The Shopaholic’s Guide to Travel

By Catherine Bigelow

Marfa, a desert town in West Texas, has gained global renown as a haven for modern art.

For some holidaymakers, merely lounging on a sandy beach, tropical drink in hand, is more like Snoozeville. So we checked in with VIPs thrilled by the hunt of unique boutiques and shopping like a plugged-in local. Some intrepid explorers, inspired by the fashion and cultural scenes in far-flung time zones, even dream of rebranding their lives in these locales. Most vacationers, however, reluctantly pack up their souvenirs and board the flight back home.

Marfa, Texas

The Judd Foundation, on 104 South Highland Avenue in Marfa, is your gateway to guided tours of the popular arts attraction-slash-community. The nonprofit maintains the studios and archives of late sculptor Donald Judd both in Marfa and New York.

Douglas Friedman, haute bohemian photographer

On globe-trotting photographer Douglas Friedman’s first visit to Marfa— a small but mighty arts oasis in the West Texas desert germinated by the legacy of the late sculptor Donald Judd— he was instantly smitten. The native New Yorker recently completed designing his modernist Marfa home, the Friedman Ranch, a modular system that was shipped in pieces and assembled atop his 10-acre plot.

Though his work is based out of Manhattan, Friedman proudly carries a Texas driver’s license and is entwined in the community (with a full-time population that hovers below 2,000) as co-chair on the International Surf Club arts commission at Ballroom Marfa, a cultural nonprofit.

“Marfa is magical: the people, the food, the air, the mountains. In that altitude, the sun’s refraction to the landscape is breathtaking,” enthuses Friedman. “No sunset is ever the same: you can literally stare at the changing light for hours. And the shopping is great, too!”


Owned by designer John Patrick, the boutique is beautifully curated with sustainable fashion (including Rick Owens, Katherine Hamnett), accessories, Mexican textiles created by a women’s nonprofit, vintage Navajo jewelry and one-off fashion lines unique to Marfa.

Marfa Brand Soap

This soap factory-shop was founded by Ginger Griffice, who hand-crafts soaps with essential oils (yucca root with sage) that smell gorgeous and leave your skin feeling amazing.

Cobra Rock Boot Company

A gallery-workshop owned by Colt Miller and Logan Caldbeck, who hand-tool “Western”-inspired boots that are much chicer than cowboy boots.

Marfa Brand Soap

This soap factory-shop was founded by Ginger Griffice, who hand-crafts soaps with essential oils (yucca root with sage) that smell gorgeous and leave your skin feeling amazing.

Moonlight Gemstones

It’s a rock shop of beautiful crystals and stones. What’s special is, you arrive in Marfa on Friday and pick out a stone. Owner Paul Graybeal then cuts it and sets it in silver, creating custom jewelry you pick up Sunday on your way out of town.

Post-stop shop: Capri, a restaurant owned by chef Rocky Barnette and his wife, arts philanthropist Virginia Lebermann (who also owns the Thunderbird Hotel and Ballroom Marfa), has great design and elevated cuisine based on northern Mexico cooking. In addition to classics like anchos rellenos and the best margarita, chef Rocky also offers oysters, Muscovy duck and foie gras. (Note: Friedman’s photography is featured in Cooking in Marfa, a Phaidon book by Barnette and Lebermann that drops in April.)

Tokyo, Japan

Yuka Uehara, Tokyo Gamine founder-fashion designer

Tokyo is a top destination for international shoppers. And there’s no better navigator around this city of 14 million than native Yuka Uehara, a premed student-turned-fashion designer who learned her craft from working in costume departments for her filmmaker father, Ryuji Fukuyama. In 2015, she established her haute couture atelier in San Francisco.

Nogi Shrine Antique Flea Market

The market takes place every fourth Saturday. It has a good selection of antiques and is a source for great art (painting, calligraphy) and ceramics by well-known Japanese artists.

Azabu Kogado

During the Heian Court in Kyoto (794 A.D.), the art of fragrance was parallel in importance to the tea ceremony. This traditional Japanese perfumery not only allows visitors to experience the art of fragrance in ceremonial form but also carries a variety of incense and well-crafted fragrance tool.

Atelier Muji Ginza

A lifestyle megastore that curates unique pop-ups. The sixth-floor gallery space features exhibitions, including its most recent one highlighting designs and products to eliminate global waste.

Nippori Textile District

Located near the Yanaka Ginza shopping district, this one-kilometer strip dates back to the Taisho Era (1912-1926), and is home to some 100 textile (silks, prints, leather, used kimono cloth) stores.

Post-shop stop: I love Happoen Garden for the tea ceremony in a traditional tea house. Or Gen Gen An by En-tea, a cozy tea shop-bar in Shibuya, one of the most crowded wards in Tokyo.

London, England

Allison Speer, PR pro/Instagrammer extraordinaire

For those who follow Speer’s highly active Instagram account (@allisonspeerpr), you know she adores the classics — Imari porcelain, vintage bling and a well-set table with a maximalist vibe, exploding with patterns and colors. And London Town is her idea of heaven: “The old world charm among London’s amazing community of designers (David Hicks, Nina Campbell, Nicky Halsam) is incredible. Plus, if you can hail one, those classic black taxis!”


