The celebrity stylist, long-standing former Financial Times columnist and the man behind therowstance.com explains why a 30” Globe-Trotter is essential for his work – and play – and how Gucci snaffle loafers are the best shoes to travel in
Photography courtesy of Tom Stubbs
How long have you owned your Globe-Trotter cases?
Since 2012. That was the year I decided to test drive a black Centenary Globe-Trotter case on a holiday to India. I had two, in sizes 33” and 30”, as I wasn’t sure which size to take, but in the end I went for the 30”. Then, when I arrived in Mumbai, I realised I’d left the tiny key to the case in the tray at security check-in at Heathrow. While my girlfriend headed to the beach, I took a rickshaw to the key-cutting-meets-suit-case district of Mumbai – and yes, there really is one – with my Globe-Trotter, it was crazy. It dawned on me then that the artisan madness here was so much more exciting than the hotel pool. And you know what? They rustled a replacement key out of nothing. I still have the case and the key, and today I use both my black Globe-Trotters for every shoot I do. They’re really battered now, but it makes such a powerful statement to turn up on a shoot with these great “props”; and they really are big enough for me to get everything in them. Even boxes of shoes.
Have you expanded your collection since then?
Yes, after a few years I decided to get a couple of new, smart cases to take with me for trips to places like Florence, Milan and Paris for the fashion shows. I went for a matching pair of Centenary cases in grey with burgundy leather trim (a favourite colour combo from around 1982 in my book!). Again, I chose a 30” case, this time accompanied by a 20” carry-on trolley case. The 30” works really well for my build – I’m six foot. I can sit on it on a train platform or at an airport, I can even put it on my shoulder if required (wading rivers etc.), and it is just the right size for tailoring, unfolded. And these cases have a tremendous visual impact, I do like that about them. They speak to all sorts of people somehow because of their old-world, craftsmanship spirit.
What is you dream destination?
I have a wonderful memory of swimming in a bay in Sardinia at the Marina di Budoni beach. I love swimming and if I can’t swim, then it’s simply not a holiday. This is a place I found a few years ago, and then I found the girl I wanted to go back there with, which I did last year. It’s just down from Olbia, and it’s craggy, the earth is terracotta and the sea is an unbelievable turquoise colour. When I first went there, I had the most bizarre experience: occasionally people mistake me for Ed Norton, but this time I was in a restaurant, La Tavernetta, and people were convinced I was him, no matter how much I denied it – to the point where they insisted on sending beers over. No doubt that experience influenced my attachment to the area. As an epilogue, I’d like to add that in the end the relationship didn’t work out, so I am looking for a new girlfriend and a new bay, though will keep up the Ed Norton impressions.
Where is the best hotel you have ever stayed in?
Well, I stayed in Manumission in Ibiza in the nineties and it was quite insane. The scene there was just starting at four or five in the morning, with renegade hedonist DJ Derek DeLarge in residence. For pure abandonment, I’d nominate that. But at the other end of the scale, something much more authentic: I stayed in a guesthouse in India, in Kerala. It was set in a beautiful garden and served Southern Indian vegetarian food. So simple and beautiful.
Where would you most like to travel to that you have not yet visited and why?
Corsica. I haven’t been, but I have an image of what it would be like that I’m keen to test against the reality. The wild romance appeals, again: I love rugged and raw landscapes in which you can also find tons of culture. I know it will be beautiful and have great food and wine, because of the region, but the landscape and sea is what I want to experience.
What do you always pack in your Globe-Trotter for holidays?
For holidays: Speedos, battered running shoes, goggles. My aim is to run to the sea in the mornings. Then, plenty of camomile tea. It reminds me of home. I also pack loads of singlets; my favourites are the ribbed Breton-stripe ones by the traditional French brand Armor-Lux. They’re actually for women, but they work for me. I also wear a lot of Sunspel. They make great cotton T-shirts. Then big wide E. Tautz jeans. And I never leave the country without a few pairs of Gucci snaffle loafers (which means you need to travel with a shoe horn because you will have to take them off at the airport – a moment I call “the horn ultimatum”). Then, lots of shorts, and baggy Katharine Hamnett silk trousers and shirts for the evenings. I also absolutely love Connolly’s wide sash trousers, which have a high waist and a unique “swing” when you walk. They come in raw denim or white denim, and now chambray; these are a must for holidays.
