My personal style signifier is a diamond and sapphire tie pin I wear through my bow tie. It was a 21st birthday present and always makes people exclaim, “That’s a wonderful way to wear a tie pin. I must get mine out and do the same.”
An indulgence I would never forgo is a pencil and watercolour pad. I sketch places, architecture and designs daily. It’s like breathing. It’s how I communicate – creating ideas that are tangible.
The best gift I’ve given recently was taking my nephews, who are eight, 10 and 12, to see Onegin at Covent Garden. It was their first time at the ballet and they absolutely adored it. Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London WC2 (020‑7240 1200; www.roh.org.uk).
And the best one I’ve received was a wonderful 1930s curvy silver inkwell that my team gave me and I use every day. I still write all my letters by hand and in purple ink. They found it at Alfie’s Antique Market. 13-25 Church Street, London NW8 (www.alfiesantiques.com).
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Per Se in New York. We ate an unbelievably tasty “Oysters and Pearls” tapioca and caviar dish, which is chef Thomas Keller’s speciality. But what impressed me most was going into the kitchen afterwards and seeing that one person is in charge of your table’s experience, so that everything works like a perfectly timed ballet. Time Warner Center, Ten Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 (+1212-823 9335; www.thomaskeller.com).
A recent “find” is Anya Hindmarch’s New Bond Street store, where she has a craftsman who can make any bespoke leather item – a wallet or leather folder – with your handwriting printed on it. I’ve had several gifts made there. My writing comes up spidery like Elizabeth I’s. 118 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7493 1628; www.anyahindmarch.com).
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a bronze statue of Mercury from around the 1860s that I found in a junk shop in Cairo. I lugged it around my trip down the Nile and back home. It’s not uncommon to find pieces like this left over from the Grand Tour.
The last music I downloaded was the Greatest Hits by The Merrymen. I listen to a lot of Caribbean music as it reminds me of my childhood, though in general I prefer 78s and vinyl. I recently bought Charlie Parker’s Boss Bird on vinyl and find it’s like my ears have woken up. It makes you listen to the music instead of it being part of the background; it has much more depth.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a late-Victorian long evening jacket, waistcoat and britches made for me by my pattern-cutter friend Fiona Sturdy. They were for an address I gave on the Dutch painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema at The Athenaeum Club, which ended with me breaking into song. 07757-529 266.
The grooming staple I’m never without is Jo Loves Pomelo cologne, which Jo Malone chose for me. She told me how scent is built up in layers and how you can detect the different notes. She has been a friend for a long time and has the most amazing ability to listen to the body and know what you need. Her massages are like a Reiki experience. £95 for 100ml; 42 Elizabeth Street, London SW1 (020-7730 8611; www.joloves.com).
My favourite room in my house is the yellow plaster room, where I store sculpture and plaster casts. It is always sunny first thing in the morning and it’s where I do my Buddhist chanting and meditation.
The one artist I would collect if I could is JMW Turner, providing I had unlimited resources. The architectural focus and luminosity of some of his work have from a young age made my heart beat faster.
My favourite websites are the Bonhams, Christie’s and Dreweatts & Bloomsbury auction sites; I spend a lot of time going through pre-sale listings. I also love Rolls-Royce Forums – I’m a geek about engineering and my 1934 Sports Saloon Rolls-Royce 2025, Bette. www.bloomsburyauctions.com. www.bonhams.com. www.christies.com. www.rollsroyceforums.com.