April 16 2010
My style icon is my mother. She’s German, and incredibly chic. Her style has actually evolved quite a bit through the years, but there was always good Hermès, Dior – lots of unfussy dresses, big chunky jewellery, very simple and chic. She’s altered with the times, but not followed the trends. She’s about what she’s about and has made it work for her.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Jeddah. We all have perceptions; to me, it wasn’t as bad as I imagine most of us think. It’s a port town, which means it felt slightly more relaxed. It’s basically a beautiful old town that’s utterly falling to pieces – there seems to be no preservation initiative. Many of the old parts are slums, while the rich are in the shiny new towers.
The grooming staples I’m never without are Origins Checks and Balances soap, and Terre d’Hermès, my scent, which I love but which I have worn only recently. A friend recommended it for me, which is extraordinary when you think about it. Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash, £15 for 150ml (0800-731 4039; www.origins.co.uk). Terre d’Hermès, £47 for 50ml, Hermès, 155 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7499 8856; www.hermes.com) and branches/stockists.
An indulgence I’d never forego is champagne. And chocolate. Not “or”. So I have two.
My favourite room is my bedroom. No contest. It’s where I escape the world. It’s a work in progress, with silver and blue fake fur. And there will be a big painting by Andrew Norrey above the headboard.
The last thing I bought and loved is a ceramic vase made into a table lamp. I got it at Fiona McDonald. It’s from the 1960s, with beautiful glazing doing this running-together thing – all blues and greens. From £250, Fiona McDonald, 97 Munster Road, London SW6 (020-7731 3234; www.fionamcdonald.com).
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a very tall mirror – a crucial accessory for my new flat. But it’s not quite the one I want, so I’m still looking.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose The Marché Paul Bert in Paris. It has such a variety of shops – furniture, lighting, you find the most amazing things. But it requires real looking, and loads of patience. There’s a village culture – the shopkeepers are competing, of course, but they’re utterly bound together; they break bread, literally, with each other, care for each other’s stands… I love it. 110 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint Ouen, Paris (+331-4011 5414; paulbert.antiquites-en-france.com).
The last meal that truly impressed me wasn’t very high-end, but it was delicious. It was at a place called Pho – the branch in Clerkenwell – which does Vietnamese street food. It was very pure, clean eating. And they do the best fruit juice. I’m not that into food, usually, but this was incredible – I felt really fantastic afterwards. 86 St John Street, London EC1 (020-7253 7624; www.phocafe.co.uk).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… oh, probably not doing much of anything. That’s a hard fantasy for me; it entails a trust fund. Actually, I’d dedicate myself to charity. And hopefully I’ll get to a point where that’s my focus. You need to give back.