My Nashville:  the supermodel

As told to Hannah Ralph

Photography by Eric Ryan Anderson

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May 2018

Since first bursting her way into the upper echelons of fashion’s high society when she was just 18 years old, Karen Elson’s buzz-worthy career has taken her all over, but now Nashville, Tennessee is ‘home’. Here she shares Music City’s stylish side.

1. Thistle Farms

An incredible charity organisation, Thistle Farms helps survivors of abuse get back on their feet. They sell amazing skincare products, from essential oils to body butters, and have become a huge company that raises so much money for women in need. It shows that Nashville has got a lot of heart; people really care about things beyond themselves, and are very generous.

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2. Keep Shop Boutique at Noelle

The Keep Shop Boutique at Noelle is curated by my friend Libby Callaway, who used to be a fashion writer in New York. Since she made the move to Nashville, she’s been helping the fashion community here grow its wings. The Keep Shop has also got Brooke Baxter’s Arrow and Anchor antiques – the most incredible antique jewellery.

Nikki Lane is a self-created phenomenon, a little tornado, and curates vintage fashion beautifully in her shop High Class Hillbilly.

3. High Class Hillbilly

I love Nikki Lane so much – she’s amazing – and her vintage shop, High Class Hillbilly, is just the same. She’s a self-created phenomenon, and curates vintage fashion beautifully. I got rid of my own vintage store, Venus & Mars, but I still love a vintage dress more than anything.

  • Stop by Whites Mercantile to pick up Nashville-inspired products.

    Country clothes

    While owner Holly is part of country music royalty, her shops is far from cowboy boot and Stetsons, she describes it as a “general store for the modern-day tastemaker”.£500 return

    Fly to Nashville
  • Karen Elson on the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge © Eric Ryan Anderson.

    Did you know…?

    The bridge was built in 1909 and contains 48 spans. It was closed to traffic in 1998 and now provides some of the best views of the city for pedestrians.£404 pp

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  • Every purchase helps those in need at Thistle Farms.

    Roots and beer

    Thistle Farms also has an onsite café, which uses local ingredients in its menu, and is open Monday to Saturday 07.00 until 15.00.£454 pp

    Discover Music City

4. Ola Mai

I still think the best thing about Nashville is that it’s still very small and boutique, the big chains don’t necessarily work here. You have these incredible local designers that, in a way, are changing the mould to fit them, rather than working hard to fit in. My friend Leslie Stephens has a label that I love called Ola Mai – everything’s made entirely in Nashville.

5. Draper James

Reese Witherspoon, founder of lifestyle brand Draper James is one of my favourite people on the planet and I’m so proud of her. She’s really building her empire. The Draper James store in Nashville is just pure whimsy and charm, and all things Reese. You can feel her personality in every item.

6. White’s Mercantile

One of my favourite stores in all of Nashville can be found at White’s Mercantile. The founder, singer-songwriter Holly Williams, is the daughter of country legend, Hank Williams Jr, and has “exquisite taste”, as Gwyneth Paltrow once put it. This place is where I get all my gifts, and it’s on 12th South, which is a great area for shopping.

  • Keep Shop Boutique at Noelle.

    Coat of many colours

    The boutique located in the Noelle Hotel, sells vintage clothing and art sourced predominantly from the local area.£500 return

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7. Two Son

Leigh Watson from country music duo The Watson Twins opened Two Son over in East Nashville, and it has quickly become one of my favourite shopping destinations. E-commerce is a big thing in Nashville, but Two Son’s website is a place where a lot of different online fashion brands come together. Another one to look out for is Black by Maria Silver. She has an amazing line and spectacular jewellery.

8. Manuel Couture

There’s just something about Old Nashville. When you think of Nudie Suits, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton – they’re all style icons. And so much of this classic, country uniform can be traced back to Manuel Couture. I find the iconic looks that Manuel created extremely charming.

Karen Elson is a model and musician living in Nashville. Her album, Double Roses, is out now.