The Goodwood Revival’s founder on Belstaff’s new clothing range – and very expensive spectacles…
The Goodwood Estate is synonymous with motor racing to golf, horse racing to aviation. But what is your true passion? “Obviously my leading passion is developing the whole place in a way that reflects its past and is meaningful in today’s world. But I can’t deny that I have a particular passion for the cars.”
Quintessentially British brands have strong associations with Goodwood, Belstaff being one of them. How did this partnership develop into the GSR Collection?
“It’s something we were keen to develop, with a brand closely connected to our various activities. We’re not a fashion or watch company and I’m wary about these things feeling true, but with Belstaff it works. The GSR collection is stuff you do things in – and we produce the things to do. It’s honest in that sense. The whole Belstaff brand and its integrity sits very comfortably with Goodwood. We’ve looked at lots of clothing line ideas in the past and they make you cringe slightly, but this one definitely doesn’t. I feel really good about it.”
Who has been your biggest influence on your life and career?
“Probably my grandfather, bearing in mind what an important part photography has played in my life, and cars too. He was a very good engineer, a good car designer. He used to send me all the magazines when I was at school.”
You have an exciting career, but if you could choose any other career what would you choose and why?
“I started in film, so I guess it would be that. Producing and directing, working in that world.”
Art plays a huge role at Goodwood. Is there a period in which you take particular interest?
“I guess 20th Century photography! Goodwood House is very much 18th Century, so obviously that plays a big part in my life. Without sounding pompous, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by beautiful 18th Century things. And I love the contemporary world, so I’d love to build a very modern house and have the two together. Having it visible to Goodwood House would be tricky, but there are places where we could do it. It’s just a question of the right spot – and the money.”
As a celebrated photographer, what drew you to this world and what inspires your work?
“That’s what I always wanted to do. I started taking pictures when I was about 10. People said encouraging and nice things about the truly awful pictures I was taking, and somehow I got over the hump of being useless and became a bit better. I hated school and left as early as I possibly could, then was very lucky to get a job with Stanley Kubrick at 17. That opened up a whole new world and had a massive influence on me.”
What is your favourite way to travel?
“I guess it has to be a motorbike. If it’s my own car it can be lovely, but I find travelling as a passenger pretty nauseous. Aeroplanes are dull now, and though I always think I’ll love going on a boat, I always hate it.”
What has been your most indulgent purchase?
“I very stupidly bought a Lancia Aurelia at the Festival of Speed auction this year. I told the curator here to buy it if we could get it for ‘x’, and we did. That was a bit of a shock, but I’ve driven it and it’s lovely.”
What possession could you not live without and why?
“I’ve got a very nice Girard-Perregaux watch, given to me by Gino Macaluso, who died a few years ago. He was a big motor sport guy, the head of the FIA in Italy, and had a fabulous collection of Martini racing cars. He made a beautiful world timer, which he gave me as a present, with Goodwood in place of where, say, London should be. That’s something I really treasure.”
You are given £10,000 to spend on a single purchase. What would you buy?
“Here’s an outrageous one. I’d say a pair of tortoise-shell glasses from Meyrovitz. But they are more than £10,000! I think they are about £12,000 – mad. I’ve got plastic lookalikes!”
Christmas is just around the corner; what is top of your present list?
“A new GSR jacket would be good…”