This week's Tête-a-Tat is Gabby Deeming & I am not sure where to start. Until August of last year, she was my boss at House & Garden, where she has been for seventeen years. During her time at H&G, she has created one hell of a side hustle: Day Dress. Gorgeous hand-blocked dresses which are sold to customers all over the world. All this while also holding the position of 'Creative Director of Interiors'. When I think of House & Garden, I think of one of the jolliest places I have been part of, a gang of merry men and women who are all incredibly passionate about Houses & Gardens. The saying 'rots from the head down' comes to mind, although in my mind it is 'joy from the head down'. And Gabby Deeming is one of the most joyful people I have ever had the pleasure to come across. Not to sound soppy but she genuinely lights up rooms; it's hard not to form a very fervent girl crush on her. She has the Midas touch, but instead of gold, its beauty. I have seen her turn concrete boxes into some of the most exquisite rooms the mind could imagine. I also owe her a considerable amount; she has been the wind behind my design wings, and even writing this, I tear up thinking of how wonderful she was when I handed in my notice. Gabby & Ruth (Ruth Sleightholme - Deputy Decoration Editor) were two excellent teachers who I will never be able to thank enough. Thankfully I left House & Garden with them as friends, so I will continue to try. If you've had a subscription to H&G in the last 17 years (and if not why not?) you will have been charmed, inspired and intrigued by one of Gabby's features. So it was inevitable that I was going to bother her at some point with these inane questions.
If you could be a fly on the wall, where would you land?
I'd fly straight down to Sicily and to Tre Contrade, where I'd plant myself on the kitchen wall to eye up how they make their tomato sauce. It is SO delicious!!!! I'd probably get swatted before I could make my escape with the intel...
A song that can always make your tap your foot?
I can't stand still if I hear Love Cats by The Cure, it seems to inspire very particular moves and facial expressions..
I just love getting into bed. I'm not someone who has ever fought the closing of the day and am always delighted to surrender! Bed is such an island of safety and warmth and one I never take for granted. It's where some of the best chats happen, with friends or with partners. Reading in the afternoon, especially with a bit of dappled sunlight and then perhaps a little nap - heaven!
What would your autobiography be called?
Give us a Toile! Gabby Deeming peels herself off the floor to talk about 100 years at House & Garden. I've just had my 17 year anniversary... tick tock...
This is an ever-evolving list, last week it was Laura Marling who is so wonderful on the Adam Buxton podcast but today I'm completely in love with the character Rita in the great 80's film 'Educating Rita' which I just watched on BBC iplayer. She is a brilliantly funny and determined whirlwind of a woman with the best naughtly twinkle in her eye. Rita exerts her right to an education by enrolling on an Open University course in English Literature (sounds dry but really isn't!). It's a classic working-class-girl-done-good movie. She is played by a very young Julie Walters who is herself a foundation stone of the girl crush.
What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
This isn't cool, but it's The Sound of Music. It got me at a young age! I remember really clearly my mother telling me she thought I'd like it and I only agreed to watch it because it had seven children in it. Very smart call on her part as that was me taken care of for three hours a day for the next ten years...
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
My mum told me that I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do which felt very liberating. I'm actually twerpishly obedient, but sometimes it's good to remember that there's a choice.
Best Tube Stop/ Line?
I love how the lifts on the Piccadilly line are voiced in perfectly clipped 1950's English, it reminds me of a Woody Allen joke about a man with a New York accent who's intimidated by a well-spoken elevator. St Johns Wood station is very handsome with amazing bronze Art Deco lanterns. Mind boggling to imagine anything as beautiful being commissioned today by TFL.
Favourite Piece of Clothing?
A great seventies black and white Dior dress that belonged to my Grandma, it nips in at the waist, has amazing puff sleeves and a neat zip right down the front. It was very unlike her to have anything so cool, I certainly never saw her wearing it!
I am a terrible sniffer, really obsessed. I track around my flat like a bloodhound if I sense something isn't right. There's a smelly cupboard in my kitchen panelling which is permanently taped up and my boyfriend starts quite a few sentences with a raised eyebrow and the line, 'were you just sniffing ...?' I love Melangrano from Santa Maria Novella and I'd like to scatter their pot-pourri around like confetti. Marianna Kennedy had an enormous bowl of it in her bathroom which is the last word in chic sniffs. I have a small bowl in mine and in winter I put it on a radiator for a boost.