October 14 2011
My style icon is Barry Dierks. He was an American architect who did all those extraordinary houses in the South of France. He really was the best-dressed man you’ve ever seen. I Googled him the other day and there he is in these wonderful suits that I’ve had Anderson & Sheppard copy for me. They have unstructured, sloping shoulders, and slightly rounded lapels, which are so chic. Wide lapels, wide trousers: the opposite of what people are wearing now. 32 Old Burlington Street, London W1 (020-7734 1420; www.anderson-sheppard.co.uk).
The site that inspires me is my house in the country, and the garden. I add to the garden and change things all the time. I’m getting better at plantsmanship. I’ve always put plants in the wrong place; in shade when it’s meant to have sun, dry when it’s meant to have wet. Suddenly, I’m learning.
The last meal that truly impressed me was the first course at Kate Moss’s wedding: tuna tartare with caviar on top. I’d read a book by a Broadway producer who said that the greatest dish in the world was a layer of thick caviar spread on steak tartare. Kate had sort of done that but with tuna. It was absolutely delicious.
The grooming staple I’m never without is Sisleÿum for Men, which is amazing. You put it on every evening and hope for the best. It seems to work. I think my idea of vanity is different to what most people think it is. It’s those people who say, “I wouldn’t dream of having a facelift” – that’s vanity. And of course a facelift is the easiest thing in the world. I went to see my surgeon, Dr Brian Mayhew, and he said, “Listen, what you want I could do in my sleep. It’s people who’ve had their faces shot off in Afghanistan that’s difficult.” £250, www.sisleyumformen.com.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Czech Republic. I went there on a bus tour of beautiful country houses with a whole lot of ladies from Hampshire. It was just 12 of us on a very sleek bus. It wasn’t really a holiday, it was a cultural trip. The Archbishop’s Palace at Kromeriz is camper than a row of tents. Stone balls tied up with ribbon – and that’s just in the stables. www.kromeriz.biz.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is the most beautiful Persian metal pomegranate inlaid with gold, which I bought at L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence, about two or three years ago. I love pomegranates. I bought some bright-red china ones back from Turkey, too.
The last item I added to my wardrobe is a long, pointed-collar shirt inspired by Barry Dierks, from Hermès. Worn with a tie, obviously. Boringly, I took off my favourite paisley tie at Kate Moss’s wedding and left it behind. I can see it in the car park now, lying there forlorn. 155 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7499 8856; www.hermes.com) and branches and stockists.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is [the late] Cy Twombly. I have a signed, framed invitation from Cy’s show at the Serpentine in 2004. There was a dinner afterwards at which I was sitting at Cy’s table. Peter Palumbo, who’d just got off a plane from America, was giving the speech to welcome him and he called him Si Newhouse [the media baron], twice. So I said to Cy, you’ve got to sign it Si Newhouse, which he did. He took it all in his stride. I love his work and I loved him as a person.
My favourite room in my house is the one I’m in at the time. My house in the country is so small, each room is only about 12ft square, so I barge from room to room and flop back wherever I am.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Oxford Street, London, for Topman, because if all else fails you can always find wonderful clothes there. At my age, it’s so extraordinary to be able to get into teenage clothes that it’s rather a triumph. Nobody knows it’s from Topman. And it’s so well made. 400 Oxford Street, London W1 (0870-837 7377; www.topman.com).
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Istanbul. I love it, I adore it. Something happens when you cross the Bosphorus into another continent; you just tingle. It’s really the most beautiful setting. Turks are such wonderful-looking people. It’s got so much to see, and so many mad nightclubs that only open at four in the morning – I went when I was younger. I wouldn’t go now. But I might.