October 08 2009
My style icon is David Hockney. He dresses in a way that imparts the idea that he doesn’t give a damn, that he throws it together without thinking. I saw a photo of him recently in which he’s in a crumpled suit, with cigarette ash dusting his front. It’s so nonchalant; he knew he was being shot and didn’t brush it off. And then there’s that shock of blond hair, and those huge glasses. And he carries it all off.
An object I would never part with is my Leica M8 [from £3,395], which I bought about a year ago. It’s so handsome and solidly made – I believe it’s brass-based, which is why it’s so heavy. It’s quite retro-looking, with a matt-black finish, and it takes more time to set up your shot, but that’s the beauty of it. 01908-256 400; www.leica-camera.co.uk.
The thing I’m eyeing next is a 2004 Aston Martin Vanquish, one of the last issues produced entirely by hand. I’ve been eyeing it for three years at Nicholas Mee, who’s a really nice chap with an impressive collection of old Aston Martins in a sort of 1930s garage. I may well continue to eye it for another few years; in this case the idea of acquisition is as fun as the acquisition itself. Brackenbury Garage, 12 Wellesley Avenue, London W6 (020-8741 8822; www.nicholasmee.co.uk).
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the last year is Catania in Sicily, at a hotel called the Grand Hotel Baia Verde. I could walk from my room, down the stairs and onto the rocks – right into the Ionian Sea. The water was so warm, deep and calm. I took a load of photos and made myself a book out of them. Via Angelo Muscovo 8-10, Catania (+3909-549 1522; www.baiaverde.it).
The artist whose work I would collect if I could is Ben Nicholson. I love the simplicity, the way the paint is laid onto the canvas. His paintings are peaceful-looking places. And Peter Blake, who designed the cover for the Beatles’ album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I like the strong graphics. His mixed media collages were so original for the time. I visited his studio in Hammersmith recently, which is an absolute treasure-trove.
I don’t have a favourite website, as I don’t have much to do with the Internet. But I’ve just read that Hamish Bowles [European editor at large of American Vogue] has a blog called The Hamishsphere that I’m keen to check out. www.style.com/vogue.
The best gift I’ve given recently was to a very chic young lady from Australia, who works in Melbourne at Henry Bucks. She loved my dogs, so I gave her a leather bookmark in the shape of Charlie, my Sussex spaniel. I had it made up in one of my shops.
My favourite room is my kitchen, where I spend all my time. It is painted with one of the Farrow & Ball not-precisely-whites. There’s an industrial metal table with a wooden slab top and René Herbst metal chairs, circa 1925, from the market at Clignancourt, Paris. The kitchen is a workmanlike place, where I do my workmanlike things. But in the evening I’ll have a drink there with my friends. Farrow & Ball, 01202-876 141; www.farrowandball.com. St-Ouen Flea Market, Porte de Clignancourt, Paris (www.marcheauxpuces.fr).
The best souvenir I’ve found is a small painting from the flea market in Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. It’s of a man sitting under a painting of an umbrella and is dated 1904. It’s a bit Heath Robinson in its execution, and it’s charming. It cost about €50, and I’ve no idea of its provenance or value; it sits on a vintage easel in my sitting room.
What’s always in my fridge is milk and apple juice. I’m looking in it right now, and am a bit appalled that there’s no food at all. I do tend to eat out quite a lot.
If I weren’t doing what I do now, my alternative-life career would be photography. I’m not terribly technical but I like composition. I take pictures on our photo shoots, capturing the behind-the-scenes bits. I love Super 8: the saturated colour, the graininess. You don’t see it much today. I think the only place that develops Super-8 film is actually in Berlin; perhaps that’s why.