Anna de Pahlen: ‘It was always my goal to move surrounded by art’
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My personal style signifier is colourful shawls and scarves. I usually have about 20 in rotation. I’m in sportswear during the day because of my work – I’m not brand loyal, but I wear a lot of Nike and Lululemon – so an accessory makes me look dressed up. I wear them over a beautiful coat, with New Balance sneakers. I favour Muzungu Sisters scarves as they are ethically made. muzungusisters.com
The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of black boots by Balenciaga, because – as with the scarves – they instantly elevate an outfit. They feel timeless and are quite chunky too, so they’re really comfortable.
And on my wishlist is anything from The Row. I like the natural textures and colours and the silhouettes – and you can wear most of it with sneakers or boots.
The place I can’t wait to go back to is the island of Li Galli, off the Amalfi Coast. You’re surrounded by nature, it has incredible views. Léonide Massine, the dancer and choreographer, purchased it, and Nureyev lived and trained there. It was a sort of dance residency, and Le Corbusier helped Massine decorate the villa. My background is in dance, my grandmother was a dancer and I’m part Italian too, so it felt special to be there.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is an audiobook, Meditations for Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza. It really changed my perspective on life and wellbeing in general.
An indulgence I would never forgo is a deep-tissue sports massage. I use the Just Urban app to try out different at-home practitioners.
My style icon is my grandmother, Marella [Agnelli]. She had incredible taste. She created beautiful gardens so, during the day, she kept outfits very simple. But for evening she had such elegance and would really pay attention to details, with a stunning necklace and silhouette and always wearing amazing fragrances. I have a scarf of hers that I wear. It’s from India and is beige with beautiful red and pink embroidery.
The best gift I’ve received recently is a Boucheron ring – the yellow-gold “Nara, the Doe” ring. My family always used to call me Bambi, so my mother gave it to me for my birthday.
In my fridge at this time of year, you’ll always find almond milk, coconut water and almond butter from CPress – I like a spoon of almond butter with my coffee in the morning.
The gadget I couldn’t do without is the FaceGym Pro, which you use to massage your face and neck. It requires patience to do it every day though. £515, facegym.com
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Mark Rothko. I find his work soothing. I teach some of my classes from my house in London, and I keep a few pieces of contemporary art around that fit well with that, including a mandala by Damien Hirst. I like to move surrounded by art, so it’s been great teaching yoga in museums and galleries.
The beauty staples I’m never without are Escentric Molecule 01 and Dr Barbara Sturm skincare, including the Hyaluronic Serum and Cleanser. I like a good cleanser – it’s important when your work involves a lot of travelling and movement, and hers is really simple and not aggressive on the skin. Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, from £85, and Cleanser, £45. Escentric Molecule 01, £46
I have a collection of crystal singing bowls. I use sound healing and meditation in my classes and events. There’s a bowl for each chakra, so you usually have seven; but you can buy just one at home to begin with. It is an investment. I like to buy them from Sound Universe in London – they also have a sound healer who makes amazing music. From about £700, thesounduniverse.com
My beauty and wellbeing gurus are, for beauty, Teresa Tarmey, an amazing facialist in London. For wellbeing, I’m very conscious of what I put in my body – but still, I’m human! So, Sara Farnetti in Rome is my go-to for nutrition. She thinks about your relationship with what you eat, with a focus on how to combine foods. teresatarmey.com. sarafarnetti.it
My favourite websites are The Class by Taryn Toomey, which has great workouts for getting started with moving, and LA Dance Project, which has classes for yoga and stretching. The latter also offers dance classes in everything from ballet to African contemporary, with amazing teachers.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a therapist and a writer, probably of self-help books. Maybe because of my background in dance, I’ve always been fascinated by motivation, intention, and “optimum” states. I’m interested in the process of change, thinking about people who have found success later in life by reinventing themselves, not just with careers, but in relationships too.
A recent “find” is Free People, the shop in Notting Hill. It would be very romantic to say I discovered it while walking by, but my little sister introduced me to it when I needed clothes quickly for a trip. It’s got a great vibe and is filled with natural and beautiful pieces.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is perfume, because it really brings back memories, such as Bed of Roses by JAR, which I bought in Paris. It was a beautiful moment with a friend and it makes me think of that.
The best gift I’ve given recently is a photo album to my brother, filled with pictures of his daughter. It was a gift of time, really, as it takes ages to do.
I’ve recently rediscovered Rome. I went back and remembered just how beautiful it is, walking around the Villa Medici, then going to Parco dei Principi to watch the sun set. Dal Bolognese in the Piazza del Popolo is great for having lunch outside — it’s really charming. Then Hotel de Russie nearby, for drinks.
The podcast I’m listening to is Where Should We Begin? by Esther Perel, all about relationships. I love her point of view; she’s down-to-earth and insightful. And the way she tells stories is so entertaining.
My favourite room in my house is my living room. It has beautiful light and energy – it’s quite zen, with a view of the garden. My favourite thing about the room, other than the art, is the pearwood table, which I bought secondhand on Edgware Road.
The last music I downloaded was “It’s Too Late” by Otis Redding, which a friend of mine put me onto. I teach creative dance and yoga, so have pretty eclectic taste. I like to mix and match a lot, and put some unusual songs into my workshops – it brings an energy to the space and really gets people moving.