April 01 2011
My style icons are Sergio Loro Piana and Carolina Herrera. The way Sergio dresses is superb, and I love his shop interiors with their simple oak veneers. Everything is carefully chosen to edit out the fuss and frill. And Carolina, in my opinion, has always exemplified great style. Everything about her beautiful houses, luggage, fashion and perfumes feels appropriate. Her creativity is totally natural.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. It’s a wonderful building, designed by IM Pei, which sits out on a promontory and appears to be floating on water as you approach. There’s a central space inside where the design plays with light, shadow, sun and heat. It’s a really fine example of architectural vision.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is an Aptware soup tureen from the beautiful town of Apt in the Luberon. I find the blue and white Aptware designs particularly beautiful. As the artisan-craftsmen fire the clay, the slip sets in a swirl which goes the whole way through. This tureen has an 18th-century shape with a lid ornately decorated with olive branches and leaves. It’s a very old-fashioned thing, but everyone loves it.
My favourite room is the Double Cube Room at Wilton House. I’d always heard about it from my parents and when I saw it myself I realised that it really has it all – grandeur, elegance, harmony, proportion, geometry. I can’t think of a more perfect room. Wilton House, Wilton, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 0BJ (01722-746 700; www.wiltonhouse.com).
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Riva – it was cavolo nero [dark-green cabbage] with Alba truffle and quail’s eggs, followed by crayfish risotto. It’s my favourite restaurant and my wife and I go there on special occasions. 169 Church Road, London SW13 (020-8748 0434).
The people I rely on for grooming and style are Richard James for bespoke tailoring, and DR Harris – a great, old-fashioned chemist’s shop. DR Harris & Co, 29 St James’s Street, London SW1 (020-7930 3915; www.drharris.co.uk). Richard James Bespoke, 19 Clifford Street, London W1 (020-7287 9645; www.richardjames.co.uk).
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city I’d choose the area around the fish market in Venice. I’ve loved it ever since I visited the city with my father when I was 18. I recall getting up at 4am to see the sun rise then taking a vaporetto and ending up there having breakfast. As well as the traditional market, surrounded by bars and cafés, there are lovely shops selling paper and kites and all sorts of special things.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a Formula One engineer. It’s the ultimate expression of my fascination with progress and where it takes us. I was brought up with a “can do” mentality towards making things, and it’s something I find very enjoyable.