Nicky Haslam talks personal style: Part One

Interior designer to the élite and sometime cabaret artist, Nicky Haslam is one of Britain’s most respected tastemakers.

Nicky Haslam
Nicky Haslam | Image: Jude Edginton

My personal style signifiers are my Terre d’Hermès scent, and white-rimmed sunglasses, which I always wear. My current pair are plastic cheapos (I had some Ray-Bans, but they disappeared). They make my hair look darker, I think. 155 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7499 8856; and stockists.

The last thing I bought and loved was a house in Transylvania. I bought it off the internet; it was so cheap that if it fell down it wouldn’t matter. I’ve had an envie for Transylvania ever since reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s books about it in the 1970s. The Romanian countryside is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

Abbott and Holder gallery in London.
Abbott and Holder gallery in London.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is the estimate for the building works…

An indulgence I would never forego is rose and violet creams. The ones from my local farm shop, Newlyns, are delicious. They’re by Browne’s. Browne’s, Newlyns Farm Shop, Lodge Farm, North Warnborough, Hook, Hampshire RG29 1HA (01256-70 4128;


A recent “find” is a wonderful gallery called Abbott and Holder that shows small watercolours and drawings; I’ve bought some lovely things there. And a re-find: Anderson & Sheppard. I’ve gone back to Savile Row. I just think that casual thing has got so awful; I can’t bear politicians without ties. Abbott and Holder, 30 Museum Street, London WC1 (020-7637-3981; Anderson & Sheppard, 32 Old Burlington Street, London W1 (020-7734 1420;

An object I would never part with is a fan letter, about a job I’d done, from the great decorator Nancy Lancaster. She wrote, “That hideous building – how did you make it so beautiful?”

Signature scent Terre d’Hermès.
Signature scent Terre d’Hermès.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be studying languages. I’d learn German so I can understand German opera, and I’d love to speak French properly. Or I might devote more time to my cabaret act. I sing – 1930s and 1940s show songs, Cole Porter, that sort of thing. I performed at the launch of the Beaufort Bar at The Savoy last year. Though I suppose I’d have to stop smoking. Strand, London WC2 (020-7836 4343;

The people I rely on for grooming and style include Derek Hutchins, who cuts my hair at Me. He’s done it for 30 years. If I cut one hair with a pair of nail scissors, he knows straight away. I don’t use a nutritionist, and I’ve never exercised in my life – I’m bored by it. And I have manicures done at my office through a company called Unlisted. Me, 10 Abingdon Road, London W8 (020-7937 9977; Unlisted, 1 Berkeley Street, London W1 (0845-2255 505;

Peles Castle in Transylvania.
Peles Castle in Transylvania. | Image:

The last music I downloaded was a live recording of a 1940s singer, Lee Wiley. It’s a song called Wherever There’s Love.

The books on my bedside table are Dante in Love, because my friend [the author] AN Wilson gave it to me. And always books by Sybille Bedford, my favourite author, who I re-read again and again. Apart from that, I don’t read novels. My brain’s too small to take in anything but facts.

Dante in Love by AN Wilson.
Dante in Love by AN Wilson.

In my fridge you’ll always find Rachel’s Coconut Yogurt; I adore it. And Lucozade Sport.

The best gift I’ve given recently was a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings from Moira to my goddaughter, Louisa Fox, for her wedding. 11 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7629 0160;


And the best one I’ve received recently? I gave a birthday party about two years ago for 800 people, and both Tracey Emin and Paris Hilton sent me handmade gifts: Paris sent a collage of pictures – most of herself, I may say– wrapped up in pink bows. And Tracey sent me a drawing. It’s signed right at the bottom, so I had to get the most enormous frame.

My favourite websites are 1st Dibs, which is brilliant. There’s the comment site Little Augury, by Patricia Gaye Tapp; and I think The Sartorialist is very clever.

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