Ken Fulk: ‘I dress up every single day – and have done since I was a kid’
My personal style signifier is a bow tie or tie. I dress up every single day – and have done so since I was a kid – and a tie is a great way to add an elegant or playful touch. I have a thousand in my collection and often get them made out of vintage fabric, but I also love a preppy Ralph Lauren tie that’s all about classic American style.
The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of jeans from Respoke, a company that repurposes vintage and new silk scarves – Hermès, Pucci, Gucci – into one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories. This particular pair of jeans has Hermès silk sewn on the sides at the outer seam, and there are unique handpainted details as well. Every piece they make – from bucket hats to espadrilles – is unique, which I love. respoke.com
And on my wishlist is a Hinckley Picnic Boat. They are made of Burmese teak with beautiful brightwork and contrasting navy and white hulls. This boat is straight out of the Italian Riviera – except it’s crafted in Maine. I’d love to have one at our home in Provincetown, on Cape Cod. hinckleyyachts.com
The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are ashtrays – so out of fashion yet often wonderfully designed. I have a vast collection of them from over the years, but I am always sure to ask before I take them. I particularly love the ones from the grand hotels of Europe – my ashtray from the Savoy in Rome is a particular highlight.
My favourite room in my house is my living room, aka “the treehouse”. Built in 1959, this room has 30ft-high barrel-ribbed ceilings, almost like a boat. It is made of unfinished redwood, which gives it this wonderful smell, and as the house is in a park-like setting [San Francisco’s Clarendon Heights], you don’t feel like you’re in a city at all.
The podcast I’m listening to is Bring a Friend with Anne Devereux-Mills, Adimika Arthur and Arielle Fuller. They host a group of smart, interesting women who discuss a range of issues from different perspectives. I was a recent guest – the second man on the show; US senator Cory Booker was the first – and learnt so much. I’m also obsessed with Ira Glass’s stories on This American Life.
A recent “find” is summer-tomato sandwiches on potato buns with mayonnaise from Pop+Dutch in Provincetown. They’re only available for a few weeks each year and they are beyond delicious.
My grooming guru is Doyle Lavarias, who gives me precision haircuts every three weeks. I am obsessed with a good haircut and he always delivers – either at his one-man shop or at my home. My wellbeing guru isn’t really mine, but I am pretty reliant on Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby. I’m addicted to Peloton largely because his classes are so fun, and it feels like a personal relationship. Doyle Lavarias, 1135 Ellis Street #A103, San Francisco, CA (+1408-876 7187). Cody Rigsby, @codyrigsby
The last music I downloaded was Sing to Me Instead by Ben Platt. I loved him in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway and this debut album is just as beautiful because his voice is so emotive.
The design that changed everything for me was Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s near where I grew up – I visited many times as a child and it had a huge impact on my own design sensibilities. It’s a neoclassical building, rooted in the past, and yet it still feels very modern.
In my fridge you’ll always find oat milk for my morning coffee and splits of Ruinart rosé champagne for guests. If you’re offered champagne, never refuse – or so the saying goes. I also always have really good pickles and an assortment of jams. I’m obsessed with jam and typically have four kinds of Bonne Maman: cherry, blueberry, apricot and raspberry.
The best gift I’ve given recently is a glorious painting called Nocturne by the artist Salvatore del Deo to my husband Kurt for his birthday. We are huge fans of 93-year-old Sal – so much so that we named our dog after him – and this particular landscape features a dramatic sea and sky, just after sunset. I typically like to give experiences, but art brings continual joy that will endure.
And the best gift I’ve received recently is a vintage Rolex in its original case from the year of my birth. A friend gave me this classic stainless-steel watch as a thank-you during the pandemic and it was so thoughtful and unexpected, which made it even more special. It’s simple and practical – not flashy at all – so it’s perfect for me.
I’ve recently rediscovered the card game Canasta and card-playing in general. I enjoy the social yet competitive aspects of this particular game. Cards are old world, no-tech and fun.
The gadget I couldn’t do without is a juice squeezer for the fresh lime juice I use to make Margaritas. They come in playful colours and it’s just a simple, old-fashioned hand squeezer – no electricity involved.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is a signed first edition of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I actually re-read this book as it’s a big Herculean read and I wanted to really enjoy it. It’s the story of a mute boy, his mythical dogs and of his coming of age in the wild. It’s heroic and was even better the second time.
An object I would never part with is a silver band on my wrist that my husband gave me on our first wedding anniversary, almost 30 years ago. It’s very simple, with just a slight ribbon of gold. The other thing I wouldn’t part with is a Cartier Love bracelet in platinum that I’ve worn for 17 years.
An indulgence I’d never forgo is extravagant hotels. I’m a hotel junkie and subscribe to the theory that the best room really does matter. A beautifully designed hotel changes your whole view of a place. I’d also have a hard time giving up cashmere sweaters by Leret-Leret and Lingua Franca, custom-embroidered with clever symbols or sayings.
I have a collection of more than 200 pairs of cufflinks. My father gave me his collection and it blossomed from there. I have quirky ones, elegant sets – and a pair of Playboy bunnies from the 1960s. My favourite is an eye-catching set by Fornasetti. I only wear vintage cufflinks, never new.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a green- and cream-striped Thom Browne rowing-style blazer. It has frayed edges and a slightly deconstructed look.
The grooming staple I’m never without is Ultimate Brushless White Eagle Shave Cream by Kiehl’s. It contains menthol, which is slightly numbing, and if it were ever to be discontinued, I’d buy it in bulk as it’s vital to my daily routine. $18, kiehls.com
My favourite apps are Dark Sky for the weather because I’m always travelling, and 1stDibs because it allows me to shop for really specific pieces – like a Jean Royère screen – from wherever I am in the world. It’s indispensable for my work.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is David Hockney. I love landscape and portraiture and he is a master of both, not to mention the breadth and length of his career. There is an optimism and joy in his art – especially in his beautiful pools – which I would love to live with.
My style icon is Gianni Agnelli – I love that Italian sensibility and confidence. Cary Grant was incredibly debonair as well. I’m not a streetwear kind of guy, so I like their sartorial style. Tom Ford once said something about not wearing soft-soled shoes when dressed up and I tend to agree. Looking put-together is important to me.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I’d be a movie director. Everything I do in my work is cinematic and every project begins with a script. Bringing things to life, in full colour, would be a natural extension of my design work.
The place I can’t wait to go back to is Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda, in northern Italy. It’s an extravagant, eccentric family-owned hotel that makes you feel like you are nowhere else. A glorious Riva boat whisks you off to lunch or for a swim, and while you aren’t looking, someone pops out to offer you a towel you didn’t expect.