Masters & Muses
Interview by Camilla Frances
Images from Billal Taright
British designer Peter Copping began his illustrious career in fashion working for Christian Lacroix in Paris, before taking on senior roles at Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci and Oscar de la Renta, where he was Creative Director, in New York. Now based in France, Peter splits his time between an apartment in Paris and La Carlière, a 15th century Manoir in Normandy, both of which he shares with his French husband, Rambert Rigaud. The pair recently launched a sumptuous collection of textiles inspired by the historic details at La Carlière, which they have spent more than a decade restoring and refurbishing. Along with these beautiful images of his home, taken by Billal Taright, Peter shares his experiences, memories, obsessions and guilty pleasures.
The most memorable trip I've taken:
Istanbul. My grandparents lived there in the 1920s so it had always held a fascination for me, and been a place to where I wanted to travel. I loved the atmosphere and of course the Grand Bazaar. I vividly remember crossing the Bosphorus on my way to dinner in a tiny boat completely dwarfed by the passing cargo ships. It felt so exciting.
The best party I've ever been to:
Lynn Wyatt's 80th birthday party at Houston's Museum of Fine Art. The black and white only dress code was an ode to Truman Capote's famous 1966 ball. The "jet-set" were very much in attendance and Elton John appeared by video link to wish Lynn a happy birthday. Mad Marj DJ'd and Lynn danced away into the early hours! The next day a small group of us were whisked away by private jet to Lynn's ranch in deepest Texas and feasted on Tamale pie.
A moment that changed or defined my career:
Meeting Christian Lacroix while working at the Conran Shop in London. I was a student at the Royal College of Art and had a Saturday job in the store. Monsieur Lacroix came in as a customer and I introduced myself, telling him how much I would love to work at his house. He told me to write and send work, which I did the very next day. Around a month later I received a call from the Couture Directrice, Helene de Mortemart, asking if I could come to Paris. I went on to intern for five Couture collections and my desire to live and work in Paris was cemented.
The greatest challenge I've overcome:
Attending my interview for St Martin's School of Art in London, just one month after my mother had passed away. She was never to know that I was accepted.
The best gift I've ever received:
A pair of Van Cleef gold and ruby cufflinks given to me by my husband, Rambert, on our wedding day - so much more original than a wedding ring.
My next weekend-away destination:
Probably La Carlière, the home we share in Normandy, although I would happily return in a heartbeat to Il Convento di Santa Maria di Constantinopoli in Puglia. I was invited there recently and it was my idea of heaven.
I would describe my childhood as:
Idyllic. In the countryside close to Oxford with dogs, cats, chickens and horses. I was privileged to have parents that encouraged me to follow a creative path.
The possession I treasure most:
An 18th century reverse glass painting of a mahahraja that I bought on my first trip to India. I always like to buy pieces when travelling, it fills the house with objects that hold special memories.
My favorite flea market or antiques fair:
It has to be Puces de Clignancourt. After living in Paris for more than 25 years I still love a trip to the market and never return home empty handed. The Deballage de Avignon (trade only) is fantastic too. I discovered it with Jacques Garcia - the energy and excitement as the sellers unload their vans is just fabulous.
An artwork or exhibition that took my breath away:
I was extremely impressed when I visited the The Menil Collection in Houston, and particularly by the Rothko Chapel. I happened to know one of the curators and was privileged to have a private tour. To sit alone in the chapel surrounded by these powerful works, the last paintings that Rothko executed, was incredibly moving. Also, Jewels by JAR at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the tapestries of Louis XIV at the Gobelins Manufactory.
My greatest extravagance or guiltiest pleasure:
Rupaul's Drag Race.
I feel most confident wearing:
I don't dress to feel confident. I prefer comfort over anything else. I'm most happy in old cords and a threadbare cashmere sweater. When I have to dress up, I'm happy to follow convention but like to make an unconventional twist - black tie with Vans for example.
My signature scent:
Commes des Garçons, Incense-Avignon.
I am not religious, but I love that this fragrance evokes the interior of churches.
My favorite fabric:
Seventeenth-century crewelwork (see images below).
Ideal interiors in three words:
Decorated by Bennison.
Distasteful interiors in three words:
Turn Key Property.
My go-to recipe:
A very simple pasta sauce made from tinned tomatoes that I learned to make at a cookery school in Florence. Fresh rosemary, sage, thyme and basil are added just before serving - it is completely fail-safe.
A tip - don't economize on the type of pasta.
My dream dinner party companion:
I once sat next to Shirley MacLaine at a dinner, which I would love to do again. It's quite strange sitting next to someone so famous. It felt as if I had a head start on her - I knew all about her career, that her brother is Warren Beatty and of her fascination with UFOs. What made it a memorable evening was that we actually had a two-way conversation - she genuinely asked questions about me too. We spoke a lot about New Mexico as it is where she lives and somewhere that I have been fortunate to visit several times. Failing that, I am always happy when I am placed next to Rambert, or anyone with a good sense of humor and definitely not stuffy.
The person I call for good advice:
My sister, Joanna. Especially for garden advice.
The person I call for a good time:
Designers Hervé Van der Straeten and Bruno Frisoni - they always have great soirees at their Hotel Particulier in the Marais and Hervé's summer boat party on the Seine for his staff is always a riot.
A contemporary artist whose work excites me:
Esme Hodsoll [a young British painter]. I love her eye for composition - she is very skilled.