The Aesthete: Francesca Amfitheatrof talks more personal taste

The Tiffany design director rounds up her list of likes with a Connecticut flea market, Christine and the Queens and her young German shepherd

Francesca Amfitheatrof at home in Connecticut
Francesca Amfitheatrof at home in Connecticut | Image: © Weston Wells

My style icon is Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, wife of the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. She’s so glamorous, and wears a turban in real Hollywood style like Ava Gardner. She’s also a supporter of great things, particularly education, and I like the way she’s reserved and private.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Marc Tansey, who is represented by Gagosian gallery. He’s an artists’ artist, very important but not that well-known, and not prolific. He paints in single colours, often a particular Biro blue, and his pieces are painterly, dreamy, with a real depth of meaning. 555 West 24th St, New York, NY 10011 (+1212-741 1111; www.gagosian.com).

A recent “find” is The Elephant’s Trunk, a big open-air flea market held every Sunday in summer near my house in Connecticut. I go each week, give myself a budget of $200 and always find amazing things. I’ve bought chairs, side tables and lamps from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and also some objects for work, as inspiration. American taste can be different to mine so I pick up things that other people don’t spot. 490 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776 (+1860-355 1448; www.etflea.com).

Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned with Prince Charles
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned with Prince Charles | Image: Alamy

My favourite room in my house is the drawing room in our new place in Connecticut. It’s like a gallery, with windows on three sides, so it’s very light and open and you can see green all around you outside. I also love it because it’s filled with Gustavian furniture.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose downtown Manhattan, for unusual homewares. I love collecting and am always hunting for pieces, especially at antiques fairs. De Vera has the most incredible and intriguing objects, very rich, such as Venetian glass, ivory carvings and antique jewellery; each piece has an untold story. I love the atmosphere in there: the painted dark wooden floor, the elegant thin black metal window frames and the different cabinets; it’s an Aladdin’s cave of treasures. At Wyeth, I always want to buy everything – it specialises in vintage, mid-20th-century, modernist furniture. For everyday clothes, I go to Totokaelo, which has a beautiful selection of brands, including Kallmeyer and Anntian, each with a sense of freedom and individuality, very conceptual and sculptural, which I find inspiring. And I love Opening Ceremony; last time I went I bought my daughter a Prince T-shirt – when he died we were both devastated. And Ted Muehling is an amazing designer of both jewellery and objects – I believe that beautiful objects make you happy. De Vera, 1 Crosby St (+1212- 625 0838; www.deveraobjects.com). Opening Ceremony, 35 Howard St (+1212-219 2688; www.openingceremony.com). Ted Muehling, 52 White St (+1212-431 3825; www.tedmuehling.com). Totokaelo, 54 Crosby St (www.totokaelo.com). Wyeth, 477 Washington St (+1212-243 3661; www.wyethome.com).  

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a book every woman should read. It is a description of Lindbergh’s journey in life, described through shells. It’s very special as I have such a strong connection to the sea; it speaks to my soul. I read a lot – always before I go to sleep, or if I wake up in the middle of the night. It’s a great way to switch off, to step out of yourself.

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The people I rely on for personal grooming are my colourists, Marie and Kimberly, at the Marie Robinson Salon in New York. For facials I’m obsessed with Alexandra Soveral, who I see at her small Maida Vale salon in London, or in New York as she visits once every three months to see clients. She does the most fantastic manual lymphatic drainage, which helps me rediscover my cheekbones, and all her products are natural and organic. I highly recommend her face oil, Forever Young, which I buy in London at Dover Street Market. For exercise, Barry’s Bootcamp does the most insane workout – I like to go before work. Alexandra Soveral, 97 Elgin Ave, London W9 (020-7266 3577; www.alexandrasoveral.co.uk). Barry’s Bootcamp,www.barrysbootcamp.com. Dover Street Market, 18-22 Haymarket, London SW1 (020-7518 0680; www.doverstreetmarket.com). Marie Robinson Salon, 40 West 25th St, New York, NY 10010 (+212-358 7780; www.marierobinsonsalon.com).

