Bill Amberg talks personal taste: Part One

Leather goods designer Bill Amberg has collaborated with Paul Smith, Donna Karan and Dunhill, and sells his accessories at his eponymous flagship store in Mayfair

Bill Amberg
Bill Amberg | Image: David Ellis

My personal style signifier is my Omega De Ville Co-Axial watch, a present to myself on my 40th birthday. The first editions were all gold and I got one in white gold as a treat. It’s incredibly understated and I wear it with a durable nylon strap. It’s a fabulous watch to wear every day. From £2,300 (white gold no longer available); 12 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7491 8113; www.omegawatches.com).

Omega’s sold-out limited-edition De Ville Co-Axial watch in white gold
Omega’s sold-out limited-edition De Ville Co-Axial watch in white gold

The last thing I bought and loved was a small brass sculpture of a dog by Friedrich Nagler, from his exhibition at the England & Co gallery. Nagler fled Austria during the war and eventually settled in England, making simple pieces out of found metal and carved bone. 90-92 Great Portland Street, London W1 (020-7436 1873; www.englandgallery.com).

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And the thing I’m eyeing next is a London Blue phono cartridge by Decca for the stylus on one of my four record players. In the world of hi-fi weirdness, these are like gold dust because they get the best performance from your player. It will set me up for a fat-sounding winter. www.londondeccaaudio.com.

A found-metal
sculpture by Friedrich Nagler
A found-metal sculpture by Friedrich Nagler

The grooming staples I’m never without are Dr Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Soap, which my wife, Susie, buys online for me, and Almond Hard Shaving Soap from Geo F Trumper, because both smell delicious. When it comes to moisturiser, I steal Susie’s – whatever looks the most expensive. Dr Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Soap, from £1.50; www.drbronner.co.uk. Geo F Trumper Almond Hard Shaving Soap, £19; www.trumpers.com.

A Lancia
Flavia Sport Zagato 1800
A Lancia Flavia Sport Zagato 1800

My favourite room in my house is my shed. I designed it with my friend, Tim Henderson, who has a garden centre called Birstall. It came down to Somerset flat-packed and we built it over the course of one very funny Sunday. I keep my records there, all my leather tools, a hammock and lots of essential hooch. www.birstall.co.uk.

The Psychopath
Test by Jon Ronson
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

An object I would never part with is my car, a silver Lancia Flavia Sport Zagato with a red-leather interior I made myself. I bought it about 25 years ago. It was a complete wreck and I spent a very long time doing it up. It has the odd wobble: I blew up the engine last year.

Geo F Trumper shaving soaps, £19 each   
Geo F Trumper shaving soaps, £19 each   

The last music I bought was about 150 vinyl records. A friend of mine was clearing out her flat and asked if I wanted them. I was listening to one the other day – a 1970s soul album called Fire on Ice by Terry Callier – while making a leather seat for an old Norton motorcycle I’m doing up. Vinyl forces you to make a decision about what music to listen to, rather than having endless aural wallpaper.

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The books on my bedside table are Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test, which I’m enjoying, and The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. I’m also reading The Wooden Bowl by Robin Wood, which charts the item’s history. Wood was asked to catalogue the bowls from the Mary Rose and he identified all the different makers just from the way the vessels were turned.

In my fridge you’ll always find homemade hummus and baba ghanoush, and lots of seasonal ingredients from the garden: red- and blackcurrants, gooseberries, rhubarb, artichokes, apples, pears and grapes. And marmalade. My mother died a few years ago and, sadly, I’m coming close to the end of her last batch.

The last items I added to my wardrobe were two new pairs of shoes from Tricker’s on Jermyn Street: tan brogues and a pair of desert boots, both with rubber soles. They were stalwarts through the filthy weather we had earlier this year. I also wear Mr Hare shoes, particularly the summer loafers. Mark Hare and I have just collaborated on a bag. And being too tall for off-the-peg suits, I go to the excellent tailor Paul Kitsaros. Mr Hare, 8 Stafford Street, London W1 (020-7495 4200; www.mrhare.com). PaulKitsaros, 66 Cleveland Street, London W1 (020-7323 6757; www.paul-kitsaros.co.uk). Tricker’s,67 Jermyn Street, London SW1 (020-7930 6395; www.trickers.com).

My favourite websites are The Vintagent – a blog about old motorbikes by Paul d’Orléans, which sounds like a yawn but is really interesting – and the Royal Horticultural Society, for advice on plants and planting. www.rhs.org.uk. www.thevintagent.blogspot.com.



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