A step ahead: Fashion designer Maria Grachvogel on walking

Words by
Sphere Life

1st October 2019

A frequent favourite at London Fashion Week, the British style maven talks about her favourite activity to do when she isn't busy designing clothes

A keen clothesmaker from an early age, Maria Grachvogel specialises in ultra-flattering styles with flawless cuts. Having founded her eponymous fashion label in 1991, her Mayfair-based atelier is popular for its luxurious yet sustainably-minded styles. Recently, she has designed the staff uniforms for Mayfair’s new Colony Club Casino.

What do you most enjoy about walking?

For me, it’s about the freedom to explore with a sense of spontaneity. My work requires a regimented work ethic and structure, but walking offers an outlet to this. Being able to roam is the antithesis of my working week where timelines, deadlines and targets are always the driver. Walking allows a purposeful sense of discovery and helps me evolve as a person and as a brand. I think the greatest luxury in life is time and the ability to wander.

Where do you like to walk?

I love to walk everywhere in Central London, generally to and from meetings and have always walked to work from my home in Marylebone. My husband, son and I have also coined our “Wander Walks”, which is an opportunity to share in a journey without a prescribed ending — a walk which starts from home can easily end up in Canary Wharf via a canal or a restaurant and a chance meeting with an old friend. There are so few occasions in life where one will go on a journey and not know or plan the outcome or ending .

What about outside London?

We are fortunate to have homes in Austria and Ireland with the most spectacular scenery and colours — inspirational landscapes, rewarding hikes and a time to peacefully immerse oneself into nature. We love to find a great restaurant as part of our travels — our favourites include Ammererhof and Naturfreundehaus in Kolm-Saigurn, Austria, which can only be accessed by walking. Naturfreundehaus, in particular, is great in the summer as it is at the end of a brilliant walk past four or five waterfalls and has a glacier pool to cool off in. I particularly love Ammererhof in the winter as it is completely magical — it’s fun to hike up in the snow and either sledge or skidoo back again at night.

Tell us about some of your other favourite walks across the world

The landscape and terrain in Hawaii are just incredible. The Kilauea volcano is still live, which means the landscape is evolving and changing constantly. My favourite family walk is on Captiva Island in Florida: you start at sunrise at Jensen’s resort and watch the manatees and dolphins in the harbour, then walk along the beach as the sun slowly comes up, stopping for lunch at the Yacht Harbour at South Seas before walking back. The most challenging walk is probably the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It’s the reverse of a usual mountain walk, which gives you the hard climb first then downhill when you are tired at the end of the day — you have to leave plenty of energy for the hike back up again. It’s not a walk that is possible in a day, though — I would advise careful planning!

Are there any places that you are keen to visit for walking?

I would love to go to Iceland, Patagonia, Yellowstone and New Zealand.

What do you like to wear while you are walking?

In London, I usually wear a jumpsuit from my collection — Uka is my current favourite. I always have MBTs on my feet — I love the fluidity of the feeling as you walk and they really protect my back. I also have a great Prada skiing gilet that comes in handy for walking as it adds warmth when you need it, but is small and light when you don’t.