The Aesthete: Mary McCartney talks personal taste

The photographer brings a palpable emotional charge to her portraits of luminaries of the art world, from Mark Rylance to Diana Krall

Mary McCartney at home in London
Mary McCartney at home in London | Image: Gabby Laurent

My personal style signifier is a gold necklace with various pendants, all from different jewellers. One is a gold letter M by Ben Day that my husband gave me; another is by Annoushka with an inscription of all my children’s names in their handwriting; and the third is a maple leaf charm by Annina Vogel that my eldest son Arthur gave me years ago. anninavogel.co.uk. annoushka.com. benday.co.uk.

McCartney’s Vampire’s Wife T-shirt
McCartney’s Vampire’s Wife T-shirt | Image: Gabby Laurent

The last thing I bought and loved was an iPhone case monogrammed with my initials. I’m a sucker for a monogram and this one is really eye-catching. I’m always dropping my phone, but so far it has proven to be quite hardwearing too. iPhone 8+ case, £185; shop.chaos.club

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The thing I’m eyeing next is an iPad Pro so I can teach myself to edit moving images. I’m starting to experiment with long form, making short films to go alongside my photos and books. It’s amazing that you can make a movie on such a lightweight device rather than being stuck in a dark editing room, and the images are really crisp and clear. From £619; apple.com.

One of her fridge magnets
One of her fridge magnets | Image: Gabby Laurent

An unforgettable place I have travelled to recently is Sussex. For the past year, I have been riding my horse Alejandro in the forests around Hastings and Battle. The relationship between rider and animal is the subject of my latest book, The White Horse. Normally, I focus on people; this is the first time I have photographed an animal and the landscape as a study.

Her vintage Leica camera
Her vintage Leica camera | Image: Gabby Laurent

The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are fridge magnets for my collection. I always pick one up on my travels, usually at the airport on my way home – most recently in Stockholm when I was there for the Mother Daughter exhibition of photos by me and my mother at Fotografiska gallery. fotografiska.com. 

Limited edition silk scarf
Limited edition silk scarf

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the British artist Rose Wylie. I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with her at her studio in Kent. It was so inspiring. She is still curious and has a great sense of humour. davidzwirner.com.

Lolita, Red Ankle Boots & Selfie by Rose Wylie
Lolita, Red Ankle Boots & Selfie by Rose Wylie | Image: Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, London © Rose Wylie

A recent “find” is Bryn Williams’ new restaurant at Somerset House. Bryn experiments with lots of veggie options – all things I wouldn’t cook at home – such as roast cauliflower with raisins, capers, polenta and salted grapes. Strand, London WC2 (020-7845 4646; bryn-somersethouse.co.uk).

Roast cauliflower with salted grapes at Bryn Williams at Somerset House
Roast cauliflower with salted grapes at Bryn Williams at Somerset House

An object I would never part with is the vintage Leica my mum gave me when I told her – in my early 20s – I was going to be a photographer. I do shoot on it sometimes, along with a Leica SL. £4,995; leicastore-mayfair.co.uk.

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The best gift I’ve given recently was a limited edition silk scarf printed with one of my photos, from a collaboration with Matchesfashion.com. We are about to do our third capsule collection. The scarves are designed to be worn or framed, and as they are a kind of collectable art, each one comes with a signed certificate. marymccartney.com. matchesfashion.com.

And the best one I’ve received is a Vampire’s Wife T-shirt. The label was founded by Susie Cave [wife of musician Nick Cave], who’s a friend of mine. I wear it all the time. thevampireswife.com.

If I didn’t live in London, I would live in Manhattan. My mum was from New York so I spent a lot of time there. It’s easy to buzz around on the subway or on foot. I always call into B&H, a huge photo and video store, and go to Abracadabra to stock up on fancy-dress outfits. I also like abcV vegetarian restaurant and the clothing store New York Vintage. abcV, 38 East 19th Street, 10003 (+1212-475 5829; abchome.com). Abracadabra, 19 West 21st Street, 10010 (+1212-627 5194; abracadabranyc.com). B&H, 420 9th Avenue, 10001 (+1212-615 8820; bhphotovideo.com). New York Vintage, 117 West 25th Street, 10001 (+1212-647 1107; newyorkvintage.com).

My favourite apps are the one by Sonos that I use with Apple HomePod to fill my studio with music; a Thesaurus app, as I love looking at different words when I’m writing; and App.NYTimes.com.

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