Taxidermy and Testino: Grace Coddington's Travel Tips

Former model and Creative Director at Large of American Vogue, Grace Coddington shares with us her style tips and tricks for when you’re on the road and regales us with stories about nicking crockery from various Parisian establishments…

Creative Director at Large of American Vogue, Grace Coddington, Grace Coddington has travelled extensively throughout her illustrious 50 year career - and shows no signs of stopping. Despite being a nervous flyer, she finds Dutch courage in a bloody Mary and you'd be hard-pressed to find a place the fashion veteran hasn't visited. Here, she shares style tips and tricks for when you're on the road and regales us with stories about nicking crockery from various Parisian establishments...

How do you prepare for a trip?

I think the art of travelling is to be well informed. Before leaving, I ask everyone I know who's been there for their personal experiences. Who I speak to depends on where I'm going - if it's South America, I'd probably ask Mario Testino; for safari it would be Arthur Elgort because he's been on so many. For Asia I'm not sure... Perhaps my ex-husband.

Can you share your packing tips with us?

I usually pack the night before. I take everything out of my wardrobe and put it on the bed, and then I realise I've got a mound this high [puts a hand above her head] and that's not very practical. So I leave it there for a while, and then come back and gradually edit it down so that it all fits into a small carry-on bag. I also like to take a bag that has coat hangers in it with everything already hanging up. That way, when I get to my hotel I can take everything out and put the whole lot straight into the cupboard with minimal unpacking.

What's in your SUITCASE?

I have a uniform, so I pack like a stereotypical man: I have six folded shirts, six pairs of trousers, enough underwear, and so on. I don't have an extensive wardrobe so the most I do is question whether I need an extra jumper or two coats (probably not). Depending on where I'm going I'll have the essentials like mosquito repellent and suncream. A fold-up raincoat if I'm going to England - no, that's mean! - but an umbrella is always a good idea. I did a trip to the Seychelles once and we took a taxidermy tiger because we were trying to recreate a Henri Rousseau painting full of animals but there aren't many in the Seychelles. He was very expensive and we had to be quite careful when we were carrying him on and off the plane.

What are your travel beauty essentials?

I use eye drops a lot because my eyes get very dry on the plane. I also take moisturiser from Orentreich, who do excellent skin products. I have my own perfume, Grace by Grace Coddington - and yes I take that with me because I like it a lot and want everyone to smell it. I also take a hairbrush and pray that the hotel has a hairdryer.

What do you wear to travel in?

I pretty much travel in the same thing whatever the season; shirt, jumper, trousers, trainers. I keep it simple but layers are important. I have a coat that's like a blanket which is pretty perfect. Having said that, I also always travel with my own cashmere blanket because I don't like the plane ones - I've had it for years, I think it was a present from Donna Karan.

What do you think makes a good hotel?

The signs of a good hotel are the staff recognising you, getting your preferred room and there always being someone on hand if you need them. The laundry service is really important because I send clothes everyday and it's essential they don't get lost. I also like a nice bar to meet friends in. In the good old days, I stayed The Ritz a lot and bought all their bath towels which I now have in my apartment in New York. I also stole a few cups and other bits from the Hotel de Crillon in Paris because I like to collect restaurant crockery. I once bought a whole set of plates from Brasserie Balzar and carried them back on the plane with me.

And airport?

I hate airports but my favourite lounge is definitely the Air France one in Paris - it's amazing, they even offer massages. I like to have a stiff drink before boarding - usually a bloody Mary - but I don't eat because it gives you something to do once you're on. Then I tend to fall asleep.

One piece of travel advice…

Don't get stuck in your comfort zone and don't get hooked on everything being luxurious. You have to make do with what a place has to offer if you want to really get to know it.

Shop the Grace Coddington for Smythson travel edit here.

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