The Aesthete: Christine Nagel talks more personal taste

The head perfumer at Hermès rounds up her list of likes with reggae, Ruinart and Shu Uemura shampoo

Christine Nagel at home in Paris
Christine Nagel at home in Paris | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

My style icon is Inès de la Fressange. She is at once simple and elegant, and I love her taste, her voice, her humour – she is the embodiment of French style and can make even a simple white shirt look extraordinary. Best of all, she’s human, not too perfect.

The best gift I’ve given recently was taking my whole family to a horse-jumping show at the beautiful Grand Palais in Paris. It was a great moment: the spectacle of the horses and finery, as well as the wide-eyed appreciation of my children and grandchildren. 

Inès de la Fressange – Nagel’s style icon
Inès de la Fressange – Nagel’s style icon | Image: Getty Images

And the best one I’ve received recently was the arrival of my first grandchild, a little girl.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Le Marais in Paris. I particularly love the boutiques at the Musée Picasso for unusual gifts. Derrière is a festive place for lunch in a home-like setting; I’ll often order the red tuna ceviche. Leclaireur Sévigné is my favourite concept store for its sharp edit of all the best clothes designers. Derrière, 69 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris (+331-4461 9195; Leclaireur Sévigné, 40 Rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris (+331-4887 1022; Musée Picasso, 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris (+331-8556 0036; 


The last music I downloaded was The Complete Island Recordings by Bob Marley & The Wailers. I love reggae and this set is perfect for the atelier or for listening to at home. Marley’s rhythms and melodies remind me of relaxing holidays.

In my fridge you’ll always find natural Greek yoghurt, all kinds of berries and fresh wasabi for my salads and for using as a spread. I love Ruinart champagne, so there is usually a bottle of that too. I always have a selection of cheeses at hand but never in the fridge; the French don’t refrigerate cheese, ever!

The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas by Martha Zamora
The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas by Martha Zamora

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Camille Claudel. Her sculptures are full of life and animation. I particularly love a light green work called La Valse – or The Waltz – that has an incredibly human feel.

An indulgence I would never forgo is raspberries – in all seasons. I look for them everywhere, but they are especially good at this time of year.

Ruinart champagne – a staple of Nagel’s fridge
Ruinart champagne – a staple of Nagel’s fridge

The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas by Martha Zamora. I was touched by her vivid writing – letters to friends, family and, of course, her partner Diego Rivera. She was passionate and funny.

My favourite room in my house is my bathroom, a serene oasis with plenty of white, soft light and quiet. Bathtime is a very égoiste moment for me, and every night, no matter the hour, a long soak is part of my bedtime ritual.

Boutique at Musée Picasso
Boutique at Musée Picasso | Image: Fabien Campoverde

The grooming staple that I’m never without is Shu Uemura’s Color Lustre Shampoo for colour-treated hair. It’s sulphate-free, very moisturising and has a light musk rose scent. $48 for 300ml;

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a pair of jeans by Jacob Cohen. I usually opt for slim-cut jeans, but these have a looser fit and I find that I wear them all the time. I can create an elegant silhouette with just the addition of a tailored jacket and a great scarf. €299.95;


The person I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing is Hélène at Le Salon in Deauville for my hair colour. She has a delicate touch and always finds just the right red for me. In terms of my eye health, I rely on Le Collectioneur de Lunetier, an optical shop in Neuilly that supplies the round black frames by Moscot that I wear every day. Le Collectioneur de Lunetier, 34 Rue Madeleine Michelis, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine (+331-4624 8778; Le Salon, 106 Avenue de la République, 14800 Deauville (+332-3114 9600).

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a stuffed deer’s derrière from Mexico. It sounds odd, but it’s actually quite funny. I’m not a fan of animal trophies, but this piece is more like a sculpture. 

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a doctor. I can’t think of anything more important than saving lives.

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