Designer Gabriela Hearst on meaningful charms, life in Madrid and the mystical art of Hieronymos Bosch
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My personal style signifier is a well-tailored suit in a beautiful cloth. My favourite was made by Timothy Everest two years ago. It’s midnight-blue herringbone in a soft wool/silk and can look good day or evening. I wore it to the Met Ball: I’m tall and like the masculine perspective on femininity. From £1,200; timothyeverest.co.uk
The last item of clothing I bought and loved was a beige Baracuta Harrington jacket like the one Steve McQueen wore. It’s the coolest casualwear for New York in the autumn, when rain is always a possibility. £295; baracuta.com
And the item of clothing I’m eyeing next is a corseted double-breasted blazer from my own collection. The prototype fitted me so well I can’t wait for it to come back from production. £2,295; gabrielahearst.com
A recent “find” is Hixenbaugh Ancient Art gallery in New York, which I stumbled upon wandering around Chelsea. It has Ancient Greek, Egyptian, Roman and pre-Columbian art and artefacts – some relatively accessible. I bought a wonderful gold Hellenistic earring from the third century BC. It looks so modern I wear it a lot; it was $2,500 well spent. 537A West 23rd St, New York, NY 10011 (hixenbaugh.net)
The accessories I’ll keep to pass on are a mismatched pair of cuffs by Hemmerle – one for each of my twin daughters: one is olive wood with pavé ruby tips; the other is ironwood with brown diamonds. hemmerle.com
The beauty staple I’m never without is Mexican tuberose perfume by Parisian brand Buly. It’s water-based and fresher than most iterations of this ingredient, but it’s long-lasting too. I wear it year round. €130 for 75ml eau triple; buly1803.com
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Portugal. My mother’s family were from there before they migrated to Brazil, then Uruguay, six generations ago. The culture and lifestyle seemed so familiar I instantly felt at home. I fell in love with Lisbon, its history, the Old Town and all the little shops selling handcrafted embroidered linen, silver and porcelain.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a silver paper knife from Leitão & Irmão, an elegant jewellery and silverware shop in Lisbon that dates back to the late 18th century – it was the crown jeweller. The quality and craftwork are beautiful. Largo do Chiado 17, 1200-176 Lisbon (leitao-irmao.com)
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Aoyama in Tokyo. As well as interesting Japanese brands, it has all the familiar designer labels – but the edit is different from anywhere else. My favourites are Dover Street Market, with a huge list of established and new names; Loveless, for edgy Japanese labels; Drawer for refined womenswear; and Itoya for all things stationery. Dover Street Market, Komatsu W, 6-9-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku 104-0061 (doverstreetmarket.com). Drawer, 1F 5-12-4 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku 107-0062 (+813-5464 0226). Itoya, 2-7-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku 104-0061 (ito-ya.co.jp). Loveless, 3-17-11 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku 107-0062 (loveless-shop.jp)
The last meal that truly impressed me was at El Paraguas in Madrid, where the jamón Ibérico and pan con tomate were beyond compare. It’s not a fancy place, but the food and service are sophisticated – and it’s comforting at the same time. Calle de Jorge Juan 16, 28001 Madrid (elparaguas.com)
The best gift I’ve received recently is a handmade wooden tray with 15 small vases, each containing a different flower and with a word on the bottom; together they form a message. It’s so beautifully made and well chosen – typical of Alexandre de Betak, my show collaborator, who gave it to me.
My favourite websites are Sothebysrealty.com for dream homes all over the world – I’ve lived in so many places in my mind; CNN.com for breaking news, although I turn off the notifications as I don’t want to be alerted to disasters all the time; and FT.com because it’s very objective.
My style icon is my friend and muse Stephanie de Lavalette, who used to be my housemate and now works with me. She’s French and has superb natural style, but it’s not the clothes – more the way she wears them. As well as being beautiful she is warm, approachable and kind, and you can see that from the way she looks. Real style is about how you treat others.
An accessory I would never part with is a beautiful, heavy gold chain made for me by JAR to put my charms on. My mother had five of them made from old gold coins melted down by a local jeweller in Uruguay (she believes this gives a better energy); one is from my best friend; and there’s my grandmother’s medallion and a spherical locket with six pictures of my family. It makes me feel protected. 7 Pl Vendôme, 75001 Paris (+331-4296 3366).
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are my yoga instructor Ivy Askew and my acupuncturist Rebecca Krauss, whom I see weekly. I’m not big on exercise – I tried a personal trainer and it wasn’t for me – but Ivy’s approach is about relaxing tension; it works, so I look forward to it. beccakrauss.com. ivyaskewyoga.com
The best gift I’ve given recently was a Roman coin from AD 138 with a profile of the emperor Hadrian to my five-year-old godson, who is also Hadrian. I feel it will bring him good luck.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Hieronymus Bosch. I find The Garden of Earthly Delights weird and mystical and there is so much going on – it’s such a record of beliefs at that time. You can blow it up online and see every detail; it’s no wonder it took years to complete.
If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Madrid. When I’m wandering around looking at the architecture, I always fantasise about living there. It’s a bit like Paris but quieter and with a better lifestyle. My favourite places are the Prado – I can at least look at Bosch’s work, even though I can’t own it; Retiro Park, with its memories of the city’s grand royal past; and Ekseption, a very cool, well-curated, high-end fashion and lifestyle store. Horcher is an opulent, old-school and comfortable restaurant, which serves excellent traditional game dishes. I also like El Corte Inglés, the classic department store that sells everything, but also has a gastronomic top floor where the food competes with the views. Ekseption, Calle de Velázquez 28, 28001 (ekseption.es). El Corte Inglés, Plaza del Callao 2, 28013 (elcorteingles.com). El Parque del Buen Retiro, Plaza de la Independencia 7, 28001 (esmadrid.com). Museo del Prado, Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23, 28014 (museodelprado.es). Restaurante Horcher, Calle de Alfonso XII 6, 28014 (restaurantehorcher.com)
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, who has also written about Einstein and Steve Jobs – he likes original thinkers. It’s made me realise that while no one has been as multitalented and forward-thinking as Leonardo, he was human too – with many faults. It’s very motivating and there is so much to take from it.
The last music I downloaded was Connected By Love by Jack White from his new album Boarding House Reach. I rarely find a new song that blows me away – my musical taste is usually nostalgic – but I think he’s one of the best musicians in the US right now and getting better all the time.
In my fridge you’ll always find homemade frittata; yogurt – preferably White Moustache, which is Persian and totally delicious; and lots of fruit. I can’t be totally casual about food as I have three children and a stepson ranging in age from three to 22, but that’s the basics of a complete snack for anyone. whitemoustache.com
My favourite room in my house in New York is the bathroom: it sold the property to me. The previous owner installed a bathtub made from a single piece of marble, and as the centrepiece of a plain white room it is so beautiful. I find it meditative and relaxing.
An indulgence I would never forgo is dark chocolate. I’ve given up lots of things to be healthy, including coffee, but not this, and even my nutritionist is relaxed about it. My favourite is Pierre Marcolini’s; I can’t get it in the States so I stock up when I’m in Europe. eu.marcolini.com
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be involved in film production. I love the idea of storytelling in a visual way. But in reality, I do have an alternative career already, as I run my family’s ranch in Uruguay.