In Portraits no. 15 another power woman shares her life and style with us, Gervaise Coebergh. Born in 1966 in Rotterdam, she just turned fifty last month. Welcome to the club!
Gervaise is the typical example of a serial entrepreneur. Many companies evolved under her vivid hands, she still is very much involved in Coebergh Communicatie & PR, Spice PR, Vertov and Beter Thuis. To name a few. All companies Gervaise founded from her base in Amsterdam. Where she lives with her husband (49) and two great daughters (11 & 13).
In terms of geography her universe is divided in 3: Amsterdam, Drenthe and the rest of the world. Drenthe – the quiet countryside opposed to hustle bustle city life – gives her some peace of mind. Not only will you find her in her (vegetable) garden but changes are she’ll pop up at their restaurant & nature camp site Voscheheugte. Yes, she’s the one with the smile.
How do you feel about being over fifty?
It’s a fact of life. It’s unavoidable, as long as you’re healthy and don’t decide to stop living. Always act like you are 35 and keep the senses stimulated!
Which age is your favorite time? Would you like to go back?
Talking about 35, that age gives you the best of both worlds: the good aspects of being young ànd being aged. On the other hand, I heard the great actor Peter Ustinov during an interview once declaring that ‘every age is a difficult age’. It was his reaction when he heard two women complaining about a kid aged two. I don’t want to go back but if I’m forced to freeze time, 35 it will be.
What would your ideal day look like? No restrictions.
I like how they look like now, a perfect mix of business and family life. Love to start the day sharing a cup of tea with a dear friend on a terrace along the canals in Amsterdam. Of course the weather is nice and warm.
After this I spend a few hours in my flower garden in Drenthe, the east of Holland, this equals meditation for me. Then my husband and I take a long, long walk in the Serengeti park in Tanzania. Lucky us we are the only ones.
Time to eat! We meet our daughters along the banks of the Sorrel river in Utah where a vegetarian late lunch awaits us. To jump in the river and swim afterwards. That’s my cue to retreat for a while, check my emails and do some work. We finish the day with a lot of friends back at our country house, all gathered around the campfire for an extended BBQ. I don’t have to help cleaning up because my long-time favourite masseuse is waiting for me…
From which experience did you learn, what made you stronger?
Since I was a kid I learned that you have to take responsibility to succeed in life. Growing older I still look at life that way. On many occasions I experienced that whatever happens, you can do a lot to improve the situation for yourself and for others.
In addition, I also deeply believe that it helps everyone not to take everything too seriously. Nothing really matters. And at the same time; everything matters, depending on the distance you have between yourself and the situation.
What is your golden beauty trick or favorite product?
Laugh a lot! And wear great jewelry… I bought many pieces at Lyppens Langebrugsteeg. My favorite shopping destination in Amsterdam. I am, how shall I put it, very minimalistic on skin care and make-up. Though I cherish my Shiseido jars.
Which book/film/music shaped/changed you and why should we read it?
There are so many sources that shaped my mind. To focus on books: recently a friend gave me an impressive book that I could not stop reading: ‘Life and death in Shanghai’ by Nien Cheng. It’s a powerful story of Nien Cheng’s imprisonment. When she refused to confess that her background and lifestyle made her an enemy of the state – we’re talking Red Guards, Mao Tse-Tung and Cultural Revolution, she was placed in solitary confinement for more than six years.
But I also remember that years ago I read the biography ‘A man’ by Oriana Fallaci that really touched me.
Who should we follow on Instagram?
Very difficult question. I mostly follow friends to see what they are doing. But ok, some personal special interest insta accounts:
- @advancedstyle, of course we are obliged to follow Ari Seth Cohen with his love for older, fashionable people
- @xhivexp, best camera man ever, Lubezki who won several Oscars (a.o. The Revenant with DiCaprio)
- @mocalosangeles, modern art inspiration in LA and beyond
- @burnmagazine, to get an idea on how we visual evolve
- @kpopvine.s, daily videos. To keep up with the interests of my eldest daughter (& many many other young girls all over the world)
What’s your favorite destination/hotel/museum/restaurant in the world?
- Destination : Is 5 also ok? Paris, New York, London, Bangkok & Beirut.
- Hotel : The Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn NY with a magnificent view on the skyline and the Bowery. Loved both places. And in Dubai I always try to spend a night in one of the desert hotels.
- Museum : Too many. In Amsterdam Rijksmuseum is my #1. Recently we went to the Getty Museum in LA, I would love to go back and spend a day there. Or two.
- Restaurant : Again too many. My favo lunch place in Amsterdam is Bouchon du Centre where Hanneke runs it all.
Of course it’s always a pleasure to be at our own eethuis Voscheheugte in Mantinge, where we mixed style elements of a hunting lodge and a cosy alpine hut with some Berlin flair.
What’s your signature dish? The one that makes your friends demand a seat at your dinner table. And which childhood dish best represents the time and place of your youth?
I used to make elaborate Indonesian Rijsttafels. But that was before my husband, my kids and my businesses required more of my time.
In Drenthe, when the weather is good, we love to have breakfast outside. Also do I like to prepare food with ingredients from our own garden. We have a secluded herbal garden, an orchard, a flower garden and I also grow some vegetables.
Reminiscing about my childhood the first thing that crosses my mind is chicory with ham and cheese. And mashed potatoes. We called it ‘Mothers favo dish’.
Trivia time, make a choice and share your favorite brand:
- Nail polish or Lipstick?
Nail polish for sure. Dark red. But sometimes I like to celebrate life with a more expressive color like blue or green of gold. Mostly Dior, Chanel or Rituals
- Heals or Flats?
Flats. Heals are unfortunately something of the past… The good thing is that I had to buy myself a whole new collection of shoes.
- Dress or Trousers
I like both! But during business hours you might meet me in trousers. In black, easy, always convenient, never out of style. I bought a great collection of black pieces at Pauw, luxury multibrand store as in Dries van Noten, Odeeh and Pauw. And when the occasion requires couture I like to wear a dress by Edwin Oudshoorn.
- Coffee or Tea?
Tea, I never drank one single cup of coffee, ever. I even don’t like the smell of coffee. This also goes for beer, chewing gum and cigarettes by the way. My favo tea is verveine. Something I also grow in my garden!
- Swimsuit or Bikini?
Swimsuit. Bought this summer two retro swimsuits in Palm Springs where they still cherish their golden days of the 50’s and 60’s. I had been searching for them all over and I finally got them there.