The Aesthete: India Mahdavi talks more personal taste

The architect and designer rounds up her list of likes with a trip to Japan, her Stouls leather trousers and shopping in Saint-Germain

India Mahdavi at home in Paris
India Mahdavi at home in Paris | Image: Stephanie Jayet

My style icon is fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri. I’ve come to know her and she’s a woman I greatly admire. Her style can be very casual or very feminine, but it’s often both – and she pulls it off with a lot of grace. Plus, there is nothing conventional about it. 

Mahdavi’s trousers from Stouls
Mahdavi’s trousers from Stouls | Image: Stephanie Jayet

I never leave home without a pochette that belonged to my father wrapped around my wrist. He died a year and a half ago and I have worn it every day since. I just wanted to have something of his near me. 


The best gift I’ve given recently was my trip to Japan; I took my mother and my son – three generations together. But it was also the best gift I have received, because they came with me and we had such a fantastic time. It was very special.   

Cherry tomatoes, one of Mahdavi’s favourite snacks
Cherry tomatoes, one of Mahdavi’s favourite snacks | Image: Getty Images

The last music I downloaded was… I’m not really much of a download person; I rely on my son, who’s studying architecture in London. When he comes home, he plugs in his phone and there’s all this cool music. However, I do listen to the radio a lot – Radio France, France Culture and France Inter; that’s my music.  

Fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri
Fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri | Image: Alamy

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Le Petit Varenne, a little restaurant near my office owned by Jean Baptiste Varenne. Although the place is quite simple, the food is fabulous. I had the suprême de volaille with mushrooms, but all the food is very tasty, cooked with things like basil and lemon and served with unusual vegetables like chard, or with truffles and girolles. 57 Rue de Bellechasse, 75007 Paris (+331-4273 6072).

Café de Flore in Paris
Café de Flore in Paris | Image: Getty Images

The beauty staples I’m never without are Angéliques Sous La Pluie perfume by Frédéric Malle and Touche Eclat concealer by Yves Saint Laurent. I use them both every day. The perfume is light with something nostalgic about it; it reminds me of how sometimes the rain reveals smells. I also love Tata Harper’s Elixir Vitae serum. It makes me feel like I’m glowing. Angéliques Sous La Pluie, £90 for 50ml; Elixir Vitae, £340 for 30ml; Touche Eclat, £25.50;  


The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of leather trousers by Stouls, which feel like a second skin and come in a great selection of colours and cuts. I have several pairs, including some flares in a deep prune. 36 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris (+331-4260 2997; 

In my fridge you’ll always find lots of herbs – coriander, basil – which I systematically add to everything; a good piece of cheese, like a chèvre; and cherry tomatoes, which I munch on when I’m hungry.  

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s the story of Homo sapiens within the history of the universe and is just fascinating. It answers all the questions we ask ourselves today: where we came from, where we are going. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the area around my studio in Saint-Germain, Paris. I love it because it’s both very local and very global. There’s Café de Flore to meet my friends over a coffee; L’Ecume des Pages, a brilliant bookstore; and the best chemist, La Pharmacie de l’Epoque, where the pharmacists always offer natural, alternative healing options. The Céline boutique is nearby too, which I love for its clothes, along with the city’s best arthouse cinema, Etoile Saint-Germain. Café de Flore, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 (+331-4548 5526; Céline, 16 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 (+331-5580 1499; L’Ecume des Pages, 174 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 (+331-4548 5448; Etoile Saint-Germain, 22 Rue Guillaume-Apollinaire, 75006 Paris (+331-4222 8723; La Pharmacie de l’Epoque, 47-49 Rue du Four, 75006 (+331-4548 5358;  

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a lazy bum! That would be really fantastic. If it hadn’t been a necessity for me to work, I’m not sure I would have done much. On the other hand, I would love to be a film director.

See also