My Life In Travel: Giles Deacon, fashion designer

'St Petersburg is one of the most majestic places I have visited'
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

Jersey was a regular family holiday haunt when I was a child. My earliest memory is of sitting on the beach, drinking Coca-Cola and eating a Cadbury Double Decker bar for the very first time.

Best holiday?

Visiting family in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, in the late 1980s. It's one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, with the most magnificent wildlife. I went to the Central Kalahari Desert Game Reserve, right in the middle of the country, and saw some of the most amazing sunsets that I've ever seen.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

My first is London, where I have lived for the past 20 years. It is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, full of energy and passion. I love those long, lazy summer days when I get enough time to explore and find hidden gems. My other favourite place is the Lake District, where I grew up, and of which I have so many fond memories. When I was younger, I would spend hours losing myself in the Lakeland Fells – but I was always home in time for my tea.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Always to expect the unexpected, and try to stay open to plans changing, because they always do.

Ideal travelling companion?

I love travelling by myself. With only your own thoughts for company, you can feel like you're a million miles away from anywhere; it can be so refreshing, especially after weeks of nothing but work. I find that being alone allows me to completely recharge my batteries.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm a culture vulture; I hate beach holidays. I'm easily pleased by an afternoon stroll, a museum and a bike ride. I usually try to take a bit of time out to soak up the atmosphere and see the sights; Europe, in particular, has some fantastic museums and attractions.

Greatest travel luxury?

A friend treated me to some very nice Prada luggage. I love it and take it everywhere with me.

Holiday reading?

Roy Strong's The Spirit of Britain: A Narrative History of the Arts is a favourite, as is Jaws by Peter Benchley. Sitting on a long-haul flight is one of the rare times when I can have some peace and just settle into a book. I love to read but never seem to have enough time at home, apart from to flick through art and photography books. I am a huge book-buyer, especially when I'm away. Even when I was young and skint, I'd find the money to buy books on photography and architecture. I always write notes inside so I remember where they came from.

Where has seduced you?

St Petersburg is one of the most majestic, visually stunning places I have ever visited, and I'm blown away every time I go. The Kazan Cathedral looks incredible at night, and in the summer, the drawbridges across the Neva river open up to let the ships through in the middle of the night – if you ever get a chance to see that, it's spectacular.

Better to travel or to arrive?

I love arriving home because I am always away. As a fashion designer, I travel so often that I almost know the airport inside-out. There is nothing quite like walking through your own front door, putting down your suitcase, kicking off your shoes and making yourself a cup of tea.

Worst hotel?

The George V in Paris is, in my opinion, one of the rudest, most arrogant places that I have been to.

Best hotel?

I love staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt. It's full of life and excitement, and you can't help but get caught up in that LA buzz when you stay there. There are cabanas around the swimming pool – very 1950s Hollywood – which serve up incredible American classics when you get hungry: the mini burgers and fries are delicious! I also love the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard; it has some amazing apartment rooms. One of my favourite things is grabbing a gin fizz at the bar when I arrive. The last time I was there I met Pamela Anderson – she was lovely and such good fun.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I try to walk or cycle everywhere, and I swim three times a week. Ever since I moved to London, I have used my bike to get around the city.

Best meal abroad?

There is a great restaurant called the Bottle Inn Ristorante in Santa Monica. It's the perfect place for eating alfresco, with great food and wine. The manager Emanuel's recommendations are always excellent.

Dream trip?

I would love to go to the Galápagos Islands. The landscape is supposed to be quite incredible, and I'm fascinated by the wealth of nature. I can just imagine chartering a boat with a group of friends and sailing around the islands.

Favourite city?

Tokyo is a pretty special place; the energy level is like nowhere else I've encountered. Hidden glimpses of old Japan are entwined in the futuristic mayhem. Spring there, when all the cherry blossoms bloom, is sensational.

Where next?

I have just returned from Milan and I am about to set off for Paris.

Giles Deacon will be showing his Giles collection at London Fashion Week on 23 February

Comments