Hubert Burda Media

The World is My Oyster

TORY BURCH, New York’s design darling, offers an exclusive guided tour of some of her most recently visited vacation spots. As told to Ayesha Khan

“My parents instilled in me a sense of wanderlust at a young age. I grew up in a rural area outside of Philadelphia and remember taking day trips to New York or going on vacation in Italy in the summer with them. I love the feeling of exploring new places and re-discovering familiar ones. As our company — Tory Burch — opens new boutiques globally, it’s exciting to learn about local cultures and customs as well. Elements from all over the world inspire our collection every season, whether it’s the prints and textures of India, or the sun-washed colours of the Amalfi Coast. From Morocco to Myanmar, these are some of my favourite places.


Growing up, I was always intrigued by Morocco through the stories my parents used to tell. They went there for their honeymoon and returned to it often. Everything sounded so interesting from the way they spoke about it — visiting palaces and riads, exploring the Medina, meeting artisans and trying new cuisines.
It was amazing to visit Marrakech with my mother 50 years after her first visit and doing many of the same things. I particularly loved seeing Jardin Majorelle and exploring the souks, which had fantastic energy and were filled with a mix of colours, textures and sounds.
The craftsmanship of the pieces you find is extraordinary, from jewellery to textiles and tea glasses. I picked up beautiful straw hats that set the mood for our Resort 2014 collection. The designs speak to the vibrancy of Morocco — jewelled embellishments, embroidered jackets, mirrored tunics, woven heels and, of course, our novelty hat motif that’s printed on dresses and handbags.
A friend gave me great advice for exploring the souks: Don’t be afraid of getting lost, you’ll eventually find your way out. There’s always something new to discover from the unique architecture to unexpected shops. And while you’re wandering around, always look up — from the minarets to the doorways, you will invariably see something remarkable.
As for where to stay, La Mamounia is stunning. It was recently restored with a mix of traditional and modern Moroccan elements — wrought iron railings, mosaic tiles, floral motifs and hand-painted doors. The hotel was also part of the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. A few minutes away is the Beldi Country Club, where we walked through the lush, colourful gardens. It’s a great reprieve from the city. Further away is Sidi Ghanem, the up-and-coming industrial zone. It’s worth a visit to see the lesser-known antique and modern home stores.
We had many hours-long dinners while in Marrakech. It’s one of those cities where you can walk into virtually any restaurant and have great food. Two of my favourite spots are Al Fassia, a fantastic restaurant in the new city owned and run by women, and Dar Yacout in the Medina, where my mother and I went with friends. We had a traditional set menu dinner on the rooftop, which concluded with a surprise belly-dancing performance. It was the perfect ending to a memorable trip.


I visited Brazil last year to celebrate the launch of our stores in São Paulo and Rio. We have a strong Brazilian customer base in the US and internationally, and we felt there was a great opportunity for our business there. We were drawn to Rio for its culture and spirit, fashion, music, food and architecture. The city is a unique mix of contrasts, growth and optimism. From the planning for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, to the white sands of Copacabana, to the deep green rainforest-covered mountains that hug the city, Rio is a city full of energy, ideas and stylish people.
No matter where you are, you can almost always see the Christ the Redeemer statue high above. We were lucky to see the statue up close by helicopter. It was remarkable to experience such an iconic symbol of Rio from a unique vantage point. The views of Rio below were unbelievable too, from Leblon Beach to Sugarloaf Mountain to Niterói. Close by in the mountains are some stunning hikes in Alto da Boa Vista, including Tijuca Park and Vista Chinesa.
It seemed like every time we turned a corner, there was a gorgeous waterfall or panoramic view. But the beach is the heart of Rio — volleyball and surfing; impromptu capoeira performances; a cross-section of Cariocas and visitors; strains of bossa nova; street food. Dotted along the coast are juice stands, such as Polis Sucos, which have delicious smoothies in an array of exotic fruits including the cupuaçu and fruta do conde. There’s so much to explore with Rio’s food scene. We went everywhere from Sushi Leblon, where we had quail eggs and truffle, to Aprazível, an epicurean tree house in the hills of Santa Teresa.
In terms of where to stay, Copacabana Palace feels like old Rio. It transports you to a bygone era when actors like Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire roamed its halls. For something more modern, the Hotel Fasano was beautifully designed by Philippe Starck. In fact, Rio art and architecture — as witnessed at the galleries of Lapa, the the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, the forthcoming Rio Tower and Olympic structures — are a key part of the city’s DNA.


