Sandra Choi talks personal taste: Part Two

The creative director wraps up her compendium of likes with Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, Saturday-morning reflexology and Tina Chow

Sandra Choi at her home in southwest London
Sandra Choi at her home in southwest London | Image: © Charlie Gray 2014

My style icon is the US model and fashion icon Tina Chow. I love her style and attitude; the way she mixed 1980s design, which she loved, with historic pieces like Fortuny, which she collected. I sometimes wonder if my short hair is a subconscious copy of hers. Chow was also friends with people like Warhol and Basquiat – I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in her life.

An object I would never part with is my engagement ring, which has the word “love” written in tiny diamonds. It was meant to be a temporary ring but it felt right instantly. It was made by German jeweller Cada and we bought it at Dover Street Market. 17-18 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7518 0680; www.doverstreetmarket.com). www.cada-schmuck.de.

Tina Chow
Tina Chow | Image: Richard Young/Rex

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Gerhard Richter. I love the energy and freedom of his colours and patterns – it’s raw but very thoughtful. Some of it looks like rusting metal; then you see how beautifully it’s been done.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose London’s Mayfair. Everyone from everywhere shops in London, which is why it offers such fantastic variety. My favourites include Liberty, especially for perfume, beauty products and the best menswear; Dover Street Market, which always has something exciting, plus I’ve got to know everyone there; and Solange Azagury-Partridge, whose jewellery is as extraordinary as her new Carlos Place store. I travel a lot and see many shops, but this part of London has the best selection. Liberty,Regent Street, W1 (020-7734 1234; www.liberty.co.uk). Dover Street Market,17-18 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7518 0680; www.doverstreetmarket.com). Solange Azagury-Partridge,5 Carlos Place, W1 (020-7792 0197; www.solange.co.uk).

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The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are the Sloane Square Chiropractors, who I see once a month – they help me understand when my body needs a rest – and facialist and make-up artist Alex Byrne, who gives me the best beauty tips; she knows my skin, and me, very well. Sloane Square Chiropractors,9A Wilbraham Place, London SW1 (020-7730 3031; www.sloanesquarechiropractors.com). Alex Byrne, alexsandrabyrne.com.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Tokyo; I would go back again and again. I was brought up in Hong Kong and always admired Japanese fashion, but I was completely unprepared for the experimental, adventurous nature of Japanese culture and how it dovetails with tradition. Now I understand exactly where great designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto are coming from.

Choi’s engagement ring
Choi’s engagement ring | Image: © Charlie Gray 2014

The books on my bedside table are actually magazines. I have so little time for reading that I’d lose the thread of a book, so I browse magazines instead, especially French ones. I like French Vogue for real style, the interiors magazine Ideat for creative inspiration and Côté Sud for peeks at lovely Provençal houses.

The site that inspires me is Gaudí’s Sagrada Família in Barcelona. When I first visited, I thought it would be just another church but, considering when it was designed, it is extraordinarily futuristic. Gaudí had an amazingly original vision and pushed himself to design heights that hadn’t been attempted before. The current building is true to his concept, and perhaps it should remain unfinished.

Gaudí’s Sagrada Família cathedral, Barcelona
Gaudí’s Sagrada Família cathedral, Barcelona | Image: Getty Images

An indulgence I would never forego is my Saturday-morning reflexology session with Jessica Appleby. I believe feet have special powers, and the session keeps me sane. www.jessica-reflexology.com.

My favourite room in my house is the kitchen, which opens onto the garden; I love that blending of inside and outside. Plus, it’s where family life is centred.

The Solange Azagury-Partridge store, London
The Solange Azagury-Partridge store, London | Image: Nick Rochowski Photography

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a plastic cleaning net from Tokyu Hands in Tokyo, the world’s best DIY shop. I use it for cleaning my roasting pan, then I just wash the net for next time. 2-18 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku 150-0042 (+813-5489 5111; www.tokyohands.co.jp).

If I didn’t live in London, the town I would live in is La Garde Freinet in Provence, where I have been going for 20 years. It is a wonderful source of inspiration for cooking and painting. I love everything, like the charming Hôtel des Deux Rocs in nearby Seillans, where the water is so pure you can drink it direct from a well – you don’t expect that in a crowded place like the south of France – and it has a romantic restaurant where you eat under a huge tree. I also love wandering round my favourite brocantes and interiors shops such as ALM/La Petite Boutique in Ramatuelle, where who knows what I might find. But I would have to be a lady of leisure to live there – so maybe in another life. Hôtel des Deux Rocs, 1 Rue Fontaine d’Amont, 83440 Seillans (+334-9476 8732; www.hoteldeuxrocs.com). ALM/La Petite Boutique, 25 Rue du Centre, 83350 Ramatuelle (+334-9449 3374; www.alm-ramatuelle.com).

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If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an architect. I would design a house where I could grow exotic orchids, my other big passion after shoes.

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