Jennifer Chamandi talks more personal taste

The Lebanese-born shoe designer concludes her lists of likes with the understated style of the Duchess of Sussex, the heady charms of Hermès and the special magic of Castiglion del Bosco

Jennifer Chamandi at home in London
Jennifer Chamandi at home in London | Image: Tina Hillier

My style icon is the Duchess of Sussex – Meghan dresses in such an understated, contemporary way. She always has a big smile and seems unstuffy. I love that she was doing a lot for women long before she married, and she’s a great advert for walking in high-heeled shoes, which have to be comfortable. 

The last music I downloaded was my Discover Weekly playlist from Spotify, which suggests songs I might like after analysing my listening history. Usually I’m very happy with the choice – my favourite playlist is the soundtrack to the 2018 remake of A Star is Born.

The Duchess of Sussex
The Duchess of Sussex | Image: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The best gift I’ve given recently is customised matte-black in-ear headphones – AirPods by PerfectPods – to my husband. He likes all his accessories to be matching and prefers black ones. These are specially coated, right through to the charger and plug. £229; perfectpods.shop

In my fridge you’ll always find homemade Lebanese meals from boutique caterer Kammoon, which means “cumin”. It’s authentic, like the food my granny made, with lots of vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and beneficial spice; my favourite dish is kousa – stuffed courgette – with warak enab, which are stuffed vine leaves. Then there are Petits Filous yoghurts for my little ones, plus Haribo sweets – especially the crocodile ones from Italy – and chocolates by Patrick Roger, who is so good he’s a Meilleur Ouvrier de France. We keep them in our wine fridge, where you’ll also find Ornellaia, my favourite Tuscan wine. It’s silky and refined even when quite young and I drank the 2005 with my husband when he proposed to me. 07923-133 238; kammoon.co.uk. ornellaia.com. patrickroger.com.

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The best book I’ve read in the past year is Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain, a self-help book written 40 years ago that teaches you to use mental visual imagery to make positive changes in your life. It’s a form of meditation.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Milan, which would mean being closer to my factory and suppliers. Working there full-time would have me in a state of constant inspiration. I would live at the Bulgari Hotel, specifically in an upper-floor suite with a terrace and a great view over the city – it’s my home away from home. When I’m visiting, I eat at the Langosteria restaurant, which has simple, fresh seafood dishes, especially wonderful tartares and pasta vongole, though it’s hard to get a table. Or I go to Paper Moon Milan Giardino, which is in a divine garden, like being in southern Italy. I love to shop at Antonia, which is so well curated – it always stocks Valentino pieces that I can’t find elsewhere. If I’m shopping on the Via Montenapoleone, I drop in at Marchesi for a delicious little sandwich and the best cappuccino in town. Antonia, Via Cusani 5, 20121 (+3902-8699 8340; antonia.it). Bulgari Hotel Milano, Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7B, 20121 (+3902-805 8051; bulgarihotels.com). Langosteria, Via Savona 10, 20144 (+3902-5811 1649 langosteria.com). Paper Moon Milan Giardino, Via Bagutta 12, 20121 (+3902-7600 9895; papermoonrestaurants.com). Pasticceria Marchesi, Via Montenapoleone 9, 20121 (+3902-7600 8238; pasticceriamarchesi.com).

The Bulgari Hotel and Spa, London
The Bulgari Hotel and Spa, London

An indulgence I would never forgo is having a facial. I used to do a lot of sport and exercise and sought out facials to restore my skin. I go to the spa at the Bulgari Hotel in London, where Coco is the little fairy of facials. I first went to her five years ago when I wanted to pamper myself on my birthday and have been going regularly since for a beauty booster. From £160; 171 Knightsbridge, London SW7 (020-7151 1055; bulgarihotels.com).

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Castiglion del Bosco, in Tuscany. My husband and I got married in Florence and fell in love with the area. I love the food, scenery and pace of life and this hotel has a special magic, set among peaceful vineyards and olive groves – and it’s very near Montalcino, which produces such fantastic wine. Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, 53024 Montalcino, Siena (+39577-191 3001 rosewoodhotels.com).

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. My first stop is always breakfast at Le Castiglione, an informal restaurant around the corner from the Place Vendôme. I usually have a crêpe Nutella and a café crème – very indulgent. My next stop is Hermès, which I find inspirational in every way – the shapes, colours, patterns, even the smell of leather. It’s a complete sensory experience and I never intend to buy but I always do; I have a good relationship with the staff there. I deviate to the Golden Goose flagship store for a pair of sneakers and, in summer, I love to have lunch in the courtyard at the Hôtel Costes. Golden Goose, 1 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 (+331-4236 5887; goldengoosedeluxebrand.com). Hermès, 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 (+331-4017 4600; hermes.com). Hôtel Costes, 239-241 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 (+331-4244 5000; hotelcostes.com). Le Castiglione, 235 Rue Saint- Honoré, 75001 (+331-4260 6822; lecastiglione.com). 

An object I would never part with is my Boghossian diamond eternity band given to me by my husband Roberto, which is in a Les Merveilles setting, where the metal is almost invisible. It dresses my finger even when I don’t want to wear my engagement ring. 44 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7495 0885; boghossianjewels.com).

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My favourite room in my house is our study, a little cocoon where my husband and I escape from the stresses of family life. It’s simple and neutral in shades of beige, olive and grey – the one room where I can relax and recharge, preferably with a glass of red wine. 

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing include Andy Monzer, who is undeniably the king of hair. His little hidden salon on Westbourne Grove does great haircuts, blowdries and keratin treatments and he is always honest in telling me what I need. Elena Friedman, a masseuse who comes to me at home, offers healing hands and energy. Boniface Verney-Carron is more a magician than an osteopath. Although I usually only call him during crisis times – like when I was stuck in bed after delivering my twins – I cannot recommend enough seeing him regularly to keep your body in tune. Andy Monzer, 73A Westbourne Grove, London W2 (020-7221 3686; andy-monzer.co.uk). Elena Friedman, 07990-524 331. Verney-Carron Health Practice, 2 Spanish Place, London W1 (020-3581 1515; vchealthpractice.com).

The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are some sweet, matching Snoopy “Siena” T-shirts after we visited that amazing city last summer. I bought them for me and my daughters, who have Italian names – Giulia and Sienna.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would complete Le Cordon Bleu Grand Diplôme and become a chef. I love food, I go to restaurants to further my knowledge and cook at home with my husband for dinner parties. I’d love to learn to cook the Michelin way and I’ll do it one day. Nine-month course, £34,633; cordonbleu.edu.

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