David Gill talks personal taste: Part One

A progenitor of design-as-art, gallerist David Gill produced the first furniture collections of Zaha Hadid and Jaime Hayón, among others.

Image: Charlie Hopkinson

My personal style signifier is a bespoke English suit. I’ve gone from Hardy Amies to Huntsman to Norton & Sons. You have to create your own point of view, and to do that you have to try a lot of tailors. Bespoke is quality and originality – keeping all the classic lines, but also adding something subversive and unique. Even when you’re just wearing the jacket with jeans, anyone who knows tailoring will immediately think, “Oh, that’s English.” Hardy Amies, 14 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7734 2436; www.hardyamies.com). Huntsman, 11 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7734 7441; www.h-huntsman.com). Norton & Sons, 16 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7437 0829; www.nortonandsons.co.uk).

An object I’d never part with is a chair by Emilio Terry that was made for Carlos de Beistegui’s flat in the Champs-Elysées. The penthouse was built by Le Corbusier but Beistegui hired Emilio Terry, who couldn’t have been more baroque, to decorate it. It’s anomalous and, therefore, dynamic. I saw the chair in Paris, immediately recognising it in a shop window. The place was closed, so I waited by the door for an hour to buy it.

One of Philippe Stark’s O-Ring watches (style PH1095), £125 from Fossil.
One of Philippe Stark’s O-Ring watches (style PH1095), £125 from Fossil.

My favourite websites areBBC.co.uk – I’m on it all the time, whether I’m home or abroad, as a resource for information – and Artnet.com, because it’s my life. If you’re interested in art, design or furniture, it’s an indispensable database.

The last thing I bought and loved was my Rolex Daytona. I saw it on someone else and thought immediately, “That’s the one I want.” It’s brand-new, not vintage; a beautiful, classic watch. Rolex Daytona, from £6,170, www.rolex.com.


And the thing I’m eyeing next is another watch, but designed by Philippe Starck for Fossil. They’re not expensive at all – about £100 – and there are about a hundred different colours and styles. www.fossil.co.uk.

The place that inspires me… Well, it’s usually the aggregate experience of a place – the architecture, the quality of light, the art, the design you see being used, the extent to which it’s exotic to me. I was recently quite inspired by Amsterdam, for instance.

Spa reception at Sense, at The Carlyle in New York.
Spa reception at Sense, at The Carlyle in New York.

The books on my bedside table are Peter Ackroyd’s Thames: Sacred River and Jamie Douglas-Home’s Stately Passions: The Scandals of Britain’s Great Houses, about how a certain class in England lived everyday life.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city I’d have to designate a large one to get in Louis Vuitton, Berluti, Savile Row, Hermès and, of course, smaller fringe shops. Can I say London’s West End? Or, I suppose, Knightsbridge would do.

Untitled (cowboy) by Richard Prince.
Untitled (cowboy) by Richard Prince. | Image: Richard Prince/courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

In my fridge you’ll always find fresh plain yoghurt, Berry Bros champagne and a selection of salamis. Berry Bros & Rudd UKC Grand Cru, £23, 0800-280 2440; www.bbr.com.

The last music I downloaded was Angela Gheorghiu singing Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. She sings with Jonas Kaufmann, one of the great, young tenors today. It’s totally magical. There are few truly flawless interpretations of opera; for me, this is one.

Berluti’s Andy Démesure Edition loafers.
Berluti’s Andy Démesure Edition loafers.

The people I rely on for grooming and style are scattered around the world. I have facials at The Carlyle in New York; I get massages at The Ritz-Carlton in Moscow; my barber is at a place called Goth in Malta; and I have my shoes polished by Romi Topi in London. The Carlyle, 35 East 76th St, New York NY 10021 (+1212-744 1600; www.thecarlyle.com). Goth, Tigne Seafront, Sliema, Malta 3010 (+356-213 3041). The Ritz-Carlton, Tverskaya Street 3, Moscow 125009 (+7495-225 8888; www.ritzcarlton.com). Romi Topi, Burlington Arcade, London W1 (020-7630 1411; www.burlington-arcade.co.uk).

An artist whose work I would collect if I could is Richard Prince. That’s an easy one. I love photography, and I’ve always loved cowboys, so from my Christie’s days [in the 1980s], he was it for me. Then at the Venice Biennale in 2003 they gave him an entire room: my desire to have those cowboys was totally overwhelming. His genius is in how he distills and amplifies the power of an image. Sadie Coles HQ, 69 South Audley Street, London W1 (020-7493 8611; www.sadiecoles.com).

Valletta, Malta.
Valletta, Malta. | Image: Sylvain Grandadam

The last item I added to my wardrobe was a pair of Berluti shoes. What got me hooked on Berluti was its Andy Démesure Edition – a sort of skinny, very cool loafer, originally designed for Andy Warhol. Many of the models come in several shades, so you can have one that suits in several versions. But really, for me, it all goes back to that Andy model. £1,050, 43 Conduit Street, London W1 (020-7437 1740; www.berluti.com).

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Valletta in Malta. It was one of the first European cities to be built on a grid plan, with stunning baroque architecture. It has somehow remained relatively undiscovered, though it’s a gorgeous town on a gorgeous island in the middle of the Mediterranean, with temperate weather all year. And then, of course, the Anglophile culture is still there, which, to me, makes it that much more of a jewel.


See also