The Aesthete: Jonathan Saunders talks more personal taste

The designer rounds up his list of likes with David Bowie, ginger shots and the Barbican in London

Jonathan Saunders at home in New York
Jonathan Saunders at home in New York | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is David Bowie, particularly his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour. That particular look was incredible – the double-breasted suits and high-waisted trousers, the hairstyle and the colour of it all. It showed how a man could dress in a masculine yet still imaginative way.

A recent “find” is 11th Street Café, in West Village. After six months in the city, I have finally found my morning place – it does good breakfast dishes and great coffee. 327 West 11th Street, New York 10014 (+212-924 3804;

David Bowie during his Serious Moonlight tour, 1983
David Bowie during his Serious Moonlight tour, 1983 | Image: Getty Images

The best gift I’ve given recently was a trip to New York for my sister, who is a single mum, and her kids, who are 15 and 16. We did all the tourist sites, which I’d never done before, and enjoyed just hanging out together. 

And the best one I’ve received recently was a set of cushions and rugs from The Rug Company. I designed a collection with them, and they sent me one of each piece for my new house. I particularly like the Hutton runner, based on old Japanese woven kimono fabrics, and how digital and synthetic the colours are. It’s very difficult to get that with natural wool.


An object I would never part with is my library. I’ve been collecting books since I was a teenager and have around 3,000. I like the art direction of print, sometimes more than the subject.

In my fridge you’ll always find ginger shots with turmeric. They sort me right out and make me feel strong. And I always have the ingredients for a curry – I love to cook southern Indian or Sri Lankan dishes.

Jonathan Saunders’ library
Jonathan Saunders’ library | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a navy blue Comme des Garçons cashmere sweater. It’s fairly ordinary but has a funny seam on the side. I like the detail of Comme clothing. Some of the work is timeless, despite what most people think about the directional nature of Rei Kawakubo’s designs.

My favourite room in my house is the lounge on the top floor. I’ve never lived anywhere with a room that has such a high ceiling. I find it comforting and relaxing. The building used to be part of Annie Leibovitz’s house.

Mexican lucha libre wrestler
Mexican lucha libre wrestler | Image: Getty Images

The best souvenir I’ve brought home recently is a pair of bright silver and blue wrestling masks, from a lucha libre match in Mexico. The event was wild and brilliant, with everyone chanting and making lots of noise. It was total escapism.

The people I rely on for personal grooming are at Golden Scissors, a Turkish barbers in Stoke Newington, London. I love going for the full works, with the steamed hot towels and the flame they waft to burn off the hair around your ears. It’s always a brilliant experience: you come out feeling so clean. 58 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 (020-7241 1305;

The Barbican, London
The Barbican, London | Image: Getty Images

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is London. I love the Barbican, both for seeing shows and for its brutalist architecture, and the way the buildings are organised – I always get new ideas when I walk through that space. I like the Drapers Arms in Islington for a pub lunch; when I’m in town everyone meets there for roast chicken and potatoes. Bocca di Lupo is a gorgeous Italian in Soho. I also love Bistrotheque restaurant in Bethnal Green. It’s become an institution for the creative community and I feel at home there. Barbican, Silk Street, EC2 (020-7638 4141; Bistrotheque, 23-27 Wadeson Street, E2 (020-8983 7900; Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, W1 (020-7734 2223; Drapers Arms, 44 Barnsbury Street, N1 (020-7619 0348;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a restaurateur in Sydney. I would own, manage and curate it. I like the idea of a lifestyle that is all-consuming – running a restaurant is like having a child. It would be in Sydney for the sunshine, the quality of the produce and the fun attitude to life that the Australians have.


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