How long have you been connected to Venice and how has the city changed in that time?
I have probably visited Venice every year for the last 10 years, to attend the Biennale di Venezia art or architecture exhibitions – staged in alternate years – but I use any excuse to go and have enjoyed two extraordinary surprise birthdays for friends in the city.
I love arriving by train at the splendid art deco Santa Lucia station, one of the few modern buildings on the Grand Canal. You are just a short walk from the water-buses, straight into the heart of Venice. It is a beguiling city with so much to explore and each of the six different neighbourhoods have distinct personalities, from breezy Giudecca to delightful Dorsoduro and, of course, San Marco.
How would you describe your style?
I like clean-cut pieces; for day, Paige or Proenza Schouler denim with a Charvet cotton shirt or a Sacai jacket, and Pierre Hardy or Valentino trainers. You absolutely need trainers or wedges to navigate the cobbles in Venice. For the evening, I love dresses and I have many favourites from Prada and Saint Laurent as well as vintage finds. Venice puts you in a very romantic, dreamy mood and it’s a pleasure to dress up.
Which items and brands do you have most of in your wardrobe?
I have an obsession with Japanese brand Sacai. The designer Chitose Abe creates multifunctional hybrid pieces that, with the unbuttoning of a sleeve or opening of a zip, transform from day to eveningwear – I love that versatility. I have numerous cotton shirts, heels by Christian Louboutin, Alaïa and Jimmy Choo, and a collection of little black dresses from a diverse range of designers including Christopher Kane, Sophia Kokosalaki and Fendi. I’m privileged working in the fashion industry.
What are your beauty essentials?
Aesop facial oil, Laura Mercier primer, Shu Uemura Lightbulb foundation, eyelash curlers, eyeliner and brow pencil, Chanel Rouge Coco Arthur lipstick, Rodial Glam lip balm and Eyeko mascara. I switch scents and currently love Prada’s Infusion de Rose and Byredo’s Blanche, which smells like fresh linen. I can’t wait to wear Alaïa’s first scent, released in September.
Which are your favourite eateries and restaurants?
The café at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection has a magical view. Trattoria alla Madonna, a bustling place near the Rialto, for spaghetti vongole. Harry’s Dolci on the Giudecca for a treat and canal views with a breeze. The terraces of the Gritti Palace and the Bauer Hotel for aperitifs and excellent people-watching. Vini da Arturo – a localsʼ wine bar.
Who are your Venetian style pin-ups?
Peggy Guggenheim – she lived and dressed with eccentricity and passion. Julie Christie in the 1973 film Don’t Look Now – her character’s wardrobe included tweed sports jackets, lurex knits, Salvatore Ferragamo knee-high boots and is exquisitely 1970s. The gondolieri – gondoliers – are so handsome, so chic.
Which shops, streets and boutiques are thrilling you now in Venice?
Burano is a great place to find traditional lace fashioned into pretty parasols and fans. Pied à Terre is a tiny shop near the Ponte di Rialto bridge that sells handmade velvet gondolieri slippers in a huge array of colours. The soles are made from recycled bicycle tyres and they last a long time.
The newly refurbished Prada store, Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton are all located near the Bauer Hotel and you will always find exclusives and something special. Murano glass is sold everywhere and I am very fond of its small, inexpensive cherries – a pair makes a perfect present.
Which is your favourite view of Venice?
Early mornings are magical as you see the real business of the city get underway, with the market at the Rialto and cargo barges delivering goods.
What is the best way to look around the city?
Walking is the best way to discover the city. There are numerous companies that offer walking tours to suit your interests.
Which cultural centres shouldn’t be missed?
The city is so culturally rich it’s overwhelming. I like to cherry-pick and spend leisurely hours in each location. The Giardini gardens are open until November, when the Biennale di Venezia exhibition closes. You can wander through the different national pavilions and highlights this year included Canada, the UK, France and Israel. The Arsenale di Venezia – Venetian Arsenal – boasts a vast multidisciplinary exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor around the theme All the World’s Futures.
The Museo Correr in Piazza San Marco always has a world-class show and the rooms designed by Carlo Scarpa are breathtaking. Visit the tiny Olivetti store in the piazza, also designed by Scarpa. Palazzo Grassi Punta della Dogana is an outstanding gallery, designed by Tadao Ando, in a former boat warehouse, showing gems from François Pinault’s collection. Fondazione Prada offers a wonderful curation of contemporary art. Ca’ Rezzonico is a delightful museum housed in a palazzo near the Ponte dellʼAccademia bridge, and is devoted to 18th-century Venice.
After dark you like to ...
After dinner, a stroll is a must – it’s the best time to meander and frequently get lost, so invest in a comprehensive map or download an app! An evening ride in a Riva water taxi feels impossibly chic.
Which is the best day trip outside Venice?
I like to take the water bus to the Lido di Venezia. Directly opposite the stop is a bicycle hire shop. Cycling around the Lido and stopping for lunch or a swim is a perfect antidote to the visual overload of Venice. Visit the island of Torcello to see the extraordinary Byzantine Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Which fashion houses and brands in Venice make you go weak at the knees?Prada, Miu Miu, Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana, Bottega Veneta and Gucci – all offer such stimulating ideas and impeccable craftsmanship.