"I like to think that I am something of a specialist when it comes to hats; I counted the other day and I now have almost 100. But while that may sound a lot, I always have space, and a desire, for more. I travel a lot: one week I may be in New York, the next Dubai or Kazakhstan and I often come back with a new hat.
I don’t know where my love of hats comes from, as my father hates wearing them; even in winter he goes bareheaded. I tell him at least to wear a cashmere cap, but he says: ‘No, my brain should be fresh.’ However, I like to keep my mind warm, which is why I am grateful to the late Sergio Loro Piana, who introduced me to beaver hats. They are the Ferraris of headgear; you can screw them up into a ball and they spring back into shape. We sell unlined ones in our shops, but for more formal wear I prefer Borsalino’s lined beaver hats.
If asked to choose a favourite hatmaker, I would have to pick Borsalino because it is an iconic Italian hatmaker that brings extra touches that turn a hat into a treasured accessory. Its panamas, the Montecristi hats, are also fantastic, very light. I love its boutique in Milan and am always staggered by the choice of felts and coloured hatbands. It’s incredibly hard to choose between all the hats, so I place myself in the expert hands of Francesca Martinez, who has great taste.
Whatever the occasion there is an appropriate hat; other than Borsalino I try to find the best hatmakers for that particular style wherever it is around the world. When I got married recently, my father and I went to Lock & Co in London for top hats to go with our morning coats. And I love sailing, so naturally I wear something completely different when I am on a boat. In summer I like to wear little traditional fisherman’s crocheted skullcaps in cream cotton that have been worn by Capri’s mariners for centuries.
I have many other styles, but the hardest to find are the newsboy caps that you see in American films of the 1930s and 1940s: typically, they are worn by the kid riding the bicycle, throwing the papers onto people’s porches. A friend from New York brings me one as a present every time he comes to Milan for a fitting, but he takes the label out so I cannot see where he bought it, and he refuses to tell me the shop’s name. He says: ‘At least I have something to give you as a present – when it comes to clothing you have everything else already.'"