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Suitcase Series: Alison Tay in Dubai

If you looked up the word ‘glamour’ in the dictionary, the definition would probably read: Alison Tay. Born in London, she moved to Dubai four years ago for the job of her dreams as editor-in-chief of Grazia Middle East.

As a fashion front row regular, Alison Tay not only has an enviable suitcase aesthetic but her at-home wardrobe is pretty impressive, too: “I’m often asked how long I plan to stay in Dubai. There is no plan. I came with two suitcases, and now my wardrobe has its own bedroom.” The room-shaped closet is hardly surprising when you consider Alison’s jet-setting schedule to cover fashion’s major events calendar…

Think judging the International Woolmark Prize in Hong Kong, attending Victoria’s Secret Show in New York and hosting a night with Alison Temperley in Abu Dhabi.

Time to unpack Alison Tay’s suitcase psyche.

What is the first trip you remember taking?

My parents moved to London from Singapore in the 60s, and they took me home for the first time when I was seven, so I’ve been flying long-haul all my life. It was a clash of colours, sounds, smells, flavours, family, culture and languages I had never imagined, and part of my identity I never knew existed. Not the glossy, Crazy Rich Asians-version, but the grittier, Geylang Road realness through the eyes of a seven-year-old who’d never seen anything beyond a leafy London suburb.

If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?

I lost my mum 10 years ago and I wish I’d shown her more of the world.

How do you usually recover from jet-lag?

I try to listen to my body and protect my energy as much as possible in a jet-lag situation. A pillow-y mattress topper and 400-thread count bedlinen help, too.


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Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?

If both my phones and the power bank I travel with were out, the Business Lounge buffet would probably bear the brunt of it.

What’s the biggest lessons from your travels?

Earlier this year, I flew to Milan for Fashion Week and my suitcase was sent to JFK, leaving me with just one rap T-shirt, and an assortment of Reckless Wolf underwear – look it up – for the FROW. Since then, I’ve become a lot smarter packing my hand luggage and always travel with at least one complete outfit plus accessories, pyjamas, underwear, and make-up bag. My most outlandish extravagance when I travel for important events is having my outfits shipped to the hotel in advance by designers.

Work trips aside, do you travel for food, leisure, culture, or something else?

I’m already a long way from home, and I live in a beach club-strewn holiday destination so my average weekends can look like most people’s summers in Ibiza. So wherever I am, wherever I can, I seek to evolve, heal and connect – emotionally, spiritually, intellectually.

Absolute favourite hotel and why?

The newly restored Hotel de Crillon in Paris is the dream. My Uber driver cancelled when I was running late for an appointment at the Chanel Spa at The Ritz, so the concierge personally whizzed me around the corner in the classic car President Charles de Gaulle used to roll around in in the 70s.
FYI: there’s also a luxury leather-restoring service, so bring your beloved bags that have seen better days.

Favourite airline?

I’m a gold member on Emirates. Wi-Fi, a mattress, duvet and seat that fully reclines means every business class flight feels like you’re scrolling through Instagram in bed.

What’s usually on your travel playlist?

Because I’m still listening to old-school hip hop and 90s R&B, my Features Editor Olivia Adams has threatened to make me a playlist of the acts performing at the Victoria’s Secret show ‘as homework’.


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So, where’s next?

I’ll start 2019 with some spiritual restoration, so my next stop in January is resort-hopping in the Maldives.

What are your must-have travel picks?

I try to surround myself with as much comfort and familiarity as possible when I’m away from home which translates to travelling in a lot of oversized menswear (preferably Gucci), calming essential oils for the flight, and silk pyjamas when I reach my destination.

First thing that comes to your mind?

Your hand-luggage essential?

Anything I’d be heartbroken never to see again if my baggage went on an adventure of its own. Usually involves Gucci.

Packing: roll or fold?

Fold (and freshly ironed).

Time killer on a long-haul flight?

Movies of course.

On-flight tipple of choice?


Bucket list top destination?

I went to Moscow for the first time last year and felt so at home I think I’m secretly Russian, so I’d love to see more of the motherland.

Best shopping gem found abroad?

I stumbled upon a store selling handcrafted homeware from Senegal and West Africa in Le Marais the last time I was in Paris, and not buying the bright, happy, hand-painted chests adorned with the words Amour, Bonheur and Paix continues to haunt me. (Discover it here)

Beach or City?

I live in a city by the beach that rose up from the desert, so I’ll choose the jungle because that’s where I feel the most energised.

Ultimate hideaway?

Kamalaya, a secret sanctuary in Koh Samui that offers reiki, moonlight meditation, yoga, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Ayurvedic therapies plus tailored wellness programmes. I did my first and only solo trip there – a Stress and Adrenal Burnout detox. I cried when I left.

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