The enchanted world of Marie France Van Damme
Join Jody Miller on an intimate journey with the luxury resort wear designer
How did a striking French-Canadian blonde become global chic royalty? C’est simple: she followed her heart and her dream. However, simplicity takes hard work. Decades of hard work and a perfectionist’s commitment to, well, perfection. Since launching her label in 2011, Marie France Van Damme has not only set a new standard for resort wear chic but also created an awakening and appreciation for the concept of effortless glamour.
Van Damme’s journey is about falling in love. While studying business administration at university, Van Damme transgressed from her academic family tradition and accepted an internship with a fashion house. She fell in love with the unbridled exuberance of a young woman discovering her life passion for the first time. Her burgeoning career progressed and soon the fashion newcomer was designing private label clothing for major department stores. While travelling back and forth between New York and Asia, Van Damme fell in love again. While based in Hong Kong, she met her husband and founded her own manufacturing company. One of the first westerners (not to mention one of the first women) to open a factory in China, she designed for internationally recognized retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, La Redoute, and Monoprix.
Continuing on this whirlwind journey she fell in love again—with the treasures of travel and an eternal love affair with the world. The swirling minarets and twisted alleyways. Its sun-soaked beaches and its haute boutique hotels. The charming cafés and the grand market-places. What she didn’t love was travelling with excess baggage nor the limitations of resort and travel fashion available. Not a fan of the flashy neon and prints often associated with resort attire, Van Damme longed for the elegant and flowing garments she had been donning for years.
‘I was wearing caftans at Studio 54 in the late ’70s and wearing them today in Hong Kong forty years later,’ Van Damme recalls. ‘To me, there is nothing more sensual than wearing a beautiful, long and flowy garment.’
With a tenet of understated sophistication and a return to the glamorous roots of resort fashion, Van Damme presented a small collection of her designs to Harrods’s chief merchant, who expressed his shared appetite for travel and luxury. Serendipity was in the air and they signed a deal on the spot. It was 2011 and the Marie Van Damme brand was born.
Devoid of boundaries or constraints, the MFVD æsthetic is the definition of superlative quality and luxury sans complication or limitation. The muted palette of blacks, whites, and greys are offset by inlays of dusky rose gold and shimmering metallic silver. Saffron with golden threads adds a spicy burst of colour to the mix. No boundaries means going from day to night or beach to dinner party with remarkable ease. Made from the finest silk, chiffon, and crêpe de chine, giving special attention to the lining, stitching, and cutting of each garment.
Just like the joys of travel and discovery, the MFVD style awaits the woman who yearns for the effortless glamour created from the finest fabric which softly drapes the silhouette. ‘I personally think comfortable sophistication is glamourous,’ she determines. ‘I have never found a too tight dress and killer heels that you can’t walk in very sexy. I believe women will always want to look their best, but that their style will probably change, like everything else.’
The MFVD lifestyle is addicting. Celebrities worldwide, including Beyoncé, Heidi Klum, Cameron Diaz, Olivia Palermo, and Catherine Zeta-Jones have embraced the sensory ease of the collection. With retail locations in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Marrakech, Singapore, Bangkok, and Phuket, MFVD recently launched an exclusive boutique at the Dubai Mall. ‘I could not have imagined a better location to provide our clients with an exceptional atmosphere in one of the most beautiful shopping destinations in the world,’ says Van Damme. ‘We have many clients in Dubai, including those who travel here to shop. Our collection was made for Dubai and the elegant, modern Middle Eastern lifestyle.’
With a focus on exclusive pieces inspired by the Dubai lifestyle, the boutique offers the best of both worlds: luxe day and chic evening apparel. In addition to her dedicated boutiques, selected MFVD collections can be found at Bergdorf Goodman, Harrod’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Le Bon Marché, Neiman Marcus, Net-à-Porter, Moda Operandi, and exclusive hotels such as Aman Resorts and the One & Only.
Stirred by both her extensive years of travel and the current crisis which is putting an economic strain on artisans and small businesses, Curated by MF is her latest labour of love. ‘On my journey, I have developed relationships with craftspeople from the souks of Marrakesh, with traders in the bustling streets of Hong Kong and Bangkok and with small business owners from around the globe,’ she affirms.
Curated by MF incorporates the work of talented artists and creators from around the world. Each piece is an ethically sourced individual work of art, born from the heart and created to be treasured. Current featured artists include Jay Ahr, l’Objet, Tyler Ellis, and Luis Morais.