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My personal style signifier is an oversized shirt. I used to borrow my dad’s, then my boyfriend’s, then my husband Joe’s, and one of my first fashion pieces was a Vivienne Westwood pirate shirt. I’ve always liked shirts – in linen from a market in France or tailored pieces.
The last thing I bought and loved was a beautiful Senufo cloth – probably from the 1950s – which is now being framed at Soardi in Nice. It needs love and a genius to mount it. Avenue Desambrois 9, 06000 Nice (espacesoardi.com)
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a pair of custom-made flat sandals from Alvaro. I just want the simplest two-strap leather design. alvaro.ag
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Tokyo – and Kyoto. I’d never been to Japan and was blown away by the people, the warmth, the food and the culture – and the slight craziness. It’s so familiar, yet so foreign.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a simple wooden crucifix from Patmos, handmade from local twigs. It was a gift that reminds me utterly of the giver – a very dear friend – and this beautiful island. I hang it in my bedroom and dream of spirits and sunny Greek escapes.
The beauty staple I’m never without is Incense Extreme by Tauer, which I have worn for a very long time. I love the smell of frankincense – I really couldn’t do without it. £105 for 50ml EDP, lessenteurs.com
The last meal that truly impressed me was at the Paloma Beach restaurant in Cap Ferrat this summer, just before it was due to be dismantled by the local prefecture. We watched the sun set, drank really great rosé and ate delicious roasted fish. It was a magical place – just tables on a beach – that had been there for 70 years.
The last music I downloaded was a reggae playlist, Baila Reggaeton, that Felix Seymour [Anya Hindmarch’s son] found for me. I was born and spent my first 25 years in Africa, so those rhythms are in my blood.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a small, handmade leather trunk studded with two love hearts; it was based on an old Portuguese design. I had it made for a friend’s wedding. £1,250; connollyengland.com
And the best one I’ve received recently is an oversized mariner’s T-shirt with blue-black stripes that my friend gave to me in Brittany. I go to that part of the world so often and I am always looking for the perfect mariner’s top: this is it.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Brazilian painter Lucas Arruda. I first saw his work on Instagram, then went to an exhibition at David Zwirner. His landscapes and seascapes are extraordinary – each one is like a universe in one small picture. davidzwirner.com
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Paris. My daughter is living there and I love everything about it. There’s nothing quite like watching the chess players in the Jardin du Luxembourg and the amazing view of Les Invalides as you cross the Seine. Le Bristol is a favourite hotel: it’s the beautiful garden, the club sandwiches and Faraon, the cat‑in-residence. I love browsing in Charvet on Place Vendôme, and Sennelier, a really old art shop, which is great for gifts. And I always go to 21 on Rue Mazarine for fish and chips; Café de Flore for the French onion soup; and Le Duc on Boulevard Raspail for the best rum baba. 21, 21 Rue Mazarine, 75006 (+331-4633 7690). Café de Flore, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 (cafedeflore.fr). Charvet, 28 Place Vendôme, 75001 (charvet.com). Le Bristol, 112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 (lebristolparis.com). Le Duc, 243 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 (restaurantleduc.com). Sennelier, 3 Quai Voltaire, 75007 (magasinsennelier.net)
My style icon is Maureen Doherty at Egg, the lifestyle boutique in Belgravia: she is authentic and hugely stylish. And also Inès de la Fressange. They both always look immaculate and are so true to who they are – I admire people with elegance and a strong sense of self.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Stoner by John Williams, which was passed on to me by my daughter. It was written in the early 1960s and it’s about the life of an academic. There’s something very true in its sense of place and atmosphere. The writing is beautiful and so touching in a very low-key way.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a simple, crisp, oversized cotton shirt from Céline in a sand colour – it’s one of those “forever” pieces. I wanted to buy so much from Phoebe Philo’s last collection; I will miss her modern take on femininity. I also bought a long, cotton shirt with a beautiful stripe from Connolly that comes almost to the ankle – I love the ease of wearing it and always feel like I am on holiday when I put it on. celine.com. connollyengland.com
My favourite room in my house is my dining room. It has terrible acoustics, so it sounds like you are eating in a trattoria – but everyone enjoys dinner there. It has wooden floors and shutters, an old draper’s table from Rose Uniacke, and lovely, simple wooden chairs designed by Gilles & Boissier. And there’s a settle at one end. It’s casual but rather elegant at the same time. gillesetboissier.com. roseuniacke.com
The person I rely on for wellbeing is Natalie Harris, who has been my trainer and friend for over 25 years; she keeps me sane. Twice a week we walk all around Hyde Park – whatever the weather, it’s just magical – and she’s been trying for all those years to get me to move faster. email@example.com
An indulgence I would never forgo is fresh flowers – particularly roses; I love hav-ing them in the house and the shop. I go to the stall at the end of Clifford Street or to Pulbrook & Gould. 19 South Audley St, London W1 (pulbrookandgould.co.uk)
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood, I’d choose Beaulieu-sur-Mer in the south of France. I don’t really have time to enjoy shopping for food and preparing meals in London, so when I am on holiday I love it. There’s a wonderful pâtisserie, Sansano, where you can get the perfect pissaladière, and a market called Côte et Mer, which has the best fresh fruit every day. Charle’s Butcher Shop has fantastic meats, and L’Art du Pain does the most delicious bread – and it’s all within five minutes’ walk. Charle’s Butcher Shop, 2 Avenue des Anglais, 06310 (+334-9301 6142). Côte et Mer, 43 Boulevard Marinoni, 06310. L’Art du Pain, 10 Boulevard Maréchal Joffre, 06310 (+334-9301 0210). Pâtisserie Sansano, 1 Avenue du Maréchal Foch, 06310 (+334-9301 0632).
A recent “find” is Cibus, a tiny, four-table Italian restaurant in Paris that feels as though you are in someone’s living room. It’s very tucked away, but serves fantastic Italian home cooking – I had a great pasta with sea bass. 5 Rue Molière, 75001 Paris (+331-4261 5019).
In my fridge you’ll always find Diet Coke, milk, butter and Cheddar cheese – all the wrong things. My daughter is living in Paris and I am out quite a bit, so I tend not to do big shops. I might sneak into Fortnum & Mason occasionally for marmalade, the most incredible fruit and veg, and really good naughty things like hams and salamis. 181 Piccadilly, London W1 (fortnumandmason.com)
An object I would never part with is a pair of André Dubreuil candlesticks made from spiky bronze and big balls of rock crystal. Joe and I moved many times in the past 35 years and they have always sat on our various tables. They make my home.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would run a small boutique hotel on the coast some-where in northern Italy or northern France. I like having people around and I’d love to have a really good excuse for ordering beautiful bedlinen and massive amounts of wonderful food.
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