December 03 2010
My style icon is the late Duchess of Windsor, for her taste in jewellery. She made it so personal, with an inscription of a place or a person. She was always beautifully dressed, so chic and elegant, and I love her pugs.
The site that inspires me is the Royal Hospital Chelsea, built by Christopher Wren. It’s the most beautiful, dignified building and the gardens are full of peace and tranquillity. I was brought up round the corner and played in the park when I was a girl and still, I never go past without sensing its presence. Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 (020-7881 5200).
An object I would never part with is a bookmark that my son Edward (now 16) made me when he was six. It’s actually a Christmas card and says “Season’s Greetings”; it’s getting a bit fragile now. And a little black clay dog that my other son William (now 18) made at the same age. They’re both very precious to me.
An indulgence I’d never forego is the hairdresser’s – Sejour – for my weekly blow-dry. It’s so true that if your hair looks good, wow, you feel good. And it gives me half an hour to sit and read a magazine. Sejour, 3-5 Bray Place, London SW3 (020-7589 1100; www.sejour.co.uk).
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a silk dress by Erdem. It’s wonderfully colourful (I’m obsessed with colour) and goes perfectly with my jewellery. www.erdem.co.uk.
My favourite room is my kitchen. Not for its design, particularly, but because it’s the centre of my home, and is always full of friends and teenagers, food and chat.
The last meal that truly impressed me was osso bucco at Lucio on Fulham Road. I’m a big meat fan and I’ll always choose this dish if it’s on the menu. What’s so good about the way Lucio does it is that the bones have more marrow; it sends me into transports of delight. Lucio, 257-259 Fulham Road, London SW3 (020-7823 3007; www.luciorestaurant.com).
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Sloane Square in London and the streets just off it. It’s such a buzzy area, and the shops are sophisticated and individual. There’s A La Mode, the boutique next to my shop (so tempting that I literally have to shut my eyes when I go past), Pringle and Hackett, Emma Hope’s beautiful shoes, The White Company for homeware… and, of course, Peter Jones, which I couldn’t live without. It has everything, from shoelaces to saucepans to school uniform. A La Mode, 10 Symons Street, London SW3 (020-7730 7180). Emma Hope, 53 Sloane Square, London SW1 (020-7259 9566; www.emmahope.com). Hackett, 137-138 Sloane Street, SW1 (020-7730 3331; www.hackett.com). Peter Jones, Sloane Square, London SW1 (020-7730 3434; www.peterjones.co.uk). Pringle of Scotland, 141-142 Sloane Street, London SW1 (020-7881 3060; www.pringlescotland.com). The White Company, 8 Symons Street, London SW3 (0845-678 8150; www.thewhitecompany.com).
The grooming staples I’m never without are Anne French Deep Cleansing Milk, which I’ve used since I was 16 and at boarding school. We were all told we needed to use a skin beauty product and so I went out and bought this. It’s only about £3.50 and it really cleans – I completely put my good skin down to Anne French. I use hand cream at least four times a day, including Neutrogena and Oilatum. And I never go anywhere without my Diorshow Black Out Mascara. I’ve tried so many and this is the best – you only need one coat. Anne French, www.boots.com and other stockists. www.dior.com.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Paris. I can speak the language (my mother is French), and I love its quirky shops, the Opéra, and the amazing butchers and charcuteries. It also has a wonderful skyline, which, unlike London’s, is completely preserved, so I’d live in a top-floor studio with lots of light and windows and fantastic views. If it couldn’t be on the Avenue George V, I’d live on the Left Bank and walk everywhere, in my ballet pumps.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be either a ballet dancer, because I love the ballet – I studied it till I was 15, and find the music and costumes so inspiring – or a newsagent. The thing I love most about retail is all the people coming in and out of the shop, the interaction, and in a newsagent’s you get someone different every three minutes. Plus I’d have all the magazines and newspapers to read, and an endless supply of chocolate bars. The early start would be a killer, though; I’d prefer the dancer’s hours, going to bed at two.