As GM of the Australian Fashion Chamber, Courtney Miller travels to Paris a couple of times a year with Australia’s top and emerging designers to promote and develop our fashion industry and talent. Having lived and worked in Paris before, her insider’s guide to Paris is an interesting blend of local knowledge and experience mixed with a couple of better known favourites. Join us now as we talk Paris, Australian fashion and a few great travel tips with Courtney.
BK: What are your carry-on essentials when travelling? What would you always have on the plane with you?
CM: A fabulous book – my dad was always late to pick me up (surfer :)) and so it’s a habit I’ve kept. Usually a magazine as well for when I don’t feel like the intensity of a novel. A scarf (no bias here) because it always gets a bit hot and cold on the plane and that’s the easiest thing to drape. I’ve had my fair share of luggage lost so a spare pair of undies and maybe a change could be a godsend! And in terms of products, I usually have a little Aesop travel pack – you don’t want to have tonnes of stuff so travel sizes are perfect.
BK: Which Australian designers do you most admire?
CM: That’s like asking me to pick my favourite child! And fashion is so subjective but because you asked, I do like the Strateas Carlucci boys – they just made my wedding dress. The Macgraw sisters are a good example of sticking to their brand and slowly but steadily building their business…and then there are designers like Romance Was Born who are just hitting their year 10 but are only really beginning to hit their stride and find their creative balance. There are so many others … I think Australian designers have something really special to offer the world.
BK: What is your personal style?
CM: Although I love a bit of Paris glamour, I’m a surfer from Byron so my style (generally) is something that I can easily wear but I also don’t mind occasionally pushing the boundaries.
BK: You travel to Paris often with your role. Tell us about your go-to pieces that you always pack.
CM: It’s clichéd but you do need a good coat. We forget in Australia how essential that is and how being cold can be utterly miserable. If you don’t have someone giving you gorgeous pieces, you can always go for standard black or grey but I don’t mind an occasional outlandish decision. When I was a poor student in Paris and waitressing, I bought this totally impractical but beautiful white coat and wore it to death! I still have it because the cut is great and it has stood the test of time.
It’s clichéd but you do need a good coat. We forget in Australia how essential that is and how being cold can be utterly miserable.
BK: Tell us about your favourite places in Paris.
Favourite café – I still love the place I waitressed when I was a student there. The Rose Bakery (there are two locations – one in the Marais and the other in the 10th.) It has beautiful healthy food but also delicious french pastries…
Favourite retail experience – I don’t usually like big department stores. I prefer wandering through boutiques and being in the open air, but it’s undeniable that the Bon Marche is a retail experience like no other. I have always found new brands there and their food section is mouthwatering! It’s perfect for thoughtful but easy gifts.
Favourite hotel – I usually airbnb as I literally spend no time in my room and the AFC is a not-for-profit so we don’t have huge budgets. But if I could choose I would stay at La Réserve Paris on Avenue Gabriel – heaven!
A favourite “moment or experience in Paris – I really like the Mosque in the 5th. It’s a bath house and although not super lush, it’s real and it makes you feel like you live there. They have yummy mint tea and the best selection of baklava and a restaurant with amazing tagines. I went there in March with a friend the morning after fashion week – it was literally the only time we had free and it was glorious!
I prefer wandering through boutiques and being in the open air, but it’s undeniable that the Bon Marche is a retail experience like no other. It’s perfect for thoughtful but easy gifts.
BK: Any other advice / insights for enjoying Paris?
CM: Look, the French can be difficult to connect with at times but if your city was THE tourist destination of the world for the last 400 years, you may also be a little prickly. Learn a few lines of French and try to understand them. I promise you it will go a really long way!
BK: Do you have a flying beauty routine?
CM: I would like to say it doesn’t involve champagne but I do have a glass when I first get on :)! I grew up with a mother who was tyrannical when it came to brushing teeth so I regularly brush my teeth…which is funny to put in terms of beauty but we all know how hideous that can be. I also moisturise as much as possible. Other than that, I actually feel like there are so few occasions I get to be uncontactable so it’s really a time to relax and enjoy – I must be a little strange!
BK: Where are you travelling to next?
CM: Hopefully New York. The AFC is looking at possibly doing a showroom there and although we are still looking to secure funding, I need to do a recon session and work out how it al might work.
BK: Your favourite way to wear a scarf?
CM: I swear Bird and Knoll aren’t paying me but I do love a scarf! It is something I think I picked up as an 18 year old in Europe and thought “How come we don’t wear these more often?” There are a lot more of them in Australia now but my fave is the summer scarf. It is kind of superfluous to have a light one fluttering around your neck but they somehow are so handy and give you that European flair that makes summer all the more romantic.