The Aesthete: Elin Kling’s black book of style

The Swedish co-founder of fashion brand Totême loves Brice Marden, vintage earrings – and French butter. By Jessica Beresford. Photography by Felix Odell

Elin Kling at home in Sweden
Elin Kling at home in Sweden | Image: Felix Odell

My personal style signifier is a pair of earrings from Kaplans, a jewellery auction house next to the Totême store in Stockholm. If I have some time without the kids on a Saturday, I love to go in there and browse – it’s full of these big desks covered in jewellery. I think vintage earrings add a more personal touch than modern designs. My favourites are a pair of diamond drop earrings – they don’t make that much noise but are still a little extra. 

The last thing I bought and loved was a photograph by Talia Chetrit from Kaufmann Repetto gallery in New York. I was planning on hanging it at home, but when it arrived I decided it would look better in the office. It’s of a woman’s body, and we are about 90 per cent women here, so I thought it would fit nicely.

Kling’s collection of clutches includes (from top) an Hermès Mini Kelly, a Mark Cross and a Valentino
Kling’s collection of clutches includes (from top) an Hermès Mini Kelly, a Mark Cross and a Valentino | Image: Felix Odell

The beauty staple I’m never without is Westman Atelier’s Baby Cheeks Blush Stick in Petal. I don’t use that much make-up, but I like to have this cream blush in my bag because it’s easy to touch up – it makes you look instantly fresh. $50

I have a collection of clutches I use when I’m going to parties or dinner with friends, including an Hermès Mini Kelly, which I love, and an amazing Valentino one with a big flower on it.

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The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Brice Marden. I admire the tranquillity of his paintings and his choice of colour and composition. I remember seeing a portrait of him in his studio, painting with a tree branch instead of a traditional brush, which I find fascinating. I particularly like his calligraphic works.

My favourite apps are Calm, which I use to help me meditate each night before bed, and Shazam to discover songs to play when I don’t know what to listen to. I’m also obsessed with Google Analytics, which is connected to our online shop. I like learning more about our customers, and it also gives such a reality to the clothes we are making.

Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick, $50
Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick, $50

A recent “find” is Atelier Saman Amel, a made-to-measure tailor in Stockholm. The two guys who run it are so young and talented – I love their energy. They have been helping my husband Karl: he now has a winter blazer, which is made from Loro Piana cashmere, and a summer version in a silk-linen blend. Custom-made pieces, from $2,000, samanamel.se

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a flamenco outfit from Madrid for my four-year-old daughter. She loves to dress up, as most kids do, and she loves this red dress with black dots and its matching shoes.

Kling in her Stockholm home wearing her Totême leather jacket and a pair of vintage earrings from Kaplans auction house
Kling in her Stockholm home wearing her Totême leather jacket and a pair of vintage earrings from Kaplans auction house | Image: Felix Odell

My favourite room in my house is our bedroom. It’s very cosy, and we’ve got a green colour scheme in there, so it feels calm too. It’s where we all end up in the night – both the kids pile in, eventually.

The last meal I truly loved was Karl’s version of a dish we used to have at Babbo, when we lived in New York. It’s black spaghetti with rock shrimp, soppressata and green chillis, and it was really good. We’ll make it again next time we have friends over. 

Kling’s vintage diamond drop earrings from Kaplans
Kling’s vintage diamond drop earrings from Kaplans | Image: Felix Odell

The podcast I’m listening to is How I Built This by Guy Raz. I like that it’s about the entrepreneurship of everything, from really established people to young companies.

My style icon is Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, in terms of well-known people. More often, though, it’s the different women in my business or others I see every day – like a really chic mum picking up her kids from kindergarten. On my moodboard, you’re more likely to find friends of mine than anyone famous.

Her favourite book from the past year
Her favourite book from the past year

The best gift I’ve given recently was dinner for two at Fäviken, a restaurant in the north of Sweden, for Karl for his birthday. We travelled to this farm in the middle of nowhere – we stayed overnight – and it was just super-cosy and the food was of a very high level. We ate 15 to 20 small dishes, and then afterwards sat around a fireplace and drank mulled wine. Sadly the chef, Magnus Nilsson, has since closed it, but I’m sure whatever he does next will be amazing.

The best gifts I’ve received recently are a silk eye mask from my friend Cim Mahony’s brand The Beauty Sleeper – I have two small children at home and, needless to say, my beauty sleep is very important to me – and a vintage diamond tennis bracelet that Karl gave me that I wear every day. It’s slightly too big, but I would have to part with it for a few weeks to have it adjusted, which I can’t bear. Silk eye mask, €114, thebeautysleeper.com 

The Venice Simplon-Orient‑Express
The Venice Simplon-Orient‑Express | Image: David Noton

In my fridge you’ll find Comté cheese, big green olives and French butter. My favourite breakfast is to have a really nice slice of Swedish bread – a dark bread with fruit in it, so it’s quite sweet – with butter and a slice of cheese on top. It’s great with a cup of coffee

The gadgets I couldn’t do without are my Apple Pencil and iPad, which I use to sketch if I’m in a meeting or travelling. Apple Pencil from £89; iPad from £349

Dress, 2016, by Talia Chetrit, the last thing Kling bought and loved
Dress, 2016, by Talia Chetrit, the last thing Kling bought and loved | Image: Courtesy of Kaufmann Repetto

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a Totême leather jacket. It’s like an army jacket, made from really nice bonded leather. It’s so effortless and luxurious, which to me is the perfect meeting point. £1,590

My beauty guru is Gucci Westman, who’s a friend. She has her own line, Westman Atelier, but she’s always just so healthy-looking – I always try to pick up on her tips and tricks. 

Her Cartier wedding and engagement rings
Her Cartier wedding and engagement rings | Image: Felix Odell

Objects I would never part with are my Cartier wedding and engagement rings: white-gold bands, one slightly wider than the other, with diamonds all around them. 

On my wishlist is a suite on The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. It’s very opulent, like being in the most amazing hotel suite, but you happen to be on a train. Everyone gets dressed up in the evening, and you have a really good dinner, and it’s all really over the top. It doesn’t really matter where the train is going. From £3,520 per person for a cabin suite; belmond.com

Kling’s silk eye mask from The Beauty Sleeper
Kling’s silk eye mask from The Beauty Sleeper | Image: Felix Odell

An indulgence I would never forgo is red wine, preferably Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog. I am a fan of biographies and recently read about his journey building Nike from a tiny two-man business, selling shoes in his own garage, to the company it is today. It’s a fascinating story about the passion and commitment it took to build one of the most recognisable brands in the world, and the many challenges he faced over the years. 

Comté cheese – always to be found in Kling’s fridge
Comté cheese – always to be found in Kling’s fridge | Image: Getty Images

The last music I downloaded was a song called Bana Birak by the Turkish artist Orhan Ölmez. I heard it at my local flower stand the other week and Shazam’d it. 

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Gouverneur Beach in St Barths. Karl and I spent a weekend there last spring for a friend’s birthday, and it was such an amazing place; we were on the beach, alone. There are no shops, you just bring a towel and that’s it. We stayed at a hotel nearby called Le Sereno. From €760

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If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a gardener. We don’t have a garden at our home, but we’d love a weekend house with one.

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