“Dignity is within and is nothing to do with the people surrounding you; it’s very much what you have in yourself, how you cultivate yourself.” Allegra Hicks.
The more we’re bombarded by images and e-noise, the more I find myself searching for expressions of integrity and authenticity.
Designer Allegra Hicks epitomises these qualities.
She has a velvety Italian/English accent, two daughters (Angelica and Ambrosia) and divides her time between London and Naples.
Allegra Hicks at the Design + Decor event. Photo – Tania Savage. Production – Martine Harte.
Martine Harte and Allegra Hicks after Tigger Hall brought her to Melbourne for Decor + Design. Photo – Tania Savage.
Martine Harte: Allegra you were born in Turin, studied design in Milan and fine-arts in Brussels, yet you had an early exposure to design and modern architecture didn’t you?
Allegra Hicks: Yes, my parents have always been very interested in design and contemporary art. Because it was part of my upbringing, it was quite organic for me.
Do you believe good interior design can elevate our mood?
Allegra Hicks: Of course. I remember the first time I decorated a room. I was in America with a friend of mine we were learning English in Boston, we were 19.
We arrived in the dorm and it was so sad that I spent quite a lot of my pocket money going to the Indian neighbourhood buying cloths so I could decorate the room because it made me feel really unhappy and homesick. When it was done I was very happy and my friend still laughs about it.
Not surprised. Has your aesthetic rubbed off on your daughters?
Allegra Hicks: My two daughters are very specific about what they like, I have one who is an artist and one who is doing her O levels at Oxford.
They both have a very strong eye but they are daughters of myself and their father was a designer/architect (Allegra’s first husband is Ashley Hicks, the grandson of Earl Mountbatten of Burma) they are grand daughters of David Hicks, my mother has style for five life times…
It’s in their DNA! How does that design pedigree influence you? You seem very dignified.
Allegra Hicks: Dignity is within and is nothing to do with the people surrounding you; it’s very much what you have in yourself, how you cultivate yourself.
I think as human beings we need to evolve otherwise why are we on earth? Some of us women are so scared of getting older and I think psychologically we are really here to evolve.
I’m so much happier than fifteen years ago, not because I remarried and I’m happier (it has nothing to do with it) it comes from with me.
It’s really about learning about life, learning why you’re here, learning why you’re doing what you’re doing; I think that kind of evolution is fantastic.
SECRETS TO EFFORTLESSNESS
Allegra Hicks: Know yourself. Not necessarily as having a big ass or a small ass, but who you are as a person. I would never go around in a mini skirt (it’s not that I don’t like them and my friends wearing them is brilliant) but they’re not for me.
If you follow the mood you will dress in a much more comfortable way, with ease. When you start to go against your aesthetic nature I think that’s when the big mistakes are made.
FINDING OUR OWN AESTHETIC NATURE
Allegra Hicks: I think you find it when you’re comfortable.
If I show you 10 dresses and you pick one because you like it the most but then you feel uncomfortable in it you’re not going to wear it. It’s going to wear you! So the key is to wear something not be worn by something.
There is so much choice. I adore three-quarter length skirts, it just works for me, I feel comfortable.
DESIGN THROUGH THE SENSES
Allegra Hicks: What interests me is how we are affected by what we see, how our brain reacts, how collective memories give us ideas.
It’s a bizarre concept but I believe we can hear certain design; almost smell it, even if it’s not something that you are physically smelling, but all the senses come alive through something you are doing. This was very interesting for me.
BEST TIPS FOR A SPACE
1/ Have a good rug – a good rug holds the room together.
2/ Good lighting – is probably one of the most important things. It is not obvious at all, lighting that comes from different sources – not necessarily the centre chandelier are going to make the room much more welcoming.
3/ I always like table lamps and then of course I like spotlights directed on paintings; not people. I also think dimmers are necessary and in the dining room I light candles.
Why do you feel heirlooms work?
When you design someone’s house you cannot erase them and put your mark on it. You take what is important to them and help them to place things in a way that looks good. The reality is you have to live in a place that belongs to you. The designer’s work is to understand how you like things and who you are.
On designer India Hicks
I haven’t seen her for a while. She’s a fabulous racehorse. She has lots of style, works very hard and managed to create the perfection of the Island Life. I think she did it through her own style, she’s very simple, very white, very much herself. I have great respect for her aesthetics and for her hard work.
Designer Allegra Hicks creations. Photo – Tania Savage. Production – Martine Harte.
How important is spirituality in your life?
I don’t think I could go about life without a sense of self and then feeling that there’s something else, not just the material side of life.
It’s about compassion and harmony.
I remember when I was coming out of design school , you do the ‘abc’s’ of the work but I was really looking for my creative vocabulary and at one point I found it and then it evolved. It evolved into something that was balanced and harmony was very important.
Photo – Tania Savage. Production – Martine Harte.
Designer Allegra Hicks’ ‘An Eye For Design’ Photo – Tania Savage. Production – Martine Harte.
Find her beautiful fabrics at Tigger Hall.
You can also see her designs on her site by tapping here www.allegrahicks.com
Lastly, this post is for Gito, his pearls and kindness.