Style | The Aesthete

The Earl of March talks personal style: Part Two

The driving force behind the Goodwood events concludes his inventory of indulgences and delights.

November 05 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My style icon is Peter Fonda. At [Goodwood] Revival in 2008 he rode the bike from Easy Rider – Captain America – up the hill. He is brilliant. He’s just exactly the same person 40 years on; he believed and lived it then, he believes it now. It’s great.

The site that inspires me is downtown Chicago – the whole thing. The skyline. Just seeing those buildings for the first time. You’ve seen them in print everywhere, on television, but suddenly there they are, those van der Rohe buildings. It’s a bit of a point of bias, because I love America; I’m not sure they’d work as well elsewhere, or at all, really. But boy, in the right place… really impressive.

An object I would never part with is a small collection of really old, old wooden vases from northern Kenya, up near the border with Ethiopia. I spent a year on my own in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia when I was about 18. A shaman of the Boran tribe, from a place called Merti, gave me these. I admired them, and he, of course, said, “Oh, you must have them.” They’re ancient things made of wood but covered in camel grease. And they smell quite fantastic; of goat’s milk and camel’s urine. And it immediately takes you right back there.

An indulgence I’d never forego is a double espresso, once a day. When my daughter Alexandra was born – she’s now 25 – I stopped drinking coffee, because it seemed to go with quitting smoking, which I also did. She lived in Argentina recently for a short time, in Buenos Aires, and since she’s come back, she’s got me drinking coffee again. Now I can’t imagine ever giving it up again. But just the one a day.

The last item I added to my wardrobe is a very bright blue linen suit made by Terry Haste. I’m a real fan of linen suits; it’s a casual thing, but still a suit, except you don’t have to wear a tie with it. I’m a suit man at heart, and a linen suit does the job. 13 New Burlington Street, London W1 (020-7734 1433).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Ugo Zagato. He’s a great Italian coach builder. He’s built some of the most beautiful cars in the world, many of them Alfa Romeos. They have very particular design details. Photographer Andreas Gursky would be my more conventional choice. Andreas Gursky at White Cube, 48 Hoxton Square, London N1 (020-7930 5373; www.whitecube.com). www.zagato.it.

A recent “find” is Philippe Guijarro, a leather worker who makes wonderful wallets, and who has redone all my watch straps and stuff. He’s based in Paris; he was with Hermès, then left to start his own thing. The bootmaker Jean Gaborit referred me to him. They share a shop. 29 Avenue de Versailles, Paris 75016 (+331-4527 3547; www.euroboots.fr).

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley: I can’t actually remember what I ate – I’m useless at those things – but it was very, very good, and I went with Christophe Navarre [the president of Moët Hennessy LVMH Wine & Spirits], so we had some truly fabulous wines. Wilton Place, London SW1 (020-7235 6000; www.the-berkeley.co.uk).

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Mayfair. A bit dull, I know, but I can’t really tell you I shop in LA. Terry Haste, my tailor, is right there, in Burlington Street. Cipriani I always like, and The Dorchester – that foyer, the promenade, is great for watching people and for tea. Cipriani, 23-25 Davies Street, London W1 (020-7399 0500; www.cipriani.com). The Dorchester, Park Lane, London W1 (020-7629 8888; www.thedorchester.com).

The grooming staples I’m never without are a hairbrush and boot polish. Kiwi boot polish, mostly black. I wouldn’t wear brown shoes in the city. www.kiwicare.com.

If I didn’t live in West Sussex, the city I would live in is LA. For the short times I’m there, I really enjoy it. The sheer size of it makes it feel very real, and it seems as if you’re kind of at the centre of the world. We stayed last time at the Beverly Wilshire, and it was great – a bit obvious, perhaps, but lovely. We mostly hook up with [car collector] Bruce Meyer, so we might go to the National Hot Rod Museum in Pomona. It’s a really particular subculture of Southern California. Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90212 (+1310-275 5200; www.fourseasons.com). NHRA Motorsports Museum, 1101 West McKinley Avenue, Building 3A, Pomona, CA 91768 (+1909-622 2133; www.museum.nhra.com).

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a filmmaker. Not documentary stuff, necessarily – I’d want to do high-production-value, proper filmmaking. It’s the being in a different world, being able to create a completely different place – visually, narratively. In a funny way, these big events we put on are a bit like that, though they exist three-dimensionally. It’s a huge amount of building, and then they’re gone. From a mental, philosophical point of view, one’s creating a moment, then the moment’s gone. At least with film, it’s preserved – it can be appreciated again and again.