Talking travel with designer Jenny Packham


Talking travel with designer Jenny Packham

She regularly dresses the Duchess of Cambridge, but the ready-to-wear and bridal designer still finds pleasure in travel's littlest luxuries, such as a bouncy hotel bed and room-service French fries.

Amelia Mularz

BY Amelia Mularz12 October 2016

Jenny Packham knows what it means to go above and beyond. As a fashion designer, she doesn’t just dress starlets; she dresses the most high-profile women in film, including Kate Winslet, Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightley. And she doesn’t only outfit Hollywood royalty in floor-length swaths of chiffon and silk – Packham’s clients include actual royalty, too. The Duchess of Cambridge has worn Packham’s designs to diplomatic receptions, royal tours, gala dinners, and even home from the hospital post baby delivery (remember that blue-and-white polka dot number?).

Given Packham’s penchant for pleasing even the most particular clients, it’s no wonder she’s been chosen as a judge in the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards, picking the top property in the (quite fitting) Above & Beyond category.

As she pores over the nominees – choosing between a Provence hideaway with a Damien Hirst painting hanging in its bar and an Icelandic getaway with geothermal pools and guided treks through the wilderness – we thought we’d pick Packham’s brain about her own travels and hear why she’s got her eye on Dita Von Teese’s tassels…

The first thing you do after checking into a hotel room…
My Magic Ten yoga moves – and then I explore the hotel

An ideal hotel must have…
Soft pillows and a bouncy bed

Most recent trip?
NYC for New York Fashion Week

Next trip?
Paris Fashion Week and then Los Angeles and San Francisco

The Mercer hotel, New York City

The Mercer hotel – a top Packham pick

Any favourite hotels in those locations?
I love The Mercer in New York. It’s cool and quiet.

Your favourite room-service order?
Caesar salad and French fries

Luggage of choice?
Rimowa, but in my dreams it would be Goyard!

Your packing style in three words…
Considered, eclectic, foolish

The beauty products you never leave home without…
Espa’s instant facial and coconut oil

Jenny Packham interview

The designer’s in-flight entertainment and go-to beauty product

The best in-flight reading you’ve done lately?
Jamaican Inn by Daphne du Maurier

As you design bridal gowns, any advice for guests packing for a wedding?
A wedding is a twofold event. Initially, there’s elegance and first impressions and then hopefully later there’s carefree abandonment, so a shoe change is vital and layering is always a good idea.

Where did you honeymoon?
I had a pre-moon, relaxing in Oman at Zighy Beach.

Any honeymoon advice for other brides?
You will have lots of holidays lying by the pool, so do something special and adventurous.

Riad de Tarabel

Riad de Tarabel in Marrakech is fit for a bridal shoot

We hear you recently shot your 2018 bridal campaign in Morocco at Riad de Tarabel. How did you pick that location?
It was a beautiful riad hidden in the centre of the world’s most exciting souk, so we were able to capture the coolness and serenity of the property and the vibrancy of its surroundings.

The best souvenir you bought this year?
The new Studio 54 book signed by Ian Schrager at the Public New York hotel

The souvenir you’re kind of regretting?
In the souk, I bought a handful of small brass-edged mirrors for my girlfriends. When I handed out the gifts, I could tell my friends thought they were weird and I realised it was because they just weren’t there, meaning inspired and sweating in 46 degrees in a beautiful little boutique, feeling a long way from home.

Day of the Dead altar, Mexico City

Packham found plenty of colour and creative inspiration in Mexico City during Day of the Dead

A trip you took in the last year that fired up your creativity…
Last year we had a family trip to Mexico City, as I had always wanted to visit Frida Kahlo’s house and see the famous Day of the Dead festivities. It was culturally staggering and the colours and textures were not disappointing.

How does travel inspire your designs?
I often have my better ideas whilst travelling. Jet lag often provides sketching time, and away from day-to-day thoughts, the mind wanders to more creative places.

If you could ‘accidentally’ pick up someone else’s suitcase at baggage claim – anyone in the world – whose would you pick? 
I would definitely pick Dita Von Teese’s case, which would be packed full of beautiful and glamorous clothing, as well as feathers, crystals and tassels!