MatchesFashion co-founder Ruth Chapman on hot baths, rose-pink Roksanda and a historic Charleston hotel
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My personal style signifier is rings by Alexandra Jefford. Big, chunky designs are better on me, and Alexandra – who’s more like a sculptor – has made me three, as well as resetting my engagement ring. It was very traditional, in gold, with a high solitaire diamond setting; now it has a modern, industrial feel to it – a ridged, rhodium-plated platform sits alongside the stone, which seems to float on its own. alexandrajefford.com
The last thing I bought and loved was a Toyota Prius in graphite grey. I’m thrilled with it. It is a much cleaner approach, and I like the shape and all the technology inside it. inchcapetoyota.co.uk
And the thing I’m eyeing next is one of Chris Killip’s hauntingly beautiful photographs of a seacoal community in the north of England. They’re black and white studies on the theme of struggle and there’s a lot of sadness woven into them – particularly Simon Being Taken To Sea For The First Time Since His Father Drowned. From £7,200; Augusta Edwards Fine Art (020-7394 9743; augustaedwards.com)
The best gift I’ve given recently was a Christian Astuguevieille sculpture that I bought from Connolly for Tom. It’s a glossy, papier-mâché female figure, almost tribal in shape and about a metre tall. I love that Isabel Ettedgui is setting these beautiful pieces of art against masculine, driving-orientated fashion. From £3,800; 4 Clifford Street, London W1 (020‑7952 6708; connollyengland.com)
And the best one I’ve received recently was for Tom and me, from the shoe designer Alvaro. We had a dinner to mark our 30 years in business, and he tore a piece off the marbled-print tablecloth and used it to create a one-off pair of shoes. They’re mounted on a Matches gift box – it’s such a beautiful keepsake.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a rose-pink Roksanda dress with ruched sleeves. Being in my mid-50s, I really want to pare things back in my wardrobe, and she is a designer I can go to for things that always fit me and feel good. Her work has an architectural quality and she strips away detail rather than adding it – yet it’s incredibly feminine. £1,995; roksanda.com
The beauty staple I’m never without is a perfume created for me by Lyn Harris, when she was at Miller Harris. It’s powdery, with hints of lemon and a bit of salt, and makes me think of pine trees in the south of France. I think if I gave it a name, I’d call it after an island. Lyn’s the best nose in the business. At Perfumer H, she has created a candle and fragrance for us that will launch later this year. 106A Crawford Street, London W1 (020‑7258 7859; perfumerh.com). matchesfashion.com
A recent “find” is Zero George, a small, historic hotel in Charleston with lots of Southern charm, a tiny open kitchen, delicious food and whisky cocktails, bicycles, and wooden verandahs built to capture the cool breeze – it’s modern, but also slightly Gone with the Wind. 0 George Street, Charleston, SC 29401 (+1843-817 7900; zerogeorge.com)
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose SoHo in New York. McNally Jackson has a wonderful curated bookshop and a gorgeous store for all things drawing and writing just around the corner. I like the restaurant Estela’s imaginative dishes, such as the mussels escabeche on toast, and visiting Lindsey Adelman, whose lighting is the most beautiful contemporary work I’ve seen. I crave her rope and sea-glass pendant light in my home. Estela, 47 E Houston Street (+1212-219 7693; estelanyc.com). Lindsey Adelman Studio, 1 Great Jones Street (+1212-473 2501; lindseyadelman.com). McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street (+1212-274 1160; mcnallyjackson.com). McNally Jackson Goods For The Study, 234 Mulberry Street (+1212-219 2789)
My favourite website is Summerill & Bishop. We cook a lot so I love finding fresh tablecloths – they have the prettiest selection. summerillandbishop.com
My style icon is Stella McCartney. I’ve never seen her look less than effortless when she steps out at the end of a show – always appropriate but slightly downbeat. She puts simple separates together beautifully; I always want what she’s wearing.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whose work I first saw at The Serpentine last year. I like the style and the dark contrasting colours she uses. Corvi-Mora Gallery, 1A Kempsford Road, London SE11 (020-7840 9111; corvi-mora.com)
An indulgence I would never forgo is a hot bath; it’s like a meditation. If I get into a hotel and it doesn’t have a bathtub I’m very upset and discombobulated. I love to add Susanne Kaufmann’s bath salts. Alkali Salt Deacidifying, from €15; susannekaufmann.com
