Kim Jones

I confess, I’ve always been something of a Dunhill geek, a condition made all the worse on a recent trip to London (via the fine and generous folks at VisitBritain), where I toured Dunhill’s famed flagship in Mayfair known as Bourdon House. It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that while low-key on the outside in that a proper British way, a few steps in and it’s a den of obscene luxury and gentlemanly pampering. Not only will you find all the fine suiting, accessories and high-end gadgets you could ever dream of (though not yet the elusive DNA pen that works only for the genetically rightful owner), but also museum-quality archives, a spa, traditional barber, private screening room and, of course, an upscale pub when all that finery has dun you in. Flash forward to now. It’s New York Fashion Week and Dunhill has recreated Bourdon House in the Meatpacking with a sampling of the goodies found in the original. Just before its launch, I spoke with Kim Jones, who’s on his third season as creative director, about building the house of Dunhill for today’s man, then rebuilding it stateside. Here’s what I learned, in random sound-bite format…

“Fall was inspired by a journal we found of Clement Court, an ambassador for Dunhill who traveled to Kyoto on the Trans-Siberian Express in the 1920s. He wanted to see firsthand how Namiki pens were made. The result was our trademark Maki-e pen using the lacquer tree of Japan. It’s so amazing.”

“We used a lot of military fabrics and colorways for fall because that was very much part of Clement’s journey—things like waterproof wool, hidden zippers and reversible pockets. But then we also have three-piece suits with knitted ties.”

“There are so many brilliant things in the archives. I look in, but try not to look too much or I’ll get swallowed up by the vastness of it.”

“Everyone knows Dunhill made saddles, but we found out recently that Dunhill was a flag-maker as well. We’re finding things out all the time.”

“We use 90% English fabrics and all of them are exclusive. When I first got to Dunhill we had a huge collection of fabrics. I narrowed it down to the most signature fabrics.”

“This lapel has a really nice shaved-beaver trim. Everyone laughs when I say that. It also has a mink lining, just to be frivolous.”

“Here’s a windowpane-check suit. It reminds me of Rubert the Bear, a cartoon we have in England. And I love these camel coats that have a teddy-bear feel.”

“I think about those boys who love dressing up and wearing their dads’ clothes. Dunhill is very cross-generational.”

“The print on this shirt is a compilation of prints from a book of fabrics we found in the archives from 1900.”

“The Dunhill logo is exactly as it used to be. I only added the oak leaves around it.”

“This is a waxed leather bomber that we’ve done every season. It’s very Kim Jones-y.”

“We used this rubberized leather in one of our bags and I wanted to see how it would look as a hiking shoe. You can completely wipe it clean. I have mine on right now.”

“This is a high-tech laptop case that if you drop it, the laptop won’t break. Unless customs makes you take it out and they drop it, which is what happened to me.”

“Alfred Dunhill was definitely an inventor. You know how when you open your fridge there’s a light that goes on? He invented that light to go in his wife’s bag when they went to theater. Genius, right?”

“Here’s a duffel bag with art-deco detailing through a process where we inject silicone in the leather to give it that pattern.”

“Our philosophy is to combine technology, functionality and travel, the three things a man needs.”

“We discovered this old leather envelope in the archives. We thought it so beautiful that we decided to make it into travel wallets and passport cases, with actual stamps.”

“These are boxes made out of flint from the bottom of the Thames and polished. Same with these glasses. But they’re just for show, please don’t drop them.”

“Jewelry is a big part of what we do. These are clip-on watches for your lapel or breast pocket. We also do detailing like mother-of-pearl in the heel of a men’s shoe.”

“These are flasks made with shagreen, or sting ray. Genghis Khan used to wear it for armor. Could I interest you in this shagreen game compendium [chess set]? It’s only £45 thousand.”

“Over here we have a satchel made with scratch-resistant leather used for decks on yachts. It’s almost bullet proof, but don’t test that.”

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