As she takes part in an exclusive fashion shoot, Nicola Benedetti talks style, slippers and why she’s sharing her secrets with Scotland’s finest young string players. By Susan Swarbrick.
I always aim for classic. I’m quite simplistic in the colours I wear: black, beige or one defined colour. I don’t like anything fussy, I prefer clean lines and well-fitting clothes.
When it comes to what you wear to perform, what are the prerequisites?
Formal black tie, something elegant but which doesn’t restrict movement, is all-important. A bold colour is good as it allows you to stand out from the orchestra and be defined from a distance. I wear a lot of red, blue, green, gold and silver. I’m not a pastels girl at all.
What are the biggest challenges in choosing what to wear when performing?
No sleeves or shoulder restrictions and I must be able to breathe comfortably. I usually wear something that doesn’t make me feel over-dressed. It should look good from a distance and make an impression on stage, but not distract my focus from playing. Getting that balance can be hard.
How does your personal style differ from what you wear in your day job?
It’s much more casual. If I’m going out for dinner I will wear high heels and nice clothes, but I’m not a big dressing-up person. I tend to end up wearing black trousers, heels and a nice top.
Favourite shops or designers?
For concert dresses, Dolce & Gabbana is my favourite. For everyday clothes I love Pinko, Hollister and Joseph. I tend to feel daunted by big shops such as Zara and Topshop. I love their stuff, but never have the time to look through them properly.
Who are your biggest style icons or influences?
There are people whose style I admire but I wouldn’t necessarily ever be able to dress like them myself: Gwyneth Paltrow, Monica Bellucci and Marion Cotillard.
Best fashion advice given and by whom?
My mum. Hers is the only fashion advice I listen to. I’m incapable of buying any clothes myself unless I’m with her. I basically don’t go shopping for a year and then my mum will take me out and we’ll get everything at once. She has an amazing ability to look at something and think: “Yes, that will work”– or not. She has a brilliant eye for fashion.
What is the most beloved item in your wardrobe?
The Ugg slippers my sister bought me for Christmas. They are the most comfortable things I’ve ever owned.
Have you ever bought anything on a whim and then shoved it to the back of the wardrobe, never to be worn again?
Anything I have gone out and bought myself. I’m useless at it. That’s why I don’t go out shopping by myself any more. I always take my mum or sister.
Biggest fashion faux pas?
I dress down far too much. I have never gone in the opposite direction and thought: “Right, I’m going to risk it and wear this.” My biggest downfall is that I’m not adventurous enough. I tend to err on the side of caution.
How has your style evolved from your teenage years to your mid-twenties?
When I was 18 or 19 I was more adventurous than I am now. I’m more comfortable in my style and spend less time worrying about it. I wear fewer colours and I’m a bit more conservative, but I think it looks better. I perhaps used to go for things I thought were nice items but didn’t necessarily show the best of me. My look, like it or hate it, is more on the obvious side so I have to be quite cautious what I put on.
You’re on tour this year with The Silver Violin and your new education project, The Benedetti Sessions, will also begin this year. Tell us a bit about that.
I have nine tour dates in Scotland and it will be an in-depth programme of music, but also one open to people who perhaps haven’t experienced much classical music before. I’m really excited about that. I will be spending most of March in Scotland during which I’ll be doing The Benedetti Sessions, leading 40 of Scotland’s finest young string players in an intense weekend workshop. I’m looking forward to spending this much time in Scotland as it’s so rare I get to do it.
Outside of work, what are your principal passions?
They tend to be work-related: learning more about music, studying and trying to develop myself.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Playing my best. There is nothing – no accolade or number of CDs sold – that can make me more happy and excited than stepping off stage and knowing I played better than ever before.
Do you have a motto or a philosophy?
Enhance your own ability, be the best you can be – but don’t keep that for yourself. Share it, expose it, give it and try to enrich other people with what you have managed to achieve.
Any regrets in life?
I have definitely made mistakes, but a life is not worth living without low points. Those have always resulted in an extreme high. Difficult times can make you question yourself more than the good ones. Any mistakes I’ve made or difficult times I’ve been through, I feel all the better and stronger for them.
What’s the biggest misconception about you?
When I was 17 or 18 there were some people who perhaps thought I was a bit frivolous and in this for the fame game. However, I think it’s become quite clear that my interests and focuses are anything but. My first love is music and my second love is educating people through the art of music.
What is your ultimate goal or ambition?
I have two-and-half years of concerts booked. It’s about executing them the best I can and developing all the time. That is the most important thing to me. I want to keep on getting better. If I didn’t, I would be massively disappointed in myself.
Nicola Benedetti’s The Silver Violin tour will travel across Scotland from March 9-29 including the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, on March 16, Aberdeen Music Hall on March 28 and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on March 29. For more information and ticket details, visit nicolabenedetti.co.uk.