks ago, the designer Pieter Mulier staged his latest Alaïa show in his own home in Antwerp: an apartment in Riverside Tower, a brutalist building designed in 1968 by Léon Stynen and Paul de Meyer. That intimate decision to show two expressions of his taste side by side made so much sense, one wonders why more designers don’t do that (fear of spilled drinks or judgement, perhaps).

There is a natural synergy between how we dress ourselves and how we dress our homes. When I’m assessing a new project the first thing I do is covertly check out what the prospective client is wearing. This tells me who they think they are and who they want to be, which can often be more important than who they actually are. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb, but not 100 per cent. Not least because it’s a quicker fix to change your clothes than your home. We once had a client who arrived for a meeting one day dressed like a member of Cardi B’s entourage; the next, in a sleek black suit. Both were equally valid looks but very confusing together. Were we going to be doing a Disney-fied Florida fantasy, an Axel Vervoordt domestic monastery? (What we definitely didn’t do was a terrifying 50/50 compromise, but that’s a piece for another time.)

So no, the system is not infallible but there are similarities between shopping for, say, a shirt and a sofa. Comfort isn’t the sexiest concept but it is essential. As is a bit of realism: are you really going to be able to walk in those shoes? And will you really keep that white sofa, well, white? Trends are undoubtedly fun, but the most stylish don’t give in to them entirely. As with a well-rounded wardrobe, the things that tend to last transcend trends and only gently nod in the direction of the current zeitgeist; so, not for me the extreme end of 20th-century brutalism or the upholstery that is a permanent core workout. And classics have a place, always. A solid, well-made armchair is like a little black dress — always a good idea.

So take your time, pace yourself and look at your own wardrobe before you start Pinterest-boarding. You might discover who you are, and who you really want to be.