My style icons are big thinkers – Duchamp, Einstein, Darwin. “Style” as a concept is over and dead. I don’t think anyone should stick to one look and I loathe people known for a particular way of dressing. I don’t want to be labelled in that way – one of my assistants once described me as “fairly classic” in the way I dress and it was like a dagger to my heart.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Milan and the beautiful shops around Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone. I always go to the same ones: Miuccia Prada is a friend, so I go to Prada; I like Alberta Ferretti and Loro Piana, which has fantastic pieces to wear in winter. I also go to La Ditta Cesare Crespi, a fine-arts store where I buy paints, brushes and other supplies, and the high-fashion menswear outlet Rage Age, which sells beautiful handmade clothes. Cova is a favourite pasticceria that serves fantastic cappuccino and cakes. Alberta Ferretti, Via Montenapoleone 18 (+39027-600 3095; www.worldof.albertaferretti.com). La Ditta Cesare Crespi, Via Flori Oscuri 3 (+39028-646 2147; www.crespi-breri.com). Loro Piana, Via Montenapoleone 27 (+39027-772 901; www.loropiana.com). Pasticceria Confetteria Cova, Via Montenapoleone 8 (+39027-600 5599; www.pasticceriacova.it). Prada, Via Montenapoleone 6 (+39027-602 0273; www.prada.com). Rage Age, Via Fiori Chiari 16 (+39024-312 2926).
The last thing I bought and loved was a light-brown, two-pocket cashmere cardigan. It was a special commission from my dear friend Mariella Napoleone, who creates exclusive, super high-end knitwear collections for Finpeco, a textile and fashion company based in Lake Como. Via Giuseppe Mazzini 8A, Carbonate Como 22070 (+390331-821 341)
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a pair of suede, asymmetric Prada sandals I saw in Milan. They are women’s shoes but I appreciate them purely as a piece of masterful industrial design. I like the innovative way they wrap around the foot and the nice use of colour. £390; www.prada.com.
An indulgence I would never forego is Italian food. I like very clean, home cooking, from southern Italy in particular.
The books on my bedside table are Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, the story of a Jewish family called Ephrussis, whose beautiful old neo-Renaissance palace in Odessa I visited a few years ago, and the Italian novelist Giampiero Mughini’s Una Casa Romana Racconta, which is about his thoughts, friends and the dinners he has had at his new home in Rome.
In my fridge you’ll always find yoghurt, raspberries and blueberries. I have the same thing for breakfast every morning. But I don’t eat other meals at home very often.
The person I rely on for personal wellbeing is my physiotherapist, who pushes me to move in ways I wouldn’t usually on a daily basis. He’s my equivalent of a personal trainer and he keeps me agile and fit.
If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is St Petersburg, because there is so much culture there. I went to see the pianist Grigory Sokolov play in the Glinka Small Philharmonic Hall and a lot of the audience came with flowers to give to him after the performance. That wouldn’t happen in New York or Milan. Then there’s the Hermitage, of course, the Russian Museum, which has a huge collection of Russian art, and Lina Perlova’s Design Gallery, which shows new contemporary work. The restaurant at the Kempinski hotel, the Bellevue Brasserie, is good and has a beautiful view of the city. Plus, it’s right next to the Hermitage. Design Gallery, Bol’shaya Konyushennaya 2 (+78126-111 155; www.design-gallery.ru). Glinka Small Philharmonic Hall, Nevsky Prospect 30 (+78123-124 585; www.philharmonia.spb.ru). Kempinski Hotel, Moika River Embankment 22 (+78123-359 111; www.kempinski.com). The Russian Museum, Inzhenerenaya Street 4 (+78125-954 248; www.rusmuseum.ru). The State Hermitage Museum, Palace Square 2 (+78127-109 079; www.hermitagemuseum.org).
My favourite websites are…none. I don’t use the internet at all.
The grooming staple I’m never without is Vaseline Total Moisture cream. It’s a fantastic product that I have been buying for years. From £2.99; www.vaseline.co.uk.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be working with animals. I lived in Paris for a time and the government gave me Toulouse-Lautrec’s house, which had a garden with ducks in it. They are incredible creatures. Sometimes studying animals can tell you more about life than humans.