The Aesthete: Ramesh Nair talks more personal taste

Moynat’s artistic director concludes his list of likes with a Japanese master of molecular gastronomy, a Florentine vintage vinyl store and 1970s conceptual art

Ramesh Nair at home in Paris
Ramesh Nair at home in Paris | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is Yohji Yamamoto. He dresses exactly as he presents his work on the catwalk. He’s a tiny man, but if you passed him on the street you’d turn and look because he has such charisma in the way he dresses – the way he wears his hat and his black clothes. I am friends with his daughter and I own a couple of pieces that were originally in his own wardrobe.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a navy-blue boiled-wool shirt by the Japanese label Arts & Science, which I discovered at Delstore, one of my favourite shops in Hong Kong. I like the simplicity of what they do and the small details. arts-science.com. 3 Schooner Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (+852-2528 1770; delstore.co).

Yohji Yamamoto, Nair’s style icon
Yohji Yamamoto, Nair’s style icon | Image: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Restaurant AT, chef Atsushi Tanaka’s place in Paris. Despite his background it’s not traditionally Japanese at all. He’s a real artist of molecular gastronomy and created a vegetarian menu for me –the arrangement and colour of each dish was incredibly beautiful. 4 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris (+331-5681 9408; atsushitanaka.com).

The best gift I’ve given recently was the pair of micro-sized Moynat bags I had made for a friend of mine who’d had twins. The bags are for when they lose their first baby teeth. She loved them. moynat.com.

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And the best one I’ve received recently was a pair of vintage 1970s fashion teaching books from Eva Bernard, who was one of my teachers at FIT in New York and has been one of the most significant people in my career. She always reassured me that I had an eye for design. I could never afford those books when I was a student and she gave them to me when I saw her recently. It was the sweetest thing.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Gordon Matta-Clark, because you can’t collect him. His work in New York in the 1970s was all conceptual: he cut apertures in existing buildings. He was incredible and it’s sad that more young people don’t know about him.

Nair’s boiled-wool shirt by Arts & Science
Nair’s boiled-wool shirt by Arts & Science

My three carry-on essentials are a toothbrush, floss and a tube of Arthrodont toothpaste. I’m dentally obsessed. Arthrodont, €5.50 for 80g; soin-et-nature.com.

My failsafe jet-lag cure is to start adjusting to my destination time while I am still in Paris. If I am going to Japan, for instance, I start sleeping at odd hours before I leave and I find the technique works quite well.

Vintage fashion teaching books from the 1970s
Vintage fashion teaching books from the 1970s

An object I would never part with is maybe my cat Kali, although she’s not my object and she will leave us at some point. I am not attached to anything, really, but I love my stereo system and valve amplifiers by EAR Yoshino, designed by Tim de Paravicini. I have top-spec monitors and we spent a fortune having cabling put into the walls. £1,204; earyoshino.com.

A recent “find” is Contempo Records, a store that belongs to the record label of the same name, in Florence. I bought so many great ultra-old records there. I am always looking for non-remastered vinyl, because it has a much better sound. Via dei Neri 15R, 50122 Florence (+3905-528 7592; contemporecords.it).

Frank Zappa in his studio, 1974
Frank Zappa in his studio, 1974 | Image: Ginny Winn/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

The last music I bought was Frank Zappa’s album Sheik Yerbouti. I got into him when I was in the most rebellious part of my life. He’s a poet; there’s guitar and melody. But the thing I find most important about him is that he had the guts to turn his back on things and reject what he didn’t agree with. 

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Living with Complexity by Donald A Norman. Reading it was a journey of discovery; it made me realise that complexity isn’t bad. It’s all about discerning between complexity and confusion and it speaks to me about my work: what I do is extremely simple but complicated to make.

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An indulgence I would never forgo is mangoes. I hunt for them all year because I am obsessed with the taste. I like them with everything and I make my own mango lassi with yoghurt

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a musician. I used to sing and I’ve tried to play the guitar. It didn’t work out for me, but music is a total passion and I would absolutely be involved in creating it in some way.

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