Franco-Swiss designer Anne Willi recently finished her next spring-summer 2016 collection in her Bastille studio in Paris. Once done, she traveled to the U.S. to spend time in her newest store/showroom in Brooklyn to allow herself and her American-based clients a chance to meet and work together in person. Willi designs and sells primarily in Europe, America and Japan, but she finds herself traveling worldwide. No matter how long the trip, she does so fashionably. Here, she passes along some of her tips for travel style.
Key Pieces for Travel Style
Anne Willi makes international traveling look easy. The Paris-based designer, who studied at ESMOD, France’s International Design and Business school, has been successful in the business of fashion for 16 years. Regardless of whether she’s rushing to the airport to catch a flight or has just arrived at her newest studio in Brooklyn from her Bastille Studio in Paris she maintains a certain “je ne sais quoi” — a look that reveals professionalism and casualness at the same time. I asked her to share her secrets on how she manages to achieve this travel style.
Willi says, “For me, the dress is my masterpiece. As a designer, I make a dress that you can feel good in—one you can wear to the office but just add a little lipstick to then take you out at night. It’s very French not to do much but let the charm exist and not be perfect. This makes you approachable!” People don’t realize how easy dresses can be, she says.
“The dress is the “most beautiful thing on a woman,” no matter the season, she adds. In the winter, simply add tights and a sweater. “But you don’t want to show everything. You must have a bit of mystery. And seduction.” When I finish speaking with her she’s heading to New York’s JFK Airport to fly back to France and, sure enough, she’s wearing a dress, along with a subtle gold-toned linen jacket from her collection. I hold off admitting to her that I’ve worn pajama pants with sweatshirts on international flights in my (albeit younger) past.
Other key travel style pieces are knits and simple tops. Depending on the season, she’ll look to favorite fabrics, for instance, seersucker and linen in the summertime (both are already a bit wrinkled she points out) and natural wool in the wintertime. She herself never uses 100% linen, choosing to add a bit of viscose or cotton to make clothes that are easier to handle and fall nicely on the figure. Willi, who creates her designs in France and manufactures small runs in Europe with fine Italian and French fabrics, likes for customers to be able to transform their clothes—offering products that are often reversible or have multi-uses, giving more choices.
A final key piece—socks (she makes them, but she wears other’s as well) in wool that your foot feels comfortable in, but that will also keep you warm and dry fairly quickly if they get wet.
Tips for the Pieces and the Plane
Willi suggests putting clothes into a smaller bag for less wrinkles, and is open to passing a small iron or steamer over things if it’s really needed once they’re unpacked. She says with natural fabrics, it’s fine if they’re wrinkled a bit. Other tips:
- Avoid high heels while actually traveling, and generally keep them on the lower side. (She’s wearing flat sandals.)
- A wonderful textured scarf can become an easy blanket or pillow on the train or plane or if you’re in heavy air conditioning.
- Always keep a good book with you as a traveling companion!
It’s All in the Attitude
By the time I was done speaking with Anne Willi, it became clear that it’s as much attitude as it is the actual fashion that is key in allowing the “je ne sais quoi” to emerge in your own style. A few of her attitude tips to pass on as well:
- Don’t do too much–keep your style simple and allow your personality to shine through.
- There is charm in not trying to be perfect.
- Respect your own body and work with what you have—do the very best with what Mother Nature has given you.