Luxe designer Marie France Van Damme stays neutral with her palette

Marie France Van Damme
Marie France Van Damme

Attention, resortwear lovers and jetsetters, start your shopping engines: Celebrity fave designer Marie France Van Damme just launched her Spring/Summer 16 Resort Collection at Neiman Marcus Coral Gables.

“The line is full of chiffons and silks as usual, with embroidery and colors such as blacks, whites, grays — and this season, there are a bit of blues,” said Van Damme, who now has five stores worldwide.

After 35 years of working in the fashion industry — manufacturing clothes for a private label in Asia — the Hong Kong resident decided she wanted to start her own label in 2012.

The recurring theme: a neutral palette.

“It’s just a question of, ‘How do you dress?’ Most women dress in black and white,” said Van Damme, who is originally from Canada. “I’ve always been a very black or white person. I’m not attracted to designers that do a collection using color. I remember [one time] I presented some pink and people didn’t want it. They said, ‘We come to you for the black and white, not for the pink.’ 

Van Damme usually uses light, airy fabrics for her kaftans, dresses, pants and swimwear.

The target client is a stylish, uncomplicated woman who loves to travel.

“I see her in different places, and I started to recognize her, and she’s a jetsetter,” she said of fans such as Heidi Klum, Cameron Diaz and Charlize Theron. “She would be here today; she’s in Miami for Art Basel. These ladies are confident, independent and they usually have the means. They’re educated. They love art. They go on holidays, and this is their lifestyle.”

Holding trunk shows at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour and Bergdorf Goodman has been a good way for Van Damme to get to know her posh clients.

“[I do them] to be close to the customer,” said the designer, who also wrote a book on home entertaining called RSVP (Thames & Hudson). “It’s quite rewarding when I see people. It’s so much hard work to do what I do, and that is the reward: to see them enjoying it and loving it.”