6 February 2019
Irene Forte knows the family business inside out. She joined the Rocco Forte Hotel group five years ago after reading French and Italian at the University of Oxford, and works alongside older sister Lydia, who oversees food and drink. A trilingual, marathon-running charity ambassador, Forte is in charge of elements of learning and development, as well as spas and fitness. She also found time to launch her own Sicilian-inspired skincare line in November after falling in love with the Mediterranean island and its rich ingredients. With recyclable packaging, vegetable- and soya-based inks, and fresh, organic ingredients, Irene Forte Skincare’s entire lifecycle is commendably sustainable.
What is true luxury to you? Having the ability to choose high-quality items or materials that are presented in the simplest or most elegant way. That is why I created my skincare line; it uses the freshest and simplest ingredients from Sicily. As an hotelier, true luxury is about service that is intuitive and adapted to your own personal needs.
What is your favourite place in the world? Being Italian by blood, I adore travelling to Italy. Be it Rome, Florence, the Tuscan countryside, Puglia, Venice... the list is endless. In particular, I’m extremely attached to Sicily. I fell in love with the island when I worked for our resort, Verdura, for six months in 2006. I now travel there at least once every two months for work. Its landscapes, culture, food, people, and sense of family are unrivalled. I love Sicily so much that my skincare line is inspired by it.
What do you never leave the house without? What I take depends on where I am going and the season. Either way, the staples are the Irene Forte Skincare Pistachio Lip Balm to keep my lips nourished; the Hibiscus Night Cream when I travel (given that planes dry out my skin and this super-rich cream is perfect to apply while in the air); and the Rose Body Oil.
Describe your style: I never go anywhere without heels, given that I’m a little short. I love flares, high-waisted, ankle-length skirts and ankle-length dresses. I love prints and colour, and also fun shirts.
What is your favourite fashion brand? I love Borgo de Nor for its dreamy floral dresses. I also love Dolce & Gabbana for its colourful prints and the fact that it’s inspired by Sicily. Aquazzura is my ultimate shoe brand. The shoes are fun, super-high and comfortable.
Who are the most stylish Londoners you know? Petra Palumbo and Annina Pfuel, girlfriends of mine who are always effortlessly stylish.
Where would you have your last supper in London? An indulgent meal at the River Cafe.
What are your London address book essentials? Dinings in Marylebone has the most amazing Japanese food in London. I also love Gymkhana in Mayfair for its classic Indian dishes. In Notting Hill, I love Mazi for Greek food and Chucs for brunch on the weekend. Mr Chow or Hunan, in Knightsbridge and Chelsea respectively, for the best Chinese. Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair for amazing food and the cosiest atmosphere. Petersham Nurseries in Richmond is great for lunch and a walk in the summer or spring. I also love all of the big galleries – Tate Britain, the British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts – and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Serpentine Galleries.
What does technology add to your life? I love that I can work from anywhere. You can also look anything up with the touch of a few buttons.
Describe your favourite London moment. There are many but one that stands out is when Chelsea beat Aston Villa 8-0 in the Premier League. I was at Stamford Bridge in 2012 with a bunch of friends and it was just before Christmas, so we were in a particularly celebratory mood.
What drives you to succeed? It’s more about being driven to do something that I enjoy and get something out of.
What do you do to leave the world a better place? I try to be kind and generous to people I meet.