Souvenir shopping has become a competitive sport these days, with savvy travelers looking for authentic treasures that they won't find in their own hometown a week later. Here, 16 globe-hopping style-makers trade tips and secret destinations
JOHN LORING, design director, Tiffany & Co.
I've always liked ceramics, from wall tiles down to vases and dinner plates. I go to Solar on the Rua Dom Pedro V in Lisbon for 16th-century Portuguese azulejos (blue-and-white tiles). Tile has a great advantage over paintings and drawings in that it doesn't deteriorate. I don't like things to look old and decrepit—including myself.
In Copenhagen, the Kompanistraede is an absolute paradise for Scandinavian furniture, art, silver, and ceramics at very attractive prices. On Paris's Left Bank, the shops on the Rue des Saints-Pères, Rue Jacob, Rue de l'Université, Rue de Rennes, and Rue St.-Bon have extraordinary merchants whose taste level is virtually the highest in the world.
Dress down to go shopping for antiques, and bring a young friend to do the bargaining; the dealer's more likely to give them a break. Ask the shop to send your purchases to your hotel—it's very bad to signal that you've been spending money.
MICHAEL KORS, designer
Today, almost anything you can buy is available anywhere in the world. But you can't buy memories—like the vintage Hawaiian shirt you found in Honolulu, or the Noguchi lamp in Tokyo, or a fabulous shaving kit from Milan.
JANE LAUDER, executive, Clinique International
I love the Erickson Beamon store in London because it carries jewelry you can't find anywhere else.
When I'm visiting a city where friends live, I ask for the names of their favorite shops. I also tear out magazine articles and keep files on different cities, so when I go there I know which stores and up-and-coming neighborhoods to check out.
JEFFREY KALINSKY, owner, Jeffrey
Ask the owner or staff members of a cutting-edge clothing store—in Paris, try L'Éclaireur—for advice on other shops. Those people are usually knowledgeable about where to go for furniture and antiques and vintage stuff, and about where to eat. And whether I'm a fan of the store or not, I never go to Paris without at least going into Colette, just to see what they're doing.
ANNA SUI, designer
I often shop at stores run by government-sponsored handicraft associations to find souvenirs with regional flavor. Not long ago I was in Sweden and Finland and went to some amazing ones with rugs and needlework by local artisans—in Stockholm, Svensk Hemslöjd and Svenskt Tenn; and Suomen in Helsinki.
TODD OLDHAM, designer
Head for the neighborhoods that are either run-down or ethnic. Multi-ethnic neighborhoods are jewels. In Dallas, there's an area called Lower Greenville that still has the most amazing thrift shops. I don't know where they find all the stuff and I don't know how it's still five dollars, but there are some really good things.
On Christopher Street in New York there's a perfume shop that I find intoxicating, called Aedes De Venustas. The owner has the most finely tuned, sophisticated old-school eye. Anything lovely that stinks, it's there.
GLORIA STEINEM, writer
The greatest place I've found lately is Chelsea Mini-Storage, in the West 20's in New York City. Every space in this huge old warehouse has a different dealer with beautiful things—fabrics, sculpture, furniture—from a different part of Africa, all brought directly here in shipping containers. The pieces were made by hand and by heart, no two exactly the same. Though it's sad that these objects couldn't stay with the people who made them, there is also the hope that their sale will pay for food, shelter, and good health.
CLODAGH, interior designer
Whenever I fly somewhere, I shamelessly look for local people on the plane and strike up a conversation. My question is always the same: What are the three things I must not miss if I have only 24 hours?
I love to cook, and before I go anywhere I buy a cookbook of that place's regional dishes. Then, while I'm away, I pick up spices and other ingredients that travel safely so I can share the cuisine with my friends back home. I even buy local music to play while I'm serving the food. I'm in Spain now, and when I get back I know my friends will be much more grateful to have a plate of paella and a fig tart than to see a handful of photos of me standing in front of a 16th-century monastery.
My best tip for antiques shopping: Go with a companion, who can "remind" you that your plane is leaving in two hours when the price seems too high. That puts the bargaining in fast-forward.
ANNE SLATER, socialite
I'm not the kind of shopper who goes around with a vague look on her face, browsing through everything. I'm very focused. About 35 years ago I bought three dozen pairs of blue glasses—the style was called Debutante—at Lugene in Philadelphia. I saw them and I loved them and I've worn them ever since.
In Paris, I like Morabito for its fabulous handbags. You can buy them in different colors of leather and alligator, with interchangeable handles. My husband gave me a real gold handle, which is divine.
SIMON DOONAN, creative director, Barneys New York
Once, I did a back-roads tour of western Florida, from Tampa down to the Everglades, and found all kinds of great stores, from bookshops to fetish wear—and amazing things in Goodwill outlets.
Another time I went shopping in Morocco with a friend who's short, like me. Everyone treated us like lucky munchkins, as if it was good luck to chase us down the street.
If you're going shopping somewhere really stinky, bring a posy of mint or flowers to scrunch under your nose—very 18th-century.
KITTY D'ALESSIO, retail consultant
I go to the Triple Pier antiques expo in New York religiously and I'm like Grant taking Richmond—I can spot something across the floor. If you're the kind of black-belt shopper I am, you'll always find something interesting.
When I want ethnic things in New York, I go to Pearl River Mart or BLT in Chinatown. And I'm not averse to looking at stands on the street, either—some of those things are fabulous. That's what it means to be a consummate shopper: even when I'm not looking, I find things.
RALPH LAUREN, designer
Traveling today, it can be hard to find unusual items. But both the Internet and the desire for better service have brought us an accessibility and ease that didn't exist 30 years ago.
Three of my favorite places are Lorenzi in Milan, which sells knives, pipes, and shaving tools, and Antiquarius and Guinevere in London, for antiques.
PAUL SMITH, designer
London's Caelt Gallery in Westbourne Grove specializes in paintings from Russia, and also has a selection of 19th-century English paintings—they're all stacked against the wall, and the excitement of finding one you love is fantastic! Across the road is Lacey's, which sells beautiful old picture frames—some of them very simple and reasonably priced, some of them rare and, of course, costly. Both are near the famous Portobello Road, which during the week is a fruit and vegetable market and on Friday sells great vintage clothes. On Saturday, the market has antiques stalls.
CLAUDIA FLEMING, pastry chef, Gramercy Tavern
Most other countries don't think as globally as we do, particularly in terms of cuisine. All the food is regional and seasonal. In Italy, in the Lombardy region, there's chestnut everything in the fall: chestnut flour, chestnut creams—which are easy to bring home—even special chestnut-cutting knives. It's fun to see what each country does with its abundance of a particular product. You discover a whole new world.
CAROLINA HERRERA, designer
I adore the Gap and Banana Republic—but you do not find treasures there. For treasures you go to the Gem Palace in Jaipur, Sandra Cronan in London, A La Vieille Russie in New York—and, for the greatest of them all, the souk in Istanbul.
ALAIN DUCASSE, chef
I found a little shop called Antic Marine on the island of Mauritius for fantastic handmade miniature reproductions of old boats. The detail, effort, and passion that go into each boat is extraordinary.