Our family business is very much part of Hong Kong; we’re celebrating our 110th anniversary this year and I feel proud of what we and our city have achieved. So when clients visit, I like to take them to Sevva, a sleek restaurant in a high-rise in the financial district with a terrific terrace overlooking Victoria Harbour. A hundred years ago Hong Kong consisted mainly of fishing villages; the backdrop here really accentuates the city’s success.
Retail is all about the local consumer, so after evening drinks at Sevva I sometimes take clients on a boat ride to Lei Yue Mun, one of Hong Kong’s few remaining fishing villages, where you pick your own live seafood from various stalls. It’s then cooked at the restaurant of your choice. I always go to Lung Yue, a low-key place that is a great experience and feels very authentic. My favourite dish is the lobster pasta with cheese; I ordered this when we finally signed a joint venture with Macy’s, who had been coming to China for three years.
I also like to take clients to an obscure frozen yoghurt place called Smile. In the US and UK shopping malls are dominated by large conglomerates, but Hong Kong is known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Smile is one example of that and I’m always impressed by what has been achieved there. The menu has lots of flavours and some creative combinations; I’ll always have the one called Chocolate Lover.
Two thousand of our stores are in China, so I’m often in Shanghai, where Imperial Treasure serves great local dishes such as steamed xiao long bao and fried noodles with shredded pork. It’s also nicely decked out – luxurious yet cosy and comfortable. In Asia, overseas clients are often wined and dined with a banquet of 12 to 13 courses, but I find that when people are jetlagged they just want comfort food. In Tokyo, Appia is perfect for this. The cuisine is Italian with a Japanese influence – the sea urchin pasta and grilled artichoke are both fantastic – and the place is very rustic and loud. For something quieter, I take people to Kozasa – a tiny sushi place with about 10 seats where the menu changes daily. The chef has a very artistic approach to his work – I tend to take creative people there as they really appreciate the presentation.
No matter where I am, I like to combine lunch with a walk through our stores. Our Sonia Rykiel boutique in Paris, for example, is near the chic little brasserie Les Deux Magots, which has tables along the street and serves classics such as croque-monsieur and steak frites. But I also like Chez L’Ami Louis – a cosy, crowded spot with the world’s best foie-gras and amazing grilled chicken with fries. The first time I met Julie de Libran, artistic director of Sonia Rykiel, was at L’Ami; she has a very fit and healthy figure and still ate all the fries.
In London I spend a lot of time on Savile Row – we own several menswear brands there, including Gieves & Hawkes and Kilgour – so I usually have breakfast and lunch meetings at Cecconi’s. I love its egg-white omelette with avocado, all the lunch mains are fantastic – and I always order the fried courgette side. I like the restaurant’s energy; to me it’s the ultimate power lunch place. A recent discovery, however, is The Ivy Chelsea Garden, whose eclectic mix of customers makes for great people-watching – and the truffle arancini is delicious. It’s quite noisy, though, so I’d only go with close associates – such as Tommy Hilfiger, someone I know really well. Another place I went to recently with Tommy and his wife Dee was Marea in New York. It’s a happening Italian seafood restaurant and a great example of where the ambience, decor, food, people and service come together brilliantly.