For a long time - and still today, Travel (with a capital T, it deserves it!) inspired many of my Heimstone collections. I love to travel and almost consider it to be an art by itself.
At that time, my twin sister Caroline (@threesevenparis) was working in New York at TBWA Chiat Day. My sentimental and professional life, but also my personal desires, were split between France and the United States, where I used to go every two or three weeks.
I always had the most wonderful time staying in NYC and traveling the country, but I also used to look forward to the arrival at the airport - going through security (I know, it is not so pleasant sometimes, but for some reason it always triggered a kind of excitement in me). Once this “entrance examination” was passed, I enjoyed every minute of the 7 hours flight that was ahead of me.
Sketchbook in hand, I would draw almost an entire collection on a Paris-New York flight, the silhouettes and prints spinning through my notebook as fast as my plane…
In fact, I have designed most of the "iconic" Heimstone models at 35,000 feet high.
I'm thinking in particular of the Hook boots, (the first pair of Heimstone shoes), designed on a Denver (Colorado) / Paris flight in 2011. I remember that I was so adamant about them looking a particular way (with a lot of leather combinations), that I had made the sketch in watercolor so that my manufacturer could conceptualize it as well as possible. My flight mate was delighted to see me pull out all my gear, a glass of water in a precarious position between my knees!
The Java dress was designed on a Paris / Sydney flight in 2012.
In the end, I wouldn’t be able to list all the models that were designed on the Air France Paris / NYC flight at 8:15 am - there are so many…
"It's not the destination that matters, it's the journey"
Jack London (American writer)
I have long tried to figure out what is was exactly that set up my creativity so much at that time, what released those little oxygen - and idea- bubbles in my brain. Then I realized that I was not only excited to arrive at my destination, to discover another city or a new country, try different food, but that it was ultimately the overall experience around the trip that galvanized me. In particular all the preparation stages: buying my tickets, packing, finding a hotel, etc. This state that we all know, which turns the brain to discovery mode, leaving us both on a constant lookout for novelty and making us feel somehow vulnerable.
A passion for airports
Closely related to this love of travel, I must also admit that I could spend my days at an airport. (There is a good side to it, I can travel cheaply, get me a hotel room at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and that's it!)
As far as I can remember I have always loved it. I have always liked this idea of having a new adventure ahead of me. In my eyes, airports, train stations, but also cars, are like bridges, gateways to the unknown, to novelty. To access it, you have to prepare, plan, imagine what it will be like in order to then be able to totally surrender to the new.
I feel an intangible but powerful form of energy in airports, as if they collected a sample of all the inhabitants of the planet in one and only space. Thousands of people from different cultures and beliefs cross paths, obviously to go somewhere, but for what purpose? Where are they going? There is undoubtedly the pleasure trip, holidays surely, but also personal reasons which make these people travel. Could it be a certain political motivation? Who knows? A new life to start? Love ? Escape?
Airports are hubs that call for an openness to the world, for the acceptance of the fact that we are all different. This mix of cultures makes us more vulnerable in a sense, more attentive, less sure of ourselves and of who we are. They are a first step towards the journey, opening up the range of possibilities, and inviting us to be much more accepting of each other and everyday events.
I see it as a gateway to somewhere else, symbolic or not ... as an invitation to change my life, whether for a day or forever! It's true after all, at any time you can decide to put your life on hold and start a new one, just by moving to another city or country and getting a makeover.
Our daily life is ultimately not an end in itself, it can be totally reinvented if we want it to. Having access to this complete freedom is for me the very essence of creativity.
I can spend hours observing people - imagining their lives, watching how they travel, manage their children, how many "little bags" they carry around with them and of course how they dress… because let’s be honest, fashion culture in airports is a crucial topic! Are you “team tracksuit” or “team suit and heels”?
I would like to take a moment to get practical and talk to you - and especially you, mothers, about a tricky topic : "How to properly pack a suitcase when you need to travel light?" Because it's like in life, the less luggage we carry, the better!
On different levels, we constantly accumulate things and are led to think that we cannot live without a certain material comfort.
To answer this luggage question that I am often asked, I would say that I think about travel in a fairly refined way. My advice is therefore quite simple...
I don't need 12 outfits for myself or my children to have a good vacation. I pack the suitcases 3 or 4 days in advance. Then every day, I take things away to meet most of our needs. Everything always fits in a piece of cabin baggage… what about you?
"Whoever wants to travel happily must travel light"
Antoine de St Exupéry (French writer)
Lost in Translation / Creativity as a horizon
My husband loves to travel as much as I do, but he also loves airports, and as futile as it may seem, our mutual love for airports has created a very strong bond between us.
Suffice to say, we have a very specific ritual, which we cherish on each trip. We usually arrive 4 hours in advance (watching people and imagining their lives takes time!). If we have to wake up at 5am to take the plane, it's even better - it allows us to take our time and, as odd as it may sound to most people, we revel in every second we get to spend there: bad coffee, queues, security, meal tray, etc...
