June 05 2010
My style icon is my friend Henri Fitzwilliam-Lay. She’s an interior decorator and we spend a lot of time together, rummaging around markets, antiquing, going to Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road Auctions, car boots and fleamarkets. Her work has a 1950s and 1960s vibe and her style is very, very funky. But not so much you ever think, “My God, that’s really insane.” She has that kind of American glamour. www.henrifitzwilliamlay.com.
The site that inspires me is the Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. It is visually so impressive. I lived in Malta until I was 11, and then my parents moved to Rome until I was 16 (I was at boarding school in England from the age of 13). It is a beautiful, beautiful city and I love just walking around it – there’s so much to see.
An object I would never part with is my wedding ring and my four lovely little eternity rings, studded with tiny diamonds, one for each baby, which Chris bought me for our 25th wedding anniversary from Phoenix Roze. 39 8th Avenue, New York 10014 (+1212-255 2362; www.phoenixroze.com).
An indulgence I’d never forego is my rollies: Golden Virginia and green Rizlas.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Naples. It’s exciting and full of life. You eat very well, you can have a jolly good glass of wine, and you’ve got the sea – you could have a boat. You could take trips to Capri and you could motor down the Amalfi coast. I would live in some great big baroque palace somewhere stunning in the Bay of Naples.
The last item I added to my wardrobe was a Bianca burgundy calfskin bag from J&M Davidson. Its clothes and bags are very classic but it does great colours, and it’s all incredibly well made. £479, 97 Golborne Road, London W10 (020-8969 2244; www.jandmdavidson.com).
The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are three Tibetan screenprints I found in Kathmandu. I was instantly attracted to the colours – Day-Glo pink and fluorescent yellows, green and blues – and the contrast of that brightness on handmade paper. They’re meditation aids: one is a Buddha; another is a Mandala [a Tantric meditation device]; the last is the Citipati, two skeletons that are important protector deities.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Fred Tomaselli. I’ve got one of his pieces, called After Migrant Fruit Thugs (2008), a tapestry of two birds in wool and silk with metallic thread. It comes from a project we did last year called Banners of Persuasion, where we commissioned 14 contemporary artists – including Grayson Perry and Paul Noble – to design limited-edition tapestries. Fred Tomaselli at James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001 (+1212-714 9500; www.jamescohan.com). www.bannersofpersuasion.com.
My favourite room is my kitchen. I like it when everyone comes home from work or school and we all gather to eat and drink and talk about our day. It’s a very bright room with jolly, eclectic china, a big table and a well-stocked bar. There’s a hand-blocked Indian textile on the table that I originally bought as a bedspread. And a nice big rug!
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Notting Hill. In Portobello you can literally go out in your trackie bottoms and potter around. You’ve got the fruit and veg market, the antiques market and lots of little shops. Then there are the smarter shops on Westbourne Grove, or you can go down to the Golborne Road where there’s stuff on the pavement, and a real Moroccan vibe. My favourites are Aimé, a French fashion store on Ledbury Road; and The Cloth Shop on Portobello Road. I love the quirky antiques shops such as Les Couilles du Chien, and Sean Berg for 20th-century design. Aimé, 32-34 Ledbury Road, London W11 (020-7221 7070; www.aimelondon.com). The Cloth Shop, 290 Portobello Road, London W10 (020-8968 6001; www.theclothshop.net). Les Couilles du Chien, 65 Golborne Road, London W10 (020-8968 0099; www.lescouillesduchien.co.uk). Sean Berg, 109 Freston Road, London W11 (020-7313 6590; www.seanbergltd.com).
The grooming staples I’m never without are Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco shampoo and conditioner, which have a divine smell of coconut and make your hair really soft. And for make-up: Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes mascara, and Elizabeth Arden Smoky Eyes Powder Pencil in gunmetal. Givenchy (www.givenchy.com; 01932-233 824). Bumble and Bumble (020-8740 2085) and see Space NK. Space NK (www.spacenk.co.uk). Elizabeth Arden (020-7574 2714; www.elizabetharden.co.uk).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a writer. I absolutely love to read, I love reading to the children and I’ve lots of stories in my head. But when I say I want to be a writer it doesn’t mean I can write. It’s a fantasy – like saying I want to be Kate Moss.