The Aesthete: Nicolas Roche talks more personal taste

The creative director continues his list of likes with Rio de Janeiro, organic vegetables and Cary Grant

Nicolas Roche at home in Paris
Nicolas Roche at home in Paris | Image: Magali Delporte

My style icon is Cary Grant. He was such a talented actor with so much charisma, and something about the way he dressed, with his perpetually immaculate and classic style – from his hair to his shoes – always impressed me. He always knew how to look his best. 

An object I would never part with is my sketchbook. I always have one with me for recording ideas and inspirations. I’m currently using one that I was given from a Douanier Rousseau exhibition at the Grand Palais last year.

Cary Grant
Cary Grant | Image: Getty Images

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a wonderful raincoat a bit like the one I saw in the Comme des Garçons showroom in New York’s West Village. What attracted me was the material: a thick, translucent plastic with a heavy, dark zip and buttons. It was huge and touched the floor – so vast that you’d really feel at ease in it. 520 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011 (+1212-604-9200;

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Pura Luhur Lempuyang Buddhist temple in Bali. Climbing 1,700 steps to reach the top is an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Even though I’m not a spiritual person, I couldn’t help feeling convinced when I was up there.


And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a large mask I bought in the north of Benin. It’s made of wood, with rope, hair and shells attached to it. I bought it in a tiny shop when I was travelling around with a friend on the back of motorcycles driven by two local guys. We had to return to Cotonou in shared taxis and overcrowded coaches, in suffocating conditions, while protecting this huge mask from various hazards.   

The grooming staple I’ve never without is Hydrance moisturising cream by Avène: its soothing, liquid texture feels like tempered snow on your skin. And my fragrance is actually one for women: Guerlain’s Champs-Elysées. Contrary to what its name might suggest, it’s fresh and simple – perfect for day or night, winter or summer. Avène Hydrance moisturising cream, from £13.50 for 40ml, Guerlain Champs-Elysées, £102 for 75ml EDP;

The Pura Luhur Lempuyang Buddhist temple in Bali
The Pura Luhur Lempuyang Buddhist temple in Bali | Image: Alamy Stock Photo

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, published in three volumes. It’s definitely the best mix of invention, distortion through reality and mythology, politics, poetry, surprise and intelligence. For me, Murakami is a sort of contemporary Marcel Proust in the way he pushes the limits of interiority in descriptions of his characters’ thoughts. 

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in The Merrion Hotel in Dublin. It’s located in a Georgian townhouse and is the only restaurant in Ireland with two Michelin stars. I loved the creativity of the dishes and their presentation.

Far right: his wood, rope, hair and shell mask from the north of Benin
Far right: his wood, rope, hair and shell mask from the north of Benin | Image: Magali Delporte

The best gift I’ve received recently was a wonderful set of trousers and shirts from a friend from the Ivory Coast. They’re made from traditional batik fabrics with stupendous patterns and energetic colours – perfect for a feel-good day.   

If I didn’t live in Paris, the city I would live in is Rio de Janeiro. I don’t think I would ever tire of its colours, energy, music or the mix of cultures; it would offer an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Carnival’s importance in Rio seems like a magnification of the French art de vivre tradition I love so much. There’s even a street dedicated entirely to samba parades (Sambodromo) – what a luxury!  

The Carnival parade, Rio de Janeiro
The Carnival parade, Rio de Janeiro | Image: Antonio Bartuccio/4Corners Images

An indulgence I would never forgo is settling down on a terrasse de café in summertime and idly watching people passing by, trying to guess what they do and where they are going. 

In my fridge you’ll always find vanilla soy milk; a wide selection of smelly French cheeses, such as Cantal, Salers, Saint Nectaire and Maroilles, that I buy at local markets in southwest France, plus my weekly basket of organic vegetables from AMAP (Association pour le Maintien d’une Agriculture Paysanne). Each member links up with a farmer who delivers his current produce every week; I go and fetch it every Saturday at the same local delivery point.


The last music I downloaded was The Man with the Red Face by Laurent Garnier (Svek Remix). It’s great dance music with a good rhythm, sophisticated orchestration and no lyrics.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a musician – an accompanying pianist or member of a chamber orchestra. As a social animal, playing music with other people remains one of my greatest pleasures in life.

See also