Which designer never fails to impress you?
Karl Lagerfeld for his ability to move with the times and keep the utter magic and mysticism of Chanel alive. Dolce & Gabbana — I always want to step into one of those ads, throw on one of those dresses and be one of those women. Finally, the incredible work that designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are doing at Valentino — it just all feels so very Valentino.
Please describe your style in three words.
Sleek, chic, feminine.
What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?
Doing ‘a look’ that makes one feel awkward.
Do you believe in role models?
From a life point of view — yes definitely — if a person can inspire or motivate someone else to just ‘go for it’ then that is great.
What are your favourite fabrics?
Cashmere, because it makes me feel like I am being permanently hugged, 100% wool because in a gorgeous tailored jacket it sculpts me to perfection, silk-jersey because it flits about the body like a dream, and the concoction of fabrics that Azzedine Alaia cleverly works into his exquisite pieces.
Are there any style combinations that you object to?
Anything that causes havoc with a woman’s proportions.
Which city has the best-dressed women?
Would you say that you are conservative or bold?
What are the rules in the way you dress?
I always make an effort, no matter what, and that starts with good shoes and good grooming. It’s all about the hair… and I am so lucky as I have Max at Michaeljohn to thank for my glossy locks.
Celebrities and style...
Are very misunderstood. Say what you like, but celebrities are usually where we get to see all those hot-off-the-catwalk looks way before they hit magazine stands and shop floors.
A woman should always look like...
Herself. Whatever that may be.
Who taught you what you know about style?
I don’t think ‘style’ is something you can teach anyone. It’s intrinsic to each person and their individuality. My parents always encouraged my love of fashion and creative form of self-expression. Growing up in Africa I used to watch, over and over again, grainy Oscar de la Renta catwalk shows taped off the television, and pages of Vogue covered my study walls at school.
How do you select your clothing every morning?
I know what pieces work on me. It’s all about cracking that outfit concept. Even if I am in a massive rush I have those ‘thrown-together-looks’ that will always work. When in doubt, heels always make a big difference.
What is your biggest regret?
I don’t believe in regrets. Too many other exciting things always come along to sweep them away. It’s much more thrilling looking forward.
The three essential things a woman should know about style are...
Understand how to dress to suit your shape. Fashion is like a tool kit, you can use it to build a style that instills confidence. Have fun and experiment.
Do you have any shopping rituals?
I like to shop on my own.
We will never see you wearing...
Which new designers do you follow and why?
Christopher Kane. Not exactly ‘new’, but I remember when I saw his graduate fashion week collection and it made me sit up in my seat. It has been utterly exciting to follow his rise and rise and rise. I also keep an eye on the sister duo behind the label Anndra Neen — their sculptural like jewellery and handbags are inspired, and their own sense of fashion is style fabulous.
Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?
The late Fleur Cowles. She used colour like an artist, was always immaculate and she had that enigmatic personality and allure to match. Now that’s true style.
What is the first thing you notice on a woman?
Everything. I go into work mode and start thinking about 'dressing to flatter her proportions', and so on. I think anyone in fashion does that automatically. It’s like having a walking fashion template.
What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?
My collection of beautiful cocktail rings from my parents — I use my jewellery to ‘colour in’ my outfits. I love my gorgeous black Tom Ford for YSL evening gown and one of his billowing floor sweeping black skirts (that Nicole Kidman wore to the premier of Moulin Rouge) — they are dramatic and utterly fashion fabulous.
Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?
One? That is hard. Little black dresses and high heels. In fact, I always keep a pair of Manolo Blahnik heeled sandals in my bag when I travel. If it’s winter then it’s Louboutin patent courts. That way if my luggage is lost, I at least always have one fabulous and essential element to build outfits with.
The one image that defined your approach to style...
Walking into the Yves Saint Laurent “Smoking Forever” exhibition in Paris in 2005 and seeing all those variations on ‘le smoking’. I thought, “this is the perfect wardrobe”.
One article of clothing that a woman needs to pay close attention to is...
Her shoes. They should always be kept in good condition.
Is comfort an enemy of style?
If we are talking about ‘comfort’ as in a woman hiding under clothes (you know leggings and baggy jumpers) that swamp her shape rather than enhance it, yes; however, if we are talking about a woman who dresses in a style that makes her feel comfortable i.e. confident when she is wearing it, then no.
Who would you like to recommend for My Style?
My great friend Camilla Morton, she is a fashion writer and the author of How To Walk In High Heels.
The best words of advice you have ever heard?
There is an abundance of everything in this world. Just open yourself up to it and it will come to you (and the person was not talking about shoes).