We don't even really have to talk to understand each other, it's like we're already "in transit" in our heads. Our spirits escape in the midst of all these people.
During this time, a moment of mindfulness that puts our brains on pause, we allow our minds to slip and our “thought bubbles” start to appear.
Arthur Koestler (Hungarian writer) said:
“True creativity often begins where language ends. "
As I often say, creativity takes many different shapes and forms, but they often all have one common denominator: inspiration.
My husband is of Turkish origin but he grew up in Australia. He has lived all over the world and has this incredible ability to move as easily as he changes shirts. In the blink of an eye and with disconcerting ease, he can decide to move to a new apartment, city, or more often country.
He has always been this way, but I often wonder how it can be so easy to him. His culture and his origins have certainly something to do with it, but there is more to it than that… I think the “recipe” is more universal. Above all, you have to listen to yourself, your desires, your emotions, but also trust yourself and have confidence in life in order to throw yourself into the unknown again.
It’s about not being attached to material things, being free to imagine your life in different places, different cultures, being able to adapt yourself to other people. Starting a new life as often as we wish - that’s the definition of absolute freedom.
“Creativity is about looking at things differently, moving away from traditional thought patterns. "
Edward de Bono (Psychologist & Doctor)
When suddenly time stands still
Travel, or the art of putting your life on hold
I love airports, I love traveling, but flying in itself also delights me.
For me, long-haul flights are even more stimulating for creativity than airports, but for completely different reasons.
I see them as a parenthesis in time, as if suddenly we could press pause, being weightless in the air, suspended in time, between two continents, two time zones. I find it magical.
The simple fact that our phones are turned off, that we don't have access to the internet or social media, makes it a time when it is much easier to find mindfulness. Yes, there is nothing else to do than wait for the time to pass, which makes this experience wonderful to me.
“Make room in a corner of your mind and creativity will immediately fill it. "
Dee Hock (former CEO of Visa)
In our daily life, we go at 100 mph, being constantly stimulated. It is therefore rare to find times when we can be with ourselves and put our brains at half-mast because our society always requires us to do more. Very often, moments of passivity are seen as a kind of laziness or wasted time when, actually, they are essential. Above all, we should be able to access it on a daily basis.
Although there are many ways to find these moments of calm and mindfulness - I am thinking of yoga, meditation, sport in general, but also sleep, they also require a real discipline in order to be able to access these unknown lands that are our conscience, our imagination and our creativity.
When we are in an airplane locked up for several hours, we have the choice to take the time and to decide not to let our mind be parasitized by thought streams. Quite the contrary! All we need is to clear our heads in order to reduce noise and ideas, what I like to call "bandwidth".
(Speaking of which, I invite you to read Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now, which puts into perspective the importance of living in the moment to achieve true happiness).
The start of the Alps, seen from above.
I'm lucky. As of now, my life has always been filled with travels, airports and more or less long-haul flights. There is the act of traveling, of going from one place to another, but also the symbolism that travel entails. By necessity, I believe my approach to travel has a true spiritual dimension. I deeply love the idea that forgetting your convictions, your beliefs and your habits is essential to be able to fully live this experience, while letting yourself be guided by your senses and your vulnerability.
Today, for many reasons, our travels are sometimes limited or even downright impossible. The ecological awareness that we have (more or less) reached in recent years has led us to consider our trips in a more responsible way. That’s also the case at Heimstone: we have made a true effort to produce closer to home, therefore reducing transport costs, and our ecological impacts.
Is this the end of the adventure? I do not think so.
In this context, even more since the sanitary crisis, we have learned that it’s not all about the suitcase, the airport, or the sunny destination.
The first step of the journey, the one that doesn't have an arrival hall, is the one you take in your head. It is giving yourself a break from your daily life to explore further, even if it is inside of you. It is traveling close to home, finding different interests here, rediscovering trails that you thought you knew by heart, expressing your imagination. Unleash your creativity. Fair enough, it might not have the same flavor as going to Thailand to experience its humid weather and spicy dishes, but it's a good start ... Knowing that the trip is boundless if you want it to!
"Creativity requires having the courage to let go of the certainties."
Erich Fromm (American Sociologist & Psychoanalyst)
On our shoot of the AW20 / 21 collection in February 2020, alone on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport. Magic.
Last but not least, I would like to take advantage of this article on Travel to thank Paris Aéroport, all its wonderful team and also the agency La Boutique RP, a thousand times once again, for giving us the incredible chance to shoot our winter 20-21 campaign from the 1992 collection at Charles de Gaulle airport.
We shot this collection just before the confinement started in March 2020. It was a day full of emotions, first because now you better understand my link with airports, but also because the atmosphere was heavy, the weather threatening and we were ALL heading towards the unknown.
Obviously, we knew that this kind of photo shoot would not happen again for a long time. We felt privileged, so thank you!
Finally, I am happy to launch a discussion around travelling with these few lines, a subject I particularly hold dear for Heimstone and everything I have built. I am already looking forward to explore new facets of travelling in future articles.