From fashion model to creative director, Cecilia Bönström’s career has always been immersed in style. She started her journey with Parisian fashion house Zadig&Voltaire as an assistant in 2003 and worked her way up to become global creative director.
Born in Gothenburg, Cecilia describes herself as “100% Swedish” but has lived in Paris since 1989 when she first started modelling. A pro at minimal packing thanks to 15 years of far-flung model assignments, her motto is: “Never just ‘throw’ things in your suitcase but plan every day in advance.”
So what does the creative director of one of France’s coolest labels pack in her (pre-planned) luggage? From music healing to Jane Fonda, we delve into the suitcase psyche of Cecilia Bönström.
What’s inspiring you during lockdown?
I’m appreciating being with my children and just being more relaxed. For the first time since high school graduation, I’ve now stopped running around stressing. So I’m inspired by my own free mind – a lot of good ideas are coming through. But also reading books, listening to music and watching films. I think inspiration is everywhere, but being in a slower pace makes the ideas much clearer.
What does travel mean to you?
Travel to me means either work or a moment of getting away.
What’s the first trip you remember taking?
My first trip I remember taking was going to Denmark with my parents one summer, discovering the Tivoli, and long, endless beaches. It was all about happiness, picnics on the beach and a sense of freedom and warmness.
What’s been your favourite vacation?
I think three years ago, discovering Tulum in Mexico was a real experience for me and still is to me, my ever-favourite trip. The hotel, Nomade with their very simple but amazing bungalows, the light through the palm trees, the best breakfast I’ve ever had anywhere, the decor, the yoga classes in the morning on the beach, the bike rounds in the evening to go and have the best meals ever. It’s my favourite place for sure.
Where or what is your escape?
Apart from putting my AirPods in and dancing alone with my playlist on Spotify, my escape would be to go to my country house in Normandy where I live in the middle of nowhere and where I’m surrounded by horses, cows and nature. I let go there.
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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your travels?
My biggest lesson from travelling – because I’ve travelled since I started modelling in 1988 – is to always travel light. Because if anything happens you can always get around on your own, without assistance. When I was on my model trips, the team always said that I was the best-dressed person but with the smallest suitcase… The secret behind that is to plan your suitcase well – never just ‘throw’ things in your suitcase but plan every day in advance.
My top 3 bucket list destinations I’m planning to visit post-isolation are:
To the Hotel Ett Hem in my home country, in Stockholm. Apparently, it’s one of the best hotels in the world, but like a house with a family energy. I’d also choose a cute hotel in Greece with my three sons to relax. And then a long weekend at Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice.
If I could go anywhere tomorrow, I’d go to…
The beauty institute, Biologique Recherche at Champs Élysées for one of their famous facials.
What’s your idea of a luxury holiday?
My idea of luxury vacation is somewhere where time doesn’t exist and where you don’t have to take the car. So, either in Tulum where you do everything by bike and your days are rhythmed by yoga, music healing, massages and healthy food and sunshine. Or going away with good friends on a sailboat on the waters of Greece.
Where do you get holiday inspiration from?
I listen to my friends’ advice and also discover new places thanks to Instagram.
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
On a long-distance flight, I would like to sit next to Jane Fonda because she’s such a strong and independent woman. Or otherwise, someone who makes me laugh, like Steve Martin. I wouldn’t say no if I had to sit next to Brad Pitt either.
How do you usually recover from jet-lag?
When I come back to Europe after being in America I get back to daily stuff immediately, whether it’s an early exercise class or work. Stay up as long as possible. Finish the day with a warm bath. And then go to bed, and sleep through the whole night – hopefully soundly.
Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?
I take out a notebook and I write down new ideas that I search for in my mind. And I love observing people and looking for new details. A good book is always great, too.
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Favourite hotel? Why?
My favourite hotel ever is The Mercer in NYC because of the timeless and beautiful decoration of Christian Liaigre. The team working there treat you like a family member and the restaurant in the lobby has such a great energy.
My favourite airline is Air France because I’ve travelled so much with them since I was young.
What’s on your travel playlist?
Outside by Calvin Harris, Anywhere by Rita Ora, Slow Down by Imany and All I am by Jess Glynne.
What are your must-have suitcase picks?
I always organise my case so that when I pack, I put in day-to-night pieces – a t-shirt that I’ll wear with denim shorts in the daytime but with a blazer and jeans in the evening. And daytime sandals that work with a dress in the evening.
First thing that comes to your mind
Your hand-luggage essential?
A big pashmina scarf to wrap myself into on the plane.
Packing: roll or fold?
Inflight book or inflight film?
Music or podcasts?
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
I love reading fashion magazines.
Bucket list top destination?
Best shopping gem found abroad?
Amazing handmade necklaces being sold on the beach of Tulum.
Beach or City?
Ultimate holiday treat?
Massage every day in a fantastic spa, or sleep in until you wake up by yourself.