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Style | The Aesthete

Alexandra Champalimaud talks style: Part 2

The interior designer wraps up her list of lusts with a cashmere coat and super-soft bed sheets

February 01 2013
Maria Shollenbarger

My style icon is not one specific person. I draw inspiration from a range of seemingly effortlessly elegant women: Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and Meryl Streep.  

The site that inspires me is the Atlantic Ocean. I admit that I prefer looking west across it rather than east. I will always remember the rough sea at Guincho beach, in Portugal where I grew up.

An object I would never part with is the bronze of a Madonna and child on my night table. I have countless treasures that remind me of important stories. This one is a family heirloom my mother passed on to me when I was seven. It acts as a kind of touchstone and is somehow emotionally stabilising.

An indulgence I would never forego is regular spa treatments – especially facials. But they are not so much indulgences as necessities.

The last item I added to my wardrobe is a Brunello Cucinelli grey cashmere coat that I wear with an Alexander McQueen skull- and floral-print scarf. www.brunellocucinelli.com. From £165; www.alexandermcqueen.com.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could… is a tough question to answer, but I covet the idea of owning a “duelling” pair of paintings by Braque and Picasso, not only for their pure aesthetic genius, but because they represent different expressions of the evolution of 20th-century art.

The best gift I’ve given recently is fabulous, incredibly soft bed linen designed by my daughter-in-law, Sandrine Champalimaud, in her Antithese pattern. It was made using Egyptian cotton satin, woven in Italy and embroidered in England. From £80; www.sandrinechampalimaud.com.

And the best gift I’ve received is a grandchild – the beautiful Lillian Noth. I have been longing for grandchildren and by the summer, it appears we will have four.

My favourite room in my house is the 18th-century-style dining room in Litchfield. Its blue-black painted walls reflect candlelight and afternoon winter sun in a way that always reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner.  

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose St Germain in Paris. There are so many fantastic design showrooms there that I love: India Mahdavi, Christophe Delcourt, Holland & Sherry and Christian Liaigre. Christian Liaigre, 42 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris (+331-5363 3366; www.christian-liaigre.fr). Christophe Delcourt, 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris (+331-4271 5378; www.christophedelcourt.com). Holland & Sherry, 17 Rue de L’Echaude, 75006 Paris (+331-4233 8518; www.hollandandsherry.co.uk). India Mahdavi, 3 Rue Las Cases, 75007 Paris (+331-4555 6767; www.india-mahdavi.com).

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is London. It is a second home to me. Although I think I could happily live anywhere, provided I have my dogs and my husband with me.

The people I rely on for personal grooming are Julien at the Julien Farel Salon at the Setai Fifth Avenue – he is excellent at cutting short hair and has the best colourists in the world – and any of the fantastic masseurs at the Peninsula New York. I was involved with the design of the hotel’s spa; it’s serene and the perfect respite, although ultimately it’s the organic treatments I go for. Julien Farel, 400 5th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018 (+1212-613 8720; www.julienfarel.com).The Peninsula New York, 700 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019 (+1212-956 2888; www.peninsula.com).

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a fado singer. As a girl, my voice was trained, and in my dreams I would love to wander from café to café late at night in Lisbon singing those deep, melancholic songs to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars. This music is the voice of my heritage.