The Aesthete: Michael Hill talks personal taste

The creative director and co-owner of Drake’s has put his eccentric but contemporary stamp on the 40-year-old artisanal haberdashery

Michael Hill at his London apartment
Michael Hill at his London apartment | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My personal style signifier is my colourful watch – I own several Swatches. I love beautiful luxury watches too, but the Swatch’s simplicity appeals to me. It’s a nostalgic thing going back to my father giving me my first watch when I was at school and the boys all having a different one. There’s a strong collectors’ market for rare editions. From £32;

Hill’s Derby boots by Yohei Fukuda
Hill’s Derby boots by Yohei Fukuda | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

The last item of clothing I bought and loved was a raincoat called The Corb, based on a piece worn by Le Corbusier. It’s by a wonderful Japanese brand called Cohérence, which is still hard to come by outside Asia. Its outerwear has the full, classic silhouette you rarely see in menswear these days. The coat pairs with everything from tailoring to more casual items. And it never fails to keep me dry – a necessity in London. $1,300;


And the item of clothing I’m eyeing next is a pair of Chambord shoes by Paraboot, which has been making amazing footwear for over a century. I love shoes that have a certain ruggedness but can be worn with casual tailoring. From £245;

The Trunk menswear store in Marylebone
The Trunk menswear store in Marylebone | Image: Tom Griffiths

The grooming staple I’m never without is Orange Blossom Water by Santa Maria Novella: it has such a light, refreshing scent. Acqua di Fior d’Arancio, £22 for 250ml; 1 Piccadilly Arcade, London W1 (020-7493 1975;

Santa Maria Novella Orange Blossom Water, £22 for 250ml. A silk scarf that belonged to Hill’s father. His Swatch watch, £32
Santa Maria Novella Orange Blossom Water, £22 for 250ml. A silk scarf that belonged to Hill’s father. His Swatch watch, £32 | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty (scarf)

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Shetland Islands, where we shot our autumn/winter campaign. We were looking for a wild, untamed backdrop and found it. The terrain is grand, vast and beautiful. And the people who live there are remarkable. 

The Shetland Islands
The Shetland Islands | Image: Getty Images

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home in the past year is a collection of kilim rugs from Jaipur. I was in India to see some traditional block printing being done, and the rugs were the finest I had ever seen. I brought back as many as I could carry. I intended them for my home in Devon, but they ended up as decor in our London and New York stores.


If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Marylebone in London. It has a cosy neighbourhood feel and covers all the bases: tastefully curated menswear from Trunk; beautiful food from La Fromagerie and The Ginger Pig; as well as gems such as Cadenhead’s whisky store, Daunt Books and Blanc, an eco-friendly dry cleaners I frequent. Blanc, 79 George St (020-8004 2630; Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop & Tasting Room, 26 Chiltern Street (020-7935 6999; Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street (020-7224 2295; The Ginger Pig, 8-10 Moxon Street (020-3869 7820; La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxon Street (020-7935 0341; Trunk, 8 Chiltern High Street (020-7486 2357). 

The items of clothing I would never part with are my father’s and great grandfather’s old silk shirts and scarves. My father, Charles Hill, was one of London’s last artisanal tie makers, who went into business with Michael Drake; his shirts were beautifully made by my great grandfather, Leslie Brown, himself a tie and shirtmaker. Pieces belonging to both have tremendous sentimental value and are an important part of our family history. 

A recent “find” is Yohei Fukuda, a remarkable Japanese shoemaker in Tokyo who trained in Northampton with some of the world’s finest cordwainers. He recently made me a pair of Derby boots with exquisite detailing. From about £3,200;

An indulgence I would never forgo is natural wine; life would be very boring without it. I’ll drink anything from winemaker Julien Altaber, but I’m particularly fond of his Coteaux Bourguignons.

My favourite websites are the fine art auction site, which provides me with a little too much temptation at times;, when I am in search of interiors inspiration; and for its irresistible selection of expertly curated wines.