My new year began with a trip. I’m just back from Amsterdam where I spent a couple of days immersed in interior design – I’m always looking ahead to keep the boutiques in Dublin and London fresh and forward-looking and there are so many interesting retail concepts at play in the Dutch capital.
The Conservatorium Hotel
Combining simplicity and casual luxury is something they do very well and there is a cool edge to their design. I stayed at The Conservatorium, the city’s newest design hotel and former music conservatory. My design inspiration began there.
Rembrandt’s The Night Watch At The Rijksmuseum
How could Amsterdammers not be inspired, as I always am, by the culture, specifically the art, in the city? If I have only a limited amount of time, I visit the stunning Rijksmuseum on Museumplein, with its massive collection of Dutch old masters, to get a sense of the artistic heritage. I love in particular the moody Vermeer interiors which of course highlight how important the home was and continues to be to the Dutch. I also saw the amazing Yves Saint Lauren Mondrian dress in the modern department. Close by is the Van Gogh Museum, a dizzyingly large collection including many works and self-portraits) I had never seen before. Rembrandt’s House is extraordinarily well-preserved, despite the thousands of visitors who go through it every year. It was both home and studio and where Rembrandt’s clients came to visit – not unlike 56 Merrion Square!
Womenswear at De Bijenkorf
Department store De Bijenkorf (“The Beehive” in English) is part of the Selfridges group, owned by Galen Weston, of which the Brown Thomas group is a part. Originally a small haberdashery shop, the 140-year-old store on Dam Square is an institution, with a terrific line-up of brands, including Celine, Hermes, Gucci, Dior and Ferragamo, a vert interesting interiors floor and an innovative events calendar. Their annual Chinese New Year festival is coming up next month. This year is the Year of the Dog. I can tell you that every year is the Year of the Dog in my house, for a certain entitled member of the family.
Women in their 30s, 40s and 50s in Amsterdam dress casually but very well. A good coat, boots and a huge scarf or snood are the order of the day. Trousers trump dresses and skirts, since they are mostly cycling on their wonderful high-nelly bikes. I wore my Alexia wool tailored coat, which has been reduced in our winter sale, along with many other pieces. It’s the final week of reductions in all our stores – do check them out as it’s a chance to buy beautiful investment dresses and coats. And next week, the new collection will be in store. I can’t wait to tell you all about that. Stand by!