The Aesthete: Juan Santa Cruz talks more personal taste

The investment banker-turned-restaurateur concludes his list of likes with Gianni Agnelli, shopping in Mayfair and the art of Gerhard Richter

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

My style icon is Gianni Agnelli, for the way he wore his suit, tie and white shirt with all the little details just right, such as the long collar tips that would go under his lapel. But he never wore anything too loud – he was just appropriate, and always looked comfortable in his own skin. 

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Gary Glossman at Josh Wood Atelier, which is down the road from my flat; a most amazing chiropractor, Mike Lanning, at the St James Clinic, who is so good at realigning my body; the trainers at the Bath & Racquets Club in Mayfair, which is so civilised there are oriental rugs in the weight room. £6,500 for one year’s membership; Haircut from £55; £235 for a consultation and scan;

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

An object I would never part with is an engraved silver Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Doué pen I received when I was in banking – it was a gift from a client and it reminds me of that time, which was so important in my formation.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Mayfair and St James’s. I go to Budd Shirtmakers, because the shirts complement my English suits and the fit is perfect. I buy shoes from John Lobb because they are comfortable and they last. I go to E Marinella and Drake’s for ties, which knot well, and Hermès because I like the old-school patterns. Davies & Son and Huntsman also make very good suits. Budd Shirtmakers, 3 Piccadilly Arcade, SW1 (020-7493 0139; Davies & Son, 38 Savile Row, W1 (020-7434 3016; Drake’s, 3 Clifford Street, W1 (020-7734 2367; E Marinella, 54 Maddox Street, W1 (020-7493 4210; Hermès, 155 New Bond Street, W1 (020-7499 8856; Huntsman, 11 Savile Row, W1 (020-7734 7441; John Lobb, 88 Jermyn Street, SW1 (020-7930 8089;


The last music I downloaded was Peter Gabriel’s version of David Bowie’s Heroes. It has been changed so it’s almost entirely a vocal. I heard it when watched the first series of Stranger Things.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Gerhard Richter, whose abstract paintings I have admired throughout my life. He will take a picture and adjust the colour and the composition to add intellectual depth; it becomes a distorted, emotional take on reality – similar to how we see it. 

Gianni Agnelli
Gianni Agnelli | Image: Getty Images

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I was leaving for a flight to New York, and grabbed this, thinking I was just going to read passages of it – but once I started, I fell in love with it all over again. I discovered a different meaning to it this time: how every kind of person is represented – you can assign everyone you know to one of the characters, from the Cheshire Cat to the Queen of Hearts. 

In my fridge you’ll always find avocados – I know you’re not supposed to put them in there, but I do take them out the night before I eat them – and Estrella Damm beers. But I eat nearly all my meals at my restaurants – to ensure that the menus I’ve developed are up to date and don’t ever snack when I get in at night. If I don’t eat for 10 hours after having dinner, I wake up feeling great.

Santa Cruz’s silver Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Doué pen
Santa Cruz’s silver Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Doué pen | Image: Jooney Woodward

The grooming staple I’m never without is a La Roche-Posay moisturiser with SPF – nothing complicated. And I create my own scent by mixing essential oils such as vetiver, frankincense and lavender, which I buy online; I have no preferred brand – I just add a bit of this and a bit of that.  

An indulgence I would never forgo is very dark chocolate, preferably with hazelnuts. We make it in big slabs to break up and serve at Isabel and Casa Cruz. Or sleep – that seems like such a luxury these days.

Heroes by Peter Gabriel
Heroes by Peter Gabriel

My favourite room in my house is my Japanese-style bedroom – a refuge. It’s all done in bamboo so it’s very neutral, calm and ideal for sleeping. It has a nice view of the rooftops of London, but I don’t see it much because I’m only there at night.

If I didn’t live in London or at my second home in Buenos Aires, the city I would live in is New York. I love the energy, the optimism and the feeling that anything is possible. I am opening Casa Cruz there next year, and the team working on it are so driven and meticulous – a joy. 


If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a jewellery designer. I don’t have a particular talent for it, but I love stones, craftsmanship and creating things of beauty.