The westernmost state in the US is always fun to visit. From the moment you get there, you can see the sheer power of nature — lush forests and massive volcanoes, perfectly clear water and schools of fish in all shapes and colours.
I’ve been to a few islands and each has its own character. Maui is lush and green, with hiking trails and great day trips to smaller islands such as Molokini. Oahu has a mix of beautiful remote beaches and the bustling city of Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii. The Royal Hawaiian hotel in Waikiki has great views of the beach. From there, you can venture out to hike the Diamond Head and visit Laniakea Beach, an amazing spot where sea turtles often come up to rest. On the way back, try Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice — it’s like a snow cone, but better and perfect on a hot day.
For an inspiring and unexpected visit, go to Doris Duke’s Shangri-La, formerly her home and now a centre for Islamic arts and cultures. Its design combines the aesthetics of traditional Islamic art and architecture with a Pacific outdoor lifestyle. The interior contains an eclectic mixture of objects of great value such as the Damascene interiors and commissions for the house, which include handmade Moroccan ceilings.
I’m always inspired by the laidback spirit and optimism of Hawaii. It’s what draws me there. There is also an incredible network of women entrepreneurs. A few years ago we hosted a Tory Burch Foundation mentoring event in Honolulu and saw first-hand just how important small businesses are locally, from hotels to restaurants to agencies. The women we met were so talented and inspiring — and the backbone of their communities.


I had planned a trip to Thailand for Christmas and New Year’s, then decided to also visit Myanmar with a group of friends. It was one of those magical places I had read about and always wanted to see for its crafts, architecture and the unique combination of cultural influences from neighbouring countries China, India and Thailand, as well as British colonials.
Every place we stayed — from Yangon, the country’s largest city, to beach resorts Ngapali and Ngwe Saung — was incredible. You can’t help but be awestruck looking out over the thousands of ancient pagodas, temples and stupas in the ancient city of Bagan, or walking into temples like Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, which is covered in gold. While we were there, my three sons and I took part in the Buddhist tradition of sweeping the floors (with carefully crafted colourful brooms). It is said to ensure good luck and grant you ‘merits’ in the afterlife.
As for food, the trip was all about seafood cooked in a variety of ways — filleted, salted, dried or as mohinga, a national dish of soup with rice noodles. Everything was fresh and spicy. At Ngapali Beach, my boys and I went down to the fish market to see the trawlers’ catch for the day.
Whether food or crafts, I always like to explore local markets wherever I go. It’s a great way to get a sense of regional traditions and customs. I found a handwoven rattan minaudière and some incredible pottery, including small vases and bowls that I have been using at home. Myanmar is known for its lacquer craftsmanship — I brought back a few traditional pieces made using a 1,000-year-old technique. It’s great inspiration for our boutique design, which includes lacquer details.


New York is my home. I moved here a week after graduating from college to work as an assistant for a Yugoslavian designer named Zoran. When I interviewed with him over the phone, he said: ‘You can have a job if you start on Monday.’ So I did.
Many years later, New York continues to inspire me. As someone with an appreciation for design and art (I was an Art History major), there is a tremendous mix of things to see and do. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is magnificent. You could go there every weekend and always find something you hadn’t seen before. Just up the street is the Neue Galerie, which has an important collection of paintings by Gustav Klimt, one of my favourite artists and the inspiration for our Fall 2013 collection. I also love the Frick Collection. The building itself is beautiful — it used to be a home and it has an enormous courtyard with ancient trees that must have been planted 100 years ago.
One of the best parts of New York is wandering the side streets of different neighbourhoods — from NoLIta and SoHo, to Chelsea and the Upper East Side — it’s how you discover the best stores. Recently, I’ve loved going into vintage stores like Five Story, De Vera and New York Vintage. They’re all slightly off the beaten track, but taking the back roads is where you often find the most interesting restaurants too.
Bohemian, for instance, is a cool Japanese restaurant in a building formerly owned by Andy Warhol. One of the times I feel most like a New Yorker is when I go to JG Melon, an iconic, simple restaurant known for its burgers and Bloody Marys. It’s a local institution that people go back to over and over again. If you try their burger, you’ll see why.”