Peter Pilotto talks personal taste

The designer, who is one half of the eponymous fashion label known for its joyful colour and artist collaborations, loves a good sauerkraut, silk shirt jackets and the art of Francis Upritchard

Peter Pilotto at home in London
Peter Pilotto at home in London | Image: Gabby Laurent

My personal style signifier is a necklace made for me by my jewellery-designer friend Irene Neuwirth. Like Christopher [de Vos, his partner] and me, she collaborates with other artists and has a distinctive style based on wonderful coloured gems. She had this small, dark Australian boulder opal with vivid lights that I fell in love with; it’s on a simple gold chain and I wear it always. ireneneuwirth.com.

The last thing I bought and loved was a marble plinth from my favourite London antiques shop, Schmid McDonagh on Kensington Church Street. The owners –friends of mine – are so good at choosing beautiful midcentury pieces; I rarely go there without finding something desirable. I bought this plinth to show off a sculpture by another friend. schmidmcdonagh.com.

Pilotto’s gouache by Peter McDonald
Pilotto’s gouache by Peter McDonald | Image: Gabby Laurent

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a soft-blue, washed-silk shirt jacket, handmade in Florence by Federico Curradi. It’s effortless Italian elegance, yet comfortable, casual and modern, and so versatile I can wear it anywhere. £387; federicocurradi.com.

On my wish list is a graphic geometric table by Martino Gamper that I found at Nilufar – one of the best contemporary galleries – when I was in Milan for Salone del Mobile. It’s made from recycled plastic but is extremely elegant. nilufar.com. 

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The best gifts I’ve given recently were some of the plates we designed for our venture into homewares, to friends for their new home. The designs express our love of colour and movement and make people smile. From £38; peterpilotto.com

And the best one I’ve received recently is a little painting in acrylic gouache by my friend Peter McDonald – he sent it from Japan. I can’t believe something so precious just arrived in the post. katemacgarry.com

The book on his bedside table
The book on his bedside table

The book on my bedside table is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. I’ve read all her books, which reflect the title of her TED talk a few years ago, “The Danger of the Single Story”: she always puts both sides. This one is about the conflicts in a strictly brought-up teenager’s life when she goes to stay with more freethinking relatives. It’s about Nigeria but its sentiments are universal. 

A recent “find” is Black Axe Mangal, a Turkish and barbecue restaurant mash-up in Highbury – not new, but new to me, and I’m addicted. The chef used to be at St John, which we love, so it’s very meaty, with unusual combinations of meat and fish, and it has an individual style – lots of colour and loud music. Sensory overload in the best way. blackaxemangal.com.

Maison de la Luz, New Orleans
Maison de la Luz, New Orleans | Image: Stephen Johnson

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a graphic artist. After years of treating the 3D body as a canvas, it would be interesting to work with a flat surface. 

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is New Orleans. I went for the opening of the Maison de la Luz hotel, and hadn’t expected to like the city. I thought it would be over-touristy, but the French Quarter and the residential areas are so beautiful, and the atmosphere around the jazz clubs is genuine; you can’t fail to have a great time. I love to be surprised. $773 for Grand Studio Suite; maisondelaluz.com.

The 1930s mirror that Pilotto bought in New Orleans
The 1930s mirror that Pilotto bought in New Orleans | Image: Gabby Laurent

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a beautiful 1930s metal-framed mirror from one of the antiques shops in the French Quarter. Packing it to transport it home was quite a number, but the stores there seem used to it. 

The last meal that truly impressed me was at La Latteria San Marco in Milan. It’s tiny and you wait for a table, but the food is all made from fresh market ingredients and the service is quick. We had a light lunch of chicory with anchovy sauce and then spaghetti al limone. Every ingredient was perfectly judged and the flavours were divine. Via San Marco 24, Milano 20121 (+3902-659 7653).

Pilotto feels energised and inspired by having lots of colour in his life
Pilotto feels energised and inspired by having lots of colour in his life | Image: Gabby Laurent

My style icon is my partner, Christopher. We met through enjoying the same sense of style and developed our business from it. Both of us still make the stylistic decisions at work, and it’s the same with our personal style. We usually agree on items when shopping, but that doesn’t mean we like the same things. Often he finds things he knows I’ll like – and vice versa. 

The site that inspires me is a particular part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru, around Maras. Christopher comes from Peru and lived there as a teenager, so we explored less obvious sites on our trip. We walked from the ancient salt pans, which have been there since Inca times and are still worked on a cooperative basis by local families, to the mind-bendingly huge, terraced circular structure known as the Moray Amphitheatre, which was more likely an agricultural system as it has irrigation and different microclimates. 