The last music I downloaded wasChaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens. I like music you can dance to. Christine is French, her look and performance are pared-down and unassuming, and when she dances it’s like contemporary performance art. www.christineandthequeens.com.

The best gift I’ve given recently was two maple trees and a hammock to my husband, for the garden of our Connecticut house. I found the hammock at Kaufmann Mercantile, which is a great place to shop for men and sells everyday objects based on strong design and functionality. The store has a Swedish feel and I love what it does. 119 Ingraham St, Brooklyn, NY 11237 (+1855-848 3778; www.kaufmann-mercantile.com).

A portrait of Amfitheatrof’s grandmother by Giò Ponti
A portrait of Amfitheatrof’s grandmother by Giò Ponti | Image: © Weston Wells

And the best one I’ve received recently was some Tony Duquette chairs from my husband for my birthday. They have little bells on them so when you sit they jingle-jangle a bit – totally over-the-top, crazy and very Hollywood. I originally thought they would make great pool chairs but I love them so much I keep them in my drawing room. I only found out afterwards that they’re by Tony Duquette – the store owner contacted me to tell me. R T Facts Antiques, 22 South Main St, Kent, CT 06757 (www.rtfacts.com).

In my fridge you’ll always find lemons. There’s nothing more delicious; I love the smell and taste of them. I have lemon in hot water in the mornings, put lemon in my bath and on everything I eat. There’s also always a bottle of good white wine – a glass of Gavi makes me very happy – and Badoit and carrots. And an amazing superfood supplement, D&A. It’s made in limited quantities by a third-generation herbalist in Korea and has a high concentration of royal ginseng from the Korean hills; I find it calming and energising at the same time. I do my shopping at Eataly, downstairs from the Tiffany offices. It’s wonderful to have a proper fishmonger and butcher, unusual in Manhattan. www.dandabh.com. www.eataly.com.

An object I would never part with is a small portrait of my grandmother by Giò Ponti, painted when they were in their 20s. They were good friends and started Domus magazine together. Ponti wanted to marry her but my great-grandfather didn’t approve; he didn’t think Ponti had prospects. Then she married a Russian musician with long hair and even worse prospects.

Christine and The Queens
Christine and The Queens | Image: © DR

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Rome. I lived there for six years as a child, my mother lives there, and whenever I go back it still feels like home. I have good friends there and I love the feeling of living with history on a daily basis – the atmosphere, the architecture, the restaurants and the small, independent specialist shops that you don’t find anywhere else. At De Clercq & Clercq I find the most elegant woven ties, beautiful scarves and socks; it’s all about coloured stripes there and they also make charming woven hats. For homewares, I make a beeline for Lisa Corti. It’s not easy to find – a tiny little store where I buy all my cushions, place mats, lamps and shades. Corti has her print fabrics made in India and the shop is a perfect mix of luscious Indian colours with European elegance. Pierluigi Ristorante does the best Catalan salad you will ever eat; and the puntarelle, a Roman salad with anchovies, is delicious. Hotel Locarno is an authentic, charming hotel; it has one of the best bars in Rome. It’s also behind Piazza del Popolo, so a perfect location for shopping. De Clercq & Clercq, Via dei Prefetti 10 (+3906-6813 6826; www.declercqdeclercq.com). Hotel Locarno, Via della Penna 22 (+3906-3610 0841; www.hotellocarno.com). Lisa Corti, Via dei Coronari 197 (+3906-687 1645; www.lisacorti.com). Pierluigi Ristorante, Piazza de’ Ricci 144 (+3906-686 8717; www.pierluigi.it).

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is Quincy, my eight-month-old black German shepherd, who came from England. A friend of mine in the UK has a German shepherd who had puppies and we couldn’t resist him, although we have one other dog.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would have my own radio station. I’d broadcast children’s radio in the morning, while they’re in the car on the way to school, then different music all day and night. I love the radio: it’s such an informative medium, so relevant and with so much freedom. I adore Radio 4 – on one New Year’s Day, when everyone was hungover, they read War and Peace all day.

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