Daisy Hoppen and Vincent Gilbert’s meet-cute reads like the script from a Richard Curtis movie. Our newly single British heroine, who runs her own fashion PR company, has just moved to a flat overlooking Highbury Fields in north London when the pandemic strikes. Disappointed that her Carrie Bradshaw-inspired “cocktails and dating” dream is on pause, and determined not to let Covid get her down, she resolves to run a few laps of the park every morning before work. Meanwhile, our hero Vincent Gilbert is a 6’4” Frenchman and cyber-security expert who completes daily dawn circuits of the same park.
Every morning at 7.15 a.m., they run past each other. After a few weeks, Vincent offers a smile as Daisy jogs past. She thinks he’s cute, if a little weird. “I thought he was just being friendly, or he was gay, or married without a wedding ring,” she recalls. One morning in August 2020, Vincent stops Daisy, introduces himself, and informs her that she is wearing the wrong type of trainers. (They were New Balance non-performance sneakers, but then Daisy is more comfortable running doors at fashion shows for clients including Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard, and Rejina Pyo than marathons.)
They get chatting, and eventually go on a few coffee dates, since anything more glamorous is prohibited on account of the UK’s social distancing rules. “It was a period when you couldn’t even hug your family, so the idea of even sitting on a park bench—it felt so Pride and Prejudice,” recalls Daisy. The other old-fashioned element? Vincent, being a cyber-security geek, did not have a digital footprint. “There was no way to digitally stalk him, not a single social media account,” says Daisy. “I didn’t know anything about him until we began meeting in person and later exchanged numbers.”
They dated for several months, until a proposal came over the Easter weekend, while the pair were enjoying time away with friends in Bath. “I was eating a Magnum ice cream in between moaning about how I didn’t want to walk up the hill and then I looked down and he was on one knee speaking French,” Daisy says. “It was a massive surprise.” Gilbert had consulted Hoppen’s sister, Mimi, director of jewelry and watches at Dover Street Market, prior to the proposal, and presented Daisy with an 18th-century, rose-cut diamond William Welstead ring. “I’ve always thought William’s jewelry was impeccable,” says Daisy. “It was stunning. And I felt really, really, really happy.”