Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last decade or so, chances are you’re probably already familiar with Pam Skaist-Levy, who along with her BFF Gela Nash-Taylor, created one of the most iconic brands of all time, Juicy Couture. But since then, this California born-and-raised babe has been quite a busy lady—she’s got a new line of contemporary clothing called Pam & Gela, and with the debut of a newly released book, The Glitter Plan (it’s all about how they started Juicy Couture with a mere $200 bucks and turned it into a global brand!), she can now add author to her resume. Here, the ridiculously stylish blonde chats with us about all things travel—including her fear of flying, her very specific airplane essentials, and the incredible souvenir she brought back from Paris.
How often do you travel?
Not as much a I would like to. I have a young son in school so finding the time with our busy schedules can be tough.
Where are your favorite destinations to travel to?
I love destinations that combine both amazing nature and culture.
Where’s your ‘happy place’ to visit?
Cuixmala, which is located in Careyes, Mexico. It’s a spot in the world that just completely blows my mind. Cuixmala was built as the private estate of James Goldsmith (he was married to Annabel, the muse behind the famously celebrated London club which bears her name). The insanely gorgeous property is perched on 25,000 acres of land, lagoons, and the most insane beaches! The crown jewel is a Moroccan palace set on a wide, unspoiled beach that is really one of the most beautiful and mind boggling places I’ve ever seen. The area of Costa Careyes is situated on the coast between Manzanillo and Puerta Vallarta…it was founded in the late 60’s as sort of a ‘jet-set artist colony’…it has a super cool vibe.
What brand of luggage do you use?
I only travel with a carry-on…thats my rule! My husband gave me a fabulous birthday present years ago—a soft, Prada carry-on that he was obsessed with and had carried for years. I’ll admit I was skeptical when I saw it because it looked so small but you can really fill-it-to-the-brim! Plus, the soft yet sturdy nylon body enables the bag to fit through those irritating measuring devices some airlines have created just to fuck with you. It is the best carry-on! I also love that you have the option to use it as a wheelie or to carry it over your shoulder because of a strategically placed removable strap.
Do you bring a camera when you travel?
I bring an old Canon that has a vintage, cross-body case. I’m all about cases and fanny packs…I have a Marni fanny pack that is both chic and so practical, which I just adore—especially for travel.
Do you have a favorite airline?
I’m loving the new jets on American Airlines—they are super luxurious and make traveling super cush!
What are your must-have airplane essentials?
Many drinks…vodka and soda, to be exact. I also bring a very pure, lavender-oil spray which I spray everywhere, and I mean everywhere, including on other passengers. I wear noise canceling Bose headphones, which I admit I don’t turn off when I’m asked to. I wear them backwards so the stewardesses can’t see that the red light is flashing (which indicates that they are on), and I hide my iPod Nano under my lavender-infused blanket. It’s bad, I know, but I need my tunes during takeoff. That can’t cause the plane to crash, I just know it.
Do you prefer an aisle or a window seat?
Window! I am a bad passenger, kinda of scared of turbulence, and I tend to use the call-button a lot. I feel safer being next to the window—it gives me a false sense of security that I can ‘get out’ if need be (ha!). I also drink mass quantities of alcohol just to get through it…just sayin’ a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
What’s your preferred in-flight beverage?
Vodka and soda (and keep ’em coming!).
What’s on your travel playlist?
My playlist consists of tons of Joni Mitchell, which really calms me down.
How do you entertain yourself at 35,000 feet?
I always have my Kindle loaded for books but I read magazines on my iPad through Zinio. Zinio makes it really easy to pour through my mags and take a screen shot of what I am into and store those tears, or shall I say “virtual tears” in a cloud filing system through Evernote, which happens to be the best tool for organizing magazine tears and creating mood boards. I cant live without Evernote—my 83-year-old father turned me on to Evernote, so clearly you dont have to be a total techie to use the app.
What’s your go-to uniform for the plane?
I always wear something chic yet comfortable. Of course I am really into our Pam & Gela collection—buttery-soft, chic layering pieces that can be dressed up or down. We have amazing silk joggers that I wear with our muscle tee and a high-low sweatshirt. You can jump on the plane with trainers and jump off after switching your shoes to Manolo pumps and you look totally chic in any city.
How do you deal with jet lag?
I don’t deal with jet lag very well at all! I drink a ton of water and I am usually in a bad mood for a day or two. My traveling companions know this in advance and just go with it…or avoid me like the plague.
How do you manage your health + eating habits when you’re away from home?
I really just eat whatever t is fresh and local wherever I am.
Are you an over-packer or an under-packer?
I am a total under-packer. I bring very little and am totally organized. I hate over-packing and bringing too much stuff.
What are your favorite pieces to pack when you travel?
Not to toot my own horn, but when Gela and I design a collection we think of the perfect traveling pieces. My traveling must-haves are all Pam & Gela. I always pack a dress that can be worn for day or night—I just change my shoes (so easy!). Our jersey dresses pack insanely well. A silk or tencel pant is also an important piece—our pants are kinda perfect. White and black tees are a staple, and again go from day to night depending on how you accessorize (our tees are really so much more than a basic). A knit skirt is important…our skirts are great because you can roll them into a ball when you pack and they come out perfect. A high-low sweatshirt is always in my suitcase (our sweatshirts are the best!). The Pam & Gela lightweight leather jacket in red is soft and cozy, and looks good with everything. For shoes I pack chic flats, chic heels and a pair of cool trainers. A large, Hermes wrap is also a must. I also love to pack inexpensive tribal jewelry that I buy on Ebay or Etsy…it’s enough drama without breaking the bank in case you lose it.
Have you ever had a travel disaster?
My travel disaster was having my sons luggage stolen when we were away for 2 weeks…hence the ‘carry-on only’ rule that I now have.
If your luggage was lost what are the 5 items you’d buy at the local drugstore?
Mascara, Cetaphil, lotion, deodorant and Nyquil (the Nyquil is because I would need to pass out if this ever happened!).
What are your favorite finds + souvenirs from your travels?
My favorite souvenir—and this is a pretty major souvenir—was a purchase made during a trip to Paris. Vogue took Gela and me to the couture shows for a feature on Juicy Couture. During that amazing trip, two of the editors at Vogue, Hamish Bowles and Sally Singer, took us to the flea market in Paris. I found a spectacular chandelier that I had shipped home and whenever I look at it I am reminded of that wonderful once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
What are your favorite childhood memories of traveling?
We traveled so much as a family—my parents were very into having us see the world, and we really did. I can’t think of one trip that really sticks out because they were all incredible…. it’s the memory of being together and experiencing new cultures.
What destinations are still on your bucket-list?
We have 2 amazing trips planned to India and Japan.
Pam Skaist-Levy photographed in Careyes, Mexico