Beauty Heals: The Inspiring Story of Hamish Bowles
Last Updated: June 11, 2024By
Beauty Heals: The Inspiring Story of Hamish Bowles

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I recently got hooked on Hamish Bowles’s story about his recovery from a severe stroke. It’s not just because I love reading about life-changing events, but also because he talks about how beauty played a big part in his healing process.

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A Sudden Change

Bowles, who works as the editor-at-large for World of Interiors, was thinking about buying a fancy 1930s gold lamé Lanvin dress when his life took a sudden turn. He ended up in a hospital stroke unit for 50 days and then went to rehab for even longer. During his recovery, he found comfort in little things that made him feel like himself again, even when he was intubated and couldn’t talk. Imagine lying there and the scent of pomegranate potpourri filling your room or using violet-scented face cream. Friends like Anna Wintour sent lavender roses, and Marc Jacobs sent a beautiful flower arrangement while wearing a bright pink jacket. As Bowles got better, he visited art exhibitions and, for his first trip home, he wore a vintage purple corduroy suit.

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A Bit of Jealousy

While I’m sitting here in my old, stained H&M shirt and baggy pants, surrounded by dead plants I can’t be bothered to deal with, I couldn’t help but admire Bowles’s faith in beauty. His belief that beauty has the power to heal is truly touching. Plus, I have a soft spot for people who live and breathe aesthetics.

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The World of Aesthetes

When I say “aesthetes,” I’m talking about those designers, artists, and creative directors whose lives I follow online. Unlike the original aesthetes of the 19th century, who saw beauty as a virtue by itself, today’s aesthetes form a loose network of people who just love beautiful things. I follow them eagerly, dreaming of lives filled with perfectly chosen colors and objects. They know the history behind everything they own, and their homes are free from clutter like old kitchen rolls with nail clippings. Even though their lives seem perfect, I can’t help but love them, even if it’s with a mix of envy and admiration.

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The Complex Feelings

Why do I admire them? Being an aesthete isn’t like being a doctor or a nurse. In a world that can be really ugly, focusing on beauty might seem silly. But, even if finding the perfect antique Persian tiles for your kitchen backsplash isn’t world-saving, it’s still inspiring. It reminds me that beauty matters, even if it’s just in small ways.

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Inspiration is for Everyone

Sure, good taste can seem exclusive and tied to privilege. It feels like a private club where you need to know the right people and places. And let’s not forget the money aspect—luxurious items aren’t cheap. But inspiration is free. Modern aesthetes aren’t always born into luxury. Take Luke Edward-Hall, for example. He grew up in Basingstoke, surrounded by concrete and roundabouts, and found his love for beauty through a weekend job at the National Trust.

The Gift of Beauty

I’m not here to defend aesthetes as if they’re some kind of special group (I wouldn’t design a very pretty logo for their club anyway). But I do admire their passion. They care deeply about making everything beautiful and sharing that with others. It’s not exactly the democratic beauty Oscar Wilde talked about, but it feels generous. I love seeing beauty through their eyes. It’s a nice break from the boring, same-old stuff the internet keeps showing us.

A Beautiful Reminder

It’s heartwarming to know there are people out there who care so much about making the world beautiful. It’s a reminder that the world can be—and still is—full of beauty. And don’t we all need that reminder every now and then?

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