Victoria Roper-Curzon, co-founder of children’s boutique Elfie, creates the same ethereal twist in her home as in her award-winning designs, discovers Susannah Warren
An antidote to today’s glut of stark and faceless spaces, the interior of Victoria Roper-Curzon’s home is very much in keeping with the vintage style of her childrenswear brand Elfie, which she embarked upon with her sister, Rafaela Van der Heyden, in 2010. “We are not a minimalist family,” she confirms. “We love hoarding!” The inspiration for Elfie came following the birth of Victoria’s first child, after whom the business is named. Her mother revealed box upon box of the traditional clothes they once wore, all beautifully preserved and ready for the next generation. “It was such fun dressing up my new baby and I thought there was a market for lovely vintage-style children’s clothes that are more affordable,” says the designer, who is now also mother to Ned, four, and Mabel, 18 months.
Her instincts were right, as the duo have created an award-winning online and wholesale business, and opened their first boutique in Maida Vale in November. Even Selfridges has jumped on the bandwagon. Her children undoubtedly have influenced her design style: “They’re very outdoorsy and have lots of energy,” she explains. “I wanted to make sweet but practical clothes that mix and match to fire the imagination.” Fun and creativity abound in her jumbled flat, where the family has lived for three years. Everywhere you look, there’s something to spark a memory: a 1980s My Little Pony mug; a retro Humpty Dumpty egg cup; an enchanting ‘fairy tree’ with silk birds and richly coloured baubles; crocheted cushions; a wall full of family photos and oil paintings. “I like to mix things up,” says Victoria. “Then it’s individual.”
She draws inspiration from coffee-table books such as Ashlyn Gibson’s Creative Family Home, and is always on the lookout for new finds. She rescued the leather-bound books from her in-laws’ shed because they “were being eaten by animals”, and stumbled across the children’s bedroom curtains in an attic. Her treasured vintage toys and books are gleaned from charity shops, while Portobello Market, where she unearthed a traditional brown pram, and where she and her sister first set up shop, is a regular haunt.
The children’s room – all three share – embodies the Elfie brand: Cath Kidston wallpaper acts as a charming backdrop for her treasured Margaret Tarrant and Muriel Dawson prints (which she also sells); much-loved childhood storybooks spill from the bookshelf; a Zara blanket makes an original wall-hanging above Mabel’s cot; a kitsch Snow White doll lies with a collection of crocheted teddies on Elfie’s Goldilocks-style bed.
Quirkiness is a quality evident in Victoria’s designs: wizard hats, elf bonnets, ethereal capes and animal knits. “I prefer toys that aren’t so cutesy,” she says. “The frog in the pocket [of a knit from the first collection] had an upside-down smile and weird eyes.” There’s a bohemian vibe in the flat lit by fairy lights, too. Victoria’s husband is a pianist so the house is filled with musicians around the clock. “I cannot tell you the amount of people that hang out here at night, playing away,” she says. “We are pretty nocturnal.”
In the summer, these gatherings move outside, where the flat comes into its own. At the bottom of their overgrown garden, through an archway, is a long, woody patch of land running alongside the Hammersmith and City line tracks: a green, communal space for the neighbours to enjoy. “We might not have a thousand rooms, but we’ve got this very cool thing.” Left wild, the wonderful outdoor space has a magical, free-spirited air. A highlight is a wooden stage, where children put on performances for their parents.
Bonfires are lit, berries are picked and people come and go as they wish. “When the children come back from school, I chuck them straight out of the back door,” she says. And there they roam – exploring, imagining, creating – in their inspiring Elfie outfits. Just as their mother had envisioned.