THE CITY TALK
DESCRIBE LONDON IN ONE WORD.
Hmmm I mean it is the center of the world (laughs). It kind of is.
YOU WERE BORN IN BRAZIL AND BROUGHT UP IN SWITZERLAND. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE IN LONDON?
I’ve always been educated in Anglo-Saxon schools. My mom is partly American so I went to the British school, the American school and then I went to college in America… I suppose I was geared towards an Anglo-Saxon place. It also happen to be where I had a job. And then it is such a great city for people who are a little bit displaced like me. It is a city where people who are quite nomadic feel comfortable. It is a city that feels like home to people who move around a lot. I’ve been there for 14 years, maybe I’ve outgrown it, but I feel that is where my friends are and my life has been. But it is not a city where people stay in for life. It is a city where you come to, to make it. Like New York. But London is less hard-core than New York plus it is in Europe. And I’m European. But Brexit hasn’t made it so much fun.
THE PLACE WHERE YOU FEEL THE BEST AT IN LONDON?
I have this thing about Daunt bookstores. I am not even such a crazy reader although I do like to read but this is a small chain of bookstores started by mister Daunt. He understood that he could never compete with Amazon and there were no point in trying to. People love walking into these bookstores and if you stay long enough you end up having fantastic conversations with some of them. Anglo-Saxons read an awful lot and have a great attachment to their books. There is something quite “old world” about it that I really like. I spend a lot of time and money there.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN LONDON?
I think the scope of the city is amazing. The cultural diversity, the richness of activities be it from what you see in museums to what you experience in a restaurant, whatever new friend you will make, it all is probably the top of the line in the world. It is also the center of finance, the center of art… It is a very rich city. On the other hand I think the quality of life is crappy. Even if you are a millionaire in London you still live in a city that is not particularly beautiful, full of rules, etc… But there is a wealth in London you can’t take away. It is extraordinarily exciting to be in London.
DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD MISS THIS COSMOPOLITANISM IF YOU WERE TO MOVE TO RIO FOR GOOD ONE DAY?
Hmmm, yes. But I think you have to compensate it and understand that you get something else in return. Maybe you find that you can’t compensate. I also think these things are different phases of your life as well. Fifteen years ago, if you had told me that by the end of my 20's I would leave London, I would have laughed at your face. You tell me the same thing today, I would say “yes, maybe, of course”.
BEST PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE PEOPLE PASS BY?
Hyde Park on a summer day is the funniest thing in the world: if it is like 18° the English will run to the park, take off all their clothes, stand in their bra and underwear, all the kids running around like if it was 40°. It is hilarious. And the park is beautiful too.
WHAT IS THE TOURISTIC THING YOU LIKE TO DO THERE?
YOU’VE NEVER BEEN ON THE LONDON EYE?
No! (laughs). No one ever does touristic things when they’re living in the city! Well, I take the bus number 9 which is still the original route master. I think it is so sweet, the proportions are tiny, it’s lovely. The new red buses are horrible (laughs).
I live in west London, Notting Hill, but I think it was edgier 15 years ago when I arrived. I wouldn’t envisage moving east though. I think I missed that boat, I’m too old for east. I also think it looks grey and I am a very visual person: when I look at grey, post-war buildings with no trees it’s too much for me, I can’t handle it. I do like living near a park. At least Hyde Park is green. I travel on a bicycle so I really find it important, I could not give it up.
I also like the center of London: Marylebone, Mayfair, Soho. These are where the whole city comes together everyday to work. Soho is messy which I quite like. Marylebone; I used to work there so I have a real attachment. I would probably live there if it was closer to the park.
Mayfair represents the old-school finance district where people are chic. Lunch in Mayfair is quite a treat.
WHERE DO YOU TREAT YOURSELF FOR LUNCH?
I like Chucs, just a nice old Italian.
FOOD “PASSAGE OBLIGÉ” IN LONDON?
I’ve never eaten fish&chips in my life so I cannot recommend any.
Because it’s gross! (Laughs). Do you like fried fish?
WELL ACTUALLY I REMEMBER PRECISELY ONE OF THE BEST I HAD WHEN I WAS LIVING IN LONDON MYSELF. IT WAS AT THE TATE AND I DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS BECAUSE OF THE AMAZING VIEW ON THE RIVER THAMES BUT I HAVE A VERY FOND MEMORY OF IT!
I think the occasional lunch pub is really nice, like a nice Sunday roast with gravy, the English way. But I guess ultimately you carry who you are with you, regardless of the city. So you try that a few times but the kind of restaurants that I like are the simplest. I like restaurants where you can get spaghetti with tomato sauce. Chucs does it and it’s just very good. London has fantastic restaurants though; it's nice sometimes to go to ChinaTang for example, to get extraordinary Chinese food. But it’s more for when the parents are in town (laughs).
WHAT IS THE MOST UNEXPECTED THING ABOUT LONDON?
Portobello market on Friday mornings is where you find the most extraordinary vintage. There are also a couple stores in Notting Hill that managed to survive. I like Rellik and One of a kind.
WHERE DO YOU LIKE SHOPPING OTHER THAN VINTAGE?
I like little stores in Marylebone as it is still quite “neighbourly”, you can find cute boutiques. I avoid department stores.
WHAT CAN YOU ONLY FIND IN LONDON?
Topshop! Extraordinary Topshop, no matter what (laughs).
WHAT SONG WILL ALWAYS MAKE YOU WANT TO DANCE?
There are so many! Billie Jean or a good samba! You cannot be seated very long with a good samba. When you go to Sapucai (editor’s note: Sambodrome during Carnival) and the "bateria" (editor’s note: drum orchestra) pass in front of you, it is physically impossible to stand still. It is almost also impossible not to cry. The "bateria" is the most extraordinary thing in the world.