In The Magazine

Dispatch from the DR

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
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AMY FINE COLLINS is an art historian, author and special correspondent for Vanity Fair, writing about design, art, fashion, society and more since 1990. This Upper East Sider can be spotted anywhere from Fashion Week front rows to movie screenings to exhibition openings, and always in striking apparel. But occasionally she escapes the city for some r&r, and—no surprise—does so in style.

Ultimate escape

Especially when we have winters that feel like the second coming of the Ice Age, I find that there is no destination with more reliably beautiful weather, more inviting water, and friendlier people than the Dominican Republic. I crave its sunlight, water, bright colors and warmth. The sultry air is both a mood elevator and a tranquilizer.

Everything you could want

I stay at Casa de Campo because the attention to every detail of comfort and beauty is superlative. Every bite you eat is either locally grown or freshly flown in. It is possible to be either completely relaxed or be athletic and active—or find a balance between the two.

Mermaid mode

One of my passions is swimming, so you will find me in the water as often as possible. With goggles on, I see schools of gorgeous tropical fish. If I’m not in mermaid mode, I like to shop for local arts and crafts. I recommend a session with Keira, a gifted yoga instructor who will soon be in charge of the new spa. And I’m always game to get on a paddleboard.

Club Campo

Emilia and Pepe Fanjul are the friends who graciously enticed us down to the DR. Along with the Fanjuls, I see friends such as Carol Mack, Deborah Norville, Annette Tapert, Alexandra Kotur and Annabel Astor. Peggy Siegal is a DR regular. As far as celebrities go, everyone from the king of Spain to Beyoncé and Sean Combs have been spotted on the island.

Take home treasures

From the DR, I love my painting of an orchid by a local artist. It looks like a tropical Georgia O’Keeffe, crossed with a Martin Johnson Heade.

Local finds

Gina Bambu, which is just outside La Romana, is a funky marketplace for locally made paintings and jewelry. In La Marina de Casa de Campo, there is the Jenny Polanco store, which sells pretty, painted papier-mâché items, such as the charming salt and pepper cellars that I use in the country. The papier-mâché objects are designed by Bibi Leon, who has an atelier in La Romana where young people from the town are employed as skilled assistants. The marina is also home to the Blasser boutique, a resource for lovely tailored shirts and dresses.

I can’t travel without . . .

A giant black cashmere shawl from my friend Cathryn Collins’s company, I Pezzi Dipinti. I seem to lose one every year, so it has become an expensive habit.

No vacation from fashion

I am an inveterate overpacker and am always searching for a better-designed suitcase—a distinctive-looking one that I can stuff to the bursting point without actually breaking it. Once I arrive at my destination, I like to have choices about what to wear, just as I do at home.


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by AVENUE insiderPhotographed by Billy Farrall