The Aesthete: Alexander Gilkes talks personal taste

Alexander Gilkes co-founded online auction house Paddle8, which has reimagined art collecting for the digital age

Alexander Gilkes at home in New York
Alexander Gilkes at home in New York | Image: Weston Wells

My personal style signifier is a Bhutanese prayer bracelet that I have worn for 13 years. It is completely faded now. When it breaks, the wish I made when it was given to me will supposedly come true.

Gilkes’ Whitehall Top-Frame Briefcase, £1,650
Gilkes’ Whitehall Top-Frame Briefcase, £1,650 | Image: Weston Wells

The last thing I bought and loved was a Whitehall Top-Frame Briefcase by leather specialists Swaine Adeney Brigg and the curator-designer Alex Eagle. I love the traditional form and the modernity of the blue, and it reminds me of my father’s bag: he was a dermatologist, and for fun he would sometimes pull a canister of liquid nitrogen from his briefcase and throw it on the floor to create a cloud of smoke, like a magician. £1,650;


The thing I’m eyeing next is a gold 1972 Citroën SM that an artist friend told me about. Citroëns from the 1970s and 1980s are rather niche but a bit undervalued. I live in Manhattan and don’t own a car now, but this one would give me all the more reason to drive upstate to the beach at weekends.

A gold 1972 Citroën SM
A gold 1972 Citroën SM | Image: Alamy Stock Photo

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a short, camel-coloured linen jacket by the Australian designer Patrick Johnson. I have many pieces by Patrick, ranging from towelling beach shirts to suits. I like his informal tailoring; I don’t often wear traditional suits. From £860;

Gilkes’ MH40 Over-Ear Headphones by Master & Dynamic, £369
Gilkes’ MH40 Over-Ear Headphones by Master & Dynamic, £369 | Image: Weston Wells

The object I would never part with is my wireless MH40 Over-Ear Headphones by Master & Dynamic. The leather is really soft, so they don’t hurt my ears; the sound quality is superb; and I like their retro look. I have three pairs, in different colours, and I’m always carrying one. £369;

The Bathhouse at the South Kensington Club
The Bathhouse at the South Kensington Club

A recent “find” is Cha Cha Matcha, a café in NoLita. It’s next to my apartment, and I have become the pitiful New Yorker who orders a ginger turmeric matcha on ice with hemp milk and an extra shot. It offers a calmer wake-up than normal coffee. $6;

Byredo Super Cedar eau de parfum, £142 for 100ml
Byredo Super Cedar eau de parfum, £142 for 100ml

The best gift I have given recently was dance classes at Manhattan’s Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory to a friend whose girlfriend trained in classical ballet and was fed up with his lack of skill on the dancefloor. He took them in secret and it has transformed their relationship.


The last meal that truly impressed me was at Restaurant de Canet in Esporles, Mallorca, last summer. I was on my way to Deià to holiday with Jay Jopling and Hikari Yokoyama. We stopped at this nondescript roadside restaurant and ended up feasting on an unbelievably good grilled rabbit and snail stew with lemon zest and tarragon, washed down with an exceptional local wine.

An indulgence I would never forgo is a parenia, a Russian banya (sauna) treatment at The Bathhouse at the South Kensington Club. There’s a deep-heat treatment in the banya, then the therapist stimulates and massages the skin with oak, birch and eucalyptus leaves before you plunge into cold water. Afterwards, they wrap you in muslin and an otherworldly euphoria sets in. I first experienced this type of treatment when I lived in St Petersburg as a student, and the South Ken Club has nailed it. From £42 for members;

The beauty and grooming staples I’m never without are my alcohol-free Windsor Stick Deodorant by DR Harris, which I buy from its flagship in St James’s; Marvis toothpaste, because I love the old-school packaging; and Byredo’s Super Cedar eau de parfum – I was given two bottles as a gift at a wedding last year and have worn it since. Byredo Super Cedar eau de parfum, £142 for 100ml; Marvis toothpaste, from £6.50 for 75ml; Windsor Stick Deodorant, £13.50;

My favourite websites and apps are – I love the photography and cast of characters in their personal spaces – and the Tablet Hotels app, to find places to stay.

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