The Aesthete: Stella Tennant talks personal taste

The model was last year charged with reimagining Holland & Holland’s ready-to-wear collections, as the label’s joint creative director

Stella Tennant at home in the Borders
Stella Tennant at home in the Borders | Image: Philip Sinden

My personal style signifier is my insect jewellery. My grandfather gave my grandmother an insect every birthday that they were married, and she wore them climbing up her sleeve, around her collar, in her hat. I loved them; they were a weird mixture of contemporary 1970s pieces, like a yellow-diamond grasshopper, mixed with 18th-century butterflies, and as a child the biggest treat would be to go through her jewellery. I’ve added pieces, from places like Fred Leighton in New York, to the ones I inherited from her. They give a bit of sparkle to any outfit. 773 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10065 (+1646-759 4196; fredleighton.com).

Tennant’s collection of insect jewellery
Tennant’s collection of insect jewellery | Image: Philip Sinden

The last item of clothing I bought and loved was a Vivienne Westwood dress in an amazing cerulean blue. Or the Céline white High Throat pumps that I wore to this year’s Met Ball with a royal-blue velvet Comme des Garçons dress. I thought I would jazz them up by drawing bows on them, so they were more Comme des Garçons-esque. £610; Céline, 103 Mount St, London W1 (020-7491 8200; celine.com). comme-des-garcons.com. £1,860; Vivienne Westwood, 44 Conduit St, London W1 (020-7439 1109; viviennewestwood.com).

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And the thing I’m eyeing next is a piece of JAR jewellery. I fantasise about going in there with a suitcase of cash. I love the pavé-set precious-stone flower brooches – the stripy tulips are beautiful – and apricot blossom bracelets. By referral, 7 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris (+331-4296 3366).

John Derian x Astier de Villatte handmade terracotta Eye teapot, $344
John Derian x Astier de Villatte handmade terracotta Eye teapot, $344

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Córdoba in Argentina, to shoot a catalogue for Holland & Holland. The Jesuit settlements, such as Estancia Santa Catalina, are stunning and the country itself is breathtaking. I was struck by the wildness and how unspoilt it is: miles of wafting grass and jewel-like wildflowers – all under a hot, empty blue sky.

Estancia Santa Catalina, a Jesuit settlement in Córdoba, Argentina
Estancia Santa Catalina, a Jesuit settlement in Córdoba, Argentina | Image: Alamy

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is some alpaca rugs from Peru. I was there on a shoot with Mario [Testino] a couple of years ago, and when I look at them I think of that trip. I love Mario – my husband, David, was his assistant, and that is how we met… so you could say that he is the best souvenir. 

Tennant’s double-strapped Hermès watch
Tennant’s double-strapped Hermès watch | Image: Philip Sinden

A recent “find” is Astier de Villatte’s ceramics. They have this wonderful, old-fashioned white glaze – plain-looking but just perfect. They’ve collaborated with the designer John Derian, decorating crockery with quirky things like mushrooms or eyes – there’s something of Fornasetti about them. If you’re not careful you can have an endless collection; I started off getting a cup each time I went to Paris, and the last time I came back with 12 mushroom plates. From £60; 173 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris (+331-4260 7413; astierdevillatte.com).

Her customised Céline lambskin High Throat heels
Her customised Céline lambskin High Throat heels | Image: Philip Sinden

An accessory I would never part with is my double-strapped Hermès watch. It fits me so perfectly, and because I’ve been wearing it for the past 15 years it has become a part of me. hermes.com.

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If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d chooseParis. The first arrondissement, particularly the Rue Saint-Honoré, is unbeatable. There are good chocolate shops there; I am a huge fan of Jean-Paul Hévin’s thin dark chocolate with nuts and ginger. There’s a serene tearoom called Café Verlet that takes you out of the hustle and bustle of Paris, and has an absurd selection of teas. And I visit JAR Parfums; just a handful are made and they are incredible. I wear one called Ferme tes Yeux, which I think is the most brilliant name for a perfume. If I were allowed to stray into the second arrondissement, I’d go to Design et Nature and get some butterflies and stuffed birds. Café Verlet, 256 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 (verlet.fr; +331-4260 6739). Design et Nature, 4 Rue d’Aboukir, 75002 (+331-4306 8698; designetnature.fr). JAR Parfums, 14 Rue de Castiglione, 75001 (+331-4020 4720). Jean-Paul Hévin, 231 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 (+331-5535 3596, jeanpaulhevin.com).

My favourite app is Trainline; it’s probably the best thing about rail travel in this country. But that’s it. If I need something I go out and buy it, and if I want to know what the weather is like, I step outside.

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