The Aesthete: Christina Zeller talks personal taste

Delvaux’s artistic director has taken inspiration from whimsical art and contemporary architecture to bring a modernising élan to the heritage leather goods brand

Christina Zeller at home in Paris
Christina Zeller at home in Paris | Image: Magali Delporte

My personal style signifier is a stack of engraved gold Buccellati bracelets. They are beautifully crafted yet understated: the fine rigato lines feel like silk, with the same sheen. I also have a wide cuff, designed by my late husband, an architect, which Buccellati made for me. From £6,200; buccellati.com.

The last thing I bought and loved was a Serpenti watch by Bulgari, with five twists up the arm. I loved it when it first came out in gold, with a semiprecious stone dial, but mine is in the newer steel – it’s still like a piece of jewellery but it’s a little bit “rock” too, which I enjoy. £11,200; bulgari.com.

Zeller’s Buccellati cuff and gold bracelets, from £6,200
Zeller’s Buccellati cuff and gold bracelets, from £6,200 | Image: Magali Delporte

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a pair of Balenciaga’s hot-pink cuissardes. They look very refined and remind me of the wonderful bright satins used by Christian Lacroix when I worked for him. I’ve always loved over-the-knee boots and buy a new pair each year to wear with longer skirts that have a split. They used to be provocative, but now fashion has caught up with me and they can be worn anywhere. £885; balenciaga.com.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a Céline jumpsuit with a white shirt-style top and elegant black trouser bottoms. I often wear a white shirt and black trousers, so now I have both in one. £2,150; celine.com.

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An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Lamu, off the Kenyan coast, where I have a small house. It’s where I go to detox – there are no cars and very little WiFi – and I never have to dress up; I just live in kikois. It’s beautiful there and the people have a very positive energy. I always come back revitalised. 

The beauty staple I’m never without is Chanel Cristalle, which I have loved and worn since I was 18; I still feel it expresses my personality. Christian Lacroix used to say he knew when I’d arrived because of the waft of Cristalle in the air. From £50 for 60ml EDT; chanel.com.

From left: Zeller’s Bulgari Serpenti steel watch, £11,200, and Balenciaga Spandex boots, £885
From left: Zeller’s Bulgari Serpenti steel watch, £11,200, and Balenciaga Spandex boots, £885 | Image: Magali Delporte

The last meal that truly impressed me was a family dinner for my birthday and my niece’s graduation, cooked by Jean-Pierre Vigato at Apicius in Paris – he is extraordinary. The millefeuille of meat and caviar was incredible and the atmosphere relaxed – like being at home yet very special. 20 Rue d’Artois, 75008 Paris (+331‑4380 1966; restaurant-apicius.com).

A recent “find” is the work of Mafalda von Hessen, a designer whose collaborator is my friend Eric Wright, who used to be Karl Lagerfeld’s assistant and introduced me to her. The designs are practical but beautiful – influenced a little by military tailoring, a touch utilitarian and made in Naples. mvh-design.com

The island of Lamu, off the Kenyan coast
The island of Lamu, off the Kenyan coast | Image: Getty Images

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Magritte. I find his art poetic, and there is always a touch of self-derision and humour – even in his darker pieces.

The people I rely on for personal grooming are Alexandre de Paris for hair – I know it’s old-fashioned but they do the best up-dos in the city. And the therapists in the Tata Harper treatment room at Le Bristol hotel spa: I love their organic skincare products. alexandredeparis-coiffure.com. Le Bristol, oetkercollection.com/le-bristol-paris.

Apicius restaurant’s millefeuille of meat and caviar
Apicius restaurant’s millefeuille of meat and caviar

If I didn’t live in Paris, the city I would live in is Hong Kong. I find the energy that comes from the mix of east and west in the pursuit of business very exciting. I think The Peninsula is one of the world’s greatest hotels, with impeccable service; the Opera House is an incredible piece of modern architecture; and The Landmark is an unusually good shopping mall. And the markets, where they sell strange things in jars for Chinese medicine, are fascinating. Hong Kong Opera House, operahongkong.org. The Landmark, landmark.hk. The Peninsula, peninsula.com

My favourite website is PopMyDay.com, which finds you a specialist practitioner to do your hair, a facial or make-up at your home [in Paris], at short notice.

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