— Dylan Lauren is known as the daughter of famous designer Ralph Lauren, but she’s also a celebrity entrepreneur in her own right as the owner of the growing, increasingly popular Dylan’s Candy Bar franchise, which has six U.S. locations, including the flagship shop in New York City. As a seeker of all things sweet, Lauren has traveled all around the world. We caught up with her just in time for Valentine’s Day to talk about candy and travel and how the two mix.
Q: You must have traveled all over the place with your dad as a kid. Do you remember any of it and what were your favorite cities?
A: Absolutely. We went to a lot of places, and I would say London, Paris and Japan were the best for me. Those were places where he had work-related events such as department store openings. Luckily he’s still opening stores. He was just in Russia and opening something in Paris. It’s always exciting. When we would go, it was somewhat work and somewhat seeing the culture. Sometimes if he was in meetings, my mom and I would take off and see museums and important sites. Even for him, it was inspiring to see museums or costume institutes. In Russia recently, I went to the famous [State] Hermitage museum and saw costumes and carriages that the queen used to drive around in, plus the Faberge eggs. It’s all interesting and valuable for what I do.
Q: Where else have you been around the world where you’ve gotten ideas for the Candy Bar?
A: A lot of my inspiration has come from Japan. I took a trip there to see the graphic design and packaging and the way architecture is. Even in New York City, there’s so much interesting packaging and stores and boutiques, but sometimes I think when I go to Europe I see more than I do in my own country. I’m also looking for locations to open stores in — in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and eventually London and Japan. Those are the places where I’m constantly looking for space and ideas. Going to Italy is always great. The chocolates ... the way things were packaged are like art to me. They’re great gifts to bring back to the States.
Q: What about traveling on your own? Have you had some memorable trips without your dad?
A: I started traveling pretty young, and my first trip on my own was to visit colleges in North Carolina, and I also looked at Harvard and Princeton. During college (at Duke University), I lived abroad in London and Rome. During my whole junior year, I traveled all throughout Europe with a backpack.
Q: Wow. That’s not very luxurious.
A: No way. I was very hardcore on trains with the EuroRail. We stayed in hostels with my friends. We did it the way any normal kids would. There were no five-star hotels at all. We stayed with friends in college dorms in Spain. And it was very different. It was hardly a luxury trip. And then I backpacked with friends through Southeast Asia after college. You’d take trains with people sweating right next to you. Overall, I have to say that my best education was from traveling. During all three years of actually being at college I learned a lot, but I learned a lot more during one solid year abroad. I was an art history major, so to see things first-hand instead of studying things out of a textbook was invaluable. Plus, being immersed in different cultures and learning how to get around by myself was important. There were trains in Germany, places where people weren’t so friendly to Americans. Having to figure out where you’re going to stay, it makes you self-sufficient. It was a great experience.
Q: What are the best places to go as an Art History major?
A: Definitely the (State) Hermitage in Russia. I haven’t seen the El Prado in Madrid, but I’ve heard great things. I also just think living in Rome was probably the most educational thing for me. Going underground to the burial sites in the Vatican and seeing art in a temple and not even in a museum. Seeing the Colosseum and the sculptures, seeing Athens and the remains of the cultures, it was all fascinating.
Q: OK, so what’s your favorite place to just go and do nothing?
A: Probably the Hamptons. I love it. I have a place in Montauk, and as much as it’s not an exotic island, I love it out there. I also love Carmel out in California, just places like that. Sometimes for me, if I’m too far away, I get a little restless. I like to travel, but I also like American food. Oh, also one of the most beautiful places is Thailand. I went to Koh Samui. That’s the most exotic place. The beaches are long and awesome to run on. And the people there are a lot of fun. A lot of free-spirited, Rastafarian types who just like to party.