Style | The Aesthete

David Collins talks personal style

The man behind the look of London’s chicest hotel bars, David Collins also designed the interiors of The Wolseley and J Sheekey.

October 13 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My personal style signifier is a navy blue suit. Navy blue anything, really. I suppose I’m obsessed with it – I never wear black. If it’s not blue, it’s white. I wear a Franck Muller gold watch with a navy croc strap specially made by the company.

The best gift I’ve given recently was to my business partner – an Eileen Gray Transat chair, when he was moving house, which I bought at auction in Paris. It’s the best chair Eileen Gray made; they used to reissue it but they don’t any more – you’d have to look for a vintage one.

And the best one I’ve received recently was a navy blue Céline bag, which Phoebe Philo sent me out of the blue. I thought that was super-chic – an impromptu gift – and, of course, it caters to my obsession with navy blue. It’s very pared down and simple.

The grooming staples I’m never without are a razor blade, soap and Kiton Black, the old-school cologne by the old Neopolitan tailor. Kiton, 14a Clifford Street, London W1 (020-7409 2000;

The last music I bought was Janelle Monae. She’s really interesting – like the female Prince. And Quincy Jones’s Ultimate Collection – I love the orchestrations. And also, just to torture myself, I suppose, I bought In The Upper Room, the Philip Glass score.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Left Bank in Paris. I start off in Rue du Bac, and wander all the way down to Saint Michel or Odéon. There are countless things I find inspiring: I love La Palette, Les Deux Magots, the Galerie Chastel-Maréchal and Anne-Sophie Duval. Put me down anywhere for a cup of coffee and a ham sandwich, I’m happy as can be. Les Deux Magots, 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés (+331-4548 5525). Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval, 5 Quai Malaquais (+331-4354 5116). Galerie Chastel-Maréchal, 5 Rue Bonaparte (+331-4046 8261). La Palette, 43 Rue de Seine (+331-4326 6815).

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of Linda Farrow Luxe sunglasses: aviators with a twist, dark blue and gold. £449, 020-7713 1105;

And the thing I’m eyeing next? I’d like to get myself a nice little filmmaking kit to make mini movies of some of the projects I’m working on. I’m doing the recce now on the equipment I need. And I’m reading Technopolis to get up to speed.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Portofino. I went for the first time last August, and the coastline was really beautiful. We stayed at the Splendido; I loved all the black and white marble floors. But it’s not the furthest or most exotic place I’ve gone to; that would be Baku, in Azerbaijan, which was extraordinary; it’s a sort of mini Upper West Side mixed up with a mini Beaux Arts Paris. The houses all have these wonderful summer rooms cantilevered out over the street. Just beautiful. And patently exotic. Hotel Splendido, Portofino, Italy, from €616 (

The books on my bedside table are a biography of Francis Bacon, Incunabula; a Mapp and Lucia novel; and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle for when I’m worried about the future. And The Last of the Duchess by Caroline Blackwood, based on the last days of Wallis Simpson.

In my fridge you’ll always find fruit, fresh vegetables and aloe vera. That’s all, sadly. No ice cream – nothing that delicious.

An object I’d never part with? I have no affinity with objects – I’d give away anything. If you give it away, you get it back in energy. Emotional investment in an object… it’s never going to return it, is it? If someone really likes something of mine, I like to give it to them.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I’d live in is Paris, even though people tell me the charm is preserved because I’m not there all the time. I had a dalliance with Buenos Aires, about which I was quite passionate, but it’s so far away. So, Paris. I don’t have a problem with the French. What can I say; I’m Irish. We get on with people.