• Tory with Vogue China‘s Angelica Cheung, left
  • The setting at the Vogue China dinner at TianQu Garden
  • Festive florals at the Vogue China dinner at TianQu Garden
  • The Vogue China dinner at TianQu Garden
“Could we please take a moment and acknowledge how beautiful this all is?” Tory said to an intimate crowd of team members surrounding her on Saturday morning. Huddled atop a floating, golden dragon boat in the middle of Kunming Lake, a majestic, sweeping view of Beijing’s Summer Palace before them — from the Temple of Buddhist Virtue to the Western Hills in the near distance — the lot took a mindful pause to breathe in the inspiring sight, once the imperial playground of the late Qing’s Empress Dowager Cixi, and drew a close to an exceptional few days in Beijing. “Let’s just stay here forever,” she continued, half-joking, eliciting subtle smiles from around the group.

Known for its hospitable charm, China’s capital city has a way of impressing — locals greet each other with, “Have you eaten yet?” in lieu of a hello — and its splendor was not lost on Tory and her crew, who spent the second half of last week engaging with a wide range of industry folk, from top-level designers and execs, including Tommy Hilfiger, Moncler’s Remo Ruffini and LVMH’s Andrew Wu, who were in town for Women’s Wear Daily’s first annual Global Fashion Forum at the Rosewood Hotel in Jingguang Center (Tory joined WWD’s Miles Socha in conversation), to aspiring design students at the prestigious Tsinghua University in the city’s northwest, where Tory visited its innovative design labs and spoke to Vogue China’s Angelica Cheung about the importance of embracing ambition and listening to one’s intuition when navigating the murky, competitive waters of the fashion business.

An in-store visit to Tory Burch’s own Beijing outpost in Shin Kong Palace on Thursday in the city’s southeast was followed by a seated dinner hosted by Cheung, with China’s top personalities and entrepreneurs, including actress Dong Jie, Chinese contemporary art-world powerhouse Weng Ling, artist Lin Tian Mao, iconic model Ma Yan Li, fresh-faced Wang Xing Yu and enterprising beauties Chen Ran, Ye Mingzi and Wendy Yu at the ethereal TianQu Garden, just steps from Forbidden Palace. Willows swayed in the moonlight as guests talked shop and toasted Tory, admiring the dreamy décor and layered hues of Chinese peonies, which adorned the party in blue and white vases.

The next day at Tsinghua, Tory and Cheung greeted fledgling fashion designers together and answered crowd-sourced, student questions from the audience and online, from Weibo, at the university’s Art Museum Auditorium. “It was completely unorchestrated,” Tory told the crowd, on building her business into a billion-dollar empire in 10 years time. “I had no grand plan other than to offer what I felt was missing: accessible luxury.” Later, she revealed her top tips for succeeding in the business: “tune into your instinct,” “listen and learn,” “keep positive,” “be intellectually curious,” and, lastly, “to give back.” Afterwards, the team caravanned to catch a glimpse of the Great Wall of China at Badaling before dusk, then retired to the Aman Summer Palace in the evening to wake up and tour its staggering grounds at dawn.

Zaijian!” Tory later said in her best Mandarin, a bittersweet goodbye as she prepared to return home to New York, contemplating the rich week of events that had come to a beautiful end. “I can’t wait to come back,” she uttered. “It was the best trip.”

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