Style | The Aesthete

John Rocha talks personal style

John Rocha is the doyen of Dover Street. His creations extend from menswear and womenswear to interior design.

September 28 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty

My personal style signifiers are my long grey hair and my Claddagh ring. I went grey about five years ago, and I designed my own version of the Claddagh. It’s as Irish as Guinness and I’d always wanted to make it more contemporary.

The last thing I bought and loved was a drawing by William Scott, Seated Nude from 1956. I had seen it in a book, then I saw it in an exhibition and had to have it. I bought it to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. www.williamscott.org.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Mendoza, Argentina. I was sitting in a field having lunch at a gorgeous private winery called Andillian with acres of land and the mountains around me, and I felt it was the most beautiful place to be.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is Iga, a large ceramic jar by Shiro Tsujimura, from an exhibition in New York City. I collect ceramics and it’s so hard to create a very simple but still totally engaging object. Iga is simple, like a saucer, and white. It represents such a contrast with Picasso’s ceramics, which I also collect, which are so in your face.

The books on my bedside table are Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and Gandhi: An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. This is the second book I’ve read on Gandhi. He’s such a powerful figure.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Noma in Copenhagen. I like that it’s facing a river, in a warehouse, and all the staff are very young. Everything I had was something new, something I hadn’t tasted before. It was an amazing experience. Being a designer, I can understand the process of trying to develop each dish. Noma, Strandgade 93, 1401 Copenhagen (+45-3296 3297; www.noma.dk).

The last music I bought was by Elvis Costello, as well as Karen Elson’s album The Ghost Who Walks. I love country music, and Elvis for me is a blend of country and rock. I saw him play recently at a small venue with his new band. I buy CDs at Tower Records in Dublin – I don’t download music. www.elviscostello.com. www.karenelson.com.

The thing I’m eyeing next is an oil-on-wood painting by the Irish artist Guggi, from his War and Peace series. He’s a very good friend of mine, and he was in a rock band in the 1980s called The Virgin Prunes. His style is very calming. It feels quite Asian to me; almost Chinese or Japanese. www.guggi.com.

In my fridge you’ll always find a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. It’s so delicious. And when I find something I like, I don’t change it. www.cloudybay.co.nz.

The best gift I’ve given recently is a book entitled The Táin, Thomas Kinsella’s version of legendary Irish tale Táin Bó Cúailnge, from antiquarian bookstore Cathach Books. It’s illustrated by Louis le Brocquy, the most famous living Irish artist. It’s beautiful. 10 Duke Street, Dublin 2 (+3531-671 8676; www.rarebooks.ie).

And the best one I’ve received recently is an original issue of Verve magazine dedicated to Picasso published in 1954. My wife, Odette, gave it to me on Father’s Day.

The site that inspires me is Angkor Wat, Cambodia. I went at 4am on a bicycle; it was pitch black, the mist lifted from the buildings and I felt very small and humbled by the whole experience. It confirmed what I think about things – we are all just passing through.

An object I would never part with is my 1958 Porsche 356. I bought it about 10 years ago; I’d always thought it was the most beautiful car. Mine is all black. If I could have designed just one thing, I’d like to have designed that.

A recent “find” is McCaffrey Fine Art in New York. It’s so understated, in an Upper East Side brownstone; very different from everything in Chelsea. 23 East 67th Street, New York 10065 (+1212-988 2200; www.mcaffreyfineart.com).

My favourite website is Showstudio. I am not a big internet fan – I only really use it to check the football results – but when I want to see what’s going on in fashion, I visit Showstudio; I love Nick Knight. www.showstudio.com.

See also

People, Interview