The Gifts That Mattered Most


Six tastemakers reveal the most treasured items they’ve ever received—or given.

‘Tis better to give than to receive, of course. But some presents make a bigger impact than others. (Socks, again? You really shouldn’t have.) Price doesn’t always dictate sentimental value, either—the best gifts tend to be the most thoughtful and usually come with a great back story. To inspire your own holiday shopping endeavors, we asked a handful of stylish tastemakers to reveal the best thing they’ve ever given or received. And we’ve suggested where to find similar items that are sure to delight.

Henrietta Lovell’s Antique Chair


The founder of the Rare Tea Company, supplier of specially-sourced leaves to restaurants including Noma and Eleven Madison Park, frequently invites tea farmers and their families to stay in her London apartment. Her most prized gift—a 19th-century chair inlaid with mother of pearl—was the upshot of one particular visit.  The Chinoiserie-style Victorian piece came from Lovell’s friend Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Blacks chocolate and founder of The Perfume Society. “She knew I needed it after one of mine collapsed under some happy children from Malawi,” Lovell recalls. “Three children and their parents in my tiny flat was a challenge but a joy. The only casualty was a chair, and Jo, my dearest friend, thoughtfully bought me an even more beautiful one to replace it.”

Find It in London: Of the dozens of fine antique boutiques in London stocking heritage furnishings, Adrian Alan is one of our favorites. The Mayfair gallery has specialized in ornate 18th- and 19th-century Continental furniture since the 1960s.

Where to Stay


Eric Charles-Donatien’s Leather Jacket


The master feather craftsman frequently collaborates with the world’s top designers to create gorgeously detailed plumasserie. So a few years ago, when a black leather coat arrived in his Paris studio from friend and designer Ralph Rucci, Charles-Donatien didn’t realize it was a gift. “I thought I had to work on it, and started to imagine what I could propose as feather work,” he recalls. “I called Ralph to explain my options, and he laughed so much. He said I was too obsessed with work!” A few weeks earlier, Charles-Donatien had mentioned to Rucci that a beloved coat had been stolen from a restaurant. After receiving the gift, Charles-Donatien ended up getting the original back. “I now have two blessed coats” he says.

Find it in Paris: From the paragon of French minimalism, Saint Laurent’s leather pea jacket is a signature statement piece; from $4,990.

Where to Stay

Norma Kamali’s Dog Tag Necklace


Each January, the iconic New York designer and her boyfriend mark their anniversary by exchanging matching metal dog tags, strung on a necklace and engraved with the year and a shared nickname (the couple’s secret). For a woman synonymous with clothing that’s sexy, sleek, and imbued with a healthy dose of attitude, these accessories come from an unlikely source: a vending machine at Walmart. “I saw them and thought, ‘They have really beautiful typefaces,’” Kamali recalls. “I said, ‘I’m going to try that.’’ Now it’s an annual tradition.

Find It in New York: Chic dog tags by David Yurman come in sterling silver and a range of precious stones like pavé black diamonds, black onyx, or tiger’s eye; Saks Fifth Avenue, from $650.

Where to Stay

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman’s Box of Chocolates


Throughout the year, the Dallas-based author, lifestyle expert, and Rosewood Curator frequently doles out sweets to friends and family. “I love to give Whitman’s Samplers,” she says. “No relation!” Adding to the candies’ nostalgic appeal is the fact that her husband, Justin, gave them as gifts when he was growing up. Last year, Whitman says, “we offered the small boxes as party favors when we had neighbors over for a get-together. And I found the most enormous boxes to give out during the holidays—they must have been three feet wide and filled with hundreds of chocolates!”

Find It in Dallas: For a uniquely gourmand Dallas take on boxed bonbons, visit CocoAndré Chocolatier, which proffers handmade European-style truffles and chocolates in the shape of cowboy boots and Day of the Dead–style skulls; from $18.50.

Where to Stay

Alan Lo’s Aged Whiskey


Restaurateur Lo, the co-founder of Hong Kong hotspots Duddell’s and The Pawn and a fixture of the city’s art milieu, cherishes a bottle of 1964 Knockando single-malt scotch, received from a family friend over a decade ago. “He was an avid wine collector,” Duddell recalls. “I love the unique and rare nature of this gift, which matched his considerate and kind personality. Sadly, he passed away a few years back, but in his memory, I’ll slowly sip away at it from time to time. Gifts that stand the test of time and elevate the everyday are those the recipient really treasures.”

Find it in Hong Kong: Central’s The Woods Annex is insiders’ go-to spot for whiskey in Hong Kong. The appointments-only tasting room, hidden behind popular cocktail bar The Woods, serves flights of rare and artisanal spirits at its intimate, eight-seat bar.

Where to Stay

Sally Perrin’s Oyster Shell


The creative director of heritage luxury handbag line Perrin Paris designs accessories with wit and unexpected details. So it’s not surprising that the best gift she’s ever received was equally quirky. When in her early twenties, Perrin received an oyster shell that a friend had elegantly boxed and gift-wrapped, accompanied by a handwritten note that read, “The World is Your Oyster!” To this day, she says, “it sits on my desk and reminds me that I should never lose hope, that I am capable. A thoughtful gift can be more meaningful than extravagant.”

Find it in Paris: They may not come with a note (or a pearl), but the oysters at Brasserie La Lorraine are legendary. Fresh off a renovation by designer Laura Gonzalez—think whimsical fish mosaics on the floors and stately leather banquettes—the buzzed-about restaurant on the Place de Ternes serves around 180,000 bivalves each year.

Where to Stay

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Calling all discerning travelers

Uncover our musings on travel, art, fashion, and culture from the legendary personalities who embody the spirit of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.