Pippa Holt: A Tale of Two Cities

In full bloom: above, Pippa Holt's elegant study, where she keeps precious photos of her family and trinkets from her travels. The Chinoiserie wallpaper by de Gournay is a custom design and the cabinet is from Ikea. Holt wears one of her favourite designers, Carven. Art class: below, in the sitting room, Holt wears Stella McCartney from Net-A-Porter. The painting is by Carroll Dunham, the sofa is by Max Rollitt, the glass tables were found in Brussels and the ikat pillows are from Madeline Weinrib.


The Australian-born Dublin-based mother of two has a sunny disposition and a wardrobe to match. Here, the British Vogue contributing editor talks family, fashion and life in two cities. 

  2. Photographed by Jane Mcleish-Kelsey | Words by Natasha Inchley
  3. Hair and Makeup by Emma Farrell
  5. Pippa Holt answers the phone on a crisp Autumn morning in Dublin having just come in from the park with her two-and-a-half-year old daughter Bay and 18-month-old-son Thomas Balthazar. As she dusts the fallen leaves off her children's tiny gumboots we chat about life on the go, while her husband, Irish businessman Conor Roche, takes up the charge of playtime chaperone.
  7. Holt is light and amusing, the picture of sunny perfection and considerably more organised than her carefree manner lets on; a list-maker who schedules every day with a precise awareness of what needs to be done and when. It’s a necessity: for the past four years, her time and creative energy has been divided between her family’s base in Dublin and her role in London where she works both as Contributing Editor at British Vogue and as a fashion consultant – Holt flies out every other week to London and maintains, in part, the life that she cultivated for 12 years before moving to Ireland. To add to her cultural mix, the family recently returned from a yearlong stint in Texas. “It’s been busy and challenging but wonderful living in such different places with small children. Houston and Dublin are now part of me, just like London and Melbourne. I feel blessed to know these cities like a local.” 
  9. How then does she keep a work-family-life balance since settling back in Europe? “I haven’t mastered it yet,” she says with her typical winning charm. “I’m still enjoying the smallness of my children, even the chaos they create. They are very close in age so they need me around. I know this phase won’t last so I’m relishing it while doing my work in a way that allows me to be close to them, and for that I feel very fortunate.”
  11. Holt has even found time for a few new design endeavours – one being the launch of a line of hand-woven kaftans, inspired by her life in Texas. “It was so incredibly hot in Houston that I’d wear these beautiful, colourful kaftans every day and it made my wardrobe so simple. I’d just change my accessories to create different looks.  For the rest of the world, these will be perfect staples to wear on holidays.”

Brunch is served: above, in the airy open-plan kitchen, with Balthazar and Bay, Pippa wears Céline from Brown Thomas, Dublin;  Endless summer: below, in the sitting room, Holt wears a kaftan from her own Ulysses line. The room is decorated with vintage Knoll Bertoia Diamond chairs, an original Eames cabinet and a collection of coral from Far North Queensland, one of her home’s recurring themes; bottom left, Holt wearing her kaftans on holiday with her family in Spain.


Colour is key to Holt’s cheery-chic style. “I like it when things are a bit unusual and unique, my eye is drawn to standout pieces and bold patterns, they make me feel happy,” she says. “I think it’s important to be true to your taste and surround yourself with things that you really like – who cares about trends. When you work for Vogue you see all the latest pieces straight from the runway, but it’s how you interpret a look that gives you that point of difference.” Holt, who was born in Melbourne and began her career at Vogue Australia as a 21-year-old RMIT fashion design graduate, says her style hasn’t changed all that much over the years. “I’ve always loved to wear unusual pieces and now more colour and print having lived in Texas where the sun shines everyday, that really came out in me.”

The same could be said of her approach to decorating. The Roches live in a two-hundred-year-old Georgian townhouse, which is said to have once belonged to Oscar Wilde’s mother and is subsequently named Sperenza in her honour. Inside is an elegant yet relaxed home which plays on a mix of old and new. The interiors combine Conor’s passion for mid-century antiques with Holt’s love of amusing, even whimsical detail (the sitting room is punctuated by a rug that says “I love you” while a sofa is festooned with pop art pillows). The result is a particularly happy mélange of classical design, modern art, books and mementos from their travels around the world. “Conor has much better taste in interiors than I do,” Holt suggests. “He has a beautiful eye and loves to buy mid-century antiques at auction, whereas I’m more inclined to choose one-off pieces that don’t fit in with the rest of the house. It can exasperate him!”

Above: My hue heaven: In the sitting room, Holt wears a Dries Van Noten shirt from Brown Thomas, Dublin, an Hermès cuff and Prada shoes. The large paper collage is by Nathan Carter, the I Love You rug is by Jürgen Dahlmanns, the marble coffee table is from Organic Modernism in New York and the lamp is an antique Stilnovo found in Brussels. On the facing wall, the collage is by Peter Blake and the pillows on the Conran sofa are from both The Rug Company and Country Road. Image gallery below: Room with a view: In the sun-drenched sitting room with her children, Holt wears Valentino from Net-A-Porter.

  2. One thing the couple did agree on was that the house should never feel stuffy or stitched up: the living room-playroom is its heart while the bowling alley-long entrance is a terrific space for scooter practise or pirate games. Holt says, “The hallway is probably my favourite room because I love how traditional it is with its tall, Georgian arched ceiling, one wall completely covered with a colourful Nathan Carter instillation and a couple of Rick Owens concrete lamps to mark the doorway. It’s a crazy mix of classic and fun”.


  4. Her study is especially pretty: when Conor persuaded Holt to relocate from London to Dublin, he surprised her by having the sunny office wallpapered in her favourite eau de Nil Chinoiserie by de Gournay. It’s here that Holt keeps an assortment of personal treasures: a Mexican pillow, paperweights from Rajasthan and a collection of shells together with a much-loved photograph of her grandparents, Dame Zara and former Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt.


  6. Holt credits her Australian childhood with her grounded approach to life and says she’s very keen to give her children the same. “They are both very Aussie,” she says. “They have Vegemite every morning on their toast and they love their collection of Australian storybooks. In a way, it’s as though the children belong to four different communities – each with their own wonderful influences. We’re a bit like gypsies at the moment,” she explains. Indeed, the family has just returned from a month-long holiday in Australia and Holt has planned trips to India, America, Edinburgh and Mexico over the next few months. As for traveling with small children in tow she says, “You’ve got to be ahead of the game – I carry a little bag of small toys and surprises that they’ve never seen, but of course no matter how organised you are it’s always exhausting.”


  8. To combat any stress, Holt allows a little time in her week for yoga by the Irish sea (“When you have a family, I think you have to consciously make the effort to recharge otherwise it doesn’t happen.”) along with phone calls to girlfriends around the globe. “Life is unpredictable,” she says, “but I’m enjoying working on new design projects and balancing it with the blissful chaos of family life.”


  2. Above: Play time: Holt wears J.W. Anderson sweater and skirt from Brown Thomas, Dublin, with Valentino shoes. Below: Earthly delights: In the garden, Holt wears a Stella McCartney sweater with J.Crew jeans, an Hermès Kelly bag and Manolo Blahnik shoes.