A native Texan, Lela Rose joined the New York fashion community when she released her first signature collection in 1998. Since then, her impeccably tailored designs have become the go-to uniform for well-dressed city girls as well as their southern cousins. (Her ready-to-wear and totally chic bridesmaid line is a maid-of-honor’s dream.) Lela lives in New York City with her husband and two children, her favorite sidekicks for exploring the world fashionably.
Q: Where and when did you take your first trip as a family?
We took a family trip to Spain when Grey was almost two years old. We rented a villa in Sevilla for a week and had a great time sampling all the tapas, walking around town and visiting the beaches. I will admit the flight was a little daunting with such a young child but it was a success despite that.
Q: What is your favorite travel memory from childhood, and what do you hope your kids remember about their travels?
My parents took my brother and me to Africa when I was twelve years old. This trip was a huge eye opener, and I came back a changed person. I went thinking the world was just as I knew it and left having seen so much more, both good and bad. We went to a shantytown in Salisbury (now Harare). I had a Polaroid camera and brought all of my film with me as this was our first day in Africa. I started taking pictures of people and the reaction was astounding to me. As the film spit out from the Polaroid, each person was taken aback, but when the film developed, the real surprise occurred. Very few people recognized the image looking back at them. I took pictures of anyone who wanted one and ended up giving away all of my film that day. I will never forget the pure joy it was to be able to give someone something that I considered so basic - their reflection.
Q: Have any of your family trips been a complete fail?
A while back, we purchased a weekend trip to South Carolina through our school auction that left something to be desired, mostly due to weather. We took another family along with us, and we all had young kids at the time. As we were in a house, I was planning on cooking many of our meals as most restaurants were either chains or far away. It turns out the closest “grocery” was Walmart. Anyone who knows me knows that I take my food seriously. Having to buy meat and produce from Walmart just brings up too many questions of quality and origin for me. Driving back, I thrillingly found a fish stand on the side of the road only to discover they were slinging farm-raised tilapia from China (although we were near the coast with access to fresh fish). In addition, it proceeded to rain the entire time we were there and the kids were literally bouncing off the walls from being stuck indoors. To add insult to injury, our flight back to NYC was delayed four hours despite it only being an hour and a half flight to begin with. All in all, somewhat of a disaster.
Q: Name a place where you’ll always return and why.
We have been going to Jackson Hole, WY as a family every winter and summer for fifteen years. I love that we have this history and it is somewhere that holds many past and future memories.
Q: What’s your dream destination for travel a deux, and what’s on your bucket list for a trip with the family?
I went to Vietnam with my husband when we were first married. It is a trip that I absolutely adored and have always wanted to go back there with him and would throw in a jaunt to Cambodia as well. For our family, I have been dying to do a road trip through Texas. Both my husband and I are from Texas, and my kids are taken with it. I have always thought renting an RV and driving through the state would be a great way for us all to experience it together.
Q: Where would you send first-time visitors for a family day and kid-free night in your hometown?
I always tell people to rent bikes in NYC and to bike over to Governor’s Island. I think it is one of the most special places and a real treat to see. We have done a “staycation” or two in NYC, which have always been fun. We have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental up at Central Park. I love to wake up and see the park and then go on a run around the reservoir. It is a real treat for a downtowner.
Q: What’s your traveling uniform? Do your kids have one as well?
I usually wear a full cotton dress that I can wear leggings under and flats. I find that I look presentable enough to start my day if need be when I land and comfortable enough to sleep on the plane. My daughter will usually wear a skirt (easy to sleep in) and my son will just wear a collared shirt (my rule).
Q: Fill in the blank: Flying with kids is...
...an adventure- fun and sometimes frustrating.
Never board a plane without...
....a pen to do the crossword.
Q: If parents could design a hotel, all rooms would have…
A way to shut off all lights (including the random lights on the phones, televisions, etc).