Breaking away: where luxury fashion designers go on holiday

Words by
Charlotte McManus

4th January 2017

Where do top creatives go for some time out? Richard Mille, Jason Basmajian and Kiki McDonough tell us about the travel destinations that give them space to recharge

Richard Mille

Richard Mille is a French watchmaker and the founder of the eponymous luxury timepiece brand. With the company based in Switzerland, his ideal holiday involves a well-deserved rest back at his family home in Brittany, on the rugged coast of northwestern France.

My favourite holiday location is my home, the Château de Monbouan, in Brittany. I’m not really there that much, so when I am, it is a time of privacy and calm. It is an 18th-century château, built in 1771, which belonged to the same family for generations before they sold it. My wife loves what we call paysan au femme historique furniture; it’s very original, a bit rustic. I didn’t want heavy furniture, so we decided to have something of a contrast, which works very well.

To relax, I have a nap, read or ride my bicycle. In Brittany, the roads are excellent for bicycles. But cars are my personal passion and I have my garages at the château. I love racing cars, such as Formula 1s from the 1970s. I have quite a few McLarens, Ferraris, BRMs and Brabhams — they are my babies.

Some of Richard Mille's historic racing cars at the Château

Some of Richard Mille's historic racing cars at the Château

I love to cook at home. I mostly make pasta, because I am a quarter Italian! This is also what the children prefer. I like penne arrabbiata, Spanish seafood and curries. One of my favourite restaurants is L’Auberge des Tilleuls (4 Route de la Chapelle) in Chancé. The fish is always delicious, because it is Brittany. I would normally drink white wine with it; probably a burgundy. I’d also recommend Le Domaine de Rochevilaine (Pointe de Pen Lan), a hotel situated right on the ocean where the lobster is a real marvel. The area faces the Atlantic Ocean and the seasonal tides are very impressive; at Saint-Malo, the waves can reach 10 metres high.

I like to drive along the Brittany coast, when I have the time, in my Jaguar E-Type convertible. The scenery is unforgettable and the water is really blue-green, just like in the Caribbean. The coastline is heavily protected here, which means it’s very wild and good for nice walks.

Richard Mille outside his Brittany home

Richard Mille outside his Brittany home

I live quite close to Rennes, which is a very dynamic, interesting city, full of life and culture. I enjoy walking around the old town there. Some buildings are from the Middle Ages and there are a lot of small, cobblestoned streets. It’s really charming. There are bookshops and antiques dealers galore; recently, I bought a beautiful chandelier and a fantastic 19th-century cupboard. There are also many crêperies, which are a speciality in Brittany; I especially love the crêpes with almond paste, which I have with Grand Marnier.

I generally finish the day in Rennes with dinner at Le Méditerranée (22 Rue du Chapitre), which, to my mind, is the best Arabic restaurant in Brittany. Its North African cuisine includes couscous, tagine and very good Lebanese mezze. Alternatively, I eat at La Taverne de la Marine (2 Place de Bretagne), where the grilled sea bass is just delicious; it’s cooked very simply with olive oil, so it melts in the mouth.

Jason Basmajian

American menswear designer Jason Basmajian is the creative director of Italian fashion house Cerruti 1881. Having grown up in Boston, each year he returns to the East Coast to relive the lazy summers of his youth in his family’s Cape Cod beach house.

Cape Cod has always been a special place to me. I have such great memories of its sunny, sandy beaches — and that satisfied fatigue you have at the end of a day full of swimming and play.

I go back every summer. It wasn’t until I was older, when I had travelled the world in search of the perfect beach (from the south of France to Thailand, Bali, the Maldives, Miami, Mexico and beyond) that I truly appreciated how lucky I was at the time.

Jason Basmajian, creative director of Italian fashion house, Cerruti 1881

Jason Basmajian, creative director of Italian fashion house, Cerruti 1881

For me, Cape Cod evokes old-school summer fun: faded canvas deckchairs on porches, spectacular sunsets with gin and tonic in hand, lobster rolls… and, of course, the legend of the Kennedy clan, who did so much to glamorise the area. However, it is a place of unpretentious simplicity, where life is relaxed. The 90-mile peninsula is full of natural beauty, fresh seafood and friendly people.

