How would you describe your style?As Chief Merchant of Harrods, I’m responsible for – beauty, fashion, fashion accessories, fine jewellery, luxury watches and gifts and stationery, all of the luxury areas in store. My wardrobe needs to be versatile. I have to look the part for all aspects of my job 24/7, whether I am attending at a board meeting, a fashion show or a launch party. I feel that it is important to always look well-groomed, so I always make time to pop into the Urban Retreat salon at Harrods for my twice weekly blow-dries and a weekly manicure – essential maintenance.
What is there too much of in your wardrobe?
My wardrobe is full of LBD’s but you can never have too many as they are the best investment pieces - smart, chic and timeless. I love LBD’s from Lanvin, YSL and Alaia because even thought they are costly, they will last forever, for day or evening events and never date. But I guess Alaia’s and shoes, I’m up to 12 Alaia dresses and 175 pairs of shoes at the last count.
What are your go-to labels?
Roland Mouret, and YSL is always a staple for my working wardrobe, the tribute collection can be dressed up or down accordingly, and Roland’s dresses fit me like a glove and are super glam. YSL dresses and jackets never fail to see me through any number of events. They’re pieces that survive my regular wardrobe cleansing. Alaia’s signature ‘second-skin’ styles are designs that will last forever and I love the flippy skirts, they make me feel young and fun.Lanvin’s beautifully draped styles are also an absolute must-have for evenings. A classic trench from Burberry Prosum is also a sound investment for the chic factor in outerwear.
What's the most treasured possession in your wardrobe?
I have no one most treasured item in my wardrobe, although I love an old vintage Versace one shoulder grey silk dress that was given to me by the house from his 1995 haute couture collection and shoes and bag to match – I feel like Helen of Troy in it. The vintage pieces passed down to me from my mother and grandmother have a unique history and story of their own. I have been lucky enough to inherit a collection of beautiful beaded clutches, and some special pieces of jewellery. Over the years I have added to the collection myself. I love looking for new vintage pieces and have found some wonderful treasures on my travels. My vintage collection is priceless to me and I often revisit it. I look forward one day to handing down some of the special pieces onto my daughter Lydia, they have so much more value when they have been nurtured over the generations. My latest love affair is with a 1960’s croc chocolate Kelly [bag] that I’m lusting after.
Do you plan your outfits or throw on whatever's to hand?
With such a busy schedule I do plan in advance. However, I have created an adaptable wardrobe with go to key pieces that can be dressed up or down and therefore work for countless occasions. I’m a bit OCD so I do hang the next day’s outfit on my closet door with the right shoes, bag and lingerie adjacent, then I don’t have to think in the morning.
What are you happiest wearing?
Lanvin is always one of my favourite shows in Paris. Every exit is divine and I want every dress, every jumpsuit and every jewel. I love Lanvin for evening glamour, I never tire of the dresses and they never date - each one I own is prized as a favourite. For day, I am an Alaia girl, I love the sculpted bodies and puffed skirts, he’s an artist. His clothes make me happy and I’m told others are happy when I wear them.
What's your sartorial guilty pleasure?
A Hermes Kelly or Birkin are iconic investments. In the day, my Birkin is roomy enough to carry everything I need, making it a crucial part of my traveling wardrobe. These bags are special heirloom items that you'll want to keep and pass-on, hence their demand. I have a black Birkin and a chocolate, a tan and a neon yellow which people stop me over in the street. I have one croc Birkin in black which is my most prized accessory. They go with everything. I’m not a small bag person really, unless it’s clutches for parties.
Whose wardrobe would you love to steal?
Either Audrey Hepburn’s, Jackie Onassis’ or Grace Kelly’s, the three chicest women ever, they all exuded glamour in a low-key way. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my all time favourite film. I watch re-runs of it always. I want to be Miss Golightly.
What are the key trend messages you got from the AW12 shows?
- Lace – incredible detailing at Givenchy and Erdem
- Forest greens and berry shades - at Gucci in amongst the black
- Embellishment – gorgeous brocade at Dolce & Gabbana, jewels at Lanvin and swarovski adornment at Balmain
- Colour Blocking – particularly at Stella McCartney with great wearable dresses
- Loose Silhouettes – in outerwear at Chanel, Chloe and Louis Vuitton
How do you organise your wardrobe?
I’m a perfectionist. I like to colour co-ordinate my clothes and section different items. I have a drawer for jewellery so that I can update my look on a daily basis, with a few choice accessories. I emptied two entire fitted bookcases in my spare bedroom to house 50 pairs of heels on one side and 35 handbags on the other – this made it so much easier to grab my accessories in the mornings as they were all visible and ready to go (I always lay out my outfit the night before to save time the next morning, and place shoes and bags adjacent so I don’t need to think too much before leaving for work). This year I treated myself to a walk in closet for my ever growing wardrobe.
If there is one label we should watch out for in 2012 what should it be?
Sarah Burton’s success at Alexander McQueen has proved that having risen up through the ranks, she is as masterful an artist and designer as Lee McQueen was and it has been a wonderful year for her with the Royal wedding and the Met ball. The brand is in much demand today and its desirability continues to grow.