September 27, 2023


We Bring Good Things to Life

Fashion Q&A with interior designer Tamsin Johnson


What would you wear …

… on a first date? On the first date with my husband, at a pub in London, I wore jeans, a big knit and overly chunky Chloé boots that he hated, but it took him about two years to tell me.

… on a plane? On long-haul flights I always wear a Lucy Folk boiler suit, New Balance sneakers and a cashmere scarf or sweater. And circulation socks once I get on the plane.

… to the Oscars? A vintage Fortuny or Schiaparelli silk gown.

Tamsin (at right, aged 4) with her older sister, Tess.

Tamsin (at right, aged 4) with her older sister, Tess.

Who’s your favourite designer? Phoebe Philo. Whether she’s been at Chloé, Céline or Stella McCartney, her clothes are timeless. They’re modern, empowering and feminine, but not in a girly way.

What’s your favourite fragrance? Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge. Someone once described it to me as “the way a woman should smell” and it’s true – it’s so pure. It’s beautiful, fresh and very feminine.

And your favourite fashion era? The 1930s, for opulence and elegance.

What was your first fashion moment? A purple faux-fur coat I bought in Barcelona on a family holiday when I was 13. It was highly flammable and unforgettable. I wore it with denim flares and Converse sneakers and felt invincible. I didn’t take it off all trip.


Who’s your style muse? Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, Lauren Hutton in American Gigolo, and Princess Diana.

What are three essential items in your wardrobe? A blazer: navy blue crêpe with gold buttons is the one I wear most, usually with denim and a white tee. I also love a check blazer in winter. Knits: I love The Row, Jac + Jack cashmere and P. Johnson men’s knits in smaller sizes. And lovely shoes: The Row shearling slides and Chanel flat slingbacks.

Can you remember a favourite outfit you wore as a child? My older sister and I had matching silk taffeta party dresses – mine was pink and hers turquoise – that were pure ’80s! These days I dress slightly more casually for formal events; I once heard that it’s nice to be overdressed for everyday events and underdressed for occasions. That sums me up. I like to amp a casual outfit up a notch.

What’s your worst fashion mistake? Undoubtedly the green, crushed-velvet strapless dress I wore to my year 10 formal. There was matching green eyeshadow, too. Even worse, another girl wore the same dress.

What would you buy if money were no object? An Hermès ‘Birkin’ bag in tan with gold hardware.

Is there a current trend you like? Post-COVID extravagance. Full hair and make-up and ball gowns for dinner parties, that’s the vibe.

Do you have a favourite casual Sunday look? Wide-leg linen trousers with a Re/Done white ribbed tee and sneakers.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale July 26.

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