Try not to overplan your trip — and definitely don’t overpack. Cape Cod is casual: khakis, Bermuda shorts, boat shoes, polo shirts and a pastel cashmere sweater for cool evenings will get you through almost any social situation. Pack a navy blazer and white Oxford shirt in case you need to “dress smart”, but leave designer European labels and logo luggage for another holiday. This is the land of less is more; preppy is the mood and the wealthiest do their best to look destitute. Faded chino trousers and duct-taped shoes are all part of the disguise.

There are beaches suited to every taste. I highly recommend a visit “down Cape” to the National Seashore. It’s spectacular, with dunes and long, empty beaches. Ballston Beach (Truro) is famous for inspiring artist Edward Hopper. Sandy Neck Beach (Barnstable) is often everyone’s favourite, although Gray’s Beach (Yarmouth Port), Mayflower Beach (Dennis) and Old Silver Beach (Falmouth) are my top picks. In Falmouth, check out Maxwell & Co (200 Main St #1, Falmouth), one of the nicest clothing shops for men and women in Cape Cod and the perfect place to go if you forgot your Khiel’s suncare.

Sandy Neck Beach

Sandy Neck Beach

I suggest renting a bike and taking the picturesque 10-mile bike ride along the Falmouth Bike Path to Woods Hole (Falmouth). There is a small aquarium — great for families — where you can see seals being fed. Enjoy lunch at The Fishmonger Café (56 Water St), or try the delicious lobster tacos at Quicks Hole Taqueria (6 Luscombe Ave). Woods Hole also has a world-famous Oceanographic Institution (86 Water St); it was here that Dr Robert Ballard’s expedition to discover the Titanic was launched. You can also load your car on to a Steamship Authority ferry to visit the islands of Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

This is a place of unpretentious simplicity, where life is relaxed. The 90-mile peninsula is full of natural beauty, fresh seafood and friendly people

The Quicks Hole Taqueria

The Quicks Hole Taqueria

Route 6A is a pretty, bucolic road that takes you through the towns of Sandwich, Dennis, Barnstable and Yarmouth Port. They are full of antiques shops, lobster shacks and ice-cream parlours. The Cape is known for its amazingly fresh seafood and I love to go to Inaho (157 MA-6A, Yarmouth Port) for sushi. Although a little less traditional, the food is excellent and the restaurant is housed in a charismatic, wood-shingled home. For a more colonial-inspired fine-dining New England experience, I suggest the Red Pheasant Inn (905 Main St, Dennis).

Historic town Sandwich is charming — don’t miss Heritage Plantation, a spectacular round-stone Shaker barn filled with an exceptional collection of vintage cars owned by pharmaceutical heir Eli Lilly. There is also a barn with a vintage military miniature collection, as well as beautiful manicured gardens — try to time your trip with rhododendron season. Sandwich is also home to the Thornton W Burgess Society and the Green Briar Jam Kitchen (both 6 Discovery Hill Rd), the Dexter Grist Mill (Water St) and the Sandwich Glass Museum (129 Main St).

A lobster roll - a speciality of the area

A lobster roll - a speciality of the area

Clam shacks dot the landscape throughout the area. There is something about the salt air, eating outside at a picnic table and simple self-serve food that forms an essential part of the Cape Cod experience. Overlooking Falmouth Harbour, the Clam Shack (227 Clinton Ave) is excellent, the real deal. Baxter’s Boathouse (177 Pleasant St, Hyannis) is an institution, as is Cobie’s in Brewster (3260 Main St). The freshest lobster rolls are found at The Raw Bar (252 Shore Dr, Mashpee). Beware: they are giant-sized, so skip the chips and enjoy the lobster!

After eating buckets of fried clams or lobster rolls, if you still have room for ice cream, there are lots of small-batch creameries to visit. I recommend Four Seas (360 S Main St, Centerville), Sundae School (381 Lower County Rd, Dennis Port) or Somerset Creamery (1268 MA-28A, Cataumet), which features cranberry bog ice cream — cranberries are famous on Cape Cod, and love it or leave it, this flavour is unique.

Kiki McDonough

Having founded her eponymous jewellery label in 1985, British designer Kiki McDonough has created elegant, luxurious pieces with a modern take on antique aesthetics. Each summer, she travels to the island of Barbados to holiday with her two sons (22 and 24) and a group of family friends.

