Olivia von Halle on maxi dresses, horse sculptures and Welsh rarebit
Simply sign up to the Style myFT Digest -- delivered directly to your inbox.
My personal style signifier is a long, rather covered-up, maximal dress. I have a terrifyingly large collection from The Vampire’s Wife, but my go-to dress for the evening is by Alessandra Rich: it’s slender, in bright-green velvet with a floral print. alessandrarich.com, thevampireswife.com
The last thing I bought and loved was a set of handpainted candle shades by the artist Susannah Garrod, with little brass holders to fit them on the candle. I’m currently renovating an 1830s stucco house in west London and am obsessed with interiors. £40 each, susannahgarrod.bigcartel.com
And the thing I’m eyeing for the festive season is a beautiful, fresh-foliage garland from the Cornish firm Tregothnan. I am hosting my family and plan to hang some of it over the fireplaces and wind some up the stairs. From £10.70 per ft, tregothnan.co.uk
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a big, orange, wool coat from Raey, Matchesfashion.com’s label. It’s perfect for snuggling in during winter. matchesfashion.com
The best Christmas gift I’ve given was a handpainted backgammon board by Alexandra Llewellyn that I gave my husband, Hugo. It’s personalised with motifs that symbolise his life. Price on request; alexandrallewellyn.com
And the best ones I’ve received are an equestrian soft body brush and saddle soap by Hermès from my husband. They combine horses and luxury – my favourite things – but are so beautiful I haven’t used them yet. Brush, £110, soap from £25, hermes.com
In my fridge at Christmas you’ll always find OT Salmon, traditionally smoked in north London; a cloth-bound Winterdale Shaw cheese, made on a farm near my family home in Kent, which is wonderfully nutty; Louis Roederer champagne, my favourite; and pickled walnuts from Waitrose – a festive family tradition. louis‑roederer.com, otsmokedsalmon.com, waitrose.com, winterdale.co.uk
A winter indulgence I would never forgo is my daily bath. I love to soak with Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir bath oil and candles – so cosy when it’s cold outside. Bath oil, from £18, candles, £47, jomalone.co.uk
The last music I downloaded was Estasi from Il Mercenario by Ennio Morricone: film music with a cowboy twist. It was inspirational for a project we’re working on.
An object I would never part with is a Jessica McCormack ring Hugo gave me for my 30th birthday – it’s inspired by the New York skyline. I wear it every day. Price on request, jessicamccormack.com
If I had to limit my Christmas shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose London’s Westbourne Grove. There are so many good shops for gifts in a short distance: Daylesford for stocking fillers; Bonpoint for children’s gifts; Orlebar Brown for the men in my life; Diptyque for candles and perfumes; and Smythson for beautiful leather-bound diaries. Bonpoint, 197 Westbourne Gr, W11 (bonpoint.com). Daylesford, 208-212 Westbourne Gr, W11 (daylesford.com). Diptyque, 195 Westbourne Gr, W11 (diptyqueparis.co.uk). Orlebar Brown, 206 Westbourne Gr, W11 (orlebarbrown.com). Smythson, 214 Westbourne Gr, W11 (smythson.com)
The beauty staple I’m never without is Fleur d’Oranger 27 by Le Labo. I had a consultation with Eddie Roschi when he launched the brand and this was my top match. I have used it ever since – friends say the smell of orange blossom always reminds them of me. £125 for 50ml EDP, lelabofragrances.com
My favourite websites or apps are UrbanMassage.com for when I need a quick massage; BlowLtd.com, which sends a hairdresser to do your blowdry at home or work; and PlantsApp.com, where you take a picture of a plant and it tells you what it is and how to look after it.
My style icon is Isabella Blow. She was so wild and and theatrical, prepared to take risks and have fun with style. Nowadays, everything is so bland and over-considered.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the desert area around Lake Los Angeles, where we shot our latest campaign. It was like a film set, with Joshua trees and just one small road – and unbelievable light at sunset.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a little horse sculpture that I bought on Venice Beach. It’s made of wood and wire, with a crazy punk-style mane and tail. I started collecting horse sculptures in Marrakech when I was 21, but this one is definitely leader of the pack.
The last meal that truly impressed me was a skate curry cooked on a Big Green Egg barbecue by Johnnie Collins, the former chef at London’s The Store. I always thought chefs didn’t like to cook in their free time, but he’s passionate about food and makes every meal at home. 180 Strand, London WC2 (thestores.com)
The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s so relevant to women now – and Margaret Atwood is a genius. It’s much better than the TV version.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Los Angeles. I’d love to have a house there; the climate is fantastic. The MTN restaurant at Venice Beach is an izakaya [Japanese gastropub] that does Japanese food with a Californian twist. Bruno’s Dog & Cat Boutique is a must-visit for cool pet accessories, such as super-glam dog beds. I love Lighthouse Beach – right in the city, but hidden away and not so well-known; it’s great for unwinding at sunset. And, of course, Chateau Marmont – it has that old-school Hollywood glamour, but is also fun and slightly naughty. Bruno’s Dog & Cat Boutique, 2012 Lincoln Bvd, Venice, CA 90291 (+1424-268 4031). Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Bvd, CA 90046 (chateaumarmont.com). Lighthouse Beach, 4298 Ocean Front Walk, Marina del Rey, CA 90292. MTN, 1305 Abbot Kinney Bvd, Venice, CA 90291 (mtnvenice.com).
A recent “find” is Snaps + Rye, a Danish café on Golborne Road – a lovely place to meet friends. It does brilliant open sandwiches on homemade bread and – oddly enough – delicious Welsh rarebit. 93 Golborne Rd, London W10 (snapsandrye.com).
My favourite room in my house is the drawing room. I know it’s hip to have open-plan space, but I like an adult zone that’s quite formal, with no television. Ours has huge windows and beautiful light, so I have a desk there.
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Kristina at HD Brows, who does a great job on my eyebrows; my osteopath Kristian Wood, who is also a healer and takes a very spiritual approach; Zarina, a mobile spray-tanner who comes to give me a subtle glow; and a brilliant freelance hairdresser, Emily Crowther, who is a great cutter and colourist. Emily Crowther, 07958-605 726. HD Brows, 102 Ladbroke Grove, London W11 (hdbrows.com). KJW Osteopathy, 221 Westbourne Park Rd, London W11 (kjw-osteopathy.co.uk). Zarina, 07534-349 251
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a therapist for horses. I love their characters and I know it would be very rewarding.