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Colette van den Thillart on the Royals, Bohemianism and Leslie Blanch

The Canadian interior designer is missing England these days, so Anne Glenconner's entertaining biography Lady in Waiting provided a fix / BY Athena McKenzie / December 15th, 2020

Toronto-based interior designer Colette van den Thillart has been featured in some of the world’s biggest design magazines, including Architectural Digest, Veranda and World of Interiors. The former creative director for London interior designer Nicky Haslam, she has also appeared on CBC Television in a segment called Interior Designer to the Stars.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year and why?

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner, because I much prefer biography, I’m missing England, and this one is funny, tragic, amusing and clever. I read it just as lockdown began and somehow it felt reassuring.

What book can’t you wait to dive into and why?

A friend in Los Angeles just sent me Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964 [by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell]. I’m not sure it’s particularly well written, but we’ve both become obsessed with this decade’s tale of artistic bohemianism. It’s escapism with a reality check. Biographies tend to mention writers, books, or characters that lead you to your next binge, so one can really end up taking quite a long journey with the cast if you happen to jive with the subject matter!

What’s your favourite book of all time? 

Impossible. Proust? He really can change your life. Or Sybille Bedford, for prose.

What book completely changed your perspective? 

Leslie Blanch’s The Wilder Shores of Love. She just was so daring, original, independent, strong, and curious at the same time, so she just sets the bar very high when it comes to living large.

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) french novelist around 1900 UNSPECIFIED - APRIL 02: Marcel Proust (1871-1922) french novelist around 1900 (Photo by Apic/Getty Images); Mrs. Lesley Blanch wearing a man's wool robe with gold passementerie from Aleppo, over a belted dishdashah (shirt) from Kuwait; sitting at and leaning on a table in her Paris apartment. (Photo by Henry Clarke/Condé Nast via Getty Images)
Photos: Apic/Getty Images (Proust); Henry Clarke/Condé Nast/ Getty Images (Blanch)


If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be? 

Leslie Blanch would be wildly entertaining (many authors are not!), and I would want to play dress up with her too.





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