Style | The Aesthete

David Collins talks personal style: Part Two

The designer behind some of London’s chicest hotel bars puts the finishing touches to his catalogue of likes and delights.

October 15 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My style icon is… Oh, I find this impossible to answer. I did sit opposite Lapo Elkann recently, and his clothes were a tiny bit ridiculous, but you know, he really carries it all off. And Guglielmo Miani. We’re designing a store for him, in the Via Montenapoleone, and his whole look, and energy, is just…regenerating. Concept Boutique Larusmiani, Via Montenapoleone 7, 20121 Milan (www.larusmiani.it).

An indulgence I’d never forego is nice holidays. Because really, they are what drives the creativity that’s the core of my job – they are what rejuvenates it. It could be three days in Paris, 10 days in Uruguay. They’re for rediscovering myself as a relaxed, laid-back person – the one who actually has the creativity.

The site that inspires me is the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. First of all, IM Pei did the architecture and it’s divine. And the art is deeply inspiring – an education, because in the west we’re quite closed to the importance and heritage of that art, even someone like me, who has a visual – essentially an arts-based – career. I was quite in awe of the whole thing. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar (+974-4422 4444; www.mia.org.qa).

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is inspiration. Positivity. A tan. But I know you mean stuff, so; I bring a little book from a local shop, or a swatch of fabric. A colour is often what I’ll bring back, in bits and pieces of things I find.

The last item I added to my wardrobe was a navy blue crocodile leather belt I bought in St Tropez. Even though I tried quite hard to convince myself it was stamped leather, it did in fact have “crocodile” stamped on the back. So I shed a few crocodile tears; I felt a bit bad about that; but I’ll try to use it as inspiration for a chair or something.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is almost impossible to say. The thing is that my taste and my focus change all the time. And, to be very honest, I find the whole idea of collecting someone, a single artist, a bit nouveau riche. These expansive, expensive collections tend to be matched by their owners’ paucity of joie de vivre. It’s made me quite cynical about things like that. That said, I like Wolfgang Tillmans, and in the past I bought his work a lot. And had mixed feelings about seeing it in the Serpentine this year. Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 (020-7402 6075; www.serpentinegallery.org). www.tillmans.co.uk.

The last meal that truly impressed me was in Cape Town, where I had the most delicious cake – passion-fruit Victoria sponge – at Manna Epicure. And I had a really great meal at the Union Market in Fulham – a delicious club sandwich and salad, prior to going on a wheat-free regime. And, just recently, the most perfect, simple pasta and tomato sauce I’ve ever had in my life, at Tom’s Kitchen. Manna Epicure, 151 Kloof Street, Cape Town (+2721-426 2413). Tom’s Kitchen, 27 Cale Street, London SW3 (020-7349 0202; www.tomskitchen.co.uk). Union Market, 472 Fulham Road, London SW6 (020-7386 2470; www.unionmarket.co.uk).

My favourite room is a little room off my terrace – lots of navy blue satin chairs, and a navy rug, and navy blue leather floor, and big white pillows. And a Guy Bourdin photograph of a woman in navy. It’s very small, and I sometimes fall asleep there.

A recent “find” is Antonino Aiello, who owns a business called 100% Capri, which does really exquisite linens, clothes and leather accessories – and he’s super-chic and a really nice man. It’s not what I’d rush out and buy for myself, but it’s absolutely what I’d rush out and buy as gifts. And I quite like Kaffeine, in Great Titchfield Street. 100% Capri, Via Cristoforo 98, Meta di Sorrrento 80062, Italy (+39081-837 7561; www.100x100capri.it). Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, London W1 (020-7580 6755; www.kaffeine.co.uk).

The people I rely on for grooming and style are the facialists at KX Gym in South Kensington. Best not to say more, after that. I always look completely a mess and totally ungroomed, so I don’t want to end the careers of any fine people by ascribing their work to my messy self. KX Gym, 151 Draycott Avenue, London SW3 (020-7584 5333; www.kxgym.co.uk).

My favourite websites are Selectism.com, a fashion, photography and lifestyle hub. It’s quite off the wall; I depend on things like this to inspire me. And I also love Highsnobiety.com. And my assistant, David Kendell, switched me on to Theselby.com, which shows really stylish people in their personal spaces. www.highsnobiety.com. www.selectism.com. www.theselby.com.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would love to dip my foot into film production. I’m always told I am good at reading books with an eye to film, and suggesting which ones should be turned into film. So, developing projects, I suppose, or producing.