The charmed life of Constance de von Gstaad I

“I grew up between the mountains of Gstaad, the waters of the Mediterranean, and the streets of Belgravia”

Constance de von Gstaad is not an easy man to pin down. The international philanthropic black-tie dinner circuit is an unforgiving mistress, after all. (As unforgiving as Celine Dion? Constance, discrete as ever, isn’t telling.) And then there’s all the travel around the international philanthropic black-tie dinner circuit (Gulfstream G650). The preparation beforehand (milk and caviar, then caviar and milk). The social rigamarole of the event itself (up to six air kisses per person, depending on how old a friend they are). And the decompression necessary afterwards, of course (two weeks; Gstaad/ Porto Cervo). Yes – showing up to parties is a full-time job, even with Constance’s famed LIFO (Last In, First Out) method, which encourages acolytes to drop in to events for as little as three minutes a go.

So, when the time came to plan a rare, intimate interview with Constance, Gentleman’s Journal endured four lunches with five middlemen in six time zones before anyone could agree on a location, a format, or the correct cashmere groomer. In the end, Constance decided to do what he has always done best, much to the delight of his Instagram followers (or ‘future family members’, perhaps): be himself.

This interview was conducted in winter 2022

GJ: Constance, let’s start at the start. What is your earliest memory?

CdvG: Probably inheriting my first Loro Piana gilet at the tender age of six. There may have been memories before that, but they’ve all been overshadowed by the Loro Piana gilet. I was in Gstaad, and my father handed me the Loro Piana gilet. Navy blue with a cream collar. I actually still have the Loro Piana gilet framed at one of my chalets in Gstaad. I wore it to my first day at Le Rosey. I’ve been a trendsetter since my seventh birthday.

What was your seventh-birthday party like?

Huge. Every seven-year-old in Gstaad was there, and Andrea Bocelli performed.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a world champion skier. I was a fantastic skier – the best at Le Rosey. I did Tiger Run, the steepest slope in Gstaad, at the age of seven. Usually, people don’t do that ’til they’re at least eight.

What got in the way?

Après-ski. The fondue. The cheese. The cigars. I started enjoying people’s company too much, and the snow began to melt earlier in the season, so I started to stay indoors more. Climate change affects us all in different ways, and it affected my talent; it’s taken its toll on my career.

LORO PIANA silk and cashmere jacket, £2,700; suede shoes, £860; cotton trousers, £450; cashmere jumper, £1015; cashmere socks, £120; All

Who were your heroes growing up?

Sergio Loro Piana and Andrea Bocelli.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up between the mountains of Gstaad, the waters of the Mediterranean, and the streets of Belgravia. I went to Le Rosey when I could be in Switzerland. But, in England, I spent some time at Hill House, in Knightsbridge, and also at Charterhouse. I appeared and disappeared in all sorts of places, I suppose.

You must have friends all over the world...

I’ve said it before: they’re not friends, they’re family. I always say: “it’s all family.” The staff of every Loro Piana store globally. The staff at every restaurant in Sardinia and in Gstaad. They all know me very well. They’re all family. It’s all family.

What do you do now?

Too much. Far too much. I’m a philanthropist at heart. I think it would be selfish to have a foundation on my own, so what I do is add value to every foundation by attending every charity dinner around the world.

What do you wear to these dinners?

You should know. (I’m talking about Loro Piana.)

Where do you see yourself at 50?

That’s just round the corner for me. I’m 43 years young: that’s La Prairie Skin Caviar for you. But at 50, I see myself sailing. I’m transitioning away from motoryachts and taking wind for a spin. It’s environmental, but also an age thing. I have a bit more time on my hands. I’ve added a lot of value to the world. Now, it’s time to add some value to my own life. With wind.

What’s your biggest fear?

A bad hair day.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?

I’m far too generous.

What’s the quality you most admire in a friend?

Knowing how to host and how to attend parties and events. The advice for being a good host is that it’s never about who you invite, but who you don’t. Keep it very tight. No outsiders. It’s all family.

How do you get into the family?

You’re born into it. It’s inherited.

And what about advice for attending parties?

LIFO: Last In, First Out. You show up late, make a statement. And then, when the party’s about to get really good, you leave. LIFO.

What’s the shortest time you’ve spent at a party?

Three minutes. Walked in. Shook some hands. Went right out.

What do you do after that?

I usually just go home. But I leave the people wondering. Lots of people have told me that Bruce Wayne is just like Constance. He’s off to save the day. I’m here to save my time.

It doesn’t sound like much fun to leave a party after three minutes...

As long as people think you’re having fun, you’re having fun. Perception is everything. The first impression is the only impression. Never give people a chance to make a second impression.

LORO PIANA cashmere jumper, £1,490; suede shoes, £860; wool jacket, £2435; wool trousers, £915; All

What’s your morning routine?

My butler Alfrèd milks me every morning with fresh Gstaad cow’s milk. 37 degrees celsius, fresh from the cow, straight to my face. It gets my body nice and soft. It’s a tenderising process. And I do that just before I cover myself with La Prairie Skin Caviar, which is made with real sturgeon caviar. Then, it’s a breakfast of caviar, then a glass of fresh Gstaad cow milk. So, it’s just milk and eggs – like most people.

What’s your marital status?

I’m currently single. But it’s complicated. I was married briefly to Celine.


Dion. I really believe that people, like wine, age in the bottle and not in the barrel.

Do you have any enemies?

No enemies. It’s all family.

How do you define your own personal taste?

I’ll switch to French: La crème de la crème.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Heaven alone is hell. And hell with those you love is heaven. It’s all family.

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

“The bigger, the better.” It’s usually in reference to boats, but it actually works for planes and chalets, too.

Which conventions of the modern age do you most despise?

I don’t like overstatement of any kind.

Is it hard to be understated with your new online following?

I call my followers ‘students’. Students of Gstaad. Those who follow Gstaad Guy are not fans – they’re on the way to becoming family. So, if I’m approached by a student, it’s all family. We love to say hello. We love to share a glass of Palais Constance, and enjoy the moment for what it is. It’s all family.

LORO PIANA cashmere jumper, £1,490; suede shoes, £860; wool jacket, £2435; wool trousers, £915; All

Do you like selfies?

Yes, but I’m not a big fan of touching. We need to keep my outfits clean. So a nice air kiss is fantastique.

How many air kisses is the correct amount of air kisses?

It depends. One or two. But if the person is really loved, a few more. It’s all family.

When are you happiest?

When the wind is blowing through my hair, I have a cigar in my left hand, some Loro Piana linen on my shoulders, and a glass of Palais Constance in my right hand. And I’m on the bateau, off the coast of Porto Cervo.

Do you have a personal motto?

“It’s all family.” And it is.

When was the last time you cried?

Two weeks ago, watching Andrea Bocelli sing ‘Con te Partirò’ live at the O2.

You’re friends with Andrea?

He’s family.

If you were to die and come back as an object or living thing, what would it be?

A Peruvian vicuna, exclusively farmed by Loro Piana.

Finally, what would you like it to say on your gravestone?

Constance de Von Gstaad I. A friend to many. And a family member to all.

This feature was taken from Gentleman’s Journal’s 10th-anniversary issue. Read more about it here…

Want more interviews? We catch up with Stanley Tucci...

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