Style | The Aesthete

Alain Ducasse talks personal style

Executive chef Alain Ducasse heads an enterprise of 27 restaurants across the globe with 20 Michelin stars between them.

February 08 2011
Alison Gunn

My personal style signifier is the Alden shoes I wear. I’ve been wearing them for about 20 years and have 10 pairs each of black and brown. They’re supremely comfortable and I like the Cordovan leather.

The last thing I bought and loved was a 1980s Hermès travel bag in natural tan leather from a flea market in Paris. I also recently bought 10 Molteni stoves – my favourite sort – for my restaurants.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a Bentley Turbo R. A friend of mine has one that’s about 25 years old. I have a passion for luxury British cars – they epitomise the best of the country’s style. However, it wouldn’t be too good for my image in France, where such showiness is frowned on.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Noto Peninsula in Japan. It’s unspoilt, but rough and hard to get to. The hotel was like stepping back in time, run on the very oldest traditions. I met an artisan who made gold leaf, and bought a book with 1,850 leaves in it, and another whose speciality was lacquer items. I ordered tableware for the restaurants, which took six months to make. Kagaya Ryokan, 926-0192 Yobu, Wakura-cho, Nanao-shi, Ishikawa (+8176-762-1111; Kawakatsu Hidetotsu (lacquer artist), +8175-746 0084. Sakuda Gold & Silver Leaf, +8176-251 6777;

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a folding tea-ceremony table from a gallery called Mitate in Tokyo. It’s the perfect object; every part of it has a purpose, with excellent workmanship. Mitate, 3-16-28, Le Bain 1F, Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo (+8133-479 3842;

The people I rely on for grooming and style are my tailor, Georges Feghaly in Monaco, and Paul Smith – I think he’s a genius. Georges Feghaly, Le Continental, Place des Moulins, Monaco 98000 (+377-9797 8740).

My favourite room is my kitchen. I like it because it’s the living and entertaining room (which is quite a novel idea for French people). I designed it with units by Miele; I went to the German factory to order them.

The last music I bought was an album by the pianist Hélène Grimaud, playing Chopin and Rachmaninov. She’s amazing – and she’s a foodie. Once she was eating at my restaurant but had to leave early to go home and practise.

The books on my bedside table are Esprit Wabi by Axel Vervoordt, about Japanese design, and La France de Raymond Depardon, a book of photographs that captures the spirit of the French working people. I have about 20,000 books altogether, of which 8,000 are cookery books; I’m getting some shelves made especially.

In my fridge you’ll always find natural yoghurt and Italian charcuterie. I get mine from a farm between Milan and Parma. In particular, I like the black-pig Culatello, made from the thigh. It costs €125 per kg, but it’s worth it. Antica Corte Pallavicina Relais, Strada del Palazzo Due Torri 3, 43010 Polesine Parmense (+3905-2493 6539;

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a brimmed hat made by Motsch from Hermès that you can roll up and take with you anywhere. It’s made of felt, with a little brown leather strap to tie it up with. I wore it in the Paris flea market so that I could be incognito.

The best gift I’ve given recently was a gold and diamond ring from Lorenz Bäumer for my wife, Gwenaelle, to celebrate the birth of our son Arzhel (the name is from Brittany). 4 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris (+331-4286 9933;

And the best one I’ve received is an Asprey mantel clock from Christopher Cowdray, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, as a thank-you for the restaurant’s three stars. It’s very sophisticated, in glass so you can see the mechanics.

My favourite website is – well, I prefer books – but I always look at Moss, the gallery and shop.

See also

Chefs, People, Interview