Silvia Tcherassi has been a household name in her native Colombia for more than 25 years but has remained a relative insider on the worldwide fashion scene. But with the fall 2017 launch of her eponymous line on luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter, the secret is officially out on her elegant statement blouses and feminine, ruffled frocks. Now we’ll all get to buy into Tcherassi’s dreamy South American flair, just in time for our spring travels.
Traveling has always been a large part of Tcherassi’s design process. She also owns two namesake hotels in Cartagena — the first of which made Travel + Leisure's 2010 It List when it opened — making her an expert in the worlds of both style and travel.
We asked her a few questions about her travel routine, favorite cities, and packing essentials (they’re not what you’d expect).
T+L: You’ve been a fashion designer for more than 25 years. Where do you get your inspiration?
Silvia Tcherassi: “Art, architecture, feelings, objects, and powerful and iconic women such as Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, and Ann Truitt. Fabrics are always the starting point of my creative process and my last Fall/Winter 2018 collection is a tribute to them.”
What inspired you to open hotels?
“The need to express my vision, my point of view, beyond fashion. My style is casual luxury–oriented, eclectic, non-pretentious, and focused on fine, little details. My hotels and my home collection are also platforms to express this.”
Why did you decide to open hotels in Cartagena?
“Cartagena is a real movie set ready to be admired and appreciated. The city is vibrant and full of energy and has developed a new dynamic in the last decade. The opening of new restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques has created a unique environment welcoming interesting and cosmopolitan tourists.”
If you could open another hotel in Colombia, which city would you choose?
“Bogotá. The city has a very dynamic cultural, gastronomic, and shopping scene. Indeed, the first Tcherassi Hotel was originally planned for Bogotá, but we decided that Cartagena was the best option to introduce the concept.”
You’re originally from Barranquilla. What is the one thing travelers should know about your home city?
“Barranquilla has a pioneer soul. The city opened its gates to immigrants from different parts of the world, bringing with them a distinguished entrepreneurial spirit. A fun fact for travelers: Barranquilla had a very important role in the history of commercial aviation. Also, my city is the hometown of many well-known Colombians such as Julio Mario Santodomingo, Sofia Vergara, Shakira, and Nina García.”
How do you approach packing? What do you never go on vacation without?
“I try to accommodate everything in a carry-on and a large bag to avoid delays and lost luggage. Believe me, I learned my lesson many years ago. The secret is to choose garments that are easy to mix and match and pack statement accessories to transform any look on the go. During the summer, the Selvino dress is a very versatile piece, it goes easily from the day to night, from casual to party.”
Favorite city you’ve visited lately?
“Paris. I have a lot of great memories: my fashion show during Paris Fashion Week in the Carrousel du Louvre, a meeting with the Balmain executives offering me the creative direction of the brand — I didn’t accept the offer and chose to focus on my own brand, my visits to Première Vision to choose fabrics for my collections. In addition, I have a special connection with France because the government named me Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters 15 years ago.”
What are your favorite shopping cities?
“I am very familiar with Milan. For interior design and fashion, it is 'the place.' Since opening my boutique in Madrid almost three years ago, I have rediscovered the city as a shopping destination. London also surprises me with its originality and non-apologetic approach to style.”
What is the one packing rule every woman should follow?
“To reduce wrinkling, fold everything with tissue paper!”
What city are you hoping to visit in 2018?
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.