What, I wonder, is the recipe for a perfect Mr. and Mrs. Ritchie vacation? A wry pause. “We have slightly differing tastes when it comes to holidays, my husband and I. I’m not into lying out in the sun. He loves the sea and fishing and being on a boat, outdoors, nature stuff. I’d rather go to India and check out all the temples or go to Bhutan,” she sighs good-naturedly. “We have had this discussion, and he’s got to start doing more of the holidays I like to do. We could go to India for a week and do my version. The second week would be the Maldives-sea, sun, and frolicking on the beach.” She groans. “I’m no fun in the sun.”
Co-ed vacations aside, it must be said that Madonna is terrific fun at fashion-and-beauty girl talk over a pot of Earl Grey and a chocolate truffle. For those frantic to know how she keeps her skin looking so sickeningly porcelain doll-like, she reckons the secret is the oxygen facials she’s been indulging in for just over a year. In fact, she’s invested in an oxygen machine for each of her houses. “You can also take the oxygen machine and inhale if you’re feeling really tired or jet-lagged, which is one of the reasons I have them at home. You just lie down for 10 minutes and put it in your nose,” she giggles. “They are really great.”
Her verdict on which jeans make a girl s ass look the cutest: “Right now I would say Stella McCartney for H&M jeans.” The item currently in her wardrobe that instantly imparts a feeling of fabulousness? “Well, I am rather addicted to my YSL boots, which have been custom-made for me in every color-square toe, laced up the front, and very high heels.”
And where does pop’s rebel queen buy her knickers (that’s “panties” to you, but as Madonna and I are speaking in Mayfair, we use the British parlance)? “Everywhere. From Marks & Spencer, your standard white cotton underpants- one of my husband’s favorites. Selfridges has a fantastic lingerie department, La Perla, Deborah Marquit, who does a lot of custom-made underwear and bras. She designed some stuff for one of my tours, so she knows how to make underwear and bras that really fit me.”
The afternoon is drawing on. In the spirit of Madonnas film, would she like to share a secret? “What can I tell that I haven’t already told?” she does a campy German accent. “I probably work too much, but that’s not a secret, is it?” she asks, looking faintly appalled that she can’t think of anything more outrageous. “Probably the most irritating habit I have is that I’m too organized. If someone throws something on the floor or over a chair, I have to pick it up and hang it up.” Excruciating pause. “I have a taste for very expensive wine and champagne, but that’s not a secret. I love Bordeaux. I’m rather obsessed with drinking red wine.” And luxurious foodstuffs on occasion: “Once a year I indulge and have foie gras, which is one of my favorite decadent-eating pleasures. I get this foie gras from Paris-you have to drink Chateau d’Yquem with it.” A solo vice, or are others allowed to join in? ‘This year I went to Christmas Eve dinner at Sting and Trudie’s, and I shared it with them. That’s an indulgence.”
The club is empty now. Nearby, a waitress is ironing pristine linens on tables where they have already been spread. “That’s brilliant,” murmurs Madonna, her inner neat freak entranced. I ask her if she could write a letter to her 19-year-old self, the one who pitched up in New York almost 30 years ago with $35 in her pocket, what would she say to her?
“You’re not going to believe what’s going to happen to you…” she speaks slowly, choosing her words carefully. “But remember these things: Never take any of it personally. If you really want to be a revolutionary, you have to be prepared to be unpopular. Don’t do it if you don’t really mean it, and-what else?” she says, staring at her Miu Miu heels, a subtle smile creeping up on her lips. “None of it is real.”
© Harper’s Bazaar