February 01 2011
My personal style signifier is my hair. It’s very curly, and totally wilful. I spent most of my early life trying to straighten it, then, in about 1976, I met Michael Collis and Caroline Burstein of Molton Brown, who had a new, relaxed approach to hairdressing. I redesigned their salon, and Michael redesigned my hair. 58 South Molton Street, London W1 (020-7499 6474; www.moltonbrown.co.uk).
The last item I added to my wardrobe is a gorgeous vintage Indian necklace made of brass and turquoise, found in a shop called Bungalow Eight in Mumbai. It is a great space in a heritage building, and it has a very distinctive style, mixing retro and modern. 17 Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, Mumbai 400005 (+9122-2281 9880; www.bungaloweight.com).
An indulgence I’d never forego is flowers. Some of my favourites are sweet peas, scabious, cornflowers and peonies. And I adore dahlias and magenta carnations, which are sadly much overlooked. When I travel, I always buy a few stems to put in my room. Scarlet & Violet in Kensal Rise always has fresh, interesting blooms. 76 Chamberlayne Road, London NW10 (020-8969 9446; www.scarletandviolet.com).
An object I would never part with is a Bill Jacklin watercolour given to me by my daughter, Lisa, when she was 10 years old; she emptied all her savings and bought it for me. I was astounded. It’s now in our bedroom. www.bjacklin.com.
The books on my bedside table are The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, which is beautifully written and very sad. And The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, a fascinating journey tracing his illustrious Jewish heritage. And WB Yeats’s The Love Poems.
The last thing I bought and loved is a 1940s Murano mirror with lime-coloured edges. I first spied it two years ago in Zurich but in a rare moment of restraint, I didn’t buy it. However, this year I saw it again, and simply couldn’t resist. Gallery Rudolph Jungi, Raemistrasse 6, Zurich 8001 (+4144-261 6400; www.jungi.com).
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a pair of 1950s French armchairs with beech frames from Philip Thomas, a splendid shop full of midcentury furniture. I will cover them with one of our fabrics. 4a Ladbroke Grove, London W11 (020-7229 4044; www.pjthomaswebsite.com).
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Dungarpur in Rajasthan. We slept in an art-deco suite at Udai Bilas Palace, which is on the edge of a lake and, thankfully, hasn’t been totally restored. The family also owns a nearby fort, with exquisite wall and mirror paintings that have retained their intensity despite dating back to the 14th century. There is also a secret cabinet with erotic paintings, which is quite wonderful. From about £80 per night; Dungarpur, 314001 Rajasthan (+9129-6423 0808; www.udaibilaspalace.com).
And the best souvenir I have brought home is bangles in fantastic colours and stunning silk-embroidered ribbons from Jaipur.
The last meal that truly impressed me was lunch at Petersham Nurseries. Skye Gyngell is an inspired cook. Her food is fresh and exotic, but not at all contrived. I especially loved the ricotta and fennel salad, and her mezze plate. Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AG (020-8605 3627; www.petershamnurseries.com).
The people I rely on for personal grooming and style include my trainer Peter Sleight – I’m fully committed to early exercise, twice a week – and Vicky Wilson at Beauchamp Foot Care, for the very best pedicure in London. Beauchamp Foot Care, 41 Beauchamp Place, London SW3 (020-7225 0794; www.beauchampfootcare.com). PS Personal Training, 07715-933 844; www.pspersonaltraining.com.
The last music I downloaded was actually downloaded by my husband, as I’m not totally together about downloading. It was Dame Anne Evans singing Der Rosenkavalier at the Albert Hall in 2003 – her last public performance.
My favourite websites are flower-related; the National Dahlia Collection and Halls of Heddon. Also, Murray Moss’s website is brilliant, witty and accessible. www.hallsofheddon.co.uk. www.mossonline.com. www.national-dahlia-collection.co.uk.