Designer destinations: Hansine Johnston on why Greece is her go-to holiday spot and how she cried when she landed in Rio

Laura Hampson

At just two years old, HANSINE has already made a mighty splash on the fashion circuit.

Known for its beachy boho designs, Hansine is a collection of dresses and knitwear made ethically in London and designed by Switzerland-based Hansine Johnston.

Johnston, a journalist and radio host, previously worked in distribution for Valentino and Armani where she developed her personal style of vintage feel clothes made from beautiful fabrics.

The designer told the Standard: “People began to ask me to make them dresses and I knew there was a gap in the market for beautiful and flattering resort wear. I wanted to sit at a restaurant and feel sexy and beautiful.

“I worked on designing bespoke prints with a family run Italian specialist in Como and found an ethical London manufacturer and the collection was born. We started with five key shapes and will soon have eight or nine.”

HANSINE will continue to add more prints and shapes to the collection this year and will be launching a swimwear collection later in 2019.

We asked Johnston to delve into her travel memories and reveal some of her favourite destinations, beaches and restaurants from across the world.

All-time favourite holiday …

“I think I would have to choose the very first time I went to Thailand over 20 years ago with my husband. We had one date and decided to go on a three-week holiday together.

"We had one date and decided to go on a three week holiday together."

Hansine Johnston

“It was very exciting and romantic and done on a shoe string. We backpacked to the most remote beaches and stayed in simple huts and ate delicious spicy food and banana pancakes washed down with super strong local whisky.”

Favourite country to visit…

“My mother is Greek and I was born there so Greece will always have a special place in my heart. We try to go each year to the islands as they are all so different and beautiful and I love the energy there.

“My top three are Spetses for memories, architecture, varied foods and for being surrounded by Greeks not tourists. Mykonos because Mykonos is a party must, but I don't ever go in August, and Naxos for windswept empty beaches even in August. I also love Athens, it is such a cool city. There seems to be that special light there where the sky has a kind of pinky rose in it. We have started going with our kids each year to Paros making memories for them too and go to a laid back family hotel on a windsurfing beach in the south.

Paros, Greece (Unsplash)

“I spent a lot of time in Italy growing up and went to live there when I first left school to study Italian and work in fashion. I love to go back as much as possible, mostly to Milan where I go for work as well but I also love Sicily for the funny people and probably my favourite sweet thing in the world: Granita Siciliana - crushed coffee flavoured ice with whipped cream and warm brioche dipped in it.”

Favourite city…

“I fell in love with Rio when I went there, I loved the buzz and the crazy aesthetic with the mountains going into the sea and the chaotic favelas everywhere. I actually cried when we landed there much to the embarrassment of my children. I love cities on beaches with a buzz and so Lisbon is also a must for me and then Rome because every single inch of that city is beautiful and you can walk around for hours.”

Favourite beach…

“I lived in Mexico for a year when I was 21 and we travelled to a wild hippy beach called Zipolite in Oaxaca where I ended up staying for quite a while and selling jewellery on the beach. The bay was stunning and unspoilt with great backdrops and dramatic surf and it was a very carefree time.

“I also loved the wide white beaches in Bahia where I went with my family and I love that there are always people playing football, playing great music and drinking Cariprinhas amongst miles and miles of powder white sand.”

Bahia, Brazil (Unsplash)

Favourite restaurant…

“We had a super memorable Christmas Eve meal at Rae’s on Wategos in Byron Bay, Australia, and the taste and size of the Bay prawns still stays with me. I also love a tiny restaurant in a Greek fishing village where we go with loads of our friends and family in Paros where they cram you into rickety wooden tables on the water’s edge and serve hundreds of different types of appetisers and fresh fish with iced cold beer in glasses that are frozen for a shockingly low price.”

Packing essentials…

“For any sunshine trip at all I just take my dresses. I roll up a selection of them in hand luggage and in the suitcase and wear them day and night and layered with boho jewellery and sandals that I pick up along the way. The printed silk tie dye doesn’t crease at all so I always have one for getting off the plane in. I also take my mohair cropped cardis that are perfect for planes. If I am ever travelling in winter I always take my slippers as well as I hate having cold feet, they are oversized falling apart fluffy ones from MOU from a hundred years ago.”

Carry-on beauty essentials …

“My husband bought me a great Cowshed advent calendar that was genius as each day I opened a new travel sized product and now I have so many I use them for all short trips.”

Johnston’s top travel picks from her collection…

(HANSINE)

HANSINE - Bohemian Tea Dress in eye print - £520.00

A long tea-style silk dress with short sleeves that is fitted at the waist and can be worn open, over another dress or on its own. Buy it here.

(HANSINE)

HANSINE - Beach Dress in Python Print - £250.00

One size ruched strapless tiered maxi dress. Available in seven colours. Buy it here.

(HANSINE)

HANSINE - Halter Silk - £395.00

One size halter dress with soft flowing lines and low cut back detail. Buy it here.

(HANSINE)

HANSINE - Bohemian Tea Dress in block silk - £480.00

Long tea style silk dress with mid-length sleeves that is fitted at the waist. Buy it here.

To find out more about HANSINE, visit hansine.co/