February 28 2012
My personal style signifier is a Line Vautrin mirrored resin necklace, which I wear almost daily. Vautrin was a French designer who worked in Paris in the 1940s and 1950s, creating mirrors, jewellery and other objects in resin, glass and bronze. I have loved her work for ages, and for one of my birthdays my husband tracked down a wonderful, small gallery called Irene à Paris and took me there to buy this necklace. 10 Passage Verdeau, Paris 75009 (+336-0738 2546).
The thing I’m eyeing next is a [work by] Cornelia Parker. I really like the hanging sculptures she makes that consist of silver-plated objects – knives and forks, household items – that have been crushed and are suspended in groups in mid-air. A marvellous example of her work was on the Frith Street Gallery stand during Frieze. www.frithstreetgallery.com.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Forbidden City in Beijing. Chinese collectors have entered the art market in a very big way and I wanted to have a better understanding of the country and culture. I was blown away by the unique Chinese sensibility and the extraordinary quality of craftsmanship there. And it has an amazing sense of scale and grandeur, without being opulent like Versailles or the Vatican. It’s austere but at the same time very imposing.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a handful of shells gathered from the beaches of Two Mile Hollow, Amagansett, Long Island, and Macaroni Beach, Mustique. I love holidays by the sea – and having the shells reminds me of happy times with my family in the sun.
The person I rely on for grooming and style is Kate Isaacs at Michaeljohn – she understands my hair better than anyone else and will always squeeze me in if I am having a hair crisis. 25 Albemarle Street, London W1 (020-7629 6969; www.michaeljohn.co.uk).
A recent “find” is furniture by Bokja, whose work I first saw at Merci in Paris. Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri are the Beirut-based duo behind the label. They revitalise antique and vintage furniture using ancient textiles and tapestries to create pieces that are unique and totally of the moment. www.bokjadesign.com.
The last meal that truly impressed me was the rustic, delicious salads and antipasti at Alle Testiere in Venice. It’s intimate and friendly, and the cooking is sublime. But, because getting there is not a regular occurrence, I always look forward to a meal at The River Café in London. It’s my idea of perfection. When my husband and I got married nearly 18 years ago, we took the place over for our wedding lunch. The food – sea bass and an almond cake for pudding – and the experience were magical. Alle Testiere, Calle del Mondo, Novo Castello 5801, Venice 30122 (+39041-522 7220; www.osterialletestiere.it). The River Café, Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 (020-7386 4200; www.rivercafe.co.uk).
The books on my bedside table are mainly art-related. My favourite recent book is Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes. The new illustrated edition gives me the perfect excuse to read and enjoy it all over again. I loved Martin Gayford’s Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud. But currently, my most well-thumbed book is The New Puppy Owner’s Manual by Angela Fitch.
The last music I downloaded was Ella Fitzgerald: Twelve Nights in Hollywood, a recently released series of 77 songs recorded at a small jazz club, The Crescendo, in 1961 and 1962. I’ve always loved Ella Fitzgerald and now my 15-year-old son, Theo, loves her too.
An indulgence I would never forego is flowers. I always like to have fresh-cut and interesting wild flowers – whatever’s in season – from Vic Brotherson at Scarlet & Violet. She has a way of putting arrangements together that makes receiving them an utter joy. At the moment I’m poring over her book Vintage Flowers: Choosing, Arranging, Displaying. 76 Chamberlayne Road, London NW10 (020-8969 9446; www.scarletandviolet.com).
My favourite websites are the BBC, which I check several times a day; the Ted lectures; and the new app from jewellers SJ Phillips – a great place to go to dream, and to salivate. www.bbc.co.uk. www.sjphillips.com. www.ted.com.