My personal style signifiers are the felt hats that Worth & Worth has made for me since I arrived in New York 18 years ago. They are very small with a big ribbon, and I have 50 of them in different colours and textures. I wear them pulled down, almost like Frank Sinatra in the 1950s. From $345; 50 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-265 2887;

The last things I bought and loved were two volumes on 18th-century Turkish costume and uniforms, from Christie’s. They are a complete dream – so fresh and unusual, and made by hand with beautiful gold and red covers.

One of Assouline’s two volumes on 18th-century Turkish costume and uniforms
One of Assouline’s two volumes on 18th-century Turkish costume and uniforms © Dorothy Hong

And the thing I’m eyeing next is more books – it’s no surprise I buy a lot of them. I collect every kind. Sometimes I just look at a book once and I know I will never open it again, but it is all preserved in my head – how it looks, how it smells.

The best gift I’ve given recently is a cameo bracelet with charms made from volcanic lava. I bought it for my wife, Martine, in an antique shop in Nice. The lady who sold it was so interesting and so passionate – she knows everything about each piece, so you don’t just buy the object, you buy the story. Marie-Christine Sprugnoli Antiquaire, 48 Rue de France, Nice (+334-9388 1503)

And the best one I’ve received recently was an incredible, huge blue cape that my friend, the photographer Jonathan Becker, gave me for my 60th birthday. He had it made for me in Madrid, and it arrived in this enormous box. It is sublissime.

From left: the blue cape made in Madrid that was a 60th birthday present. Some of Assouline’s felt hats by Worth & Worth, from $345
From left: the blue cape made in Madrid that was a 60th birthday present. Some of Assouline’s felt hats by Worth & Worth, from $345 © Dorothy Hong

A recent “find” is the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club in Miami, which has just been rebuilt. It’s the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever seen, and where I now want to spend all my time. It feels so new, yet the Surf Club was considered the best place in the world in the 1930s – just to be there, to smoke a cigar and have a glass of wine is the best feeling. 9111 Collins Avenue, Surfside, FL 33154 (+1305-381 3333;

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Kyoto. We stayed in a very small old ryokan [an inn] called Hotel Tawaraya. It is one of the most elegant places on the planet, with one person looking after the flowers with such care, and another dedicated to deciding which of the 365 different services of bowls should be used, depending on the weather. Every detail is so sophisticated but you need to understand the culture of Japan to fully appreciate it. £330; 278 Nakahakusancho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8094 (+8175-211 5566)

The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Miami
The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Miami © Alamy Stock Photo

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home was for my Paris apartment: an enormous piece of 19th-century black coral that we saw in an antiques store in Naples. When the crate finally arrived it was half the size of the room.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the centre of Rome. On Via dei Coronari there are so many different things, from craftsmen carving marble for the church to the most incredible antiques stores. Last year I found a Bugatti desk and chair of the most unbelievable quality at Hannau Roma. Just along the street is an amazing gallery called Forme di Pompeo Polito, which sells 20th-century pieces by Giò Ponti and Ettore Sottsass. I love the concept store Chez Dédé, which has a chic interior and sells drawings, accessories and beautiful notebooks; and Blend Roma, on Via Margutta, which has the best furniture and decorative objects from the 1970s. Blend Roma, Via Margutta 55B (+3906-3265 2067). Chez Dédé, Via di Monserrato 35 (+3906-8377 2934; Forme di Pompeo Polito, Via dei Coronari 217 (+3906-686 5294). Hannau Roma, Via dei Coronari 116-117 (+3906-6813 6660;

Prosper Assouline at home in New York
Prosper Assouline at home in New York © Dorothy Hong

I don’t have any favourite websites – I still read the newspaper at 5am or 6am every morning and apart from email, I do not spend a lot of time on my computer.

My style icons are two of my friends, Jonathan Becker, an American photographer, and the talent agent and producer Charles Finch, who live in New York and London respectively. They are best friends and they have the same tailor. They might have a jacket that’s a little old with a frayed cuff but it’s so chic and everything is just theirs – no one else has this sensibility.

The person I rely on for personal grooming is Marc Delacre at Cercle Delacre in Paris, who cuts my hair. I hate to go to a place that does men’s and women’s hair – it makes me crazy. 17 Avenue George V, Paris 75008 (+331-4070 9970;

Jonathan Becker and Charles Finch (right)
Jonathan Becker and Charles Finch (right) © Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock

In my fridge you’ll always find tomatoes, watermelon and Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs. My wife will tell you that when she met me, when I was very young, the only thing that was ever in the fridge was caviar and vodka. £60 for 75cl;

An object I would never part with is my cell phone, for obvious reasons, but also because I use it to make picture notes. My life is based on curiosity.

The last meal that truly impressed me was a simple salad of potatoes and onions at La Albariza, a restaurant serving tapas-style dishes in Seville. I love things that are very simple, and this dish is so Andalucian you cannot find it anywhere else. For me, it is like caviar. Calle Betis 6, 41010 Seville (+34954-338 960;

If I didn’t live in New York, I would not be able to do what I do. Here, the energy doesn’t come just from you; it comes from everything around you. 

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was some brown suede trousers that feel like a pair of old jeans; they are like a second skin. I found them in Jay Kos, this amazing New York store that has quite rock ’n’ roll clothes with clashing colours that I found one night when we were out for dinner. I thought I’d discovered this great new place but then I found out everyone knows him, and he’s been there for 23 years. 293 Mott Street, New York, NY 10012 (+1212-319 2770;

Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1964, by Lucio Fontana, at a Sotheby’s auction press view in 2014
Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1964, by Lucio Fontana, at a Sotheby’s auction press view in 2014 © Alamy Stock Photo

The grooming staple I’m never without is Chanel Egoïste. Before it was introduced, I used Bois Noir and we could only find it at the Rue Cambon store. £52 for 50ml EDT;

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Lucio Fontana: he pushed the boundaries. I am in love with the canvases with the simple slashes that he made in the early 1960s, but also the back of his work – it was almost as beautiful as the front.

My favourite room is my office in my Paris apartment, even though I only have a few hours there every month. It looks onto the gardens of the Palais Royale, and everything I love is there. 

The best book I’ve read in the past year is An Artful Life: a Biography of DH Kahnweiler, written by a distant relative, Pierre Assouline, about one of the most important gallerists of the last century. It’s like a thriller, and what is beautiful is the life that surrounded him. I read it again and again. I asked my son to read it when he was 20, and I am going to ask him to read it again now that he is working with me.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would love to be an architect – not that I have any capacity for it. I think it’s the most important job that you can do.

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