Stefano Gabbana talks personal taste: Part Two

The Dolce & Gabbana creative director concludes his list of likes with Milanese cuisine, shopping for kitsch souvenirs and his acting ambitions

Stefano Gabbana in his apartment in Milan, with his figures of Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu
Stefano Gabbana in his apartment in Milan, with his figures of Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu | Image: Fabio Massimo Aceto

My style icons are great divas and actors – Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale – who embody the la dolce vita spirit. Then there are the fashionable men – of them all, Marcello Mastroianni was the most elegant.

The last meal that truly impressed me was tortellini en brodo, a typical northern Italian kind of pasta cooked by my mother that, for me, means family. I also love simple Milanese food – saffron rice, vitello milanese, vegetable purée – and last year we opened the Martini Bistrot on Corso Venezia in Milan, which is focused on this kind of cuisine. The beef tartare with capers and sun-dried tomatoes is outstanding. Corso Venezia 15, 20122 Milan (+3902-7601 1154; www.dolcegabbana.com/martini).

The Greek theatre in Taormina, Sicily
The Greek theatre in Taormina, Sicily | Image: Getty Images

If I didn’t live in Milan, the city I would live in is London, because when I’m there I feel at home. The people have a distinct energy and express it every day in the way they dress – their combination of eccentricity and tailoring fires my curiosity. When I’m in town I like walking around the shops and parks in Primrose Hill, and meeting friends for a drink at Claridge’s or a lively dinner at Hakkasan. If I didn’t need to work, I’d move to Taormina, a place that really takes your breath away even after scores of visits; there’s always some surprising niche to discover. I love having drinks overlooking the sea on the terrace of San Domenico Palace Hotel and dinner at the classic Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, followed by a summery granita with whipped cream from Bam Bar just down the street. Bam Bar, 45 Via di Giovanni, 98039 Taormina (+3909-422 4355). Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, 59 Via Teatro Greco, 98039 Taormina (+3909-422 3801; www.belmond.com). Claridge’s, 49 Brook Street, London W1 (020-7629 8860; www.claridges.co.uk). Hakkasan, 17 Bruton Street, London W1 (020-7907 1888; www.hakkasan.com). San Domenico Palace Hotel, 5 Piazza San Domenico, 98039 Taormina (+3909-4261 3111; www.san-domenico-palace.com).

The last things I bought and loved were my two Bengal cats – Zambia, the she-cat, and Congo, the tom. I fell in love with them at first sight. I take them to the office with me and they make wonderful playmates. They have to be careful though, as I’ve also got three Labradors – Rosa, Totò and Mimmo – and they can be quite rough.

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The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing include my barber, Pietro. He’s Sicilian and works at our barbershop in Milan. I go every week because I like having my hair in order, and always very short. He cuts it with scissors – the way it should be done. I also have a personal trainer who comes to my house every morning at 7am and we work out together in my home gym.

An indulgence I would never forgo is spending time on my iPad: I like to FaceTime with my mother on a regular basis; I enjoy uploading photos on Instagram, and I play Monopoly to relax.

Marcello Mastroianni
Marcello Mastroianni | Image: Getty Images

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is difficult to pick because I buy so many. I can’t imagine a trip without a pause at some local market or souvenir shop. On a recent trip to China I bought little figurines of the three thinkers – Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu – and I have a golden gondola from Venice on the desk in my office that reminds me of a special time in that city. I also collect Christmas decorations and buy new ones wherever I go, as long as they’re absolutely kitsch. Some of my favourites were from the Christmas market in Nuremberg where I bought pretty little gingerbread hearts. Hauptmarkt 18, 90403 Nuremberg (+49911-23360; www.christkindlesmarkt.de).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Caravaggio. He was one of the greatest baroque painters and used light in a beautiful, dramatic way. I’ve always wanted to own one of his works and, while I know it’s not easy, there’s no harm in dreaming.

Electric Diner, Portobello Road
Electric Diner, Portobello Road

The beauty staples I’m never without include our Velvet Patchouli fragrance, which has a very strong scent of incense, like the wood in an old house. I wear it every day without fail. I also use shampoo and soap from my local pharmacy and a gentle face cleanser for sensitive skin. Velvet Patchouli,£155 for 50ml EDP; www.harrods.com.

My favourite room in my house is my kitchen. My collection of colourful, hand-painted ceramic plates from Caltagirone in Sicily is displayed throughout the room, and I like to spend time here cooking dishes from the north that remind me of my family, as well as southern Italian dishes that Domenico helps to prepare.

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If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose London and the areas around Notting Hill and Portobello Road. I could spend entire mornings just wandering from stall to stall on market days. I also like Rellik for vintage finds, and I follow my shopping with a great lunch and a film at the Electric Cinema and Diner. Electric Cinema and Diner, 191 Portobello Road, London W11 (020-7908 9696; www.electriccinema.co.uk; www.electricdiner.com). Rellik, 8 Golborne Gardens, London W10 (020-8962 0089; www.relliklondon.co.uk).

The books on my bedside table have been replaced by magazines, like the British and US editions of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I also usually have a pad and pen handy to sketch or jot down ideas. There are feelings and memories that I can only express this way.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an actor. I’ve done a few cameos in films with Domenico and I feel very comfortable in front of the camera. The last part I played was in Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love and I had a great time. You have to study and memorise a lot, but I think it’s such fun. I would also like to be a director – with a big megaphone like at Cinecittà – so I could bring order to a set. I often play this role when we are shooting our ad campaigns.

Discover the personal style files of jewellery and accessories designer Lara Bohinc, or Chloé creative director Clare Waight Keller.

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