The Aesthete: Alexander Gilkes talks more personal taste

The co-founder of online auction house Paddle8 continues his list of likes with shopping in NoLita, Berber hats and artist Yves Klein

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

My style icon is David Hockney. With his round glasses, weathered Panama, wingback trousers and bright colour palette, he has such a distinguished look – a foppish, dandyish demeanour with great personality. It’s not how I would dress, but I admire his style. He’s instantly recognisable; so many artists aren’t.

The best gift I received recently was a portable Marshall speaker from my father. It has a retro look, like the old-fashioned amplifiers. It’s my faithful companion on every trip I take, and the epicentre of all good gatherings. From £209;

David Hockney
David Hockney | Image: Getty Images

If I didn’t live in New York, I would live in Seville. I speak the language and I like the fact that it is a city that is not about work. I always stay at Corral del Rey, where many of the rooms have a plunge pool and a private terrace with views of the city’s spires. I have tapas and manzanilla at El Rinconcillo, an old bar where the locals go – you write your order on the countertop – and I love the flamenco nights at Casa Anselma. It’s a rather formal city, so there are quite a few hat shops, but I always buy mine from Sombreros Antonio García. Casa Anselma, Calle Pagés del Corro 49 (+34606-162 502). Corral del Rey, Calle Corral del Rey 12 (+34954-227 116; El Rinconcillo, Calle Gerona 40 (+34954-223 183; Sombreros Antonio García, Calle Alcaicería de la Loza 25 (+34954-222 320;

The best book I read in the past year was Marina Abramovic’s memoir, Walk Through Walls. It divulges much about her life, from her romances to her relationship with her parents. Marina, who is a great friend of mine, has incredible self-discipline: she will regularly spend time in a cabin next to the river by her house, meditating, drinking only water and writing her thoughts in a notebook.


The best souvenir I bought recently was a traditional Berber hat from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco that I gave to my brother. Local hats are my staple souvenir gifts: over the years I’ve brought back dried banana-leaf hats from Zanzibar, woven wicker fezzes from Morocco and wide-brimmed gaucho hats from Chile

In my fridge you’ll always find a bottle or two of Krug, lots of beers, a few lemons and, if you’re lucky, some almond milk or a tub of hummus. I have to confess, it’s the ultimate lad fridge.

Gilkes’ Marshall speaker
Gilkes’ Marshall speaker | Image: Weston Wells

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose NoLita in New York, where I’m currently living. The husband-and-wife team at Feit makes amazing shoes from single pieces of leather: I love their hiking boots. Cire Trudon is candle heaven, and I buy clothes at APC and The Quality Mending Co., which sells vintage pieces and its own line of menswear. Uncle Boons, which feels like a bar in 1980s Phuket, has a great take on Thai food: it serves jasmine sausage and a punchy chicken salad that blows the roof of your mouth off. APC, 49 Bond St, 10012 (+212-966 0049; Cire Trudon, 248 Elizabeth St, 10012 (+212-203 0453; Feit, 2 Prince Street, 10012 (+212-226 8600; The Quality Mending Co, 15 Prince Street, 10012 (+212-334 5334; Uncle Boons, 7 Spring St, 10012 (+646-370 6650;

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Yves Klein: I love his blue, but his works are all in museum hands now. I was mesmerised when I saw Body, Colour, Immaterial, the exhibition devoted to him at the Pompidou in 2007.

Traditional Berber hats
Traditional Berber hats | Image: Getty Images

An unforgettable place that I have visited in the past year was Chile. I went with six friends, and we started at the Viña Vik wine estate, which is about 150km from Santiago. It belongs to Norwegian entrepreneur Alexander Vik, whose house is like Scaramanga’s lair, overlooking his vineyards. We then went to northern Patagonia and stayed at Dos Lagos, an incredible private lodge in the distant reaches of Chile’s lake district, and a farmstead owned by Captain Robin Westcott, who took us around the fjords and glaciers in his traditional wooden boat. We also flew to San Pedro de Atacama and spent a few days hiking, riding and hitting the geysers and the natural springs.

The last music I downloaded was Depending On You by Nightlands from the album I Can Feel the Night Around Me and Sage Comme Une Image by Bottin featuring Jupiter. I run at least twice a week and I create playlists that stretch from classical to funk.

Dos Lagos in Chile
Dos Lagos in Chile

The people I rely on for grooming and wellbeing are Modo Yoga in Greenwich Village for hot yoga and Keith Smith in London for haircuts; his appointments are by referral only. From $20;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a documentary maker, creating films about weird and wonderful people – the undiscovered originals.


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