The Aesthete: Scott Schuman talks more personal taste

The man behind The Sartorialist rounds up his list of likes with homemade banana ice cream, Milan and the paintings of John Singer Sargent

Scott Schuman at home in New York
Scott Schuman at home in New York | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is Giorgio Armani. He must have done a deal with the devil to look as good as he does at his age. He was the man who influenced me most in terms of fashion when I was a teenager; he designed clothes you could really wear and has such great personal style. When I look at old photographs of him he looks so chic, so perfect.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is India, staying at the The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai. People say there’s so much energy in New York, but India has more. When a car pulls up behind another car, it’s the responsibility of the driver in the rear to honk the horn – so you can imagine the noise. For a photographer it’s amazing, because people live so much of their lives outdoors. I spent ages shooting a guy in the street, a stone’s throw from the hotel, ironing shirts using a metal iron heated with burning-hot coals. The Taj Mahal Palace, Apollo Bunder, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400001 (+9122-6665 3366; www.tajhotels.com).

Giorgio Armarni
Giorgio Armarni | Image: Rex Features

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Rocking Horse Cafe in Chelsea. You don’t get good Mexican food in too many parts of the world, so when I have been travelling a lot, this is one of the first places I go when I get home. I order chips, salsa and burritos. Rocking Horse Cafe, 182 Eighth Ave, New York, NY 10011 (+1212-463 9511; www.rockinghorsecafe.com).

The best gift I’ve given recently was a ballet residency at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in upstate New York. My daughter Claudia, who is 14, wanted to go. My kids don’t really need anything and they aren’t obsessed by material things, so it’s nice to give them experiences relating to what they love and are curious about. 33 Kaatsbaan Rd, Tivoli, NY 12583 (+1845-757 5106; www.kaatsbaan.org).

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In my fridge you’ll always find banana ice cream, which my girlfriend Jenny makes with almond milk. I’ve always struggled with my weight; it was hard having suits made, because my size went up and down. Jenny helped me get that under control but I didn’t want to give everything up and I like to sit on the couch and eat something sweet and cold. I also always have Mountain Dew in the fridge, because I grew up on soda; that’s the Midwest in me. But I like to pronounce it with an Italian accent and call it Monte Dew-ay.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the painter John Singer Sargent. He had a real grace. You don’t have to know who the people are in the paintings; there’s something about each canvas that makes you curious about them. They have such romance. I remember seeing an exhibition of his work that included The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, with one child sitting on a rug with a doll and three others standing at the edge of it. I was teaching myself photography at the time and taking photos of my kids a lot, and that image felt powerful to me in a simple, beautiful way. I would like my work to have the same effect on people.

Antica Osteria Milanese, Milan
Antica Osteria Milanese, Milan

My favourite part of my house is the living area. We spend a lot of time on the couch as a family. My kids come over to watch TV or sit with us and do their homework. It’s where we all get together. We like to eat there too. We live in a loft, which is the New York dream; it’s all open plan and we change things around a lot. When I first moved to New York I had an apartment the size of one of the bedrooms here. It was great to move and give the kids space to run around.

The person I rely on for personal grooming is Michael W Haar. He’s been my barber forever. I met him on a shoot and he has great style, but he doesn’t try to push it on anybody. I’ve had periods when my hair has been longer and I can always just tell him “I want this kind of feel”, and he gets it. 33 Crosby St, New York, NY 10015 (+1212-929 6014; www.mikewillcutyou.com).

Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads
Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Milan. Everybody knows the history of London, Paris and New York but considering Milan is such a big player on the fashion and design scene, it’s still very much a mystery. There’s also a refinement to it that isn’t as precious as Paris or as uptight as London; people there can be very vain but are able to laugh at themselves too. I love Palazzo Morando for costume history and also the museum’s interiors. There is a place tucked away on Via Manfredo Camperio called Antica Osteria Milanese, which is my dream old-school Italian restaurant. And Paper Moon was the place to eat in the 1980s – when I’m there I like to imagine that it’s still 1987. I still haven’t been to the grand opera house, La Scala, but I’m dying to go. Antica Osteria Milanese, Via Manfredo Camperio 12, 20123 (+3902-861 367; www.anticaosteriamilanese.it). Palazzo Morando, Via Sant’Andrea 6, 20121 (+3902-8846 5735; www.costumemodaimmagine.mi.it). Paper Moon, Via Bagutta 1, 20121 (+3902-796 083; www.papermoonmilano.com). Teatro alla Scala, Via Filodrammatici 2, 20121 (+3902-88 791; www.teatroallascala.org).

The last music I downloaded was by Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense, their live album from 1984. I remember listening to the songs when I was growing up in Indiana. We didn’t have guys like David Byrne in my town – there was something unsettling and odd but also cool about him. He tells great stories in a quirky, artful, off-the-wall way. 

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, £24 for 50ml
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, £24 for 50ml | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

The grooming staple I’m never without is Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. It’s pretty simple and one of the only things I use. I don’t use soap on my face and I don’t really use shampoo as my hair is so short. This is the only product I’d be upset to lose while travelling. £24 for 50ml; www.kiehls.co.uk.

The indulgences I would never forgo are massages and personal training. I have an Equinox membership in New York and if I want to keep doing my job until I am 80, I’ve got to stay in good shape. I don’t need to fly business class now because I’m much better physically than I used to be, so I can just curl myself up into a ball and sleep in economy. www.equinox.com.

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The best book I’ve read in the past year is Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History by John Julius Norwich. It’s hard to find historical books that aren’t entirely weighed down with dates and leaders; this one has a good mix of anecdotes. I was visiting the island and I love placing myself historically, via literature, in a place I’m going to. $32; www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

If I weren’t doing what I do now, I would be an archaeologist. I love history and the idea of doing something with my hands. It’s a similar dynamic to what I do now – I am going out into the world and learning about an area. I really like to find out as much as I can about the history of where I am.

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