Giambattista Valli talks personal taste: Part Two

The designer concludes his list of likes with antique kimono fabrics in Tokyo and singing monks in Laos

Giambattista Valli in his Paris studio
Giambattista Valli in his Paris studio | Image: Lea Crespi

My style icon isPablo Picasso, because he was always so full of life and creativity. No one ever thought of him as old; even in a striped T-shirt on the beach he looked like an emperor. And also Maharajah Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, an early-20th-century figure who wore simply tailored white shirts with very bold diamond necklaces. I love big jewellery on men and whenever I wear a tuxedo I pair it with a necklace inspired by this elegant man.

An object I would never part with is my black Cutler and Gross sunglasses. I wear them every morning – even when the skies are grey. £310;

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso | Image: Gjon Mili/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Luang Prabang in Laos. I rented a villa with a group of friends in an incredible private sanctuary on the Mekong Estate. We watched the elephants drinking from the river at dawn and I think it might be the most sublime, peaceful place I have ever been.

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is the memory of the singing monks in Luang Prabang. They collect alms each morning at dawn and their soothing voices are a constant reminder of that special trip.


An indulgence I would never forego is buying books. I keep them all, and my apartment in Paris looks like a library.

The last things I added to my wardrobe were some Nike trainers. I bought two pairs – one red and one royal blue – at the cool multibrand store Excelsior in Milan. £140; Excelsior, Galleria del Corso 4, 20100 Milan (+3902-7630 7301;

Valli’s Cutler and Gross sunglasses, £310
Valli’s Cutler and Gross sunglasses, £310 | Image: Lea Crespi

If I didn’t live in Paris, the city I would live in is Istanbul, which to me is the most exciting place in the world. I love its combination of European and Asian cultures and find the views of the Bosphorus, the delicious food, the Turkish baths, the dancing, the Grand Bazaar, the rich coffee – everything – inspiring. I would never tire of living there. The Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet, in the heart of the old city, would be a lovely place to call home and I particularly adore Kizkulesi, an amazing restaurant in a small tower in the middle of the strait off the Asiatic shore. The Four Seasons Hotel, Tevkifhane Sokak 1, 34110 Sultanahmet-Eminönü (+90212-402 3000; Kizkulesi, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, 34668 Üsküdar (+90216-342 4747;

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the Cuban-born Félix González-Torres, whose footprints-in-sand photographs I love. But I couldn’t just collect the work of one artist; I like diversity and would want a wide range of pieces by Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Mario Schifano and some ceramics by Lucio Fontana.

The Comme des Garçons store in Aoyama, Tokyo
The Comme des Garçons store in Aoyama, Tokyo

Among the people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing is David Mallet for haircuts in his beautiful salon that feels more like an apartment. He is a former fashion-show stylist who I’ve known for years, so he knows exactly what I like. Deepu Yogi, who comes to my home for pranamaya yoga sessions, helps to keep me in balance, and the facials at Biologique Recherche are wonderfully hydrating and relaxing. Biologique Recherche, Avenue des Champs-Elysées 32, 75008 Paris (+331-4118 9684; David Mallet, Rue Notre Dame des Victoires 14, 75002 Paris (+331-4020 0023; Deepu Yogi, +336-7937 0540.

My favourite room in my house is the master bathroom, because it has beautiful light and views of the garden. It’s a peaceful space with a fireplace, English fixtures, pale-blue Farrow & Ball walls and lots of neutral-coloured stone.

The Four Seasons Hotel, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
The Four Seasons Hotel, Sultanahmet, Istanbul | Image: Paul Thuysbaert

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Aoyama in Tokyo, because it is so eclectic and full of energy. The Comme des Garçons store is amazing, not just because of the clothes but because the shop assistants are all so brilliant and entertaining. I also enjoy wandering through Isetan, a unique department store with an incredible food hall; shopping for antique kimono fabrics – not at any shop in particular; and picking up housewares and knick-knackery at Tokyu Hands in Shibuya. Comme des Garçons, 5-2-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-Ku 107-0062 (+813-3406 3951; Isetan, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku 160-0022 (+813-3225 2514; Tokyu Hands, 12-18 Udagawacho, Shibuya 150-0042 (+813-5489 5111;

If I weren’t doing what I do,I would be a psychologist. I feel I play this role every day anyway, so I think I’d be a natural. People fascinate me.


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