And what do you pack in your Globe-Trotter when travelling for work?
Tailoring is my thing, at home and abroad, and I am passionate about Savile Row. I’m lucky enough to work with the Nutter/Sexton bloodline of tailors, by which I mean: Edward Sexton with Tommy Nutter, then Timothy Everest and then the Thom Sweeney boys. These men have made the most beautiful tailoring and I own a lot of it. In winter I am partial to an Anderson & Sheppard classic three-piece soft-shoulder suit in flannel which I pair with big scarves and a beret. I always pack suits for business travel in my 30” Globe-Trotter cases – this size is great for tailored clothes as you can fold two or three suits into it perfectly, whereas smaller cases mean that the jacket needs to be folded over again. However, I should stress that though I am working, I don’t like to ever look like I am dressed to do so. I wear colour and pattern: ivory, tobacco, baby pink, cinnamon, bone, cappuccino or thick cinematic-looking chalk stripes – these are not workaday clothes!
Do you have a watch you like to wear when travelling?
I’ve got a TAG Heuer Monza that I like to wear a lot, and that includes when I am travelling. I use it to cook with – the chronograph is great for timing veg, pasta or little clams. I have interchangeable coloured NATO watch straps, so I can match my strap to my outfit – even to my trunks on the beach! I also recently bought a second-hand Lorus Mickey Mouse watch on a whim, and I have to say, I love it. So maybe I’ll do my next trip with Mickey?
As a stylist, which nation do you consider to be the best-dressed and why?
The Japanese, or at least those Japanese guys who do it properly. They just love fashion. It seems to me they are able to successfully assimilate styles from other cultures and put it all together really well. They can do British punk and British Savile Row. There’s this guy Mr Kamoshita, the creative director of United Arrows, the Japanese brand, who I see on the fashion show circuit, and he’s just immaculate. He’ll have a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse watch with a navy strap that ties in with the blue leather loafers he’s wearing. Come to think of it, it’s interesting that Globe-Trotter has a strong connection with the Japanese.
Where have you had your best-ever meal on a trip?
I once went to a ryokan inn not far outside Tokyo, in a place called Hakone. Once there, you checked into your room and changed into authentic traditional Japanese attire, which they provided, and they bring you piece after piece of great food, course after course. I had what I can really describe as a spiritual experience eating there – the trees were swaying in the night air and I was surrounded by simple Japanese architecture. I was on my own, and would ordinarily play music through travel speakers, but that evening up in the mountains it was so utterly beautiful and peaceful I simply couldn’t pollute the special silence; I now sit with silence happily as a result. On the subject of ryokans, I had a very different experience once in another one outside Kyoto that was a run-down ‘70s place where I was the only guest. It spooked me so much that I actually wedged my Globe-Trotter as a barricade against the door!
And finally, if you could choose any new Globe-Trotter, what would it be?
I’d have one made. I know Globe-Trotter has a bespoke service and that to me is the height of luxury – personal luggage! I do like the Safari cases, though – especially in ivory with natural leather straps and corners. That would go with the ridiculously-coloured suits I tend to wear. But if I could have a bespoke case, I’d tweak it – I’d take the Safari in an extra deep 30” version and maybe replace the natural leather with a coral leather. Also, the lining – I’d see if they could do me a lining in a colour I’d source from a Jeanne Mammen or Otto Dix picture as I am really into the Weimar art vibe at the moment. Something really beautiful. The lining is so important because when you have your Globe-Trotter open, you see it. And when you have these cases they become part of the room. Your Globe-Trotter improves the room, sitting there with all your stuff in it. That’s what I do when I travel: I use my Globe-Trotter as a travelling chest and keep it centre stage.