Simon Mottram talks more personal taste

The Rapha founder rounds up his list of likes with Tour de France supremo Jacques Anquetil, Marseille’s hidden beaches and Stevie Wonder

Simon Mottram
Simon Mottram | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is Jacques Anquetil, the five-time winner of the Tour de France. He looked like a 1950s film star – immaculate, on and off the bike. He had incredibly sharp hair and always wore the perfect shirt. He was famed for his style of cycling: they call it souplesse – suppleness. His legs moved with an effortless grace.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Marseille. We spent many holidays near there as a child and I lived in nearby Aix-en-Provence for a year and met my wife there. The light is beautiful and the climate perfect. There is an energy that comes from the cultural melting pot of a port city. L’Epuisette is the quintessential Marseille restaurant – it’s old and has a sense of faded grandeur. The Vieux-Port and La Corniche, the road that runs along the coast, are quintessentially Mediterranean, with the golden Notre Dame cathedral looking down on them. The Panier district is really interesting and the city has been transformed in recent years, with new museums and architecture. Of course, there’s Le Corbusier’s former residential housing, Unité d’Habitation, which has now been turned into a hotel. But what I like most are all the little beaches, hidden beneath the flyover, tucked away behind houses. Hôtel Le Corbusier, 280 Boulevard Michelet (+3342-831 3922; L’Epuisette, 158 Rue Vallon des Auffes  (+3349-152 1782; Notre-Dame de la Garde, Rue Ford du Sanctuaire (+3349-113 4080;

Jacques Anquetil in Besançon, eastern France, 1964
Jacques Anquetil in Besançon, eastern France, 1964 | Image: Getty Images

The best gift I’ve received recently is a photographic print of Gianni Motta, signed by him and dedicated to me. I think it’s an old press-agency photo. Motta won the Giro d’Italia in 1966 and was one of the inspirations for Rapha. A good friend tracked him down for me for my 50th birthday and got the picture from Motta’s own private collection.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could would be Ai Weiwei. Not that I’d like to collect much of one single artist, but I think some of his trees would look great in the garden of our new house.


In my fridge you’ll always find Antech Crémant de Limoux from Berry Bros & Rudd, Parmesan cheese and truffle honey. Truffle honey can turn a simple piece of cheese into an indulgent feast. Crémant de Limoux, £11.95;

The site that inspires me is Mont Ventoux in Provence, a beautiful mountain in my favourite part of the world. It’s a tough climb that I never seem to conquer completely. We based the fragrance used in Rapha skincare on the flora found on the lower slopes.

Mont Ventoux, Provence
Mont Ventoux, Provence | Image: Getty Images/ RM

The people I rely on for personal grooming and style are Timothy Everest and Paul Smith for tailoring, and Charlie’s barbershop in Camden, where I’ve been going for many years. Charlie is great at traditional, sharp men’s cuts and manages to get the best out of my thinning hair. Charlie’s, 3 Camden High Street, London NW1 (020-7380 1116).  

An object I would never part with is my collection of Stevie Wonder albums. I’m not especially attached to objects, but his five albums between 1972 and 1976, from Music of My Mind to Songs in the Key of Life, are sublime. Our house is always full of music and Stevie Wonder is forever near the top of the playlist.

The Timothy Everest bespoke house
The Timothy Everest bespoke house

My favourite websites are for Radio 4, which still has the most intelligent commentary on world events and culture, and, which is an essential resource for live bike racing.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Soho in London. Despite all the development, it has managed to retain its diversity and creative feel. We have our flagship Rapha Cycle Club on Brewer Street. Liberty still surprises me and has a great menswear edit – I like Folk, Oliver Spencer and Dries van Noten. The Algerian Coffee Stores is an old favourite – not so much for coffee, because I get mine delivered from Pact, but for the stuff that goes with it: the Bialetti stovetop espresso makers and the jugs for frothing milk. I also love Supreme – not that I wear it; 50-year-olds shouldn’t wear Supreme. But I like how they create desire with their streetwear, with limited runs and Friday “drops”. It’s all beautifully displayed – and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Algerian Coffee Stores, 52 Old Compton Street (020-7437 2480; Liberty, Great Malborough Street (020-7734 1234; Pact, Rapha, 85 Brewer Street (020-7494 9831; Supreme, 2-3 Peter Street (020-7437 0493;

Love + War by Kwabs
Love + War by Kwabs

The last music I downloaded was Love + War by Kwabs. I saw him live recently and he has the voice and swagger of an old soul man, although he’s just 26. He’s only had one hit record, Walk, which was on the FIFA15 game. That’s how they launch amazing hit records now – on video games.

My favourite room in my house is our bedroom. My eldest son has autism and for 20 years my wife Lucy and I had to sleep in separate rooms so that one of us could be with him. Fortunately, we now have live-in carers who look after him every night. In our new house we have created a self-contained apartment for him and a suite just for us – a sanctuary to which we can escape together.


An indulgence I would never forgo is my Wednesday-morning bike ride. For the past 15 years I have ridden with friends for four hours every Wednesday morning from my home in northwest London into the countryside. It keeps me sane and quite fit.

The grooming staple I’m never without is Cacharel pour L’Homme eau de toilette, which I have worn every day for over 30 years. A girlfriend first bought it for me and I thought it was gorgeous – it’s lemony and very fresh. A bottle never lasts long. £30 for 100ml EDT;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a tour guide, leading rides and connecting people to the culture and cycling history of parts of Europe. Very little beats the satisfaction of helping friends discover unknown roads and enjoy perfect days on the bike. My top three destinations would be the Dolomites, the Pyrénées and Mont Ventoux, because it’s an otherworldly experience when you get to the top.

See also