The Aesthete: Michael Hill talks more personal taste

The creative director and co-owner of Drake’s concludes his list of likes with his father’s dress code, the art of Willem de Kooning and the joys of Florence

Michael Hill in his London apartment
Michael Hill in his London apartment | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is my father. It sounds like a cliché but he had a profound effect on the way I dress. He was in the business and he would dress for it, which I saw him do every day. He wore a suit and tie in the week, a blazer on a Saturday and was a little more dressed down on a Sunday. He definitely taught me the fundamentals – and the importance of classic style.

My favourite room in my house is the kitchen. It’s the most communal of rooms and has such a familial feel. Food is very important to me, so the kitchen is the focal point of the house.

Michael Hill’s father Charles
Michael Hill’s father Charles

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Peggy Guggenheim’s autobiography Out of this Century. It succeeds in bringing to life that entire era from a highly personal perspective. She was integral to the modernist scene and lived and breathed it, making it such a pleasure to have it recounted in her own words. The art world is considerably more corporate today, but Peggy was a true pioneer. 

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Primeur in Stoke Newington. It has a wonderfully convivial atmosphere with large communal tables. The food and drink is very refined, but the place manages to feel low-key and incredibly homey too. I always start with cured meats and had an incredible T-bone steak last time I went. 116 Petherton Rd, London N5 (020-7226 5271; primeurn5.co.uk).

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The best gift I’ve given recently was set of three rings that I helped to design for my wife’s 40th birthday, made for her by a fantastically skilled Nepalese jeweller – one from me and one from each of my children. The jeweller works with hammered gold and he set a stone in each.

And the best one I’ve received recently was a wine made especially for me by Roberto Viscomi, who has a vineyard in Calabria and is a good friend of mine – he doesn’t make it to sell commercially. We drank it together when I was last in Florence.

Trattoria Sostanza in Florence
Trattoria Sostanza in Florence | Image: Stefano Amantini/4Corners Images

In my fridge you’ll always find a cold bottle of natural wine from Cà de Noci, a tiny artisan producer; a big block of good Parmesan brought back from Florence; lemons for a G&T, with the gin kept in the freezer, of course; garlic; and smoked streaky bacon. 

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Willem de Kooning. I’m a huge fan of abstract expressionism and I feel that de Kooning’s work stands out among that of his contemporaries, remarkable as they all were. In his paintings there’s so much movement, so much life. 

Peggy Guggenheim’s autobiography, Out of this Century
Peggy Guggenheim’s autobiography, Out of this Century

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Tracy at the Central London Osteopathy Clinic on Old Street, who does excellent work, and also my barber at John’s Hairstyling for Men, which is just around the corner from the office – haircuts come with tea and toast. Central London Osteopathy Clinic, 325 Old St, London EC1 (020-7739 5666; london-osteopath.com). From £13; John’s Hairstyling for Men, 63 Nile St, London N1 (020-7251 8023).

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Florence. It’s a beautiful city full of the most welcoming, interesting people, and I went to school there for a short time when I was 18, so it’s familiar. I always love to pop by Farmacia SS Annunziata dal 1561, a charming little cosmetics and perfume store and a true Florentine institution. I also make sure to eat at two outstanding restaurants every time I go: Sostanza, for the artichoke omelette or butter chicken, and Da Ruggero for the veal chop. It’s rare that I can resist a negroni or a martini at Harry’s Bar. I also like to go for a run along the Arno when I get the chance – it’s a lovely way to see the city. Farmacia SS Annunziata dal 1561, Via dei Servi 80/R, 50122 (+39055-210 738; farmaciassannunziata1561.it). Harry’s Bar, Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 22/R, 50123 (+39055-239 6700). Trattoria Da Ruggero, Via Senese 89/R, 50124 (+39055-220 542). Trattoria Sostanza, Via del Porcellana 25/R, 50123 (+39055-212 691).

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The last music I downloaded was by Paolo Conte, simply because his voice is just terrific. 

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be involved in something outdoorsy. When I am not in London I am in Devon with my family and I’ve always fancied myself as an amateur farmer, although I’m not especially green-fingered. I like to think that farming is like a more challenging version of what I do now – a complex process of cultivating something to  bring it to fruition.

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