EMBRACE THE LOVE OF TRAVEL WITH ALEX LIBBY IN VENICE
EMBRACE THE LOVE OF TRAVEL WITH ALEX LIBBY IN VENICE Equally at ease poised on the crest of a wave off the coast of Australia or posed in a fashion shoot for GQ France, Alex Libby has followed the spirit of adventure far from his home in Devon, England. Although his career as l has brought him swiftly to the top of the modeling world, Alex’s gift for discovering fresh experiences and connecting with new cities is never outpaced. Now, discover Venice like never before as Alex reveals the pulse of adventure — from trading tales at the local fish market to discovering secret markets down narrow alleyways — in one of the world’s most legendary cities, exclusively for DFS.
What were your first impressions of Venice? The “unconventional” beauty struck me first. I say unconventional because it’s madness. A road should be a road in Italy, like in Rome, but these guys here, they just decided to use canals! I noticed first the light bouncing off the water and the long alleyways. Also, there is no “same same” here; all the houses are built entirely different. Nothing is built uniformly but has retained its beauty over hundreds of years, generations after generations, and that’s really evident.
What did you expect and what surprised you the most about the city? I hadn’t expected water! Laughs. And lots of it! That didn’t disappoint! Actually, I’m surprised it’s not that overrun with lots of tacky shops. There are some main tourist strips, but then you can turn a corner and it gets completely local. There is a vendor selling souvenirs on one road and then you turn a corner and there is an old local lady selling stuff like fruits and groceries. You don’t realize the back story of the normal everyday life of this city; the lady selling the fruit probably had to get it delivered to her after a huge boat came via water, loaded it on a crane, put it on a smaller boat, then took it to her store by foot, then stacked it on her shelves. It’s her normal reality but seems complete not normal to the rest of us. I love that notion.
What about Venice inspired you? The architecture inspired me. I used to be a carpenter and the beauty of the architecture makes you realize the great lengths that the architects went to. Even the little details like a statue or bust of a guy who owns a house perched above the door. That gets lost today – random features of a building that was built hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Seeing it all here is really special.
The campaign is called ‘Love of Travel.’ Tell us why you love to travel. I love to understand new cultures and to expand my horizons. I like learning about what makes people angry, sad, happy. I like learning about the latter the most. I love to make other people’s normalities my normality's as opposed to doing my regular routine like going to the gym, going to work and then going to a café. Things like getting the wrong coffee order at a café is not a normal “problem” for someone who lives in a remote village in the Philippines where those things aren’t a problem at all.
How does Venetian style compare to other parts of the world? Does anything set it apart? Venetian style is “arrogantly beautiful." I don’t mean this in a bad way, I mean it in a warming way. They are very proud of their culture as one should be. It’s nice to hear Venetians so proud of their culture and their style and they are very happy to talk about their history and art and culture, where to go to get the best coffee, where to visit and what to do. So it’s very “arrogantly beautiful” but very endearing. They aren’t afraid to tell secrets about their city. Venetians are a beautiful people and it’s the people that make a city. What’s on the surface of a city can be beautiful but it’s what’s on the inside, the people, that really define a city.
Tell us about how you packed for the trip to Venice. What was the most important item you packed? My surfboard. Laughs. I bring my surfboard everywhere actually! But really, you should bring good shoes. You need a good soled pair of shoes because you’ll definitely be using them! Also, bring your sunglasses! And bring a layer that you can take off during the day but throw on in the evening when it gets a little nippy by the water.
What did you learn about Venice while on this trip? I learned how the campaign director Tom Craig works. He is one of the most incredible directors I’ve worked with. He’s talented, easy going, gets the job done, and you get to have a laugh with him, but in the end you get the perfect shot. He’s not afraid to be spontaneous, unscripted and deviate from the plan to seize a perfect moment.
Tell us about your favorite meal. Is this where I have to say something about spaghetti? Laughs. Seriously, the gelato here is amazing. Can I consider that a meal? The texture is amazing. It’s like eating a piece of fine Italian velvet.
Tell us about the locals. Was there anything particularly unique about your interactions with them? They are very proud people and it’s nice to see. A lot of people will tell you straight away that they are Venetian because they are very proud of it.
Describe the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi store. What did it feel like to be there? The actual store itself is one of the most incredible things you’ll see in Venice. It’s so magical that I can’t believe it’s an actual store. It’s more like a museum and then you suddenly realize you can actually buy stuff in this museum! The rooftop is incredible! The view from up there is one of the best – I mean the best view in Venice – and you can’t really experience the city unless you see the view from the store. The whole entire experience is actually really nice, isn’t it?
Tell us about a products in-store that caught your eye. What were they? Why were they special? Sunglasses, because I needed a pair. The store has a huge variety and the whole collection was really nice.
What sets the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi apart from other shopping experiences? The building itself, because where else can you step off a gondola and then experience high end shopping? It’s located all around the central bit of Venice. You come in and see all of the store but also this big giant space created hundreds of hundreds of years ago. Then you begin to notice these little aspects from the sundial to the corner stones. You can stand along the same walls and corners that the old vendors from hundreds of years ago used as a marketplace where they sold silk and spices. You can imagine the hustle and bustle of an ancient marketplace from long ago.
Tell us about your top three most memorable moments in Venice. The view from top of the store and watching the sunrise was very memorable. Watching the sunset as well; I was lucky to get both. That was the standout and both were really magical. Cruising around on a old canal boat, lying on it while going underneath canal bridges on the way to the fish market, and meeting the locals were very memorable. The guys at the fish market started filleting a fish and telling me it was called Denteccini, then they opened up the fish’s mouth to show me its big teeth! Denteccini means Big Toothed Fish. I was really happy to have a nice conversation with a local.