Allude & Friends: Westwing’s Delia Fischer on cosy cashmere and perfect interiors
In just a little over four years, now 29-year-old Delia Fischer from Munich developed the idea of an exclusive shopping club for furnishings and home accessories into a fast-growing international new economy business: the Westwing Home & Living GmbH. The former fashion journalist refined her sense of style at magazines such as Elle and Elle Decoration before launching Westwing.de in April of 2011 with a team of enthusiastic supporters. The rest, as they say, is history.
Currently Westwing has over 17 million active members in eleven countries and employs more than 1000 people. And since Delia Fischer is an avowed fan of everything cashmere, it was like a match made in retail heaven when, in mid-January, the Allude Home Collection was introduced exclusively on the web portal, featuring pillows, opulent blankets and other soft and cosy items that bring a touch of feel-good luxury into the home. This premiere is just the beginning, so stay tuned.
But now to our interview with the highly likeable Delia Fischer, who talks about cheerful interiors, sins of youth (rooms), dream trips and beauty secrets.
How do you start your day?
My day starts at 7am, which is when I turn off the alarm clock and switch on my phone. Checking e-mails wakes me up instantly, even though I am definitely not a morning person. Then I jump into the shower, pick an outfit, and after a quick cup of tea I’m on my way to the office, where I’ll have some kind of breakfast later in the morning.
Which beauty product do you rely on most?
I use the lightly tinted day cream “Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPV 50” by SkinCeuticals with mineral sunscreens every day. I don’t need additional makeup. Sunscreen is extremely important to me. For the last ten years I’ve never left the house without applying UV protection cream.
The coolest song on your iPod or iPhone?
I can’t get enough of “Creep” by jazz singer Karen Souza – and I love all early Elton John songs.
How would you describe your own style?
My style is definitely eclectic, simply because I see so many different pieces of furniture and objects in the course of my work and get to know new brands and home accessories all the time. It therefore seems impossible to focus on only one type of interior style. What is most important to me is what I’d call a cheerful neatness. Bright rooms, distinct accents with pastel colours and exquisite retro elements – be it photographs or my bar cart from the 1970s.
My fashion sense actually follows in a similar direction; I like pastels and a certain feminine elegance there, too. As founder and CEO I can hardly show up in the office wearing a wild hippie look.
Can you remember your first garment made of cashmere?
I was 17 when my mother gave me a cashmere scarf as a present. I still wear it today; I wrapped myself in it just last night when I went to bed feeling a cold creeping up on me.
What is your favourite piece of the Allude collection?
I like the long cardigans that are open in front and fall into perfect little waves. In the office I usually wear blouses and silk shirts, and when I get cold, those cardigans are simply wonderful. Cosy and elegant, classy and comfortable. A definite must-have for plane trips as well. Cashmere simply makes you feel wonderfully at home.
Do you have style icons?
I adore the actress, columnist, horse rider and socialite CZ Guest (1920-2003). She embodied that all-American glamour as few others could, and her house with its Roman columns and huge pool must have been heaven for fans of unusual interiors. By the way, C.Z. Guest also tried her hand as a fashion designer of cashmere sweaters. And she had her own line of gardening tools, including a scented bug spray. In my home I have a large photograph of her taken by Slim Aarons in 1955’s Palm Beach. Contemporary creatives I admire are Kelly Hoppen and Jonathan Adler, who each inspire me in their own way.
When did you discover your passion for interior design?
It started early. When I was about twelve years old, I restored a friend’s discarded dollhouse as a Christmas present for my younger sister, painting each little room in a different colour and decorating everything. I had so much fun doing it. I probably picked up this passion from my mother, who would extensively decorate and rearrange our home, driving my father crazy at times.
A certain degree of etiquette has also always been important in my family’s home – no paper towels at the table but real napkins, etc. Not in a conservative formal way, but rather expressing a certain joy in being together at lunch or dinner.
Oh, and of course issues of the most prestigious lifestyle magazines were always scattered about: Schöner Wohnen, Architectural Digest and Elle Deco.
What did your youth room look like?
Of course my walls were plastered with posters of the hottest singers and bands back then. But I also had a chandelier, floral bedding and fairy lights. And pillows with covers that I had sown myself.
Your greatest treasure?
A book of quotations and prayers that my late grandmother, who was very religious, gave me when I was ten. I treasure it like a sack of gold!
By what or whom have you been particularly inspired lately?
On a recent flight I watched the documentary “Life’s but a Dream” about the impressive career of Beyoncé, describing how she became a pop culture icon through her music and her personality, but never stopped speaking her mind despite negative headlines – hats off to her!
Your most amazing trip?
That was definitely when I went to the city of Pune, India, as an exchange student at age 17. I lived there for seven weeks, as part of a family, and initially I found it quite difficult to get accustomed. But in the end the experience profoundly influenced me. Another wonderful trip I took was a catamaran cruise with friends in the Seychelles, which I treated myself to after two years of working nonstop during the launch of Westwing. I urgently needed the break, because my family and friends had already been complaining that I was slowly becoming hard to bear and needed to go on holiday. At first I had a hard time switching off, until one morning I stood at deck with a cup of coffee while we were heading towards the island of La Digue. It was just incredibly beautiful, with myriads of shades of turquoise in the water surrounding it.
What makes you happy?
I was very happy the other day when I saw the results of a little competition we held in the office to “beautify your work space”. Each team got a budget to spend on upgrading or decorating its office – and even our IT guys went out of their way to pull off something nice. Just great!
Your favourite book?
Waves by Eduard von Keyserling, written in 1911. The story revolves around a summer season at the Baltic Sea at the turn of the century and an illustrious group of vacationers and locals whose chance meeting turns into a social tragedy. Karl Lagerfeld actually staged a fashion shoot for Vogue based on the book several years ago. During my last short break of four days I read Das große Los (“The big prize”) by Meike Winnemuth, in which she writes about her journey around the world. A funtastic holiday read.
Your favourite movie and / or favourite TV series?
I love shows like “Nashville” with Hayden Panettiere, “Modern Family” or “Hart of Dixie” with Rachel Bilson. And films with elaborate costumes and sets, which take us to a different era. “The Great Gatsby”, perhaps, or the oblique comedy “Down with Love”, starring Renee Zellweger, with plenty of Sixties charm and clothes.
A friend of mine recently gave me a DVD with the American political series “The West Wing” for my birthday. After all, she said, how could I run a company of the same name and not know the series?!
What talent would you like to have?
I’d love to be able to sing and admire musicality in others. I do sing myself, but only in the shower or in the car when I’m by myself. It’s better that way, believe me.
Your most liked photo on Instagram?
What are your dreams for the future?
My main goal is for everyone in Germany to first think of Westwing when it comes to buying furniture online. I want it to become a household brand that is as well known as the tissue company Tempo or Coca-Cola.
The secret to your success?
Imagination and perseverance, because if you build a company like Westwing, you absolutely need to have both!