The Aesthete: Kilian Hennessy talks personal taste

The scion of the Cognac family is the founder and creative director of the cult perfume brand By Kilian

Kilian Hennessy at home in New York
Kilian Hennessy at home in New York | Image: Dorothy Hong Photography

My personal style signifier is a white shirt. I have them made for me in soft poplin by JLR in Paris. They all have the same collars but some are designed for cufflinks for black tie events and some with two-button cuffs, which I like to roll up. I buy more than 20 a year; I never travel with luggage, so I need them in New York and Paris, where I divide my time. From €135; 50 Boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 Paris (+331-4293 2519; jlrparis.com).

Sunrise over Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sunrise over Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia | Image: Alamy

The last things I bought and loved were six 10th-century Persian Nishapur hand-painted bowls. The man I think of as my godfather is an archaeologist, and he gave me one seven years ago. I now have 12. Artcurial, 7 Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées Marcel-Dassault, 75008 Paris (+331-4299 2020; artcurial.com).

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And the things I’m eyeing up next are two nightstands by Hervé Van der Straeten. They are architectural but elegant, with pale-pink suede tops held up with gold blocks. I fell in love with them. Price on request; 11 Rue Ferdinand Duval, 75004 Paris (+331-4278 9999; vanderstraeten.fr).

Hennessy’s carved jade stone, which he carries in his pocket for protection
Hennessy’s carved jade stone, which he carries in his pocket for protection | Image: Dorothy Hong Photography

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year was Cambodia. The 5am sunrise over Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple was absolutely breathtaking. A local told me that you come for the first time to visit the temples but you come back for the people, and it’s true. 

Black cod at Sushi Azabu in New York
Black cod at Sushi Azabu in New York

The grooming staple I’m never without is Crème de la Mer, which I only recently discovered. I use the super-moisturising Intensive Revitalizing Mask during long flights. My fragrance, of course, is Kilian: Noir Aphrodisiaque, Straight to Heaven or Back to Black, depending on my mood and the occasion. £115 for 75ml; cremedelamer.co.uk. From €215 for 50ml; bykilian.com.

Crème de la Mer Intensive Revitalizing Mask, £115 for 75ml
Crème de la Mer Intensive Revitalizing Mask, £115 for 75ml

In my fridge you’ll always find a lot of cheese that I buy from Barthélémy in Paris; I’ve yet to find a good cheese shop in New York. Also Belvedere vodka, tonic, soya yoghurt, smoked salmon from Gourmet Garage, and lemons and coconut water for the morning after a tough night out. Barthélémy, 51 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (+331-4222 8224). Gourmet Garage, 489 Broome St, New York, NY 10013 (+1212-941 5850; gourmetgarage.com).

Hennessy’s Saint Laurent boots
Hennessy’s Saint Laurent boots | Image: Dorothy Hong Photography

An indulgence I would never forgo is red wine. I like Bourgogne, Côtes de Nuits and Nuits-Saint-Georges.

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A recent “find” is Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York. It’s an incredible place: a lot of its pieces require at least 12 craftspeople. My wife went to the opening, and called me saying, “You have to come down, there is a dining room table by Ingrid Donat to die for.” So we bought it. 693 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-829 0610; carpentersworkshopgallery.com).

An object I would never part with is a carved jade stone, which I always carry in my pocket. A friend gave it to me for protection about three years ago because I was getting bad news after bad.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of boots by Saint Laurent. They have a decent height heel that I love – because for men, as for women, the higher the heel the better the posture. When I saw them I said to myself, “Man, I gotta start wearing higher heels.” 3 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-980 2970; ysl.com).

My favourite room in my house is my bedroom in New York. I have everything I need in there, books and a bed – that’s it. It is decorated in shades of white and cream, so it’s very restful.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Sushi Azabu in New York where the fish is flown in daily from Japan. We ordered silken tofu with salmon, black cod and an assortment of sushi, and drank cold sake – I only drink it cold. 428 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013 (+1212-274 0428; sushi-azabu.com).

My favourite websites and apps are Pinterest to create my mood boards when working on new collections, and OpenTable for last-minute restaurant reservations.

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