In the wise words of Elsie de Wolfe: 'You will express yourself in your house whether you want to or not.' With this week’s Tete a Tat, I feel that that statement resonates more than ever. Skye Mcalpine's home seems to be a rich texture of Italian glamour with an exceptional English trim. I go from one picture to another, struggling to process the finesse that exists in each. Don't get me wrong, if I have a dinner party or an event then I can pull something out; it's not always great, but the effort is there and people mostly appreciate that. But when you step into Skye's world, her food and the table settings seem to have more in common with a Dutch still-life than a dinner party. And I am here for it! I hate to reference the last year constantly, but my god, the grey and the gloom can overtake at some points. Getting a snippet of Skye's world through the lens of Instagram (however rosy) made me step up my game a little. I thought – ‘two of us can't just sit here and fester’ – and so instead, for Easter, we sat down to a stunningly beautiful meal, the table was covered in daffodils, we had roast lamb, and I wore a dress. It was a true delight. Afterwards, we sat down and festered for the rest of the day.
Skye moved to Venice when she was six; she now spends her time in both South London and Venice. Both homes have captured the hearts of many, as her 212K followers can attest to. She has written for the Sunday Times, Vogue, the Daily Telegraph and Vanity Fair. In 2018 she released her first book, 'A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home' and in 2020, her second, 'A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two Or Twenty'. Both are hugely popular and they received a phenomenal stamp of approval from Nigel Slater: 'This is a beautiful cookbook, full of joyous, life-enriching recipes. I love it.' More recently she has collaborated with brands such as Anthropologie and Papier, and even more recently (this week!), she has released her homeware brand 'Skye Mcalpine Tavola', where 'her love of Venetian craft, along with a taste for the Italian dolce vita - and just a dash of British chintz - are the inspiration'. You may ask how she found the time to answer these boneheaded questions, but as ever, I am exceedingly happy she did.
Favourite Piece of Clothing?
So hard to choose! My vintage dresses are probably my favourites - I have one fifties one with big painted peonies on it that makes me happy every time I wear it.
Favourite Day Of The Week?
Sunday because of Sunday lunch
What animal would you choose to be?
A cat or a koala. I love being warm and snoozing.
What is your favourite strange food combinations?
Peanut butter and apple - not sure if it counts as strange but I could happily love off it for the rest of my days.
If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. I know it sounds trite - but the only thing standing between you and what you want to achieve is the confidence to go ahead and try. Also, I would say: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And failure is nothing to fear.
Top Destination in the UK?
Endsleigh Hotel in Devon: the gardens, the afternoon teas, the cosy afternoons by the fire in the library.
Do you like poetry?
I’m a big fan of the Roman poets. Much of my misspent youth was spent analysing Latin love poetry.
Best Moment in your career so far?
Publishing my first book. Publishing my second book. Every time someone I’m not related to says they’ve cooked one of my recipes and enjoyed it. And I’m very excited about TAVOLA, my new collection of tableware - it’s a brave new world for me and I still can’t quite believe that I’ve found my way there.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Who Is the best animal you have ever met?
We used to have the sweetest dog called Coco. Sadly she passed away a couple of years ago but she was very special.
A song that can always make your foot tap?
Tu Vuò Fa L’Americano