My style icon is Marlene Dietrich. Whether on screen or off, she had her own distinct look and often wore masculine clothes to great effect. She was also very courageous and was awarded the US Medal of Freedom and Légion d’Honneur in recognition of her wartime work.
The last thing I bought and loved was a self-portrait by the artist Anh Duong. She is a good friend, and I love the way she explores her relationship with herself and how she engages directly with the viewer through her work. She is a master portraitist and I have been lucky enough to sit for her, too. www.anhduongart.com.
And the things I’m eyeing next are some heritage apple, pear and plum trees for Cloudwalk, in Connecticut. This farm is my escape and I love to plant and garden there.
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Reyad Fritas at Frédéric Fekkai, who colours my hair with henna, and Tracie Martyn for my weekly all-natural facials. I am also very dependent on my personal chef Jane Coxwell, who is a master at creating healthy, delicious meals for my husband and me, as well as for our private parties. Frédéric Fekkai, 4th Floor, 712 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 (+1212-753 9500; www.fekkai.com). Jane Coxwell, www.janecoxwell.com. Tracie Martyn, 101 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (+1212-206 7315; www.traciemartyn.com).
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Bhutan. I went with my dear friend Christian Louboutin and we hiked to various temples, including the spectacular Punakha Dzong. We stayed at Amankora Punakha, a paradise reached by a suspended bridge decorated with colourful prayer flags. This country is so lush and I loved the monasteries, the markets selling beaded handicrafts, the time to meditate and the delicious meals of watermelon and tomato gazpacho and Bhutanese lentil balls. Best of all were the kind people, who made this trip so magical. www.amanresorts.com.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a series of beautiful books to a friend. It included Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years by her son Alexander Vreeland and Swans: Legends of the Jet Society by Nick Foulkes, which paints a picture of a glamorous, bygone era.
And the best one I’ve received is a silver and diamond pavé bracelet on a dark silk string, designed by Danish jeweller Jannik Olander. It has healing properties and was a birthday present from my son Alexander. For Christmas he gave me a portrait of myself by Takashi Murakami – he’s a great gift giver. Jannik Olander, www.nialaya.com.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose London’s Mayfair, because to me that area is London. I love Smythson for diaries and leather goods, Fortnum & Mason for smoked salmon, and Heywood Hill for sourcing books about art and design, as well as the latest fiction. Claridge’s feels like a home from home, as I designed several suites there and the staff are always warm and welcoming. I also love Scott’s for its great balance of delicious seafood and a lively scene. Claridge’s, 49 Brook Street, W1 (020-7629 8860; www.claridges.co.uk). Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, W1 (0845-300 1707; www.fortnumandmason.com). Heywood Hill, 10 Curzon Street, W1 (020-7629 0647; www.heywoodhill.com). Scott’s, 20 Mount Street, W1 (020-7495 7309; www.scotts-restaurant.com). Smythson, 40 New Bond Street, W1 (0845-873 2435; www.smythson.com).
The books on my bedside table are now more likely to be on my iPad. I always read several books at once and I am currently enjoying Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up by Bob Colacello and A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in London, Ireland and New York, which is Anjelica Huston’s colourful account of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.
An indulgence I would never forego is really good dark chocolate. I was raised in Belgium, where chocolate is a part of everyday life, and I never deprive myself of it. One of my favourite brands is Côte d’Or and I have at least a little piece every day. www.cotedor.com.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Henri Matisse. He and I share a birthday and I love his exuberant use of colour and shape. I would collect everything, including the beautiful painted paper cut-outs that are currently on view at the Tate Modern. Until September 7 at Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 (020-7887 8888; www.tate.org.uk).
If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Los Angeles. My two children, Tatiana and Alexander, live there and I love the natural light and opportunity to be outdoors all year round. Two of my favourite activities are hiking and swimming and I’d do both every day. I’m also a huge fan of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) and its restaurant, Ray’s, which serves Mediterranean cuisine in an intimate midcentury-modern setting. Other highlights include brunch at The Beverly Hills Hotel, delicious macrobiotic meals at the casual M Café de Chaya and dinner at the atmospheric Chateau Marmont. Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood (+1323-656 1010; www.chateaumarmont.com). Lacma and Ray’s and Stark Bar, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles (+1323-857 6180; www.lacma.org). M Café de Chaya, 7119 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood (+1323-525 0588; www.mcafedechaya.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an architect or a playwright. I love building and designing things, but I think I would lose a lot of sleep constantly second-guessing my decisions about where to put doors, how to organise layout, flow and so forth. The ability to write a good, well-built play would be another great achievement.