February 04 2011
My style icon is Murray Moss. I think his store in New York is better curated than any design museum – an eclectic mixture from glass to Nymphenburg porcelain to Gaetano Pesce chairs. Over the years, he has discovered, nurtured and championed important designers including the Campana Brothers, Maarten Baas and Hella Jongerius. He is innovative, courageous, has great style and a wicked sense of humour.
In my fridge you’ll always find a selection of fresh fruit, salad leaves and herbs, parmesan cheese, anchovies and capers for making salsa verde. And untreated lemons, usually hand-carried home from Italy. I also bring whole pecorinos, matured and wrapped in walnut leaves, from Pienza.
The grooming products I’m never without are hair products from trichologist Philip Kingsley. They are the only ones I have found that can tame the curls. When I feel really indulgent, I visit his clinic for a therapeutic treatment. 54 Green Street, London W1 (020-7629 4004; www.philipkingsley.com).
The site that inspires me is the view from the Glenburn Tea Estate outside Darjeeling. After a treacherous four-hour drive, you arrive shattered and it simply takes your breath away. Looking over gardens of flowers and tea bushes to the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas and a wide, fast, running river full of fish, it is utter calm beauty and tranquillity on the top of the world. From R11,000 (about £154); +9133-2288 5630; www.glenburnteaestate.com.
The best gift I’ve recently given is an embroidered fabric book for my granddaughter, Lola, on her birthday. I make her one every year. It takes me hours and hours, but I love doing it.
And the best gift I’ve received was a surprise visit from my daughter and granddaughter for my birthday. We were at La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence, as we are every year, having lunch, and then out of the blue they walked in – they’d been secretly flown in from New York, where they live. I have never been more surprised and delighted; it was a truly unforgettable and cherished moment. 06570 Saint-Paul de Vence (+334-9332 8002; www.la-colombe-dor.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I suppose I would be a landscape gardener. Some of my happiest early memories are of gardening with my grandfather. He gave me a small patch in his garden and I will never forget the sense of wonder when I sowed a seed, cared for it and then miraculously a flower appeared.
A recent find is Amy Hughes. I fell in love with her ceramics at her RCA [Royal College of Arts] graduation show last summer. I bought a very handsome black and gold urn. She is extremely talented. www.amyjaynehughes.com.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood I’d choose Marylebone, where we opened our new store. I love La Fromagerie for its cheese room and other delicious food – it’s also a great, casual place to eat. The Ginger Pig next door is a brilliant butcher and I love the Farmers’ Market on Sundays, Daunt Books, Le Pain Quotidien and The Natural Kitchen for organic staples. Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-7224 2295; www.dauntbooks.co.uk). La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 0341; www.lafromagerie.co.uk). The Ginger Pig, 8-10 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 7788; www.thegingerpig.co.uk). Marylebone Farmers’ Market, Cramer Street Car Park, London W1 (www.lfm.org.uk). Le Pain Quotidien, 72-75 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-7486 6154; www.lepainquotidien.com). The Natural Kitchen, 77-78 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-3012 2123; www.thenaturalkitchen.com).
The artist whose work I would collect if I could isn’t really collectable, as it’s all in monuments and churches. For example, there’s a tiny sacristy in the church at Città della Pieve in Umbria, not far from our house, with a fresco by Perugino. It is totally inspirational, and an extraordinary composition of life and colour.
My favourite room is the kitchen of our house in Italy; a large space where we cook, eat and generally hang out. The energy that comes from preparing food, the gurgling sound of our cappuccino machine and the scent of fresh flowers seem like a magnet for everyone to gather there. It looks onto the garden at one end and there is a seating area in front of glazed metal doors. The walls are plastered and bright lime green, so it always feels like spring – my favourite time of the year.
If I didn’t live in London, I would live in Florence for its fabulous architecture, beautiful art, and delicious food and wine. It’s a gentle city that feeds the soul, with a cultural heartbeat that still excites me. The Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, an old-fashioned family hotel at the top of a Palazzo, has great atmosphere, a divine terrace full of flowers – perfect for an aperitivo in the early evening – and very personal service. We love to eat at Camillo, a family-owned trattoria with delicious rustic Tuscan food; there is always a dash for their first oil of the season. The covered food market near the church of San Lorenzo is full of the best local produce, and Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, an exquisite ancient pharmacy, is where I go for scents, soaps and lotions. And the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine is a must-see for the most special fresco, which we always revisit. Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Reginaldo Giuliani 141, 50141 Florence (+3905-5436 8315; www.smnovella.it). Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, Via Tornabuoni 3, 50123 Florence (+3905-521 2645; www.tornabuonihotels.com). Trattoria Camillo, Borgo San Jacopo 57r, 50125 Florence (+3905-521 2427).