Objects I would never part with are my pre-digital photograph albums, which I have made into a library. They’re beautifully bound in leather or suede or have luxurious marbled covers from Florentine paper shops. Abacus Firenze Legatoria, Via Ottavio Rinuccini 5, 50144 Florence (+39345-328 0318; abacusfirenze.com)
The item in my wardrobe I’ll keep to pass on is a sleeveless grey Prada dress I’ve had for about 20 years. It’s in heavy shantung silk with a big raspberry-coloured lily and leaves on it, and is such a great fit. Also, a Saint Laurent tweed blazer – probably from Hedi Slimane’s first collection – that’s quite masculine, with suede elbow patches. I can wear it in any season and it always looks right; I’m obsessed with men’s tweed.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Los Angeles. I love the light and warmth, and there’s such a creative, interesting mood there right now. A late breakfast at Sqirl, which has the most delicious healthy food and jams, is a treat, and I like Gjelina for pizza and Gjusta for coffee. My favourite store is Irene Neuwirth’s on Melrose: the interior is divine, as is her extraordinary collection of richly coloured fine jewellery. And I always visit Nickey Kehoe for ceramics for our kitchen. Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (+1310-450 1429; gjelina.com). Gjusta, 320 Sunset Avenue (+1310-314 0320; gjusta.com). Irene Neuwirth, 8458 Melrose Place (+1323-285 2000). Nickey Kehoe, 7221 Beverly Blvd (+1323-954 9300; nickeykehoe.com). Sqirl, 720 Virgil Avenue #4 (+1323-284 8147; sqirlla.com)
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Galápagos Islands, where we travelled around on a skippered motor cruiser with our extended family. We had penguins swimming between our legs and the seals would come over and nuzzle my children on the beach. We’d hike across little islands to find extraordinary birds, as well as the huge tortoises. It was Tom’s father who instigated the trip; I feel lucky to have been, because I know they’re starting to restrict tourism. eqtouring.com
And the best souvenirs I’ve brought home are lots of tablecloths from the markets of Rajasthan. The colours, prints and embroidery are wonderful. We also bought bedcovers that are light as air: gauzy, organdie white with layers of beautiful appliqué detailing.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Maisie Café in Paris. When I’m in the city, I often crave an alternative to all the bread, cheese and meat, and this place is vegan and the greens are largely raw, with lentils, quinoa and great salads – it keeps your immune system going during Fashion Week. 32 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris (+331-4039 9916; maisiecafe.com)
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Amy at Daniel Galvin, who took me grey – and Stevie there who cuts my hair. Linda d’Antal has been teaching me yoga for 20 years, with a lot of Ashtanga and meditation. I see Silvio Andrade for acupuncture at least once a fortnight, which stops me from becoming overwhelmed. And Vaishaly for facials – they are really holistic and relaxing and include a craniosacral treatment; she releases all the stress at the back of my head and I drift off every time. Daniel Galvin, 58-60 George Street, London W1 (020-7486 9661; danielgalvin.com). Linda d’Antal (07900-070 888; treehouseyoga.co.uk). Silvio Andrade (07957-325 399; classicalacupuncture.co.uk). Vaishaly, 51 Paddington Street, London W1 (020-7224 6088)
The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. Her last book was one of my all-time favourites too. Her writing about India is so insightful and moving – I’ve only been once, for Christmas, but it makes me want to return.
In my fridge you’ll always find manchego cheese – even the dogs love it – from La Fromagerie. Its burrata and feta are also amazing. 2-6 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 0341; lafromagerie.co.uk)
The last music I downloaded was a collection by Nina Simone, because I had just watched the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?. Her music relaxes me; I never get tired of it – and I love a bit of crackle in the background of an old, live recording.
My favourite room in my house is our garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw, which becomes another room in summertime. There’s an eating part, a sitting part – lots of different areas with their own walkways, including a lovely grotto with two figurines that came from the old Houses of Parliament building. And we have two incredible cedar trees – one is over 300 years old. chrisbeardshaw.com
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be doing something in education. We have these beautiful, young, talented minds and we just don’t harness them properly. The way education is sometimes handled can be archaic, so I’d like to be involved in policy and creating a new school curriculum that is meaningful and inspiring.