In the best possible taste: the life and loves of a doyenne of design.

Camilla Guinness is an interior designer who splits her life neatly between the intense metropolitanism of London and the deep romance of the Tuscan hills. She is the woman responsible for the spectacular, almost otherworldly, interiors at the late and inimitable Isabella Blow’s legendary flat, and is the go-to designer for Brits with haute bohemian sensibilities across London, Italy and New York. Her own Tuscan idyll – ‘Arniano’, from which her daughter Amber now runs a painting school – is, perhaps, the ultimate expression of her sublime signature cosy-British-bucolic-meets-Tuscan-faded-grandeur style.



This AW21, Camilla has joined forces with British knitwear institution, Brora. The collaboration is the happy result of a phone call to Brora’s founder and creative director, Victoria Stapleton, during which Camilla outlined her vision for the platonic ideal of the winter polo-neck. And since, when a doyenne of design calls with a creative idea one takes notice, Victoria reached straight for her notepad. The two resulting cashmere polos are testament to the wisdom of that decision, inspired as they are by 1960s apres ski fashion, the Pink Panther movies and their glamorous heroine, Simone Clouseau.



Camilla says of the collaboration, ‘I like things to be plain, but with some exciting or different detail. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect polo for some time, so I’m so grateful to Victoria for letting me do this. I wanted something comfortable and flattering, hence the long arms – almost an extension of the fingerless glove - and the colour block cut-out, which gives you a waist, whether you have one or not. I’m so happy by how it was interpreted by Brora, and that 10 per cent is going to the charity Create.’ You can shop the Camilla’s polos here.



Here she unlocks the door to share a slice of her beautiful world.

Favourite place in all the world?




Italy is where I consider home. You can always see something beautiful and eat something delicious within an hour from wherever you are.


Dream holiday?




I've been wanting to do an American road trip for as long as I can remember. I long to go to Utah, New Orleans and drive along the California coast.


Most coveted item right now?


An Oculus. I love feeling I am in alternative reality, however stupid one looks fighting off attackers. You can also look at the planets, which is more soothing.


Dream future project?


A boutique hotel in Italy – or anywhere actually.


Where would you live if could live anywhere?


I don't want to live anywhere else. I live in London and spend a lot of time in Italy. That couldn't really be improved on.


What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?


Empress Dowager Cixi. She was an amazing woman who rose from a lowly concubine to an empress who ruled for 47 years, modernised China and introduced women’s liberation. The details of the way of life are impossible to imagine. A rattling good read.


Best film you’ve seen recently?





I Care A Lot, a terrifying black comedy about the seizing of assets of elderly people in the US. Made my blood run cold – it looked horribly easy.

Best binge-watched TV show?


Babylon Berlin set in Germany between the wars. Great sets and clothes, high decadence, secret missions, and a fantastic female lead.

Top podcast of the moment?


Freakonomics. Lots of interesting things you thought you knew but didn’t.


Favourite dish to cook?


A ready meal.


Favourite café/ restaurant?




Cibrèo cafe in Florence, next to the food market at Sant’Ambrogio, is a tiny red velvet and mirrored jewel-box serving delicious and slightly unusual dishes.


Favourite website or app?


The parking app has changed my life.


Most useful thing on your desk?


A tape measure.


Which five people, dead or alive, would you find most interesting to be stuck in a lift with?


An engineer. Mo Gawdat. Tom Stoppard. Catherine the Great. Empress Cixi of China.

Portrait of Empress Catherine II(a)
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Favourite building?




The Pantheon in Rome.


Favourite Instagrammer or tweeter




@arnianopaintingschool of course! It’s my daughter’s Instagram about painting and cooking at our home in Italy. It is very inspirational. I also like @pino3bravo for great interiors pictures.


Your screensaver?


Whatever the phone or computer came with.


What would be your epitaph?


We had a good laugh.


By Nancy Alsop
December 2021

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