March 02 2012
My style icon is Miuccia Prada. It is not just the fact that she designs beautiful clothes for real women, or that her clothes communicate intelligence as well as a sense of fun, but also her amazing aesthetic – as illustrated by her architectural collaborations around the world. Seeing her collection of modern and contemporary art – from Lucio Fontana to Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst – at the Ca’ Corner della Regina in Venice was one of the highlights of last year’s Biennale. The juxtaposition of the great art against the faded beauty of the building was breathtaking. She has such great taste.
An object I would never part with is photographs of my children. I take them with me everywhere and they remind me of happy times together – holidays, weekends in the country – and memorable occasions, such as the first time they swam in the sea.
The last thing I bought and loved was our puppy Otis, named by our son after Otis Redding. He is a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, and is apricot-coloured. I wanted something with a bit of poodle because they are such intelligent dogs, and I love cocker spaniels, but they need a lot of walking, which I thought was unfair living in London. He has the most wonderful personality and we are all besotted with him.
The best gift I’ve given recently was tickets for my teenage daughter, Martha, and a couple of friends to see The Black Eyed Peas. It was her first proper pop concert, and she adored every second.
And the best one I’ve received recently is an iPad from my husband, on which he had downloaded all our photos and the apps he knew I’d enjoy: BBC iPlayer, Skype, Sotheby’s, 1stdibs, the FT, the New York Times, Artnet, Vogue and Net-A-Porter.
In my fridge you’ll always find Evian water, Diet Coke and ingredients for the perfect salad. I often eat out at lunchtime in good Mayfair restaurants, so my perfect evening is spent eating a delicious salad with my husband. Then there’s lots for our teenage children too: pesto, a block of parmesan, unwaxed lemons, plenty of fruit.
The site that inspires me is Chatsworth House and Gardens in Derbyshire. Sotheby’s holds its Beyond Limits show – an annual selling exhibition of monumental sculpture – in the grounds. This means I get to go up there regularly during the period of the exhibition. I always get a surge of excitement as I drive through the parkland and catch my first glimpse of the house. The palatial architecture, the extraordinary collection of art, the wonderfully landscaped park by Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton, and the beautiful rural setting of the Peak District make it one of the most special and memorable places. Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP (01246-565 300; www.chatsworth.org).
The last item I added to my wardrobe was a bracelet by Pippa Small with a Navaratna charm on it, a gift to myself. It has different coloured gemstones, which represent the planets. It’s a Hindu charm devised to enhance our life and wellbeing. I never take it off. It is typical of Pippa’s jewellery – beautiful and timeless. Her shop on Colville Mews is like a jewellery box in itself, stuffed full of trinkets. 11 Colville Mews, London W11 (020-7792 1292; www.pippasmall.com).
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Picasso. I’ve worked at Sotheby’s for over 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of Picassos over that time, but I never tire of his work. It’s because he constantly reinvented himself. I love the tenderness of his Marie-Thérèse portraits from the 1930s, the challenging, jarring Dora Maar paintings, and then the more liberated work of his later life – the freedom of expression old age brought him. He was a true genius.
My favourite room in my house is the kitchen. It’s where we all congregate, in the morning before we go our separate ways and then again at the end of the day. It really is our life room; it’s big enough that we can all sit, eat, cook and work in one space – and, if needs be, spill into the garden to get some fresh air.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York, for its energy, the amazing galleries and creativity, the great friends I have there, and the beaches and sand dunes of Long Island. I also love the High Line park – such an inspiring way to reinvigorate the city. Having said this, there is nowhere I would choose to live other than London. www.thehighline.org.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I would choose Mayfair. I am so lucky to have worked in this area all my adult life, and one is so spoilt – not just for the clothes shops from Bond Street to Oxford Circus, but for books at Hatchards, food at Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges, the art galleries, the auction houses, the Royal Academy, and restaurants such as Scott’s and The Wolseley. There is no shortage of places to browse and indulge. www.fortnumandmason.com. www.hatchards.co.uk. www.royalacademy.org.uk. www.scotts-restaurant.com. www.selfridges.com. www.thewolseley.com.
The grooming staples I’m never without are Lancôme black eye liner and mascara, without which I feel naked. I wear Mac Twig lipstick, and Mademoiselle polish by Essie on my nails. I am a sucker for the new new thing, the latest lotion or potion that promises the miraculous (but rarely delivers it). Essie Mademoiselle nail polish, £6.95; www.essie.com. Lancôme black eye liner, £16, and mascara, £21; www.lancome.co.uk. Mac Twig lipstick, £13.50; www.maccosmetics.co.uk.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would love to be the editor of Vogue. I enjoy the energy and creativity of fashion, and I’m a very visual person, so whether it’s art or fashion I find it equally fascinating and exciting. I’m eclectic in my wardrobe tastes; I wear Comme des Garçons and Prada but also high-street labels. I love going to Paris for work because it means the chance to visit Dries Van Noten’s beautiful boutique. Equally, I would never pass up the chance to go to Topshop with my teenage daughter. Comme des Garçons, www.comme-des-garcons.com. Dries Van Noten, 7 Quai Malaquais, Paris 75006 (+331-4427 0040; www.driesvannoten.be). Topshop, www.topshop.com.