Tabitha Simmons talks personal taste: Part Two

The British shoe designer concludes her list of likes with Game of Thrones, the Italian Riveria and roast beef

Tabitha Simmons at home in New York
Tabitha Simmons at home in New York | Image: Circe Hamilton

My style icons are many: Karen Elson, for whom I named my first shoe; and Sienna Miller, Poppy Delevingne and Alexa Chung, who all have innate, individual style. These women aren’t afraid to take risks and rely on their instincts to make interesting fashion choices.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the last year is Portofino on the Italian Riviera, which is so beautiful in summer. I stayed at the Hotel Splendido, a spot with the most incredible views of the harbour and the kindest staff, and loved everything about the area – the colourful buildings that line the hillsides, the delicious food, and exploring the surrounding islands, dotted with caves and little coves, by sailboat. Salita Baratta 16, 16034 Portofino (+390185-267 801;

Karen Elson
Karen Elson | Image: Shutterstock

The books on my bedside table are the Game of Thrones series, including A Dance with Dragons, and a stack of National Geographic magazines, which I find quite inspirational; the photography is phenomenal and I love the varied locations and traditional costumes in these pages – I learn about the world here. I also have copies of Katie Grand’s biannual fashion magazine Love and whatever tapestry I am working on; it’s rather granny-like but it’s my new favourite thing.

The last meal that truly impressed me was an incredible English roast served in the oak panelled restaurant at The George hotel in Lincolnshire. It included all my favourite things: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, local vegetables and cauliflower cheese. I could eat this combination of things forever, but this particular meal and the country setting were sublime. 71 St Martins, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2LB(01780-750 750;


My favourite room in my house is my kitchen, which is the centre of our Chelsea home. It’s a bright space with a midcentury-modern feel, dark walnut floors and a central island that is surrounded by Giò Ponti-designed dining chairs.

The people I rely on for personal grooming include Tracie Martyn for regular facials and André at the John Barrett salon for my hair colour; he has a secret formula and I have trusted him for many years. I also go to the Dashing Diva nail salon in Chelsea for regular manicures and pedicures. Dashing Diva, 177 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10011 (+1212-620 0200; John Barrett Salon, 754 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 (+1212-872 2700; Tracie Martyn, 101 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (+1212-206 9333;

Royal Suite, Four Seasons Hotel, Florence
Royal Suite, Four Seasons Hotel, Florence | Image: Barbara Kraft

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Florence, ideally in a villa overlooking the Arno. I love the sense of history here, the incredible architecture and artistry. I adore the Uffizi Gallery and the Boboli Gardens and would like to explore both more frequently over time. My shoes are also made in this part of Italy and I would love to be closer to the manufacturing process. I might also stay at the Four Seasons, a meticulously restored former Renaissance palazzo and convent. I visited recently and was blown away by this place: its magnificent 16th-century frescoes, original chapel, and wide-open green spaces and swimming pool that are like oases in the middle of the city. Boboli Gardens, Piazza Pitti 1 (+39055-229 8732; Four Seasons Florence, Borgo Pinti 99 (+39055-262 61; Uffizi Gallery, Piazzale degli Uffizi 6 (+39055-238 8651;

An indulgence I would never forgo is a good massage at The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. I don’t have much time for massages when I am at home, but this spa is so relaxing and the therapists so expert that I try to make time for its Oriental Essence massage whenever I’m in town. The facials are wonderful too. £155 for the Oriental Essence massage; Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1 (020-7838 9888;

Hotel Splendido, Portofino
Hotel Splendido, Portofino | Image: Tommy Picone

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is exquisite white table linens from Taormina in Sicily. I buy textiles wherever I go, and love these simple, handmade tablecloths and napkins with delicate lacework that isn’t too frilly. I like souvenirs that stand the test of time and can be used on a regular basis.

In my fridge you’ll always find almond milk, oranges for making freshly squeezed juice, rocket for salads and ham and cheese for my children’s favourite sandwiches.


If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose London’s Chelsea. I love the original Joseph store for its unique fashion mix, as well as the Chanel boutique on Brompton Road. Then there’s the Rag & Bone and Chloé shops near Sloane Square and Harvey Nichols just up the road in Knightsbridge. If I can include a fraction of Mayfair, SJ Phillips remains my absolute favourite source of antique jewellery. Chanel, 278-280 Brompton Road, SW3 (020-7581 8620; Chloé, 152-153 Sloane Street, SW1 (020-7823 5348; Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1 (020-7235 5000; Joseph, 77 Fulham Road, SW3 (020-823 9500; Rag & Bone, 13-14 Sloane Square, SW1 (020-7730 6881; SJ Phillips, 139 New Bond Street, W1 (020-7629 6261;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a film and television set designer. I studied this at university and was offered a job at Pinewood upon graduation, which has always left me wondering what if…  I love the creative energy found on set.

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