The Aesthete: Christine Nagel talks personal taste

The creator of scents for Guerlain, Jo Malone and Armani is the first female head perfumer at Hermès

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

My personal style signifier is a Slim d’Hermès watch that is the perfect expression of who I am. It is a big masculine watch in silver, and I alternate between brown and black leather straps. I love the simplicity of this piece. €5,650; hermes.com.

Nagel’s Slim d’Hermès watch, €5,650
Nagel’s Slim d’Hermès watch, €5,650 | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of traditional Venetian slippers in midnight-blue velvet. They are chic and, more importantly, are completely comfortable and can be worn with everything from jeans to more tailored pants. Dittura Massimo slippers, from €35; ditturamassimo.it

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And the things I’m eyeing next are Pierre de Ronsard rose bushes and a trellis for the garden at my country home in Calvados. These old-fashioned pink and white climbing roses bloom well into the autumn.

Pierre de Ronsard roses
Pierre de Ronsard roses

If I didn’t live in Paris, I would live in Normandy, near Deauville and Trouville. It’s the sea that I can’t live without, but the surrounding countryside is gorgeous too. I love the little markets, especially the fish market in Trouville, and this part of the world just feels very small and separate. L’Etoile des Mers is one of the best places for fresh, inventive lunches and the proprietress has a big personality that adds to the fun. For an excellent selection of clothing – just like Paris's Leclaireur but unknown – I love the Anne boutique. Everything it carries – especially designs by Laurence Bras – suits me perfectly, so there’s almost no need to shop in the city. Anne, 26 Rue Gambetta, 14800 Deauville (anne-deauville.fr). L’Etoile des Mers, 74 Rue Gambetta, 14800 Deauville (+332-1463 1018).

Deauville harbour
Deauville harbour

An object I would never part with is a reproduction of Rodin’s hand called Main dite de “Pianiste” . I bought this little sculpture 25 years ago and I think it’s symbolic of craftsmanship and creativity. I’m part Italian and tend to talk with my hands, so this piece is very special to me. 

Nagel’s reproduction of Main dite de “Pianiste” by Rodin
Nagel’s reproduction of Main dite de “Pianiste” by Rodin | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Garden of Eden on the island of Giudecca in Venice. This secret garden, which is closed to the public, was planted by an Englishman in the late 1800s, and it’s still full of jasmine, orange blossom, magnolia, rose – all mixed with the salty Venetian air. It is such a simple, beautiful place and I had an immediate emotional response to it – so much so that I created a fragrance, Un Jardin sur la Lagune, that reflects its blooms throughout the seasons. Hermès Un Jardin sur la Lagune, £89 for 100ml EDT; hermes.com.

Vegetable tartare at L’Arpège in Paris
Vegetable tartare at L’Arpège in Paris | Image: Arpège

A recent “find” is the new Eataly in Le Marais. This Italian grocery concept store is very new to Paris, and I love its range of diverse yet simple products. In addition to buying delicious cheeses and pastas, it’s fun to just people-watch here. My mother is Italian, so I’m nostalgic for really good Italian ingredients. 37 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris (eataly.net)

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The last meal that truly impressed me was at Alain Passard's Arpège. He creates vegetable dishes using produce from his organic gardens in incredibly inventive ways. I’m always surprised – last time it was by the sugary tomatoes, a vegetarian tartare and truffles that were in season. Passard always intrigues me with dishes that are not only good for the tastebuds but for the nose as well. 84 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris (alain-passard.com). 

My favourite website is Husqvarna, a site that is all about my lawnmower, a current obsession. I also read The Business of Fashion, Le Monde, Le Figaro and The Washington Post for the news of the day. businessoffashion.com. husqvarna.com. lefigaro.fr. lemonde.fr. washingtonpost.com.

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