Style | The Aesthete

Anouska Hempel talks personal style

Best known for hotels such as Blakes and The Hempel in London, Anouska Hempel has also designed residential, yacht and retail interiors.

December 07 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My personal style signifier is a glorious silver necklace – an Indian relic from about 700 years ago that I bought at a market. It sits way out to my shoulders, but is as fine as a piece of wire. I hang everything off it and I wear it nearly all of the time, until I go to bed. It’s deeply inspirational.

The last thing I bought and loved was a black 1976 Volkswagen Beetle cabriolet, a little one with the top always down. I don’t know, I just liked it; it’s soft, it’s happy, it’s a little cheeky – it’s just a nonsense, really.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a Louis Vuitton trunk that I can pack all my shoes into and actually travel with; a turn-of-the-century LV model you can stand on its side and look at as a piece of furniture. They come up every once in a while; I don’t have my eye on any particular one, but I get calls.

A recent “find” is hotel Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda. I can sit under a magnolia tree, as big as my house, and admire the cool, sleek mercury lake. They have a real Ralph Lauren sur-le-lac thing going there; it’s all very grand, and even snooty, but in an old-fashioned and somehow lovely way. And gorgeous bathrooms. Via Rimembraza 38-40, 25084 Gargano (+3903-6579 8000;; from €945.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is John Singer Sargent. I’d have him hanging absolutely everywhere. The drama is what really gets me; he’s so romantic, they are just beautiful things. And I’d love a Baldini, or five.

The last item I added to my wardrobe is a lovely McQueen jacket I found in the vintage boutique Virginia – a little matador jacket, about 10 years old. It’s black and red and navy blue, and very pretty. 98 Portland Road, London W11 (020-7727 9908).

The people I rely on for grooming and personal style are Linda Meredith – she’s a facials person who does wonderful treatments – and my cobbler is, well, Manolo. Linda Meredith, 36 Beauchamp Place, London SW4 (020-7225 2755; Manolo Blahnik, 49-51 Old Church Street, London SW3 (020-7352 8622;

The best gift I’ve given recently was sending Tom Aikens to act as private chef for a friend, for two weeks at a villa she took in Tuscany.

And the best one I’ve received is the renewal of the lease on the house I’m living in. It was in question for a little while, and it was tense. It was nothing to do with the bore of moving – though that’s indeed a bore; I’m just very, very attached to my house.

The last music I downloaded was Sufjan Stevens. He’s cool, and he’s in the right place at the right time with his particular sound: I like his repetitiveness – I find it romantic and soothing.

The site that inspires me is the Egyptian pyramids. Always. I have to be there at night and catch that light, the amazing way they’re lit, at least once a year.

The books on my bedside table are A Winter on the Nile by Anthony Sattin and The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. And a whole lot of magazines – 24 of everything. They’re all over the place, not just on my bedside table; everything from The World of Interiors to Elle Decoration to Country Life. That’s my tear-sheet department.

In my fridge you’ll always find bocconcini di mozzarella, a bit of basil and the odd tomato; so basically [an insalata] Caprese, ready to go. And milk, in a glass bottle, with a proper cap made of red foil. No plastic in there.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Florence. I could go to the convent and look at the peeling walls, and get inside the quiet courtyards. It’s not at all popular at the moment, and I quite like that idea. You can sit quietly and watch the world go by. You can smell the past in the stones, touch it with your fingers.

My favourite website is Amanresorts’. It’s where I hang out a lot, to see what they’re all doing. And nothing else really; I don’t have the time.