Style | The Aesthete

John Rocha talks personal style: Part Two

Further tasteful revelations from the doyen of Dover Street.

October 01 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is Madame Joyce Ma, the Hong Kong fashion pioneer. She has brought so many designers to Hong Kong since the 1970s, including Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. She is so elegant. I know what Hong Kong was like in the 1950s and 1960s, and for someone to have had that vision back then is amazing.

An indulgence I’d never forego is the distance I will travel for the sake of fishing. I usually go right after Fashion Week and it’s a different experience wherever I go: it can be arctic in Russia and you won’t see anyone else, but when I go to Cuba in autumn, you can get off the boat and be in beautiful sunshine.

The grooming staples I’m never without are soap and water. Every hotel I go to, I just use whatever they have. I don’t care about brands.

The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were three cotton jackets, which I made in the studio. I have a very simple wardrobe: I wear black because I see it as a blank canvas. Also, I travel a lot, so everywhere I have a home, in London, Dublin or in France, I have six pairs of black trousers and shirts, two jackets and a few white shirts, and it all matches.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Sean Scully. In fact, I have five pieces. I love his work because it’s about colour and the depth of the colour, and it’s very pure. I started buying 10 years ago, and the price has gone up and up and up. We actually went to the same college, so I feel vaguely connected to him.

My favourite room is my sitting room in Dublin. It’s about 1,500sq ft and you can see right out to the back garden. It’s very quiet and I feel very much at home. I have the same furniture in each living room I have – a black-gloss coffee table and a glass sideboard, the same design of sofa and a few African elements.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Dover Street in London. Dover Street Market is a beautiful shop, it sells wonderful objects as well as fashion. Acne and APC have opened up stores here recently. You can have a lovely breakfast at The Wolseley, then there’s The Arts Club, and there are great places for coffee where I can sit outside and have a smoke. Acne, 13 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7629 9374; APC, 35 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7409 0121; The Arts Club, 40 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7499 8581; Dover Street Market, 17-18 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7518 0680; The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1 (020-7499 6996;

The person I rely on for grooming and personal style is my wife Odette. She trims my hair every six months, and that’s all I need.

If I didn’t live in Dublin, the city I would live in is my home town of Hong Kong. I left because in the late 1960s there were no opportunities, but I have great memories. It’s a very different Hong Kong now. I go three or four times a year and my family are still there. You can get the best meal in the world and you can get to Bali and Tokyo easily, or to mainland China on the train.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a professional football player. I played until I was 40, and then took up fishing. I come from a British colony, so we all watched and we all played. It’s a wonderful sport, and to be able to make a living doing something you enjoy is the icing on the cake.

See also

People, Interview