John Ray talks personal taste: Part One

As Dunhill’s new creative director, Scottish designer John Ray is bringing a ruggedly sophisticated edge to the brand’s beautiful British tailoring

John Ray
John Ray | Image: Richard Grassie

My personal style signifier is braces, which I buy from Albert Thurston. I have about 30 pairs, from pale pink to bright yellow. Braces revolutionised my dressing; they taught me that trousers should hang from the shoulder. From about £30;

Blue Brain and Fried Egg by Tobit Roche
Blue Brain and Fried Egg by Tobit Roche | Image: Richard Grassie/©Tobit Roche

The last things I bought and loved were two paintings by Tobit Roche, the husband of a friend. One is like an abstract Turner skyscape – very dark and beautiful – and the other is jazzy-looking and quite weird. It’s called Blue Brain and Fried Egg and he painted it while his son was playing jazz on the piano.


And the thing I’m eyeing next is a new watch. I was looking for a vintage one, but came across Vacheron Constantin’s rose-gold Patrimony calibre 1731, named after the year of founder Jean‑Marc’s birth. It’s taken the brand five years to develop it. Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 minute repeater, from £291,150.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Calibre 1731, from £291,150
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Calibre 1731, from £291,150 | Image: Courtesy Vacheron Constantin

The site that inspires me is the Royal Observatory on the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh. There’s a 360-degree view of the city and if you stand looking at Princess Street, it looks almost vertical. You can also see Arthur’s Seat, the castle, Princess Street Gardens, the Balmoral Hotel and, if you spin round, right across the Firth of Forth. Blackford Hill View, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ (0131-668 8404;  

The view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill
The view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill | Image: Getty Images/Stockphoto

An object I would never part with is a Polaroid of a friend’s white boxer wearing wings. I thought it was so funny I had it framed. It cost me a couple of hundred quid to have it done, plus about £2,000 for the 17th-century Dutch frame I found at this fantastic little place in St James’s called Arnold Wiggins & Sons – all for a Polaroid, but I love it. 31 Bury Street, London SW1 (020-7925 0195;

Ray’s framed Polaroid
Ray’s framed Polaroid | Image: Richard Grassie

The last meal that truly impressed me was scrambled eggs on toast that I cooked myself, using pale-blue Legbar eggs and Netherend Farm butter from Daylesford Organic. The butter is quite special and the egg yolks are bright yellow; the quality pushed everything up a notch. I ate it on Poilâne bread with loads of butter and a pinch of Maldon salt. Legbar eggs, £2.69 for six; Netherend Farm unsalted butter, £2.85 for 250g;

Czech & Speake No 88 shaving soap, from £65
Czech & Speake No 88 shaving soap, from £65

The last music I bought was Later That Evening by Eberhard Weber, who has an electro-acoustic bass guitar that he has customised with an extra string tuned to C. The sound is amazing. The album was released by ECM, which was founded in Germany in the 1960s and specialises in contemporary music.


My favourite room in my house is the study at my home in Dundee. It’s tiny but has three doors that open into it – from the sitting room, dining room and the hall – and there’s a beautiful view over the River Tay. I’ve crammed everything into this room – a bookcase, a French library table, a lovely klismos chair from Soane and a console from Colefax and Fowler. It’s also the warmest room in the house. Colefax and Fowler, 110 Fulham Road, London SW3 (020-7244 7427; Soane Britain, 50-52 Pimlico Road, London SW1 (020-7730 6400;

The grooming staple I’m never without is my travel set of shaving products. I like the ritual of shaving. Most of the set is from a small store in Milan called G Lorenzi, now sadly closed down, which includes a lovely silver badger brush and an old-fashioned razor, to which I’ve added Czech & Speake’s No 88 soap. Czech & Speake No 88 Anodised Aluminium Shaving Dish & Soap, from £65;

The last accessory I added to my wardrobe was a pair of specs from the charmingly bonkers EB Meyrowitz. They’re stunning – heavy-framed and handmade in tortoiseshell. Glasses, from £495;tortoiseshell glasses, from £10,000. 6 Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7493 5778;

My favourite app is Hailo, for hailing cabs from my phone. I have no apps except for this one and I have used it for two years. It’s just brilliant.