October 12 2009
My personal style signifier is an old IWC Schaffhausen, one of the earliest designs in the portfolio. It’s very simple, doesn’t need batteries and it gives you what you need from a watch and nothing more. It’s useful, minimal and still beautiful. Reissued vintage hand-wound watches from £6,250; www.iwc.com and see Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1 (020-7730 1234).
The last thing I bought and loved is a small table by a ceramicist called Carol McNicoll. The base is of interlocking ceramic pots she made, all covered with photos she took of things that struck her as provocative or beautiful. There’s a tea set built in, with six plain ceramic teacups, like Japanese ones. It’s a mix of media and colours, ideas and images – a really unusual and clever combination. Barrett-Marsden Gallery, 17-18 Great Sutton Street, London EC1 (020-7336 6396; www.bmgallery.co.uk).
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Port Cros, an island off the coast of France in the Mediterranean. It’s a nature reserve, and you can only get there by boat. It’s also tricky to find a place to anchor because the water’s protected as well, so it’s truly solitary. But you’ve got access to Club 55 just across the water, should you need a fix of it or any of the rest of all that Côte d’Azur build-up. Le Club 55, Plage de Pampelonne, Ramatuelle (+334-9455 5555; www.club55.fr).
The last meal that left me truly impressed was at El Paradiso in St Moritz. You have to take a ski lift, and then walk or ski to this incredible hut. In the middle of winter there were these amazing products: tiger prawns from Saudi Arabia, super-fresh goat’s cheese. You think: “How did they get all of this up here?” It’s run like a three-star restaurant, except everyone’s in après-ski and snowy boots. It’s a well-known hangabout for bankers and such, but not really fussy. Via Engiadina/Randolins, 7500 St Moritz (+418-1833 4002; www.el-paradiso.ch).
The best gift I’ve given recently was a pocket-sized tape measure clad in black crocodile skin from Hermès. Sometimes you give the thing you actually want. I’m quite mad for tape measures; I have a sentimental relationship with those small ones, which you rarely find any more – except at Hermès, covered in all these beautiful leathers. From £225; 179 Sloane Street, London SW1 (020-7823 1014; www.hermes.fr) and branches/stockists.
And the best gift I have received was a pencil with an integrated sharpener, from Faber-Castell. As an object it is just so beautiful and simple. Definitely a desert-island item; I’d not want to be without it. Perfect Pencil gift set (three pencils), £35; www.faber-castell.com for stockists.
The last music I downloaded was by Naturally Seven, a band recommended by my son. All the rhythm and instrumentations are vocals, and it’s amazing; so much depth, composition, arrangements – and all human voices. www.naturallyseven.com.
In my fridge you’ll always find a bottle of sancerre – it goes with everything. And a bottle of crème de cassis, in the event that I feel the urge to turn my sancerre into a kir, to start the evening with a little party.
The books on my bedside table are Le Système des Objets by Jean Baudrillard, who tries to explain the relationships between people and objects; also The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton, which I haven’t yet started and which is very… thick, and nicely bound. And Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre by Dana Thomas, which is very much about the past 20 years in which we’ve all been participating.
The people I depend on for style include my Greek-Cypriot barber, Andreas of Knightsbridge, who gives a great traditional shave. There are just three chairs, and the interior is painted a shade of pink that is so horrible as to somehow transcend ugliness and achieve a kind of beauty. 17-23 Pavilion Road, London SW1 (020-7245 9380).
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Oscar Niemeyer. I’d collect his architectural drawings because I was trained as, and still am, a draughtsman, so we share a heritage. He draws the minimum required to get the idea across, and he was a monumentalist, so very understated lines became huge buildings. And he’s living; he’s not Palladio, who’s a bit hermetically sealed in history. Niemeyer is of my time.
The grooming staples I’m never without are Chanel Allure for men. And Trevor Sorbie hair gel with firm control; it comes in a tiny travel size, so I buy lots of them and throw them in every bag. And my father’s tortoiseshell comb. Chanel Allure for men, £39 for 50ml (020-7493 3836 for stockists). Trevor Sorbie Mg Firm Control gel, £4.88; 27 Floral Street, London WC2 (020-7379 6901; www.trevorsorbie.com).