The Aesthete: James Taffin de Givenchy talks more personal taste

The high-jewellery designer continues his list of likes with Japanese culinary adventures, a road trip through the Arizona desert and a “karmic gift”

James Taffin de Givenchy at home in New York
James Taffin de Givenchy at home in New York | Image: Weston Wells

My style icon is Philippe Venet. He was my uncle Hubert’s life partner for 65 years and his taste was impeccable. As a fashion designer, a proper tailleur, he made all of his own jackets and suits in very slim silhouettes. I always considered him to be the chicest, most in-the-know guy around; his aesthetic was singular.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Japan – it’s a refreshingly civilised country and I had such a fabulous experience in this different, bustling world. Tokyo is a transformative city: from the luxurious, authentic Hoshinoya hotel to the Tsukiji Fish Market at 5am, complete with a sushi breakfast, there is an incredible mix of classic and contemporary culture. The food was interesting because I thought I was an adventurous eater, but my incredible omakase meal at Sushi Kanesaka was on a whole other level. Hoshinoya, 1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0004 (+8150-3786 1144; Sushi Kanesaka, 1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005 (+813-3211 5323; Tsukiji Fish Market,

Fashion designer Philippe Venet, Hubert de Givenchy’s life partner
Fashion designer Philippe Venet, Hubert de Givenchy’s life partner | Image: Fairchild Archive/Rex/Shutterstock

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a funny little plastic dog that I bought at the open-air market outside the Senso-ji temple in Tokyo. This kitsch little green and white toy barks and then breaks into song. I love it.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Pablo Picasso. It’s a bit of a cliché, but I am obsessed with his work. I particularly love his very colourful 1930s paintings rather than his later work in the black and grey tones. 


The grooming product that I’m never without is GG Fortified Moisturiser by dermatologist Dr Gervaise Gerstner. All her products are excellent, but this is particularly hydrating and lightweight. $55 for 1.6oz;

In my fridge you’ll always find Dijon mustard. I am a big cook and I will go to great lengths to find the really good stuff. I always bring back Maille and Amora from France; they are properly strong, unlike the kinds you get in the US. You’ll also find all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and boxes of Lord Jones CBD gumdrops. They’re pain relievers that are kept in the fridge.

De Givenchy’s barking, singing toy dog that he bought in Tokyo
De Givenchy’s barking, singing toy dog that he bought in Tokyo | Image: Weston Wells

The site that inspires me is the Painted Desert in the American Southwest. The drive through Arizona and on to Santa Fe, New Mexico, is stunning. The colours, the light and the wide expanses in that part of the world are unlike anywhere else. 

The last music I downloaded was for the playlists that I like to listen to in my studio. Right now, I’m particularly into the indie band Spoon and their album, Hot Thoughts. I love listening to music, but never with headphones.

Kappo Masa restaurant, New York
Kappo Masa restaurant, New York

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the area around the 6th and 7th arrondissements in Paris. I love Le Bon Marché for meats and cheeses, and the Galerie J Kugel is one of the greatest antiquaries in the world. For clothing, Lanieri Atelier, set on a side street, sells beautiful shirts, jackets and suits. Le Petit Lutetia is a wonderful bistro and the perfect spot for a quick lunch between shops, as is Brasserie Lipp, where I used to go with my uncle. The lovely little Le Saint hotel is a great addition to this area as well. Brasserie Lipp, 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 (+331-4548 5391; Galerie J Kugel, 25 Quai Anatole France, 75007 (+331-4260 8623; Lanieri Atelier Paris, 7 Rue du Pré aux Clercs, 75007 (+336-3886 1938; Le Bon Marché, 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 (+331-4439 8000; Le Petit Lutetia, 107 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 (+331-4548 3353). Le Saint hotel, 3 Rue du Pré aux Clercs, 75007 (+331-4261 0151;

The person I rely on for personal wellbeing is Lou Abato at Ultimate Training Center in New York. I see him religiously twice a week and he takes me through high-intensity interval training called SuperSlow, which is especially good for anyone over 40 because it’s safer on the joints. 532 Madison Ave #7, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-207 8154).


A recent “find” is a hidden gem called Torishin on West 53rd Street in Midtown, New York. This 45-seat spot, which serves an all-yakitori omakase menu, holds a Michelin star but is very unassuming. I also recently stumbled upon Kappo Masa, another Japanese restaurant, which is sort of hidden beneath the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. I like the airy room and the open kitchen because you’re assured a bit of theatre with your excellent sushi. Kappo Masa, 976 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10075 (+1212-906 7141; Torishin, 362 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019 (+1212-757 0108; 

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a musician and, specifically, a violinist. It’s always been a dream of mine, but I never put in the time to become good at it. I am, however, a great whistler!The best gifts I’ve received recently were a painting that my 17-year-old daughter gave me for Father’s Day – the trip to the framer was almost as special – and a karmic gift: a ruby ring with a gold shank that had been lost for some time and which I found in my carry-on bag. It must have fallen in.

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