After selling the online fashion empire they founded in 1990, Tom and Ruth Chapman are the embodiment of business success. Here, Ruth shares how, with art, as with wardrobe must-haves, she has learnt to trust her instincts
Is art something you have always enjoyed?
I grew up in a very bohemian family. My grandmother would collect things like beautiful pottery. I remember one of the first artists I loved painted ballet dancers – not Degas sadly, far cheesier than that. But then I quickly grew into a more contemporary taste. One of the first pieces Tom [Ruth’s husband and co-founder of matchesfashion.com] and I bought was a portrait of a man and a woman on a bicycle going really fast by Peter McLaren. It’s proved something of a metaphor for our life.
Do you both share a passion for art?
Definitely. Art has been woven into our lives. The children have taken it up, too – our 15-year-old does wonderful paintings. Tom works on all this financial stuff but he has a highly visual brain, even if he can’t draw. We often buy art for each other as a gift.
How does a piece grab you?
We have the same approach to art that we do when buying fashion. It’s about an emotional response. We splashed out recently on some sketches by Paule Vézelay, including a nude and a circus. If we see something we love, we tend to do what we can to buy it.
Where do you usually buy?
We go to auctions – we got four beautiful Chris Ofilis that way and they now hang in our sitting room. We often see things that are out of our price range – I think I’d go crazy if money was no object. I would buy Craigie Aitchison, or Barry Reigate if I could. And German art – there’s some kind of creative renaissance in art going on there, and in fashion, too.
And what do you have your eye on next?
We still have wall space to fill – the dining room has a huge Abigail Lane work with trapeze artists but could use another big piece. I’d like a smaller work by Natasha Law. I like our house to be full of interesting discoveries from around the world.
Visit Matches Fashion: www.matchesfashion.co.uk
Photography by Philip Sinden
A version of this story appeared in the Winter 2015/2016 issue of Baku magazine.