January 07 2010
My style icon – though I don’t know that I have one per se, someone I’ve truly modelled myself on – is probably Edward VIII, for whom I guess I’d say I have a great deal of admiration. It’s about manners, of course, but also a sense that someone is content and comfortable in his own skin. When you look at him, his overall presence, there was both comfort and grace, even though his life had some quite tragic aspects.
The last meal that left me truly impressed was at the Galle Fort Hotel in Sri Lanka. The chef fuses European and Australian elements with the classic South Asian ones. Everything is fresh, the spice combinations are totally unique. But it’s also the small portions and the fact that the menu constantly changes, so you’d have to stay there for about 10 days to eat the same thing twice. It makes you value the experience more. 28 Church Street, Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka (+9491-223 2870, www.galleforthotel.com).
The best gift I’ve given recently is a child’s chair designed by Fredrikson Stallard, and I gave it to the NSPCC. They didn’t hold an auction for it; it was displayed and someone bought it on its merit. At auction, people’s motives for buying are very different. In this case, somebody actually wanted it for their child’s room, so the whole thing gave me joy on several levels.
And the best one I’ve received recently was a soft stuffed toy by [American artist] Mike Kelley. It speaks when you squeeze it! Little Friend toy, $225, The Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA90012 (+1213-626 6222; www.mocastore.org).
The best souvenir I’ve brought home recently? I’m not really one for souvenirs. I buy lots of local objects and gifts, and then distribute them to my godchildren.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the last year is St Barths – it still has that inimitable combination of Caribbean beauty and the French way of life. And everything is so close to everything else, which is part of the appeal. You can have lunch at the Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France, at Flamands bay, and then cocktails at another place on the beach, and then 500 yards further down, it’s dinner. Going from one place to another, different places on different days – it’s quite magical. And it feels very continental. You perceive the French presence, the Swedish one, even the Maltese one, though you’re clearly a world away. Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, B.P. 612, 97098 St Barths (+5905-9027 6181; www.isle-de-france.com).
An indulgence I’d never forego is chocolate. Particularly at night. I live rather dangerously close to La Maison du Chocolat, which is what feeds my addiction. It’s incredible how they manipulate fresh flavours – the mint chocolate smells and tastes of fresh spearmint. The orange peels dipped in dark chocolate... oh my goodness: heaven. Dark ganaches infused with fresh mint, £21.30, 230g, and orange peel dipped in dark chocolate, £26, 170g, 45-46 Piccadilly, London W1 (www.lamaisonduchocolat.com).
My favourite room is my bedroom. Any Sunday I’m not travelling – which, sadly, is a more and more infrequent occurrence – I can spend the whole day there. I amass everything I need: books, films, magazines, the Sunday papers. There’s music on the sound system, I have my, um, Juicy Couture training suit on, which I wear only there. I’ll take breakfast, lunch and dinner there. I really don’t want to leave.
The grooming staples I’m never without are Chanel Antaeus for Men, my cologne; La Prairie Skin Caviar face cream; and Estée Lauder hand cream. Chanel Antaeus, £39 for 50ml, 020-7493 3836; www.chanel.com. Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv, £45 for 100ml, 0870-034 2566; www.esteelauder.co.uk. La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, £243 for 50ml, from Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1 (020-7730 1234; www.harrods.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do now I’d be a psychologist, because I like people and I’m curious about the mind. I’ve never studied it, but in everyday life you find there are opportunities to understand people better with very careful observation. I mean, some very simple behaviours tell you so much about someone.