What do you do when seated next to Paul McCartney on a transatlantic flight? New York-based fashion designer Lisa Perry knows the answer to that question and more, thanks to her jet set lifestyle that takes her between New York and Europe frequently. In between a two-week-long solo trip to Paris and a weekend in the Hamptons, the designer, who is known for her colorful, art-inspired collections, offered some seriously useful tips for getting dressed for a plane, eating in airports, and getting the best room in a hotel. Are you taking notes?
Where are you off to for vacation this summer? I was just in Paris for two weeks by myself. I had this crazy idea that I wanted to go to Paris and stay as long as I could. I have never stayed there to the point where I am actually ready to leave. I had no agenda and no plans at all. I woke up every day to just explore. It was such a great experience. I just love Paris—it’s my favorite place in the world and it was such a gift to experience it that way, I felt like I lived there.
What are some cool spots you stumbled upon in Paris? Something I didn’t know about (that maybe other people do) was the Paris Flea Market on Friday mornings. I have been going to the Paris Flea for furniture for like 20 years. I always went on Saturday and Sunday. But the last time I was there, I met this wonderful French woman and I saw her this time and she said let’s go Friday. I didn’t know it was open on Friday! She told me it’s open on Friday mornings and the new, best stuff comes from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and that’s when all the people in the know go. The other thing, which everyone thinks is very touristy, is Versailles. I had heard about this incredible art installation by Olaf Eliasson with about eight pieces. That was really a highlight—to stroll the gardens, discover the art, etc. It’s so fantastic they are doing public, modern art inside Versailles.
What is your favorite airport restaurant in the world? I don’t love any, because airport food is never good. Although, I must say I was really happy one morning when I was waiting for a 7 a.m. flight to Palm Beach at the Jet Blue terminal at JFK and I noticed a McDonald’s. I am a girl from the Midwest! I saw those hash browns, do you know the ones I am talking about? I was so in the mood for those. I love something familiar. I am also a fan of those Auntie Anne’s cinnamon pretzels.
Airline with the best food? Air France. Even the emergency info video has the chicest girls. It’s just really, really cute. They do everything chicer, for sure.
Who is the best or worst person you have ever been seated next to on a plane? I can’t believe this happened! On the way to London once, Paul McCartney was seated one over from me and he pulled out a guitar and serenaded all of us. He had a cute little guitar that was amazing. At the time, it wasn’t like you could whip out your iPhone (it was like ten years ago or something).
What’s your go-to travel outfit? I always wear these Lisa Perry pants that are a skinny cut and made of stretchy fabric. I have made them every season since I started. They always looks great and they don’t get the baggy knees. They are like a legging, but more like what Audrey [Hepburn] would wear. And then a big oversize sweater, because I am always freezing, and a cashmere shawl that I can also use as a blanket.
And for shoes? Any slip-on. I want to be able to put it on and take it off easily. A lot of people wear sneakers, but I don’t like to have to tie and untie them. I recently found a pair of loafers that I love for travel and now I have three pairs. They aren’t the most practical—they’re pink suede—but I love them.
What’s something you would never wear on a plane? I have an answer to this because it happened to me. You always think a loose pant is a good idea for travel because it is so much more comfortable, but it’s actually the worst thing to wear for a plane. If you go into the airplane bathroom and pull the baggy pants down, they go all over the floor. Do not wear wide-leg pants! You need skinny pants on a plane.
What beauty products do you always travel with? I love this makeup remover called Spa Water by Koh Gen Do, it’s a Japanese brand. They make travel wipes you can carry with you and it’s fantastic. I love them! And, like everyone else, I always get dry on the airplanes, so I love La Mer moisturizer for that. I always throw those little sample size ones in my bag.
Are planes your preferred way to travel? I have to say, I love a car. I really love to be in a car driving for two or three hours. I like road trips because if I see things along the way that I like, I can pull over and stop. Plane, train, automobile—that’s me.
What's your favorite hotel in the world? I don’t have one in particular. I love L’Hotel, where I stayed in Paris, and I spent a few nights at the Pavillon de la Reine (also in Paris), that was super chic. I love the Bristol for a completely decadent experience. The breakfast at the Bristol is a total luxury and treat. Save all your money for breakfast there, seriously. Their bread basket is amazing—you don’t need to eat anything else the rest of the day.
What is the most luxurious hotel bathroom you've ever seen? The most beautiful bathroom I think I have ever seen was in a hotel was in a room at The Lanesborough in London. I hate a bathroom that has no light, it’s the absolute worst. This was filled with light and had marble everywhere, and in London they have the electric towel warmers. It was the most luxurious, plus his and hers dressing tables. They just thought of everything.
What is one item you always carry when traveling? I just got this tip from my friend Donald Robertson, who said never travel without the extra long iPhone charger cord. The extra long one is essential when you travel.
What is the best piece of travel advice you have ever received? You know how everyone is so bummed when you get to the room to check-in and it’s not ready yet? If you have the luxury of time, just say, OK, I will just go have a beautiful meal, instead of sitting there and asking every five minutes if your room is ready. Go have the bread basket and be happy, Take the extra hour. It really starts your trip off right. Also, I hope everyone knows this, but never take the first room they show you if it’s not to your liking. They never show you the best room first. I think they get people who aren’t picky or something. Never ever pick the first room, the second one is always nicer. Don’t stay in the broom closet.