Phillip Lim talks personal taste: Part One

Phillip Lim’s womenswear combines street cool and tailored femininity, while his CFDA award-winning menswear exudes contemporary minimalism

Phillip Lim
Phillip Lim | Image: Weston Wells

My personal style signifier is dressing in navy blue – whether that’s jeans, a jumpsuit or a tailored jacket – and I always have a scarf to hand. I like them for all seasons, in every fabric – wool, cashmere, silk and lighter linens; I collect them wherever I travel. I am a classicist at heart but always like to have an edge.

Lim’s brass Tibetan prayer bowl from a trip to the Himalayas
Lim’s brass Tibetan prayer bowl from a trip to the Himalayas | Image: Weston Wells

The last thing I bought and loved was a Santa Clara Pueblo vase from New Mexico. The beautiful redware pottery reminds me of the light on buildings in towns I visited there, like Santa Fe and Las Cruces.


And the thing I’m eyeing next is a Conoid bench [pictured] by American woodworker George Nakashima. I’m inspired by things that incorporate nature and show the hand of the artisan; this sculptural piece is a hefty plank of wood, the grain clearly visible, with a simple back and legs. It would look great in the living room of my loft. About $15,000;

Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes

The last music I downloaded was the Alabama Shakes album Sound & Color. It combines elements of jazz, blues and Southern rock into a totally modern sound. I equate them with someone like Amy Winehouse – a disrupter, a fresh voice on the contemporary music scene.

American black walnut Conoid bench by George Nakashima, about $15,000
American black walnut Conoid bench by George Nakashima, about $15,000 | Image: George Nakashima Woodworker

A recent “find” is a store called Cowboys and Indians in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is filled with antique treasures, from Navajo rugs to Cherokee baskets and jewellery. I bought some beautiful 1930s Mexican silver and turquoise bracelets. 4000 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108 (+1505-255 4054;

Bronze A Muse, 1917, by Constantin Brâncusi
Bronze A Muse, 1917, by Constantin Brâncusi | Image: © Bridgeman Images © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

The sight that inspires me is the Atlantic Ocean, as seen from the East End of Long Island. I call this stretch the “green velvet rage” because the combination of sand and rolling waves creates a particular colour. It clears my mind and fills me with gratitude.

Hermès Poivre Samarcande, £167 for 100ml EDT
Hermès Poivre Samarcande, £167 for 100ml EDT

The last meal that truly impressed me was a dinner en plein air at North Brooklyn Farms, a community green space in Williamsburg. The early fall night was magical and we ate with a view of the Manhattan skyline. The food was prepared by Williamsburg farm-to-table restaurant Marlow & Sons, and the burrata, poached bass with shaved fennel and peach-basil macaroons were very special. Everyone – even guests who have been all over the world and are hard to impress – was seduced by the meal’s simplicity. 320 Kent Ave, New York, NY 11249 (


The artists whose work I would collect if I could are Constantin Brâncus¸i – his sculptures often inform my designs – and Francis Bacon, whose work is classical yet savage, beautiful yet grotesque.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a brass Tibetan prayer bowl from when we shot our fall 2015 campaign in the Himalayas. It is traditionally used in monasteries to cleanse the atmosphere and makes a beautiful sound. It sits in my living room and reminds me of a trip that perfectly combined work and play.

The grooming staples I’m never without include Poivre Samarcande fragrance by Hermès, which I wear all the time; it is subtle yet distinctive, so I don’t smell like everyone else. I like the Eye and Lip Smoother from Australian skincare line Sodashi because it’s free from parabens and anything artificial, and Como Shambhala’s Invigorate Shampoo, which is very refreshing. Como Shambhala Invigorate Shampoo, £14 for 300ml; Hermès Poivre Samarcande, £167 for 100ml EDT; Sodashi Eye and Lip Smoother, £90 for 30ml;

An indulgence I would never forgo is my triple black Porsche 911 Turbo. This is my fourth – I trade them in every three years – and I love to drive it out east at the weekend. It’s called Beyoncé.

My favourite websites are for this Danish designer’s made-to-order furniture;, a Canadian men’s streetwear site; for ceramics and gift ideas; and for daily news.

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