Phillip Lim talks personal taste: Part Two

The fashion designer rounds up his list of likes with spicy sauces, a thirst for Buddhist knowledge and rebooting in his steam shower

Phillip Lim
Phillip Lim | Image: Weston Wells

My style icons are people who have confidence in their looks combined with a slight eccentricity, such as designers Stefano Pilati and Phoebe Philo. Fashion blogger Leandra Medine – aka Man Repeller – carries herself with great style and confidence as well. These three look true to themselves; they’re not trying too hard.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Bhutan. This country is literally heaven on earth; it’s both geographically stunning and incredibly spiritual as it’s the last Buddhist kingdom. I stayed in a series of Aman Resorts and each one was individual and authentic.

Image: Weston Wells

The last item I added to my wardrobe was a pair of suede hiking boots from my menswear line, for navigating the streets of New York in style throughout the seasons, and several handwoven scarves [second picture] embellished with tribal patterns that I picked up on a trip to Ethiopia.

In my fridge you’ll always find a variety of hot sauces – including Sriracha, Cholula and my mother’s very spicy, secret blend – which I use on vegetables and meat dishes; fresh fruit and veg; ginger for cooking; coconut water; and unpasteurised sake.


If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose SoHo in New York, where you can find everything in a tight radius. I love If for high-fashion labels you can no longer find easily elsewhere, and De Vera for rare objects and curiosities. Modernlink is great for Scandinavian furniture, while Double Knot is a wonderful shop full of vintage and one-of-a-kind carpets. The excellent local butcher, Japan Premium Beef, has the best cuts of meat. De Vera, 1 Crosby St (+1212-625 0838; Double Knot, 13 White St (+212-966 9113; If, 94 Grand St (+1212-334 4964; Japan Premium Beef, 57 Great Jones St (+1212-260 2333). Modernlink, 35 Bond St (+1212-254 1300;

The best gift I’ve given recently was a first birthday party for my godson. It was held at a children’s play centre called Kidville in Brooklyn and included a great group of people – both young and old. Turning one is a huge accomplishment and I was happy to celebrate with him. 808 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (+1718-569 2150;

Image: Tadasu Yamamoto

And the best one I’ve received recently was a brass bangle from my guide on a trip to Ethiopia. He belonged to the Amhara and I admired his stack of bracelets that jangled to make music. He took one off and presented it to me. It was such a personal and meaningful gesture.

An object I would never part with is a black naga stone given to me by the queen mother of Bhutan, Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck. I was introduced to her on a recent visit through a mutual friend and we had a very special connection. She insists I must have been Bhutanese in a past life and gave me this very special holy stone from her garden. It now sits in my bedroom at my home in SoHo.

Image: Divine Light Photography

My favourite room in my house is my steam shower. It’s a spare, simple space and the place I go to relax and reboot.

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Tokyo, where each neighbourhood has a distinctive feel; it’s a city of both chaos and convenience. From Aoyama to Daikanyama to Omotesando, I love the original street style and the diversity of architecture, the great food, vintage shopping and excellent hotels such as the Park Hyatt. And I’d like to spend more time exploring Naoshima’s “art island” with its incredible museums, including the Benesse House Museum [third picture] and Ando Museum, and high-tech installations. The Japanese treat everyone with respect and they all possess a certain elegance. Ando Museum, 736-2 Naoshima, Kagawa (+8187-892 3754; Benesse House Museum, Gotanji, Naoshima, Kagawa (+8187-892 3223; Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku (+813-5322 1234;

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Mark Bustos of Three Squares Studio [fourth picture] for my regular haircut – he’s a great stylist and gives haircuts to the homeless every Sunday, which I think says a lot about him; and my physio Dr Nina Figueroa of Base Physical Therapy, who keeps me aligned. Base Physical Therapy, 47 West 14th St, New York, NY 10011 (+1917-533 4535; Three Squares Studio, 444 West 17th St, New York, NY 10011 (+1917-847 3384;

The books on my bedside table include Creativity, Inc. [fifth picture] by Pixar president Ed Catmull, and Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön, which is all about developing compassion towards others. I also have The Diamond Cutter – a book that fuses Tibetan Buddhism with practical business strategy. I love self-help books and acquiring knowledge.


If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a farmer with plenty of land to harvest and lots of sunshine. In an ideal world, I’d be a seaweed farmer in Thailand so I could be near the ocean as well.

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