The Aesthete: Juan Santa Cruz talks personal taste

Investment banker-turned-restaurateur and designer Juan Santa Cruz is known for his über-glamorous establishments in London and Buenos Aires

Juan Santa Cruz at home in London
Juan Santa Cruz at home in London | Image: Jooney Woodward

My personal style signifier is a blue suit. I think I have just one in grey – it was a fit of fantasy and I only wore it a couple of times. I’m a very uniform man. My suits are mostly double-breasted, from Huntsman or Davies & Son; I have them made in such a way that I don’t have to open them when I sit down, which is much more convenient in this business. From £4,500; From £5,280;

Sirikoi Lodge in Kenya
Sirikoi Lodge in Kenya

The last thing I bought and loved was a Thomas Ruff photograph, which speaks to me emotionally. It’s an abstract image of layered Japanese manga cartoons. I saw it at Sotheby’s when a friend asked me to help him choose art for his house. I don’t tend to have art in my restaurants Casa Cruz and Isabel; I realised that there was so much going on with the walls in terms of colour and texture, from wood panels with lots of upholstery to textiles, that it doesn’t work to put anything on top of it.


And the thing I’m eyeing next is a beautiful pair of Beretta 486 shotguns designed by Marc Newson. They are a work of art – and so elegant. I love everything from their shape and the engraving on the metal to the character of the wood. I took up shooting when I arrived in England four years ago from Buenos Aires – I probably won’t use these very much, though; they look like something that you’d want to keep for generations. £44,400 for a pair;

From left: Beretta 486 shotgun, £44,400 for a pair. Bespoke Levi’s jeans, £500
From left: Beretta 486 shotgun, £44,400 for a pair. Bespoke Levi’s jeans, £500 | Image: Jooney Woodward

A recent “find” is an incredible tailor called Luigi Solito on the Via Toledo in Naples. He is a master of the Neapolitan spalla camicia technique, where the sleeve goes underneath the shoulder with no shoulder padding – perfect for a comfortable daytime jacket. From €2,300;

Santa Cruz’s silver bulldog money clip
Santa Cruz’s silver bulldog money clip | Image: Jooney Woodward

The best gift I’ve given recently was a pair of beautiful little fur-lined boots that I found in Kenya, made by the Maasai; I thought they were the coolest thing ever. They were quite big as baby’s boots go, but a friend of mine had just had a child who would grow into them, so I was happy to find somebody I could give them to.

River Café in London
River Café in London

And the best one I’ve received recently is an engraved silver money clip. I used to use a normal bulldog clip, but one time when I went to pay for something, my friend said, “I’m going to have a silver one made for you.” I want another as a backup, but he won’t tell me where he got it.


An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Sirikoi Lodge in Kenya. I fell in love with the colours – the golden tones in the evening, in the sky and across the savannah, blended with powdery blues and greens. The sunsets blew my mind: I have not seen anything like them in Latin America, North America or on the continent.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was an incredible pair of bespoke Levi’s from the store on Regent Street, which has a tailor. I wanted a better version of the 501, so I put on an off-the-rack pair and showed her how I wanted mine to be. It’s a fun process – they have a wide catalogue of cloths for bespoke jeans and you can choose some amazing colours. £500; 174-176 Regent St, London W1 (020-7292 2500;

The last meal that truly impressed me was lunch at the River Café. I invited two friends who hadn’t been in years, and we ordered pretty much the entire menu. We had the culatello, langoustines, beef with horseradish, and pasta with truffles. I love the place, the people and the simplicity of it all. Everything about it is a pleasure. Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, London W6 (020-7386 4200;

My favourite apps and websites are the British Airways app, because it gives me access to wherever I need to go – Kenya, New York, Miami, Buenos Aires – and news sites: when I’m in London, I go first to in the morning, and in New York,