The Aesthete: Paul Andrew’s black book of style

The creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo loves having clay on his hands, McVitie’s Ginger Nuts and the voice of Oprah Winfrey. By Grace Cook

Paul Andrew at home in Florence
Paul Andrew at home in Florence | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

My personal style signifier is a crew-neck T-shirt from Sunspel, in black, white or navy. I’ve definitely adopted a uniform over the past couple of years while working with ready-to-wear; looking at volumes and proportions and fabrics on a model, you don’t want to be distracted by a silhouette that you wear yourself. From £70.

Ceramics by Gunnar Nylund for Rörstrand
Ceramics by Gunnar Nylund for Rörstrand | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of Carhartt WIP cargo trousers in navy-blue organic cotton. Carhartt has been a staple of my wardrobe since college and I remain a devotee of its quiet, utilitarian timelessness. I rarely wear a formal tailored trouser unless I have to get dressed up for something. And fashion has become so casual that I don’t even have to. From £95.

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The last music I downloaded was Oceans by RY X and Ólafur Arnalds. Two of my favourite musical artists just came together and dropped this track at the end of January, and it is now on heavy rotation in my office. It’s ambient folktronica, and it’s pretty calming but with a modern beat. I discovered RY X (the Australian singer/songwriter Ry Cuming) after hearing his remix of Rihanna’s Love on the Brain

Andrew’s current bedtime reading
Andrew’s current bedtime reading

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a ceramicist. There’s something about that clay in your hands and the idea that you can create anything you want. My house in Connecticut is a treehouse in the forest, and I love the idea of having a shed with a window overlooking the trees, making bowls. The craftsman’s life speaks to me. 

A cactus in his Florence living room
A cactus in his Florence living room | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

On my wishlist is a double-breasted Harris tweed coat, which is the first look from my autumn/winter 2020 show. It’s navy, with a velcro fastening at the waist that means you can wear it slim-fitted or oversized and baggy. I love a two-for-one – clothing you can wear different ways, depending on your mood. £2,145.

Andrew’s Optoma NuForce earphones
Andrew’s Optoma NuForce earphones | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

The book on my bedside table is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It was recommended to me by two avid reader friends, Tommy Dorfman and Jacob Bixenman. With its length and heavy subject matter, it’s not an easy read, but it’s such a powerful book. It engages with queer aesthetic modes, emotional truth, self-indulgence, addiction and, ultimately, death. You can’t imagine there is going to be another turn and suddenly you’re bawling your eyes out again.

Andrew at home in Florence
Andrew at home in Florence | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

My favourite shop is The New Craftsmen in London, where I recently bought a set of borosilicate wine glasses by Jochen Holz for my apartment in Florence. Each is unique, with a coloured stem and foot, from pink and blue to grey and amber. They look like a rainbow when they’re together. And, amazingly, they go in the dishwasher. Jochen Holz Incalmo wine glasses, £85 each. 

Artworks by John Chamberlain, a dream collection
Artworks by John Chamberlain, a dream collection | Image: Thomas Barratt

The last meal that truly impressed me was at King, on King Street in New York. It’s run by three amazing women – Jess, Clare and Annie. Their dishes change nightly, but their chickpea flour panisse appetiser is always on the menu. It may be the most heavenly thing I’ve ever eaten. 

Andrew’s woven baskets by Gahaya Links
Andrew’s woven baskets by Gahaya Links

The gadget I couldn’t do without is Optoma’s NuForce wireless headphones – a necessary partner on my morning runs. They’re geared up in a way that if you start running faster, they switch to a faster track. They’re the most useful and intuitive invention I’ve ever owned. Optoma NuForce BE6i, £101, from shop.bt.com.

Paul Andrew monk-strap shoes
Paul Andrew monk-strap shoes | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is John Chamberlain. When I was a child, my parents would take me to a London museum every weekend, and one of the very first exhibitions I saw was of his work. You never look at them and think, “that’s a car part”. All the colours and paints cracking and crushed together in each sculpture are amazing. 

Santa Maria Novella Pot Pourri, €100 for 100ml EDC
Santa Maria Novella Pot Pourri, €100 for 100ml EDC

And the best souvenirs I’ve brought home are magnificent woven baskets by Gahaya Links of Rwanda. After the war there, so many men had died that these women came together out of necessity to share their skills. I bought nine pieces last summer for the living room of my New York apartment. They’re between three and six foot tall, all different widths and colours, and they look extremely modern. 

A necklace from Andrew’s grandmother
A necklace from Andrew’s grandmother | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

In my fridge you’ll always find bottles of Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc. I discovered the vineyard on a trip to California in 2006 and have been in love with Merry’s wine ever since. And I’m fortunate enough to have a home in Tuscany, where the vegetables are exceptional. Right now you will find puntarelles, artichokes, fennel and winter squash. From $36.

