The biggest names in fashion are often seen documenting their covetable lifestyles, striking envy amongst us common folk. Front-row seats at Fashion Month? Check. Selfies with fellow A-listers in the bathroom? Check. Jet-setting to different cities every week? Double check.
Lisa Aiken, Net-a-Porter‘s stylish retail fashion director, isn’t any different. The style maven’s Instagram account is beautifully curated, featuring photos of her travels around the globe — with her looking amazing, while at it.
We caught up with Aiken when she dropped by Singapore for Net-a-Porter’s FW17 trend presentation. Despite having touched down from Dubai that same morning and barely getting any sleep, the London College of Fashion graduate maintained her cheerful disposition. “I think I’m away for five months a year, if I add it up,” she revealed.
Taking into account her jet-setting lifestyle, one would wonder where her favourite city would be. “I wish I had a more interesting answer,” she laughed, “But New York is definitely my favourite, just because I spend so much time there.”
Lifestyle Asia (LSA): You’ve visited some of the most glamorous cities such as Sydney, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong. What sets New York apart?
Lisa Aiken (LA): New York has a magnetic energy that I’m drawn to. I like cities that are very fast-paced. To be completely honest, New York is fairly similar to London. Except when you live in London, you don’t feel as excited about it every day. You definitely do in New York. One of the best things about the Big Apple is that it has real seasons, so it feels very different depending on when you go. In summer, the city is buzzing with life and everyone is outdoors. There’s so much going on — with rooftop bars, pool parties, street performances. It’s just a really vibrant scene.
Having said that, New York is just as beautiful in winter. Going to a hotel bar and sitting in front of the fire sipping cocktails and watching ballet performances by the New York City Ballet at the Lincoln Centre are my favourite things to do during winter. New York just has the perfect balance between the two contrasting seasons, and not to mention, the food is always so good. You can’t go out and not have a good night out.
LSA: Speaking of food, which are your favourite restaurants in New York?
LA: I love Red Farm, a dim sum restaurant in the West Village. I also always find myself at Il Buco, an Italian restaurant on Bond Street. I mean seriously, even if I have to sit at a bar and eat a kale salad, it’d be the best kale salad I’ve ever had.
I also enjoy going to little neighbourhood places like Sant Ambroeus or Cafe Clover downtown, which is really good for some comfort food. Nothing beats a roast chicken and mashed potato on a Sunday. In New York, The Fat Radish does the best roast chicken and mashed potato — which they only serve on Sundays.
LSA: What about bars?
LA: I’m a big fan of hotel bars. The Nomad Hotel, where I always stay, has a lovely bar downstairs. For somewhere livelier, Ace Hotel is right around the corner — so I really get the best of both worlds.
In contrast, I also like hole-in-the-wall cocktail places. My friends and I always go to Death & Co, a hidden cocktail bar with the most incredible cocktails. I really appreciate classic cocktails, so an old-fashioned or vodka martini is my go-to drink.
LSA: How does New York inspire you?
LA: People-watching is my favourite pastime. There is such a blend of people in New York, creating such a huge diversity in terms of style. You can see that especially when you go into different neighbourhoods, as people dress differently — it keeps things interesting. (Fun fact: Aiken once mixed up Brooklyn and The Bronx, and found herself in some very interesting places.)
If I were getting dressed up for a dinner at Daniel Boulud, I’d wear something completely different as compared to having a simple dinner at Red Farm. I really love the juxtaposition. So yes, New Yorkers are what I find most inspiring.
LSA: What do you like to do whenever you’re in the city?
LA: I generally spend half a day at The Whitney, one of my favourite museums in the world, before going down to The Standard Grill which is just around the corner. That’s what I love about New York, it’s got these big cultural establishments alongside the fast-changing scene.
And my favourite thing to do is go to the High Line, which I’d never have discovered if I didn’t have friends staying in New York. It’s a defunct railroad that has been developed into an elevated public park, winding all the way from 15th street to 30th — all around the side of Chelsea. The High Line is beautifully landscaped with small cafes and boutiques scattered around — so New Yorkers like hanging out there. There are also these little fountains that I like sticking my feet into in the middle of summer, because it’s so hot.
LSA: Where are your favourite places to shop?
LA: My favourite city in the world to shop in is actually London, just because I know it so well. So I don’t do a lot of clothes shopping in New York. But I do love going to the Supreme or Nike stores as they have a wider range of offerings in the States. I do shop at The Reformation whenever I’m in New York, though. It’s an incredible brand that no one else can get their hands on in other parts of the world.
When I’m in New York, I buy homeware from ABC Home, which is an interiors emporium. You can find whatever you want there. MOMA Art Gallery has really amazing gifts. I also go to Dean & Deluca for groceries — as it does the most amazing chocolates and condiments.
LSA: What are the must-haves in your luggage?
LA: Well, my carry-on suitcase is filled with my most treasured pieces that I could never replace. If my luggage went missing, I’d be distraught. There’s my Marc Jacobs leopard printed dress from its Fall/Winter 2012 collection, my personal jewellery, a pair of Junya Watanabe jeans that I could never replace, and a Topshop skirt that I really love.
I also need my go-to apps, such as the Nike+ Training Club app just to have some semblance of a workout routine when I travel, Spotify so I can play music through my Bose wireless portable speaker, as well as Instagram — because when you travel, you want to share that with everybody. It’s literally how my family knows where I am.