The Aesthete: Ruth Chapman talks more personal taste

The co-founder of the influential Matches fashion business, 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 style icon is Stella McCartney. I’ve never seen her look less than effortless when she steps out at the end of a show – always appropriate but slightly downbeat. She puts simple separates together beautifully; I always want what she’s wearing.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whose work I first saw at The Serpentine last year. I like the style and the dark contrasting colours she uses. Corvi-Mora Gallery, 1A Kempsford Rd, London SE11 (020-7840 9111; corvi-mora.com).

Stella McCartney at her spring/summer 2015 fashion show in Paris
Stella McCartney at her spring/summer 2015 fashion show in Paris | Image: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

An indulgence I would never forgo is a hot bath; it’s like a meditation. If I get into a hotel and it doesn’t have a bathtub I’m very upset and discombobulated. I love to add Susanne Kaufmann’s bath salts. Alkali Salt Deacidifying, from €15; susannekaufmann.com.

Objects I would never part with are my pre-digital photograph albums, which I have made into a library. They’re beautifully bound in leather or suede or have luxurious marbled covers from Florentine paper shops. Abacus Firenze Legatoria, Via Ottavio Rinuccini 5, 50144 Florence (+39345-328 0318; abacusfirenze.com).

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The item in my wardrobe I’ll keep to pass on is a sleeveless grey Prada dress I’ve had for about 20 years. It’s in heavy shantung silk with a big raspberry-coloured lily and leaves on it, and is such a great fit. Also, a Saint Laurent tweed blazer – probably from Hedi Slimane’s first collection – that’s quite masculine, with suede elbow patches. I can wear it in any season and it always looks right; I’m obsessed with men’s tweed.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Los Angeles. I love the light and warmth, and there’s such a creative, interesting mood there right now. A late breakfast at Sqirl, which has the most delicious healthy food and jams, is a treat, and I like Gjelina for pizza and Gjusta for coffee. My favourite store is Irene Neuwirth’s on Melrose: the interior is divine, as is her extraordinary collection of richly coloured fine jewellery. And I always visit Nickey Kehoe for ceramics for our kitchen. Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd (+1310-450 1429; gjelina.com). Gjusta, 320 Sunset Ave (+1310-314 0320; gjusta.com). Irene Neuwirth, 8458 Melrose Pl (+1323-285 2000). Nickey Kehoe, 7221 Beverly Blvd (+1323-954 9300; nickeykehoe.com). Sqirl, 720 Virgil Ave #4 (+1323-284 8147; sqirlla.com).

Chapman’s Saint Laurent tweed jacket
Chapman’s Saint Laurent tweed jacket | Image: Rick Pushinsky

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Galápagos Islands, where we travelled around on a skippered motor cruiser with our extended family. We had penguins swimming between our legs and the seals would come over and nuzzle my children on the beach. We’d hike across little islands to find extraordinary birds, as well as the huge tortoises. It was Tom’s father who instigated the trip; I feel lucky to have been, because I know they’re starting to restrict tourism. eqtouring.com.

And the best souvenirs I’ve brought home are lots of tablecloths from the markets of Rajasthan. The colours, prints and embroidery are wonderful. We also bought bedcovers that are light as air: gauzy, organdie white with layers of beautiful appliqué detailing.

A tortoise in the Galápagos
A tortoise in the Galápagos | Image: Getty Images/Stockphoto

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Maisie Café in Paris. When I’m in the city, I often crave an alternative to all the bread, cheese and meat, and this place is vegan and the greens are largely raw, with lentils, quinoa and great salads – it keeps your immune system going during Fashion Week. 32 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris (+331-4039 9916; maisiecafe.com).

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Amy at Daniel Galvin, who took me grey – and Stevie there who cuts my hair. Linda d’Antal has been teaching me yoga for 20 years, with a lot of Ashtanga and meditation. I see Silvio Andrade for acupuncture at least once a fortnight, which stops me from becoming overwhelmed. And Vaishaly for facials – they are really holistic and relaxing and include a craniosacral treatment; she releases all the stress at the back of my head and I drift off every time. Daniel Galvin, 58-60 George St, London W1 (020-7486 9661; danielgalvin.com). Linda d’Antal (07900-070 888; treehouseyoga.co.uk). Silvio Andrade (07957-325 399; classicalacupuncture.co.uk). Vaishaly, 51 Paddington St, London W1 (020-7224 6088; vaishaly.com).

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. Her last book was one of my all-time favourites too. Her writing about India is so insightful and moving – I’ve only been once, for Christmas, but it makes me want to return.

In my fridge you’ll always find manchego cheese – even the dogs love it – from La Fromagerie. Its burrata and feta are also amazing. 2-6 Moxon St, London W1 (020-7935 0341; lafromagerie.co.uk).

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The last music I downloaded was a collection by Nina Simone, because I had just watched the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?. Her music relaxes me; I never get tired of it – and I love a bit of crackle in the background of an old, live recording.

My favourite room in my house is our garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw, which becomes another room in summertime. There’s an eating part, a sitting part – lots of different areas with their own walkways, including a lovely grotto with two figurines that came from the old Houses of Parliament building. And we have two incredible cedar trees – one is over 300 years old. chrisbeardshaw.com.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be doing something in education. We have these beautiful, young, talented minds and we just don’t harness them properly. The way education is sometimes handled can be archaic, so I’d like to be involved in policy and creating a new school curriculum that is meaningful and inspiring.

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