After my first meeting with Freddie, I went to his house for parties or lunches several times as indeed did he come to mine. His house fascinated me In that the main sitting room had once been an artist’s studio and had enormous height and space. It was full of varied collections of objects, although for me, the pieces of glass from Daum and by Lalique were especially exciting. They were exactly the type I loved, big statements, chunky and not over decorated.
Elsewhere, were more elaborate examples of Freddie’s taste and I loved his ability and confidence to mix these varied styles. There were many pieces of chinoiserie, art nouveau and ormolu along with huge overstuffed settees and armchairs surrounding thick, heavy glass tables, objects placed on the tables along with sweet meats and cigarettes.
Of course, there was the huge piano with dozens of silver photograph frames on it. It was a very opulent setting. Cristal champagne seemed forever on tap, served in a variety of lovely glasses which I would always have been rather nervous of breaking had they been mine.
I never saw anything of the sex, drugs and rock “n’ roll which as a newcomer to this fabled scene I had been keeping half an eye open for it. Freddie would move around his guests with the ease of a natural host, displaying an elegance yet at the same time exuding a strange mixture of macho and camp.
He was obviously very proud of his home and his collections. I could not help remarking on the individuality of his style which he had brought to this very unusual Edwardian wealthy artist’s domain.
Clearly, if he couldn’t find what he was looking for in the way of furniture, he designed his own and had it made. Here, his non-European background would express itself and yet the unusual pieces he collected and created somehow fitted in to effect a balanced whole. I always felt his colour sense was unusual. It was not my own taste but I was always fascinated by the colours he put together.
I suppose I’m trying to say that Freddie was truly unique. You knew that he didn’t scour the pages of the House and Garden magazine for his ideas.
And then there were his cats … Cats are my favourite animals and Freddie’s almost seemed to be everywhere rubbing their cheeks against the leg of the chair, slinking round the side of the sofa, padding across a fabulous rug to leap effortlessly onto the top of the piano. They would have given me a heart attack when I think how they picked their way elegantly through the forest of fragile treasures. I asked Freddie if much got broken. Strangely, I can’t remember his reply but clearly the cats were more important than anything that might have been toppled and broken. He adored them and they were indeed adorable.
What surprised me most of all as I got to know him better was how easy he was to be with. He
was genuinely interested in so many things and he had that lovely curiosity which makes for such natural conversation.
He was absolutely fascinating!
Businessman and Designer of gift wraps and greeting cards since early 60s and Freddie’s good friend2