Resortwear designer Marie France Van Damme, Day 4
Preparations for her new collection’s debut in New York and Miami (as well as a drink at the Chiltern Firehouse) fill the designer’s final day in London
Today starts with a lovely breakfast at The Providores, an informal restaurant in Marylebone that serves juices made in front of you and perfect lattes. One would think it would be easy to find both, but very few people know how to make a good coffee.
I need to finalise my upcoming appointments in New York, Miami, Montreal and Los Angeles. Email is a great communication tool, so great in fact that no one reads or answers their phones any more.
But first I’m looking forward to a weekend in the Hamptons. A girlfriend, the journalist Alina Cho, is hosting a lunch for me at Donna Karan’s Italian restaurant Tutto Il Giorno. I take a look at Alina’s latest Instagram photos – she’s wearing some of my new pieces and looks fabulous.
Next week I’m presenting my new collection at the Mercer Hotel in New York. I love the big suite with the terrace and I can only pray that the weather will be nice and we can host buyers outside for lunch. It’s also a good surprise to discover that Milanese bar and restaurant Sant Ambroeus has a restaurant in SoHo. They are probably the only ones to make a freshly squeezed orange juice. Lots of places will tell you it’s fresh, but there is nothing nicer than when it’s done right there and then, and not two hours before. When I stay at the Sofitel in Montreal (in my opinion, the only decent hotel in the city) and call room service for breakfast, I don’t have to say a word before they say, “Yes, Mrs Van Damme, the orange juice will be made as we speak.”
After New York I will travel to Miami for the Miami Swim Show. The first year we attended, I asked for a nice bungalow by the pool at the Delano Hotel, which was a terrible idea. Loud music was played from 9am in the morning until 4am the following day. It was absolutely impossible to sleep and I could hear everything in the bungalow next door, where the T-shirt brand Wildfox was staying. They would party until 5 or 6am and then start their appointments at 8.30am every morning. I don’t know how they did it.
We now present at the W Hotel where it’s quieter, despite sometimes having 1,000 people right in front of my bungalow. We walk to The Setai hotel next door for lunch each day; it reminds me of Phuket and my home in Hong Kong.
After the mad few days in Miami I will go and see my family in Montreal; it’s just two weeks away and I can’t wait. The best restaurant in Montreal, Estiatorio Milos, is actually Greek. (I was in Greece last week and I can say for sure, Milos serves better food than anywhere we went. Thankfully, there’s also one in Miami.)
But back to today, and I have to repack my 200-piece collection into the two Rimowa suitcases. It’s my only exercise regimen these days, but a very good one. Then I go to St Pancras International station to meet my husband, who has just arrived from Belgium. It takes me two hours to go and come back because of the tube strike. (While I’m on my way to the States, he will go to Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore to ensure all the stores are running smoothly.)
We go for drinks at the Chiltern Firehouse, which is two streets away from our apartment. British people start drinking really early on a Thursday night… or is it all nights of the week? For dinner I give my husband the choice between going to a nice restaurant, or me cooking at home. He chooses to stay home.