June 14 2011
My personal style signifier is a Pelikan fountain pen, which doesn’t explode on flights because of a mechanism that they have patented. It is my security blanket, although I tend to either lose them or my children walk off with them. I am left-handed and learnt to write with a fountain pen, so I feel better equipped with a pen than with a Biro. From £45, www.pelikanpens.co.uk.
The last thing I bought and loved was a golden retriever puppy, called Hebe.
The best gift I’ve given recently, according to my wife, Honor, was a Burmese cat. It is ash grey and replaces her Burmese brown, which died. My children and I are having a fierce discussion about the name. Burmese are fiendishly expensive; more expensive than washing machines. Hebe is absolutely terrified of it.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Shanghai. I travel too much, but I do love east Asia; it has inspired me since I first went to Hong Kong in the 1970s (where I got my second design order). Although I had been through Shanghai before, I had not stayed, and last November I spent four days there. One can get a jaded palate travelling, but the combination of old and new with the French influence really struck me.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a conch shell I found on the seabed when I was diving in Turks and Caicos. I didn’t think of souvenirs before I had children, but now I want to bring them something back from my trips.
The thing I’m eyeing next is this 1950s Alfa Romeo 6C, which is so pretty you want to eat it. I am not really a car person but I would love one of them. I think they only made about 600. If I had the loot and could be totally indulgent, I would have one. www.alfaromeo.co.uk.
A recent “find” is a really sweet little restaurant on the water’s edge in Antigua called Cecilia’s, run by a former Swedish model – she’s strikingly beautiful and a real character. It is a five-minute drive from the airport. I had a four-hour transit between St Bart’s and my flight home, so I went there for lunch and ate a delicious red snapper. It has a great atmosphere and wonderful views; you feel as though you are in a movie. Dutchman’s Bay, Antigua (+1268-562 7070; www.highpointantigua.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an actor. I don’t know whether I would have made it, but I was told I should be one when I was at school. I had an amazing schoolmaster who turned me on to Shakespeare, and I liked acting. I was offered an audition for Rada, but by that time I was into yacht design.
The last meal that truly impressed me was a fantastic mushroom risotto in the Terrazza restaurant at Hotel Splendido in Portofino some time ago. It is on top of the hill overlooking a charming little bay, and is basically where the Milanese take their mistresses. It has got the most beautiful view and a fantastic chef. Salita Baratta 16, 16034 Portofino, Italy (+3901-8526 7801; www.hotelsplendido.com).
The grooming staples I’m never without are a Floris shaving bowl and badger brush. It started when I began to shave – I thought it incredibly grown-up – and someone gave me the shaving bowl, and I continue to buy them. Shaving bowl, £21-£30, badger brush, £42-£55; www.florislondon.com.
The book on my bedside table is – really – I Want My Potty by Tony Ross. I am reading it with my five-year-old son. Otherwise, I have just finished Toast by Nigel Slater.
In my fridge you’ll always find a bottle of Sancerre, and if I have a food fetish it is for tomato and avocado salad with loads of olive oil. Sometimes I make it. I love cooking – I lived on my own until I was 44 – but I’ve got a very limited repertoire.
The last music I downloaded was Simon Rattle’s Berlin Philharmonic recordings of Brahms’ Symphonies, on to my iPhone. I love classical music and am having a Brahms moment this month. You can get sick of him, but his 4th Symphony is so powerful. www.berliner-philharmoniker.de.
My favourite website is Amanresorts. I don’t surf the net very much, but their site is fantastic. They have lots of resorts in south-east Asia – you can dream about where to go next. www.amanresorts.com.