Style | The Aesthete

Susan Greenfield talks personal style

A life peer, Susan Greenfield was awarded the Légion d’Honneur for her research into Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

November 04 2009
Maria Shollenbarger

My personal style signifier is a miniskirt. I’m wearing one today. It’s to do more or less equally with 1960s nostalgia and the fact that I’ve got legs like Olive Oyl, so in a mid-length skirt they’d look like matchsticks.

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of bright yellow, unashamedly plastic Vivienne Westwood Anglomania/Melissa shoes [from £80]. They’re outrageous, fun, and actually quite beautiful. They weren’t expensive and they’re ethical.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a set of coloured mirror tiles for my kitchen renovation. These are jewel-toned, 2sq cm ones, which I know will be perfect. I tend to like shiny things; I’ve already got quite a few reflective surfaces happening in the house. I spend a lot of time in very tasteful, very beige hotel rooms; so I retaliate at home with a huge amount of colour.; 05602-054 182.

The people I depend on for grooming and style include Roxy at Vidal Sassoon – she does great, bright blonde. 60 South Molton Street, London W1 (020-7491-8848;

The book on my bedside table is A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks; I’m a big fan of his. There’s also an issue or two of Grazia – it’s a bit of gossip, and everyone loves that, don’t they?

The last meal that left me truly impressed was at a taverna in Athens called Zafeiri. We were a large group, all Greek or Greek-speakers. It was so convivial: we shared fresh, hot pitta, an enormous salad, fresh feta, which I adore, and several whole roasted fish. I remember sitting in the late-afternoon sun with a view of the Mediterranean – and the food, the ambience, the great company – and just grinning. Iliou 19, Athens 16671 (+30210-895 8603;

My favourite websites are, for watching television I’ve missed, specifically The Apprentice; for browsing – it’s just nice to see what they have – and, for tracing various scientific publications.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is still, after many visits, Australia – specifically, flying over Sydney Harbour at 5am, which is when the flight I usually take lands. You’re a bit spacey after travelling for 25 hours, then you bank over the serene water as the sun’s coming up… gorgeous. Then you see the sheer audacity of the Opera House – I’m always amazed someone could have thought that up.

The best gift I’ve given recently was a Panama hat, to my father as he was going on holiday. I bought it at Walters of Oxford – a recent “find”. It’s a bit frozen in time; it’s like a monument to how courteous and calm shopping used to be. My father looked on the hat with great suspicion at first but then at his birthday party, which was alfresco on a sunny, warm day, quite a few people turned up in them, so he was converted. 10 Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DN (01865-241 848;

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is da Vinci. As long as it’s a pie-in-the-sky question, why not? First, because he was a scientist, a student of reason. Second, because the paintings just flow. They impart an idea of effortlessness, which is the farthest thing from what was the case; his was an incredibly rigorous technique. But somehow you get the idea he’s made them with a couple of sweeps of the hand.

An indulgence I’d never forego is perfume. I can’t imagine ever going out without it. I have lots of different ones, Shalimar [£44, 50ml] being the day-to-day staple, although I do like Agent Provocateur’s [£46, 50ml] as well.;

The last music I bought was by Fairport Convention. I don’t particularly like folk, but it has huge nostalgic value. It’s a bit like the scent of the suntan lotion evoking a holiday so strongly – a visceral reaction that’s nice to provoke sometimes.

The grooming staples I’m never without are Blanx whitening toothpaste with the black and white label [from £3.99]; Kérastase shampoo and conditioner; and Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum [£19.75] – it is, they tell us, clinically shown to reduce wrinkles. And I believe it.;;

Part Two of this inteview can be read here.