Edwina Forest, Creative Director of Australian fashion label Aje, effortlessly embodies the laid-back style of her home country.
A former magazine stylist, Edwina and her business partner Adrian co-founded Aje in 2008 and the brand’s rise has been cataclysmic ever since. Pairing luxurious wardrobe essentials, perfect for the coastal-urban Australian lifestyle, alongside statement pieces with signature volume sleeves, luxurious design is at the core of everything Aje does. “The Aje brand essence is very much grounded in a modern and effortless take on Australian statement style, with artisan and luxury sensibilities. To us, the Aje woman embodies raw beauty, tough femininity, and effortless cool.”
Travel is important to Edwina: “the power of sensing something physically has only become more cherished, since the pandemic. With Australia being an island positioned so far from other parts of the globe, it’s one thing to escape in one’s mind, but quite another to travel to really experience a new culture and effectively another moment in time.”
Equipped with an array of her sleek Aje dresses, we delve into Edwina Forest’s travel psyche…
What is the first trip you remember taking?
What is most memorable and poignant to me in my formative years was a two-month trip to Switzerland on French exchange when I was in high school. This was my first independent trip abroad, living with a host family.
What’s been your most memorable trip and why?
Any trip where there has been a strong connection to nature stays with me. For example, a visit to Switzerland where my husband Felix and I stayed at 7132 Hotel Vals. Set amongst the Vals thermal baths, architect Tadao Ando’s design is visible in this exquisite hotel. It is a remarkable union of modern architecture set against a backdrop of mountains and water – a sanctuary.
Another memorable trip was to the privately owned boutique hotel, Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Abruzzo. Formerly an abandoned town, the site has since been historically protected and has become a charming countryside town, occupied by locals and artisans. My husband Felix and I visited in winter when it was snowing and it felt so special, like we had stepped back in time.
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Where or what is your escape?
We have a secluded piece of land in the Araluen Valley. It is one of the little gems situated between the Southern Tablelands, Canberra, and the coast, in the state of New South Wales. This location has become a lot more important to us since we had our daughter Freïa last year, and especially since we haven’t been able to travel overseas. It’s profoundly quiet, remote, and surrounded by nature.
If you could go anywhere tomorrow it would be…
Always Paris. We can’t wait to introduce our little daughter to her family in Paris.
What’s your idea of a luxury holiday?
Luxury to me is pure simplicity. Somewhere where I can occupy time to be contemplative, as well as experiencing a new culture. A view always helps, and texture is also important to me. Visiting cities can be quite overwhelming.
Where do you get your holiday inspiration?
Often through friends and friends of friends. I love to unearth somewhere completely unexpected.
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Your top bucket list destination is…
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
What’s on your travel playlist?
Soft French jazz.
What is your favourite ever hotel?
For decades, La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence, has operated as an art foundation in itself, as well as a place to stay. Entering the hotel, you are surrounded by legendary collections of Matisse and Picasso, which have been contributed by these artists, and many more over the years. Art encompasses each and every space. The experience is so eclectic, you are sure to encounter interesting guests from the pool, to the courtyard, which only enhances your stay!
How do you switch off?
Truthfully, I find it more and more difficult to switch off. Having humble rituals each day that I consistently practice, aids the process: tea, meditation, and soft sounds.
What item of clothing/accessory is a suitcase stalwart?
An array of swimwear, some lightweight Aje cotton dresses, a wide brimmed hat, sandals, a pair of sunglasses, and some boots (to hike in post-swim). Also, something a little special for the evenings: there is always somewhere to go out, no matter which little town or village you find yourself in.
Who is your favourite travel companion?
My husband Felix and our daughter.
What is your most treasured purchase from your travels?
Silk and wool armchairs by French architect, Pierre Augustin Rose, sourced in Paris at the flea markets.
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What are your jet lag recovery tips?
I can’t say I have found the solution, other than to push through!
Where is home and what are your must-do’s for any tourists visiting?
Sydney, Australia is home. Arrive on a Friday, just in time for the weekend. By day, a stroll along Rushcutters Bay or Paddington is an ideal starting point to take in the brilliant Sydney city and its sights. The beachfront walk from Bondi to Bronte is also a must – however very popular – followed by a dip in the ocean pool at either end of your walk. For a discreet but equally sensational swim, Kutti Beach in Vaucluse is a personal favourite, as is the sheltered Camp Cove.
Visit your favourite Aje store, of course, for a spot of shopping, and enjoy dinner at Fratelli Paradiso or Dear Saint Eloise in Potts Point, Sydney. The bar at Restaurant Hubert in the city is a fun French late-night spot too.
First thing that comes to your mind?
A change of outfit to layer mid-flight.
Packing: roll or fold?
Inflight book or inflight film?
Music or podcasts?
Time filler on a long-haul flight?
A little bit of everything.
Holiday tipple of choice?
Tea by day and certainly a nightcap for the evening.
Beach or City Break?
A treasure by the sea or mountains.
Ultimate holiday treat?
Visiting a one-of-a-kind location.
* Feature image by Liz Sunshine