The Aesthete: Kilian Hennessy talks more personal taste

The man behind the By Kilian fragrance brand continues his list of likes with Klimt, chocolatiers and The Connaught

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

My style icon is my late grandfather, also called Kilian Hennessy. He always wore an elegant suit and he loved Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior – he had a huge bottle of it and every morning he would wet his hair very thoroughly with it. The combination of Eau Sauvage and his pipe tobacco is my olfactory memory of him. He went blind early in his life but I never heard him complain; he was a model not only of style but dignity.

The Kiss by Klimt
The Kiss by Klimt | Image: Getty Images

The best gift I’ve given recently was a necklace from Elie Top’s Mécaniques Célestes collection to my wife for her birthday. It has a cage system made of articulated compartments and interlocking cages that open and close. From £7,000;


And the best one I’ve received is the silver and black Rolex Daytona watch my wife gave me when we married three years ago.

Chocolate at Jacques Genin in Paris
Chocolate at Jacques Genin in Paris | Image: Jacques Genin

The last music I downloaded was Lost on You by LP. I love her voice: it’s so unique, broken and poetic. She performs using guitar, ukulele or harmonica, and the mix is terribly sexy to me.

Lost on You by LP
Lost on You by LP

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are my hairstylist Andrew Chen in New York, because he “gets” my hair, and my chiropractor, Wanda Lopez, because she knows the body like no chiropractor I have ever met. L’Appartement Hair Boudoir, 7th Floor, 5 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-355 2730; Wanda Lopez, 120 E 56th St, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-319 3433;

The Ladder Shed bar at Chiltern Firehouse in London
The Ladder Shed bar at Chiltern Firehouse in London | Image: François Halard

The best book I’ve read in the past year is the biography of Alexis de Tocqueville by Christine Kerdellant. He wrote to his girlfriend in Paris, “these American people, they eat so much at lunchtime they are going to end up obese”. That was nearly 200 years ago, and it’s still true today. 


The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a black feather. A little girl came up to me at the Silsileh Temple in Egypt and gave it to me, making a long speech about how it was going to protect me against disease. I had just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and this feather suddenly felt charged with energy. I keep it on my bookshelf at home.

If I didn’t live in Paris and New York, the city I would live in is London. It’s so creative, with a freedom of expression that’s very refreshing. I love the Coburg Bar at The Connaught for the mini croque-monsieur; Scott’s for fish and a fun crowd; Galerie Kreo to browse contemporary pieces; Chiltern Firehouse for a drink after dinner; and then Loulou’s at midnight for the cool vibe. Chiltern Firehouse, 1 Chiltern St, W1 (020-7073 7676; The Connaught, Carlos Pl, W1 (020-7499 7070; Galerie Kreo, 14A Hay Hill, W1 (020-7499 4611; Loulou’s, 2-5 Hertford St, W1 (020-7408 2100; Scott’s, 20 Mount St, W1 (020-7495 7309;

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Klimt. I love his construction; there is always more than meets the eye. His use of gold and amber has also influenced my work. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Le Marais in Paris because it is so young and vibrant. I recently bought an ink of a smoking skull by Bhakti Baxter at Galerie Perrotin and when my wife comes over from New York we shop for her at the Alaïa boutique. The chocolatier Jacques Genin uses unusual ingredients such as jasmine – his work inspired my Noir Aphrodisiaque fragrance. We eat at Frenchie – the ambience is half Parisian bistro, half NY loft, serving French food with a highly creative twist – or we head to L’Ambroisie for a cosy candlelit dinner. Alaïa, 7 Rue de Moussy, 75004 (+331-4272 3069; Frenchie, 5 Rue du Nil, 75002 (+331-4039 9619; Galerie Perrotin, 76 Rue de Turenne, 75003 (+331-4216 7979: Jacques Genin, 133 Rue de Turenne, 75003 (+331-4577 2901: L’Ambroisie, 9 Place des Vosges, 75004 (+331-4278 5145;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an architect, to create buildings for eternity; or a chef – there is so much more we could do with food if we were willing to be more experimental. 

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