Rudy’s Barbershop in New York
Rudy’s Barbershop in New York

The podcast I’m listening to is Oprah’s. One can never go wrong with Ms Winfrey.

His Ferragamo deerskin shirt
His Ferragamo deerskin shirt | Image: Lea Anouschinsky

My favourite app is SoundCloud, which has the absolute best playlists for running. Famous DJs from all over Europe use it to upload their mixes – it could be anything from London Grammar to Beyoncé. There are no breaks in the songs; it just keeps building as if you’re in a nightclub – which I haven’t been to for 20 years.

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An indulgence I would never forgo is coffee beans from Monmouth Coffee in London. Wherever I am in the world, I rely on them to keep me going. There’s something special about the roast. Whenever I’m in town, I buy bags and carry them back in my suitcase, and it’s the first thing I ask friends to bring when they visit. And if they bring McVitie’s Ginger Nut biscuits as well, all the better. 

My favourite room in my house is my living room in my new apartment. It makes me really happy. The space is airy with skylighted, double-height ceilings, which is rather unusual for Florence. I’ve curated an eclectic mix of midcentury-modern pieces offset by 19th-century Navajo rugs, cactus plants, Mexican pottery by Hilario Alejos Madrigal and paintings by New York-based artist Federico de Francesco.

The grooming staple I’m never without is Pot Pourri fragrance from Santa Maria Novella, which has been my signature for 20 years. It has notes of bergamot, lavender, laurel, thyme and clove, and was created in 1828 by Dominican monks. One of my first jobs out of school was based in the Tuscan town of Calcinaia. I tried the eau de cologne back then on a trip to Florence. Two decades later, it turns out to be the official scent of Palazzo Feroni, the offices of Ferragamo. You can’t make this stuff up. €100 for 100ml EDC.

The item of clothing I’ll keep to pass on is a pair of monk-strap shoes with a chunky sole from my eponymous shoe line, Paul Andrew. I developed this technology where air is injected into the mould so the sole is really lightweight. I also have a pair of evening slippers in black satin, which I’m petrified to wear for fear of scratching or staining them. I made the difficult decision last March to put that line on pause to focus wholly on Ferragamo, so I intend to keep them close forever. 

An accessory I’d never part with is a necklace that belonged to my grandmother Mary, who passed away in 2018. She was my favourite person. It’s a very simple, chic gold chain necklace that she wore herself, and it feels like she is with me when I wear it. There’s some sort of energy in it; I put it on when I feel I need good fortune. 

The best gift I’ve given recently is my mother’s house in Berkshire, which I bought for her. She has lived there for 30 years, and she loves the space and her garden there. Although my brother and I moved away years ago, it still feels like the cornerstone of our family’s bond. I’m a country boy at heart, having grown up there. My favourite place to be is outdoors, which is why I have a house in Connecticut. It’s like a little bit of England in America. 

And the best one I’ve received recently is a black vase from Nilufar gallery in Milan, given to me for my birthday in January by my thoughtful team at Ferragamo. It’s a cylinder in matte black, and it’s quite large – about 30cm tall. It’s perfect in my new Florentine space; it lives on the edge of a kitchen counter and it’s one of the first things you see when you walk into the room. I keep it full of local wildflowers from Artemisia Florist. Right now there’s lots of thistles and long grass and berries: it feels like I’ve brought the countryside indoors. 

My style icon is Siddhartha Shukla, my longtime partner. He has a way of putting together silhouettes and fabrications and colours that you feel like you’ve never seen before but that look immediately right. If I wore what he wears, with my pale skin, I’d look ridiculous. But he’s taller and leaner than I am, so everything looks great on him. 

My grooming guru is Tyler Pendleton from Rudy’s Barbershop in New York. I was originally seeing another stylist, but noticed Tyler’s incredible skill and style and I eventually made my way over to his chair. I see him about once a month. As soon as I know I’m going to be in New York, I book my appointment. And Jem Warren, who has been my trainer for over a decade. Before I met him I was pretty scrawny, but I’m more in shape now.

I have a collection of ceramics – cupboards full, so many I don’t even know what to do with them. I have a particular collection by Gunnar Nylund for Rörstrand from the 1930s-’50s. His glazing textures are exceptional; I’ve used them as inspiration for the treatment of leather.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a short- sleeved black Ferragamo deerskin shirt from our resort 2020 collection. It weighs almost nothing. I wear a T-shirt underneath, or a jacket over the top, so it brings texture and dimension into what I’m wearing without looking ostentatious. £2,415.

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