I love Barbados in the summer because there are fewer people and it is quiet and peaceful. For the past 10 years, I have gone to the same place with the same two other families — we always have such a good time. Before we travel, I pack lots of bikinis and sun creams, as well as sandals, kaftans and dresses to wear in the evenings, including a white crocheted dress from Prada. There’s this brilliant dry leg oil by This Works called Skin Deep, which keeps my skin nourished and soft. This summer, I’m also taking some palazzo pants, as well as a Kindle and a couple of books.

Kiki McDonough

Kiki McDonough provides her unique insights to summers in Barbados

We stay at the Sandy Lane Hotel (Highway 1) because it has the best beach in Barbados, the best service and the nicest staff. During the day, you can drift around in anything you like — I wear cover-ups and flip-flops. The Sandy Lane is much more casual than people actually think, especially in the summer when it’s more family-orientated. There’s also an amazingly peaceful spa, where I often go in the evenings. My two sons love watersports. They spend their time jet-skiing, sailing and paddle-boarding while we all sit on the beach and watch them fall off.

Another glorious beach is Gibbes Beach (St Peter Parish) on the west coast, where we go often. On the east coast of the island there is the Crane Hotel (St Philip), which is attached to Crane Beach. I also recommend visiting Bathsheba (St Joseph), the main fishing village and surfing capital. However, you have to be a very strong swimmer because there is quite a current on the east coast — I certainly wouldn’t swim there.

Mullins Beach Bar & Grill is a great spot to relax and enjoy sunset drinks

Mullins Beach Bar & Grill is a great spot to relax and enjoy sunset drinks

Every year, about 20 of us hire a catamaran called Seaduced and go on a trip that stops off at four different bays. One is full of turtles, which are lovely to see, and you can jump into wonderful clear water. There’s also a fresh water hose on board, for when you get out of the sea — that’s the bit I like best. The crew provides lunch with lots of fresh salads, as well as wine and beer. I don’t really drink myself, but I’m rather addicted to Diet Coke.

In Barbados, there’s a lovely shop called Beth & Tracie (Second St, Holetown), which sells really pretty things. It’s great for swimming costumes and cover-ups. As well as stocking its own label, it does other makes such as Heidi Klein and Letarte. There are many more shops at the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre (Holetown, St James), including Michael Kors, Armani Exchange, Hermès and loads of Louis Vuitton. And the Chattel Village (Holetown, St James) is a quaint row of beach hut shops with everything for hot weather. They probably don’t stock brands anyone would have heard of, but you can find bikinis, kaftans, little dresses, shorts, T-shirts and great sun hats — I always bring back hats from Barbados.

The Lone Star is a popular beachfront boutique hotel
The Lone Star's popular restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
The Lone Star was once a petrol station

One lovely restaurant we go to is Cin Cin By the Sea (Prospect Road), which is on a terrace where the sea washes up on the front. It’s very buzzy and popular — the last time I went, Rihanna was there — but it’s also sophisticated and the food is very good. You dress up to go there, and it is only open in the evenings.

Another place I like is The Lone Star (Mount Standfast), which used to be a petrol station before it was taken over and made into a popular restaurant on a terrace. It’s quite casual, but I’d still put on a dress for it. They have a good mixture of food. You could have duck with pancakes or bang bang chicken, as well as pasta, steak or fish.

Then there is the Mullins Beach Bar & Grill (Mullins, St Peter) — it’s great for sunset drinks and has live musicians, too. Lobster Alive (Bay St, Bridgetown) is a tin shack on the beach that serves fresh lobster. It’s very casual — fantastic for a long lunch — while The Fish Pot (Little Good Harbour, Shermans, St Lucy) is another favourite for lunch on the beach and also casual.

I often ask for fish at the restaurants we visit — I especially like swordfish — unless there’s something Italian, when I’ll get a bowl of pasta. I don’t eat puddings — I want to look good in a bikini! A lot of the restaurants have quite quiet and anonymous music because the tables are often outside, where the sea is lapping away.

After dinner, all our young go to the Harbour Lights nightclub (Bay St, Bridgetown), while the Mango Bay Hotel’s Red Door Lounge (Second St, Holetown) is popular with adults who want to go for a drink and enjoy some music.