Kim Jones Designed Sneakers for Hennessy—Even Though He Doesn’t Drink

Fashion

Chances are, Kim Jones made your favorite sneakers—or at least, they would be your favorite, if they hadn’t sold out in five seconds. He’s the artistic director at Dior Men and the brains behind the “Air Dior” Nikes that literally broke the brand’s website, plus collabs with Converse, those coveted skate slip-ons at Louis Vuitton, and that monogram pair with Supreme that’s only available in limited stock on The RealReal. (If you’re more into heels, don’t panic. Mr. Jones is also in charge of Fendi’s womenswear collection, where these stratospheric boots are currently going fast.)

Now, in an unlikely partnership, Jones is joining forces with Hennessy, the prestigious French cognac brand that’s technically older than America. (It was founded in 1765, but alas, was never name-checked in Hamilton.) The main caveat? Although Hennessy X.O is an exquisite pour, Kim Jones doesn’t drink. Ever. “I’m really allergic!” he laughs when I ask him if he did any sip-and-sketch rounds for his sneaker designs. “I wanted to try it because I wanted to see why everyone was so obsessed by it, but you know, it just doesn’t agree with me.” Instead, Jones used the classic brandy’s rich brown color story. “And since drinking Hennessy X.O is part of both formal and casual gatherings, it was really important for [the sneakers] to fit into any wardrobe in a different way.” Jones also created a decanter and bottle for the cognac, which is—surprise—owned by the same parent company as Dior itself.

kim jones hennessy

Hennessy X.O sneakers, designed by Kim Jones.

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When most people buy a bottle of Hennessy, they probably drink it (or at least gift it to someone special). But when they venture to buy a coveted Kim Jones sneaker, they might try and flip it for double the value instead. Is Jones cool with that? “I’ve seen a lot of my friends’ kids do that, actually! I think some of them have made loads of money,” he laughs. “But then they take that money and buy more sneakers, or other clothes they really want. To be honest, at that age, I didn’t have that kind of ingenuity. So those guys? My hat’s off to them.”

Ironically, instead of flipping streetwear in his youth, the 49-year-old designer served drinks “at an opera house bar” instead. “I had to work to get through college, didn’t I?” he asks. “But it was amazing, actually. You met opera singers, you met people that design sets, you met aristocracy, you met all sorts…but I did notice the people who ordered Hennessy always had really nice suits, watches, jewelry…I can’t say I didn’t think of them when I was creating these pieces.” One day at work, Jones served the Queen Mother. Two decades later, he was appointed an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

model on the runway at fendi fall 2023 ready to wear runway show on february 22, 2023 at fendis showroom in milan, italy photo by swan galletwwd via getty images

A model at Fendi’s fall/winter 2023 show.

Swan Gallet//Getty Images

As a failed multitasker, I ask Jones how he keeps up with his two big day jobs—at two big-name fashion houses—along with various collabs (Tiffany & Co., Marc Jacobs, and BTS, to name a few), plus the normal stuff like eating, sleeping, and hanging out with Kate Moss. “Oh, I can help you there,” he starts, before adding, “you just have to be incredibly organized.” Seriously? That’s it?

“And, okay, you need to be sure of what you’re setting out to achieve. Where we start on the [Fendi] collection or where we start at [Dior], we know we’re headed to an end product. And that end product is really how I’ve been imagining it to look all along. That goal never changes.” But Jones cautions that his singular focus can’t happen alone. “When you’re working with a team that’s already been at a brand for a while, you have to teach people what you want,” he says. “It takes time to work with an entity and a team of people. Trust, and time. And you have to be straightforward with people about that upfront. There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘This will be hard work, and we can’t rush through it.’ Everything good takes time.” Including Hennessy’s new cognac, which takes an average of 45 years to mature.

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Gwendoline Christie, Precious Lee, and Christina Ricci attend Dior Men fashion shows.

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Could abstaining from drinking be the secret to Jones’ youthful glow? Even via Zoom, it looks like his complexion is powered by a ring light. Perhaps a skincare collaboration is in his future? “I’ve been approached by most of the big beauty makers,” he admits. We’ll cheers to that, even if Jones won’t.

Headshot of Faran Krentcil

Editor at Large, ELLE.com

“Her beauty and her brain go not together.” —William Shakespeare

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