Style | The Aesthete

Matteo di Montezemolo talks personal style: Part Two

The CEO of the Charme Group concludes his digest of desires and delights.

June 10 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My style icon is my grandfather [Massimo Cordero dei Marchesi di Montezemolo], who passed away two years ago. He was always dressed very elegantly, but I aspire to be like him more in terms of his principles. I learnt so much about ethics and how to behave in life from him. He had an immensely stylish character. My first son is named after him.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Via dei Coronari in Rome, which has the best art and objets – from vases to marbles – both classical and from the 16th and 17th centuries. I go all the time on my bike, with my son in front. He doesn’t understand art and antiques yet, of course, but I take him there anyway. And I’d also want to go to Pastificio Cerere, in San Lorenzo, where all the young Roman artists live and work in this one complex. You can go from studio to studio, chat with the artists and buy right from them. And there’s a fantastic restaurant on the ground floor, which has Roman food in a very slick environment. It’s full of art, newspapers, books and very chic people from all over the world. Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, Via degli Ausoni 7, 00185 Rome (+3906-4542 2960;

The last meal that truly impressed me was at the terrace restaurant at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. It’s very authentic Indian food but the surroundings are very modern, which I think is quite an uncommon combination. Masala Kraft, The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai 400001 (+9122-6665 3366;

The best gift I’ve given recently was a simple gold chain that has been in my family for two generations, to my wife when she gave birth to our second son, Andrea, in March. It’s maybe not something of such huge [monetary] value but I gave it to her just moments after he came into the world, so it has incredible meaning to me.

And the best one I’ve received is a drawing my son gave to me, which I carry around. It’s a portrait of me and he used colours that he knows I like. When I’m feeling pressured or upset, I take it out and look at it to remind me of what matters.

If I didn’t live in Rome and Milan, the city I would live in is Abu Dhabi. I’ve been going regularly over the past seven years, for business but also for pleasure. The people managing it – [Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed] Al Nahyan and [Mubadala Development Company CEO and Manchester City FC chairman] Khaldoon Al Mubarak – are very bright, very driven, very dynamic. They are mixing glamour with real foresight. They’ve signed agreements with important museums; the first Louvre outside Paris will be built there, by Jean Nouvel, and a new Guggenheim, by Frank Gehry. And there is excellent infrastructure – roads, hospitals, health care. I would get on a plane now and go.

The grooming staples I’m never without? There are none. I would have said a toothbrush, but now I don’t even travel with that. I don’t wear cologne. I am not, how would you say, a “beauty-kit” man. And the hotels now have everything you need. Shaving kit, shampoo, lotions – it’s all there when you arrive.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Marrakech, which I know very well and where in a few weeks’ time I will take my wife who has never been. This, for me, will be super-romantic. Marrakech, of course, has changed but the medina stays the same – it is still very much a living, vibrant thing.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Marc Newson. I’ve admired him since long before he did work for Cappellini. When I was working in New York years ago, there was an exhibition of his pieces, early original ones, and they were just staggering. Later lots of them went to auction for crazy prices. This is art for me because it reminds me about my life, about what I’m excited about. And beyond that – at the level of sheer dreaming – Caravaggio and Michelangelo.

My favourite room in my house is the second dining room. It’s not the main one, but a small room just in front of the kitchen, which we use when it’s just close friends or family. It’s the friendliest part of the house. There’s a steel table and rubber chairs that can be washed down with water, which is perfect because you wouldn’t believe what my two-year-old can do with food in a dining room. There’s a flat-screen TV, for me to watch Roma, my team, play. There’s a small window that opens to the kitchen; when we’re alone, we can just pass the dishes through it. There’s also a big window to the terrace, which is where we eat in summer. We live in these spaces.

An object I would never part with is my wedding ring. My wife’s name, Ludovica, is inscribed on the inside. It’s with me all the time, it’s like a part of me. Because, to my mind, men can be successful in work and business, but the most important thing is family. To have good kids, a good healthy family – it’s the first and most important success any man should desire.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be developing social programmes to benefit kids. I’d really like to educate them and give them health care in the places they don’t have access to it. And eventually I do hope to do this, when I have worked more years and am content with what I’ve done in business.