March 04 2011
Simon de Burton
My style icon is the Duke of Windsor. He was so elegant in the way he co-ordinated colours and put things together. My daughter was married last autumn in St Tropez and I wore the identical outfit that the Duke wore for his marriage to Wallis Simpson. I copied everything from top to toe.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Jean-Michel Basquiat. I had the opportunity of buying one of his pictures in the past – a very colourful piece – but I missed it. At the moment I have other priorities, but I still hope that I will one day own a Basquiat. For the time being, I’m enjoying the catalogue that Carla brought back from the recent retrospective held at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.
If I didn’t live in London, I would certainly want to live in New York. I spent seven years there with Cartier and I still think it is a thrilling place, with lots of energy. My wife is American, so that is probably another reason for my attraction to it.
My favourite room is my small study at home. It is my own private world with my books, pictures, music and a television. It is simply furnished with red-striped wallpaper, an Oriental carpet, a canapé [sofa] and the desk that I inherited from my father. Everyone is allowed in, but everyone also knows that it is my very special domain.
An unforgettable place I have travelled to in the past year is Leopard Creek, a privately owned country club on the edge of Kruger National Park. It has an 18-hole golf course where you play among hippo, antelope, buffalo and crocodile – it is truly amazing, but if you hit the ball into the water or the rough you have to accept that you’ve lost it. It’s too dangerous to go and search for it. Near Malelane, Mpumalanga (+2713-791 2000; www.leopardcreek.co.za).
The best souvenir I have brought home is a black-and-white photograph of New York’s Twin Towers, which I took a year before they were destroyed. I have no idea what made me take the photograph, it was totally spontaneous – but now, of course, the image has great poignancy.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, it would be Mount Street, Mayfair. It has managed to retain a special feeling and has some wonderful, independent shops ranging from Allens the butcher to Carolina Herrera. It is extremely exclusive and I find it nicer than somewhere such as Bond Street because it is so much smaller and less busy. Allens of Mayfair, 117 Mount Street, London W1 (0844-880 2460; www.allensofmayfair.co.uk). Carolina Herrera, 120 Mount Street, London W1 (020-3441 0965; www.carolinaherrera.com).
An object I would never part with is my 1940 Cartier Tank watch in yellow gold. I bought it about 25 years ago from a friend in Los Angeles and, of the many watches I own, it is by far my favourite. It is quite small and very thin, unlike most modern watches. It is beautiful and I always go back to it.
The best gift I have given recently is a pair of chandelier diamond earrings, which I presented to Carla for her birthday. It was also the 21st year of our marriage, so I wanted her to have something that was really significant.
The people I rely on for personal grooming and style include Brent Pankhurst at Dunhill in Bourdon House for cutting my hair – I’ve been using him for years – and I have a personal masseuse who comes to my home, but I don’t want to give the name. (Brent Pankhurst has now moved premises to Nick Tentis tailors, 37 Savile Row, London W1 (020 7287 9955; www.pankhurstlondon.com).
If I were not doing what I do, I would love to be the editor of a luxury lifestyle magazine. I think I could fit into that role very easily – I like style, and I would focus on originality and providing useful advice about everything from what to wear and how to wear it to places that are “in” or “out”.