When the whole country breaks in August and heads to the seaside, the last thing anyone wants is to wait in a mile long line up to check into a glorified travel lodge. That’s why any Italian woman worth her salt knows the importance of a second home. Enter Susanne Thun, whose holiday set up is the stuff of legends. With enviable abodes in Milan, Celerina and her birthplace, Austria, her Capri home represents the culmination of her picture-perfect taste. From her cliffside, bougainvillea-trimmed compound overlooking the island’s famed Faraglioni rocks, the wonder-hostess watches over a revolving door of fabulous guests who arrive on her doorstep for a taste of the sweet life.
After hiking ten minutes by foot from Capri’s bustling Piazzetta, traversing through an olive grove and wading through waterfalls of cascading rosemary, you’ll arrive on Susanne Thun’s remarkable doorstep. On approach, the former fashion editor and creative director’s sprawling space stuns even the most jaded design aficionados into a silent reverence. Gargantuan, prehistoric succulents, basil plants masquerading as lettuce heads and exuberantly growing butterfly bushes somersault over themselves around a stone-rimmed plunge pool and purple bougainvillea carpeted awning.
Inside, Thun’s aesthetic — all-white but low fuss — sees comfy low-slung sofas and mostly uncluttered walls punctuated by the occasional Neapolitan baroque mirror or colorful panels collaged with Neapolitan maioliche tiles that creep over the kitchen, sunbathing deck and outdoor dining table. “The kids like an empty space,” she describes of her aesthetically-minded family (her sons Constantin and Leopold are up-and-coming art world mainstays and her husband is master architect Matteo Thun). “They don’t like mummy overdecorating.” Though Matteo may be known the world over for his spare, spa-like oasis architecture, the decoration of all of the family’s beautiful homes remains exclusively Susanne’s realm. From the emerald green glass floors that sparkle like dewy grass outdoors, down to the handmade lanterns she has trucked in from Marrakech for the ideal ambiance, Thun thinks of it all.
With a design sense as spectacular as hers, you better believe her wardrobe stays apace. The ecstatic dresser is the kind of woman who can mix Prada ostrich trim trousers with a La DoubleJ vintage print Tuxedo dress, hoist them atop a pair of furry Miu Miu bedazzled slides and still look at home while walking the dog. She’s no less eccentric while shopping in the centre: layering 1930’s-style striped bathers under crisp Celine shirts or a flowing kaftan and arm full of clinking gold charm bracelets for a stroll around the piazzetta. Some may consider that advanced dressing even for Milan, but even for the tiny island Thun pulls out all the stops and still looks effortless as ever.
An inveterate collector, her tantalizing closet comprises endless items from Prada (for Capri, she opts for high pattern like Hawaiian-print shirts from the men’s collection), Fissore jumpers that date back to the 80s and thousands of shoes — from python printed shower slides to rhinestoned Rochas slippers — stacked with military precision in their original boxes. But the greatest items in Thun’s collection aren’t even hers: two pairs of children’s swimming shorts gifted to her sons by the Thun’s good friend Gianni Versace a summer long ago in St Barthes hang framed in her hallway.
Spend any time with Thun and it will be clear that no detail is too small to approach with full throttle fabulousness. Even an intimate dinner with friends — romantically staged on one of the home’s five outdoor terraces — snowballs into a finely-tuned festa with her at the helm. Under an ivy-clad awning, next to the all-white roses she planted, Thun dishes out flash-fried zucchini flowers and blood red bruschetta made with tomatoes still warm from the garden. And, as if the blazing moon reflecting on the lapping waves wasn’t putting on enough of a show, she trots out a local band to serenade guests with achingly romantic Caprese tunes.
The only problem with Susanne Thun’s Capri paradise? That, at some point, you have to leave.
– Laura Todd