My style icon is Lauren Hutton in the 1970s. She had a really simple look: beautiful silk shirts – always great – loose hair and that huge smile. Unadorned and still totally beautiful. And she did the safari-chic thing like no one else has since.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Notting Hill, where I live. Because it’s familiar, of course, but it does have everything. You can have the best food for breakfast. There are perfect little boutiques. I love Zadig & Voltaire on Westbourne Grove – everything in there is good. I find the antiques quite expensive; I adore them, but I don’t really buy. But to look is great. And Tavola is fantastic. It has the most amazing cheeses, sausages and salamis. Tavola, 155 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020-7229 0571). Zadig & Voltaire, 182 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020-7792 8788; www.zadig-et-voltaire.com).
The last meal that truly impressed me was a currywurst from a stand in Berlin. I can’t even remember which stand it was. Currywurst is a very specific thing: it’s a wurst covered in ketchup with curry powder on top, and you eat it with friends, standing in the street. When the whole thing is right, it’s utterly delicious. And, of course, The River Café in London. It would have to be the grilled langoustines I had there over the summer. They were perfect simplicity – just divine. The River Café, Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 (020-7386 4200; www.rivercafe.co.uk).
The best gift I’ve given recently was a whole bunch of tickets for a Kings of Leon concert in Hyde Park. I invited a group of colleagues, and we took a huge picnic and just listened to music. It was immediately post-auction, so it was the perfect relief after some seriously heavy work.
And the best one I’ve received was from my friend Fru, who gave me an iPod on which she had downloaded all the photos and playlists from a holiday we took together. I’m not really good at doing that sort of thing – not talented and also lazy – so it was truly thoughtful and lovely.
The site that inspires me is the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. The Nefertiti bust is still an ideal of beauty after, what, 3,500 years. And I love to go on beautiful walks in the Black Forest, where I come from. They take me quite directly and immediately back to my roots and back to nature – what I grew up with. Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin (+4930-266 424242; www.egyptian-museum-berlin.com).
An object I would never part with is anything that’s been given to me as a gift. I’m struggling with this question because I believe you have to let things go in and out of life. But the reality is, I’d never part with gifts. I have a beautiful Damien Hirst print of a red heart with butterflies, which he gave to me after I worked with him on the Red Auction. Basically, I like the idea that one day these gifts will describe my life, whether to me when I look back or to others, so they can know something about me. www.damienhirst.com.
An indulgence I’d never forego is my daily walk to work through Hyde Park. I really need that hour a day – to be sane, to be healthy. Sometimes I won’t do it if it’s pouring rain, but it is a winter-and-summer-alike thing for me. And I need to be connected to the seasons. I like to see things developing. This summer, I watched the linden trees flower bit by bit, and the smell was out of this world – it was like walking through groves of honeysuckle.
The people I rely on for grooming and personal style are mostly in America. I really love the whole American grooming thing. I get my hair coloured at John Frieda, have my facials at Bliss and have a very good dentist there. But I should say that in London I’m really lucky because I live near a proper NYC-style nail bar, called Nails Design. It does perfect manicures and pedicures – for New York, as opposed to London, prices. It’s an absolute godsend, that place – a real tip. Bliss, 541 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-401 2001; www.blissworld.com). John Frieda, 30 East 76th Street, New York NY 10021 (+1212-879 1000; www.johnfrieda.com). Nails Design, 25 Porchester Road, London W2 (020-7792 0370).
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Damien [Hirst]. He’s number one. I’ve worked with him on so many occasions. But my real pie-in-the-sky one would be [Gerhard] Richter. I’d love a big abstract of his, if I’m really honest. www.gerhard-richter.com.
In my fridge you’ll always find a very little bit of a very few things – some eggs and milk, usually. But I have every single possible herb growing on my terrace, and so I can embellish what’s in there and always rustle up something.
My favourite room is my sitting room, definitely. I have amazing east-west light. I have 3.8m-ceilings and I’ve hung some art that I really love. And it’s the first home that I’ve owned. Doing it up was quite a self-discovery process – and it took me longer than I thought it would to get it right. In the end, I’ve gone quite girlie, which surprised me.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would have to make a complete departure and do something totally different. Because, to be honest, I can’t think of another thing that would give me as interesting a life as the one I have now: so varied, constantly changing. I work directly with the artists, I chair auctions, I do the deals. For me, it’s complete. So I’d go 180 degrees – I’d move to California and open a surf school.