The Aesthete: Ruth Chapman talks personal taste

Ruth Chapman co-founded the influential Matches fashion business 30 years ago and, with her husband Tom, built it from one boutique into a leading global retail platform

Ruth Chapman at home in London
Ruth Chapman at home in London | Image: Rick Pushinsky

My personal style signifier is rings by Alexandra Jefford. Big, chunky designs are better on me, and Alexandra – who’s more like a sculptor – has made me three, as well as resetting my engagement ring. It was very traditional, in gold, with a high solitaire diamond setting; now it has a modern, industrial feel to it – a ridged, rhodium-plated platform sits alongside the stone, which seems to float on its own. alexandrajefford.com.

The last thing I bought and loved was a Toyota Prius in graphite grey. I’m thrilled with it. It is a much cleaner approach, and I like the shape and all the technology inside it. inchcapetoyota.co.uk.

Chapman’s Roksanda dress, £1,995
Chapman’s Roksanda dress, £1,995 | Image: Rick Pushinsky

And the thing I’m eyeing next is one of Chris Killip’s hauntingly beautiful photographs of a seacoal community in the north of England. They’re black and white studies on the theme of struggle and there’s a lot of sadness woven into them – particularly Simon Being Taken To Sea For The First Time Since His Father Drowned. From £7,200; Augusta Edwards Fine Art (020-7394 9743; augustaedwards.com).

The best gift I’ve given recently was a Christian Astuguevieille sculpture that I bought from Connolly for Tom. It’s a glossy, papier-mâché female figure, almost tribal in shape and about a metre tall. I love that Isabel Ettedgui is setting these beautiful pieces of art against masculine, driving-orientated fashion. From £3,800; 4 Clifford St, London W1 (020‑7952 6708; connollyengland.com).

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And the best one I’ve received recently was for Tom and me, from the shoe designer Alvaro. We had a dinner to mark our 30 years in business, and he tore a piece off the marbled-print tablecloth and used it to create a one-off pair of shoes. They’re mounted on a Matches gift box – it’s such a beautiful keepsake.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a rose-pink Roksanda dress with ruched sleeves. Being in my mid-50s, I really want to pare things back in my wardrobe, and she is a designer I can go to for things that always fit me and feel good. Her work has an architectural quality and she strips away detail rather than adding it – yet it’s incredibly feminine. £1,995; roksanda.com.

Clockwise from top left: Lindsey Adelman hand-blown Knotty Bubbles pendant light. The Christian Astuguevieille sculpture Chapman bought for her husband. The shoes made by Alvaro to commemorate Matches’ 30-year anniversary
Clockwise from top left: Lindsey Adelman hand-blown Knotty Bubbles pendant light. The Christian Astuguevieille sculpture Chapman bought for her husband. The shoes made by Alvaro to commemorate Matches’ 30-year anniversary | Image: Rick Pushinsky

The beauty staple I’m never without is a perfume created for me by Lyn Harris, when she was at Miller Harris. It’s powdery, with hints of lemon and a bit of salt, and makes me think of pine trees in the south of France. I think if I gave it a name, I’d call it after an island. Lyn’s the best nose in the business. At Perfumer H, she has created a candle and fragrance for us that will launch later this year. 106A Crawford St, London W1 (020‑7258 7859; perfumerh.com). matchesfashion.com.

A recent “find” is Zero George, a small, historic hotel in Charleston with lots of Southern charm, a tiny open kitchen, delicious food and whisky  cocktails, bicycles, and wooden verandahs built to capture the cool breeze – it’s modern, but also slightly Gone with the Wind. 0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401 (+1843-817 7900; zerogeorge.com).

Mussels escabeche on toast at Estela in New York
Mussels escabeche on toast at Estela in New York | Image: Rick Pushinsky

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose SoHo in New York. McNally Jackson has a wonderful curated bookshop and a gorgeous store for all things drawing and writing just around the corner. I like the restaurant Estela’s imaginative dishes, such as the mussels escabeche on toast, and visiting Lindsey Adelman, whose lighting is the most beautiful contemporary work I’ve seen. I crave her rope and sea-glass pendant light in my home. Estela, 47 E Houston St (+1212-219 7693; estelanyc.com). Lindsey Adelman Studio, 1 Great Jones St (+1212-473 2501; lindseyadelman.com). McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince St (+1212-274 1160; mcnallyjackson.com). McNally Jackson Goods For The Study, 234 Mulberry St (+1212-219 2789).

My favourite website is Summerill & Bishop. We cook a lot so I love finding fresh tablecloths – they have the prettiest selection. summerillandbishop.com.

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