The Aesthete: Olivia von Halle talks more personal taste

The designer concludes her list of likes with the theatrical style of Isabella Blow, her collection of equine sculptures and an LA store’s glamorous dog beds

Olivia von Halle at home in London
Olivia von Halle at home in London | Image: Tina Hillier

My style icon is Isabella Blow. She was so wild and and theatrical, prepared to take risks and have fun with style. Nowadays, everything is so bland and over-considered.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the desert area around Lake Los Angeles, where we shot our latest campaign. It was like a film set, with Joshua trees and just one small road – and unbelievable light at sunset.

Von Halle’s style icon Isabella Blow
Von Halle’s style icon Isabella Blow | Image: Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a little horse sculpture that I bought on Venice Beach. It’s made of wood and wire, with a crazy punk-style mane and tail. I started collecting horse sculptures in Marrakech when I was 21, but this one is definitely leader of the pack.

The last meal that truly impressed me was a skate curry cooked on a Big Green Egg barbecue by Johnnie Collins, the former chef at London’s The Store. I always thought chefs didn’t like to cook in their free time, but he’s passionate about food and makes every meal at home.180 Strand, London WC2 (thestores.com).  

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The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s so relevant to women now – and Margaret Atwood is a genius. It’s much better than the TV version.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Los Angeles. I’d love to have a house there; the climate is fantastic. The MTN restaurant at Venice Beach is an izakaya [Japanese gastropub] that does Japanese food with a Californian twist. Bruno’s Dog & Cat Boutique is a must-visit for cool pet accessories, such as super-glam dog beds. I love Lighthouse Beach – right in the city, but hidden away and not so well-known; it’s great for unwinding at sunset. And, of course, Chateau Marmont – it has that old-school Hollywood glamour, but is also fun and slightly naughty. Bruno’s Dog & Cat Boutique, 2012 Lincoln Bvd, Venice, CA 90291 (+1424-268 4031). Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Bvd, CA 90046 (+1323-656 1010; chateaumarmont.com). Lighthouse Beach, 4298 Ocean Front Walk, Marina del Rey, CA 90292. MTN, 1305 Abbot Kinney Bvd, Venice, CA 90291 (+1424-465 3313; mtnvenice.com).   

A selection of Danish smørrebrød at Snaps + Rye, London
A selection of Danish smørrebrød at Snaps + Rye, London

A recent “find” is Snaps + Rye, a Danish café on Golborne Road – a lovely place to meet friends. It does brilliant open sandwiches on homemade bread and – oddly enough – delicious Welsh rarebit. 93 Golborne Rd, London W10 (020-8964 3004; snapsandrye.com).

My favourite room in my house is the drawing room. I know it’s hip to have open-plan space, but I like an adult zone that’s quite formal, with no television. Ours has huge windows and beautiful light, so I have a desk there. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Kristina at HD Brows, who does a great job on my eyebrows; my osteopath Kristian Wood, who is also a healer and takes a very spiritual approach; Zarina, a mobile spray-tanner who comes to give me a subtle glow; and a brilliant freelance hairdresser, Emily Crowther, who is a great cutter and colourist. Emily Crowther, 07958-605 726. HD Brows, 102 Ladbroke Grove, London W11 (020-7229 8512; hdbrows.com). KJW Osteopathy, 221 Westbourne Park Rd, London W11 (020-7243 0007; kjw-osteopathy.co.uk). Zarina, 07534-349 251. 

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a therapist for horses. I love their characters and I know it would be very rewarding.

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