This is my source for chic, English rattan furniture. The designs are both contemporary or adaptations of classic antiques. Sloane also sells amazing lighting, fabrics and wallpapers.

De Gournay

Of all his showrooms, Claud Cecil Gourney’s Chelsea location is the most beautiful. In addition to their exquisite hand-crafted wall coverings, there’s curated vignettes with a mix of antiques and vintage porcelain.

Fortnum & Mason

This is such a classic British emporium, in the heart of London. They sell beautiful hampers (that’s a picnic basket to us) and the blue-and-white packaging is iconic. It’s my go-to spot for English teas, tins of Pates De Fruits and Dachshund charms.

The cozy yet refined Penny Morrison boutique.

Penny Morrison

Penny is famous for pairing unexpected pieces, patterns and palettes. The look is refined yet cozy. Her store features beautiful fabrics, tableware, lampshades as well as custom design.

Post-shop stop: Invite-only is the way to go when Speer nips into one of London’s famed private clubs with a member. And Annabel’s on Berkeley Square is just her ticket: a patio for summer lunches, late-night lounging with occasional artist-in-residence Alessandro Ristori (the “Italian Elvis,” who played Speer’s 50th birthday) and the club’s famed Pink Powder room, the most Instagrammable loo in all of London.

Oaxaca, Mexico

One of the pieces at La Mano Mágica gallery.

Stanlee Gatti, event designer / CCA trustee

There are more than 4,000 archeological sites in Oaxaca, Mexico. One trip we viewed this pre-Columbian city from atop the Monte Albán pyramid. You can feel the depth of history and sophistication of its people, seeping through the centuries, that still influences the incredibly talented Oaxacan craftspeople. Each village crafts its own unique style of ceramics. I love everything about this city: every shop has a charming, unique sensibility. Though it’s not a store, no one should miss the Botanical Garden beside the Church of Santo Domingo.

La Tiendita del Barro

This is an arts collective that supports ceramic craft among mostly female artisans. Last May, a group of us were there for a friend’s birthday and I think we bought almost everything in stock.

Lanii Gifts

Oaxacan crafts here are designed with a contemporary twist — from homeware, art, textiles, ceramics, embroidery and even Mezcal cups.

Los Baules de Juana Cata

This is the place for high-quality, artisanal textiles. Dresses and embroidered huipiles, scarves and blankets— every item is outstanding. Some call the shop by the owner’s name, Remigio, who is devoted to preserving traditional techniques.

La Mano Mágica

This gallery features all kinds of local crafts, Mexican art, even papier mache. It’s really fun, one of my favorite stops.

Amate Books

Every kind of book imaginable can be found here: guide books, poetry, literature and photography; in English and Spanish. Most of the stock is new, with some vintage.

Pre-shop stop: Boulenc. We started every morning at this bakery / cafe/ provisions shop. Everything is made from scratch: delicious “Masa Madre” bread or fruit jams. The setting is charming, the kind of place you want to hang out. And it serves Mezcal, too.

Paris, France

Ivy Getty, jet-setting visual artist

Paris has long-reigned as the birthplace of cutting-edge haute couture. But for Getty, fashion fun isn’t limited to runways — she loves the hunt for Parisian-designed vintage. Now the fashion world has caught up with Getty: “sustainability” was the cri de cœur last fall during Paris Fashion Week.

Pretty Box

This petite but vibrant Marais shop is so well-organized it doesn’t overwhelm. For all vintage YSL or Gaultier lovers, this is the place! Many pieces are below the four-digit mark. Accessories are minimal but the pieces are special — Chanel vintage pearl 1994 sunglasses, I’m thinking of you. In addition to ready-to-wear, owners Nico and Sarah curate a leather jacket collection that will inspire your inner rock star.

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

Known by locals as “Les Puces,” you’ll find one-of-a-kind antiques, clothes, furniture — anything you can think of at this famous flea market. Located north of the city, it’s only open on weekends and Mondays (by appointment). I recommend dedicating an entire day to shopping as this experience should not be rushed.

Thanx God I’m A V.I.P.

From cheap to expensive, this is a great shop. Jewelry, hats or shoes, there is something for everyone — famous designers like Leonard and Pucci or lesser-known. Everything is organized chromatically which is a huge relief because there is so much stock, especially for the ’80s fashion lover. If you get tired from all the shopping there is a cute cafe in the back with a disco ball to bring you back to life.

Les 3 Marches de Catherine B.

This Saint-Germain-des-Pres shop, beloved by style icon Iris Apfel, with its exquisite collection of vintage Hermès and Chanel handbags is a must-visit. Hours fluctuate, so I recommend scheduling your visit. If you’re looking for specific pieces, they will hold them for your arrival. Hands-down, the best vintage Chanel accessories with fair pricing.

Post-shop stop: In the Marais, there’s a small, brightly-lit Taqueria called Candelaria selling food to go. But walk to the back of the kitchen toward an unmarked door. Pushing through that portal, you’re in a chic, dimly-lit speakeasy specializing in Mezcal and Tequila cocktails. It’s perfect for singles or small groups. Another plus? It’s just doors away from Pretty Box.

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