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
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
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
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.
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.