Thanks to Reed Krakoff, president and executive creative director of Coach for the past five years, the venerable luggage company has undergone a major reinvention. This year marks Coach's 60th anniversary, and Krakoff has been busy designing everything from a newly launched jewelry collection to a line of clothing essentials in leather, suede, and cashmere. Besides his visits to Coach's studio in Florence, Krakoff travels constantly, finding inspiration all the while. Travel + Leisure checked in to learn his travel secrets.
Flying I love it. I bring 50 magazines—home, fashion, food, travel—and tear through them, leaving the remains on the plane when we land. I also sketch a lot and watch movies. It's like a little adventure each time. In a really naïve way, I'm still excited by the prospect of traveling.
Hotel Surprises When I was 21, my boss sent me on my first business trip with about two hours' notice, because she couldn't go herself. I was overjoyed to be going to Paris. I even stayed in her hotel room at the Plaza Athénée. I had no idea the mini-bar items were so expensive, and I went crazy. The bill—for my snacks alone—was $500, and I had to pay for it when I got home. Now I never use the mini-bar; I just bring my own water and wine. But I still stay at the Plaza Athénée.
Packing Light I always pack twice. I go over everything and ask myself, "Will I really wear that?" It cuts what I take in half. And honestly, it's not as if when you're in Paris, Florence, or London you can't buy something to wear.
Shades of Gray If I have an event or a dinner to go to, I'll pack a suit and then wear the pants separately. I just take the things I've worn recently. With any luck, they'll have been cleaned in the interim. And I pack clothes only in blue, black, gray, khaki, or white. It's boring, but it works.
Fancy Footwork I always bring sneakers. It's amazing how acceptable they've become. For a while, Nike's Presto—the ones that come in small, medium, large, and extra-large—were in. Now it's a new Nike slip-on called the Rufus II. I've also designed a travel sneaker called the Transatlantic. It's a hybrid sneaker-shoe in black nylon with leather trim. That's all I wear now.
Luggage Triangle I don't check anything, especially when I'm going to Florence. Often, you'll make the connection in Paris but your luggage won't.
Room with a View I love the Savoy in Florence—it faces the Piazza della Repubblica. It's a little bit noisy, but I like being in the middle of the city where it's all happening.
Impulse Buying In Florence, not too long ago, I bought a suit an hour before I had to be at a dinner. The shop was tailoring the pants, and the concierge had someone pick them up while I got ready at the hotel. Only in Florence could you buy a suit, have it altered, and be wearing it in an hour.
Jet Lag At around 3 p.m. on the day I arrive in Florence, I'm lying flat on the floor of the design studio, asking people to bring me things. Espresso is a must to battle jet lag. I order one when I get off the plane and one when I get to the studio, and after that I'm more than ready to go.
Fashion Plates In Florence I always eat at Quattro Leoni [1R Via Vellutini; 39-055/218-562]. The crowd is a great mix of Florentines and New York fashion people. And the outdoor seating area spills into the most picturesque piazza. It's the perfect place to linger after dinner.