April 30 2010
My style icon is Madeleine Castaing, the French decorator who died 18 years ago. And, actually, my mother, who was a huge part of the making of my taste.
A recent “find” is a framer called Bourlet, in Mayfair – thanks just as much to the choice of frames as to Gabrielle’s sharp eye and good taste. And, very luckily, there is an amazing chocolate shop opposite which recently opened a café, called Coco Maya. Bourlet, 32 Connaught Street, London W2 (020-7724 4837; www.bourlet.co.uk). Coco Maya, 12 Connaught Street, London W2 (020-7706 2770; www.cocomaya.co.uk).
An indulgence I’d never forego is lovely DR Harris soap. And nice wine – my husband collects wine so we’re spoiled. I love the Rousseau burgundies, I love the Haut Brion, where you’re leaning a bit toward burgundy, the early 1980s ones especially. Also, nice holidays and clothes made from lovely fabrics; the feel of things is becoming a real priority as I get older. However, I have far too many indulgences that I think are essentials. DR Harris & Co, 29 St James’s Street, London SW1 (020-7930 3915; www.drharris.co.uk).
The last music I bought was Bach’s Six Partitas and some Angela Hewitt. But I hate listening to anything through earphones, so no iPod for me – I never even watch films on planes because of this. www.angelahewitt.com.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Battersea in London, where I live. It’s become really good for food. There’s a new bakery, Gail’s; the butcher’s, Dove and Son; Hamish Johnston, the great cheese shop; and there’s a good Italian delicatessen on the Northcote Road. Sadly, it is quite useless for clothes, so for that, I suppose Sloane Street in Knightsbridge. It’s where my dentist happens to be, so I’d combine a dentist trip with one to Marni and Bottega Veneta. Bottega Veneta, 33 Sloane Street, London SW1 (020-7838 9394; www.bottegaveneta.com). Dove and Son, 71 Northcote Road, London SW11 (020-7223 5191; www.doveandson.co.uk). Gail’s, 64 Northcote Road, London SW11 (020-7924 6330; www.gailsbread.co.uk). Hamish Johnston, 48 Northcote Road, London SW11 (020-7738 0741; www.hamishjohnston.com). Marni, 26 Sloane Street, London SW1 (020-7245 9520; www.marni.com). Salumeria Napoli, 69 Northcote Road, London SW11 (020-7228 2445).
The site that inspires me is any horizon – on the sea, or a city rooftop, or a landscape. I am very shortsighted and wear contact lenses, and I was told by my eye specialist to look at the horizon with the naked eye. Apparently it strengthens the eye muscles and helps improve eyesight. But I also love the feeling of liberation you get when looking at a horizon.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home was an absolute pile of shells and pieces of coral and dried seaweed, from an extraordinary little curiosity shop on the road edge above Puerto Andratx, on Mallorca. My bathroom is now stuffed with them. It was quite something getting it all through customs.
An object I’d never part with is, for emotional reasons, the set of family photos I carry around in my purse; and for practical reasons, my iPhone and Filofax.
The artist whose work I’d collect if I could is Popova. She was the first to impress me when I was younger, and her work probably [influenced] a philosophy in my work, if you like, in that it’s about structure and abstract proportions. And, inevitably, a bit because she is a woman.
My favourite room is my bathroom. So relaxing, so private, so comfortable and so beautiful – quite art deco, with marble basins and mirrors. We’ve got a nice big armchair, so one of us can sit in the bath and have a glass of wine, and one can sit in the chair.
The last meal that truly impressed me was dinner at my friend Lori Newman’s. She’s an amazing chef who does events and private dinners. At the moment she is into designing canapés. My favourites are her cones with cauliflower cream and caviar, topped with parmesan crisps. www.more-please.com; 020-8969 8666.
The people I rely on for grooming and style are Nicki Caro – my mother, my sister and I have been going to her for monthly facials for ages. I can only say that this is most definitely a spiritual experience, and one I insist on having every month. She is – was! – a well-kept secret. Also Gemma, at Anthony Laban, for manicures and pedicures before holidays. And Charlie at Real on Chelsea Green for my haircuts. Nicki Caro (020-7385 9890; www.nickicaro.com). Anthony Laban, 67-69 Lavender Hill, London SW11 (020-7924 3353; www.anthonylaban.com). Real, 6-8 Cale Street, Chelsea Green, London SW3 (020-7589 0877; www.realhair.co.uk).
If I wasn’t doing what I do, I would be a writer. Or rather, I’d love to have been able to be a great writer. I find writing calms my brain. I love the fact that you have a chance to work out how you want to say something, instead of blurting out a load of random ideas, as I often do. Writing often sorts out what you actually think. And if I had been born an academic, I would have loved to study the science of neurochemistry, and the effect on the emotional brain. But then, if you had asked this question a few years ago, I would have said a dancer.