Style | The Aesthete

Vernon Bruce Hoeksema talks personal style: Part Two

Further tasteful divulgences from Asprey’s new creative director.

August 06 2010
Vivienne Becker

My style icon? Almost impossible to say. It’s about how you dress and how you carry yourself, of course, but it’s also about what you do – the whole atmosphere around a person adds to their style, not just what they have on. There are a lot of famous people who have no style whatsoever, and a lot of people with incredible style who aren’t famous. But, as an example, Princess Rosario of Bulgaria looks just as amazing when she’s dropping the kids off at school as in an evening gown.

The last meal that truly impressed me was one my housekeeper in Rome prepared for me. I showed her how to make chicken curry and apple crumble, and she did a wonderful job.

The people I rely on for grooming and style include Aba Le, an amazing massage therapist [at Browns Hotel and Club Kensington]. The rest I do myself, because otherwise it takes too much time. I do my own manicures, and I even cut my own hair. I’m really more of a health person. Browns Hotel, Albemarle Street, London W1 (020-7493 6020; Club Kensington, 201-207 High Street Kensington, London W8 (020-7937 5386;

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is one of the four I already, more or less, live in: Rome, London, Paris, New York. Sometimes I think about buying an apartment in Berlin, which is just destined to grow in cultural importance. It is exciting, with beautiful architecture, museums and a lot going on. It’s totally international – and has great nightlife.

The best gift I’ve received recently is my mother’s health; hearing good news, and knowing that we’ve got through it.

The site that inspires me is the Pantheon in Rome. One evening in winter I went in, and the whole inside was lit; it was dark outside, and there was just a column of rain in the centre with the light hitting it. The most important thing for my happiness is light; I love the crystal blue light in Rome, the golden light in the evenings and the colours of a Roman sunset.

An object I would never part with is an amazing Eugene Printz table from the 1930s, in bronze and palmwood. He is less well known than [Emile-Jacques] Ruhlmann, but better, I think. And there’s one more: an abstract Alexandre Noll ebony sculpture – so free-form and beautiful.

My favourite room would have to be the South Salon of the VBH boutique in New York. The building was originally a bank, so it’s on a large scale; the ceilings are very tall, the windows big, and the South Salon has particularly wonderful proportions. And great furniture – there is a Ruhlmann desk, a Eugene Printz table, all mixed with antique Chinese pieces. I think of it almost as a room in one of my homes. 940 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021 (+1212-717 9800).

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood, I’d choose the area around Piazza di Spagna, especially the Via del Babuino, in Rome; and in Paris, the [Marché aux] Puces or the antiques dealers on the Left Bank for furniture and decorative objects. I have the great fortune to live and travel in many different cities, and there is something I love in each. I find it difficult to choose one area, because it depends what you’re looking for, but there are certain things I love about everywhere.

An indulgence I’d never forego is, aside from light, which I’ve already mentioned, chocolate – but only dark chocolate; never milk. I have different favourites depending on which city I’m in. La Maison du Chocolat is amazing, and I love Fouquet’s chocolate-covered almonds, and in London I eat Green & Black’s. Fouquet, 22 Rue François 1er, 75008 Paris (+331- 4723 3036;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would have wanted architecture as a career. I started by studying architecture and I always regret not finishing. Or I would be a veterinarian. I love animals – especially dogs – but I don’t like blood or needles.