My Secret Life: Sarah Doukas, Model Agent, age 50

Interview,Charlotte Philby
Saturday 22 October 2011 23:29

The house I grew up in... I don't have a traditional sense of "home" as my parents moved a lot when I was young. I "grew up" at my grandmother's farm in the New Forest. My parents were busy focusing on my younger siblings and I loved spending time with grandmother who always treated me like an adult.

When I was a child I wanted to be... a success. I've always felt an overwhelming desire to prove myself.

The moment that changed me for ever... I grew up the day my father split up with my mother, and left home.

My greatest inspiration... My grandmother. She was strongly opinionated, with a huge personality, both of which are qualities I admire. She was also very modern for her time.

My real-life villain... The unknown horrifies me and terrorism is particularly frightening because it is so indiscriminate.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I sometimes think that I would have liked to have studied for longer than I did.

At night I dream of ... When I was a child, I had a recurring dream of being buried under three heavy paving stones outside an old-fashioned butcher's shop. It played on repeat in my head. I used to keep all my dormitory mates awake from the nightmare. Eventually I was put in the school's sanitorium so I couldn't disturb everyone.

What I see when I look in the mirror... I've never dwelt on what I see in the mirror, I'm too busy looking forward! I really think that too much time worrying on things like your reflection is unhealthy.

My style icon... Halston [the legendary designer who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy and Lauren Bacall].

My favourite item of clothing... I have a beautiful black cocktail dress by Chanelwhich I have worn many times in the past and will wear many times in the future. It's the perfect LBD – every girl should have one!

I wish I'd never worn... stone-washed jeans and ridiculously high, stacked yellow, red, green and blue heels by Bilbo: really horrible.

It's not fashionable but I like ... to stay at home with my husband and children, and not to be out and about at all the right events.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... managing a difficult crisis. My instincts have served me well over the years.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... Formal meetings, I really can't bear formality.

All my money goes on... my children, our farm and rare breeds of animals.

My favourite building... Winchester Cathedral, which we visit regularly as my daughter's school services are held inside.

If I have time to myself... At weekends I go horseriding with my husband, or one of my daughters, for a few hours through the New Forest.

I ride... a thirteen-hand New Forest pony called April.

My house is... I bought my family's farm 12 years ago – it was practically derelict but my husband and I have restored it. It's on 16 acres of farmland in the middle of the New Forest in Hampshire. We are the keepers (for our generation) of two ancient oak trees – Adam & Eve – that are apparently chronicled in the Domesday Book.

My most valuable possession is... Possessions aren't valuable.

Movie heaven ... It may sound shallow but I love the Bourne trilogy.

A book that changed me... I love Bruce Chatwin's books, but The Songlines about the plight of the Aborigines in Australia is the one I keep returning to.

The best invention ever... The camera, I always have one in my bag so I can photograph new wannabes when I am out and about.

My favourite work of art... Mark Quinn's "Sphinx" sculpture.

The last album I bought/downloaded... Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree.

The person who really makes me laughs... I run Storm with my brother Simon, who is an academic with a photographic memory and a disgustingly good talent for mimicry. He's the best raconteur and can recite the whole of Life of Brian from memory.

The shop I can't walk past... It has to be Feathers, The Cross [both in Notting Hill, London] and FiFi Wilson [boutiques throughout London]. I don't have time for shopping, but they stock the most eclectic designers and I know I will always find good separates and accessories there.

In ten years' time, I hope to be... achieving a better work/life balance.

My greatest regret... I don't believe in them.

My life in seven words... I would have to borrow the following seven from the philosopher Seneca... "Life, if well lived, is long enough."

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