GQ:What are the three things you find most attractive in a man?
Madonna: 1) A sophisticated sense of humour.
2) The ability to be an incredible romantic.
3) Someone who enjoys copious amounts of physical activity.
GQ: So, Madonna, what exactly would be the best thing about a world without men?
Madonna :There is absolutely no point in thinking about a world without men. It just wouldn’t happen. Opposites need each other to co-exist. Sun needs moon. Earth needs sky. Black needs white. Death needs life.
Imagine this, if you will. Madonna has just stepped out of a brothel, or at least what passes for a brothel in this particular part of west London. It’s the crack of noon in Westbourne Grove and Madonna has just stepped out of Solange Azagury Partridge’s den of designer iniquity. Could it be true? The most famous woman in the world shopping for expensive trinkets in the trendiest shop in the trendiest street in London?
Azagury Partridge is one of those places where Madonna comes to look for jewellery now that she lives in London, where she sits in regal splendour among the red velvet walls and tan leather floor, sipping champagne and trying on 4,000 rings. A brothel? Well, the shop’s windows and door are opaque, with just a square peephole to see through from the street, and when it opened in 1995 most of Azagury’s neighbours thought she’d opened a knocking shop.
Madonna looks like she always looks off duty: a big, billowing overcoat (Fendi, maybe), slightly scuffed trainers, something slinky, bosom-hugging and fantastically expensive by Dolce & Gabbana, and some seriously insolent sunglasses. She fits in perfectly with the trustafarians, fashion harpies and WII wunderkinds who are all doing Westbourne Grove this afternoon. She could end up looking like them too, a west London juxtaposition of downtown boho rags and upmarket glitz. For the last 17 years, since she first became famous, Madonna has had an unerring ability to look exactly like she ought to look at exactly the right time, and now is no different. A postmodern confection of charity shop chic, designer sportswear and posh frocks if you please my good man, and don’t spare the hones.
In the flesh she is, like a lot of celebrities, smaller than you think. In Madonna’s case, she’s more compact and much better looking than she often is in pictures. This 42-year-old is one of those pop bitches who actually look better in person.
Her London days are busy ones. They can begin in the early hours, with a bit of ashtanga yoga over in Holland Park, followed by brunch at the Sanderson, then a spot of light shopping at Harvey Nix and Voyage before a traipse down Westbourne Grove. Sometimes there’s talk of a bite at San Lorenzo with Stella McCartney, but this may have been junked in favour of dinner at The Ivy (surprise, surprise) with the husband.
One thing she won’t be doing is “tossing back” a pint of Guinness at the Grenadier pub in Knightsbridge or the nearby Windsor Castle (been there, done that); she might just crawl back to her house and curl up with one of those large-format coffee table books on the British aristocracy. Well, she might do. It’s a hypothetical Saturday, for sure, but it seems plausible. Her obsession with the city is only exceeded by her fascination with port out, starboard home, Posh with a capital P.
Madonna’s love affair with London began five years ago, when she was here filming Evita. Even then, three years before meeting Guy Ritchie, she was affecting little bits of estuarial vernacular – “True, that,” of all things, becoming a firm favourite. This is when she met and befriended Princess Diana, the first royal notch on her bedpost. “She wanted to get together so I could tell her how she could have a thick skin and not be bothered by what everybody writes,” she said.
Her interest in Diana led to her trying to book Althorp, her ancestral seat, for her wedding to Guy Ritchie, although I’m sure even Madonna must be thankful this never came off. Not only would it have been a public relations disaster, but much would have been made of Ritchie’s rather tenuous links with the princess — according to the Daily Mail he is related to Diana through the Earls of Galloway. In fact, judging by the press’ insane reaction to Maddy’s decision to walk among us and then having the neck to marry one of our own, it seems Madonna is now everyone’s favourite social climber.
“I’m an Anglophile,” she’ll say. “Who knew? I’m from the Midwest. It’s the weirdest thing. It just crept up on me.”