Style | The Aesthete

Caroline Michel talks personal style

Caroline Michel is CEO of literary and talent agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop. Her clients include Jeanette Winterson and Simon Schama.

September 07 2010
Janice Blackburn

My personal style signifier is the simplest of black dresses – invariably Prada or Dolce & Gabbana – with Christian Louboutin heels, which are classic, comfortable and give you height while making you feel you are walking on air. Christian Louboutin, 23 Motcomb Street, London SW1 (020-7245 6510; www.christianlouboutin.com). Dolce & Gabbana, 6-8 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7659 9000; www.dolcegabbana.com). Prada, 16-18 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7647 5000; www.prada.com).

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of early-19th-century French naïve flower paintings, after being driven mad by the desire to own a Van Gogh when I was at the recent exhibition at the Royal Academy. I saw these two slightly primitive paintings in Wild At Heart, my favourite flower shop, and had to have them. 54 Pimlico Road, London SW1 (020-3145 0442; www.wildatheart.com).

And the thing I’m eyeing next is an 18th-century Flemish tapestry with those blues, greens and ochres that you never see any more – timeworn and exquisite. My heart is set on it, but my finances keep it firmly a dream.

The last item I added to my wardrobe is a Lanvin coat. I love the cut and styling and the subdued shimmer of the buttons. I never take it off if I can help it. 128 Mount Street, London W1 (020-7491 1839; www.lanvin.com).

The books on my bedside table are my client Allison Pearson’s new novel, I Think I Love You, which makes me laugh and cry; and a new edition of my father-in-law George Ewart Evans’ story of vanishing times, Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay, illustrated by the incomparable David Gentleman. Also there’s a 1939 Clarendon Press edition of Keats’ complete poetical works with incredibly detailed footnotes, and Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes’ poetry anthology, The Rattle Bag.

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is two boxes of Cohiba cigars from the Partagás cigar factory in Cuba. My sons have had cigars clamped in their mouths ever since. www.habanos.com.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is currently Arshile Gorky; I find as I grow older I have a hankering for him.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at the top of a mountain in Méribel, in the Three Valleys, with visibility down to less than a foot and the snow driving across the mountain. A sudden light appeared and there it was… La Folie Douce restaurant. Inside was warmth and the most delicious pot au feu I have ever eaten. 73440 Val Thorens, France (+336-0737 7979).

The site that inspires me is not a site but rather the view from Waterloo Bridge, up and down the river, from St Paul’s to the House of Commons, and the same view from the London Eye, taking in the vast, beautiful landscape of London.

The last music I downloaded was done for me by a great Brazilian friend who sends me mixes of the wonderful Chico Buarque. It is that mixture of soulful blues and Latin American rhythm – irresistible. www.chicobuarque.com.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Paris, because of Shakespeare and Company [bookshop] and the beautiful Sylvie, who runs it. And the cafés where you can have coffee and a Calvados at 11am and not feel out of place.

In my fridge you’ll always find bacon, cheese, eggs, salad and tomatoes, because three teenagers always want meals at the oddest of times and for varying numbers of people.

The grooming staples I’m never without are Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom and a couple of hair ties to tie my hair back, as I usually hate it by the end of the day. Jo Malone, 150 Sloane Street, London SW1 (0870-192 5121; www.jomalone.co.uk).

My favourite website is FT.com – but the computer at home is permanently fixed on Asos, where my daughter Mabel seems to spend most of her waking life, while the boys permanently download music from iTunes straight, it seems, onto my credit card. www.asos.com, www.ft.com, www.itunes.com.