The Maras salt pans in Peru
The Maras salt pans in Peru | Image: Alamy stock photo

My favourite room in my house is the living room. It’s filled with furniture, glassware and throws made by our artist friends and it’s very colourful, which energises me. To be surrounded by colour is always inspiring. It can be a challenge when we want to display clothes, but if you get it right, it’s wonderful. 

The last music I bought was Leonardo García Alarcón’s production of Michelangelo Falvetti’s Nabucco. I love listening to classical music at home, and the rediscovery of works by this forgotten composer, who wrote this 150 years before Verdi’s well-known version of the story, is as exciting as his baroque choral music.

Peter Pilotto leather card holder, £80
Peter Pilotto leather card holder, £80

In my fridge you’ll always find a fermentation pot for cabbage because I love sauerkraut; tahini to go with it; unwaxed lemons to use with everything; and anchovies to pep up a salad. I love big flavours. 

An indulgence I would never forgo is taking the time to make my own healthy breakfast from scratch. I roll my own oats from grain to flake, add flax and pumpkin seeds, then grated apple, orange, other fresh fruit that I have to hand, cinnamon, water and honey, and leave it to macerate. It tastes so much better than anything from a packet.  

Figures from Wetwang Slack, Francis Upritchard’s 2018 Barbican exhibition
Figures from Wetwang Slack, Francis Upritchard’s 2018 Barbican exhibition | Image: Angus Mill

An object I would never part with is my new printed leather card holder, which we’ve just designed. I’ve pinched the sample. Everyone asks about it because it adds fun and vibrancy to what is usually a very boring item, especially for a man. £80; peterpilotto.com.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Francis Upritchard, the New Zealand sculptor. I love the way she interprets the human form. I have one or two of her small works, but I would really like one of the huge wall sculptures made of ethically produced Amazonian rubber from her Barbican exhibition last year. katemacgarry.com.

Jochen Holz glass Penguin jug, £230, from Momosan
Jochen Holz glass Penguin jug, £230, from Momosan

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose my local area, Hoxton, for the food shopping. I’m a total foodie and this is a cool, multicultural area with an underlayer of traditional east London, and it’s all in walking distance, which keeps me fit. I’d start at Leila’s Shop, a deli-cum-grocer with its own café and exceptional produce, from bread to eggs to Marcona almonds; then wander – via Columbia Road if we need flowers for the house – to Broadway Market, where we get all our meat from Hill & Szrok (it’s such good quality, especially the onglet) and our fish from Fin & Flounder, a family-run firm. It’s hard to resist going a bit further to Momosan Shop, which has the best modern handmade pottery, glassware and wood or straw table items, to set off that glorious food. hillandszrok.co.uk. finandflounder.co.uk. Leila’s Shop, 15-17 Calvert Avenue, London E2 (020-7729 9789). momosanshop.com.

My wellbeing and grooming gurus are my trainer, Josh Schouten at Momentum gym, who keeps me disciplined about fitness, and my osteopath Matt Charlton, who works magic when we get too busy and overtired: I get a stiff neck before a show, and he uses acupuncture and massage to release the tension. Matt Charlton acupuncture, from £55 for 30 minutes (mattdcharlton@gmail.com). Momentum, £60-£85 an hour (momentum-training.com). 

Santa Maria Novella Crema Calendula moisturiser, from €37
Santa Maria Novella Crema Calendula moisturiser, from €37

The grooming staple I’m never without is Crema Calendula moisturiser from Santa Maria Novella. It’s not specifically for men, but it has a very fresh smell and suits my sensitive skin. I don’t spend a lot of time on face care. From €37; smnovella.com.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Florence. Yes, it’s crowded and touristy, but it’s easy to find quiet corners. I love staying at the Riva Lofts, which is a cool, urban B&B by the Arno, 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre, with incredible views. Opposite, over the Arno, is Cascine Park, which is quite wild and magical and often deserted. Of the wonderful restaurants, my favourites are Trattoria Cammillo, which always has local produce in season – last time I was there they were using fennel flowers as a spice and its leaves as a vegetable, served with swordfish – and Trattoria Sostanza, which is basic, with communal tables, but its butter chicken and Florentine steak are legendary. Parco delle Cascine, Piazzale delle Cascine, 50144. Riva Lofts, from £105; rivalofts.com. Trattoria Cammillo, Borgo S Jacopo 57/R, 50125 (+39055-212 427). Trattoria Sostanza, Via del Porcellana 25/R, 50123 (+39055-212 691). 

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My favourite websites and apps are Farmdrop for fast deliveries of brilliant organic fruit, veg and meat; Etsy for vintage research; and the You Doodle app, which is a terrible name but super-useful – like Photoshop for the phone.

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