My style icon? I think the one person who has really got something is Ralph Lauren. Whatever he does, there are huge amounts of style involved, whether it’s jeans and a ripped shirt, or black tie. He doesn’t just say, “Ok, it’s the Hamptons look now”. Everything he makes – even the skiwear – tends to have signature understatement. But you can also sort of replicate the look. And it encapsulates everyone. He can do style out of a log cabin as ably as he can out of a grand hotel. www.ralphlauren.co.uk.
The last music I bought is Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony. It’s his centenary this year, and there’s a lot going on at his concert hall in Suffolk. I recently realised that this was the only symphony of his I didn’t own. It is lovely – quite uplifting. www.brittenpears.org.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Burlington Arcade and that central bit of Mayfair, through to Soho. It has it all. Berwick Street, the market, Zara on Regent Street – yes, really – Richard James for suits, GJ Cleverley for shoes. And N.Peal cashmere, which is right in the arcade near my shop. Berwick Street, www.berwickstreetlondon.co.uk. GJ Cleverley & Co, 13 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7493 0443; www.gjcleverley.co.uk). N.Peal, 37-40 Burlington Arcade, London W1 (020-7499 6485; www.npeal.com). Richard James, 29 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7434 0605; www.richardjames.co.uk). Zara, 118 Regent Street, London W1 (020-7534 9500; www.zara.com).
The site that inspires me is the Parthenon in Athens. I just think it’s… well, where does everything else come from? Napoleon’s tomb, St Paul’s Cathedral, the monuments around Washington, DC: wherever you go, the Parthenon is the root of the classicism or neoclassicism you see. It’s kind of where it all started. Looks simple as Lego, but it’s so not. It’s a perfect formation, and something we’ve all just followed on from.
An indulgence I would never forego is, oh, for goodness’ sake, coffee. I turn to a cup of coffee at all times. Ideally, I make it at home. And do you know what? I like Nescafé Gold Blend and Coffee-Mate Lite. I actually love them. And I put honey in instead of sugar. It’s the one thing I absolutely do every day. www.coffee-mate.com. www.nescafe.co.uk.
The best gift I’ve given recently was Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I can get quite nostalgic, and I suppose that, having a young goddaughter, I thought it appropriate. I can still recite some of it by heart, actually – and Peter and the Wolf and Sparky’s Magic Piano. I think there are enough cuddly toys and those sorts of things in circulation already, so I try not to do that genre.
And the best one I’ve received was one of those battery-pack chargers that I stick into the mains and then just plug into the back of my phone or iPad to extend its life. My friend gave it to me. I like to think I’m not so dependent on technology, but the fact is that if my phone dies, I go into meltdown quite quickly. Anker Astro external battery, from £22; www.ianker.com.
If I didn’t live in London and Suffolk, the city I would live in is Paris. I’ve always wanted to own a flat there. I’ve been going since I was 15 on a fairly regular basis. My friend Denys LaRoche has had places in the first, fourth, sixth and eighth arrondissements, so I’ve had the good fortune to stay in all of those. I love the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and Musée Maillol. All the wonderful little fruit stalls and markets are around that area. I don’t speak French particularly well, but I do love and feel comfortable about being there. It’s easy, somehow. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, 62 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris (+331-5301 9240; www.chassenature.org). Musée Maillol, 61 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (+331-4222 5958; www.museemaillol.com).
My favourite room in my house is my sitting room/kitchen – they are adjacent – in Suffolk. It all happens in there. The kitchen has a big table that seats eight, and tongue-and-groove walls, one of which is covered with a large range cooker with top and bottom ovens. I have lots of pictures and bits of faïence around, and an amazing needlepoint from gallerist Rebecca Hossack, who’s also a friend. She’s rather appalled that it sits over the bin, even though I always tell her it is the thing I look at most.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Sargent. However much I’ve moved my taste towards more abstract, less obviously formal art, Sargent is where it all started. I remain loyal to him. I love his use of colour, the way he makes people look… So clever and so beautiful. There is always a sense of order in his pictures.
In my fridge you’ll always find crème fraîche, parmesan and eggs – because I know that from that combination I can always rustle up a tasty meal. I do love cooking, so I like to keep ingredients handy in the fridge. Take the above, along with some tomatoes that aren’t looking too poorly and some dried pasta, and you can make something up.
The person I rely on for personal grooming is Daniel Pierpoint, who cuts my hair. I’m not really into massages, but when he cuts my hair it’s that kind of bliss. I sort of drift off and feel totally relaxed. 11 Archer Street, London W1 (020-7851 7471; www.pierpointhairdressing.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I’d be some sort of decorator. I have a little regular weekend recreation, which is to go to markets: Clingancourt in Paris, the market in Valbonne. I absolutely live at Dix-Sept Antiques, Sophie Goodbrey’s shop in Framlingham, Suffolk. I try not to put my hand in my pocket, but the things are so beautiful. 17 Station Road, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 9EA (01728-621 505; www.dixsept.co.uk).