Last summer, I hosted a soirée for the beautiful Australian-based resort wear brand, Zimmermann, at my home in Amagansett. I have always adored the brand, their beachy bohemian sensibility, and their consciousness to design clothes for women that make you feel feminine, sexy, and elegant all at once. The dinner was quite beautiful if I do say so myself and both Nicky and Simone Zimmermann were thrilled with the overall design, dinner and effortless energy that ensued throughout the evening. A friendship was born along with a mutual admiration.
Fast forward to 6 months ago, mid-winter, I was sharing a glass of wine in Amagansett with my dear friend and neighbor Malcolm Carfrae who handles PR for Zimmermann. He asked me if I know of anyone who does what I do in France. He didn’t really share why or for whom he was asking but I gave it some thought, recommended someone and moved on. When April rolled around, Malcolm came knocking once again and proposed an exciting idea. The Zimmermann’s were set to open a new boutique in Saint-Tropez, he shared (I mean, how perfect) and asked if I would consider creative directing a celebratory weekend in Saint-Tropez to kick off the opening. Ummmmmm, YES PLEASE! And so, let the creative games begin!
Crafting this kind of immersive brand experience has always been a dream of mine, but collaborating with Zimmermann in particular felt extra special to me. Nicky and Simone’s eye for beautiful bohemian prints and commitment to impeccable tailoring truly sets Zimmermann apart. When you slip into one of their latest gowns, you are immediately transported to warm weather, white sand beaches, and blue skies — it is only fitting that they set up shop on the iconic Rue François Sibilli in the heart of Saint-Tropez.
What an opportunity and what a process. I’d love to share with you how it all played out. As a starting point, Malcolm and Nick, our event producer from Shades Of Grey, went on a site visit to Saint-Tropez. It was decided that I would design two events — one would be a welcome dinner at the quintessential Saint-Tropez seaside restaurant, Les Salins and the following event would be an all-day affair at Chateau Volterra, a 19th century chateau set on cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. DREAMY — one better than the next. But boy did I have some work to do. I had never been to either venue prior and I was to design every detail of each space from 100,000 miles away. I loved the challenge and continually crave these moments when I am pushed beyond my comfort zone. Most often, we surprise ourselves.
In this post, I will walk you through my process and journey for creative directing the kick off event of the weekend at Les Salins. Next week, I will be sharing more about the following event at Chateau Volterra.
Both venues would be completely transformed under my creative direction. Malcolm and Nick took precise videos and photos of the venues and together we conceived an initial floor plan and flow of each event. My role was to handle anything and everything visual and culinary — a perfect union of my two overlapping worlds. I worked together with the chefs at each location to craft cocktails and conceive the menus, as well as design the art and printed graphics for these menus. I curated the palette for each event, which was inspired by the beautiful surroundings of Southern France. From gauzy linens, floral elements, furniture, and lighting to every stool, seat, bench, table, vase, bowl, plate, glassware, flatware, vessel, and prop – you name it, I sourced it. We painstakingly poured over every detail, ensuring that the spaces felt truly authentic to both the south of France and the Zimmermann brand, a truly blissful marriage of beachy bohemian beauty. Nothing could feel too contrived, too fussy, or proper. More like these beautiful settings had always been there over time — and we had just serendipitously happened upon it.
My process began with a moodboard for each event. First and foremost, I wanted to establish a tonal motif for each event that felt native to their respective settings. The seaside restaurant at its core is very rustic and undone with neutrals abound contrasting against the vibrant blue seaside. And so, this was my jumping off point. No flowers because who brings flowers to the beach really? It should be all about the beach and so it was. In lieu of blooms, we brought in tactile and feathery pampas grass and gathered large mussel shells to string together, bringing the sea to the table in a sculptural way, yet refined way. Haphazardly, we placed these shells down the center of the table as a runner. And rather than a tablecloth (again, because who has a proper tablecloth at the beach?!?) we used a gauzy cheese cloth-like napkins as placemats. The tone of the linens was precisely the same hue as the sand on the beach and the way it moved in the wind felt perfectly suited for the locale. These same gauzy linens were tied in a loose knot to use as our napkins. To round out the table, we tapped artist Anne Robin to create watercolor menus that used soft hues of blue, reminiscent of the sea before us. We replaced each table at Les Salins with wicker and bamboo furniture and props sourced in France to establish the desired rustic boho vibe for the evening. We even went so far as to rent an overturned vintage boat to set the scene and galvanized steel tubs to serve oysters directly on the beach.
And completely transform the restaurant we did! For 3 months, I liaised with the French production team and fed them my highly specified moodboards — a super granular design board detailing my vision for tablescapes, lighting and lanterns, furniture…. well, you get it. From there, they would present back to me their findings in France. Some items were spot on, others we needed another round of sourcing until we go it exactly right. This process was both rigorous and exciting as I was working with an international team from the other side of the world, trying to communicate and source one-of-a-kind items. Through this collaborative process, the event came together beautifully and seamlessly. Our guests, influencers, editors, and actresses, enjoyed fresh fare, a stunning view, wonderful company and most importantly celebrated the launch of #zimmermannxsttropez
What an incredible creative opportunity — I am really proud of this one. Hop over to my Instagram Stories to see these events come to life and shop the latest from Zimmermann below.
The magical duo themselves - Adore you both Simone + Nicky!