Former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements talks to Georgia Rickard about Australia’s best hotels, Miranda Kerr’s holiday snaps, and what it feels like to spend a week in-suite.
Q: Congratulations on the book [Clements has just published her memoir, The Vogue Factor].
Q: In it, you reflect on your first trip overseas – undertaken not with a backpack, but a suitcase. And in full make-up! Is that still your travel philosophy?
Yeah, I’ve always been obsessed with make-up – I mean, I was a beauty editor, so often I give more thought to what’s in my make-up bag than what’s in my wardrobe.
Because of all the travel I used to do, I don’t pack a lot because I know you only end up wearing the same things.
So I believe in travelling very lightly but always being very groomed and made up, and all that sort of stuff.
Q: You chose to write your book at a friend’s house in [inner-Sydney suburb] Darlinghurst. Why there?
I needed the discipline. I think if I was working at home I would have had another cup of tea, followed by another cup of tea, then I’d have watched the Le Bureau series [a French version of popular British television series The Office]… my friend offered me space at his house and it was perfect.
Darlinghurst was perfect, actually, we broke for lunch every day, we would go somewhere nice for an hour and it was fun. Darlinghurst was great.
Q: Vogue would have seen you stay in many hotels over the years – any favourites?
I’ve always loved The Lyall in Melbourne. I know the owners very well and it feels like you’re in your own apartment – the staff are always gorgeous there.
I like Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast as well. I think a lot of other hotels on the Gold Coast look quite tired and Versace is always sparkling. And again, the service is really great. If I’m not in The Lyall in Melbourne, I’m in the Grand Hyatt, which I like.
And of course, the Crown Metropol – I love it there. I actually booked in there once for five days and didn’t leave the hotel – I just did the spa, detox thing; it was incredible.
Q: Five days! Was that for work or for play?
Well, I did a story on it, but I wanted to do it anyway. Tara [Bishop, head of Public Relations] from Crown set it up for me – it was fantastic.
I literally checked in and didn’t actually leave the room. It was a wonderful thing to do, to be somewhere and wake up and feel better every day, it’s quite extraordinary. So I would highly recommend that!
Q: When you first accepted the Vogue editorship you went out and bought two Helmut Lang pantsuits.
Yes I did.
Q: Do you have a similar ritual when going on holidays?
It’s funny because I used to have this ritual: I’d get to the airport and just go straight to the make-up counter and buy something just to make me feel better and calm me down.
“Oh I just need a new eye pencil or lipstick or something before I get on the plane”, that sort of thing.
But I think as I’m getting more mature and my lifestyle is moving into different things, I’m probably dressing even more simply now.
I’m really happy with just a cashmere sweater, a really well-cut pant, beautiful accessories and a great trench. Just really classic pieces.
Q: Do you have a social media policy on holidays?
I wouldn’t turn my phone off – I absolutely rave about Twitter. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date with news, so I would Tweet all the time.
But I wouldn’t care about Facebook – I wouldn’t check it and I wouldn’t post pictures of myself on holiday. In fact, I’d like to shut Facebook down in August, when you’ve got all of those pictures of people holidaying in Positano. I’ve had enough. No more pictures of your feet in the sand in Positano! No!
Q: The classic ‘holiday brag’ shot! Miranda Kerr did that recently on Hamilton Island.
She likes publicity. I don’t.
Q: Fair enough. Let’s talk about your stand-out Australian holiday memories.
When I was really young my mother used to send my brother and I to stay with my aunty in Victoria. She had a caravan on Lake Eildon and I have such vivid memories of that because it was really boiling hot Australian bush and there were snakes and currawongs in the morning.
You had to go up to the local shop to get a Paddle Pop – it was filthy hot – and you could hear the cicadas. When I think of Aussie summers, I think of everything that was around Lake Eildon in Victoria.
Q: Where’s the best place for a fashion shoot?
The salt plains in South Australia are incredible – I’ve seen a couple of shoots there. But the thing is, I sometimes think that the beauty of the Australian landscape is just wasted in fashion photos. I honestly don’t think fashion photos can do them justice, it cheapens them somehow.
I’ve never found fashion shoots could do justice to the grandeur of what you can find in the Australian landscape. [Photographer] Graham Shearer did some incredible pictures for us in Broome.
They were really great with the light at the beach, but ultimately, I think for me fashion pictures are better in urban cities than landscapes.
Q: What are three things you always pack when travelling for business?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down to three! I would never travel without my essential make-up kit. One great pair of black pants, occasionally a sweater and a really elegant pair of flats. Then pretty much even if every other part of your luggage was lost, you could go anywhere.
Q: What about for leisure?
Sandals, sandals and more sandals. I don’t like thongs.
Q: Are you a Melbourne girl or a Sydney girl?
That’s a good question. You know what, I’m going to mix it up, because I do like the Sydney climate. I live near the beach, I live on Centennial Park, and I love all of that.
But I’m just about to go to Melbourne for eight days and I couldn’t be more excited. I love all the little restaurants and cafés and my friends down there… and they have great cultural events, so I like them both.
However, I absolutely love Brisbane.
Q: Controversial! Why?
I think the people are really great, I find that they’re just so… the way they turn out for events and support cultural events.
They have that wonderful gallery and library, the GOMA… I think it’s just growing, and growing, and growing, and will be one of the most exciting cities to visit. And it has a beautiful climate and I just love it.